You can see so much blue sky through bare branches. Three straight days of sunshine and mild temperatures and it feels like spring is everywhere. My first nettle harvest, the first dandelion bloom, the honeybees out collecting pollen… I can hear the frogs nightly now, and I startled the great blue heron from the wetland near the garden two days in row. Even the fenceposts are sprouting charming new life.

The whole sense is one of waking, a little rumpled, but hopeful about what the day might bring.


See the hopeful new leaves? And the spray of blossoms almost unfurled? And how it’s all covered in ice? I feel you, osoberry. I so feel you.

I started writing this post a week ago, after I woke up to discover a wet white blanket that pretty abruptly altered my weekend plans. But I just kept complaining about the weather, possibly the most uninteresting topic of my many. So I left the draft open, thinking I’d come back to it when I actually had something to say. It’s now a week later, and I’m still complaining about the weather.

In the meantime, it melted just enough to actually drive all the way up the driveway once midweek before we got another couple inches. And this morning I can see enough rock through the snow once again to seriously consider bringing the car up from the bottom of the hill. But the forecast shows rain and/or snow for the another few days and I’m not sure I’m prepared to tempt fate that directly.

February. One way or another, or every way at once, it seems to be a test of endurance.

I took an extra-long weekend last week, and with all the time I wasn’t spending outside, I did manage to crank out most all of my sewing for our hike. I snapped that photo above at one point when I was struck by the juxtaposition of my old sewing machine and the techy silnylon fabric I was working with.

Taking a closer look, there are so many things I love in that scene. First, obviously, the avocado Kenmore sewing machine, manufactured in 1969-70. The typed label on top of it with my mom’s name and phone number from when she took it in for a service after buying it from an auction for me, a few months before I finished college. The original manual, with the dated image of a young mother and daughter on the front and the “Dear Homemaker” letter inside the front cover… that is remarkably useful, sitting out because I referenced it as I was adjusting things for the slippery fabric. Behind my machine is the sewing basket that was a Christmas gift from my Grandma Axtman as a teenager. The gold stork scissors is a favorite from my sister. So many layers to these ordinary useful objects.

There was nothing too exciting in the trip sewing, mostly the pile of stuff sacks and ditty bags above, along with a rain cover for my pack and a fair few pack modifications… changing out the side pockets, rearranging straps to work with a new top lid, that sort of thing. But it’s ten more things marked off the endless list.

I can feel things shifting again as our departure draws nearer. For so long, the to-do list just grew longer and longer as things got more real and we filled in all the details. But it has started to get shorter now. Partly because we’re working every day on prepping and drying food, making or buying gear, and generally making the countless tiny decisions that go into any endeavor of planning. But perhaps more so, the list is getting shorter because it gets pruned. Seven weeks feels like a scope of time that I can wrap my head around. Seventeen working days. Three weekends when we are both home. However you measure it, our remaining prep time is finite.

And then we’ll be standing on bare ground in Georgia and whatever we managed to get done will somehow be enough. Soon.


The early signs of spring are popping up in all corners right now. I am delighted by these signs when I remember to get outside and notice them but between the moments when I remember are plenty full of gray and rain and the kind of desperate psychic hanging-on that is February.

But this bit of wattle fencing has been an unexpected balm. No, really. The simple act of constructing it has been so happy-making that it’s pulling me off the couch on even the gray days. I have a handful of elderberries that I started in pots last spring and need to get into the ground, but they’ve been languishing for lack of deer protection. Sure I could go with welded wire hoops like the ones that are littered around the rest of the yard, but frankly, I just can’t bear to see any more welded wire hoops. So after re-watching some Tudor Monastery Farm, I decided on a whim to try my hand at wattle fencing. We have an abundant supply of sprung maple and really, what could have improved about fence technology in five hundred years?

Well, my post pounder made setting posts a lot easier than the wooden mallet I watched them use, but after that it’s taken nothing more than a pruning saw and a hatchet. The weaving is the sort of thing that is hard to walk away from… you find just the right length or get just the right tension… and need just one more here and then one more there and then… I do not aspire to craftsmanship or beauty, I’m happy with functional and whatever materials are at hand, but even so, I really like the look of it.

