grey days miscellany

last night we had our first fire of the season.  it seemed a good response to the week of steady, chilly rain we've had.  a week of mostly soft, grey days with a bit of wind and heavy downpour thrown in to keep us on our toes.  I finished that wonderful, wonderful book.  today is a wet and cool October day and there has been coffee and french toast.  coffee and bananas.  I've been out to the garden a couple times to work in the rain because I just couldn't stand being inside any more.  neatened up, picked most of the remaining peppers and tomatillos and nearly all of the little key limes off the tree on the deck.  moved some baby kale and collard plants out of some cramped areas to maximize our fall plantings.  I glance at the peas out of the corner of my eye, pretending not to care.  I see you are flowering, I know it is late...... maybe.  maybe.

also, coming soon....... a master bathroom.  nothing like a week of rain to bring this tedious indoor project back to the front burner.


35 (a gratitude list, and the day in pictures)

every year, for the last 5 or 6 years, I've made a list on my birthday of things I'm grateful for and things that strike my fancy.  I keep on going until I've got a list of things equaling the number of years old that I am.  and so today, 35.  some, of course, carry (much) more weight than others, but you know that.  I'm not peeking back to previous years' lists until I finish this one, but I know there are several that will show up not for the first time.  and so, I am grateful for.....

- this sweet ball of fur, who is content to plop his soft-as-silk self in my lap for as long as possible, filling a void that was bigger than I realized since we said goodbye to Ziggy this spring
- the wonderful crew of folks that I call friends, and that I've been open to finding my way to a few new dear ones over this past year or two
- our new wood stove, waiting to be put to good use in the probably-not-so-distant future
- the dozens and dozens of jars on the pantry shelves.  the most we've ever put up in a year, from maple syrup to honey to pickled beets, peppers, okra and green beans to whole, sauced, and roasted tomatoes and a variety of jams and salsas.
- the incredible little human that calls me mama, and for all of the things she is constantly teaching me, even if some (and the reflection of myself they make clear to me) are at times hard to swallow and somewhat unexpected.  mostly, it's a joyful wonder, and all of it, surely, is a gift.
- this steady, needed, weekend-long, soaking rain, even if it meant my yoga-in-the-park and birthday camping plans didn't quite pan out
- steaming mugs of hot tea on chilly fall mornings
- birthday morning coffee in bed
- my family
- my job, and for all of the flexibility and fun (and time off!) that comes with it
- indoor plumbing and electricity
- watching her as she confidently learns her way around horses and gracefully dedicates Saturday mornings to ballet
- strong hugs (if you're going to commit to hugging someone, do it right. if you don't really want to hug someone with a bit of gusto, maybe you don't need to be hugging them...)
- strong handshakes
- old radios
- bees
- morning birdsong
- thunderstorms
- fermented carrots (and other such deliciousness)
- buttery toast (buttery anything)
- music
- kind words
- real letters in the mail
- my exceedingly kind, generous, genuinely sincere, and loving in-laws
- salty ocean air and crashing waves
- the balmy, salty way my skin feels after spending time at the coast
- the smell of the forest in the fall... tangy and rotten, yet sweet and grounding
- for Mike.  we've known each other nearly as long as we haven't and as crazy as we drive each other sometimes, we also know each other inside and out and when it comes down to it I never, ever question how beautiful a thing it is to have him in my corner and by my side.  he is dependable and funny and kind and he is an amazing papa.  also, he splits and stacks a ton of firewood to keep us warm all winter long
- for the 'habit' of running that I picked up last fall, and for my plans to rekindle that habit in the very near future
- the garden, and all the goodness that comes out of it when we tend it with our time and our love (in the form of not only produce but also virtually free therapy)
- for books.  books that I hold in my hand and smell and hear as I flip the pages.
- for modern medicine and for caring, skilled, attentive nurses who are wonderful caregivers and patient advocates. especially those who helped to save my mom's life when she was so, so ill last year.  (love you, mom!)
-and also for the not-so-modern witches' brews stewing in our hutch as I find my way to more of my own medicine making.  it is a fun and empowering world to dive into.
- living where I live, with the resources I have.  to not be floating at sea trying to get to a safer shore. to have been able to send a little bit of help to those who are.
- being the sensitive individual that I am.  because even if it makes things more challenging sometimes, (for myself and no doubt for those closest to me) I have come to (usually) appreciate the way it allows me to so fully experience things and connect deeply.  I feel.  a lot.

here are some photos from the day, starting with gifts (delivered to me in bed along with coffee) made by my sweet one:

and then papa lovingly recreated a favorite breakfast of mine from our trip to NYC last year~

a dear friend came bearing a tray of gifts and stayed for lunch,

(which was fish tacos made by papa, complete with a delicious homemade avocado cream sauce, pickled onions, and some queso fresco)

I then made a batch of chocolate-drizzled tahini cookies to bring along to the brewery, where we were meeting friends for a bit of afternoon fun and (as it turned out) a bit of local trivia (we won a box of cupcakes from a local bakery for coming in second (um, of three) teams!)

