Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Got the Feedburner Blues

I feel STUPID today. I am trying to do something ever-so-simple: allow my soul sister Michele to receive an email every time I create a new post. Now, EVENTUALLY, I figured out how to do this, which we can all confirm by scrolling down, on the right…all the way down…past the blogroll…past this blog’s archive…to the shiny new widget:


But just reading up on how All This Works – RSS vs Atom vs Dear Lord, I feel like an old person. And to think, I used to be the person to whom others turned when they were trying to figure out how to do something on their computers. If you’ve ever had the (ahem) great privilege of watching me manhandling a spreadsheet – O, My Speedy Fingers, Lo, My Use of Keyboard Shortcuts…sigh. I used to be a Lotus Notes Application Developer! Oh crap, only about five of you out there will have any idea what I’m talking about. I’ll shut up now.

By the way, in the course of dealing with my Feedburner…feed? burn? insert random noun or verb here – I may have broken all the magic links for any of you readers who access this baby via Yahoo!. My apologies! Of course, if the links did indeed get severed, you won’t realize it, will you. And you Google Reader folks? Lord help me, I have no idea. I”ll call Emily and see I still show up in her Reader. “Call”? How old school. Maybe I’ll text her. Naw, we don’t have a data plan, it’s not worth 20 cents. Besides which, we barely get cell reception here in our little corner of Vermont. I could email her. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.

Is this post self-referential, or what? Go to bed, Sarah.

Well, at least I know how to make a kickass smoothie.


That’s right, that’s GREEN. Ingredients:

  • blackberries from our yard
  • blueberries I picked myself
  • an organic banana
  • spinach/chard hybrid from Greenough’s garden
  • chard from ditto – not to be confused with Greenough’s sister, Ditto*
  • wheat germ, purchased in bulk from the coop
  • Chobani nonfat Greek yogurt
  • pond scum aka “stone poop” aka spirulina**
  • OJ

Mmmm, good…

In other news.

Was there other news? Oh, did I tell you I ran ten miles yesterday? Actually, only 9.75 miles. Just for the fun of it. Yay, me!


Footnotes, citations, blah blah blah.

*I’m not kidding. Greenough’s got a sister named Ditto. You don’t even want to know what her other sister’s name is.

**Don’t believe me? Check out Wikipedia. The Aztecs harvested spirulina from Lake Texcoco. They called it Tecuitlatl, which means…stone excrement.

Monday, August 30, 2010

support your local farmers

So when we went down to New Jersey last week, we sacrificed our box o’ vegetables from the CSA, because we left on the morning of pickup day. We asked our friend Greenough if she’d like to pick up the box, and she happily did. Well, I say “happily”. She confessed that she felt simultaneously blessed, and oppressed, by the contents. Such is the nature of an enormous box of freshly picked veggies and greens – first, you have to prep them (picking beans from the stalk…slug removal… dirt/stem removal…), and then by golly you have to EAT it all. Oh, the injustice.

So I went over to her house today to pick up the empty box and, bonus, fill it up with stuff from her garden. Welcome to a tour of Skunk Barn Farm:


Romeo, checking me out.

I left my camera in my car at first, but when I saw these morning glories…


…I had to go retrieve it.

P1010452 not-yet-opened. Is it just me, or do you want to jump up and down when you see this? Just me? OK. I’m still gonna jump up and down.


all-done-with-opening. (I’m still bouncing, here…)


A mystery weed that she’s allowed to do its thang. Doesn’t that flower like a really cool fairy crown? No? Is that just the post-morning-glory-excitement talking?

P1010472Here’s her house, which is a renovated barn. The downstairs has a concrete floor with radiant heating. and very cool high-tech yet old school German wood-fired stove/oven/boiler combo that heats the water for the radiant floor. (She also has regular gas burner/oven combo.) Exposed beams. Root cellar. But – welcome to Vermont – an outhouse.

