Monday, April 30, 2012

Guest Posting at Apron Stringz

Today, I am incredibly honored and humbled to have a piece of my writing over at ApronStringz.  My post is titled "On Kiddlets."

Calamity Jane is the super awesomely righteous and all round bad-ass mamma who writes there.  She's a fellow Alaskan, though we met through our blogs.  She's returning to Alaska next month from a 3 year stint in New Orleans, where her man went to law school.  Somehow she's managing to pack up a house and a life and move with two littles under five across the entire country while still getting guest posts up on her blog.  I'm officially in awe.

Her blog's the rallying spot for a great community of punk housewives...  y'all should go check it out.  Meanwhile, to all the folks who've clicked over here from her blog in the last day, hello and welcome!  Thanks for reading my words and taking the time to come see who I am.  I hope to see you again as I'm sure you're lovely people!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sugaring : part 1

Sunday, the Darlin'Man put in 19 taps, bought used at Alaska Feed.  There is a section of birch forest at one end of our property that wants to be a pasture.  We need a few cords of wood for this winter, and the next.  And the next.  Beautiful, that.  How needs intersect and mirror eachother.  Create abundance. 
So we decided that we'd tap the trees, harvest the gift of their lifeblood before chopping down and harvesting the gift of their bodies for fuel.  This serves a two-fold purpose:  we get sap to sugar down, and it also keeps the wood drier.  Apparently Russian peasants decimated huge swathes of birch forest across northern Eurasia by over-zealously tapping the trees, taking more sap than the tree could spare.  We are trying to do just this, intentionally.  This way, there'll be less moisture needing to be cured out of the firewood.  So some trees have two taps, and one even has three.

Our running tally so far:
Sunday: 8 gallons
Monday: 12 gallons
Tuesday 12 gallons

Come to find out, it takes 80-100 gallons of sap for a gallon of syrup, compared to a mere 40 gallons of sap from the maple trees I grew up with in Maine.
I did boil down a couple pot-fuls and got about a cup of syrup.  I wasn't too careful though, and it scorched, turning dark brown.  You can taste the hint of burn, but it is intensely sweet goodness.
I found on HeyWhat'sForDinnerMom's blog, that she had the brilliant idea of evaporating down the sap into syrup with a crockpot.  So wer're trying that.  The stovetop method took WAY too much propane, it was worth it just to try and to see, but is certainly in no way sustainable.  The brilliance of the crockpot method (for me) is that, due to my magic house the energy to run the crockpot during the day while we're gone is literally falling out of the sky.  We'll see how that experiment turns out.

We've got plans laid, in various stages of completion, for birch wine and a couple of birch and birch based ales.  I'll tell you all about it.

We're also drinking sap.  Alot.
Since Sunday, I think I must have drunk a gallon of sap.  Birch sap is suppoed to be an amazing spring tonic, full of micro-nutrients and minerals that are just what the body needs after a long winter.  It tastes like faintly sweet water, and feels so good and so healthful to my body.  It is a constant intention of mine to drink more water, and these past few days I have succeeded in doing so.  It really does make a difference in how my body feels, and how it functions.  

Birch Sap Resources:

HeyWhat'sForDinnerMom  (She's also linked at PunkDomestics)

Taste of the Wild :Recipes!


and The Birch Boy

My Magic House

Darlin'Man checked the generator this weekend.  Last week, the generator ran for one hour.


We used electricity at our normal rate.  It's a fairly low rate, but its not like we changed our behaviors last week, or went away or anything.  The heat tape (a main energy sink in the winter) isn't plugged it.

And it was sunny.  I swear, solar electricity is magic.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Weaving into summer time

It's summertime. The snow is melting.  The sun is bright.  The sky is oh so big and oh so blue.  I did my yoga practice on the porch this weekend, wearing a tank top! and capri! yoga pants.  As I sat in meditation, the sun was pouring down on my face, the warmth of it - directly and reflected off the house in that way that porches have - on my skin, an occasional slightly cool breeze brushed past.  And as I inhaled, I could smell the smells of earth.  After a winter of frozen air, the only scents those of snow and stars, or the warmer air of woodsmoke and indoors, to smell the earth with the sun on my face was like a sneak peek of July.

Sunlight makes birch bark magical.

