Lately I’ve been working on this little nugget of a dream and it’s germinating and I’m so excited and it’s precious to me.
Sewing, Knitting, Wood-carving, Figure-Drawing…
These are all things I’ve been into sometimes or another and then have let go of a bit (or a lot).
It’s typical for me to do a thing for a while and then move on to a new thing.
Lately, my mind has turned to foraging and, more specifically, mycology.
It started about a month or so ago, when I was preparing for my first ever canoe-camping trip. I wanted to look up the edible foods of the region where Shawn and I were staying and I found a wonderful resource (which I forgot to bookmark and am now worried I’ll never find again) which showed imaged of the mushrooms as well as warnings for similarities to non-edible varieties, and information on their growing conditions, which gives clues for where to look.
And it continued when I successfully identified some mushrooms on a day-trip to Meech, but was still too nervous to do any picking.
And it has been compounded by the amount of money I’ve been spending on chanterelles lately.
AND THEN, I read this article about my favorite author/artist as a child, who was a mycologist herself and produced illustrations which are still referred to now (she died in 1943) for identification purposes.
So this is my newest interest. I feel like I’ll do some self-guided learning until I’m comfortable enough to go on my own, or maybe I’ll find some kind of Mycology Master to go out a-foraging with.
On this day:
Who even makes these? Moms and Grammas I guess? That’s always been my experience. Disks of over-cooked pork which are almost turned to a jerky. The lingering jaw-ache days later.
So when I was on a (oh-so-lovely) date earlier this week at a place where I know I like the food and saw pork chops on the menu, I decided to give it a whirl.
It was so juicy and flavourful! That’s my review.
HEAR YE, HEAR YE! A PORK CHOP WAS DELICIOUS!
So I guess I’m super hungry right now and dreaming about that pork chop. And I guess I’m ALSO like “Oh yeah that was a nice date” and not really telling you anything about it 😉
On this day:
In 2014 – I found them. I… did not do a good job… they fell apart.
In 2013 – This reminds me about my post yesterday and that I want to do some meal planning.
In 2008 – UGH where is my watercolour pad????
In 2007 – Percy photos!
In 2006 – Mind-Readers
In 2005 – This was the day before I started the job I have now.
She brushed her hand down my neck, pushing down my scarf to reveal as much skin as possible. Then, she quickly and with minimal pain, pulled the finest filament of hair from my newly exposed flesh.
This is the story of a couple of wild women on a road trip except we are not Thelma and Louise. We wanted to experience the peace of pastures, and the beauty of the beasts! We wanted to cook and eat simple foods, and hear rain dinging off a tin roof, and flex our creative muscles and commune over sharing our intimate stories. We could save fucking-up the patriarchy and driving to our glorious freedom for another day.
We found everything we wanted at Mariposa Farm. We parked and unloaded our car, met the manager, and loaded all our supplies in a wagon to wheel with us on a twenty minute hike to the secluded cabin. We got there right at the golden hour and it was so wonderfully perfect.
Once we got to the cabin, we knew we were just settling in for the night and getting ready for the next day to come. We laid out all our supplies and arranged them in the Best Spots. We brought the fire to life in the wood stove and did our best to light the space, and sat down for a relaxing shared meal of olives and spreads and cheeses and wine.
Once our bellies were full, we stepped out to look at the stars in the partly-overcast night sky. There is a big clearning close to the cabin, and the treeline turned the edge of the sky into a big circle. Some stars shone through the shedding branches and others danced above them, beyond, the clouds hid them from us. We heard an owl and saw a shooting star.
Once we realized the camera wasn’t capturing the beautiful scene set before us, we started playing around with exposure times and movement and turning our bodies to smoke.
The next morning was quiet. Terri resurrected the fire while I woke, and she went back to sleep as I made coffee. I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the sound of geese, hunters’ rifles, and leaves falling into their already-landed companions. I brought out some blankets, and my notebook, and my carving tools, then made myself a little cocoon in the hand-crafted Adirondack chair. I wrote and wrote until my fingers were too cold and my heart was too exhausted to carry on. Carving would have to wait until later. These are the things that set my soul at ease. These are the things that move me forward in growth.
Before our trek out to the cabin, we had planned all our meals and divided up responsibilities for the supplies. When we were unpacking the night before, I learned that instead of packing the hollondaise sauce mix as I had intended, I packed a packet of cumin. Even with all the meticulous planning, things don’t always go as expected. This is such a minor gaffe though, the breakfast was still quite good.
Our kitchen set-up was simple. A coleman stove, a pot, a pan, a kettle, and dishes for two. They provided non-potable water and we brought some drinking water, and lots of wine.
We finished our breakfast, washed up and got dressed. Our host had stopped by earlier to drop off a few things and told us that he was working on fixing up and older cabin just down the way and invited us to check it out. He told us it was a bit hidden, and it really was. The track seemed to lead to nowhere and we had to search a bit to find the cabin hidden below a little incline.
