Community Supported Agriculture

I have embarked upon a new journey this year called Community Supported Agriculture.   Thanks to Viva Farms and Growing Washington, each week I receive fresh, local produce which supports local farms and farmers.

I’m very excited to be part of this.  Inspired by Steff Duschenes at Almanac of Eats, once a week I will be showing off what new items I get in my box and what meals I make from them.  I hope to inspire others to not only take a more active interest in their food but to encourage more home prepared meals, and maybe convince one or two of you that vegetables really can taste good!

I pick up my new boxes on Thursdays, so this will be a short week.  So far this is what I have received: asparagus, spinach, leaf lettuce, baby turnips, radishes, and strawberries.  And for those of who you are wondering, this box set me back less than $15.00.

First Week’s CSA box consisting of: asparagus, leaf lettuce, spinach, baby turnips, radishes, and strawberries

First, let me just say I was absolutely delighted at the quality and *quantity* of every item in this box and my eyes were already sparkling with ideas of what I would do with them.

Friday’s accompanying lunch salad used home grown greens from my own garden coupled with Viva Farms lettuce and radishes, then sprinkled with flax seeds and (eventually) tossed with Annie’s Organic Thousand Island dressing.

Friday’s Lunch Salad

Sunday dinner used a little bit of everything from the box, including strawberries as dessert.  I generally don’t cook by recipe, but if you want to know how I prepared everything, I’ve drafted up roughly what I used and how I made it below.

Sunday Dinner of pasta, sauteed veggies, salad, almond milk, and strawberries.

Pasta:
2 oz. Field Day Penne pasta (cook per directions on package, then drain)
1/2 cup Monte Bene Low Fat Vodka Sauce (add to pasta and return to heat until warm)

Sauteed veggies:
5-6 asparagus spears
2 baby turnips, sliced
3 clumps of spinach
2″ section of leek, sliced lengthwise into strips
1 pat of butter
1/4 tsp of lemon juice
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup water

Throw it all in a non-stick pan over medium heat and cover, stirring occasionally until cooked.  If veggies start to stick to the bottom of the pan before they’re fully cooked, add a bit more water.

Salad:
Rinse and tear into bite-sized pieces as much as you want of: lettuce, kale, arugula, endive, mustard greens or whatever else you feel like/have on hand
2 radishes, sliced
1 tbsp tzaziki sauce
fresh ground pepper to taste

Advertisements

Meet Mr. McLeary

Ian McLeary had lived in this house for forty-seven years. He had lived there long before it had been on the edge of town, but over the years, both age and the town had crept up on him until one day he found himself with a sidewalk and pace maker. All things tend toward chaos.

It took the better part of two hours to wrestle his chair out of the house. Since there was no one left to help him, he had to do it on his own. He wasn’t as strong as he used to be and his leg liked to give him trouble, but no matter how large and unwieldy the chair was, he was quite determined. This would be a sight not to be missed and he wanted to be comfortable for it.

Sometime later, his old leather recliner sat on top of the hill beyond his house, looking back over the town toward the East. The lights of the town were dark and he could see the stars as clear as when he had been a boy. Even the line of tail lights snaking down the road had finally run itself out. The moon glowed over the landscape and an owl hooted from somewhere off in the distance. All was otherwise silent.

He leaned back, putting his feet up and resting from the exertion. A rum and coke was in one hand, a lit cigar glowed in the other. His daughter would have chided him thoroughly for not thinking of his health, but that was hardly a concern any longer. ‘Let me be to enjoy myself,’ he silently replied.

As he waited, his mind drifted back over his life. He had certainly lived it to the full. At least he couldn’t point to much he could say he regretted or had missed out on in his many years, however cliche it sounded.

He had married his high school sweetheart at twenty-three. They had raised two beautiful children. Or rather, she had raised them while he had been off fighting the wars of their generation.

His first job when he came back was driving the ice cream truck in town. How he loved to watch the children’s eyes light up with delight as he came down the street, that song drawing them out more surely than the Piper. More than once he’d given a bar to a youngster without enough change, and even though he was short of cash himself, his wife never once objected to his charity.

He had been a volunteer fire fighter for a while, too, until he finally reached the day he just couldn’t keep up any longer. He still received thank-you cards from some of those he had helped save, and he cherished each one. He had even worked as a teacher, imbuing young minds with a thirst for knowledge and a wonder at the world around them.

They were all gone, now. In his ninety-two years, he had seen the best and worst of his fellow man, but now they were all gone. He had stayed, though. He had done his time escaping death in the Army.

