Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

rave on John Donne

“A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy’s Day, Being the Shortest Day”

TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,
Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
    The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
            The world's whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.
Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
    For I am every dead thing,
    In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
            For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.
All others, from all things, draw all that's good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
    I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
    Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood
            Have we two wept, and so
Drown'd the whole world, us two; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.
But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
    Were I a man, that I were one
    I needs must know; I should prefer,
            If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.
But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
    At this time to the Goat is run
    To fetch new lust, and give it you,
            Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night's festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

getting ready

This is little John kissing Santa Claus many years ago. The kids are getting very excited and enjoying their small Christmas preparations. My room looks like Santa's workshop, and I need to transform it into a guest bedroom in the next two days. One thing about a hundred year old house is the lack of any storage space. I have no hiding places.

Ella had a beautiful hot chocolate bar set up by nine this morning for Solstice. We enjoyed dinner and a bonfire with a few friends, a Leaping Water's Farm fresh ham, lentils with walnuts, currants, and caramelized onions, fresh bread, cheeses, kale salad, and poached pears with salted caramel gelato.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Monday, December 09, 2013

this little light of mine

We went to the Advent Garden at the Unitarian Church this weekend. After years of seeing pictures of similar events at Waldorf Schools it was wonderful to find this at our own church. Ruby's favorite part was "holding her fire".

Saturday, November 30, 2013


We had a great Thanksgiving at Uncle John's house on Thursday. It was the coldest one in many years, but we had sunshine and a huge bonfire. No one missed the turkey with the grilled pork and venison wrapped in bacon. My brother laughed heartily about the "local" venison as he nodded towards his backyard. My children had never tasted deer, so they had the full Pilgrim experience. They loved Aunt Shelley's pies and salted caramel sauce a lot. They think I need to learn to make my great grandmother's Irish rolls so that they can eat them every day for breakfast, and they have a newfound love of pickled quail eggs.

 The next day we walked my childhood paths and creek and gathered Christmas greenery before heading back to our mountains. Today we are going to the tree farm to cut the tree.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

crossing the atlantic

This is John's class today. Of course they aren't sitting in chairs. These Pilgrims are on ships crossing the Atlantic ocean, answering history questions to make their way slowly to the New World. Here they are at the end of the journey planning how they will live once they get off of their ships. What will they live in? What will they plant?

Amazing. Second. Grade.  Tonight John made a pueblo. He really wanted to make it life sized, but he couldn't work out the logistics. He mixed sand with the paint to make it more like adobe, and there are five twig ladders made with a hot glue gun. The boy loves a project.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


We are counting down the days until Friday and a week off from school.

Monday, November 18, 2013

the weight of November

I'm feeling just a little out of it as Christmas decorations start to go up in stores. It is time to carve out some space for the family to enjoy fall. I'm recycling toy catalogs as fast as they come in and taking deep breaths when people start talking about the gifts and the "stuff". Even now, people are feeling the weight of obligations.

I need to make some lists and check them twice as well. My Amazon cart is full, and there are recipes in my head. Portuguese fish stew. Caldo Verde with Sausage. A braided almond and cranberry loaf. I remind the children of what they have, an amazing school, music lessons, beautiful instruments, and rooms full of toys. I am hoping for a holiday full of family time, movies in front of the fire, walks in the woods, and a sparkling tree up through the kitchen rafters.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Ella had her friends over for a Halloween birthday party last night. I'm still reeling at the thought of having a twelve year old. She has been wanting to have a Halloween party for a few years now, and the time seemed right. They ate pizza, played on the slackline, told stories by the fire, and then brought a keyboard out on the porch and sang together. Then the boys chased the girls around in the dark until all the parents picked them up at eight. Perfect.


This is a gallon sized jar, and my huge cabbage had this much liquid in it. The recipe has a whole cabbage, a beet, one and a half tablespoons of sea salt, a few inches of grated ginger, and a quarter teaspoon of ground cardamom. Ruby said her mouth was all puckered up ready to taste it, but I told her it has to sit for a few weeks to get sour.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

thrift store chest of drawers chicken coop

I have three six week old chickens in my utility room, and it is time for them to head outside. My big chickens are molting and grumpy and would give them a hard time, so I made them a little coop of their own. I have two fenced runs right next to each other so they can get to know each other for a while.

