Monday, June 29, 2009

....and the Kitchen Sink

We saw a great article in Mother Earth News magazine that discussed an outdoor veggie garden prep station. What a great way to save the kitchen from all of the dirt! So in a little hint of poetic irony, we have added the kitchen farm sink from our since defunked kitchen at the other house to the garden for said prep.

The garden is flourishing. As you can see the peas are just about ready for harvest! These are the blue shelling peas and we'll let those dry out on the vine so we can use them for soups this winter. I know, I know, speaking about next winter in our window of beautiful summer weather should be considered treasonous.

All of the late summer harvest plants are doing well and begining to take on some girth. Potatoes and tomatoes have started to blossom. The cucumbers, and various squash will soon be in need of trellis'. The beans (lazy housewife & yellow wax) have sent runners up to the top of our 7 foot trellis, I can's wait until we can start munching.

We're headed out of town this week on vacation, but I'm bringing the USB port to link up my camera and will see if I can post a couple of times while we're away. Sending out a big thanks in advance to Karri & Keith for working on pea harvest while we're away!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Funny

I saw this in today's 'Parade' magazine.  I couldn't resist.  Moral of the story...don't get so wrapped up in life you forget the easy stuff!!  Happy  Sunday!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Typical Saturday

This morning as we were working, I started to see our accomplishments in intervals, kind of like the interval training you do at the gym.  The snapshots in time to our typical Saturday.......

Mowing...(which is probably 4 of our 6 acres)

Picking up branches


Farm Improvments

Cool Libations, having completed all of this by noon

Having fun in the sunshine

Life is good, just a lot of work!

And now on to the afternoon......

Friday, June 26, 2009

Da 'Hawk

As parents, Brian and I made the decision early on that raising thoughtful kids who made informed decisions was very important.  That in the issues of style and appearance, we'd give them the freedom to make decisions with some basic guidance. But if they weren't harming themselves let them explore and fill in their own personalities.  

I didn't push for Sidney to get her ears pierced, nor didn't do it for her as an infant.  I simply decided when she was ready for the commitment (and pain), we'd support her in it.  She REALLY dislikes pain and when she made up her mind she could do it as a 7 1/2 year old, we supported her and made it a special event.

Charlie has wanted a full blown mohawk with colored tips since September.  Yikes, I wasn't ready for that from a then 5 year old.  Besides, we really loved the shaggy boy look that he'd grown in and it was our preference (key word our).  So it's summer, and Charlie's been dealt a crumby hand.  He had to miss the first half of the final day of Camp Invention today, which he adores.  We had 45 minutes to kill before his doctor's appointment, so we went to fulfill his part.

He got a compromise, for a 6 year old, fauxhawk.  He looks so stinking cute with it!!  It is so his little personality to a 'T' and he's thrilled.  

And so it begins, the little challenges on allowing our kids to make decisions on their appearance.  The most important decisions are the good ones they make in life.  Having a strong sense of self, right and wrong, living with joy, problem solving, interacting appropriately with their peers, and sticking up for who they are.  And we're off!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Play it Again Sam

I remember when I lived in London, my flat was between two Tube stations.  I walked slightly further to the station at Knightsbridge  just so I could see these guys.  They were fantastic!  As I recall it was called  "Busking" and seeing them play made my day every time.

Today I was reminded of this when I heard a news story on BBC International.  It was about an urban art project called Piano's On The Street.  There have been 30 piano's placed in locations throughout London and simply labeled "play me, I'm yours."  

What a phenomenal idea!  I love hearing about things like the Playing for Change Foundation and something like this idea which inspires 'average Joe's and Jane's' to play randomly in public and is wonderful!  Part of the story included a woman who sat down at one of the pianos with someone she had met the day before (who was a stranger),  outside of a Tube station, and was giving him lessons.  

What do you think?  Are you up for the ultimate Karaoke??

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Um...Do Over?

OK  I have to admit, I'm being a bit of a hypocrite.  True to my views posted in The Compromise , last Sunday Brian and I kicked Charlie off of the computer to play outside right before dinner.  Of course that is the now the infamous 10 minute interval when he broke his arm.

 He's doing well now, still scared about what happened, but much more his old, wanting to be very active, self.  In fact, just walking through Target yesterday, he had a little skip in his step, tripped and fell.  Straight down to his knees, what with no left arm (his dominant, as a lefty) to brace him.  He looked rather scared and darn it, that stung!  In that moment Brian and I looked at each other, a bit terrified.  We've got to keep this kid from being so active right now.  An elbow full of newly inserted pins can fall apart if it is landed on.  Jeez!

