Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tenant Wanted

This birdhouse is wedged into one of the flowering dogwood trees in our back yard. I've never seen a bird using it, but it's mighty decorative.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book for Kids are Weird

Just an odd moment in reading Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the Strawberries to the Spawn this evening. Am I the only one to wonder why they have glowing blue eyes? Are these actually science fiction books and no one told me?

Psychic Flash!

Yesterday was a truly and monumentally awful day. The fine feline of the household wakened the Spawn (and me) about two hours early and it all went downhill from there. We all survived relatively intact though, for which I thank Chthulu, or possibly Saint Jude. In the process, I arrived at one of those parenting decisions that probably wouldn't win me any points in the parenting awards game. We were stuck inside the whole day because the Spawn refused to put on pants to go outside. It's a wee bit chilly--about 10C. At the end of the day, it suddenly dawned on me that I was arguing with a toddler. This is a losing proposition. Even if you win the argument, you'll just have to go through the whole thing again...and again...and again. So, next time she wants to go outside with no pants, no problem. This is known as offering the opportunity to learn from experience. I guess I'm learning from experience too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last Harvest

This weekend we pulled the rest of the stuff out of the community garden, since it's closing on the second. We may go back and do a little gleaning on the third, of course, but all of our official stuff is out of the ground and all over the house. Three boxes of potatoes are out in the garage where it's nice and cool and dim. There's a bloody huge bucket of carrots in the kitchen sink. They're soaking their dirt off. There's a big bag of beets on the counter awaiting roasting and freezing. They await because the Better Half discovered there's a reason you score chestnuts before roasting them. And finally, there's a remarkable lot of horseradish root in the fridge in the garage. Way more horseradish root than any family deserves. Even when it's been peeled and minced, it's going to be a lot. A large lot. Fresh horseradish anyone?

We definitely learned a few things this year. The previously mentioned need to thin carrots was one thing. Broccoli does really well for us and we shall be repeating that without a doubt. I'm even going to try fermenting some of the leaves as one does for sauerkraut. We like Erste Ernte (I may be misremembering the name here) spinach, but we do not like so-called New Zealand spinach. It's not really spinach at all and the texture does not make my tongue happy. The Spawn doesn't like it either. Next year we're going to do sauce tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Slicing tomatoes are wasted on us, for the most part. We will try and grow more lettuce, space permitting. We like our salads in mixing bowls and that uses up a lot of lettuce and spinach. We will NOT plant a row and a half of string beans. Half a row of beans sans strings will do just fine. If all goes as planned, we will devote one entire plot at the community garden to potatoes. We are definite potato snobs now. German Butterballs, yellow fingerlings, and Yukon Gold, in that order of preference. We'll see which store the best.

Now if only the winter garden does its thing. Stuff got planted a bit late for that, but it's slowly taking off to some extent. This too will be a learning experience. One thing we'll have to learn is how to get into the blasted garden when the ground is wet, as it will be for the next six months or so. The soil is heavy on the clay and the worry is that it will get compacted and be worthless. Of course, plants that can't be harvested are worthless too, so a compromise will have to be reached. The current thought is straw plus planks to keep the soil a bit more dry between the rows and to distribute the weight along the whole row. We shall see. Soon. There's thinning that needs to be done!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


We've had rain and fog this morning. Now, as the Spawn sits at the table eating plain yogurt (no accounting for tastes), there is a gusty wind blowing flurries of red and yellow leaves onto the ground. The effect is rather like snow, only much more colourful. I do like autumn.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The new drawing

When I asked her what it was, she said, "A blob."
"A blob with teeth, it looks like." I said.
She said, "It's a bitey blob."
I asked what it was biting.
She said, "It's biting a stream."
I asked why it was biting a stream.
She said, "Because it's thirsty."
I asked what the stream tasted like.
She said, "It tastes like lemon and seltzer water."
I said that sounded good. Then I asked why the blob was thirsty.
She said, "It was eating watermelon and it has seeds and it spits them out."
So there you have the story of the latest artwork by the Spawn.

