Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring Planting, for real

For at least 10 years I have dreamed of having my own place to call home. Being a gardener person and an out-of-doors kind of person ("my little outdoorsman," as my Nauni calls me), the part of having a home that I have dreamt most about is planting slow growing plants, such as trees, and establishing more permanent gardens with all of my most favorite green beauties. As most of you faithful reader friends know, I bought 20 acres last fall. Holy mackerel! That's some room! All winter (especially when I was in China), the whole thing seemed still an idea and not real. I couldn't imagine myself living there or working there. (As it turns out I am not always much of a visionary.) However, this spring I have started working up there in preliminary efforts to make a home. Today I got up there and planted a stellar collection of trees. I realized that one of the things I like most about gardening (plant husbandry as I like to think of it) is the connections with human loved ones I feel when caring for the plants. A majority of plants I acquire and plant are either given to me by dear ones or otherwise have some association or memory of an experience with a fellow plant lover. As I planted my trees today, I had time remembering and appreciating the people who gave me each tree and marvelling at the good fortune I have to know such great plant people.
The slippery elm was given to me by my former neighbors, Jim and Becky, who had to move to the heat of Texas to care for Jim's mother. The slippery elm is considered by them to be a sacred medicine plant, and I was honored to receive it as a gift. Susie and Todd kept it for me at their place for about a year and we all forgot to water it but it survived, and now it is finally in the ground near the spring. It is gorgeous.
The red buckeye, fringe tree and blueberry bush were a recent gift from Steve, who just left for a cross country birding extravaganza. He is passionate about birds and plants, and left me the aforementioned as a sweet departing gift. Red buckeye makes me think of my Nauni, who has one in her yard; that was the first place I ever saw one, and I fell in love at first sight. Fringe trees make me think of the Dirty Hoe, and how we huff the fringe tree at the "Fs" place when it blooms because it smells like chocolate. All three of Steve's plant gifts now have homes in the ground.
The 5 paw paws I planted came from my buddy Mr. Boone, who I met at the Marshall Depot. The place where he used to live on Dry Branch has the momma and daddy of all paw paws. They fruit like mo-fos and make lots of babies. Mr. Boone was kind enough to let me harvest all the fruit I wanted and dig baby trees to take home. He is a sweet man, and a pretty awesome depot announcer too!
I planted a black birch- don't remember where it came from, but it makes me think of Frank Cook, who taught the herbal mead making class where I made birch bark mead (yum). His plant loving legacy is definitely alive and well.
I have yet to plant the gingko, who has patiently been waiting in a pot for about 10 years. I got it from Robert Eidus. I also have yet to plant the winesap apple I grafted earlier this spring in Bill Whipple's class. He tickled me with his antics and the sparkle in his eye. He sure does love those fruit trees. I got the scion wood from my dear neighbors the Mechos.
Last but not least, I planted a litle campanula flower near the slippery elm. It was given to me last year by Rachel Brownlee (the Girl in an Apron) from her garden. It got washed out by the dreadful hailstorm of 9-09-09, but then it made a comeback in its meager little terracotta pot. I am tickled to have a little something from Rachel's sweet Beaverdam homestead at my place.
It was pretty fun planting trees at my own place. I took my time and gave each one my attention, stopping to rest in the shade and drink tea. I carried sweet cool water from the spring and stepped back to admire each plant. For the first time I could imagine living and working up there, making gardens and watching the trees grow.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

10 Reasons I Love My Job

Some Perks of Working for the Dirty Hoe:

1) The crew is a cast of all star wing-nuts, and I mean that in the finest sense of the word. Actually, everyone is quite top quality, and quirky to boot. Very fine.

2) We do a "bang-up" job. Son, we can make some residences look damn good, organically.

3) Our conversations on (and off) the job are well balanced and most interesting; we spend equal time discussing diverse topics such as: interpersonal relationships, world issues, cream of nettles soup, world travel, bicycles, pet care, Jesus, and Paul's mom (and plants and stuff too).

4) I am inspired to go home after work and make cream of nettles soup.

5) With a little persistence and perstering of Heidi, German can be learned on the job. Ex. Das ist meine grosse shouvel. (Forgive the certain spelling errors.)

6) We eat the World's Best Carrot Cake on a regular basis and drink prosecco to celebrate Barack Obama. We also drink Austrian schnapps of different flavors (including the infamous turnip flavored schnapps, which tastes like alcoholic saurkraut juice.) We also eat chocolate truffles and fancy cheese and ice cream sundays at Ultimate Ice Cream.

7) We (well some of us, um, not Donna Price) wear eye glitter on Fridays. I talk about Jesus every day at 2:30, and people tolerate it.

