This is the story of our adventures -- every day and extraordinary; our dreams -- tiny and grand; our gardens -- ornamental and sustaining; this is the story of our journey.  We are a family of four living a mindful, simple life here in Los Angeles County.  We are green, conscious, and forward thinking.  We keep an eye on the past because some of the best things have already been done and bear repeating.  Walk and talk with us, have a glass of wine, taste a peach or a tomato, blow some bubbles and watch them drift up over the canyon ridge.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My garden is "for the birds"

As I was typing the title, which seemed somewhat an obvious name, I had the question of "what does that phrase TRULY mean"?  I looked into it.  The first thing I found disappointed.

Trivial; worthless; only of interest to gullible people.
This phrase is of American origin and, while still in use there, has never been commonly used elsewhere. It is US Army slang and originated towards the end of WWII. An early example of its use is this piece from The Lowell Sun, October 1944, in an interview with a Sergt. Buck Erickson, of Camp Ellis, Illinois:
"Don't take too seriously this belief that we have football at Camp Ellis solely for the entertainment of the personnel - that's strictly for the birds. The army is a winner... the army likes to win - that's the most fortunate thing in the world for America."
'Strictly' is frequently used as an intensifier, as in the example above.
'That's for the birds' is a shortened form of the vulgar version 'that's shit for the birds'. That suggests the derivation of the phrase which is the habit of some birds of pecking at horse droppings (a.k.a. road apples) in order to find seeds. Both versions were defined in an edition ofAmerican Speech from 1944:
That's for the birds. It's meaningless
Shit for the birds. Nonsense, drivel, irrelevant matter.
This held no appeal to the poet in me.  So I searched some more.  And came across this site which offered up this quote from the Bible (now you all know I am not a religious sort, but dang, this is some fine poetry!):

Isaiah 18:4 For this is what the Lord has told me: “I will wait and watch from my place, like scorching heat produced by the sunlight, like a cloud of mist in the heat of harvest.” 18:5 For before the harvest, when the bud has sprouted, and the ripening fruit appears, he will cut off the unproductive shoots with pruning knives; he will prune the tendrils. 18:6 They will all be left for the birds of the hills and the wild animals; the birds will eat them during the summer, and all the wild animals will eat them during the winter.  

This makes sense to me, makes sense in my garden.  Here are my birds (and my bees and my apples....)

This is only about half the pictures I had to share -- for some reason blogger thinks I don't have a license to load my own photos...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The refrigerator

Yesterday on Facebook, Nourished Kitchen asked her readers to flash a picture of their refrigerators full of nourishing foods.
So I obliged!

I posted links to these old posts:
I also linked to this post, with a picture of my refrigerator today.

And I added a picture of the pantry, because I am proud of how full it's getting!  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Life through their eyes

The last couple days I have been busy in the kitchen -- canning and baking and generally just cookin'!  I have really been enjoying it and will share some pictures of my projects in another post.  I have also been enjoying my girls entertaining themselves and freeing my hands for the food (well, Alex is now away more than half the day and during those hours Gregorie tags along but is generally helpful instead of handful).  Each of them has taken a turn with the camera.  Monday evening it was Alex who got ahold of it -- unfortunately (or fortunately perhaps) she turned the dial to a slow shutter setting.
Here she captures her sister mid-jump and her daddy grilling salmon.

This picture of the sunflowers creates a watercolor effect (at least on my computer - I think it gets lost on blogger).
And here she photographs something she sees me photograph all the time -- the famous tomato bed!

I hope the fuzzy pictures haven't given you all a headache.

Gregorie took her turn yesterday while I was making zucchini muffins and canning chow chow relish.
This is the kitchen skylight reflected in the granite countertop.  I love that you can see our oak trees.
The jars of relish filled and awaiting their lids.
The relish, up close and personal!
Water bath is coming to a boil and I'm preparing to grate zucchini.
Gregorie was thrilled with this shot - she loved how it came out red (and I have no idea how it did)!
She took about 100 pictures of the muffin pans -- this one also came out red!
Nice view out the back window here.
A rare shot of ME!
And my hands!
These are some other photos taken by Alex in the last couple weeks.   
My friend Holly keeps me company as I can tomatoes.  Gregorie wears her princess wig.
The tomatoes boil.
Flowers at the U-pick farm .

I love the world they see - it is full of color and action and happiness.  They find it exciting and interesting and brilliant.  I like to take time to reflect on their perspective -- both so I can know them better and so that I can experience more of this beautiful life.

Through a child's eyes...

Monday, September 20, 2010

My own garden of Eden

Today I posted to Facebook the following:

[Mrs. Bubble] has the yogurt culturing in the sun, the milk for the ricotta heating on the stove, the jars for canning sterilizing in the dishwasher, the veggies for pickled peppers and chow chow relish icing in the sink... Think I'll head out to the garden and do some Fall planting while I wait for the jars (oh, better get the milk off the stove first!).

 A friend of mine from high school (shhhh, it's been more than 25 years...) commented and asked me this:

[Mrs. Bubble], do you have a full time paying job outside of your home??? How do you do all this cooking, planting, baking, canning????

I love the question.  And I love the answer. NOOOOOO Blissfully, happily, fortunately, wonderfully, thankfully, OMG, NO!  I have not worked outside the home(stead-to-be) for two full years now.  Mr. Bubble has not for almost six years.  There was "that time" when I worked in corporate chaos and Mr. Bubble stayed home with the girls.  I am ever grateful that we were able to have a full-time parent at home and pay our mortgage (here in LA County) and I try to console myself that my stint doing something-I-so-don't-believe-in doesn't mean I'm morally bankrupt.  I did something I was, right or wrong, good at. And there were fruits.

But now, we, or I, have taken a GOOD LONG DEEP BREATH.  And I have dedicated myself and my family to finding a sustainable, sustaining path.  We are working on becoming self-sufficient. We will probably never quite get there.  But we choose as our model the family life that prevailed before WWII.  The war era marks the time when men (and lots of women) first left the homestead to find work in factories and offices to buy food they didn't grow, to pay for houses they rarely spent time in, to provide for children that others took care of.  I am not being judgmental -- I understand the economics of modern living.  And I also understand the insufficiency, the under-appreciated-ness, the Stepford-ness, the what-some-would-call drudgery that can characterize being a stay at home mom.  I have been a career woman.  A career mom.  I get it. But I'm over it.  And I march proudly back into the garden.  With my naked, un-preschooled "preschooler" in tow!

What we are planting for Fall.

Daddy's strawberry arbutus looks great!
Down in the Bed of Chaos, pumpkins are ripening...

Eggplant are growing

This pumpkin first appeared on the scene last week -- look how fast it has grown!
The tomatillos are producing like mad (can they talk to the tomatoes?????)

My blackberries are few, but LARGE!
Some dang animal got this - the first really big ripe tomato for a while!
Tomatoes are ripening again!!!!

As I walk through the beds, I put little treasures in my pocket!

Oh, this is my NEWEST pumpkin!  We'll check on it in a week!
So do you ever, in your garden, just look up and say, "I have never looked at this angle before!  Wow!  That is good!"?  Yeah, this was me today!
Another "ahah" moment today!  My onion seeds have sprouted!

My rainbow chard always makes me happy!

And this little yellow zinnia is so cute.

But mostly, these days, with Alex in school, I have "Eve" and her (my) garden!

Mr. Bubble comes home.
The figs grow.