Its Spring! Spring! Spring!
Last weekend, I finished my sister's shawl.  Here she is modeling it next to lovely fake flowers at the Thai place by the University.  She says she'll take me some better photos of its finished state.  I love the way it came out with the mix of the green and the blue.  I twisted the fringe with my fancy-dan fringe twister that Santa brought me, and I'm SO GLAD he decided to invest in it!  It is so much faster than twisting fringe by hand.  I washed it gently in the kitchen sink, and hung it by the woodstove to dry.

Sister Shawl is finished!!!!  
And then my loom sat empty as I debated and deliberated, overwhelmed by the possibilities.  By the freedom of being able to choose what to put on next.  Saturday I spent hours with coffee paging through old Handwoven magazines and weaving books, trying to decide.  I compiled a list pages long of things I want to make. But most of them were substantial endeavors.  A coverlet.  Blanket.  Curtains.  Rugs.  I've had a few years of year long languishing projects.  I wanted something quick and satisfying that would boost my confidence.  And I just couldn't decide what to do.  I mean, I have a coffee dyed tencel warp chain waiting from ages ago for a Swedish lace scarf.  But I wasn't inspired by it.  I wanted to put on a krokbragd warp, but that's one of those substantial type projects.  I thought about taking some of my hand dyed gorgeousness I've collected and making a novelty warp but I just wasn't sure.  Then I decided I was being ridiculous.  So I went up into the studio and played with combinations.  I was on the verge of being once again crippled with indecision when I realized that HEY!  I could just make one.  And then.  I could do different one.
And so....

Voila.  I warped and threaded and sleyed my loom.  All in a couple hours.  Its amazing how much quicker it goes when you're not using tiny and delicate threads in complex patterns!

Warp bundles
And started weaving.  I think it will be for my mother in law for mother's day.
Start of the scarf
You can see here the three types of yarn I used.  The hand dyed wool is from Weaving Southwest, bought when my mother and I did the Fiber Trails in New Mexico.  I didn't use quite all the skein and still have another one.  The hand dyed curly mohair warp is from LaLana Wools in Taos, from the same trip.  And the tweed-y manufactured yarn which adds a little strength and structure is off the remnants of a cone I got from the lady I bought my loom from.
(mostly) handspun warp

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"As Sure as God" in pictures

I am so so proud of these ladies for the amazing and inspiring job they did.
It was a real treat, actually, to WATCH a show - particularly a movement based show - that I had not been a real part of creating.  Seeing movement narrative from an outsider's perspective gave me all kinds of ideas and inspiration for the show I hope to write and produce in the next year or so.
Expect great things forthcoming from Revive the Red Tent!

Photo Credit : the so talented and always amazing Rhi Johnson, my darlingingest sister....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Calendula Butter

"Churn Butter Churn
Churn Butter Churn
Johnny's waiting at the gate, waiting for his butter cake
Churn Butter Churn
Churn Butter Churn"

I made Calendula Butter this weekend.  Last year a very good friend gave me "Jekka's Herb Cookbook" as a gift.  It is a LOVELY recipe book, combining information on cultivated herbs and their harvesting and uses with a wide array of recipes using them.  Interspersed amongst it all, are reminicences of Jekka's mother's and grandmother's cooking lives in England.  Thoroughly lovely reading, and great kitchen inspiration.

In the Calendula or Pot Marigold section, one of the recipes is for calendula butter.  If memory serves (I did not bring the book into town to quote from, and last looked through it a while ago, when contemplating this plan), Jekka suggests making this using softened butter and mixing in fresh calendula petals.  She waxes poetic about it preserving summer sunny gloriousness.  She also, and I disagree with this bit, says that is it the only way to preserve calendula.  I dry my calendula petals and use it in poultices, facial steams, wound washes, and (grand intentions of) salves all winter long.

So, because it is April, and therefore most of the ground is covered with snow and this year's calendula are baby seedlings in eggshells on my counter, and I had a jar of dried calendula on my herb shelf; I did it this-a way:

I bought a pint of Organic Valley's* heavy cream. 
My darling housemates used a third of it in their coffee.
I took the rest and poured it into a mason jar.
I put in a bunch of dried calendula petals and let it sit for an hour or two, stirring when I thought of it.
I strained the petals out, and the cream into a new mason jar.
I added some small riverstones from the box of them we have sitting on the window sill.
I screwed on the lid of the jar.
Then I shook the jar while I ( rather desultorily) straightened up the house with one hand for a while.
Eventually I had butter and buttermilk.
I poured the butter milk out (saving it for biscuits), put the butter on a plate, ran it under cold water and mooshed it with a spatula until the water ran clear.
Ta da!
Then I left the greasy-from-heavy-cream-and-butter plate, strainer, 3 mason jars, spatula, and river stones in the sink for the darlin' man to wash.  This is why we love him.

