November 24, 2014

Dreary Old November

Despite the rainy, dreary weather, we had a perfectly lovely weekend. Pizza at Mom and Dad's Friday night. A Saturday morning of talk, looking though the weekly ads, and a game of Quickword. (which is a game Mom and Dad have had for years but we haven't played much, if ever. But we liked it this time, since we actually knew what we were doing.) Then a trip to a local used bookstore/antique place with Mom and Tori. Cozy evening at home. Wonderful Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon nap. Evening walk to pick winterberry with Tor-Tor. It all makes November worth while.

And now I am off to grocery shop for Thanksgiving things! I love baking big batches of things and planning out food. Clover is having it at her new house this year, so technically, I am not planning the food, but I discuss it with Clover, which is just as fun!

Birds in our tree

Tori's pig, who is a reincarnation of Houdini and refuses to be fenced in. A free range pigger. 

A cool root system and mossy rock 

The drabness of November. November has very little to recommend it.

The hedgerows are full of dead Queen Anne's lace, burdock, nettles, and little remnants of our snow

These cows look as enthused about November as feel.

The feeder wagon

This was 4 o'clock in the afternoon. So dark!

A little fern, way greener than it has any right to be at this time of year

Swampy clearing

And ta-da! Winterberry! Did you know this is a hollyhock? Me neither. It is a deciduous hollyhock.

Tori picking

Dead weeds

A frog who clearly lost his way to his hibernation spot

Tori's bunch of winterberry. Which was much more impressive than mine, since I was distracted by taking pictures.

A nest in a tree in the gloaming (I love that word!)

Coming home

Peeling apples for Apple Pandowdy

Elsie with their new sorting pie and silly Lily

I told Elsie to smile. Ha!

This is the sorting pie. All little fruits of different colors, so you can sort by color, fruit, number, etc. There are tweezers to lift the fruit with, so I thought it would be great for developing Gilbert's fine motor skills, as well as reviewing colors, numbers, and sameness. It was one of those Amazon deal of the day things this past week.

Apple Pandowdy from my latest issue of Saveur magazine. I wasn't nuts about. Basically it is an apple pie in a cast iron skillet with pie dough squares placed on top. It has molasses, cider, lemon juice, butter, as well as cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The filling has no sugar, I guess replacing it with a touch or molasses and cider. But it seemed to be a little less sweet than it should have been. Almost savory. The kids loved it. But I am not sure they loved it more than a normal apple pie.

My stuff from the antique part of the bookstore. $20 for the whole deal. The kids love the little table, (which is very sturdy) making it a stove for their new pie, a desk, a stool, etc. Isn't that a sweet little basket? I have a weakness for baskets in that shape. I have wanted a duck decoy for ages, and this one was cheap, since the neck had been repaired. The dishes were $3 for all and I love pretty dishes.

The mug has a little wee gnome tucked inside. It has "Jack Frost nipping at your nose" on the side, which I realize is infinitely tacky, but I love mugs with little things inside them. This makes me tacky too. But I love my mug. The kids will be using it for hot chocolate. Doesn't Olga of Norway have a great cover? 

November 21, 2014

Loneliness and the luxury of solitude

A few weeks ago, a friend posted an article (here) on facebook about the loneliness of being a stay at home mother with small kids. The part that really resonated with me was the beginning, when the blogger is talking about getting on facebook late at night and seeing a picture of friends all gathered together and then the light hearted bantering in the comments below. Jealously and envy and all kinds of emotion because she doesn't have that in her life. I don't normally think of myself as lonely. I have family and things I like to do, and I enjoy my quiet little life. Sure I miss having my best friend around, miss having close friends that I want to go to lunch with, but I am not overwhelmed with loneliness. But this fall, I found myself desperate for adult interaction. When people would make polite chitchat at the checkout counter, compliment me on my kids in Wal-mart, make a passing comment when I was at school picking up the girls, I found myself bubbling over with words. I was that socially awkward person who is incapable of cluing in that people are over the conversation already and keep talking. This puzzled me. I generally feel that talking to strangers is tantamount to holding them captive against their will, so I only talk if they initiate it and even then, I make sure my answers are short enough and shallow enough that they can walk away at any moment they feel like it. (I know, I know. This probably indicates some sort of psychological something or other.) Yet here I was forcing strangers to talk to me. And what can you call that but loneliness? I was lonely. But why? As bizarre as it sounds, I realized I was missing Gilbert's tutors. For the past four years tutors have been in and out of the house four days out of the week. That stopped this fall, due to state regulations about turning five. I didn't realize what an impact that would have on me as well. I had become friends with these tutors. Sometimes it was just "How are things?" and a quick two minute conversation. Other times, we talked for half an hour. But there was always adult interaction. When that was suddenly cut off and I was thrown back on my own resources, I suddenly realized I had very little adult interaction in my day to day life. And I noticed myself getting jealous of people hanging out with friends. Why not me? Why can't I do fun things in the evening with a group of women I know and love?

