Fly Like an Eagle

We’re off!

Matt is safely ensconced as housesitter (soon to be relieved by Paul and Amy Jo), Get Rich Slowly has four weeks’ worth of posts scheduled (just in case I don’t feel like writing upon return), and everything is packed.

Upon the advice of many, I’ve put almost everything into a single carry-on sized suitcase (which I do plan to check, actually). The stuff I want for the plane ride is in a backpack with an extra set of clothes.

I’m bringing a minimum of gadgetry. That is to say, I’m probably taking more gadgets than you would take, but less than my natural instincts dictate. I have a digital camera. I have an iPod. And I have the small Mac laptop, which I haven’t really used since last November. (That’s when I got my large MacBook Pro — that beast isn’t travel-worthy.)

If I ever travel regularly, which I hope to do some day, this will be Too Much Stuff. But it’s a start. It’s much less than I took to San Francisco last fall.

If all goes well — and my blog software doesn’t hang — I’ll be making posts from the road. Video posts even!

Take care, my friends. See you in three weeks…

Whose Line?

Here’s one last batch o’ fun before our vacation. I’ve spent far too much time over the past few weeks watching old Whose Line Is It Anyway? clips at YouTube. Here are some of my favorites.


Helping Hands


Songs About Marriage


Newscasters — Hillbilly Woman


Sound Effects: Tarzan and Jane


Songs of the Cowboy


Bartender


Butterstick

Tears. falling. from. eyes.

Pick Your Own: A Brief Guide to the Berry Patch

Picking berries is one of my favorite parts of summer. Kris and I grow much of our own fruit, and we’re snacking from June to September. Our garden includes strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, marionberries, boysenberries, lingonberries, elderberries, currants, apples, prunes, pears, and a whole slew of vegetables. It’s a summertime cornucopia!

Not everyone has the time, space, and energy to grow their own food. Even if you don’t have a garden, it’s easy and fun to pick fresh produce from local growers. It can save you money, too. PickYourOwn.org is a site devoted to helping people find U-pick fruit and vegetable farms. The site features:

Readers in the Portland area should check out the Tri-County Farm Fresh Produce Guide. Most major metropolitan areas probably offer a similar resource.

 

Kris and I have been picking fruit together for almost twenty years. In the summer of 1989, when we were first dating, we made a couple trips to pick strawberries and peaches. We still make trips to berry farms from time-to-time, but mostly we harvest the fruit we raise ourselves. Here are some berry-picking tips we’ve gleaned over the years.

    1. Decide when to pick. I like to pick in the morning when the air is cool. For jams (or berries to be dried), Kris likes to pick in the afternoon because the sun intensifies their flavor.
    2. Dress appropriately. Wear work shoes because you will step on berries and stain them. A lot of berries have thorns, so you might want to wear long sleeves. Some people like to wear fingerless gloves. For those of you who are apiphobic like me, there might be bees.
    3. If possible, choose a place that doesn’t spray their berries. This is safer, and means you can get away with less washing. Less washing means less work for you, and means fewer broken berries.
    4. Strike up a conversation with the farmer who owns the land. It’s a great way to learn about other berry farms in the area. He might also give you advice on the best spot in the berry patch.

 

  1. Take a friend (or a spouse) so that you have somebody to chat with while you work. If you’re serious about picking, you might want to leave young children at home. If you’re doing it just for fun, bring them along. They’ll love it!
  2. Bring plenty of containers. It’s better to have too many containers than not enough. Our favorite berry-picking container is a plastic milk jug with the top corner cut off. We string a length of soft nylon cord through the handle so that we can hang the jugs from our necks. This keeps both hands free for picking.
  3. Be sure to look under leaves. Our raspberries are sneaky little devils, often trying to hide behind leaves and vines. Blueberries and strawberries do this, too. Be thorough.
  4. Work methodically. Start at one side of the plant and work around, picking all of the ripe fruit. With blueberries, for example, I start at the base of each branch and work out-and-back, recursively. (You geeks know what I’m talking about.) Haphazard picking takes longer!
  5. When you’ve filled a bucket or two, pour the berries into a flat container of some sort, otherwise the fruit at the bottom will get squished.
  6. After you’ve finished, use the rest of the day (or, at the very latest, the following day) to process your berries, to do whatever it is you’re going to do with them: dry them, freeze them, turn them into jam; bake scones or muffins, take them to friends.

GRS-reader Serena wrote recently to rave about her trip to the berry patch.

Thanks for the post on strawberries — it inspired a family outing today to a local farm and it was a blast. Picking berries is nice for those of us who live in apartments/condos — we don’t have a garden, or even a yard, so taking the time to go out to a real farm and get to play in the dirt and eat fruit right off the plants is amazing and important. I even made strawberry freezer jam (with my son’s help) and it was great!