Missed opportunities

The Spawn woke me, far too early, this morning with the statement, "He peed purple." I was not awake enough to respond initially, so she repeated herself and said again, "He peed purple." So it wasn't just my imagination. Unfortunately, I was still too groggy to say anything other than, "He did?" That satisfied her and she moved on to other topics. Now I shall never know WHO peed purple.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our Kid

Our kid is the one with grubby clothes, whether from mud or flour or paint. It doesn't matter how many times I change her clothes, they become grubby almost instantaneously. In the twenty seconds it takes to get from her room to the front door and thence to the car, she can find a hidden stash of her flour to spread all over herself.

Our kid, in fact, is the one whose clothes ALL have stains. There is no "Sunday best" in her wardrobe. I have given up on trying to get the stains all out. We just wash 'em and weep.

Our kid is the one whose face is always grubby too. Face washing involves high speed pursuit, so even if I think I've gotten all the blueberry, there's always some somewhere. And, of course, she has a stash of snacks in the armrest of her car seat, so even a clean face is grubby by the time we get anywhere.

Our kid hates to have her hair messed with. It gets washed once a week and brushed as best I can once a day. Forget such niceties as hair clips. They stay in for five minutes at most and then they're removed by force. Ponytails, when her hair was long enough, invoked lots of screaming.

Our kid never willingly leaves a park. She's the one who weeps and wails when, after two and a half hours, I tell her it's time to go home. The library we can only leave without similar drama by promising to read EVERY SINGLE new book as soon as we get home. I guess there are worse bribes.

And to the parents of all the tidy, well groomed, compliant toddlers out there...phhhlllbbbttt.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Best apple butter ever!

One of my vices is apple butter (I know, not much of a vice, is it?). It's always seemed a bit silly to add sugar to apple butter though, since apples are plenty sweet without. I found this recipe and tried it, with a couple of modifications. It's WONDERFUL! I used five spice for all the spices, since I have some very good five spice. I didn't peel the apples, just hoicked the whole mess in the blender after it'd cooked down. And for the cooking it all went in the slow cooker overnight. The result is tangy, apple-y, and will be wonderful on the bread I'll bake in the morning.

That's another vice--baking bread. If you're like me and go for a nice whole grain bread, this is a good recipe, if you have a food processor. Or if you're like the Better Half and prefer something a bit more like an "artisan" bread, this is pretty good. I still haven't found anything that gets the same chewy texture and large air pockets as the stuff we buy at New Seasons though. I feel sure it must be possible, but you may need a secret handshake to do it. Now to go start my grain soaking.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My, oh my, oh bedtime.

This is getting written out because I know it will be funny once I get over being exasperated....

Bedtime tonight was probably more athletic than it's ever been before. The Spawn didn't get her wind-down reading time this evening. She went straight from playing trains with Daddy to "I'm ready for bed." And if a toddler says they're ready for bed, you don't argue. Well, she and I did our little routine. That takes about ten minutes. Then it's time to lie on the bed and sleep. Hah!

She played ring-around-the-rosie on the bed for at least fifteen minutes. She recited several books to herself. She piled up all the pillows to make a nest on the bed. She lay on the pile and gently thumped the wall with her feet for a bit. She played ring-around-the-rosie again. She lay down once again and recited a little more. Finally, she went to sleep. Forty-five minutes this lasted.

Tomorrow night she's getting her evening stories!

The unknown grocery store....

Since we moved to the sunny Northwest, we've been eating much differently than we ever did before. We weren't unhealthy eaters or anything, but everything came from Trader Joe's or Sunflower Market or Safeway. Since the move though, we've become "localvores" without any real planning on our part. It just seems to be a) cheaper and b) so much tastier than the alternatives.

We got a deep freeze (two now) and buy chickens from a local farmer, beef comes as a quarter cow again from a local person, and there's a whole pig coming at the end of the month. The pig is probably traveling the furthest; it's a good hour drive to that farm. We've been gardening to the best of our ability. We get things at the farmer's markets. We bought a very large quantity of outstandingly yummy organic peaches from one local orchard. And so on. Bulk stuff gets ordered online from a natural foods warehouse based in Dufur, Oregon, which is all of two hours away.

