Saturday, October 25, 2014

October musings...

Alida didn't even make it onto the driveway today before she sacked out, so my walk was much quieter than it normally is.  On a typical day I get to hear selections from her repertoire of songs, along with her chatter about this and that until she allows sleep to overtake her.  Today I just had my own thoughts to keep me occupied, which never seems to be very hard to do.  It seems that the last number of Octobers have kind of caught my by surprise.  September goes out with the bang - the garden season winding to a close, Jason and I both celebrating another year of life and then October arrives...

I'll admit to being rather uncertain as to what my body is trying to communicate with me these days, and what the triggers of the various thoughts and feeling coursing through me are.  It could be just a natural let down after the spring and summer rush.  It might be the extent to which a lot of my extra emotional energy has gone towards thinking about and being present to people close to me who are journeying through difficult times.  It could be that I'm eating an odd and restrictive diet as one of my current attempts to get to the bottom of why I haven't felt like myself for going on a year now.  Or it could be that my body remembers this month very deeply.

My guess is that it is a mixture of all of the above.  This time 7 years ago we were anxiously wondering when we would meet in person the baby inside me who had caused such an uproar in her last several months in utero.  I was on bed rest and taking in the changing colors on the mountain from the hammock, while Kali baked me various flavors of pine needle cakes.  I love watching the color creep down the mountain and I simultaneously feel little surges of emotions when it starts to happen.

This year there have been a few other random odd triggers.  As another avenue to try to address some of my underlying health concerns, some of which may have stress and/or anxiety at their root, I signed up for an 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.  As predicted, it's challenging (I'm trying to absorb and believe that one can't fail at mindfulness), but I'm glad I'm doing it.  Finding the hour or so daily for practice has been the hardest part and many a meditation session has ended in a nap.  The class is held at the local hospital and weekly I get a little mental trip back to our time with Nora in the NICU.  They must use the same soap as they do at UVA.  When I wash my hands, the smell seems to transport me to the sink outside the NICU where we would wash before going in to be at Nora's side.  I almost welcome the transport back, but it surprises me sometimes when it happens when I'm not expecting it.

I'm grateful that this week we'll have a number of times and ways to remember Nora.  We'll be hosting another blood drive on the eve of her birth and then driving over the mountains to WV to be with family and friends on her birthday and the weekend following.  Spending time as a family and with those I love and who love me around the anniversary of her birth is what I always crave.

In other news, recent days have marked a few other changes and transitions around here.  We've now had two frosts and our harvests are getting down to amounts that I can carry in my hand - a bunch of parsley, sprigs of fresh dill, a few trombone squashes, a pepper or two, mint teas, perennial onions, fennel for munching on, raspberries that never get as far as the house...  We are now in the business of harvesting leaves and pine needles and tucking beds in for the winter.  It's fun to note the changes even from last year - Kali helping to rake and Alida content to be outside with us for longer than even my stamina will allow.  She often pretends that she is playing a soccer game using leaves.  As long as I can keep her on track with which way the "balls" are supposed to be flying, she can actually be sort of helpful.

We had our first fire in the wood stove the other night and a fire in the wood stove does about the same thing to me that a baby sleeping on my chest does; slows me down in that good, cozy kind of way. Kali was reading in the front room, Jason and Alida were playing tiddly-winks and I was watching the flames dance.  After a bit, Jason came up behind me and starting playing with my hair. I knew at that moment that the end of any productivity on my part for the day had come!  He literally had to drag me to bed and plop me in!

We have also recommissioned our composting toilet.  After a several month hiatus due to running out of cover materials (a very essential component of the system), we have restocked with leaves from the city.  Jason and the girls hope to make as many trips as possible to get leaves as our goal would be to use the compost potty year round.  And when we start our bathroom remodel after Thanksgiving it will be even more important since we plan to move our bathroom (by moving the compost potty) into the back kitchen.  Our best estimate has us finishing up that remodeling project right around Alida's 4th birthday at the end of March!

And, finally, even though the harvest season is winding to a close, there is new life springing up around us even now.  The many cover crops that Jason has been working on getting in, along with Jonathan's help, have sprouted and we are eating lettuce as fast as we can without making a dent in it (if you are local and read our blog and want lettuce, come on out anytime...).   And the garlic is sprouting!  Now since most of the covers crops are in and the ground is soft from good rains recently, Jason and Jonathan have been doing a fair amount of digging and the little pond is almost done, other than spreading clay up the sides to create a natural lining. Exciting!  We might have some fish before too long.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fall planting, last harvests...

I just flipped through the last few blog posts to check if I was behind or caught up on the highlights of recent happenings.  It sure appears that we are more in fall/winter mode with multiple outings away from the homestead!  But there is plenty happening on the home front too, and some of my favorite tasks!  I've discovered that a lot of the tasks at the beginning and end of the season suit me really well.  The spring weeding frenzy and the fall garden cleanup and leaf mulching are both very good matches to my personality.  A very clear task with obvious visible results is lovely!  So I've been chopping away at dead tomato and pepper plants and bean vines at every available opportunity!  In other pockets of time there has been little bits of harvesting - just enough to keep my dehydrator humming away most moments of the last few weeks.  We did have our first light frost this week but now have a stretch without cold nights.  We keep wondering when the first fire in the wood stove will be needed.  There have been some cool nights but I love cuddling up with my family so haven't wanted to warm the air too much!  Last evening I enjoyed a delayed birthday treat from the girls - a complete hairdo session with me dosing on the living room floor.  Lovely!
Here's what Alida was doing that made me think I could squeeze a blog post in - she has since awaken!
Some of the things harvested the day before a possible frost was in the forecast.  To the far right are paprika peppers - how fun to have three containers of our very own dried/ground paprika.  We'll be growing those again!
The last of the peppers - many will go in the dehydrator - and some of the last summer squash (the trombone squash want to keep going so we'll see when the actual last one is harvested.
The "cream of the crop" for planting.  Jason was sure he had plenty of seed and what he saved out only planted about half our field so we had to dive into our eating supply.
The girls don't want to miss out on much these days - here they are headed to the garlic field.
The girls and I got in on the easy part!  Jason and Jonathan had worked all day the day before transforming the patch into plantable soil.
Kali is now a true help.  She helped with various parts of the project but was proud to plant, cover, and water in one full row all by herself!
Peanut digging time!
We are trying a new method this year of drying them on the vine for a few weeks...
The number of jars of dried things are growing in the pantry - who knew dried squash could be so very tasty.  We've also got lots of tomatoes, peppers, some onions, corn, and ground cherries.
This is the way the counter looks many mornings when I'm just getting started with a day at home.  Most of it will be in our bellies by the end of the day!
Here's the largest of the trombone squash - summer squash that turns to a winter squash if left on the vine. This one will provide plenty of seed, enough to share!  And lots of squash - weighed in at about 20lb.
Corn harvest - suffered greatly due to deer and groundhog pressure.
I need to unload the dryer and get some peppers going...
One of our favorite things to harvest - sweet potatoes!
Both girls were loving it until Alida got dirt in her sock. :)
There were some biggies!
Our last watermelon was consumed just before we welcomed October. It's funny how I don't feel sad as one season ends because the next one has its own things to look forward to!