Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall is here!

Today was a tried and true rainy, cool, fall day!  We closed the high window in the front room and I even felt half tempted to get the wood stove going. All the sweet potatoes and peanuts have been dug and Jason is getting in cover crops at every available opportunity and many are already sprouting thanks to the recent rains.  I'm enjoying helping to "tuck in" the gardens for winter, chopping up the dead vines and allowing them to compost in place.  There are still some peppers hanging on, hull peas, spinach, and lettuce in abundance! 

Kitchen garden with a few sugar snaps and plenty of hot peppers to go around!
Main garden with a bed full of lettuce and carrots near the top.
Cutting down the cornstalks which will hopefully be chipped up for cover material for the composting toilet (if they ever can dry out!)
Digging sweet potatoes - not quite like last year but two large baskets of delicious looking food!
And a little mess of peanuts to enjoy (or probably mostly for next year's seed so we can expand our planting!)

So since the gardening has slowed down, why not tackle some of the big things that have been buy a car!  Yes, we finally went for it - we are now the owners (though it is not yet on the Tangly Woods homestead) of a Toyota Matrix.  Since I have never seen it, it's not quite feeling like a reality yet.  Jason and the girls drove all the way to Manassas yesterday to take a look at what looked like a pretty ideal vehicle for us (at least on the screen).  What a taxing day for all of us - actually the girls seemed to fair much better than their parents.  Hopefully our decision to "go for it" wasn't too swayed by our sheer exhaustion in the process.  It checked out well and should meet our vehicle needs for the foreseeable future, we just both just wish we didn't need a car at all!

It feels a little crazy to me that our car only cost about double what we recently spent on my one dental implant.  But I better not write too much about that experience as I'm working to come to peace with the whole thing.  It's "over" (it was nearly a year-long process) but I'm not happy with it and really wish I had never gone this route.  So I guess if we are to live and learn, I'll have this experience to refer back to when my other baby tooth with no adult tooth underneath decides its time in my mouth has come to an end.  I'm rooting (no pun intended) for it to hang in there a few more decades.

On to more brighter topics - our kiddos!  I'm not sure either of them fully recognize how good they have it, but Alida definitely can't possibly know what a grand big sister she has.  Kali is so sweet with her and has been taking more and more interest in caring for Alida.  She's been taking Alida on nappy walks on days when Jason is home with them - and Kali is the only one out of the three of us that has never failed to get Alida down for a nap.  Well, the other night they cuddled up in Kali's bed.  Here they are:

Minutes later I heard Kali stop reading.  I peaked into the room and Kali was quietly closing the book.  Here's what I saw:

Alida has her own little nurturing bug these days too.  Today she wanted to bring Big Bear downstairs to play with.  Before long she was pretending to put a diaper on him.  Then she needed to take him potty.   When I walked into the bathroom, I couldn't help but chuckle.  This is the scene I came upon.

Now speaking of kiddos, their bath water is probably cool by now, so I had better go help them finish up...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Celebrating life!

Alida sacked out while nursing, so a nappy walk was unnecessary (even if I was looking forward to it).  Instead, I'm trying to complete a few tasks that require screen time (tasks that I put off partly because I'm tired of being in front of a computer after my days at work and because they are nearly impossible to do with Alida's little fingers anywhere nearby).  I just taught Kali how to balance a checkbook since she is now the proud owner of her very own checking account (which she hopes to use to deposit duck egg money and purchase duck feed, if she can find anyone that wishes to purchase duck eggs from her).   Now she is off to harvest the last of her popcorn, since cutting down the corn stalks to dry is on the list for today.  You may wonder why we are drying corn stalks - after chopping them up in the chipper they should make great cover material for the composting toilets.  Yes, we are still pretty excited about that system!

Before diving into my computer "tasks" I did a quick peruse on facebook and got well educated on the shut down of our federal government.  Thinking about that and some of the people near and dear to me who are undergoing very difficult times, it's hard to write a post that focuses on the joy and celebration that has been part of recent days for us.  It seems that life is almost always a complex mixture of joys and sorrows, celebrating and grieving, life and death.  As we were sitting around the fire on my birthday evening, Jason and I were asked to share some of the highlights of our year.  My mind went blank initially and even upon further reflection very few major things came to mind - the kinds of things one might expect to share as highlights.  Instead what flooded my mind were all the simple joys that are part of our everyday life here on Fruit Farm Lane.  I could list hundreds but here are just a sampling since I last posted:
Canning many quarts of applesauce on our porch!
Digging sweet potatoes with both girls and making rolls with the vines.
Grinding our home grown corn and using that cornmeal in pizza dough
The dough was also enhanced with lots of pureed stinging nettles and our chicken eggs then topped with various kinds of pesto, homemade sauce chock full of Tangly Woods produce, kale and zucchini from friends and neighbors...
Watching the girls cuddled up reading together and hearing Kali try to teach Alida to read.
It's the simple pleasures that stem from the cycles and seasons of our life here that create a sense of being overwhelmed by the abundance all around me - the abundance of food, the abundance of cuteness, the abundance of friendships and meaningful interactions with those who live with and near us, the abundance of beauty... 

I love that each season brings different things that we anticipate and look forward to. And since each new season brings new things to enjoy, it's hard to feel very sad about the ending of the previous one - and sometimes it's downright easy to celebrate.  I ate our very last fresh tomato today with absolutely no feelings of regret as I chopped up the vines in an effort to get a start on the fall garden cleanup.  On may way to the garden I popped a ripe sweet persimmon into my mouth - one season ending, another just getting started! 

The cool mornings and evenings bring a sense of anticipation for the first fire in the woodstove, but it would be a little ridiculous to do one just yet!  We have taken advantage of some cool evenings to enjoy building fires in our outdoor fire ring.  Family and Tangly Woods' folks joined us on my birthday evening for pizza pockets over the fire.  I never get tired of that meal - and am always full before I wish to be.  The following evening, Jason and his birthday party attendees (about a dozen men!) enjoyed eating supper around the fire - which was sandwiched in between starting to dig our "pond" and several hours of serious ping pong playing!

 So September has come and gone and October is upon us.  The large batch of green tomato salsa cooling in the fridge will give me reason to be creative with making meals in the near future that are enhanced by salsa!  The canning shelves are full, the freezers are requiring increased creativity to fit more into and the root cellar is filling with squashes, potatoes, and onions.  I'm hoping that the lessening of food processing and preservation will not only open up more spaces for family walks or game playing or reading stories, but also tackling some of the piles of various things that have accumulated around the house during the intense season of planting, weeding, harvesting and putting up for the winter.  We'll see if our girls are as excited about house cleaning and organizing as they are gardening together.  I won't blame them if they aren't...