06 September 2009

Another Update

Well, the height of summer has come and gone, and autumn lurks just out of view. The chicory and Queen Anne’s lace are blooming and crickets are everywhere.

It's been an interesting summer. Because I was off work and without pay for much of the summer, I have been able to spend a lot more time with Jack, and we have had time and good reason to look for foraged foods. Our freezer is now full of blackberries, mulberries, and raspberries that we have found growing wild. We also bought 10 pounds blueberries in bulk to freeze, and have gone to a "U-pick" farm to pick our own 10 pounds of strawberries. It's funny that berries are some of the most expensive foods to buy, and yet they are also some of the easiest to get free! This weekend, we’ll be getting some more raspberries and then we’ll be watching for u-pick pears and apples.

We planted a very large garden this year! Rod and Jack were a lot of help, which was wonderful because it was really too much garden for me to do alone. The spring lettuce is finished and the autumn lettuce and greens are planted and thriving. So far we've had huge numbers of tomatoes, a few cauliflower, a few cabbage, and boat-loads of eggplant and sweet peppers. We’ve only had one zucchini so far and little sign of any other squashes and melons, so it’s just as well that the eggplant and peppers are going gangbusters! I am delighted to learn that eggplant is every bit as adaptable as zucchini – and Jack loves it! Between that and tomatoes, we’d been very well fed for the last few weeks and we have discovered myriad recipes to which it can be added with excellent results!

I am watching my first experiment with kale grow now. I figure that I can freeze it and throw a little into soups and stews, along with the lambs quarters, even if I can never convince Rod and jack to eat it as a side. (I made a few sides of curried lambs-quarters only to have to eat them all myself. I like it, but not enough to eat 2 quarts before it spoils!)

Our education program is going pretty well. Jack has just finished "Unit 3" in which we learned about the Neolithic period and learned how the first farmers learned to plant food and domesticate animals... an excellent coincidence for the summer in which we expanded our garden and made feeding ourselves a "do it yourself" project.
Jack even grew some wheat, although we lost most of it to the birds because we were too slow to get out and harvest it. (It got ripe at about the same time as I got so sick.) That's OK; we like to share and, as it turns out Rod is very allergic to wheat. More on that later.

We have just begun our study of ancient Mesopotamia – Sumer, Babylon, Akadia, Assyria, Ur, Ashur, Nippur, Nineveh and the Hittites. We have explored how the first villages grew into cities. One fun thing we will do is to plan and prepare a "feast" based on the foods common in that time and place and then eat it while we listen to folk music from modern Iraq, which is what we call the area now. We will also be making some pseudo-cuneiform clay tablets like the receipts Jomar receives from Bitatte in The Golden Bull, which we kicked off the unit with. Another project that may not be as successful is that Jack wants to learn some of the languages spoken in Mesopotamia. I'm not sure how much we'll be able to find out, but I guess we can try to find something...or maybe we can learn a few words of the language of the modern Iraqis.

I am hoping that Rod can help bring the battles and heroics alive for Jack... that's the part of history the little guy really cares about right now. If they can focus on the heroes and their exploits, this unit could take quite some time and they should come away with a really good understanding of the first civilizations. (...and then, on the Egypt!)

As I alluded to before (had I posted about that yet? I can’t remember and I can’t check…) Rod has learned that he is allergic to wheat. Very allergic. One lettuce wrap that contained coleslaw and he was sick for days. Who knew coleslaw had wheat? But it does…in the dressing. Anyway, clearly Rod can no longer make his beloved bread, …or eat crackers, cakes, pasta, or cookies anymore unless we make them. The search is on for good recipes, but for the most part we have found that we’re a lot more successful when we stick to recipes that never had wheat in the first place. (Corn tortillas, dosas, puris and the like.) The “replacements” we have found so far just don’t taste very good, though Rod has found a brand of bread he can toast up for things like egg sandwiches and BLTs when he just has to have them. One thing that has taken us by surprise is just how much of our kitchen we need to replace because of gluten contamination -- the healthier he gets, the less contamination he can tolerate -- but we are still recovering from the furlough, so it's been happening a little at a time. I hope it's fast enough.

My own health has been difficult, too. As I mentioned, toward the end of July, I got very ill very suddenly and was in bed and mostly unconscious for 6 days. Yuck! Once I could get out of bed, I wasn't able to stand up or walk without a walking frame for another month. I’m on my own feet now, but still wobbly, so I’ll be seeing the doctor in mid-November. Oddly enough, I have been mostly deaf for many years – but while I was so ill, a lot of my hearing came back. Instead of being unable to hear Rod when he had his back turned to me in the same room, I was able to hear Rod and Jack conversing in the parlour downstairs! It was astonishing! Some of my acuity has faded again, but now I know that the ears are functioning, so it’s a matter of finding out what the problem is. I am thinking congestion in the inner ear, but we’ll see. Another remarkable effect was that the aches and pains I had attributed to arthritis over the last few years were also completely gone when I got up again. A month later, I am starting to have a little of the aches and pains again…but just a little. That doesn’t sound like arthritis…so again, I need to investigate further and find out what’s causing it so I can get rid of it.

Did I mention that Jack has discovered Harry Potter? And become completely obsessed? Yes, well, he has. I like the books a lot myself, and my first reaction was one of pleasure to share the stories with him. Unfortunately, the obsession got so bad that I had to hide the books, because his studies just couldn’t hold a candle to Mr Potter’s exploits. As it was, I had to declare that book two would come at the end of the current unit and further readings would come as he progressed through his lesson, because Jack would have read them through non-stop until he finished every book we own, and the stories just get too dark for a six year old by book three or four. (I don’t remember the details…I haven’t read them in years.) But he was reading book one over and over and over and over … and refusing to cooperate with school lessons because they were too boring. *sigh* I hid the books and we had a nice discussion about how school is his job, just as going to the office every day is mine. I also pointed out that putting the books out of sight wasn’t punishment, but was to help him to concentrate since they were disrupting his ability to focus on anything else. He’s not terrible happy, but he is resigned and seems to understand. His cooperation has gotten much better, anyway.

It looks like I may be back to somewhat more regular posting after the 25th. Hurrah! No, no, we’re not getting Internet at home again. But a long time ago, Mark gave us an old laptop he wasn’t using anymore. Mostly, we used it to watch movies as a family, because it wasn’t able to talk to the outside world anymore, except in playing DVDs. But a few weeks ago, mark mentioned thought that it probably could if we bought a new USB port for it…so we took it over to Clover Computer and they told us that for a very modest cost, they could get that computer up and on the net! So, on the 25th, we’ll take it over and get it all dolled up. Then I will be able to download my mail on my way home and upload my responses the next day when I download again. While I’m at it, I hope to be able to upload more regular posts here (though as you can see, I have been better about writing than about remembering my thumb drive when we go out to the café.)

On the other hand, we are now down to one camera in the family. My beloved Kodak, which has served me well for a number of years is now getting very finicky about starting up. I wanted to think it was the batteries, but no, brand new batteries, freshly charged, and it was still reluctant to start. So, the photos may not be as good for a while, as I learn to use Rod’s tiny snapshooter. Thanks for your patience, everyone

1 comment:

  1. It's good to see you posting again!


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