Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'll Get Back to You Someday Soon You Will See

Thanks for this Fleet Foxes...thanks. That is all.

Helplessness Blues
I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I'd say I'd rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me

But I don't, I don't know what that will be
I'll get back to you someday soon you will see

What's my name, what's my station, oh, just tell me what I should do
I don't need to be kind to the armies of night that would do such injustice to you
Or bow down and be grateful and say "sure, take all that you see"
To the men who move only in dimly-lit halls and determine my future for me

And I don't, I don't know who to believe
I'll get back to you someday soon you will see

If I know only one thing, it's that everything that I see
Of the world outside is so inconceivable often I barely can speak
Yeah I'm tongue-tied and dizzy and I can't keep it to myself
What good is it to sing helplessness blues, why should I wait for anyone else?

And I know, I know you will keep me on the shelf
I'll come back to you someday soon myself

If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm raw
If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore
And you would wait tables and soon run the store

Gold hair in the sunlight, my light in the dawn
If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore
If I had an orchard, I'd work till I'm sore
Someday I'll be like the man on the screen

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Happiness Project

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

I don't know what I am getting into. I haven't even cracked the cover of the book and here I am committing to following a plan with a friend I know nothing about. Sounds and feels kind of crazy, but it also feels necessary, like breathing or water or even waking up each day. I'm not really sure how things will pan out, but, you know, that's been a theme for me lately so I guess I will go with my flight of fancy and see where it ends up.
One thing that attracted me to this crazy notion was the list at the beginning I had heard about in another book I read, a list that includes the caveat that if you don't make mistakes you aren't trying enough. I tend to focus so much on being perfect that it's stressed me out and landed me here, so what have I got to lose?

As soon as her copy comes in at the library, a friend of mine and I are launching our own mini book club with our own once-a-month standing discussion date based on The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin. My friend has just been tremendous and, though I have known her for years and years, we had drifted apart until recently, busy with our lives and such. I am so happy she came back into my life and she's been more of a support to me the last month than she probably knows and more inspiration than I think I could ever tell her. I think we both need this~ a dedicated shared effort towards being happy. Maybe we can help each other reach it like she's helped me get used to the idea that I don't have to be perfect to be liked and that it's okay to make mistakes. It'll will also be good for me to have a friend who holds me accountable for having fun, which is something I forget to make time for with everything that needs done around this place.

I can use a little more happiness and a little more gratitude. I think we all can and I am super excited! If you want to join our happiness project, you are more than welcome to~ just grab a copy of the book and I will let you know when we get started...just let me know in the comments what your email address is and that you want to play. Are you ready for a total surprise? I am!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

Starting tomorrow I will be completely alone again. School starts, folks will be at their jobs and the world turns, it seems, slowly, without me. There will be some great opportunities for reflection, for writing, for journaling, biking and yoga around my appointments, blog posts and duties here at the SemiFarm. I will miss my daughter and husband but it's been nearly a month now since I have had more than a passing few minutes completely to my self. I am both saddened and excited, but, either way, coffee and my back porch await me.

I've neglected, like every blogger does at some point I think, to keep pace with writing about our homestead. I've begun my writing life and quickly the had-to's took over the want-to's in my writing schedule and all but pushed out the writing for myself that I most enjoy. It's time to recapture the last few moments of summer here for an updaet for you all, and to re-establish, for myself, the craft and habit of slinging down the words I love so much to write, about my homestead and my family.

The chicken coop has made steady progress and, although we still aren't ready for hens, there are now windows that peer out over the weed patch that is my garden and the woods beyond. Some day some girl squeezing out an egg will be perched in a nest box and relaxed with that view. I know it helps me get through some tough days and remember what all the hard work is about.

The weed patch, or garden, dependent upon which angle you are looking from, has yielded us very little in this, its first year other than several cucumbers which I put up as kosher dills in another homey new pursuit, canning. I'm having an awesome time with putting lids on things as a blogging idol of mine, Ashley English, says. Her canning book was actually my first inspiration to try this rot-stalling, produce-keeping tactic I watched my mother use when I was growing up. Sadly, there aren't many recipes I could find for small batch canning so I have done way more math than I care to and have taken a break after 2 pints of tomatoes and about 6 pints of pickles. I also ran out of produce, other than the local peaches sitting on my counter.

