true confession, i never was a girl scout (the brief stint at being a 'bluebird' and all, plus some years in 4H) but lately i've been thinking that adults should get honorary badges. so i looked up the girl scout pledge:
"on my honor i will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the girl scout law...i will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong and responsible for what i do and say and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place and be a sister to every girl scout"
that pretty much sums up their promise and law. then they have badges. since i've already given myself an honorary chicken badge, now comes the anti-brooding hen badge (how to get this hen to stop sitting on eggs that will never be chicks? mother nature is tough, i tell you) but the eggs are plentiful which leads to
1. the cook badge. so, wanting to mark the first day of fall, i spent the monetary equivalent of several desserts buying ingredients for one pear cake. the recipe said this cake could be made in the crock pot and i thought it sounded fun. chopping and toasting pecans, buttering the inside of the pot, slicing pears, dashing with nutmeg...and waiting. three hours later a mush emerged from the foil barely recognizable as cake and not something i was any too proud to share. which leads me to
2. the healthy living badge. because i only like to share food that turns out well, i started eating it myself and tried not to think that i had single-handedly consumed an entire stick of butter in a few days' time.
3. the outdoors badge. fortunately i had burned calories earlier in the week when my sister girl scout and i were last seen carrying two kayaks uphill from the muddy river bank at an ungodly angle, thankful for the platform and rope someone had kindly placed just beneath the bridge. from which point we had to carry them one at a time along the side of the road, through blackberry brambles, up and over the road divider to the car. this after five and a half hours of paddling (it was worth it) and finally
4. the financial literacy badge. i needed a new cell phone because my favorite had broken internal parts. so i crossed the threshhold of fancy phone store (who shall remain nameless) and found that not only did the model of my phone no longer exist, but i was literally the only one on THAT side of the store (as opposed to the iPhone 6 side, ahem.) i will give the salesman credit for taking me seriously and helping me to get into a very inexpensive model that lets me talk and text and keep my low pre-paid monthly plan. but this was after sifting through his speech that went something like, "for the cost of the phone alone...your unlimited talk and text data package would be less than what you would pay before the mail-in rebate...at cost with no out of pocket expenses today... minus retail pricing for monthly minute usage..." he was just doing his job but i ascertained the model he wanted to sell me cost several hundred dollars and tripled my monthly bill for things i didn't want or need. "i still write on cave walls and use smoke signals," i quipped, "so this model on the OTHER side of the store will be just fine" (walk with me...we're walking, away from the hoards of upgraders). badge!
so the way i figure it i have about 5 girl scout badges now, but no vest. it sounds like a great program. what would YOUR honorary badges be in? i look forward to hearing them and for now, if you'll excuse me, i think i hear my thin mints calling...
Saturday, September 20, 2014
veraison means the onset of ripening. i saw this when i woke up this morning: sun streaming in on a variety of leaf colors just below the vineyards; this maturity of season with a richness of layers. i brought out my leather driving gloves, boots and sweaters...but also left my sandals, sun hat and spf handy: the in-between time when it is still 80 degrees but with a distinctive tinge in the morning air. if i had a photo essay of my morning it would be these three images: fresh eggs gathered in the time of waking where hot air balloons are best seen rising in the distance...a cup of warm milk to go with french press coffee, sipped slowly...and brunch made from garden-fresh produce. the sunflowers are starting to bend their backs in prayer, my tomatoes will split if i don't gather them at least every other day, and potato tops are withered. what's underneath, however, is at it's best: the ground is still warm enough and the second planting of fall vegetables flourishes. i will wait until the 23rd to have my annual pumpkin spice latte because it is still summer in my mind until midnight of the 22nd. in the spirit of an indian summer, however, the biking gear stays out and i plan to put off sock-wearing as long as possible.
