The Next Adventure

Gobble, gobble.

Gobble, gobble.

We’ve had some good news lately! My husband found out that he’s been picked up for the training slot he wanted, which means he’ll be sticking around for a while. That’s always good!

The semi-bad news is that he starts training just as the weather gets good for camping down here, and he may not be out of training until the hot weather comes again next year. We might get away with a weekend trip here and there, but he’s looking to come out on top in his training, and he like to study hard on the weekends too. I can’t fault him for that!

However, my soul is craving an extended outdoor adventure. Summer in Florida makes me feel cooped up, as it’s really too hot to go camping or hiking for any extended period of time. So, I checked in with the husband and have decided that if I can come up with a solid plan, I’ll be completing my first long distance hike starting in January.

January seems to be the perfect starting time for a Southern hike. Because I’ll be done with my graduate school applications by then, I’ll hopefully leave at the beginning of January to hike the Pinhoti trail. I still have a lot of research to do, and I’m nervous about doing this on my own, but I also know that if I want to hike the AT or the PCT someday, it would be good to know if I’m capable of going the distance.

map

The Pinhoti National Recreation Trail is 335 miles long and crosses parts of Alabama and Georgia. Pinhoti is derived from the Creek Indian word for “turkey trail,” and it seems that some of the blazes are turkey tracks. I think that’s kind of cool 🙂 There’s not a lot of information about thru-hiking in this area, but I’m finding what I can. I also like reading blogs of other women who have completed solo thru or section hikes in this area. The whole trail seems pretty remote with not too much traffic, but it’s also close enough to different towns that I’d be able to resupply or hitch a ride to a cheap motel if I need to.

BUT! I first have to focus on the present time. I’m a few weeks away from finishing up my grad course on Gender, Race, and Crime from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. It’s been a great course so far, and I’m one large paper on the impact of the intersectionality of gender, race, and class on domestic violence away from finishing the course. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve read two great texts and one amazing autobiography during the class. If anyone gets the chance to read All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, I’d highly recommend it.

I’m also almost finished with the chevron blanket I’m knitting for my brother and soon to be sister in law. I think I’ll finish tomorrow, which is perfect because their wedding is coming up soon, and I’d like to have it shipped out before we leave for Washington! I’d hate to have to bring it with me on the plane. Though now that I think about it, I’d almost prefer that so it doesn’t get lost. I’ve never actually had anything lost through the postal system though. But man, I’ve spent so much time on this freaking blanket. I’m still more worried about it bleeding in the wash. I can just imagine the navy blue chevron bleeding all over the white chevron…ugh. Nope, just don’t think about it. Everything will be fine. Everything is awesome.

Did I get that Lego Movie song stuck in your head? Ha. You're welcome.

Did I get that Lego Movie song stuck in your head? Ha. You’re welcome.

Wiener Pie and Other Assorted Thoughts

What a week! Obamacare and marriage equality! I’m damn proud to be an American right now, even if we still have a long way to go. (I’m looking at you institutionalized racism, lack of gun control, and police brutality.)

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I also indulged in a treat was too lazy to make dinner, and ended up ordering Pizza Hut’s hotdog bites pizza with a pretzel crust. I have many regrets. Many, many regrets.

Pizza Hut Wiener Pie. Comes with a side of mustard for dunking, but it should come with a side of Pepto Bismol.

Pizza Hut Wiener Pie. Comes with a side of mustard for dunking, but it should come with a side of Pepto Bismol.

I also took apart my potato tower to dig for spuds. That was interesting…You can do this same thing in Washington and get pounds and pound of potatoes. I managed to get three whole pounds and mild heat stroke. Was it worth the effort? Not really. I might need to try a different type of potato though. Also, notice the big, dumb, yellow cucumber. Let’s not talk about that…

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I started my third color for my chevron blanket! I’m in love! It’s a good thing I like my sister-in-law, otherwise I’d be keeping this blanket for myself!

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Here’s hoping that the next two colors knit up quickly! I’m a slow knitter, but I’d love to get this shipped in the next two weeks. I’m worried about the colors bleeding in the wash too, so I need to do a bit of research and figure out how to keep the colors in their respective chevrons. Any ideas for Cascade 220?

Progress!

Ellie's too cool for school. Good thing school's out for the summer!

Ellie’s too cool for school. Good thing school’s out for the summer!

Hot dog! I finally got word this week that my project has been approved for data collection at the local university! Yay! Hopefully I’ll have a sudden influx of summer school students who want to take a survey for extra credit.

It’s interesting to see how different this round of data collection is from my Honors Project data collection. My HP looked at rates of unit cohesion in military units after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” My participant recruitment was done over Facebook, and I posted several hundred messages on official military base and MWR pages asking for military members to take my survey. Those who took the survey were entered into a drawing for three gift cards. This time, however, recruitment is a lot less hands on, and is limited to students taking psychology classes who are looking for extra credit. There’s not a whole lot of action until the end of the semester, of course, when everyone is looking for a last minute grade boost.

