I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


I have now been without internet access at home for two weeks. Thanks to Serendipity's computer, I have finally been able to catch up with things. The modem is fine, the computer will connect if set up at someone else's house, so I am holding the phone line into our house responsible. It shall pay. I have no idea how, but it will. How exactly does one take revenge on a phone line?

In other life news, I have finished the Harry Potter book, cleaned up the farm for a birthday party/wedding vow renewal party that was a huge success, enjoyed a weekend visit from Goaliemom, Bean and J, and generally gone about my business as usual.

Off to visit and not abuse the hospitality of Serendipity.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

deja vu

Double post, as some things need their own. Last night was one of those horrible instances where history seems about to repeat itself in a nasty way. A phone ringing after 11:00 is rare, and Goaliemom calling then rarer still, since we'd just had a long chat on MSN. Through her broken voice I heard the words again, "there's been a car accident" - my nephew, the driver, was ok. Thankfully it was not to report an injury, but of course it was so hard on my nephew mentally and emotionally. I won't presume to know what went through his mind. I won't presume to know my sister's mind, knowing her son was suffering thousands of miles away. I just know my side of it, the way my heart felt like it was dropping into my feet, the need to steady myself in case the next words were like those I'd heard before.

Parts of it were so oddly familiar, but not a happy familiarity. More like a person who you met once, an aquaintance of a friend or something, who immediately presumed too much of you, and now every time you see them you groan inwardly at how they will make you feel awkward and annoyed.

Deja vu is surreal sometimes, cool other times. But sometimes I could do without it, thank you very much.

on apiaries

An apiary is a beehive; apiculture is raising bees for honey and beeswax. Among the many many other things that have crossed my mind (it's a regular highway in there, sometimes) for the farm is having some beehives. Organic honey, beeswax to use for whatever one uses beeswax for - but mainly the honey. Right out of the comb. It's been one of the lesser ideas until recently.

At the side of the farmyard, right by the fence surrounding the yard on the north side of the house, is a beautiful, tall old maple. If it's less that 80 years old I'd be surprised. Three main limbs split out from the main trunk and the center of these has seen better days. While some live branches still come out the top, a large break shows that most of that limb has died and fallen away. D noticed a month ago that in that dead limb, there was lots of bee activity. You can hear the buzzing from the vegetable garden 50 feet away. They're high up though and no immediate concern until yesterday. I came home and heard buzzing from the house. Hm. Odd. I walked over toward the tree to see a cloud of a couple hundred (no exaggeration) flying around a lilac tree. I wondered if the hive had been deserted, but not so. I went out later after warning the kids and keeping the dogs in and no more were flying - a closer examination showed that there was a clump of solid bees about the size of a football sitting on the fence under the lilac tree. Hundreds of them, all sitting together. Possibly sent out to start a new hive, was all I could think. D called our neighbor who has gotten some beehives himself this spring and he said that was likely it.

So the side of me that likes chasing cows starts thinking, there we go! the bees are all ready to go to a new hive! all we have to do is get a bee house ready for them, take them over, and away we go! Yes, dear, but since we have no house, no protective gear, and no smoker to calm them, that seems a little far fetched, don't you think? Oh. Well, maybe. Could we put them somewhere else? No. Don't be so silly. They won't sit on a shelf. Hmph.

I didn't want to kill them but as D pointed out pragmatism must again rule the day and that clump was sitting right on the gate we use to go from one yard to the other, and we weren't killing the whole hive in the tree, just what appeared to be the start of a new one. Anyone wandering too close would be in very real danger. Besides, our neighbor said the new colony would be started too late and the group wouldn't survive the winter as there wouldn't be enough time to get the honey stores they would need to make it. So, after dark, they were sprayed.

Maybe we'll get a house in the spring for some of them to come from the main hive. After all, credit where it's due: I would be willing to bet that a large part of the bumper crop in my garden this year is thanks to their pollination.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007


He would have been 22 today.

Still missing him.

Still wondering why.

Still not knowing.


