Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In which you cannot see the barn I risked life and limb to photograph

Hello. My name is Miriam and I take pictures of barn signs.

Even when there happens to be a line of porta-potties and a blackberry hedge obscuring the barn.

Or large dogs patrolling the perimeter.

It's a problem no cropping can solve.

 Last weekend was so gorgeous here on the rainy side of Oregon that you know I felt nothing but guilt for the rest of the country's stuck-in-winter blues.

 Madeleine had dance class, Sarah was recovering from pneumonia,
Grace went to work with Dad.
Serial commas be darned;
the camera languished in its bag and so the babies and I went for a drive.
Just Salvador and Laura and me.
It was a beautiful start to Holy Week and just the quiet called for.

(Except, now that I think of it, for the noise of the 5- and 2-year-old children.)

There may be big changes for our little family this coming year.
Oh, who am I kidding.
There are always big changes.

After years of happy (mostly independent) homeschooling we are considering a homeschool charter school. Madeleine is age-wise entering her high school years and it's possible she will want to participate in theater and music at the local high school.

Mr. Suite has made huge changes in his engineering business
and we are adjusting to his new location and way of working.
I can embrace change, I can.

I'm thinking (again!) about graduate school since
sweet Salvador sidetracked that plan a couple of years ago.

The garden will be just as big or bigger. The farmhouse remodeling will continue.
(Post about the fabulous cheap-to-free bathroom remodel, promised!)

And of course I'll continue to cruise the back roads in search
for decrepit barns and country churches. That much will stay the same.

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for pretty, happy, funny, real because it is pretty much all of those around here.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"March"ing along

We missed updating you in February, dear readers and friends. It was a muddy, frozen month and quite frankly the camera rested in its bag for much of it. But now. Bang! Snap! It is March and time to plant the peas.
We brought home two new horses in February and Dolly for one was mightily displeased. Two Spot was ever the gentleman and attempted to smooth her ruffled nerves but the pony spent weeks alternately pouting and punishing us for our disloyalty. She is pretty sure she could carry a full-grown person, as any self-respecting Shetland would, thank you very much. Who needs a couple of Morgans anyway?
But really, Dolly, there are still three children under 50 pounds around here. There are plenty of mane braiding and river trips to come for you, spunky pony.

To be truthful Dolly and I share this aversion to change. Once I learned how to be present in the moment I realized how difficult it can be to move on to the next. Transition issues, anyone?

Murphy the dog had a little anxiety too, facing so much change, now that I think of it. He lost his best friend Molly over the winter and now he is growing attached (read: devoted?) to Madeleine. In this photo she is heading out to the horses. She thinks.

Murphy doesn't so much mind Sam and Richie's arrival, but they don't quite know what to do with a pony-sized dog yet. Similarly Richie seems to believe Jane the ewe lamb is a very fat poodle with a habit of rushing in to steal his dropped grain.
We all learn and grow. And change.

In less-philosophical farm news: We planted two peach trees and an almond tree. (You can see Grace digging one of the holes in a picture posted here!) This brings our orchard to three mature apple trees, one mature tart cherry and two sweet two-year-old cherries, one young fig tree, one mature pear and two two-year-old pears, the new peach and almond trees, and five grapevines we planted last year. Oh! And a quince, a 40-foot multi-variety raspberry hedge, and three blueberry bushes. This week I hope to renovate my strawberry bed during the break between school and dance each day.

And in school news: Grace's piano lessons are a treasure hidden in each week. I know I may be stage-momming but I have to say I think she plays beautifully, and she loves it. Her shy and quiet goes away when she is practicing and a new giggly glow comes over her. Is there anything to make a mother tearful like her child finding a happiness and joy? Which is a perfect segue into Madeleine and algebra. (Yes, I am thinking I am funny.) Homeschooling (who made that word?) kindergarten through high school is its own brand of mommy crazy but it is still working for our family in part because Madeleine and Sarah are both so self-starting. Madeleine would rather "start" with math, and Sarah with literature. They work incredibly hard each day on their "schoolwork"  before they play in the rain with the ponies and then get cleaned up, Monday through Saturday, for ballet/tap/jazz/modern. It is simply stunning to be as involved as I get to be. The best way I can describe how it feels to "teach" them is that I am allowed to rediscover my own love of learning while they explore new subjects. Meanwhile Grace is still loving second grade if not as much right now as she loves dance and music, Laura is a super-precocious kindergarten ballerina princess scholar, and Salvador has absorbed his alphabet and counts to 17 (skips 18 -- but goes on to 19 and 20 -- what's up with that?) at age two while he gets to know his Legos really well. How lucky am I to be seated at the same table as these children?

Something on which I don't always update you: The in-case-you-follow-small-business news: my husband's engineering, project management, site development and land survey business has evolved significantly to better serve our still-struggling Oregon economy. I am unspeakably proud of how hard and smart he continues to work, traveling the state and region and taking on new lines of work to diversify. A tiny part of me sometimes wishes we could go back to a homesteading lifestyle, selling shares in dairy cows and harvesting trees to build the new addition we need so badly at this old farmhouse. But. His skills and certifications are helping many others in the development and land use planning fields find ways to accomplish their goals as well. The office looks different than it did five years ago but, again, change is good. Right?

And finally the farmhouse renovation news: It certainly is good to have change to report on that front. The upstairs bathroom, completely unusable a year ago, is becoming beautiful! Since moving every last thing to the studs, we have insulated and had the plumbing repaired. The new black-and-white flooring is installed and the toilet and pedestal sink are in. Two custom-made built-in cabinets (squee!) hold linens and hair bows. Last to finish is the tub end of the room, but I hope to have a surprise to share next month. A dear friend visited for the first time in a year and in giving her the tour I was impressed with our progress, which is hard to see in the day-to-day of it all. New kitchen flooring, new kitchen nook with wainscot, new stairwell, new pantry, new paint in nearly every room, newnewnew! Through her eyes I didn't see the flooring still to replace or the bookcases to build, but the beauty in what we are creating. I was surprised by how much change we've wrought one spackle spot at a time.

Oftentimes I am like Richie or Sam, newly arrived at this place, not sure of what I'm seeing but grateful for the fresh growth of spring grass pushing through last fall's leaves. A change can be a surprise. And a surprise is like a present.