Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fall on the Farm

A windy rainy week will be capped off tonight with a frost advisory.  It is beginning to look a lot like fall around here.  Crisp temperatures make grabbing a sweater the norm, walking across the yard is a shuffle amongst the fallen leaves and the Halloween decor made its appearance this week.  Sadly, the beautiful gourd display that I normally decorate the porch with will remain hidden this year.  I suspect a mischievous puppy and a basket full of gourds would not be a good mix!

The cool weather crops are enjoying the temperatures.  We are still pulling leaks, peppers, kale, flower sprouts and onions from the garden.  As you can see the one light frost that we had last weekend finished the winter squash plants and this weekend will see them harvested and nestled into their new root cellar home.

It looks like after this weekend we will see a string of dry days together.  With more than half of the garden beds closed down, and frost in the forecast, I suspect that the next couple of weekends will be comprised of finishing the remaining beds, topping the asparagus, pruning berry canes, planting garlic, and beginning the task of next seasons compost by way of a mass mowing and the beginning of leaf pick-up.  Just a few little tasks, mid to late fall on the farm is the last big push towards putting everything to bed before the darker and much colder months ahead.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Architecture of Life

I am bundled in a sweater this afternoon looking out onto an incredibly grey and blustery day.  Life has presented me with many opportunities and seen to it that I have lived a number of very different places.  I grew up in Long Beach, a suburb of Los Angeles, and had a wonderful neighborhood upbringing with friends walking to each others homes in a close knit, albeit large community.

I enjoyed big city living as a college student in London, a city that has my heart and if ever I were to live in a big city, that one would be it.  From there I got my first taste of the country living in a Midwestern college town called Manhattan, Kansas 'the little apple'.  This is where I met B and began to fantasize about that 'little house' life I had romanticized as a child.

As college ended a young couple looking for work and adventure ended up where else?  Las Vegas.  Here, I learned to love the outdoors in a way that I had not before.  There is something magical about sitting on your porch at midnight when it is still 100+ degrees and it feels great...remember it is a dry heat!  We had our first real garden where we learned the merits of xeroscape.  This wild west town was on the cusp of major growth and we grew with it.

Eight years later, once we were firmly ensconced in adult life, and my stomach swelled with the beginnings of a new adventure, we moved onto opportunities in the upper midwest.  Here our little abode has encompassed the best of all worlds; the rural lifestyle that we both had craved yet close to several larger cities.

Last weekend while visiting 'the big apple' I somewhat expected to have the feeling that I had living in London.  Though both large bustling cities, they felt vastly different.  I saw first hand a population density that created its own vertical architecture.  I gazed into buildings on top of buildings for miles at a time and saw floors upon floors of small homes full of vitality.  A vastly different life from the one that I know, or have experienced.   As I walked the streets I could imagine the early days of the city, almost hearing echoes of those generations past.  A very cool, yet surreal experience for this now smallish town girl.

It lead me to think about where we have come from and where we are going.  We begin as a clean slate, a foundation and our experiences create our own unique architectures. We build on our experiences to become fully constructed.  If we are lucky, we enjoy the ride, and continue to grow and maybe do a little remodeling as we go.  As I write this I think of Sid, off on her own first real travel experience alone, a school trip to DC.  I wonder what little bricks will be put into place in her foundation this week?  At least the boy is contented building his foundation out of Lego's....for the time being. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Savoring Tidbits

Life is a whirlwind, but never more-so than when an intimate group of friends get together. Especially friends who have never technically met and do so in amazing and invigorating backdrops.

Experiencing the city in this context allowed us to roam from place to place in awe, yet as would be typical of me, our meals comprised some of my favorite moments.  Whether it was dining in a community that was making the most concerted effort towards locally supplied food that I have ever seen or a dessert composed of a mind-blowing cheese platter or paper thin carpaccio or skewers of beef on the street at 3 am, the company and conversation arising from such meals are what makes memories.

It is also funny to me that as people ask me to recount the experience, I cannot seem to do so entirely.  I float from scene to scene, and then after the conversation I recall precious little tidbits that are probably the most interesting, but I guess they are mine to savor, and maybe share here as time goes on.

As I continue to digest my trip, get back into the swing of things and catch up on sleep, here are a few tidbits:

::  Wow,  I can make  it to after 2 am two days in a row!

::  Though our little town is know widely for its 'Danish' Kringle.... I found out that it is not so much        something actually found in Denmark!

::  People watching in NYC is fun, but even more so when Comic Con is in town.

::  There is something spectacular about giant laundry lines stretched across the countryside in              Amish Country.

