Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012


We harvested the garlic on Saturday. Garlic is funny, not ha-ha funny, but funny in that strange way that you have to figure out when it's time to harvest them. I looked out Saturday morning and noticed that the leaves were definitely turning brown. More than half were splayed out, no longer standing tall and green. It seemed like it might be time. But then again the weather has been WEIRD. Last weekend it was so hot it was absolutely hellish, but by Thursday the temps were down in the 60s during the day and 40s at night. What's a garlic to do?
So, we harvested all the soft-necks and about half the hard-necks. It was obvious when we pulled the bulbs from the ground that some of the cloves had already separated and were past their optimum time, but most were perfectly ready. So we put them in the wheelbarrow and moved them over to the sauna, where we're letting them dry out and perfect their garlic-ness.

We still have tomato, pepper, and eggplant to plant that we started from seed. There's already a summery lusciousness about the yard, despite the weird weather. Everyday we go out just waiting to be surprised by something new that's budding, flowering, or fruiting.

It's a summer in the time of climate change.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not Dharma Bums, Lazy Bums!

Let that temperature get above 90F (32.2 C) and we wilt. We go running for the cover of pulled shades and ceiling fans, hide in rooms on the shadowy eastern side of the house in the afternoon. Such big babies, we are. Last Saturday it was 97F, that's just too hot for accomplishing anything.

Roger and our good friend Guy are building the chicken house. Guy has started coming over at 7:00 AM so he can work a few hours before the sweltering heat. That means Roger is working at 7:00 as well. After years of retirement that's quite a slog, I'll tell you. I get tired just watching them out there. Their day ends at 10:30 or 11:00. Truly civilized work day. The chicken house is coming along. We're not in a hurry at this point. Good thing we didn't get the chickens first. I remember someone having chicks in their laundry room for a while. That was a bit of a mess.

I have been baking that delicious No-Knead bread once a week. I start it about 9:00 AM on one day, get up at 6:00 AM the next to prep it for its two hour rise before it goes in the 450 degree oven at 8:00. I want that bread out of the oven and the oven turned off by 9:00 AM. I'm a wicked task master.
Then what? Then nothing.

Staying cool.

PS: Temps are supposed to drop tomorrow and then be down in the 60s and 70s for the weekend. We can't wait.

PPS: That lovely little green meadowy grass by the chicken house is a mixture made expressly for chickens. They're going to be so happy some day to find that little field waiting for them

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A Sad and Cautionary Tale

I was crouched down and bending over, pulling some overgrown weeds the other day. I had my back to these woods, when it occurred to me that I might not really be all that safe. It was an interesting realization. I'm only 5'2" and weigh 107 pounds. I'm pretty sure that makes me smaller than a full-grown ewe. I could easily be prey for something, couldn't I? I turned and faced the woods and kept on weeding.
Not Moose, but a lookalike
The reason that thought crossed my mind: A sad and terrible thing happened here over Memorial Weekend when Roger and I were over at the coast. Our neighbor's dog was killed by a coyote. Moose was a small dog, probably a Bichon Frise. He was the cutest little squiggly exuberant thing, the kind of dog that hops on your lap when you're sitting on the couch, or pees in excitement because he's happy to see you. His family doesn't live full time in the cabin up the hill from us, but they come often enough that we've gotten to know them pretty well and consider them dear friends. When they do arrive, like for long holiday weekends, Moose always comes to our door to announce their arrival. He was just that kind of dog, delighted to be out in the country, running around and sniffing everything in sight.

I had emailed photos of the bobcats and coyotes to Moose's parents (M & C). All the pics were taken at the base of their driveway. When we hear the coyotes, they are often up around that side of the property. This is coyote country. The last email I sent M about coyotes, he wrote: That coyote makes me a bit nervous for Moose. He'd make a handy little treat for a den of new pups.

How horribly and eerily prescient that comment turned out to be.

When M & C headed out to take a walk on the Saturday of the long weekend, they took Moose. M suggested that they put him on a leash. C, who doted on that pup sun up to sun down, thought it would be okay to let him run up ahead and enjoy that little taste of freedom that he gets in the country. He'd taken this walk and made these rounds many many times over the years. Why should this time be any different?

Except that it was.

Moose ran out of sight, and M & C never saw or heard him again.

They looked for him for two days. They knocked on our door, found my twin brother and sister-in-law housesitting for us, asked if they had seen a small white dog. The answer was no. They knocked on all the neighbors' doors. No one had seen or heard anything. It's an interesting thing in retrospect to take solace in the fact that no one heard anything. That's good. It means that Moose was killed very quickly. Not a sound was made.

On Monday, M spotted Moose's body in a place he had already looked. Maybe the pups had dragged it out from wherever they had been eating him. So, M took him and buried under a tree in the yard. There are flowers and stones marking his grave. Last weekend, other visiting relatives told us that in all the 48 years the family has had this cabin in the hills, this is the saddest thing that's ever happened there.

So, I was bending over, crouched down pulling weeds when I suddenly thought of Moose, and it occurred to me that it wouldn't take much to kill me. A hungry pair of coyotes with pups to feed could do it pretty fast. It's a dog eat dog world, some say, and damn if that's not the truth.
On a related note: We've been seeing this momma skunk out during the day, and with her kits at sunset. Everyone says that a skunk out during the day is a sign of rabies. Well, it's also a sign of an overworked momma who has to protect her den at night from the very same predators that killed Moose. She's doing her job, and she's doing it well. We're glad to see her being smart. Her kits are adorable.

It's late spring. Things are blooming. Pups are hungry. Don't be afraid, but be alert, everyone.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Memorial

We said our farewells to Roger's mom over Memorial Day Weekend. It was quite a gathering. All of Claudine's extended family was there. That's her four children (and three partners), all nine grandchildren (and seven partners), and six great-grand-children. We spent two full days together with everyone, and then two days with people coming and going. I'm not sure the full family had ever gathered like this before, and it is unlikely it will ever happen quite this way again.
What can I say about memorials or good-byes? I went planning to say things that I had thought about and rehearsed in my head, and the words were compelling and real. But when it was my turn to speak, I said the usual quiet things and handed the kava cup to the person sitting next to me.
Kava cup? Ah yes, the kava cup. This was a very unusual and wonderful way to remember someone. Roger's brother Gary (the youngest brother) mixed a batch of kava in a big bowl. There were two small cups that would be filled and refilled and passed from person to person. The ritual was to dip our fingers into the cup and sprinkle some behind our backs to honor those who had come before us, our ancestors. Then, dip our fingers and sprinkle some in front of us to honor those who will follow us, our descendants. Then we could say something out loud to either honor Claudine, or express our gratitude, or something else. We could then drink the kava, the cup would be refilled and passed on to the next person. When that was done, we had all said our good-byes.
The celebration was held at the beach house, the one that Claudine's parents bought in 1938, when she was only 18 years old. She absolutely loved that house. Roger and his siblings have known that house all of their lives. So they agreed that some of their mom's ashes had to be scattered in the garden there, and they each took turns doing just that. The rest they scattered in the ocean the next day, very early in the morning, just the four of them in the minus tide.

And that was her send off. It was lovely and quiet. It was loving and thoughtful. It was the perfect farewell to Claudine.

And then everyone remembered and commented that Roger is now the elder of the family. Oh the laughter was rich about that.