Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Floor Story

So, the big Marmoleum flooring project is just about over (thankgoodness) and we are pleased with the results. No more OSB or holey 25 yr old vinyl as a flooring material; whoo! That alone is exciting, but I do like the color and feel of this stuff, and there's NO smell of toxic vinyl, etc. It's long-wearing, but we've already managed to ding it while moving furniture back into place. Ah, well... at least the color goes all the way through, so it's not that noticeable. At the cost for this stuff (not cheap) we will not be replacing it any time soon (whew)!

A couple gratuitous flooring views (as clean as you'll ever see these rooms!):

Dining Room

(can you see why I didn't want to go with wood floors? We didn't install the wood walls; they are nice if a bit dark).

Things are slowing getting back to normal, with installation of the stove today so we (WF) can cook. Still a few things to reinstall, but our friend Lutsen is willing to help, so we're getting there:

We also had exciting critter news today: can you see this winter's first offering, hidden here in the hay? WF thinks it's from an older hen, who has finally finished molting. We haven't had any eggs for the past couple months, so it's exciting to see this happening again. Horray for projects proceeding!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

We managed a small, "historic" artificial tree (I purchased it years ago before realizing real trees are the best environmental choice) in the midst of our chaos this year. The stove is still not installed after the flooring projects, so we are thankful for the woodstove. More projects today, but it was a lovely holiday with some family time and safe travels amidst the snow.

It was a cozy evening; Schroeder enjoyed my lap. The belly makes a good cat pillow, for now!

Blessings to all and wishes for a wonderful new year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Room Progress

This is also a place to post some accomplishments!

(a clean if ugly slate)

The small room of big clutter, the previous “office/library” that became storage space and is designated to someday become the baby’s room…is NOW CLEAR! Completely empty. No carpet, nothing. Whew. The Marmoleum flooring installers are there now, working fast (I hope) to get the job done by tomorrow for the 4 upstairs rooms. It feels really good to be at this next step.

Of course, the living room now looks like this:

Eeek! The upheaval isn’t ideal right now (no holiday decorating/baking or even working on cards has happened this year) but we’re moving forward.

It’s probably a better time than the original install date in January in regards to my belly. I’m not feeling TOO big yet, but this belly (and baby) is definitely growing! I feel pretty good, but know I only have about 5 weeks left before the third trimester, when supposedly this new energy level drops again.

After the holidays, with new (non-toxic) flooring and ideally new (low VOC) paint, I’ll be able to focus on getting the room (and the rest of the house) ready for the new resident. Baby-to-be already has some things that need a home, and having a physical place for them in our house will help me get my mental space more ready.

I’m hoping it will be fun, rather than the usual stress that accompanies most “house” dealings for me. This house overwhelms me, sometimes, and it feels really good to be getting through some of the long-standing challenges (like flooring and clutter). Whew!

Cat Comments

Thanks again, everyone, for your thoughts on Bill the cat’s passing. I am surprised at how much I do indeed miss him; he had a certain way of really appreciating a good head-pat or chin scratch that the other two cats just don’t have. Eyes closed, head up, purr….

But fluffy Schroeder seems a bit more cuddly, meowing often to be picked up. Bill was present in the house when she was born, and he was here every moment of her whole life. It’s hard to know if she misses him, but maybe…

It’s times like this when I’m glad to have a blog; some place to post pictures of Bill-cat, a place to post thoughts…. The second anniversary of the blog passed unnoticed in November, so I know I’m beating the odds of most blog longevity!

I do sometimes feel I spend too much time aimlessly online, but it IS satisfying to have a venue to post material. It’s definitely nice to have response from the outside world. I am not great at responding to comments, etc, but I do really appreciate them!

Wanting to do a house post, now… two posts in one day. Coming right up…

Friday, December 14, 2007

Farewell to Bill

Sleek Bill-dude enjoying the yard, '05

Bill the Cat, age 18, passed from this realm today. He purred until the end, a deep, continuous throaty purr that vibrated through my whole being as I held him in his last hour. After days of not eating anything, he had a tasty bit of cheese puff (his favorite treat) and a bit of sardine today. It was a good last day, mostly limited to his favorite cat-bed. Walking was hard for him in the end.

His passing was assisted by a very kind vet who came out to our house and kissed him good-bye along with us. I am grateful for that. They have watched me nurse Bill along for quite some time. We are well known in that office, even though we made it clear from the beginning that we’d keep treatment as basic and natural as possible and Bill rarely made an appearance himself.

I’ve never had to schedule a “final vet visit” before, and struggled with that for days. But it was time to let go… and now we feel peace. He was in pain, starving to death. Now he is free. He was the first cat I really took on as my responsibility (we only met 4 years ago when I met WF), and so this was even harder. Bill welcomed me to this house and to cat “parenthood.” But this feels right in the end.

So, thank you, Billbo-bean, for your kind presence, your intent green eyes, your accurate belly-clock (feed me now!), that rumbling purr and your lessons in healing and nurturing. I never really figured out that water-splashing habit, but I’ll miss the rattle of your water dish and the ever-present puddles nearby. The hallway looks too empty without your cat-bed-enjoying presence. I will miss you so much. Farewell and blessings...

