Duendesday: strange days

{life with a curious and crazy 11 yr old}

Midsummer – full of plans and arrivals. It’s been a little extra hot and thick around these parts (something that is terribly affecting many good folk everywhere) – leading us to sneak out to a park or run errands when it breaks for a bit, or when we think we can stand it.

The Augusta Mill Park is kind of nice – it’s right by the river which looks lovely and attracts a lot of wildlife and since Augusta isn’t really built up by the river, it’s not too sketchy (from the park area). And it tries to offer stuff – a dog park, an overhang picnic area where the Farmers Market happens on Tuesdays as well, a field area where they put up a bandstand and have live music or events, and a path that winds its way through from the parking lot (though the path connects with the sidewalk which is an extension of the bike path that makes its way to Gardiner – south) to a Pentanque court. On little inlets and rocky peninsulas we spy the cormorants shaking out their wings, herons, osprey and eagle overhead, inland seagulls and down by the river (not in this spot, we can only see it from the path way up above) Duende has spied an otter, fish in the water, and various water plants like pondweeds and lily pads, wild grapes, and tansy. She likes to rollerskate and skateboard there because we have no paved surfaces near our house.

Other things going on in her little world is her garden – she’s harvesting calendula blossoms and cucumbers as her tomatoes and peppers grow, her pumpkins continue to bloom and fruit and her climbing beans climb! She’s been a neglectful gardener but it seems to thrive. She does keep the chickens out by yelling insanely at them. She’s been doing puzzles and playing many games, including all the crazy ones she makes up herself (like belly bullseye). Her kooky ways will continue to make the rest of Summer just as crazy!

Tuesday Happens

Everyday feels both more surreal and more grounded as we focus on our place in the world. We’re here for the apples and the sugarbush, we’re making friends with the rampant rose, and we’re occasional acquaintances with wild strawberries and sunchokes. We invite some of the insects to join us – certainly the dragonflies and the butterflies (just not the grubs, ticks, and browntail moths…) and all the various creatures that visit us here – Great Blue Heron, Wild Turkeys, an occasional bunny or squirrel, and various bird predators to ‘visit’ the chickens, as well.

But the bread still gets made – people have to eat. And they should be lucky enough to eat good, and real food. It should be a given that folks could break bread together, safely, and without fear. It should be that they have clean water and a life that allows them to pursue a kind of work that fulfills them. They should be able to have guilt-free relationships that are full of listening and mindfulness. Unfortunately, we know this is not the case so hopefully we are all putting out the kind of care energy that the world can pull from and act accordingly.

We count the days until the meatbird harvest, and then camping, then the semester starts and finally to end the season is the Autumnal Equinox: onto a new season of planning. Summer is ending in a special place – not necessarily a good place, but one that requires (perhaps) treading softly and gently. It’s hard to tell how much good we’re doing ‘in the world’ but we do hope that we’re able to help.

May the rest of your Summer carry care to and from you and yours…

Reading Lists for a Monday

We are reading junkies. We are also list junkies. We have a giant list that we add to as a ‘Master List’ of all the books we feel are ‘necessary’ or really – just excellent books. We enjoy the imperfection of our system and love sitting around talking about how to just pick one from certain authors (and sometimes you just can’t pick one!) or what constitutes literature from fiction and history from nonfiction, etc. And then, on top of that, we’ve been trying to add to our library each month any holes we find…

This week’s pile ‘o’ books for Josh include: From the Mouth of a Whale – Sjon, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dust by Michael Marder, and a Haruki Murakami redux of Sputnik Sweetheart

Duende is reading: Lumberjanes Vol. 1 – by Noelle Stevenson, The Tribe of the Tiger: Cats and their Culture – by E.M. Thomas

Rachael’s reading (too many things): Drop City by T.C. Boyle, Post-Scarcity Anarchism – Murray Bookchin, Snapdragon – Kat Leyh, & How to Move Like a Gardener by Deb Soule

What are you reading?

Recipe Thursday: Chickpea/Wild Rice/Date Foraged Salad

I took a break from writing the blog because there were some changes – I had to make some major changes to my diet (with my Spring Shingles and my already weakened immune system from Lyme, there is always nuanced changes to be made, and sometimes a harsh undertaking for acute issues…): no sugar, no dairy, no grains. I know, right? Can you hear the pain in my voice as my kitchen fills with pretty much those three things?! Ha! It’s not that bad. Targeted dietary changes when we need them – listening to our body’s new needs – directed assistance for improved health – a very useful tool. So, I embarked on this paleo/whole 30/ish journey. To be honest, though it is making some good changes, I am also very tired and scattered. I’ve done grain-free before and it does not serve me particularly well. I think all my good neurotransmitter production comes from the protein structure found in grains. I might change up (with my Dr. and nutritionist’s advice) being grain-free with being meat-free instead, and see how that goes. I am imagining that my body might prefer less ‘free’ hormones running rampant and less saturated fat to store them in and more/better thinking/processing/function I could have. All that said, everyone is different, and depending on your personal physical and emotional burdens, the expression of stress and dysfunction will be different for everyone. Functional diets are only functional if they are changing with your body’s needs. And we also need different things at different times of our lives.

