August 1, 2011

California Practice

We spent two weeks in Oakland visiting Chris and Tania, my (Dave's) brother and sister-in-law. We had a fantastic time with them, enjoying the local scenery around Almeda and Berkeley. Their neighborhood is really quite nice despite some rougher elements and we spent a great deal of time at their newly purchased house, helping them in the early phases of lawn construction and exterior tweaking. Several of our anticipated workstays will involve similar kind of labor during parts of our days, so we welcomed the elementary carpentry work that was done to enclose their washroom, as well as the rubble clearing and brick retrieval that cleared the way for their ultimate dream patio. 

We look forward to seeing what happens in the final execution but it was great to be there and contribute to Chris and Tania's home. We're hoping to entice them into a visit at some point later in the visit so look for them to show up again in these pages.

Dave and Christina, wedding reception-ready
At right, the man of the hour Evan Jones, plus some of his wedding party, plus Bradts
Aforementioned Bradts, thoughtful and capable.
Orienting ourselves on an Oakland freeway; I was thinking The Matrix Reloaded but Christina went with The Scream 
Wook and Bradt construction, Door 1
Wook and Bradt construction, Door 2
Laying groundwork for brick laying

New Hampshire Training

We began to train for the work ahead once we arrived in beautiful Acworth, New Hampshire. Though some distinction can be made between South Acworth (our home during the summer stay) and the more unsightly North Acworth, the overall town is an active and welcoming place to be in the summer season. Check out the online guide to Acworth, not to mention it's best source of local political information, at the

We were present during the middle stages of the growing season and saw many fruit and vegetable crops come to harvest, while also learning how to make savory and useful preserves so as to extend the surplus of ripening produce that can quickly seem overwhelming. We made some basic raspberry preserves, gathering berries from a Elsesser Blueberries, a local pick-your-own treasure. After getting about four pints of juicy raspberries, we ground them through the food mill to separate some of the seeds, added 1.5 cups of sugar to the roughly 2 cups of raspberry juice (a 0.75:1 ratio), then simmered for about an hour until thickened. Proper recipe and instructions can be found in our Recipes Page. At a later trip we also harvested too many pints of plump blueberries and had to find means to store them after having our fill of blueberry pies and pancakes for three days. We settled on a Spiced Blueberry Recipe that has a nice, savory sweetness to it. Apparently it goes well on everything from toast to ice cream to pork roasts. Vegetable harvests will later offer their own sort of preserving wisdom, but for now the trip and it's lessons have begun.

Christina and Mama Bradt gathering volunteers
4 pints picked, about 1 eaten
Already Dave is assimilating into the natural world

Christina and Dave dispatching of evidence, ala Fargo