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

Monday, 31 March 2008

rain, rain, keep coming

It is raining. Forecast for tomorrow: rain. Forecast for Wednesday: rain.

This makes me happy. Nothing like three days of rain to take away snow that has sat over our fields, languorously looking at me like a party guest who just hasn't clued in that they've overstayed their welcome. No matter how I sigh or look at my watch or yawn, it just doesn't take the hint.

Last night for supper we had an "I'm sick of winter" meal: grilled Italian sausage, potato salad, homemade lemonade, and popsicles for dessert. M was very excited about the meal and after we talked about how much we wanted warm weather to come, I said we could watch a movie as we ate, so sent her to choose one. Her choice? Ice Age. Hm.

This week we're back to school as usual, after a week of blistering through Historica projects. Each of the girls did a project and presented it to the group and while none of them were chosen to go on to Regionals, given the short time we had (1 week for research, 1 for putting it all together) I was impressed with what each of them had learned and with their presentation skills. All the projects there were of a very high calibre and it was a fun afternoon. R learned about the New England Planters, a rarely-heard-of group of people who moved from New England to Nova Scotia in the wake of the Acadian Expulsion. One of these land-grabbers was my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. Yes, really. I counted. Meanwhile, A, spurred on by curiosity as to who the guy is on the $5 bill, learned about the life and political career of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. M did a very good report on the history of the McIntosh Apple and brought some to share with everyone.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

two out of three

Yesterday was a blur of school and then a rush to the mall, shopping in parts of stores I rarely see. The girls needed dresses for Bean's wedding.

Yes, our dear little girls who live in pajama pants, love camo, have no qualms about getting muddy, and give me that "mooooom!" look when I suggest a skirt, are dressing up. So after searching and searching, nothing in the mall was working. Though the girls did have fun using their saved chore money, M getting My Little Pony (surprise), A getting the newest Bionocle (surprise) and R finally spending something (that was a real surprise). After saving for months for an ipod that she thought she was still $30 from, we stopped in at a store and found them priced within her range. She is now the happy owner of a little green Shuffle.

On the way home I was strategizing, wondering about making something for them to wear, when a chance stop at Winners yielded The Perfect Dresses for A and M. Simple cut, pretty but not over-the-top, A's in a grey damask and M's in a dusty rose damask. Same style and fabric, just different colors. I smiled and did my happy dance inside. Now we just have to dress R. Well, and get shoes. And take in D's suit. And I need a wrap. To wear, not to eat.

At least we have two out of three dresses.

Saturday, 15 March 2008


My head is swimming.

I've gotten all the stuff I need to send to CCLI (the Christian Copyright License people) that makes my songs 'officially' copyrighted. Song sheets, lyrics, signatures, all is in a neat little pile to be sent away. It's good to have that crossed off my to-do list.

So what do I do with this newfound status? Hm. Well, I'm not in a position to start touring to get my songs more well-known. D and the girls might have something to say about that. What does a songwriter do to get their stuff available to other people? Lots of searching today online has yielded a bit of info, but so much that I don't really know how or where to start.

How does an indie writer get out there? I know the most direct method is to cut my own CD. When I have the many hours and even more dollars needed for that, I'll get right on it. Our church has been singing my music (cool yet strange) and the conferences where I've led have had some, but what else?

And then there's keeping the balance. I think I have it, but that's dangerously like looking down on a tightrope - think you've got balance, and you're starting to tip. I'm not in it for the money. If I were, I'd be in the wrong business. Seems simple enough. But it's not simple.

But I have these songs. And I do think they're good. And I'd like to share them with other people. What, precisely, to do?

This is why musicians and artists have agents. The promo and logistics are screaming at my brain, which is skipping merrily around singing, "la, la, la... ooh, isn't that fun? hey! I have another idea for a song! whee!"

Thursday, 13 March 2008

not so soon

I still look out of my windows onto a sea of white.

