little limes

it is cold but we've got no snow

tomorrow she turns five, FIVE.
and there are things to do
plans for a small gathering on Saturday
when asked what she wanted to do she said:
'eat lollipops and cake and swing on the rope swing!'
and so that's what we aim to do,
throw in a piñata and some version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey
maybe pin-the-horn-on-the-unicorn, we'll see

a good friend asked her if she'd be accepting gifts and she said no.  when then asked what she (the good friend) could bring, Claire said "spinach!"

so, it will be an interesting party, for sure.

in the meantime, she's working through a stomach bug this morning, poor girl
we've been up since the wee hours and I'm so glad I turned in with her after our chapter of
Little House on the Prairie (we've started to read them again) last night

it is at least a bit more pleasant to start and tend a fire, hold back hair of a little loved one as she heaves, and watch the sun rise when one feels well rested
and there is tea

there are articles to write and the house to clean (actually, houses), groceries to buy, piñata stuffers to gather (tea and seeds to add to the lollipops and honey mint patties and little plastic dinosaurs- have I mentioned that, my general opinions about plastic and cheap junk aside, I have a thing for little plastic dinosaurs? it's true), art class plans to ready and
other daily miscellany to tend to.

the limes are growing, still
some have fallen off but several hang on and have grown to pea-size


red hat, pink hat, striped cowl

a red hat a bit too small,
yarn she chose herself for a new right-sized hat,
my big fat cotton cowl

I'm enjoying the circular needles, just need to learn a thing or two about gauge and such.  that yellow hat I made a couple weeks ago is HUGE.  I need to pull it out and redo it or find a giant to gift it to.  maybe it has a thing or two to do with the way I just grab yarn I like then choose needles I have (instead of buying new ones that are properly sized for the yarn) and dive in.  hmm.  well that doesn't always work.

the nice ladies at the yarn shop said they'd walk me through a tea leaves sweater when I'm ready.  or another of my choosing.  they have several sweaters and hats and other lovely things hanging on the walls with yarn samples and patterns.  there is a big table in the middle of the shop and lots of comfy seating.  it is just a couple doors down from the coffee shop…. they said that the tea leaves was a good first sweater because of this and that and the other.  I'm not really sure the reasons, I maybe didn't listen as carefully once they said "we'll walk you through it".

this is fun.



there were ever so many life lessons in store for me yesterday as I watched a tree company take down two of my neighbor's maples and, um, heavily prune (they essentially topped the poor thing, though they called it a 'round-over' and I've definitely seen worse. but still) another.  they were what I consider 'one of those' tree "companies".  the ones full of guys who don't wear their helmets (or you know, things like shirts with sleeves) and probably aren't insured.  the ones who often seem not at all concerned about the actual health of the trees and such.  the ones who are almost never actually arborists.  and on and on.  I'm married to a former certified arborist/owner of a respected and very tree-friendly tree service.  we met in college, where we both got degrees in Conservation Ecology.  so, you know, I like to think we know trees.

so there I was, huffing and puffing as I looked out my kitchen window.  watching these guys hack at the trees and drop brush all over our yard.  and then one of them hopped the fence and started pulling lines to lower brush into our yard, without first letting us know or asking for permission.  onto the chicken's fence and gate, right smack on top of one of our fig trees.  I may have stuck my head out the door and said something about the fig tree in what some might call a somewhat passive-agressive manner.  perhaps.  texted Mike, who was standing by at the local fire department while they were on a  call, letting him know the tree guys were in the yard now and please do come home because I may just go out there and lose my tact.  he came home and watched them- trying so hard, I'm sure, not to make suggestions and whatnot.  until they continued dropping branches on our fence/gate/fruit trees/etc.  and then he went and got out his chainsaw and helped the ground guy lower the branches a bit more efficiently and carefully and cut them away from the lines.

when he did tree work, it was so different.  I'm sure, I know…… he was thinking the same things I was.  I admit that in my head I was being judge-y, feeling like my ideas and my ways were better, more educated, less ignorant.  right.  referring to these guys as bubba and jim-bob and such.  you know.  I'm not proud.

