Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Is Here (by Rachel)

Spring has come and every flower is blooming.
The grape hyacinth is in clusters here and there,

and the wild buttercups give a sweet odor to the spring air.

Though the days can be dull and gray, the blossoms stay and do not wilt.

Picking a bouquet for the dining room table creates a beautiful scene.

A cup of tea and a book to read can make a cold, gray spring day quite pleasant.

If rain comes and stays till late afternoon, and then if the sun comes out at that time, the trees with their new leaves make the back yard look like a painting with a green light that makes it look like life has burst out all at once.

Very soon, the bleeding hearts will come and add more beauty to the front garden even though there is no evidence of it yet. Some things are not as they seem to be, like the roses; all leaves at the moment, but come summer they will be covered with white, pink, and red roses.

I love spring, because it is the time of year
when every thing has a new beginning.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Just Pottering About

I smile as I sit here with teacup at hand and my trusty computer back in my lap eager to lap up the onslaught of words spilling forth. My photo program has vanished in the melee of recent computer follies but I can adjust to that in time. (and post without a new photo treat as blogger stubbornly refuses to recognize input from my stockpile of photos -- hrmph!  All fixed now.  *smile*) For now I sing and dance with joy at the touch of familiar keys answering my every command. Simple pleasures, indeed!

In my blogging-free days of late I have wandered into so many delightful pursuits. I finished off nearly a dozen books that lay around my choice spots of repose. I also managed to order dozens more (or so it seems as my dear husband staggers through the doorway with “the mail” for the day – oh my!). I recently happened upon a sequel to Rosanna of the Amish, a favorite of mine. The original book by Yoder relays the delightful account of a young girl adopted into the Amish ways when left as a foundling among the Amish by a devastated Irish Catholic family. It reads like a sweet novel/fairytale with so much Amish flavoring for those intrigued by simpler ways and unique expressions of faith and family. The sequel by Yoder, entitled Rosanna’s Boys, should arrive any day now. I will see it come through the door, admonish myself to walk calmly toward it, and resist all temptation to cast aside the daily doings for an enraptured and furious read-thru. Bibliophiles and read-a-holic kindreds know exactly what I mean, right?

Amongst the many reading hours offered by my computer-free spate and a steady string of rainy days (the most I can ever recall in my life, it seems) I have pursued many a new project in the kitchen, like homemade ice cream from raw dairy – delicious and easily digestible by those here that lack lactase. Sourdough muffins, biscuits, and waffles graced our table often with most unexpected beauty and scrumptious taste. I keep finding ways to substitute and “play” with this gooey “sour” friend. I’ve also come near to fully replacing canned refried beans with homemade. Sadly, we must adjust our palate to the less salty flavor of these delicious and more nutritious beans as the saltiness of the familiar processed beans captured our taste buds in a grip. With the addition of a few herbs and a bit more “spice,” along with some inspiring Mexican music and a colorful table setting, I’ve brought everyone onboard with eager smiles when I announce “Taco Salad” night!

I try to make every meal a celebration with candles and music and seats for all around the family table, but sometimes the somber details of life challenge me. This past week I pulled out the “Taco Salad” trick but got little enthusiasm. The beans weren’t to blame; our hearts lay heavy as we had buried one of our precious kitties that day. Mr. Darcy will no longer frolic in the grass and pounce on us playfully; he met his demise by the bumper of a vehicle on a nearby roadway. The kitty who had never strayed far from home and obediently came in each night recently developed a sense of adolescent rebellion and began to run away to play when we closed the doors at night. Each morning the naughty but neutered cat greeted us . . . until one morning. While leaving for an errand I spotted the loveable fluff by the road side . . . and wept aloud. We buried him in a special place he loved and now he joins the list of kitties we have loved but no longer cuddle.

Life journeys on despite loss and pain . . . new beginnings spring up with each step if we can see through the tears. Of late, our gardens dance full force with daffodils, camellias, hyacinth, and so many more, with the added delight of an indoor ball springing to life in the greenhouse. The tiny broccoli seeds have proven the first to accept invite to dance. Our early starts tremble toward the sun in a warm and cozy house of green. Truly a miracle abounds at every turn. Each day more progress excites conversation. The girls squeal with delight in between working hard to clear land and lay out the lasagna beds or rearrange the potager garden for maximum yield of foods from our lands planted by our hands. Likewise the egg gathering each day spurs us toward new projects and plans for a simply wonderful life from the land. I’ve dreamed dreams galore my whole life and each new project brings greater delight thus encouraging more dreaming. I’ve infused my children with the same gift, it seems. Lately Elizabeth has begun researching the keeping of a dairy cow. From our lands; from our hands . . . the blessed journey continues.

And so I’ve prattled on and on again. It’s a wonder anyone muddles through all my circuitous rambles . . . but you do. And each one of your comments and emails warms my heart so. I am trying desperately to “catch up” with all of you now that I have a computer again, but please be patient. My new found love of blogging without obligation has blossomed with an ease in my heart that I am not wont to lose. I shall simply wander and chat with simplicity and joy, for that’s the best part of blogging – the friendly chats and deepening bonds we share.

Now I must be off to tidy the kitchen, load some laundry into the favored machine that makes the job so simple, and of course I must find a moment or two for some reading. Now where did I put that new book on the midwife among the Amish . . . or should I read the latest from my growing collection of Elizabeth Goudge . . . hmmmmm?

