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

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

i learn

I ran again this morning. I laughed at myself (I do that a lot) as I headed out the laneway to the road on my warmup walk and realized, I've been running somewhat regularly for five weeks now. And I've learned some things.

I've run longer and farther than I have before.

I love the look down the empty road, as I mentally calculate where I will be at the different time intervals. It beckons, entices; on the return my mailbox marks the end of my journey and alternately taunts and welcomes me.

I think more, I learn more in slow times when things aren't rushing madly by. When I must take things literally one step at a time.

Even when I feel exhaustion, I am feeling stronger for having pushed myself to that point.

There are little brown snails that venture onto the road in the morning. Tiny, their shells pearlescent in the morning sun, they creep across and leave shiny trails glinting as a map on the pavement. I never knew they were there before.

My legs tell me of hills that my car still doesn't know exist.

The smells vary as I cross the river, as I pass the hayfield. as I approach the stand of pines.

My body complains and thanks me at the same time.

I can do more than I thought if I just step out and try it.

I can do this.

I can.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

obligatory earthquake post

Feels like I should post about this. At 1:45p.m. or so today, the earth moved. Literally.

I had lain down to rest off the last bit of a headache when I felt the bed moving and heard a rhythmic rattling of things on my shelf. I sat up, and figured right away it was an earthquake, but sat for a bit to think. Calling the girls and noticing the gentle shaking of the house, I headed downstairs and out the door. Once out, the shaking lessened and we heard helicopters flying around the local military base. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but had us wondering if the vibrations were thanks to them. But, hearing no muffled explosions, I walked back inside to find the house still quietly doing its little shimmy. Gradually, it faded.

Sure enough, amidst the flurry of twitter posts and facebook updates, I found the story: a 5.5 quake centered about 80 km from where we live. From twitter feeds I saw reference to the quake being felt in Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Windsor, even Illinois and Wisconsin.

The girls, while a little concerned during, also had that tinge of excitement that comes with realizing you're experiencing something new and potentially dangerous, while not being in danger yourself.

That was pretty much it.

I hope to never be in a serious quake. To have the ground under your feet, that solidity on which we so often depend, become itself unpredictable, is not a pleasant thing. And while it lends itself to many life illustrations and philosophy, I have to leave for band rehearsal soon.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

birthday croquembouche

A's birthday today. She is 12, and continues to be her brilliant, beautiful self. Determined, smart, gutsy. Today we head to the archery range for some shooting with her friends before returning to the farm for a pool party and cake.

I say 'cake' loosely. We have an unofficial setup in our house whereby the kids choose the type of cake, but execution is up to me :) I get to be creative, and get to surprise them a bit. This year A wanted cream puffs. I showed her a photo of a croquembouche and she loved it. So, that was the plan.

- The Mixer gets to work whipping the cream (top) ... and looking good doing it!;
filled cream puffs (bottom) -

Oh, you French desserts, I do love you. A whole dessert made from basic ingredients: flour, eggs, butter, water, sugar, cream. Cream puffs piped full of sweetened whipped cream, then stacked into a pyramid (glued together with homemade caramel) and covered with a lacework of spun sugar. Some rolled fondant cut into stars and coated with glittery sugar completed the look.

- mmm ... sugary stringy goodness... -

She loved it. I was pretty impressed with it, too.

- my first pièce montée! -

Thursday, 17 June 2010


I'm emptying the dining room. The name sounds too fancy for what it is, more the main room of the farmhouse. Dining room because the kitchen table is in there. Also a sitting room, with the couches at one end, the schoolroom during teaching times, the main room because that's where everyone enters first. Through the back door, through the entryway/laundry room, and there you are, your first look at our house. Welcome!

It's being emptied as a prep to repainting it. Same buttery yellow colour, but a fresh coat to cover the repairs and generally spruce it up. But the room, without all my pictures and decorations (decor style: "stuff I find around the farm". Kind of eclectic but I like it), looks lonely. Naked. It's missing so much of what makes it ours, what reminds me of breezy summer days like this when the windows are open, and cold wintry nights when the glow of the lights welcomes us in. Here's hoping it goes quickly so it can be itself again.

