Saturday, December 21, 2013
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Of course, most of that is weeds.
In February I started tomatoes, peppers and some flowers and herbs in the greenhouse. We had a long, cool spring so I paid dearly for those plants, running a heater to keep them warm. The tomatoes did okay, the peppers died and we have a few flowers to transplant. By April I knew this was not going to be a year I could focus on gardening, so I decided to just put in a few things and not worry about the rest. Before Denny even moved in he was over here helping us prepare garden beds, putting in the tomatoes and some peppers I bought from a friend. We also managed to slip in some Chinese Red Noodle beans, which are blooming so prettily right now...
The kids and I grew these last year and love them. Next year we will grow tons, skipping the green beans altogether. I slipped down to the garden this morning to nab these photos. I have one calendula plant blooming...
Denny has written at his blog about bringing permaculture to Make-It-Do Farm. As he says there, I am not new to the idea of permaculture and have been implementing some of it through the years. During the winter, when I discovered that he was into permaculture and writing articles about it for a local newspaper I considered having him come over and brainstorm with me regarding my farm. One of my favorite things! (So, he came over and decided to stay, what can I say?) The problem here has been two-fold: 1) not enough time and money to install proper goat fencing, limiting all my gardening to a 50'x60' fenced area I knew I could keep the goats out of and 2) not having enough time and energy to do much more than I was already doing. There was always something around here... between raising children, chasing goats, housecleaning, cooking, routine maintenance on the house and property... Well, I needn't tell you all the things that eat up a mother's time, but I should stress that I was juggling everything myself, almost functioning as a single mother. Stress, yes, good choice of words. On top of having to manage all the typical responsibilities that a husband and wife generally share, I found myself often burdened with having to help my husband find work and to find ways to make ends meet when he wasn't working.
It's beyond awesome having Denny here, forming a partnership in all areas, having his opinions and expertise. One of the first things he got excited about regarding the farm was beautifying our dooryard. As he shared his vision with me I couldn't help but tear up just a wee bit. I had wanted so desperately to clean our place up and make it inviting and pretty with stones and pretty flowerbeds. I had been rather in despair regarding our property, actually. I was embarrassed to have people over, the property was such a dump. I would gather the kids and we would try to clean it up periodically, but it seemed an effort in futility. There would be piles of scrap metal and soda bottles and tools littering the place again within a couple weeks. I was the only one who cared, the only one putting forth any effort. I daren't try to clean it up AND make it pretty and inviting. What would be the point? Sigh. Anyway, it's nice to have a partner who cares now. And who is willing to help clean up the junk AND help beautify it AND help maintain it all.
Now I wish I had some "before" pictures, but, of course, as embarrassed as I was by it all I refused to allow it to be photographed! But here are some of the things Denny has worked out...
Building a bed with the stones that were migrating from alongside the driveway and taking over the dooryard, piling the beds high with old logs, leaves and straw, compost and soil, planting some perennials that he dug up from his place on the lake. I can't look at this without being overwhelmed... It means so much to me. The picture doesn't do it justice. So sweet and charming.
From the other side... an herb spiral with lavender, skullcap, garlic chives and oregano. For now. More to come.
Hostas, ferns and wild ginger gainst the front of the house... (Sorry! Bad pic. Rainy morning, low light.)
Denny with Little, Atira and Blue, setting stones and concrete pavers around the front stoop.
Sigh. I love it.