Bill on the blog...more under "Cats"
Helping to compute
Celebrity Cat
Crazy Cat lady film
Bat Cat!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cat Concern

Dear old elder Bill-cat seems to be winding down. He is still with us, purring and resting comfortably. But he has pretty much given up eating. He's still drinking water, and I can occasionally tempt him into eating a bit of homemade chicken soup or his nutritional gel. Not really enough to sustain him for long, but I get a sense that he doesn't want any extraordinary measures; maybe this is just his way of going. He's not requesting much, and does seem to be at peace overall, for now.

He's come back from so many past "down times" and has really been a practice in nurturing for me. We've been medicating for his thyroid issue for over 2 years, and lately I think it's his kidneys. I've researched and read and tried lots of things. We've done fluids, but I haven't been doing much lately- he doesn't seem to like it and was Ok without it for a long while. Right now I'm not sure what is the exact cause of the decline, but it's been a long road.

It's hard to let go, but it might be his time. I want to ease that process however possible, trying to do what's right by him and by us. Reiki seems to help; I've been doing that more lately. I have mixed emotions, which make me feel a bit guilty. We are scheduled to get new flooring in most of the upstairs next week, and the house will be in chaos. I don't want him to spend his last days all stressed by this upheaval. What to do?!?

Lots on my mind lately. I know there are larger issues in the world (and even in my world), but this wise old cat is very dear to my heart. He's a great cat friend, and has taught me much. Here's wishing for peace and wisdom in this journey...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Other People's Pants

I packed away my too-small pre-baby pants today. I’ve been wearing maternity pants for at least a few weeks now. They are liberating and comfortable (you mean my belly can have as much room as it needs? No sucking it in? Huh).

Some of the stretch panels look ridiculous, and are still too big. Some of the pants slip down and none really fit “just so.” I am wearing a mix of stuff I got from thrift stores or from friends. I now know why so many of the maternity clothes one sees in a thrift store have initials inked onto the tags, something I wondered about at first. People loan them out and pass them around before the items ultimately end up at the thrift store. I’m wearing pants regularly with my friend’s initials in them, remembering that she wants them back when I’m done with them. She’s hoping for a second baby sometime soon.

It’s an odd feeling, wearing other people’s pants. I’ve long shopped at thrift stores, and it’s not the idea of “used” pants that feels odd to me. I guess it’s the sense that I’m suddenly wearing a whole new set of pants that will be temporary. Old favorite jeans are set aside for these months in favor of “strange” pants, pants that may have seen a couple people through this temporary time. I think it’s one of the first things that’s really been a tangible reminder that things ARE changing for me, and that my life and body won’t be the same after this baby adventure.

It’s been about week since we used technology to take a peek at the “junior tummy resident” as WF likes to call him or her. I have mixed feelings about ultrasound, but both the midwife and doctor agreed that I am “big for my weeks” and asked about twins. I wanted to know, and didn’t mind having the extra little assurance that things are all in place. Things seem fine; (there is just one!) and it was nice to have a small glimpse of this new being. We do have a few pictures, but I find them a bit strange and don’t want to post them here. It was not unlike this experience, actually.

My parents are loving them (look! A little skull!) and telling everyone they have their first pictures of their new grandchild. Yes, indeed, he or she is in there, and even appeared to be giving us the peace sign (two fingers up) at one point. Wow. The world is changing, and it’s going to mean more than just changing pants!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snow wow!

I am very glad that I still have a 4WD vehicle (I think that up here we really DO need them).

This is the scene that greeted me after work today- wow. For some reason, it seems more normal to get such large amounts overnight, not during the day. It sort of snuck up on us, promised as "flurries". I've heard reports of more than a foot! The traffic was stop and go on the interstate, but people were fairly polite and calm. It only took a hour to go as far as I usually go in a half hour.

We were afraid we'd be walking down our driveway once we got home, but we live far enough away from the Lake that we hardly got anything. We'll see what morning holds!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Breaking the "UFO" Habit

The “UnFinished Object” Habit, that is (knitting lingo, y’know).

I am not a prolific knitter. I have a long-standing issue with hats; they either turn out waaay too big or too small, and if I can tell that before I finish them, I just stop. And the yarn languishes for years that way; stuck in a half-way-too-big hat. I’m not a fast knitter, either, so it just seems like too many hard-won stitches to rip them all out. It’s enough to send me running to the polarfleece!

I’m trying to get more efficient with my time and/or yarn. I have “thrifted” a bunch of rather sub-standard (acrylic from the 70’s) yarn that clutters up my space; I plan to get rid of that soon. I also buy nice yarn from time to time with the best of intentions, then don’t use it. I intend to try to use that stuff up before buying more (yarn is expensive, and I spend too much time stressing about our money future lately).

