Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Family & Farm Life

Nathan, Barbara and Sanne just left this morning after a quick weekend visit. Ellis and Owain just love their cousin Sanne, who keeps up with them like she's always lived with savage toddler boys.


I especially enjoyed this innovative piano playing style with one on treble, one on bass and one on the pedals.

Out of about 10 photos, this is the best I could get of the three of them just barely sitting still. Really, who wants to sit still when there are pianos to bang, rocks to throw and chickens to poke at?

garden helpers

Until the next reunion--we love you!

In other farm news, we officially seem to have entered fall. Today is cool and gray and the leaves are changing quickly. We finished up the last of the apples with a few final batches of applesauce this morning - still warm in the pot and ready to be canned. The tomato plants will likely bid farewell this week as well, with weather in the low 30s overnight. I have to admit, it's a bit of a relief to see the garden slowing down. But in a moment of harvest glory yesterday, I walked through the garden picking and plucking, returning to the house with a basket full of sweet peppers, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, oregano, and tomatoes for some of the best salsa we've made to date.

I started thinking about the upcoming indoor antics to be had this winter - forts and playdough with the boys, soups and crockpot goodness at mealtime, snowy days and a steaming hot tub before bed. I like to note these good blessings not because I want to portray a blissful lifestyle, but because it is these kinds of things that beautifully balance our daily stresses and decisions and difficulties. This life may be aging me prematurely, but it's richer and deeper than I ever imagined.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


We haven't retired the wheelbarrows, spades and buckets just yet, but we are getting ready to put the gardens to bed in the next few weeks after the first frosts come in the night. In the meantime, we're still looking at tomato plants keeling over in protest of the hundreds of red fruits dangling from their limbs - a happy problem, to say the least.

We have entered the beautiful, fleeting days of fall when the sky is so blue, I can hardly stand it. The flowers and vegetables and multi-colored trees pop against the sunny skies--crisp and vibrant.
Apple pressing happened last weekend - the Bolens tractor was full of apples from our "small" tree and we were able to pick from multiple neighbors' trees again this year, making for 28 gallons of very tasty cider.

Matt Plies, our September friend in residence, made his third annual trip to Lostview for much wonderful eating, drinking, laughing and all around irreverence. Ellis and Owain have gotten to celebrate their birthdays with Matt nearly every year as well, including a ruckus of a shindig with Gaga, Boompa and Great Grandma visiting for a birthday party.

Thank goodness my mom offered to make the birthday cake, because I know there's no way I could top this carrot cake masterpiece.

The boys, modeling their matching dino jams before bed - thanks, Gaga!

And thanks, Matt. We miss you already.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On the Pot

I know this is the ultimate self-indulgent-mother moment, but I had to record it for posterity. There's been a little #1 action three times today in this here tiny potty! (Notice schmutz on face, by the way.)


John Deere hats, compliments of the Minnesota State Fair!

It's the busiest time of year here and while there is so much to share, there is the least amount of time to do so. I'll take this cool, rainy morning to give a little snapshot of the work and play we've been up to for the past weeks.

The garden is in full swing. A harvest day last weekend resulted in rows of carrots and potatoes dug up and stored; apples turned to applesauce; batches of canned tomatoes; and beautiful stacks of split wood. Our first fire of the season is heating up the wood stove this morning and I just finished a bowl of hot oatmeal--the first of a long season of warm winter breakfasts. I'm looking at a picnic table covered with red romas and am thinking this cool weather is perfect for firing up the canning crock.

tomato and apple prep with Kelly and Kari

stockpiling firewood

cilantro, basil and mint out to dry

Ellis, Chris and I have been blessed with some amazing vacations together as well - a week at my family's cabin with the Nordlund clan, a week on a houseboat in Voyageurs National Park with Chris's family, and a long weekend sailing in the Apostle Islands with our friend, Peter. Life is good to us! Ellis is THIS close to swimming on his own, thanks to these trips and daily dips in the Red Cedar River. But there is little that compares to diving off a rock ledge into the vast, crystal clear 55 degree waters of Lake Superior on a hot day - it's like the Mediterranean meets the great north. Breath-taking and breathtaking.

Grete, the beautiful sailboat on Lake Superior

We are considering our future here all together - what our goals are as a family, community, and how we can collaborate with friends and neighbors to serve others. Our new friend and neighbor Don told us about his son who, years ago, was trying to decide between going to medical school and becoming a chef. In the end, he decided he'd rather keep people healthy by feeding them well and now owns three of the best restaurants in Minneapolis. I resonate with that passion and goal - wellness through food and community. We are eager to set our roots in the rich soil of these values, waiting to see just how that plays itself out.

With fall comes cider and hot cocoa and fresh soups, changing leaves, cooler days and visits from friends. More change, more adjusting, more growth.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The schizophrenia of motherhood

Here's a word-for-word transcript of a recent conversation I had with Owain in our lower garden:

Me: Do you want some raspberries?
Owain: (running toward me with his mouth and hands open) No!
Me: Yes, I do, Mama.
Owain: Yes, I do, Mama!
(various enthusiastic eating noises ensue as he stuffs his mouth)
Owain: More raspberries, Mama!
Me: More raspberries please, Mama.
Owain: More raspberries please, Mama.
(more eating noises)
Me: Thank you, Mama.
Owain: Vencou, Mama.

It occurred to me that if someone was hearing only my voice, they would assume I was having a lovely conversation with either myself or an invisible person by the name of "Mama." And quite frankly I'd be lying if I said this didn't disturb me just a little bit.