Friday, April 8, 2016

Day Hike Kanaskat-Palmer State Park

 A friend and I went for a hike A couple of weekends ago. I have a back country pass on hold for me in Yosemite in August and I am building up for a three-day 30 mile round trip hike.

So I am taking some of the days that I could be spending in the garden and hiking a few mile around some of the more scenic hike in the PNW, building up to overnights and several days. In truth, it has been a long time since I have done more than day hikes. Many years ago after an ex ended up with most of the hiking gear after a bad break up, I just never replenished it. No one I have dated since has enjoyed hiking like I did and, although I have friends that liked to camp, most never wanted to hike to the camping spots.

So I am going hiking alone. But I have to build up my stamina to what it used to be by August. Or at least to half of what it used to be. I also have to replenish some of my hiking gear like a new tent (one or two person), bear canister for food, new hiking boots, etc... I don't have to get them all at once and I am in no hurry.
I have been enjoying the day hikes. They aren't long at this point, a couple of miles round trip at most. No one else on the trail although, it was also a campground so part of the trail wandered past RVs and people's car camps. But we never saw anyone else on the trail. Still early for a hike and there was a storm expected to come through later that day.

It was dry the whole time we were there and lovely. The Green River runs through the park and it was pretty high up the bank with the snow pack as high as it currently is. A lot of water in the mountains right now. This has been a record rainy season in the Pacific Northwest and we have a good snow pack, the rivers are all running high, should get higher as the pack melts.

A lot of the state park trails around here are populated. There are homes close by and as the weather warms, there will be more people on the trails and they do get crowded. The trail I have confirmed in Yosemite only allows nine people a day along it, so I have it pretty much to myself for the three days.

 It is in August, which tends to be the slowest summer month because of the heat, so I expect I might not run into very many people during my time there. First night's camp will be ten miles or so in from the backpacker's camp and parking lot. Second night another ten miles or so.

The plan is two night and three days, round trip of approximately thirty-four miles.

I am in no hurry, and I have have walked further on city vacations. It is doable, but then there is the pack. Three days worth of gear. Which might not be bad if I am smart. Which will suck big green dicks if I am not.

I am hoping to avoid the dicks...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Backyard Battle

I have a back yard.

Truthfully, I tend to ignore it. It is large, and full of grass and, at one time, a few chickens ran around it.  Once or twice a year I will have a BBQ with friends, but most times, it is just a nuisance. I am not a grass person. I like  a garden that produces food, not just grass.

But I have decided to do something with the backyard. Finally after 16 years.

I have a patio, it is a bit battered and needs a good power washing. But I plan on extending all the way back to the garage this year and building an outdoor tiki bar.

I also still need to put siding on the extension I build for the garage...

Owning a home is a slow process, especially when you have no one to help you.

Anyways, the plan is to extend out the patio, since I am no fan of grass or mowing. But as you can see to the left there is grass. A huge expanse of grass, full of weeds my neighbor complains about.

Me, I can care less. It's grass in my eyes. It does nothing, but cushion my feet and keeps the topsoil from blowing away, Dustbowl style.

But it makes for an enjoyable gathering place. But it needs work, so that part will have to be thoroughly redone. I may have to rent a sod cutter and take it all out to level it and reseed with a grass that is more acclimated to the PNW weather. Whatever that may be at this point.

It's actually a lovely space and good for when company comes for a drink and conversations. 

But it needs to be spiffied. There are two huge cedar trees in the back corner, and so trying to let anything to grow in that location will be nigh impossible and because of their shade I have a lot of moss in the back part of the yard.

I have at least one truckload of garbage that needs to be taken to the dump, three giant Douglas fir rounds from a tree I had taken down a few years back that the ex did not finish splitting like he said he would before I broke up with him. A little of this, and a little of that. But mostly, it is a sea of grass that is predominately moss and weeds. There are dips and holes and rises and slants. I look at it and just sigh some days.

But it needs to be done. I will start on the patio section since that part will be less traumatic and will be more instantly gratifying!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hoppin' John Benedict

For Easter I made Hoppin' John  as a side dish, which is black-eyed peas, smoked ham and collards  greens slow cooked in the crockpot.

Soak the black-eyed peas overnight and place in the crockpot with the collard greens and smoked ham and a cup of water.

Basically, I made enough for a small army.

So for breakfast I made, Hoppin' John fritters with a poached egg and a Louisiana Hot Sauce aioli.

1 Cup of leftover Hoppin' John
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the leftover Hoppin' John with the 1/4 cup of flour and egg.

Mix well and let set covered for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a cast iron fry pan to medium and plop a quarter cup of the mixture in the shimmering oil.

You should get four fritters. Awesome for a potluck or an intimate breakfast with someone you like.

Fry til crispy on one side then flip and repeat.

While frying the fritters, poach eggs for each fritter and make a spicy aioli sauce.

1/4 cup store bought or homemade mayonnaise
2 crushed garlic
10 drops of Louisiana Hot Sauce, depending on how spicy you like it
Salt & Pepper to taste

Once both sides of the fritters are crisp and the center is set, but springy plate up one or two fritters and place poached egg on top.

