Sunday, October 26, 2014

Autumn

In the Willamette Valley, warm dry October afternoons are deeply unsettling. Natives are especially nervous, eying the blue skies like there is something fundamentally wrong with golden sunshine. And then, one day, the clouds roll in, smelling of the sea. Deep grey, they drop the sky down to a more human scale, and then, more come. And more. Soon, they bump up against the Cascades and flow back over the valley. One afternoon, the rains begin. In my north-facing classroom, we look up. Cross-country runners calculate the rainfall and potential mud creation quickly, and smile. Readers snuggle deeper into their minds, looking forward to the long evenings curled up in bed, reading and listening to the quiet conversations of the rain. The ceiling of our world descends, snugging us all in for the long winter nights, and everything feels right once again

Other signs of Autumn:
·        Wool socks
·        Squash in the Larder
·        Winter Wheat colors the fields a deep green.
·        Fuzzy pants in the evening
·        Cats nap all day long
·        Flan.
·        Fires on Sunday mornings.
·        Pumpkins everywhere!

Sugar Cookies from 1957

3/4 c of soft shortening (half butter)
1 c sugar
2 eggs
.5 t vanilla

Mix together.

Add 2.5 c flour, 1 t BP, and 1 t salt

Mix and chill for an hour or so. Then, roll out and cut into leaf shapes.

Bake in 350 degree oven until golden.

.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Putting the "Urban" into Urban Homesteading

I am not well-rested these days.

 After a long week of work and meetings, I looked forward to a decent night’s sleep on the weekend of October 3rd. However, other residents had different plans.

On Friday night, we were woken up at least three times by drunks passing by the house, bellowing. The first time is not a big deal; we can roll over and go back to sleep. The second is worse—there’s a shot of adrenalin that happens when you are woken from a sound sleep by a scream. The third leaves you lying in bed, waiting for the other shoe to drop—or scream to happen.
Saturday night, we stayed up until eleven, despite short sleep, hoping to find the near-by parties and bust them before we fell asleep. Around ten-thirty, the noise began. Groups of ten to twelve people walked by, discussing alcohol loudly. A group of males began chanting at one another. Three stood on one corner. “Old man! Old man!” they bellowed. “Old man! Old man!” another group responded from two blocks away. “Dude, wait up!” another called. Everyone was heading south, towards Frat row. I walked the neighborhood, busted one party where the attendees were standing outside, surrounded by a sea of beer cans, and went to bed. The noise continued. Groups walked by, every fifteen to twenty minutes, until around one AM.
The next morning, I walked down my street to take photographs, which I have attached. I ran into a neighbor, hanging our “Rights and Responsibilities” door hangers. She told me that a young man asked her what she was doing. When she explained, he took a handful of hangers to distribute on his side of King’s Blvd.

 By October10th, the next Friday night, we were unable to sleep, once again, because of herds of shouting drunks passing by out house…so we were primed to be upset by Saturday’s events.
The fraternity in our neighborhood had a very loud party on Sat afternoon. So loud, in fact, that one of our city councilors, who was at my house on another errand, was appalled. There was screaming, chanting, and music ricocheting off of all of the cement walls in the neighborhood. “Not unusual,” we told him. “It used to happen at two AM. This is progress.” After hearing the party in our basement, my partner called in a noise complaint; the police visited and nothing changed. When we called in the second time, an hour later, the police came around the back of the building and had a long conversation with the membership. Silence reigned.
Around six o’clock, the herds began passing once more. One group of four boys began screaming in front of the first house on the block and ramped up the volume as they walked along the sidewalk. They stopped outside of our house shouting, “Fuck you!” “Motherfucker” and “It’s still light out!” then screamed and continued along the block. This was clearly targeted harassment.
At 8:30, we could hear another party from inside the house, with the windows shut. When we investigated, we found it a block and a half away, across King’s Blvd, in a backyard. I called it in, only to be told that the police had just that moment arrived to break it up. Herds continued to wander the streets around our house. When I heard another party at 9:55, I went out to investigate. It was the frat across the way, playing tribal drums and chanting—as well as several parties in the townhouses down the street. Before I could locate addresses, a dozen people, staggering drunk, headed my way down the sidewalk. One had enough visual acuity to spy my slender gray cat tagging along behind me and suggest that someone grab her. I scooped her up and fled inside.
We went to bed. Noise continued to swirl around the neighborhood—shouts, bass beat, sirens near and far-- until almost midnight, when there was a settling down. Just before we nodded off, red lights flashed into our room. The police and an EMT were bent over our front garden, rousing a student who had passed out in the foliage and been spotted by a passer-by. The EMT left quickly because of a drug overdose down the street, while the officer attempted to find a sober friend to come fetch the staggering young man. When the officer came to our door to explain the situation, he was remarkably cheerful and very professional. It was, we agreed, a very bad night.
I am detailing our experiences for you not because we are so unusual, but because they are so universal in the areas around the university. Friends have seen people peeing in their front yards, been woken up by young women screaming, and heard young men puking off of the roof next door every weekend until the cold rains drive the behavior inside.