The result of all this is very few grocery store purchases. There will always be some--we seem to keep running out of green onions, for instance--but never terribly much at one time. The last time the Spawn and I were in Fred Meyer, I looked at the pre-roasted chickens for sale and suddenly realized I hadn't the foggiest notion if they were on sale because I didn't know what they cost normally. There are a lot of things in the store like that. Aside from produce and non-perishables, the store is terra incognita.

It was a very strange feeling. I have to wonder if the Spawn is going to be totally spoiled in the way of food, since everything we get is so much higher quality than grocery store fare (and cheaper too, in general). Of course, she might go the other direction and turn into a McDonald's junkie as soon as she's old enough to have the chance. I do know she's not going to be one of those kids who thinks food comes in packets from the store.

Taking more photos!

I'm trying to take more photos because it's fun and we could all use a bit more fun, no?

Someone seems to have had a flossing incident in the parking lots of Globe Lighting.

I picked these up on my walk Monday. Seemed like a nice progression of autumn colours. Unfortunately the Spawn scattered the leaves so I didn't get to try them without the flash.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Maple Leaf Shadow

Maple Leaf Shadow, originally uploaded by Sue_Solberg.

This month's "assignment" for our photo club is contrast. I was just playing around with my cell phone camera and find that it takes not terribly awful photos if you don't ask to much of it. It's sure not going to replace the Nikon, but it fits in my pocket more easily.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Childhood memories

The goats are gone, as of Tuesday. We are not, alas, going to eat them after all. Someone offered us filthy lucre and Chris, who would have had to do most of the work, accepted the offer with joy. The nice thing about having them gone is that it's much easier to walk around in our little patch of woods. It wasn't much fun having Little Goat always tasting my clothes and trying to butt the Spawn to the ground.

One of the things that was uncovered by their work of eating the thrice-blasted blackberry was a nice tree trunk. Well, two actually, both old enough to have the bark mostly gone, but not old enough to have started to completely dissolve into the ground. Watching the Spawn encounter those has been fun. She's starting to think maybe climbing around on them could be fun now that getting knocked off isn't such a strong possibility.

I am reminded of the large tree trunk I loved when I was a kid, somewhat older than the Spawn is now. It was a larger one, but then, I was larger too. That tree was a ship and a castle and a mountain. It was a marvelous place to hide out and to watch the world go by. Last time I visited the paternal parental unit, I saw that trunk again and was amazed at how small it was. In my memory it will always be almost as tall as me and completely wonderful. I hope the Spawn has such a thing in her future.

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's harvest time!

We went to the community garden today and harvested a LOT of potatoes. More better gardening through neglect, since we basically shoved 'em and the ground and left them until now. No hilling, no chicken tea, just occasional cheering from the sidelines. Next years maybe we'll do even better. We'll definitely grow more German butterball potatoes, since they're my favourites. I've become a potato snob.

We also uncovered another example of better gardening through neglect. Actually, I doubt better care would have helped this, but we might have uncovered it sooner. It would probably have been much less impressive a month ago.

We pulled more mutant carrots too, but that's been done, so I'll spare the photos. Now to go eat some of the broccoli we harvested....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where have all the flowers gone?

The Spawn has been very sad lately because the flowers are all gone. Of course, we've explained about seasons and all that good stuff. Given that she's two and a half though, I don't think she really understands the concept yet. We seem to have settled on something along the lines of "they're sleeping until spring".

Not all the flowers are sleeping. There's still some Queen Anne's Lace. Dandelions, of course, hang on till the bitter end. Even the roses are still doing their thing to some extent. But the leaves are turning and fluttering gently down. The rains have definitely started. And the spiders are mostly gone.

Yes, summer is spider season, autumn is leaf season, winter is rain, and spring is flowers. Not bad spiders, and I've been trying to keep the Spawn from getting a spider phobia (she's just gotten over the chicken one), but lots of them and webs EVERYWHERE you want to walk. How's that for digressing. Must be past my bedtime.