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And how’s that working out for you?


And it won’t make me sick: greenhouse broccoli

You’re supposed to ask the above phrase in a droll, sarcastic manner. And what is it you are asking about? The all-local, mostly-home-raised diet that I have imposed on my family.

And I will say to you: It is going well. It’s when I eat nonlocal that all hell breaks loose.

Frankly, this local grub dealio is going better than I thought, especially since I added meat back into the diet. I had rather forgotten how stupidly easy meat was to cook: there’s no chopping, and hardly any prep at all, really. It’s kind of boring, frankly, to an aspiring alchemist like myself: I had, for so many years, exacted the absolute last drop of flavor out of simple vegetables, beans and grains that meat cooking is…not terribly challenging. (And no, I haven’t done a standing rib roast or fired up a bain marie yet, so I suppose it could be harder if I wasn’t just roasting or stewing things.) But meat aside, my vegetable growing choices for next year’s gardens are becoming terribly clear, especially in the root cellar department. My poor root cellar is being sorely taxed.

More Root Crops, especially Carrots. More Cabbage, More Head Radicchio. More Celeriac. More Winter Squash.

But back to the present. The terrible thing about the end-of-year holidays to me, gastronomically, is the small fact that I will be eating other people’s food (OPF). I here present the unspoken downside to extreme local eating: the intestinal distress one experiences when one eats Off The Reservation. I have been sick for days now, and I blame a slice of Eli’s cheesecake. (Technically, Eli’s is in my 100-mile foodshed range, but dang, let’s just simply say that I don’t normally eat that way: 850 calories for a slice.) But really, both Tom and I have noticed that if we ever go Off Rez (i.e., away from home) for any length of time, we just feel ill! We need to get back home and have some restorative garlic soup and bread.

It could just be the flu. I know that food poisoning, unless you’ve eaten something really disgusting, does not have fever and body aches as attendant symptoms. I have these symptoms. But I would rather blame OPF, in the form of that demon cheesecake, than a simple flu bug. Even a local flu bug.

Surprise in our Christmas tree


I’m not particularly gung-ho about Christmas. I enjoy the time off, and enjoy having two weeks of school-free fun with my daughter…but really, the high holiday of consumerism doesn’t appeal to me in the least. For the sake of family bliss, though, I mostly keep my feelings to myself.

It’s my job to get the tree. I harvest them on either our land or our neighbor’s land across the road. This year, Saturday, I took the kid out with me to go find “the perfect tree,” as she called it. It took a while but we found the least Charlie Brown-ish one: quite a search, considering we stomped around 16 acres of muddy, bramble-filled woodland. Well, we found it. And when I set the tree down at the back steps of the house, we found it held a nest.

Okay, that little nest even got my scroogy heart going. So here it is, lit by our new LED lights.

Happy Christmas, everyone.

Happy solstice!

I figured today, right before the actual hour of solstice, was as good a time as any to move away from Blogger.

Thanks for finding the new digs! I wish you a warm, festive holiday season. The snow is melting here; third snow, third thaw…I even saw a couple of bugs flying around outside when I did my chicken chores this morning. (Well, it is 45 degrees outside.) Either way, the world is now tilting back toward the sun, closer, day by day, to gardening season. And that is as warm a thought as I can give you. So thanks for coming to my new home.

Garden Rant

HEY dear readers!

I am ranting today at Garden Rant. Go check it out.


On the efficacy of tears

Thank you all for your warm sentiments. I appreciated the cyber-hugs!

Gardens, in the scheme of things, are nothing to cry over. I didn’t lose my job, I didn’t lose a loved one in a war, I don’t have an incurable disease. Those, frankly, are great reasons to cry.

My first thought, honestly, when I was pulling out the posts for the chicken fence were this: what’s with the waterworks? Is this The Change Of Life? So even among the tears, I am always laughing at myself.

I’ll tell you this, though: when Tom came back inside from talking with the propane guy, and heard me sobbing, he freaked OUT.

So, today, my task list is especially long. That chicken run needs to be put back up, as those happy birds again have free range, but they’re easy targets for the hawks. The damage needs to be assessed in the herb garden. Compaction is a bigger problem than just getting smashed: this clay soil becomes positive concrete when it’s run over. I think the only loss, as far as Thanksgiving is concerned, is the sorrel: it is ripped to shreds. And the fence needs to be put back up around the herb garden. And then there’s all that other stuff I need to do.

I’m time-crunched is all. Considering I adore having lots to do in the gardens, you’d think getting one uprooted and another run over would be seen as opportunities by me!!!!

On tears

I did something yesterday that I never do. I cried.

Yes, I am normally very much a tough cookie, and am not easily given over to much sentimentality or, indeed, to tears of any kind. My first reaction is usually anger. It’s a wave, usually, of red-eyed steaminess that, with much social grace and coaching I have tamed to…well, at least a deep intake of breath before I blow my top.

And gardens are nothing to cry over, in the big scheme of things, but…

…the propane gas guy HAD to drive right over the kitchen herb garden yesterday. And I cried. I cried A LOT.

What the hell is THIS about, I wondered?

I guess it started with having to get our well replaced. I had to move a whole bed of perennials in order for that to happen. Have they moved back? No. Has the bed been reaugmented with lots of organic matter and new soil? No. Is the front yard still a clay-filled unsightly mess? Yes, why, yes it is!

So, what’s with the propane guy? Is the driveway all of a sudden not big enough for him? Well, welcome, friends, to the joys of country living, where all services (electric, gas, water, sewer, trash, internet) are YOUR responsibility!!! There IS no city or township or county system to plug into. Propane is only (thankfully) used to heat up the hot water heater, and the dryer, which now sits unused. So our propane tank, a small lovely looking R2D2 thing outside the basement door, sprung a leak. You would walk outside and think: ‘did something die under the back porch? By Dog it stinks out here.’ So the whole tank had to be replaced, and he had to drive a big truck back there and boom the old tank out, new tank in. This required that I first remove the chicken fencing, remove the decorative fence around the garden, take one of the clotheslines down, and then go inside and cry.

(I should say I harbor absolutely no malice toward our propane guy. He is, though maybe 10 years younger, and sporting a ‘I Heart Jesus’ keychain, a dead ringer for Michael Moore. He is actually quite a sweet man, and he felt horrible about the garden.)

What’s with the tears? I guess it is because I have absolutely no time to redo what has been undone. The greenhouse is only now just enclosed, the other gardens need to be put to rest, the compost needs to be made, leaves raked, chicken coop windows reinstalled, etc. etc. etc. No time for extras. So thus, I cry. It’s the overwhelming hopelessness that I remember as a child: I have no power over this situation, these tears say. It’s not a comfortable feeling.

We have returned

We liked it so much, we stayed an extra day.

The kid is definitely an urbanite. She’d say things like “I need to make a call,” and she would. She also had me in tears when she saw that I was taking her to the train and she said, “No, we don’t take the subway to the restaurant. We take a taxicab.”

Note kitties in the Hello Kitty bag. Don’t leave home without them.