Friday, February 24, 2006

Everything's coming up ... brown.

This is the time of year in Wisconsin that is especially difficult for an Oregon transplant. Yes, our roots are getting established and all, and we've had plenty of good watering and compost, but the fact is that it's nearly MARCH, when in Portland we'd be at the beginning of that glorious tumble into candy-colored, sweet smelling cherry blossoms and sunshiney daffodils. And here, well, besides the skimpy afterthought of snow, things are plain old dead and brown. We're in that spring lagtime, when those big sticks on the hill hardly resemble trees, and the single digit temperatures in the morning hours just don't hold that winter-in-Narnia mystique anymore. Where's Aslan, darnit?

All to say that it's nearly impossible to believe that at the end of next month (hopefully) we'll be beginning our own colorful transformations (mostly of the green persuasion), and I can't wait!

Being pregnant is really the oddest thing in so many ways nobody tells you about. For one thing, your pants start to fall off, or at least the pant hems drag on the ground (this is the one time in life when a person can feel good about growing out of their pants, I suppose, so I'm trying to enjoy it while I can). Your sense of balance and being are slightly askew. Things that were easy before (hiking, stairs, sleeping) get subtly, incrementally more difficult. Peeing is always an emergency. Dizzy is normal. It's not bad - just strange. And as I type right this second, somebody is giving me the tiniest little boot in the uterus, just to the lower right of my navel. It's like having a little alien under your skin. What a bizarre delight!

I just saw March of the Penguins, and though I found the movie to be just okay (unless the animals are wearing some sort of outfits, no dice), I found the penguins' whole child rearing ritual to be fascinating. Basically, for those of you who haven't seen it, the mom lays a giant prehistoric-looking egg right in the middle of the Antarctic winter, when it's 80 below out, and then she basically volleys the egg to the dad, who for all intents and purposes shoves it up his dress (well, skin flap) and keeps it warm there while awkwardly stumbling around holding it in with his feet, during which time the mom travels 70 miles for food - for months at a time!- and then comes back to relieve the dad while he goes to eat and eventually the baby hatches when the weather is nicer (a balmier 40 below). This makes me feel a little less weird about human pregnancy, I have to confide, and oddly a little closer to penguins.

Gideon is becoming quite the log skidding pro and learning the ropes brilliantly. We had him out again yesterday, and Chris, his brother Michael and I pulled four loads in - one big fat mother of a tree was a bit of a challenge for the trusty Belgian and definitely begged some extra convincing. I've learned a few things during these exercises: snow on the ground makes for much easier pulling ("greasing up the skids" as someone might say), and for the heavier logs, momentum really is everything - don't stop if you don't have to! I'm hoping to start doing some riding soon - Colby is turning all soft and mushy. My lower back demons are rearing their ugly heads again lately and I haven't felt too great about hopping aboard, but hopefully that will resolve before I get too much bigger up front! Jay's still working on my sleigh/surrey, and Chris wants to get some sort of snow-boarding apparatus to attach to the harness, so Gideon may be more of a recreational novelty once the logging isn't such a priority.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot - I've had a few people inquire about the pasturization process I mentioned in my last blog. We've been home-pasturizing now that we're getting fresh milk from the neighbors' dairy. It's pretty simple: we heat the milk in a water bath (double broiler) until it hits 161 degrees, hold it at that temp for 20 seconds, then plunge it into a sink of icy water and stir until it reaches 50 degrees, then refrigerate. That's flash pasturization - regular takes quite a bit longer as the milk is heated to a lower temperature and held there for longer. For yogurt, since we boil the milk anyway, we are able to start out with the raw stuff. Mmmm, best yogurt ever!

Well, Becca and Ellis have been gone for a whole week and I've missed them! I'm sure Ellis will be a much bigger boy by now. They get back tonight and Jay finishes his musical this weekend, and it feels like once again we'll have the family back. I, for one, am glad.

On a different note, some movies I've seen recently and enjoyed: Hustle and Flow, Home Movie, Broken Flowers, Cinemania, Devil's Playground, All the Real Girls, Mad Hot Ballroom. Be sure to share if you have movie or book suggestions - I'm always looking for stuff to add to the Netflixx list, and reading is very big around here in the winter!

Love and tiny fetus kicks to all,


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Speechless; I can babble

I have not blogged since the celebratory notes were sent shouting our joy, excitement, nervousness and wonder at Charis' being in the family way.
I have been nervous to write - feeling like one of my students who says, "I do not know what to write." It is a bunch of bull, there are ideas and stories galor in them. They do not know where to start or feel confident enough to write; how I feel. Where do you start when nothing you write will even shed a flash of truth to how you feel: overwhelmed, jubilant, amazed, awed, terrified, giddy.
I watch Charis become more beautiful everyday. Six inches already, one day that six inches will make my laugh, cry and teach me perspective and truth. My knees do not work.

