Tag Archives: Photography

The Scent of My Morning

The morning is early, but you can feel the edge of the sunshine turning hot.  A quick shift in the breeze between cool dampness and dusty heat.  As I tromp out of one garden patch, moving the sprinkler to another bed, the scent of garlic perfumes the air. This is not the “aroma” of stale garlic from a cheap pizza joint, but fresh garlic growing inches from where I drag the hose and try to not stumble into the plants in my early morning haze.  In the interests of full disclosure it’s not really that early, but my level of functionality in the morning is… how to say this politely… slow.  Yet every morning as I move the sprinkler from that particular garden bed I catch the scent of garlic and think of it longingly.  I miss garlic.  I love garlic.  It’s early, I don’t plan on eating garlic right now, but it’s the true scent of the plant that makes me smile.  Every morning the scent of that garlic makes me think of food, which makes me laugh at the thought of a heavy garlic breakfast (not an impossibility in my household before the FODMAP… joy).  Then that thought always takes me to Turkey.

The first picked garlic head (with accoutrement) was gifted to me.  It was also the first time I'd actually seen the whole plant, including the curly scape growing out of the top.

The first picked garlic head (with accoutrement) was gifted to me. It was also the first time I’d actually seen the whole plant, including the curly scape growing out of the top.

Our landlord also let me harvest the remaining scapes from her patch.  Half of them ended up on our grill with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  The other half are destined for some garlic scape pesto, but more on that later.

Our landlord also let me harvest the remaining scapes from her patch. Half of them ended up on our grill with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. The other half are destined for some garlic scape pesto, but more on that later.

I have no idea when I’ll get to return to Turkey or in what capacity, but the country and the people are lovely and I miss them both.  But in the mornings when I smell the garlic plants I reminds me of a less pleasant smell… at least at 4am… that of pancakes. Don’t tell my son that I wrote this, but at 4am on a dig site the last thing in the world I want to smell is cooking food, particularly pancakes.  For my first excavation in Turkey we had a dig chef who is arguably the best (and most fought over… literally) dig chef in the country.  Necmi is amazing.  Out of his love and caring for us, Necmi would prepare for us special food to start our day.  Pancakes.  The smell of those pancakes at o’dark hundred hour made me nauseous, but out of love for Necmi we would all try to choke one or two down.  Then around 8:30am-ish, after we’d been working at the excavation site for a few hours, we would stop work for second breakfast (the life of an archaeologist in the field does have some parallels to how hobbits eat) we would wish we had his pancakes.

Now I just need to figure out how to cure this glorious bulb.

Now I just need to figure out how to cure this glorious bulb.

But back to the garlic.  This is one of those crops that I’d never actually seen in “the wild”  before moving to Vancouver Island.  I had a good working knowledge of what the plant looked like, having cooked with garlic bulbs all of my adult life, but that doesn’t prepare you for the reality of the three foot high stalks, the buried/hidden bulbs underground (are they growing down there?), or the Seussian curly scapes that signal the garlic is almost ready to harvest.  Nor does it prepare you for the realities of how to actually harvest the thing.  Fresh garlic needs to cure or dry before it is used, but these are seriously thick stalks.  Can we even braid them into some form of bulbous hair-like creation?  And if so, where do we put them.  And if we can’t braid them, where do we store them?  Fresh garlic is like a gremlin, don’t get it wet.

My glorious harvest of scapes.

My glorious harvest of scapes.

The bulk of this garlic-based malaise is actually not mine to carry, but my landlord’s.  We did not plant garlic because I figured it was a moot point since we couldn’t eat it due to Little Man’s FODMAP restrictions.  That was… shall we say… shortsighted of me.  SInce then I’ve found ways to use garlic (like in garlic infused oils) in cooking for LIttle Man, and there is the fact that Dave and I can eat garlic even if our son cannot.  While the low FODMAP thing is working great for Little Man, my weight has gone up, my nails shatter just by looking at them cross eyed, and I’ve started coveting my neighbors garlic patch.  Luckily our neighbors are kind, sharing people, and I have some fresh garlic curing downstairs as we speak with the promise of more garlic later in the season for us to plant for next year.  The world is a kinder place because of it.

Garlic Scapes

The Sheep Are Out Again… Wait, What?

The very first meal that we ate in this house inspired the name of this blog, the sheep are out.  I won’t retell the story here, but you can read about it in the first post that is linked here.

Whadda ya lookin' at?  Can we get back to our snack now?

Whadda ya lookin’ at? Can we get back to our snack now?

Since that time the sheep have gotten out a couple more times, generally their short-lived freedom being spent nibbling and pooping (lots of pooping) in the garden.  There’s also been a loose horse in the front yard, munching by the basketball hoop, as well as various and a sundry other wildlife.

