Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day One(ish)

It's really not day one. It's like day gazillion, but you have to 'start' somewhere, right?! was the first day we really 'did' anything on the farm. And since we are who we are, the day started with shopping. But the shopping list for the day was awesome. Seriously awesome. The poor cashier that checked us out was trying to figure out what we were planning on doing today. Poor lady thought that due to our purchasing fishing line, fishing floats and a few different sizes of sinkers, that we were going to go - wait for it - fishing! But no! One of the things we wanted to get done today was to measure the depth of our well. Hence the line, sinker, and floats. Get it? The theory being that we attach a sinker to the line to get it to the bottom of the well, and attach a float to another line, and measure the difference.

This is how far we got today: was on even tighter than expected.

As the well was dug over 40 years ago, we have no documentation on who dug it, when, or how deep. So. My Dad remembers that it's about 125 ft deep. Unfortunately his track record when it comes to these sorts of things is really pretty awesome, so I'm sure that this is going to be just another notch on his belt. Once we get the damn thing open. That will require a length of chain and a big pipe. For the next shopping list!

We also bought a new chainsaw today. I am so excited. There's just something so sexy about it. I'm in love with it. I reserve the right to change my tune after using it for many hours tomorrow.

What will we be doing tomorrow, you ask? Why clearing the 'driveway', of course!

'I will make this my garden!'
err - that's a chuckit. Gotta get me a sceptor.

The property has two driveways, and the trailer is going down at the end of the one that will one day be mine. It goes along the edge of the garden for a good way, curves downhill and to the right, and ends above the house site that I hope to be mine. One day. *sigh* It also happens to be near the aforementioned well, and looks out over the lake at the very south edge of the property.

In 2 days we will drive an Airstream down this driveway. Yup.

The driveways were graded and leveled 40 years ago, and our lovely neighbor has been kind enough to go through them every year with a mower and sometimes a bush hog. That said - there are a few....ummmm...trees? that have sprung up in the middle of them. A few volunteer cedars, hemlocks, and the ubiquitous pine. Nothing our new chainsaw can't handle, but enough to ensure a tough 2 days for the 3 of us. Oddly enough - I'm really looking forward to it. I have been waiting for more than a year to get this project started - and here it is!

Again. I reserve the right to change my tune in the future, if need be. But I doubt I will :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Great Migration

Whew. So. 6 or so days of driving - we think 6, but we're not so sure; it really depends on how you count.... - later and we're here. Well - in NC at least.

Getting out of Vancouver was a trickier business than even the realistic among us expected. The front end of The Beast had to be rebuilt, and then the trailer wiring..... There was the packing, the sorting, the cleaning of cars and houses, the hoisting/tying of the canoe..... with LOTS of standing around by my mom and I while my father did his thing. And then, out of the blue, everything that absolutely HAD to get done, got done.

So my mom and I bit the bullet and left the Great White North.

On our way towards the US border....

We got just outside of Seattle the first day. We found a great Inn in Cle Elum WA, and proceeded to pass out after a mere 200 miles of driving. I'd like to think that this day was responsible for us getting into our routine rather quickly and rather well - me in front with my poor underpowered car going up the mountain with my GPS, with my mom following me up in The Beast. One unexpected benefit of my leading: not having to inhale all the black smoke spewing out behind her.. hehe :)

I had a great view in my rear view mirror all the way across the country...

We camped in Butte MT on the second night, and I will forever remind my mom that I am to thank for figuring out how to bring my old IKEA foam futon thingy. Otherwise camping semi-unprepared in 36 degree weather would have yielded a far less sleepful night. I had this futon thingy from IKEA that for some reason I slept on for almost 3 years. It was two pieces of foam that were connected by a thin strip of fabric. Originally this strip of fabric was attached in such a way that when you laid the futon out like a bed it covered the gap and kept the two piece close enough together that it felt like just one piece. However, as expected, over time it had gotten worse at its job, and when you slept on it, you woke up in the middle of the gap. We had wanted to fold the futon in half along this seam and put it up into the inside of the upside canoe on top of The Beast. But when we tried to do that in the parking lot of the storage unit in Bellingham WA, we found that the wider of the two pieces was too big to fit up into the canoe. My mom was ready to say to hell with it, and was prepared to sleep on the ground. This did not work for me. So. I pulled my rotary cutter out of my craft box that was conveniently located in my packed car at this point, cut through the top little seam, and we had a tug of war and split that futon into two pieces. It was so much fun, I highly recommend it for anyone needing some stress release. The skinnier piece went up in the canoe, and the wider piece got folded in half and put in my 'trunk'. And away we went.

