Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's Cold

This weekend, we'll have a high of 1 degree Fahrenheit on both days. That seems a little daunting, but it marks something important. It means spring is coming.

When we have a string of brutally cold days, one or two days up to three weeks by my estimate, it marks the pivotal moment of winter. It doesn't mean we'll see green grass any time soon, or that we can shed even one layer of wool. But it will be all the really cold weather and the trend will be ever warmer. In another month, we'll have highs that escape freezing, and in two more months we'll have days that never get that low. It means we're a month from starting a few plants, and two months from the crazy space finding mission for all the little seedlings.

Yes, the cold can be hard, the air brittle. But it's also really beautiful when we remember that it's fleeting. It is amazing for your nose hairs to freeze with every breath. The sky is a completely different color when the air is so cold; I guess it's a lack of humidity, but I don't know. We can see the stars better on these brittle nights. The fire is so lovely when the cold is creeping in at the window.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You Know You're Not on Hulen

You Know You’re Not on Hulen

When the truck in front of you has a goat in the extended cab section behind the front seats. Especially if the goat is alive, full grown, and wearing a stable blanket.

When the river you’re crossing is frozen over.

When the oncoming traffic stops to let you turn left.

When the field beside the road has wild turkeys gleaning it.

(When there is a field to glean)

When you cannot see past the snow bank.

When every car looks as if someone went mudding.

When the traffic stops to let a pedestrian cross.

When you see the “MOOSE” sign along the roadside.

When the only coffee shop is actually a diner.

When the closest clothing store primarily sells shovels and animal feed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Screen Time

We have seen so many movies since we cancelled the internet. It is the season we are most likely to watch movies, but it still seems suspicious. This past week, I have felt fed up with all this movie watching, and I think we’re done with it for the time being. I don’t mean we’ll quit movies, just that we might switch back to one or two per month instead of one or two per week.

What I’m realizing is how screen time sucks us in; we do not even seem to know what we’re not doing as we gaze at the flickering light. We need to talk about money or getting the cow inseminated or how to handle some discipline problem or Jason’s latest brilliant idea or what to do with the greenhouse, and it seems like we just can’t get around to it. It seems like we don’t have time in the evening to do a touch of painting or shelf building or trim work. Heck, we’re tired; why should we keep working in the evening? Why have those big discussions at the end of the day when everyone is fagged out?

Well, when ARE we going to do it?

The nice thing about a lack of screen diversions is that “work” can look more like a hobby. It’s funny how much more appealing a little bit of painting while we chat and listen to music can seem when we don’t have a movie sitting on the counter, waiting for us. Before, when Jason was gone on trips or worked lots of hours in winter, I did quite a bit of painting and knitting and kitchen experimentation. It was really pleasant to do this “work” with no children around, with the dark pressing against the windows, and a bit of music I save for adult ears.

Also, when I’m working side by side with Jason, we have lots if time to talk. Sometimes, we talk about the movie we saw or about why “Horehound” is better than “Sea of Cowards”. We get a chance to be friends working together, and that camaraderie makes our relationship stronger. We also get a relaxed time to have the big talks, the rhythm of the work giving us more time to consider our words or the impact of a decision.

Sometimes, the truth is, we’re just too tired to do another darn thing in the evening. Sometimes, I cannot read a page of a really great book without dozing off. What that means is that we need to go to bed. I know that if we turned on a movie, or if the internet were available, I could and would stay awake, but why? If I am really too tired to do things I love like painting, knitting or reading, then I should probably be asleep anyway, not handing my consciousness over to some mindless “entertainment”.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Social Time

When I was younger, my mom had a couple of friends she would go spend a Saturday with. She and her friends would just sit and drink coffee, sometimes smoke cigarettes, and talk. They would talk for hours, and really, all they would do is sit and talk. It seems like occasionally, someone would feed the children, but even that was a hit or miss affair.

I was reflecting on this today, because there is a friend I would like to go visit, but I do not have a current knitting project, and there isn’t much in the way of shared work to do at her house in winter. So, I’m doing this blog post instead.

I cannot imagine just parking myself on a friend’s couch or at her kitchen table, and just talking. I could easily knit, even inefficiently, for hours while we chat. I had one friend who always had something to do, like stacking wood or cooking or hiking or building things, and visiting her was very easy. I would show up with some food, and between the two of us we would busily feed children and leave various projects incomplete. We had the best time.

It seems I am not very good at sitting still socially. And maybe, my mom wasn’t that good at it either- she just did not have much choice. Maybe the social smoking, and the unfinished crochet projects she dragged around, and her hands moving in a fidgety way around her coffee cup manifested her desire to do. Maybe she was too hemmed in by her suburban life, her 40-hour a week job, and her handicap to have the emotional, mental, or physical space to just do something. Her silence on the matter leaves me free to wonder.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Brief Visits

Every day, someone comes to visit. Sometimes, Lynette drops in as I choose to write with a particularly fine tipped pen and I remember how she liked a broader, fuller inked variety. She also waves when Ezra checks his mood ring to see how he's doing. Holly looks over my shoulder when I wash dishes in the wrong order or when I prepare the front step before visitors arrive. Kelli is at my elbow when I'm laughing uproariously or barely holding my temper as I try to be kind. My mother and Janet often return from the grave, sometimes as I misstep and struggle as a parent and often in the flutterings of my imagination as I stare out the window. Mrs. Goolsby points out literary devices in poetry and fiction that I'm reading and Mr. Disney helps me remember to foster Ezra's love of science over "teaching".

Then, yesterday morning, as I washed the dishes, my mom said, sipping her coffee, "You know you're getting old when you have all these 'visits'." Oh well, at least I'm not alone.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cooperative Games

A very short post-

I like a little competition, but as a child I found some games too competitive. I still don't like Monopoly or checkers or chess. Yet, I've never really enjoyed the feel good, no one loses, cooperative children's games I've played.

Recently, friends taught us a new game, and we lost because Phaedra just wouldn't cooperate. I was actually enjoying the game, and maybe if we played it more, we'd figure out how to win. But even with us explaining to her that we needed her to make a certain move in order for us to win, she simply would not do it. Cooperation is not her strong suit.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Year Opens

Last weekend and this, we have pretty much sheathed the greenhouse. After some groping about for the right answer, we discovered the "cheap" answer for the endwalls- we reclaimed some waste greenhouse plastic from someone else's resheathed hoophouse  and cut and cleated the less-holey pieces onto our endwalls. Now, we're groping about for a good door solution. We have a plan we're moving toward, but as always happens with our plans, there is some wiggle room until the moment the door is hung.

The children have taken over most of the chicken chores, but I seemed to have claimed the chore of nagging the children to tend the chickens. Part of the deal is that they may keep the egg proceeds. I decided this morning that there is a surcharge if I feel I have had to be too involved in getting the chickens tended in a timely manner.

We start back to our school rhythm tomorrow, and I am ready to be embraced by that regularity. We have skating and skiing and dancing every week. We have a library group that is a book discussion for the older two and a story time for Sylvie. Our children's librarian is a blessing.

I'm trying a new way of presenting Ezra's school assignments for the week, a way that takes me out of the task master role. I've written his assignments for the entire week, and then I'm staying out of it. There will be "lesson times" when we'll do German and handwork as a group. We'll see how it goes. Maybe Phaedra would prefer a similar assignment list.