Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On Anticipation



This is my favorite time for the garden. I mean, I do love the harvest later in the summer, but I always love the anticipation at this part of the summer. Everything is planted and growing --visibly, almost!-- and all is neat and orderly and staying in place. Later in the summer, everybody tries to take over the world at once and the garden is a jungle of chaos that I have no time to tame as I navigate it and fill my buckets with the overflowing bounty. For right now, the work is steady, but enjoyable and relatively light. With the rain this year, the weeds are exceptionally prolific, but they're not yet out of control (well... not quite).





The garlic harvest may be my favorite of all. It's such a civilized plant-- begging little and asking no attention except when I have time to give it. It's planted in the late fall, well after harvest, and then starts growing happily in the late winter, cheering my spring fever. The only attention it needs is a thick mulch and the pulling of the occasional weed as it quietly grows, treating me with a few tasty scapes for cooking. It stays neatly in place and patiently waits until the hectic spring planting is done to signal me with a few yellow leaves. It feels like a treasure hunt to fork the bulbs to the surface and see how big they are. I let them have a few days air on the porch, then bundle and hang them in the mudroom to enjoy for a whole year, where they keep quite well.





Tomatoes could learn a few things from garlic.





But then, so could I, for that matter.

I could use some lessons (perhaps I'm getting them, but I'm not learning them well!) in patiently biding my time, happy with what I'm given each day.

I was thinking about it as I sat on the straw path pulling weeds this morning. Weeding can be such a meditative and enjoyable chore if I let it. This morning was breezy and sunny and not at all hot-- perfect for pulling weeds and thinking.

I am not accustomed to not completing my list each day. I'm used to making a reasonable agenda each day, and the working steadily until I've crossed everything off. I'm not used to uncompleted tasks. So I've been getting quite frustrated with the chores that stretch out before me, day after day, and I never feel like I make headway. (Even when I make a shorter list!) I miss having my house as clean(ish) as I would like it to be. (And I keep thinking how my Mother is going to arrive at my house for the first time ever next week, she who taught me to keep house (or tried to...), and I have to face the fact that it might be trashed when she gets here and there's nothing I can actually do about it.) It frustrates me to go around and see so many things undone and unfinished.

I'm not used to weakness.

I am used to my strength! I am used to taking in hand whatever I want to do and doing it!

But now I am moving very slowly and tiring quickly and my constantly flexing belly reminds me all day of the enormous task ahead of me and I feel small and weak.

The fact is, my strength is never my own. Don't I know that? I forget easily.

Lately it's all I can do to keep plodding along, doing just what I can, one thing after another, taking breaks, going slow. And I suddenly remember that I should be asking for strength. Any strength I have or have ever had comes from God and He provides me with a certain measure each day and I should be thankful.

I'm getting very impatient for this baby to be born, so I can have my body back, so I can start feeling "normal" again. But as I was weeding this morning, I realized that this impatience is not allowing me to live cheerfully and thankfully in the day I have right now. Each day is a day the Lord has made and given to me with a measure of strength. I get so bound up in work (also a blessing of the Lord), that I forget I shouldn't be rushing through in my mind, always on to the next thing, counting down the days, going forward to a certain point that I don't even know. They're already going by so fast, why should I be in a hurry to get on to the next? This baby will be born when it's ready, at the perfect day and time that is already set. Meanwhile, I should take each day thankfully and accomplish whatever I can without fretting about the rest. I can't know what's coming next, nor would I actually want to, but I should enjoy the "right now." Things can change quickly. I know lots of people who have had babies die. I even know of someone who recently had to say goodbye to an adult child. Shouldn't I savor every minute of every blessing?

I certainly should not be so overwhelmed about tomorrow and what still needs to be done and when this baby might be born and how I'm going to get through everything. God will give strength as I need it and everything will happen in good time. I get frustrated when everything I plant in the garden doesn't grow because I forget that it is not ME who makes it to grow. I'm being reminded in many ways that I have nothing that I haven't been given by my loving Heavenly Father and I should be thankfully relying on Him rather than myself.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Early Summer Harvest Begins



I just went out and picked a basket-full of red clover blossoms. Red clover is one of my favorite wild herbs. They're so sweet and summery, and a wonderful all-round, gentle female balancer. I had to be gentle of the bees buzzing over them, and I only picked as long as I could stand the ravenous all-day-biting mosquitoes that live down there. But it was worth it! I can't keep my nose out of the basket and they'll be wonderful in my winter-time teas.





We have a big patch of red clover down on the edge of our property where Nathan purposely did not mow. He let the red clover grow because he knows I like to pick it. A wise man knows the importance of a balanced female in his life. It says that in the Bible, you know. ("It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman." Proverbs 21:19)


I've also been doing cherries the last few days. Nathan found time to pick for me (I'm soooo not into climbing up into a tree right now). The pitting is slow-going, especially when the wormy fruit has to be sorted out (the trees, belonging to a friend of ours, are unsprayed, which is wonderful, except for the worms).




