Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Monday, September 28, 2015

Almost Done

With the exception of applesauce, which we'll do at the farm with my parents in mid-October, I'm finished with the harvest and with processing.  I didn't keep an exact count of what went into the freezer, but here's an approximate list of what we have ready for the winter.

 This weekend:
 - butchered three roosters; two went into the freezer
 - harvested a bushel of sweet potatoes
 - canned 21 quarts of spaghetti sauce and 14 pints of pizza sauce

Previously processed:
42 pints salsa
5 gallons sliced peaches
30 pints berries
2 gallons green beans
20 quarts tomatoes
3 gallons corn
2 bushels potatoes
3 bushels winter squash

What's left in the garden:

 - a handful of winter squash that looked like they should grow more
 - a few carrots, parsnips and beets that probably won't amount to much
 -  a handful of tomatoes that are mostly cracking and being eaten by slugs before I get to them
 - two nice rows of fall/winter kale
 - a long row of very tall, very pretty zinnias which will last until the frost

I think we're ready for winter.  Let it snow!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Garden Knows It's Fall

Since the beginning of September, The Woodsman and I have been having a fierce Facebook debate about the proper term for our current season.  I believe once September hits, and especially once Labor Day occurs, we are firmly in the season of Fall.  The Woodsman holds to his belief that Fall does not begin until we hit the Fall Equinox - which will happen at 4:21 AM this Wednesday.

I keep posting recipes that include Pumpkin (Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats, Pumpkin Chia Pancakes  and giving him evidence that I am correct.

Exhibit A:  We're back in school.

 Exhibit B:  It's cold in the house.  The blankets are back out of the closet, the quilts are back on the bed, and we've (mostly) let the cats back in the house.  Last night I even asked him to build a fire.  Of course, he looked at me like he'd just seen a horror movie.  September was definitely too early for the first fire in his book.

Exhibit C:  The Garden Knows It's Fall - I picked three bushels of winter squash and gourds on Sunday, and harvested the Bloody Butcher (dent corn).  All of the summer crops are pretty much finished.  The kids are delighted because the summer squash is dead, and I am sad that the tomatoes are almost a thing of the past.  What's growing well in the garden now?  Kale, Carrots, and Sweet Potatoes.  Those don't sound like summer to me.

When he saw the fall display I put on the porch, as we enjoyed Sunday afternoon's pleasant cool weather, he said, "You know, it's starting to feel like fall around here."  In another day we'll be in agreement.  Until December 1st of course, when I'll say it's winter and he'll still think it's fall.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pivot Point

My students and I have been reading To Kill A Mockingbird.  Lately, as part of our discussion, I asked them to think about the pivot points in their lives.  I have many.  Getting married, becoming a mother - those are probably the biggest.  However, since I've found that kids often relate better when you stretch back to the remember when times, I decided to write about a pivot point from high school.  Here is what I wrote in class today.

One of the huge pivot points of my life came when I was twelve.  I played coronet in the 7th grade band.  I don't remember if it was the first rehearsal, or not.  But, sometime, during the beginning of that year, I met my best friend.

I can't even begin to fathom how different my life would be if I hadn't met J.  My politics, my sense of self, the books I read, the music I listen to, the experiences I had, my empathy to my students, probably even my career choice itself, have all be irrevocably shaped by him.

While there have been other giant pivot points in my life - meeting J and getting to know him almost as well as I know myself changed me forever.

10th grade winter formal. I'm in black, J is in plaid.  The fashion is questionable, but the evening was great.

"I don't know if I've been changed for the better. 

 But, because I knew you, I have been changed for good."   - Wicked

This summer.  Personally, I think we look better - and we're certainly happier.  I may go to high school every day, but I'm glad that's not still my world.  Here's to good friends who have been with you forever.  Blessed.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Backbone of the World

The Blackfeet People refer to the mountains in and around Glacier National Park as the Backbone of the World.  If you've been there, you agree.  The mountains in Glacier look like they hold the planet together.  They defy description, and resonate in your brain long after you leave.