It's weird, though, reading about it all on his blog. I find myself with mixed feelings. I am so in love with him and all he is doing and I feel very much a part of it, not at all like he is taking over, nothing like that. I love the fact that because he is joining me in taking care of all the must-do's around the place we are both freed up to work on some fun and beautiful projects together. I love that we share a vision. We both love to dream this stuff up, we share an asthetic sense as well as sense of economy (making projects beautiful, natural and inexpensive), we both enjoy getting our hands dirty and involving the children. But there's something that bugged me after reading his post and it took me awhile to put my finger on it. And, well, I guess I am a little bitter about my past. These are things I would have liked to do all along... making my house and property pretty as well as functional. How I wish I'd been able to plant flowers everywhere and to lay stones out front! I feel like I was rarely able to make "beautiful" happen. I was swamped and alone, barely able to get the necessary stuff done. I had time to focus on doing one thing well and that was raising the children, which I think I have done fairly well so far, if I do say so myself. But it seemed like the place was falling down around my ears. I had to take a walk around this morning and remember everything I have accomplished over the almost seven years I've been here, what this place was like when we first moved here. If it weren't for me there wouldn't be a beautiful (lush, green, weedy) garden and yard, fruit trees, fencing, chicken coop, goat barn, chickens, goats, cats, or seven fantabulous, beaming children. There have been some improvements to the home because of my initiative; a better deck with a roof, decent siding, better windows and doors, etc. And my home is comfortable, if rather, uh... lived in, and everyone who walks through the door finds ample hospitality.
I get too easily focused on the things I haven't done or couldn't do, in every area of my life.
I am so grateful that Denny was willing to throw his lot in with us. There was so much to be done here. He saw our beautiful property and saw the potential, yes, but he was willing to help get the place up to par before jumping into the purely fun projects. We had plumbing issues; a bucket under the kitchen sink because it wouldn't drain, a toilet that wouldn't flush, a clogged bathroom sink. We had goat issues; the area Bobby and I had tried to fence was not holding them. We had money issues and heart issues, too. When I think of what the man has taken on... I can't help but believe him when he tells me that he loves me and the children and thinks we are the most amazing people he has ever met. What else could possibly possess him to burden himself with all of this? He will give a slightly exasperated sigh reading this. "You are not a burden," he will say for the 28th and a half time. And I understand. What we have, it is no burden. He is not some hero, swooping in to rescue us... he is another human who has his own needs and desires and we are joining forces. He benefits from the life and vitality here, the love and friendship. The partnership. The family. There is much joy and peace and satisfaction as we merge lives. I look forward to what every day brings.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
There is so much I want to share with the world right now. My heart is bursting. So much has happened the last few months, I hardly know how to catch you up. And I hardly have the time. (That’s often the case, I find. When I have much to write about, I have little time in which to do so.)
This is going to be harder than I thought. You see, I want to tell you that Bobby and I are divorcing. You and going to choke on that a little, maybe. Some of you are going to want to know why. I can tell you what I told some close friends early on, but I find myself still unwilling to speak directly against Bobby in public (unfortunately he does not feel the need for the same restraint). No good comes of it. So, I cannot fully explain to you how we got here. The reasons are as numerous and varied as those we have for parting ways with religion several months ago. I can simply tell you that one day in early April I got up the guts to give up on our marriage like he had years ago. I was so tired of holding everything together by myself. I had thought for some time that maybe it would be better to cut loose. I was the one holding it all together anyway; our relationship, the household, the finances, the care of the children... I just couldn't do it anymore. So stressed, so lonely. There is no place more lonely than a bad marriage.
Is that clear enough? I want to be honest without bad-mouthing Bobby.
The following is part of a letter I wrote to some friends in early May:
Those who have spent much time getting to know my family are generally not very surprised and some very close to me wonder why I waited this long. And there are and will be others, pointing fingers, thinking and even voicing, "See? They don't believe in God any more and now look at them." Oh well. It is what it is. We are no more a broken family now than we have been for 14 years, but now we have a chance to heal. Yes, I have tasted new freedoms from Christ and yes, a whole new world opened up before me and sweet hope for a happy life and yes, it made me more painfully aware of the abuse and neglect going on under my roof and no, I couldn't imagine another year of it, let alone a lifetime. Not for me, not for the kids. This will be a bumpy road and we will always carry scars, but there is sunshine on the other side. I can see it, smell it, taste it. Our past will be the sound of our feet upon the ground as we carry on.If I had to sum up "why" this is happening I guess I would point to the Serenity Prayer; "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." It is not a prayer for me, more of a meditation. The thing is, I believe I have gained wisdom about the difference between the things I can change and the things that I can't and every day the courage required to make the necessary changes has grown. I am facing giants. I am terrified, but I am doing it.