Of course I’m still assuming that it will keep deer out but there are enough easy pickings to be had around here they don’t tend to challenge defenses too much. We’ll see. Now if I could just figure out how to construct a deer-proof hedge around the perimeter of the orchard, I’d be really smug about my sixteenth century property management.


Consider the photo my nod toward truth in advertising. It’s still January here. And as good as it felt to hit 50 degrees yesterday for a few short hours yesterday, it still looks like this by four o’clock every afternoon.

I’ve been watching the light, waiting to feel that shift from the stasis of winter, the first tentative nod toward spring. We’ll reach the halfway point between solstice and equinox this week! I can see it in the afternoons, the pale light hanging on a little later but the mornings feel as dark and close as ever here. Then this afternoon, I was caught by complete surprise to find that the first soft, shimmery gray willow catkin buds have appeared, so that falls firmly in the “nod toward spring” column on my ledger.

Not surprisingly, the thoughts bouncing around my head today are awfully similar to those I wrote about a week ago.

After a few weeks of feeling overwhelmed by the increased sense of urgency around hike preparations, I’m settling into the rhythm of the daily tasks. And all those little daily steps are adding up to some real momentum. I have nearly finalized my meal recipes after a few successful trials this week. (Yes, grits can totally be cooked on an alcohol stove! And dried delicata squash is a success! Home dried brown rice was a bit toothsome, but totally palatable!) Today I cleared off an entire shelf in the pantry and loaded up the dehydrator with a big batch of blueberries… The next step is to stockpile all of the ingredients. We have a mountain of drying to do, but we are marching onward.

In the other sort of hike prep, I got out for a longer walk again yesterday. I did some more exploring from home and like last time, it was very gratifying. “The corner” is a little business hub about 3 miles from our home, with the only road option being the main highway. The shoulders are wide so it’s not bad by bike, but I have never considered walking it. Inspired by my last walk, I set out yesterday to see how I might get from here to there with as little shoulder walking as possible. And the answer turned out to be so much less than I expected –  a couple hundred yards! My route involved our neighbor’s field, some state park land, a short established way trail to the dead-end end of a residential street, then said street, service roads through the school athletic complex, and a bit more field at the end. At 45 minutes, I couldn’t have gotten there any faster taking the highway and my alternate was quieter and much more interesting. So yeah, I’m still feeling pretty motivated about changing my perception of the walkability of our little town.

I also appreciated seeing these kindreds while I was out (ironically on the brief highway shoulder section):

In knitting news, I don’t have any photographic evidence but I can report there is sweater progress. Not entirely of the sort I planned, but that should be a surprise to no one, including me. Last fall, I started working on a sweater for Dean. Here it is in mid-November:

By new year’s that scrap of a body had slowly grown to about 10 or 12 inches. And I even more slowly accepted that it was not the intended size. Gauge! The trickster of the knitting world struck again. I had knit a swatch, a big swatch even. I knit said swatch in the round, because I have learned the hard way that my gauge is different between flat and round knitting. But… my needle collection is rather hodgepodge in certain sizes, including size 2. So my 16″ circular metal needle was a different brand/style than my 36″ circular metal needle. And, no surprise to you, wise reader, they produce entirely different gauges. So my sleeve (narrow tube, 16″ circular) was just fine, but the body (large tube, 36″ circular) was not. I even put everything on waste yarn and soaked it and then blocked it out and no, it really isn’t going to grow two sizes.

All of which should mean that I need to undertake the heartbreaking (but let’s face it, entirely familiar) task of unraveling a lot of knitting and trying again. But wait! I made a fateful decision to make this sweater from a “yarn” that mostly falls apart if you try to rip it out (unspun Icelandic if you really care, but mostly, just trust me). So that sweater is in a permanent holding pattern while I decide how/if/when to proceed.

Which means that I was able to work on a sweater for me, with very little guilt and it has been zooming right along. I finished the (very plain) body up to the armpits and am currently working on the first sleeve, and feeling pretty keen to finish two sleeves and join it all up. A fine consolation prize for January (if you’re me anyway, maybe less so for Dean), and I’m off to work on it right now!