Cold? I'm not cold. I LIKE wearing two hoodies.

Highway 212 from just east of Billings MT to just west of Rapid City SD is one of my new favorite roads. We hemmed and hawed over which route was the most efficient to get to NC, and finally just left it in the hands of my now outdated GPS. And we are extremely happy we did that. This stretch of road is so incredibly beautiful. In an aching sort of empty landscape sort of way. I kept wondering how the hell Lewis and Clark managed to stay sane through the prairie long enough to actually get through to the other side. At 69mph (our top speed the whole way across due to heavy cars and heavy mountains) it was beautiful in a monotonous sort of way - I can't even begin to imagine what it would have been like on foot.

America the beautiful.

After we got back on the interstate in SD it of course started raining buckets - I didn't get to see the badlands! At all! And I love them! BUT. I did get to stop at the corn palace, and that is always a fun stop. They haven't finished this year's yet, and that made it even cooler, as I got to see the poor guys up in the Genie lift in their rain slickers starting to put up the last bits of the design.

Dude. All those different colors? Corn. Yup. Corn.

Minnesota was hell. Not because of anything having to do with the state - because that's when the weather started to really get going. I guess they have been having quite a bit of flooding this year in the Midwest, and it was heartbreaking to see the fields of wheat completely underwater except for the very tips of the plants peeping up out of the water. To think of all the farmers that lost their crop this year is just so sad. What DO you do with a field of drowned wheat?

10 minutes later? Downpour.

After slipping and sliding across Minnesota and through the northern part of Iowa, going south through Iowa the next day was beautiful. Absolutely stunning. And sunny finally.

Zora is happy to see the sun. And the outside of the car.

Now. If you are ever in Peoria, IL (and why you would be other than the fact that it is 3 in the afternoon and you haven't eaten anything yet after driving all day I don't know) you have to go eat at Sterling's Family Restaurant. This is old school American food. Greasy, tasty, wonderful, and everyone knows everyone's name. I randomly picked it out of desperation for a food destination on the list of things that popped up on my GPS for food options, and wow, was it good. Possibly one of the best Reuben's I've ever had (and I'm picky) and my mom had an amazing spinach feta omelet. So so so good. I'm just saying. And there's a waitress there (Amanda) who literally restored a good portion of my faith in humanity. So. Thanks to them.

My mom also picked me flowers. She's the greatest.

There's a great little campground we found out in the middle of Indiana - a family run place that was a joy to stay in - even if all the Harley Davidson people had come in a day early for their big ride and were up all night buzzing the campsites :)

Wine that should have been consumed 6 years ago, leftover biscuit with Jam and peppered salami, butane lamp, and plastic wine glasses. Camping at its finest. For realsies.

Now we must discuss Hwy 52, oh lone reader (how you doing, mom?!). Hwy 52 through the south end of Ohio. It practically goes the width of the state, and is possibly one of the prettiest drives, ever. It also happens to go right through an Amish community, and if my CA plates didn't shock them, The Beast with its roaring diesel engine, BC plates, and crazy right hand drive sure did :) But there is something so beautifully honest about a community of people that still farm the traditional way - something that the more industrialized communities are going back to. Yeah. Dude. People farmed that way back in the day because it worked - for us and the environment. Why is is such a surprise?!

The glare? This mysterious thing called 'sunshine' through my windshield.

