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From the window seat of a 737, I watched morning fog pooling in lakes and valleys as the sun rose against Mt. Hood. I love epic views, which I suppose explains why we chose to live where we do.

Manijeh and Orin dropped me off at the airport this morning at 5:30. This is the third time we’ll have been separated for more than a day or so. In a moment of face-melting sweetness, Orin requested goodbye kisses from me. What a fantastic little sleepy guy. There’s an ache in my chest already where their comfortable presence should be.

I loath the process of flying – getting to the plane and making connecting flights. Still, the prospect of seeing my family in Alabama makes the discomfort an acceptable price. This is one small part of the cost of living so far from family. Like … the sales tax part.

I know my mother will be smiling ear to ear and my dad will have a warm grin and a bear hug for me.

I wish that Orin and Manijeh could be there for that greeting as well. My folks do live for their grand babies. Therein lies the true cost which is shared between us.

Too much reflection on this leads nowhere healthy.

Time to sit back and watch the fractals and li pass below.

We’ve been scrambling to get the rest of the apples picked. The dehydrator runs day and night making crispy apple rings and we had another cider pressing on Saturday. Unfortunately the old press suffered some damage and will have to be repaired, so that’ll have to be our last pressing for a while.

 

The goats loved eating the pomace, but most of it went into our composter with straw, leaves and chicken poop.

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The cider we set fermenting last weekend is doing well. I transferred it to the carboy yesterday and popped an airlock on it. We’ll give it a taste in a couple of weeks once the bubbles die down. We’re also attempting an apple cider vinegar from scratch for the first time.

Hard cider.

 

Manijeh has been harvesting field mushrooms (don’t worry, we researched them thoroughly). We roasted a few with a chicken last week. They’re very tasty! We should have enough now to make a pot of creamy mushroom soup.

 

Orin and Atticus helped me plant some more germinated acorns down in the valley. I’ve put in maybe 60 or 70, though who can say how many will survive the winter … or the years of small boys being small boys. I’ll be happy if even a handful make it to maturity (hopefully I’ll be around to see it). I like to think that maybe Orin’s kids will sit under them one day and watch their Grandpapa hobble around chasing chickens.

 

We picked up half a beef from Mr. John down the road. 100% grass fed, no grain, no antibiotics, no hormones.   Came out to $2.50 per pound. That’s hard to beat. Our pocketbook is empty, but our freezer is full and our bellies are too. I made burgers last night. Damned fine meat.

 

We’ll be picking up a turkey and half a pig from a nearby farm next month. We also plan to sign up at a local CSA to get a box of fresh local veggies once a week. Then we should be pretty well set for the winter.

 

We had a chili cookoff this week. I made a traditional chili with mixed beans and beef, Dianna made pork chili verde, and Gina made a sweet chili with beef, cinnamon and cumin. They were all winners, though I favored Dianna’s.

 

Here are a few additional pics from the week.

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Loads of love from the top of the hill,

Eric, Manijeh & The Rocket Man

Busy busy!

 

The days are getting cooler and the trees are starting to turn. We had our first mini frost, so we harvested a small wagon load of apples from the trees around Dianna’s house. She said we could do whatever we wanted with the apples if we’d prune them back a bit, so as we picked I took note of the work that’ll need to be done in late winter. They haven’t been really cared for in years, so there’s a lot of trimming to be done. I’m happy to take the job and I consider it a good trade.

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We pressed maybe 16ish gallons of cider altogether and sent some of it off with neighbors. We have 5 gallons fermenting and another 5 bottled and frozen to heat and spice in the cold weather.

 

We’ve gone out foraging a lot these last couple of weeks as well. We’ve collected loads of rose hips for tea, elderberries for syrup / medicine, chamomile for tea, walnuts, and mushrooms.

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Last Thursday I got all my firefighting gear and was officially aced on the roster. The guys are a lot of fun. Mostly older gents with good senses of humor. I feel a bit out of place as they’re all mechanically inclined and have years of experience while I’m more software oriented and know little of the area. They’re patient with my newbie questions and I hope to learn a lot from them. I look pretty funny in full gear.

Tomorrow one of the guys – Mr. John who talks just like Jimmy Stewart – will help teach me the bells and whistles of driving one of the engines which everyone calls The  E1. I’ve driven it a couple of times now, but I only know the bare basics. He’s asked me to redesign the department licenses which I’ll gladly do.

 

We planted maybe 25-30 oaks (germinated acorns) down in the valley today. I’ve another 30 ready to go for tomorrow afternoon or later this week.

 

Orin has been surprisingly helpful processing elderberries and rose hips. His patience boggles my mind – especially since he’s usually all over the place.

 

This afternoon after I dug the last acorn hole, we sat down in the sunshine and snacked on a banana and some smoked baby clams. He’ll gaze off into the distance and get a thoughtful look on his face and then say something about cows or birds or rabbits. He never ceases to amaze me.

 

The goats broke into our garden area and ate our new plantings: blueberries, honey locust, apple tree, currants, raspberries. I think they’ll all survive, but it was a little disheartening.

 

We’ve come to love the goats. They’re full of personality and they’ve warmed to us quite a bit over the last few weeks. They’re playful and quite silly. It might be hard to eat their offspring… but we’ll see.

 

It amuses me that this transition has me working in such opposing directions. I’m designing things that are more technically sophisticated than I’ve ever done before and I’m paid to critique the work of other designers as they try to learn the same skills. I enjoy it, but it is time consuming and occasionally frustrating.

 

In the evenings, I just want to dive into a pile of dirt to wash away the pixels. Hehe.

 

It’s not exactly fairy tales and pumpkin spice all the time. The transition from our old life to the new life is a struggle. I’ve received my WA business license and DBA, so Nice Incredible Studio is legit. Paying state, fed, and self employment taxes is fine, but health insurance has been murder on our finances. The Affordable Healthcare Act, whatever you may think of it, will help  with that situation though.

 

We met with a solar guy and got some quotes for a system. We’re weighing our options and will meet with KPUD to get an idea of cost for running lines to our property. It won’t be cheap.

 

Still, we’re optimistic when we’re not feeling pessimistic. 😉

 

Here are a few more pics of the things I’ve yammered about.

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My apologies for any typos. I’m on my phone and far too lazy to sort back through this to look for misspellings or weird auto-corrects.

 

I hope you’re well and I look forward to seeing you soonish!

E.

 

The lantern is one of 6 new oil lamps we ordered from Lehman’s. “For when all other lights go out”…

 

The cup of white stuff is kefir that I’ve been making every night for the last month or so.