Yarrow! Jackpot!

This afternoon I went to the True Value and the West Seattle Nursery to look for a few household things and check out the garden sale at the nursery. I pulled into a curbside parking spot and lo and behold, there among the fuzzy cat’s ears, a JACKPOT of yarrow. Wild, dirty white, medicinal, beautiful yarrow.

I harvested the leaves and flowers, washed ’em off at home, and they’re now drying in the sun.

I think I’ll make a tincture, because I don’t have a ton of olive oil on hand, but I do have a ton of distilled white vinegar. I don’t have any Everclear, though, which would be perfect! 🙂

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Seeds! Seedy seed seeds! Many of them!

No, not sunflower seeds yet (those guys are still drying on my kitchen windowsill, getting all ready to be harvested).

Today I went through Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier and got a lot of great ideas. Some I already knew I wanted from tasting, cooking, and making tinctures at Alderleaf. So I made a list of plants I want for my plots, the location where I think they’ll thrive, their uses, and when to plant them (OCD works for me…)

I went to Nichols Nursery online and I found some things I wanted, plus a couple of other plants that seemed useful for a couple of problem spots.

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Lifestyle Changes

Much of the reason I started this blog has been to process some major life changes that are or will be happening this year.

I’m more than halfway through my 9 week summer off – my last day of work was July 12th, and I had a weekend to spend at Alderleaf  before heading out to Michigan and Boston. Immediately before I left, I sold my car. Two major parts of my every day life, gone in what seemed like the blink of an eye. (Never mind the fact that I also quit facebook that week!)

So now I have four weeks remaining in my Epic Summer Off, before starting my PhD program in mid-September. I think it’s plenty of time to work on the lifestyle changes that I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

First, eating closer to the land. For me this means growing more, getting more fresh produce, and being more connected to the food that I eat. Refusing to eat toxic food. Eating out less, but patronizing restaurants that practice sustainability when I do.

Second, walking more. This may seem obvious, since I just sold my car, but Seattle is very hilly and sometimes I’m tempted to just take the darn bus instead. But, walking doesn’t take as long as you might think, and it always provides such a deep connection to the neighborhood. You see people out and about, you stop and talk with neighbors, you see when shops close, you talk to store clerks – when you don’t just go from A to B, you can take in a lot more.

Third, creating a closed loop system. This is a long-term goal, but one that I think is achievable. I want to create a closed loop system in my home and land. Reducing waste to almost nothing, and building a healthy system that doesn’t *need* any input (like fertilizer). I’ve started on this a bit – ripping out some invasive plants, starting a big compost pile, companion planting flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables in places that make sense for the micro-climates in my front and back yards. I’ve got a big fat reddit bookmark for all the homestead/live off the land-type sub-reddits.

This summer hasn’t been huge for production – we’ve got a small blueberry bush and will probably yield a pint or two over this month, two small apple trees with two or three big fruits each, multiple rows of corn on which I’ve recently (finally) seen one ear sprout, a couple of bean plants that I’ll end up harvesting the seeds from and re-planting next year, and some hardy herbs that have done well all season. But I’ve got to be patient and know that the steps we’re taking create a healthier back yard in the long run!


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Sunflower Bouquet


Just a quick photo today. I snipped some of my “failed” sunflowers for this arrangement, and added in some greenery from a previous bouquet, some fragrant mint and a snapdragon, both of which grow like weeds in our yard. My big sunflowers were ready for harvest, their heads drooping away from the sun, revealing the yellow stem that signals harvest time. They’re sitting in paper bags now, drying so that I can easily harvest the seeds. The ones that got nearly eight feet tall will be replanted next summer! I loved having these in our garden this year, next to the corn they look so cheery and natural.

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Penultimate ultralight travel day – reflections

Tomorrow I leave Boston and fly back to Seattle, ending a 12 day experiment in ultralight travel (combined, of course, with some lovely visits with friends and family).

I have used everything I packed, except a bulky sweater. I have bought the following to supplement my pack:

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Ultralight Travel Part Deux

I’m a little more than halfway through my ultralight, go-with-the-flow trip to five cities on one backpack.

So far, I’ve had all the flight, bus, and train problems you could ever want, including a flight delayed by 10 hours and a bus delayed by 7. So unfortunately, I did have to scrap the Ann Arbor leg of my trip, courtesy of Greyhound’s legendary delays.

Now I’m in Detroit with my dear friend Monica, and here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

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Ultralight Travel

Tomorrow night I am taking the red-eye to Michigan (Flint, to be exact) to spend two weeks visiting family all over the mitten (plus a long weekend in Boston). As I’ve been packing, I’ve been attempting to use the principles of ultralight backpacking in the editing of my pack contents.

My first obstacle is that my camelback bladder popped at some unknown point in time between last weekend and today, and so when I picked up my pack to make it TSA-friendly (whoops, don’t need my 4-inch camp knife!), the bladder was completely empty and the bottom of the bag was soaked. It had to air dry before I could put anything in it.

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