I won't go into details about the remaining few states of the trip - suffice it to say West Virginia and Virginia are prettier than anyone gives them credit for, and crossing over into North Carolina was a welcome, welcome thing. We came down out of Virginia on Interstate 77 at 9 or so in the morning, just as the rain and the fog were both starting to lift (after hydroplaning down the mountainside in Virginia in the pouring rain. Woot!). Stunning. A fitting end to a long journey. I'm looking forward to waking up in the morning to find that the time zone has remained the same, and that I don't have a day of driving ahead of me. Oh. Except for tomorrow. Tomorrow we drive 160 miles east to pick up the trailer. Fingers crossed!

Coming down into North Carolina. Woot!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Beast.

The Beast. It's a wonderful truck - one that we took many family camping/surfing trips in Japan in, and that has found a home in BC.

The Beast.
This picture is from last year. But we're taking the canoe, too, so I thought it was appropriate. Especially since the poor guy's downstairs in the garage in pieces.

Until now. The Beast will be my mother's chariot to the east, starting tomorrow. My father is rebuilding the front end and the two of us have given it much TLC over the last few days.

It's a Nissan Safari - or a Nissan Patrol as they are sold as in other places. They are (to my knowledge - please don't quote me on this. And no, I don't have time to do research...) only marketed outside of North America (most notably in Asia and Australia), and are awesome. It's a diesel, manual transmission, right-hand drive, workhorse of a truck. I "learned" (those are sarcastic quotation marks there people) how to drive stick on it, and am more than overjoyed that my father is relinquishing it for this NC adventure.

We get stared at a lot on the street in Vancouver - could be that the diesel engine is super loud and is an affront to the delicate Canadian nature of those around us, but most likely the right-hand drive confuses the hell out of people. When I get a particularly hard stare while sitting in the passenger seat on the left side of the car, my favorite thing to do is to throw both hands up over my head and yell "look ma! No hands!". Priceless.

Cross your fingers that the parts don't break, the engine stays happy and all goes well. You, ummm, can't buy replacement parts for it here in the US, goes.

Granted, I'll be in my Honda.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

So here's the deal.... *or* FAQs

My friends, family, and acquaintances have had NO IDEA what I have been up to or where I have been for the past 2 years. No one seems to be able to keep my story straight, and this has most often included me. BUT. I am here to fill in the blanks and get this sorted out once and for all. This is not as eloquent as I feel it should be, but here goes. My lone reader (Hi mom!) can take this as yet another 'planning session':

WHAT are you doing?
In a nutshell, moving to the middle of North Carolina, to homestead and (for lack of a better phrase) go back to the land. *shudder*

WHERE are you going?
The central region of North Carolina, near the newly designated Haw River Valley viticultural area (woot!). I will be living on my parents' property that has been in the family since my great-grandfather. He happened to be the civil engineer on the project when they made the lake, which is how it ended up in the fambly (the lake was renamed after him). I believe he used it as his man cave, and gardened and hunted deer out there. People still ask if the asparagus beds he put in produce (we think so). My father bought it from him in 1982, and it has always kind of been in the background - a kind of 'someday' thing. It has been quite interesting so far, especially as upon visiting it recently I was shown proof that my father was once a small kid. Evidently he did not spontaneously spring into being as I had previously thought. My mother has always had a bit of an itch to go out there and do something, as has my father, and so we're doing it.

WHEN are you leaving?
Sunday. As in this Sunday. As in please-don't-tell-me-Sunday-is-only-technically-three-days-away-Sunday. *silent panic attack*

HOW are you getting there?
By car. I'm planning on being there for good, my mother is coming for at least a few months to help get it set up, and my father will be out for a few weeks. At least that's this hour's plan. But my mother and I will be driving 2 cars out there over the next week. From Vancouver to NC. If we were going from Alaska to Florida, the route could be longer, but that's about it. Actually I haven't done a road trip (my frequent NorCal to Vancouver drives do not count, thankyouverymuch) in a while, so I'm really looking forward to it. Oh. And Zora will be coming with me. (people keep asking me if I'm taking my dog. Umm. Stop asking that, people).

