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

Thursday, 28 February 2008


I've reached it. The point I reach every winter. The snow stretches across our fields, pristine and white but no longer lovely to my eyes. I'm not bitter about winter yet (though that may well come), but the visit has been long enough.

I long for the breezes blowing through the open windows, the snap of sheets as they blow in the wind on the clothesline, the smell of pure freshness after the clothes come in, the green - the green!

Green grass, green trees, little green seedlings poking up through the soil, green everything. Can it come soon?

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

home ec at home

R discovered sewing yesterday, and she quite enjoyed it. I had made the first layer of her medieval dress (pics to follow when all three are done; only A's remains) and, considering the fabric and seams required on her kirtle (the top layer, basically a sleeveless tunic covering the main dress) I decided it was good for her to learn to use the machine. I showed her step-by-step how to thread the machine, how to adjust the speed with her foot, how to pin the fabric and then run it through for a seam that we then pressed.

I had flashbacks to my own time learning to sew, the terms in junior high Home Ec class where we learned lots of rules and how-tos, the time spent sewing with my mom where I learned much that broke those rules but made more sense, born as it was of years of experience and coming from someone who was and is a great teacher. I particularly remember one instance of pressing out a certain seam, and Mom showing me a trick. "Where did you learn that?" I asked, to which she replied, "When you do it wrong enough times, you figure out a way to do it right!" How true.

Of course, that led to recalling the cooking terms of Home Ec class, telling R about it and how we were docked marks if we dared to actually taste the food while it cooked. R met that with a blank stare ("what? How can you know if it's seasoned right?" ah, my good little chef) and we laughed as I realized that she is learning from me much as I learned from my mom, that sometimes (and often) experience takes the day.

After everything was put together R put it all on and proceeded to run about the house looking like an extra out of Rivendell. I almost expected to see her ears had taken on elvish points. She loved it, and I was amused and surprised at my camo girl twirling around in *gasp* a dress. I had thought that getting them to dress like medieval girls for the feast might be a problem (A had been talking armor at one point), but it seems we shall be a proper nobleman's family at our dinner. And thanks to donations from Goaliemom's freezer of a duck and two pheasants, that has taken on a more authentic tone.

Today will be spent at home, sewing A's dress, editing Seren's book which continues to delight me even as I apply what we now call the Red Pen of Doom, and coming up with something good for supper. Sole and risotto with brussels sprouts (sauted with carmelized onions), I'm thinking. And yes, I will taste it as I cook. Dock marks if you like. I don't care. HA!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

family day ... and week

A long weekend is making Tuesday feel like Monday. Yesterday was the first Ontario "Family Day" statutory holiday (yes, that is what it's called), meaning that D had a long weekend. And there was much rejoicing.

The weekend was a relaxing mix of sewing medieval dresses, having our Valentine meal (roast beef, risotto, and a made-up though not likely original mix of mushrooms sauteed with bacon), church, having Seren's family and B's family over for dinner, going to another friend's farm for dinner last night, and spending some of yesterday at the War Museum. The girls and I have been several times, Derek none.

In the course of the visit we walked through a recreation of a first-world war trench, landed on the Normandy beaches on D-day, saw the changes in weapons and uniforms from the earliest conflicts to modern peacekeeping, D took in a computer simulation of World War 3, M stuck her head in a cannon from the Louisbourg fortress from the 1750s and the girls became aware of how glad we are that we don't use the medical equipment from back in the day. Most of them appeared to be of the limb-removal type; especially nasty was the hand-driven circular cutter for relieving pressure in the brain. Ew.

So now we're back into a week although it won't be the norm, thanks to the arrival of Goaliemom this evening for a short visit. Hopefully the Canal will recover from Sunday's melt so we can take her out skating.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

snow day

It being February, with March break a while off and the girls having put in six weeks' hard work in school, and some lovely new snow having fallen last night, I have declared a snow day. The public school kids have already enjoyed a few of these, and we haven't taken advantage of the weather for a day off before today.

This morning was an early start, D and I out putting the rogue chain back on the tractor. This is far better to do as a two-person job, as one (me) sits in the tractor and edges it back and forth while directed by the stronger one (D), who lifts, adjusts, tightens, and arranges the chain. Once it was on D headed in to shower and get ready for work while I cleared a path through for him to drive. It'll need a little more work this afternoon but is more passable than it's been for a few days.

We will be doing our medieval work today, but that's it. We're playing inside with the hamster, Lego, My Little Pony, and whatever else strikes our fancy. The girls are eager to get their costumes started, and after browsing several medieval clothing sites and trying to find something that's as authentic as possible but still doable, I think we're ready. Apparently A's Bionocle characters are going to help. Hmm.

Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and the girls and I had thought of doing our fancy dinner today, but with D at the church's annual meeting tonight, band practice tomorrow, and dance on Friday, it looks like it'll be a weekend meal. Maybe lobster will drop from its stupidly high price of $17 per pound by then? Wishful thinking, I know. But I think that on a snow day wishful thinking is allowed. Even encouraged.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


First: medieval immersion is so far (all of one day) a big success with the kids. The feudal system was covered yesterday, and shopping for fabric for tunics and kirtles for the girls.

