Sunday, September 20, 2009

Talking to Strangers

For awhile now our family has been signed up as hosts on the Warmshowers website, a place where touring cyclists can connect with families willing to host them. Some day, we hope to take off a-touring on the tandems again and maybe we'll get to experience the other side of the deal, staying with a local person or family somewhere on the road. But for now, we get to live vicariously by hosting touring cyclists and hearing a little bit about their journeys and plans. Since our town sits squarely on two major cycle touring routes (Canada to Mexico and coast to coast), we've gotten a fair number of emails from the warmshowers website. But because our town is also extremely cyclist-friendly, many of the cyclists end up having more than one host family to choose from here (isn't that cool? I love our town!).

In any case, last month we got to host two different coast-to-coast cyclists. One is an Englishman living in the Netherlands who according to his blog has now made it to Nebraska in the 35 days since he arrived here from the coast. And the other is Ryan, pictured above with his cool touring setup who is heading back to his home state of North Carolina. Along the way he is raising awareness and money for the Wounded Warrior Project. For people who love cycling as much as we do, it was both inspiring and a little jealousy-inducing to get to hear about all of his plans for his cross-country journey. More than anything, it has definitely nudged us toward making plans for more cycle touring next year with the kids. I've been following Ryan's blog as he makes his way across the country.
More than anything, I'm always grateful for an opportunity to connect with truly amazing people doing incredible things. If you watch the news, or even become inundated with the inevitable flashing ads and links as you try to connect to your email you might begin to think that the entire earth is populated with people like Jon and Kate feuding about whatever they feud about, or killers who stalk young women at Universities, or greedy executives trying to shoot down any possibility of health care coverage for everyone. It's always good to be reminded of the essential fact that there are many many good and wonderful people on this earth, all around us, even if we don't know them. And a simple website like Warmshowers that can connect one of these people seeking shelter for the night with another person who has shelter to offer shows us that our basic humanity is indeed where it should be and that we can continue to reach out to others and not shrink back into our own little shells.

When our first guest was going to arrive, the kids were a little nervous. Why were we inviting a stranger to stay in our home? But as they have gotten to know these adventurers, it's also been a great way to show them that "stranger danger" isn't always the best approach to life. Sometimes it IS good to talk to strangers, or even invite them in.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Thank Heavens For My Freezer

This time of the year is NUTS. In centuries past, I'm sure folks just had the harvest to worry about (and it meant a lot more to them as well without the supermarkets a few blocks away). The original school year was designed so that kids were not going back to classes until after harvest time, but it seems that most school districts around the country keep creeping the back-to-school date ever earlier. It seems like that shouldn't matter to us homeschoolers (hey, I could be cracking the whip over my enslaved children and no one would even know! but shhhhhh... don't tell anyone) but it does because every other thing in the universe is tied to the school schedule - dance classes, robotics challenge, etc. all starts when the schools do. Sigh. What's a harvesting urban farmer to do?

Thank heavens for that big freezer we bought a few years ago. So far I've taken stuff and just thrown it into gallon bags in the freezer to be dealt with later. Wayne already dried an entire batch of our freestone plums in the food dryer, and I think I can pack away the apples in our cool basement until I'm ready to start making applesauce in earnest.

The other day I noticed an entire hazelnut orchard lying fallow with nuts falling everywhere, so now I'm wondering if I can squeeze some hazelnut gleaning time in this week. The photo above is all stuff I picked in one afternoon from the garden. NUTS I tell you! Nuts is what I'll be in another couple of weeks.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Your Tax Dollars At Work

From the Connecticut State Legislature. I'd like to think I'd see something different in my own state's House while they're voting on a budget bill (for Pete's sake!) but given what comes out in the budgets, maybe not.....

fail owned pwned pictures
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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Nature's Cruel Joke

Out the bedroom window at night, the crickets sing the melancholy song of summer's ending. We spent our last lazy afternoon at the pool today, and will leave for possibly the last camping trip tomorrow. Just as the warm weather lingers and you want to be out grasping every last bit of summer's glory, your garden goes nuts and there's picking and preserving to be done.

A week or so ago, we were going plum crazy, with our yellow plum tree laden with little golden beauties. They aren't freestones so they don't dry well, just good for eating and jam. Fortunately my mom was visiting and helped me can some plum jam for the winter. Now the purple plum tree is bending down and I need to get picking those because we can dry those in the food dehydrator for wintertime snacking.

The Tomato Forest has been busy, I've picked 50 lbs of tomatoes so far and there's no stopping it. Fortunately, we have freezer space so I'm just throwing them all into gallon freezer bags and I will deal with them later when it's drizzly and yukky outside and I can stand to be in the kitchen all day. These variegated heirloom beauties were too gorgeous to make into a sauce though, so they became part of this 20-mile breakfast.

Everything on the plate comes from less than 20 miles away. Chard and tomatoes from garden, eggs from chickens, goat's milk from our local connection, feta cheese from the farmer's market, and sausage from a locally and humanely raised pig. Beautiful, sustainable, and YUM. P.S. I've eaten so much chard I think my eyes are turning green!