JANUARY 2018, ISSUE #200

Welcome to issue no. 200! We started the New Year in the best possible fashion, with black-eyed peas and friends, weathered two storms and the flu, keeping our chins up with multiple sandwiches on sourdough bread, a going-away party for Jay and Giovanna, coloring, pot pie, free beer and mushrooms.




There’s nothing luckier than black-eyed peas with rice, greens, and cornbread on the first day of the year. We did not host our customary New Year’s Day party, so Linda and Bruce decided to throw their own. Linda whipped up incredible vittles for a crowd of familiars from the old CSA potluck days. (We miss you, Jason and Haruka!)

Joe and Karen, our bird watching friends, come for a lucky dose of Linda’s superb spread. They, too, used to get their produce off of Haruka and Jason’s farm.




We had a pretty good snow on the 4th, followed by a few days of frigid, icicle temperatures, and then, a couple of weeks later, a big dump of a snow that covered everything, including Spot. See all the lovely snow photos by clicking on: January Storms



Jay and Giovanna are hitting the road. Tami hosted a bon voyage party to honor their many contributions to our neighborhood. Jay (standing next to Tami) served as Sparkroot Farm’s development engineer and manager for an extended season.


Giovanna and Whitney, with Pam, the kids, and Arlo in the background. Trip making Luke and Michael chuckle at Tami’s dining room table.  Camille met Giovanna out in the woods on Christmas Day a year ago where she and Lyle were working on a cut-through trail. Giovanna was picking a path between the big trees, dragging limbs around and lopping branches, while Lyle pushed over trees with his little orange tractor. Both Jay and Giovanna put a lot of energy into our community, not to mention good cheer, and deep conversation. They will be missed.



Camille signed up for Linda’s three week “How to Go Vegan Retreat” and learned all kinds of tips, tricks, and recipes. Here, Camille watches one of Linda’s videos while slicing a loaf of yeast-risen bread and making a salad for breakfast. The buttered heels of a new loaf are perfect with salad.




Linda gave Camille some of her 150-year old sourdough starter and Camille took the plunge, as scary as it is to trust starter to rise a loaf without aid of yeast. It had been at least 5 years since we had sourdough in the house, so we had to get out the recipe. Happily, the dough rose like magic, and has a nice, sour tang.




Because: sandwiches! Cheezburgers and oven fries, (fake) bacon, lettuce, and tomato, above. We also indulge in cheezsteaks, Rubens, sloppy Joes, chk’n patties, chk’n salad, and grilled Cheez. Poor Little Vegans.




Nothing brightens these short, cold days of winter like a circle of friends creating stuff, sharing stories, and snacks. Or loving on their pet parrot. With Pam, Alisa, Phil, and Janice at Alisa’s.




George, Alisa’s African Grey, used to bite, but now he’s a lovey bird due to years of tender, loving, therapy. Alisa says, “Watch this; he lets me hold him like an ice cream cone!”
Camille wanted to go over to Alisa’s for Saturday morning crafting, but was all caught up on her sewing, and couldn’t think of what to work on. When she realized it was a new moon, she remembered the mandala coloring book Haruka left her when she and Jason went abroad last year. Nearly every month during the new moon, Haruka would invite Camille over for tea and coloring. If you have not colored in a coloring book for awhile, try it out. It is wonderfully therapeutic. Half the fun is choosing a mandala. The mandala on page 49, titled “Stonebreak” promises the new growth of spring, something we pine for in these dark, frozen months. It came with a poem by William Blake:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.




No one should be nervous about making a pie for the little girl down the street on her 16th birthday, so Camille decided to practice with a pot pie.  Next month’s strawberry birthday pie will be a snap! Practice is the cure for anxiety.




Cooking with an unimaginably flavorful dark ale from Nazz’d Brew Works, about to tame a monster cauliflower for Sunday dinner, and put up a big bowl of mushrooms gifted to us by Lyle. We cooked down the oyster mushrooms and put then in the freezer for future cheezsteak, but the lion’s mane went right from the pan of sizzling buttery margarine into  our happy little mouths. Of all the lions manes we’ve harvested in the woods over the years, Lyle’s lion’s mane was miles ahead in flavor, more like a morel than anything else we’ve ever tasted! And to top it off, earlier that day Camille discovered half a pound of shiitake mushrooms blooming on a impregnated log in the back yard. These, too got cooked down to feed the freezer.

Life doesn’t get any better than free beer and mushrooms, unless it’s the promise of spring in the form of a purple petunia bloom on the plant we overwintered in the guest bedroom. Even in January, there are reasons to hope and celebrate.



Nolan at home, weathering Colorado flu season about the same time we were getting over the flu in North Carolina. We hear it’s a big flu year, and believe it. It had been years since we got this sick, feeling like we’d been slashed with knives or crushed by a truck. Hacking, queasy, nostrils out of control, we lost days, and at one point wondered if we would ever feel well again. And we are not alone, many in our circle of friends have similar reports of their dance with the dastardly virus.



“In this country we are particularly prone to myth-building, perhaps because we built our whole nation on the myth that this was an empty continent, just waiting for us; that we weren’t taking it from anybody.” – Stephanie Coontz

“America no longer seems like the land of the free or the home of the brave. It seems like the land of the seventy-three-year-olds working at Walmart and bullies who kick over gravestones in Jewish cemeteries at night.” – Sparrow, from “See You At The Impeachment” in the August, 2017 issue of The Sun Magazine

“Forget yourselves for a while, because the world is in dire need of your attention. For a while stop looking for ways to enhance your inner life and start looking instead for ways to ensure that-twenty years from now, fifty years from now-our children and grandchildren will have a decent world to grow up in.” – Daniel Quinn, Providence



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[Troutsfarm] * [January, 2018] * [January Storms]