He puffed his cigar and finished his drink, and for a little while he must have dozed. When he felt a rumble in his bones he opened his eyes. The sky grew bright with the light of a thousand dawns breaking all at once, and a wave of destruction swept across the landscape toward him. It really did look like a mushroom rising into the sky, he thought.

He took a final breath, and at the age of ninety-two, Mr. McLeary watched the world end.

Yesterday was a good day for inspiration and relaxation.  I took the Keystone ferry to Port Townsend and spent a beautiful, if rainy, day enjoying myself and being inspired to write a story that, as often happens, ended up somewhere very different than what I had been thinking of when I started it.

Meet Me Half Way

“No one could say we hadn’t tried.  We had tried for the last four years, and yet it never seemed to get better, not really.  We weren’t husband and wife any longer; we were cordial roommates, perhaps even sometimes friends.

“It was a bitter-sweet blessing that we had no children to drag through our problems.  Sometimes I think that was the start of it all, when I lost the baby.  Sometimes I think I’m just too used to blaming myself.  Whatever the reason, fact is, no matter how much we had tried, the marriage had ended a long time ago.  We finally admitted it to ourselves.”

She took a sip of her tea and stared out the window, lost in memories that I did not wish to intrude.  I stirred my coffee but didn’t drink any, acting more out of nervous habit than a real desire for it.

The gentle roll of the ship reminded me of the old nursery rhyme, Rock A-bye Baby.  I used to sing it to my daughter when she was little as I rocked her in the chair.  I finally followed her gaze out past the rain-speckled window to the clouded skies and misted waters outside.  I could barely see the land any longer, a faint shadow of gray behind us.

Finally she had put on a smile and turned back to me.  “What about you?”

I shrugged, but it was hardly fair not to give my story since she had given hers.

“I was pregnant and fifteen.  Our parents made us get married.  Can that ever end well?”  I finally took a long drink of my coffee, and she waited kindly for me to be ready to say more.  “It didn’t start too well, either, and only got worse as time went on.  When he started to beat us, I left.  Lived on the streets for a while, then CPS took her away.”

I feel quiet for a moment, wondering if I should say more.  It felt odd to open up so completely to someone I’d only just met.  I finally decided I had already said so much, what was a bit more now?

“I didn’t fight to get her back, what could I offer her?  She was given to a kind couple, I did get to meet them, and I told her I loved her and how much I was going to miss her but she’d be well taken care of and always warm and fed and to be a good girl and not cry-”

I finally couldn’t hold my own tears back and hid my eyes behind the napkin as I tried at least not to sob.  I still remember too clearly how she screamed for me as I was being driven away.  I managed to get myself under control, give an apologetic smile and a nervous laugh as I wiped my eyes and nose.

“How old was she?” she asked.

“Six.”

She reached across the table and took my free hand, squeezing it gently.  She seemed to understand that I couldn’t accept more than that, though I sensed she wanted to give me a hug.  I even wanted the hug, but I couldn’t take it, not yet.

“That was twelve years ago.”

“Is- is that where you’re headed?”

I shook my head.  “Oh no, I can’t do that.  I can’t just walk back into her life now that she’s eighteen.  That isn’t fair…”

She opened her mouth, then shut it again.  I gave a humorless laugh and pulled my hand away from hers.

“Go ahead, say it,” I said, expecting the worst.  Chastisement, criticism, judgment; I’d heard it all and more from complete strangers.

“Where are you going, then?”

And you know what?  I believe that really was what she was going to ask.  I couldn’t help but smile.  “Nowhere.  I’m just riding the ferries.”

She looked back out the window as she spoke next.  “I got the island house in the divorce.  It feels so big and empty on my own, though.  Too much for one person.”

My eyebrows scrunched together as I tried to understand what she had just said.  “For all you know I’m a thief, or worse.”

She looked back at me and smiled.  “For all you know, I am.”

I laughed.  “Nah, I know those and you aren’t one of them.”  She didn’t say anything and after a few moments of silence I continued.  “Besides, I can’t- I don’t have a job or anything.”

“I run a home business,” she said.  “And I’ve needed some help lately.”

“Why?  Why me?”

“I hit a low point in my life once, and there was someone there to give me a hand back up.  Now it’s my turn.”

I felt more vulnerable now than I did spilling my past.  “You’d do that for me?”

“I’d do it for both of us,” she said and reached back across the table.  I met her half way.