We spent a week camped on Lake McDonald and surrounded by mountains.  Highlights of the trip included driving on the Going to the Sun Highway, hiking at Logan Pass, spending the day on Lake McDonald, taking a boat ride on Lake Josephine, and attending a Blackfeet tribal dance performance in St. Mary.  The Woodsman also hiked (by himself with just the bears for company) on the Highline trail - look for that in Glacier Part II.

Hiking at Logan Pass

Logan Pass is beautiful.  There are hikes that start on both sides of the visitor's center.  Get there early- the parking lot and trails will become full as the day progresses.  The scenery is worth the early rise time.  Don't skip it.

My parents were with us from Olympic through to one day east of Glacier.

Marmots - the girl's favorite rodent.

Mountain Goats everywhere!

 Going to the Sun Highway

This drive is not for the faint of heart, but it is beautiful.  Plan to allow plenty of time and be sure to drive it at least twice so you can see the view both going and coming.  The view changes as the light changes so it's good to try to go at different times of day as well.

Bird Woman Falls

St. Mary's Lake

Sunset looking from Browning to the mountains

Boat Ride and Guided Hike on Lake Josephine and Lake Grinell

Book this tour before you go.  It is better to go earlier in the day if you can.  The return boats are open to anyone, and we almost weren't able to make our evening dance concert at the Blackfeet Reservation because we had to wait so long for a return ferry.  This is a good place to see Grizzly Bear as there are many berry bushes.  I was glad to see the one we saw from INSIDE our boat!

Look for the bear in the middle of the picture on the shore.

The chalet at Lake Josephine

Lake McDonald

We spent a good portion of our time in the Lake McDonald area near Apgar village.  The lake was peaceful, there was good ranger programing for the kids and there were even paddle boards to rent one day.  Don't miss out on the huckleberry pie at the restaurant in Apgar village.  Yum!

I hope we get back again someday, but until then, memories of Glacier will have to suffice.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

North Cascades

North Cascades was, both literally and figuratively, the wildest place we visited.  It was quiet, peaceful, magnificent and mind blowing all at the same time.  

We had another little mechanical glitch here - brake wires to the trailer had come disconnected while enroute and had shredded.  But, thanks to the wonderful folks at the Les Schwab  in (kind of like Jiffy Lube on the East Coast) we were taken care of and good to go.  Of course, we discovered the brake issue after having the trailer fully set up, and it was a Friday afternoon.  But, the owner of the shop was originally from Virginia so he didn't charge Ed anything.  Thank goodness for small kindnesses and small miracles.

One of our favorite parts of this leg of the trip was that we got to reconnect with an old camp friend and meet her new partner.  We weren't able to connect with her when we were in Seattle, so we were thrilled when she was able to join us for the day while we were in the Cascades.

3 things I loved about North Cascades:  the color of the water, the way the campground was spread out and so private, the view of the mountains

2 things that made me nervous:  The wildness of the park made it a place you wanted to keep your kids close.  A child was missing overnight the first night we were there and I woke up in a panic for days after thinking about how I would feel.  Fortunately, all was well and she was found perfectly unharmed in the morning.  The wildness of the Skagit (say it: Ska (short a) - jit (short i)) was also terrifying.  It was so very, very fast.  You could fall in, be sucked under and be gone in minutes and no one would ever know what happened to you.

1 thing I have to do in the future:  come back and spend time in the back country.  This area is close to Holden Village.  Next time, I want to come back and spend the whole summer.  I'll let the peacefulness soak into my bones - I think I'll stay far away from that river though.

Still cold - but on the other side of the rain shadow - so it was dry.  In fact, we drove through several places that had been badly burned a few days before.  This is a terrible area for wild fires. 

The unbelievable wildness of the Cascades

Ross Lake - I want to paddle this and stay out for a month.

Rainy Lake

Monday, September 7, 2015


We tend to avoid going into cities when we do our long trips, but we knew that Seattle wasn't a place we wanted to miss.  We found a state park on Puget Sound within a reasonable driving distance (the first plan was to take the bus, but when we discovered that it would actually cost more to take the bus than to pay for parking we opted for driving).  We headed in early in the morning and spent the majority of our day at the Pikes Market.  

