We Survived 2020!

See description below for information on photo collage.

We survived 2020 Photo Collage (from left to right).

  • We bought a house: photo shows a white house with black shutters and a green tree in front.
  • This photo shows the two of us hiking Black Mountain on a sunny fall day.
  • This is one of our favorites of Loche (our dog, a basset-black lab mix), passing out under a tree for an afternoon nap after a morning of activity.
  • Our house needs a lot of fixing, in this photo we dawn respirators before sanding fresh joint compound.
  • The final photo, this photo shows the two of us in a car, hair blowing with the windows down. Smiling as we drive to look at a potential house.

Trying New Things: Foraging

Fiddleheads

I’m in the woods hiking a lot, and when I’m not in the woods I’m looking forward to the next time that I am. In my mind, and encouraged by my partner, I’m some kind of wood elf. Light on my feet and looking for adventure, cheerfully gathering fiddle-heads in the spring. Naturally, when a local permaculture farm decided to offer a class on foraging, I dawned my mask and eagerly stood in the parking lot waiting for the class to start.

Let me pause for a second and mention my expectations for the course. In my mind, my friend and I would be doing a lot of walking and chit-chatting as we walked from plant to plant. In my mind we would probably learn about 5 plants in the three hour class and I would be able to take my new skills with my hiking. I was wrong, but that’s ok!

Pineapple Weed

For starters, there was not a lot of walking around because there were so many edible plants all around us. We started in the parking lot with Pineappleweed. While you could make the argument that those little flowers looks like the bottom of a pineapple, they’re actually named after the fruit because of the aroma released when you pinch them and the taste that you get when you use them to make tea. This one seems easy enough, just a matter of paying attention to the parking lots (or gravely places) that I’m in.

Not even two steps brought us to our next delicious find: the shagbark hickory nut. This one I have to remember because I think it could be fun to use in homemade basil.

Groundnut

Without even moving we discussed black walnuts and the three steps took us to groundnuts. Groundnuts grow along riverbeds, which means I’ll be keeping an eye out for them the next time I take Loche for a walk. You have to wait until the weather starts turning, the dig them up to access their roots. From there, you’ll notice what look like little tiny potatoes and you can cook them just like potatoes!

Mind you, all of these plants were in the first 10 minutes of a three hour class. We learned about marshmallow flower (they used to use their roots to make marshmallows!), sweet goldenrod (smells like licorice), Autumn Olive (they’re invasive, but I think the fruit tastes really good. Is it bad that I want a bush of my own in my back yard?), Elderberries, June-berries, crab-apples, rose hip, wild strawberries, dame’s rocket, day lillys, hazelnut, milkweed, wild asparagus and a many others that I could recognize and point them out but can’t remember their names. One of them even has blue seeds! This class was PACKED with information, which was both awesome and crazy.

So what did I take away from this class? Foraging is a hobby in itself and you don’t really casually do it. It seems to be an event that takes place purposefully rather than one that is done as you’re walking through the woods (but I did try to keep an eye out during my next hike). It was a lot of fun and probably something I’m going to enjoy reading about.

on Rediscovering Letter Sending

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We proudly hike remote trails, and love the fact that we can finally drive to them with the windows down

I’m very lucky, I live surrounded by mountains, lakes and rivers. On top of this, most of the activities that I enjoy doing take place while enjoying those natural beauties. What I’m trying to say is, not only are my partner and I healthy, we’re still able to do the things we love within the restrictions from COVID-19.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that we miss doing. By a lot of things, I’m really only referring to the numerous thrift shops that I enjoy hunting through and the family that is now harder to see. It sucks that my sister is about to have a daughter and there are additional pressures that come with being a new parent. It also blows that I may not be able to meet her for a while. But again, we’re all healthy, so am I really in a position to complain?

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On the positive end of the spectrum, my friends and I have rediscovered sending messages to each other via “snail mail”. It’s been fun sitting down and writing out stationary that I’ve been hoarding since middle school. In her last letter, my friend asked me to knit her a teapot cozy. I used the pattern Cinnamon Brioche by Elizabeth Sullivan and some leftover Alegria, which 100% reminds me of Batwoman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of how it came out… but I’m more proud of the letter I’m sending with it.

Hello! It has come to my attention that you require my Tea Genie magic to keep your pot cozy. I promise, you ain’t never had a friend like me.

You don’t understand, by day, I walk the streets like the classy lady that I am. Shaking my red hair, rocking a black tank and winking at all the ladies. By night, I’m a tea vigilante. Swooping in to save heat and providing maximum relaxation. (Seriously though, flip me inside out to the colors you’re in the mood for. I don’t mind).

You should also know that I come with a special utility belt so that I can hug my pot better. Just slip the buttons through the loose edge and I’m not going anywhere (My other side will hold onto the spout. I’m a professional after all).

It’s been so long since I have sent something other than a thank you letter or holiday card through the mail (ok it’s only been five years). Don’t get me wrong, I’m the girl who sent her boyfriends handwritten letters when we were long distance, even when an email would have been faster. You can’t help but feel a little more loved when a letter comes in for you, there are more steps in the way of sending them. What I’m trying to say is, I’m not sure why I fell out of practice, but I’m going to make an effort to send at least a post card when this is all over. After all, I can’t be the only one who’s tired of getting only bills in the mail.

…and forward on 2020

Though my original intentions were to write a single blog post that included my reflections from 2019 and my hopes for 2020, but as I wrapped up last week’s post on looking back, I realized that I had reflected on so much and hadn’t fully formed what I hope this year will bring. How did I want to set goals for 2020? What kinds of goals did I want to set for 2020? I needed time to sleep on it, and now here we are.

In 2020 I will:

  • Laugh more and worry less, especially when it comes to things outside of my control.
  • Do at least one thing I’ve never done before every month. Whether it’s baking something I’ve never tried before or a technique I haven’t tried, I want to spend 2020 continuing to learn what I like and don’t like, but also what I can do if I set my mind to it.
  • Read 100 books! Ok maybe not 100, but I do want to spend more time reading and what better way to do that then setting a lofty goal. I wonder if I should consider a page goal as well, just like I set up a yardage goal with knitting.
  • Speaking of knitting, I’m not sure what my goal should be this year other than continuing to use up the stash I have. I’ve toyed with dishcloth and sock goals, but I feel like I spent 2019 allowing my creative juices take me where they take me. So if I spend more time sewing this year than knitting, I think that would be ok (though admittedly far fetched). I think the better
  • Travel, even if it’s not to a new country and is only a few hours down the road.
  • Peel the wallpaper in my kitchen, some goals have to be low hanging fruit right?
  • Run, hike, swim, read on my deck after work — whatever it takes to be outside and enjoying where I live. It’d be nice to do some camping this year as well…

I’m sure these will continue to evolve as the year progresses, but I also see setting goals as a work in progress. Some will be a challenge and some will be things that I work on to develop better habits. As long as I’m learning and laughing, I’m ready to take on new challenges that 2020 has in store for me.