Running with the bulls… I mean the sheep…

So when Dave came bursting into the living room last night after just having put Little Man to bed and said that I needed to look outside, I flew to the front door.  Outside I was greeted by a group of sheep munching away around Little Man’s sand box.  They looked a bit chagrined that their late night snack was being interrupted.  Luckily Dave was doing the sheep herding and steered them down the driveway rather than the shorter distance through the garden (which I likely would have done without thinking about the consequences) since it would have been destroyed.

Wait for me!

I have to say that Dave is becoming a quite proficient with his sheep herding, much better than our first night here back in 2013.  Hopefully the sheep don’t take this as a challenge to up their game.  Until then, the sheep were out, but are now… noisily… back in their pens.

A Moment of Glamour

“Mommy, why do you have fuzzy blue cow ears on your eyes?”

Let me back up and set the stage for my astounding moment of glamour, which unfortunately spanned the week that I was at Dave’s family cabin last August.

Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar situation.  You run into the store, grabbing things off of your list with reckless abandon.  In my particular case, we were leaving for a week of vacation at Dave’s family’s cabin in the British Columbia interior that would include a family reunion with Ruth’s lady cousins from Campbell River.  There were just a few things I needed: sunscreen, toothpaste and mascara.  Everything else was packed and in the car, as were Dave and Little Man.  The ferry was waiting.  I kept mumbling to myself our archaeology field saying “don’t panic, be quick.”

The view of the lake from the cabin's deck.

The view of the lake from the cabin’s deck.

It was only after I’d gotten back into the car, we’d driven to the ferry terminal and gotten in line to drive on board that I flipped open the car’s vanity mirror and pulled out my purchases.  I wanted to finish putting on my mascara since the tube I had at home was mummy dry.  I opened the mascara package, unskrewed the lid, pulled out the brush… and stared dumbstruck at the mascara wand.  It was dry.  More than dry, it was empty.  So I put the wand back in, swirled it around and pulled it out again just to have the same view.  But now my travel rushed brain was picking up on my visual cues.  The mascara wand was not dry, but was in fact heavily coated with blue mascara.  And not just any blue, but indigo blue.  Bright, 1980s, nearly fluorescent, indigo blue.  Doh!  But at this point I had no other options.  They don’t sell mascara on the ferry.  I’d just have to wear this gloriously indigo blue mascara for the day, and we’d stop at a store in Kamloops or somewhere to buy some normal black mascara on the way.  That was a good plan, and as with all good plans…

Little Man and Papa taking a tour of the lake.

Little Man and Papa taking a tour of the lake.

So I showed Dave what I’d done, applied the mascara, and gamely kept on going as if I didn’t look completely ridiculous.  Once we were parked on the ferry, had ferried Little Man and his accoutrement to the passenger deck, and found seats, I turned to Dave and asked him to truthfully tell me how ridiculous I looked.  It’s just mascara, right?  How bad could it be?  Dave blinked and stated that it didn’t look too bad.  No one would notice.  Just then Little Man tugged on my arm and asked for one of his traveling toys.  I turned to him and handed him what he had asked for.  My darling three year old boy glanced at me, did a complete double take, stared with squinting attention at the upper part of my face and asked, “Mommy, why do you have fuzzy blue cow ears on your eyes?”  I said nothing, just turned to look at Dave, who at this point had burst into hysterical laughter and was close to falling out of his chair.  I still owe him for that.

Papa showing Little Man the finer points of battling with water noodles.  I'm not sure who instigated things...

Papa showing Little Man the finer points of battling with water noodles. I’m not sure who instigated things…

As it ended up, somewhere in the joys of the six hour car trip with a three year old, we both completely forgot to stop at a store for mascara.  The family cabin is indeed in the interior, and it is a 45 minute trip one way just to get down to the local store.  I couldn’t justify making the drive solely for my vanity, and decided to wear my “fuzzy blue cow ear” eyes with pride.  My lovely sister-in-law took my “new look” in stride, thinking that I was just trying something different.  This makes me wonder what she thinks of my normal look…  Lest the lady cousins thought that I was truly trying to pull off a fluorescent blue mascara “look,” I shared the story of my moment of glamour… that would end up spanning the week… with them.  They took it in stride and filled my glass.  The mascara was a stunner.

This is me borrowing Little Man's lion floaty at the lake.  It makes one feel more secure when swimming to have a lion at one's side.

This is me borrowing Little Man’s lion floaty at the lake. It makes one feel more secure when swimming to have a lion at one’s side.

Once back home the tube of indigo blue mascara would live for a few months at the back of my bathroom drawer, with the thought that maybe for Halloween…  Then once that holiday passed, it went into the land of no return, aka the trash bin.  And while that particular fashion moment will hopefully not be repeated by me, it does still live in infamy as recorded in every picture of me from that week, especially in those that focus on my face like those when I am holding my then months old niece.  Ah, the glamour…

Even my baby niece is amused by the blue mascara.

Even my baby niece is amused by the blue mascara.

Always a stunner, the view of the lake changes from one moment to the next.

Always a stunner, the view of the lake changes from one moment to the next.

A Garden in Bloom

My garden is not a flower garden.  It was designed as an experiment on growing food to feed myself and my family, and at the moment feels like it could feed a good portion of the island.  I did plant a few plants specifically for their flowers.  Sunflowers were there for the sheer joy of the huge plants, hoping that Little Man would revel in their dinosaur-like proportions.  I also planted Nasturtiums with the goal of eating their blossoms, and so far we’ve had them in salads as well as cocktails.  Beyond that, the only blossoms in my garden either signal the coming fruitfulness of certain plants or the fact that other plants have gone beyond their production.

I wanted to share images of my garden’s blooms here, both the ones promising future harvests and those that signaled it was time to retire the plant to the compost pile.

 

My thyme thinks its time to be done, but the blossoms keep ending up either in my salads or in my windowsills.  Pluck herb blossoms to try to keep the plants producing the delicious leaves you want.

My thyme thinks its time to be done, but the blossoms keep ending up either in my salads or in my windowsills. Pluck herb blossoms to try to keep the plants producing the delicious leaves you want.

We had some random tomato plants "volunteer" from the compost soil, so I planted them between my sunflowers.  They are now just blooming, so we might just have tomatoes in time.

We had some random tomato plants “volunteer” from the compost soil, so I planted them between my sunflowers. They are now just blooming, so we might just have tomatoes in time.

I remember seeing nasturtiums growing wild along the roadside in So. Cal., but here I grow them in my garden for their blossoms... to eat their blossoms I should say...

I remember seeing nasturtiums growing wild along the roadside in So. Cal., but here I grow them in my garden for their blossoms… to eat their blossoms I should say…

I ripped out most of my arugula since it went to flower.  This plant was able to hide behind the chard and I didn't find it until just the other day.

I ripped out most of my arugula since it went to flower. This plant was able to hide behind the chard and I didn’t find it until just the other day.

The most amazing (and intimidating) sight is to peek under the squash leaves (pumpkin, zuchinni and sunburst squash here) to see rows of blossoms.  Yikes!

The most amazing (and intimidating) sight is to peek under the squash leaves (pumpkin, zuchinni and sunburst squash here) to see rows of blossoms. Yikes!

This is one of my favorite blossoms, bush beans.  They are a soft lavender and are beautiful in the garden.

This is one of my favorite blossoms, bush beans. They are a soft lavender and are beautiful in the garden.

I've never planted scarlet runner beans before.  They have conquered their tripods and are now stringing along to other posts.  I can't wait to see what their beans look like.

I’ve never planted scarlet runner beans before. They have conquered their tripods and are now stringing along to other posts. I can’t wait to see what their beans look like.

For my last photo I wanted to share the opening sunflower blossom.  This one is right at my eye level, so it towers over Little Man.  Love it!

For my last photo I wanted to share the opening sunflower blossom. This one is right at my eye level, so it towers over Little Man. Love it!

I can’t wait to share with you some of our produce preservation we’re working on!  Even better I can’t wait to taste the fruit of our labor.

On a Frozen Pond

Like many other places we’ve been having some unseasonably cold and unpredictable weather.  As a SoCal (southern California… aka someone raised to believe that “normal” weather is 85 and sunny) girl, I have to remind myself that the rain and snow are good, and that we need them to maintain and create the beautiful greenery around us.  Not to mention the fact that we subsist off of well water and if that runs dry…  This recent cold snap with snow has turned everything a brittle white.  You don’t sink into fluffy snow, but instead break through icy snow leaving a wake of crisp foot falls on the way to the wood shed.  This also means that for the first time in years (so we were told), the pond at the farm has frozen solid.

What better way to celebrate such cold weather?  Why, yes, a hotdog roast and skate-fest down in the sheep pasture.  Ever since one of the new lambs almost froze to death by the frozen pond, the Farmer-Landlord has closed this pasture off to the sheep until things warm up a bit.  Don’t fret, the lamb is now healthy and happy.

The day before the hotdog roast we could see the Farmer-Landlord and his family down by the pond with a snow shovel and ice skates zamboni-ing (scraping off the ice) the pond.  Then the day of the roast, after Little Man’s nap, we headed down the hill towards the party.

There was a fire pit for roasting the hot dogs, a table with a propane burner for a vat of delicious hot chocolate, and lots of other munchies.  There was also the frozen pond.  I’ve never been on a frozen pond before, and luckily this one wasn’t too slick.  My poor, misused Uggs will not survive this winter, but they did just fine keeping me upright on the ice.

Little Man and I on the frozen pond.  Note the texting going on in the upper left of the shot.

Little Man and I on the frozen pond. Note the texting going on in the upper left of the shot.

I don’t know if you can make it out in this shot (check out the top image of the post and you might be able to see it better), but Dave even caught one of the skaters texting while enjoying the ice.  🙂

016This was Little Man’s inaugural experience with hockey, and I’m glad to say that he emerged with all of his teeth intact and no spills.  In the above picture he’s getting his first “lesson” in hockey, namely how to hold the stick with awkwardly fluffy gloves.  His second lesson would come quickly as he learned that the farm dog likes to eat the pucks, so the goal is less to pass the puck to your friend, and more to keep it away from the dog.  The dog usually won.

026Here’s Little Man and his buddy playing hockey.  They actually did a great job passing the puck back and forth to each other, until the dog stole the puck that is.  This is also where we learned of the importance of having an ice helmet for him.  Little Man has inherited my grace, which means that we’re both lucky that neither one of us fell and dragged the other one down.

Little Man "skating" with the Farmer's Daughter.

Little Man “skating” with the Farmer’s Daughter.

Always the innovator, Dave went to get Little Man’s bike helmet and saved the day.  Little Man is completely enthralled with the Farmer’s Daughter, and is the happiest when we’re all outside playing together… or even better when she babysits.  Here the Farmer’s Daughter is giving Little Man a tour of the ice.  When they got to the far side of the pond, Little Man decided he was done with the ice and started hiking off over the snow.  When Dave caught up with him, there was a slight disagreement since Little Man had decided he was going to walk to the snow covered mountain in the distance.  I’m not exactly sure how a peace accord was reached, but shortly thereafter Little Man appeared at my side asking for some hot chocolate and his Pooh Bear.

We didn’t last long at the pond after that, but it was nice to be outside again, and to play (even if ever so briefly) on the frozen pond.  It likely won’t happen again this season, and this morning (only a couple of days after the hot dog roast) the pond is mostly melted and the pasture is flooded with rain waters.  Not a nice hot dog roast site now, but the geese seem to prefer it this way.  But the evening of the hot dog roast, the snow was still on the ground, crunchy as ever.  Since we didn’t get to stay long at the roast, we hadn’t eaten our fill of hot dogs.  So Dave grilled some delicious pork chops (sourced from the farm we live on, of course) out in the snow.  If you can read his mind from this photo, you have to know he’s only missing a beer.

A boy and his grill.

A boy and his grill.

Ever Changing View

One of the most special places for Dave’s family is their cabin in the interior of British Columbia.  The cabin itself is redolent with memories, one action triggering dozens of stories about previous experiences from over the years.  Since he’d been living so far away, there is a huge time gap for Dave where he hasn’t been able to be a part of the stories being forged there.  Now that we live in Canada, that is changing and Little Man is making his mark (sometimes literally) on the cabin as well.

For me, one of my favorite things is to watch the ever changing view of East Barriere Lake.  It never ceases to amaze me.  Like the weather in the American midwest, if you don’t like it, wait a moment or two and it will change.  Here are some of my favorite views from the cabin from our trips to the cabin since we’ve moved to Canada.

East Barriere Lake summer sunset.

East Barriere Lake summer sunset.

When it rains…

Summer storm

Summer storm

Autumn morning with the water as still as glass.

Water like glass

Sunset at our first Thanksgiving in Canada (at least for Little Man and I).

sunI can’t wait to see how it looks the next time we get to go out.

Frost Morning

The locals are starting to look at the sky in a suspicious way.  As we’ve hit the end of October and November is upon us, people native to the island are starting to look at the bright, cold, dry sunshine with mistrust, and keep muttering that it simply won’t last.

Evening is falling faster, and once we have dinner Little Man is constantly asking if it’s dark yet since he wants to go outside and say hello to the moon and the stars.  The moon, however, has been fickle of late.  Dancing through the bright blue morning skies, and then disappearing at night, leaving the riot of stars to sparkle on their own.

To further underscore our movement towards winter we have woken to a couple of mornings sparkling with frost.  It’s time to bring in our potted herbs and find some open space (some how…) in the basement where they can get light to wait it out until it’s warm enough outside again.  Until then, I’m trying to find more indoor things to do around town, and on those sunny, dry days we greedily head to our favorite playgrounds to soak up the cold Autumn sun for as long as we have it.

I’m feeling the need to track down some good, local, apple cider.  That would go nicely with the massive bag of cinnamon sticks that I just unpacked.  It must have been lost at the back of our pantry in Iowa, but will make a great fall and winter addition to hot drinks.  Along those lines, I think it’s time to introduce Little Man to warm cider with cinnamon.  Maybe after our next frosty morning tromp to say “good morning” to the chickens.

Cold morning light from behind the cedars on the way to the hen house.

Cold morning light from behind the cedars on the way to the hen house.