It was a bit smaller than the cabin we were in, but it was easy for me to imagine just how comfortable it would be to stay there. There is something so beautiful about a hand-built shelter that contains just what one needs; heat, water, a bed, a view. Below the cabin was the tree line where the woods became a big open space. I was worried about crossing that threshold, as we had been hearing the sounds of hunting all day and I am a dear but I don’t want to be confused for a deer. Terri was the braver one this time. She had the wonderful idea of collecting various items to make a bouquet representing our walking adventure. I examined the marks left by other creatures and collected fallen birch bark.
We then decided to go back up the hill and explore some of the groomed paths we saw. They are all named, so it was easy to feel safe in knowing we would not get lost. Left on Suzanne, stop to snuggle some moss and have a leaf-fight, continue along, right on Philippa then back to our cabin to drop off the treasures we collected along the way.
The clouds were darkening, yet we decided to go back down to the farm and spend some time with the animals before settling back in to our cabin. Just as we made it to the pavilion, it began to drizzle. Around the side was a pond where we noticed a swan. As we approached, it let us know we were in its territory by puffing up its wings and thrusting its chest toward us. As we walked about, the rain started to fall harder and I took cover beneath some trees and we met a cow that thought it was a cat. She kept rubbing up against us and trying to snuggle. I was into it but also worried about the power in the beast. Just a little gentle rub easily pushed me back a step. When the other cow joined us, Terri got in there and some romantic magic happened.
When we got back, we were both a little damp. It was still lightly raining but I was feeling so inspired to paint the scene from our perch. I bundled up in my cozies and hid from the rain as best I could while I started sketching in watercolour pencils. It didn’t take long for the wind to change and blow too much water on my page for me to continue. I came in to find that Terri had just finished preparing lunch.
She set out our bouquet on the table and we sat to eat and talk. It was at this time that I felt a real loosening in my chest. We travel well together. There is the perfect balance of interaction and quiet, of action and repose, of sharing our vulnerabilities and just being a couple of silly-headed ding-dongs.
Darkness began to fall and I set out all the carving tools. I showed Terri some basic things. There was blood, and we cracked open the first aid kit. Terri pulled up a stool and warmed her feet by the fire while I continued to carve by candle light. I don’t rush. I’ve been working on the same little piece of wood for months. I care more about the meditative process of shaping the wood into my vision than I do for getting it done quickly.
Did I mention we brought wine? Oh yes we did and on this night we made sure we wouldn’t need to carry any of it back with us. We roasted marshmallows in the wood stove. We painted in the dark, which is less dangerous than carving in the dark but just as difficult. We talked about the ways we like to be creative, our strengths and weaknesses, our processes and our goals. When we found our commonalities and complimentary skills, we became quite excited and developed some shared goals. This breathes life into my soul! Shared projects are great for me because it necessitates complicity and trust and mutual motivation. This is what I seek to have with the people who are close to me.
As darkness brought us into sleep, rain was making music on the tin roof. I felt so cozy and insulated in this hide-out.
The next morning, we knew our time was up. As we ate our last shared meal, we coordinated tasks and planned our exit from this dream. Terri had a heavy heart already, while I was feeling excitement over how full my heart became over these days and about the process of bringing all that I had gained from this experience into my day-to-day life. I also felt pressured and motivated to finish my painting before leaving! I went outside and worked on finishing it up. I was very happy with the results.
During our time in the cabin, I looked at wine stains, and a forgotten chain necklace and thought about how each person who had stayed there had left some kind of mark, even if I was not aware of it. I thought about what we might leave there, wax drippings from our candles, a box of matches, a roll of purple duct tape we brought along in case our water jug continued to leak. A place like this evolves and grows because of the people who breathe life into it. I hope that we made it just a tiny bit better for the next one(s) there.
Just before leaving, we went in to check out the restaurant and the farm store. We weren’t able to stay for lunch this time (but are planning to go back for it soon) but the way they displayed their menu had us salivating. I also picked up a variety of fowl to enjoy in the near future and have greatly enjoyed what I’ve eaten so far.
This experience will be tough to beat. The whole place is charming, and cozy. The people we encountered were nothing short of wonderful. We created magical moments for ourselves and filled our hearts with the warmth of a thousand wood-stove fires.
*the vast majority of these photos are by Terri Figueiredo
On this day:
Last night I was thinking about how I used to make 10 layer lasagna from scratch. And Bread. And granola bars. And crackers and basically everything I ate and fed my family for 3 meals a day – pretty much every day.
I was thinking about how there are certain meals I miss eating and jeez-oh-why was I no longer making them? BECAUSE THEY TAKE ALL DAMN DAY. Which was fine when I was living a life in the middle of nowhere, with nothing nearby to do, and with a partner who was not interested in doing anything to help me pursue any of my interests or maintain relationships with friends and family (other than THEIR friends and family). In that particular case, it was very easy for me to do domestic labour all the time. It was the only thing that wasn’t met with any resistance.
But now there are about 1000 other things that take up my time and energize my soul and when I balance any of those things against staying in all day to make home made ravioli with a variety of fillings, well, the time-intensive home cooking very rarely wins out.
