Posts from the “Everyday happenings” Category

Catching up

Posted on July 11, 2018

It was winter, the last time I wrote, and now summer’s in full swing. It was 91° today. Yesterday morning I had to fill 5-gallon buckets with water and lug them out to the gardens for some of the more tender plants I’m growing. We don’t have irrigation yet in my gardens, but it’s coming. I’ll be glad once it arrives.

I haven’t much felt like writing here, to be honest. I’ve been working on some fiction, which is my true writing love, or rather I was working on some fiction right up until the point that our dear dog Lily died. She was hit by a car. It was very quick, though its effects have lingered long in our hearts. It was one of those most likely preventable, totally unforeseen accidents, and we cried time and time again thinking that if we had changed just one thing that day, she would still be with us. I’m told that’s the way it goes with all accidents where you lose a loved one. We’re still feeling the aftershocks, though of course it’s much easier a few months on. And really this blog post is not about Lily, good girl that she was.

Summer living on a community farm is much different than summer just working on a farm. There are lots of people around all the time: workers, volunteers, kids making projects, CSA members with questions and vegetables. Usually all in one day. I like it. It makes me think about Memere and how her brothers and sisters were always dropping in. But we have quiet days too, and there are quiet spots on the farm even on busy days. It makes for a nice change from living in the tiny house, when every visitor carried a risk of bringing the building inspector down on us.

I hang out a lot with the goats. I read about them and spend time thinking about how to make their living situations more comfortable. I bought a book on herbal medicine for farm animals and that’s always in the back of my mind too. One of Seth’s workers tells me that my band name is “Christine and the Goats” because I’m always talking about them or walking with them, giving them a stretch of the legs and a run on some tasty weeds. Well! There are certainly weirder band names.

Addie is in the stage where she wants to help with everything. She helps with the dishes, with animal feeding, with laundry folding, with flushing the toilet. My mom taught her to say “Bye, pee-pees!” the last time we visited. So I hear that regularly. And I had to fish a roll of toilet paper out of the toilet one day last week because Addie’s all about the toilet too. It’s such an endearing, aggravating, adorable stage, this helping thing. And when I’m not tripping over the unfolded clean clothes on the floor again, I’m thanking my lucky stars that I’m home with this baby. Yes, I’d guess that my days are half sighing in frustration, half laughing in thanks. Some days one more than the other.

There’s been a bit of crafting tucked in between everything else. I finished up a knitted wool cowl for my mom, and gave it to her on the hottest day of the year. As you do. And one of my friends just got back from a trip to Iceland with four skeins of Lopi yarn tucked in their suitcase for me, so that’s next on my plate.

It’s funny how even after all these words, this blog post doesn’t manage to touch the depth of what I’m doing. It doesn’t convey the evenings spent weeding with the dirt splashing over my wrists and the sweat dripping down under my hatband. Or the flush of pleasure from hearing someone talk about their chickens with a slightly apologetic look on their face, only for them to realize that I’m a chicken and goat lady too. Or the gut punch of losing one of the farm’s animals during the heat wave last week in another most likely preventable, unforeseen accident. Or the joy of connecting with herb folks at a conference, and setting up my own herb classes later this summer. These are just words. And I’m happy to write them, but I’m even happier to live them (except for the death. I could do without more of that this year).

It’s this: The words here are not enough. Or conversely, maybe the words here are just enough. Maybe they are the finishing touch on what is turning out to be a full season, so rich that it overflows the boundaries and spills onto the virtual page. I wish I could share with you the thrilled, exhausted feeling I feel at dusk when I stand up straight, stretching my back. The air is balmy and my skin is gritty. There’s time for a handful of blackberries before coming in to wash the dust off my feet. But all I have are these words, and the occasional picture of the goats.

