Archive for the ‘Homestead News’ Category

Xavier de Maistre Takes Us on a Journey Around His Room; or A Broken Hand in Oakland Meets 18th-Century France

September 6, 2010

Normally this time of year, I’d bring you the harvest report from around the block and beyond.  I’d be checking in on the chickens, asking after the sweet corn crop that filled up a neighbor’s front yard, admiring some sugar pie pumpkins and finding out if anyone ate nearly as many romano beans as we did at my house this summer.  Man, those beans were good.

But alas.  While my neighbors gather in their late summer tomatoes, and the cabbages get serious about fall, I’m plopped on the sofa with my right foot on the coffee table and my left hand in a cast.   OMG, you might say!  What manner of drama have we here?

Thanks for asking.  It’s been a Wile E. Coyote kind of summer, so laugh if you like.  I do.  In June, I tripped over the cord to my laptop, flew into a wall, and broke my nose.  In July, I hiked a few too many miles in the Sierras and acquired a stress fracture in my foot.  Ten days ago, I took a little spill on my bike (which I could still ride with my tender foot) and broke my fall with my hand.

So you might say I’ve had some weeks of unplanned  relaxation.  Which puts me in mind of Xavier de Maistre, who also spent time under house arrest.   (more…)

Slow News: Plum Crazy

July 7, 2010

Apologies for the blog delay, but we’re in the midst of a plum emergency.  My plum tree decided that it was time for every one of its 600 plums to be ripe.  NOW.  So the kitchen’s been a-boiling with vats of jam, butter, chutney, and sauce.  For days, I’ve been slicing, simmering and spicing up plums, filling hot glass jars and screwing on lids; sliding the filled jars into the boiling water bath, and whew!   I’ve been a one-woman assembly line.  The best part is when, after ten minutes in the boiling bath, the shining jars come out of the bath to cool.  That little ‘pock’ you hear when the lids seal tight is one of the loveliest sounds of summer.

What could make life more complete?  Well, it turns out this week that I’ve been translated into French on the writer Nathalie Chassériau’s blog “Vive le Lenteur”—Long Live Slowness.   To which I say, Amen.   I was shocked to hear that I’d missed International Slow Day on June 21 (I guess the news was too slow to reach me in time), but I do love the way I sound in French:  « Nous sommes tellement amoureux des technologies que nous ne prenons pas le temps de penser au meilleur moyen de nous en servir,  ni quelles peuvent en être les implications. Les livres sont devenus pour moi le lieu idéal où  je peux enfin lever le pied ».   I said most of that (in English) to a Newsweek reporter, but I don’t remember saying the part about “enfin lever le pied,” but now that I think of it, what a bonne idée!  Merci, Nathalie!

So, quick post this week, to catch you up on the plum situation.   In the coming weeks, look forward to more Slow News from North Oakland, including some slow book reviews, and your eagerly-awaited update on the neighborhood farm news.  In the meantime, I’m going to crack open a new slow book I just bought and lever le piedVive le Lenteur!  And le jam.

Summer Around the Old Homestead

June 24, 2010

The Back Forty

In my fantasy life, I live on five acres with chickens and honeybees and a lamb or two, and an enormous garden that feeds me all year.  In my real life, I do what I can.  Since we just passed the solstice, I thought I’d post a round-up of the summer homestead news from here in the flatlands of Oakland.

After a long, wet winter and cold, wet spring, the plum report is a little bit mournful this year.  The fruit is small and slow to ripen, and we’ve got a little brown rot eating up some of the fruit.  That stuff can devour a full-sized plum in an afternoon.  Still, most of the crop is surely ripening, and I’ve already eaten a few.   They smell like perfume and taste like nectar, and I’ve never found a better plum anywhere. We’re warming up the jam-pots to get ready for harvest, which should start rolling in next week.

This morning, I found a ripe plum on the ground that must have fallen in the night, but some little critter had already chowed down.  I suspect the neighborhood possum, who’s also been known to sneak through the cat door to nab a snack of kibble.  It might also have the local raccoon, who’s been marauding around here for years. (more…)