8) My co-worker Rachel convinced me that I should take a last minute spontaneous trip to Texas (see future post) and my boss ladies encouraged it, telling me I should do shit like that while I'm young. It involved missing 2 days of work last minute notice.

9) We have Man-Hoes, too, and they pack the masculine punch.

10) Paul and I broke down in the Dirty Hoe truck at the dump last week and we made the most of it by studying the fern section in the "Landscaping with Native Plants" book and bonding with the tow-truck driver, whose name was Spanky. He was called Spanky because he used to play so many practical jokes on people at school as a boy (hence, earning lots of spankings). For example, he rather enjoyed poking people in the butt with thumb tacks, setting off the fire alarm so he could watch all the girls run down the fire escape, and scaring the teacher with snakes and frogs.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Movie Night Review: "This is It"

Jenna and I resumed movie night last night after a few weeks long dry spell. I went to Ingles and picked out 2 selections- a dumb looking Vince Vaughn comedy and "This is It," the Micheal Jackson documentary. I knew which one I wanted to watch, but I gave Jenna the choice. Luckily she chose well. We spent the next 2 hours drinking in the utter mind blowing talent and weirdness which was Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. We knew most every song (of course) and sang along with gusto. But let me not get ahead of myself. For those of you who don't know, the movie, which was filmed in 2009, consisted of footage of rehearsals of what was to be Michael Jackson's last tour. He was conjuring up, as the African French would say, a multimedia "Gran Spectac," of all of his most popular songs from over the years. The show was to include the best of MJ's selction of background dancers, singers and musician, special effects out the butthole including some 3-D filming stuff AND Michael himself coming out of a giant mechanical black widow. Things of that nature. It was awesome! Seeing MJ doing his thing and how very seriously he took every single detail was just captivating. His voice was like that of an angel, and his face was just oh so very very very weird. He still had dance moves to write home about, and his background dance team was absolutely kick ass. Everything that came out of MJ's mouth (in a very female-ish sounding voice) was weird, specific and a lot of time critical. But he made it known that it's all about the love. The L-O-V-E (he spelled it out a time or 2). My two favorite parts of the movie were: 1) Michael watching the special effects of the "Thriller" take (all the zombies clawing at the camara) and getting REALLY exciting while licking a dum dum, and 2) Michael rocking out with a killer blond female electric guitar player who was absolutely SHREDDING those licks! Jenna enjoyed the movie as much as I did, I think. At one point she abruptly got up out of her chair and got on the floor to imitate a really cool move that one of the background dancers did.
It a nutshell, Jenna and I give the movie a thumbs up and agree that "Boy could that feller move!"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dana's Spring Dream Meal

I have been daydreaming about a certain spring meal for years now. I start dreaming about it at a little before equinox, and it is inspired by waking of dormant life forces. Usually I get real busy in the spring and only really end up pulling together part of my ideal spring meal in bits and pieces, whatever I have the time to throw together in the midst of the busyness. This spring, I was inspired to dedicate some time and really go for all of it (well, almost all of it). As fate would have it, I prepared my dream spring meal on the weekend of the ascension of Jesus from the tomb (or as some like to think of it, Persephone returning from her winter in Hades and bringing life back to earth). This weekend wasn't only Easter proper, it happened to be a burst of warmth and life- temperatures in the 80's, fun under the sun, all dormancy of winter broken good. The meal was almost complete (minus morels, asparagus and ramps) and was as follows:

Dana's Spring Dream Meal

Appetizer: crackers with Morbier's Charles Arnaud semi-soft cheese and fruit compote
(rehydrated dates and apricots, pistachios, honey, rosewater and water)

Spring Salad: chickweed, comfrey, violet leaves, fennel leaves, chives, French sorrel
cilantro, and bee balm with a vidalia onion dressing

Entre: Wild venison tenderloin and filet (medium rare) with a tangy marinade/
reduction sauce (fantastic recipe comliments of Donna Price)

Side: wild nettles and garlic potato pancakes fried in unrefined coconut oil and
served with homemade pear chutney

Dessert: Chocolate truffles flavored with homemade blackberry wine

Wine: Mixed Spice Mead

I used the occasion to pull out some lovely and delicate embroidered linens that were given to me by the Dirty Hoe, some lovely old fashioned yellow rose china which was given to me by Ms Emily Staton, and some lovely violet flower china which I traded for a haircut here in Hot Springs last year.

The dinner was excellent and was well received by the eaters. I think the only thing I would add would be a side of blanched asparagus with butter and a little garlic and/or sauteed morels (in butter and white wine). I did not add these things because of a lack of local availability at the time of the meal.

Happy Easter and go eat some wild food if you can- it's real satisfying!