Monday, July 20, 2009

Where This All Began

I woke up early this morning! I went to bed at about 1:30 am and then this morning at about 5:15 am I woke up. I considered going back to sleep but decided I wanted to stay awake. And now here I am an hour later, blogging.

When I was little, we lived on a ranch in Southeastern Arizona. Originally we lived in the antique-pioneer house. It was adobe and the ceiling in the living room was gone. My dad has always been a pack rat so one of my earlier memories are of a little trail through the living room to the woodstove in the back corner. My mother tried many times while they were still married to de-junk it and make more space for living. She also tried to make it more livable and prettier since it is, and always has, been falling apart.

My dad still dreams of buying the ranch (he owns a small share of it) and renovating what we now call "the old house," but he has never really done anything and probably never will.

When I was a few months shy of my second birthday, we moved to Salt Lake City for awhile where my sister was born (exactly one week after my birthday, ironically). Then we went and lived with my grandma for awhile. My mother refused to move back unless my dad got something better to live in. He found a trailer. The house was bigger (but not really living standard without some work and money that we didn't have), but the trailer was better.

I liked living on that ranch. We had a garden, dogs, goats, and horses. The neighbors (the only other inhabitants of the ranch) had the same as well as cattle and chickens. My best friend (she was born a few weeks before I was and was the daughter/granddaughter of said neighbors) roamed everywhere. We played in the creek when it ran in early spring (from off of Graham Mountain) and in the hot summer we would run barefoot from shade spot to shade spot (since we went barefoot almost year round due to the short, mild winters).

There was an outhouse off to the side and back of the yard which we never used because for some reason bees lived there (no idea why...). My dad's kids from his second marriage would come to visit and of course my best friend and I would follow my older sister and her friend (my friend's aunt) everywhere which of course annoyed them no end.

I loved it when we got to bring the baby goats in the house (for whatever reason) and feed them milk from calf bottles and following my dad around as he did the "chores." (Feeding the animals, watering the garden, milking, straining the milk, etc.) When there was a day when we butchered, I would go inside and sit under the cooler where I couldn't hear anything. Then when it was over, I would come out and watch my dad chop up the goat (hung from an obliging mesquite tree) into tasty bits of chevron.

I remember one night when I was three or four, my dad was going to go out to the outhouse to get honey from the bees and I wanted to come with. He didn't want to take me, so he told me that the bogeyman would get me. I knew he was teasing, but even if I hadn't I wouldn't have been afraid (my idea of the bogeyman: man in all black wearing a ladybug suit). I insisted so he took me with him (the bees were all asleep, I think), so he finally gave in and we came back with lots of tasty honey.

When I was almost seven, my mom decided she was fed up with my dad and moved out. We moved to a less secluded (the ranch was miles from any kind of neighbor and I loved it) place with two acres and a trailer. From then on out, all the places we've lived, we've never had much more than a garden, a few cats and the occasional dog. So I would pretend. When I was younger I would go out to bring home the (imaginary) cows with my imaginary older siblings (I'm the oldest of my mom's kids) and ride my bike pretending it was a horse. My sister wanted to play Barbies. I wanted to play Farm.

When I got older, we moved to Northern Arizona and when it snowed, I'd go and check on my pretend farm animals to make sure they were safe from the snow. I wanted to plant a garden but I never could remember to water anything I planted and when I wanted to do more than plant a seed and water it once or twice, I had no idea where to start anyways. I devoured the Mother's Children section of the Mother Earth News (we have years of back issues).

After I got to be 12 or 13, I kind of forgot about it all until just before my sixteenth birthday when I started looking at our old Mother Earth News issues. That's when I decided "that's what I want to do." And when I ran out of issues, I decided I wanted to see if there was anything on the internet. I googled all sorts of phrases containing the words "country," "farm" and "rural," but I never found anything until I googled "homesteading." That's when I found and A Homesteading Neophyte. I was so excited when I discovered people still do this and that, even better, they blog about it.

And after reading through two or three blogs, I discoverd that no one ever really started blogging until after they'd been doing what they were doing for awhile or they bought property. I wanted to know about it from before all that. So I decided to write my own blog. And here it is. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How to Make Pasta/Pizza Sauce

I frequently make pasta and pizza. It's very good although no one else in my family has quite the same taste for it as I. They'll eat the spaghetti and they're fans of homemade pizza, but the only thing Italian-food-wise that they like as much as I do is Lasagna (due to the rarity because of how much more work it is) and macaroni or penne or rotini and cheese melted in and then topped with the sauce I make (rather than pasta and sauce topped with cheese like most people do).