I saw one of these coops on Pinterest and got an old dresser at Goodwill. The ladder and the roosts are made out of the wood from the drawers. I shingled the top and painted it red. The bottom drawer is left intact for easy pull out cleaning.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

dirty little shakori

We went down to the Shakori Hills Festival of Music and Dance for a long weekend of camping. For me it was probably the hardest festival I've ever been to. I had a cold, it rained, and our neighbors never went to bed or stopped saying the f-word. The kids, however, had a great time. Ruby especially. She made herself a powerful magic wand and cast happy spells on everyone in her path.
She sang. She danced. She slept like a stone.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I broke my ankle last Wednesday  yet still made it to the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion this past weekend. My mother kept the kids. I would have never attempted it with them, but John carried my chair and fetched beer and was altogether gallant about the whole big black immobilizer boot thing. I'm in the boot for a few weeks.

My favorite thing about Bristol is seeing a flat out country band and then walking down to check out some thrashing cello with a percussive dancer. I'm going to be checking out Dave Eggar and DEORO again.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

house on a hill

It is yellowing and spidery and weedy. I love the yellows of the goldenrod on my rural commute to school while the kids watch for their favorite horses and donkies along the way. It has been in the forties at night and every morning the kids think we need heat or a fire, and I laugh and tell them to close the open windows.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

last day of August

The Walk

Glamoured the road, the day, and him and her
And everywhere they took me. When we stepped out
Cobbles were riverbed, the Sunday air
A high stream-roof that moved in silence over
Rhododendrons in full bloom, foxgloves
And hemlock, robin-run-the-hedge, the hedge
With its deckled ivy and thick shadows –
Until the riverbed itself appeared,
Gravelly, shallowly, summery with pools,
And made a world rim that was not for crossing.
Love brought me that far by the hand, without
The slightest doubt or irony, dry-eyed
And knowledgeable, contrary as be damned;
Then just kept standing there, not letting go.


So here is another longshot. Black and white.
A negative this time, in dazzle-dark,
Smudge and pallor where we make out you and me,
The selves we struggled with and struggled out of,
Two shades who have consumed each other’s fire,
Two flames in sunlight that can sear and singe,
But seem like wisps of enervated air,
After-wavers, feathery ether-shifts …
Yet apt still to rekindle suddenly
If we find along the way charred grass and sticks
And an old fire-fragrance lingering on,
Erotic woodsmoke, witchery, intrigue,
Leaving us none the wiser, just better primed
To speed the plough again and feed the flame.

Seamus Heaney

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I got a cold right at the very moment that I would have felt liberated by having three kids in school all day, but this time of year really is the mama's new year. I've attended (and led) a whole lot of meetings. The children have indoor shoes and outdoor shoes and have coordinated when and where to change those shoes. Various color coded notebooks are coming home and returning to school with a certain amount of accuracy, and Miss Middle School has learned how to apply mascara and has requested a ringlet curling iron. This morning she abandoned those thoughts and went on a bike ride before school. John is starting violin lessons and Ella is taking guitar. It all continues to settle in.

 I'm taking a yoga and photography class online, and last week I went to a yoga class taught by a friend. I'm going back tomorrow.

There are new chicks in the utility room.

The house is blissfully quiet, at least for one more hour.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

day three

The first week of school is done, and they are all happy. Ella even wanted to have the weekend cancelled because Middle School is so good. These two are rolling in clover. There are fourteen in their class, and Ruby is loving meeting all the new friends.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

almost a school girl

This is one is very excited to start kindergarten on Wednesday. She is happy to see a few friends that she knows and even more excited to meet the ones that she doesn't know. She has requested a new journal and started drawing/writing a story called "Cat Queen".

from the garden

Friday, August 16, 2013

the lane

Now that John can ride the two wheeler he generally goes up and down the lane a few times right when he wakes up.
I love that the kids have this beautiful safe space to ride. It is a public road, but it is a dead end with three driveways past ours, and all of our neighbors are grandparents.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

the phone number

Many hours ago I took a shower and washed my hair, but I just realized that it is fairly obvious that I used conditioner and did not rinse it off. Luckily, my wildest outing today is going to be the dump.

So, last night we went to school for a board meeting, and Ruby looked up and said, "I haven't been here for so long that I forgot our school's phone number. 2-5-0-0. See, there it is". She pointed to the address on the front of the building.

I'm about to make blueberry oatmeal muffins with four children.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

nearly 8

That little one on the right is about to turn eight on Saturday. This summer he learned to swim and ride a two wheeler.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

unicorn highway of the streets

She has been writing a book called Unicorn Highway of the Streets. The unicorn highway is the one that goes straight through the doorway of the rainbow.