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Fluctuations

Posted on February 22, 2018

It was 71 degrees here yesterday, sunny and mild and springlike a good two months early. I felt the blood moving in my veins. I know Seth felt it too because when I came upon him and our assistant farm manager at lunchtime, Seth was full of giddy humor, in his t-shirt, practically bouncing on the balls of his feet in his happiness to be outside. I love early Spring warmth. It makes me feel like cleaning out my closets — although admittedly, it doesn’t take much to make me want to clean things out. I tried a bit of knitting in the afternoon and though the yarn was fine and smooth beneath my fingers, my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted dirt in…

Late winter

Posted on February 16, 2018

Goodness, late winter on a farm is an ungraceful time of year what with slushy mud puddles, dirt-crusted snow berms, and bare trees.  Our main color right now comes from the seed catalogs piling up in the farm office, and in our imaginations as we plan out the flowers, vegetables, and herbs that we’ll grow this year. Every morning when I feed the animals, crunching along icy paths, I try to picture the farm from an outsider’s eyes and the words “undeniably glum” pop into my head. It certainly doesn’t look promising as you drive by, but Seth and I know the land holds growth soon to come. It’s not quite mud season, messy harbinger of spring, more like mud season’s mud season. Thaw, maybe? Whatever it’s called, it’s a bit more time to prepare.

We’ve moved into the little one bedroom apartment that comes with our new farm.  We’re still sourcing some furniture, as we got rid of most of it when we moved into the tiny house, and we’re also sourcing farm crew (I use “we” loosely here, I’m an unpaid enthusiast), so maybe that’s why I keep looking at the land and house with fresh eyes.  I see so much to do, so much to grow and to update.  So much to hope for.

I’ve been learning about feng shui these last few weeks. The transfer of energy from house to person.  Houses hold cell memories, I feel, just the same way plants do, the way our bodies do and that’s why you hear of organ transplant recipients after surgery suddenly liking the same things their donor liked.  Houses are the same, except the house influences the people.  I like to think about creating flows of energy that feel good for me and for the people who live and work here.  I have no big changes, nothing mystical to report.  Just thinking, thinking as usual.

In all of this, a very dear-to-me man died this week: my great uncle, Uncle Bubba. It’s not quite right to call him a surrogate grandfather. We were friends and family together, unrelated except by marriage, and we didn’t often speak in person. However, I wrote him a letter every week or so for the past 6-ish years. How do you describe a person who has been in your thoughts so consistently? Beats me, all I have is emotion. And typically I withdraw into myself when I’m feeling low, but I don’t want to do that right now, for the most part. I have that fleeting clarity that comes with the loss of a loved one: What am I doing with my life? What do I need to do to feel full? Is it worth writing letters about?

Uncle Bubba was a good man, ready with jokes and stories. To his last day he was devoted to his wife of 59 years, though she passed away in 2014. I believe they were true best friends and partners. Bubba loved music and woodworking and ice cream, and he had room in his heart for a bond with a wayward great-niece, though he had kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids of his own, and though I’m one of maybe a hundred cousins (I think. Mom, help me out here?).

Seth and I have a Bubba of our own. It’s Addie’s nickname, and when the two Bubbas met over Christmas, I held my tiny human up to Uncle’s bed. The older Bubba observed to the younger, “You’re on your way in and I’m on my way out.” It was true of course, he had been declining steadily for more than a year. But it didn’t stop me from saying, “Oh no, Bubba, not for a while yet.” I wasn’t trying to give him false hope. Just pleading with him to stay for a while longer. Perhaps it would have been better to acknowledge it, or to have said, “Maybe, but you’ll never be out of our hearts.” Still, the heart doesn’t always know what to say at the prospect of imminent loss, and anyway Uncle Bubba gave me a small smile in response.

I like to think that we understood a great many things about each other, though really I don’t know a lot of what he thought. His letters were few and far between; Parkinson’s made it difficult to write. But he was a master conversationalist and excelled at making me feel at home when we talked. I will miss his steady presence in my life.

