Monday, August 31, 2009

I Am Trespassing

Yesterday I was in a grand funk, blame it on hormones or being cooped up in the same area too long- I played out my re-occurring run away fantasy and got on my bike "cajun knuckle" and rode down the hill at speeds so fast I was glad I remembered my helmet. As always, I never get that far because curiosity consumes me faster and harder then the actual distance I wish I could go. Not even around two curves something caught my eye... a mowed lawn in front an abandoned trailer with a road behind it leading to who knows what. Of course I took my bike off the paved road and up the muddy rocky drive, then leaned it up against the red gate I was about to jump.
It was obvious no one came through that road often, it had that lifeless feeling - at the same time I made up fanciful stories I would have to tell some angry farmer with a big gun when he caught me wondering around his land like a lost sheep. "Hello Sir, I apologize but I think PMS made me do it, can we be friends?!"
No one was there, but I could see some kind of large domesticated animals were at some point, fresh manure and hoof prints where in the cracked mud. I didn't expect what I did come upon - I thought maybe an old barn might be back there, but didn't know a tiny piece of history lay hidden the way trash does under summer weeds. It was a glorious old hand built cabin!
This is the kind of cabin that dreams, timelines, and horror movies are made of - so beautiful I am afraid to touch it, so creepy I couldn't stop walking towards it. I could see that no one lived there while plainly seeing in my imagination how someone actually HAD lived there. A whole life I wish could be written out clearly on the walls for me to read.
Peaking inside the broken windows I saw the remnants of the last inhabitant, coils from old rusted beds, collapsing wooden furniture, and the ever so creepy thing people put babies in that has the wheels and they can "walk" before they can walk while in it. The one in this house looked as old as me, from the 70's- but so haggard and forgotten so long I wondered who that baby is now... but wondered more how in the hec that baby pushed itself along those crooked wooden floor planks.
Such a perfect place, such a good foundation, such old weathered wood- it made me feel an old excitement I have felt since I was little sneaking into empty houses and wishing to make it my very own. The whole entire "add on" part of the cabin was not in the best shape, and I imagined re-working it into a glassed in green house section - taking the old wood from the siding and making that the ceiling in the main cabin.
I noticed the poor man sort of innovation and desperation, to be nailing up tiny pieces of wood to cover the holes in the original wood where the winter air was probably blowing in. It's endearing, and also so very real, so close to how tons of people without enough money feel right now, knowing the winter is coming and the economy is not coming with it.
Behind the cabin sits this huge weeping willow tree, growing out of a small creek. It's magical.
On my way out ( to other places to trespass), this is what I saw... I like that everything cycles back into nature.

Freeplay Indigo Lantern (Hand Cranked)

It's like Christmas in the summer! My mom had given me some gift cards to Gaiam last holiday, and I had horded them like a secret treasure waiting to reveal itself, until this month. As much as I resist actually liking Gaiam at times (cause their organic panties smell like a chemical dump & alot of their stuff appears to be made in china), their products came in the most minimum and eco packaging I have ever seen- the packing peanuts were the kind made of corn starch and melt in water and nothing was wrapped in extra plastic!!! I wanted to review each of the items over time (except the snake bite kit, I don't really want to know if it works or not...) and I am going to start with my most favorite thing I got...

**The Freeplay Indigo Lantern.

This lantern is the ultimate - it comes with a charger you can plug in, and once it's charged it goes for many hours with super bright light. So bright that I turn it on next to my bed and read a book till I go to sleep. The other way to charge it back up is there is a hand crank on the side. You spin it round and round and can get different amounts of light depending on how much you charge it. A little green light shows up on the side to let you know it is in fact actually getting a charge too, so you don't have to guess whether you are cranking enough or not.
Another amazing feature it has is a spotlight/flashlight on the front- which uses way less charge but puts off a powerful beam. The amount of light coming from the flashlight is not adjustable like the lantern light itself, but just as intense. IN fact... it's so intense it came out looking like Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon! (See below)! ;)
  • 60 sec. of winding powers cluster up to 2 hrs. on nightlight and 2 min. at maximum brightness; powers directional light for 12 min.
  • Rechargeable NiMH battery powers light cluster up to 70 hrs. in nightlight mode and 2.5 hrs. at maximum brightness.
  • Compact lantern features a cluster of 7 LEDs; dimmer switch lets you adjust from area lighting to nightlight use.
  • LEDs are nearly indestructible and provide as much as 100,000 hrs. use.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Greasy Beans In The Blue Ridge Mountains

