Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can't Take It


There is a fire in my woodstove.


That's all I have to say about that.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Old Stuff, New Stuff, Red Stuff, Blue Stuff

We went "antiquing" today.

I use the term "antiquing" very loosely here because we don't actually have money for overpriced junk. It was more like "window antiquing".

I also use the term "we" very loosely, here, because by "we" I really mean, "I, with company."

Yes, Nathan and Jonah were with me. NATHAN! The man I can't stand shopping with because he acts like he's in actual, physical pain the entire time.

I think they were a little bored...

...but it was actually kinda fun!

(Whoa, there, Jonah... gotta go potty?)

Especially since I wasn't buying anything.

I think that's the part of shopping that causes the most pain.

Ripping cash out of a wallet is something akin to peeling layers of skin...

But actually, the whole thing was Nathan's idea. Even though he doesn't much care for looking at "stuff", he knew I would enjoy it, and so he, himself, took me in this antique store! Isn't he sweet to me?

We were passing through a town (on the way to a birthday party) that claims to be the antique capital of Michigan. We went to the "Antique Mall" that claims to be the "largest in Michigan".

They all say that.

Not sure if it's true, but there was an aaaaawwwwful lotta junk in there! A few choice antiques amid lots of... junk.

Pretty junk...

And ugly junk...

And pretty junk mixed in with ugly junk.

I mainly liked to look at the pretty junk.

I could have happily taken this quilt home with me!

...but didn't, of course.

Oh, and there was a train!

Jonah liked watching the train best of all.

Nathan said something about it being "put together originally in blahblah, as well as somethingsomethingsomething..." but I evidently wasn't listening.

I was too busy trying on garish hats.

(Green is so not my color.)

...And taking pictures of garish utilities.

I did see lots of furniture that I liked!

Waaaaay out of my price range (which is "free", by the way).

Like those chairs hanging on the wall.

Hey... maybe I should hang chairs on my wall.

You know... decorative.

Or something.

I'm sure I could at least get an eye-roll out of my husband.

That would be worth it, right?

I saw lots of depression glass that reminded me of my Grandma on my Dad's side. I like the green stuff.

I even found the exact match of the green depression glass cream and sugar set that Grandma had, and I now have, broken pouring-lip and all. The set I saw was price at $18 per piece, but I prefer the old, well-used set.

I'm not such a big fan of the pink depression glass, but there was sure a pile of it!

Believe it or not, I don't even much care for the red glassware, much as I love red things.

The green IS lovely, though...

There was also piles of this iridescent orange stuff.

SO not my style. But fun to look at.

I'm just not into ornate, fancy dishes. I'm really more of a white ironstone kinda gal. And I saw VERY little of that. I'm not sure what that means. Is it really popular? Not popular? Extremely rare?

Really. I couldn't have picked an easier fetish?

Of course not.

And then. And then there was this:

Hello, gorgeous.

Hard to see from the photo (as it was sitting in a dark corner), but it's a lovely little cubboard, well-weathered and worn looking, and I thought it was great.

And I said as much, to Nathan.

"WHaaaYYYY???!!?!??!!!??" He said. I mean it-- just like that. All the exclamation points and everything. Disdain. Disgust.


He couldn't believe I would find such a thing attractive. Meant for the work-shop, he said. Belongs on the burn-pile. Could be picked up free on the side of the road, etc.

"But honey. It's only $295."

Blink. Blink, blink.

But Nathan? Nathan is waaaay too cowboy for that kind of nonsense.

And in his great relief that I was not spending $295 on a piece of scrap wood, he let me buy this little green bottle (the tall one on the right) for $2 to add to the other green bottles on my kitchen windowsill.

See? I just have to work him into it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Life is Bizarre

It started with a discussion of an imaginary apparatus called a "Protoss". It turned into a lengthy discussion about... well... I'm not sure.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kitteh Lub

Jonah and I were enjoying the kittens the other day.

Not sure that the kittens were enjoying us.

They all have names, given by Jonah.

Grizzly Bear, Pumpkin, Noodle, Squash and Squash.

Yes, both calicoes are named "Squash."

The kittens are cute, but Jonah is cuter.

I'm biased, though.

Looks at Me, Sees Next Meal

Jonah came and gave me a hug. I kissed him on the head and said, "Are you my sweet boy?"

"No." he said. "I'm just the worker who lives here."

"Oh really?" I said.

"Yeah. And you're the baker who lives here."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to Get a 4 Year Old to Eat All His Ding-Dang Lunch for a Change

Method #47: Cut it into shapes and let him give it a silly name like "dlullup".

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Apple Time

Overheard in the kitchen while fresh corn chowder simmered on the stove, pizza sauce processed in the canner, and Daddy and Jonah chunked up our very own apples for sauce:

Jonah, seeing Nathan's wedding ring: "Daddy, when I grow up, can I wear a ring?"