Picking berries can be a zen-like experience. The past few weeks have been stressful for me, but last night as I was harvesting our blueberries, I was able to lose myself in the quiet, methodical repetitiveness of it all. It was relaxing. (The peace was only disturbed by a rowdy murder of crows that gathered for a debate in the branches of a nearby locust.) Best of all, when I was finished I had six cups of blueberries for fresh eating!

Make no mistake: picking berries is work — but it’s fun work. There’s always the farmer’s market if you like the idea of farm fresh local produce, but you don’t have the time or inclination to pick it yourself. It’s usually not a bargain, but it’s certainly better quality than the fruit than you’ll find in most stores. Happy snacking!

 

[Photos courtesy of GRS-readers Jen and Serena]

World of Warcraft on an iPhone

Okay, so I don’t play World of Warcraft anymore, and I’ve resisted the urge to buy an iPhone. But this video is like an absolute geek fantasy:

Don’t you get it? He’s playing World of Warcraft on his iPhone! Wow! The future is now, baby. I want an iPhone so bad, but Im going to wait. I don’t want the phone part. I want all the other parts. And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that a similar non-phone device will be released by the end of the year…

A Reasonable Explanation for My Absence

Whew.

It’s been a long time since I posted, I know. I’m not abandoning this site, despite all appearances. I’ve just been swamped. It’s not a state I relish, and I’m glad that there’s an end in sight. (We leave for Europe on the 14th, so the busy-ness is going to come to an end on that date, whether the world is ready or not!)

Here’s a partial list of things that have kept me occupied:

  • This blog. Behind the scenes, I’m working to get things repaired. Anil is working on the old database. Meanwhile I’m trying to figure out what is slowing down the current database. These two problems make me want to switch to WordPress, but Anil is lobbying for an upgrade to the latest version of Movable Type. I know this is gobble-dee-gook to most of you, but translated it basically means: there are technical problems with foldedspace that I’m attempting to resolve.
  • Life and death. My cousin Ron died last Sunday. He was 46. The cancer that curses our family took him. (This is why I’m so anxious to get a colonoscopy now despite assurances that it’s not necessary until I am 50.) Ron’s death was not unexpected, but unwelcome nonetheless. Nick has been spending much of his time with the family, which means he doesn’t have time for Custom Box.
  • Custom Box Service. Speaking of the box factory, we’re busy. July is not a busy month, but it is this year. To top things off, our truck driver is in jail. This is bad news because he’s an awesome employee. Jeff has done a great job filling in for him, but the fact remains that we need to hire a replacement. We’ve had no luck with Craigslist, so we’ll turn to the newspapers. When we have time. Which we don’t. Because Nick has been taking care of family matters while Jeff has been driving, leaving me alone in the office. On a normal day, this is just a minor nuisance. But now, when we’re busy, it’s a frickin’ pain in the ass.
  • Get Rich Slowly. Because we’re busy at Custom Box, I don’t have “slop time” with which to work on my web sites, most especially Get Rich Slowly. That site now accounts for 50% of my income. Put another way, I make as much from GRS as I do from CBS. Guess which one I enjoy more? It has been a mad scramble to get entries written and posted lately. I do have a pile of guest entries I could tap, but I want to save them for vacation.
  • Vacation. Our vacation looms large. I have a packing checklist (thanks, Paul H.!) and have been working toward getting things ready. One of my big chores is making sure that Get Rich Slowly has a full log of scheduled guest entries to publish. So far, so good. This site will be barren, I’m afraid, aside from occasional notes from the road. I’m still half-tempted to purchase an iPhone, use one of the many tricks to opt out of phone service, and use it as a mini-computer on the road. For now, though, I’m taking a Mac Powerbook, an iPod, and a digital camera. (I am not taking a cell phone. Everyone else in our group will have one. There’s no need for mine.)
  • Ron’s funeral. Coming back to Ron, his funeral is on Friday afternoon. I’ve agreed to create a video presentation commemorating his life, but that takes time. I’ve spent the last two hours scanning slides and photos. I have several more hours to go. Then I have to piece them into a coherent video. (Nick will help me do that tomorrow.)
  • Backpacking. Our annual Opal Creek backpacking trip is this weekend. There’s no way I can make the group hike in, but I still hold out hope that I can join the guys on Saturday. This is beginning to look like a feeble hope. I’ve put off many, many things to tackle the urgent tasks in my life. I’m going to need time to get things in order before I leave, and about the only time I can see is this weekend, if I don’t go backpacking. And yet I love backpacking. (In fact, I just spent $80 on a new tent!)

These are just a few of the things that have me buried. I’d write more except I can hear that the scanner has stopped scanning. It’s time to go start the next batch of slides. (In a feat of geekery that amazes even me, I had three Macs in use an hour ago. Each one was doing something related to Ron’s funeral. That, my friends, is efficiency.)

All this is to say: Have no fear — foldedspace will return, and with vigor. But right now it’s experiencing a moment (or thirty) of silence.