Hello from the heavy gray of deep January. It feels like a dense cloud settled down and has been sitting on top of us for the last few weeks, blurring all the edges of things and blocking out enough sunlight that the whole day is a suspended state of half-dark. Except for the sixteen hours when it’s fully dark.

I have meant to write at least a handful of times over the last few weeks. But somehow the gray stole my words before I got them out each time. So today, I bring you the remnants of those ideas, the scraps that January hasn’t yet rotted.

Ok, this is really a December tablescape. But I found the image on my phone in January. Because I have a phone that can take pictures again. Well, sort of. After three years of not having a smartphone (following two years of having one) and lots of feeling smug about having arranged my life so that I didn’t need one, I was forced to admit that it was really the best solution to lots of needs for our trip this summer. I haven’t brought myself to connect it to any service just yet, but just seeing it sitting on the coffee table in its waterproof case feels like one of the thousand tiny ways that this trip and all the preparation is feeling more real every day. Like somehow, the turning of the calendar switched something from “we’re going to do that” to “we’re doing that”.

Given how many miles I hope to log this year, it felt appropriate to ring in 2018 by walking 18 miles with a friend. We had this gem of a day to do it, maybe the last one that was cold and clear. We didn’t walk any pristine trail or even a walking path, but connected country roads and backstreets through town and a few county parks, walking from home out to the beach at a nearby state park. And it was fantastic – the weather, the six-hour conversation, and also the route.

Moving through our community and local landscape on foot allowed me to see all sorts of places that I had never noticed in a decade of living here. It really got me thinking about the places that are conducive to walking that I don’t notice, and about reclaiming a place for foot traffic in the places where it’s been crowded out. I hope to do a whole lot more walking of this sort – a kind of community wayfinding, and a way of fitting it into the landscape that exists rather than reserving it as a separate activity. I did a lot of walking like this when I was a city dweller, and I am long overdue in adapting that mindset to my rural existence.

The novelty of blue sky! Just a random snap, captured on the ferry ride home last weekend. With remnants of clouds hanging low over the water, perhaps with the rest of my words hidden inside.


We marked another new year by spending a few days at the beach. I’m so adamantly not a beach person, but somehow that just doesn’t apply in the dead of winter.

I could really just skip writing this post and refer you to the one from this day a year ago. It was very much like all our other beach trips – lots of meandering walks, staring at waves crashing, and taking too many photos of moody skies and the endless Pacific. The challenge of collecting just the right beach rocks (this time to complete a beach rock rainbow, inspired by a great one I saw laid out on driftwood our first morning). Hours for reading and journaling and board games and knitting. And snacking all day, just because it feels so indulgent to me to eschew proper meals.

Side note: somehow we ended up with WAY too many cookies this December. Like I’ve been eating cookies every day for a couple of weeks and there’s no end in sight. When we were baking, I was sure that it wasn’t enough to get us through the holidays. I have no idea how or when I lost all ability to judge cookie sufficiency but I’m a little bit terrified in a very vague way. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever actually thrown away homemade cookies but I can’t see how else this is going to end.

So, happy new year! I hope it’s filled with endless possibility,  like ocean horizons and too many cookies.


I got a burst of creative inspiration this week in the midst of so much doing very little. And this particular inspiration was very specifically about extemporaneous quilting. It seemed to come from nowhere, but I can trace its roots to the sentimental clothing retirements of late and thinking about reusing scraps in rag rugs or other projects.

I wasn’t willing to use any sentimental bits on my first attempt, but the bin of fabric leftovers and irresistible thrift store finds was generous. I quickly got sucked into the piecing and cutting and just seeing what would emerge next. Of course then I decided I could turn my playing into a throw pillow and that took several times as many hours as I imagined it would… but in the end, I replaced a generic Ikea pillow and sparked all sorts of ideas for future projects. A win from the week of doing very little.



We woke on Christmas morning to fresh snow, so I went for a walk to watch the light come up. The snow felt very congruent with my general plan for the week, which was to stay home and do very little. It’s been a good plan, the last few days filled to the brim with very little.


