This weekend, I hopped out to Lopez Island for the 18th annual Lopez JuggleFest. It was my 5th(?) time attending and this year was as magical as ever. My thoughts from last year still apply: wonder and appreciation at the cooperation, thankfulness, and thoughtfulness shared. Oh, and there is always some kick ass juggling too.
As I was explaining to a friend recently, annual events such as this provide an opportunity for me to notice changes in my life that might have happened slowly enough that, without this chance for comparison from year to year, would go unnoticed. This applies both in a concrete sense (my first lopez festival 6(?) years ago, I had to leave early to get back to a housesitting gig just as I did this year i.e. some things don't change) and more conceptually (the practice of sharing a hug with a [near] stranger has gone from unheard-of-ly uncommon (and uncomfortable) to unremarkably common (and enjoyed) i.e. some things do change).
All this is to say that while my juggling skills got a much needed workout* this weekend, my mind-brain also made a few laps, both in analysis of change and merely of revisiting times past. Next weekend's juggling festival in Portland will be a little more juggling focused and a little less thought-provoking. Stay tuned for a post on that which will be a juggling post actually about juggling.
|Sunday September 21 2008||File under: juggling|
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|It is corn season here in the Northwest. There are trailers parked on the side of the road at freeway on-ramps and at various locations across the Skagit flats advertising 6 ears for $1. Here soon, it will undoubtedly drop to 10/$1 when the peak of the season hits and people are starting to get tired of seeing kernels everywhere they look*.
I love corn, esp. when it is so fresh and sweet like we have here. Each year, I tell myself that a) I will try to grow some and 2) I will try to put some away (either by drying or freezing). Every year at my local foods party, I get mad at myself for not having put some up the previous year so as to have local corn meal to try out with new recipes. This year, I'm happy to say, I can check both things off my list.
My attempts at growing corn are proving alright. Nothing staggering, but my little plot will provide a few ears. To get enough for drying, I had to turn to Joe's Garden in Bellingham. At the outrageous price of 3/$1.25, I bought 12* and set to drying. Unfortunately corn season and sun season in the northwest don't conveniently coincide, so I'm having to resort to the oven for drying. We'll see how it goes. If everything goes right, I'll take my knowledge from the garden corn to produce a decent little harvest next year AND have this year's dried corn to turn into corn bread or corn tortillas for next years local foods party.
|Friday September 19 2008||File under: food|
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|This weekend, I competed* in the first annual Lookout Arts Center's Off-Road Soap Box Derby near Alger, WA. (Info here.) The whole experience was a hoot – from the dunk tanks and live music, to gravity fueled mayhem, to cliff diving and berry picking*.
My entry was easily the weakest of the 5 derby racers. Everyone else had contraptions either welded together by someone who obviously knew what they were doing, or a converted/modified vehicle of some sort. Me, I had a couple wheels and assorted parts and came up with this beauty. Brakes were a piece of 1x that rubbed up against the wheels and steering was by loose bolts on the front wheel that allowed you to wiggle it from side to side (which is much harder to do while cruising down the course than you might imagine).
By vote of the racers, the course was lengthened to include a gnarly stretch of trail that my horse wasn't build for, so it was no surprise that I didn't even complete the full first run. I did, however, almost make to the bottom, which is much more than I expected. What eventually did me in was a weak axle in the right wheel. The others, however gave us quite a show.
The whole thing was good fun with lots of creativity and enthusiasm. Hopefully next year will bring with it even more racers, more spectators, and more fun. See you there!
|Sunday September 14 2008||File under: misc, pics|
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|Seven weeks ago, Saxtor, Andrew, and I went and checked out a trivia night at a local bar. (Groundbreaking coverage can be seen here.) Since then, it has been a weekly tradition. The teams are always in flux with whoever happens to be around that particular week, but the fun is always the same. In the 7 weeks, my team has scored 3 first places, 1 second, and 3 fourths. (If it wasn't for the pesky music round, I contend many of those fourths would have been more like seconds or thirds.) Not a bad average considering there are often between 12 and 15 teams competing.