Corvallis and Oregon State University have a serious alcohol problem. According to OSU statistics, 46% of the student population used alcohol in the last 30 days; 24 percent more than ten times. Within that group, the average number of drinks was 6, with a blood alcohol level of .09. As the CDC defines binge drinking as more than five drinks, with a blood alcohol level of .08%, this is alarming. Of greater concern, 42% of drinking students forgot where they were and what they had done, and five hundred and thirty seven were raped (labeled “someone had sex with you without your consent” on the chart). 

 It is clear to me that we still have considerable work to do on livability in our neighborhoods.  A small group of drunken individuals continue to hold our ability to sleep and enjoy our lives hostage.

Suggestions:
Bike patrols. Our doorhangers. Encourage all residents to call in when they are disturbed by rowdy behavior. Tone down promotion of drinking around football games and college. Remove the beer ads from city busses. Clean up trash and glass in the streets. Lean on landlords to monitor behavior and respond to complaints quickly.  Suspend and expel students for bad behavior. Do not sell alcohol after ten PM.




Oregon State University statistics from: http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu/osu-drinking-statistics.

Binge drinking definition from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htmI am not well-rested these days.

 After a long week of work and meetings, I looked forward to a decent night’s sleep on the weekend of October 3rd. However, other residents had different plans.

On Friday night, we were woken up at least three times by drunks passing by the house, bellowing. The first time is not a big deal; we can roll over and go back to sleep. The second is worse—there’s a shot of adrenalin that happens when you are woken from a sound sleep by a scream. The third leaves you lying in bed, waiting for the other shoe to drop—or scream to happen.
Saturday night, we stayed up until eleven, despite short sleep, hoping to find the near-by parties and bust them before we fell asleep. Around ten-thirty, the noise began. Groups of ten to twelve people walked by, discussing alcohol loudly. A group of males began chanting at one another. Three stood on one corner. “Old man! Old man!” they bellowed. “Old man! Old man!” another group responded from two blocks away. “Dude, wait up!” another called. Everyone was heading south, towards Frat row. I walked the neighborhood, busted one party where the attendees were standing outside, surrounded by a sea of beer cans, and went to bed. The noise continued. Groups walked by, every fifteen to twenty minutes, until around one AM.
The next morning, I walked down my street to take photographs, which I have attached. I ran into a neighbor, hanging our “Rights and Responsibilities” door hangers. She told me that a young man asked her what she was doing. When she explained, he took a handful of hangers to distribute on his side of King’s Blvd.

