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Monday, September 8, 2014

Making




Just a little bit of (finished) making that has been happening around here.  Simple little things.

pick up sticks and a set of checkers pieces (of which, in the last minute rush to wrap them up, I forgot to take a picture) as a birthday present for a good friend of G & D's.  We made the checkers pieces out of some slices of a maple branch that Jim had cut and I had sanded to use for a different project ~ but they were just right.  A little paint, a little beeswax polish, and they were ready to go.  The pick up sticks game we made by cutting bamboo skewers in half, rounding the ends & sanding, then painting with a bit of acrylic paint.  I ended up having to sand them lightly again, as the paint went on a bit globby, but they turned out very nice and was an easy, fun project for the boys.  Plus, they made a set for themselves at the same time, so now they get to enjoy the fun.

little notebooks for myself because I can never have too many notebooks... One will be a journal for a class I'll be taking soon, the other to carry with me for jotting down writing notes as they come.

an apron for myself spurred on by a materials list for another class I'll be taking.  This was one of those projects where my motivation was not the best and I really should have bagged it.  To be honest, I could have just used an old shirt.  But do you ever - like me - get it in your head that you've got to do something "special"?  Something that will "show off" your creativity?  Make you feel "in the club"?  Cooler than just an old shirt?  Ok.  So that was this project for me.  And though there were many times I could have (and perhaps should have) thrown up my hands in defeat, I am stubborn, and so on I kept, even though my first "this will be perfect!" idea fell completely apart.  So, simplified by half, for better or worse, I now have a new apron for messy, non-cooking projects, and my stubbornness has been appeased.

I'll be away for the rest of the week ~ I hope you have a good one!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Late Summer Garden



This year we've had our best garden since moving to this house five years ago.  We really struggled to get it going, starting from scratch.  There have been some successes here and there, but this year we've had some momentum, some luck, and a few years of preparations behind us.

Usually we get to a point where the weeds take over, and all hope is lost.  But this year we've been keeping up well enough that it has mostly been manageable (except for a few areas that were sacrificed for the good of the rest).  We've been harvesting quite a bit, and have managed to have some meals made almost entirely from food we grew or raised.  Simple, but exciting nonetheless!

For the first time, we've managed to do some replacement planting - putting in beans and carrots in place of peas, and spinach and radishes in place of beans.  Not everything has come up - the carrots have been very patchy, and the spinach never made it up at all.  But I'm thrilled with the simple act of planting.  It is a step.

There was an "L" shaped area around the garden, outside the fence that had been tilled at one point, but this year had grown up entirely in shoulder-high weeds.  Jim recently cut those down, tilled the area and planted red clover seed.  The little sprouts are starting to peek up, and we're crossing our fingers it will come up strong and have a chance to blossom before the cold sets in.  The hope is to provide food for the bees, tea herbs for me, and some good green manure for the soil.

In the course of prepping that area, Jim also moved some poor neglected asparagus plants that had survived several years of weedy overgrowth, to a new home in a cleaned out bed by the patio.  They've almost all sent up new shoots, so hopefully we'll be back on track for a good asparagus patch.

There is some non-plant beauty to be found in and about the garden, too.  For a little while we had an indigo bunting that would visit every day to feast on the weed seeds in one of the neglected patches.  The bees have been feasting on the oregano blossoms.  It has even been the backdrop to a homemade concert or two, as well.

There's a long way to go to where we dream of it being, but of course that's the way it is with gardens - and there's always next year.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Behind the Scenes


Somehow August has flown into September.  Our chickens noticed the shortening of the days before I realized the difference, and we've been getting fewer eggs now each day as the old hens slow down and the new ones have yet to start.

I suppose you could say that I'm in that place myself: in the pause between the old and the new.  Having given myself the chance to slow down, I let go of a lot of things.  Maybe I wasn't as productive, though it's all in how you look at it (and knowing where to look).  But out of that slowing down, as I let so much sift through my fingers, one thing that remained was the urge to do something.  Something intentional, something radical.

