Tuesday 2-Do’s

  • Final touches on the chicken tractor and the chicken coop
  • Blackberry picking has begun! Jam and Syrups soon to be available.
  • New Items to Order: Braided (pretzel type) Bread, Garlic Pizza Dough, and soon Rye Bread and Sourdough Flatbreads, and Pickles!
  • Red Clover Wine is fermenting away, considering Goldenrod in the next batch.
  • Fall Teas are drying nicely; medicinal, delicious, small batch combos – chamomile, cleavers, calendula, the ever important and lovely red clover, goldenrod, yarrow, cinquefoil, raspberry leaf, bee balm, mullein – soon echinacea, primrose flower, lemon balm, hyssop…
  • Pulled fingerling potatoes, garlic, and white onions yesterday – good haul!
  • Seed saving has begun – pansies and false indigo, calendula is up next
  • In the house we are getting ready to put in a new kitchen/dining floor of wide white pine (stained grey with tea and vinegar)
  • Getting ready for a new stove that will better the baking and living (goodbye my darling 1955 Philco – you are adorable and strong, just not strong enough for our homestead)
  • Redesigning the laundry room into a pantry and the linen closet into the laundry
  • Rebuilding the library collection (between all our moving and shaking through the years, we have downsized so many times we have major gaps that we must remedy) – we get 2 books a month toward this endeavor – so far: James Baldwin (No Name in the Street), Ray Bradbury (The Illustrated Man), Mahasweta Devi (The Queen of Jhansi), Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)…though we did just splurge and get a good stack for the homestead and for school & work, too (books on fermentation, biochar, ecology, philosophy, etc)
  • We have a fantasy we will make it to a Bread & Puppet show or circus since they are making it safe and sound for audience members (and right now politically, it’s bound to be dynamite!) but we shall see, so many things to negotiate in order to make that trek.
  • And a research trek to be planned to the Good Life Center to visit the Nearing library.

Much to do, much to do – Happy Sturgeon, Green Corn, Wheat Harvest, Blueberry Moon!

Quadruple Berry Pie

Monday’s Muse

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.
~ from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare


Seasonal Celebrations: Josh’s Panzanella (i.e. Bread Salad)

Lughnasadh, Lammas, or even Freyfaxi, and Perunov den, in addition to Hopi Snake and Flute dances, and Native American Eagle dances – all within the mid summer (not be confused, apparently, with Midsummer, which is somehow actually Summer Solstice and not the middle of Summer at all, like the approximation of August 1st – even though County Kerry in Ireland celebrates a 400 yr old Puck Fair now, as well) focus on a wealth of semi-related seasonal aspects: grain (the health and wealth of the coming harvest), the usefulness and relation of thunderstorms/lightning/rain, and something about horses (likely sacrifice for the other aspects to do their magick). You likely know related stories – of Persephone (sometimes relegated to Mabon or Fall Equinox), of Lugh & Balor or Crom (he lives in the erf), or as we still focus on – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (someday I may take on the disputed timeline/understanding of this play’s events as the buried remnants of Lughnasadh – or the true midsummer).

The latter works nicely for us as homeschoolers – we get to focus on a little Shakespeare, reading or discussing, enacting or arting a faerie evening (and Puck is only a shade different than a duende…the same ilk, those mischievous wood sprites) – though to find an exciting version with lovely Arthur Rackham illustrations is a feat in itself.

As with most of our seasonal celebrations we focus our feasts on what is in season and sensible for the season – grilling, Summer salads, early berries, high Summer foraging, early-mid potatoes, and though grain isn’t technically something we grow (or would be harvesting) it is always in season here and is celebrated now. Making grain or grass braids, basket making, playing horseshoes, art about rain and storms or just lying in the grass talking about clouds and even a small get together around some lovely food and Summer meads. I’m thinking of a Mixed Meats Grill with whole garlic, bundles of herbs, and halved lemons, parchment packets of local fresh Mushrooms and wine, Josh’s Panzanella – Bread Salad (a remarkably different and preferable version to the one I had in Tuscany), Triple Berry Pie (Black and Red Raspberries are in, Blueberries, and even a few Blackberries!) with Homemade Ice Cream and if I am really ambitious some Daylillies stuffed with ricotta.