Back to the green stuff:

P1010475 “go away, I’m busy.”

P1010479 the lovely Greenough amidst the snapdragons.


Here she is about to pull up a carrot for me.


that’s some carrot!

We proceeded to the lower half of the garden, site of rhubarb, basil, winter squash, more tomatoes, zucchini, and probably lots of other stuff.


…oh, like zinnias!


Her housemate – who, by the way, wears FiveFingers!! Hooray! – had planted the traditional Native American triad of corn, beans, and  squash.





Did you know you can eat corn fresh on the cob? Like, raw? I’d sort of heard that, from a friend whose grandfather’s favorite method of eating corn was to walk out to the garden with a warm dishtowel, By the time he made it back to the house – towel draped over the corn – he considered his meal ready to eat. This was, incidentally, positively delicious.


So here was my Support Your Local Agriculture Haul: one fat carrot. two giant zukes. basil – alas, more pesto…sigh. rainbow chard. spinach/chard hybrid. tomatoes that didn’t survive the trip – I et ‘em all. sorrel. nasturtium. lacinata kale. All in all, a most profitable visit! Thanks, Greenough!

Friday, August 27, 2010

in which we escape our land-locked state

Where to begin, where to begin?

dune panorama

With my new camera’s ‘panorama assist’ feature, which helped me take this awesome shot?


With my observations about the best way to remove a quarter cup of sand from my no-longer-shiny but-still-new Vibram FiveFingers?

Or how about I just launch into a rant about how unbelievably fantastic the Jersey shore is – the Actual Jersey shore, as in, the ecosystem, the land, the water, the dunes, the breaching dolphins, the birds?


Lemme back up.


We went down to New Jersey for a couple of days. Newer readers, please be advised that my beloved husband grew up near the beach in south Jersey. We took a spin to Island Beach State Park, which consists of about eight or nine miles of pretty-much undeveloped barrier island. The northern end of the same island has been completely flattened and paved over. One of the several towns involved is the infamous Seaside Heights featured on that MTV show.

To give you an idea of the contrast…


Heavy, heavy sigh.

East coast barrier islands figure prominently in both my original, and my in-law, families. Kevin grew up within the smell of the ocean. His sister met her husband while working at a candy shop on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. My mom and her siblings spent their summers on the Jersey shore - two of my uncles met their wives there. The tradition continued in my generation – we started in Avalon, about 70 miles south of Island Beach, and later migrated south to South Carolina.

A love for the ocean seems primordial, does it not?


Speaking of love, here’s mine.

I love the smell of the salt air as Kevin and I approach his original stomping grounds, so the pavement, the sprawl, and the seemingly never-ending encroachment on the pine barrens bums me out.

Getting out on the beach helps.





Medium size bird…


Isn’t he handsome? When I’m not wanting to decorate my entire life with rainbow colors, I lust after shades of brown like this bird, the scientific name of which is, I believe Seabirdicus beautious




Filthy beach lucre.

So, does anyone have any tips for how to photograph breaching dolphins? I can tell you how not to do it: Set camera to maximum zoom, train it on a spot just in front of where the dolphins were last seen, and hope something good comes of the shot.


Well, that didn’t work.


Neither did that, apparently. 


What else.

On the drive home this afternoon, a Bald Eagle flew directly over the Garden State Parkway. Please, Universe, do not let me be the only person who noticed this.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

behold the pod people; also, funny shoes

By pod-people, I am referring, of course, to the denizens of the watermelon and cantaloupe patch.


Today’s sacrificial victims.





On my way out the door today, I spotted movement in the driveway. Both cats were indoors, otherwise, I’m sure this little white-footed mouse (?) – would have been at the least, a fascinating source of amusement to them, and at worst, a snack. It concerns me a bit that it was out in the day time, as according to the rules and regulations outlined on the internet, it’s supposed to be nocturnal. At any rate, the real point of the picture is, I was able to zoom in on this guy with the shiny new camera.