after a while I called myself out on my self appointed place on my gleaming and educated high horse.  they were nice guys, if a bit rough around the edges.  they left the wood for us to use for firewood, (honestly, maple not being the very best for burning, it was better financially and manpower-ly for them to leave it instead of cut it all into logs and haul it away to split and sell, but still- they didn't have to, and we will certainly make good use of it and appreciate it) and gave us the chips to use (we've been  needing more for her play area and the fruit trees and berries).  the owner thanked Mike for his help and commiserated a bit about tree work and the job, clearly making an effort to be friendly and connect.  also likely recognizing the gulf between their different ways of doing things.  but reaching out all the same.  so, you know, good people.  reckon I could learn a thing or two from jim bob, er, I mean, him.

we are all, mostly anyway, doing the best we can with what we have.  living out our lives according to what we think is best given the sum of our own personal life experiences.  and mine are different from yours, and mine are different from the tree guys'.  and I must remember that.  and I must remember that just because they're different, neither is necessarily better or worse.  or even definitively more or less ignorant.  I keep hearing folks talk about not letting perfect be the enemy of good.  and I get it.

and so, after my initial huffing and puffing and after my initial almost-tears about the healthy and beautiful big old maple that shades our chicken yard getting a very unnecessary haircut….. I chilled out a bit.  looked for the gifts.  sought the lessons.

I made lemonade, as it were.

from the whole thing, I gained:

-mulch for her play area and our garden
-a big bowl of usnea for some medicine-making
-a bucket full of grubs and larvae for the hens
-a tub of some serious black gold that I pulled out of one of the maples' rotten leaders

and of course, surely the most significant,

-all that bit about the high horse and whatnot. (you know, the preceding paragraphs)

what's the bit about what we resist the most being what we need the most?  hmmmm.



this weekend started with her first time in the 'big kid' ballet class.  which is really just to say she is no longer in the pseudo-ballet 3-4 year old class that heavily features games and play and skipping (all obviously very important).  now they are using real ballet words and stuff like that.  but it's still way fun, she assured me.  afterwards she had the idea of washing all her dolls' clothes and she did so (in between stories and cuddles and such) during a visit from my mom.  (for those of you who've read here for any length of time and know about her rather serious health scare last year, I'm happy to share that she is doing really, really well- no need for supplemental oxygen, and she doesn't have to go see the pulmonologist again until May!)

I wasn't feeling laundry, so instead I started to look through our seed inventory and made some more chai.  I've been generally following this recipe, tweaking it a bit by putting in a bit less pepper and adding some star anise.  taking the time to toast the spices in the oven and then crushing them is definitely worth it.  yumyumyum.  this time I tripled the recipe in hopes of having enough to last a little while.  maybe a whole week.

there was some more knitting.  visits with good friends we've not seen in weeks.  visits actually all weekend with different dear friends we'd not seen for a bit.  so a good hearty dose of reconnecting.  good stuff.

(these are not the good friends I referred too, but aren't they cute?)

there was gluten-free apple coffee cake.  I'm sticking with the gluten-free thing for a while as I've noticed big positive changes in my skin and digestion.  I wouldn't go so far to say I need to avoid it.  I wouldn't even go so far as to call it a true intolerance.  maybe a little sensitivity?  I don't know.  I can definitely tell a difference.  and you know, that King Arthur gluten free baking mix can get you pretty far.  at least it gets us to apple coffee cake, and that's not too shabby.

she watched The Sound of Music again.  I sat there with her, watching, knitting.  we ate snacks.  a hearty dose of color on the plate is always a good thing, and not as easy to come by this time of year as in others. (those are the watermelon radishes I mentioned a little while back- yum!)

today it was incredibly balmy here.  we all headed for some work outside.  he split more wood, working already to refill the woodshed for next winter, even though we're only about halfway through with this season's wood burning days.  she helped push the wheelbarrow.  I keep meaning to split some wood myself.  I've done it before and I actually quite like it, it's just that… well… let's just say his wood-splitting efficiency is a bit higher than mine.  quite a bit.  but still, I need to get out there and heave that maul a bit.  soon.