So then I was thinking about how I can integrate my desire for yummy long-prep foods with the fact that I have a fucking enriching life and there are some good gems in there.
1-Get the whole household on-board with sharing the labour (this is mostly in full-effect at the dear old Foxhole)
2-Make it a social event! Last winter, I hosted a Pot-Pie making party and it was a big success and everyone got to go home with some great home-made food after having shared in the work to make it and having had a nice meal together. I will need to do this again!
3-figure out how to cut corners. This can mean making bigger batches of time-intensive things and freezing some of it. Our freezer is pretty small and pretty full though. I need to give this item more thought.
Anyways, fuck the patriarchy and fuck domestic labour as a tool of oppression.
On this day:
in 2013 – I guerilla-planted some tomatoes. It was really fun and I actually want to do more to get edible plants just growing all over my neighbourhood
in 2012 – Turns out, I was pregnant after all. I had an abortion and I probably blogged about that in detail shortly after.
in 2008 – honestly, Guitar Hero makes me want to vomit. I have such a negative association with it, it’s UNREAL
in 2007 – sexism in sports SO SURPRISING
in 2006 – a recipe!!!
Terri wanted to do a solo camping expedition, but that is scary as fuck. We went together, took a hike in a big local park, and found a spot where we were comfortable. Not a sanctioned campsite.
We set up the tent and the tarp and the clothesline and the food station. We found a little valley on a small island with few entry points, where the park officials wouldn’t be able to see us by boat or from any paths. We scouted the area and kept track of the people and their distance from us.
We had sharp sticks and jagged rocks.
We swam and relaxed and made sure that anyone who came across our tent didn’t think it belonged to us. We did rather they believed men were camping there.
We cooked salmon and ate salad and ate the bread that Omar forgot in my car and every bite was nourishing our bodies and our souls in a way that gets lost in the comfort of a home kitchen.
We pulled our food up into the air to deter bears and raccoon as the sun started it’s decent in the sky. We alternated between two spots on the island, to get the best views of the sun setting. We ran through the woods with glee, Smashing Rocks in-hand, bounding over rocks and roots and landing in the soft bed of pine needles. We collected rocks and dry sticks to fuel our need for s’mores in the darkness.
As we sat on the flat-rocks, watching the golden band of sunshine set the trees on fire,the fish jumped out of the water and twirled in the air before landing on their flanks. A beaver made it’s round of the inlet. A family of geese ate the aquatic plants and some crested ducks found a place to settle for the night. A bird started to yell at us from the other side of the water. But it wasn’t just a bird. It was also a person. We imagined what this bird-person must look like and started to call back to it in our best approximation if it’s language. It became excited and if we didn’t answer back it seemed to come to a frenzy. We laughed and laughed.
As darkness fell, we built a small fire. We intermittently heard the sounds of motors and pretended to be brave. Later, realizing the sounds were of planes in the distance, we admitted that neither of us was really brave at all. That’s when Tomas arrived.
Tomas was wandering below our suspended food bags. Terri flashed a headlamp in their direction. Tomas was adorable and curious, but wild and unpredictable. Tomas is a creature of the night, and surely wondered who we were and why we were in their space. Terri wanted to let Tomas investigate us, but I was worried about some possible backlash. Terri urged Tomas away as I tended to our little flames, but Tomas was not deterred and snuck up behind me, masked face and pointed nose peeking our from behind a nearby tree. I wanted us to keep to our personal bubbles. I’m sure Tomas stayed nearby, but was out of sight for the remainder of our stay.
We roasted our marshmallows and got into sticky messes and talked about crushes and loves and bodies and traumas. We spoke our truths.
The fire went out and we got into the tent. We immediately heard Tomas investigating the spaces we had recently occupied. In the morning, we saw that Tomas was interested in our insect repellent.
Terri made french toast and I made coffee. We shared our meal with a red mouse named Simone. We surveyed the land on which we were temporarily residing and started again to keep track of other humans in our vicinity. We packed up our gear and relaxed on the flat rocks again, greeting the goose family and a Great Heron and the leaping fish. We left that island with no trace of us other than a few ashes from long-fallen branches.
I live in a community that has lots of yard-gardens. Unfortunately, my rental doesn’t have a space for me to dig a garden. It does have a space that seems absolutely perfect for container gardening though. It’s a “u” shape between the houses and it’s just covered with rocks. I suspect it’s where the moisture gets into the basement.
I’m dreaming of filling that space up with containers. It faces South and is walled on the 3 other sides. I think having planters there will help soak up lots of the rain and reduce moisture seepage into the basement.
I also suspect that squirrels and hares will be an issue I’ll need to contend with. I don’t have much experience with that one.
I’ll plan on my usual of tomatoes and cucumbers and a few other things. I hope to make connections with other home-gardeners in the area so we can share our harvests.
Do you garden? What do you like to grow? Do you like to share, or hoard it all to yourself?
I really like the idea of subverting the food industry and growing as much of my own food as possible. But I also feel like this doesn’t really hurt Big Food and really only affects small-scale producers I’d otherwise be buying from. Does anyone have more detailed thoughts on this?
On this day: