Saturday, November 28, 2009

i miss the farm when i'm away

Friday, November 27, 2009

true vintage

I spent the whole day in a shopping mall with my sister. Usually a day in a mall would be hell, but I found out that the Lehigh Valley Mall has recently added a Guitar Center, and that means one thing to me...I get to play my dream guitar. The whole day of lines, traffic, and yelling children was worth it for that alone. That's me picking away. My sister snapped the photo with her iphone. (Who knew a homesteader could be so happy in a crowded shopping center retail store?) For a few minutes the whole world melted away and it was just me and that soft-shouldered wonder. If you think I'm using dramatic license—you never played one.

The Gibson J-45 is a piece of American history. A gorgeous tobacco sunburst jumbo developed in the mid 40s. It's dark, like me. It's non-electric, like me. And just holding one in my grabby paws made me smile more than I did on prom night. I was smiling because I was playing was the guitar that blues legends, folk singers, and old-time crooners picked alike. It was the dark horse that saw the death of a World War, the birth of a rock & roll, and became the soundtrack to a social revolution. It was there to watch the entire shift in western culture happen. It was in studio apartments in SoHo during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was in the back of dusty trucks in Iowa for the moon landing. It was there to see the Civil Rights Movement and probably strapped to the back of those who marched. She's just been here, all along. Watching us happen and playing the soundtrack along the way. I think the world of her.

Someday I will own one. It'll be older, probably a model from the 60's, but perfect. She'll sit in my future farmhouse and dance in the dusty sunbeams in my barn. She'll be the harmony to my own voice at late night bonfires where my border collies circle the flames like happy sharks. She'll be the avatar of "I made it."

But right now, like so many things, she's a pipe dream. A vintage J-45 costs more than my truck and finding one in good condition in a pawn shop cheap is near impossible. But every week I hunt eBay and look on Craigslist for my lucky break. I carry her picture in my wallet. I wear a small black Gibson charm around my neck. I hope. She's the guitar that is Jenna and I'll call her mine someday, this I am certain.

You know, it's not about owning some fancy possession. It's about becoming a part of that history. It's knowing that you're making music for yourself on all of our collective nostalgia: regardless if we realize it or not. Some day I will play that guitar and lean back into warm arms and know it is exactly where I belong. It won't happen soon, and it won't be easy, but it'll be worth it. When I figure out how to get there I'll let you know.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

happy thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Northeastern Pennsylvania! I'm here taking a small vacation from the farm and enjoying a couple of days with the other Woginriches. Neighbors and friends are watching the farm so I can be with my family, and I can not thank them enough. Jazz, Annie, and my parent's dog, Melvin, are enjoying the abundance of food falling on the kitchen floor from all the cooking goings-on. I already baked two quiches and two loaves of bread. This evening I'll bake some apple pies and my Tofurkey. No dog nor human will go hungry today. Impossible.

Alas, no Thanksgiving birds were raised on my farm this season—that was a whole big thing last year. But I thought I'd post a photo of TD anyway from last October. He really was a table bird to be proud of. Incidentally, Chuck Klosterman is in that photo as well. Now he's in my freezer. (Not to be crass, but I'm damn thankful for that particular relocation.)

My father has made the Woginrich family traditional long-neck white squash pie which is AMAZING. The evening will be a fire in the den with the family's four large dogs (two goldens and my two huskies) and we'll do what we do every year: Star Wars Thanksgiving. The Woginrich kids have always watched all three original Star Wars movies after dinner, marathon style. This is done with many, many slices of pie. I can't wait.

It's great to be surrounded by my family—which is hilarious and sarcastic. My brother John and Sister Kate are here roaming around, and friends come and go throughout the day. I forgot how much I missed them.... I think help is needed peeling apples, so I'm going to bolt. But I wanted to check in wish all you guys a Happy Thanksgiving.

photo by Sara Stell

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

new cover for the paperback!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

a lot of pie

I have baked ten pies since Sunday night. That's a lot of pie. It's especially a lot of pie when you work a full time job, tend a full-time farm, and are trying to prepare for the holidays ahead. I thought selling apple pies for Thanksgiving would be a surefire way to make some cash to help with travel expenses. It was, and I'm grateful, but two hours of baking late at night has left me drained. I'm used to the last hours before bed being dedicated to reading, music, sitting...just unwinding from it all. I can farm all day and be totally refreshed if I get my nightly ritual of relaxation. I can do nothing but nap all day and then end it with chores and feel beaten as a junkyard dog. I'd complain more, but it's a silly thing to do.

I'm glad to report the last two are cooling on the rack as I type, and will be delivered to my final customer tomorrow. Each pie had a sugar-top crust with a turkey strutting across the top. Despite all the extra efforts and nights gone to sleep with crust in my hair—they looked good. I'm also happy knowing a few families here in Vermont will be having a slice of Jenna pie after their Thanksgiving dinners. Makes me feel a little more part of this place.

The goslings are doing well. All five are squeaking away, I can hear them even with the bathroom door shut. The cabin smells of wood smoke and pie and I'm properly tired after the day. I'm very much looking forward to a long stretch, a warm bed, and a morning met with hot coffee and cold noses.

Oh, in case I don't write you before Thursday morning, Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

horns!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hey ho, let's go.

I went to college in Kutztown, Pennsylvania at the State University of the same name. It's located halfway between Philadelphia and Lancaster in an agricultural valley better known for its quilts and produce stands then design graduates—but I received a hell of an education there and think back on my time spent there fondly. Kutzotwn had a large Mennonite/Amish community and on Sunday mornings it was like going back in time. You'd wake up in your apartment overlooking Main Street and hear the trotting of horses heading to services. Late at night the Amish kids (whom I'm pretty sure were coming home from parties wilder than anything we English could pull off) raced down the hill on their bicycles. They could fly. I'd never seen happier teenagers in my life.

I found this picture hidden in my iPhoto files today. It's from 2004, taken my senior year of classes. It's an Amish kid's buggy parked outside the college record store. I remember looking at it with joy while waiting in my red Jetta parked outside the CVS for my friend Kevin to return to the car—secretly wanting to slap a Ramones sticker on the orange triangle on the back. I contained myself.

When I took this photo I was planning on living in Philadelphia. I wanted a loft in Rittenhouse Square. As you know, Cold Antler Farm is a long ways off from center city Philly. Knowing how it all ended up: I can't help but wonder if the local agricultural communities from Kutztown planted the seed in my mind? I do remember always turning my head and feeling a bit of envy when the buggies went by—not so much for being Amish (fairly certain my general attitude would have me shunned in about 27 days...) but for the scaled down ways of living. The animals. The food. The certainty. If I could have a stable under my apartment in Rittenhouse square, I'd do so in a second. And now here I am trying to plan for a future where saddling up my Fell pony to check on the lambs in the south field is my new reality. Or will be, eventually.

I'm pretty sure I was always the same person, the compass needle just needed proper adjusting. Looking at this photo of the buggy outside the record store now perfectly sums me up. The only difference being my Fell pony cart will certainly have that Ramones sticker on the back, and I'll trot him back to the farm, ipod blaring. Hey ho, let's go.