November 19, 2013

Hello, hello!

I have been blue lately. Everything tinged with a touch of blah-ness. I think it is the change of seasons. My body is wanting to hibernate. And feeling blah is a good mechanism for getting people to hibernate. I bet bears wouldn't hibernate if they had a fascinating social life.

I am feeling much better now. This weekend was busy, organizing, straightening, and getting rid of things that needed doing for a long time. And then I took a good long walk Sunday morning with a stiff breeze to accompany me, which blew out all my mental cobwebs in one strong gust. Well, okay, not all. But my mental house has at least been dusted and neatened. Ha! Bring on the winter!

And so, back into the swing of things! I spent this morning getting the house ship-shape again preparatory to Gilbert's tutor coming. Which amplifies my whole sense of well being. Gilbert and Elsie are having a nap (horrible colds!) and I am deciding if I should read my book curled up on the sofa under a down throw or poke around online and see what blogs, sales, and people have been up to over the weekend. Delightful choices! In the meantime, here are some pictures from being out and about the last week of October.

November 15, 2013

Things to love

1. Elsie is in the baby stage, where she loves everything baby. Throughout the past few days, she will drag around a big blanket and a doll and bring it to me to wrap up. Then she claps her hands excitedly saying "Ba-bee!" before cuddling it carefully and toddling off. My heart melts every time.

2. A beautiful sunshine day! For some reason, though little (alright, fine! Nothing!) was accomplished, it has been a really good day, thus far. Cuddling, books, sunshine....

3. Squash tacos. I had these for lunch. With lots of leftovers for tomorrow. I have these ridiculously frequently. I have been meaning to put up the recipe. Watch for it next week.

4. We are heading off to town. A trip to the library, Wal-mart, and depending on the kids moods, Rite-Aid for some free chocolate. I know! I haven't done coupons in ages. But I have a thing for super dark chocolate, 85% by Lindt. And they had a $2.00 off one bar coupon. And Rite-Aid has them on sale 2/$4. Bam. Free chocolate. A guaranteed mood booster!

5. This video. I really don't know why I like it so. But I do. If Volvo is to believed, this video was done in one take. On a rented airport strip. In Spain. In reverse. At sunrise. To a backdrop of Enya. It may be my mood, but I find this ad perfectly swell. It makes me laugh, just thinking about it. I mean, who comes up with this sort of thing? And who does this sort of thing? Jean Claude Van Damme apparently.

November 5, 2013


Here are some random pictures from the last month. I thought you would just love them to pieces. Ha!

Elsie is in love with coats and shoes. Actually with anything that she can wrap around her. She is terrible for stealing my dishtowels and leaving them lying around the living room. But she is sweet. 

What Justin has been working on. The lighter colored wood has been replaced by Justin. This is an old sheep barn that was getting a little swaybacked. The owner had been wanting someone to fix it for a few years, but no one would do it, due to old barns being unpredictable. But Justin loves old barns, so he said he would give it a go. Owen helped him. And a lovely job they did! The farmer already has a job for them next spring. 

This is from the beginning of September when Justin was in the hospital with his faulty gall bladder. The girls are entranced by hospital room cartoons. 

A wood box Justin built for wood. 

A carving he did

Mountains and train in the dusk

Elsie sitting amidst my library book sale finds

Justin's wood box complete


I love the back!


Cows and a blue sky

Fall graveyard

A farm for sale around here. I love it. 

November 4, 2013

Grandmothers and Kids

My parents have this book about Henrietta Lacks. She died in the 1950's and scientists (without her permission) took her cancer cells and created the first immortal human cells. With HeLa cells as research, the polio vaccine was created. Heperin (cancer drug) was developed. And lots of other tests and research has been done using her cells that are still alive and multiplying, lo these 60 years after her death. Absolutely fascinating stuff. Ethics, medical research, etc. Scientists know pretty much everything they can know, about her on a cellular level. And yet, her daughter, who was an infant when Henrietta died, says she knows nothing about her mother. How did she smell? What did her voice sound like?

