27 February 2009

The wonderful adventures of Nils...

As I mentioned yesterday, jack and I have been reading all about Nils Wonderful Adventures. I was deeply touched by this passage last night --it strikes me as so simply beautiful that I wanted to share it with you all.

"Just as the first spring-showers pattered against the ground, there arose such shouts of joy from all the small birds in groves and pastures, that the whole air rang with them and the boy leaped high where he sat. "Now we'll have rain. Rain gives us spring; spring gives us flowers and green leaves; green leaves and flowers give us worms and
insects; worms and insects give us food; and plentiful and good food is the best thing there is," sang the birds.

The wild geese, too, were glad of the rain which came to awaken the growing things from their long sleep, and to drive holes in the ice-roofs on the lakes. They were not able to keep up that seriousness any longer, but began to send merry calls over the neighbourhood.

When they flew over the big potato patches, which are so plentiful in the country around Christianstad--and which still lay bare and black--they screamed: "Wake up and be useful! Here comes something that will awaken you. You have idled long enough now."

When they saw people who hurried to get out of the rain, they reproved them saying: "What are you in such a hurry about? Can't you see that it's raining rye-loaves and cookies?"

It was a big, thick mist that moved northward briskly, and followed close upon the geese. They seemed to think that they dragged the mist along with them; and, just now, when they saw great orchards beneath them, they called out proudly: "Here we come with anemones; here we come with roses; here we come with apple blossoms and cherry buds; here we come with peas and beans and turnips and cabbages. He who wills can take
them. He who wills can take them."

Isn't that lovely? Doesn't it just bring spring alive?

27 February 2009: update

Things haven't really slowed down much...long work hours mean less time to blog, to answer e-mail, and ... well, less time for everything.
That said, I am quite enjoying work. There is lots to do and it all feels useful, if not rivetingly interesting.

Things are going well here at home, too. Rod and Jack are enjoying their choirs, Rod has gotten the piano repaired and tuned. Of course, there is evidence that this is the first time since it was built that the piano has been tuned, so getting it to stay tuned has been an ongoing effort.

Jack has reached a new level with his awareness and maturity. When TJ and Corey were little, I kept thinking that the change *must* have been gradual and that I just missed it and that's why it seemed that every development came on full blown. With Jack, I am less focused on my own crises and I realize that while there are a few earlier hints that it's coming, these developmental changes often *do* turn on like a light-switch has been flipped. Of course, recognizing them is easier than explaining them.

I guess the best way to explain it is that with each leap, there is a new depth to the questions and a new sophistication in his understanding of the explanation. Oh, and I am seeing serious improvement in his manual dexterity. I commented last night as we stamped pictured for our Ostara cards that he was getting quite good at getting the stamp to come out, and he commented that "Yes, that's why I like it so much now" It's easier".

We are reading Selma Lagerlof's "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils". It was coincidental that I found it at Value World for 40 cents and that Jack picked it just now, as we agreed that the "Seven Little Australians" was perhaps "too challenging for five and three quarters" ...and as we are preparing to go to Sweden. It starts in Skane, where we will be staying, so I am wondering if there is any chance we can visit a few of the places Nils does...and perhaps get a map of Sweden to follow his adventures when we get home.

Yikes! Late again -- I'm not giving up, I promise. Eventually life will attain a "new normal" and I will have the time and intellectual energy to visit here again...

21 February 2009

One more thing to adore...

Rod is the kind of guy I admire. Actually, I wish in some ways that I were more like him.

He's the kind of guy who rather than say "I can't", figures out how.

As an example, rather than giving up when we discovered that no piano tuner would touch our Eavestaff Pianette, he took a year, researched everything he could find out about piano tuning, and then went a step further and learned how to *repair* the piano as well.

The piano is now strewn all over the parlour as he works on fixing the broken "G" key, and he has already determined that he can, indeed, tune the piano. He tuned one octave to his satisfaction before he decided to pull everything apart and really get the job done.

He's not fast. He is, however, thorough. When he declares it done, it will be as close to perfect as it can be. That has suddenly become important as we have discovered that Jack is serious about music. (Well, as serious as an almost six year old is about anything.) It frustrated him that no matter what he did, the piano was in suh poor tune that he couldn't reproduce what he heard on his Suzuki CDs, so he stopped playing -- but he continues to try to make music on everything he can get his hands on, so Rod got serious.

I am still not sure where this love for music comes from -- but if i can keep from getting in his way, I am all for that!

Midnight? How did that happen? I am off to bed.

15 February 2009

Oh ...

...and a most blessed Lupercalia to you, if you celebrate it.

We did, with a wonderful feast with dear friends.

Cold again ...

After just a taste of spring, winter has returned to visit us once again. It's in a reasonably mild mood at the moment, the temperatures have returned to just below freezing and we had a little snow yesterday and a little more today.
The taste of spring has me thinking about gardening, but of course with a trip to see my Big Kids coming up, I can't plant just yet, so I can't say I mind the cold coming back for a little longer.