I have tried many different recipes in my search for so-called perfection (I'm a great deal pickier about my cooking than anyone else). Finally, after plenty of experience, I invented my own recipe. It's dreadfully simple, once I ironed out the "wrinkles."

  • 40 fluid ounces of tomato sauce
  • 29.5 fluid ounces tomatos in puree
  • 3 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • salt to taste (1/8- 1/4 teaspoon)
  • onion to taste (one medium onion or 1/8-1/4 cup dried)
  • and garlic to taste (as few as 3-5 cloves, as many as an entire head, or 1/8 cup dried)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the flavors "blend" together.
  3. I usually just turn the burner on high and figure it's done when it boils. If I need it to stay warm longer, I'll just turn the heat all the way down and leave it until I need it. As a general rule, you can simmer it from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Be careful; you can cook it so long the flavor disappears.
Makes enough for one pound of pasta and up to two pizzas.

High Mountain Musing

Generally when I go looking for a new blog to read, I either use a previously bookmarked blog or else start at one person's blog and then go through their blogrolls until something catches my eye. I found this one the first time in that way, but then there was this thing where the computer got turned off before I could get a chance to read it or bookmark it or anything. But I didn't care much since it was one of many blogs I had been looking through and although I planned to find it again someday (because of how she lives in Colorado--where I want to live), I was just whatever about it.

Then I was reading some articles on and came across this article and this one, both written by the same author. I thought "maybe she has more writing somewhere else on the internet." So naturally I googled her name to see. And that's when I found her blog for the second time. When I saw the faintly familiar page loading in my browser, I was sooo surprised. I figured this meant I had to read it this time. No excuses.

So I did.

Even though I'd sworn off reading Wordpress blogs because their archives seemed senseless to me.

Somehow I managed to figure out how to navigate her archives and I was very happy with what I found. Gin Getz's blog is amazing. She and her husband and son live high in the Rockies of Southwestern Colorado at an altitude of over 10,000 feet (that's about two miles above sea level; imagine standing there and looking down two miles to the sea!) where people normally only visit in the summer because of the heavy snows. Their mild summer lasts only a few weeks in the middle of the year. They run a guest ranch among other things. They have lots of horses, some Highland Cattle, chickens, a few cats, a dog and I'm not sure what all else.

They have solar power, gas power and a wood cookstove because they're too far away for normal electricity. Their water is gravity-fed.

She's a poet in several ways: Her blog posts are interspersed with freestyle poems she and her son write. She always includes plenty of pictures so we, too, can share the beauty of her mountain home. And I love her writing style. Even when she's not posting poetry, her blog entries are written in poetic form, celebrating the beauty she lives in the middle of.

I think that if John Denver's song (which my blog is named after) "Rocky Mountain High" had a blog that defined what he was trying to say, "High Mountain Musing" would be it.

If you don't already read it, go and read it now. It's great!

P.S. She also writes another blog that is strictly horse stories that I haven't yet read through yet. But feel free to beat me to it and read "High Mountain Horse Blog."

My Garden is Coming Along Nicely

So my mothers camera (aka high megapixel camera) is still "missing." BUT my sister's red one was available. So I took some pictures of the plants in my garden.

This is my melon. I forget what kind of melon it is. I had three or four kinds, planted two, and one survived. But which of the four did I plant and which of the two survived?
These are my onions. Some were red onions and some were walking onions. I just can't tell which are which is all. But hey tasty onions are tasty onions, no?
This is my parsley plant. The picture is blurry because the wind was blowing when I took it and the camera is not good at taking non-blurry pics unless the subject and the camera are held very still before, during, and for a few seconds after you press the button to take the picture. So I took two pictures. Neither is particularly clear, but hey, I tried.
This is the larger of my two Calendulas. I have decided that Calendulas are one of my favorites to grow because they grow fast. When I started the various plants inside, they were the biggest of the baby plants. Of course now the beans are bigger....
These are some of my bush beans. I have a huge amount. I didn't expect them to grow when I threw a bunch of beans out into my garden, but they grew anyways. Only problem? My mother (who gave me the beans to plant) has no idea what kind she gave me. Thus, more mystery plants. :)
There aren't any pictures of the mint because mint like cool and wet and the temporary drought (due to my whole forgetting-to-water-thing) didn't do them any favors. So one of the nine or seven or however many I planted is still alive, but very yellow-and-crinkly-like-to-die

I didn't get any pictures of the cake, either (due to the MIA cameras), so we just ate it. It isn't hard to picture it. A 13x9 inch Devil's Food Cake with thick chocolate frosting all over it and then in green gel frosting, it said "Happy 17th Birthday, Froggy!" He was very pleased we remembered his birthday.

