2. Pie. When nobody else was willing to step into those big Betty-Jo Crocker shoes, I became the pie maker of the family (less adorable than Ned the Pie Maker, not so romantic as Jenna the Pie Maker* but versatile).
*Oh squee! Bonus: a Broadway version of the show with music by Sara Bareilles. Sara Bareilles! Interview here.
It's proven to be an oddly empowering body of knowledge –– not only do I make a steep pecan pie and an indulgent chocolate cream pie, et cetera, et cetera –– but it feels like some kind of ninja move to boss this pre-feminist womanly skill-set. Owning it. In an apron.
3. Junebug, the dog who ate most of a bucket of used turkey-frying oil, stoically yarked it up, and then cheerfully recycl––oh, you get the picture. She taught me a lesson or two about gluttony and optimism. In the interest of truth, I admit it: others remember the incident differently. It might have been pork fat. It might have been another holiday. I like my story better.
4. Activities that OSHA does not approve. We used to schlep our feast to a park to avoid the whole televised sport issue. There were rattlesnakes, squirrels, gators, big spiders, canoeing, and a solid –– but unrealized –– risk of food poisoning.
Nowadays, we rendezvous at Jeff's brother's place. There have been horses (and some tumbles, but I bounced. booyah!), dogs, power tools, bocce tournaments, and vats of boiling oil bubbling over an open flame. No maimings, disfigurations, or mass trips to the ER yet. Knock wood!
5. The frozen half-gallon of Burrville Cider that I say I'll bring to the Thanksgiving feast, but will actually forget at home. Junebug's example notwithstanding, I'll end up polishing it off myself, thankful and replete.
There's instant gratification, regular gratification, delayed gratification, and then there's farming.
I'm not complaining. The slow, vegetable process has been fun so far. Harvest –– even a scant handful of this and that –– feels like a bonus.
As with so many things on this Would-Be Farm, we are learning about the timing of the seasons. Last October, for instance, when we got to the farm, we'd already missed the apple season. The fruit didn't go to waste, of course, as the deer and birds enjoyed the bounty as they have done for some decades.
But in 2015, apples were ripe on the trees and we were there to see it.
A late frost in the spring nipped the buds on about half of the 80 old trees. The rehabilitation of the two old groves is a bit less than halfway there: an unimaginable mess of twisted and crossed limbs remain to be trimmed, along with shade-trees and burdocks and juniper bushes, and it's hard to say whether the soil amendments (fertilizer! minerals!) are making a difference. And we haven't sprayed anything, so the apples were small and dented.
I am making excuses, but those little apples were tasty!
I catalogued three kinds: a yellow apple with crisp, cream-colored flesh; a Cortland-type with red skin and very white flesh, and a red and yellow number that has a complicated, perfumed flavor. Which means I can't really say what KIND of trees we have in the old groves, but... it's a start.
Nearly all of the baby fruit trees we planted in the spring survived their first summer. One pear tree didn't make it, and one of the Honeycrisps looks a little shaky. Both aronia bushes took off nicely.
Surprisingly, the whippy little hazelbert bushes actually produced nuts after just six months in the ground. They were sticks with the odd catkin in April, and by September, they not only had leafed out, but produced nuts that were sweet and juicy, with the promise of heavier harvests in the rather near future.Yay hazelberts!
Big bonus this year: berries.
The Would-Be Farm is widely colonized by brambles, and we don't hesitate to weed-whack them, drive over them with the truck, or smush them by foot. Turns out the rakes are about 80% red raspberries and 20% the tougher, thornier blackberries. And as the first leaves were turning color, we had a nearly limitless supply of juicy berries.
Nearly limitless, because honestly, how long is a person willing to infiltrate the brambles and persuade the bees to buzz along? Even in the interest of eating handfuls of sweet, sun-warmed berries...
Add on a few other electronics: a GoPro to capture the fun, a solar charger to keep everything topped up, a basket full of A- and C- batteries, and a motorcycle battery to power the GPS on the overnight watch... Never mind the snake-bite kit (!), hypothermia kit, first aid kits, cooking kit, sleep system, dry-bags for clothes, and the rest of the expedition gear needed for the adventure.
Johnson brand stock might have gone up based on the volume of Ziploc bags we bought. Bags for flashlights, for food, for electronics, for anything and everything. There's even a jumbo-sized Ziploc that easily gulps up the fluffiest of sleeping bags.