The final stages of the holes-in-the-wall saga begin. It's a mess right now but will get better.

Meanwhile, the B's are going through a situation with E's mom's health that makes all of this pale by comparison. One nice thing about the cleaning and wiping and sanding, though, my mind is not busy and so is constantly free to pray for her safety and recovery. And so I do.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

poultry and bovines

How do I tell my chickens that the weeds, not the veggies, are what they should eat in my garden? They simply do not listen to me. They just look at me, expressions of mild surprise and feigned innocence, then grumble at me when I shoo them away.

We did save my hot pepper transplants from total decimation yesterday, but I fear a fence may be in order.

Meanwhile, some of the older cornish rock chicks have found a way out of their run. What do they do with their newfound freedom? Sit on the other side of the fence, nibbling grass and not quite sure what to do. The second batch of cornish chicks are peeping away in the summer kitchen, content with eating, drinking, and excitedly chasing any bug that wanders into their little world.

The cows arrived, no calves though. I keep checking in the morning to see if any little spindly-legged babies have made their appearance in the night. It's nice to have them out there, though, munching away in the fields.

Friday, 11 June 2010

daring kitchen

I did it! My first Daring Cook challenge. It was something I'd never have tried, and the results, well... you'll have to read on.

"Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice."

I must admit, it seems hypocritical for someone raising chickens to be eaten, to be iffy about dealing with chicken livers. And I do like to eat real pate. But working with liver didn't have much appeal for me - and then the Tricolor Vegetable Pate option of the challenge caught my eye. With R acting as my able sous chef (and taste testing as we went along), we started. I also chose to make baguettes, using the provided recipe. Baguettes are a favorite bread for me and making them from scratch sounded like fun.

The bread: not nearly as technical to make as I thought it would be, really quite basic and requiring very few ingredients. My new mixer even helped out with the kneading. It turned out very tasty but lacked the nice holes that typically are in baguette. I blame that on rushing one stage of the rising time (curse you, mid-day appointments, messing with my baking!). The crust could maybe have been darker with a longer baking time, but it tasted great.

The pate: the flavor! I loved it. I'd sampled as I put it together, but the flavors had overnight to get to know each other a little better and that only added to it. It was three layers: one of white beans, garlic and herbs, the second of roasted red pepper and feta, and a third pesto/ricotta layer.

Lots of different tastes, but all working together to make the whole even better. Wonderfully garlicky, the cheeses and herbs complementing it well. The danger in this dish would be to sit and eat the whole thing myself.

We had the results with a fancy family dinner of glazed grilled halibut and grilled asparagus, and it worked perfectly: nice and summery, not too heavy. D and all the girls liked the flavor of the pate (quote from D: "it's not the kind of food I get excited about, but it's really good!") and raved about the bread.

Given what I was putting together, it really was quick and easy to make (and with the overnight refrigeration, a true make-ahead), I plan to use this as a take-along dish for a party sometime. Now I just need a party to go to...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

still at it

Today started running week 4. Yes, I know it's Thursday and so I feel a bit like those companies whose fiscal year starts on March 26th if there's a full moon and it's a Thursday with a rerun of Seinfeld playing. But, the run times carried over skipped days and rather than bypass the process I'm trying to rein it back in and stick to the program rather than the weekday.

Last week it was run 90 sec / walk 90 sec / run 3 min / walk 3 min, then repeat. Not too bad and I admit I was feeling a little confident about it, especially with the sweet new shoes I bought to replace the six-year-old cross trainers I'd been using.

Then I saw this week's schedule: run 3 min / walk 90 sec / run 5 min (eek!) / walk 2 1/2 min, then repeat.

Ugh. But ... I did it. I know I'm still barely running, and 5km still seems crazily marathonic (don't bother looking it up; I'm quite sure I invented that word just now), but I'm seeing progress. Real live progress.

And - don't tell running - but I (gasp!) might be starting to like this.

