Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Birthday....

Pete had help celebrating number 56 today. Will was very 'helpful' in opening the gifts. Emory spent the time sleeping. Cara made spaghetti & meatballs with peach cobbler for dessert. YUM!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray!!!

No surgery for Pete! The ortho dr. said that he did not need surgery and that he should heal nicely. Told him he can start running and biking again if he wants. (He has already done both). No surgery is always good news!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The aftermath

In case anyone hasn't heard, Pete had a very nasty bike wreck yesterday morning. Separated shoulder, neck sprain, bruised ribs, minor facial cuts. He did it up really well. Supposed to be referred to an orthopedic surgeon, will see what he says about surgery possibility. I'm hiding that bike from now on....


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tomatoes: A Heartwarming and Epic Tale of Overcoming Adversity

Thought I would share this little story with you all, since many of you are gardeners and might appreciate it. I'm hoping Disney will buy the film rights to this thrilling little barnburner (whatever that means).

It all began way back in 2008, when I was planning a garden in Lawrence, Kansas. I ordered three packets of heirloom tomato seeds from Baker Creek Seed Company that spring. (They were "Green  Zebra," "Fox Cherry," and "Dad's Sunset.") As fate would have it, I accepted a job in Tulsa that March and moved to a wonderful apartment - but an apartment where no tomato seeds could be planted. So I set aside those seeds, and they sat, forlorn and forgotten, until this spring when Tom and I were planning a garden in our yard here in Kentucky.

Common sense would suggest that three year old seeds would never start, but what the heck? Will and I spent a lovely spring afternoon planting the seeds into little pots, with little expectation of yielding any real plants. Then I put some damp newspaper over the pots, stuck them on top of the refrigerator, and forgot about them.

About 10 days later, Tom said, "Hey, whatever happened to those seeds you guys planted?" I shrugged and lifted up the newspaper. Much to my surprise:

Eureka! Weak, tiny little sprouts were struggling to find light in their newspaper cave. Like an emergency responder, I rushed them over to our reading lamp and dribbled my drinking water over the starts. As you can see, they were pretty puny, but I kept the lamp on them for 16 hours each day, and the following week, they looked like this:

Well, these comeback kids were blowing my mind. Still, I didn't expect them to survive in those little containers for long. Like kids, when they got a little older and bigger, we decided they were ready for their own room - er - yogurt cup. Spring turned into summer, and the little plants grew into honest-to-goodness transplants. We gave some away, then selected the strongest of the rest to put in the ground:

It was just great to have the lovely smell of tomato plants in the yard. If they didn't yield any fruit, that was ok. But it was more than ok that they did!

By now, it was mid-July, and time for us to go on vacation to Florida. (This is the dramatic part of the story.) We forgot to ask our neighbors to water the plants. Would our tomato plants survive, all alone, for the better part of two weeks, during the hottest time of year? (Granted, our weather has not been nearly as brutal as it has been in Oklahoma, and we have had more regular rainfall.)

We came home from our vacation late at night. While Will, Emory and I were flopping into our beds with exhaustion, Tom was racing to the backyard to check on the plants. And guess what?

So there you have it, folks. Without much encouragement from us (in fact, you could say I did pretty much everything within my power to kill these plants, from seed to fruit), and even without fertilizer of any sort, these unlikely little seeds grew up to produce some tasty tomatoes.

Morals of the story:

1. Nature doesn't really need us as much as we think it does.
2. I am a terrible gardener. It's a good thing I don't live in a place like New England, where you have to have some great skill to grow food.
3. Always give the benefit of the doubt, whether it's to another person or to a three year old tomato seed!

(No, that's not a scar, that's a crayon mark, but it does make for a more dramatic conclusion, doesn't it?)

The Trails End.....the real final chapter

The heat was building as we traveled west out of Durango , to the dusty roads near Mancos and out to the Yert.Rugged mountains lined the horizon against a bright blue sky .The cactus,sage brush, and twisted weathered trees made me think of scenes out of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western.

Then the book I had been reading (Reinventing Collapse by Dmitry Orlov)came to mind. This place has so much history to it. But it remains unchanged.This place doesn't care if the country collapses or not. This place has more character. Unchanged , unaffected by moods or economies or wars.It will be here....always.

When we got back to the little farm, Cliff welcomed us back with head held high and tail wagging. Chickens nervously clucked as we walked through the yard.

Upon entering the Yert, we found Becca reading to Orin and Joe playing with Isaac. Playing and laughing.The young family turned their attention to us . The adults inquired about grown-up stuff,(what'd we think of Ft. Lewis, Durango, etc.)

A pile of books were plopped in my lap and Orin was ready for me to take over where Becca had left off. Orin listened intently as I read until he saw a toy car I had put on a nearby table,then it was off to the races!

Isaac was an eager participant as long as I kept my distance. He seemed to think that the faces and noises I made were quite entertaining and funny, but with every attempt I made to hold him, he turned away to a safer place in his mothers arms.

