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27 December, 2013


Photo appropos of nothing

A couple of years ago, I was posting often and eclectically enough that it made sense to spin off aspects of this blog, to try and focus. It was an experiment, I said, probably intending to make a decision before too long about which topics would live, and which would be abandoned to the Wayback Machine (which uses to let people access webpages of yore).

Then a couple of years went by, and none of the more focused blogs really took off. Now, it's time to kill some of those darlings, or at least to admit that I am a body eclectic. At one point or another, there have been 6 or so blogs under the Mojourner label, and it's time to re-absorb a few.

Land Before Me, a title that seemed just clever enough at the time, has a fan or two, and posts are regularly re-posted on a local aggegator page, but the fact is that Mojourner Truth (no link, because you're here now) is plenty able to travel and spew forth about landscapes natural, cultural, historical, archaeological, and fictional. There is not enough time to make frequent land-specific posts, so I'm cashing out for the $0 dollars this blog earned me.*

Urban Greenstead, my futile effort at glomming on to the DIY urban homesteading trend, live from a hotbed of such activity, fell flat. There are a million such sites, and for a guy who insists on creating my own content, not linking to popular sites, not posting daily (sacrificing the garden), and not promoting himself with twitterish or instagramatiation,...well that guy ain't going far. I went not far at all, and had fun in the garden. Thanks to all the folks who read about raised beds, christmas tree cycling, and vermicomposts, but this blog is over.

Mo Comment, intended to be the political/wonk/commentary page..., was never going to happen. No readers, no writer when it came down to it; not even worht a link. Huff and puff and, Huffington Post.

On the other hand, I will hang onto a few of the side-blogs. Procrastacritic, though it has been quiescent of late, is specific enough (fresh reviews of stale culture), and has enough posts in the hopper that I plan to maintain it. In keeping with the spirit of the name, I only get around to posting a handful of time per year, so it should not be too taxing. I have grand plans for a series about mid-1970s dystopia and dysaster flicks,...which I may write about some day. Also, I'm thinking of branching out into music.

Mocavore, although the title makes me cringe a bit, generally gets a lot of hits when I post, largely due to the local audience. It can absorb a bunch of the Urban Greenstead posts, since I tended to focus on food there anyway. Also, I feel a calling to continue writing about food at a very basic level, without the glossy photos taken with the proper angle and depth of field, without promos and give-aways, and without fancification of what is ultimately sustencance (tasty or not). It has been and will remain Food, Basically.

Then there's the new blog, ArchaeOlygy, borne from an archaeology project itself begat by bureaucratic dismissiveness and the wrath of an archaeologist spurned. Not nearly as spiteful as that last sentence would suggest, this blog deals with archaeology in the South Salish Sea region. It's the one blog I've opened to other writers, although none has yet answered. On the other hand, it's also received the most frequent and helpful audience participation. I look forward to this one growing.

So there it is. Mojourner Truth will retract a few tentacles, and continue to wave other about. What was spun off is reeled back. Fission reverses to fusion, and Mojourner Truth is at peace with being unfocused and eclectic.**

* Like all the rest. Why the hell would I take ads or monetize my pressure release valve, my utterly free platform, my soapbox in this empty room called the internet?
** An readerless, mostly. To those who show up, I thank you, and hope to entertain and provoke you anew.

22 December, 2013

Backroads: Egg and I Road

At the intersection of a memory lane and a road not taken.

One day this Fall, as the leaves were changing color under clear blue skies, I drove out through the Chiumacum Valley, past he town of Center (location one of my favorite  government facility names, the Center Work Center), and up the west side the valley to look for archaeology. For my effort, I founf one abandoned house, rumored to be haunted, but that's another story.

Getting there requires a short jaunt on Egg and I Road. The Egg and I was a book by Betty MacDonald, who followed her new (and before long, former) husband on his cockamamie dream of leaving the city and starting a chicken farm. Hilarity ensued, as it often does in the memories of people who go through ordeals. According to an article at Historylink, Betty's sister had told a publisher that she was writing a humorous book, and so The Egg and I came to be to save sister Mary the embarrassment, along with the dedication "To my sister Mary, who has always believed I could do anything whe puts her mind to."

The book came out at the end of WWII, ideal timing for a funny book about anything but the war, and long enough after the Depression for its sorrowful depredations to fade under a patina of humor. By then, Betty had left the chicken farm and re-married (what became of her chicken-raising husband Robert Haskett at that point, I do not know; he was stabbed to death in 1951 by another woman's jilted husband). Millions of copies of the book sold, and it became a movie. The Ma and Pa Kettle characters from Betty's book spawned a whole series of movies.

In 1981, a road first built about a century earlier was officially named "Egg and I Road," memorializing the way to the chicken farm. It runs western slope of the western fork of Chimacum valley to Route 19 (aka Beaver Valley Road) on the east slope of the east valley. There are pastures and wooded slopes, but no chickens that I could see, and nary a porch-sittin' hillbilly to be seen.

The chicken farm that turned out to be so funny and lucrative is part of a larger story that didn't turn out so well (check out Richard White's "Land Use, Environment, and Social Change" for a more thorough telling). By the late 1920's the combination of railroad logging technology and a roaring economy had led to the clear-cutting of unprecedented swaths of land, which then seemed worthless. Attempts were made to present acres of stumps and now exposed and depleted forest soild as great opportunities for farming. Generally, people tried, failed, and left, because farming in glacial gravel full of stumps does not work so well. According to White, one of the few chances to make a go of it was to raise chickens, so at least Haskett was on the right track, even if it did not work out.

Not the barn, but a barn on Egg and I Road.

These days, the pastures around Egg and I Road feel idyllic. The  urban crow can be there in a 20-mile flight from the filthiest part of Seattle, but the Sound and the land's folds make it more remote. The presence of a quarter horse farm airport indicates that the neighborhood is not entirely safe from gentrification, but it looks like there are still regular people who live there. Between the Bremerton-Poulsbo sprawl and the long-urban Port Townsend entry to the Sound, the Egg and I's neighborhood is remote enough to retain its rural charm. It never was as isolated as the book made it sound, but it remains a back road.

07 December, 2013

Olympia in October (in Color)

Walking Home, Clouds to the East, Nearly Sunset

Walking to Work, Cold Enough Morning to Fog Up the Lens

Priest Point Park

01 December, 2013

What's That Smell?

I must be doing something right, because I only started the kim-chee this afternoon, and already the kitchen smells like cabbage gone bad.

This must be a theme, or a season. In the few days betwixt Thanksgiving and Get-Back-to-Work-It's December, I've harvested a few quarts of sauerkraut, started a few more, pasteurized and bottled vinegar, and just now got kimchi going.