Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Day In The Life - Harvesting For The First Time

We had a friend's kids come over last night to "forage through the garden" (meaning pick all the stuff I grew because I hate that part - go figure, I hate harvesting).  I knew we were in trouble when they said "WE get to pick it?"

"Yes. I'm lazy," was my answer.

They didn't word it like "are you kidding, that's beneath us".  It was worded like "I've never heard of such a thing".  I didn't realize these kids had never done anything like this  Even though we are an hour from Seattle, "living in the sticks" people say (with loving abandon) I forgot that there were "city areas" around here.  Housing developments that didn't allow for a garden, covenants that don't allow for backyard poultry, front doors that have to be painted within guidelines (say what?).

This was one of those families.

Top quotes of the evening:

  • Is that corn?
  • Dirt.  Am I standing in dirt?
  • What's an outhouse?
  • Does the outhouse work? 
  • Do I take the stringy stuff off the corn?
  • You can eat a rooster?
  • Is this poop on my shoe?

They ranged from age seven to a high school senior.  I loved every minute of having them here, even though it seems like I am picking on them.  I loved showing them how to pick the corn and shuck it, and how to hunt for cucumbers, and which onions were ready.  It got me to thinking:

When did that happen?

While we were eating dinner that evening, my husband, who grew up in the same town we live in, said "I don't remember anyone who has never picked their own vegetables."  I argued (naturally) "what about the kids who lived in town?"

"They had family who lived on a farm somewhere.  I've never known anyone whose never picked
vegetables before."

I realized he was right.  (Let's keep this between ourselves, shall we?)  Growing up, almost everyone had a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, blood-relation who had a farm.  We spent summers "at Grandmas" bucking hay, picking berries, shelling peas, getting the cows in to milk.

In the same way city people know how to cross the street and catch a cab and ride a subway, and live in the bubble that everyone-knows-how-to-do-this, I live in a different kind of bubble.  I think everyone has a three year old that knows how to milk a goat, a ten year old who knows how to drive a tractor, a sixteen year old who drives to the neighboring town to bring home baby geese.

That's not reality.  And I realized it yesterday.

It's a different reality.

I loved having the kids here last night, watching their eyes light up as they pulled up an onion, or went scrounging for a cucumber or shucking corn.  I just wish I could gather all the kids in the world and have them experience the same thing.

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A Day in The Life - Painting The Barn - Part 2

When we last met, the barn was still a funky shade of mauve.  In case you've forgotten, go here to catch up and then come back:  A Day In The Life - Painting The Barn.  I didn't know it would only be a Part 1 or I would have labeled it as such.

Who knew we would have gotten the damn thing finished before one of us died?

Well, I gave the ending away.  So much for the suspense.

Okay, to continue, everyone we asked (friends, neighbors, people in line at the grocery store that won't talk to us now) hinted that it should be darker.

So we went back to Sherwin Williams to find our buddy Anthony.  As luck would have it (at least for Anthony) he wasn't in.  Jeff was.  Jeff was a wee bit unsure about how to handle us and our buckets of paint (we left the primer at home).

Until he saw the photo.

Then Jeff was all about helping us.  He didn't want a mauve barn in his county any more than we did.  He said he would try (we gave him our "pipe dream" paint color and said "anything close to this").

Jeff called the next day and my Teenager answered.  "It's ready," he said, "I had to add two and a half gallons of dark and had to mix it in new buckets.  It's going to cost $60"

Sixty bucks - here's a check!

We drove in that day with high hopes/low hopes/no hopes/abject curiosity.

It was definitely darker.  And browner.  I didn't give a rat's ass.  It wasn't mauve.  Brownish red it was going to be.

Cue the boom lift.  Wait, what?

Yup.  There was no way in hell I was going to paint the thing on ladders, and scaffolding is so very inconvenient.  We rented a boom lift in 2004 when we did some work on the house and we were renting one now.

I didn't sleep the entire night before it came.

I was sure I was going to push the thing through the east wall of the barn.  Wait, the east wall of the barn is the corral.  How am I even going to get the thing through the corral?  What happens if I get stuck 28 feet up when The Hubs is at work?  The paint gun sucks.  How am I going to get a bucket of paint up there along with me and the spray gun?  Happily, so nothing/no one falls out?

