Monday, July 28

the best and the worst

You know most people have at least one friend who has seen them at their best and their worst and has amazingly decided to continue being their friend. This is the best kind of friend. A friend who knows you when you are fun and somewhat funny, and a friend who knows you when you are in pain, complaining, and smelling like rotten vegetables. That is who Megan is to me.

We met playing softball against each other in college. She was an all-American catcher for the Bethel Pilots, and I was the goofy, left-handed second baseman for the Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats. We were conference rivals and competed against each other for four years. My second year in college I noticed that there were a core group of Bethel softballers who were always having way more fun than anyone else and , true to form, I wanted to know them. And that is where it started.

Both Megan and I graduated with teaching degrees, she moved to South Bend, Indiana to teach Special Education and I moved to North Carolina to teach eighth grade science. Midway through my first year of teaching, she called me up and asked if I wanted to take a road trip to Montana during summer break. I couldn't think of anything more fun, and so our annual backpacking trips began with a whirlwind trip out west.

We learned a lot about each other on that trip, marveled at sights every American should see (Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, the Black Hills), and at trips end realized we had never actually made it to Montana.

Four years later, Megan and I walked the 2,174.6 miles of the Appalachian Trail. We started it together, we finished it together. Believe me, she has seen the worst of me, not to mention smelled me at my worst. She has witnessed me cry and rage and pout and whine. And through it all she was right there, never far.

And so this weekend I found myself in Lake Tahoe, California at Megan's wedding. Celebrating life, her life, what it is and what it will be. I adore her husband, Chad, and am looking forward to sharing life with them.

Megan and her father head down the aisle Friday, July 25.

Some memories of Megan:
  • hearing her belches from the visitors dugout when she was warming up a pitcher in the bull pen
  • helping her move her stuff out of a flea infested basement apartment
  • horseback riding on the postman's horse in Andover, ME
  • oozing, infected, silver dollar size blisters and the numerous emergency room trips
  • hitch hiking halfway across the country to get home for her mom's birthday
  • sharing a cigar and champagne at the top of Mt. Katahdin, the last stop on the Appalachian Trail

My life would be very different if Megan and I weren't friends. I hate to think about it. So here's to friends who have seen you at your worst!

Monday, July 21

Maddie's Gift

Maddie drew me a very cool picture of Bailey and I, for my birthday. So I wanted to post a picture of Bailey appreciating the work of art. She loved it.

Sunday, July 20

mid-July rush

It has been a busy few weeks. I'm sharing space with Dean and Suzie the rest of the month, it's harvest time on the farm, the weeds still grow, the plants still need watered. And, I ate my first Dungeness Crab (the local crustacean) last night for a belated birthday feast. Thursday I leave for Lake Tahoe, California for a mini vacation to celebrate Megan's wedding.

Since nearly all of my vegie seeds were free this year, I couldn't be choosy. Thus the purple and white carrots. I love the purple carrots, they are so cool sliced in discs. Their inside is orange like a normal carrot, but the outside is deep purple. They look like little bulls eyes.

I plucked my first garlic from the garden. Again, I was a bit hasty, it wasn't at full maturation, but it still tasted good in my stir fry.

Harvesting lavender makes all the rest of the work around the farm worth it. It smells great, the bees are buzzing around all happy and full of pollen (except that one time when the swarmed me and attacked me), all the visitors are enthralled with the process. It's a happy place to work.

Here is Mr. Crab who graciously sacrificed his life for my birthday feast. I watched Suzie gut her crab and then she passed the torch to me. My crab, my gut job. Nasty business, but not as nasty as filleting a fish, I say.

Sunday, July 13

a needed vacation

Calli has been visiting since Wednesday, we've been traveling the island doing usual and unusual things. I told her the other day that I was glad she came for a visit so I could take a vacation. My life has been most frequently run by work. Work at home, work at work, and work after work. Makes for a slow-building frustration of sorts. I'm not one to get stressed out that easily, but I was definitely feeling overwhelmed. And I know that I am on the verge of the same for the rest of the summer, as soon as Calli flies eastward on Monday. But for today, I'm going to just chill.

Thursday, Calli volunteered at Lavender Wind Farm while I worked. We were able to harvest fresh bunches of lavender in the morning before lunch and hoe weeds in the field after lunch. A fun and educational day, I think. Above, she is learning how to bind lavender bunches with rubber bands for drying. We were able to try some lavender ice cream at the end of our work day. I chose a blackberry lavender ice cream sandwich, while Calli decided a vanilla lavender sandwich worked for her.

On a quite different note: I was wondering why the daisies looked distressed. Can you figure it out? Might be time for some more beer. Toasting time!

Two different beasts here, can you believe it? Amazing!

Friday, July 11

living in the margins

Organisms that live in tidal zones are some of the most adaptable creatures on earth. Their life is split into surviving the abrupt polar changes from life under water to life without the cover of the sea. And when you stumble upon these survivors, it is a peek into the incredible.

too many anemones to count out there

three happy sea cucumbers - a Chinese delicacy, I'm told
a ginormous starfish hanging on for dear life

Saturday, July 5

on being 30

I've been in my 30th year for six whole days so far and it sure feels like something, I'm just not quite sure what. Wait...I know what it feels like. It feels just like 29, which felt like 25. Whew, that's cool. I was afraid it was going to feel old. But it doesn't, it just sounds old. And I can deal with that.