Monday, 13 August 2007


For those who were always wondering, that is not the noise a chipper makes. It's more like BRRRRRRRCKZZZZKKKKKZZZKKPTHTHTHTH. It's in all caps because it is ridiculously loud. It's also very effective, thanks to SRH and the gigantic-industrial-strength-needs-its-own-trailer chipper. This thing can take trees up to 11 inches in diameter. We were shoving small logs in there. Much sweat and many leg scratches later, we got through almost the whole pile of brush. The weekend also saw some chainsawing and the cutting of the goldenrod field. I'm finding the smells as I mow interesting. Nothing disgusting, just distinctive. The goldenrod smelled not unpleasant, then a different part of the lawn apparently had chamomile because it smelled for all the world like a cup of chamomile tea. The smell at the chipper was reminiscent of wood shop in junior high school, and of damp cedar.

Lunch on Saturday included the freshest corn we've ever had. Ten minutes from cornstalk to pot is definitely the way to go. Tender, sweet thanks to the sugars having no time to turn to starches. Tomatoes are growing but not yet ripening, beans are still producing, herbs are lovely as always, peas seem finished for the year, peppers are looking good.

Sunday afternoon was a fun time with a whole bunch of friends from church at Serendipity's cottage. It smells right - anyone who has walked from the summer afternoon into a small, oldish wooden cottage built by someone's uncles and grandpas with open windows serving as the only air conditioning knows what that smell is. Slightly warm, a bit musty and yet dry. Kids and D swam and swung on the tarzan rope, D manned a paddleboat filled to overflowing with small children, and I spent some time getting to know a mom of three young (3 years and under) kids who has been recently widowed. I came away from our time talking reflecting on her amazing perspective and her gentle spirit.

Friday, 10 August 2007

weapons of mass cutting

The ice cream was heavenly, the pickles not quite so ethereal but yummy as pickles go. We will definitely use the ice cream maker again. The girls were brainstorming on ideas to add to the vanilla we made - chopped chocolate, skor bar bits, etc. It can also be used to make sorbets and frozen yogurt and even gelato, all of which shall be tried another time.

Today I make up for my indoor day yesterday by using my weapon of mass cutting. The lawn will be cut and then I hope to switch tractor implements from the finish mower to the 'bush hog'. This is a serious cutter, taking on shrubs and small trees. I want to go over some stuff D cleared near the creek as the growth is getting up there again, and then go into the field across from the house to take out the goldenrod before it goes to seed.

Then it's off to mark trees to be cut down along the driveway - the little saplings that are not growing well and are just serving as climbing poles for the grapevines, and the ones growing on the side of the ditch and won't get to be big anyway. Tomorrow we are renting a wood chipper to clear away the huge pile of brush that has been accumulating for the past year. We will end up with some nice mulch for gardens and pathways and have no Fargo-like incidents.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

pickles and ice cream

No, I am not pregnant.

Today we will be making both of those things here at the farm. The ice cream will be thanks to an ice cream maker on loan from a good friend who is between houses and said I could try it out while they're waiting to move into their new home. I've thought about getting one before, so this was a good way to try it out. Yesterday I cooked the milk, eggs and sugar, then cooled it and added cream and vanilla. It tastes SO good and I'm sure will be very low fat. Ahem. It had to chill overnight, so this morning the girls are very excited to get that going.

Pickles will be the bread & butter sweet pickles from the cucumbers that are taking over their little spot in the garden. Love them. I was up early this morning, chopping cukes, peppers and onions and once they're done sitting in brine for a few hours, into the pickling and jars they will go.

Yesterday I was making sure I had all the spices, and sniffed the tumeric. And for some reason my mind went right back to a visit I once paid to a farmhouse in rural Nova Scotia. I only remember bits of it - a bright, airy kitchen, a spool bed in an upstairs bedroom, a parlor that seemed very dark after the kitchen but seemed very elegant to my ten-year-old self, a front porch with a bush whose seed pods would burst open with a "snap" and send seeds rattling onto the wooden porch floor. It was owned by an older lady and her sister and our family was visiting for the day. The village (village or hamlet, for I think it could have been nothing larger) had a general store to which we were sent to get butter, with the direction to tell the store owner whom it was for, and he'd add it to their account. It was a throwback to a simpler time. I remember thinking the pace was very slow, but now I think I would greatly enjoy a day spent like that. Funny, how memory works. And it begs the question: why tumeric??

