Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is my latest quilt. I started it in September, to teach myself how to machine quilt. I now know how to stipple. It is addictive.

Above: What stippling looks like up close. I learned to this from watching You Tube videos. Essentially you use your sewing machine to draw row upon row of little mittens. Very comforting.


Will finally noticed my haircut. Well, actually, what happened is this: I, not being able to stand it any longer, said, "Will, did you happen to notice I got my hair cut?" And Will said, "Uh, YEAH!"

Because I'm very wise, I didn't ask him if he liked it. First of all, I like it, and that's what matters. Secondly, what if he said he didn't like it? Where do we go from there? I can't style my hair according to the whims of an eight-year-old boy. Can you imagine? Actually it's sort of fun to imagine an auditorium of second-grader moms wearing the hairstyles their kids requested. I see a lot of long, flowing blond princess hair and a lot of purple hair in strange geometric shapes.


We're going to my parents' house in Kentucky for Thanksgiving. My younger brother and his family will be there, too, and I'm sure it will be a nice time. I have a nice family. Everyone gets along. It helps that my brothers married wonderful women with good senses of humor, and I married a wonderful man with a good sense of humor. The Outlaws. Where would we be without them? And who would wash the dishes?


For those of you who observe Thanksgiving, have a lovely holiday! And for those of you who don't, have you ever eaten cranberry jelly from a can? There's nothing like it! Come on over and give it a try!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Now We Are Farmers

The winter wheat is up! It's official! I would like a certificate of farmership, please! Somebody buy me a cow. Before I have one.

Our yard isn't full of spectacular colors like a lot of the yards around us; we don't have any amazing reds or oranges. But I love the November light in the late afternoon.

Before (as in yesterday):

And after (as of today):

Guess what? Neither of my children seemed to have noticed that my hair is five inches shorter and five shades darker than it was twenty-four hours ago. That's what I get for having sons.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just Say No

I was inspired by Tracy's recent post, How Do You Do It, in which she hands out some very practical advice for working moms. I especially like her suggestion about learning how to say "no."

I'm getting better at being a naysayer. This year, I've agreed to arrange arts assemblies at our Fine School (lower and upper divisions), which is a fairly easy job, all things considered, and now I feel free to say "no" to absolutely everything else that's asked of me.

Write auction copy for the Annual Our Fine School auction? Nope, can't do it. Fill in for the lunchtime reader who's come down with a sudden case of the sniffles? No, no, gosh, sorry, but no. Help out with the Ellis Island recreation for the third grade? No, I don't think so.

(By the way, I have no idea how I made the Ellis Island list, given that I don't have a third grader. It makes me afraid that having volunteered to be the Arts Assembly Lady, I'm now considered an easy mark and have made lists all across the Our Fine School Universe. Well, they'll learn soon enough, won't they? Though the Ellis Island thing does actually sound interesting ...)

Saying "no" is an art. I've learned to say it immediately, the very second my presence is requested. I used to fiddle-faddle around and say I'd get back to you, could I think about that for a day or two and drop you an email? For awhile, during my transition phase from doormat to Ms. Negative, I used the Man as my excuse. "Gosh, I really need to check with my husband about that."

But now I just say "no." To soften the blow, sometimes I'll say, "No, I'm sorry, I just don't have time for that right now." As I've watched the new PTA president visibly age after just a few months of service, I feel my confidence grow. Saying yes will cause you to prematurely wrinkle. Stay away from it.


The baking continues. The big hits so far (other than cookies and pies, of course) are waffles and honeywheat bread. The pretzels and crackers were eaten, but not with any overly-great enthusiasm. Listen, if my kids want to become the sort of people who snack on bread and jam or whole grain waffles popped into the toaster (I've been making big batches and freezing them), who am I to complain? Beats Twinkies.

