joanna irl

2020 is a lot but at least there’s apple picking

Y’know, I had good intentions with getting back into blogging regularly post-grad school, but this year has been A Thing, so I guess just appreciate that this is getting attention at all. 😉

We haven’t really gone anywhere (other than J going on a floaty float for work) in six months. The air has been *not good* thanks to wildfire smoke. Outdoor spaces are crowded at best and overrun at worst. Everything is just A Lot, is what I’m saying.

side of highway with golden brown fields and hazy mountains in the distance

But a couple of Mondays ago I happened to see a post from a newly-opened-for-the-season apple orchard in Julian that was open on Mondays. The air quality happened to be okay that day. And J was home on a random day off. So! Off to Julian we went on a last minute day trip to the mountains!

sunflowers in left-third of photo with hazy mountains behind

It was exactly what we both needed.

orchard row with dirt ground going toward mountains, apple trees covered in apples on either side

Because it was a Monday, we had the orchard nearly to ourselves, which meant we could walk around the back areas without masks (a complete novelty right now!) and take a few photos.

Jared picks an apple from a tree; he's wearing a wide brim hat and glasses, and smiling as he looks over his shoulder

The apples are varieties I’m not as familiar with. We’ve never gone picking up in Julian because it’s such a short season, and often crowded with folks driving up from San Diego, and hot.

close up view of two apples sitting against a tree branch with more apples in background behind them

And it was, indeed, hot. Especially compared to the big farms with large orchards we visited in the midwest.

Jared and Jo sitting under an apple tree smiling. Jared is holding up a full bag of apples.

Despite the heat, it felt good to be outdoors, and we picked two bags of apples. We even drove into town to peek around and managed to score parking right by the Cider Mill to run in and get apple butter! We stopped by the Pie Company on the way out of town and bought the last dozen apple cider doughnuts to round out the day and headed home, tired but happy.

cider doughnuts with sugar coating sitting on checkered paper in a carbboard box

Honestly, I’m not sure I could recreate the perfect timing of it all. But we’ve got a pile of apples for the fall now and I have treats stashed in the freezer for later, and even today the heat has broken and it *almost* (not really, but for San Diego) feels like early autumn.

It’s the little things like this getting me through the year.

two pairs of feet sticking out from viewer (POV: sitting in the orchard) with a bag of apples between them. Apple trees stretch into the distance.
joanna irl

Two for a Tuesday

Well, look at that! I managed to not wait three months to update the blog again. Amazing! For this (I would say “lovely” but it’s snowing again and about 13 degrees outside so it’s just “this”) Tuesday, I’ve got two small stories for you from the last week. We’ll start with what happened today so everyone can end this adventure on a high note.

Winter and I are not friends. The fact that I have two actual friends named Summer is purely coincidental and amusing, but the point remains that I have no friends named Winter, seasonally-based or otherwise. In an effort to make Winter in Chicago (which is a brand new experience and providing a whole host of other “entertainment” including frozen windows and slogging through brownish-gray “snow”) more bearable, I am trying to embrace a few winter traditions. Last night I made hot apple cider in my percolator so that the house would smell wonderfully like apples and cinnamon and cloves and allspice with the ADDED BONUS of hot cider. Win-win, right? It was lovely sitting in front of the fire with a big, steaming mug of cider.

Today I set the percolator on the counter with the basket full of still-damp spices (cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and whole allspice) exposed for drying and then disposing. I did the daily kitchen-floor-sweeping (who on earth thinks it’s a good idea to put a back door directly into a kitchen??) and set the broom against the counter….where it slid and knocked into the percolator which knocked into other things which all went bouncing across the white tile of the freshly-cleaned kitchen floor in a veritable explosion of drippy spices. Between the cloves and allspice and remnants of cinnamon-infused apple drips, it looked like an army of incontinent rabbits had just charged through the place. You’re welcome for THAT image.

So now the floor is swept (again) and steam-mopped (again) and the kitchen rug is in the washing machine (again) and I’m going to try and eat lunch at some point, I suppose.

In the meantime, here’s the other story. Snow walking away from Outback

Yesterday I had an appointment downtown and on the drive back home I noticed a park. I’ve done this drive a few times, but it’s the first time I’ve been confident enough in where I was to notice things other than traffic, street signs, etc. The park was buried in snow, but the roads were clear (thank you, infrastructure) so I detoured.

Lake Michigan snow beach trees

And found myself looking at water through the trees. So out of the car I trudged and toward the water because, after all, a determined Jo will eventually find her way to a beach. And oh what a beach I found.

Lake Michigan snow beach

The ice floating on the water, the snow piled up in banks like sand dunes… It was pretty for about five minutes. Then I trudged my way back to Harriet (Jones, Subaru Outback) and headed home as the flakes got bigger and more accumulation announced itself.

Lake Michigan, snow stripes on trees

I do think it’s interesting the way snow sticks to trees in patterns depending on the wind and the shapes of the branches and things. I don’t think that Winter and I will ever be friends, but we might be able to find a truce. As long as there aren’t any more incontinent rabbits wreaking havoc in my kitchen.