Enough of its cute little white feet.

Let’s look at my feet.

Today, I invested in this year’s new pair of shoes. (Well, I’m not counting the running shoes I finally allowed myself to start using back in May.)



Yep, Vibram FiveFingers. Mine, mine, mine.

I first saw these on the feet of a guy who works at the food coop. I was doing my member hours bagging groceries, and he walked by and I noticed his shoes and immediately practically jumped all over him. He told me who makes ‘em.  I looked them up online, where I read the following enchanting propaganda:

When you go barefoot, your movements become the movements of a child—playful and sensitive, yet purposeful and confident. You experience the unbound joy of stepping, hopping, and running across any surface on earth, simply to get from here to there.

Vibram FiveFingers® allow you to relive that sensation. Unlike conventional shoes that insulate you from your surroundings, FiveFingers footwear deepens your connection to the earth and your surroundings. FiveFingers enhance your sense of touch and feel, while improving foot strength, balance, agility, and range of motion. Because wearing Vibram FiveFingers is so close to going barefoot, you’ll enjoy the health and performance benefits of barefooting without some of the risks.

And then, Lynn and I spotted a couple of people at the San Diego half-marathon wearing them. This woman here…


…is sporting the newest “Bikila” model, designed specifically for running. Incidentally, she finished less than two minutes after we did. (That loopy thing on her left foot is the timer chip.)

These shoes set up the same alternating current in my brain that certain breeds of dogs do:

best in show


cute!!! – UGLY! 
*squeal!* cute!!! Fugly! … aww, cute…  uggghhhlllly are-you-kidding-me – cutecutecute – OMG UGLY! - CUTE!


Anyway, the basic philosophy is what finally sold me on the concept. We evolved barefoot. Those crazy Kenyans run barefoot. Why not try the FiveFingers? I’m not sure I’m going to attempt running in them just yet, but I sure want to go for my several-times-weekly long walks on largely dirt roads wearing them. So I got the all-purpose “KSO” model – that stands for “keep stuff out”, to distinguish them from a more open-topped concept that kind of look like ballet slippers.


I tried on two colors – your basic black, and gray-and-purple. I then, naturally, polled everybody in the running store. The 12 year old girls were rooting for purple, but everybody else voted for black. I agreed with the woman behind the counter, who pointed out that the gray is going to go dingy, and it will look like crap. Black it is.

Monday, August 23, 2010

when is a mallow not a mallow?


Answer: when it is a raspberry bush. I promised yesterday that I’d post a picture of an Actual Mallow today.

P1010371  Here you go. Musk Mallow (Malva moschata). (Actually, a cousin to the mallow that I thought the raspberry bush was.) I feel much better now, and I assume you do, too.

The trip to the mailbox also netted us what I’m thinking is Seedbox (Ludwigia alternifolia)

P1010378   P1010376

How do I know this stuff? Am I a sooper-genius? No. I repeat, no. It’s called “a field guide”, followed by “no really, look it up in a book.”

Do I think that knowing the name of something makes me an expert on that thing? Abso-frickin’-lutely not. In many ways, a name is just a bunch of syllables. If you had but five minutes to spend on a flower, by all means, spend it in rapturous awe looking deep into it, marveling at the intricacies of its innards, wondering at how long that flower will take to open, speculating as to how it got pollinated, and who will eat its seeds. Don’t waste it in a book.

But! When you commit to finding out its name…well, you open up your own understanding to all the research and knowledge that has gone on before you into the life of that species. The name is a magic key.

Let’s take our buddy, the mallow. Shortly after I first (mis-)identified the mallow growing up in the driveway, I happened to read “Outlander”, a time-travel fiction novel by Diana Galbadon, in which the WWII-era heroine, in an early-morning walk to become better acquainted with wildflowers, suddenly finds herself transported to 18th century Scotland. (Don’t you hate it when that happens?) One of the flowers she’s constantly coming across? Mallow! Hah!  Or how about this: I was just in southern California, visiting my brother and his wife and running in the San Diego half-marathon, and guess what’s growing in a huge heap in their back yard? Mallow! Double Hah!