The flirty mixer, meanwhile, had her first run at cooking yesterday as M made chocolate chip cookies. Worked beautifully. Today it's getting another workout as I complete my first Daring Kitchen challenge. The reveal date is Monday and pics of the yummyness will be up then!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


She's winking at me. Every time I walk in the kitchen, the light hits just right and I swear, she winks. Beckoning me over, promising we'll have fun together. I think I'm falling in love.

I had ordered a new mixer using saved up Visa points. Our old KitchenAid had, after many years' long service, called it quits and so we decided to use points on a new one. I had gotten spoiled by the old mixer and wanted another KitchenAid but the $350 price tag was steep, so points it was.

But there was no white one available. Just - red. In my kitchen with its buttery yellow walls, grey-green cabinets, and wood floor. Oh well, I thought, I'll hide it in a cupboard so it won't clash.

Yesterday the box arrived, I opened it and - yes, really - I let out a long, slow 'oooohhhhh...'

Candy apple red. And the finish has an extra clear coat or something, because it has depth to it - like a car's metallic finish. Glass bowl. Silver attachments. All shiny and new.

Too pretty to hide. Too flirty not to accept the offer. It's hot.

Wonder what we'll make first?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


I wonder

if everyone looked every day

for something pretty - not extravagant, not elegant, just pretty -

would we become more able to find the simple beauty in things?

Would it become easier?

... the way a leaf trembles in a barely-felt breeze
... the sheen of sunlight on weathered wood
... a puff of cloud shifting across sky
... a plant struggling its way through a sidewalk
... the rough texture of bark
... the miniature crags and valleys in gravel
... light filtering through cobwebs

Or is it too hard to do? A waste of time? There's really nothing of significance in those things. Why bother?

Do we need the flash, the 'pow' of light to make us look, to demand our attention?

Are we missing the whispering lovely because the manufactured crass screams at us?

How are we training our senses?

Monday, 7 June 2010


The house is full of dust and plaster-y bits with the wall fixes going on this week. A think coat over everything; I wanted to clean last week but what was the point? There was more every day. But it's worth it. The walls look better even in their splotchy, patched, not-yet-painted state. The ducts that had been visible and teasing me all this time are safely hidden away in the walls.

Tomorrow the cast-iron pipe that's been ... err ... working from the bathroom since plumbing first came into the house some fifty years ago will be removed and replaced with modern pipe, then that wall in the front entryway can likewise be closed up.

Then, the whole house can get a fresh coat of paint. Now that, I can do.

Meanwhile, the hens are indignant at their house arrest, and simply won't listen when we tell them that it's for their own good, having spotted a fox on the laneway and in the yard last week. They just complain when we go over. Yes, hens complain. The chicks are growing well and batch #2 for this summer will be arriving on Wednesday.

The weekend was busy but good and ended with a show in Morrisburg for the Love Dundas event. Went really well, they appreciated it, and I officially hate hockey arena acoustics. D did a great job keeping it under control, but it had that just-on-the-edge feel to it. But, the gang was awesome as always and we had a good time.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

filling gaps

... in our walls, as the guy is here this week to repair holes from the rewiring, box in ductwork that had been left exposed to act as conduits for said wiring, and possibly rip down the kitchen ceiling to expose some sweet beams and wood.

... in the calendar, as June stretches out and I dutifully fill in planned events, an overnighter to celebrate M's 10th birthday, bday parties for R and A. July brings their trip to Alabama for World Changers, and M and my drive to the States to pick them up after.

... in my running schedule as I try to persevere at doing a discipline I don't like to get results I do like.

... in my August schedule as my East Coast Tour (haha! love that) takes shape and adds a few more dates.

... in the kids' knowledge as we cover genetics and cell biology this week. This is a quick unit study in response to various discussions on DNA and such. Figuring out how to wrap up lessons soon with the nice weather and still complete what I'd wanted to.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


It started raining last night.

Soft, warm rain that was still falling this morning as I woke.

I went outside to rescue the wet patio chairs and cover the grill and could almost hear the ground saying, "aaaahhhh...".

It has been so thirsty; we needed this.