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

attacking the mundane

Today much that is unexciting requires my attention.

Tomato tripods did not work, though the chickens seemed bemused by my cutting of sticks and attempts to set them up. The plants were just too big and would have to be so squashed inside the supports that I feared for their health. So, on advice from Serendipity, I resorted to crutches. Multiple strategically placed crutches now support the plants and they are off the ground now.

The long weekend involved much in the plant removal category, using various highly powered weapons of mass cutting. The tractor mower took care of the growth at the sides of the driveway, several chainsaws took care of saplings and grapevines in the ditches along the driveway, and the gas-powered weed whacker made it possible to see fenceposts again. It also included much in the good food category, with meals shared by B&E and D&J.

Monday was an estate auction at which we got a few nice little antiques: a washtub, several pieces of old enamelware, which I love, a tinware pitcher that is just asking for wildflowers, a flannel blanket with the instruction tag still attached ("wash in sudsy water for 2 minutes; do not twist but run lengthwise through wringer"), and a box that once held explosives but came at the auction with many hardware odds & ends. Aside from the bidding I was fascinated with the items for sale. The farm had apparently been in the same family since the 1840s and it was like walking through an exhibit on the history of farming. Scythes and grain cradles were followed by wheeled cultivators with a seat for riding behind the team, a sleigh still with its original paint, plows, two-man saws, grain separators, harrows, wooden wagon wheels. I'm glad we went.

Today, said blankets are being washed, there are financial slips to enter into the computer, the office and the girls' rooms need a tidy, the cucumbers in the garden need to be made into pickles, and the lawn by the pool needs mowing if the rain holds off. The mundane is there and must be attacked. The problem with the mundane is it never gets tired of waiting to be attacked and wanders away. It is patient and will hold out longer than I can.

Nothing for it, then. To misquote Shakespeare yet again, "once more into the breach, dear friends!" Hm, I think I got the quote right, just not really in context. Henry at Agincourt was hardly mundane.

And with that obscure reference, I am off.

Friday, 3 August 2007

nighttime observations

Swimming under the stars is wonderful. Just floating there, in the dark, and looking up is bliss.

Especially after you turn off the bug zapper so your thoughts aren't interrupted by the 'kczzzk' or mosquitoes, or the 'kczzzkzzzkzkzkzzck' of moths.

It was slightly hazy so the stars weren't as visible as other nights. Those are the nights where I go outside, look up, and just stop in amazement at how many, and how far away it all is, gawking away until my neck starts to hurt. Last night not so much, but pretty nonetheless. Then the moon came up, all low and reddish, glowering over the fields until it climbed in the sky and was feeling happier. The crickets were singing away in the field and only one mosquito came by. To the northwest I could see the sky flashing as far-off lightning made its way across the land.

Today the garden beckons me to get things more orderly. The tomatoes, uncaged, have taken to sprawling about in a most unbecoming fashion. They are daring to cover the neat gravel paths and that simply will not do (note to self: watching Pride & Prejudice and then talking about the garden leads to strange descriptions). Today I shall cut sticks for tripods to support the plants. However, we'll see what the weather brings. Thunderstorms?

Thursday, 2 August 2007

oh, there it is

Summer has finally returned from its vacation and we are in the thrall of a real, true, hot, humid week. So hot I dove in the pool fully dressed after garden work yesterday afternoon. So hot I did said work in the shade only as the sun was just feeling too strong. So hot the dirt was sticking to me because I was sweating so much. So hot I let the kids play computer over the noon hour, since I don't really want them outside. So hot the chickens are walking around with their wings held out from their bodies and their mouths open. So hot the air conditioning doesn't get upstairs enough to cool it well.

But the pool is wonderful and the girls and I are spending much time in it these days. Today is a very informal get-together with our homeschool co-op, one of several throughout the summer. Whoever shows up comes and plays and brings their lunch and swims. Tonight is band which would be nice to hold in the pool as well, if it weren't for the whole getting electrocuted thing.

Maybe tonight I'll swim under the stars, if the thunderstorms hold off.