Aug 11 2009

Hunting and Gathering


This morning, we’re getting ready for company–meeting my student teacher for the first time.  We thought we would buy a loaf of bread to make garlic bread to go with Tuesday night pasta.  The oppressive heat today is one reason for dreading the drive.  The other is that it will be a minimum of a 40-minute round-trip, with time added for a side trip to Walmart for ant traps.

While reading Plenty, I came across these statistics: 

  • A study in the United Kingdom showed that the amount of time people now spend driving to the supermarket, looking for parking, and wandering the lengthy aisles in search of frozen pizzas or pre-mixed salads is nearly equal to that spend preparing food from scratch twenty years ago.
  • Americans spend an average of forty-eight minutes shopping each day, and seven on religious and spiritual activities.  More than two and a half hours watching television, and eight minutes volunteering for civic groups.

OK.  Those are my depressing thoughts for the day.  I ought to be baking bread!

Jul 26 2009

Review & Thoughts: Hunting From Home


I just this minute finished Hunting from Home/A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which Natalie picked up for me for $4 at the Green Valley Book Fair, itself in the Blue Ridge near James Madison University.  I’ve been nursing my way through it these four days at the beach, wanting to stretch it out, not wanting it to end.  I’m inclined to send Christopher Camuto, its author, the $20 difference between the cover price and what Natalie paid, but realistically, I’ll probably buy another of his books instead.

This book is a year of intense observation, basecamped around the 200-acre Highland Farm in the southern Blue Ridge.  Camuto is intimidatingly learned and apparently, natively intelligent.  His writing, from my view, is full of profound thoughts and observations beautifully, and frequently poetically, captured.  I have to admit my bias to his subject matter, though.  Woods and birds and trout and deer, stars and seasons, time and mortality — well, I suppose in a sense he covers everything.  My one complaint is that the title is somewhat misleading.  It starts with grouse hunting, but then spends a long stretch on trout fishing, and on birds, before moving to trees, back to grouse hunting, and then the welcome climax of hunting deer with longbow and muzzleloader.  I’m no fisherman, but I enjoyed those parts very much, and I am not and doubt I ever will be a birder; I complained a bit about the detail there, but still it was enjoyable reading.

This was one of those books that makes me wonder why I would ever try to write generic cialis online best price.  A bit of the feeling I get from reading Faulkner.  Better than I think I’d ever be able to achieve.  (Take the compliment please, Mr. Camuto, but you know as well as I — Faulkner, that’s a stretch.  But it’s the same idea.)

Had I not met the love of my life, I would be easily seduced by the solitary life Camuto describes.  Just him and his bird dog, Patches, a cabin and a woodstove, 200 acres to learn and love, hunting, doing the work of living, writing…(sigh).  Natalie thinks we could work it out.

Hunting from Home
A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains

by Christopher Camuto
W.W. Norton and Company
Buy it on Amazon

Footnote:  Just googled Camuto and found that he’s on the faculty of Bucknell University now, the school that was at the top of my daughter’s list, but she didn’t make it in. :-(

May 16 2009

A Good Day For Food


Finally, the wooden fence posts are all in around the garden.  Sorry it took so much time and whining.  But now the fence can be finished no matter the weather.  Give me two weeks.

A toad kept me company in the garden, last night when I was mulching with grass clippings (more on this great technique in a later post), and today when I was setting the posts.  The plants look pretty happy.

This evening, my beloved and I went downtown for dinner at the Helmand (eggplant, lamb, chicken, Afgan pudding with fresh fruit) and a talk and Q&A with Michael Pollan at the main Enoch Pratt library.  A good and lively session, packed — some were estimating 800 people.  I have Aimee Cardwell to thank for giving me my first Michael Pollen book, The Botany of Desire, so many years ago.  Second Nature is, of course, a favorite, because he writes so insightfully about gardening, but no one can dispute that The Omnivore’s Dilemma is his most important book to date.

Here’s a not-so-great shot of him from my iPhone, right after he signed my copy of TOD:


Mar 26 2009

Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo


Dead Aid:  Why Aid is Not Working and How there is Another Way for Africa.  Heard this author and economist on NPR and haven’t stopped thinking about her book.  She is going to be on CNN talking to Fareed Zakirha on April 5.  Check out her website.  Has anyone read this book?  I want to know more about her perspective. Maybe I can get Roger to Kindle this for his iPhone?  Did I just write that?deadaid_jpg_display