Friday, July 20, 2012

moving blogs

For reasons of some events in my personal life, I am discontinuing writing on this blog.  I'm starting a new blog, so for those of you who want to continue following me, send me an email (or leave a comment) and I'll connect you with it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

where we go when we're not here

Well, that's a bit misleading as it seems we go all kinds of places these days.  But there is one special place that we return to several times a year. 

There is a little house way up in the hills of western Massachussetts where the stories of my husband's families fill the space along with the carefully selected antiques and children's books left behind in the 1920's.  Here the family has come for the last 98 years to get away from the busyness of life, pick blueberries, go for hikes and always, always meet on the porch at 5pm sharp for cocktails.

Time moves more slowly where generations of children have walked the streams, made fires and played croquet barefoot in the always-just-too-long grass.  After breakfast in the morning and a glance at the weather, the hardest decisions to make are whether it's a day to go swimming, visiting the neighboring farm, or perhaps hike a nearby trail.

There is no internet access here, nor cellphone towers.  The phone is on a party line.  There is no television or radio.

But there are pigs, goats, chickens and cows to visit at the neighbors, raspberries to be picked and cooked into jam, pies to be baked and shared after dinner, and fires to be made on the stone steps that once led into a barn, and of course marshmallows to be roasted in them.  There are fireflies to be caught, starry skies to be admired and sojourns made to the nearby country store that carries locally brewed beer and homemade ice cream.

My husband's grandmother has been coming here all her life; the property was purchased the year she was born.  His mother and her brother have also spent many childhood summers here as have my husband and his sister, and now our children and their cousins.  And in every one of these fine folk there is a deep love for this place and all the memories of playing cards, cooking communal meals, and doing puzzles.  There is a small plaque commemorating the grandfather who passed a few years ago and who wanted his ashes brought here.  There are stories of the "walled garden" within the foundations of an old barn, where sixty foot trees now shade ferns and hostas.  If there is a place where the soul of my husband's family resides, it is here, among the furniture brought in over many years, in the walls stuffed with horsehair and newspapers, among the quilts lovingly selected long ago.

So when we need a rest from our busy lives, we go here with the children, spend hours sitting on the porch, reading, talking and renewing.  How very blessed we are to be able to come to this place.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's nearly June

Wow, has this month ever sped by, and the weather has moved from early spring - chilly to midsummer hot and humid.  The garden is growing at an alarming rate (must order mulch tomorrow!!!) and I'm hardly keeping up, but we've been rewarded with lots of tasty asparagus, a few strawberries and some salad greens.  Not bad!  So much has happened that I decided to sum it up in pictures.

Younger daughter has resumed weekly riding lessons (and is making great strides, so I'm told).  The world's most affectionate chicken is a definite bonus when we visit the barn!

We have been exploring the woods behind our house:  rare red trillium flowers, young ferns and three young black bears were just some of our discoveries.

In my monthly biodynamics class we made tree paste from cow manure, clay and a few other ingredients, and painted the fruit tree trunks with it.  The trees looked like sculptures while they were still wet.  Then we inadvertently learned how to manage a bee swarm.  This latter event was not officially in the program but much appreciated anyway.

I got to chaperone my older daugther's class to the Higgins Armory Museum.  There was a presentation on the development of armor through the Middle Ages, a tour of the collection (the middle picture above is of a Roman gladiator's helmet), and following snack, the children's assignment was to draw a weapon or piece of armor from time periods they have studied and to write a short description.  I loved watching a few students in their work; their blossoming skills of observation, the direct experience of and involvement with the artifact they were drawing, the discussions that ensued with each other and the teacher...  We ended the visit in their large discovery room where foam castles could be erected, a game of floor chess played, and various bits and pieces of armor tried on.  It was a privilege to attend such a special day.

One of the greatest highlights of the month was the Medieval Ceremony for my daughter's class.  We met in a stone chapel at 6:00 am and each child was led through an adapted knighting ceremony.  The children had made swords and keys in woodworking class and were presented with these after publicly declaring the virtues they were working on.  Each child had an adult sponsor supporting them and of course there was beautiful music and singing.  Following the solemn ceremony, there was breakfast and games of pillow jousting, archery, javelin throwing and a running race, and then everyone enjoyed a truly wonderful medieval feast.