The Circus

It was the kind of shady dealing that made the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, but you went through with it because some part of you just had to know the truth. It was the kind of offer that you couldn’t walk away from and not have it plague you for the rest of your life, no matter how much you tried to convince yourself it couldn’t possibly be true. So you take the tickets and the strange man smiles and melts back into the shadows and you’re left with that sense of having just traded your cow for some magic beans, only this didn’t cost you anything.

At least, that’s what you keep telling yourself.

You look at the tickets again.

COME TO THE MAGICAL, MYTHICAL BEASTS TRAVELING CIRCUS
GRIMSTEAD PARK. ONE NIGHT ONLY
TICKET GUARANTEES ENTRY. ARRIVE AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT
ONE TICKET PER PERSON: NON-REFUNDABLE, NON-TRANSFERABLE

You keep staring at them, waiting for the tickets themselves to do something magical, almost disappointed when they remain simple strips of colored paper with faded black printing. You shove them in your pocket, intent on forgetting about it, but the voice of the man keeps teasing your thoughts.

‘You look like you need something that will change your life.’

You had no intention of stopping for strange men lurking just inside dark alleys. Sounded like an offer of drugs and so you continued on, but then he said something else.

‘You always wanted to know; you need them to be real, and they are.’

What a strange thing for a perfect stranger to say, so you turn around to demand an answer but the only explanation he offers is to hand you these two tickets and disappear. The sensation of being followed trails you all the way home and you find yourself bolting the second lock on the door for the first time since that awful shooting last year.

Taking the tickets out again, you put them on the counter and pour yourself a drink to steady your nerves, laughing at yourself for your childish superstitions. A few hours later and you think it might be a fun adventure. You never wonder how they can make any money giving the tickets away for free.

You call your best friend to rope her into going with you; even if you don’t believe in it you aren’t quite brave enough to go alone. She laughs and says you’re crazy, but then she always knew that, and fine, she didn’t have anything else going on so she might as well go with your sorry ass to the park at midnight. That’s why you’re best friends, after all.

She comes over and the two of you eat dinner and watch a funny movie. You’re still trying to get the words of that man out of your head. She didn’t hear him, you insist, he was creepy, and you don’t know why you’re going. You just want to have a story to tell, you claim, something to talk about in twenty years; ‘that circus’ you saw way back when, do you remember? Boy, was that a crazy night!

Eleven thirty and you get in the car and head to the park. It’s large and you have to park at the far entrance, the other gate is locked at sundown. It’s a chill night for early summer and you both have your coats pulled tight around you. You’re quiet, knowing you would have chickened out by now if you were alone, but your friend is laughing and imagining they’ll have horses dressed up as unicorns and men with filed teeth who breathe fire; proper old-time freak show stuff.

The colorful, fabric walls of the enclosure loom in front of you, as if suddenly appearing out of a thick the mist and yet it’s a clear night. You follow it around to the entrance where an old hag takes your tickets and waves you in with a toothy smile.

There are various cages with animals that, by torchlight and moon-glow, look almost real. Some you know on sight, even though you could never have really seen them before, and some you have to read the carved plaque, saying the names out loud as if speaking such a ridiculous thing might help you see through the illusion.

A phoenix; its feathers were of flaming orange and red; not just color but actual flames. You try to see how it’s done, but the heat on your face convinces you that the fire, at least, is quite real.

‘How do you suppose they did that?’ your friend asks. You shake your head.

Next you come to a cage with two centaurs, male and female. Their eyes follow you and you feel your skin crawl and you walk quickly on, ignoring your gut telling you something is very much not right.

Around the next corner is a large tank of water, and though it doesn’t look too large, the meager light can not penetrate very deep and so you edge closer, trying to catch a glimpse of whatever is in the water. Neither of you can hold back your short screams when a ghostly face with a mournful expression presses against the other side and blue-green fins flip water over the edge.

Mermaids, the sign says. You don’t try to see another.

You walk around and see that the tank is split, another creature on the other side of the dividing wall. The Siren song reaches your ears and you begin to cry despite yourself. The creature is so beautiful, and she reaches down to you. You try to reach back but suddenly a hand grabs your shoulder and yanks you back.

‘Best watch yourselves, missies.’ It’s the man from the alley. ‘She’ll call you right in to drown with her if you don’t keep your wits.’

You look at your friend whom you had forgotten when the song began. You can tell she was affected as you were, her eyes wide and her face gone pale. You look at one another as if to ask if that really just happened.

‘Move along now,’ the man says and you quickly obey him, as eager to get away from him as from the tank.