I thought the anxiety of the situation had subsided, and now I see a whole new level of it emerging.  I guess that's parenthood!  (Insert the snickers of parents everywhere, glad it's our turn)!

So what did we do?  We, with the help of both sets of grandparents who feel so badly for him, bought him a new Nintendo dsi and a couple of games to occupy his time.  He did have one before, but it broke about 6 months ago, which is a whole other story.  Once we got done with errands, he began to play, and play, and play.  Yes,  4 hours.  

So I've now gone completely against my previous remarks. Now, 4 hours is excessive.  But as in the song from Sound of Music "how do you take a cloud and pin it down..."  Well I guess you put the cloud in front of a DS for a while.  Isn't some more of this type of play combined with some slower paced fresh air and sunshine at the beginning of the summer the lessor evil while he heals?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If You Want The Best Jam, You've Got To Make Your Own...

I'm home with my hurt little one again today.  He had a good afternoon yesterday and helped me put the strawberries I picked in the bag.  Our first real harvest of the year yielded us 7 pints of berries!   

Then, last night he had a really tough time.  So today we're having a quiet day.  He did help me with some prep work,  pouring the sugar and lemon juice into the pot.  What are we doing?  We're listening to Michelle Shocked instruct us on jam making (you can listen too by clicking on the link).

Strawberry Jam:
3 lbs. Strawberries
1 Cup Sugar (I use super fine bakers sugar)
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice

Quarter Strawberries, bring to boil and then reduce to a medium heat and gently boil for 45 minutes.  Jar and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Peas & Peonies

We had a couple of beautiful warm days and now today I think I'm living outside of London.  It's 60 degrees and a true mist is coming down.  This cool start to summer has been heaven for our peas.  The Blue Podded Shelling peas are getting huge.  They're reaching to almost 6 feet tall and just began to bloom!  Beautiful, I can't wait to see the purple pods that they produce.  

It's amazing that here in the "great white north" my tulips have just begun to die back and all of the late spring and early summer flowers have all begun to bloom at once!  

Mild, cool growing followed by the warmth allowed some of our Peonies to burst out of their huge buds.  My first year with these flowers was last year and I'm hard pressed to find many that are as beautiful as these are.  We have burgundy and white ones and the white have a wonderful fragrance.  It's only fitting that they first bloomed on Sunday afternoon.  I took this cutting and the picture not long before Charlie fell.  I did a little research and they are named after Paeon, who studied under Aesculapius, the Greek God of medicine, who was known for healing.  I think I'll surround my little boy with these blooms while they last. 

I'm trying to think of things that Charlie will be able to participate in this summer while he's recuperating.  The 4th and fireflies seem to be synonymous words.  It seems that we always have our first fireflies the week preceding the 4th.  I hope that this year's coolness doesn't delay them.  Catching fireflies is a favorite summer activity and one that he should be able to enjoy.  What suggestions do you have to keep an active 6 year old boy with a broken arm busy?  (keeping in mind that we're indoors most of the 5 months of winter and really need our vitamin D :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

As I wind down

It's been a busy and stressful week so far, but you know, it's all good.  The challenges make us appreciate everything else right?  

I'm sitting at the computer enjoying a beautiful sunny evening and looking out onto the trees blowing in the wind.  I'm often in this spot, just to relax and observe the end of the day.  The kids are upstairs playing and I'm watching mama and papa bird at our little bird house seemingly feed some babies that have yet to emerge.  OH, Brian just spotted a doe in the yard! Overall a good way to let the stress dissipate and gain perspective.

School is winding down, so with every day the desks become emptier and we get further glimpses of school accomplishments.  Sidney and Charlie have brought home loads of artwork this week and Sid brought home her notebooks tonight.  Lots of bits of stories and pictures.  Something struck us particularly funny.  This page has the caption....Oxymoron:  Is it an ox, is it a fox, I don't think it's Goldy Locks.....and there were pictures of the ox, fox and Goldy Locks.  Very Seuss like whimsy.  

Here's to finding the whimsy in our daily lives, and enjoy, the way our kids so appreciate a great rhyme.  

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What Season is This?

It's  lazy Sunday, but I guess that's what we need this week.  The weather seems to think it's fall instead of the beginning of summer.  It's 50 degrees, windy and there is periodic rain.  As I sit here dreaming of warmer weather, I thought I should do a quick garden update.