Along with starting an outline of my intro section for a possible article, I’m taking a class for my Victim Studies certificate that I’m doing through the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The class is called Gender, Race, and Crime, and it’s one of the best classes I’ve taken. I’m supposed to be working on my midterm at the moment, and I have a paper due at the end of next month. It’s nothing too difficult, but something I’d like to keep on top of.

I’ve also made quite a bit of knitting progress as well! I started a chevron throw blanket for my brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law. I showed it to my brother this Sunday over Skype, and he thinks the colors I’ve picked are right up his fiancees alley. Phew! I’ve almost moved on to the third color out of five. I’m enjoying this project for sure, but I didn’t really think about how uncomfortable it would be to knit a blanket in summer in Florida. Yuck. I don’t think I’ve stopped sweating since the middle of May, and I’m having this blanket pile up on my lap makes it necessary to stop for a break every now and then.

Sorry for the poor lighting! Knitting at night with navy yarn doesn't make for the best pictures :)

Sorry for the poor lighting! Knitting at night with navy yarn doesn’t make for the best pictures 🙂

This is my first time working with Cascade 220! I love it! It's machine washable too.

This is my first time working with Cascade 220! I love it! It’s machine washable too.

The garden is starting to shrivel in the heat. Did I mention it’s hot out? Yep. Upper 90s + 70-plus percent humidity = Nasty hot weather that feels like its over 100 degrees. The only things that are really thriving are my roselle bushes and my ground cherry plants. Spencer tried a ground cherry for the first time last night. They taste like pineapple, which is his favorite fruit 🙂 Yum! They’re producing like crazy now, so I’m hoping to have enough to make a thing of freezer jam by the end of the month.

Roselle in front of the porch, with the ground cherry plants in the pots off to the right side.

Roselle in front of the porch, with the ground cherry plants in the pots off to the right side.

Ground cherries in their husks.

Ground cherries in their husks.

And finally, I’m making some more progress on one of my 101 in 1001 goals (reading all of Jane Austen’s books). And yes, that tea in there is iced!

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Charleston

I had the pleasure of visiting Charleston, SC last year with my grandparents. Today, my thoughts are with the residents of the city as they go through some of the most unimaginable pain anyone could go through.

I woke up grumpy this morning because I have to edit my husband master’s paper. It’s not a difficult task, and I’m always happy to help him, but this paper for some reason is especially frustrating. However, it’s always amazing how quickly things can be put into perspective.

I never ended up writing about the SPU school shooting that occurred last June. Seattle Pacific is my alma mater, and my sister was a current student at the school when the shooting happened. I remember finding out over Twitter that a gunman (though at the time they were reporting two gunmen) had entered Otto Miller. It was horrifying. It was around finals, and for all I knew my sister was in that building taking her finals. Until it happens to you, there’s really no way to describe that heart-sinking feeling of not knowing whether or not the people you care about are safe. After hearing that my sister was safe, and that my old friends and professors were safe, I broke down. Since that day, mass shootings have taken on a different tone. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve always been a serious matter, but being able to connect on a more emotional level has changed things.

Charleston – you’ll be in my thoughts today. I’m sorry that more hasn’t been done in the past few years to have kept a gun out of that murderer’s hands. I’m sorry that we’ve failed to keep you safe. I’m sorry that a little girl was forced to play dead in order to stay alive. I’m sorry that we fail on a consistent basis to take racism seriously. We aren’t in a post-racial society, and I know people will find a way to excuse his actions and deny that this was a race based hate crime. One day we’ll take racism and gun violence seriously and we’ll take real, tangible actions to help keep people safe. I know you don’t always feel it, but black lives really do matter. They always have, and they always will. I’m sorry this nation keeps failing you.

One rather crass comment from this morning really resonated. A person asked whether the U.S. is a gold coated turd, or a shit covered gold brick. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the most patriotic of military spouses, and more than once I’ve threatened to move overseas to a progressive Scandinavian country and leave this crap behind, but I do think (or hope?) that the U.S. is a shit-covered gold brick. I really do think there are some redeeming qualities in our nation, and we have the opportunity to clean ourselves off and let our gold shine through. But for now we continue to swan dive into the septic tank, and it’s frustrating. It’s about time for a good flush.

The Organized Kitchen

I’ve felt a lot more organized in the past few weeks when it has come to organizing for meals. I don’t know what it is, but I suddenly feel like I’m on my A-game. Growing up, my mom always made a meal plan for the week. She was great at sticking to it, and she used the meal list to make her super organized grocery list. I’ve done this in the past, but I suddenly feel more organized and I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been able to get a lot of good, organic produce from my buying co-op? Or maybe it’s because I’m buying a bit less and using more of my home grown veggies? Either way, I’m spending a lot less time at the store! That’s always a plus.