Regardless of my lack of sleep, at 7:15 in the morning The Unit arrived.  It was brand fricking spanking new.  And I was going to get paint all over it!

Well, after I pressure washed the barn.

I know, I know, I'm breaking, like, 19 painting rules here, pressure washing then painting in the same 36 hours.

Here's the deal.  We got the thing at 7:15 on a Wednesday morning.  Which meant I had until 7:15 the next Wednesday morning to complete the entire barn.

It was going to be 95 degrees (in Washington State?) that day.  The water would dry.  I spent all of Wednesday pressure washing the barn, getting to know my new love, The Unit, all that jazz.

Thursday, The Guy I Let Live With Me had to go to work.  Wait, what?  I get The Unit all to myself?

I did and I didn't kill anyone or the machine or the sprayer.

The paint sprayer.  In hindsight, I should have dropped that thing from 28 feet so I could buy one that wasn't so fussy.  But we got into a relationship and, there was some love, lots more hate, and a barn load of tolerance.  From both of us.  But I still should have stepped out of the relationship during the honeymoon and smashed the thing all to sucky-paint-sprayer-hell.

See, pink primer!
I had a pretty good plan, utilizing the weather and all.  I would wake up at 5:30, prime/paint the side that was in the sun.  Then I would drive it around and paint/prime the side in the shade.  By this time it would be about 2:00. Three times I went out around 8:00 and worked until I couldn't see anymore.

I really had to pace myself because the paint sprayer would have me homicidal.  On two occassions it would vibrate the paint-holder-cup off, and the cup, full of paint, would go splashing to the ground.  Or the roof of the wing.  That was fun. Plus The Unit did not like going over the old silo concrete, and would get all pissy-beepy if you didn't lower it and set it straight.  4x4 my ass.  That thing pissy-beeped at me at least five times.

By Tuesday night, I was ready for the relationship with The Unit to end.  We both had our thrills, saw the sights and were ready to see other people.

Besides, I was done painting.

It was an exhausting week.  One of the hottest on record in Washington State.  There was never any dinner, lovingly cooked by anyone in the house.  We did set aside one day where we saw a 4:30 movie and went out for hamburgers.

The good news about only having the lift for a week:  I HAD to get it done.  I  had a deadline.  I couldn't decide, "oh, I don't feel like doing the tippy top today, let's wait until March".  Nope.  Doing it now.

As you can see, I kind of had an awesome view.

Needless to say, the barn is painted.  It will never again be painted in my lifetime.  What's done is done.  Next.

By the way:  28 feet.  It was 28 feet from the top of that roof, the the ground.  I know; I measured.

Oh, and more BTW:  Sherwin Williams only charged us $22.  So, figure we spent $180+/- on paint (neither one of us can remember if it was $20 or $30 for a 5 gallon bucket), $22 on the color change and $1400 on The Unit.  We came out putting $1602.00 into a paint job on a 50x50x28H building.  Not bad.  I've already booked the cruise with the money I would have spent on professional painters.

As you can see, it looks AWESOME!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Raising An Only - When Your Kid Goes Vegan

If there ever was a case to have dinners with your family every blooming night, this is it.

We had gotten out of the habit at the beginning of summer.  It was hot; hotter than us Puget Sounders are used too, we were crazy busy with a plethora of projects - the house, the barn, the garden, the fencing and any other excuse you can think of.  We just stopped having dinner together - let alone cooking dinner.  We were all grazing and picking and getting by.  It took me awhile, but I noticed our daughter's eating habits had changed.   It was really seeped in when my mother called and said "why didn't you tell us?"

"Um, just figured it out in the last ten minutes, mom," because we are loser parents.

There was no announcement when our sixteen year old daughter decided she was vegan.  There was no tossing of everything meat, dairy, most of the stuff in our cupboards.  It happened like this:

Me, standing at the kitchen sink: "You don't eat meat anymore do you?"

Her, attitudey, defensive and ready for a fight: "No."

Then she took the container of blueberries and went to her room.

Now this is a kid who has been raised fairly independently.  In today's world you could call it tossed-out-on-her-ear (but she's not).  She went to her first week long overnight camp at the age of seven.  She's been to more sports and music camps away from home than any kid I know - often times knowing NOBODY.  She's done her own laundry since she was eight.  She's had to carry her own library books out of the library since she could walk. At two, she sat on the steps at the front door struggling to put her own shoe on, spewing "I do it my-THELF" to anyone daring to offer assistance.

