SpargelFest and the fence

Written by karen on April 1st, 2017

The asparagus is coming in well now, and so tonight we’re having a SpargelFest (something I didn’t even know was a thing until today; thanks, E). When I saw this recipe for asparagus and green garlic soup, I thought it was time to experiment with green garlic, which is really just baby spring garlic. Here’s what I pulled up. They smell so good!

And our fence is up! Yay! Attractiveness was a big consideration, since this is right in front of our living room mountain view, and I think it came out nice. (This picture only shows about half the length of the long side — it’s a big area.)

For the first time ever, my tomato seeds didn’t germinate, so I bought starts. It feels a bit like cheating but I have to say that the starts look healthier than mine from seed ever do. I prepared the bed for them today, though I probably won’t put them out for a couple weeks. I read that marigolds are a good companion plant and can help fight off tomato works and gnarly root nematodes, so I put some seeds in for those. With the fence, I’m feeling confident that the rabbits won’t eat them this year.




Written by karen on March 16th, 2017

With snowstorms hitting much of the country hard this week, we are enjoying sunny weather in the 80s. The first asparagus has appeared, signaling that spring is here.

We’ve also been working in earnest on fencing the garden area. We decided to go with heavy-duty cattle panels (much heavier than barbed or chicken wire — we are confident this will stop large animals like javelina from getting through) and hardware cloth on the bottom couple feet (which should stop rabbits). Rodents will still be able to climb in, but even they should be slowed down…we hope.

We’ve also been doing some new spring planting, including more greens.

And last weekend, we took a hike at Cochise Stronghold. This is national forest land with a campground that is on the west side of the Chiricahua Mountains from us.



Written by karen on February 11th, 2017

This is the first year that I’ve successfully had lettuce all winter.

Actually, lettuce does fine here in temperatures down to zero and even in snow (though I cover it with a light row cover). It doesn’t grow a lot once it gets cold though, so the challenge is to plant it when it can germinate and grow, but not so early that it bolts. It’s also necessary to do this in an amount that gives you lettuce all winter. Until this year, I never quite got it right, but this morning, I harvested all this lettuce. There’s still more that’s harvest-ready and now another younger batch that should be ready in a few weeks. Now I just need to keep the new successions coming.


In training

Written by karen on February 7th, 2017

So this year’s plan for a rim-to-rim Grand Canyon trip has been permitted (it’s quite a lengthy process that relies on some degree of luck), and so we are in training.

This weekend, we climbed Silver Peak (about 20 minutes from our house, near Portal). It’s just under 10 miles round trip, and the elevation gain to the top is 3000 feet. (To compare, the elevation change to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is 5850, and it’s 4860).

On the first part of the trail, we were surprised to find several horses that had apparently been turned loose there. They were very friendly, and we shared an apple with them.

Toward the top of the climb, there was quite a lot of snow. This made the going a lot slower.

Here’s the view from the top.


My fav pictures from 2016

Written by karen on January 5th, 2017


The year in books

Written by karen on January 3rd, 2017

Here is the list of books I read this year (in the order I read them with the particularly great ones in bold, also shown in the banner above):

  1. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  2. Summer of My Amazing Luck by Miriam Toews
  3. The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
  4. Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
  5. A Boy of Good Breeding  by Miriam Toews
  6. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
  7. Born for This by Chris Guillebeau
  8. En Recuerdo de: The Dying Art of Mexican Cemeteries in the Southwest by Bruce F. Jordan
  9. As Aways, Julia by Julia Child and Avis Devoto
  10. Journey through an Arid Land by G. Davies Jandrey
  11. Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos
  12. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
  13. Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
  14. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  15. A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  16. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  17. The Rabbit Back Literature Society  by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
  18. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham
  19. The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux
  20. Deep South by Paul Theroux
  21. Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
  22. The Empty Mirror by Janwillem van de Wetering
  23. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  24. 10:04 by Ben Lerner
  25. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  26. The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
  27. Arizona Kicks on Route 66 by Roger Naylor
  28. The Land of Open Graves by Jason De León
  29. My Life in France by Julia Child
  30. Alaska by James Michener
  31. The Litigators by John Grisham
  32. At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
  33. The Racketeer by John Grisham
  34. Drop Shot by Harlan Coben
  35. Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry
  36. The Oath by Jeffrey Toobin
  37. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
  38. Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
  39. American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin
  40. Outside 25: Classic Tales and New Voices from the Frontiers of Adventure edited by Hal Espen
  41. The Best American Travel Writing 2006 by Tim Cahill (Editor)
  42. The Backbone of the World by Frank Clifford
  43. Where the Waters Divide by Karen Berger and Daniel R. Smith
  44. Going Back to Bisbee by Richard Shelton
  45. Dear Data by by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec
  46. Crossing the Yard by Richard Shelton
  47. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
  48. That Distant Land by Wendell Berry
  49. Andy Catlett by Wendell Berry
  50. Whitefoot by Wendell Berry
  51. A Place in Time by Wendell Berry
  52. The Whistler by John Grisham
  53. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

As usual, there were several authors I read several books by — Miriam Toews, Julia Child, Paul Theroux, Wendell Berry. The Berry books were particularly special, and I finished the last of his fiction that I hadn’t read earlier. (I’d been saving them up, and it was a nice way to finish the year.)



Border walker

Written by karen on December 28th, 2016

We get some interesting folks passing through our area, including those on cross-country bike or walking trips. This week, I met a guy named Mark Hainds who is walking the border and passed through here.

Two years ago, he walked the whole Texas border, and this month he’s walking from El Paso to Sierra Vista. He’ll finish the Arizona and California border on a future leg, and yes, he’s writing a book about it. He averages about 25 miles a day and walks pretty much every day.

I walked with him for 12 miles or so yesterday and got to see a stretch of the old railroad I hadn’t seen from about mile marker 7 on Highway 9 (west of Animas) to Rodeo. It was a cool day (note the snow on the Peloncillos in the picture), but the wind was down and it was sunny much of the day. It was an enjoyable walk, and Mark had some good stories to tell.

I’ve read so many books about long quest-style walks like this and think I’d like to do one myself some day. In the meantime, it’s nice to have the flexibility in our lives to be able to take time off to enjoy opportunities like this as they come along.


Firsts this year

Written by karen on November 28th, 2016

For recordkeeping purposes, this year:

  • First frost: November 16, 2016 (?)
  • First snow in the mountains: November 28, 2016
  • First snow at our house: (to come)

End of the season

Written by karen on October 13th, 2016

This week is the last farmers market of the season here. We are celebrating with a community potluck.

I am ready for a break from this. We’ve been going for 7 months (sadly, with me as the “anchor” vendor) and haven’t missed a week. Over the course of that time, we’ve produced approximately:

  • 175 loaves of bread
  • 120 bags of lettuce, arugula or other greens
  • numerous quiches; bags of sprouts and microgreens; cucumbers; radishes; green beans; containers of pesto, salsa, onion confit, and garlic paste, etc.

This has been a great experience, and the community has been enormously supportive.

PS I’m looking forward to eating all the greens and other things we produce this year!



Big Bend

Written by karen on October 11th, 2016

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here, but I wanted to get a quick post up about our camping trip to Big Bend National Park. It’s the 30th national park I’ve visited. We loved it. Though we weren’t able to stay long this time, we will definitely go back. (I’m especially looking forward to a rafting trip.)

For those interested in a visit, it’s an easy 7.5 hour drive from here.

Big Bend National Park