I just love the gorgeous color. I feast my eyes on it. (What is it with me and the color red? I can never get enough. Maybe I need it to feel more alive!) I can't seem to take pictures that do the real color justice. I tried all sorts of post-processing, but this luminous, shiny, red fruit is just hard to capture, except in canning jars.

I never knew the wonders of the sour cherry until just last summer. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where sweet cherries are abundant. We ate Bings by the bucketful. (Everyone always complained about the intestinal after-effects of those things in quantity, but I seem to be immune...) But I never experienced sour cherries, and I couldn't imagine what they'd be good for. There are sweet cherries over in western Michigan where the weather is a little milder, but they don't seem to do so well around here. Tart cherries are hardy, though, and are more widely grown. And now I know what they're all about, because dang, have they got flavor! I love jam made with them, and they're amazing baked into desserts. Sweet cherries just don't hold up in anything but raw munching. These little tart cherries are incredibly juicy, and quite sugary, but with a serious sour pucker. I actually enjoy eating them raw in spite of the sourness just because they're so amazingly tasty. Most people add lots of sugar to jam or baked things made with these, but I'm a sugar-tightwad, so I use the absolute minimum. I think sour, as a flavor, is highly under appreciated.




I made a delicious cherry crisp the other day. It has sour cream and egg mixed in with the cherries, and I found the sweet custard to be the perfect compliment to the tart cherries. I forgot to photograph it, and now it's gone, but it's based on this recipe: Cherry Cream Crumble Pie. I was too lazy to make a pie crust, however, and just made it like a crisp instead. Yum! My new favorite cherry dessert (or... breakfast, as the case may be).





On Wednesday night, Jonah had just gone to bed and I had just bellied up to a sink-full of cherries. Nathan even offered to help. It was getting stormy (we're having a terribly stormy summer here) so Nathan turned on the radio. Pretty soon we were hearing the "tornado-take cover" warnings for our county. A lot of times we just get prepared and pay attention, ready to head down to the basement at a moment's notice. But this was right over us, and pretty severe, so we decided to go wait it out in the basement. It was only supposed to be another 20-30 minutes. So we woke Jonah up, put the radio where we could hear it, and sat in camp chairs trying to keep Jonah calm. He was NOT happy about being removed from his bed and taken to the basement (which is a damp, dank, drippy little hole) with the prospect (in his mind) of having our house blown to Oz. (Oh, I'm so glad he hasn't seen that movie!) Then the radio announced that the warning was extended until midnight. I could not face the prospect of being up late and accomplishing nothing, so I had Nathan bring my cherries down there so I could at least be working on them. I was glad when they called the warning off at 11:00 and we could go to bed.

And at least I got the cherries pitted!

There are more cherries to be picked, but Nathan doesn't have time to pick them, and I don't have time to pit them, considering the state of weeds in my garden, and the fact that I haven't even started getting baby stuff ready (with two weeks until my due date). I should get cracking on that. Soon. First, I need another nap.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Like Pooh

I THINK entirely too much.

I am going to outsmart everything that comes my way.

I am going to out-think every situation.

I am going to Figure It Out and plan accordingly.

Big things, little things, daily chores or major life events. Doesn't matter. I've got it all figured out.




I am a certifiable control freak.




I don't actually try to control what happens around me, but I always have the perfect plan in mind and arrange my environment to suit it.

Why don't I ever learn?


If this, then that. That is my thought process. About everything.

I have been told that I am an intelligent person.

Intelligence may well be highly over-rated.



Because there inevitably come along things that I can't solve with my mighty zen. And worse, sometimes I think I've got 'em licked. But then my impotence comes crashing down on me again.

Because I am not God.

Not that I actually want to be. I'd just like to boss Him around a little.

Which is... horrible.


"Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalm 100:3)


Huh. Out-think THAT, puny human.


I spend all this time praying and praying, trying to convince God that my plan is a really good one, and that's what He should do. I know just the thing, God! Here's how it is...


Pfff.



I don't even know how to get around my overactive brain. I don't even know HOW to just give it up, already.

I dutifully whisper, "Thy will be done..."

and then I shout

BUT I HAVE PLAN!


Sigh.


I can't get around it. I trap myself in it every single day.

Can't I just let God handle all the plans?

He has MUCH better eyesight that I do.


Can't I just sit back and be thankful for what I have and be cheerful in my work and joyful in my daily life?


Joy.

That's what I forget about. Why do I always miss it?



I told Nathan the other day that I have my dream job. I do. It's really quite amazing. But why is all that potential for JOY so often just out of my grasp?