Saturday and Sunday saw the biggest storm in years, with another 52 (60? 60? 972?)cm covering the already high drifts and snowbanks. When the strong winds were added to the mix, we had what I think of as a good ol' fashioned blizzard. With all the snow falling and the truck with all the church's sound equipment here, D made a few runs up and down the laneway Saturday evening in an attempt to help move what he could. Sunday morning we were up at 5:30am, plowing the snow as it continued to rage and howl in the dark. Not as much was falling, but the wind made up for it. This is madness, I thought.

At 6:45am the very welcome call came that conditions were just as bad, or worse, in town (drifts 4 feet high in the roads, cars that got stuck and were simply abandoned in the streets) and so church was off. I called the band in case anyone else was so silly as to try to get in, went out to spell D off the tractor, and then realized we had a very rare thing: a day of pure family time and a quiet Sunday morning.
The snow did stop and that afternoon the blue sky blazed over all the new whiteness. And it proved that for me, the adult "enough snow already!" can still be roundly defeated by the child "whoa, look at THAT!" reaction to a big snowfall.

Our kitchen window, usually four feet off the ground, has had snow much snow fall off the roof in front of it that yesterday Archie the Wonder Dog was looking me eye to eye through the window as I stood inside. The drifts along the driveway are over the height of our tractor's snowblower. The snow fence that has been working so well for us and preventing drifts is now useless, as the snow is level with the top of it and simply blows over, laughing as it goes.
Sunday afternoon, Seren, RSH and Gaffer came over for some food and much hilarity taking the sleds up and down the laneway behind the car. It was our secdon time but this time D was able to take part in the sled surfing. Both he and RSH provided some spectacular crashes. Good winter fun.
RSH's comment, just before D did a header into a snowbank: "this driveway alone is worth the price of the place!"

For all the plowing and potholes, a day like this one really does make it feel worthwhile. I haven't laughed so hard in a while. Kids and dads (and the moms in the car) loved the outing.

Our banks and drifts are high, but nothing compared to in town where people simply have no place to put it. Banks there are over people's heads and by Monday, a good 30 hours after the storm's end, I drove in along our mostly clean country roads to a friend's house in town for a day of scrapbooking. Her street had not yet seen a plow. People only got out by following tire tracks left by the few who had four-wheel drive vehicles.

Spring? Not so soon. But when it does come - I'm wondering if I should start building an ark. There's a lot of frozen water waiting to melt out there.

And this week? It's March Break - no school but research for this year's Historica project is on the go. Yesterday morning was spent touring RSH's fire station and learning that I could have a job carrying firefighter's gear, if my duties required that I sit around. Otherwise - not a chance. The girls loved that visit and learned a lot. After that it was over to the Farm Show for all things agricultural. Then in the afternoon and evening, a final head-to-head editing session with Seren yielded the almost-complete-just-needs-a-check-for-perfection copy of her novel. And it's good. Not just because it has the word 'apiary' in it, either.

Today I really should order my seeds for next summer's vegetables. But really, it is so very hard to picture the green today. And much as I try not to admit it and be a truly adult person, I do think it's pretty and I want to go out and build a fort.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

the classics

The girls are discovering the classics. Yes, those age-old, timeless pieces of culture that should be required learning for anyone in society. The mark of all truly genteel persons, the knowledge and stories that continue to delight and to teach the deep things of life.

We have found Teletoon Retro.

They have now experienced Tom & Jerry, Rocket Robin Hood (yes, really! the animation is frightening!), Scooby Doo, and their far-and-away favorite, Looney Tunes.

They are learning the full roster of characters - from Bugs and Tweety to Marvin the Martian and Pepe Lepew. I'm still amazed that they were all voiced by one man, the incredible Mel Blanc.

They are becoming wise in the ways of cartoon logic:
- when one runs off a cliff, they do not fall until someone points it out to them.
- that painting a black spot in solid rock means the good guy can run in, but the bad guy will slam into the rock - or, the corollary, that if the bad guy can enter, a train will always come out of the tunnel and smash him.
- that Acme sells anything you could ever possibly want. Especially Rocket Skates and giant springs.
- that sawing the limb off a tree to make the enemy fall always results in the main part of the tree falling, while the limb stays up.
- a coyote falling from an insanely great height will make a small 'poof' of cloud upon reaching the ground.
- trying to send dynamite via slingshot invariably backfires. Literally.
- that the monster/ghost/witch/vampire/alien is always really the janitor or groundskeeper in a disguise, and he "would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling kids and your dog".

