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Dream life?

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

So often after telling somebody where we live, we get: "Wow, you are living the dream life." Or, "You are so lucky." And, depending on the time of year, I say,  "Yep, I know," or I politely nod, hoping they will move on quickly.  I apologize if you have said something like this to me and I seemed aloof; I probably didn't feel that way about you, just people I don't know.

It's tough, though.  We knew when we made our decision to live here that we would be going against the grain: of "normal" family life, of parental expectations, of career considerations, of the 21st century generally. We were also taking on three huge new responsibilities all at the same time: new business, new home, and new kid on the way.  Sometimes I feel like we have always lived like this, even though it has only been three and a half years.  We have always lived like this as the four-person family we currently are, so imagining anything that came before now seems like a hazy memory.

This place is so loaded.  First of all, there is history dripping off of every rusty barb of old wire, old door knob, worn-out apple tree and falling-down fence post.  Families, long before my family, turned this place into the spectacular, intimate marvel that it is. And now we live here, on borrowed land.  I feel like I could never do it justice, because this is not mine, and they (the homesteaders) didn't know me.  I imagine they expected their own descendants to be living on their carefully-tended land a century after they laid claim to it.  But instead, an unrelated caretaker picked by committee is now creating her own memories on this hardscrabble parcel that already has so much memory stored up in it.  My little blip of time spent here doesn't amount to anything in homestead years.  But the impact the homestead has had on my life will be forever.

Also, we know we won't live here forever, so putting down roots any deeper feels dangerous.  I've fallen deep, and the break-up, when it happens, is going to be hard.  I try to keep a measured distance, appreciate the here and now, and try not to hang on too tightly. Axel was born here: How much deeper an attachment could I have?  I won't even know until we leave.  And then I fear I will pine away for my lost love, with overly romanticized memories of the good-old-days. See what I mean?  Loaded.

Also, there is the pressure of being in the public eye.  Expectations of every history buff, environmental studies person, non-profit group, parks and rec worker, random visitor, head honcho of said non-profit, all placed on one shoulder or another as we shuffle along trying to keep up with the gardening, chickens, kids, gates, fences, foxes, sheep, cooking, cleaning, grant writing, other jobs, water,  life.

The fear of going feral, or rather of giving the appearance that we've gone feral without realizing it, is always on my mind as well. Do other families bathe as infrequently as we do?  Are their cars as dirty? Do they have this many spiders crawling around their ceiling?  Do we seem strange now that we have accepted our unconventional life as normal for us?  Do we smell bad?  Do I look older? Does this prairie dress make my butt look big?

The hardest part about being the caretaker on this 1890s homestead for me is that I can't fully experience it the way I would like to: uninterruptedly.  Homesteading is not my job; I have to go into town for that, several days a week.  So, I'm a part-time homesteader with so many plans and ideas and wishes and dreams, feeling like there isn't enough time to see them through.  So it goes.

My dream life is rich, if not completely as I want it.  I bend and twist my thoughts around this from every angle, and what I come to realize is that I wouldn't have it any other way.

 

They’re here…

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

We were out of town for Memorial weekend, living it up at the Hampton Inn with its creature comforts.  It was nice to get away.  It was nice watching TV.  It was nice taking long guilt free showers.  But, now we are back to reality, and it's pretty good.

We came home to find that Agnes' eggs did in fact hatch.  While she was out getting food for her newbies, I snapped a few pictures.  I wouldn't call them cute necessarily.  They are a bit unrecognizable.  I can't really distinguish body parts yet, but I'll be taking pictures everyday to document their progress.

I was a little concerned when I saw that Agnes was not in her nest with the baby birds.  They look so pink and vulnerable, and it hasn't been warm.  I wanted to intervene and put a hot pad under the nest or something, just to make sure they stayed warm.  Was she ditching them?  Did she not sufficiently bond with them?  I decided to trust that Agnes knew what she was doing.  And, it turns out she does.  When she returned, I secretly, and very quietly glanced out the door.  I could see her tail feathers shaking a bit with each regurgitation she unloaded into her babies mouths.  Good job Agnes.  You got this.

The lilacs are filling the air with flowery goodness.  They surround the old farmhouse, and bring it back to life a bit.  I can picture Emma flinging open the windows to let the springtime smell clean out the winter doldrums.

These old trees come back every year with new blossoms.   Old, dark, knotty bark contrasted with fresh new blossoms gives them an instant face lift every spring.

Apple blossoms are "snowing" right now, according to Axel.  And, speaking of snow, the rivers are HUGE because of all of that snow, huh?  While we were driving west, I was amazed at how much water is forging through the various rivers we passed.  We are definitely in surplus.

Rhubarb finally got my serious attention.  I cut a bunch of stalks and am making strawberry-rhubarb pie with it.  I'm thinking of making some rhubarb preserves too.  Anybody ever try that?  Seems like it would be a good thing to have mid-winter for a pie filling or something.

Thank you lilacs for making my house smell better than it usually does.

We have a plethora of eggs and spinach currently, so what better to use those up than quiche?  I got this recipe from my new favorite food blog Smitten Kitchen.  It turned out awesome.  It's made with half and half, cheddar and parmesan cheese, spinach, green onions and eggs (of course), so you can't really go wrong.  I used the spinach from our garden instead of frozen, which is what the recipe called for.  Again, it was super good.

And, with that my friends, I shall end this post.  Happy Tuesday.

Today, today…

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Dreaming about planting carrots like last years.

Hoping for a garden that is as spectacular as last years.

This spring is already picking up speed, and even though as I look out the window right now, there is snow on the mountains, by July I will be warm, tanned, and in garden-shape.

Our girls, or, as Asa says, "gewels", are laying again.

I'm ready to start wearing tank tops, skirts, lightweight dresses, sandals, you know?  I'm going to satiate my spring fever with some sewing of vintage-style house dresses like these. They seem perfect for any occasion really.  In the garden, in the house, out on the town, at work.  I like the idea of a zippered front as well.

Here is how we all feel about it not being as warm as we would like yet.

Happy Tuesday!