Happy True-Mid-Summer!

Josh’s Panzanella

Serves 6

1 loaf of stale crusty Bread (I save boule or baguette ends and keep in freezer, this is great for that – thaw and toast a bit if moist, not for sliced bread in a bag kind of bread – but something with heft and structure), cut into 1″ cubes
2 Med Cucumbers, chopped into big bite-size chunks
6 Large ripe Tomatoes (or 3 pints Cherry Tomatoes – halved, or 8 slicing/vine Tomatoes), chopped into bite-size chunks
1 Med Red Onion, diced
3-4 cloves of Garlic, smashed & chopped or minced
a good handful of fresh Basil Leaves, torn roughly
a good dose or 2 of Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar, to taste
Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

In a big bowl add bread and vegetables, onion/garlic/basil, then a good pour all over of Olive Oil and half that pour of Red Wine Vinegar – using your hands (always the best tools) work it all together gently but slightly bruising the cukes and slightly squishing the tomatoes, mix in a little salt & pepper to taste. Adjust Olive Oil/Red Wine Vinegar, S&P as needed. Let sit for at least an hour to overnight to let all the good stuff meld – if refrigerating overnight (recommended) let come to room temperature before serving.

When we are feeling really decadent sometimes we add pitted/split Kalamata olives and Feta cheese (if you would rather a vegan or additional protein/crunch addition, add a handful of Toasted Sliced Almonds). Enjoy!




{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

If you were to ask her what our little gal misses right now, she’d probably say ‘Pear’ and the beach (the former being her friend, and the second her Summer heart’s desire). We try and distract her with goings-on but there isn’t much to interest a 10 yr old these days except work, and she wants no part of that. We’ve never been parents to bribe or threaten our child but we’ve come to a place where incentivization is a priority we are trying to navigate. She has a small interest in an allowance (mostly because she thinks it all goes to a new puppy, so the faster she can accumulate, she thinks the faster we will get a puppy, though we are planning for 2022) but that wanes pretty quickly. ‘Helping’ to her comes and goes, sometimes she’s a real peach and loves to be a part of the job and other times she runs and hides. Ha!

Yesterday was a special treat – a knowledgeable and gracious mycophagist (mushroom forager) and his very adorable daughter-assistant came to show us the ropes. We learned a lot! And are more comfortable taking the next steps of further identification and hunting. The girls filled a basket from the woods, as well, for a particularly exciting faerie house they built after our trek. We found lots of stuff not to eat and a few surprises (some baby chanterelles and Lobsters)! So much fun – thank you so much for adding to our growing foraging practice!

And we’re making some plans to try and make a Bread & Puppet Circus this year – it seems so important to us in this political climate to make the travel to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont to see this brilliant troupe (and brilliance of the Schumann’s), and since they are a big part of my dissertation, it seems like a lovely journey. But a quick one – there and back plus the event/museum in one day – whew!! I hope we find a chicken/dog sitter. I really want Duende to be able to experience it, even if the subject matter only touches her peripherally. We have a rolling list of places we want her to experience, and of course, now is not the time but hopefully we can figure it out, hopefully there will be a new world (I’m fantasizing about kind and caring TSA, environmentally-friendly flying and sensible travel options – I know, my fantasies are large!!) – D.C., Athens (Gr), snorkeling in crystal waters, Machu Picchu, to see the Northern Lights, Angkor Wat, Stonehenge – places like that.

Until then, we wander our woods, eat our weeds, make the bread, and live our lives together – the best we know how. We wish you the best, too.


Tuesday Happenings

Anyone who thinks this is the ‘simple life’ is seriously misunderstanding the logistics – it both a continuous journey of discovery and learning and a battle to get the things done that need to get done to make it all worthwhile. The tasks are never-ending, and sometimes priorities are built on nothing more than what is closest at hand or most pressing; sometimes the weather decides, sometimes the season, sometimes fortuitous opportunity, and sometimes from just sheer procrastination.