When you’ve gotten to know a particular species – and more than that, a particular instance of a species – well, it becomes your buddy.

Like this new guy, the seedbox pictured above. Because I looked it up…I know to pay particular attention to it as the seeds develop…apparently they’re all kinds of crazy looking. Stay tuned!

Or my old friend, whom I visit on every trip to the mailbox…


White baneberry in front of neighbor’s house. August 8.


Same guy, today, so two weeks later. See how the stalks are getting redder?

Now, if I were really cool, I’d know about what’s edible out there, and the medicinal uses to which all these guys can be put, etc. etc.. I’ll get there, I’ll get there…

Maybe there’s an invisible space alien ship up in orbit, and one of the aliens has a huge telescope trained on me, and I’m being blogged about intergalactically. “Human #X235(b)’s basic awareness of her surroundings has improved by .00002% over the past lunar cycle…”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

in which I demote myself


Our first edible cantaloupe. It was not as juicy and soft as one might like, but we haven’t yet figured out how to tell when the little buggers are ripe. Kevin reports that there are at least eleven others in various stages of growth, awaiting our culinary experiments.

Unlike some people, Kevin’s been busy lately.


That enormous pile of firewood in the left bay? That used to be logs. So he chainsawed them and split them, moving them first out of the pole barn, and then back into the pole barn. And he’s gone through you cannot even IMAGINE how much other crap valuable flammable stuff and sorted it all by size – trash barrels full of tinder, kindling, you name it. My hero!

And if that were not enough…


Can you tell that he’s stripped all the shingles off the roof of the little shed in the back of the yard? Well, he has. The plywood underneath will need to be replaced, and the whole thing re-shingled. Kevin’s taking care of the bits he feels comfortable doing, and then Our Hero Michael (he of the kitchen cabinets…the new window in the batcave,.. the flooring in the batcave and front room…and of course the DECK!!) will c’mon over and do all the hard bits.

I have been lifting weights.  If you can count what I’m using as “weights”. Do they make free weights any…tinier than those I am using? Don’t answer that.

dumbbellsMaybe if I had a set that looked like this, I’d be even more motivated.  Anyway, that makes twice in the past four days, and I’m gonna do it again tomorrow. Grrrr. Strong, like bull.

In other news, I lied earlier when I identified this as a mallow.


Had I bothered to pay attention a little more, I would have realized that this is a shrub. Not a flower. Accounting for that leads us directly to “IT’S A RASPBERRY, YOU FOOL”, as evidenced by the fact that hey, why are all these mallow flowers producing these cute little buggers that look and taste exactly like raspberries? But I did find an ACTUAL mallow on the walk to the mailbox yesterday, and because I know you care, deeply, about these things, I’ll post pictures. Except it’s supposed to rain for the next few days, so maybe I’ll be lazy and not do that. We Shall See.

Some naturalist. I have demoted myself to Rank Amateur, as opposed to Complete Novice. Wait. Maybe that should be the other way around. Whatever. You get my drift.

In the culinary department, can we all praise whoever invented gazpacho? Salad in a blender. Brilliant. For my next trick, I’m going to have to figure out how to deal with our CSA’s most recent scary offering: edamame. Or, fresh soybeans, still on the stalk, to keep ‘em fresh.

stolenThis is a stolen picture from the intertubes, 

Apparently I am to cook them in their little pods and then extract the little buggers. I am afraid I won’t be able to use my usual technique of eating strange veggies (“throw them in a smoothie!”) on these. No worries. I’m sure they’ll be great.

Finally, I am learning more settings on the magic new camera, like how to turn the flash back on after having somehow disabled it.


no flash.



Thanks for your help, Charlie!