If you want to be fancy, drop a few small teaspoons of the spicy aioli around the plate and run a skewer through to make it look pretty and spoon the aioli over the poached egg.

Nom! Hoppin' John Egg Benedict!

The other fritters will keep in a container in the fridge and can be warmed to eat with the remaining aioli as a side at dinner or as lunch itself.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Let There Be Light

A couple years back I purchased a few solar lights from Target.  Nothing too fancy, just enough to light up the side of the house to the back gate.

The wonderful thing about these was that I bought them at the end of the summer season and got them for a buck each. I love reasonable deals like that.

But the lights are starting to dim so it was time to change the batteries. Yes, solar lights use batteries. The sunlight is collected in solar cells and store the energy in the batteries to be used when the sun sets.

And the batteries do poop out over time. So can the cells, but these all seem to still be working well. 

So, pop off the head on your light. Most should be detachable so you have the ability to change the batteries.

First, you pop off the covering of the battery case and clean out all the spider eggs, slug eggs and accumulated ick you find within. Give the light a careful dusting, gently scrub off any dirt on the plastic covering the solar cell.

A lot are simple double AA batteries, but of course that can depend on the manufacturer.

Pop in a new battery and replace the lid.

 Test the brightness, by putting the solar cell flat against something that blocks out all the light and the stick the head back on the post and you have light on your path or patio for another season!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Morning Has Broken... Almost

Five a.m.. I wake up early to get ready for work most days. I make my coffee in a small French press, because there is only one person in my household. If it's a particularly low anxiety day, I will practice my yoga, attempt to meditate, drink my coffee and if it is a work day, I spread and pack my work clothing and lunch into my bike panniers and get ready to ride in to work.

These are the good days, when the anxiety is manageable. I like those days. The days are a little longer but with Daylight Savings Time in effect, I've lost an hour of light in the morning so I'm riding into work while it's still dark again.

But when I come home, I open a beer and wander around my garden and can smell the earthy dirt warming and calling out to be worked. Like a lover. The weeds have taken over parts of the beds and since I do not have a lawn mower right now, dandelions are plentiful in the lawn. I might try making dandelion wine this year! I am sure the dandelions make my golf course neighbors crazy. I like them though.

They draw bees, and other beneficial insects that pollinate my vegetables and fruit trees. The leaves make a wonderful kimchi, the flowers make wine and I just think they are pretty.

Today, being that it is caucus day in Washington. My morning will be filled with standing in line to make my voice heard, but the afternoon should be spent picking dandelion heads and leaves. Making kimchi and wine.
There are few weeds I'm willing to keep. Dandelions are definitely one of them. They are the first foods that bees have access to when they emerge starving from winter, they are pretty and they are edible. Pretty hard to go wrong on that front. Other edible weeds include: dead nettle (that a friend sent me a pesto recipe for recently), young chickweed, plantain, shotweed, and more are edible. Make sure to do your research before you start nomming on foraged greens.

But there are a lot of weeds that are just nuisances and I have no problems with them going in the compost bin.

Off to caucus and then this to the garden!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Become my Patron on Patreon

Sometimes, you gotta try for a dream. Even a farfetched one.


I have an anxiety disorder and there are days that I can only get as far as the front gate.  My garden is the best place for me. It gives me comfort and I work hard and I feel like I belong. Today seems to be that day. But the garden is as far as I need to go today.

I am good enough to get into the yard today. That means I am working in getting the garden cleaned up. Because of my anxiety, I have been lax in taking care of my garden over autumn and winter. And I have been lax in documenting my garden's waxes and wanes.

I have allowed it to grow wild which I am sure the neighbors are just oh so pleased with.

I have spent the morning yanking weeds and moving plants from one place to another and planting Caladium corms and peas.

Working the dirt is a visceral and reassuring feeling for me. I know that soon I will have vegetables to eat and flowers that hum with bees. My neighbors will give me less dirty looks and I will feel like I have accomplish something.

It also gives me an opportunity to try to talk to people who wander by and say hello. When you have anxiety, talking to people can sometimes be a nearly impossible task. Being in a place that I am comfortable, my garden, makes it easier to interact and reduce the anxiety.

This garden is my happy place and watching it getting slowly cleaned and ready for the spring makes me happy and comforts me. Planting the seeds and knowing that in 90 days I should have peas to shell and freeze.

I have so many big plans for the back yard this year. Expanding the patio, fix the back fence and the chicken coop and building a tiki bar. Eventually, I might get a small hot-tub.

The vegetable garden will have peas and spinach, onions, lettuce. Still have some kale that over wintered, but they are coming to the end. I still have canned carrots from last year as well as green beans so I think I will avoid those. June bearing strawberries are perking up and I still have three beds to consider.

I have tomato'd and potato'd all the beds so I will avoid nightshades for the next couple of seasons.  So many things to consider, but for now, I am content in just weeding and enjoying the gorgeous Seattle day.

It seems to help the sane.