 By October10th, the next Friday night, we were unable to sleep, once again, because of herds of shouting drunks passing by out house…so we were primed to be upset by Saturday’s events.
The fraternity in our neighborhood had a very loud party on Sat afternoon. So loud, in fact, that one of our city councilors, who was at my house on another errand, was appalled. There was screaming, chanting, and music ricocheting off of all of the cement walls in the neighborhood. “Not unusual,” we told him. “It used to happen at two AM. This is progress.” After hearing the party in our basement, my partner called in a noise complaint; the police visited and nothing changed. When we called in the second time, an hour later, the police came around the back of the building and had a long conversation with the membership. Silence reigned.
Around six o’clock, the herds began passing once more. One group of four boys began screaming in front of the first house on the block and ramped up the volume as they walked along the sidewalk. They stopped outside of our house shouting, “Fuck you!” “Motherfucker” and “It’s still light out!” then screamed and continued along the block. This was clearly targeted harassment.
At 8:30, we could hear another party from inside the house, with the windows shut. When we investigated, we found it a block and a half away, across King’s Blvd, in a backyard. I called it in, only to be told that the police had just that moment arrived to break it up. Herds continued to wander the streets around our house. When I heard another party at 9:55, I went out to investigate. It was the frat across the way, playing tribal drums and chanting—as well as several parties in the townhouses down the street. Before I could locate addresses, a dozen people, staggering drunk, headed my way down the sidewalk. One had enough visual acuity to spy my slender gray cat tagging along behind me and suggest that someone grab her. I scooped her up and fled inside.
We went to bed. Noise continued to swirl around the neighborhood—shouts, bass beat, sirens near and far-- until almost midnight, when there was a settling down. Just before we nodded off, red lights flashed into our room. The police and an EMT were bent over our front garden, rousing a student who had passed out in the foliage and been spotted by a passer-by. The EMT left quickly because of a drug overdose down the street, while the officer attempted to find a sober friend to come fetch the staggering young man. When the officer came to our door to explain the situation, he was remarkably cheerful and very professional. It was, we agreed, a very bad night.
I am detailing our experiences for you not because we are so unusual, but because they are so universal in the areas around the university. Friends have seen people peeing in their front yards, been woken up by young women screaming, and heard young men puking off of the roof next door every weekend until the cold rains drive the behavior inside.

Corvallis and Oregon State University have a serious alcohol problem. According to OSU statistics, 46% of the student population used alcohol in the last 30 days; 24 percent more than ten times. Within that group, the average number of drinks was 6, with a blood alcohol level of .09. As the CDC defines binge drinking as more than five drinks, with a blood alcohol level of .08%, this is alarming. Of greater concern, 42% of drinking students forgot where they were and what they had done, and five hundred and thirty seven were raped (labeled “someone had sex with you without your consent” on the chart). 

 It is clear to me that we still have considerable work to do on livability in our neighborhoods.  A small group of drunken individuals continue to hold our ability to sleep and enjoy our lives hostage.

Suggestions:
Bike patrols. Our doorhangers. Encourage all residents to call in when they are disturbed by rowdy behavior. Tone down promotion of drinking around football games and college. Remove the beer ads from city busses. Clean up trash and glass in the streets. Lean on landlords to monitor behavior and respond to complaints quickly.  Suspend and expel students for bad behavior. Do not sell alcohol after ten PM.




Oregon State University statistics from: http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu/osu-drinking-statistics.
Binge drinking definition from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htmI am not well-rested these days.

 After a long week of work and meetings, I looked forward to a decent night’s sleep on the weekend of October 3rd. However, other residents had different plans.

On Friday night, we were woken up at least three times by drunks passing by the house, bellowing. The first time is not a big deal; we can roll over and go back to sleep. The second is worse—there’s a shot of adrenalin that happens when you are woken from a sound sleep by a scream. The third leaves you lying in bed, waiting for the other shoe to drop—or scream to happen.
Saturday night, we stayed up until eleven, despite short sleep, hoping to find the near-by parties and bust them before we fell asleep. Around ten-thirty, the noise began. Groups of ten to twelve people walked by, discussing alcohol loudly. A group of males began chanting at one another. Three stood on one corner. “Old man! Old man!” they bellowed. “Old man! Old man!” another group responded from two blocks away. “Dude, wait up!” another called. Everyone was heading south, towards Frat row. I walked the neighborhood, busted one party where the attendees were standing outside, surrounded by a sea of beer cans, and went to bed. The noise continued. Groups walked by, every fifteen to twenty minutes, until around one AM.
The next morning, I walked down my street to take photographs, which I have attached. I ran into a neighbor, hanging our “Rights and Responsibilities” door hangers. She told me that a young man asked her what she was doing. When she explained, he took a handful of hangers to distribute on his side of King’s Blvd.