Okay, well, I'm off to Will's Cub Scout meeting, where they'll be racing rockets tonight. The Man was out until midnight last night helping set up the wires they'll race the rockets on. This is a new thing the Scouts are doing this year. Do I have any reason to believe it will work, that the boys won't end up spending the evening throwing their little brightly painted, balsa wood rockets at each other and then stomping all over them?

No, no I do not.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trying to Bring it Back to Normal

Okay, I'm home.

Home! I'm home! I'm home with absolutely no plans to get on another airplane in the near or distant future. Which is good, because I think I got some bad Dramamine this past trip. I had to lie down for an hour when I got home Sunday. Anyone reading this who gets motion sickness will understand that horrible feeling of closing your eyes while the plane descends and hoping, hoping, hoping that you won't get sick. I didn't, but it was close.

So now I'm home and trying to get back into my routines. I'm also trying to avoid the fact that my house is a shambles. I have bread to bake and books to write, quilts to quilt, socks to knit. Must I clean the bathroom as well?

Fact #1: If I don't, nobody else will.

Fact #2: The bathroom will not clean itself.

Fact #3: While I'm a hussy and a slacker on the best of days when it comes to housecleaning, even I have my limits.

Fact #4: When I walked into the downstairs this morning and looked around, I realized my limits had been reached. It's gone from being your average sort of "sink could use a scrub" bathroom to a rather prolific petri dish of wonders and, yes, I believe, fungi.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will clean the bathroom and de-crud the stove top and fold the laundry and mow the kitchen floor. I will think about the upcoming holidays. I have this crazy thought that maybe I'll get my Christmas shopping done early so I might actually have a spiritual experience sometime around December 25th. It's never happened before, but a girl can dream.

Tonight I'm going to continue to enjoy the feeling of not flying. Of not anticipating my next trip and planning my life around it. Of having long stretches of days to do what needs to get done--and, even better, doing what I want to do, like write books and bake bread, quilt quilts and knit socks. Sounds dreamy!

And whenever I have to walk into the bathroom, I'll just close my eyes.

It's good to be home.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Living the Vida Local

So we've got the winter wheat planted. I bought the seed off of, which is where I'm pretty sure most farmers do their shopping. It was just one of those whims the Man and I had. The Man swears he can catch yeast from the air, so who knows--maybe we'll have an entirely local loaf of bread. Well, except for the salt. And the grain bought on the Internet.

As far as I can tell, it's impossible to live an entirely local life, and I have no intention of giving up coffee, sugar, salt or bananas. But we've decided that it would make an interesting family project to try to live more locally than we do now. As oil prices creep up (along with amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere), living locally seems less like a game to play on your way to a book contract and more like a way of life we're all going to have to adopt sooner or later.

Here on the farm, we're starting with food. Hence the pretzels of two posts ago, and the wheat thins I made this weekend, which were a little too delicious. "This tastes like a Christmas cookie!" Jack exclaimed after biting into one). Yesterday I made chicken broth from a stewing chicken I got at the farmers' market. And butternut squash soup, also from local sources. And whole wheat bread made from local wheat. And today, more bread.

In case you were wondering, this is a lot of work. In fact, I'm starting to wonder, why not buy food at the grocery story while the buying is good? If the Peak Oil theorists are right, major chain grocery stores will be a thing of the past in ten or fifteen years (there won't be any oil to fuel the trucks bringing us our tomatoes from across the country)--so why not live large now?

Still, homemade bread is just better, and so is chicken broth made from a chicken you bought from a farmer named Dale. I like Dale. I've bought two chickens from her now. We've bonded. Maybe next spring, I'll give her some wheat.


Re: my last post--The consensus seems to be that too much driving wears a girl out. I've always felt that to be true, especially when it's warm outside. I have no idea how to stop all this driving, though, other than doing a better job of consolidating my errands. What I really need is a personal assistant. Or a wife. Either will do.


If I don't stop eating Almond Joys, I'm going to explode by Thursday. Well, they're tiny Almond Joys, so maybe I'll make it until Friday. Trick or Treat, indeed!