So, here we are a month after sharing that… and I have more news. Again, I will resort to the borrowing of something I wrote to a friend in early May:
I would like to share one other bit of news with you, about my hope for the future. For me, for my kids. It's a delicate situation. The timing here is just crazy... getting free of religion and exploring the world that opened up to me, beginning to consider more frequently and more thoroughly the possibility of leaving Bobby (hard to say me leaving him--he left a long time ago, he just lives here still)... every week, every day seeing things more clearly... becoming more horrified at living the rest of my life this way, of how the kids would turn out under this kind of stressful relationship (or lack thereof) and Bobby's unrealistic view of the world... Ah, there was so much going on. And my new geek friends were becoming very dear to me. They never pushed, never suggested I leave Bobby, they just listened... and I grew stronger, more courageous.And then there was Denny Henke. My favorite geek.I don't know just when it happened... our friendship grew so gradually. Looking back I see the signs, but I don't know where I could have drawn the line, where I could have cut it off, or IF I could have. Never once did he indicate any interest in me beyond what he was offering to everyone else; friendship. You just have to know him, I guess, but he's that kind of person. Open. Engaging. Connected to the world and the animals and the people around him. Our geek talks turned into life talks and he had a way of making everything seem okay. He "got" it. He "got" me. He made being human, being a less-than-perfect individual, seem... well... acceptable. Natural. It almost became a challenge of mine to throw things at him to see what he would do with them. He took everything in stride; carefully observing and understanding and communicating. Always.I had met my match in perception, compassion, thoughtfulness, communicability, humor and more. There really was no stopping this friendship. We fascinated and inspired one another. I was so grateful just to call such a person my friend.Sometime mid-April things came to a head here at home. Bobby hadn't been working for two or three weeks, I was trying to juggle everything by myself, as usual... and I realized that I had been carrying our marriage itself, by myself, for too long. We weren't partners; I was a single mom with 8 kids; 7 adorable ones and a rebellious teenager. And that day I wondered, what would happen if I stopped caring about the marriage, too? And that was that. I let it go. Gone. I was no longer hurt and felt he could do little to hurt me ever again. I communicated this to him and he soon moved out.I am not one to do things half-heartedly. You may have noticed that I give my all in everything. Full throttle. So, when I decided to give up on trying to love a man who could not or would not love me (just how deep the neglect and rejection, I have managed to hide from most people) it freed my heart to love elsewhere. And love elsewhere I do now, very deeply. And it is reciprocated, very deeply. It feels somewhat insane, developing the most amazing, the most satisfying relationship I have ever known while under the stress and pressure of dissolving a 13.5 year marriage. I suspect it's not altogether uncommon, though. I have examined it closely for signs that it is only a temporary thing, something to get me through until I get on my feet...
And I don't believe it is.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I had some friends over Sunday. My friend Russ is a stupendous photographer and took the opportunity follow the kids around with his camera. He sent these to me today with this note, “WARNING: Nearly unbearable cuteness headed your way!” I’ll say! Thank you so much, Russ. What a treat!
He even snuck one of yours truly.
You can view more of Russell Middleton Imagery’s photos or contact him on Facebook.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Apparently I cannot have a beautiful night without sharing about it.
I’d had an exciting day yesterday and was beginning to come down from my high, chewing an the events of the day, breathing deep and trying to ease my way down instead of crash-landing as I am wont to do. A night under the stars would be just the thing. It was forecast to be clear soon after dark, the first clear night in awhile and the only one in sight for at least a few more earth-rotations. I was looking forward to unwinding at the telescope in the company of a friend.
Monday, April 1, 2013
I just returned home from an evening at Denny’s place. Yeah, I should be sleeping, but this can't wait. Maybe I could write tomorrow, but maybe sleep will kill the magic.