Things settled down after a short time . Isaac was off to sleep and Orin was tuned in to a childrens dvd on the computer.

Kiah went to the pond for a cooling dip,Amy read a book and I took a short nap in the tent.
After delicious home-made pizzas.(between the girls, the guys,the chickens, Cliff,and Delilah the farm cat, not a crumb was left!)

A lazy afternoon turned into an evening adventure.

Joe, Cliff and I took off down one of the trails to the north of the Yert. A large red-tail hawk circled high above. Joe said it holds it's own in territorial battles it engages in with the bald eagles in the area.

As we moved down the dusty trail, Joe stopped to show me remnants of previous civilizations. Right over here, an arrow head. Thirty or so more steps and there's bits of pottery. Shards of stone used for making weapons.And over here, a slab of rock used for grinding corn. Down here,a probable 'dumpsite' for discarded tools, broken bowls and everyday items from a house-hold vanished hundreds of years ago.

And right up here, the foundation of that household. The walls scattered by weather,vandals and time, but the foundation remains. I listened but could not here the echos of those that lived there. It is quiet and still now.

There was more to see and Joe moved to the west. Cliff seemed to know the drill as he had already plunged himself into the deeper thicket where we were headed.

We made our way to a thicker growth of trees. The trail suddenly dropped into a ravine.Turning north, the trail disappeared. We were now in brambles and underbrush. Another drop and a switchback to the southwest revealed a jagged cliff over our left shoulder. As we got deeper into the thicket, the humidity got higher. The cliff became more prominent as we dropped to it's base. A swarm of mosquitos wanted a piece of my ear, but I waved them away with my hand.One final push through a web of stickery brambles and Joe said'This is what I wanted to show you".

My jaw must have dropped because Joe quietly snickered at my reaction.

There before us ,underneath the cliff was a rock dwelling. An ancient home. Built into the natural crevice beneath the cliff. Stacked neatly and packed with morter, stones formed a wall. A one room rock house at the base of the cliff.Hundreds if not a thousand years old. Upon closer inspection, I found fingerprints! In the dried morter were the builders fingerprints. I placed my fingers in the dried indentions and tried to imagine the emotion that the builder must have felt in completing this very important project.Looking inside the one room dwelling, I saw what most certainly was a cool place in the summer. A blackened ceiling told of warmth and safety in the winter. The creek at the bottom of the ravine was the life-source,bringing water to the hunter and the animals he hunted.I could have stayed there much longer, but daylight was waning. As we retraced our steps to leave the dwelling,Cliff started barking. He was down somewhere in the bottom of the ravine and his deep barrel chested bark echoed up the canyon. We couldn't see what he was excited about,but the mystery was quickly solved when a smothering cloud of skunk spray lifted out of the ravine. Only moments later Cliff proudly bounded up to us looking for approval.I must say that I at least applaud his enthusiasm.(The tomatoe juice bath theory would be tested that evening when we got home.)
Before we got home, Joe and I ate some lemon berries, scouted out a likely moutain lions den (we kept our distance), looked at some fish in a little pond that forms when the water level in the creek drops. We talked about how some indian tribes use Yukka plants for energy and the fibers from the plant to weave sandals,etc.Joe showed me some of the arrow and spear heads that he has made. There were many 'adventurous tales' that filled that evenings hike through the rugged trails. Joe's straight forward approach to taking on the challenges of hiking and exploring reveals something new with every turn.

Somehow all that I experienced in the two days we were at Joe and Beccas has special meaning to me. I'm not talking about good company, good food, playing and laughing with the boys. All that is wonderful without saying.

What I'm talking about is the way the world is and the way people survive in it. The book Joe gave to me somehow parallels all of these thoughts.

We are a country of people that for the most part depends on someone else for everyday survival.The supermarket, the gas station, the electric company, the water district,the department store and on and on.

It is inspirational to see Joe and Becca live a life that is so independent.The little farm onwhich they live reflects the strength and determination of pioneers and even civilizations long before them. I think of the civilizations that lived on the very land that Joe and Becca,Orin and Isaac now live.

The living,loving,laughing,and playing that went on in those little dwellings, were independent of things going on beyond the nearest horizon.

If author Orlov is right,(and even if he isn't) that's probably the way we all should be striving to live.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sickened writer :(

In what was the final chapter of our trip out west, I wrote about the final full day at Joe and Becca's house. I wrote it as a comment to the last entry I had written (as I have done all along). Little did I know that there is a limit to the number of words I can post as a'comment'. Unfortunately as I was attempting to transfer the writing (over 4000 words) from 'comment' to 'new post'I lost every bit of it. I cannot retrieve it. I am sickened.
I don't know if I can recall all the great things that inspired such a lengthy comment.
Sorry for such a long time in the writing. I really enjoyed recalling all the great things that happened while on our trip.
The time we spent at Joe and Becca's was very special. Over time I will attempt to retrace in my mind all that happened and document the story.