Sunday, May 30, 2010

Red Wing: it's not just a black bird or a work shoe...

Sometimes people are just real good people. Bottom line. And there's nothing quite as nice as sharing the company of real good people. I am supremely lucky to know a few of this type. Honest. Hard working. Fun. FUNNY. Loving. Warm hearted. Well adjusted. Principled. Open minded but focused. Intelligent. Generous. Culinary (oops, it's not all about food, I swear!) It just so happens that my friends, Beth and Christopher of Red Wing Farm, not only are dripping with good character, they always have lots and lots of good food. Maybe it is because they are farmers of a righteous organic veggie farm in the Swannanoa River Valley and grow several acres of lovingly nourished mixed crops. It's one of my favorite places to visit. I am always greeted for a few minutes at the house, poured a glass of cool homemade mead (this time it was made with home grown red zinger hibiscus) and then led out to the gardens to stroll and admire the goings on. This past visit the other evening, first stop was a snapping turtle preparing to lay eggs in a flower bed. Then we strolled past the specialty foxglove, through the flowers and herbs (tallest valerian I ever saw), through the blauwschokkers peas, into the garlic field (adjacent to the potato field), by the adorable Airstream which houses one of the interns, and rambled hither and yonder, tasting, smelling, conversing at a perfect leisurely pace. Dear friends "P" and "G" were also there as was Nicole, one of the summer interns. We would have likely ambled along down to the Swannanoa River and enjoyed the tinkling of the (much cleaner now) water for a while, but dusk fell and we got hongry. So we headed back to the house for yet another stellar meal by Beth and peach pie by "P". Dinner was followed by more engaging conversation, the type that actually means something, not just a bunch of stupid chit chat. A bone to chew on for a while, if you will. And I will. I'm going to savor that bone and make it last until the next time I am fortunate enough to spend another evening with those lovely people.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sure Beats An Office Job

In spite of the poison ivy, chigger bites, achy back and sore knees, we have buckets of rose petals, fresh cherries, Zoe, and Zoe's accessories. Makes me smile...

Monday, May 24, 2010

There's Always Something

One of my favorite things about The Holler is that there's always something of strange and utmost interest going on. I am talking about things that seem to come out of the proverbial "left field," so to speak. I should not be surprised because the frequency of these little events is fairly constant, but the bizarreness of some of the goings-on never ceases to catch me off guard and delight the piss out of me (not literally, you should know.) Last night The Holler residents gathered at Todd and Susie's shack to view some of Susie's amazing video footage that she filmed in the tribal regions of India she visited this spring. As we gathered to commune and shoot the shit and eat awesome foodlets (which is gloriously abundant in the Holler), Susie casually said to me, "Have you seen my electrocuted bullfrog yet?" It was in the middle of some other breeze shooting and Todd was under my truck attempting to secure my new O2 sensor nuts, so it took me a minute to realize what Susie was actually saying. She was telling me she had an electrocuted bullfrog in her possession. When I informed her that I had neither seen it nor heard about it, she scurried off into the shack to get it. Apparently she had been at her work (gardening for a family with a sizable estate in Weaverville), and found this bullfrog in the yard. When she approached the lady of the house to inquire if she could have it (yes that's right, she inquired if she could have the dead frog), the lady nonchalantly said something along the lines of, "Oh, that thing- those bullfrogs are always getting electrocuted on our livestock fence." Oh, naturally. The thing Susie pulled out and showed me surprised me so much and she was just so proud of it, I had to do a little photo shoot of the two of them and a most lovely and luscious (and probably deadly) digitalis. Susie kept saying, "Are you seeing its hands? Look at its hands!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Totally Tubular Pitcher Plant

Laura Carter brought me this bad boy. Wow!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hard to Believe

I find it hard to believe that I actually have a place to call home. And that it is 20 acres. And that it is incredibly beautiful. And peaceful. And its own watershed. And in a safe and loving holler community.
I find it hard to believe that people will come out and shed their very own sweat and blood for the sake of me making my home in this place. Freely. And happily.

I had another work day yesterday, and it rocked the free world. We cut and stacked more 12 ft long hemlock logs for the future out building (and for clearing of the future garden). We also cleared some more trees from the house site and from the old logging road (which we holler residents like to hike) and stacked a shit ton more firewood. The day was hot. The sweat was flowing, as was the sweet tea. Participants were Leonard and Deanna, Laura and Eduard, JB, Rachel ("Girl in an Apron" minus the apron), Mom, Susie and Todd, and Mecho (who very quietly started dissembling the roof thingy that he and other studly neighborhood men built for me last year over the Airstream.) (The roof thingy will be moved, along with the Airstream, up to the land soon.)

Man, those friends sure can work. Eduard, the Belgium work horse, showed once again that he is a true hoss, as did Deanna, who is small but packs quite a punch! Leonard, the multi-talented electrician, got it going on with some good ole fashioned tree cutting down (well I guess all the men did). Laura, Rachel, Deanna and Mom hauled wood and brush up and down hills faster than I could figure out what was happening. JB did a bit of everything, true to form, and offered much good and amusing commentary. I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to keep up with the crews and answer questions and make quick decisions and such. So much happens so fast with a hard working team! Dad and Jenna made a surprise appearance on their way home from their 10 DAY ROAD TRIP TO NEW YORK!!! It was quite a day.