We had a nice dinner with friends, the children got to kayak around the lake some, and we got a little telescope time in before the sky clouded up again. Not a lot of clouds, but enough. So, the evening turned to rambling, thoughtful, humorous conversation under peek-a-boo stars. I could devote an entire post to how enjoyable and comfortable it all was and how it satisfied (or maybe just viciously stirred up) some deep need of mine to connect with other human beings, but I will spare you. When I finally gave in to my better and less interesting judgment that I should go home, Denny checked the time and realized that Saturn would be up and visible with the scope. An unexpected treat for me.
A few months ago Denny introduced me to Jupiter. I clearly remember my first glimpse of those red bands and the nearby tiny points of light I was told were its moons. I unexpectedly fell in love. Meeting Saturn tonight was like meeting someone you have heard things about and have looked forward to meeting, wondering if they would be as impressive as you expected. When I stepped up to the scope I thought briefly several guys I’d met when I was a teen, first online and later in person. Thankfully, no awkward expectations here! Saturn was… wow. Unreal. So bright, so beautiful, so… iconic. I wanted to cry. What a perfect nightcap.
I’m now a rather raw bundle of emotion after exploring the inner-workings of mankind and the universe. The minute and personal and the vast and impersonal. A bumbling girl struggling under a mountain of random and often errant thoughts, trying to make peace with her base humanity, reaching out and not only connecting with another human but with the whole damn universe. I feel at once extremely lucky and extremely… small.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Should you attempt this, beware the honey does NOT want to mix in! I stirred mine as it cooled to mix the honey up, which got kind of messy and ruins the perfectly poured look, but it worked. Next time I will just add the honey after the salve begun to solidify. Anyway, it came out wonderfully. I've even used it a few nights as a healing lotion on my hands and they are amazingly soft in the morning, with any cuts, scrapes or cracks in the dry skin feeling all better.
This time around I ordered the comfrey and calendula from the shop on Etsy recommended in the blog link above. This summer I will hopefully, finally have my own comfrey patch, and I often grow calendula. I will definitely make a bunch of this salve.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Amazing how returning to this blog feels almost like coming home. Like coming home and like “getting away from it all” at the same time. Neglected for over a year, it’s time to throw open the windows, dust off the furniture, start some dinner in the crockpot, post some flowers…
It feels like a new beginning and and old friend. Maybe it’s just nice because I haven’t told anyone yet that I’m writing here! Ha. Yep, this is me writing to absolutely no one. Guess that will change here in a bit.
Today was the first milking of the year. We’ve been getting goat’s milk from a neighbor for the past few weeks, but it’s nice to milk my own again. We ended up drying our gals up early somehow, so it’s been nearly three months instead of the usual two since we’ve milked them. Anyway, it’s such a pleasant routine. And milk means baby goats, which are wonderful, which we happen to have two more of today. I posted about April’s kids on the old blog. Daisy had twin bucklings just after midnight Friday and Rochel had twins this morning. The turkey. I’ve been watching so closely the last few days, thinking she was very close, but she was giving us mixed signals. This morning I guessed she’d be a few hours, but within two she had birthed them both, a buck and a doe, and we all missed it! Oh well, everyone is healthy and adorable.
Rochel and kids, the doe would be the white one, of course. White goats are, well, just kind of boring. The brown one is the only one of the six that looks like its papa. (Apparently my camera corrects for red eye, but not blue eye.)
Daisy with Oreo (named by Atira). Alfred P. Doolittle (“Alfie,” named by yours truly) is behind her; he’s solid black, I think with some small dark brown spots; will know for sure when we get them out in the sunshine.
April’s kids, one week old now. The black one is the doe, named Reverse by Royal (because she came out backward) and the brown the buck, Merlin (named by Farra).
It’s disappointing to have so many bucks. It’s a sad reality that on a farm the males just aren’t as useful or as valuable as the females. I really would have liked to keep a doe kid from Daisy; maybe next year. It’s still wonderful to have so many kids, all healthy, to be in milk again, to have such good, attentive momma goats… Daisy has the most incredible mothering instincts. She talks to her babies all during labor and when she has a contraction she turns and looks around like she is expecting a baby to be there. When they’re born she cleans them up promptly and thoroughly and they are sometimes nursing before they can even stand. Fascinating.
