Friday, May 18, 2018

20 years and counting and we're wading through chlorophyll around here!

20 years ago today, Jason and I were driving back from Ohio where we had been together with those we spent a year with in Bolivia. Following a period of silence in the car (and many many months of holding it in) Jason asked, "Janelle, if I would ask you on a date would you say yes?" to which I replied, "probably." He followed that with, "Well then I think I may!" And that was how it all began. Here we are 20 years later. It's been a wild ride and one I would would not change for anything in the world!

My mom and I often think alike and the morning of our 19th wedding anniversary (May 15) I sat down and tried to write a highlight of each of our 19 years of marriage, something she suggested might be fun in the card we opened shortly after I finished. Each year could have many more highlights, but here's what I noted in my brief reflection in the wee hours of the morning while the funny cake pie I was making in honor of our anniversary baked.

1999 - Jason graduated from college 3 weeks before our wedding, we moved to Hamlet Dr
2000 - Jason full-time construction; me full-time student
2001 - I graduated from EMU; Jason started working part-time at Hickory Hill Farm
2002 - I was working full-time at CJP; we were thinking about starting a family!
2003 - we moved to our first home on Wolfe St a few months before Kali's birth; Mom's transplant
2004 - our only full year in town (adjusting to parenthood and already feeling antsy for land)
2005 - moved to Fruit Farm Lane in Keezletown
2006 - deep in home renovations
2007 - Nora's birth
2008 - Nora's death (we started the tradition of donating blood together)
2009 - Started our Encounters with Sustenance blog soon after the 1 year anniversary of Nora's death
2010 - Building Mom and Dad's in-law quarters onto our home
2011 - Alida's birth
2012 - Started working some from home; hosted first blood drive that fall
2013 - Grew our first peanuts; huge strawberry harvest; Jason donated his hair
2014 - Bathroom remodeling; 1st Biochar burn
2015 - Terah's birth at home!
2016 - Ivy's birth; 1st year with pigs
2017 - Jason's 40th birthday Sandhill Crane migration trip; Samuel's death
2018 - 10th anniversary of Nora's death (return trip planned to Cape Charles this summer)

We started our anniversary morning out with one of my favorite traditions - a hot drink and some Wendell Berry Sabbath poems. The very first one we read that morning seemed fitting for the day, and believe it or not we happened to be reading his 1999 poems (the year we got married):

We travelers, walking to the sun, can't see
Ahead, but looking back the very light
That blinded us shows us the way we came,
Along which blessings now appear, risen
As if from sightlessness to sight, and we,
By blessing brightly lit, keep going toward
The blessed light that yet to us is dark.

Before I get too far into our anniversary, let me not forget to introduce you all to the newest Tangly Woods members alluded to in the last post: two Red Roc piglets! I imagine some of you are thinking, "Don't Jason and Janelle have enough going on?" Well, you see, this is what happens when my mom clips out articles from magazines for us to read. She passed one on to us about someone raising/breeding pigs in WV, Jason was intrigued and emailed the guy, they started corresponding and before you know it we find ourselves in the car headed to Shepherdstown, WV to buy two. So now we have 6 and plan to butcher 4 in December as planned and keep 2 females to breed - yep, we are that excited about pigs (and piglets!!). We had a really fun visit to Creekside Farms and are enjoying the new additions. And I think (now that they are fully recovered from their trip), they are enjoying Tangly Woods as well! We also came home from this trip with a few hatching eggs from a breed of chickens they have that mirror closely a project Jason was working on. So we'll see what all comes of our little trek to WV and back that day...
One other pre-anniversary treat I didn't want to forget to mention was the girls' cooking night on Monday! It ended up feeling a bit like a mother's day dinner, in part because my girls made it together for us and because Kali gave me a sweet card with coupons enclosed that I'll be enjoying for weeks to come! I believe it was Terah who brought "girls cooking night" to a family meeting, and all agreed it was a fun idea. What I love is that they decided to make "three sisters" for their meal - so the meal centered around squash (roasted), corn (made as polenta grits) and beans (refried pintos that we grew). Delicious as always and kuddos to Kali for managing to pull a meal off with both little sisters in tow. That gal is getting quite the education!!

