LivingSmall

Thoughts on Literature, Food, Faith and the Subversive Power of Living Small





Click here for information about Charlotte's novel, Place Last Seen





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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel
In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
Fools Crow by James Welch
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt







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6/11/2003

 
A Plug for the Ruminator Review

The latest issue of the terrific Ruminator Review arrived the other day and I've been devouring it. This issue is devoted to "Cultivation: Rural Lives, Global Issues" and contains interviews with such thinkers on the subject as Gretel Ehrlich, Verlyn Klinkenboorg, Scott Russell Sanders and Maxine Kumin. (This issue also contains a small review of a childrens' book by yours truly.)

One of the unexpected pleasures for me of moving to this small town in Montana is how interested people are in food, in the origins of their food, and in eating close to the source of production. People eat a lot of meat here, but it's meat that is known, that is, it's not strange meat from the supermarket, meat that comes from who-knows-where. I was at a barbecue this weekend discussing how oddly comforting I find it to wander into Matt's Meats, our local butcher shop, and see a pig up on the back counter, Matt himself taking a look at it before cutting it up. It's the kind of sight that would have totally freaked out most of the people I work with in California, but I thought it was curious and interesting. The only startling thing about the dead pig was how raw his eye socket was, but of course, you don't want any hair on your meat, and eyelashes are hair. But there it was, a nice small-ish pig, and Matt was taking the time to examine the cavity, and about to start cutting it up, it wasn't being sped through some horror-show of a factory abbatoir being hacked at by frantic workers. This isn't the kind of discussion you can have a lot of places, but you can here, and you'll also get a lot of good info about buying a freezer, and about butchering and keeping wild game. Like I said, people eat a lot of meat here, but it's meat we know.

And then there are vegetables. It's early yet, but Deep Creek Gardens is harvesting, the Farmer's Market is starting up, and I'm learning to like Swiss Chard because it grows really well in my garden. I've discovered how nice young Swiss Chard is, picked straight out of the garden, sauteed with a little garlic.

Anyhow, if you're interested in these sort of issues that are central to the LivingSmall experiment, the Ruminator Review has some great essays, reviews of a lot of interesting books on the subject, a few of which I had to go order myself (as if I need an excuse to order more books).

posted by Charlotte at 6/11/2003 08:19:00 AM

6/10/2003

 
Breakfast of Champions

Not to sound like an Alice Waters clone, but my breakfast these past few days has been local farm eggs (1 yolk, 2 whites, extra yolk makes dog very happy -- it's good to share), scrambled with some arugula out of my garden and eaten over toast with a little goat cheese crumbled on top. It's so good that yesterday, when I was out of eggs, I found myself cranky that the local natural foods store (which always makes me grumpy because they seem way more concerned with supplements than with food -- eat real food people!) was still closed, as was Matt's Meats where they also carry local eggs. So I had to settle for diner breakfast at Martins, which was fine, it's always the same, which is what one wants from a diner. But this morning, there are eggs, there is arugula straight from the garden, there's a happy dog who liked his extra yolk, and glory be, there's even a nice steady rain falling on my garden.

Vacation in the backyard was a spectacular success. My yard is really coming together ... I mowed and weed-whacked the other day, and despite never having been a lawn person, I was quite pleased with how nice it looked. Although I'm sure lawn-purists would criticise the diversity of plant life that makes up said lawn -- no weed and feed for me. If it's green, and mostly grass, I'm happy. In fact, this fall I'm going to seed with Nichols Garden Nursery's Dryland Ecology Lawn Mix which contains a mix of grasses, clovers and some tiny wildflowers like chamomile. I like a mix in a lawn, and anything that will allow me to mow less often is a good thing.

Eventually I'd like to get rid of much of the lawn and replace it with perennial beds. Now that the fence is up, I have a long bed to work with, a bed that unfortunately, thanks to the happy workers' feet is sort of a tabula rasa, but six feet by thirty is a fun space to think about. I'm hoping the big scarlet poppies and the iris will recover, but if not, well, I'll just plant some other fun stuff. And for the back corner, where the sacred rhubarb grows, I'm thinking about raspberry canes, and asparagus -- things I've been wanting to grow but which I don't have room for in the regular garden.

But for now, it's back to the day job, back to trying to make progress on the new book, back to watching, miracle of miracles, things grow in my vegetable garden (gardening is good for those of us whose faith in things working out okay wavers ... you put in those seeds, nothing happens, nothing happens, and then there are sprouts, sprouts that grow into real things. Amazing.)

posted by Charlotte at 6/10/2003 07:54:00 AM

 

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