We're still working on things like electricity, water, an address, etc, so....for the meantime we'll be living in a 32ft 1974 AirStream trailer. I can not express how excited I am to be moving into an airstream. Holy buckets, they're cool.

(this is the tricky one) WHY are you doing this? or Are you nuts? (yes)
*I am NOT interested in commercial farming, but I do want to grow my own food, and am aiming for 90% self-sustainability over the next few years. I don't think that it's necessarily responsible for people to shoot for the moon in terms of 'self-sustainability' - we have the phrase "it takes a village" for a reason. 100% is improbable, impractical, and, for me, impossible. I'm not going to stop eating grains because I don't grow them. Yet a lot of us live in an area where not participating in growing our food - either by doing it ourselves or supporting local farms - is just dumb. When you don't live in an extreme place where growing food takes more energy than it produces, I feel there's no excuse not to. I feel that it's more important to shoot for an attainable goal and continue that trend as a lifestyle change rather than fail miserably and go on to shopping only at Safeway. I couldn't do this financially in California (love it as I do), and my parents already own 40 acres in North Carolina outright. They are also gracious enough to let me go muck around on it. You do the math.

*Sanctimonious asshats bug me. Yup. While I am forever entertained by people and what they do, I pass no judgement on your lifestyle (unless you're a sanctimonious asshat. In which case you can bite me). You want to eat TV dinners and drive a gas guzzler, fine. I don't. So. Instead of sitting around loudly badmouthing those around me that aren't living their lives the way I think they should, I'm going to go live mine the way I think I should. If someone takes that as an example, great. If no one gives a hoot, great. If someone disagrees with something I do, great. I don't really care. I'm more impressed by and learn from those that are actually doing something, and I want to be a member of that club.

*I had a lot of changes in my life almost 2 years ago now, and I decided then that this was something I was going to move towards. It has been a slow process, but I must say that far away from anything actually coming of it as we may be, I'm mildly surprised we've come this far. Everything I own is in a storage locker in Bellingham, WA. I left my beloved cabin of 8 years. I jettisoned 10 boxes of books (I still have 9. Only one is not filled with cookbooks). I left my beloved town of Point Arena. Every article of clothing I own fits in a Rubbermaid container. My KitchenAid mixer and my juicer are the only appliances I still own. I'm passing on my 2nd computer (it's coming, D. It is.). I've left my friends behind in CA, my man in the midwest, and my sisters in the Great White North. I'm hell-bent on giving this as good as a go as possible. I secretly want to get back into food. I secretly want to make cheese. I secretly want to make honey.

Other than the burning desire to be elbow deep in food again, if you know me well all of these things should be surprising to you. And I hope that fact successfully conveys the importance of this and how seriously I am taking this.

Stay tuned. Keep your fingers crossed. Send money.

Just kidding.

UPDATE: Current plan is to leave Monday. Due to the change in trucks, the front end needs to be rebuilt first. Woot. Family tradition, upheld.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Puppy Love

Not so patiently waiting

There aren't many dogs around that look anything like my dog. Yet we managed to find 4 in Vancouver during our stay. We have become swimming buddies with one of them. I love seeing double!

Best Buds.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Organizational Dreaming

I have dreams about organized kitchens. Kitchens in which everything is in a correctly sized container, containers that match, containers that are accessible.... Refrigerators that are clean, orderly, don't have anything lurking in the backs of them that might come out to bite you (and not the other way around....).... Pantries that practically want to give you an inventory of their contents when you look in their direction....

I obviously don't have one of these kitchens. Or really a kitchen that has many of these details. The fact of the matter is I don't have a kitchen at all at the moment, but let's leave that fact aside, shall we?

My kitchens usually contain a messy yet well-intentioned stockpile of just about everything. You rarely need to go to the store for a dry good, and if you do it's probably because you're waaaay to particular to use one of the 5 other varieties of the item in question in whatever you're making.

I also have a jar collection problem.

