Thursday, August 2, 2018

August is here, ready or not!!

Two weeks has passed since our return home, so I should be fully readjusted I suppose. I guess mostly I am, though we haven't really had a "normal" week since. The older girls left for a thrilling week with cousins and grandparents a few days after we came home and now this week they are doing a morning art camp in town, meaning that I'm providing daily shuttle service. That ends today, which will be more disappointing for them than me (though I think even they are eager to not leave home every morning)!

So here's some visuals from our life of late. I should start with a quick news flash though, for anyone sitting on pins and needles about Kali's free range ducks. THEY CAME BACK! The next night when she went to shut in her other ducks they were by their coop. They had, it appears, just gone for a sleepover next door. Sigh! We (ok, I!) have had a little conversation with them about how if you go on sleepovers without permission you will then be grounded for a few days - which they were! Now we have again had enough rain to make our place interesting enough with water features to keep them closer to home.
On the cusp of leaving for a week, here she was tying herself up! We missed our chatterbox! She definitely enlivens any space she is in and her mind is so active these days cooking up things to do (often that make big messes with craft supplies). She was so excited for a week in WV but also nervous about a horseback ride in the plans - which she ended up LOVING!
Kali got in on making one snipped bean tower before leaving for the week, and several since returning. I'm not sure where we are in the green bean harvest but we are shocked and thrilled with the low level of bean beetles this year. Not complaining and happy to see the gallon bags slowly build up in the freezer!

With the older girls gone, Jason and I had a little side kick with us for the week and a mighty cute one at that. She was mostly at my side but when Daddy was doing exciting things like feeding the pigs or collecting eggs, she was often eager to switch alliances!
Terah still requests stints with the camera. I always enjoy seeing what shows up when I download. This one was one I saw her really working on to get the angle she wanted on the jam jar. A favorite snack recently has been yogurt with wineberry jam.
So much for Jason and I having coffee and enjoying Wendell Berry poems to start our day ALONE! But I can't say I've ever felt disappointed to hear her little pitter-patter out to us. And a dose of Wendell Berry is good for all ages!

It was different to just have one kid in the backseat. It meant more room for lugging other things and Terah especially liked the day we went to look over a flock of Jason's chickens at someone else's farm to pick out breeders. Rather than sisters, she had a chicken on each side of her. 
On the return trip, we swung by a farm that was done part of their sweet corn patch and was open to allowing free gleaning. It was a beautiful evening, though a little unnerving to have two guys pull up on a tractor with guns (looking for deer to cash in crop damage permits but still)...
In the end the corn processing was full of mixed emotions. We learned that what we thought was no or very little sprayed corn was actually sprayed quite regularly. So our corn husks went to the landfill rather than the compost and while we did freeze what we had gleaned, we decided not to go back for more as initially planned. We don't want to mess with the fungus in our soils by adding fungicide. We've been working too hard at healing and improving soils to knowingly set ourselves back on that front. But it's still hard to see what appears to be such a wonderful healthy local food go to waste. Hard choices!
We've had many days where the mountain has been obscured (at least in part) from our view. We've had more than 5 inches of rain since we arrived home. The sprinkler and hoses are firmly tucked away for now. We've got more days in front of us with chances of storms. Thankfully there have been pockets of sun for drying things off in between.
I sure missed having a team of food processors when Kali and Alida were in WV. Sometimes I resorted to Terah typing them an email to get myself a few more minutes to finish off a load for the canner or some such food processing task. She was always happy to write to them! But she wanted a new color to type with about every 10 seconds, which made focusing on anything for any length of time a bit of a challenge!
She was pretty excited about her load of tomatoes one day from HER garden! We didn't go prepared to her patch so she came back with a nightgown full. She is catching the bug I think - the gardening one that is!
Now these are NOT from our trees. They are from our neighbors who had an incredible peach year and were headed to the beach and so offered the remainder of what was on the trees to us. I have never felt so rich as when I looked out onto the porch at what Jason brought home. Better than winning the lottery!
We canned and froze a bunch and just ate the last ones fresh the other day. This will be a treat all winter. It's been years since I've canned any peaches so we will savor them. They also will be a reminder of Samuel every time we crack a jar open, not that we are really needing any help remembering or missing him. This month will mark a year since his death.
This is what our kitchen table often looks like these days. 
This is what the stove often looks like these days. Tomatoes are just coming in so haven't canned any yet but have been able to make several batches of tomato shallot sauce, which is a taste sensation if there ever was one! And cheesemaking is still a regular occurrence. I'm ready to proclaim that I'm a confident cheddar maker. I think swiss is up next.
And then they got home and our house felt complete again and immediately exponentially more complicated! It was so very good to see them and so wonderful to hear of all their fun adventures. The stories are still spilling out now and then.
Their return also meant a short but sweet visit from my parents. Terah no longer has any fear of swinging high and now it takes two to keep her content with pushes!
This is one of my favorite spots on our property right now! It's going to convert me I believe. I've always been more into growing veggies than flowers but this brightens my spirits every time I look outside. Our table is often laden with more than one bouquet right now!
So the other day, Terah apparently was getting out of bed to come to me at the end of her afternoon nap and decided she'd snooze a little longer (standing up). Silly gal!
And here's another silly gal with a very cute "hat." She has had more "frumpy times" in this very spot since returning home - long days, too short nights, and no cousins and grandparents to make life extra exciting and interesting!
It seems kids can smell/sense/intuit when their parents might enjoy some quiet moments together to start their day. Our most recent coffee/poem morning was joined by not one but two gals!
Here's what is happening in art camp: Kali is doing drama and here she was ready to be a pirate. Alida is doing painting and here is her beach scene. They are really enjoying it and both have friends in their classes.
And that brings me to last evening. Apples we had gleaned from our friends' tree had been sitting for enough days to make the place smell "appley" and they were turning yellow. Time to sauce them!
We didn't get started until after my afternoon work stint and Terah's nap, and once I had cheese made, supper in the oven and a few other projects wrapped up. Thankfully it was not a load like some years - so doable in an evening!
I had spectacular and frequent taste testers! It was enjoyed plain, with cinnamon and at the end of the evening with pecans and chocolate chips (which melted into it). All gave it several thumbs up!
We started filling the first jars after 8:30 so I did see in the new day before crashing but it could have been worse. There are 21 quarts out on the porch to clean off and add to the growing rows of full jars in the root cellar. And here we are at harvest day again so I might sneak out and bring in a load or two before waking the girls for the last day of art camp!
There's my scrapbook pages for the last while. Much more could be said about the under current of emotions as I go throughout my days. Since the girls arrived home, one thing that has been once again impressed upon me is both the preciousness of life and how fleeting it can be. They needed to go an alternate route home from WV (there aren't many!) due to a truck accident on the Allegheny Mountain. Since their safe arrival home, we learned that the truck driver (who was hauling a truck load of eggs) was killed and we have learned that he was a friend of our Kurdish neighbors. He had a wife and two small children and his wife is expecting their third child. He was working in an unfulfilling job with not great working conditions but just trying to pay off some bills before looking for something safer and more satisfying. Now his family likely will have no choice but to return to Iraq without his support here. And likely they left there hoping for a better and more stable life here. My heart has been breaking for them. I have wanted to hold our gals close and have felt like cursing these boxes of metal we drive around in. I've also been feeling angry at all the unjust systems that create these kinds of tragedies. It feels like this accident was not just a fluke one, but one built from many layers of injustice. Oh to figure out my place in the beauty and ugliness, abundance and scarcity in our world!