Happy solstice, dear readers. I celebrated the shortest day with a long walk (a day early). This time of year usually feels like it calls for introspection, but introspection in motion was even better this year. I walked twenty miles on the local rail trail, flat and cruisy (boring if I wasn’t so recently charmed by it).

Twenty miles in midwinter was long enough that the stars were still bright in a clearing sky when we started and the sun was slipping below the treetops when we finished eight hours later. In between, we savored the slow dawn and soaked in a relatively rare winter day of clear blue skies.

There were a handful of us, a mix of existing and new friends, which made for long, interweaving conversations. I came home deeply tired and filled up in a way that I didn’t realize I needed.

It’s hard to get long days of fresh air when the days are so short. Or more truthfully, it’s so easy not to make them happen. But I need them just the same, and it’s good to be reminded of that.

It’s also good to be reminded that there is time, if we just take it. This December has meant less bustling and more long walks and visiting friends and meditating. And a marathon making session this past weekend to get packages out the beginning of the week. We still don’t have a tree, but we have plans to change that on Saturday. The necessary things will reveal themselves and they will be done. Or so I’m trusting.


Hello from a pale December day at 48 degrees North. I’ve been a bit of a failure at December-ing so far this year, I just keep thinking there will be time for everything as the days evaporate and I blithely putter along, making a few things here and there and then making time for another walk. Walking feels necessary these short days, especially when the sky is blue.

Tonight I did a little sewing and listened to an On Being conversation with Rebecca Solnit and collected a few flickers of candlelight for the mind on a winter night…

“People in this culture love certainty so much, and they seem to love certainty more than hope, which is why they often seize on these really bitter, despondent narratives… they know exactly what’s going to happen. And that certainty just seems so tragic to me. I want people to tell more complex stories and to acknowledge that sometimes we win, and that there are these openings. But an opening is just an opening; you have to go through it and make something happen. And you don’t always win, but if you try, you don’t always lose.”

And a reference to this quote from Michel Foucault: “People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.”

Gray and drizzly knits

A gray drizzly December day is not ideal for homestead modeling, as you might have noticed. The knitwear to be modeled is not ideal, either. But I finished both of these projects in early October, so they are well overdue to be captured and cataloged.

First up is the cardigan, which I thought was going to be a no-brainer and turned out to be a yarn lesson. It is also the first time I have re-knit a pattern for something bigger than a hat or mitts. I knit a brown version of this very simple, lightweight cardigan five years ago and found it surprisingly wearable and versatile, enough so that it is looking rather worse for the wear.

I had good notes from that first knit, so picked out some new yarn and set about replicating the sweater. I knit it to the same measurements, on the same needles…. same same same. You can guess where this is going. The resulting sweater is not the same at all.

The brown one is knit from a merino silk blend that wants to drape. This gray one is from a tightly spun cormo that wants to recoil into the smallest possible shape. You can see what that looks like in these:

It rides up and I tug it back down. On repeat. I was sure that I had just made it too small but I laid out the old and new sweaters on top of each other and they are the same size. It’s just that this yarn wants to contract. I imagine that it would be great for something like a t-shirt that you would want to have plenty of stretch while maintaining a fitted shape. But it was a terrible choice for an open cardigan. I think it’s still wearable over something like a sundress (where it’s more of a shrug than a sweater), but it’s definitely a failure as an all-season cardigan.

Happily, I am delighted with the second finished knitting project in those pictures.

The pattern (from 1966) calls them nether garments, which I think is pretty charming. The reality is that they are usually housepants, because I live the sort of charmed life where cozy tights knit at a gauge just loose enough to be immodest are a totally valid wardrobe choice most days.

These tights were very nearly never to be. They languished in my knitting basket for almost two years and didn’t seem terribly promising. The yarn is my familiar nemesis superwash merino, so I hated knitting it. (All left over from a baby blanket project where I grossly overestimated the required yardage.) I thought the stripes were tedious to knit, until I started weaving in all the ends and had to recalibrate my scale for tedium.

