Monday, November 28, 2011

small snippets

We've found ourselves off by a day, not quite in time with everything else, which is delicious in its own way but means I'm not in the mode of reporting on our days. Time feels dreamy. Isn't that fitting for this time of year? I mean, if we were listening to ourselves? Our bodies, craving warmth and comfort, bread and butter, pumpkin and acorn and butternut, sleep and stories, stories and sleep...It is what the dark and the short days call for, but it isn't what the air feels like outside of our home, so I guess I'm feeling a bit like hibernating, actual and virtual!
Enjoying what is - surely! - the last day of bare feet
 Our Thanksgiving was perfect - a day of late-afternoon sun-slants, a drive through the woods to the warm home of friends, a table groaning under the best turkey I've ever had, Dan's chilean squash, and all the trimmings you could dream of and more. I felt infused with love and starlight and laughter on the long ride home through the fog, dodging deer and singing along to the Indigo Girls. Ha, perfect.
Ani transformed into Frodo thanks to a "new" Goodwill vest
And such have been our days. Late autumn dandelions turned into cake. An adult outing to a poetry reading and art show, so inspiring! Watching The Yellow Submarine, the girls' new favorite movie (Ani keeps walking around and saying in her best Liverpuddlean accent, "I've got a hole in me pocket!"), playing new family games - Cadoo! - and old ones...
  This morning there was Charades right after breakfast...
 ...followed by You Ate My Radish at Ani's request, and painting for Eliza in the art room.
 We added more radishes and several daikons this time. Ani commented that it was a kimchi garden (yes, she has been brainwashed...).
I'm long overdue for a Gallery post, which I'll try to accomplish soon, before the flurry of making that is bound to occur any day now...(it's happening, but,'s slow! Like everything else right now!)
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Really what I'd like to be writing about is how grown-up my daughter is right now. Nine. She is teetering on the edge of puberty already, curious about everything grown-up, but not too anxious to be there quite yet. She celebrates every change in her body, asks will she look like me when she is a woman? (she hopes so, dear child), wonders what it will be like to have breasts.  She caught me in a ragged moment the other day, and while I'm not in the habit of keeping a lot of things from my kids, I brushed off her questions with something evasive and she sighed and asked why she couldn't be a part of the important things? It stopped me short, made me look at her again and wonder how she could be Here already?  She is so capable - carved her jack-o-lantern all by herself, and has been stenciling patches and shirts, using the exacto for the finest details, and, with supervision, the iron. She is able to reach all the light switches and pulls and the dishes on the bottom shelf of the cupboard and fits my old t-shirts, and oh, will someone please slow these next years down so we can enjoy every moment?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

friends warming our home

Tonight I am thankful that Dan is enjoying a long reading time with the girls (Return of the King), giving me some quiet and stillness in my evening.
 Many of you are preparing to travel to family and friends this week, or are readying your homes for guests.  We were a bit ahead of the holiday curve and hosted both family and friends this past week and are now looking at a quiet stretch for the month of holidays.
 The last few days we spent with wonderful friends from Virginia. It is reassuring and warming to me to realize how many times we've been together since our move, 3 years ago (at least seven times,  though I might be missing one or two in my count!). 
Stick insect that Eliza spotted on a log
Fresh signs of antler rubs everywhere
During this visit there was hiking, romping, chess-playing, crafting, eating, talking, talking, talking, ice skating...
The Real Deal
So thankful for friends who travel to be with us, for friends who love us from afar, for friends who are right here for the every day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

growing kimchi

 I think the flirty last fling of fall might be over.  Reality arrived this morning with our first mad swirl of tiny flakes, over almost before it had begun, but it's in the air, the smell of winter. We've been working on putting our small garden plot to bed for the season.  What remains is our little bed of daikon radishes, interspersed with red radishes - sounds like kimchi to me! We finally harvested a bit of it a week ago and made a batch of Full Moon Kimchi, with our daikons, our radishes! How cool is that.
 The whole family went last Saturday to work on pulling and mulching...(well, the girls had golf lessons from the renegade non-community gardener who has planted a successful garden just outside the limits of the "official" garden, around the foot of the power lines, with enough room to drive his golf balls out onto the university's driving range...he's a character. We've definitely adopted him.)
Farmer Dan
Daikon in the foreground
In the next few days we need to get in our garlic, before the ground freezes.  The old timer we buy garlic from at the market assures me that he was in the field planting garlic on Christmas Day one year, so maybe I'm not too late...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'll start with today and we'll see how far I get with catching myself up with our past week...We are in a lull between two sets of houseguests, which for us means a couple of grouchy catch-up days and then some quiet.  Today looked like blustery chill...perfect for muffins and tea...and rummaging through the recyclables for some craftiness (not my idea! I was busy making the afore-mentioned muffins).  Piano playing (Deck the Halls already!) and knitting.  And glitter glue.
Santa and the Mrs. Lovely use of T.P. rolls, I think
Helmet Head
My sister and my niece came to town a week ago, leaving behind the first snowstorm of the year in Wisconsin. We were all a bit under the weather, but managed a lovely visit just the same. Friday Eliza and her cousin went to Farm School, which meant Ani got to spend the day with me (no big deal) and her beloved Auntissie (really big deal).
Ani told me during their visit that anytime anyone needs anything done, Auntissie says "I'm on it!" You need to go shopping? "I'm on it!" You need someone to read with you? "I'm on it!"  She told me that this is why Auntissie is the very best kind of person. I couldn't agree more. (My sister had to point out to me what a good influence she is on my child. Frankly, I'm waiting for that "can do!" attitude to rub off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Our project for the day was to create an Art Room for us! It was their family's Christmas present to us...
 You can kind of see what's going on here - a new fold-able table, some shelving, and a canvas drop-cloth for the floor.
 It was put to use right away, of course...painting in pajamas, a favorite around here.
More photos to share as we get more organized and settled-in. This is the kind of project I could have on my list for months before I'd set aside time to accomplish it; I'm so grateful for her help and motivation! The rest of the time was spent playing, talking, enjoying time together.
 Hiking to the Beaver Pond...(no beaver. lots of woodpeckers.)
It is always sad to say good-bye...we usually make sure there's a plan in place, so it's really only, "see you in November!", but this time we're a bit adrift with our knowing when...hoping for Spring.  Ani was lobbying for stowing away in Auntissie's departing car...they gave us their best puppy-dog eyes, pleading...
 Sorry, baby, not yet. Someday we'll put you on a train to your auntie's, but not yet...
Sisters! (can ya tell?!)
Until then, we'll take as many visits as we can get...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