Happy Monday!

: D

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hello Spring!

C-R-E-A-K! goes the door lately used so little. Swirls of dust motes dance in the shafts of sunlight peeking through the lace. Stillness breaks with each footfall as I enter this slumbering blog. Time has passed . . . but I slip comfortably into the familiar wisteria-laden cottage and set the tea kettle to boiling in ready for a visit with you.

I sincerely appologize for such a long absence. It seems my last posting snuck in right before my computer contracted something nasty and locked the hard disc into a catatonic state -- bother! My husband, resident expert, discerned that a start-up code has mysteriously been changed, but he has been unable to locate the start-up discs (if you saw his mad-cap office you wouldn't ask); and so I languish without my trusty blogging companion. If the hard disc has failed entirely I will have lost so much . . . I just won't think about that now. [Tosses hair and flecks back worry.]

In the meantime . . . I sit here with a teeny-tiny netbook that has NO word processing capability; thus I must suffer through Blogger's inferior offering with NO spell check and NO proper viewing capacity. (Did I mention that this computer screen is miniscule? How irritating to be thrust from first-class to coach with no warning. And so I babble . . . )

TRA-LA! sings the tea kettle and I instantly brighten. A good hot cuppa tea should be just the fix for my whinge. Let's have white rose tea -- MMMmmmm! Perfume in a cup -- and I am sure I can find a thumbelina cookie or two amongst the leftovers from yesterday's tea with Rachel's piano teacher. Such a delight to see those two musicians happily at play on the new piano. I stopped all activity whilst they had lessons, choosing to sit in an adjacent room enjoying the spirit of adventure played upon keyboard. Such a treat!

Oh my, how my mind wanders these days. Now where did those cookies get to? A-hah! Luscious buttery cookies with a thumb-print dollop of jewel-toned jam set my mouth to watering every time. Elizabeth's delicate oven-artistry graced the tea table yesterday alongside the cream cheese and dill sandwiches she hastily substituted when she found that I had used the last cucumber and the crisper stood bare. She's a clever one! Sadly, not a one of the sandwiches remains for us to nibble upon as we chat together now.

So . . . where did we leave off the last time? Oh, yes! I was preparing to embark upon a visit to my sweet sister in North Carolina. I have gone and returned, having had such fun enjoying a Thursday-through-Monday slumber party, but it can sure take its toll! I returned home happily exhausted, looking forward to her trip out here in early May. Late night giggling and talking, games of Rummy Kub and Saygo, sumptuous dining, visits to local attractions, and lots of hugs filled our time to overflowing with joy. I never wanted it to end, and so (as usual) we began planning the next get-together before I zipped my suitcase closed for the return trip.

Returning home I found loving embraces, a tidy hearth, and SNOW! A few inches fell while I slept that first night home. Hrmph! So much for springtime fantasies. We've had to await a sunny stretch of time to assemble the green house. We waited maaaaaany days. In the wait time I polished off a few books, my favorite of the lot being Elizabeth Goudge's The Scent of Water. In between the reading and the bread baking and all the rest I did whistfully ponder blog thoughts to share with you, but my stubborn little self held out for my comfy computer. I thought about chatting enthusiastically about the fine version of Bleak House we recently viewed on DVD and then the DVD series Lark Rise to Candleford eclipsed that enthusiasm and has held it steady as we watch an episode each night, savoring the beauty and tranquility and sweetness of Flora Thompson's biographical novels come to life. We are but a mere handful of episodes into the delightful telling of country life versus town life in England on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution. Clever writing, honest living, wonderful costumes, detailed sets (I adore the shots of the well-appointed kitchens), adorable characters, and so much more of what we have come to expect from a good tale-telling from across the pond have filled that one-hour of delightful viewing when day draws to a close. Grab your family and a little nibble of something delicious and sit down to quality viewing time. [End of commercial ; D ]

Oh there I go again . . . I have a serious rambling problem these days. The sun has come out for a full week, the greenhouse has risen from a scattering of boxes and baggies, and now the seed packets and egg cartons have come out to dance. Spring has arrived today and not even the cloud covering that cloaks the heavens can stop us from celebrating. Oh wait! I see a bright shaft of sun breaking through the grey cotton thickness . . . surely we will need a spot of sunscreen after all! Oh joy!

I have a hearty bean soup a-bubble on the stove, a crusty loaf for slicing, and a variety of fruits on hand for slicing; I am free to play in the gardens ALL DAY and still lay the table with bounty at supper's time. A little planning ahead gives me leeway to play, and after this long winter's visit I eagerly embrace the springtime. Daffodils dance in the meadows, camellias burst forth later than usual but with the same aplomb, and I can no longer stay seated here inside.

The tea pot has emptied and my household has filled up with activity and bustle in celebration of SPRING! I shall be dancing away just now, but I will leave you with some pics of our latest garden project that happily carries us further along toward our goal of supplying as many of our needs as possible from our own lands and hands. I shall be smudged and sore by day's end, I am sure, but when I settle down with a cuppa tea to take in another episode of Lark Rise to Candleford I will sigh with satisfaction after welcoming Spring so aptly.

Happy Spring, Dear Friends!