But with baby on the way, I really feel this is the time to do a bit of knitting (I know, all stereotypical and stuff). Hey, I’m just thrilled to think of SMALL sweaters and small projects that I have some hope of completing in a weekend or week or so.

So, I am pleased to announce my first finished project in a quite a long time: simple booties! These came from a free pattern available here. Organic cotton yarn, purchased long ago with vague plans of washcloths (my typical mindless knitting project).

These were very simple and quick, and good practice for the more “advanced” (for me, anyway) knitting in this lovely vintage book:

Alison at Brainy Lady was kind enough to mail it to me all the way from Montreal; I was the lucky winner in her comment contest last month. I love getting mail from afar, and this really will inspire me to do a bit more knitting. At least one of the sweaters is in "plain knitting" so it is within my skill level, I think. So, thanks,Alison- and here’s to wishing for some more, efficient knitting to come!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snowshoes and Shovels

Ah, yes, the first obligatory storm post! We did indeed get socked in by snow last night. It was really blowing by mid-day, and now we have about a foot of fairly fluffy snow. WF has finished snowblowing a path out so I can go to work tomorrow.

It is amazing to see this much so soon after last year's nearly snowless winter. We already got out the snowshoes (baby-to-be's first snowshoe!). I am surprised at how soon I was out of breath during that little adventure. I've pretty much stopped running due to the odd back/hip pain it causes (pregnancy related) but am still trying to walk. Not enough, probably... need to get out more!

The chickens refused to go out in the snow; WF reports that even the enticement of nice hay didn't get them out the door. The first hen to explore the possibility slid down the snow-covered ramp, and promptly turned around to go back in. Wimps!

This evening, we're hanging out around the fire, cooking a rooster and some historic beets on the woodstove and trying to dry this week's laundry nearby. I wish the weekend was a few days longer so I could catch up on everything here. More soon...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Car Curmudgeons

First, an update: Young Rooster (oops, there I go again with the naming thing) has been found and is OK. Apparently he and his sister headed for the weeds during the hawk incident and were too scared to show themselves for a while. WF left the chicken tractor door open and they found their way “home” sometime in the evening while we were gone. Smart chickens!

Second update: We are the proud owners of a “new” car! The ’91 Toyota is still running, but the rust issue is getting serious. A few, ah, structural problems have developed. But WF and I are both car curmudgeons, and didn’t to get anything too extravagant. I would have bought another small, efficient, sometimes-4WD wagon in a minute, but companies just don’t make them anymore. The car salesmen would just laugh at me; sales levels were too low on those models, apparently, so car companies stopped making them. Are they telling me I’m not a target demographic for the car companies? Harrumph.

So, after long discussions, dedicated online shopping by WF and a gas mileage compromise (WF still considers this as rather extravagant, but it apparently gets nearly 30 on the hwy), we have settled on this ’99 Subaru Forester. It has only 44K miles, and really was owned by a little old lady. The mechanic who inspected it kept telling me what a great car it is (I think he wanted it for himself). Ta da!

(Salty already; tsk!)

It possesses such extravagant features as:

*An overhead dome light that works
*One cup holder
*A back tailgate that locks and opens on request
*Intact wheelwells and still-attached mudflaps

Wow. We’ve been living without all that for years now; The Toyota is “pre-cupholder” and has crank windows. (It’s amazing what you just get used to. An overhead light that turns on when you open the door? Bah, that’s unnecessary!)

This car does have some crazy other luxuries like automatic windows and locks, keyless entry, and even an altimeter, thermometer and barometer (?!?!).

Our curmudgeon status is somewhat intact, however: it came with a lovely radio and tape deck (no CD player). And we’re not going to get it changed. Still stuck in the ‘90s, but I don’t care! (I’ll admit that it accepts Ipod broadcasts just as well as the ’91, our little nod to modernity.)

One more thing checked off the before-baby list, and I’m happy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Project Progress

Hope everyone had a good holiday... we enjoyed the time off work, traveled to see relatives a bit, and actually got a bit done at the house! It feels great to finally start checking things off the list, small though they are (and long is the list).

Behold, the first use of the splendid laundry line:

I've actually lived for 3 years in this house with no dryer and no laundry line; sheer madness, I tell you. I've been using stand-up wooden racks and the deck railing. I'm excited to have a function line now, even if the only poles we could find at the "dump" were these smaller modern models, not the big old sturdy welded variety. But I'm definitely to the point of saying "good enough" about a few long-delayed projects, and I think these are wonderful. Of course, it was about 30 degrees yesterday, and stuff didn't dry until I brought it into the house in front of the woodstove. Ah, well, the main reason I needed them before ground freeze/next spring is diaper duty in the spring. Eeeep!

We are also close to selecting our final flooring material, tile for the living room. The Marmoleum is actually arriving sooner than expected; a quick process of clearing out rooms will soon commence. But very good motivation.

Lutsen thinks this color choice goes best with her fur; what do you think?

We even got to see some sun yesterday and had a visitor on the deck (off limits to chickens, but they sneak up the steps). This is the young rooster, who went missing today after a visit by a hawk. We are not sure of his fate yet; keep your fingers crossed!