I have this irrational fear of dying when my kids are little.  I know. I am a healthy, fit, never-had-a-serious-illness person, so I shouldn't think too much about this. But I do. Very likely, I will live to be 99 and annoy the stuffing out of everyone (my kids included) by being sure I am about to die approximately 5 times a month for all those.....828 months. And if you have read my blog much, you probably already know this. You might even be rolling your eyes right now. Which I totally understand. I roll my eyes at myself quite frequently. But that question--What did my mother smell like?..... It gets me. In today's world, with photography, video, blogs, email accounts, digital storage--kids bereft of parents would know a lot of things about their parents. My kids could read my blog and know that I was a neurotic and dippy mother who thought they were the epitome of perfection. But still, this isn't me. This is just a part of me. I started thinking about Elsie. How she has spent more time with me than any other human being. Yet if I died today, she would have no recollection of me at all. Yes, this makes me terribly weepy.

But motherless children has been part of my consciousness all my life. My grandmother died when my mother was 14. My grandfather had already died when Mum was 11. It wasn't something Mum or my uncle dwell on much.  Still, I was always worried about my parents dying. I remember turning 12 and thinking I had escaped somehow because my father was still alive. 15 and no parental funerals--I had somehow cheated fate.

I had a happy childhood. I have a huge, noisy, loving family. We had super close friends and even some cousins close by for most of my childhood. But grandparents were something I yearned for. I love tradition. I love the sense of timelessness-- doing things my family has done for years before me. We didn't have that. And of course, it was very freeing, in a way.  I think that is part of the reason we are such a close knit family. All we had was each other.

Sometimes I go for ages without giving my grandparents a thought. Then something makes me think about grandmothers and I ache for the grandmothers I didn't know. Both sets of grandparents married late in life. My grandmothers would have both turned 100 this year--my dad's dad would be 110. Dad's dad died when I was three. My Dad's mom was alive until I was nine. People called me Gammy's girl. I loved her. But I have only vague recollections of her. A few weeks before she died, a few of us kids went down to Pennsylvania for convention with her. And I have a clear memory of sitting next to her on the bench, close to the front in the middle section, singing hymn 108, It Pays to Serve Jesus, to close the convention.  Later that week (or the next) she suffered a stroke. While in the hospital, she developed pneumonia and died within days. My memory is spotty, but I remember coming in from outside and seeing my father sitting in a chair with tears on his cheeks. I remember thinking "This is the worst day of my life." And I remember my nine year old self, feeling slightly important and interesting because I had suffered this tragedy. The day after Gammy died (or was it the day after we got back from the funeral?) we had to shoot one of our dairy cows, due to age, broken bones, milk fever....something. With my new found depth of wisdom, I stood with my seven year old cousin watching Dad lift the cow with the bucket of the tractor and told her,  "Life has to go on." Oh so wise.

Years later, in Alaska, we sang hymn 108 at convention and suddenly the loss seemed as close as yesterday. And a few weeks ago, I made a pumpkin spice cake. (Yummy!)  I was spreading the cream cheese frosting on late at night, and I reached for an icing spreader I had bought at a flea market this summer. It is just a flat spreader with a painted red handle, but Mum picked it up and said her mother had the same spreader when she was a kid. So I wanted it. It might not be my grandmothers, but it was the same as hers. Late at night, months after buying it, I started to get teary about all the things I don't know about my grandmothers. I know their handwriting, thanks to slightly stained recipe cards. I know random, casually mentioned factoids--"My mother always loved the blue Christmas lights when we would drive around looking at them."  I know their basic life history. I know what kind of kid they raised. I know what was most important to them. But what did they smell like? They must have stood in their kitchens while their kids were in bed, just like I was. One in Pennsylvania, one in Quebec. They had worries, fears, things they found hilarious, something they really wanted, secrets. And they would have thought of all of those things while finishing the dishes (or icing last minute cakes) and looking out at the quiet darkness outside.