Nathan: "Well... it has to mean something. Find a good wife, Lord willing, who knows how to take good care of you, and then maybe you'll wear a ring."

Me: "Yeah. Don't you dare have a wife who doesn't know how to take care of you. I'd have to come and have some words with both of you. And I'd be the obnoxious mother-in-law. Aaaand this line of thinking is getting weird..."


Me: "Jonah, can I have another apple, please, sir?"

Jonah, with the job of handing the apples out of the sink: "No. Why?"


Me, peaking into the nearly-full apple pot: "Hmmm... Do those last few apples in the sink and that should be enough."

Nathan: "Okay."

Jonah: "Yeah, do those last few apples and that will be enough."

Nathan: "Yes, Mother."

Jonah: "Haha! Yes, Mother!"

Nathan: "I was talking to you!"

Jonah: "Me?"

Me: "Yeah, you, you little nag!" And then poking him, "Are you a nag?"

Nathan, singing: "This little Jonah nag of mine! I'm gonna let him whine! This little Jonah nag of mine, I'm gonna let him whine!"

Me, tickling Jonah: "Don't you try to tickle him, I'm gonna let him whine! Let him whine, let him whine, all the time!"

Friday, August 21, 2009

In Quizzition

I've been hesitating to write this post for the last few days. Why the hesitation? Well, I try to keep things family-friendly around here and look, my little brothers read this site. But this post keeps begging to be written, so I'll try to keep it delicate.

I've mentioned before that Jonah asks a lot of questions. He's four. All four-year-olds ask a lot of questions. While I've been stuck on the couch sick for the last few days, I've been a captive audience for such bizarre questions as "Are pigs naked?" and "But goats aren't naked?" and "Do worms have mouths?"

And then there are the inevitable "birds and bees" class of questions that crop up from time to time. I've said before that I have no intention of mincing the facts, though I will dole them out as appropriate, of course. Up until recently, we've mainly dealt with things pertaining to boys, the occasional mother cat, and goat's "milking thingies". He's long been fascinated with the concept of "girl" (what boy isn't?), but he's always operated under the assumption that girls have the same... um... equipment that he does because, well... why wouldn't they? Anything else would be inconceivable.

So the question came around the other day, when he had me as captive audience. "Mom? What do girls have... down... by their butts?" (You see why I wasn't going to write this post?)

I gave him proper names, just like always. No fuss, no muss. Ended with a bit about boys and girls being created differently and boys grow up to be daddies and girls grow up to be mommies.

He pondered for a minute and then let loose the real zinger:

"When I grow up... I'll probably have to wear glasses."

And that was that. On to the next thing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


It's chilly and rainy here today, and to make matters worse, I am miserably sick. So I made a pot of tea.

There is just nothing like a pot of tea to make me feel better.

Too bad I couldn't taste it. I could have saved myself the cost of the actual tea and made hot water since that's about all I got out of it.

Anyway, that's not the point of my meandering. Jonah loves tea almost as much as his Mommy, so he had some, too.

Sometimes I wonder if he lies in bed at night thinking up ridiculous and nonsensical questions to ask me. He asks a lot of them.

So I gave him his cup of tea and he said, "Mom? What does tea turn into?"

I didn't miss a beat. "Pee."

I savored the grin that spread across his face. "Tea turns into pee? Tea turns into pee!"

Imagine, if you will, the delight that that sort of joke brings to a four-year old boy.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To Entertain a Small Boy...

...all you really need... plenty of dirt.

(Dump trucks, shovels and real construction barriers really help as well.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


("Deep subject for someone with such a shallow mind." I know.)

I get into this sometimes.

This not-posting-on-my-blog-because-I-don't-know-what-to-write-or-where-to-start.

I think I've done these kind of cop-out non-posts before, haven't I?

Yeah, I think I have.

Well, I'm doing it again. Because really... how interesting is the batch of granola that I just made, or the apples I dried, or the pickles I pickled or the fruit-fly trap on my countertop?

Not very. Life is just ticking along... "Whizzing" is more like it. Sunrise, sunset. That's how I feel these days. Every time I turn around, it's milking time again. Every time I turn around, there's a little boy with a story book needing to be read. There are many things calling out to me in the garden. Things that need attention. Food that needs making.

I feel like I get swallowed up in these things. I don't know if I pay enough attention to the joys and kisses and hugs and jokes and good conversation. In the back of my mind, I have some topics obsessively grabbing hold and hanging on to my thoughts. I'm pensive. Ponderous. (Haha! I made a joke!) I'm thinking about child-training and education and the only-child applications. I'm thinking about music and the instruction thereof. I'm thinking about The Christian Life, or lack of it. I've been reading (uh... sometimes...) some things about the Reformation and noting what Martin Luther said about his "modern day," which is amazing like our "modern day." I am NOT thinking about the economy and the crashing of it on the grounds of "God is in control."