but instead, today I pruned back the raspberries, watched the bees (so happy to see activity from each hive!), and daydreamed a bit about the garden, the seeds (I'm a big fan of Fedco)…..

the day wound down with some coloring while listening to sparkle stories, tasting the hard cider (totally a hit, yes!), grilled cheeses and tomato soup for dinner and oatmeal-cranberry-walnut-chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

there was also a pre-dinner drum jam.  awesome.  it isn't often he feels like getting out the hand drums, but when he does I enjoy it immensely.  I think it's possible that the first time I saw him (freshman year in college, in the lounge of our co-ed dorm where we happened to be living across and down the hall from each other) he was sitting alone, playing the drum.  so, you know, it makes me all warm and fuzzy and reminiscent to hear him play.

a good, long weekend.

weekending with Karen~



a beyond generous gift of a bushel of vegetables (carrots, beets, potatoes, watermelon radishes, spinach, garlic) from my might-as-well-be-sister-in-law, along with a few dozen eggs and meat from her farm.  she and my brother in law came for a visit last week and we all had a grand old time.  Claire always loves having extra hands around to draw and color with her and extra willing voices to read to her.  we ate at a place in Asheville, Bouchon, that we've been meaning to try for years. yumyumyum.  good times.

chai.  I finally made myself a batch.  of course, I'm already out, but that's alright.  I can make more.

and then there's Ziggy.  this cat is getting sweeter and sweeter with age, and I'm so glad he is here with us.  even if he does drive me nuts sometimes.  I guess that's how it is with most people/animals/things we love though, eh?

to be sure, there are piles all over in the mudroom, Claire's art supplies are turning into a mountain on the floor in the office, and not everything is all cat snuggles and free vegetables.  but it does me good to focus on the sweet little bits.  now I'm off to maybe clean a bit~



in early December I decided I wanted to make running a regular thing in my world.  really, I was just finally acknowledging (or more accurately, finally doing something about) the nagging reality that I've not had any real exercise, on any regular basis, in my world for a while.  maybe not since she was little enough to wear on nice long hikes.  I am far from sedentary, and sure I take her out on the bike now and again, but I needed more.  I needed sweat.  to hear and feel my heart pumping all the way up in my ears.  and, while I do love a good long solo hike when I can get them, it'd help if I found something I could fit in more regularly.  something faster?  and thus the running.  I've got no real goal, distance-wise.  today I ran 4 miles and it felt good.  I feel like I could work up to twice(ish) that.  I prefer running on trails to asphalt.  made myself a playlist and am weeding through it as I find some songs work for me better than others.  so far Michael Franti never lets me down, and I like the Shins even though they're a bit mellow.  there are others, too.  feeling it all out.

Mike got me that fancy GPS watch for Christmas.  I joke that it's my tracking device, though really it doesn't work quite like that.  anyway, it's fun to know how far I've run and how far I'm going.  how far this will all go, I have no clue.  today I came home from my run and ate that bowl of yogurt and granola.  yum.

here's to wellness and good health in 2015~


give in

the days are often misty grey and cold.
as days are, in winter.

I've accepted that.  come to bask in it even.  come to welcome the stillness and the quiet, the dampness and the chill.  the free pass to stay in my pajamas in front of the wood stove, tea in hand, until I simply must get dressed.  the mountain ridges, the naked trees…… there is something so pure and comforting about being able to see the bones of the landscape.  as though it makes it seem as if the world is as vulnerable as I sometimes feel I am.  it's nice, this (perhaps misguided and silly) presumed equal footing.

I didn't always think so.  I used to detest the chill, the damp biting grey that wouldn't end.  I'd fight it.  clearly a pointless effort.  so now I say bring it, winter.  bring your howling winds and your sullen-looking days.  and I will find ways to embrace them.  I will find ways to listen more closely to that wind to hear whispers of your wisdom and hints of grand ideas and inspiration.

bring, too, your unbeatable fairy-colored gloaming, your fresh start.  your relentless insistence that we humans reflect a bit and maybe learn a thing or two about ourselves in your presence.  and do please, at some point, bring us a blanket of beauty, snow white, to last for days and days.