It has yet to take a clear form, but it is there, waiting.  So there is dreaming and thinking and talking going on around here, in moments throughout the days.  And there is work being done in the meantime, about this home, inside and out.  There is writing happening, and a new homeschool year to finish preparing for.

There is movement, from old to new, and it is good.

Monday, July 28, 2014

About Home :: Rebuilding


Here is something entirely obvious, that I lost sight of for a while; and when I remembered it, couldn't get to it from where I was: that to live a life centered around home and the work of tending and creating that home, you must be at home.  Here is another obvious truth that was overlooked: a person who needs quiet will eventually run dry going full-on, no matter how good the goings-on may be.

But the good thing about getting all out of whack is that it teaches you something.  It's like learning to ride a bike: lean too far to one side, and down you go, scraped knees and elbows, bruises and all.  It doesn't feel so good, but now you know a little better how to stay balanced and maybe next time catch yourself wobbling and adjust as needed before hitting the pavement.

I'm taking August to rebuild, to tend those scrapes and bruises and refill the dried-up bits; to reassess, get my feet firmly underneath me again.  So, it will be quiet here for a time I think, though I may be back now and then.  I hope the rest of your summer is filled with those things that keep you balanced and grounded in your days.  I'll see you back here when I've found that place, too.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Surprising Bounty


I went out to the garden this evening, thinking I'd pick a bit of chard and a zucchini for dinner, not expecting anything else to be ready.  Instead I ended up with the chard and zucchini (several), a round squash Jim planted and neither of us can remember what exactly it was, onions, beans, basil & some dill seed.  And the last two day lily buds I could find.  (Not to mention the renewed energy it gave me as I was fading fast.)  So maybe it's not a "bounty" compared to many.  But then it's all relative, and tonight, it was a bounty to me, surprisingly and without a doubt.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In the Quiet




I am worn thin.  I topple
over the line with a faint breeze,
then watch out if you are close to me as I fall.
It is not pretty.

But here: in the quiet
I close my eyes and I am me, alone
with the hush of the air and the crickets and birdsong.
Here I can pause, and just
be.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Freezing :: Drying :: Foraging


I have managed to make some time lately to do some preserving of this and that.  I find I usually have to psych myself up and then just take a deep breath and dive in, this time of year.  It seems kind of silly, really, but there you go.  In the winter, I had dreams (like every winter, I think) of the bounty of herbs I would harvest - wild and tended - to fill jars in my little herb "pantry".  But: I am making an effort to readjust my perspective to gratitude for what I do manage to get stored away, rather than wasting time in comparisons to others' harvests and my own high hopes.  Every little bit is more than I had, and every little bit teaches me something and emboldens me to try a little more.  So now, scattered around the house in various stages of drying, are batches of mint, calendula flowers and lemon balm.  I'm hoping more will join them soon, bit by bit. 

I'm still trying to figure out the best way of drying these herbs.  I have a dehydrator which I've used in the past but am trying to find a workable non-electric way.  Our days get so humid here in the summer that it's a bit hard.  A solar dehydrator is on our wish list to build, but that is not now.  So I'm trying just laying the cuttings out on cooling racks or baking sheets, and I also decided to try hanging some in paper bags with holes cut in the sides to let the air through.  Any ideas?

I've also been itching to head outside and harvest some things to add to our meals, but there's not too much ready to pick in the garden right now (kale, chard, herbs, tiny little zucchinis is about it).  I recently learned that you can eat day lily buds, so yesterday I grabbed some and added them to a stir fry of broccoli and tiny zucchinis (for some reason once our zucchinis get a little bigger than finger-sized, they turn yellow and shrivel up).  I grabbed a couple nasturtium blossoms while I was out there, and gave us each one on top.  They were both so good!  Such little harvests, but they make me happy: despite their size, they are our harvests, and we're learning all the time, and each step leads to another.