the rain slowed long enough for the kids to run crazy outdoors while we sat at the table just inside and drank and made (some educated, some not so much) guesses about local history.  (that pretty little pot of succulents was a very thoughtful and very perfect gift put together by a good friend)

and here we are, we three:

we came home to a stew he prepared hours before.... it was delicious.  his goal of serving me three fantastic meals on my birthday was certainly realized.  yum, yum, yum.

and then, a candle in some ice cream and a birthday song.  I decided to put off a bigger birthday dessert for another time.  maybe cheesecake for dinner one night this week.....


welcome, fall

I love when the first day of a new season actually feels right, the way yesterday just felt like fall.  in the morning, Claire and I walked down to a pasture that has a lovely patch of milkweed and nectar plants (milkweed saved and nectar sources planted by a parent from art class who works at a local greenhouse) and sought out and brought home three monarch caterpillars.  there were several chrysalises (or 'chrysalides') attached along the old, white, flaky-paint fencing, and I couldn't stop staring at their jade-toned shimmery beauty.  the golden flecks, that amazing shade of green.... stunning.

at art class we made blown-watercolor trees with splatter-painted fall foliage and I read 'The Ox Cart Man' to the kids just because I love the book and it's fall.

for dinner we roasted our largest butternut squash from the garden this year and it tasted like a dessert.  we topped pasta with sautéed veggies and lit a candle and Claire made up some song about autumn and circling around the sun and whatnot.  it was sweet.  there was a fire.  there was apple pie. papa and I stayed up late and watched a movie together, petting the cat (Oliver) and spilling popcorn on the couch.

this sounds nice and all, but in between there was an emotionally charged argument between the grownups (sometimes when this most sensitive mama and the not-quite-so papa are pushing our stubborn horns against each other it gets tough) and last night Claire woke me up at least four times in the middle of the night and I was not at all patient about being screamed at because I tried to hand her the wrong tissue, or whatever the problem was.  ooph.  sometimes it's like that, isn't it?  we try to create something seamless, something easy.  and somehow it gets tricky and mucky and sticky and sometimes there are tears (about feeling being hurt, about the wrong tissues...whatever).

but then we carry on and smile as the second morning of autumn, blowing in cool and crisp, necessitates a sweater and slippers and there is pie for breakfast.


bits and pieces

yours truly
monarch life cycle stamped all the way up her arm- compliments of monarch event at the arboretum
tomatillos, okra, beets, and eggs
tithonia, sans outer petals
farm bouquet
a couple more baskets of goodness from the farm gig
I do so love straw flowers.....
and introducing...... our new feline friend.  we have yet to settle on a name, but I'm leaning heavily towards Oliver/Ollie.  or maybe Sam.  Cider and Cedar were other mama favorites but papa wasn't feeling it.  he is sweet, so so sweet. and incredibly soft and very inclined to finding my lap and resting his cozy weight in it for a good, long time.


love and food and words

love.  this girl.  I will not pretend that she doesn't drive me insane sometimes and that often I come up short in the patience department.  of course, if I'm thinking about owning my own emotions I suppose it's that I choose to allow myself to feel overwhelmed and frustrated by things she does when I could choose otherwise, but it's so much easier to just say "they made me feel.......".  anyway.  gosh, that love.  papa worked two nights in a row and she snuggled in bed with me both nights after we read our  Little House chapters (we're currently reading These Happy Golden Years) and both nights after she fell asleep I nearly woke her by holding her so close and trying to smell a little bit of that long gone baby smell.  I thanked the stars and all above that I had her close and that I was warm and safe and dry with a full belly and loads of love.  and not floating adrift in the Mediterranean or cowering in fear in my war-torn neighborhood.  goodness, this world.   I look at her sometimes and feel myself teetering near tears with gratitude.

food. on the counter.  apple rings.  sprouts.  fermented carrots.  here I will admit something that is maybe a little gross.  maybe a little 'she took thrifty a bit far, yeah?'.  so we have the rental house.  people often leave groceries they don't finish and sometimes, depending on what it is, we eat it.  (that's not the gross part.  if you think that's gross then read no more.)  so there's a compost bin at the rental and recently a nice woman left and when I went over to clean I found a whole produce bag of odds and ends in the compost bin.  beneath a few half cucumbers and lettuce leaves was a pile of about a dozen (very clean, really!) already topped and peeled whole carrots.  and well, there you go. that became our next batch of fermented carrots.  also, I am hereby soliciting ideas for delicious fall crockpot meals.  any ideas?

words.  for a while this year I had a hard time finding my groove reading.  I started off with several good novels and then was floundering around for a while feeling a bit 'meh' about my selections.  lately I've been back on track and have been enjoying having both a novel and a nonfiction going at the same time.  some of my favorites so far this year have been The Grapes of Wrath, A Tale for the Time Being,  and Life from Scratch.  and I am loving, loving, LOVING Ben Hewitt's new book, The Nourishing Homestead.  I don't often get a book from the library and then go on to purchase it, but I'll definitely be getting my own copy of this excellent book.  and now I am again dreaming of land......


wood, eggs, apples

the woodshed is full, the eggs are coming in just a touch slower, and there are apples.  everywhere.
I find myself reaching for a light sweater in the evenings and mornings, sometimes.  I am happy though, that there is still warm sunshine enough to feel the heat of it on my shoulders and bask in it's warmth and power.

September, I feel you.