Sunday, August 31, 2008

Garden update, & cetera

We salsa.

Neighbor Pam gave us a flat of tomatoes from her garden (ours are just now turning) and we decided to make salsa. So I chopped tomatoes and my mom did the assembling of ingredients (peppers, onions, garlic, jalepanos, & cetera) and then I did Taste Testing and it was....DELICIOUS. She's going to can it tomorrow while I'm at work. If I don't eat it all first. All 6+ quarts of it.

And, of course, all the tomato scraps along with this week's food scraps went to the compost pile (of which I am learning a great deal about from The Humanure Handbook)... as in, it doesn't need turning! Revelation!

After a very prolific season from the zucchini plants we decided to bench them. We pulled them up and threw them over the fence to the neighbor goaties.

ones we picked before we pulled the plants
these went to the goats, too

how cute is my dad?!

goats are our friends

Exciting development!!
We are starting to see some actual flowers on the cauliflower! I wasn't sure if they were going to produce. The plants started out so spindly and weak and now they're pretty healthy (healthy-looking enough to support flowers), but so far this is the first sign that we're actually going to get edible produce out of them. Let's hope for more!

And... my sunflowers are finally producing, too! The dwarf sunflowers are getting heads on them!

Another exciting development!! (non-garden related)

My assignment covering Commander John Herrington's visit (first Native American astronaut) was successful and my editor put it on the front page! Also on the front page--one of my photos, the macro shot of the bee covered in pollen. Both can be previewed on the paper's website right now, but it gets updated each week, so check quickly! I told my editor thanks for giving me the opportunity and he said it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities...

Yet another exciting development!!
Keith could be home as early as next week. He's in Billings, not Roundup (not that is matters) and the cool weather we're getting is probably putting the kybosh on the fire. Fire season is winding down. And today he told me he's thinking going to work in Alaska is probably not going to work. The guy who originally invited him told him to "think about it long and hard" w/r/t long hours, limited daylight, increased alcoholism, isolation, etc. and Keith's thinking being back with family and building a tiny house with his wife is sounding a lot more attractive. I have to say I'm glad he's coming to that conclusion because I really didn't want to be the kind of wife who tells her husband he can't do something. But in our relationship all big decision take 2 "Yes"es and I was definitely not wavering on my "No."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

BBQ Days, a tradition we hold dear

Usually a tradition involving doing shots of J├Ąger (“hunt-master"???) and Jeremiah Weed (favorite drink of the American fighter pilot!) until one finds oneself the next morning in a tent pitched in the yard , holding on to the sides of a very tumultuous air mattress and trying to find the door to prevent barfing where one sleeps...followed by a heinous hangover. And vows to never repeat drinking like that EVER. AGAIN. And which vows are usually long forgotten by the rolling around of the next BBQ Days.

But this year I am admitting (and repeating to myself), “Remember: Alcohol Depresses the Central Nervous System!” which means it is not something I need to introduce into an already iffy chemical environment (i.e. my brain). Also, I'm getting too old for that kind of binge drinking. Or too smart. Both, I think.

Anyhow, there are plenty of festivities to enjoy sans alcohol, if you're into really small town shindigs. Which you kinda have to be every once in a while because otherwise your entertainment options are nil.

Exhibit A: The parade. Which was really long this year.
Highlights include:

a really old fire engine
(required in every small town parade)

a flatbed full of 68-year olds

county fair royalty

National Guard Humvee with eagles and flags
poorly spray-painted on the side(seriously, it looked like a rattle-can job)---
not sure why I didn't get a photo,
perhaps the horror paralyzed me

crazy shriners

HS marching band
(hoping the old guy with the trombone is the band teacher)

And my reward for sticking it out until the very end...

Indian frybread with maple topping
(a.k.a. the sugar coma)

(Keith is now in Roundup, Mont. on another fire. He could be there for a few days or a few weeks. He's still trying to convince me he should go to work in Alaska this winter, with a guy on the same crew he's on now... but I don't see him talking me into that one, regardless of the "insane amounts of money" to be made. Being without him these past couple of weeks has been hard enough---and it's not even over. There's no way I could do 6 months. And, besides, we need to get cracking on our Tiny House Building.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pity party, party of one

I've been feeling lousy lately, what with missing my husband and all, overeating, oversleeping and still feeling tired, unmotivated... It's hard to be apart from someone you love, and we're really used to being joined at the hip. It's just lonely. Every day. Talking on the phone is somewhat comforting, but it's not the same. I want to tell him to shut up so I can kiss him. Instead we talk about how tired he is, where he's going next...

