31 July 2010

Family, Friends and Farms

Two weeks ago I went down to California to visit my family after having been away for a year. It was a really pleasant trip and I got to see some friends of mine that I haven't in quite sometime. I was able to meet up with my friend Jenny whom I've known since 8th grade when I moved to the Antelope Valley. And I was also able to meet up with Alissa who I went to college with at MICA.

My parents and I went over to Ventura for the afternoon in order to meet up with Alissa after she got off work. We hung out on the beach for a while until Alissa got there then we went and got fish and chips -- delicious!

I happen to be the dumb kid who doesn't take photos of my friends when I only see them once a year. Momentous occasions? Forget it. I also finally met my brother's girlfriend and saw my brother for the first time since Joel and I have been married. Again, photos? Not at all.

Then the following day my mom and I went up to my grandmother's house in Stockton (Northern California). Its a really beautiful drive starting out with wind farms and then heading into the San Juaquin Valley where every couple miles is a different crop being grown. Orchards and fields of ever changing bounty and color line the highway. I've driven it dozens -- possibly hundreds -- of times but I've never appreciated the beauty until this trip.

My grandma's house sits on a man-made lake which may or may not have a name but I've never heard it. A lady who lives down the way from my grandma raised some ducks and a goose. My grandma isn't too fond of the ducks because they eat her plants, but I think she's fine with the goose. At night the goose sits on this stump that's right behind my grandma's house, in her "backyard" as it were. "Backyard" only because its not really hers when she shares the lake with hundreds of other people.

This is my lovely grandma Alice who is going to be 80 this year.

Holy cow! She certainly doesn't act like most octogenarians, she works out three times a week and is on several committees including a soup kitchen and a hospital visiting team connected with her church.

While we were there we played Roll Over, a dice game, and Scrabble every night. It was nice spending time with my mom and my grandma.

And ever since I've been back I've been making up for lost time I suppose. I've been busy canning, harvesting, painting, the list goes on but its been really refreshing to be so productive.

A couple days ago our landlord stopped in to do a walk-through of the house. He lives out of state and was up last spring when he was finding tenants (us) for the house and hasn't been back until this last week. We showed him the mold that we had in our bedroom so he got a local handyman to spray down and prime the worst spots. We couldn't make up our minds about what color to paint the room before Pete the handyman was done so we just had him paint the ceiling and then made ours minds up later. And what was the color, you ask? A beautiful deep grey that changes colors with the light.

Also this week there has been lots of vegetal things happening. Currently our garden is doing pretty great since we've had largely warm days and a fair amount of sunshine. The cabbage and Brussels sprouts are doing well. I don't know if they will grow to their full potential they need to die back but we'll see. I'm afraid to see what fall and winter will be like this year since spring took over summer pretty effectively.

The rest of the garden is doing well too. I pulled a large handful of beans off and we had some for dinner last night with a couple patty pan squash from the farm co-op. It was delicious. The apples are getting big and I'm almost positive they are Golden Delicious apples. I'm a little disappointed about that simply because they tend towards mealiness.

Onions, beets, squash, rhubarb!

The majority of the squash that is growing and two of the tomato plants are from seeds from the compost pile. The compost hasn't been getting hot enough to kill the seeds which is disconcerting since I put weeds in there too. But perhaps its okay since they never get big enough to seed? Who knows. When I live in a warmer climate I imagine it would be easier to get a hotter pile not to mention having a little more grass clippings and weeds (i.e., a bigger yard).

And here in Rose City our roses are doing well.

In other news, there has been lots of pickling going on in our house. Kelley, Clara and I went to Sauvie Island Farms to get cucumbers -- and we did, 34 pounds of cukes! We also got a cabbage, not without a few BRAssica jokes.

Here is all our bounty. We got lots and lots of blueberries, a cabbage and as I mentioned before 34 pounds of cucumbers.

Clara throwing a blueberry (or as we rudely prefer, "bloob") into Kelley's mouth, and if I remember correctly she got it in no problem.

Here are some of the cucumbers that we pickled, about half of all of them.

The rest of the cucumbers.

And this is largely what our pantry looks like now. Its exciting to have so much food in there, yay! I actually added several more jars of pickles down there after I took this photograph.

Today I harvested all our potatoes. It was a little disappointing after having such high hopes for what they would produce. I planted 13 potatoes and got about four potatoes per plant on average. Last year it was a much higher yield per plant. Alas, I have a rainbow of potatoes, small amount as it is.

And that is about all for now. I'm starting to freak out about how little I've worked on my thesis this summer but I'm hoping to devote more time to that in the upcoming week. I'm also going to be teaching how to basket weave on August 8 at the Skillshare Studio which is just down the street from my house. Yay! I sure hope I have any students, its not a common skill that most people have or want and convincing people its not a joke and a totally reasonable skill to have is a little difficult. Oh well. Many things in the upcoming weeks and then school starts, I feel the blood draining from my face very quickly.