The goat life is the good life.
Maybe I’ll tell you about my garden next time. =)
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Man, is it ever nice to be back at Blogger! The reason this time? Well, there’re some new owners over at homeschoolblogger.com and in order to stay I would have to do some exporting and importing and blah blah blah and now that I have high speed internet—yes! Me!—it occurred to me to check things out here. So far, so good. Even if my offline program, Live Writer, doesn’t work, I can compose online because I’m always online anyway. HughesNet Gen4. This is month two and I love it. Worth the cost. Write it off as a homeschooling tool.
So, I gotta pop around this place and do some updating. I see my blog roll is sadly outdated (if you have some time, check out my friend Denny’s blog, Our Tomorrow), as is my profile info. It used to say something about "serving my heavenly father." I’m no longer serving a heavenly anything, no longer trying to live up to the unclear expectations of the Bible. You can read about my spiritual journey at my last blog (now moved to , but the long and skinny of it is that last October Bobby and I got into some Bible study that lead us right out of the Bible, out of Christianity, out of Hebrew Roots non-Christian Christianity, out of religion entirely. To suddenly see that the Bible and its god were the works of man was a shock and slightly terrifying at first. We were certainly not looking for it. I toyed around with Deism for a bit after that but now I honestly don’t care if there is a creator god or not. I might philosophize about it occasionally, but I’m tired of wasting energy on things that mankind can’t possibly know and wouldn't matter if we did. Life is too damn short. Too damn full of amazing (real) people and things to learn and explore. It is every bit as rich as it was a year ago and a far sight more enjoyable as a whole.
That said, as I look back over the last few posts here my heart kind of quivers. Do I regret the time I spent as a Bible-believer? In some ways. But I don’t regret for a moment the friendships I formed. The Fourniers, Singhs, Tuckers, Sweeney’s, etc… so many dear families. Funny, now that I’m outside religion I see it for the box it is but I have no reason to reject those within it. Unfortunately, those within it have reason to reject me. I am Lost. I am Infidel. I am Other.
I try not to let it bother me, rather just accept it for what it is, glad I had that special time with special people. I have shed my tears and grieved for all of those friendships lost. Now I will have new special times with new special people. I already have amazing new people in my life. And family relationships have lightened up now that we are not so religious. I have spent some wonderful time with my brother, for instance, with all the walls down. I even have some Christian friends who have stood by me, who have seen that I have not changed so much, and love me for who I am, not what I believe about the Bible. It was just before the Feast of Tabernacles last year that we made our Exodus and I very much missed that enchanted time of camping and fellowship in TN. This year we plan to get some family and friends together for an extended camping weekend because it’s such a great fall tradition. I decided we should also work in a spring time family tradition, a float trip in late April or early May. I am very much looking forward to that! If all goes well, there will be a summer vacation to Vermont to visit long-time friends and family, and around that the summer holds promise of many enjoyable nights of universe exploration, astronomy with local friends, some community activities… I can’t tell you how tickled I am that my transition out of religion, which could have been so painful, was instead made smooth by new friends and new activities. Not just the new friends but old ones, too, like I said. Pat and Lisa and Rafe from VT, whose visit and entrance/re-entrance into my life was timed perfectly, and the renewed friendship with my brother… Waking up each day and realizing, if I take the time, that everything that really mattered is still here and is more vivid somehow. To set my feet on the floor, yawn, stretch, and know that my life is my own, to make whatever I want of it. Mostly that is exhilarating and the most peaceful thing I’ve ever known, but I don’t deny I have moments I wish the responsibility wasn't mine! It would be nice to have someone else to blame, some days.
Now the hour is late and sleep beckons. There is a beautiful spring storm surging and splashing and flashing outside, the perfect lullaby. More later in the week!