I had never heard of greasy beans till I moved out into a rural part of Western North Carolina - driving down Lake Logan road in Bethel I distinctly remember the hand painted signs at the end of a farmers road reading "greasy beans for sale per pound". I honestly was like WTF is a grease bean, and why would I want it if it's all greasy anyway - I figured it was something akin to southern boiled peanuts and I wanted no part of that. Here I am 8 years later in Leicester, NC living on a property where my neighbors planted 16 rows of this locally revered bean - and didn't taste one till yesterday. Man had I been wrong.
Greasy beans aren't actually greasy, nor is it some special name for something southern peeps generally like to do to their food anyway - it's neither a typical dry bean OR a typical green bean, it is something of a union of the two kinds making one hell-a-va flavorful veggie! The way it's different from a green bean is that green beans have to be picked early to taste better, once they get bumpy they are flavorless and gross and have gone to seed... a greasy bean is good from start to finish, the tiny ones are yummy and can be cooked like snow peas, while the most gigantic ones are better then eating baked french fries. And what makes these beans even more bang for the planted buck, is you can even dry them and later cook the dried ones too!
Steam them, fry them, can them, pickle them, bake them- you can do anything to them that you can do to both green beans and dry beans!!!
Pictured below are the various stages of food the greasy bean provides- there's not alot of food producing plants that can boast such a long term, varied stage of life edible prize. Plus it has a neato history...
"Greasys are so prized in the mountain south that an Appalachian bride's trousseau would traditionally have included a few seeds from her family's unique strain of beans. Such devoted guardianship has produced an unmatched diversity of greasy beans in the North Carolina and Kentucky highlands, with more than 30 known varieties still cultivated on small patches of mountain land. Greasy beans' disappearance from the collective Appalachian larder results not from any shortcomings in their flavor, but a pervasive preference for beans that don't require "unzipping," in mountain parlance. Even those mountain dwellers who don't mind having to shuck their beans the old-fashioned way tend to romanticize half-runners, a hardy bean that began dominating the Southern market in the mid-20th century." - Hanna Raskin of Slashfood

I wonder which kind I have here- cause I have already started saving the seeds, and am going to start carrying a little piece of history with me whenever I go.
XoXo Greasy hugs and kisses ;)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Review: Animal Dreams

"If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life." - Animal Dreams

I have been reading a ton of books this summer, and I think this one might be my favorite. I was attracted to the title cause, well it says 'animal' - and because I love Barbara Kingsolver (or I think I love her, I certainly love every book I read by her, The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Vegetable Miracle and The Prodigal Summer.) I got the book off my neighbor's "goodwill table" when they were moving out, and it was a good score! Without going into detail, because what the book is are the details of people's lives laid in the most true way I could possibly imagine someone can write... It's fiction that feels more real then your own life you are living - Barabara Kingsolver shows a talent for writing out thought patterns creating a larger then life, living breathing character. It takes you through a modern drama without being contrived and dramatic, it touches on that personal drama residing in each person's heart, who wants to understand their family, love, their town, their place in life, and the future.

Enough said, it rocks! I love it. If you see at your used book store pick it up!


Fungus And Screamin' Trees

I feel like this picture of me at the rock is a pretty good still shot of everything that has been going through my mind as of recently. There's no words to put my finger onto my personal feelings exactly - but maybe there is a general search for a more solid direction, searching right out into the wilderness. The way most people my age feel when they put on wedding rings, have babies and buy their first home. Somehow what I search for will need to be different, whether I chose it exactly or not.
When I was overlooking this rock the other day I started to hear screaming. Alot of screaming - the first sounds were startling, the second un-nerving, and the third was something borderlining the fear of death. It had to be a small bird of prey, crow or rabbit in desperate need...and I headed out along the trail to find it. What I found along the way of death screams were alot of beautiful fungus...
This first one was even blacker then in the picture- a dark dirt like disguise.
This next mushroom was bright red and soooo micro tiny in the ground... freakin' neato.
And one of my new favorites is this stuff that looks like coral growing on land instead of underwater. :)
I looked for a long time, following the injured and upset animal's cries - I even went home and got a snack and came back again. As much as it wanted help, it didn't want it from me personally and was evading my every step with a perfectly hidden agenda of it's own. Sometimes even though I know I can not be of any help and that nature knows what it's doing, I still can not help my own human nature by offering some kind of service. There's a balance that can be achieved by humans, where we can be care givers and not just destroyers (and sometimes one aids the other) - I realize we are not entirely out of place in the wild. It's like we've just forgotten what to do.
I never found the scream's origin, it felt like they were coming from the trees themselves, and everytime i got to one tree the next one would scream for help. Dramatic?! Yeah, whateva'...
at the very end I found fresh bunny poop and realized what it was and all was silent.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Brown, Black and White Fuzzy Caterpillar

This fuzz grub has left me speechless - there's not much left to say when your first impression is that hair style! If this caterpillar was the size of a small dog, assholes would be trying to wear it as their winter coat... that is how beautiful that silky fur is! It might be hard to tell, but this top picture is it's head shot - see the face hidden amongst the fabulousness?!
I found fuzzy wuzzy under a leaf in my veggie garden which I am now hoeing back into the soil, to prepare for my fall garden - it made me think that this is a good reason to mostly hoe and not till, it saves more bugs lives. :)
This last pic below is of it's back, check out those little suction cup feetsies chugging along!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Green Cicada