If you haven't heard of the Pikes Market, and you enjoy farmer's markets, then you are really missing out.  It is one of the oldest and biggest open air markets in the country.  We absolutely fell in love.  There was so much to see, and hear and taste!  There were more fruits and vegis than we had ever seen, and the guys at the fish market were hysterical as they moved the fish around on the ice.  My favorite place to eat was Piroshky Piroshky.  I had two (a chocolate hazelnut for breakfast and salmon for lunch) that were divine.  

Other than a visit to the Space Needle (of course, we were there on a foggy day so no view) and a walk through the sculpture garden, we spent the entire day wallowing in the foodie heaven of the Pikes Market.

First stop was the original Starbucks

Space Needle

The view of Mt. Rainier (or the non-view of Rainier I should say).

Sculpture Garden

Above the entrance to the Pikes Market

We sat for over an hour and listened to The Tall Boys.  Can you see that the bass is a wash basin with a rope?

The Woodsman and The Girl ended the day with a ride on the huge Ferris Wheel.  The Boy and I watched the jellyfish in the sound.  We love Seattle!

Friday, September 4, 2015


The next stop on our Northwest Odyssey was Olympic National Park.  If you're not up on your mythology I'll remind you that Mt. Olympus is the home of the Greek Gods - and as soon as you see the mountain part of Olympic you understand the reference.  

Olympic is HUGE and consists of three distinct types of environments.  There are the mountains: alpine trails, snow, mountain goats, a continuation of the volcanic ranges to the south.  There are the beaches: classic Northwest with giant trees hugging the coast, rain and fog, huge drift wood logs, rocky shores and immense,craggy rock monoliths just off the shores.  There is the temperate rain forest: banana slugs, big ferns and even bigger trees, mosses, water falls, and rain, rain, rain.  Not only is the terrain diverse, it is spread out over a very wide area on the Olympic Peninsula.  This is not a one day park.   

We spent a week at one base camp near the ocean.  Typically we have found it easiest to set up camp once and then make day trips.  However, Olympic was so massive that if we visit again we'll move camp more frequently and spend time exploring specific areas.  I had wanted to do some ocean canoeing and whale watching, but the distance was just too great.  We wound up doing a lot of driving and having some very long days.  Also, for us eight days camped right on the Northwest Coast was eight days too many of damp, rain and fog.  At one point it seemed like absolutely everything we owned was wet.  I thought we would never be dry or warm again.  Olympic should definitely be on everyone's travel list.  

One of our day trips was to the Hurricane Ridge section of the park.  We had an excellent hike up into the alpine.  

Look at that hair!  This picture makes my heart melt.

Another great day trip was to Ruby Beach.  It was one of our few sunnyish days on the coast.  The kids spent hours tide pooling, playing with rocks (making stacks and sculptures), exploring sea caves and enjoying drift wood play houses created by others.

This was what the coast looked like most of the time - fog, fog, fog.

When the sun came out it was gorgeous.

The Northwest Coast is the best place to tide pool.

We spent another day on the Makah Tribe Reservation at the Western Most Point in the U.S. - Cape Flattery.  The Makah also have a wonderful museum.  We really learned a lot about the Northwest Native Americans.

We also spent a lot of time at Kalaloch Beach (we camped on the bluffs right above the ocean), but sadly we had no ocean view.

The water was so cold your feet turned numb right after putting them in the water.

Unlike the East Coast beaches - you didn't need a fire permit, which made for some nice evenings

I was dressed like this most of the time - it was the end of July!

Of course, this part of the Washington Coast is now famous because of Twilight - being a teacher of high school English I did feel that I needed to make the pilgrimage to Forks, and we did walk on the La Push Reservation beaches.  It was easy to see why Stephenie Meyer decided to set her books there.

We did hike to and through the hole in the wall on the coast.  

Finally, we spent time in several of the rain forests.  They were my least favorite part of Olympic.  We had already experienced several temporal rain forests at that point in the trip - and to me, you've seen one, you've seen them all.  Banana slugs and giant trees are great, but I can only get excited about them for so long.  There were a few nice waterfalls, but the drive to see them was very long.

You really can't describe how big these trees are - you have to go see them for yourself.

When we left Olympic we headed east again, this time we wouldn't be turning back towards the West Coast.  There was a lot to see before we landed at home, but still, it was good to be heading towards the sunrise again.