Not to downplay the pleasure that we get from this life – not everyone is so lucky (not that everything we do is pleasurable, but that we find pleasure in its purpose and experience for us), though luck is an interesting term when we’ve made specific choices (many that most people would not be interested in making) to get us here – it has been a long and hard journey for us, too – we may look lucky now but we’ve paid plenty of dues and if the airplane hasn’t fallen on our house yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t {we’re still waiting for our divine Mercedes Benz}.

That said, this is the kind of place where time pauses – though the list never shortens, and the seasons seem to come faster than we are ready for, we are not beholden to much, including time. We spend this timeless time trying to improve our systems like the chicken tractor – and finding a Winter use for it: turning it into a greenhouse?, thinking about the realities of rabbits and bees for next year, building bookshelves, kitchen garden beds, renovating the old porch to a working greenroom, fixing the mower – always fixing the mower, making pickles and putting up veggies/fruits – picking berries, setting up bread and other goodies for deliveries and thinking of new goods that we (and you) might like, and my recent meditative escape – foraging/drying/making teas. In addition to normal things like homeschooling and my PhD dissertation writing and Josh’s reading/writing, we also have interests like making art/making fire systems/cooking delicious foods and longer-term goals and plans of a magazine publication and on-site workshops and residencies (cabin planning is in the works). And our current dream project of the Rock Bottom Homestead Hearth – a community bread clay oven for both classes, future gatherings, and bread building relations.

Happenings, man – there’s always happenings around here…

Monday’s Musings

Ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never you mind,
This is a prayer for a blueberry girl.
First, may you ladies be kind.
Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen,
Nightmares at three or bad husbands at thirty,
These will not trouble her eyes.

Dull days at forty, false friends at fifteen–
Let her have brave days and truth,
Let her go places that we’ve never been, trust and delight in her youth.
Ladies of grace and ladies of favor and ladies of merciful night,
This is a prayer for a blueberry girl.
Grant her your clearness of sight.
Words can be worrisome, people complex, motives and manners unclear,

Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right, free from unkindness and fear.

Let her tell stories and dance in the rain, somersault, tumble & run,
Her joys must be high as her sorrows are deep.
Let her grow like a weed in the sun.
Ladies of paradox, ladies of measure, ladies of shadow that fall,
This is a prayer for a blueberry girl.
Words written clear on a wall.
Help her to help herself, help her to stand, help her to lose and to find,

Teach her we’re only as big as our dreams.

Show her that fortune is blind.
Truth is a thing she must find for herself, precious and rare as a pearl.
Give her all these and a little bit more:
Gifts for a blueberry girl.
~ Neil Gaiman




{a day to check in with a 10 yr old’s doings}

Tuesday went by within the blink of an eye – we prepared some fresh foods (made pickles – with radish pods, set up kimchi, made some vegan pesto, roasted tomatoes for winter sauce, cut up and froze rhubarb, etc) and went to the Farmer’s Market where we talked to a man about a whole pig. Duende likes when I go to the market so she can ride her scooter on the river path.

This morning, the wee one (who is obviously, not so wee anymore) woke up early to work on her new comic book – ‘FeeFee Goodwill’, so far, it’s a story about a little witch with 2 brothers (Roof and Billie) and something about a car. Coming off a stretch of collage work revolving around women’s bodies/underwear fashion, gems, and kittens now that the studio is a workable space – the writing is underway. She’s at her desk now, playing music, perched next to her art cart, typewriter, jewelry making supplies, etc writing on a clipboard by hand (so she can add illustrations when needed).

We had a talk this morning about raising rabbits for food on the homestead to see if this was something she could handle (she seems good for it – maybe, though there was some confusion about sweaters – I thought she wanted to make sweaters out of the bunnies, but she really just wanted to make sweaters for the bunnies – my bad).

Meanwhile, another tooth is on the loose, we’re still searching for a swimming hole, and it’s good to be 10.

Happy Duendesday!

Monday’s Muse

All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

~ Richard Brautigan