Speaking of Ashley English, if you visit her blog, Small Measure, you might see a familiar sight there in the recipe for some amazing homemade laundry soap. If you remember when I made it, way back in May, you'll have to agree that it is a miracle with my kind-of farming family of 3 that I have not yet run out. This stuff is awesome! If you like those sorts of tips, Ash has tons more gorgeous ideas in her blog and her Homemade Living series of books. There's a book on canning (my favorite!), one on bees, one on chickens with amazing pictures and one on home dairy I can't wait to read. :)

Stay tuned for more updates and pictures as I find more time this week to blog for me. ;)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Asparagus in Summer

Moments splinter like the sun
Beyond the weathered fence I see
I sit, gazing through live wires
At today's possibility

Tomorrow is but an illusion
This instant in time my chance to win
So real and fleeting but yet out of reach
Dying already as it begins

Shriveling and hopeless before my eyes
Some days turn grey before they're born
While radiant sunshine lights up others
Like a lightening bolts precede a storm

Grapsing is senseless yet I claw and clutch
For all will wither like the blooms
And blades of grass beneath my feet
Grow ceaseless though the thresher looms

And yet there's hope as clouds drift past
When tiny tips push through the snow
In asparagus season a new world looms
While the old is still frozen below

This poet ponders these fields of hay
As silently the present drifts along
Like clouds and lazy day rememberings
With gentle breeze and sweet birdsong.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sorry Isn't Really the Hardest Word

Today I forced myself to finally do it. Although more than a year had past, I stood on the sticky linoleum floor in my kitchen, fidgeting and fingering the rubber keys on the cordless phone, my palms sweating with nerves. On my way back in from bringing up the now-empty trash barrels  I thought I caught a glimpse of goats, so here was my in. It was time to call my neighbors and introduce myself.
We moved here a year ago this past May and, as I was unpacking one day before work, a sweet lady had dropped by with a small blue basket filled with handmade love: two dish scrubbers, a jar each of applesauce and strawberry jam, a dishcloth and the one store-bought item, a jar of peanut butter. Attached to the basket was a note encouraging us to call if we needed help finding anything as we settled in. It was a kindness I'd never really thanked them for but one that did not go unappreciated as I spent those afternoons last year painting and smacking on those labors of love.
I punched in the numbers on the note that'd been hanging on my fridge for a year as I gathered both my courage and something passing as a suitable excuse to call. "May I speak to Diane please?" I asked when someone picked up and said that word I find the most difficult sometimes to say. After that same sweet lady came to the phone, I introduced myself and asked to come and see the goats, which she said I could do. So I trudged across the yard, wringing my garden gloves in my hands, fearful I'd never know what to say.
Instead I found myself standing in the warm summer sun with Diane and her two daughters, Anna and Abbie, talking about all manner of livestock, our gardens, my future chickens and our own plans for goats. I finally got a chance to properly say thank you, was invited anytime for coffee or crafts and might just have made a friend. After several minutes chatting I excused myself to start my weeding and thanked her again for her thoughtful gift, inviting the girls to come and meet my daughter and them inviting us to meet the animals.
I'm so glad I took a chance today and said that word, the hardest of all for shy suburban folks like us new to all these country customs. Sometimes great things come out of small risks, even if it takes a year to muster up the courage.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Can You Dig It?

This year our garden has been largely an expensive set of learning experiences. This, folks, is a picture of our largest harvest to date. Tomatoes were basically a complete bust. We've gotten a few cherry and pear tomatoes from the plants on the porch, but everything else just sort of grew and then died without fruit.
The purple pod beans did reasonably well as did the one blue lake bean plant. Sadly though there's no need for a chest freezer to store this year's bounty. The only thing that seemed to do well were the cucumbers, which last year died of powerful mildew. This year, it's all we've really gotten, and my desire to can turned them into pickles. (I just did them today so I hope they turn out!) It felt amazing to be in my kitchen when the thermometer is pushing 90 outside and we have no air, sweating and knowing that, however small in scale, I was spending the day as many women have for generations, putting food up. I feel someone more grounded and a part of something larger than myself.
I doubt three pint jars of pickles will last us the winter. In fact, they'll probably be gone before the snow flies, but this year I learned to not start seeds inside in February, that it takes a good solid year to build a chicken coop and that you should always, ALWAYS plant through mulch to avoid spending the rest of eternity pulling weeds.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Look what my daughter discovered and watched be reborn while out picking up dog shit this morning in the backyard. (Draw whatever parallels you want from that.)