Anyway, to share the joy, as it were, I thought I'd post the visual identification round from this week. How many of these can you solve? (Team Discovery Channel* scored an 8. Hark!) For answers, hover: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
|Friday September 12 2008||File under: misc|
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|I had bacon for all three meals today. (Yes, my life really is exciting enough right now that this gets its own post.) In my defense, 2, likely 3, of the bacon servings were from local sources. Skagit Slow Foods organizes a meat buying "club" with Skagit River Ranch, making purchasing local meats easy to do*. You just place your order online once a month and then pick it up at a local delivery point. Then you cook it up with two eggs over easy, put it in a tortilla, drizzle some fake maple syrup over it, and enjoy heaven's sweet nectar.
Bacon is becoming quite a theme(/meme) on the interweb these days, so just for the heck of it, I thought I'd throw in a few bacon links.
*25 sizzling hot bacon-inspired MUST-haves for fall
*Bacon reddit (Reddit is a user-submitted list of what's new and interesting on the web*)
*Bacon bra (It's amazing what a simple google image search will turn up.)
|Sunday September 7 2008||File under: food, misc|
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|I like blackberries. They are perhaps my favorite fruit. My like for them comes not only from their taste (which is scrumptious), but also from their egalitarianism. They are available to anyone: no special farming required, no payment for u-picking, no secret locations*. Anyone can just walk to their nearest abandoned lot and likely find more berries than one person could possibly eat.
That's exactly what I did this weekend. The neighbors and I grabbed our bikes and a few tuperware containers and headed for the industrial area of Anacortes, the best location for abandoned lots. Deanna was on a mission to make jam while Logan and I were merely there to fill our maws to the brim. While I picked enough berries to trade for one jar of the resulting jam, I also found time to play a little version of basketball using berries as the ball and my mouth as the basket. (I contend that I am a champion tossed-food catcher. If anyone wants to challenge me, I'm in.)
Anyway, I hope to get at least one more berry picking session in this season. It is a treat that satisfies the taste buds as well as the mind. Yum!.
(Of course there is the whole issue of blackberries being a crazy invasive species and taking over almost any area it comes across, but as far as invasive species go, at least it gives something back to the community it takes so much from.)
((Then there is the song lyrics that always go through my head when out blackberry pickin': Jimmy Buffett's Life Is Just a Tire Swing. ...Blackberry pickin, eatin fried chicken/And I never knew a thing about pain'/Life was just a tire swing))
|Monday September 1 2008||File under: food, Anacortes|
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|As some of the more astute readers may have noticed, this morning was the second Friday morning in a row that there was no Friday comic. I'm afraid it won't be the last, either. I've found myself bogged down with work of late and it looks like said workload won't lighten for the next month or so. For the two of you out there that still tune in for the comic, I apologize. I liked doing them probably way more than you liked reading them. As for the rest of you that have become bored with the Friday Comic series, consider this a respite. My hope is that I will return in October(ish) with a few new ones, at least to complete a year's worth. Lord knows I won't be able to keep it up forever.|
|Friday August 29 2008||File under: blog|
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|In celebration of 6 fabulous decades of life for our dear old ma, us chilluns organized a trip up to Salt Spring Island Canada for this past weekend. It was a bit cramped with 7 of us staying in a cabin that was built for 4 and all piling into the Subaru* to get around, but hey, if family can't invade each other's personal space then who can?
Anyway, aside from the coziness, it was a great weekend. I've been hearing about Salt Spring Island for quite some time; about its artist communities, its natural beauty, etc. etc. It didn't disappoint. We were deterred by the rain a bit, but we got a hike in, to see the farmer's market, check out the local one screen theatre*, and see the island landscape in general, where views, forrest, and farms abound.