squeezing it all in...

 We started off the fall with quite a bit of inside - more structure than we have previously needed, but it felt right and we were all enjoying it after the drifting waywardness and carpe diem of summer. In fact, I've written several posts that have remained drafts, about how structure has come into our lives in the form of Lessons - some maths, some spelling/cursivey/phonics reading-type lessons.  They're still there because somewhere in mid-October we had that animal drive to be Out while it is beautiful, and it has been BEAUTIFUL. sigh.
 It's all good - I probably don't need to tell you how much learning is going on "anyway" while madly writing spells or listening to the Fellowship of the Ring trilogy or counting money or playing a game with a hundreds chart and lots of beans. The structure came in response to some needs that were expressed (something about "Can we play school" and the choosing of new "school supplies") and it was totally successful (meaning it was not a struggle and we were all pretty happy about it) and I am confident that the pendulum will swing back that way come colder days.  Or not. The best thing about having a daily routine that involved sitting together at certain times of the day to approach a lesson was that we knew we would have that time together. Renee at FIMBY wrote something once about how structure for their family ensured that they were not just orbiting around each other, together, but apart through their days. I have definitely witnessed that orbiting happening in our days, and feel like "balance", when we strike it, is something in-between the random flow and the predictable gathering.
 Sunday the girls and I ran about outside and then came home to change clothes and head uptown for dinner and a piano recital. Dan missed the day, as he was traveling home from a Sound Symposium in Chicago, which also sounded like fun...
 It was a treat to be out - dinner? Like a date? Heck yeah!! The recital was at a coffee shop, and though Eliza chose not to perform, we were there to support the other players in her teacher's studio by sipping our steamers and listening to some really brave and talented kiddos.
SET before dinner
 Monday - again just gorgeous.  The girls were in farmer mode and harvested the scarlet runner beans off of our bird feeder (they're showing me how tall they've grown. I know, my girls... it is amazing...).
 While we were outside, a friend of ours (the woman who leads the womens' walks once a month that I've posted about) stopped by to say hi.  While we visited on the warm front steps, the girls went in and made lunch for us!! Salad for us, sandwiches for them. Wonderful. We all decided that we needed to go up to the Finger Rocks to check out the wahoo on the ridge, and we were off!
 I sometimes wonder if this is what the girls will remember when they are thinking about their childhood.  Hiking barefoot in the fall, squishing the mud, finding mushrooms, seeing fairies in the pink bower of leaves. I hope so.
Self-heal prunella vulgaris
 As if that all wasn't enough, Monday night we got to go hear some of our favorite music, with Dan: An Da Union, from Mongolia.  Their music is so out-of-sight, I will fail miserably in describing it, but suffice it to say that even with the daylight savings time change (grrrrrr), we all thoroughly enjoyed it, and Ani only fell asleep for the last two numbers (which was unbelievable, as they were AMAZING, with a horse-hoof beat at break-neck speed, drums and horse-head fiddles and whooping and all).  We saw them three years ago (I wrote about it here) and they were tighter and more professional and just filled the space with magic. The singing is largely throat-singing, the instruments are traditional mongolian fiddles and guitars and drums, and there is a flute - I have to try and tell you about this - there is a very handsome man who plays this flute and while we couldn't quite make it out exactly, it looks sometimes like he's playing it with his nose, and sometimes like he's throat singing into it and playing the flute, and it all sounds amazing and looks a little bewildering and goofy, and then he's back to playing his ring of sheep knuckles, looking very cool. (oh my gosh - you can see it for yourself: Anda Union has a little film on their website. Here are the galloping horses. Sigh. I think I'm a little in love with them.) 

We stayed inside today, dedicating some time to cleaning out, cleaning up, throwing out, moving around, trying to ignore Out though it is still beautiful. We listened to happy Mongolian music, singing our versions of their songs, over and over...