And it doesn't get easier.

I don't want it to get easier, anyway.

But it's really hard to feel too self-absorbed about being temporarily separated from my husband when I remember what some other people are going through.

Like my friend Shawn. Shawn is re-living the nightmare of Hurricane Katrina as Gustav heads toward the gulf coast (where her family lives). Three years ago she lost everything. And now she's confronted with that memory in a very real way. Hoping her family is safe. But still feeling scared, and rightly so. UPDATE: Shawn's story about Hurricane Katrina.

Not to mention all of the other people who lost, and were lost, three years ago.

2 Dead Cats 1 Bird 1 Dog Dead, New Orleans

Jennifer Esperanza on flickr has a very compelling set of photos taken just after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The photo above of the van outside the apartment is from her set.

And then there's Mia. I wonder if she remembers the beginning of her life? She doesn't like the rain, or loud noises, or strangers---all marks left on her from her time spent surviving a massive hurricane. Thankfully, she survived and she was rescued (thanks, ARNO!). But there are going to be a lot of scared, lost animals whenever Gustav does land.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Piece by piece

Earlier this week I was checking craigslist, just out of curiosity, to see if there were any wood cook stoves listed in Idaho. In the Pullman page I found a listing for one in Kooskia---just up the river from us! So we went to look at it last night.

And as we pulled up to the house, I told my parents about the "too big/too small" code words Keith and I use if we're looking at something we don't want, for whatever reason.

Fortunately it was just the right size.

Behold, my (our) new wood cook stove. Purchased for only $200!

It has a gimpy hinge on the firebox door (very fixable), and needs stovepipe, and a wrench to turn the grates (fixable), but it's in good shape otherwise. Now I'll just have to learn how to cook using wood heat--probably a bit of trial and error involved with that. And stock up on cast iron pans.

Tonight my dad suggested I should look for a newspaper log roller--I'd never heard of such a thing! And since I have a good supply of newspaper--working at the newspaper and all--this could save us a bunch of money this winter. Checking ebay right now...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

People still do this

Last night we were eating dinner at Jilinda's (my dad said it was his turn to cook) and the woman at the table behind us said, "Oh, people just don't can anymore. And the younger people don't know how to do it."

My mom and I laughed and elbowed each other and I waited for her to turn around and say, "My daughter and I are canning this summer," but she didn't. Which was unusual for her, she generally likes horning in on other people's conversations.

But, yes, lady, people still can. People who like to eat fresh fruit and veggies during the winter, who like raspberry jam and apple pie filling NOT FROM THE STORE. If you eat commercially-canned fruit and compare it to home-canned fruit, you will think that the former is a facsimile of the real thing, like when they used to say in the future we'd all eat tiny pills that would taste like a full meal. Commercially-canned fruit is like that, only without the taste part.

This weekend we are canning peaches. My mom bought 2 flats from Hay's Produce, and the peaches are actually from Yakima, Wash. And they look and smell delicious. I am saving some out to eat plain, and with ice cream.

The best part about canning peaches is peeling peaches. Because I am the type of person who compulsively peels sunburns and blisters, and peeling peaches is quite a bit like peeling humans. (Consensual peeling only, people!)

I was thinking at the outset how neat it would be if I could get a skin off in one piece...then I actually managed to do it about half a dozen times! Like my mom said, "It's all about simple pleasures." That was about half a second after she said, "You're the MASTER," with just a smidge of patronizing tone in her voice.

[Also, if you can peaches (or other fruit), you don't need to make the syrup to pour in over the fruit. Instead: put the fruit in the jars, add the sugar, pour hot water over it all, screw on a lid and SHAKE. Syrup made in the jar. Less mess. That's a tip from my 86?-year old paternal grandma. She's canned quite a bit in her lifetime, so she should know a trick or two.]

This weekend I am on my first assignment for the newspaper! I was hired on to be the PT receptionist/production/graphic designer, but yesterday the editor, Ben, asked me if I wanted to cover an event this weekend since he doesn't work on Saturday and the other reporter, Dave, is "up to this eyeballs in alligators." Sure thing! So this evening I am going to the elementary school cafeteria/gym/multi-purpose room to see Commander John Herrington. He is currently on "a 4,000-mile bicycle ride from Cape Flattery, Wash. to Cape Canaveral, Fla., designed to encourage student participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)." His blog, Rocketrek, is here. Interesting read! In 2002, he was on the Endeavour, the sixteenth Shuttle mission to visit the International Space Station. He was the first Native American in space! Although the lighting in the cafeteria is abysmal, I hope to get a few good shots.