(If this stream-of-consciousness post has you completely lost, don't feel bad. I'm a little lost, myself. It's okay. I'm just... thinking. I probably shouldn't click that "publish post" button, but... well, sometimes I just have to get things out, so... here goes.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Look Inside the Pea-Sized Brain of Tater Puff, the Speckled Sussex Rooster



Hop, hop, peck, peck. Dum, dum, da-dum... Brup, brup! Worm! Bug, bug, bug, grass... Yum! Brup-brup!

COCKADOODLEDOOOOOO!

Peck, peck... Girls, girls, girls! Food! Eat! Brup, brup, brup, chir! Always lookin' out for the ladies, that me, what!

COCKADOODLEDOOOOO!

Ah, here... That feed-lady dug some dirt here in the flower bed! Girls, girls, girls! Ahhhh... Nice soft dirt! Dust bath, girls, girls, girls! Keeps the mites away, I say, what! Brup, brup, brup! Roll and dig!

COCKADOODLEDOOOOO!

Girls, girls, girls, brup, brup!

Why, that little whipper-snapper silkie rooster thinks he has something on me! I'll show him!

COCKADOODLEDOOOOOOOOOO!


Hop, hop, peck, peck. Oh, better check for bugs pestering the feed-lady's potted plants here, what! Always on duty, that's me! Dig deeper! Brup!

Girls, girls, girls!

Maybe it said "Tater Puffs" on the box I came in, but I'm no softy, no sir, what what! Brup, craaaw, brup, brup!

COCKADOODLEDOOOO!

Oh, I say, what time! Yeees, yes, the feed lady will be laying down for a rest now, what! Better go let her know I'm always on duty! She's safe with me, what! I'll just hop, hop, hop onto these steps here, not too high for me, what!

COCKADOODLEDOOOOOO!

Always on duty! Taking care of the ladies!

COCKADOODLEDOOOOOOOOOO!

Heh, yes, what. Make sure she knows. I'm here! All's well, what!

COCKADOODLEDOOO!


Brup, brup! What's this! The boy! RUUUUN! He has a weapon! Brup! Craaaw!

Best to stay away from him. Back to work, what! Here... I'll try this porch, what! Make sure the feed-lady knows I'm still here and the farm is safe while she sleeps!

COCKADOODLEDOOOOO!

Brup, brup! Girls, girls, girls...

COCKADOODLEDOOOO!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spreadin' Paint




Jonah loves to work with Daddy.




And Daddy's very patient with letting him work!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Then and Now

Was this morning:




Is now:





AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!

It's gonna get better. It's gonna get better. It's gonna...



And I won't even take pictures of the mess that is the rest of the bathroom, as well as my living room.

Ya gotta tear down to build up...

It just makes me a little panicky. (And you'd think I'd be used to it by now.)



I'm gonna go breath into a paper bag now.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Little Present

Jonah likes to pick flowers from the yard...





...and bring them to me...




...just so they can go in my window-sill bottles.

Friday, June 11, 2010

He Looks Out For Me

We're starting a bathroom remodel. ("We" being relative. Brains, brawn, etc.) Yes, 4 weeks before the baby is due. Long story. More about that later. That's only background for this little exchange between Jonah and I.

Yesterday a friend graciously helped me wash the walls (and scrub the ceiling!) to get them ready to paint. Today, I was trimming up some peeled paint in the upper corners that I've been meaning to take care of since a taping disaster four years ago when I first painted that room. (Don't ask.) Jonah came in and watched for a few minutes.

Jonah: "Mom... are you sure you can be on a stepladder?"

Me: "Um... why not?"

J: "But are you sure it's okay?"

M: "What's wrong with it?"

J: "Well... I think maybe we should have a lift in here, and we can use the controls to lift you up and that would be safer."



Ain't he sweet?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Revisionist

To do list from as of 7:00am this morning:

*Plant squash
*Pull weeds
*Replant tomatoes
*Take care of website billing which is waaay overdue
*Burn backup CDs because my computer is scaring me
*Clean bathroom
*Make bread
*Wash pile of pots and pans


Updated to do list:

*Check email and facebook
*Watch baby goats and giggle at their silly tricks
*Read book
*Make cookies
*Take nap
*Alrightfinemakebreadsowedon'tstarve
*Pick vinyl for bathroom remodel
*Make pizza pockets for supper with Jonah and his friend-who's-staying-the-night
*Eat more cookies
*Watch lumps and bumps roll around and poke out from big, fat, tummy
*Post picture of pretty-pretties on blog:


Thursday, June 3, 2010

In Which You Catch Up

Okay, so I know this post is waaaay overdue. I meant to write this on Monday, but here it is, Thursday, and I'm just finally getting to it. I've been getting myself caught up all week.