this week i was flipping through old magazines, tearing out pictures for an art activity and i couldn't help but notice our cultural shifts in style. these editions were from the late 80's and early 90's and featured women standing next to huge suburbans (the kind that are now for sale by the side of the road) with captions about "doing it all" and "for your sleek lifestyle". i mused to myself as i turned pages, seeing other ads for bulky furniture and laura ashley rose patterns, thankful that we've moved on. this morning, i treated myself to portland monthly and their special 2014 design issue, noticing the trend is definitely about less...smaller, stark, minimal and...a return to the 70's. bearded men in skinny jeans who are opening their own furniture cover businesses while making micro-brew on the side...living room ensembles that i would call "the jetsons (globe lights) meet thoreau (tree stump tables)" and everything organic: harkening back to the days before things like canning and organic food were "hip" or expensive. i got to thinking about what my style would be called. i am admittedly straddling the pre and post-pet era like some bridging the gap between having preschoolers and older children know that small children a white couch do not mix (i saw that in an ad, actually--a little girl frolicking on a white sectional, and laughed out loud). i fantasize about the clean-line "kinfolk" typography...of linen...of dragging my feet along a new rug...flopping myself on the bed and not having to run a lint-roller over it first. i think, right now at least, my style would be best termed "bohemian country real", bohemian owing to the fact that not much matches, country because pollen and compost bins and the aforementioned muck boots are a part of my daily life, and real because the place is completely comfortable AND functional to me. i'm content. it doesn't mean, however, that i don't salivate over the day when my carpet stays perfect or when i can have a micro-fiber suede couch without claw marks on it: all things new and fresh. but stuff is just stuff. the patagonia principle comes back to me--use it and use it and use it some more. so i get out my sewing basket and mend those small holes, put my great grandmother's quilt with mis-matched pillows back on the bed, dust AGAIN, and sit back realizing that there is beauty in all things original. surround yourself with what you like. and that, i think, will never go out of style.
Friday, September 12, 2014
did you know that in france, only croissants made of 100% natural butter are baked without curves on the end? anything else must take a crescent shape. no matter what form it takes, however, it's still a fluffy, layered and delicious way to welcome in the morning with a steaming cup of coffee. translated from any language, any culture? "...ahhh"
Sunday, September 7, 2014
so this summer my very smart and observant friend and i noticed something we hadn't known before. sometimes the moon sliver was facing one way, sometimes the other. (suddenly i was curious as to how it is most often depicted in children's books) it had different rising and setting patterns. so we started studying the moon. we knew the basics, like the moon revolves around the earth and the earth revolves around the sun, but that was about as far as 5th grade science carried into my adulthood (thank you, charity masterson, wherever you are, for helping me spray paint the styrofoam balls representing the solar system for our elementary school science fair). i learned waxing (sliver faces left) on the way to being full and waning (sliver faces right) on the way to a new moon. the handy dandy calendar of moonrise and set helped me understand the moon's influence over the tides as well. i'm sketching the moon every day for the month of september to document what i've noticed. my smart and observant friend is watching the moon, too. she just sent me a text with two new vocabulary words and up to the minute lunar information. it seems that this monday at 10:30 pm we will see a perigee moon, when it is closest to the earth, also called a "supermoon" (222,731 miles when it rises as compared to 252,205 later in the month on september 20). apogee is when it is furthest from the earth. to track your own celestial objects, check out www.timeanddate.com and click on "sun & moon".
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
now i know why homesteaders didn't need to go to the gym. daily life WAS exercise. but let me back up. yesterday i allowed myself to read an entire novel ("the book thief" by markus zusak, which is excellent by the way) an act of complete luxury considering school starts tomorrow. (while i refuse to give up any of my favorite activities, realistically more time will just elapse between when i get to do them. not eclipsed, but delayed...slightly truncated if you will. sigh) so today it was laboring on labor day. the morning began with harvesting sunflowers, onions, tomatoes, carrots (4), and blackberries. then i washed the car. and then proceeded to learn how to clip chicken wing feathers so the birds can't fly away. while doing so, i sat right in chicken poop. second sigh. which led to an unexpected load of laundry. which also led to the quest for muck boots. you would think that boots for muck would be easy to find. they're not. and when i found them, they ranged anywhere from $17-$117. (i'm sorry, but for wading around in the aforementioned chicken poop? i did not buy them) but since i was already in wilco, this led me to discover "second season vegetables". fall, i learned, is a great time for certain plantings. (deer, gophers and bunnies have rendered my spring-planted vegetation stubby). i was going to give up when i remembered, "i'm the human here! i'm not giving up, i'm going to win, this is war!" (even if it's for a small salad. i'm an optimist). so for the promise of said salad, i dug up the ground and buried mesh wire to inhibit the gophers--(or gopher, he's really outdone himself this year, our yard looks like a minefield.) once that was down, i put the dirt back on top and then stretched a double thickness of chicken wire around the perimeter, weaving metal stakes through it like a needle before pounding them in. (ha ha bunnies! you're cute, but not that cute.) then i RE-planted spinach, lettuce, peas and kale before covering the entire garden with deer netting (brazen and unafraid of the dog that they are) and then watered myself (being thus a filthy faux homesteader) along with all the new seeds. while putting tools away of course i found an old pair of muck boots in the shed that fit me perfectly which led me to flexing my back and realizing why pioneers never went to 24-hour fitness. third sigh. the labor day sun already in the west, i think i'll settle in with "the tale of peter rabbit" since i identify much more with mr. mcgregor now than when i was a youngster (in size 3 muck boots).