Up next; some good car and knitting news...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Update numbers

So, just to catch up on a few things, I present a list:

1. We shared the first young rooster (as dinner) with friends the other night, and it was quite amazing. Like a mini-turkey, WF said. Up till now, we've only eaten old roosters or old laying hens, which are OK in a pressure cooker. But this younger bird was really good. Makes me understand why people raise meat birds. I'm still not sure if I want to butcher more chickens, but I did certainly enjoy eating this one!

2. I am finally starting to pull out some knitting needles again, with ideas of baby knitting (!). Anyone got any favorite quick and easy patterns? I'm somewhat confounded on how to make my stashed odds and ends of yarn match up with gauges and certain yarns called for in patterns. I like to say that I showed great promise as a new knitter, but have not following it through with action. Now is the window for some good practice, if I can keep it up.

3. I do believe I am feeling the baby kick these days. Just little taps, almost feeling like an eyelid twitch kind of "bump". I always thought feeling the first movement would be a big, momentous event, but I realize now that it sneaks up on you before you really realize what it is... "Was that really it, or just bubbles?" But I think i can confidently say there's movement now! Wow! Because it's snuck up on me a bit, it doesn't feel as weird as I expected. I know in a few months I will be feeling quite enough of the kicking, thank you, but it IS comforting and exciting now. I feel really quite good, no more losing my meals and even a bit more energy this trimester. Now to put that energy to good use...

4. House projects are moving slowly, but we finally put a deposit down on some Marmoleum (real, true linoleum made of linseed oil and non-toxic stuff) for the kitch and bedrooms. We debated this purchase for YEARS, but it's really time to get the icky OSB floor covered. Marmoleum isn't cheap, but it is the best choice for us. We're looking at stone tile for the living room and dining room. We need non-toxic, durable, non-allergy/cat-absorbing kind of stuff. I will feel SO MUCH BETTER about this place once we have a "real" floor that I can properly clean. But I'm overwhelmed by the idea of moving EVERYTHING in our main level for this project; expect some whining here, perhaps!

OK, that's it for now. My paper journal languishes a bit; brain dump had to happen somewhere, I guess. More creativity next time, perhaps!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Food Reality

So, is it strange to be saving bits of carrot and celery ("chicken treats") for the living chickens OUTSIDE while preparing the veggies to be cooked with a "processed" former member of the flock, now INSIDE the pressure cooker?

Hmmm... cycles one does not experience with store-bought chicken.

We are finally DONE with butchering for the year, thank goodness. WF did most of it; I claim queasiness of pregnancy as a "get out of butchering free" card. Some good eating now, giving thanks for the young roosters who became dinner.

We had a bad ratio this year; 7 of the 8 cute spring chicks were roosters. One remains as a back-up to "New Rooster", who has proven to be fairly skittish and not all that interested in the "ladies" yet. The hens probably appreciate the break, but this won't give us more chicks in the spring! We'll see...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

First Snow!

I sense the time for deck furniture is coming to an end for this year. This is our first snow, one that lasted all night and stayed on grass. Quite a bit later than last year... wonder what the season will hold for us this year!? Check out the "weather" category on the sidebar for a review of last year's winter craziness.

Driving in to work today, it was actually light out. It truly feels like winter now with the cold and early evening dark, but I appreciate the lighter mornings. SUN!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Still here and green

A fall harvest; love those sturdy greens!

Ack, sorry for the delay! We are still here, just rather busy per usual. I spent a few 12-hour days at this event this week, and am a bit wiped out. But feeling good, all things considered, even if this morning I did have my first true "green-face" moment and lost my breakfast. That's NOT supposed to happen in the second trimester! Ah, well, all part of the adventure, right?

The chicken butchering event went fine, but I still feel a bit sad about the two older roosters. They are no longer, just filling up quite an amazing bit of space in the tiny freezer. We even had to get some neighbors to help store a couple birds for us, due to off-grid freezer limitations. We've only eaten hens so far, so I can't say if the roosters will be edible or not. Pressure cookers can really help a tough old bird, though.

We had a couple friends come to help, including one very enthusiastic 6 year old girl; she wanted to see everything! Until it came time to butcher some young roosters that she'd known as cute chicks; then it wasn't quite so interesting. But her vegetarian mom stayed with it and even helped pluck; she now feels she's earned the right to eat meat again if she ever wants to.

Not much else is new; the house still needs much work on MANY MANY projects, I still need to figure out my schedule so that I'm actually HOME a few hours a week, and the 3 small fluffy beings we share the house with say purrrrr...

They had very convincing cat costumes the other night, and were our only trick-or-treat-ers (our driveway is very long and dark). With them I really DO believe the trick or treat threat, especially at 4:30 am. Give me food now, or I'll walk on your head! Purrrrr.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Two Notes

Yes, indeed, we are still here. I have two varied laments, today.