It's been a relaxing weekend -- we have had dinner with friends both nights, and I got the laundry and tidying up brought up to "no longer code red" if not entirely brought under control. Jack had his first children's choir practice and seemed to enjoy it a great deal, and he and I have been working on the time line which I have enjoyed immensely.

I have read a bit in my current library book -- Lynne Rosetto Kasper's "How to Eat Supper". I'm enjoying it immensely -- it reads like a series of long magazine articles...or conversations over a cup of coffee, but with recipes!

Rod also bought me a copy of Ari Weinzweig's Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating, for Valentines day. I am also looking forward to my chance to read that! The cookbook bug seems to have hit rather broadly, though. When we were at Penzey's, John decided to buy a copy of their cookbook. It looks pretty good, but I have enough on my stack right now, so I asked him to share any great tips he gleans or any fabulous recipes.

Gina, you asked about making my own cosmetics. I will be happy to chat with you about it, but you have to first understand that my needs are pretty basic. I have never been a big fan of make-up, though I do wear it occasionally. Mostly I need clean hair, clean skin, and something to keep the winter itchies at bay. ;)

I mentioned vinegar as the world's greatest shampoo. That may be a bit of an overstatement. I haven't given up shampoo *entirely*; I still use it every few months.

I am a recovering shampoo addict. I was a two-lathers a day, every day, for decades and when I first heard about the concept of going shampoo-free, I didn't think I would *ever* be able to do that! I woke up every morning in a grease slick generated by my own hair - -how could I give up shampoo?!?!?

The more I read about the benefits of going shampoo-free, the more I thought that at least minimizing my use would be good. I knew that my mother, who has just about the most beautiful hair I know, has always thought I shampoo too much. She washed her hair once a week and has never had a day of dirty looking hair, as far as I can tell, so it must be possible to use less...right?

I started to dilute my shampoo. At first, I just put the shampoo in a bottle of water and shook it up before pouring it on my hair. But over the course of a couple of years, I used more water and less shampoo, until I was putting half as much shampoo in the bottle and then using a tiny fraction of the shampoo-water for each shower. Eventually, I started adding more water between doses of shampoo, until one day, I wondered whether there was any shampoo in there at all. Still...my hair looked OK, so I figured I'd give shampoo free a try for a while.

I did some research, and found that many people use apple-cider vinegar instead of shampoo. Others use baking soda. I was a lot more comfortable using *something* than only water, so I started with a serious vinegar rinse.

I had a long period off work over the holiday,s and that seem,ed like the best time to experiment. That way I would be home so I could hide if it looked particularly awful.

I found that I could go almost a week before my hair looked at all greasy, and the greasies came and went as my hair adjusted to no having my scalp stripped every day. After a could of weeks, of using shampoo only once a week, I wondered whether that was optional, too.

The next time my hair started top look yucky, I tried shaking dry baking soda in my dry hair before I went into the shower. I fluffed it up and then let it sit while I prepared for my shower. Then I rinsed it out completely and did the vinegar rinse. My hair looked as clean as it ever had after a shampoo wash.

Now, I use mainly the vinegar rinse, with a baking soda touch up once a week or if I want my hair to look really nice for some reason. I still keep shampoo at hand and I use it very occasionally, but I am beginning to notice that my hair doesn't look as good after a shampoo as it does the rest of the time...and my scalp has started to itch when I use shampoo. (I had a terminally itchy scalp all the time back when i used shampoo all the time - - I just hadn't noticed that it stopped until it started again.)

Other than the lack of itch, I have also noticed that I seem to lose less hair these days and it doesn't tangle as much as it used to. Even better, several people of commented on my hair seeming to glow and the colour being especially nice. And, the cherry on top is that my hair has gotten a lot easier to handle. it does what I want it to without being either fly-away or lank.

I think I may end up putting the shampoo away completely one day.

That said, I never use "product" on my hair. I wear my hair long and in a bun, mostly. I don't know how effective my method would be with hair that has hairspray or gel on it.

Another day I'll talk about my other very simple "cosmetics", but right now, it's late and jack and I have a bedtime story date.

13 February 2009

Perques of aging...

I remember back when I was a kid...and a teen, and in my 20s, and and in my 30s ... I could sleep for 18 hours, get up for a cup of coffee, and go back to bed, exhausted.

People tried to tell me that it was because I slept too much, though I knew that getting up sooner just made it hurt worse. (I know now that I was hypothyroid.)

Back then, my Dad had the preternatural talent for waking up when he wanted to. If he decided to be up at 5am, he was awake at 4:59. If he decided to ""sleep in", he'd wake up later.

I was so amazed by that!!! But given that there wasn't enough sleep in all of time, I didn't figure I'd ever develop the skill.

