Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Just in case we needed a little more drama in our lives...

Life has been interesting of late! Flavorful and full, with some beautiful and emotional times thrown in there. By Sunday of this weekend, I was wondering if things could get any crazier. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'll kick this blog off by noting that I'm typing right now while ALIDA reads to Terah! She has been interested in learning to read for quite some time and making progress but nothing like some external incentives for this gal! The summer reading program started at the library not 10 days ago and Alida is already done her sheet - completed 10 hours of reading yesterday. And now she is working to help Terah with hers! Here they are reading together the other night in bed - one of Terah's favorite activities of the day!

So now backing up to our weekend - ever since our three day stint at Lost River we've been just a tad into pizza pocket making opportunities and I've planned them in whenever possible! We've got one coming up later this week and last Friday we enjoyed having Emily, Jonas and Ivy over, along with some of Jonas' family. It was a lovely evening to be outside and food always seems to taste better both outside and cooked over an outdoor fire. Of course Terah was thrilled specifically with one of our guests. These two are just too much!
Jason and I had a very different experience on Saturday related to fire - less relaxing and not exactly enjoyable, but meaningful in its own way. We got to know new neighbors recently when they came to our house concert after seeing it announced in their church bulletin. It was so lovely to meet them and see them making connections with others at the concert. At the end of the evening we exchanged contact information and they warmly invited us to stop by and see the home they were building on Mt. Hope Lane right down the road from us. So when a google alert came through my email noting multiple fire trucks on the scene of a fire on Mt. Hope Lane a few weeks back, they came to mind immediately and a few hours later they responded to my text confirming that indeed it was the home they had been building for years that had been burned to the ground. It was a timber-framed home that they were building themselves, using wood from a pre-civil war barn (yes, it had been years in the making and was finally nearing completion).

They had a work day on Saturday and thanks to my mom's offer to hang out with our gals (no kids invited to this particular event!!), we were both able to spend the morning with a group of folks there to help sort through and clear out the rubble. If something can both be heartening and depressing at the same time then the morning fits that description. I've never helped clean up after a home has been demolished and found myself thinking about and feeling lots of things as I sorted through the ashes looking for any remnants of valuables to help remind them of what they had for insurance purposes.

They noted that as they lay in bed the night of the fire they reflected on the fact that they had dreamed of building such a home together and they had done it! I felt so deeply inspired by their resilience in the face of such loss! I was reminded once again about how important it is for the process of our living to be as important or more important than any particular outcome or end goal. My that is hard for me to keep in mind at times! But sometimes a crop fails or in this case a house with most of one's belongings burns to the ground when a mouse chews through an electrical wire. I took a small stone tile home with me from the fire to serve a tangible reminder of this lesson, as I will no doubt need reminders.

That evening we got to spend some time together as a family hauling some very large and heavy rocks from around our place to Nora's garden - one of the activities that got bumped off our anniversary retreat day when we overfilled it! This included a lot of fun for the girls including trailer and cart rides, and then walking atop the big rocks. They are already a hit, and will be even more so when arranged and placed in their final resting spots. These are rocks Jason has been eyeing up for this very purpose for years, so it was fun to at least make a small bit of progress on this stage of Nora's memory garden.

Then Sunday arrived! Mom headed back to wild, wonderful, WV (eager for my dad to rejoin her after his Alaska birding trip), and we got into a fun day all at home together. The day appeared like a normalish one anyway, and I got into puttering on kitchen projects and laundry and some harvesting. I was determined also to carve out some time to read to Alida, even if she has a stack of Patricia Polacco books from the library that are almost too intense for me! I was reading to Alida when I realized that Terah was getting sleepy so I better change her diaper so she could just drift off nursing while we read. I brought a diaper out to the futon for her. She wasn't exactly fully cooperating with the plan but that's nothing new. I grabbed her hand to pull her out of the nook of the futon so she was positioned for her freshie and seconds later she was screaming - her "something really hurts" scream. I couldn't see anything wrong, didn't feel like anything had been out of the ordinary and she was still moving both arms. But clearly she was hurting as she would nurse and then wail, nurse, drift off, cry out, etc... She finally fell pretty soundly asleep in my arms but I couldn't lay her down without her screaming. I kept hoping that a good nap would fix it but that was wishful thinking! 

