The Traveling Life

For the last few days I’ve been living a truely nomadic life. My clothes, cooking gear, cooler, and office gear are all packed and loaded into the car as the DP and I drive around the CRV visiting the various summer camps in her charge. If I have a picnic table in the shade and a good wireless signal I’m good. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it’s less than ideal.

So far I’ve had the chance to track down one of the farm stands on my extensive farmstand list. After much effort I found the place only to be told that they were not up and running at this point. I’m not sure when farm stand season begins if mid-July is “still too early” but oh well. By happenstance I passed a more commercial operation and got some nice cherries, peaches, and tomatoes.

Tomorrow, we’re going to cross the mountains and spend the day in the Hudson River Valley. Perhaps I’ll have better luck in that watershed. The weather has been gorgeous. It’s perhaps not the way I’d like to live my entire life but for a few days, it’s been an interesting and refreshing change of pace.

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July 18, 2008 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

Driving Barefoot

Over time I’ve found that driving for long periods wearing traditional shoes makes my feet, especially the back of my heel, hurt. So, I’ve adopted the custom of driving in an old pair of moosehide bedroom slippers. They look enough like street-wear mocs to pass at rest stops and gas stations and for rainy, snowy, or icy weather I have a pair of slip-on barn boots in the car.

Today, I’m making a change — actually several changes. I’ve re-done my driving route electing to travel mostly smaller roads on a more direct (read less total miles) route. And I’m leaving the driving slippers in the closet. Today, I’ll slip on the barn boots at rest stops, bring my sneakers for everyday wear during the week and do my driving barefoot.

July 14, 2008 at 11:07 am Leave a comment

Pesto and Packing

I spent just under three hours yesterday evening trimming my basil bed, picking leaves off stems, processing the leaves with garlic, salt, and olive oil and packing the finished pesto into baby food jars to stick into the freezer. I ended up with eight additional jars of pesto in the freezer. This gives me a total of 15 jars in the freezer and completely exhausted my store of empty baby food jars. I figure I need about 28 jars to have pesto every week (1 jar per week) during the non-basil months (November – May). So, I should be in good shape to reach that goal and maybe even have pesto to share with friends and family.

I also froze three pints of pureed zucchini and three quarts of cubed zucchini. I have frozen pureed zucchini before and used it as a thickener in soup or for zucchini bread but I have not tried freezing it in any other form. I thought maybe the cubes would work in minestrone or ratatouille. I just knew that I had to do something with all of the zukes I harvested yesterday. One was a real ball bat that had escaped my notice and the Kid’s hiding under cover of the mammoth zucchini leaves. I held out three nice small zukes to take with me tomorrow and one large one to split, stuff and grill for my dinner this evening. I also scored two large baskets of peaches to take north with me at the farmer’s market yesterday morning. I got ones that were not quite ripe so I’m hoping they will keep the DP and me in awesome fresh fruit this coming week.

The other major thing I did yesterday was to peruse the local harvest page for all of Connecticut, gleaning information on farmstands and farm markets that will be operating in the area of the state where I will be wandering next week. It’s my probably optimistic plan that armed with this information, I can drop in on a stand or market near wherever we happen to be and scoop up fresh lunch or dinner items with serendipity. Will that actually happen? I don’t know. But I do know that without a source list it would be impossible.

Today I need to finish up some “paperwork” tasks that don’t actually require any paper but do depend on a steady, high-speed internet connection, wash the cover of the Dog’s thick, memory-foam bed, and pack up. Tomorrow is a traveling day!

July 13, 2008 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

Lists, Lists, Lists

Ack.

I began this blog with the intention of documenting my journey in moving my dual-bioregion lifestyle as much towards sustainability as possible. And today I’m feeling like I’m where the rubber meets the road in that effort.

Next week I’ll be more literally nomadic than usual as I plan to ride around with the DP as she checks in at all her various camps. This seemed to me the most practical way to spend time with her and I felt willing to “take a break” from my whole food/local food eating during that time period. Or I thought I did.

While quizzing the DP on her eating strategies I found out that she mostly just does without food — not an option as far as I am concerned. Secondly, when seriously not just abstractly considering it I found the idea of eating in cafes or fast food joints to be completely unappealing. Somehow I seem to have journeyed far enough down this one particular road that backtracking is no longer an option. I guess that’s a good thing. Although right now it feels like kind of a pain. My current plan is to bring along my camp cooking kit and figure out meals for us along the way. I’m not sure how that is going to unfold. But I know that the golden arches just aren’t going to darken my path again. Not even in greatest extreme.

Also, it’s high summer here and the rains have been bountiful. More good news. Except the combination is making the garden exceptionally balky about being put to bed. I’m going to be spending a good bit of the weekend food processing. I’ll pick the garden back as much as possible and hope for the best.

Finally, for this one week I don’t have the services of the X or the Kid to rely upon to keep things running at a minimal level here at the Piedmont house. They are off for their annual week at the beach, so there is no one to feed and walk the Dog or water the flowers or pick up the mail. I’m boarding the Dog and holding the mail. The flowers I’m going to set out on the deck in a big pan of water and hope for the best. They have been so successful, I’m sad to leave them. But since I won’t be in any one certain place this week, it would be hard to bring them with me. The herbs have to stay here this time for the same reason.