When I was in my thirties, I was finally diagnosed and treated for my hypothyroid, and sleep became a pleasant interlude in a day that had plenty of time. I still *need* my sleep, but I find that I can get by on 7 or 8 hours as long as I get 9 or 10 hours once a week or so.

However, as I passed the half century mark, I discovered something truly remarkable. I am now able to decide what time to wake up -- and when that times comes, I will be awake! Most amazingly, that is true, even if it's only 7 hours after I got to bed! (I have never tried my luck on less sleep -- if I need to get up in 5 hours, I do still set an a alarm.)

It's really cool to be able to get up on time for meetings without waking the guys if they don't need to be up!

Oh, and Jack got a new set of thermal underwear yesterday -- bright red! He also got a new balaclava for under his hat on winter nature walks. Also bright red. And he got new socks a few days ago...again, he chose bright red. Guess what my little monster wore to bed last night...?

Yup -- red literally from top to toe! He looks so cute! Not unlike a muppet.

However, I have a 7:30 meeting today, so off I go to the shower and to wake my boys -- they need the car for the farm run today so they'll have to hit the ground running.

11 February 2009

A Taste of Spring...

It got up near 16C yesterday and Jack and Connor were out most of the day
According to Rod, they were mainly "building snares" for various critters, including deer, in the lilac bush, and all of their activity centered around setting up a camp in the snow and exploring the (12 foot round) thicket.

Nerida noted how much more imaginative their play is out there when there are no adults around -- and it's absolutely true. This is where the learning begins. Six is going to be a good year.
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09 February 2009

So, where have we been?

I really thought I'd be back by now.

We are recovering well from the "whiplash". We cemented the emotional decision to stay put by heading out to IKEA to get a few things we'd been postponing--like pots and pans and a curtain rod or six. We have arranged with one of my most talented friends for help and (mostly) inspiration with painting a couple more rooms this spring. We're planning a big garden in hopes of filling the soup pots of many friends this summer.

Yes, we're recovering well.

Imbolg buds
On the other hand, the news from our siblings has been troubled. (Out of respect for our sibs' privacy, I am going to be vague here...) One of Rod's siblings is gravely ill, and we keep hoping for better news with every e-mail. One of my siblings is going through a heart wrenching time with his young family. So we have plenty to worry about.

I keep meaning to post about some cool discoveries we've made -- like kombucha, and the apple cider vinegar as the worlds greatest 'shampoo', and making our own cleaners and cosmetics...

But I am tired. Again. Work remains delightfully busy, but that means I am pretty tired by the end of the day.

Maybe tomorrow.

06 February 2009

The most amazing of husbands...

As I mentioned yesterday, I am working long hours and coming home very tired.

Rod had been very supportive, and I am very grateful. But last night, I came home to find that, knowing how tired I was, he made made absolutely the most wonderful soup! It was perfect for a -12C evening; warm, with a rich, deep brown broth and slightly herby flavour. It had carrots and turnips and barley floating in it and I'm not sure what else, but it tasted as warm, delicious, and satisfying as a bracing hug in a high wind!

I am so lucky. He's cute, he's fun to talk to until all hours of the night, he's sweet, he's romantic .. .and he can and does outcook me at every turn!

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05 February 2009

Long busy days

I am coming to understand what it means to have critical skills in a shrinking company. Long, busy days, that's what it means.

On the one hand, I am having a blast -- on the other hand, I miss my family, whom I see far less than I am used to. And my house is a wreck. And my blog is lonely.

We're enjoying the growing light, the new security of place, and the boys are staying quite busy on adventures with their friends. Maybe tonight, while Rod is at choir, I can find a few moments to actually sit down and blog.
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02 February 2009

Happy Imbolg, everyone!

I'm a day late, but yesterday was a busy day. ;)

Saturday, Rod and jack went to make breakfast at a local women and children crisis center; we will probably be doing that regularly as a family. Then we took Grandpa John out to Calder's dairy farm to see all the picks and chickens and goats and peafowl, and cows and calves. Then we got to watch the cows being milked. I don't think I had ever seen that done with a milking machine before. It was *fast*! When I remember watching it done, grandpa did it by hand and that took a while. It was fascinating.

Yesterday, Rod spent the day at church for three choral performances. (We would have come for Imbolg, Em, we planned to had we been able to find out *when* you were expecting us...next time we have to plan ahead better!) While he was there, he got the OK for Jack to try out for the children's choir, even though he's technically a little too young. He has the main skills they're looking for, so if he is ready to learn to sing in parts, he'll be welcomed. He's so excited!

I am still very scattered, but recovering. Have you ever really looked around your home to assess it's readiness for the movers to show up NOW? It's an interesting exercise and having done it has changed the way I look at my possessions. I will be thinning them further over the next few months because if I don't use it, and I wouldn't move it...why clean it?

O am, however, thrilled to be headed back to work knowing I have "critical skills". *grin* Who doesn't like to be needed?

More later...