Thursday, March 28, 2013

Many Miles Later...

I had an extended weekend trip up to see my family, and in four days managed to fit in time both at my brother's house and at Mom & Dad's, see old friends and meet new babies, and explore a part of the world I hadn't been to before. Me, Tighe, Mom and Dad spent Monday and Tuesday south of Lewiston, Idaho, actually ending up a few miles into the northeastern corner of Oregon, in a very remote and cut-off area. We hiked up the Wenaha River on Monday, putting in 8.5 miles and seeing lots of wildflowers, butterflies, and incredible scenery. We napped in the sun at our cushy, grassy lunch spot on the banks of the river, and even got to watch a couple groups of bighorn sheep climbing around on the basalt cliffs high above us. We spent the night at a cabin on the Grande Ronde River, and had a delicious cook-out dinner. Due to a miscommunication, we had been under the impression that the cabin had a kitchen in it; in reality, it had only a sink and microwave. We had not packed stove nor dishes with which to cook/eat our salad, potatoes and pork chops, so we improvised. Firewood was gathered at the trailhead and strapped onto the top of the car for the drive back to the cabin, a fire was built in a fire-ring at the edge of the river, potatoes were cooked in the microwave, salad eaten from the bag it was packed in, and pork chops cut into cubes, tossed in spices, and roasted on sticks over the fire, marshmallow-style. We all agreed that it all probably tasted much better than it would have cooked on a stove, and we also got to spend a beautiful evening sitting around the fire, eating with our fingers, which is pretty much the most satisfying way to end a day of hiking anyway.

 Off-trail botanizing. This happens a lot with my family, as does butterfly-chasing and birdwatching.

On Tuesday morning we hiked another four miles in a wildlife area in the higher country 15 miles away, and then drove back to Spokane in time to have dinner with Lisia before I had to catch my plane home. It all went by far to fast, but it was the first time in years that the four of us went on an overnight road trip together. Also I got my first sunburn of the year, and many fun memories were made.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

At the Garden

After work on Monday, I biked over to the garden and did my first planting of the season. It was the day after St. Patrick's Day, so I planted potatoes! Really just two of them, because my space is so limited- but I have to have at least a few new potatoes to dig up. I am trying a new-to-me variety this year, Red La Sodas.
I also planted turnips and radishes and beets, and did a bunch of cleaning up of my plot. It felt so good to get out and till things up, and pull (numerous) weeds, and tidy up all the chunks of cardboard that started out as mulch and then disintegrated and blew around everywhere and made it look a mess. It was a lovely evening, warm until the sun went down, then freezing. It was the first time I'd been able to go to the garden after work, thanks to Daylight Savings- now it stays light past 7 PM!

I officially finished the term last night with my last exam, and tomorrow night I'm off to visit my family for several days, do some hiking, and revel in not having to think about school for the next two and a half weeks.  Happy spring!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Around Here Lately

I feel like without a full-on garden or animals or much space, I don't have nearly as much to write about as I used to. I miss the chickens like crazy some days. And the fresh, beautiful eggs. Someday again I will have that. But for now, I am valuing the simplicity of my life on my own. As I told my parents a couple nights ago, there is something very comforting and liberating about having your entire life contained within a 600 square foot area. All of my things fit in my apartment (even if they're wedged in weird corners), I have pared things down so I have only what I love and use, and I don't have anything tying me down (lease aside). I can be content and comfortable, but not feel trapped in any way by pets, gardens, or other obligations. Much as I love those things, right now it's nice to feel free.

My life is filled with simple meals, I'm getting a lot of joy out of cooking and getting creative with it (which is really just a fancy way of saying I'm seeing how far I can stretch my budget). It's been fun to be more aware of how one tasty ingredient can make an entire meal feel special. The other night, I splurged on a bunch of fresh cilantro at the store, and heaped up that night's simple tacos with it- that fresh tanginess makes so much difference. I've been on a major broccoli kick this winter, and last week I branched out from my usual steamed broccoli and chopped some up fine and put it in a quiche.

My space is small, so my chores are pretty simple. A good sweeping once a week is usually all that's necessary, and most of the time I do the dishes regularly, and wipe down the counters. On weekends I give the bathroom a once-over and take out the garbage and recycling. Often I can go two weeks before my kitchen trash bag is full. Lately I've had to put food scraps in the garbage, which feels terrible- but I accidentally overfed my worm bin so I'm giving them a  chance to catch up and eat everything that's already in there before I add more.

As one person, I can usually go two weeks between loads of laundry (the trick is to have enough socks and underwear to last that long). I only use the dryer if there are sheets or towels to dry, otherwise everything goes on racks in front of the heater.

I've got a new knitting project on my needles, the most complicated thing I've attempted yet. I'll get it up on Ravelry one of these days. I have another cotton dishcloth going too, small and quick. It's easier to do a few rows of that when I have a couple minutes to kill but don't want to pay close attention to what I'm doing.

On Friday night I broke out the potting soil again and got my tomatoes, peppers, brassicas, and flowers started under the lights. I forgot that I was out of planting tags, and went rifling through the cupboards to see if I had anything that would suffice- turns out a container like this one converts into tags perfectly:

Last but never least, I had my first dinner of microgreens last week! They've been growing away in their tray, and I cut off a pile to have with potatoes one night. I ate them plain and with my fingers- so delightful!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring Has Sprung!

I've just spent the last 5 hours in a computer lab, finishing up a big term paper and presentation. So close to the end of the quarter. Another week and a half and I'm done. As soon as I've written this, I'll be back out in the sunshine. It is gorgeous out today, and being stuck in here doing homework was pure torture. I rode my bike to campus today though, on the trail along the river in the bright sunshine. Having finished the paper (ok, just a solid draft. Still lots of work to do), my reward is the beautiful ride home.

Yesterday was just as lovely as today, and when I got home in the afternoon I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my camera, on a treasure hunt for springtime. And I found it!

Look at the fuzzy buds! Look at that sky! 

Leaves! Leavesleavesleavesleavesleaves! 

I've been walking past this tree every few days, waiting for those buds to burst open. Yesterday was the day! So much beauty. Nature does it best.  

 Spring projects getting underway down the street.

An early tulip- the only one I saw. 

After many months of waiting, it's here. Spring is here! Bright happy daffodils everywhere, and tomorrow is daylight savings! I'm SO glad (can you tell? I might not have used enough exclamation points).