All that said, they weren’t all that much knitting and they fit great and they have been in heavy rotation since the day they came off the needles. I am certain there will be more in the future. And the next time I’ll choose yarn that I don’t need yearlong timeouts away from.

November prairie

We just returned from North Dakota, which was all pale November light. I wonder if I’ll ever bore of every permutation of vast sky and weathered prairie. It doesn’t seem likely.

As the train approached our stop this morning, running along the shore of Puget Sound, Dean asked me where I felt most at home. I answered, “North Dakota is my homeland, and the Pacific Northwest is where I belong.”

Almost related but really not: The fateful whims of long library hold lists meant that I read Sherman Alexie’s memoir You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me this week as well. It’s brilliant, and I recommend it.

Freezer camp

I took these photos last Sunday morning, when we got more early snow. Shortly after I returned from my morning walk, I tried to post them here and discovered our internet was out. The snow lingered for a few days but was still gone before our internet service returned.

Tomorrow we send the pigs off to freezer camp. Never easy, and I’m afraid I’m more attached to this batch than any we’ve had. I’ve been feeding twice a day for the last couple months, fretting over their rations and measuring their growth. Scratching around ears, patting backs, and ok, using a few well-placed knees to encourage a hungry pig that outweighs me to move aside. A few days of frozen hoses and troughs were a good extra reminder that it is time.

So tomorrow we’ll wake up with pigs, feel the complicated feelings that go along with raising animals for meat, and end the day with pork to process. It’s never easy, and I hope it never is; but in the end it’s mostly gratitude that I’m left with, and that’s a pretty good place to end up.

Early snow

I decided at 5p Thursday that Friday would be a mental health day, a bit of compensation for all the extra hours at my desk over the last month. Without too much more thought, I determined that a day for myself meant going for a hike first thing, enough of an effort to come home tired and really enjoy settling into my couch nest for an afternoon knitting session.

I wasn’t expecting to wake up to a dusting of snow. But it was just that, a dusting on the roofs and cars. According to the Gaelic view of the seasons, winter began three whole days earlier, with Samhain. It felt like summer lasted right through September this year, so I guess I missed autumn while tethered to my desk.

I considered changing plans, but it looked like it was clearing. Maybe I’d have an extra-special view of a snowy morning from the top. Or maybe not, as it turned out. The dusting at home was a couple inches at the trailhead and gradually grew to about four up the trail. Clouds wrapped tightly around the mountain. The forest was almost utterly quiet, my breath competing with my footsteps for the loudest disturbance. At some point, the snow filling the air was coming from the tree branches above instead of the clouds. Periodically, some branch would get just heavy enough to dump it’s load with a satisfying “woosh”. Beautiful and disorienting.

And best of all, I returned home the perfect level tired where I couldn’t manage anything more than knitting and old episodes of Victorian Farm all afternoon.

29 Oct 2017

Hello out there. I’m so glad you’re still there. By which I mean, I’m so happy that I can remember that the world outside my little bubble exists today. There have been lots of days when that wasn’t the case of late.

So I’m a little bit delighted and a little bit chagrined to realize that I popped in here with a little something to share and it’s exactly the same topic as the last time I was here. My worn clothing. (Because that’s fascinating enough to warrant multiple posts?)

When I turned my closet over a few weeks ago, I pulled out a bag of socks that needed mending and was surprised to discover it had somehow grown to eight pairs of hand-knit socks that were out of circulation. A week later, a deep dive into my knitting basket (for unrelated reasons) turned up a further three pair that I had completely forgotten existed. Eleven pair! That is either a testament to my powers of procrastination for letting so many pile up, or to the excess of my sock supply that I was still getting by with that many out of commission. Maybe both.

I finally sat down with the monster pile this weekend to see what I could do. Two pair were deemed beyond repair and retired. One pair that was little-worn but riddled with tiny holes from a wool moth attack several years ago was unravelled to salvage the yarn. Most needed a darned patch or a few areas of duplicate stitch reinforcement. And then there was this pair (in sorry enough shape my camera didn’t even want to focus on them):

One of the first pair of socks I ever knit, and the blue merino really wasn’t durable enough for socks. As I was debating whether I could justify another layer of patches or not, I realized that this sock construction, one I never repeated, lent itself to heal replacement. A couple careful snips and a bit of unraveling later, they were back on needles…

And some leftover sock yarn filled in the gap nicely.