 By October10th, the next Friday night, we were unable to sleep, once again, because of herds of shouting drunks passing by out house…so we were primed to be upset by Saturday’s events.
The fraternity in our neighborhood had a very loud party on Sat afternoon. So loud, in fact, that one of our city councilors, who was at my house on another errand, was appalled. There was screaming, chanting, and music ricocheting off of all of the cement walls in the neighborhood. “Not unusual,” we told him. “It used to happen at two AM. This is progress.” After hearing the party in our basement, my partner called in a noise complaint; the police visited and nothing changed. When we called in the second time, an hour later, the police came around the back of the building and had a long conversation with the membership. Silence reigned.
Around six o’clock, the herds began passing once more. One group of four boys began screaming in front of the first house on the block and ramped up the volume as they walked along the sidewalk. They stopped outside of our house shouting, “Fuck you!” “Motherfucker” and “It’s still light out!” then screamed and continued along the block. This was clearly targeted harassment.
At 8:30, we could hear another party from inside the house, with the windows shut. When we investigated, we found it a block and a half away, across King’s Blvd, in a backyard. I called it in, only to be told that the police had just that moment arrived to break it up. Herds continued to wander the streets around our house. When I heard another party at 9:55, I went out to investigate. It was the frat across the way, playing tribal drums and chanting—as well as several parties in the townhouses down the street. Before I could locate addresses, a dozen people, staggering drunk, headed my way down the sidewalk. One had enough visual acuity to spy my slender gray cat tagging along behind me and suggest that someone grab her. I scooped her up and fled inside.
We went to bed. Noise continued to swirl around the neighborhood—shouts, bass beat, sirens near and far-- until almost midnight, when there was a settling down. Just before we nodded off, red lights flashed into our room. The police and an EMT were bent over our front garden, rousing a student who had passed out in the foliage and been spotted by a passer-by. The EMT left quickly because of a drug overdose down the street, while the officer attempted to find a sober friend to come fetch the staggering young man. When the officer came to our door to explain the situation, he was remarkably cheerful and very professional. It was, we agreed, a very bad night.
I am detailing our experiences for you not because we are so unusual, but because they are so universal in the areas around the university. Friends have seen people peeing in their front yards, been woken up by young women screaming, and heard young men puking off of the roof next door every weekend until the cold rains drive the behavior inside.

Corvallis and Oregon State University have a serious alcohol problem. According to OSU statistics, 46% of the student population used alcohol in the last 30 days; 24 percent more than ten times. Within that group, the average number of drinks was 6, with a blood alcohol level of .09. As the CDC defines binge drinking as more than five drinks, with a blood alcohol level of .08%, this is alarming. Of greater concern, 42% of drinking students forgot where they were and what they had done, and five hundred and thirty seven were raped (labeled “someone had sex with you without your consent” on the chart). 

 It is clear to me that we still have considerable work to do on livability in our neighborhoods.  A small group of drunken individuals continue to hold our ability to sleep and enjoy our lives hostage.

Suggestions:
Bike patrols. Our doorhangers. Encourage all residents to call in when they are disturbed by rowdy behavior. Tone down promotion of drinking around football games and college. Remove the beer ads from city busses. Clean up trash and glass in the streets. Lean on landlords to monitor behavior and respond to complaints quickly.  Suspend and expel students for bad behavior. Do not sell alcohol after ten PM.




Oregon State University statistics from: http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu/osu-drinking-statistics.
Binge drinking definition from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htmI am not well-rested these days.

 After a long week of work and meetings, I looked forward to a decent night’s sleep on the weekend of October 3rd. However, other residents had different plans.

On Friday night, we were woken up at least three times by drunks passing by the house, bellowing. The first time is not a big deal; we can roll over and go back to sleep. The second is worse—there’s a shot of adrenalin that happens when you are woken from a sound sleep by a scream. The third leaves you lying in bed, waiting for the other shoe to drop—or scream to happen.
Saturday night, we stayed up until eleven, despite short sleep, hoping to find the near-by parties and bust them before we fell asleep. Around ten-thirty, the noise began. Groups of ten to twelve people walked by, discussing alcohol loudly. A group of males began chanting at one another. Three stood on one corner. “Old man! Old man!” they bellowed. “Old man! Old man!” another group responded from two blocks away. “Dude, wait up!” another called. Everyone was heading south, towards Frat row. I walked the neighborhood, busted one party where the attendees were standing outside, surrounded by a sea of beer cans, and went to bed. The noise continued. Groups walked by, every fifteen to twenty minutes, until around one AM.
The next morning, I walked down my street to take photographs, which I have attached. I ran into a neighbor, hanging our “Rights and Responsibilities” door hangers. She told me that a young man asked her what she was doing. When she explained, he took a handful of hangers to distribute on his side of King’s Blvd.

