Life in the Country

IMG_2281Just taking a walk down our road.

 

I don’t think we are living “in the country,” per se.

Especially since we are surrounded by trees and not farms, which is what I think “living in the country” means.  Although it is a little rural where we live, granted; but not as rural as Eastern Washington, for comparison.  The island still has paved roads (in some places), grocery stores, pizza places, pubs and gas stations.  Some parts have sidewalks and lampposts, but I believe those are so the tourists don’t get lost in the woods (as some of us have a tendancy to do).  Granted, our house is in one of the more “remote” northern areas on this little island, so there is that to consider.  I think we are in the equivalent of the Scottish Highlands, which is more “in the sticks,” in comparison to the Scottish Lowlands, with more of an urban feel to the cities.

Funny enough, the Scottish Highlands has the same Hardiness Zone for gardening as we do, so that gives you an idea of how wet/cold/wonderful it is here.

There are certainly things this island is “missing,” although I will be the first to declare that I actually do not miss them at all: there is no Target on the island, Costco is 40 minutes away from us on the mainland, and we have one very empty McDonalds which fills the spot as the only fast food restaurant on the island.  If you would like to go out to dinner, you aren’t going to find an Applebees; no, you are going to go to a locally-owned joint that uses food from local farms.  There is a local distillery on the island, and a local bakery uses their spent grains.  Instead of more car washes, you will find more public gardens in empty spaces.

So, I guess we’re a little country.

 

Nevertheless, we keep finding these little things about living here, on a personal level, that keep making me say, “well, life in the country.”  Like, going to the local lumberyard for gravel to fill the potholes in our dirt road.  Or being on a shared well, and then being a part of well politics (I think we need a new pump).  The policies of easements along driveways, and the very scandalous “on leash” and “off leash” dog wars battling out on local beaches and parks. (this is a very serious battle here, not to be taken lightly).

Plus, we have traded in our rather pedestrian, run-of-the-mill axes for  “northern european forestry” axes; which has made Ben’s life worthwhile.  They are pretty Boss axes.

Here are a few cases of country life in our home:

  • I can wash the dishes if the washing machine isn’t running, otherwise I cannot get enough water through the faucet to wash anything (life with a well).
  • The water pressure tends to vary in the shower, unaided.  So when the pressure is very low, you wash your face.  When it is higher, you wash your hair.  You adjust as the water adjusts.
  • We cannot run the vacuum in the schoolroom if the lights and space heater are turned on in Ben’s detatched office, or we will throw a breaker.
  • The coffee pot and electric kettle cannot be plugged into the same outlet, and run simultaneously, or we will throw a breaker and we won’t be able to open the garage door, either.
  •  We originally brought our cats into our home in CA to fight the mouse/rat infestation.  They did a swell job in CA, but have yet to bring home a mouse here in WA.  No, they have moved their sights on to shrews.  We have had quite a few gifts of dead shrews on our doorstep, thanks to our very loving cats.
  • We cannot walk through our backyard without wearing boots, or our shins will be whipped with stinging nettles (there is a nettle cull on the horizon)
  • I used to worry about my neighbors’ dogs pooping in our front yard.  Now, I am watching mother deer walk through our front yard with her babies, and poop next to our treehouse.
  • During the day (and night, for that matter) I do not hear any cars, sirens, generators, freeways, house/car alarms, screeching tires, peel-outs, backfiring cars, racing cars, gunshots, loud music, loud motorcycles, tractors or horns. Just birds and wind.

Life in the country!

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We Have Been Assimilated (to the weather)

 

 

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Don’t let that crisp blue sky and beautiful spring forest fool you.

It was hailing just the other day, and it was freezing outside.

It has been cold in my forest these days.

Really cold.

 

The other day we were trying to show my Dad around, and went to one of our favorite beaches here on the island. It was a little overcast, and a little chilly at first, but nothing serious.  Maybe mid-50s with a little breeze.  We tiptoed across tidepool stones, trying not to step in the anemones nor in the puddles, looking for crabs and starfish when suddenly the temperature plummeted.  The wind picked up and found its way through the necklines of our jackets.  We were trying to play it off, not wanting to be the party-pooper who suggests we go back to our very warm car, but none of us were playing the part very well.  Our arms were huddled   The storm clouds crept into our view, and we suddenly knew:

We gotta get out of there.

We high-tailed it off the beach as quickly as we could, without squishing the anemones or tripping onto barnacle-clad rocks (that hurts. so much.  Would not do again.) And as soon as we got into the car, it started hailing and kept hailing for a good long time.