I checked my blog traffic stats, and noticed that much of my traffic still comes from words like “largest rooster.” That has been a consistent way to find my blog for a long time. The main reason is likely that our largest, oldest “patriarch” rooster does not have a name and goes by “Big Rooster” or “Largest Rooster” fairly often on this site. Here and Here. We didn’t want to name him and get attached, you know?

Well, didn’t entirely work. This weekend is slated as butchering weekend, and we’re afraid the big rooster has to go. He’s now related to every hen on the property, either as brother, father or grandfather. Chickens do not distinguish relatives while looking for action, if you know what I mean. We’re getting worried about inbreeding. It’s hard to find a home for an old rooster, even if he IS calm and trustworthy. He’s got HUGE spurs and a weatherbeaten comb. He’s kind of stocky for a buff orpington, not necessarily show stock. He almost died from mysterious respiratory distress a year ago, but WF nursed him back to health. He was raised by us (not by chickens) in our first batch of mail-order chicks. He’s still firmly “in charge”, reigning over all the hens and his one remaining rooster offspring, who might also have to go due to the inbreeding issue. Sigh...

WF is trying to be very stoic about this, but I am NOT looking forward to this weekend. Also on the list are 5 young roosters from this year’s batch and some of the oldest, barebacked hens. WF has already gotten a new Buff Orp rooster from another farm, all set to be the new leader. I’m a bit apprehensive about that; not knowing it’s personality, etc. We’ll have a small person on the place to interact with this new rooster someday, and I want to be able to trust it. We’ll see…

This is definitely the downfall of chicken-keeping. I suppose some people keep related roosters when they don’t care about breeding, but WF is committed to a self-sustaining flock with the help of broody hens. I’m in a stage right now where I’m all about creating new life, etc, so it’s hard to think that at least in the chicken realm, that involves some unpleasant, not-new-life tasks. Ugh. I will see how much help I can be, but am not feeling quite as “strong, rural, self-sufficient woman” about this right now. We will likely have help from another new-to-butchering chicken keeping friend, so that will help.

My other lament is MUCH more frivolous. I still also get hits from the phrase “flippy hairstyle” quite often, a legacy of my first-haircut-in-years posting last year. Following my normal trend of completely absent-minded personal fashion, I have not gotten a haircut since. I finally decided it was time, and was told that the tolerable “flippy-hairstyle” creator just retired. I gamely took an appointment with her replacement yesterday. 1.5 hours (!) and $35 (!) later, I have a slightly odd haircut that is NOT flippy, nearly too short to fit in a ponytail (ponytail ability= #1 criteria for my hair right now) and still smelling weirdly of goop, even after being washed. She left me sitting with wet hair for a half hour while she did someone else’s color. Sigh…At least she claimed to know someone else with hair like mine, so we didn’t have to do the “omigosh this texture is so bizarre” routine that I usually have to go through with new people. I HATE getting my hair cut, and this didn’t help my dislike. Ah, well, maybe I can put it off for another full year, again!

So, there. Death and haircuts, all in one post. Enjoy..?

Friday, October 05, 2007


Have you ever had a meal where you felt like you truly DOVE IN, were fully one with the food, completely engrossed? And when it was over, you simply felt completely nourished?

I have had many such meals lately. A bowl of French onion soup. A Cajun chicken foccaccia sandwich. A Middle Eastern platter from the local diner. A hummus/kale wrap. I can’t say they were necessarily gourmet, and sometimes I didn’t even suspect how much I would simple become LOST in their lusciousness. But this pregnancy thing is making me ravenous in a way I don’t recall being ever before. I am HUNGRY!

I’m grateful that each meal has stayed with me, helped nourish this baby. The cravings have been minimal, and lately most things do sound edible to me. I am struggling with eggs in any form, which seems odd since they are a healthy, local protein that I should embrace. But who knows the ways of the belly...

Don’t worry, there will be SOME regular homesteady posts one of these days. I’m completing a huge work event tomorrow (busybusytiredstressedbusybusy) and I was surprised this non-sanctioned writing even came out. But hey, you can be busy and HUNGRY at the same time very easily…

Friday, September 28, 2007


Thanks, all, for the congrats! I can't get into my comments at work lately, so couldn't answer during the majority of my computer time. Things are going well, just trying to figure out how to find more energy. This baby-growing business can be tiring! 12 hours of sleep two nights in a row seem like they SHOULD be enough, but somehow were not until the 3rd night. Whew.

I have pictures of harvest and other historic shots to share, perhaps this weekend. Dashing off to work!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I’m back!

It has been an exciting month or so. About 3 weeks ago, I received an email from my mother that contained 64 (happy) exclamation points. Really- I counted. She IS given to plenty of such punctuation on a normal day, but this was over the top!!

So, what do you suppose has caused such excitement? I simply shared the news contained in these little items…

Yes, indeed!! For those of you not immersed in the baby world, those are positive pregnancy tests (2, just to be sure). There is a bun in the oven, due in April ’08. I am only about 8 weeks along, so it’s early and all that… but I am choosing to embrace this early time and share the news with people now- online and in “real life”. Positive energy and wishes from others seems helpful, rather than pretending nothing is going on for the first 3 months. I have actually been feeling pretty good, just more tired and hungry!