 By October10th, the next Friday night, we were unable to sleep, once again, because of herds of shouting drunks passing by out house…so we were primed to be upset by Saturday’s events.
The fraternity in our neighborhood had a very loud party on Sat afternoon. So loud, in fact, that one of our city councilors, who was at my house on another errand, was appalled. There was screaming, chanting, and music ricocheting off of all of the cement walls in the neighborhood. “Not unusual,” we told him. “It used to happen at two AM. This is progress.” After hearing the party in our basement, my partner called in a noise complaint; the police visited and nothing changed. When we called in the second time, an hour later, the police came around the back of the building and had a long conversation with the membership. Silence reigned.
Around six o’clock, the herds began passing once more. One group of four boys began screaming in front of the first house on the block and ramped up the volume as they walked along the sidewalk. They stopped outside of our house shouting, “Fuck you!” “Motherfucker” and “It’s still light out!” then screamed and continued along the block. This was clearly targeted harassment.
At 8:30, we could hear another party from inside the house, with the windows shut. When we investigated, we found it a block and a half away, across King’s Blvd, in a backyard. I called it in, only to be told that the police had just that moment arrived to break it up. Herds continued to wander the streets around our house. When I heard another party at 9:55, I went out to investigate. It was the frat across the way, playing tribal drums and chanting—as well as several parties in the townhouses down the street. Before I could locate addresses, a dozen people, staggering drunk, headed my way down the sidewalk. One had enough visual acuity to spy my slender gray cat tagging along behind me and suggest that someone grab her. I scooped her up and fled inside.
We went to bed. Noise continued to swirl around the neighborhood—shouts, bass beat, sirens near and far-- until almost midnight, when there was a settling down. Just before we nodded off, red lights flashed into our room. The police and an EMT were bent over our front garden, rousing a student who had passed out in the foliage and been spotted by a passer-by. The EMT left quickly because of a drug overdose down the street, while the officer attempted to find a sober friend to come fetch the staggering young man. When the officer came to our door to explain the situation, he was remarkably cheerful and very professional. It was, we agreed, a very bad night.
I am detailing our experiences for you not because we are so unusual, but because they are so universal in the areas around the university. Friends have seen people peeing in their front yards, been woken up by young women screaming, and heard young men puking off of the roof next door every weekend until the cold rains drive the behavior inside.

Corvallis and Oregon State University have a serious alcohol problem. According to OSU statistics, 46% of the student population used alcohol in the last 30 days; 24 percent more than ten times. Within that group, the average number of drinks was 6, with a blood alcohol level of .09. As the CDC defines binge drinking as more than five drinks, with a blood alcohol level of .08%, this is alarming. Of greater concern, 42% of drinking students forgot where they were and what they had done, and five hundred and thirty seven were raped (labeled “someone had sex with you without your consent” on the chart). 

 It is clear to me that we still have considerable work to do on livability in our neighborhoods.  A small group of drunken individuals continue to hold our ability to sleep and enjoy our lives hostage.

Suggestions:
Bike patrols. Our doorhangers. Encourage all residents to call in when they are disturbed by rowdy behavior. Tone down promotion of drinking around football games and college. Remove the beer ads from city busses. Clean up trash and glass in the streets. Lean on landlords to monitor behavior and respond to complaints quickly.  Suspend and expel students for bad behavior. Do not sell alcohol after ten PM.




Oregon State University statistics from: http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu/osu-drinking-statistics.
Binge drinking definition from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

Monday, October 13, 2014

Harvest Reckoning, 2014

Here it is—the annual reckoning of the harvest….

Tomatoes:
salsa 8 pints
                        Roasted 25 half pints
                        Dried 3 quarts
                        Longkeepers 10 pounds

Apples:
            Sauce 15 pints
            Cider 14 quarts
            Dried 6 quarts
            Butter 14 half pints

Blueberries:
            Frozen 2 quarts
            Dried 2 quarts

Peaches:
            Dried—2 quarts
            Canned 8 pints

Figs:
            Dried 3 quarts

Zucchini—one quart dried

Grapes:
            Dried 4 pints
            Juice 14 quarts

Pickles:
            Dill 6 quarts
            Senfgurken 5
            Beets 7 pints
            Red Cabbage 3 pints

Red Currant Juice: 5

Potatoes:
            Desiree 25 lbs.
            Ruby Crescent 8 lbs
            Yukon Gold 24 lbs
            Kennebec 21 lbs.
            All Blue 25 lbs

4 pumpkins
3 sweetmeat squashes


Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta

Cube an eggplant and roast it in olive oil until soft. 