You duck into a tent just to get out of sight. Inside are more cages, more animals. A Sphinx, with a strict warning not to speak to it or attempt to answer any riddles; a Unicorn, much smaller than a horse, and with a tail like a lion; a Satyr, playing mournfully upon his pipes – he looks at you and you think you see him shed a tear.

Last is a creature that looks human but for the large wings, the sign on the cage indicating Angel. It rushes forward and grabs the bars, speaking low and urgent.

‘No, you must leave, do you hear me? Get out now!’

We run out as it calls after us. ‘You are in great danger here!’

Standing back outside, we look at each other, eyes wide.

‘I don’t think we should have come,’ you say.

She nods, and you grab hold of one another, making your way back to the entrance. You feel like you can’t get out fast enough. The old woman cackles at you as you pass her. It isn’t until you’re out of the gate that you see the bars around you, turning just as the door swings shut with a clang.

‘What are you doing? Let us out!’ you cry, pulling at the bars as if you might be able to free yourself with such action. The man from the alley laughs and begins to pull the curtains down over the sides of your cage. You continue to yell at him until your friend grabs you and points to a sign on the cage.

It says, ‘Human.’

The Moon Is Made of Green Cheese

Dr. Leana Sokolov sat in the observation lounge of the Orbital Research Center and looked down at the Earth. She could still remember the first time she had come here with her father, how blue it had seemed from orbit. She had thought there would be more green, but it was the blue and the white of the clouds which stood out in her memory.

Her father had been a researcher on the ORC for almost sixty years, and yet nothing had ever changed things. No country, no law, no lobby had ever managed to prevent the decay of their home. Now the color that dominated the view was brown. She closed her eyes and looked away.

She herself had worked here for almost thirty years now. She had been on the team that had created a break-through: a gene in the structure of certain plants that could be altered to allow for a 27 day “day”. It was the gene that would make lunar farming possible.

The Committee had been in deliberations for months over a very controversial plan to raise the required funding to move to full-scale trials. Today they were expected to make their decision.

She glanced up when she heard a polite cough and smiled. “Dr. Gonzales.”

He set a cup of coffee down in front of her. “The Committee just passed the measure.”

She nodded, still not certain how she felt about it herself. “Have they set a price yet?”

“1.2 million per acre.”

She raised one eyebrow. “That’s a little excessive for land they’ll never see, don’t you think?”

“They’re rich,” he said, taking a seat opposite her at the small table. “It’s just vanity property. Besides, they’ll see it every night. Sort of.”

“That isn’t the same thing and you know it.”

“Look, they’ll buy an acre or two, get their title, ‘soil’ sample, and bragging rights. Meanwhile, we’ll get the funds without ever having to lift a finger beyond some survey data.”

She took a drink of the coffee, more to be polite than because she really wanted it at that moment. “What about China?”

He waved his hand dismissively. “It’s not as if we’re actually claiming any kind of ownership-”

“Except we are, if we give title deeds.”

“No, no; think of it as more of a…” he searched for the right word for a moment, then with a grin said, “sponsorship.”

“But that isn’t how you plan on presenting it to-”

“Semantics. Look, let the lawyers do what they do, we don’t have to worry about that. All we have to do is keep the revenue high enough to fund our work.”

She shook her head, her lips pressed into a thin line. “It just seems wrong. Wars have started over less, you know.”

“We aren’t politicians, Leana.”

“You’re sounding more like one every day.”

He frowned at the comparison. “We’re scientists, and we have an obligation. Think of all the good we’ll finally be able to do!”

She nodded, not really agreeing with him but agreeing with the understanding that the research had to continue, it was the only option left. “So, we get the funding. We build the bio-domes, we go to full trials, we expand the colony…”

“And we turn the moon green.”

She looked back at Earth. “Let’s hope we can keep it that way.”

Greetings From The Writer’s Desk

They say, arrogant bastards that ‘they’ are, that a picture is worth 1,000 words. This vastly under rates some pictures. Of course, it vastly over rates others.

However, that’s not the point.  I was thinking about things like Project 365.

Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, and photographic types have a challenge to do a picture a day, I’m creating my own Project 365 to write 1,000 words per day.

However, because as I stated above, some pictures can tell more or less than others, (and because sometimes days just aren’t conducive to writing when you have a full-time job) I’m going to say rather than a word count, I will create one written piece per day, whether it be a short, short story, or a poem, or whatever my thoughts are for the day, so long as it is presented in a creative format.

Of course, sometimes I am feeling more artistic and will draw (badly), or sew, or do other creative things, and once in a while I’ll even share my outlook on life, humanity and gardening.

I hope you will enjoy your stay.