So satisfying.

I actually have a few new knitting projects to share if I ever get pictures taken. Soon, I hope. And in homestead news, the pigs will be off to freezer camp in less than two weeks but in the meantime, they are making adorable afternoon nap pig-piles.

It was a good shirt

I turned my closet over today, a little semi-annual task that I enjoy enough it feels more like a seasonal ritual than a chore. I pulled my linen, along with my summer skirts and most of my short-sleeved shirts, and packed them away in the off-season side of my closet. At the same time, I revisited the stash of long johns, long-sleeved t-shirts, and wool sweaters that had been tucked out of the way since spring. As I sorted, I did a quick cull. There are always a couple things for the thrift store, items I thought I might wear six months ago but I haven’t even considered doing so since. And this time, there were a few old gems that I couldn’t put away for next year, it was just time to bid farewell.

First up, the best flannel shirt I have ever owned, purchased circa 2008 at the Senior Citizens’ thrift store in Beulah, ND for $1. It was perfectly soft and worn when it came to me, all brown plaid and pearl snaps. I never “wore” this shirt, I just threw it on over whatever I was wearing when there was any bit of chill – pretty much every morning and evening of every summer day for the last decade.

I patched the elbows last summer, but it was obvious then the situation was less a hole than the generally disintegrating state of the fabric. I managed to squeeze another year out it, but I’m afraid it’s time to love this one fondly from the rag pile.

Next up is a very close relative of the house flannel, the brown house sweater. This one came to me as a hand-me-down from my brother-in-law in roughly the same timeframe, maybe 2010.

It, too, has seen it’s fair share of shoddy mending jobs over the years. The left elbow went first, of course. (It’s a bad habit of leaning my left arm on my desk while the right operates a mouse for endless work hours.) But I needle-felted an orange elbow patch and liked it better for the character. Then the seams started to give in the armpit, but that’s easy to hide so it got a quick stitch back together. By the end, the left elbow was two patches deep, the right had a matching one, the armpits were hopelessly ripped out, and I loved it.

There simply isn’t enough fabric that isn’t falling apart to hold any more mending, so it will get felted and recycled into some future sewing project. Maybe my next hot water bottle cozy.

And finally, an unlikely addition, a pair of gray hiking shorts. A pair of shorts I bought just before leaving for New Zealand in December 2005. I wore them every day for more than four months on that trip; they were the only option I had except for a questionable skirt I wore while doing laundry. And for most of the years since, they have been the only pair of shorts I own. A bit like magic, the nylon seemed impervious to wear and they fit perfectly regardless if I gained fifteen pounds or lost it.

The thread was always the weak spot, I made the first hem repairs in a backcountry hut on that initial trip. There have been many more, and these days it all seems to be breaking and falling out. And it turns out that even nylon does wear, and these days it’s a bit… translucent. So another relic of another life, made by a company that no longer exists, is retired.

In summary, it was a good shirt (and sweater and pair of shorts).

If you’ve actually read this far, you deserve some sort of prize. Unfortunately, all I’ve got for you today is the satisfaction that there are people in the world who are moved to eulogize ordinary articles of clothing, but you’re not one of them.


The first weekend of October. Two whole unscheduled days, my first since August. I have been hanging on, waiting for the chance to take this deep breath for the last few weeks. I need a few deep breaths of the sort that you just quietly watch come and go.

I spent some hours in my couch-nest, newly feathered for fall weather, while I knit and listened to rain on the roof. Yesterday I ventured as far as the garden and today I made it a few whole miles away for a long walk in the woods with a couple of friends. In between, there were plenty of visits to the pigs and hours in the kitchen, processing fruit, cleaning a carrot harvest, and general puttering. The kind of simple days that just feel spacious the whole way through, and I feel so grateful for that. I needed that.