And on top of all that, I was able to make a large purchase of fresh, wild, Alaskan sockeye salmon that’s sustainably fished and will be sent right to my doorstep in a month or so! That’s right! No more nasty farmed Atlantic “salmon” for this Washington-born family! If you have the money and the desire, I’d recommend Smart Source Seafood in a heartbeat!

Having my freezer back in working order has also been invaluable. If you remember from a little while back, I had accidentally shut off my fridge for a month, and the smell of spoiling meat and fish was overwhelming. Well, we placed a pan with 16oz of pure vanilla extract in the bottom to get rid of the smell. It sort of worked – but mainly it smelled like rotten meat cookies. We kept the door open to air it for a day, and brought out the big guns. We had a box of charcoal in the bottom and a pan each of coffee grounds and a baking soda/essential oil mix on the inside shelf. After closing the lid and letting it sit for two days, the smell was gone. Or close to it. I thought I caught a faint whiff of decaying tilapia when I opened the freezer tonight, but it’s okay. I just need to work on restocking the freezer again.

I’m starting a crock pot of bone broth tomorrow, along with some homemade blackberry applesauce. I’m also going to whip up a big batch of freezer biscuits and english muffins, and will make some bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches as well. I’m sure the freezer will fill up again in no time.

A Good Old Fashioned Facebook Fast

I’ve been off Facebook for five days, and I’m struggling.

To be fair though, I was struggling when I was on Facebook. There’s really nothing interesting going on on Facebook either, but I could easily go on for “just a moment” to check a status, and look up only to see a few hours have passed. I’d also go on to check something that wasn’t Facebook, but find my fingers automatically typing Facebook into the address bar. I had a problem, so the solution was to deactivate my account.

I still find myself thinking in status updates, or taking pictures to post on my page. I also find myself mindlessly flipping through apps on my phone looking for something, anything, to entertain me. But once I get past all that, I find that my day-to-day productivity has increased. I’m about three weeks ahead in my online course, I’ve finished two books and started a third, and my house is cleaner than it’s ever been. (Okay, that last one was a lie.)

My goal is to stay off Facebook for most of the summer, so I can get ahead on my article writing and GRE prep. Data collection has been pretty slow so far, but I’m making headway on outlining my introduction. Here’s hoping I can cash in on some of that research karma and get enough respondents by the end of the summer. I mean, summer school students love extra credit, right?

The garden is doing well, though I don’t have any update pictures. My husband needs to mow the jungle of a backyard before I take any more photos. I was able to get a small harvest of young potatoes though, so I’m looking forward to the end of the season when all my potatoes are in. I think most will be turned into hashbrown or frozen potato soup. It’s nice to have those on hand for when the weather gets colder. Apparently, I can also do a second planting of potatoes by the first of October too! That might be nice! We eat potatoes somewhat often, but they spoil so quickly here in the house. If I can harvest when I need them I think I’ll cut down on the food waste.

Nothing like a broken freezer to start your day…

In my never ending quest to try and be more “green,” I bought an electric lawn mower about a year or so ago. Unfortunately, it’s a lawn mower of the corded variety, so I end up dragging along a 100 foot extension cord while mowing my lawn. It’s not a huge lawn, but it’s big enough that I really should have a riding lawn mower. I’m used to it, but it’s a pain.

Anyways.

About three weeks ago, I was finishing up my last strip of lawn when the mail carrier drove by. Trying to be friendly, I turned and waved, and turned back to the mower just in time to see the cord go under the mower deck and SNAP! I just mowed over my extension cord. Damn. Well, at least my lawn was mostly done (except for the odd strip that we called the soul patch) and no one was hurt. No harm, no foul.

Oh, but there was harm, dear reader. There was harm.

That harm was realized at about 7:30 this morning. I went out to the chest freezer in the garage for some hashbrowns. I didn’t need to turn on the light because I knew where they were, and there was just enough light from the windows in the garage door. I open the freezer and the first thing I notice is that my hashbrowns are…well…brown. That’s odd… and then it hit me. The overwhelming odor of rotting flesh and putrefaction. I stuck my hand in the freezer. “Oh shit. Everything’s warm!” I thought. I checked the stacks of once-frozen, homemade chicken stock. Liquid. Fuck.

I go inside, and tell my husband what happened. As I’m telling him, I reach up to scratch an itch on my nose. Ugh! The scent is on my hands. Of course, I make him smell just how bad it is. Someone has to share my pain. By this point, the scent has already permeated the laundry room, which is right off of the garage.

What does this have to do with my lawn? Well, all of the outlets in the garage and apparently on the outside of the house are on one breaker. When I ran over the extension cord, I inadvertently tripped the breaker and shut off my freezer. How long ago was that? Oh…about a month ago. So I’ve had rotting chicken broth, veggies, chicken breasts, fish, and about three inches of water sitting in my freezer in an 80+ degree garage for the past month. Our task today is to somehow clean it out without vomiting and spreading the scent to the other areas of the house.

Good luck, right? Ugh.