Late into my last kitchen I learned that buying bulk is great for someone living alone. I always kind of equated buying in bulk with, well, buying in bulk. But it's actually fantastic because you can buy just a small quantity - far less than you would be able to buy in a package. (yes, lone reader, a light bulb went off in my addled brain when I figured out that gem). Hence my added justification for my jar-hoarding tendencies. You never know when you will need *that* particular size jar. This gets reconfirmed when I either 1) use a jar I know has been in my cupboard for over a year, and 2) when I get annoyed, go through my jars, throw a whole bunch out, and then need one of the jars I got rid of literally the next day.

But I digress.

What I really wanted to talk about was those damn products that come in a bag that is faaaar from resealable. They annoy me. Besides the fact that I end up with way more than I need, they feed my eclectic jar hoarding tendencies and are exasperating in that in opening them there's always that soundtrack - whoosh! "*&@#$!!!!" - followed by a frantic run for a dishcloth and the funneling with your hands of the product that has exploded all over the counter. Again. Like you knew it would but hoped that this time - this time! - it wouldn't happen.

So I like to counteract that trustworthy occurance with an act of sheer organizational prowess. In a jar. Or on a jar. You get the drift.

It starts with the collection of the following items (in my house this takes a while. As I'm at my mom's it took literally a minute. Please note the sharpie survived the move from Japan to Canada 8 years ago. Go mom!):

You can pretend the jar is empty, can't you?

Then I center the jar ring on the product name, and trace around the outside of it:

Then I cut it out:

Why cut on the inside of the line? Thanks for asking! To keep the circle more or less the same size as the jar. Accuracy is everything, people. And if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Then I debate about whether or not to glue it in, remember that this would mean I would have to find the glue, remember that once found I would have to choose the appropriate kind out of the 20 that I have, and finally just stick it up inside the ring sans glue, and press the lid down on top:

Then I fill the jar up (while taking breaks to shake the jar to make the contents settle as I inevitably always choose a jar that's just a shade too small), and cap.(Except usually I just wing it and cut the circle out due to my not being able to find a sharpie. But thanks for playing along with my dreams of being more organized than I am.):

Wow! That empty jar sure did fill up nicely!

And then I sit back, admire my handiwork, and place it in the over-crowded under-organized pantry where it gets swallowed up into the abyss.

I love food.

*Thanks to my mom, the lone reader, for letting me use her handwriting on my blog. Without her explicit permission. And for also unknowingly donating the jar.

I Love This: Aussie Apple

I LOVE this idea. While I have no problem eating an apple, nor do I have any lunch-packing responsibilities at the moment, I think this is brilliant.

Also kind of reminds me of my genius use of a rubber band the other day to glue a leg back on to a fat creamer from my parents' days in Kuwait.

All hail the rubber band!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

#3, 2 & 1!

As I write this I am in beautiful Vancouver BC awaiting the next stop of my tour and enjoying the rain...

And for the first time since my arrival more than a week ago I have the chance to escape the chaos and ruminate on recent least until my parents find me!

Things to do before I leave California #3: enjoy one more prolonged afternoon in the redwoods.
Umm. yeah. I'm hoping that this one is obvious.....

#2: enjoy one more day at the beach
Again - hoping this is obvious. My top two favorite beaches near Point Arena both became inaccessible due to various storms and whatnot in the past few years, so Schooner Gulch has turned into numero uno. I love it as it's even more ever-changinger (you haven't heard of that word before? really? what?) than some other beaches - the river may or may not go all the way to the ocean, it may or may not be deep, there may or may not be sea anemones and crabs and whatnot. Also being the site of my being chased by a mama seal and losing my shoes, it holds a soft spot in my heart. And the urban legend involving the beached whale.

#1: get out while you still can!
I love California. I am famous for walking around spouting nonsense that boils down to how much I love California. California is entertaining, beautiful, and dagnammit is populated by some of the oddest peeps I've ever met (not necessarily a bad thing). But. California is akin to that utopian concept that seems so SO close. And yet so very, very far.

And so. While much of my heart resides in Point Arena, California (home of the Point Arena Mountain Beaver, an amazing lighthouse, a great theater, my favorite bakery, and kookiness galore) I am moving on.

*raises glass to the next adventure!*