Right now, this salad really hits the spot. Plant-based, protein, detoxing with flavor and texture. I managed to find some Native rice (as compared to store bought ‘wild’ which isn’t very wild at all, native rice is rice that grows naturally in wetlands and traditionally is harvested with care and attention from native peoples – this particular batch is out of Wisconsin & Minnesota, honored there by foragers taught by and with the Anishinaabe peoples and dried/parched over wood fire), and I foraged for new daisy leaves as my added green (though you could also forage leaves from violet, dandelion, or other greenery that will hold up in a bean salad, non foraged greens for this would be any kind of Kale though I would probably choose Tuscan/Dinosaur/Lacinato or a Winter Spinach – you want the greens stronger than Lettuce but not as tough as Collards). I love the added sweetness (esp since I’m not having added sugars) of the dates though I imagine you could try something like currants or dried cranberries (but maybe not figs – they are strong in flavor and match really well with other strong flavors, or even meats. I make a surprising tapenade with olives/figs/rosemary that paired with a whipped olive oil/goat cheese mix and crackers will knock your socks off!) but this combination seems to work pretty well. Add a few snappy touches and a light vinaigrette and it’s golden!

Chickpea/Wild Rice/Date Foraged Salad
Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main

2 cups cooked Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans, cooled or drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked Wild or Native Rice (or maybe farro or wheat berry?), cooled
8 oz pitted Dates, cut into pinky nail sized chunks
2 cups loosely packed med-strong greens, ripped into bite size pieces
1-2 Green Onions, chopped (both green & white)
1 cup Cashews, toasted and chopped (or loosely smashed with the flatside of a meat tenderizer, you want some crunchy nutty bits, not big chunks and not nut powder)

1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar (or White Wine Vinegar, something with a hint of sweetness), to taste
pinch Sea Salt/fresh ground Black Pepper, to taste
pinch Ground Cardamom, to taste (optional)
pinch fresh Thyme or Marjoram leaves (optional)

For the salad: Combine everything (Chickpeas and Rice cooked, cooled, and drained) in a Large bowl, stir thoroughly. Toast the Cashews gently over low to medium heat in a clean saute pan, move often so as not to burn – transfer to a chopping cup when cooled and darker golden in color (or smash lightly in pan then toss onto salad).

For the dressing: In a Mason Jar (or dressing jar) mix ingredients and shake until emulsified, toss with salad, season to taste.

Best at room temperature. Enjoy! This would be a great salad to take to a potluck picnic!

Duendesday: Catching Up

{life with a curious and crazy 11 yr old}

It’s been awhile since we’ve caught up with little Ms. Duende. She’s had an exciting Summer – visitations from Grammy & Poppi, a birthday with Pear, too (and Nana, Uncle Cameron & Angela, and Dave!), lots of ice cream scoops out in the world, Farmer’s Market visits, mushroom walks, tree climbing, and every chance she gets she’s either roller-skating or skateboarding (the latter a birthday gift!). Though I am sure she will tell you that her Summer has not been very exciting at all. No camping (yet, we have a trip planned for the end of the month, and likely the month after that since we prefer Fall off-season camping), no swimming (other than her toy pool, which no swimming can actually occur), and not a lot of events for us. It’s just that way. In 30 years there will be a ton of memoirs accounting for lost childhoods to the pandemic.

But that’s just an 11-yr-old perspective because she is wonderfully healthy, she has space to run and breathe and play, and she will eventually see that it is better to be safe than ‘normal’. Until then we will continue to take country drives, play lots of Taco vs. Burrito, go on forest hikes and foraging forays, and live our lives as gently as we can.

Lately she’s been into her fashion doll collection (all found at the Swap Shop) – making clothes and imagining scenarios. A bunch of her baby bicuspids are loose (I don’t remember losing a bunch of teeth at 11, do you?) and her body is changing/growing. Her balance is different but her funny bone is solid. She’s been reading the lovely cat book Grammy got her, Tribe of the Tiger, as well as her new Lumberjanes comic which she is loving (yay!). She’s really intrigued by a medieval court writer/artist named Christine de Pizan so I bought the City of Ladies for us to read together. And anything about Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess. We’ve got some big homeskooling projekts to tackle this year – an ‘art from scratch’ plan (making paints/pencils/paper/glue to art with), a nature journal with some real identification markers, locations, and folklore (mushrooms, herbs, rocks, bugs, birds, etc!), some sort of building hands-on projekt (maybe more bat boxes, owl/bluebird boxes, bug hotels)…culminating and cultivated activities that incorporate all the other bobs and bits of skooling (reading/writing/arting/math/science/geography, etc). Sounds like fun!

Happenings on a Tuesday

I don’t know if it was the lack of Winter or the lack of Spring (type weather) that makes this Summer feel like it’s flying – I can’t believe it’s Goldenrod-time already! We do a lot of time-by-seasonal-shifts: there is crocus-time, dragonfly-time (Josh’s favorite as they dip and dive over our rolling little hill after mosquitos), apple blossom-time, the time of the monarchs, the time of the witch hazel. On the flipside of the light and airiness: there is tent-moth-caterpillar-time (that one has stages), tick-time (which gets longer every year), japanese-beetle-time (ugh), chicken-meatbird-harvest-time, wood-stacking-time, and other various times of the year when special things happen (like Maple Sugaring-time! Homeskool Assessment-time! etc).