I’m not sure how this blog will evolve, but I must say I’ve been too distracted by internal events to find motivation to post about garden produce, etc. I’d like to keep a mix of material here… I’m doing some more paper journaling with pregnancy stuff, so probably won’t be tempted to assault readers with too much information. Now that the big announcement is out, perhaps I’ll feel more able to post about today’s potato harvest, etc.

We are definitely excited at the news, but feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done before welcoming a new little person into our lives (and our currently cluttered home!). I’ve been very busy at work again, coordinating a new project that kicks off in a couple weeks. It feels like there is MUCH on my shoulders and I’m just hoping for enough energy and resolve to get through everything in the next 7 months. We DO have good motivation!

So, more later, and more “regular programming” as well. I’ve enjoyed this blog as a phenology/garden journal stand-in, so I’ll try to keep that up as well. Perhaps also a way to document some house projects and changes. As I grow, I hope that our clutter shrinks, helping me to feel more comfortable in this house. Blessed be, there is much ahead!

Monday, September 10, 2007


Yes, indeed, still here. Just BUUSSYYYYYYY. With many, many things. Such things, that when I finally reveal details here, you will be astounded. Most likely. Or perhaps I will remain BUSY and decide some things are not post-able. We'll see. This blog is full of suspense and intrigue! Or something like that.

I hope you are all well out there and enjoying the start of fall (eep!)

Stay tuned....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beautiful Birthday

I couldn't have asked for a better birthday adventure than today. Amazing weather, kayaking buddies and one of my favorite places on earth.

Raspberry Island, Lake Superior; a fine place to celebrate turning 35! Thanks, Susan and Ray! (And Corny, the kayaking dog!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back from the Island

Ahh... We managed to get away again for another short adventure. Can you guess where we landed?

White-ish sand beaches? Check. Crystal clear water? Check. Exotic island location? Check. Tropical palm trees... wait, nope. Just white pines and cedar! Yes, indeed, this is Lake Superior. We went to Stockton Island, part of the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin.

I grew up in Minnesota and had never heard of this place until I was offered a job there. I had the good fortune to spend part of a summer on this island, way back in the "good old days" when the Park Service had some healthy funding. In my day, there were at least 4 staff people on this one big island. Now, there is usually just one interp Ranger and perhaps a volunteer- yikes! I am still in touch with some of the other staff from my time there; it would be a totally different experience alone.

I haven't been back in years: it's a hard place to get to if you don't have your own boat. I was entirely entertained, however, to find that a picture of my very young Ranger self is still part of the trail guide- some history does endure!

The weather for this trip was spectacular, with very few bugs. It's been very dry, so that might have wiped out some of the bugs. The blueberries were plentiful, but the lack of rain has made them small and even crunchy; very odd. Many other plants had not set fruit this year. But otherwise, the island was much the same as I remember it. We swam, we hiked, we read, we ruminated and then shared a campfire with some friends from town who just happened to be there at the same time. It was lovely.

It's now raining at home; welcome precipitation that very politely waiting for us to return and even catch up on a bit of laundry first. Blessed be!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Oh, Deer.

This is a picture of our front door, taken a couple weeks ago when the cucumber vines were "small." We do not plant many ornamentals around here; it's usually pretty utilitarian, but beautiful nonetheless.

So, what does such a door say to you? Welcome? Gardeners live here?

Apparently, to the neighborhood deer, it says something entirely different:

The cucumber vine, which has gotten much loving attention and was producing many cucumbers, is now about half the size it was this morning. It's too dark (and disheartening) to take a picture now. Suffice it to say, cucumbers are missing.

I do beseech the damn deer: WHY eat prickly cucumber vines and tomato greenery (green tomatos included?) WHY graze so close to our house when there's tons of other green stuff to eat out there? WHY?

The deer have no comment thus far.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thrifty Bloggers!

Ohmygoodness! A celebrity blogger sighting! In a thrift store, rather far from home. What are the odds of that!? It was Deb from Sand Creek Almanac! She's already written it up here (she's usually a bit more speedy on posts than me) and now I feel all celebrity-like, too! Hehe...

I suppose the thrift store part doesn't surprise me; many of us in this little homestead/nature midwest blog world love a good thrift store. Deb found a great aquarium for the kids. I made some good scores: a few books and a cast iron corncake pan. At least one booklet will be making a blog appearance later!

I do love a good thrift store. That might surprise my mother, who had to drag me to such shops years ago as a mortified teenager. Really, Mother! How embarrassing! Now, most of my clothes are from thrift stores (or at least from a big clearance sale at a "regular" store). More variety and less environmental impact that way!

But this blogger meeting location WAS quite random, as Deb explained. Just completely right timing and unusual circumstances. I am NEVER in that town on a weekday, but happened to driving home from a very rare meeting in the Twin Cities. I throught about visiting the museum briefly (remember, history nerd) as a little "lunch" break, but felt pulled to the thrift store instead. I've been there a few times while driving through town and found some nice things.