This is also why I long for a dairy animal.  And then a real churn to manage the quanities of cream.  When I was in middle school I went to a living history camp at King's Landing in New Brunswick Canada for two summers. We went and lived the life of young folks in an 1800's canadian colony.  It was amazing.  My second year I was assigned to the Ingraham family, a prosperous farming family with a big white farmhouse.  They had an artesian well in their panty/side/mud room.  Which functioned as indoor running water.  Basically they had a down sloping hand hewn trough; the upper end was fed by the artesian well (via some sort of time perios-appropriate gravity pump mechanism), and the water washed across/down the trough and through a drain.  It was in this household that the camp group learned to make butter.  We poured cream into a cooper-made wooden churn, and took turns at the dasher.  There is a definite rythm to churning butter, and a technique of wrist turning to maximize the agitation (caused by the cross on the bottom of the dasher turning back and forth in the cream).  We all made a circle around the churn in the middle, and took turns churning, the rest of the circle clapping, and all of us singing the old song
"Churn Butter Churn
Churn Butter Churn
Johnny's waiting at the gate, waiting for his butter cake
Churn Butter Churn
Churn Butter Churn"

We watched it go from frustratingly still cream, to pebble sized butter bits floating around, and then all at once into a big clod of butter stuck to the dasher.  We took it out and put it in the trough sink, where fresh well water continuously ran over it.  Such a better deal than pouring buckets and pitchers over it!  We all took a hand at using the wooden handcarved butter paddle, but after a few minutes there were really only two of us invested in finishing the process, everyone else started chatting or went out into the yard.  The two of us took turns mooshing this big clod of butter with the paddle, for a surprisingly long time, until finally finally! the water ran clear.  And then we salted it and pressed it into moulds.  The woman who was teaching us told us all about the difference between salted and unsalted butters, the storage times one coud expect with each, period techniques for over wintering butter, and how families would have signiture images on their butter moulds.  I only remember some of the information, but while it wasn't the first time I made butter (think Brownie Girl Scouts in a jar with marbles), it created a memory and image that will forever stay with me when I make butter. 

Just a year or two ago, my alma mater theatre department produced Carol Churchill's "Vinegar Tom" - an amazing play by an amazing feminist playwright (highly reccomended) that takes place in a puritan village that gets over run by the craze and suspicions and insanity of witch hanging and burning -
The production was great, and moving and powerful; but there is a scene near the beginning when the very envious housewife who kicks off the witch hunt is trying (and failing) to get her butter to come.  She is alone on stage, and miming churning, pissed at her philandering husband, and chants
"Come Butter Come
Come Butter Com
Johnny's waiting at the gate, waiting for his butter cake
Come Butter Come"
I still feel the actress would have brought something more authentic to the role if she knew the school-girl chore-passing history of that song, had experienced the aching wrists and arms that is (even successful) churning; that the scene would have played as both more authentic and as more sexually and socially transgressive - as it is meant to - if the experience and the history and the ache and the disillusionment were brought into that chant.

As for my butter this weekend, I'll tell you how it tastes when I make biscuits or bread tonight!

I was a little disappointed by the fact that the orangey-golden brilliant goodness of the calendula only slightly infused the cream.  The color DID end up more golden, but not to the extent that I wanted.  I was secretly hoping for something as amazing as I always imagine Ma's carrot infused butter from "Little House in the Big Woods" to be.  No such luck this time. 
There's a calendula custard recipe in Jekka's book that I also want to try with dried calendula.  I think I'll try simmering the petals in the milk first, and then straining.
This summer, I'll make them both fresh too, and tell you what I think.

***** This post was inspired by Grow It Cook It Can It's March Butter Challenge********
Check out all the other awesome butter making!!!

*Thanks ApronStryngz for the reference for dairy scorecard reference! 
And thanks Cornucopia Institute for good investigative research!

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Fortnight I....