Jeff's cousin Robin steered us toward NiteRider lights. Waterproof, stout, powerful, and designed for use in active sports (night surfing anyone?) these are super cool:
And the solar panel will re-charge them. May everything else we purchase in the next few months be half as nifty!
What if you had only one view –– one view forever? Would you want to watch the sea? A river, constant and ever-changing? A city street from up above? An open field?
He struggled to inch himself up the slope of pillows. His pajamas made a reciprocal slide downward, and when he finished yanking them back into place, his breath sounded harsh in that cool room. It was ridiculous how many pillows and things shared the bed. A bed-tray with a cup and a bell, two novels and a dictionary, a plastic bag of cut-up vegetables in case he got hungry. He couldn't remember the last time he was hungry.
He counted the ticking of the clock and let the perspiration evaporate until his breathing calmed. Later, when he'd managed the slope –– and without losing anything overboard, which was a blessing –– he allowed himself to look out the window. The wind was blowing. He could hear it now that its bounding progress up the hill made sense of the sound. White clouds rolled above the bright timothy. A bird crossed the little slice of blue sky. Time for the hay to come in. Another bird flew by.
When it moved, the field rippled like the fur of some giant animal. When it moved, the earth mounded and fell as if an enormous mole was working its way through the fields.
She held perfectly still, her feet drawn up from the floor to keep the sound of her pulse from echoing through the foundation of the house. She closed her eyes for a moment, but the images came back as vividly as ever. The monster under the ground had eaten everyone. She had seen it, and she knew that it eat her too, but a stubborn flicker of hope kept her frozen in place, surrounded by stone and glass with her feet pulled up and the sound of her heartbeat pounding in her ears.
A coat of paint can be like a really fierce dress: armor, a statement, camouflage, identity.
For the nameless challenge-boat, the wardrobe is going on in stages.
Last week, white polyurethane went onto the sides and edges; in a week or so, more white paint will be mixed with non-skid (sand, basically) and applied to the topsides after some hardware and what-not are in place.
The final bit involves a wiggle and some help: the boat will be flipped upside-down and then the boys will apply epoxy paint (in a color!) on the bottom of the boat.
The boat will have twin rudders that are designed to kick up for beach landing (and in the very likely event of shallow water). Here's the first of them, looking a touch off-kilter to an eye accustomed to a single rudder at the centerline, but I am assured that they are meant to look like that:
The nameless adventure boat will be spending a few days at Spa JTR for some metal fabrication and modification. The racks, for instance, need to be tweaked to fit, and the tillers currently have a tilt that's a bit, erm, "turgid." All easy enough for Derek to fix in his cool shop.
Here the boat is, ready for highway miles:
Why is she facing that way? Expedience.
Nameless and without a trailer to call her own, she's perched on a power-boat trailer that happened to be empty. Kinda like Audrey Hepburn hopping onto a Vespa...
Mr. Linton and I made a impulsive trip to California recently, crashing at the cousins' place and making ourselves at home with their refrigerators and vehicles. In an unusual turn of events, we were on the left coast with no agenda. No stranger to a guidebook (Thank you Lois R. for both the excellent travel hookup and the respect for the lowly tourist guide!), we packed a lot of stops into four short days.
Among the touristy attractions we explored was a ship that sailors and readers alike may recognize. I am tempted to make it a name this ship contest, but really, it's way too easy...
Jeff and his crew, Jahn Tihansky, finished the race in something like 60 hours, winning their division.
People have uploaded a ton of video about the event. Search YouTube if you want more than these two from onboard Frankenscot:
We are hoping that the boat's performance will help us discover the right name.
Progress this week has been a little less than visually dramatic. O.H. and Jeff did a lot of sanding. They repaired a Melges 20 carbon-fiber mast and, thanks to Marty Kullman at Quantum Sails, there are shrouds to hold the mast upright. Some exciting packages arrived in the mail. Very cool lighting options were explored. The mast-step was constructed in advance of painting.
Preparing the boat for the paint-job revealed some really pleasant news: in lifting the boat and its belly-pans onto a rough staging, the boys discovered that only one person is required to hoist an end of the boat.
Try that with a Flying Scot and someone is going to visit the chiropractor!
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