Speaking of farms, our little cottage was on a goat farm, which proved to be good times. They gave us something to watch from the porch and someone to feed our food scraps to. Punksto esp. liked feeding them and, after initially being a bit shy, grew more and more brazen. Then the goat headbutted her. Goats are jerks. (She was scared by it but okay.)
Yeah, Salt Spring Island is pretty neat. You should check it out sometime.
|Thursday August 28 2008||File under: travel|
|This year marks the 3rd annual local foods party at casa du Wren, et al. (previous coverage: year 1 and year 2). As always, it was fun, inspiring, yummy, educational, communal, and more. This year's festivities were markedly more cozy* than previous years, partially due to improper organization on my part* and partially due to extenuating circumstances*. Nonetheless, it was a great time among friends new and old.
For a comprehensive list of the food and drink served, check out the menu. I will, however, call out a few of my highlights. Firstly, it warmed my pea-picking heart* to see that we had 3 different people include their own homemade butter in their recipes! Butter, along with salt, is always what I tell people about to help explain what this party is all about. I'm so glad the enthusiasm is spreading. (Speaking of butter, here's a picture of me making mine. Excuse the somewhat staged nature of the photo. Ma framed it to showcase her fancy new kitchen.) Along with folks getting on the butter bandwagon, I wasn't the only person to make my own salt this year. Keith's efforts put mine to shame with loads of nice clean salt. (My efforts were carbon neutral, though.)
A few great dishes that are highly worthy of calling attention to:
*Linda's zucchini/mint/[something else green] bisque served cold with goat cheese and tomatoes. In fact, I'm about to go ladle up some leftovers right now!
*Keith's dehydrated onions: as simple as it sounds but way better. Great for munching on before hand (and luckily he left us enough to keep for hikes, etc. too!)
*Goat's milk yogurt dressing: salad dressings have always been an issue in the past. This year, Ma came across local goat's milk yogurt and fashioned it into a great dressing for her summer squash salad. Then River threw together an impromptu dressing for his green salad that turned out great as well.
Yes, it was another great celebration of the season and the place we live. Thanks to all that joined in the fun. To the rest of you, I hope to see you here next year.
(Oh, and some photos from the feast: Ma's description of her dishes, the spread, the chilluns wait patiently to eat while the grown-ups goo and gaw over it all, plated goodness, post-feast mingle time.)
|Thursday August 21 2008||File under: food, Anacortes|
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|There seems to be a trend of late of getting to know your food and the systems which brings it to your plate. Books like Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and movies such as King Korn are informing people about processes that are often quite hidden in today's boxed and packaged food world. Along with this trend is an awareness of foods that are produced locally and available at farmers' markets and coops.
Being a somewhat trendy guy myself*, I've done hopped on that band wagon. Besides the yearly local foods party (coverage of this year's party soon!), I found myself curious about that which happens before I buy my potatoes, celery, and onions at the farmers' market. So as research for this year's local foods party (and to help out some friends with the hectic pre-market harvest), I travelled up to Moon Dance Farm in Acme, WA to set how the onions get from the ground to the market.
First thing I noticed about Moon Dance Farm was how it wasn't at all what I expected. No vast acres of land planted homogeneously or heavy machinery, just a hugely oversized garden with tons of different plants from corn and greens to flowers and plants that I didn't initially recognize. Then there was the setting - mountains in the [not so distant] distance and trees surrounding everything. It really was a breathtaking sight.
But I didn't have much time to bask in amazement of it all because there was work to be done. We picked many types of onions, squash*, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, turnips, and so much more. After the picking came the sorting, cleaning, and bunching. I never would have guessed how much effort that takes; as much as, and sometimes more, than the harvesting itself. But when you are left with well cleaned veggies, boxed up and ready for market, it is a true feeling of accomplishment.
Yep, harvest day on the farm is enough to fill your head with understanding of the process, your back with appreciation of a hard day of work, and your heart with connections to the land around you.
|Sunday August 17 2008||File under: food, misc|
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