Saturday, January 30, 2010

Living online

Well. Look at that. A reasonable person might wonder why I'm posting more pictures from that epic December snowstorm. Didn't I get that out of my system last post?




Here in the land where it "never snows" or "the snow never lasts" I have 11 inches of fresh snow with a lovely crunchy topping of freezing rain. Kirk made another "follow the snowplow" trip home from Charlotte in the middle of the night. We probably have to fetch Dexter from his sleep-over on foot.

Who cares? I am ordering seeds. Vicariously willing spring to arrive by browsing Southern Exposure Seed Exchange's enticing online catalogue. I've ordered $140 worth of seeds (most at $2 a pack) and I'm not done yet. I've got Grandma Nellie's Yellow Mushroom Beans and Blue Coco Purple-Pod Pole Beans, Cosmic Purple and Scarlet Nantes carrots, little lavender Rosita eggplants, 10 different varieties of greens, Deer Tongue and Drunken Woman (how could I not order that one!) and a bunch of other lettuces, 3 kinds of spinach, 5 kinds of onions and leeks, Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes (plus 4 other kinds), and Yellow-Fleshed Moon and Star watermelons. I've got beans I don't know how to use, pumpkins that will have to just sprawl down the hill, and a special heirloom Appalachian banana-shaped squash that is pink with blue tipped ends. I even ordered heritage collard greens - and I'm no southern. But greens are greens, right?

All while cozied up to the fireplace with Bella and a bowl of popcorn.

Life is good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I stopped by the house yesterday to pick up our mail and drop off the compost filling my freezer (yes, we have compost in the freezer. Doesn't everyone?). It had been a cloudy drizzly day, but when I pulled up the sky was blue and the late afternoon sun cast a faintly glimmery glow over our property. A slight scent of wood smoke drifted over. Lovely.

There is still a lot to do inside the house, despite a move-in date of under six weeks. The kitchen consists of unfinished cabinet carcasses. Cardboard and plastic hide the floors. The bathtubs sit lonely in the empty bathrooms. There are no lights, no heat, no water, no power of any sort. A fine film of wood dust coats the windows.


The house is so peaceful. I imagine future moments when I will recapture this peace: mornings, post-kid-school rush. Late afternoons, pre-school-bus and kid chaos. Weekends when everyone else sleeps in. I am looking forward to years of these moments.

When I catch a moment like this - when the house and place where we soon will live casts its spell - I wonder what I've done to deserve this luck. Do others feel this way? I read the news. There are earthquakes in Haiti. A centerfold model who thinks waterboarding is ok and cap and trade is not is taking over Ted Kennedy's seat. In some parts of the world, women are being murdered -- "honor killings" -- for the simple act of going online. Little girls are being sold to the highest bidder, the lucky ones to be married, the unlucky into a life of prostitution. It's rape in either case, in my book. Families here, closer to home, have lost jobs, homes, dreams. It's a disconnect I can't resolve.

So I savor the moment. And am thankful. And vow to not be part of the silent majority (at least I'm hopeful there is a silent majority) that stands by while the angry, discontented, hate-filled minority out-act, out-maneuver, and out-vote us all.

Post script: the photo at the top. Doesn't go with this post Which is ok, because this post didn't go where I thought it would. I thought I was posting about how the myriad details (countertops, sinks, light fixtures, light switches, faucets) are consuming my time but how really, they don't matter. Oh well. I do like this picture of our little office in the woods, wearing what Bella termed it's "snow hat". I couldn't resist. One last little reminder of our very white Christmas.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Garden dreams, at last

It's finally time. It's the longest cold snap in WNC in decades (of course), following the wettest year in decades. The kids had late start for school all week, and no school at all yesterday. We're bundling up like we live in Antarctica. Whatever. It's time to plan the garden. And plan I am. I've got graph paper, ruler, pencils, measurements, lists of vegetables, pages of seeds, and hundreds of downloads about stuff like crop rotation, companion planting, raised beds, no-dig, double-dig, diggity-dog. My head is exploding in theoretical garden knowledge.

So here's my garden plan (click on it to see it larger). Given the garden's place of prominence next to the house it needs some structure on a year-round basis. The double-chevron design is a nod to the "v" theme in our house -- reflecting our designer/builder's intrigue in our double-dutch, double-v last names. I think it's just a little more interesting than a plain square, and it sort of satisfies Dexter's request for a maze.

Instead of a plain fence, I plan on using posts with wires to hold dwarf espaliered apple and pear trees along the east and possibly west sides and blackberries on the north. Blueberry bushes will go in front of the fence to the south. Arbors will mark the entrances front and back.

The back "squares" are for the kids. Two short tunnels will lead off the main path. These will be planted with peas and beans and will lead to tall tepees in the center of each bed, planted with (hopefully) vigorous viners like mini-pumpkins, small gourds for bird-house building, and maybe even some edible squash. Tall sunflowers and corn will screen the tepees, and we'll leave space for some jack-o-lantern pumpkins along one side. These should be fun beds.

The "double-chevron" beds will host my rotating crop plans. The center is for perennials - artichokes, asparagus, and rhubarb for sure, and maybe some fennel. Parsley and basil go in as companions. Each of the four rotational beds will be lined with marigolds or other flowers to add color and ward off pests. I've tried to incorporate companion planting within each bed, and hopefully have the rotation in a proper order. The little "v"s on the side will host nasturiums or strawberries, depending on what ends up in the front.

The front section will be divided into smaller squares. I think this will make it easier to plant, since they can be designed for different seasons, and will give me a spot to try simple covers to extend the growing season. The kids each get to claim a section here if they want, so I am waiting to finalize these plans. Other ideas include salad greens, tomatoes, strawberries, more herbs and some flowers.

I went back to my April post on garden dreams. Here are the kids' lists from last April: Dexter wanted a maze and tunnels, square bushes (nixed) and azaleas, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, rhubarb, corn, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. Bella wanted flowers. And artichokes, carrots, corn, tomatoes, all the fruit Dexter wanted except rhubarb and plus apples, and mint. We've already got a hillside of raspberries, so with the exception of cherries and azaleas, I think I've covered everything! We'll see how it all goes.