Ack.

July 12, 2008 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

Turning my thoughts northward

The Kid and I slept in this morning and I was about an hour late dropping him off to camp. Later today, he and the X will be driving to her sister’s house and then tomorrow they will all be on their way to spend the week on the shore at the family condo.

I am staying in the Piedmont over the weekend. On Monday, I’ll drop the Dog at the vet to be boarded for the week and then I’ll be headed up in the general vicinity of the CRV house. The DP’s schedule is varied and unpredictable now that camp is in full swing. So, rather than sitting tight in a particular location and spend 90% of my time alone, I’ve elected to tag along with her and grab the chance where I may to connect to the internet and get work accomplished. It will likely be quite a change from the mindful, aiming toward sustainablity life I’ve been trying to craft here in the Piedmont. But spending time with one’s partner is something that is very important to me as well. And for some reason, my relationship with the DP has always seemed to be about making those kinds of choices. I can live the life I think makes sense or I can be with her — but not both at the same time.

Even tho I won’t be technically leaving for a few days, dropping the Kid off this morning felt like the first leg of my journey. So, now my thoughts turn northward.

July 11, 2008 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment

Beating the Heat

Last night, I managed the difference between the outdoor temperature (lower) and the indoor temperature (higher) by moving with my therma-rest and summer-weight sleeping bag out onto the deck. I thought bugs might be an issue but they were not. The night air was cool and there was a slight breeze that made things even cooler. I did not end up spending the entire night outside. When I needed to use the facilities around 2:30, I just headed into my regular bedroom rather than going back outside. But it’s an option I might try again.

July 10, 2008 at 1:22 pm Leave a comment

Making Progress

So, pretty much when I first moved to the Piedmont house in 1992, I thought that it might be nice to have a brick walkway. The main entryway to the Piedmont house is via a short, covered porch that links the house with the two-car garage. Perpendicular to that is a little path that runs between the house and the garage to a garden gate in a wooden fence leading to the backyard. The area gets very little sun, but it’s a cozy nook of a place. There is a Crepe Myrtle tree planted next to the garage that overhangs it and spews out brilliant reddish-pink blossoms toward the end of summer. There are steps down from the porch and a pathway that runs lengthwise down the center of the space with two potential garden beds for shade-loving plants on either side. For years, all of the cats who thought this was a great location for their outdoor litter box sort of precluded the idea of using this space for planting any food crops but the last remaining feline met his gentle, natural end at age 18 this past winter.

For years I’ve weeded and mused on the spot. I thought the brick walkway would really anchor it visually. But I had never tackled a project like that and was intimidated. Then I spent an afternoon at the home of a friend of the DP’s. The husband of the friend happened to be re-doing a stone walkway outside his house. So while the DP and the girls sat inside and got caught up with their friends, I sat on the front steps and quizzed the husband on technique and eventually spent the afternoon helping him out on the project. I came back to the Piedmont with renewed optimism about my brick walkway project as I now had my first key component. I knew how to do it.

The second leg in the journey to a brick walkway happened when the X moved into a new house. She decided to have an old, disease-prone tree removed from the front of the yard. She had the stump removed and ground and in the process the brick walkway that had run beside the tree was removed. She replaced it with circular stepping stones. I eyed the bricks stacked neatly against the side of her house and inquired if I might have them. She told me sure.

Hauling those bricks turned out to be a more major project than I had anticipated. The thing about bricks is that they are heavy. I think it may have taken me close to a year to haul them by the trunkfull over to the Piedmont house. Usually whenver I would drop off the Kid, I would put a load in the car. Although there was a period of time when the project fell off my radar screen, which is why the elapsed time may have been a year. But finally I did get every last brick carried and loaded and carried and stacked neatly next to my potential garden path.

One summer, I proposed to the Kid that he and I tackle the project. I purchased several bags of sand, a wooden float, a cold chisel, and a rubber mallet. From previous projects, the Kid already had safety glasses and gloves. Here is a photo from our early efforts.

We worked on the project over a few days that summer but I think I ruined it for us by being a little too perfectionist in my instructions to the Kid. I’ve since learned that the way to approach a project with him is either to use some skill I’ve thoroughly mastered so that I can feel relaxed and flexible in sharing it with him or to embark on something totally new to both of us with the intention of learning it on equal footing. This project, I’ve since decided, was not a good candidate for working with the Kid as I knew enough to be nervous about it but not enough to effectively teach it. We ended dropping the work and I let the walkway languish. For a while I took a detour through the garage when going out into the backyard in order not to track sand into the house. Then I abandonded that approach and simply swept the sand frequently. I got to taking it as a given that a half-finished brick walkway was the look I wanted for that area. The weeds advanced.

Yesterday morning, I tackled that project anew. The weeds are still a presence to an extent, but here are the fruits of my labors.

July 9, 2008 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

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