Also, I suffered through an hour and 45 minutes with no electricity today. It was really hard. (Kidding!)

But can I coherently write about these things? I doubt.

So I stick to superficial things that occupy my forethought such as tomatoes and pickles and granola and should I make more dried apples or applesauce? And I'm even planning posts about the marvel of milk and and the fascination of fermentation. I'll get to them. But maybe I should dig a little deeper take a big breath and write something of substance.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Harvest Day

...that's what Jonah said while we were picking apples. "Mom, it's a happy harvest day!"

Here's what I have to work on today-- apples and corn. Yesterday I did pickles and beans. Both days, I've baked sourdough bread (nothing like heating up the house with a 450 degree oven first thing on a hot summer morning!). Today the bread is for us, yesterday I baked the bread going to a market with some Amish neighbors today.

I'm so very excited to have apples from our own trees this year! Yeah, so they're a little spotty and wormy, but as my Dad would say, "It's protein." I find that I can cut the wormy parts out and most of the apple is good. Of course, I can't store them, I just have to use them up. Nathan pruned the trees pretty heavily and I'm amazed at how much better they are already. They need more heavy pruning (he's spacing the major pruning out over the course of 2-3 years) and we're going to start spraying with Basic H to hopefully help with the worms and disease.

And the corn is puny and pathetic due to drought, but it's something. We'll take what we get and be thankful, I guess.

Ahhh, summer. Why can't it be August all year?

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Giant

My Dad always says that every year in a garden, you just can't know what's going to do well and what won't. Every year in a garden is different. That's why you should have plenty of variety so that you're sure to have something.

Ain't it the truth.

I'm having a lot of trouble with some things this year-- things that are usually the easiest things to grow. Like beets. I love beets. But they just aren't germinating well for me this year, which is... weird. But my broccoli? The stuff that's normally just crawling with bazillions of nasty worms? Has been fantastic. Aiee.

I'm also noticing that all the plants that came up volunteer this year --sunflowers, tomatillos, dill, even cucumbers!-- are doing great. But the same things that I planted on purpose? Are piddly. I don't get it. The plants do better planted by God.

Case in point-- this sunflower.

Here is the entry for "giant":


And it is all of those things.

("Brobdingnagian"?? Huh. That will have to be my new word of the day. I'm gonna try to use is three times in normal conversation. Maybe teach it to Jonah... Or just read him Gulliver's Travels.)

See the other (some planted by me, some planted by God-- all about average sunflower height, that is, taller than me) sunflowers ? The have to hang their heads in the presence of their superior.

"All hail His Enormous Elaphantiness, the Colossal King of Brobdingnag!"

"All hail! All hail!"

...Because it's just that big!

The thing just started growing, and we watched in amazement as it reached for the sky. We now call it a "tree." Jonah asked to climb it, and I thought that might be a great idea, as there might be a gold-egg laying goose up there. If he can outrun the giant that owns it, that is.

To take that picture, I stood at my full height (okay, granted-- that's not all that much, but I like it that way, okay?) and looked up. No camera tricks. No laying on the ground.

It's altitudinous.

It's statuesque.

It's just plain big.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Health Care Allegory

I just stumbled across this hilarious and very telling story. It's an allegorical tale of the town of Allopath and it's trouble with traffic accidents. Here's a small excerpt to whet your appetite:

After weeks of investigation, Dr. West called the people of Allopath to a town meeting for the release of his report. There, in front of the city council and most of the residents of Allopath, he announced his findings: "Traffic accidents are caused by skid marks."

As Dr. West explained, he found and documented a near-100 percent correlation between traffic accidents and skid marks. "Wherever we find these cars colliding," he explained, "we also find these skid marks."

I'm sure you'll quickly see what the story is really all about... So go read it! It's short and fun and clear as day.

Good Food Discussion

Just wanted to direct you over to my Mom's blog where she wrote a great post yesterday about the affects of industrialized food on a traditional culture and "fat phobia". We've been having some fun discussing it in the comments, including some insights from my brother in Peru-- thought you might like to check it out!

Monday, August 10, 2009


I'm noticing this pattern. Jonah goes through times when he's just impossible. Stubborn, whiny, fighting me on everything. I get so exasperated with him! He refuses to eat the food I give him, he doesn't ever seem to get enough sleep. He complains nonstop and resists everything I say.

This will go on for a while, and then...

The clouds break.

The sun shines again.

My sweat boy returns, and he's carrying some new piece of the man I can glimpse in his future. He's matured in some new way and his sweetness increases and I revel in the joy of his boyhood.

I know that picture above is not very well-composed (the tractor was moving and I'm just not so good with moving targets), but I just love the juxtaposition of Nathan's strong arms next to Jonah's baby fat and elbow dimple.