I can't know my grandmothers. Even so, part of them is in me. They passed down a lot to me. Faith, love, interests. I keep my grandmother's china. My other grandmother's goldenrod bowl. A quilt from the one, a dining room set from the other. And I know without a doubt, that they would have loved me. No one who  produced such loving, loyal, kind people as my parents could have failed to love a grandchild. Even one as goofy as me. I enjoy keeping things of my family's past around me. But the best parts of my grandmothers are still alive in my parents. And there is an assurance of love. Love from women who never knew me as a woman. But gave enough love to their kids to make me feel loved all these years later. I like thinking of that love. An immortal kind of love. Just like HeLa's cells. Love that strong doesn't just die and evaporate. Hopefully it is still being passed down to my kids, through me. Throughout life, (even if I live to 99) I can't always be with my kids. But I hope I love them enough now that my love will always tag along with them wherever they go.

October 22, 2013

A love song in pictures

This past weekend, we spent a night and the next day with friends, came home to White cousins, and Hoyt, the newest cousin. Sunday, we had a leisurely lunch at our house, a moseying drive to look at all the possible land we could buy. And then, a long wandering walk around the farm with lots of irresistible picture taking. A lovely, lovely weekend.

I know most people don't think the farm is the most wonderful place on earth. But I labor under that delusion. And this is my love song to the farm. And fall. And puppies. And my babies. 

We went to a funeral today. Hoyt's great grandfather. He was a great guy. A bit of a legend at 92. He lived a full life. And lived it for something beyond this life's experiences. 

Life wasn't easy for Ron, but you wouldn't have known it from him. He was happy and contented. Contented in a way that only the truly confident and faithful can be. He knew what was important. His confidence in that was unshakable. 

Loving the farm you grew up on might not seem connected. Not exactly filling life up with newness and sensation. But this farm was the fullness of my growing up life. And it still fills my consciousness, me.  

A full life, contentment. I want to cultivate them more. To see right through the worthless static of life to the heart of the matter. The important things. And while these pictures aren't to do with our soul and our salvation, these are the lesser important things--the way the sun shines through fall leaves. An unexpectedly late wildflower. The sweep of October skies. The delight of kids. Autumn fields in evening light. The rambunctiousness of puppies. 

Milkweed seeds. So shiny and silky.

The girls and their "baby carriers." They wanted to take a stroller for the dolls, but as you can see, this isn't the trail for strollers. So we came up with this solution. They carried them the whole way!

Ferns in three colors

Raspberry leaves

Scotch Thistle

An abandoned birds nest

Apples that tasted like pears. I have to taste an apple from each tree. These ones were very sweet with a mild flavor.

Cowpath up a hill

Green, yellow, red

Grapevine tangle on a stone wall

Walking through the clover

Sweet girl

Daddy and Elsie

Tori and Elsie

Tori watches the kids, while Justin and I just casually take a walk. Pretty good situation.

Geese taking off

Geese and barn

Alfalfa in Orianna's braid

Clover in Lily's braid


Our family

I like us. In all our muddiness and happiness!


Mommy and Elsie

Apples and blue sky


Birch and yellow maple leaves

Green and yellow leaves

Most of the trees have dropped their leaves, but that just makes the remaining ones that much more noticeable. 

Maple woods

Stone wall

Elsie had to sit on this rock and then turned around to make sure we noticed. 

Apple orchard. The cows cluster here in the summer, eliminating the grass.

Dogs and barn

Lily offering Elsie some clover

Standing on a hay bale

Gilbert kissing Elsie

Lily has suddenly gone bow-legged. This makes me laugh.

My Elsie girl

(Why doesn't her mother zip her jacket properly?)

Being mauled by puppies. 

For some reason, all these pictures are really sun struck. But I kind of like it. 

Isn't Gilbert a nice big brother?

Puppy mob

Must investigate situation!


Haha! Gilbert was chasing chickens. But the one in the foreground was not a-feared.

Red boots in a mud puddle