- read the entire archives of my latest blog crush and fellow Alaskan, ApronStingz

- made moose pot roast with SilverGulch (local brewery) beer

- Saw Buddy Wakefield on his last tour - he's settling down with love and land and chickens and local black bear that gets drunk off their extra plums.  oh, and he's writing a screenplay.
- saw the first bare ground this season!
- Soaked my shoes in puddles! 
- Took the dog river running.
- got excited about the idea of a Wellness Coordinator for shelter staff.
- realized I have stacks of books to read laying around the house and decided to read them BEFORE I order more on line or buy more used at Gullivers 
- received a gorgeous Afghani Kashmiri scarf from my father and another from my mother-in-law.  It is an embarrassment of woven riches!
- ate great Thai curry on my weekly sister-date
- used the fringe twister Santa got me for the first time.
- fell more in love with my crockpot
- drank lots of coffee
- did not get called to respond to a sexual assault.
- decided that this summer one of my goals is to learn to shoot my Darlin' Man's 22 pistol and the shotgun (apparently it’s a great birding gun.  I'd be all about grouse and ptarmigan come fall!)
- enjoyed the beauty of a full moon rising through the trees.
- Talked at length about the Spy sub-genre of romance. 
- gave myself an herbal facial steam
- ordered and received the prerequisite reading material for my yoga teacher's training program.
- drank raspberry liqueur I made with August 2009's summer harvest.
- made marinated eggplant tossed with pasta.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"The Man Born to Farming"

The Man Born to Farming

by Wendell Berry

The Grower of Trees, the
gardener, the man born to
whose hands reach into the
ground and sprout,
to him the soil is a divine drug.
He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing.
He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again
in the corn.
His thought passes along the row
ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he
That the unending sentence of
his love flows out of his mouth
Like a vine clinging in the
sunlight, and like water
Descending in the dark?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Living Hand to Mouth

Recently over at Cold Antler Farm, Jenna asked what our dreams are, her reader's dreams.  The question focused some scattered circling thoughts I've been trying to formulate into something resembling a plan.  I mean I have a plan, and really, a clear one at that.  Sorta.  Its also sorta muddy and grandiosly painted with a big brush in my mind.
I've spent so long focused on getting the land.  Get the land and you'll have the homestead.  Because the place, the dirt, the earth, is of course the absolute necessary first step to making the homestead of my dreams.  (This is in no way to invalidate the choices of urban homesteading, homesteading whilst renting, etc.  This is just to say that my long term plan happens on a plot of land we own and which I raise my kids on, grow old on, and pass on to them when I die.)   We have the land now.  And the thing is, that in my utter and intense focus on the getting of the land for the homestead, I have (probably wisely) not focused so much on planning the details of that homestead.

It is starting to clarify and shake down in my thoughts (I spent a few hours today garden planning for 2013 - I'll be gone the month of June this summer, and plan on primarily getting things ready for next year, digging in beds and such).  But "the homestead" has for so long been this thought-feeling-sense-dream of abundant gardens in late summer sun, muddy cold soil in drizzling rain, sore muscles, pails of milk, eggs, warmth of a barn's interior filled with animal life's breathing and scents and shuffling enveloping me and fogging up my glasses in the winter, of family and permanence, of sticky sweet berries on fingers, pastures being rotated, and such.  The 'dream' is tacked down into a future-reality with a combination of book learning and real life experience with gardening, horses, raising chickens, milking, relative protein qualities and butchering techniques for various animals, seed germination times, cold weather season extenders, raised beds, electric fences, rainwater catchment, composting, manure's nitrogen contents, sore muscles, hand tool cultivation, animal training, drip irrigation, etc.
But the time has come to apply some of that knowledge to the direct creation of the "dream."  Because we have the land.

So what I'm working on right now, is long term planning.  Where the barn goes, the chicken coop, the boundaries of the two planned pastures, the main garden, the greenhouse(s), the dog and kid yard, the orchard, the wedded and birth trees, the raspberry patches, the rhubarb patches, the perrenial herb garden, the perrenial flower beds, the asparagus bed...
My recent garden planning and gardening experience has been defined by the temporary.  Last year was a menagerie of potted plants in the back yard of the rental, the couple years before that was an amalgam of built raised beds, a canoe, and tire towers at the cabin.  Before that was a long lapse after helping out in my parents' family garden.  I am so excited and feel so blessed and content to be able to be thinking in the LONG term.  As in, the rhubarb I plant this summer will be the same patch I make a pie from when I'm 80.   It is so very exciting, and full of potential.  And a little overwhelming.  Some of the perrenial bed choices may wait till late summer to be put in next year, but really, while I won't be building the barn this summer it ought to get staked out for planning purposes, and the coop will be built this summer.....