It’s late winter now, and I have a compost bin to build and a flower plot to plan. There are perennial herbs that need a new garden space — somewhere, I’m not quite sure where. I still have goats and rabbits to feed. And in spite of moving out of a tiny house, I have a load of things to declutter and organize. Natural ebbs and flows I guess, as winter draws to a close and growing season comes around again.

Interlude

Posted on August 28, 2017


We went for an overnight trip to a friend's family lake house in New Hampshire this weekend. It was our first time away from home with the baby, and what a time! There were a dozen farmers there, including two who are starting their own commercial kitchen, which meant an abundance of beautiful food. And there was always someone interested in hanging with the two babies visiting. I'm not a confident water person, but this was just right. Seth went paddle boarding, kayaking, and water skiing while I tried the kayak and hung out on the beach. There was a bit of napping and music and lots of eating. It felt good.

The weekend made me wistful for how I grew up, visiting my extended family often for picnics and playtime, knowing there were adults and cousins around to watch me and for me to watch. Addie loved having so many friends to play with, to encourage her to walk or try to make her smile. Seth and I were able to relax because we knew that Addie was always in good hands. And no one felt burdened by being the sole baby carer because someone would always step in (eagerly!) to give the others a break. Addie, for her part, played and slept like a dream.

And let's not forget Lily. This happy dog had chipmunks to chase, Lake Winnisquam at her paws, and a crowd of people to beg for tidbits. What could be better? Four out of four paws from our happy canine.

A list of half-finished things

Posted on July 27, 2017


A sewing pattern and fabric cut and waiting.

A pot of soaked yarn to be dyed at some point.

A wooden card holder in need of finish.

Another sweater in the works.

A tiny house.

It's such a process. A messy, beautiful, ongoing process in the bits and pieces of free time we share. A few stitches here, a few boards there. Some frustration, a lot of enjoyment. And really, that list of half-finished things should include me and Seth, and the baby too. In Addie's case, her learning is exponential. Eating! Crawling (well, trying)! But Seth and I are pricking our ears forward as well, like the dog on the scent of something particularly good. Before I mix metaphors, I'll just say we've got a lot going on in our work basket. And if all my to do lists included pretty pictures, I would be a happy camper.

You can’t go wrong 

Posted on July 3, 2017

My dear Memere passed away eight years ago this January. She was a lovely soul, stubborn and pragmatic and with a sense of humor that I never expected but would catch in the twinkle of her eyes when she gave me a sidelong look. She taught me to knit and to use a sewing machine (although garment construction was beyond me and I had to wait until college to figure it out). We had many adventures together, traveling down to Virginia each summer to stay with her youngest daughter Danielle for weeks at a time.  Once per summer, Memere, Tante Danielle, and I would head to the mall for a day of unabashed retail therapy. Memere loved to dote on her family — presents,…

Making room

Posted on June 26, 2017

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this — maybe once or twice — but we live in a tiny house. Two hundred square feet. And as we navigate growing and preserving season on three farms, Mamacraft, and build projects, the house has a tendency to feel a wee bit full. So I ask you, what business do I have bringing home all these books?  But oh, I cannot resist the delicious pages of flower and bird illustrations, or the promise of these knitted garments, or even the thought of working with those Scandinavian patterns at some undetermined, unknown point in the future. Just look at them! I can’t help it. I’ve taken up rummage sale-ing for the assorted sundries we need like farm clothes…

Heat wave

Posted on June 14, 2017

What do you do when the temperatures climb near triple digits several days in a row? 

Mud bathe. Have a nap. Knit a bit in pjs. Hang out the wash. And render lard, of course. I wasn’t expecting the heat wave when I ordered the meat from the local food co-op last month, and also didn’t check the weather forecast when I put the meat in the fridge to defrost last week (are there people who do that? Surely there are). But it all worked out. The house was so hot that the stove made no difference, and I do love having this type of cooking oil in the house. Especially from local animals who have led a good life. 

After a long, rainy spring the word from the fields is that the tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants are drinking in the heat now that it’s finally here. So I guess it’s time to make like a nightshade! Wishing you much sun worship these days.