So I'll try to hit the highlights here, so you can have an idea of how life has been here at Casa la Funny Farm.

---

Nathan's parents came from Minnesota and spent a long weekend with us. They come twice a year --Memorial weekend and Thanksgiving-- and we always look forward to seeing them. It's just so fun to actually visit with family and have them at our house for a good long visit.




Jonah, as you can imagine, just eats up all the attention and love.




He suffered a little let-down on Monday, of course (well, really, we all did...).

Then last night at supper he was heard to ask, "So... When is Thanksgiving?"

---

And I would have ordinarily posted this right away, but... well, you know, busy etc.

Anyway, Opal had two kids early Saturday morning!

(Also, my sweet husband who checked on her during the night and found the new kids at 4:00am thought it would be funny to pretend nothing had happened when I got up. He didn't bother to tell me about the babies until I had been up and putzing around for awhile. He has been duly set straight and has seen the error of his ways. The very grave error. Which he will never repeat. Ever.)



Eh-hem. As I was saying. Two kids.

Adorable, beautiful little doe kids. (Also, for the record-- they're extremely well-mannered and calm, in sharp contrast to those buck kids we had earlier in the spring. The difference between boys and girls is sharply apparent even in the animal world!)

Here we have a dark-eyed, angelic little beauty:


Oh be still my heart, she is just too much! Pure milky white with those dark eyes and nose and delicate airplane ears! (Airplane ears is what you get when you cross long droopy ears with erect ears.)

And in contrast to her sister, we have a fun, colorful, little cutie:



Check out her spots and dark feet!



Too cute!

And they haven't once gone through a fence or gotten into trouble and they stay pretty close to mama. Granted, they're not even a week old, so I'm sure they'll come to that, but those buck kids were total mischief makers by two days old.

---

On Monday morning I took Jonah to the Memorial Day parade in our small town.



He still loves the fire trucks.

And he still covers his ears.

Is it horrible of me to say that I'm so glad we were rained out and had to leave the parade early? Seriously. I can only take so much of watching every beauty pageant winner and first runner up and second runner up AND third runner up from every podunk town in the county riding on top of fancy cars and doing the beauty-queen wave. Add to that every tractor for miles around and... I'm pretty bored pretty fast.

Also, most of them weren't throwing candy.

And what they did throw was all tootsie rolls.

Nuff said.

--

So add all that to a barbecue with a couple of other families on Sunday (which I thankfully did NOT have to have at my house! Whew!) and I've been a little tired this week.

---

I've also spent as much time in the garden as humanly (and pregnantly) possible and have gotten a lot done, despite the torrential thunderstorms, ravenous mosquitoes, and blistering sun. Yes, I have a sunburn AND mosquito bites and the combination is less than thrilling. Don't scratch. That's all I can say.

(Just FYI: Homeopathic Calendula gel is the BEST thing ever for sunburn. Better than all the other traditional remedies. It relieves the pain tremendously and shortens the misery. Helps with bites, too. Also, this Plantain salve is fantastic for bug bites. I've been going through a lot of both.)

---

Oh, and I'm having a baby in about 6 weeks (give or take a couple). I'm starting to feel sooo ready to be done with this part, but I also have a lot to do before then. A neighbor of mine just had her baby 3 weeks early (healthy 7lbs, though, so hard to say if it was really early) and I felt a little jealous. But then I reminded myself of how much needs to get done before baby-time and... I felt a little better. I'm just ready to have my body back.

---

In other news, Nathan talked to a well-guy yesterday and might be able to have our water-pressure problem (as in, we have none, ever, and we never have) fixed. Evidently, the well may be clogged up with gunk and the guy can come and blow highly pressurized air down into it to break up the gunk and improve the flow rate. That would be FABULOUS, especially considering that I'm hoping to use water (tub and/or birth pool) for labor. I've been concerned about how long (read: days, months, years) it could take to draw enough water. Besides, we've lived with this low water pressure for long enough, I tell you.

---

My laptop screen has been deteriorating for quite some time and now has developed a problem displaying images. Grr. Photo editing is a little more difficult, but web image/video display is worse. It looks like everything has had the "posterize" action run on it. Sigh. I shouldn't spend so much time on the computer anyway.

---

I started reading Charlotte's Web to Jonah and immediately regretted it. I hate that story. It's cute and all that, but it's really kinda twisted. And Jonah falls for the manipulation right away. He knows that we eat animals and why, but he's very upset about the idea that Wilbur could be eaten.

---

However, Jonah himself is doing great with his reading! In fact, he brought me a reader and is sitting next to me reading to me, so I'm multitasking just a little.

Which means I really should bring this collection of tid-bits to an end and focus on one thing at a time for a change...