Chicken Plans

I found plans for this cordwood chicken coop in Judy Pangman's "Chicken Coops: 45 Building plans for Housing your Flock."  The woman who made the original coop is from northern Montana, and says she regularly experiences forty below in the winter, and this coop does great.  Now, I never thought I would build something directly from someone else's plans.  I've always just designed my own - bookshelves and cabins alike.   But, looking at these plans, I think that this summer I might just build it as its set forth.  It is designed for a 16 hen flock (about what I was thinking), and for super cold weather, and is CORDWOOD CONSTRUCTION!  If and when we add onto the house as littles come along and then get big, my first choice for construction is/would be cordwood.  Taking on a manageable sized project in the technique is probably a really good idea before jumping into a house....  It seems well designed to me - even the nesting box set up is clever, combining secure grain storage and potential brooder boxes along with the nesting boxes.
Also, we're planning on taking down a whole bunch of birch trees from a forest area that will become pasture eventually, and become firewood this year.  The lady who built the original one said she used birch and aspen, which is great because I haven't heard or seen people using birch for cordwood before.  Of course, birch is the most abundant tree hearabouts (well, and black spruce).

Now the only question is where exactly we're going to put it....  it will be a fixture for at least a decade if not longer (hopefully longer!) so, its an important consideration...

I additionally plan on a tractor-type design for raising up meat birds...

Easter Egg Starts

We didn't do much to celebrate Easter.  Somehow this year, marking the solar equilibrium and the shift from the dark of winter to the sunlight of summer - whether the pagan Eostre or the Christian Easter - on a specific date with grand celebration has not felt truly appropriate to my heart.  Instead, it has felt like a slow and incremental process with lengthening days and slow trend towards warmth.  

My mother gave us Lindt chocolate bunnies, and there were some wilting tulips in a vase from the bouquet my mother in law gave me a couple weeks ago.  But that was about it.  Instead I planted seeds of Calendula and Echinacea.  In honor of Easter, and because they make frugal and ecological sense, I planted some of them in eggshells.  Planting starts in eggshells is an idea I saw on Pinterest, so I'm dedicating this post to Julochka's "pinspiration" series.  I can't find the original idea inspiring pin, but here's another that I have enacted in my kitchen but haven't taken a photo of.  Its remarkably effective.
Anywho.  About the eggshell seed starters.  I'm pretty excited about the idea because it seems to me that when planting them, it will be really easy to crack/crumble the shell around the seedling root ball without damaging the little tender rootlets.  The problem with the "bio-degradable" kind of seed starter trays where you can supposedly just plant the cardboard little pot directly into the soil is that, well, you can't.  Because unless maybe if we're talking about corn starts, the roots just aren't vigorous enough to bore through the industrial compacted paper product.  So you either resign yourself to suffocating your starts' roots inside a tiny cardboard package, or you break and peel open the casing when you go to plant out.  Which traumatizes the roots that are stuck to it, and adds to the shock the plant experiences going into the ground.  I have high hopes for egg shells.

But.  I hadn't stared saving them soon enough.
And I found one of those industrial style ones for free.

As you can see, its the kind that has its own little plastic greenhouse deal.  I was grocery shopping a couple weeks ago, and as I was driving along the sort of little access road to the store, I saw, sitting right in the middle of the road, this brand new in-packaging seed start kit.  So I quick put on my flashers, hit the brakes, jumped out, and fished it out from under the truck.  It must have blown off of someone's neglected car roof, or out of the back of someone's truck.  Thanks to them, whoever they are.  I sure appreciate it.

I'm not doing 'much' of a garden this summer, what with being gone for June and having lots of projects and all.  But, I do have a basket of seed packets from last year as well as some that are dated for 2010 which I think we found at the Transfer Site.  We'll see how they do for germination.  Can't hurt to put them in some soil.  And I'd hate to waste seeds!  I'll keep you updated with what I plant as I do so....

In other news.  I saw my first spot of bare ground at home today!

Birthday lasagna

Friday, April 6, 2012

We could be on-grid by 2018!

"The 100-megawatt distribution line could extend to the site of a planned International Tower Hills mine by 2018 and also could offer electricity in areas north of Fox that GVEA doesn’t currently serve.

