Holding Pattern

A day of varying degrees of intensity.  Fantastic breakfast and a serious discussion over a second cup of coffee and the front page of the Sunday paper.  It feels kind of like a weekend, kind of like a vacation, except with a whole lot more work than either usually involve.  We’re both so ready to be done with this apartment and this shitty building – with the trash in the hallway and the ghetto neighbors and the elevators that never work and the stench of smoke and whatever it is that makes the Run smell so bad at night.

I felt at loose ends this afternoon – mostly done, not much to do until we actually start the move – but! we picked up our keys tonight and took the first carload to the new place, which already feels more home-y.  Shane played with the exiting tenant’s kitten and our landlord was super welcoming and we celebrated with cupcakes, despite the screw (!!) that SB found in the tire after running to Buzz.  The size of the kitchen is probably going to be an issue, but I think we can make it work.

And now, 9pm, home on the couch watching the IOWA GAME on the Big 10 Network, winding down for the night and trying not to think of a whole day of lifting and moving and unpacking tomorrow, followed by another of unpacking and cleaning – but then we’ll be done, and set, and in Alexandria, and out of The Carlton A Condominium.  And that will be a good thing

Eating and Growing Locally: End of Summer Report (week 18)

It’s the end of our local summer, and our entire apartment is up in boxes, waiting for tomorrow’s move.  Our garden is mostly gone, just waiting for a clear path out of the apartment so that the dirt can be dumped and the boxes and pots packed up.  I transplanted the herbs yesterday, and dug up our one and only onion – it’s about the size of a large pea.  The tomatoes are mostly dead, but whatever’s left will be going home with friends tomorrow.  It’s been a good summer.

Meatloaf and roasted veg

At this point, our meals are mostly local, and the non-local stuff feels alternately decadent and weird.  Last week we had macaroni and cheese and frozen vegetables, and it was kind of magical.  We also had homemade meatloaf made from local bison and really lovely roasted vegetables from the market (see my paean to vegetables to understand the depth of my vegetable love).  This morning we made breakfast sandwiches with fried eggs, rye toast, and aged cheddar, all from the market.

I could wax poetic about how eating locally has changed our lives, but enough people have done that already.  I think I can speak for both of us that we’re both cooking and eating better now – and that’s an awfully good thing.

inspired

I’m newly inspired to write by The Orwell Prize’s real-time blogging of the Orwell Diaries.  Orwell’s small observations of life in 1938 England, coupled with the letters from my grandfather that I reread this morning, have me thinking about blogging as a way of capturing every day life rather than just trying to say something meaningful, you know?

Saw a white owl two nights ago – the first in about two years. Also in the distance another bird probably a little owl.

(An excerpt from August 16, 1938)

Since the 70s (at least), my grandfather has kept a diary, recording small events, what they had for dinner, etc.  To most people, reading these diaries would be boring as sin, but to those of us who love him and will miss him terribly when he’s gone, it’s a way to connect with his life and understand the things that were important to him.

Over the 6 1/2 years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve gone back and forth between recording the day-to-day, musing on bigger things (or attempting to do so), and not posting at all because I didn’t feel like I had anything to say.  In the last week, however, two of my friends have posted about small things and the need to post more, even if it’s about less.  I think I’ll try to do the same.

A world under water

Reading about the evacuation of New Orleans – again – this morning in anticipation of Gustav’s landfall, I am equal parts concerned for the people who are losing their homes – again – and fleeing for their lives – again – and also a bit unsettled, thinking about what I’ve read this year in River-Horse and The Population Bomb, about nature righting herself despite our best intentions of keeping her at bay.  About how if we as a species don’t find a way to control our population, nature will do it for us.  About how we’ve changed our coastline and our rivers, and how eventually that change will right itself with likely devastating consequences.  About how the place where I work is on reclaimed land, and how we will be living by a river in just a few days.  And about how in time past, people who chose to live by water understood the consequences and benefits of that decision because they understood that we live on and with the land, we don’t own the land.

At breakfast this morning, SB and I talked about the inevitable end of industrialization, and how perhaps we are living at the end of the English-speaking empire, half a millennium after it started.  In my Saxon England class at Regents College, our professor brought the fall of Roman Britain dramatically to life, reading letters from Romans left behind after the legion pulled out to return to Rome.  The letters spoke of being trapped between barbarians and the sea, of a profound fear for the loss of life and of civilization.  Of a sense of abandonment – that the civilization that had made their existence possible had left them to the wolves and the sea and the painted people from the north.  I wonder if that is how the people evacuating New Orleans feel right now in the wake of the second evacuation in four years – and if we are going to see more of this as the specter of decline continues to be seen in the West.

Let’s just go ahead and mark this down as the summer when I fell absolutely in love with vegetables again.  It’s not that I ever stopped liking you, vegetables.  It’s just that this summer has been so good, vegetables, that you’ve won me over again.  I’m like a new bride, giddy with excitement, swooning for love of whatever’s in the crisper, cut up and roasted with some olive oil and salt and pepper.

I know that all good things have to come to an end, and that eventually I’ll grow tired of your vitamin-filled goodness and we’ll drift apart, dear vegetables.  Ours is a May-December romance in the truest sense.  But you can rest assured that come the dark days of February, when I’m sustained only by the things that I’ve canned and the few items that farmers have managed to over-winter, I will be pining for you and longing for the dog days of summer, when we can be together again.

Eating and growing locally: week 17

Eating:

Sunday night we made amazing UHmazing bison burgers on rosemary rolls with my homemade freezer pickles and also something else that I can’t remember – corn, maybe?  The burgers were SO good and made enough that I repeated the meal for lunch twice during the week.  Nom nom nom.  Did I mention that I’ve started seriously considering beef again?  It’s been 12 years, but I figure that if I can do bison, I should at least try beef.  How’s that for news?

At the moment I’m too tired from my workout to really remember much else about our cooking this week, but SB did make some amazing breakfast sandwiches this morning with farmers’ market eggs and rosemary rolls, and one night I made an excellent green bean salad-type dish from Jamie’s Dinners.  This week I think we’re making meatloaf.

I had intended to share the recipe for the pickles, but as the cookbook from whence it originates is currently packed – along with basically all the other books in our apartment – I can’t this week.  Remind me, though.

Growing:

Not much this week, but then I also forgot to water a bit.  Our basil (and also Basil, of course) is still going strong, oh miracle of miracles.  I’m disappointed with the yield from the tomatoes, but maybe they’ll do nice things in Mark or Mike’s gardens later in the summer.  I did pick a delicious-looking chili today, though.