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GetAttachmentThumbnailThis vegetable plate represents summer in our yard and greenhouse. The red tomato slices are Czech’s Bush, the oddly colored ones are a Siberian variety called Black Prince, the cucumber is called Space Saver and the garish beets are Detroit Dark Red, pickled in a bonehead-simple recipe of vinegar, sugar, water, cinnamon and cloves.

In making that plate I flashed back to the covered-dish suppers of my youth. Each table in the church basement had a cut-glass dish of pickles, olives and pickled beets (or something quite like it). The suppers tended to happen in fall and winter, so freshly sliced tomatoes and cukes weren’t on the menu.

After an unusually sunny June and July, we’ve been treated to near-constant clouds and rain. “State fair weather,” we call it. Great for the rhubarb and raspberries and other outdoor crops. Not so much for the greenhouse tomatoes, which are bursting with fruit but ripening more slowly than we’d like.

 


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thToday was a true Sabbath: We kicked back and  didn’t do anything we didn’t want to do. In fact, DF and I didn’t leave the property once he’d returned home from early Mass.

It was a day for naps, a bit of gardening in between rain squalls, reading and eating stuff from our own yard: cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, raspberries and rhubarb.

It was also a day for pie. Although I love the confection dearly I rarely make it. Today I decided pie was the perfect way to get rid of some of last year’s raspberries, some of this year’s rhubarb and all the blueberries that DF got in prison.

All the best stories include the word “prison” in them, don’t they?

 


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thOur house smells of smoke thanks to a wildfire just south of town. The recent unusually sunny and warm weather has left the area ready to burn.

The linked video above shows an uninhabited, mountainous area. Unfortunately the blaze is spreading toward a part of town with wonderful homes – and no utility infrastructure.

That’s the trouble with living in an isolated area: Even if fire trucks can get up there, they can use only the water they brought with them.

Residents are packing their bug-out bags and creating what the fire folks call “defensible spaces” around their homes (e.g., removing trees and mowing down brush) and everyone’s sort of on tenterhooks. I expect even the atheists are praying for a downpour right about now.

Down here on the flats I’m feeling sad for anyone in the fire’s path and also experiencing a bit of survivor’s guilt. Our house lot is mostly treeless; if fire broke out in tree-heavy areas nearby, we have two hose hookups that would let us squirt out any embers that blew our way.

Thanks to the city water system we’d have a steady supply. One of us could be on the ground watching for hot spots and the other on the roof to protect the shingles. Since this is a one-story house it would be a simple scramble up the ladder; DF does this every year when he sweeps the chimney.

Right now I’m praying (for real) for rain.

 


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th-2It’s 77 degrees here and I’m melting, melting

Which is a little embarrassing to admit. Although I grew up in a hot-and-humid area and also sweltered through the occasional 100-degree heat wave in Seattle* my blood has done got thin.

Like many other Alaskans, I perceive temps in the 60s as warm enough, thanks. When it his 70 I start fanning myself. Now that it’s closer to 80 than 70, I’m panting like a black dog in the noonday sun.

Right now I’m pet-sitting a black dog (Rottweiler/black Lab mix), a furry solar collector whose solution is simple: When he’s not in the house, he spends his time underneath the deck attached to the greenhouse DF built

I’m the wrong size – and the wrong flexibility factor – to follow him under there, so I cope by staying out of the direct sun and drinking lots of water and iced tea. It’s supposed to be in the mid- to high 70s all week.

 


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th-1Some observations about the town of Valdez, Alaska, where the 24th annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference is winding up:

Coming into town were greeted by one of those temporary electronic signs, the kind that road crews put up. However, it wasn’t advising us of “ROAD WORK NEXT FEW MILES” or “ABRUPT EDGE MOTORCYCLES USE EXTREME CAUTION,” however.

No, this warning included the phrase “GRIZZLY BEARS MOVING THROUGH TOWN.”

Sad to say, I have not seen ursus arctos horribilis myself. Kind of hoped to do so, from within a vehicle moving past said critter. But I did hear about someone whose yard was monopolized by a mama grizz and three cubs for several days.

Finally she called Fish and Game to beanbag ’em out of there. She was tired of not letting her own kids go outside to play, lest they become Scooby snacks for the charismatic megafauna next to the swing set.

 


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