And then, there are always the day to days – Tuesday is Baking Day! Josh gets up nice and early, turns on the oven, pulls out the doughs to come to room temp, and gets a cup of tea. He prints out the orders, replies to any emails or confirmation invoices, eats a thick slice of toast, and gets to work. Bagels, Flatbreads, Pizza Dough, Crackers, and almost all of our jar goods are made before delivery day (sometimes the Fresh Ricotta is made the day before, sometimes the morning of…) but all the breads are baked same day (Sourdough Boule and their mini counterparts, Baguettes, Sourdough White Loaf, Rye Loaf, a Pretzel Braed [yes, that’s how he likes to spell it – see, it’s braided bread!], Parmesan Boule, Oat Loaf, etc). And then he bags them with folks’ names on the bags (along with our stamped logo, which he also prepares), fills the cooler with cold stuff like Kimchi, Fresh Ricotta, Eggs, and gets any pickles/jams ready that were ordered. Then he makes coffee, gets a snack together for him and the kid, packs the tiny car with all the yummy goods, and hauls it all down to make delivery in the Portland/SoPo area.

On his trip he is likely to see friends (as almost all of our customers are friends or acquaintances) and pick up some ordered groceries while he’s down there (it’s nearly an hour away). There is a great local distribution center ‘Native Maine’ that we’ve been connected with for the last year – they make it so easy to get goods, their product and prices are good and their customer service is wonderfully friendly and helpful. Though he generally comes back with as much stuff as he left with – friends are gracious enough to share with us their overabundance; scapes, squash, hot sauce, mead, soaps, etc!

What a lovely community we get to be a part of – it’s a gift! Thank you.

Monday’s Musing

Joe Versus the Volcano:

	You're going to spend the rest
	of your life on a tiny island
	in the South Pacific?

She pours them both a drink.

	Well, up till now I've lived
	on a tiny island called Staten
	Island, and I've commuted to a
	job in a shut up room with
	pumped in air, no sunshine,
	despicable people, and now
	that I've got some distance
	from that situation, that
	seems pretty unbelievable.
	Your life seems unbelievable
	to me.  All this like life,
	seems unbelievable to me.
	Somewhat.  At this moment.

	My father says almost the
	whole world's asleep.
	Everybody you know, everybody
	you see, everybody you talk
	to.  He says only a few people
	are awake.  And they live in a
	state of constant total

They think about that for a while.

Tuesday Happenings

It’s been a bit since we’ve had anything happening that was worth talking about! It’s been a wonky Summer – tentative visitations and stepping gingerly out into the world. I feel a bit like Punxsutawney Phil, though I have to tell you, I think there may be 6 more weeks of Winter: I’m going back in. This year seems a lot harder than last year (and we should be so lucky for that).

So – what’s happening? Well, right now – Josh is at the virtual Kneading Conference sponsored by Maine Grains. The end of the conference generally finishes out at the Bread Fair at the Skowhegan – we’ve been going for years (not last year, obviously, and likely not again this year) and it’s a nice little fair. A couple of food trucks, some kid activities, a little bit of live music – and then a mall (that gets bigger every year) of bread like things to buy – everything from amazing handwoven baskets and art cards to small millers and farmers selling their own heritage wheats. There has generally been an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’: many of the bread bakers (Borealis, and of course Maine Grains and their brilliant wares), and some well known Maine brands like Gryffon Ridge spices and Casco Bay Creamery (our favorite gals!), as well as more crafts like handsewn aprons, maple goods, carved spoons, etc. It’s a nice and easy day for us. I’m sad we probably won’t go this year – we’re just not ready for bigger people groups.

It is likely we will also miss the Cumberland County Fair and the much loved Common Ground Fair (sponsored by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association/ MOFGA) this year. Last year there were many ways to participate because it wasn’t happening in person but so far, there aren’t any virtual workshops being advertised.

However, not all is lost for adventure – we are planning a small Harvest Party (hopefully with another deep-fried pig’s head, that was crazy, decadent, and amazing!) and since it’s looking to be a decent apple year (and blackberry, and grape!) we’ll pull out the wooden press for cidering. And a couple of weeks before that, a little camping trip with close (but not too physically close) friends at our favorite place: Grafton Notch Campground (Mo is awesome, the place is so clean and well kept and there are such nice quick trips for kids nearby).

And I was graciously invited to speak at the Good Life Center (the historic home of Scott & Helen Nearing) in Harborside, ME. It was a lovely gathering of about 15 or so folks who hauled their cookies way down in east to see me talk about ‘Bread Philosophy’. A lovely friend & her family put me up in her amazing art studio and we lunched with other friends in the area at their peacefully lush home – it was a weekend of rich conversation and much care. I’ll take more weekends like that, thank you.