::  Grand Central Station has the best and most expansive apple store. #eyecandy

::  You are never too old to have your caricature drawn.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Stolen Moments

I have decided that slowing down is just a figure of speech.   I have always envisioned that slowing down means reducing the calendar commitments for more idle time, but really it is more about how you view the calendar and use the time in between.  So many times the calendar can be seen as something overwhelming, the days looking so full there is little time for breath.  But really thinking about it, even if there are multiple commitments, the trick is not letting the prospect of what is next up take your breath away.  It is more about how your utilize those spare moments in between.  As I went home the other day, a route that I drive multiple times daily, I passed this tree.  I thought, oh I should take a picture of it before the leaves all drop.  Yesterday, I stopped and I did.  Slowing down is more about stolen moments consciously taken to do something that would otherwise just be a fleeting thought.

Speaking of stolen moments, they can also be the conscious effort to do something.  I am so excited to meet a couple of blogging friends this week!  I am sneaking out of town to spend 48 hours in Pennsylvania and another 36 hours in New York, the ultimate girls weekend with a couple of girls that I have 'virtually' known for many years.  I am so thankful that B will be taking over the kiddos commitments so that I can make this trip!

Happy Sunday, spend some stolen moments enjoying the fall colors that are appearing brilliantly around us!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Changing Dynamic of Apple Picking

Every year since Sidney was born we have gone apple picking.  As the kids get older, the dynamic is beginning to change, ever so slightly.  This year they each brought a friend.  We go to an orchard that is beautifully kept, and allows you to climb the trees to pick apples.

The kids all climbed and picked for a few minutes, but then the girls either sat in the trees to chat or went off for a girls do.  The boys stuck with us, and ate their way across the orchard.  Before long, they all took off for the corn maize while we picked the apples, a bushel (about 40 pounds) worth.  The price was reasonable, or at least in line with what you would pay for local/regional apples at the grocery store, and we got a couple of great baskets to boot.  Always helpful with farm harvest.

In the afternoon while I ran Charles from soccer to boy scouts, B began working on the first batch of sauce and jelly.  The absolute best thing that we did this year?  We bought an apple peeler/corer/slicer.  This simple kitchen tool allowed us to process the first half bushel in record time!  As we ladled hot jelly and sauce into jars, we did something that we have never done before.....used every single mason jar in the house!  This year we have not only utilized every mason jar that we have collected over the last seven years, but had to purchase about three dozen additional ones.  That works out to be right at 175 jars of processed garden goodness!  We have one last round to go, but as I just said, it looks like I will be buying a few more jars to finish.

With the changing dynamic of the apple picking the kids may not have picked a lot of apples with us, but they will reap the benefits.....their lunches today consisted of peanut butter and apple jelly sandwiches, and apple, and an apple streusel cookie!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Red Sky & Silver Linings

Last night was a rather long and restless night. This morning, due to a meeting, I had to leave in the dark, but that had its rewards. I was able to watch the red fire light up the sky as I drove to work. Today a red sky in the morning did not pan out to be a warning.  

Now with the day coming to a close, another spectacle dancing above a corn field as I headed to pick up Sidney from practice.   I am now ready to hunker down with the family for the evening.  The silver lining; fall light never disappoints.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Signs of Early Fall

With the equinox in just a few days, the feeling of Fall is palpable.  Though today promises to be a warm one, the early morning crispness and rustling wind are beginning to dislodge the first early leaves from their branches.

As we clear and re-work the garden methodically bed by bed, B harvested over 100 lbs of potatoes yesterday.  The beans are drying and we have already harvested our first batch for shelling.

The squash are hardening off and turning the beautiful deep colors that butternut and spaghetti squash do.

Little fall rituals commence; the house is clean, smudged, and windows flung open.  Yet most endearing, two of our six young 23 week old hens have begun to lay their first eggs, and we have one who is laying green ones!  This is especially exciting because our only other green layer is getting up there in years and only laying periodically.  I am so looking forward to this, my favorite season as it continues to transform the world around us.  What early signs of Fall are you seeing?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

#tbt Sibs

#tbt Sibs Amy & Billy circa somewhere around 1979.  It's been a VERY long week, and this made me smile!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Those Days

One of those days.  When schedules seem far too busy, work things do not go so well, and frustrations cloud your mood.  Those days, when the running seems just too much.  Those days, when you want to cut corners on dinner, but ultimately do not.  Then while on the road your breath catches and you are so glad that you have your camera close at hand.  Funny, how it is on one of those days that a moment touches you, diffuses you and allows you to exhale.


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