She woke relatively happy until she tried to get up or move her arm and then the pitiful cries started up again. She would cry if I even talked about moving her arm. By this point the girls were having fun with our neighbor friend who was over to play, but even telling Terah that D was visiting wasn't enough to cheer her or take her mind off her left arm. So time to consult with Jason - were we in for another ER visit? Would this one be even more traumatic and land us another huge medical bill? We had isolated the pain to her elbow and were reminded of friends whose one daughter had multiple instances of nurse maid's elbow. We gave a call to talk it over and also put in a call to our neighbor (who had come to our rescue when we were determining what to do about Terah's lip cut). We were just about to get ourselves ready to head to some urgent care facility - after figuring our which our insurance would honor - when our neighbor called back. He asked Jason if by chance Terah's arm was pulled away from her body, which is exactly what had happened. He said, "I'll be right over...this is one of my favorite things to do." We waited for less than 5 minutes until he showed up, gently held onto Terah's elbow, did a little twist and said, "she'll be ok in less than a minute." He had heard it pop back in place and knew from much experience (including it happening multiple times to their kids) that as soon as she got over the scariness of the moment she'd be fine. He was right! I had given her a daisy that she was holding in her right hand and within seconds without thinking about it, she reached out to play with it with her left and relief coursed through me! And that was that! Well, other than the fact that I felt like jumping up and kicking my heels and I was very chatty for awhile, which is how I get when I feel such relief after something that could have been so much worse. We felt so so grateful! 

So our day proceeded with welcoming two new house guests for the week, chatting some with the couple having a wedding here July 1, happily watching the girls painting outside at the picnic table (relief again!!), finishing the days tasks so we could walk home with our neighbor and join her family for Ifthar (the evening meal after they end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset). I felt like I had run a marathon or traveled a long distance by the end of the day. We didn't get home until well after 10, having enjoyed a feast with our Kurdish friends.

In other news the first round of barley has been threshed and winnowed and is drying on racks in the garage. Jason has deemed the concrete pad a winner for the job, even better than the garage floor and easier to clean up at the end of it! It's still not a "quick" job to thresh grains by hand but Jason is developing some systems and having a ball! And the older girls got in on the fun - and Terah wanted to and "helped" for a short stint! We loved using barley flour but it is all around time intensive as we have to grind and then sift to remove the hulls. So we'll keep experimenting (in all our free/spare time!). 

And in case I wasn't finding enough to do, I'm experimenting more with dairy products. My second round of cheddar is waxed and aging and I just started a batch of cottage cheese this morning for the first time - stay tuned! I'm making butter, yogurt and ricotta more often than ever - sharing it with folks that want to give it a try and hoping to inspire some more folks to make their own and sign up for a herd share. To that goal, I'm cooking up a short 2 hour workshop on "how to make butter, ricotta and yogurt with a baby on your hip." I hope to do a trial run for some work colleagues next month. 

We might soon need to have more than 3 pigs to consume all the buttermilk, skim milk and whey I'm generating! Or I need to slow up on that front - the more likely best next step as I look out and see squash and tomato and pepper plants growing awfully fast! Those cracks of time used for those things will soon need to be devoted to chopping, freezing, canning, drying, fermenting, etc... In the meantime, we are still in the spring/summer weeding/pruning stage of things and generating lots of treats for the pigs (we all like an excuse to take a load their way and watch them root through it for their favorites). We all agree that they are fabulous additions to Tangly Woods!

One of the books I read to Alida today was about an art teacher who was very important to Patricia as she developed as an artist. One of the things she told her students was you are not to just look at things but you need to actually see them. That stuck out to me and I've been thinking about it as I go about my day. I am going to keep working at not just looking around but actually seeing! Glad that one of the things there for me to notice right now is the blooming orange butterfly weed!

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