This is the way it's been lately. He just got over what seemed like an eternity of tantrums and resistance, and now we're on the sunny side. All of a sudden, he says things that are so thoughtful and insightful, and his sentences are better constructed. I can see that his observations are deepening. I don't know why these developments have to come after storms, but they always do. (Remind me of this next time I'm complaining that he's driving me nuts!)

He's been very proud of the good work he's doing with his Daddy on the tractor (it always helps when there's heavy equipment involved). Case in point: I no longer have a pit right beneath my kitchen screen door. The foundation work is done (on that side, anyway)! The drain tiles are laid! The trenches are filled! I can walk out from my kitchen and straight into the garden. I made sure to lay on the praise for this work, and Jonah ate it up. I can't say that he, himself, necessarily contributed very heavily to this project, but he feels like he did, and he feels good about hard work (a little, anyway...). I think that's the most important thing in learning to work hard-- learning how good it feels to have a job well done.

A little while ago, he came running in the house saying, "Mom! Mom, I need you to come and tell me if these flowers are eh- ebiddle!"

"What flowers?"

"Out here, where Daddy's digging. Come and see!"

So he very purposefully led me out near the barn and pointed. "Oh, wait, you can't see them from here! Come on, Mom, let's go closer!"

Turns out he wanted me to look at some wild grapes on a grape vine growing up a tree. (Which is significant, considering I've never seen any actual grapes on the wild grape vines that grow everywhere here.) He wanted to know if we should pick them. I told him we'd let them ripen some more.

He asks me nine hundred million questions every day, and expects a complete answer for every one. He's learning so many things about this world and it's just so much fun to watch. I can't help but melt a little bit when I see his dirty, backwards-clothed little body running in the summer sunshine down to the barn to "work on a project".

I've always thought 4 year old boys are so obnoxious --and they are-- but I've just never had one of my own to enjoy all the good stuff mixed in.

I love boys. And I want a whole houseful of them.

You might say that I may eat my words one day, but I doubt it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mish Mash

This was the view from my window today:

Drippy and wet.

Good thing I had planned to spend the day in the kitchen. I had several food projects planned.

I started by heating and inoculating a couple gallons of milk for cheese. My goal for this cheese is some nice, strong and well-stunk feta. Mmmmm... I love feta.

I am just loving having our own milk-- and plenty of it! I'm finding lots of things to make from it.

I moved on to chopping the apples I had picked up under one of our apple trees yesterday.

Okay, well, first I had to cut out the wormy cores, see?

I bet that when you loaded my page you were thinking, "Boy, I sure hope I get to see a sinkful of wormy apple cores!"

And I'm so glad I could oblige.

Anyway... I mixed the apples with sugar and cinnamon and left that to sit for a while and went on to making up some "confetti kraut"-- saurkraut consisting of one puny little cabbage with some carrots and zucchini for filler and onion and garlic for flavor.

I packed that into a jar and let set it out on the counter to rot for a few days.

I always have all kinds of things rotting on my counters. Throughout this week I've had jars of fermented dilly beans, experimental kohlrabi, and some sweet onion-pepper-dill relish. I just transferred those the the fridge and I'll taste them in a few days to see if they were successes. All that on top of the usual kefir and kombucha and sourdough starter jars, plus some yogurt... Mmmm... Probiotics, anyone?

(Aside: Have I ever mentioned how good a speller I used to be? I had spelling classes through high school and I was an ace. But now? Auto spell check everywhere is ruining my spelling abilities. When I get those red underlines, I'm too lazy to even correct it myself. I just right-click... choose the word I was going for. I just did that with three words in that last paragraph! Pathetic! On that same strain, I also can't handwrite very well anymore. I sit down to write thankyou notes and I get through two of them and it's like runing a marathon. "Whew! I gotta take a rest now! Catch my breath. That pen-and-paper thing is hard work." I can type infinitely, but pick up a pen and I'm so done. That my friends, is reeeeally sad.)

(Another aside: That last one was a really big "aside"...)

From there I got my cheese curds strained and hanging, cooked the whey leftover to get the ricotta and hung that beside the feta. On a rolling pin. On a stool. On the table.

Nothing if not high-tech around here.

...and flipped the feta over in it's cloth so that it'll be a nice round ball.

It has to hang until tomorrow (see "rotting," above), at which point it should be nice and stinky and I will cut it, rest it for a few days in the fridge, and then put it into a salty whey brine to age a while. Yum!

After that I got my apple crisp in the oven and baked.

It's reeeally yummy with vanilla ice cream.

I know because I had some.

It's also really good with some of that ricotta sweetened with maple syrup.

I know because I had some that way, too.

So all of that took up most of the day. And here is my reward:

...just as the sun breaks out and shoots the humidity up to 347%...