My earliest memories are playing in woods. I have memories of climbing pine trees and my palms covered in yellow, sticky sap with brown streaks on the edges, spending hours and days in undeveloped land off the suburban housing neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio riding my bike up and down motorcycle trails - thinking I was so cool wiping my butt with leaves after a poop in nature (early humanure composting), leaning off a dock with water up to my hairless armpit picking snails out of Columbus lakes, night hiking and seeing a plethara of stars and my first satelite.
The liquid in my veins dance the salsa with glee thinking about the farm with Ellis and Theolonious or Cordellia running around for hours, days, playing and creating in our woods; throwing their first axe and cutting wood, riding Colby or Giddeon on the forest trails, pooping for the first time in the basement compost, chopping garlic, eating pizza, drinking beer, playing scrabble, dancing and creating whatever joy and activities they discover and come into.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Gideon, Ellis and Wintry Acres

Hi folks! Here are a few photos to accompany our stories as of late...
Gideon skidding logs, Ellis growing into a bigger ham than the one we bought from the Beyrer's, and a taste of the not so bleak midwinter at Lostview Farm (including a trip to fetch milk at the Beyrer's dairy farm with our friend, Peter).

Monday, February 13, 2006

Waiting, waiting, waiting

Hey ho folks!

Sorry it's been so long since the last post. I haven't had too much to report so far - just waiting patiently (for the most part) for the thaw, for a few buds here and there (I'm jealous of the Portland crocuses!), to feel Thelonious wiggling around for the first time.

One very cool thing is that over the weekend while Chris' friend Pete was here, we skidded our very first tree with Gideon! He was very good, although a couple of times he spooked and took me skiing around the pasture. Other than that, he pulled that thing right along like a real trooper! I'll post some photos soon so you can see how smart my Belgian is.

Otherwise, besides the frustrations in relation to B & C's city jobs and the transportation hassle and that we miss them when they're in the cities (if you have any income-related ideas for us, we're all ears!), we're starting to settle in a bit, and I'm recovering from my winter remodeling burnout/morning sickness phase and am ready to get cracking again. One thing B and I recently did is to do some basement organization, and if you have seen our basement at any point in time in any phases of our move in, you know that this is a serious undertaking. It's not perfect yet, but at least it doesn't fall into the fire hazard category any more. We're working on getting a food pantry going with canned and dry goods organized and readily available, trying to forgo packaging as much as possible (a huge challenge) and working within a food budget. Next week we'll join the local food co-op - oh and I almost forgot - we're buying milk from Bill Beyrer now! Fresh from the morning's milking! I have to tell you, this milk is absolutely delicious, and makes the best yogurt in the WORLD. It's totally different from the beverage they call milk in the grocery store. Jay and I are pasturizing the milk at home, which is quite a process. We're looking into making cheese and butter along with other tasty dairy-related items. Very cool.

Ellis has become the BIGGEST HAM EVER. He giggles and gives me the googly eyes and grins and is pretty much hilarious in every way. He has gotten to be so much fun lately. In fact, B has had some trouble while feeding him lately because he is VERY BUSY flirting with whoever is in the room at the time. And the ceiling fan.

Alright, I think that's all the news from Lostview Farm that I can think of for now. The month of February is insane for Jay as he's playing in a musical. Tomorrow night for Valentine's Day, Mom and Dad are coming out and we're all going to one of Jay's gigs - a buffet/dance in Chippewa Falls. Our good friend Erick comes out tomorrow as well and I'm sure more progress will be made on the room in the garage. Then we go to a fundraiser spaghetti dinner at Colfax High on Thursday. One very exciting thing to report: Jay and I are going to Florida for spring break! We found insanely cheap tickets and hotel room online on the beach in the Tampa area, so we're going! I don't think we've had a real vacation since our trip to Europe in 2002. Hooray!

Love and woodland trillium carpets to all!


Thursday, February 02, 2006

One foot in the city, one foot on the farm

Really, that sums it up pretty accurately these days for me and Chris and Ellis. While on my last post I praised the freedom of working from home one day a week, and while I do still appreciate the community and productivity that comes with going back to work at the museum, it is an exhausting arrangement we've found ourselves in. Tonight the three of us head back to the city for another 5 day stay while Chris works his long weekend and I work my Mon-Tues. We've calculated that we spend 15 out of 30 days in Minneapolis. Don't get me wrong, I like being there for so many reasons. But our home is here in Colfax.

I find this conflict to be more and more present as we swiftly approach spring (swiftly on the one hand, snail's pace on the other). We have garden and landscape planning to accomplish. Then plotting and mulching and planting...maintaining and weeding and harvesting. This is the richest season of all at the farm and to think of being here only half time puts a heaviness in my heart. And mind. And body. So, we're ceaselessly thinking of what our alternative options might be. No better solutions yet.

On the other hand, it is such a joy to share Ellis with our family in Minneapolis on such a regular basis. My mom and he have got a special little thing going on Mondays and Tuesdays while I'm at work--Ellis has adjusted well, which is such a blessing.

I guess I'm just feeling the hugeness of our goals more heavily today. This is not a negative...rather I am glad to be feeling this again. When I'm so distracted by the duality of this city/farm life, I need to be reminded of the reason for it all.