Saute onions in big cast iron frying pan until soft. Add eggplant and two half pints of roasted tomatoes, as well as a handful of olives, some salt and pepper, and basil.  You can also add a can of nice tuna, which puts the whole meal over the top.

Cook a large handful of whole wheat spaghetti. Mix the whole mess together and top with Parmesan cheese. Eat with salad.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

October Work List

October is the end of the gardening season, the time to put the garden to bed for the winter and to snug in the house as well. It is also time to sit in the sun, on the top of a hill, looking down on mountain lakes, preparing the soul for the long dark time ahead as well.


·       Leaf collection and mulch.
·       Compost veg plants in the hoops; compost flower beds in place.
·       Clean the dehydrator screens and put them away.
·       Close down greywater systems, collect hoses.
·       Place bulk orders for Fill Your Pantry in early November.
·       Clean out the larder before filling with squashes, pumpkins, onions, and apples.
·       Carve pumpkins.
·       Take one more hike in the mountains.
·       Wash the windows and hang the storm windows.
·       Rake leaves.
·       Parent teacher conferences….
·       Clean the fireplace so that we can have fires inside.
·       Find the orange glass candleholders for the mantle.

 Oat Bread

1.5 c oats
1.25 c buttermilk
Soak for an hour or so.

6T oil
2 eggs
.5 c brown sugar
Add and mix

1 c whole wheat flour
.25 c bran
1t BP
.5 t salt
1 t BS
Mix and add

Pour into a bread pan and bake in 350 oven until done. Eat with apple butter.



Sunday, September 28, 2014

"Back East" on the Metolious








Something has been eating the yarrow


Trail bones


Downtown Sisters

Wychus Creek


Trail Art




New Trail

Camp Sherman





Best cabin on the river


Mark looks for snacks


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Distribute The Surplus

       
    Distribute the Surplus. It is one of the founding principles of Permaculture. And one of the tasks is to discover these surpluses and where to pass them on, reaching another Principle, which is “The problem is the solution.”  Usually, at this time of year, I am in the middle of one of my favorite Distributions, which is fresh figs from our tree. But this year is a little different. We had a deep cold snap in the valley last winter, and many fig trees died back to the ground and are coming back as shrubs. That did not happen to mine; it was both ancient and protected, but it suffered some serious damage. This summer, more energy has gone into leaf production than figs, and many of the figs that are ripe are high in the branches, up in the bird’s half of the tree. There will be enough for me to dry for winter treats and the fresh ones are amazing, sun-warmed and sweet as honey. But we do not have a surplus. A problem.
            Half a block away, the prune plum tree in the back yard of our rental house is bent over with fruit. The branches are almost breaking as the plums ripen. They lean over the fences, which sag under their weight. Deep purple plums, dusty and sweet, cling to the branches. I have hauled home baskets full—dried them, made plum jam, pickled them, and baked two upside down plum cakes—and I’ve cleared one branch. It’s a problem. Our tenants began the distribution pattern. One took bags of the fruit to work. The next day, his co-workers were looking at him expectantly. “More plums?” they asked. He obliged. While doing house repairs, I brought bowls over to both of the neighbors. Then school started. I work with at least sixty people. I brought a large basket of plums. They were gone in twenty four hours. “Yes!” I thought, and gathered another basket.
Within a few days, the counter of the staff room held a huge bowl of plums—and a bag of apples. Then there were some zucchini. Tomatoes. Peppers. Flowers. Lemon cucumbers. The attendance clerk bought a food dryer from Bi-Mart and asked for a bag of fruit to dry. I obliged. Two other people wanted plums for drying. More plums piled into baskets, brought into school. By now, I have left a trail of dropped plums from my house to work; like Hanzel and Gretel, I can find my way home again.  Conversation in the office revolved around drying time and fruit prep. It is easy, I assured them. Cut the fruit in half, push it out a bit to expose more surface, and put it in the dryer. I dry my fruit until it is almost crispy, because I don’t want to worry about mold. Then, I pour it into quart canning jars (everything in our house is stored in canning jars) and stash it on the basement shelves. No dipping, no freezing, no fuss.