And tomorrow my friend is having a wedding reception at the riverfront park, so I am the photographer for that as well.

Busy weekend! Helps me not miss Keith so much, although I still do. He called @ 2:30 yesterday morning to say he was moving to a camp at a lower elevation and that was more central to more fires, meaning he will probably be staying there a while. The other cook is slated to arrive on Sunday so then Keith will get a full 8 hours off-duty. He's been going on 2-3 hour naps since he arrived! Poor guy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Checking on the garden after the rainstorm

Mother Nature's been watering the garden the past few days.

Weather reminiscent of PDX,
look at that big green monster.

I was outside for about 5 min. and it started raining again.

Sunflowers are drinking up the rain
(and probably also dog pee, judging from Mia's interest in them).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I want to be with you everywhere

Keith just called from the base of Mt. Bachelor. It's raining, he's cold, he's spent the last 3 hours cleaning the reefer (cook slang for fridge), and he didn't have time to set up his tent when they got there, so he's looking for a place (other than the floor of the reefer) to sleep... only to get back up at 2 a.m. and cook brekkie for 400 people. He said he might get a nap Friday afternoon.

This is when I miss him the most, when I know he's having a hard time. It would be great to make spoons and smell him.

He's sending a dirty shirt home "for Lazlo to smell," but I think I'm going to be intercepting that package and Lazlo can keep smelling his own butt.

I'm not afraid to admit I like Vampire Weekend, despite the fact that there's the hype/overhype/backlash trap. Tonight in my feed reader was a post from a blog that has a new Vampire Weekend song: a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere."

This is me putting it on my Zen Micro and heading to bed with this song on Repeat.
Missing my husband.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Harvest time is coming on etc. etc.

Keith is on his way to Bend, Ore. with the crew that cooks for firefighters. Don't know how long he will be there, but he was excited to get on his way after spending a few days of downtime in Missoula. He picked the brains of our friends in the solar business and thought maybe we could get a solar set-up with an inverter that would pipe electricity into an outlet so we could run the laptop, rice cooker, and/or a small water heater. But that will involve saving some money since it would cost about $2k for something like that. Still, within reach in the long run.

And I've been a busy little internet troll searching for more tiny house info. The other day I found a DIY site that had a good option for pouring a concrete floor over a wood subfloor. Before, I had assumed we'd have to pour a slab or something and there were a lot of technical difficulties/ob-stackles involved, but this new technique is exciting. On an Extreme DIY site I saw how to lay a rock floor. But that looks a little too labor intensive for me. Maybe in the bathroom. But we're thinking redwood slats (a la sauna) for that and rocks could be slick...

I've also been doing some heavy duty doody research w/r/t composting toilets. Although I found one (the professional kind) on craigslist the other day--in Grangeville!--for $800 (about $600 cheaper than retail), we still can't afford an $800 toilet. Yet? Ever? I started writing a blog post about composting toilets and today a book I requested at the library came in so as soon as I glean some good info out of it I will have an update. Hint: It's called The Humanure Handbook.

Another CL score: a wood cook stove in Kooskia! For $200! We're going to go look at it later this week. Exciting!
Then I got a little carried away on and started bookmarking THE BEST INVENTIONS EVER. I mean, seriously, the Swedes know what's going on. Illustrated thusly:

fold up wall-mount dish drainer: $30!

cutlery caddy: TWO DOLLARS!!

sweeeeeet rocking chair: $20

Good thing bookmarks are free. I think we may be placing an order with IKEA once we get winterized. Let's not put the cart before the horse.

The rest of us are keeping up with the garden...since the Garden Master is out on assignment. But we've had our fill of cucumbers, so I pulled up the remaining cucumber plants this evening and threw them to the neighbor goats. They go berserk for anything from the garden. (But potatoes are poisonous to them, FYI.) I just yell, "Goatie, goatie, goatie!!" and the come running. I fed them some carrot and beet tops, too.

The beans are going strong and the 2 rows we planted later are tall enough we had to string them tonight.