It's really stormy out now (my preferred gardening weather), so I'm thinking I'll go out to weed. I usually only pull up the prickly/thorny weeds (tumbleweed and such) and then any of the others I leave there, so long as they're not crowding out anything I planted.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Uh Oh, I'm Waxing Philosophical! Jon always said I was a sage with mad chicken-cooking skills...

My sister lost the camera. No pictures of my lovely garden (that I have now nearly killed twice due to neglecting to water, but that's a tale for another day). :*(

I've been feeling very philosophical today. You see, way back when I was a freshman (did I ever bother to mention that I graduated in May?), I had a wonderful science teacher. That year we did Physical Science, and during one of the lectures, he talked about time, what it was, if it was, how it related to science, etc. As I did every other afternoon, I thought about that day's science class. And that was when I decided I didn't believe in time as anything more than an idea that helps us to make sense of our world.

Today, I have returned to those thoughts. Occasionally, I will stop being in my head and come out and be. I just sit or stand or whatever and I clear my head of all my thoughts and just think about the moment. There's a poem I remember:
I have only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it,
Forced upon me, can't refuse it,
Didn't seek it, didn't choose it,
But it's up to me to use it;
I must suffer if I lose it,
Give account if I abuse it;
Just a tiny little minute
But eternity is in it.
--Author Unknown
Nothing sums up a moment of just sitting a being who or what you are better than that. Because for real, all we have is ourselves, our choices, and now. There isn't really a past or a future, or at least not one we can actually get to from here. We must learn from the past and prepare for the future, but we can only live well if we live now.

It's kind of hard for me to wrap my mind around what I'm trying to say because when you're here and now and not thinking of anything else, it's hard to be there. We keep trying to jump into what we should be doing and what we shouldn't have done that now is the furthest thing from our minds.

But now is all we have to work with.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Oh, and One More Thing...

So my mom came back from town with my tickets. One of my guy friends and I are going to a Lady Antebellum concert on the 22nd, and I'm excited. I'm not sure who else is coming with us. I think one other friend for sure, but that's all I know of.

When I water the garden I half expect the ground to start sizzling like a frying pan does when you flick water on it. It wasn't hot at all until mid-July (about a week ago). We just used the cooler for the first time three or four days ago.

Can I just say that having 75F weather here is incredibly strange? So now that it's getting into the 100F's it's much more normal if incredibly HOT.

I finished the cake. I'll post pictures later when I get some. It's beautiful ha ha. I wanted to draw a frog, but I didn't have enough of the green gel frosting stuff. Not that there was much room for it, but still...

I'll also post pictures of some of what is growing in my little garden later.

This Time I Really Did Want to Blog

I was on my normal don't-feel-like-blogging but then the keyboard just stopped working. Again. So there was a week or so when I wanted to blog but couldn't because of the whole thing where keys "U," "Y," "M," "W," "C," "J," and a few mutinous others were refusing to do their job. That is, put a letter down when they were pressed. I still managed to chat with friends on Facebook between our two broken keyboards and the on-screen keyboard. But it was slow going and now that we have a new keyboard, I'm reminded that now I can write my thoughts almost as fast as they come.

On of my friends is turning seventeen on Sunday, so I'm baking a tasty chocolate cake for him that I'll bring to tonight's movie night. It's all chocolate chocolate chocolate, luckily when I asked him if he liked chocolate cake (AFTER buying the ingredients, mind you) he said "duh," so I was relieved. He doesn't like green, but the letters are still going to be green because green is like frogs (and also looks good with brown), and his nickname is "Froggy."

Hopefully this cake will survive to be eaten. In January my group of friends threw me (and another guy whose birthday is three days before mine) a birthday party. One of the cakes never got to be eaten. Instead, Frank started a cake fight and then we ended up sticking candles into a stick of butter and decorating the butter with sprinkles and then having him blow those candles out (along with mine since I kind of disappeared when they decided to sing happy birthday).

But Frank isn't coming so she won't have the opportunity to throw cake and I don't think it will occur to anyone else. :P

Next, I'm going out to the garden to water, weed, and take pictures (okay so it's 100F in the shade and 85F indoors...still...) :P