But this whole, "I'm vegan and I don't eat meat or dairy anymore" threw me for a loop.

I'm all for trying different things and making sure you have access to your own beliefs.  I'm all for stepping out of the box your parents have created for you.  I'm all for doing whatever you think will make the world a better place.  Hey, have at it.

I'm just not going to change the way I do things.

Yes, you read that right.  I'm not going to give up chicken teriyaki just because you did.  Or my glass of Instant Breakfast in milk.  Or oatmeal cookies that have eggs and processed sugar in them.

Luckily she's been living with us long enough to know this was the case - and she wasn't asking us too.  In fact, she told me NOT to go out of my way and make dinners especially for her.

But the kid's gotta eat.

We've always had fruit around the house.  The Hubs just made sure there was more.  She started buying her own coconut and almond milk, sneaking off to the grocery store after work and coming home with weird crap vegan food.  That was fine, but I felt a little bit parental that she shouldn't be spending all her work money on food.  So I took her to Trader Joe's.  Since she was pretty new into this experiment, she wasn't even going to go in.

This was when I figured she hadn't done all her due-diligence.

Mom stepped in.

Unfortunately, and took over, but more on that later (or not, we could just forget about that part).

I came home and started a google search.  Seriously, what did we do before google was a verb?  I guess go to the library and pray someone had written a book because I had no one I could call in my meat-eating friends list.

I found some websites to be a lifesaver.  I also started paying attention to what I was cooking (wait, I was cooking?) and how to make it work so The Child could have dinner with us.  Now we have some ideas under our belt.  And I don't have to cook a whole different meal - oh, wait, wasn't going too, and she doesn't expect me too.

Stir fry - I make the rice and the veggies and do the meat in a different pan.

Cowboy caviar - beans, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes and whatever else Pinterest tells me to put in there.

Salsa - lots of salsa.  The chips we get seem to be on the okay list.

Seven layer dip - refried beans, tomatoes, olives, green chilies, salsa (see?) and chips.  Cheese and sour cream for The Hubs and I are added later.  Does that only make it a five layer dip?

Cereal - almost as much as salsa.  She just uses her almond milk.

Fruit - coming out our ears

Anything that grows in the garden- go graze, I've been weeding it since March, might as well harvest some of it while you are at it.

Pasta - with red spaghetti sauce and penne pasta.

That's pretty much all I've come up with at this point (it's also summer and I've cooked a total of ten times in three months).  Oh, the part about me taking over?  I knew you'd come back around to that.  Last night when I was at Winco, I texted her telling her where I was.  I was sorta hoping she was still at band camp and too busy to answer my text but Lady Luck was out having a margarita somewhere.
Fourteen texts later.

All out of order and random and me kind of done with the day (did I mention that I don't do the grocery shopping in the house - she just had eaten of my mixed nuts and I needed to replenish and Winco is the cheapest place to do that).

"The pepper ones"  Pepper what? Almonds or cashews?  We are still talking nuts, right?

"Don't read ingredients; just go with anything that says vegan".  (Which was NOTHING)

"The Cookie Dough stuff."  Which apparently was some sort of ice cream.

"I don't need anything fake meat, or yogurt"  Got the meat text; not the yogurt one.

And on and on it went.

Note:  The dairy-free cheese is apparently not vegan enough.  Just in case you are in the same boat.

I was quickly fired from vegan shopping.

Yes, I'm bitching.  Yes, I should lay off.  No, I am not judging ANYONE choosing to eat vegan.  This is simply my experience into this whole new foray.  Will it last?  Who knows?  Not my call.  Her best friend, when we were ordering out at a restaurant, and The Teenager was hemming and hawing and googeling, looks at me and says "You're the best mom ever for doing this."

Which I asked her repeat because my kid says HER (the friend's) mom is the best mom ever.

She wouldn't repeat it.  But I had my recording device ready in case she did.

Some of the sites that have been lifesavers.  Or have at least been informative:

Cooking With Trader Joe's   

Urban Taste Bud - Restaurant listings

Happy Cow

All Recipes  (1,395 recipes later....)

I'm sure there's more.  If you know of others, or staples to add to the dinner table, let me know!

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