A few things that I've learned in my 30 years of life:
  • when it thunders it is only a matter of time before the light follows
  • friendliness is contagious, except in extremely rare cases, in which case you should flee, because grumpiness is contagious also
  • the "wait and see" theory is boring, I prefer to live by the "go and learn" theory (of which may not be a theory at all, I just made it up)
  • acquiring new skills requires risk, patience and humility
  • friends are not a dime a dozen, so cherish those you have
  • my actions do matter (to others, to the earth, to God)
  • time will not wait on you, so don't wait on it
  • I am a unique individual so it is okay if others think I'm weird
  • and most recently - feed the soil and reap the abundance
  • don't be afraid to change and grow

Of course, I've learned much more in the 30 years and six days of moments that have been stitched together to yield my life. But if I was to record all that I've learned in life I'd still be sitting here next year typing away. So this condensed list will have to do, I suppose.

Life is a blessing. My personal suggestion is to "live it".

the dump

As promised - a blog about the dump. And these chickens are happy little buggers. They get to live at the dump. So cool!

First, a haiku (inspired by Calli's haiku on gardening)

with limited land
try to conserve and reuse,
lets go to the dump!

true story:
I don't know how many of you know this, but my friend, Stacy, and I do yardwork after working on the lavender farm for a couple of Sarah's neighbors. We usually just spend an hour or so after work on the farm, and then head home. Stacy and I found ourselves driving one of our employers pickup trucks to the dump the other day to discard of the yardwaste that we had been collecting by means of clipping, pulling, and trimming. As we were on our way to the dump, listening to some tunes, Stacy looks at me from the driver's seat and says, "I can't believe we are getting paid to go to our favorite place on the island!" It took a moment to register what she meant, but after I did, I agreed whole-heartedly. It wasn't until a few miles later did we both burst out laughing at the nonsensical situation.

Strange but true - the dump is one of our favorite places on the island. Now with that said, let me explain this crazy statement.

the rationale:
I live on an island, where trash removal is very expensive. It is overly expensive because the trash, after being removed from your home and put in the dump, must eventually be hauled off island to dispose of long-term. Most people do not opt for curbside pickup because of the expense, and instead collect their own trash and take it to the dump, where the cost is determined by the weight of the garbage.

Since the weight determines the cost, most people are adamant about recycling everything possible. Instead of throwing an appliance away it goes to the recycling side of the dump where there is a graveyard of rusted out and broken appliances, tools, furniture, boats, car bodies, toys, bicycles, you name it. The best thing about it, is that all of it is for sale. Therefore, going to the dump is like perusing a ginormous yard sale. And for a couple of bucks you can walk away with a treasure or two.

My favorite part of the Freeland dump is the book mobile. A broken down bus has been converted into a, quite stationary, book mobile. The homemade shelves are chock full of all kinds of books; best sellers, Oprah's book club, picture books, inspirational books, fiction, non-fiction. For 50 cents a book, it is a hard bargain to beat. Some people call the "thrift store" of the dump the "Dumptique". A very fitting name, I believe.

So it isn't a wonder that I found myself exploring the dump after church on my 30th birthday last week. I walked away with three books for $1.50. Sweet. Wouldn't you like to visit my dump?

Tuesday, July 1

Garden Update

It may seem odd that I blog about the happenings in my garden, but surely you realize that I live on an island, work two jobs, and my best friend is a dog. So the breath of fresh air that the garden provides is, indeed, a vital one.

I have been truly blessed to be in this most odd, yet cool living situation. Since I've never been a home owner, I've never had the chance to grow anything to speak of, besides the occasional fern (which I managed to kill annually). So when this opportunity came up to live on Whidbey Island, to plant a garden, to watch it grow, to eat it's produce. Wasn't a tough choice for me. As a matter of fact, the eating part is coming in full force this month.

So the update goes as follows:
  • I've frozen snow peas once already and have more than I can handle, still.
  • I've harvested four kohlrabi, gave one away, and still have three waiting in my fridge as I try to decide what to do with them.
  • The lettuce keeps on coming, as lettuce tends to do. I'm eating a huge salad for lunch every day and trying to savor the taste.
  • I have baby zucchini that are about the size of my fingers
  • I've eaten one ripe strawberry, the birds have eaten three. That ratio is not in my favor.
  • The purplette onions are showing themselves, and it is hard to resist pulling them.
  • The rainbow chard is gorgeous and delicious, a great combo.
  • I've prematurely pulled a carrot or two in hopes that they were ready to eat. I ate them anyway.

The constant weeding and watering of this needy little garden has me eating dinner at about 9:30 every night. I guess I do fit in a walk to the beach every night before dinner too. The sun is setting, the evening is cool, and the dog is itching to go for a swim. What am I supposed to do? So dinner waits and waits.

A picturesque view of Sunday's harvest. I didn't eat all this at once. That would not be wise.

Side note: I'm putting out a 'call out' for any known recipes for using kohlrabi. I was thinking about roasting them with some other vegies and potatoes in the oven, but I don't really know. They smell like cabbage, so I'm supposing you cook with them like you would cabbage.