Archive for We play outside.

Portland, Maine

We traveled to Portland, ME this past weekend to mark our 10th year of wedded partnership.  (we didn’t make it 10 years by glossing it over as wedded bliss) The kids were left at home as we set off on a mostly-open-ended trip.  There need be good food, good beer, good knitting.  The rest – ah, well… the rest will be gravy.  Delicious lobster gravy.

We were thoroughly satisfied on all accounts, especially with the “gravy.”

More to come.

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Stalking the great Dinosaur

Pull up a (rocking) chair and take a peek at the fantastic dinosaur museum the kids have set up on this unassuming little porch.  It’s quite a show, with all of the specimens being local.  The Dinosaur Feet, I’m sorry to say, have been vandalized by an area dog and are not included in the exhibit, but Isadora would like to redirect your attention to this fantastic jawbone.

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On Monday we pay the fiddler.

The state of our house come Monday morning tells a compelling tale of the weekend past. All of the elements accounted for – you can’t miss them – piling up around the sink, around the laundry pile, glimpsed through the windows, strewn about the yard.  Crusty soup bowls flecked with green, for instance, whisper a reminder of the sorrel soup that heralded the first harvest from the garden.  It was tangy and bright.  Vivid orange-crusted plates call to mind the yolks burst open there, a late morning Sunday brunch made by Daddio, enjoyed outside.  The pebble-size bits of soft chewed wood cemented in yolk remind us of the red-bellied woodpeckers overhead, a nesting pair that carved their home while we ate, baptizing the table and everything on it with the discarded bits of wood.  All of this from a mountain of dirty dishes.  That not a clean plate remains in the cupboard is testament to how fiercely we clung to the outdoors this weekend.

The laundry pile is full of stories, too.  A pair of denim overalls, Momma-size, lay crumpled in a heap.  Sawdust laces the pockets; there was some impromptu Chick House siding installed on Saturday.  Potting soil tumbles out of the creases of the cuffs.  And most notably, the unmistakable bouquet of newborn lamb emanates from those areas at fingertip length, where a quick motion of hand-wiping is secondhand, goes unnoticed amidst the frenetic activity.  Only the most discerning nose would pick up the milky sweetness of rich sheep colostrum, but it’s there too, worn like microscopic badges as I worked to strip a plugged teat. The tense panic of the situation was briefly abated as I found myself smack in the middle of a cliche.  Puzzling a way to help unblock Momma Ewe’s teat, I had fetched a sewing needle, cleaned it, then promptly lost it in the bedding of hay inside the lambing jug.  Searching for a needle in a haystack is just as hard as you’d imagine.  The needle remains lost.  But I laughed out loud, long and hard.

Taking stock of the weekend, it occurs to me that the needle/haystack cliche was not the only once to come to fruition.  A heady whiff of smokiness can be found strewn about in several small piles on the floor as well as from within the bedsheets and pillows, where we collapsed last night after a supremely relaxing campfire.  If you will accept gooey roasted marshmallows as evidence, I can honestly say that we wear our hearts, our life, on our sleeves.  And our pants, and jackets.  And in the case of Lucy, (the pug) we wear it smack-dab in the middle of our back, shaped in a size 3 hand print.

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Dinosaur Museum to Open

The Acres’ young archeologists have uncovered a trove of unusual dinosaur bones.  Most notable, perhaps, is the remarkably-intact pair of dinosaur feet found near the compost pile.  The collection is currently being prepared for public viewing, though the pair hopes to add even more bones to the display.  Public viewing hours to be added soon.

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Reason #198 for Heating with Wood

Go ahead and click on the pic for a closer look.

Coincidentally, (or not) this is also Reason #72 for Why Blogging Sometimes Stretches Daily Chores Out An Extra Half Hour.

Loosely related is this:

the sight of which caused The Mister to ask if I was photographing eggs today. “Nope,” I said.  “They’re on the counter arranged like that because Svejk (the pug) knocked over the pail when it was on the floor, during the mad rush of supper prep, so all I could manage was to carefully pick it up as it was and stash it on the counter out of his reach.  Good question, though,” I said.  “I did just photograph this here log.”

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Sundays are made of wood.

