Today (Yesterday actually, as it took me a day to finish and post) I managed to can Pear Butter and Cinnamon Pear Sauce from the bounty of our ancient pear tree. I must admit that most of the pears have gone to the chickens and, strangely, Booger the dog has a large appetite for windfall pears. We still have some pear products in the pantry lingering from the past, so I didn't want to can too much, but I will have enough for some gifts for friends, and some to help carry us through until next pear season.
Soon I will hopefully can some salsa, as the tomatoes are mounting. The intentions got the better of me with the tomatoes as well. I only managed to stake and prune five of the 26 tomato plants this year. Most of the paths in the garden have succumb to tangle of vines. My unintended experiment definitely proved the experts correct. The pruned and staked tomatoes grew fruit that were twice the size of the unpruned rambling plants. The photo on the left are the staked and pruned tomatoes and many of the fruit are close to two inches in diameter, which is generally huge for the campari type of tomatoes I grow for eating, freezing and canning. The rambling vines had more numbers of fruit overall, but they were mostly around the one inch diameter mark, plus being on the ground were subject to predators, namely field mice, and they seem to be ripening more slowly as well. Fingers crossed there will still be plenty to freeze and use for soup, salsa and sauce.
Life has definitely had many twists and turns so far this year. I am still trying to find my place in the world. Friendships have been made and nurtured, with some discarded, and one very sadly lost, for a very good reason, through no fault of mine. Hopefully that one will return sometime. Jobs have been applied for, interviewed and I've been passed over. The kiddo is growing, struggling, fighting and learning to be a kid with two homes and how to spend most all of the day at preschool. I am figuring out how much food to prepare and shop for, how many leftovers we can reasonably eat, how to eat more meals from the pantry and freezer, how often we need to have a carnivorous meal, or if we can sustain more vegetarian fare. I remembered how much I enjoy listening to music, as well as playing my mandolin and singing along, and how painful string instruments can be until one grows sufficient callouses on one's fingertips. I have realized that I do not really need most of the books in my shelves and have donated close to three-quarters of them to my local library. This mentality has overflowed to my music collection, and my CDs are slowly being digitized, and many will end up somewhere other than in my home and on my shelves. I have a relatively large stash (for me) of both yarn and fabric, and I have been able to put a lot of that excess to use making flirty skirts for myself and knitting/crocheting warming items for the kiddo for the impending winter, as well as organizing the remainder into doable projects. I was able to thrift some fabric I had for years, and would never choose to use for anything. I remembered that I really love the This American Life show/podcast from Chicago Public Media that airs on my local NPR station KUOW and I am able to subscribe to it on iTunes, and listen to it on occasion.
I have learned that when I am happy and feeling secure in my life, I am exceedingly productive: making small repairs around the house that have languished for years; whipping out a skirt to wear to an event later that same day; producing yummy and healthy meals from the bounty that is my garden, and the slight hoard of my pantry & freezer; gracefully rolling with the punches of the unexpected, whether that be a playdate of three children in addition to my own, and another parent, that appeared at my door one day just in time for dinner (I had planned and still managed to make Tuna Panzanella to share with my neighbor recovering from brain surgery,) or a camping trip that was cancelled when the other family suddenly succumbed to the stomach flu, or hastily repair the hen run after the Booger decided to break in to eat chicken poop snacks, windfall pears (when there were 20+ pounds of pears on the ground under the tree) and bolted lettuce. When I am sad and feeling that the weight of the world is working against me, I become a blob: The house goes uncleaned and the dishes pile up; I can find no reason to cook, not even to nourish us (luckily four year olds love "snack" meals cobbled together from random finds in the fridge, and I have decided that I can survive on wheat toast); laundry is only washed when we run out of underwear; I retreat to watching old favorite movies, finding recipes and patterns online, only to emerge for necessary preschool drop-off and pick-up.
I have realized that I am a person that largely thrives on hope. When hope is high, I am charged up and ready to go, nothing can faze me, I take the problems in stride and solve away. When hope is low, or non-existent, I question how so many hugely disappointing things can one person withstand in the span of a short amount of time. I know in my head that all of this is just the growing pains of living the new life that was thrust upon me, but sometimes my heart gets the better of me and the tears flow. The sad songs come out. I sing, cry and wallow, for a minute. I still seem to have hope most days, but it becomes tempered by heartache and disappointment, and I have to remind myself of what a strong, capable person I am, and how it won't always be like this. The kiddo will fall into a groove, I will find a job, I will work on my Master's Degree, I will find an adult male to love me, and me him, and we will share a life together as partners, the Booger will stop molesting visitors, and eating toys and toilet paper.
In the past six months of blog silence, I have harvested my best ever crop of garlic and a respectable haul of shallots. We had a huge crop of sweet cherries that were obliterated by foreign fruit fly invaders, raccoons and crows. The apples didn't get their footie socks applied and are riddled with worms. My overzealous lettuce planting mostly went to the chickens as well as a few friends and neighbors. Sugar snap and snow peas performed smashingly, but the pole beans were mostly a disappointment this year. The NZ spinach is threatening to take over, it has been a good summer for that, and now I will need to figure out how to preserve some of it. My intentions were lost on the sunflowers, but luckily I recognized a freebie among the tomatoes and now there is an enormous bush covered in many 5" diameter yellow blossoms. I have started some of my fall and winter crops but I fear I may be too late for any type of success, but I will blunder along anyway and hopefully some kale and chard will thrive. I also think mice may be residing in the bed I was going to plant with carrots. I will need to deal with that somehow.
I went out into the garden several times over the past 6 months and photographed, thinking I would post to this blog. Instead, I will add some of the best to this post.
|Three varieties of zucchini|
|Front yard garden, sweet peas, borage, zucchini|
|Garlic, red oak leaf lettuce, borage starts|
|Red Sweet Cherries|
|Foraged White Currents|
|Nookta Rose garlic curing on the back porch|