Spaciousness as a state of mind has been in short supply of late. Instead, my mind has mostly felt busy and tight, ceaselessly trying to figure its way through the puzzle of things. The usual puzzles of balancing too many interests with all the requirements on my time, of tending the homestead and adventuring in the world, of spending and saving. And the less usual puzzle of making all the required arrangements for an entire season of unscheduled time.

It’s been nearly a decade since Dean and I returned from our last extended trip and started building a cabin, and I think that means we’re due. But gah, we’ve complicated our lives in ten short years.

The plan is that we’ll take a break for half a year, and spend most of that time hiking the Appalachian Trail. I can only vaguely remember how much space to breathe there is during a trip like that, but I can’t wait to be reminded. In the half a year between now and then, though, we’ll be trying to get everything in order and stay sane, which might be a far less glamorous but equally daunting challenge.

The other side of September

Hello from the other side of September. I’m bleary with tired, but somehow this little patch of sunshine on some very old marble tiles is making me feel a bit more hopeful.

September was absurdly full here, every weekend day booked from start to finish with off-homestead activity, every weekday seemingly overflowing with two extra things on the schedule. I decided at the start that my best strategy for coping was to just keep moving, and aim to be as present as I could with the constant motion. It mostly worked, I think, but I have some serious plans for sustained sitting in October.

Clearly I’m in no state to write coherently today, but perhaps we can start with a few postcards from the last month…

Greetings from the northwesterly most point of the lower 48! For our anniversary, we spent a day exploring the Makah Reservation, which has a fabulous museum and this gem of a little hike. 

The University of Washington, with the quad as quiet as an actual postcard. I attended a conference that happened to take place at the UW in Seattle. Due to the quirks of ferry schedules, I had some time to kill and I discovered that a Saturday morning between terms may be the quietest time on campus. I hardly saw another soul while I wandered around, and it was seriously good soul medicine to just take in the quad, the big old trees, the beautiful buildings, the library filled with stained glass, the gardens, the whole pedestrian scale of the place. Just to remember that such places exist and they have existed for a very long time.

Everyone loves pigs! At least everyone in our neighborhood, which is a relief. Our go-to pig-sitter moved away last month, so we had to figure out new arrangements in advance of a ten-day trip to the east coast. In the end, three separate neighbors pitched in to share the load, we have a stronger web of connections, and the pigs are still happy and growing.

And… it turns out I took surprisingly few photos this months, so that’s all I have for postcards. More words soon.


As I sit down to type, I see my purple-stained fingers and imagine that there’s some evidence of berries on my face as well. It’s sort of a constant right now, when the blackberries are ripe.

The Himalayan blackberries, to be more specific. The ones that crop up in the untended verges, all the compacted, abused, spent… humanly impacted places. And not just grow, their thick vines grow impossibly long, arching up and out and forming a tangled mass that quickly overwhelms fences and given the chance, swallows small buildings.

Which is precisely why, for 50 weeks out of the year, I curse the blackberries and cringe at their sight. But then there is that window in late summer when the berries are ripe, and our relationship becomes so much more complicated.

For those few weeks, the overgrown corners and unkept edges hold the abundant, sweet taste of late summer. We have plenty around the homestead but I always smile to see people picking along roads and around town, braving a tangle with the vines to fill a bucket or a bag. The berries are free, but not without cost. Payment will come by way of shredded shirtsleeves, time with tweezers spent extracting festering thorns from tender fingers, and the tell-tale marks of forearms criss-crossed with bramble scratches.

I love wild berries for the ways they taste wild – their tang, tartness, complexity mixed with the sweet. But there is none of that in these blackberries, they are just big and sweet and juicy. The sort that will drip down your chin if you’re not careful.

I baked a peach-blackberry crisp last week. When we finished it off on day three, I washed the pan and made another without bothering to put it away empty. As we were finishing off the second one, Dean subtly mentioned that there were just enough peaches left for a third. If you find yourself in possession of peaches and blackberries, I highly recommend you make one for yourself. (My only modifications were to cut the brown sugar to 1/3 cup and use AP wheat flour.)

In summation: Himalayan blackberries, love and hate. Which seems alright, I should undoubtably spend more time considering how nothing is as simple as my judgments of it.