Last night a meeting with some of the sound & tech guys from church was planned, so when we got home I started supper, left R in charge, and headed out to plow the badly-drifted driveway. This would be fine if the drifting hadn't also blocked the tractor's route to the driveway. After almost getting stuck going forward, executing a 46-point turn to get the blower facing the drift and starting to get some of it out of the way, I realized that the tractor wheel was spinning inside the chain. Uh oh.

Our tractor wheels are what are called 'turf tires' - that is, not the big knobby agricultural ones. Turf tires don't chew up the ground when you drive, so we can use them to mow our lawn. Because of that they need chains in the winter. Big, 60- pound chains that must be wrapped around each huge tire and then fastened in place. So as I watched it spinning inside the chain, I figured a move-forward-and-try-to-fix-it might be in order. Good idea, had not the entire chain fallen off when I next moved forward. And it didn't even have the courtesy to fall on the outside of the wheel, but instead sat smugly around the axle. Under the tractor I went, trying to find the junction point and undo the chain, which needed bare hands to finally get it undone. Oh yeah, and it's about -23C while all this is happening.

After all that, the chicken curry, basmati rice and warm naan were a welcome supper!

I did get it back to the barn, D shuttled the guys in from the road in the truck, and the meeting was great. Tonight is, of course, putting the chain back on. Brr.

Monday, 11 February 2008

getting medieval on the kids

Apparently, that's a modified quote from Pulp Fiction. Since I have not seen it, I can't really vouch for it.

Today starts two weeks of what I'm calling "Medieval Immersion" in school. While we'll keep grammar and math as usual, this history book is on the shelf as we pause to learn about how people lived, dressed, ate and generally went about their business in the years around 1000-1200. Even spelling has succumbed to a word list gleaned from the topics of the day.

Today we introduce the unit and head out to the local wool mill (well, ok, Wal-Mart) to purchase fabric to make some costumes for the girls. R and A will get some basic sewing lessons out of the whole thing as well. I do like multi-discipline learning.

We'll see how the next two weeks pan out.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008


No, dear Seren, this post isn't personally about you. It's about the serendipitous things in life that you don't plan for, don't always look for, and then one day you realize they are standing in front of you. They often seem to wait kindly and patiently and then when I see them I am amazed and they give a little sheepish smile as though they are glad I've now seen them, but they are just too polite to be intrusive.

But anyway. I did have a reason for that title.

I spent yesterday afternoon in a delightful book shop with Seren's computer, putting in some hard-core editing time on her book (Seren had the great idea of her taking the kids whilst I parked on the book for a while). I had brought a couple of CDs and listened to them for a bit, but then needed to focus on the words of the book without competition from lyrics in my ears. About 2 hours into the editing afternoon, I found it. A simple song: "Adiemus" by the group of the same name. Not a whole CD, just one song from what was apparently a compilation CD. Why did I pick that one? Josh.

Josh, among many other wonderful things, was a gifted writer. And he did some online fan-fiction, some as himself, much under pseudonyms. One of these was 'Adiemus'. So yesterday as I sat and sipped my umpteenth cup of coffee (decaf), I listened to the song. And I was hooked. Celtic influence, African influence, Enya-style vocals, all in one song that managed to be triumphant and poignant all at once. So I listened again. And again. And again. And I was hooked. Today I googled the name to find out more about the group (whose music I plan to download at the first high-speed opportunity) then started getting nostalgic and decided to try to find J's writing so added his name to the google. I didn't find the writing. I did find an interview he did with Terrogue, an online ezine he helped to found. In that he mentions the fan-fics and then I stopped short at this quote:

I write ... under the name Adiemus (a VERY cool musical group).

I sat here today realizing that the song that so impressed me yesterday was being appreciated by him years ago.

Serendipity (the experience, not the person) is very cool, and manages to take some very scenic routes.

Serendipity the person is also very cool.

Monday, 4 February 2008

planning and trimming

I've spent a very cozy early part of the morning curled up with a couple of cookbooks. I'm planning meals so there's less of the "hmm..." pause at 4:30 to think, what will we have for supper tonight? On that note, what food do I have to whip something up? (Granted, that has led to some good culinary experiences, so I won't entirely knock it.)

That works fine when the pantry is well-stocked with all sorts of basics, which is usually the case. But with winter being a time of unpredictable road conditions and me not wanting to go out just to buy one thing at the grocery store (there's country life again for you), it's good to think ahead. It also allows the trimming part - both in keeping grocery bills down and making sure we're eating healthy.

So tonight is a beef-lentil soup (courtesy of Everyday Italian), but with a little twist as I'm adding some nice kale. I tried to plant some to grow my own last summer, but it turns out that not only did we like it, it was a favourite of the chickens. Any time a plant tried to put up a brave little leaf, it was snapped up by rampaging hens. I suppose we indirectly got the goodness of it in the eggs they were laying (though I don't think about it too much in detail, as they also eat bugs). Still, I had hoped for some fresh kale. Some croutons made from dry baguette chunks that have been living in the freezer will round it out.

School today as we read through a few more chapters before embarking on our Middle Ages week (or weeks, if we're having fun and don't want to stop). Math and Grammar just won't be able to compete on the fun front, compared to knights and castles.