Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Keep on thanking

This little farm is wrapped in picket fences. Bicycles. Quilts. Babies.

A thin dusting of snow graced our Thanksgiving weekend. The ice and threat of ice kept schools closed -- except for our kitchen table school -- and made for a cozy week.

However. It also kept my computer in limbo at the tech guy's shop for an extra nine days. Let me tell you, if you want to simplify your life a lot, let the computer take an extended vacation. And then let the cell service in your area go down due to ice on the tower. If you're hoping for such a perfect storm of Ludditism (word? not a word?), be sure to lay in plenty of reading material and groceries and of course animal feed.


We have a new puppy!

Pictures to follow.

She's not technically a puppy. The animal shelter thinks she's possibly of advanced age. But we haven't had her in to our veterinarian just yet. (Ice on the roads and all.)

Mr. Suite surprised the girls with Bonnie Bell, our new Springer Spaniel, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. She's so cute that she inspires baby talk, even in those of us long determined that vocabulary is not built on such wee wittle woidy woids. She's even adorable enough to let me consider breaking the decades-held cardinal rule of no dogs on the furniture. What? She's smaller than a Golden Retriever. By a lot. Also easier to bathe. And if you're still partying with my justification festival you'll think it makes perfect sense that she's allowed on the couches, where no dog has snored before.

So between our lack of computer and related use of hardbound reference books for research papers (again with the WHAT?), between our somewhat self-extended cabin fever and our putting the garden to bed and the leaves to good use on the compost heaps, between turkey with loved ones and making the traditional thankful tree... between the cracks of all that beautiful life... we've been grateful.

Tell me about your thanksgiving. Go on. It's not too late. I for one believe it's in fashion year-round. Just like small(ish) dogs on the couch. And vintage bikes on the fence. For a certain type of girl, these are the little black dress, the classic cardigan, the new-old haute couture so blessedly ubiquitous as to be reported on rarely but enjoyed continuously by those in the know.

The thanks are the thing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Long awaited (?) updates from the farm

Tallulah died. The first cold, cold, snappy cold night of the season found her huddled under the heat lamp in the henhouse. We knew she needed a little extra coddling... what with her age, her molting near-nekkedness and the chillier weather... so we had plugged in the red warming light and brought her a personal feeder and waterer.
Maybe it made her last night more comfortable.
Maybe it was just her time.
Just last autumn we were still raking leaves for the dog. He really loved to jump in the leaf piles with the kids. He especially loved to try to catch the leaves as they fell from the trees. It looked so very comical -- an 85-pound golden blur leaping and twisting to reach fluttery maple leaves.
We've had our share of loss this season.
The girls (and I) are campaigning already for a new dog, for a new batch of chicks, for a leaf blower (just kidding about that last one).
But if we look around, really looking, there's more to be thankful for than ever before.

It seems that simplify is, after all, an active verb. It takes a lot of thought and planning and frankly a lot of hard choices and a little loss to truly simplify one's life.

Running between chess and ballet class and band practice and horseback riding lessons, not to mention doctor appointments and, you know, delivering our fifth baby -- none of this was simple. None found us enacting that other cliche, either, of "living in the moment," which is a noble goal with a regrettably stupid catchphrase. Rather we stumbled from one event to the next. "Next" was the operative in my so-called stay-at-home, homeschooling, homesteading life.

I didn't know how to be still. I actually missed out on a lot of contemplative opportunities.
Did you know that kneading bread can be a chore to be rushed while the baby's asleep before homeschool co-op convenes? In those circumstances the yeast and flour and water combine to create a pressure-filled panic attack.
But with a little gumption and a clear decision a girl can say "no" to a few things, leaving room for the mundane to be even a bit beautiful.

"Be still and know that I am God." (Ps. 46:9) What I think this means to me, in this season, is that all my self-driven busyness is the opposite of stillness and, worse, puts me in the position of being god of my own circumstance. Which I gotta tell you I am so not qualified for.

In the midst of some gains and some losses and some difficult choices, in the direct aftermath of saying "no" several more times than is comfortable for a people-pleaser like myself, then did we feel some peace.

A little tranquility, at home in our little rural village.

And room for fun?

It's amazing how much more fun we have when we're dang I wish there was a better way to say this living in the moment.

When we're being still a lot more often.

Raking the leaves. Jumping in them. Reading some poetry and some fairy tales. Kneading some bread. Laughing more. Worrying less. Turning the light on for the chickens and remembering that God is in heaven.

Friday, November 5, 2010