After the final cold soccer game of the season yesterday (Charlie scored 2 goals!),  I began working on a couple of projects.   For those of you who participated in my Altruistic Giving note on Facebook, you may benefit from these labors. ;)  As part of one of these projects, I spent some time looking through photos of last years garden.  I was shocked at how far behind some items are.  Brian and I perused the garden for a little while this morning. All of the cool cloudy weather has made the cold weather crops thrive!  Lettuce, cabbage's, peas, potatoes, onions, even beans and tomatoes seem happy.  I'm a little concerned that cucumbers, squash, melons and pumpkins are very slow to emerge this year.  This time last year the plants were already fairly good sized.  This year, I'm out after every sunny day stalking the rows searching for the tell tale large squash leaves pushing through.  I've only found 3 so far.   Hopefully all this means is we'll have a later harvest for these treats. 

A bit of good news, the strawberries have begun to ripen and it looks like we will have a nice sweet crop this year!  I think I'm mere days from jam making.   ***A quick tip for berries.  If you grow them or get them from the farmers market, place them in rows on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer.  They will freeze whole beautifully.  Once their frozen put them in a freezer container, and they will be perfect for whenever you're ready to use them!  Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Split Second in Slow Motion ~ Addendum

Life is full of split second decisions.  Some of those decisions are what keep you alive.  Cycling is a huge sport here in Wisconsin, and Brian's passion.  It is never unusual to see a single or a group of cyclists on any of the roads here.  Split seconds.  In the doctors office today as we were waiting to be seen there was a very loud clock; tick, tick, tick.  Jeez how annoying!  1/2 of one of those seconds can change your life.

I say goodbye and am off to the gym.  I exit with my normal casual "ride safe" to Brian and his riding mates.  A typical lunch-time ride.  He was feeling good, pulling today for his routine group of three.  Then;  is it a glimpse, the hairs on your arm that stand on end in a sudden need for self- preservation, or the simultaneous warning cry from a friend 2 seconds behind you?  Whatever it was it was a miracle.  That thing that made Brian, brake, force a skid crash and t-bone the car that ran the stop sign instead of end up in front of it.  

From his perspective he assessed the situation, knew it was going to hurt, but knew innately, he'd survive.  From those behind it wasn't as clear, seeing the crash about to happen, hear and watch it and then brace to stop and not become a part of it or crash themselves.  All in a split second.  

Then there's me, coming out of the gym and sitting in the car to check if I have any messages.  I see  a missed call from Shane and know that they're riding.  I call back.  "Brian got hit, the ambulance is taking him to S. Milwaukee, can you get there?"  My moment.  Now in slow motion.  I process.  Ask all of the pertinent questions.  Determine if the offending motorist fled or stayed (he stayed and was cited), then try to process how to get to the new hospital he was taken to.  

Long story short.  He is fine.  Battered, hurt knee, in great spirits.  Very concerned on the state of his bike.   We're all fine.  The worst didn't happen.  It just almost happened and we all had our split seconds in slow motion to process and remember.

NOTHING is worth a split second!  Getting to any destination, no matter what your hurry, is not worth someone else's split second.   Please watch and make sure that you do not become part of someone's split second.

Addendum:  Over the years B's cycling passion has only increased.  It is not unusual for him to ride over 5000 miles a year.  As a challenge to himself, he put a large goal in front of him and six months ago began training for a ten day, 1000 mile solo ride.  He decided to couple this challenge with a group that we often work with in our business; Northcentral Maltese Rescue, and turn the ride into a fundraiser for the organization.  The planning was well under way and donations and volunteers were already lining up.

On Good Friday (3/29/13) while on a training ride, he was hit by a USPS truck who failed to yield ride of way.  The driver, not completely attentive, began a left turn on a divided highway right on top of him.  This time, there was not the same split second.  There was no real reaction time.  The driver just pulled out. 

Now, the recovery is much more lengthy.  A badly broken right hand with a battered and bruised body, have led to challenges both at home and at work.  As heartbreaking as the injuries are, further heartbreak ensued last Friday when the Ride for Rescue which we had dubbed the event was officially cancelled.  We are so very thankful that he is alive.  A split second different and the outcome could have been dramatically different.

Once again I say NOTHING is worth a split second!  Getting to any destination, no matter what your hurry, is not worth someone else's split second.   Please watch and make sure that you do not become part of someone's split second.

If you are someone else's split horrible as I imagine that is, your life goes on.  The other person's split second will bleed on for quite some time to come.


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