Still, as soon as it was finished the sky cleared and it was back to cold and sunny.

Ahh, “weather.”  We had a little bit of weather in CA, but nothing this dynamic.  Sometimes it would rain in CA, but it was a conversational rain.

 

weather: “I do believe I am getting the itch to rain.”

us: “That sounds great! So, when do you think you might begin raining?”

weather: “Hmmm.  I just don’t know.  Maybe today.  Maybe this week.”

us: “So, should we mow our lawns now, or do you think we could wait a while before the rain starts?”

weather: “…I don’t know.  I just feel the itch to rain; I don’t know when I am going to rain.  I just kinda feel like it.”

us: “Okay. So, maybe we will wait until after it rains to wash our cars then?”

weather: “Why you gotta be all up on me like this? I just feel like it! I can’t commit to rain, I just feel like rain!  Man, you got me so flustered, I am going to be windy for a week and then not rain at all.  How about that?”

 

That is California weather.

 

 

This is how well we have assimilated to WA weather:

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It is 55F outside, and the kids just came back inside after playing in the backyard in barefeet, which is our natural form, and are now doing their History with the doors open because “it is such a beautiful day.”

55F in California is just short of a blizzard.  People bring their potted plants inside, and make sure their dogs are sitting inside, warmly next to the heater vent with them.  This is a new season for us, indeed.

 

 

Pineapple Rocketships

Tamarah

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I just made these for the kids for dinner, and I’m going to be straight with you:

It is totally awesome.

This is an easy meal, it is a healthy meal, and inexpensive meal…and it is kind of off the charts with how fun it is.

I was originally going to call it a boat, but one of the kids said it looked more like a rocketship blasting off, so they are Pineapple Rocketships!

Ingredients

  • 2 whole pineapples, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 3 sliced chicken-apple sausages
  • 5 cups of cooked white rice

The Method Behind The Madness

  1. Preheat your galley oven to 375F
  2. Cut the pineapples in half, lengthwise.  Use a knife to cut slices down the meat of the fruit, and use a spoon to scoop out the pineapple to make a shell.  Place the pineapple chunks into a separate bowl for later.
  3. IMG_3072
  4. Slice 3 chicken-apple sausages and place…

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Are we doing the Thursday weigh-in?

Because I have seriously been working on this, and I finally have something to show.

FI.NAL.LY.

There is a group of mothers I talk with online (I hesitate to say “mother’s group” because that isn’t what it is, exactly, per the nomenclature), and a few weeks ago we decided to do a Thursday weigh-in.  No judging, no condemnation, no recipe suggestions, no snarky comments.  We are all working on this for ourselves, and we are all going to be supportive and awesome to each other.  Those are the rules.

 I do weigh more than a duck, for the record.

So, after watching this thread for a few weeks, I get on board.  198.

Another week of 198.

Then 2 weeks ago I was 198 again. I was there for a long time, and it is at least 10 pounds more than last Fall before I found out we were moving. So I work on it, I’m thinking about the Thursday weigh- in…and last week I was 200 (shakes tiny fist).

Okay, FOR SERIOUS THIS TIME.

This week I have made smoothies for myself. I bought freaking kale (KALE) and figured out how to cook it correctly (it was actually a grocer at Safeway who told me, because I was bugging her about “what is this” questions). I haven’t been snacking. I haven’t been eating chips. I actually cut beer out… Yay me! Anyway, more veggies, more smoothies, less snacking, much less emotional eating (thanks to much less emotional turmoil), although I did make myself a gluten free baked macaroni and cheese on Tuesday, which was kind of amazing.

And this morning I am 196 🙂

whew

 

10 Tips For California Imports

There is a large exodus from California to the Pacific Northwest right now, and we are in the middle of it.

Some people are moving because the economy in California is atrocious, some are moving because of the culture and government, some are moving because it is more affordable up here…

We had a pretty simple reason, and we moved because of employment.  Pretty straightforward and uncomplicated.

However, we keep running into people from California…everywhere we go.  From the cashier at Costco who grew up in Hayward, to the lady at the beach who has grandkids in the Central Valley, to the Mormon missionaries that visited the other day and who grew up in Redwood City.

I will say, the nice thing about moving up here from California is that the culture isn’t too terribly different.  It isn’t anything like moving from SanFrancisco to NewOrleans, or from Sacramento to NewHampshire.  Those would be pretty radical differences.  No, CA to WA hasn’t been too big of a difference, all in all: yet, there are a few things we have had to change.