The overflow of fruit is almost over for the year. My green beans and tomatoes are slowing down, the zucchini plants all have powdery mildew, and the plums that remain are almost over ripe. I will probably pick one more round for the school counter Monday evening and call it good. But, this year, I have learned that the surplus is not always where you believe it to be, and there is always a home for fresh fruit. 


Plum Upside down Cake-- from Moosewood Desserts

1/2 cup butter
3/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1.5 t BP
.5 t cinnamon
.5 t salt
2 t vanilla

Cream butter and sugar,  add eggs and buttermilk, then dry ingredients. 

Before pouring batter into pan, line it with 6-8 plums, cut in half. Then pour 1/4 cup of melted butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar over the plums.

Bake in 350 degree oven until done, flip and release while still warm. A spring form pan makes this easy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Moon Rise

   
        The full Harvest Moon rose on Tuesday night, and we were on the oak tree platform out at Finely Wildlife Refuge to watch the show.  Watching the full moon rise is one of our ways of easing into autumn.

            Moonrise was slated for 6:39 PM in Portland. When we arrived at six, the grasses were turning golden, small critters were rustling in the blackberry brambles, and the place was empty. We climbed the hill to the huge oak and settled in with dinner—tabouli with sungold tomatoes and a cucumber, fresh whole wheat bread and apple butter, grapes, grape juice, and apple crisp. Two owls argued over turf in the distance. We discussed where the moon would rise. I was afraid it would be behind the hill. Mark argued for a clump of trees, based on the sunset shadows. We ate slowly, wrote in our notebooks, and watched for the moon.

            Moon watch is always a slow and peaceful process. Even after years, we are still never quite sure where to look. At about ten of seven, right on schedule, Mark ponders the projected time, which has passed with no moon. Do they take the time zones into account? Because there’s an hour difference, you know, from one side to the next. How accurate is that information on the internet? Should we enter our longitude and latitude next year? Would it matter? Where would we find that info?  We pack up the dishes while we can still see everything.

            We wait and watch. I break out The Sand County Almanac, which we are reading aloud and read the essay of the passing of the passenger pigeons. The chapter is an elegy for things past, destroyed by man without thinking. It is beautiful. I consider global warming and how out of joint the summer’s weather has been.  Will someone being writing our elegy soon?  The owls have quieted, but the geese are settling on a distant pond and we hear their night time conversations as the grasses grow darker. No moon yet…am I right about the hill blocking our view of the horizon on one side? The air cools as the sun sets behind us.

            A mosquito bites my leg and another buzzes around my head. Although the little pond behind us is dry, the marsh is still holding water and must breed the insects. One bat appears, looking for dinner. We smile. Another flits by. Crickets call and the bush critters are still. The night grows darker—is there no moon tonight? Is that possible? Although we know that it is not, that the moon will rise, we are still worried. Sun and moon rise. In a complex and rapidly changing world, we need to rely on these actions.

            Just when we are afraid we will have to leave without the moonrise, Mark sighs. “I see it,” he says. “Right in front of us, right where I thought it would be.” And then, I see it, too. A tiny sliver of deep golden light, rising through the tangled branches of the brush in front of us. Quickly, now, it emerges, deep orange from the dust, haze, and smoke of the valley. The sky is deep purple and  moonshadow appears on the platform. We watch, transfixed. The moon will rise; the earth keeps turning.


            All too soon, we have to leave. I pick up the dinner bag; Mark tucks his notebook into his backpack. The trail heads down into the owl’s valley, where a vernal stream runs. It is silent now. Under the trees, the night is dark, but we know the way ahead. We have walked this way before, hundreds of times. Cross the bridge, turn left, and head for the open parking lot, where the Ark is waiting. The moon follows us home, lighting the way.      

Crisp Topping

The topping is all in proportions:
1 part flour
1 part butter
1 part sugar
2 parts oats

Then add a pinch of salt and some spices, and mix together by hand. Spread over fruit and bake until bubbly.