Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Berry Crazy

(photos: wild raspberries, making turnovers, finally eating the HOT turnovers, a pre-consumption photo)
We've gone a little berry crazy here. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries -- they all seem to love the red soil and regular rain. Wild or domestic, they thrive. Sunday we went exploring for a "pick your own" adventure. The place selected ended up being what I'm coming to think of as an Asheville-area specialty. Acres of land, beautiful and partially domesticated, sprinkled with roaming babyboomers finding their new way in the world. This particular berry wonderland was also home to handmade solar water heaters, a variety of composting strategies, a well-stocked trout pond, and a host of organic-looking living structures. A friendly if somewhat reclusive volunteer (separated, divorced, finding his way through physical labor and organic living) directs us to the community center and sign-in, points out the recycled containers and gestures in the direction of raspberry and blueberry patches.

The kids think it's a little piece of heaven on earth. "These are the best berries I've ever tasted!" Never mind that the raspberries are almost done and the blueberries will peak in a couple weeks. Enough treats were found to fill a couple pint baskets and to stain four lips a lovely shade of pinkish-purple.

Once home, the surviving berries needed to be folded into turnovers and popped in the oven. The results may never grace the front of Gourmet - but they earned a five-star review.

Today we checked on the wild berries on our property. Lovely little jewels beckoned us to overlook the scratched shins and poison ivy threat. We're heading back tomorrow properly attired! Think there may be more turnovers on the menu.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Buying happiness

This week marked the first big tears about our move. Late Thursday night, after a busy day including a trip to our local library (to escape the rain) and several hours of biking and playing in Cane Creek, Dexter came into our room in tears. Despite our busy schedule, he misses his friends. "I hate my life!" Are there any harsher words spoken by a child to his parents? Nothing much to do but comfort him and agree that leaving friends behind sucks.

About five or ten minutes into this teary event, the subject of a much-desired bow and arrow set comes up (trust me, it didn't come from my mouth). Upon eliciting a tenuous "we'll see about that tomorrow", Dex is done with the tears. He still misses his friends of course, but he's set his price for happiness. $50. Available at Wal-Mart.

About a week or so ago, during our inaugural week of "mom camp" (as I've dubbed this summer excursion extravaganza), Bella and Dexter are gleefully noting they have had ice cream three days in a row. Not just any ice cream, but DQ and two days of Biltmore Estate shakes and root beer floats. Add to that snacks from the Y, treats from the farmer's market, sodas at dinner.....I decide enough is enough. I announce I will no longer be buying daily "goodies" at the gym, and they shouldn't expect ice cream sundaes either. Bella, always quick with a quip, says "Just like normal." I prod, a little. What does she mean, just like normal? She elaborates. "Mom (that's Mo-om, with two syllables), I mean just like California. You hardly ever bought us anything. "

Yes, I see the pattern. Yes, I know we should get back to "normal". Yes, I realize that my goal is a simpler, less possession-driven life. And yes, I know that you can't really buy happiness.

But maybe, just for a little while, the credit card ad is right. An hour on the property, broken arrows and missed targets and all? Priceless.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Fourth of July weekend. Our first holiday in North Carolina, and one devoted to family and friend barbeques and gatherings. We missed our friends in California, but had a lovely weekend in our new home.

First up -- camping on the property. What the site lacked in rustic beauty it more than made up for in satisfaction of spending a night on land we own. And while camping in the backyard is sort of cheating - aside from the construction toilet and one temporary electrical outlet, our backyard is pretty unimproved. Kirk did insist on an air mattress. I had my doubts but he fit it in. We all cozied up. And though coffee was available just a couple miles down the road, we brewed our own onsite. Campfire coffee -- much better than Starbucks anyday!

Next up -- some river kayaking. We found a place to push off just a couple miles from the house, and the boys spent a few hours paddling down the river. Bella joined in for some fun in the gentlest part. The French Broad provides quite a range of kayaking options but we're skipping the white water for now. There is plenty of time for that.

The town of Hendersonville, just down the road, provided great family fireworks and fun. By Monday, we were all tuckered out.

Hope you had a great 4th!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

More Worms!

(pictures -- from top: Dexter drilling holes, the worm bedding, the worms, feeding the worms, and a lovely worm salad.)
We finally set up our worm bin today. We quit composting about a month before we moved. We didn't think the new owner of our house would be excited about our worm bins. So we reluctantly returned to throwing our food scraps in the garbage and spread the lovely wormy compost in the garden. We thought it would be a brief break from compost.

Unfortunately our rental house isn't all that compost-friendly. The yard is tiny and completely exposed to the neighbors. The development has lots of rules, some pretty dumb. I'm pretty sure acompost pile in the backyard would not be viewed as appropriate landscaping. I could collect our kitchen scraps and haul them out to our property but I'm a little too lazy for that. And even I am not that excited about decomposing corn cobs in the back of my car.

So we set up a worm bin. Two tupperware tubs with holes punched in them, stacked one in the other. The bottom one will catch the liquid released from the compost. The top one serves as home for our pound of red wigglers. It has drainage and air holes, shredded paper and cardboard, and our fruit and vegetable scraps.

For those of you following the blog -- yes, I did buy worms again. Twice in a week! Once from a vending machine and this time from a guy with a "worm farm". In California our worms were free. But the red wigglers are supposed to be better composters, eating up to their weight in food scraps each day. So I bought a pound.

Kirk says they better be hungry. He was a big fan of our cheap and easy approach to compost in California. We cut holes in two old garbage cans and put just about everything in those cans -- shredded paper from the office, all our coffee grinds and kitchen scraps, old newspapers. We then mostly ignored the whole mess, except once every couple of weeks Kirk and Bella would go out to check on the worms and turn the compost. The system worked fine and we had hundreds of happy, hungry worms.

At least if these worms don't eat much we can always use them as fishing bait. I'll keep you posted.