After driving by the museum, I thought to myself: I'll check the thrift store first. Maybe something exciting will happen there, and I don't want to use up all my limited time at the museum. Well, intuition turned out to be right. This fellow shopper looked so "familiar" (from the new pictures, I guess) that I couldn't resist asking if she was Deb!

Great to meet you Deb, and I hope we can catch up sometime later when we both have more time. I had to hit the road and get back to work. And so it goes...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Time Travel

Ah, yes. That's right. It is 2007 and there is the blog thing to update. Sorry, I was back in 1912 for a little bit.

It's a lovely place; nice to visit but I'm not sure I'd like to live there. The corset and lack of voting rights would have done me in. But to live at a Lighthouse; that would be nice. I actually have lived at a lighthouse (in '95 and '97; seasonal NPS jobs). Perhaps that's why I love to go back and portray a keeper's wife from time to time at our local Marine Museum. They appreciate the free interpretation, and I get to tell the stories again.

The 2007 homefront is fine; still dealing with some cat poop issues and chasing the chickens off the deck so they don't spread poop there. I swear, I never thought my rural life would involve quite so much poop.

The non-poopy gardens (fenced for exclusion of deer, chickens AND cats) are producing tons of cucumbers. We even cooked some in a mixed saute; it was quite tasty. We're getting creative! I do wish I had more time to be home; I'm scheduled to be in town most nights this week. I appreciate my freedom to work (and vote!) in 2007, but sometimes long for the opportunity to try the traditional homemaker role, too. Perhaps someday?

Monday, August 06, 2007


We're finally reaching the time for harvest of actual PRODUCE around here. We've had wonderful greens for months now. I haven't purchased lettuce or kale since May, all praise the absent groundsquirrels!

I really love growing greens, because the whole darn plant is edible; no wasted effort on inedible stalks, etc. Sometimes tomatoes and other plants seems like such a waste of good biomass! But I must admit that picking the first ripe tomatoes or zucchini has the thrill of an actual, hardwon product; it's SOMETHING. We've been gathering a few peas, small tomatoes and even cucumbers from a climbing plant that wants to take over our entire doorstep. It's great!

And so, the other day, I realized that even if I'm not participating in the One Local Summer project (just no time to plan and document my less-than-inspiring local meals), I DO have something local to show. May I present to you: TWO LOCAL SALADS!

Tada! A selection of fresh greens, veggies and even eggs, all collected that very day on our own property. Yes, the harvest is sweet! More to come...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Chick herd

Chickens enjoy summer watermelon, too!

We ARE still thoroughly outnumbered by chickens around here. The young'uns are doing well; they are about month old now. All 8 are still with us, after a small scare that we'd lost one. This momma hen is doing a good job, and isn't ready to bolt just yet. I gave her a tasty watermelon rind yesterday, and even though she ate MOST of it herself, she did still think to drop some sample bits to the chicks. They had not yet figured out the rind was safe to peck.

WF's afraid that 5 of the 8 might be roosters, but I think it's too early to tell. They do seem to be growing up awfully fast, but that's good. They've mixed with the whole flock for a bit and things have been OK so far.

Older chickens are doing well, with some over-roosterage symptoms beginning. We probably need to get tough pretty soon and, ah, process one or both of the roosters, but there's a bit of emotional resistance to that. It's hard when they're so much more "individual" than the hens. We've got saddles on some of the "favorite" hens, but one still got a big gash in her side last week, likely from elder rooster's spurs. Yikes. She is recovering OK. I still do trust him around people.

A hen DID peck my toes the other day, but that's just because I got a little crazy and painted my toenails for the wedding (first time in YEARS). Gotta be careful with this primping: it apparently makes me look more edible!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Travel Tidbits

OK, let’s see… it’s been a while, and this naturey/homesteady blog has certainly been trending toward travel reports lately. But that’s what feels worthy of posting right now, so here goes one more! Next post will be more chicken-centric, I suspect.

Trip tidbits and thoughts:

We drove down to Winona (without air conditioning) in rather record heat last Thursday. Traveled over the now-famous tragic 35W bridge. Thankfully, all was stable while we were there, but it’s odd to have so consciously noticed the construction project that later was so much in the news. I’m not in that area very often anymore; hard to fathom such an event.

We had a lovely rehearsal dinner Friday night at a country club (!) and stayed in the air-conditioned Holiday Inn. I experienced TV for a couple hours; very weird. WF hid under the covers. I’m often surprised at how much I DO recognize in my once-a-year or so visits to TV-land, but this time it didn’t feel as familiar. Just a totally different world!

The next day was a hot one, but we were able to visit some museums and experience a bit of Winona. We’re such history nerds. I was excited to breeze through the Watkins museum; not because I use their stuff, but to glimpse some everyday, ephemeral products from long ago. It’s not the normal stuff you see in museums. And sad to think back to the day when being female needed a “remedy”, probably containing toxic/scary compounds to boot! I’m going back to 1912 for a couple days pretty soon; Lighthouse Days, you know. I don’t think my character would have used the Female Remedy, but you never know!

