Reading: This past week I read a delightful book - Hit by a Farm by Catherine Friend. The subtitle cracks me up: "How I learned to stop worrying and love the barn". The author is a friend of my friend Mary who scrap books with the same group I do. Mary first told me about the book a couple of years ago on our way to a scrap booking retreat and I just now got around to reading it - boy, am I glad I did! It is the memoir of Catherine and her long-time partner Melissa as they start a sheep farm in southeastern Minnesota. Melissa's long-time dream is to become a farmer, so they buy a farm, get some sheep, chickens and a couple goats. Catherine tries hard to be supportive but she is a writer and is from the city. She likes to be clean and organized. Farms are not clean and often a bit chaotic. Together they learn about land and animal care, about how to manage their time and prioritize but also to expect the unexpected. They learn about shearing and breeding, about birth and death. They argue and struggle with their relationship, described by Catherine early in the book as a menage a trois between Melissa, Catherine and the farm. The story is funny and sad, devastatingly frustrating and beautifully inspirational. I can't wait to read her next book which came out earlier this year (right around the time of the scrap booking retreat). Mary has already told me that some of the stories in Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep and Enough Wool to Save the Planet involve her and she helped with this book. Those of you who live or work with young children may be familiar with some of Catherine's other titles: My Head is Full of Colors, The Sawfin Stickleback, The Perfect Nest, and Barn Boot Blues.
For Sunday night book club, we are reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, which I started this afternoon. It is hot here so I felt like laying on the couch in the air-conditioned living room and reading a book. Chapter one pulled me right in, so I am off to a good start on this one.
Friday night book club is reading Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz, a book I read a few years ago and remember liking but can't for the life of me remember what it is all about. I will let you know after I re-read it.
Eating: One night last week, we rewarded ourselves for getting our chores done by stopping by Nectar Wine Bar and Bistro for a drink at late night happy hour. (Really, though, do we need an excuse to go there?) We were commenting to Justin the bartender how we were sorry to have missed the lemon thyme chicken with peanut sauce appetizer, when he informed us that it was on the menu that night only as a little special! What luck! So we ordered some and savored every last bit of the peanut sauce (the chicken is also very tasty - I don't know how Chef Kevin cooks it but is super juicy and grilled to perfection on a skewer). When we complimented Chef on the food, he asked if we wanted a container of sauce to take home. Did we?! He brought us a full to-go box of it and advised that it will be good up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Like it will last 2 weeks! We knew any chicken we cooked wouldn't be as good as Chef's chicken, so we opted for some Thai peanut noodles instead, stirring the sauce in with some cooked pasta. Delish. Now I am trying to figure out how to create a pizza using some more of the sauce. Never fear - we will finish it off!
Weeding: Last weekend was spent mostly in the garden. The herbs are doing well in a pot on the front step. The veggies are all growing nicely - corn, carrots, potatoes, arugula and lettuce are all coming in, the tomato and pepper plants seem to be established. All is good in the edible department. The flowers from the swap 3weeks ago are nearly all planted and the ones that are not yet planted are still alive (good, good. Doing well, Hallie!). Things are blooming and growing everywhere! We pulled weeds, placed some edging, threw down some mulch, dead-headed, Preened (organic Preen, of course), and played in the dirt.
To quote Margaret Atwood, from Bluebeard's Egg: "But [...] the point of all this gardening is not vitaminization or self-sufficiency or the production of food, thought these count for something. Gardening is not a rational act. What matters is the immersion of the hands in the earth. [...] In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."
I like the smell of dirt.
Until we are dirty again,