 

10 Tips of Washington Island Transitioning For California Imports

1. Stop Calling Seattle “The City.”

If you are from the SanFrancisco area, you will call SanFrancisco “The City.”  “I’m going to The City today for a meeting,” “We are meeting some friends in The City this weekend to go to the zoo.”  Seattle is not The City, and no one around here calls it The City.  Yet, we have found ourselves calling it The City frequently because that is what we are used to.  This is Seattle.  Not SanFrancisco.

2. You are not allowed to say that “winters/spring aren’t so wet/bad as I thought!”

while you are experiencing the warmest winter/spring in record history.  Until you realize you haven’t shaved your legs as a source of warmth since November, you haven’t actually experienced a normal winter/spring.

3. Flashlights are now a must-have item.

Your iPhone flashlight can’t handle the absolute, unconditional darkness that you will encounter here on the island.  Sure, during the day it is sunny and light (for the most part), but once the sun begins to set, the faint glow of hope from your iPhone is positively useless.  Save it for trying to find your socks in the middle of the night, or navigating up the stairs at dusk.  But walking outside requires military-grade, LED, “I think I found a portal into space” flashlights.

4. Please don’t ask your grocery clerk on which aisle the pot can be found.

Just don’t.

5. Starbucks withdrawal is real.

Fortunately, locals can, and will, help you not only find cafe’s in your neighborhood, but you can also start rediscovering coffee drinks, other than skinny caramel macchiatos! I am googling names like “Canadiana” while in line, these days, so it looks like I know the vaguest thing about coffee, anymore.  However, you will find yourself falling in love with coffee houses all over again.  Besides, the coffee houses up here also have alcohol.  Just sayin’.

6. The Wheels On The Bus… Go To Your House

Yes, you, too, can ride the bus!  Bus and public transit in CA is a terrible, terrible waste.  I rode the bus once when I was a sophomore in high school, in a small town.  It took me all over the small town, it took 4 hours, and it finally dropped me off to the bus stop I began with in the first place.  That is how I remember CA bus systems.  Now, granted, the MUNI system in SanFrancisco is very helpful.  But for the rest of us 8,000,000 people who lived in the Bay Area and didn’t live in SF, the bus systems weren’t helpful.

Here, though, they are amazing.  They are clean, they are friendly, they are accessible…and they actually take you to where you need to go!  This has been a big transition for us, because riding the bus is just not part of our lifestyle.  Or, at least, it wasn’t.  Now that we have actually used the buses over here, and don’t waste two hours making ridiculous trips to places we don’t need to go, and actually get to our destinations in a very reasonable amount of time…we, too, can ride the bus!

7. The weather is going to mess with you, in ways you never expected.

Yes, it is colder and overcast more often here than in the Bay Area, and especially more than the Central Valley (I will never miss Central Valley summers for as long as I live).  So far I haven’t found it to be too much of a factor on my moods, which is nice.  Running out of coffee at 7 in the morning has had a much bigger impact on my moods.  However, I have found that my ability to rely on the sun to help me out with little things…is gone.

Let me ‘splain: I was doing yardwork in the forest the other day, and I was wearing my BOGS boots.  I took them off and left them next to the garage door.  The next morning, while it was lightly raining, I noticed they were still there, and now were drenched in the cleansing PNW rain.  Well, no harm, right? I mean, I can just leave them on the covered porch, and they’ll dry out in a little while.

Nope.  I used to leave wet things out in the CA sun, and they would be dry within an hour.  Easily.  But here, the temperature doesn’t get high enough to evaporate the water.  It is stuck at “dew point” all day, so I had to place the boots on top of the dryer to let them finally dry out.

Also: defrosting chicken.  I used to be able to put a frozen chicken on my patio table for a little while, and the sun would gently thaw it for me.  No more of that!  I could put a frozen chicken outside, and it would still be frozen tomorrow.  If anything, I’d have frustrated coyotes or eagles gnawing on frozen chicken behind my house, and that does not sound like a good time.  For either of us.

I don’t even know if Sun Tea would work out here…

8. The “Seattle Freeze” is a big fat lie.

I was warned about the “Seattle Freeze” before we moved up here, and I honestly don’t know where it is.  I have looked for it in parks, on the beaches, in cafe’s, restaurants, random people walking their dogs…

Every person I have talked to has been not only friendly, but helpful, inviting and just plain nice.  We have played with every kid we meet in the parks, and the parents have been consistently amiable.

Urban Dictionary says the Seattle Freeze is, “It’s not that people here are unfriendly, they will hold the door for you and wave you into traffic and stuff like that, it’s that everything is maddeningly impersonal. The attitude is “have a nice day, somewhere else”. It’s easy to get along but making friends is almost impossible. People will say they want to hang out with you sometime and look at you like a freak when you actually suggest something. People enthusiastically say they are coming to a party then don’t show up. People are flaky and hard to pin down.

But you know what?  Even if one day, at some point the Seattle Freeze actually happens, and everyone I meet is suddenly super flaky and all of a sudden I can’t make any friends…it is nothing compared to the California Cliques, which has always grated at my very soul.  That is a whole rant-blog, in itself.

9. When does the puddle in your front yard actually become a pond?

Because it has been here ever since we moved in, and we are thinking about adding frogs and just turning it into our own little frog pond.

10. No one else is actually from here, either.

So…hey!  🙂

 

Time To Read: Top 5 Poems On My Reading List

If you thought I would have a reading list with zero poetry books on it…you are wrong, my friend!

Instead, I have a whole list dedicated JUST FOR POETRY.

I am so excited about some of these, I am freaking out because I can’t find my iPad cable to charge it (it is Dead McDeaderson) and thus am unable to upload some of these onto my Kindle app.

Which means I am going to have to wait.  And that kind of isn’t the point of ebooks.  Waiting.

Honestly, I have already ordered Tracy K. Smith’s new book, because I am a ridiculous fangirl of her work and I had no idea she had another book coming out, and I am furiously excited.  

Case in point: this is a picture of my desk right now.

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I am still studying Life on Mars, because it is amazing.  I can’t even imagine another book of hers with this level of poetry.  If I ever wrote anything even remotely close to the work in Life on Mars, I would just hang my poetry hat up and call it a day.  That is as good as it gets, my friends.  I am done for the rest of my life, because it was that good.

But no: she writes another.

(you should get it too)

On to the list!

1) Ordinary Light: A memoir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) Barely Composed: Poems

by Alice Fulton (Goodreads Author)

Time To Read: Top 5 Books On My Reading List

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the meadow that is my front yard, and sharing a nice, warm cup of green tea with little Eve.  We were watching our tomcat prowl through the grass to find a nice, sunny spot on which to nap.  A neighbor had a chainsaw running somewhere in the distance.  There was a little breeze, but not much got through the woods and we were just watching the tops of the cedars blow gently in the canopy.

I love Sunday afternoons.

There is no day in the week which harbors the afternoon sunlight quite like Sundays.

I spent a good amount of time out there being a good steward of the sun,  enjoying the warmth and the green, quiet forest; but I realized….something was missing.

A BOOK.

Now that things have settled into a routine here, I am getting back to small hobbies.  Like reading.  Yet, I have read all the books I own!  What is a girl to do??

I shall make for myself a list!!

Okay, anyone who doesn’t love the movie is crazy with a capital CRAY.  However, the book is better…OR SO I HAVE HEARD.
I have never read this book, and it has been on my list for years.  Beyond the wonderful story of Buttercup and Wesley, there is a small mystery of this book, which I find delightfully manipulative.  The mystery is that the main character of the story references a book he used to read as a child, and now he is going to read it for his grandson.  But, if you think this is the book he read as a child, you are very wrong.  Goldman actually references a book that never existed.  In his book, of a man reading the original book, that doesn’t exist.  It’s this funny Inception-book thing, which is hilarious (to me).
So, top of the list: The Princess Bride.
The Princess Bride
I am so back-logged on Science Fiction, it is embarrassing.

Fortunately, I have most of the big ones under my belt already.  Dune, Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, Mists of Avalon, The Firebrand, The Martian Chronicles, 5 pages of Cryptonomicon (I think that counts),  1984, Brave New World, Heinlein, Asimov, Vonnegut…

But there are so many I haven’t read yet.  The Foundation series, Discworld, Ringworld
So, here is one for the list: Ready Player One.
Ready Player One
And, in memory of Mr. Pratchett: The Color of Magic.  
The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind #1)
I also want some contemporary fiction in here, for balance.

 

I’m rather intrigued by this book, so I’m going to give it a shot.  There will always be a draw for me towards books about messy, but not criminally messy, relationships.  They are puzzles to be solved, which gives me some meat to chew on while I read.  This is a pretty classic “dysfunctional, middle America” American fiction.
Faux-Pax-Americana item: Vinegar Hill.

 

Vinegar Hill
And finally, another Faux-Pax-Americana book, where the characters set out with hopes and dreams, and are introduced to the realities of insurance, debt, mortgages, trials and hopelessness: The Weight of Dreams
Next month I might switch to lighter subjects with more optimism.
But today is not that day!
The Weight of Dreams