I found this cicada spinning on it's head, buzzing frantically in terror of something I just didn't understand. I picked it up and we became (almost) instant buddies! That is at least for 2 hours or so while we watched the clouds in the sky and enjoyed that first cool breeze that precedes fall.
When I examined the cicada really closely I realized it had one wing that looked like it had not fully formed - really it looked like melted I knew that it was panicking because it could not fly to safety, food, reproduction or just about any of the normal functions of it's life.
And wooook at that wittle sad face, I mean darn! I know most people don't give a sh*t about bugs, muchless a doomed and deformed one... but for some reason it always goes against my nature to not create some kind of peace for any creature, no matter the size or the 'ugly'. It may sound cooky, it may even sound hippy, or borderline buddhist but if we all could go around feeling compassion for each living thing- whether it be grass, an insect, animal or another human, I think the world would be a pretty sweet place. A balanced place where nature would be respected - and the give and take would have a sort of sacred balance.
I looked up what cicadas eat and all i could find out about it was that they drink tree sap. I believe this is pretty accurate because the little dude had this long needle-like sucking thing that it eventually bared down on my skin trying to penetrate me like a shot at the doctor's office. Since it wasn't ok for it to suck all the moisture out my finger, I brought it to an apple tree to have some refreshments and live the rest of it's natural life. Bye bye little buddy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rural Entertainment: The Dance

All summer long I missed every dance at the community center for one silly reason or another - but finally last night on a cloud swirling, rain approaching evening I finally made it to the Big Sandy Mush DANCE! It was not what I expected, mainly cause I have watched alot of HBO growing up and thought it would be Blue Grass clogging old people, some kinda River Dance affair - instead it was a family gathering which mostly involved eating hot dogs, fries, soda and what I think was cupcakes (I did not partake). The crowd was on the very light side (alot less then wrestling turns out) but the band was totally real! No DJ's for dis' dance, a southern rock band was playing loud and live for the empty dance floor. Free bird, dude.
Now meet Charlie Brown (yep, that's his real name) - Charlie Brown is the BSM community center organizer and also a serious freakin' dancer. He put on a curly wig, funny hat and I swear to gawd his cowboy boots had TAPS on them- and he went to town, rappin' and a tappin' like he wasn't the only one dancing.... but he was! So fast and furious I couldn't get a still shot of the man with my camera.
Since the night was young, no one was dancing, and I was adjusting to the whole scene - me and my dance date Bort decided to go explore the old school building we were in. There are these amazing old stairwells with beautiful wooden rails - flat on top... I started sliding down them. :)
The windows reminded me of home (New Orleans) because they were flippin' HUGE, tall, amazing and gorgeous - surrounded by the bricks it made it look like the inside of a carefully restored old warehouse. I wanted to move in.
Out the window was a sad number of cars, a playground, pond and what looked like a tobacco barn. So we went down further and further on the stairs into the basement....
And I made the best discovery of the night! A little cushy chair, just my size!!! Sitting on top some crazy barn door and formica storage cabinet - it was like the obscure white trash thrown I had needed to sit in all my life.
PLUS it was a lazy boy with a retractable foot rest :) Never mind that is had some Nickelodeon type print on it that clearly said the word "Kidz".
After sneaking around the basement like a curious teenager & enjoying my 7 minutes in lazy boy heaven, I went back up to the dance which was still suffering from an empty dance floor syndrome. That is till CHARLIE BROWN asked me to dance!!! I am not going to lie either, I could barely keep up with the man - never in my life have I had to dance in that particular country style and I think I stepped on his tapping boots at least twice. Not that Charlie Brown cared he said "Don't worry, you come ta a few dances and we'lls learn ya to dance"... and of course he also said "Yer do'in GOOood"!Since CB was wearing something that smelled like Brute cologne (and I am very allergic to fragrance) that sadly was my first and last dance of the night. Totally worth it though. I left in the rain during intermission like a thief in the night.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut (Tree) Part 2

Remember last month when I was planting pine nuts in their shells to try and grow a nut tree?!? The fruits of my labor (or nuts of my labor) have arrived. Baby pine trees are shooting up all ova' in the pot - so many I don't even know what I am going to do! Possibly go on a tree planting binge in Big Sandy Mush and put a few in separate pots to examine how they grow (that is for my inner scientist)! :) It's a really neat looking seedling, with all those tentacles swirling out from the center pine goodness! What is totally amazing is I have had those pine nuts for about 3 years, in the fridge and many look to still be vital. Never underestimate the power of life.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Seed Saving: Moon and Stars Watermelon

This is the first year I have successfully grown watermelon in Western North Carolina! Even if I only ended up with 3 watermelons total and one was pretty deformed. In fact the one pictured here had the Quasimodo thing going on, on one side that I decided not to reveal to the public eye. Being a disfigured watermelon does not effect taste though, and holy toodles this thing was sweet and delicious! I literally just spooned it out, bite after juicy bite while setting the seeds aside for next summer's attempt at growing.
The inside had a pretty white vain pattern, reminded me of decorative architecture & iron work in the french quarter part of New Orleans. (Gawd I miss all the artistic & flamboyant passion of my home city!)
Once the seeds totally dry out I will most likely re-use old seed packets for storing the new seeds, I always save them just in case (trying to save some landfill space!). :)