Marc Williams, botanist and friend, was scheduled to come lead a plant walk after the work day was over, but we had to reschedule due to a very sizable hail and electrical storm which descended upon the holler at about 4:30. Luckily we heard the rumbling in the distance in enough time to call him with a heads up and to finish up our projects and pack up. Too bad we couldn't sit around leisurely and drink beer and bourbon and fire up one of the brush piles as a bon fire, but that storm was vicious! The only thing I didn't have time for was planting the yellow and pink ladyslippers plants that my buddies J and G Shelton brought me from their place on Spillcorn. Check em out- I had never laid eyes upon a yellow one before. Ain't it purty? I find it hard to believe that someone has enough yellow ladyslippers to dig them up and share them with casual acquaintances.
I guess I'd better settle in and get used to being amazed by things that happen and people and this incredible place that I am getting to call mine for a while.
Thanks everyone who came Saturday for blowing my mind!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mothers Day Spa Day

I decided on giving my mother and grandmother (Nauni) a nice home cooked brunch and some luxurious spa treatments (provided by me) for Mothers Day. I invited Sally for extra good times. We spent the afternoon last Sunday over here at the cottage by the creek, where I currently live in the family compound. We had a blast, and I think the ladies walked away at the end of the afternoon feeling sufficiently pampered and dolled up. Brunch was french toast with maple syrup and an apricot, date, rose water compote, sauteed aparagus with shitakes and garlic, bacon, mimosas (or moonshine and orange juice), and chocolate chocolate chip cookies with coconut and almonds. After brunch I gave haircuts, foot baths with rosewater, and then foot massages with rose oil. Mom got her hair hennaed. By then it was mid-afternoon and warm enough to go out onto the deck for facials- a clay mask with pearl powder (from China) and rosewater followed by a homemade witch hazel toner and collodial copper cream. To top the day off, Sally and Mom opted for pedicures. The day was gorgeous and it was delightful to spend lady time with Mom, Nauni and Sally. We listened to Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette and relaxed. The ladies decided it needed to become a Mothers Day tradition.

Monday, May 10, 2010

More... with the help of two more awesome friend/helpers was done at my place on Saturday. I am really enjoying spending time with people up at my new place, and I look forward to the day that I have a house and an establishment that people can come visit. For now it's come if you want to either work, sit outside, or hike around (all of which are pretty fun for me these days.) The weather was perfect on Saturday, and I had friends "JB" (from Del Rio) and "JD" from Asheville come help me do some more clearing work. "JD" is a friend that I met at West Charlotte High School in Charlotte, and he happens to live in Asheville now with his girlfriend, which rocks. We don't see each other that often, but I always enjoy it when we do. He is kind and insightful and conscientious and also has a funny bone. Very good qualities. "JB" is a Hot Springs fixture- a carpenter, potter, wild food aficionado and computer non-liker, he shows up randomly and offers his time and assitance to other homesteader types around the area. The three of us worked at a leisurely pace and got some more hemlocks cut and stacked in 12 foot logs for a future log built tool shed that will have potential to double as a nativity scene in the winter (thanks to JD's brilliant vision). We also discovered a grapevine up on the hill of the house site that can be used as a rope swing, and we all did it one time. It was really fun. Other key players in the day were: a most beautiful and vibrantly marked lady box turtle who my friend Bud nursed back to health for the past year after an accident that caused some shell damage; I got to release her down in a wet part of the land, and lots and lots of sweet little purple flowers that I believe are fringed phacelia.

Check back soon for news from the 2010 Mothers Day Spa situation that occurred over here at the house yesterday!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Once upon a time there were two ladies named Donna and Heidi and they had a little business called the Dirty Hoe. Now this business seemed at first glance like an organic gardening and landscaping company that catered to detail-oriented Asheville clients. But if one were to scratch beneath the surface, that one would find the Dirty Hoe to be a whole entity of creativity, awesomeness and outside the boxness. An entity that not only pays a living wage, supports local businesses, fosters communication and healthy living and offers massage thereapy benefits to employees, but also makes long winding serpentine sculptures out of organic matter, encourages certain employees to go on last minute road trips to Texas (for the sake of living large) and wears sparkles on Fridays. The Dirty Hoe is not paying me to talk good about them on the internet. What they ARE paying for, though, is 2 crew members who came and worked for ME at my land yesterday. It was a regular work day, with ME being the client, but getting the service as a GIFT from my employers!
"Fabi" and PJ (aka Superhoe and Man Hoe) came out and did some work with me getting my land ready for this house building/ mountain home steading project that I am getting involved with. We did things such as weeding and mulching the pear root stock nursery, pruning the giant old pear tree to encourage new growth (which I plan to use later in the summer to graft on the root stock), weedeat, cut down hemlock trees, and de-limb and stack hemlock timbers (for a future tool shed). The day was warm and gorgeous. I set up a hospitality station of sweet tea and chocolate chip cookies, which we indulged in freely. Fabi brought the Dirty Hoe truck and tools and Bella, her sweet bear-looking dog who served as a sort of canine totem for the day (someday Hopey, who goes by Mildred now, will come out and my heart will soar).
Unfortunately PJ got lost and got real acquainted with the Chapel Hill/ Guntertown area for a lot of the morning, but he made it and rocked his chainsaw all afternoon. We got most of the right sized hemlocks down and cut to 12 ft logs. I "felled" my first tree, successfully. The photos do not capture the look of terror that was upon my face at the time.
At the end of the day, we parted ways, tired and sweaty and happy (at least I was) but not before Fabi and I (true to Dirty Hoe form) did a little fringe tree huffing. It was a great day. Thank D and H!