The last two Sundays have found us happily engaged in the task of making wood.  Bundled up in our most sturdy, warm clothes, we take to the frosty (or disappointingly not-so) air and set about moving wood.  There’s sawing and splitting, of course, but the bulk of the task involves moving it – from this pile to that, from stack to house.  There’s work for all of us here, work we do together as a family for approximately 4.5  minutes until Isadora runs off to the hay pile to stash her treasures like a crow.  Errol seems to be more of a steadfast worker, heaving the heavy-for-him pieces over the edge of the tailgate, then hollering with all his might a triumphant “I DID IT!”  Was there a Super Bowl this past Sunday?  We hadn’t noticed.  It was good stuff, this work.  Knowing that I’ve already waxed on and on about the sublime wonder of good honest work like this, I’ll just say that all of that still holds true.  The fact that Isadora’s most intensely desired gift from Santa this past year was “work bibs like my brother, mom, and dad” is the icing on the cake.  She got those bibs, of course, and the forecast for wearing them regularly looks mighty good.

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It’s a Great Horned Snow Owl, she said.

“I gave it mittens,” she added.

Indeed it is, Dear Girl.  Indeed.

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Harvesting bits where we can.

Goodness is popping up all over the place these days, and we’re harvesting what we can.  Lettuce, asparagus, nettles…and our Flower Fairy is keeping us in a steady supply of fresh-cut flowers. Nary a bloom escapes her attention – this morning’s fresh pick was iris.  I hardly noticed they’d opened before she came bursting in the house with a mitt full.

And for the first time since Be-bop-a-re-bop Rhubarb Pie became the birthday standard for Captain Daddio, we were unable to fulfill the order on time; the rhubarb was not nearly tall enough to harvest back in early May.  No matter – after a couple of weeks we celebrated with a belated, albeit just-as-delicious pie.  A pretty damn good-looking one too, if I may say.

And there was a minor border dispute between this pine snake and Capt. Daddio’s (very thick soled) boot.  How’s that for an action shot?  Pine snakes are rather benign, so don’t worry.  They’re not venomous, but have a fake sort of rattle at the tip of their tail, which makes them, to my ignorant ears, rather like-a-rattlesnake-are-you-SURE-it’s-only-a-pine-snake? scary.  That’s what alerted Daddio to the snake’s presence.  (the fake rattle, not my worried second-guessing) Unable to make a quick getaway, the snake coiled up, started the warning rattle and only resorted to striking when the aforementioned boot invaded his/her personal space.

Tuesday it is already?  Whew.  Stay tuned for all kinds of garden reporting for the rest of the week.  I’m working as hard as these overworked muscles will allow to get the rest of the garden in.  Yesterday, in honor of the unofficial start of summer, we took advantage of the unseasonably hot weather by moving ripe sheep manure from the winter pasture, where it was layered thick, to a heaping, smelly pile in close proximity to all three gardens.  Oh yes, there are 3 active gardens in the works, plus the squash bed.  The squash, I decided, was best suited to the winter pasture, with plenty of room to sprawl, and all fenced off from the scratching of chickens, to boot.  It is the same winter pasture that was, until yesterday, formerly covered in a foot of composting sheep manure and hay.  I think both of us shit-shovelers are pretty happy to see the work week arrive today, if only to get a break from the weekend.  Pardon the crassness, please.  After a sweltering day of sun + manure, this farmer’s getting a little rough around the edges.  Ahem.

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Dusk amidst the thaw

It was a steamy end to 2010. We found ourselves amidst an uncharacteristic warming on the last days of the year; the mercury soared as the snow melted and the sweat of the earth filled the atmosphere, thickening the air.  It cast the most amazing light.  Dusk brought with it a study of uplit subtlety as the setting sun cast an eerie light upon the landscape.  It was a sunset not confined to the sky but rather seemed to emanate from the pores of everything in sight.  We witnessed first an otherworldly shade of yellow-orange which stopped us in our tracks, stopped whatever everyday activity we were engaged in and brought us first to the windows and then outside, mouths agape.  Slowly, evenly, almost imperceptibly, the hue morphed into the softest shade of lavender imaginable.  It felt like velvet.  Just as slowly, the lavender gave way to a steely grey, soft and cool, and began the gentle descent into darkness.


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Fall merriment in the country

Since about the time I graduated from Sassy magazine to Martha Stewart Living, I’ve held in my mind a fantasy of holding a dinner party outdoors.  I fixated mostly on the requirement for mason jar votive candles, illuminating a beautifully-decorated dining table nestled beneath a canopy of branches.  It would be a lie to say I did not consider backyard dinner party tree potential when searching for the perfect home, and that such potential was not noted when deciding on this particular home.

Consider it a fantasy met and exceeded.  Saturday evening found us surrounded by some of our very best friends, cloaked in the exceptionally warm October evening, dining and sipping and dancing.  Square dancing, of course.  Our conversations were marked by side-splitting belly laughter and a staccato rhythm of leaves falling all around us. The food was good, the company even better. And then Zip Wilson arrived to call our dances. I think even he’d agree that we’re all pretty damn good square dancers.


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