The wedding (of WF’s kindergarten and after-college friend and the best man at OUR wedding) was a very nice event. WF’s parents were there as well, and we had a good visit. Great local food at the reception, too! The only sad part is that the new couple have already moved to Korea, and not sure when we’ll see them again. She’s been teaching there for the past year, and had a local tailor make her dress. I never thought I would be interested in wedding dresses, but ever since our wedding and my history costume forays, I notice (and admire) such things. Lovely, eh?

The next day we got up early, traveled up the Mississippi (sadly, by car and in a rush) to get me back to Edina for a Reiki class. It wasn’t lightning-bolt material for me, but I’m intrigued by the concept and hope to pursue it more. We are all healers in some way; we just need to remember our own power. Maybe more details on that later…

Then, continuing the whirlwind, we headed into Wisconsin to visit some friends who moved to a rolling piece of raw land this spring. They are living in a tent with a 3.5 yr old and a dog. They were pouring footings for a new sauna/cabin right before we got there. Ah, the TRUE homestead life! I envy the “simple” life and hands-on projects, but they are also very tough, adventurous people; cooking and living outdoors in the heat and bugs every day. A different world, as well! When I was younger, I thought I’d find myself in a life like that someday, but now I feel rather old and cubicle-bound, so who knows? It’s enough for me just to keep up with our currently-built house and the never-ending projects that go along with that. But fun to visit and tent out for a while.

Finally home last Sunday, to a nice, HOT house and unfortunately an elderly cat with issues. Bill-dude really seemed to be going downhill, and I had to talk to the vet this past week about a possible final visit (gulp). I’m trying to be tuned in to his needs and respect that it might be his time to go; he IS after all, nearly 18 and has health issues. But after all that dire talk, he started getting better on about Wednesday, and today I had to shoo him off the counter! Friends who planned to come pay their respects found him running to greet them yesterday, so it’s not just me who thinks he’s better. So, Mr. Bill is on his 20th life or something of the sort. We’ll see where this goes; always an adventure!

OK, now I feel caught up. It really was a nice trip to lots of different worlds. It’s always hard to get OUT of the house and make sure the housesitter, cats and chickens have everything they need. I was short on sleep and about ready to swear off the whole travel thing before we left, but it was worth it. Now I’m trying to motivate myself for some decluttering or other projects this weekend; wish me luck! Oh, and yes, more chicken content coming up!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fun Travels

A wedding, a homestead and Reiki, oh my! Mississippi River, St. Croix River and Lake Superior. Friends, family and now some faintly furious fluffy beings greet us here at home. It's been a fun, full 4-day weekend on the road. We're back; more soon!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Greens = Gorgeous

I love having a good variety of greens in a garden. I think even the color and texture of humble chard is stunning! I usually just steam it and eat it plain; we’re simple foodies around here. We’re getting a few good kale plants to add to the steamed mix, plus a bit of tatsoi, arugula and some mustard greens. Why is it that hot, spicy things grow best and fastest in my gardens?

The new raised bed garden is doing very well. Remember when I got excited about this? It’s much more impressive now. I am no good at thinning, but I am trying to strike a balance between pinching out leaf lettuce from crowded plants and letting a few make big heads.

I wonder what it is about thinning that bugs me? I think I’m fairly conservative in the garden; ie don’t want to take something before it’s time, don’t want to cut all of a certain plant; want to save some for later. Then it may get eaten by critters or go bitter, but gosh darnit, I still have some left! Maybe it’s a fear of scarcity and pruning back too severely. I dunno... but it probably applies to my house clutter, too. Hmmm. Maybe even my head- too much stuff in here, things I should just let go so there's more room for the good stuff to grow. Ah, lessons from the garden.

(Lutsen considers becoming an herbivore)

But for now, I’m doing my best to keep up with this patch of abundant greens and enjoying the lush salads and nutritious steamed greens. I can FEEL those nutrients working!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Big Dude

In the town of the Woodtick Jamboree, they also have a REALLY BIG lumberjack (Paul Bunyan, for you out-of-staters)! Hey, maybe the tick in the last post had been around him?

Anyway, he was friendly and patient and helped us pose...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


We went on a little journey last weekend, an actual overnight adventure that required chicken-sitters (Of course our life revolves around chickens; doesn’t yours?!).

We went to the Woodtick Musical Jamboree! (You know if it’s endorsed by a smiling woodtick, it’s got to be good, eh? I appreciated the anatomical correctness, at least in regards to legs.)

Inside, there were even MORE woodticks! (Think repurposed toilet seat for scale. Again, correct number of legs! It’s always bugged (ha!) me when spider decorations have 6 legs or 10 legs or whatever. They’re arachnids, people. 8 LEGS!)

We were not there to see giant woodtick renderings, however. Nope. We were there to see the miracle reunion performance of a fun Mostly Irish band!

They had a really great, witty banjo player. He also happens to be my Dad. Great job to all, and may you continue to make music for a long time!