Ophelia is NOT helping, but very cute.

older beans

The tomatoes/etc. have been out of the greenhouse because we've been having 100°+ heat this past week and they would've cooked. It was good timing because the greenhouse has been overrun with weeds, mostly morning glory, so I took advantage of the heat help fry the weeds once I sprayed lemon juice & vinegar in there--and it worked great. So great that my dad (Mr. Roundup) said he would like to mix up some more and spray some parts of the lawn that are weed infested. No sign of the snake as I as spraying--whew!

before / after

Also, today I had lunch with my sister.

She is home from spending the summer in NY (and she's tan!!), and now she's headed back up to get her classroom ready for spunky 2nd graders. But she'll be back for the legendary celebration that is BBQ Days at the end of the month.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chief Lookingglass Pow Wow

beautiful summer evening

It was very interesting. To say the least.

[Some background: We live on the Nez Perce Reservation. They call themselves Nimi'ipuu, which means the "real people" or "we the people." The Nimi'puu aboriginal territory was approximately 17 million acres or approximately 70 thousand square kilometers or 27 thousand square miles; including the Clearwater River Basin, the South and Middle forks of the Salmon River Basin and their tributaries. The Lewis and Clark Corp of Discovery waited with the Nez Perce in the Kamiah Valley almost a month in the spring of 1806 for the snow to melt so they could cross the Bitterroot Mountains on their return to the East. It is estimated that at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition the native people had been in the area for over 10,000 years. Chief Jospeh was the most famous of the Nez Perce ("I will fight no more forever.") and Chief Lookingglass was the war chief who, along with Chief Joseph, directed the 1877 Nez Perce retreat from eastern Oregon into Montana and on toward the Canadian border.]

I grew up here and have very little knowledge of the actual history of the people who live(d) here, which I think it really depressing. We learn all about Eli Whitney and the cotton gin and all the dead white men of history yet we aren't taught anything about the very rich culture that we are surrounded by and that survives in spite of the efforts of the whites. A good portion of the people I went to school with, through the 12th grade, are native...and I never took the time to learn about their culture, which makes me feel like a louse.

So I decided I should make an effort to find out what I can about the Nez Perce and going to pow wows is one way of doing that.

Grand Entry

Horace Axtell was there and led several of the ceremonies. He is one of the most revered Nez Perce elders, a veteran of WWII who was in Nagasaki immediately after the bomb was dropped, and he will be receiving an NEA National Heritage Award this fall in Washington, D.C. for his leadership and efforts to help continue the culture of the tribe. Here is a video of him speaking Nez Perce. His book Little Bit of Wisdom is on hold for me at the library, so I'm very interested to read it and find out more about the Nez Perce.

remind me to get a camera
that actually works in low-light

out of focus but I like it anyway

I didn't stay as long as I would have liked---it didn't start until 7:30 p.m. and I left at about 9:30 because I was getting hungry, cold, and tired. But I'm sure it will continue into the night. In fact it lasts all weekend.

Separation Anxiety

Keith left this morning for Missoula with the cooking crew for the firefighters. He could be back next week or he could be gone for about 6 weeks, or anywhere in between. The longest we've been apart is probably 4 days in the almost 11 years we've been together. We're pretty much always together and we like it that way. So although I know this is a good opportunity for him, it was still hard to see him leave this morning.

Yesterday was one of the first days he didn't have to be at work @ 3 a.m., so we spent the morning together, getting his things ready to pack, and then went to eat lunch at the bakery.

"Um, I think that's enough (picture-taking)."
His favorite pose lately,
I think it's very cute.
He had to shave his beard
to work in the kitchen.
So he went with a goatee,
although I was hoping for
the fu manchu.

Of course every time we have to be apart I think about it being possibly the last time I will ever see him. Things happen, you know. And that's what I am afraid of. And knowing that this is a good opportunity to make some money that will allow us to build our house when he gets back--that feeling is mitigated by the reality that we don't know what is going to happen and we can't count on the possible good outcome in the future making this "worth it."

I am usually not this pessimistic. I'm just afraid, nervous, worried. And the only thing that will help is when he gets back to me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Every animal rescuer is rescuing a part of themselves..."

Slideshow that goes with the article about BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls) in the LA Times. (Thanks, Bo.)

My favorite from the slideshow:
a pit bull and a chihuahua
wait for adoption

The article focuses on the rescue efforts to save fighting pit bulls taken from disgraced football star Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels.

I have a link to slideshows of the dogs from the BAD RAP website on my sidebar, but here it is again. Rescued Michael Vick Dogs (Warning: heartbreaking.)