It just goes to show that for all the modern takes on cartoons, you can't beat the classics.

The rest of this week is finishing up some work (making up for the loss of a day thanks to a migraine on my part. No substitute teachers, unfortunately) and looking forward to March Break next week. We're all ready for a little break from the routine and some days of just having fun.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

the end of a (medieval) era

Our two-week Medieval unit stretched to three weeks, between learning and sewing and feasting. All in all, it was a nice break from the regular book and some good hands-on learning. Saturday night was the end of the unit, marked with a feast that itself involved some learning and some new culinary adventures. The recipes were taken from an online search of medieval cookbooks that had the original recipes as well as modern translations.

The dresses were done, much to the girls' delight, and after setting up a folding table and the kitchen chairs in the living room by our fireplace, using a blanket over the window (a poor tapestry, but it darkened the room enough that we could enjoy a fire while we ate) and the shield A had made for last fall's fair as a decorative prop, we were all set to go. We had whole wheat pita bread to serve as trenchers, which the middle ages folks used instead of plates. In view of easy cleanup, the trenchers sat on plates instead of right on the table. Everyone had a goblet for 'wine' (the real thing for Lord Dad and Lady Mom, white grape juice for the girls), a knife, and a spoon for the soup. No forks here, as they weren't used until the 1500s.

The first course was leek and potato soup, followed by a course of something called 'flampoyntes', a pork pie that had an odd taste but was really quite good. To browned bulk sausage we added cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar, and shredded cheese, baked it in a pie shell, and then topped it with diamonds of fried pie pastry. Interesting combination, and the pastry diamonds for decoration were a bit fussy but I liked the look of it.
The original recipe for these, from England in the 1300s, is as follows:

Take fat pork ysode. Pyke it clene; grynde it smal. Grynde chese & do therto with sugur & gode powdours. Make a coffyn of an ynche depe, and do this fars therin. Make a thynne foile of gode past & cerue out theroff small poyntes, frye hem & put hem in the fars, & bake it vp &c.

Simple enough, no?
The third course: first, duck cooked in a wine-onion sauce that again used cinnamon and cloves (apparently this recipe will also work for rabbit, in case you're wondering), as well as wine, chicken stock, and vinegar. Very good and tender, though at first the smell was very heavy on the vinegar and had me a bit concerned. The duck itself was a wild duck shot by Goaliemom's husband and graciously donated from their freezer. I do think I'd cook with duck again. It's got a nice flavor, even in its medieval setting.

Duck was followed by pheasant (another one hunted by GM's hubby - enjoyed with many thanks) which was 'barded', or wrapped in bacon. Yummy. That's really all there was to it, though the recipe (England, 1400s) had me laughing at the directions. When a recipe starts with telling you how to kill the bird, it's a far cry from modern ones. And this passage: ...breke his necke, and pul him dry, And draw him as a chekon, and kutte off his fete and wings by the body and the nekke, and roste him, and reise his winges and his legges as a heron... gee, I'd love to, but I'm really not up on preparing heron for eating. Or crane (as in another recipe), for that matter.

'Eating pheasant' also led to a fun discussion on the importance of the letter 'h'. Think about it.

Along with the meat was 'pescodde' (France, 1300s), a dish of pea pods cooked in water that first had boiled some bacon. That was simple and good. We only had one veggie dish as feasts for nobles typically were mostly meat dishes.

Finally, along came some baked pears. Apparently, pears and apples were believed to have medicinal properties and were a common finish to feasts.

All in all, the unit was good and the extra learning a welcome addition. The food was good - different, but good - but they certainly had no concerns about their fat intake. One of the benefits of a very active lifestyle, I guess.