And then, Nina, put up this article, about the luxury of solitude. I love that phrase "luxury of solitude." I love solitude. I love solitude almost as much as I love people. I did one of those personality quizzes this week, and while I am not going to base my life around a computer personality quiz, something it said really stood out to me. My personality type is an extrovert, but I must have alone time. Of course, this is something I have always known about myself, but I never put it into words. Growing up, I took long rambling walks quite often. And then I would come home, ready to enthusiastically jump into the fray of a 10 person household. As a grown up, when there is a large group of people, I have a wonderful, noisy time and then develop a consuming passion to go do the dishes or cook in the quiet kitchen. Where I can still hear everyone, sometimes still see everyone, occasionally join in the conversation, but am ultimately separated from them. I am not sure how I would handle living amongst a large group of close friends who was always getting together. I think I would love it. But I definitely couldn't handle being together all the time. There would still have to be times when it was just me and my family. And I realized, Justin and I have made choices (like where we are living) based on our enjoyment of that solitude and our need for space. Why shouldn't we be okay with that? We have each other, we have our kids, we have my family, and we have dear friends we see a couple times a week. We have email, texts, and phone calls to the far away family members and other close friends too. Maybe I don't have a Mommy group. Maybe I can't meet my sister for lunch or Orso's and work on the local paper's daily crossword anymore, but that's okay. Right now, I am busy living life and it is a rather dear and beautiful life.

This fall has been an adjustment, but I am adjusting. Sometimes I wonder if that is why I am better about writing blog posts--putting my overflow of words to use. I no longer feel lonely. I don't feel the need to tell the cashier at Price Chopper about my new idea of shopping once a month or what happened on the way to the store. (Once a month shopping did not work. Just in case you were wondering.) Unless of course she feels like swapping stories. Then I feel quite free to babble to my hearts content. And then I head home to revel in my own boring little life.

I have the luxury of solitude.

November 20, 2014

Still More Colorado pictures

Guess what? Only one more week to go and I will be done Colorado pictures! I know to people uninvolved, these are probably boring, but I took about umpteenmllion (give or take a few squillion) pictures, and these were the ones I just loved. So I did try to reduce the number for your viewing pleasure. Just be sure to understand that these pictures and people are rather delightful to me.  

We got stuck in a cattle drive on the way to meeting Sunday. Seriously. 

Cousins hanging out

Evening light in the rosebushes and boys


Grandpa and Grandma leaving

Making plans

Elsie and baby having a rest

Wet kids

Silly Gilbert and Brylan

Elsie enjoying her tiny muddle puddle to the very best of her abilities

Poppa and the kids having their after-meeting popsicles Wednesday night

Lily the tree monkey

Brylan and Lily
These two were great pals. Not surprising, since they are only 2 and a half months apart.

Justin wow-ing Aislyn with his rope twirling abilities

Elsie and a snakeskin

Jerad helping Aislyn rope

Roping girl!

Pregnant Jocelyn

Evening sky and mountains

Roping competition 

Lily and Brylan up to something

Mandy, Loy, and Reba

All the Cotten cousins. Jocelyn has since added another cousin to this mix, though.

Justin and Jerad

Kids at the Fourth of July parade in Paonia

One of Justin's good friends, Nate

Little cowgirl

A tractor from 1916, steam driven

Paonia has their Cherry Days festival right around Fourth of July, so it is a combination celebration

Smokey the Bear

Fair food

Those Pearson girls

My sweet baby

The kids made a Happy Fourth of July sign

Hanging out after the parade

Justin carving a replacement die so the kids could play their Pet-opoly game

It wouldn't have flown in Las Vegas, since it was a little weighted towards some numbers, but it worked!

Grandpa and Grandma

Love this picture!

Hanging out

Lily and Brylan enthusiastically getting into the RC car

Rissy-roo trying out the die Justin made

Mick and Grandma

Miles and Riss

Mandy and Loy

Playing their pet-opoly

Grandma and Jocelyn

Elsie trying on Grandma's slippers. Grandma wears a size 4, so the little kids like to try her shoes on!


Grandpa and his girls

Those Cotten singers

Miles showing Grandma a fish he caught. (I think!)

Mick and Dawna

Geoff being mauled