Anyone who knows us knows we're pit bull advocates. And if you have any bad ideas about pit bulls (because the media loves to spread them), we can introduce you to Lazlo, who will change your mind in a heartbeat.

Mia, we know, has issues, and definitely has trouble with strangers. But once she gets to know you, she won't leave you alone. She's one of the most affectionate dogs I've ever met.

The point, of my rambling and the article in the LA Times, is that dogs should be treated as individuals, not lumped together as an "evil breed."

And just like any other stereotype, parts of the stereotypes about pit bulls are true (strong, loyal, extremely athletic)... but once you get to know a member of a stereotyped group, you get a better picture of what that individual is actually like, and you might just learn something about yourself and about your preconceived notions. Our brains like stereotypes; we like things to fit into neat categories so we don't have to process so much information. It's like a shortcut. But sometimes those shortcuts can get you in trouble. You might just miss out on a whole lotta love.

Positive Pit Bull Press

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Random thoughts

-Keith might be going with the fire camp in a couple days. Which gives me a lot of anxiety because I don't like being apart from him and I worry about catastrophic disasters that are totally illogical, but I can't help it.

-Dad saw Carl tonight and fed her.

-It was too hot to run the stairs at lunch today but I walked a lap around the track instead and then walked back to work- smelly. I ran the stairs on Tuesday and almost collapsed.

-I need to start doing yoga in the mornings. And eating less sweets. Fatty McFattypants.

-I saw a snake go under the greenhouse tonight. A little guy, smaller around than my pinky and about a foot long. No rattle, so we're safe-ish.

-Composting toilets are complicated.

-I like watching the Olympics, but I miss watching movies with Keith.

-Missing Portland at times. Like when I saw this pic of our old 'hood on Flickr.

-Going to my first pow-wow this weekend: Chief Lookingglass Days. One of my HS classmates is a stellar dancer, I've heard, and I'm really interested to see the dancing in person.

-Started making the Fall Real Estate Guide at work and it's kinda fun, for scrappy design work. (Summer version, pdf) Good experience, that's for sure.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My parents are softies for animals, especially abandoned animals. Must be where I get it. They are constantly adopting new/used pets. Like when we moved to Portland we left our cats Belly and Ophelia with my parents. And then my sister found a kitten when she worked at the lumber mill. And then another cat started hanging around and they adopted him, too.

There are 3 dogs and 5 cats living here (soon to be 4 once my sister takes her cat home).

And now: Meet Carl.
Keith was the first to spot Carl, running for cover under the shed. Then when my mom and I were making pickles on Sunday she saw him running across the yard and I grabbed my camera. The poor kitty is so scared/shy/anti-social she runs and hides under the shed at the first sound of the door opening. But we put out some food and water for her (on the ground since she's too little to jump up to the table of food for the outside cats) and we've been trying to keep an eye on her. My parents both fake-protested at first: "We are NOT adopting another cat!" "Do NOT name that cat!" (knowing: name=attachment)

Keith suggested the name Carl. I was sold. Awesome name. Especially since it's a GIRL. Keith had not realized (almost) all calicos are female when he suggested Carl. Then he said maybe we should change it to Mabel. No! Mabel is an old woman name. Carl is better. Mom suggested Carla. No. CARL. Then he started creeping me out by describing the cat in his best Slingblade voice: "not no bigger than a squirrel."

Still, I like Carl. No one saw Carl today. Maybe she went on down the road. We'll see if she sticks around. Maybe one of the outside cats ran her off. I hope not.

So, yeah:I made pickles. We had to do something with the plethora of cucumbers coming out of our garden. We sliced 26? and ended up with about that many pints of bread and butter pickles. And they are DELICIOUS. We won't starve this winter after all. We may be getting canker sores from pickles, but we'll be eating. Tomorrow I'm taking a box of cucumbers to work and I'm going to beg and plead that someone/anyone take them home.

Keith got a new job: Fire Camp Cook. There's a Fire Camp set up down by the bridge going into town and he was hired on the spot. Working split shifts: 3 a.m.-10a.m., 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Hard work and long hours, but good money and plenty of opportunity for overtime, depending on how long the fire lasts. He might go with them when the go to the next fire, wherever that is. More money in the bank for Tiny House! He'll go back to his other handyman job when the fire season is over, I guess.

yesterday morning, very smokey

I hear the Whatchamacallit pulling up now! G'ngiht!