And now we are looking forward to June and all it will bring:  birthdays, the end of school, days at the pond and in the garden, the end of my class, strawberries.... so much to look forward to!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sheep and Wool

Perhaps I should begin this post with the explanation that our younger child has been on extended leave from school since mid-April, leaving little time for anything but a little schoolwork, gardening, concerts and other various seasonal activities, and of course living.  So it's time to catch up, don't you think?

May is fair season for us as I and at least one sidekick (usually the younger one, she who loves sheep and sheep dogs) travel to savor all the sights and sounds to be had around fiber animals and the people who work with them.  Some favorite pictures:

These two got a lot of attention and compliments for their colorful outfits.

A young and slightly over-eager border collie named Bonnie.  Her handler uses 4-6 sheepdogs at a time to move his herds.

Possibly my favorite sheep picture ever.

Sheep contests are still a complete mystery to me.  We had a good time at this one because that little ewe on the left was very, very vocal and had the audience laughing.  Sheep for entertainment, who knew?

Some of the vendors had lovely, original pieces.  We came away with four skeins of yarn for socks, handwarmers and a scarf.  The last two projects will be knitted in angora, which feels like you put your hand in a cloud of softness.  Yum!

Memorial Day weekend is usually the first time in the year that we make an outdoor fire, so I will leave you with this picture (just add the smores in your mind):

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

away, away

This spring has been surprisingly busy with all kinds of travels.  Right now I'm actually home alone as the children have chosen to visit friends and relatives over the spring break, and the Most Saintly Husband has gone to retrieve one of them.

A little while ago I had the rare and wonderful opportunity to take a mid-week break with a friend.  I have always wanted to visit Portland, Maine.  What a fun, lovely place!

I have not been near open water in so long, and I must have really longed for it.  No matter where we were or what we did, we'd invariably end up somewhere near the water.

The West End is nice too, but after walking around there, I wanted to go back here:

It was fun to walk down the cobblestone streets, dart in and out of interesting shops, eat great food and then go back to the water to breathe in the salty air.  So invigorating!

On our way home, we stopped for a walk along the beach:

The first glimpse of the ocean never fails to take my breath away.

I didn't see many shells on the beach, but lots and lots of beautiful, sandwashed rocks.

The marshes are beautiful, too:

What a lovely break.  Just enough to get a taste and know that I will be back sometime.

Where have your travels taken you lately? 

Monday, April 9, 2012


We had a lovely Easter Sunday with a sunrise celebration, waffles, lots of decorations and of course a hunt for goodies.   It was lovely to see that the magic was still fully living in one child, and the love for her sister kept the other one playing along.

Following the exciting hunt for stash, we were blessed with a few snow flurries and then clear skies which allowed for gardening and a park trash-pickup excursion.

A note on the decorations in the first picture:  I got the idea and instructions from this site, though we simply used Mod Podge for glue.  This craft kept my nine year old happily occupied (and partnered with a parent lending lots of hands-on support) for hours.

What a busy and wonderful day.  I hope yours was too!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

well, hello there!

Dear friends, I tried to post a couple of weeks ago and couldn't upload any pictures, so here is what's been going on in the last month:

There may have been a minor accident involving a very icy road, a pair of glasses and a head:

Luckily, it only took a week for the black eye to heal and now I'm left with a lovely scar.
There was more snow:

There was a visit to a nearby farm which included meeting the new lambs and watching their antics,

Gathering still-warm eggs from under the chickens in the henhouse
Making friends with one of the herd's llamas and it's amazing eyelashes

Apparently llamas are wonderful guard animals because they integrate well with sheep and goats and have been known to drive off predators of all kinds, including bears.  Beautiful and feisty!

Finally, we were treated to a demonstration of working with sheep dogs.  This farmer generally uses several dogs at the same time.  On this day he used four border collies to herd his flock of year old ewes.

This was a special treat for Youngest daughter, who is enthralled with all things sheep and border collies.  It's amazing to see the focus and speed on these dogs.  After their herding, we threw a frisby around for them, which was just the perfect end to a lovely visit.

In other happenings, we learned to prune our apple trees,
celebrated a birthday and the first crocuses,

and got quite serious about planning our spring planting.

And with that, spring is most definitely here and life is busier than ever.  More news very soon!