And now catching up to the present. Our anniversary morning was right up there among my favorite kinds of mornings. We were home all day together and Jason and I got to work out in the gardens all morning (with happy kiddos around). It's as if we now have a "rainy season" around here, as it has been cloudy and rainy or stormy for days now. So we have been looking for ANY and ALL pockets of calm weather to try to get things in the ground. Thankfully that day was a fun and productive one, getting in tomatoes, some peppers, squash, dill, cilantro, basil, and more things I'm likely forgetting! Jason then transitioned in the afternoon to weeding the onions and friends arrived in time to finish it off right before the next drenching rains started! But let me not sound too disparaging about the rain. It's really wonderful to have good moisture in the soil, the sky and clouds on the mountain have been beautiful, and we just feel like we are wading through paradise around here. Plants are truly amazing. If Jason can't mow soon, though, he may have to scythe the whole yard!!

We did take a break midday on our anniversary to enjoy a special lunch of potato crusted spinach ricotta cheddar egg bake, a corn cheddar paprika quiche, roasted sweet potatoes with garlic and sauteed garlic and asparagus. Yep, it's the time of year when I'm likely to start photographing our plates again! Here's a few other fun pictures from our day together! I neglected to get any of us actually together on our anniversary!
Looking at these pictures again has me itching to get outside and pick the remaining 1/2 of the spinach since the rain is supposed to start up again a bit later this evening. 3/5 of the family is out mulching with the hay that Kali and Jason cut yesterday, and as soon as I wake the 1/5 that is sleeping we might just go join them! I'll end with a few final tidbits!
It's about time for the first comfrey cutback. It's at its prime right now and is about to flop on us!
Kali has a broody duck - hoping for ducklings in a few weeks!
The irises in Nora's garden are stunning - this is the one that Jason is pretty sure he got from Kali's school the day Nora was airlifted to UVA. 
Yep, there is LOTS of peeping in the background as I type. 20 more hatched and headed to their new home this evening. Things will be a bit quieter in here again.

This gal is silly! Enough said!!

The first strawberries were a big hit. The slugs are likely to enjoy them as they rot if we don't get some sunshine soon!

I love our spinach freezing system. Plowed through this this morning and hope to head out for the second round soon...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

We are blessed...

As I looked at photos from the last number of weeks that is the phrase that came to mind. I always have a hard time titling blog posts and this time was no different. The last 3-4 weeks have been extremely full! So so full! Full of family times. Full of friend times. Full of gardening time. Full of office work time. Full of viruses. Full of good food. Full of sunshine and rain and flowers and seeds sprouting and plants growing. Full of children noise and creativity. Full of hosting large events from a baby shower to a graduation party to times with family and friends. And not full of sleep. But on this mother's day I feel full of blessings - many things undeserved and unearned but that I feel so thankful for.

We are headed to WV in just a short while to pick up two additional pigs; that will be the subject for another blog post. So I need to work on getting the house ready for our next AirBnB guests and food and entertainment packed for our little excursion. So I will let many of these pictures speak for themselves!
We don't often get photos of family gardening time, since I'm usually taking them. Photo credit: my dad!

Our girls LOVE when Grandma and Grandpa are in their home upstairs...

...and so do we!! We loved the two week stint recently and it went way too fast. 

Our budding photographer!

These two are quite the pair - in love and strife!

Still in the middle of soccer season!
Yesterday Alida made a goal left-footed. I was impressed!

Still enjoying weekly playdates!
Hope they are ready to welcome two additional T.W. hogs!

One of the large events recently - a cool and rainy grad party for 75+

Some things never get old - love our date nights with cousin Ivy!

Yay for peas growing. Most of the corn and squash is planted. Cucumbers are in, Quinoa, sesame, chia in. Much more ready to be planted as soon as time allows!

Froze my first 20 or so containers of spinach this past week. 
My little helper!

Alida never tires of reading time with Jonathan (he seems to enjoy it as well!!)

No words needed :)

And now the most recent news: 3 fun filled days with Benner family. I loved seeing the kids enjoy the water feature in Nora's garden.
Most of the toys were in and out of toy boxes at least once!

There was a secret club with two members.

A lot of kiddo cuteness to take in!

The beautiful outdoors to enjoy - and for kids to run off steam in.

Irises in their prime in Nora's garden - these smell like grape soda or candy!

Kali and Uncle Jonas could talk for hours!

Enjoyed some additional spectators on the sidelines!

I was gifted with TWO long snuggly nap times with baby Meri yesterday. I couldn't have asked for more!

Water, sand and rocks made for a really fun time at Emily and Jonas' place - as well as waving at all those driving by.

Our last meal all together before heading our separate ways. 

Special times with special people!