Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This City Girl's Country Garden

Hi! This will hopefully be the first of many regular posts regarding this year's vegetable garden, which is already underway. Nevertheless, we all know how these things go, so I will reiterate, "hopefully." Now the challenge remains documenting my blood, sweat, and tears on this here blog.

Heirloom tomato sprouts

Just a little background: I am a city girl, turn rural since moving up from Maryland to Pennsylvania in 2007. Truth be told, the biggest transition when moving here -- after coming off of apartment living -- was learning to maintain an OLD farm house and property while also dealing with the COLD winters. With a lot of help from one great guy, I have learned the ropes. Being close to so many of the things I love, I've embraced the changes fairly well. There really isn't any other place I'd rather be and this new lifestyle has afforded so many new and exciting opportunities.

Strawberry plant, one of many

Made even easier living where we do, eating fresh with a conscious eye on the things I put in my body is very important to me (although, I'll be the first to admit, I'm not perfect). Since moving to PA I was finally able try my first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share last year with great success. I love everything CSA's stand for: supporting the community, local food minimizes carbon-footprint, trying new organic veggies not usually on the shopping list, and consuming in-season local produce is great for the body and immune system, just to name a few.

Cilantro ready for the herb garden

I also planted my first garden; a modest 4' x 12' elevated frame on the south side of our barn with all the basics including herbs and tomatoes. Combined with sprucing up the grape arbor, planting blueberry bushes, and pruning the apple and pear trees in our orchard, I've learned a lot and am taking the volumes of future experience in stride. Needless to say, we had more than enough fruit and veggies to go around last year. Considering the expense of an annual CSA share (although not unreasonable spread across a season) along with an interest in getting my hands dirty, I decided to forgo the membership and expand the garden in 2009.

The site of the new garden with fresh compost (and dreary weather)

The calendar now says it's spring, the frosts are fewer, and everything is starting to show signs of life again; waking up to the daily convention of birds, crocuses popping their purple heads up, and tree buds swelling are just a few of the rapid reminders of the impending warmth. Everything is coming out of hibernation, including me! I've planted some early seeds indoors and we've spent the weekends clearing, cutting, pruning, and burning. These are the first of many steps to create a garden (and then some) that supplements all of our produce for a good part of the year. It's not going to happen overnight, or this year, but the process is the adventure. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What I'm Watching

I recently watched Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy working with time, a documentary about the landscape sculptor who installs works of stone, ice, wood, leaves, and other natural materials into the environment. While familiar with his transitory environmental installations, I had not been exposed to the man behind the work prior to watching this film. As an artist who is inspired by organic forms and who is also interested in enjoying and preserving the environment, Rivers and Tides was an interesting watch.

Although the film felt a little slow at first, the speed had the benefit of slowing me, the viewer, down. Besides the inevitable collapse of a number of works, there is no drama, climax, or plot to this film. Rather the quiet journey with Goldsworthy enables the viewer to place him or herself into his world to appreciate the many subtleties and thoughts he shares as he observes, studies, and reflects upon the evolution of his work.

I wasn't far into the film before I found myself thinking about how Goldsworthy's experiences, materials, and ethics were significant to my own work, which brought me to write a list,

Four (or more) things to learn from Andy Goldsworthy:

  • Work is temporary: minimal environmental mark, non-materialistic, isn’t intended to last
  • Innovative use of materials: connections, combinations (including with surrounding environment), materials and environment are clearer with use of simple design
  • Subtle: blends with surroundings, can exist without being discovered
  • Work ethic: must work for self identification, takes work "to the very edge of collapse," always learning, always making, always playing

These are all interesting things for me to think about, especially when considering jewelry and how it relates to the body. While I doubt I'll be making and selling any temporary jewelry, making work that has minimal environmental impact has more of an interest to me.

His earnest interest in learning about the materials also plays a large part in Goldsworthy's endeavors. An expectation of deterioration (especially when pushing organic materials as close to the edge as he does), facilitates his journey of creation, allowing him to make without needing to have a tangible and permanent object as a result. As an admittedly sentimental person, I find this concept particularly enchanting and liberating!

Goldsworthy is a delight in this film. Introspective, open, and playful, he is always learning and evolving. I recommend the film Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy working with time, to anyone who has an interest in contemporary art, design, and the environment.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Winter Warmth

Here are some images from my chilly wintner wonderland. It wasn't until moving up to PA that I think I truly felt the effects winter. There's something about this drafty old farmhouse that makes me bundle up in a quilt and hunker down in front of the wood stove. My creative juices also seem to flow differently during this season of hybernation... a little more subtle and quiet, this is the time for reflection, making plans, and seeking inspiration... and there is so much inspiration out there.

For you, Annie!

A little-big addition to Annie's collection of freakishly large flowers and vegetables, this ginormous yam was found at Iovine Brothers Produce located within Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia recently. Perhaps not obvious from the pic, this yam was about the height of the average persons head. Yikes! Reading makes one of my all-time favorite markets, DC's Eastern Market, seem down-right minuscule... so I guess this post is about two big things. All righty then... ;)

Reading Terminal Market recommendations:
I notice a sweet theme here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What I'm Watching

It seems out here on the blogosphere, there's a lot of "What I'm Reading" posts. While I love to read, there seems to be little time to devote to completing my books with any regularity (I have several started with no end in sight).

I was inspired by a recent NPR segment about the current state of television with the prevelance of online streaming via websites such as Hulu and the network websites. While I have little faith in television, I've had better luck finding quality movies. That, and I have more availability for a movie here and there (especially with the assistance of instant watch via Netflix) than I do for regular TV watching. Therefore, this is my "What I'm Watching" post. :) We'll see if I come accross more blog-worthy films...

I will start with the documentary Helvetica, a well researched and executed film that discusses the advent of the popular Swiss font and follows it through the backlash that followed including detailed design studies and some great interviews with the key players of the time. Regardless of your personal feelings about this staple typeface that permeates all facets of popular culture, those with an appreciation for typography, graphic design, or design in general, will appreciate the documentary, Helvetica. Highly recommended! Available via Netflix instant watch!

Note: I wanted to post this entry using Helvetica, but blogger doesn't provide it as an option. Bloggggger?!