With access to subdivisions off the Elliott Highway, Haystack Drive and even the small community of Livengood, GVEA could add hundreds of homes to the Interior grid." per the NewsMiner.

Livengood is approximately another 120 miles past the homestead headed north.  We would be one of the "hundreds of homes" that would gain access to the power grid if and when this line goes in.  And come to find out, preparation for this very line is the bulk of the reason for a very good friend's archeological fieldwork the past few summers.  Funny how the universe can sometimes synchronize things.

When I first read the article, I really watched my reaction to it; I was expecting to be somehow upset or feel cheated.  Living remotely has been such a longtime dream, and I feel radical and hard core living off-grid.  But I wasn't upset at all, I was psyched. 

Our electrical set up is great in our long long days during our short summer.  But in the winter dark we run off of the deisal generator.  We have a great battery set up and the system is phenomenal.  But it is still a direct getting of power from fossil fuels.  Hooking into the grid would allow us to (potentially) sell back excess solar energy in the summer time, and then have (probably cheaper) winter power.  Also, as time goes on and fossil fuels increase in scarcity and price and demand, I sincerely hope that GVEA, our local energy co-op company, increasingly pursues large scale sustainable hydro-, wind-, and geothermal- energy sources.  Which would mean, that being on-grid might be more truly sustainable than off grid.

Monday, April 2, 2012

on carpooling and community

This weekend I spent approximately 110 miles with my self and the road beneath my wheels.  It was nice to have the time alone - to think and to mull over ideas for a play I'm thinking of for the next year or two of RTRT*.  But I missed the opportunity for conversation. Generally, Darlin' Man and I carpool (or else I snag rides from our housemates, or is that homesteadmates?).  Living so far out of town, it only makes sense to minimize on our use of gas - both for its emissions and its cost.  This means that I get to slowly, and gradually (much to the early bird dismay of the darlin' man, but thankfully with his help and support) realign my nightowl self to a schedule of going to bed early, and rising even earlier.  I tell myself this is a good thing.
 But we once again have two working vehicles!  We recently bought his folks' old pickup - it may be a GMC, but it has a back seat, a long bed, great towing power, and super amazing highbeams.

 So this weekend, he was able to go to his Clucking Blossom (free community music and amazingness event) planning meeting  before his Saturday performace, six hours before I was planning on being in town.  And I was able on Sunday to leave for my *ahem * romance novel book club, a couple hours before he had to be in town, and come home something like 8 hours before he was done with strike for his show.  It is certainly a luxury to be able to do things and go places all by myself, without having to account for, in minute detail, the schedule of another person - much less two or three (don't get me started on the days when we have only had one functioning car for three or four people!)  There's always the fossil fuel guilt.

But what I really realized this weekend, in a more experiential way than I have before (in my analytically intellectual way), is the loss of community and personal connection we have in our society's one car and one cell phone per person mobile 24/7 lifestyle.  When we carpool, we are both continually engaged in compromise, and in the practice of consideration.  If we had carpooled, for instance, on Saturday; I would have had incidental conversations with the people he's organizing Clucking Blossom with - many of them good friends I rarely see.  I would have spent time on the internet, catching up on the six or so blog entries I've started and not finished (we don't have the internets at home).  Raif would have gotten to see and say hi to some of my friends he rarely gets to see.  I would have helped out at the local community theatre...  Many and different social contacts and help in shared endeavors would have occurred in

On the other hand, I would have lost out on about 12 hours of being at the homestead, and cultivating within myself and our home the home-centered lifestyle I aspire to.

It is something I have more to say on, and which I frequently think about - though really, having bought the homestead, we're pretty much committed to our choice - this duality between hermit and community, between independence and interdependence.  Writing this, I realize that the concept of the frontier is really at the nexus of interaction of these concepts...

In other news: I made a warm cabbage salad for dinner last night that is a very close and very good! approximation of the gourmet warm cabbage salad at a local 'really nice' restaurant.  I'm quite pleased with it.  Red cabbage, toasted walnuts, crisp bacon, and soaked raisins sauteed in olive oil with a vinagrette.  I ate mine with blue cheese and red wine.  It was so so good!

... was that a ramble or was that a ramble?  I do have more focused posts in my head!  I promise...

*the Darlin' Man tends to choose indie hip-hop and spoken word rap when I might otherwise prefer bluegrass....