turtle power

I learned to spin two years ago.  And while I have scarcely improved, my love for it has grown all the while.  I really love the uncertainty of it.  How you can spin something and have no plan for its end product in mind.  How you can be spinning, and thinking, and pause and begin and none of it matters.  It is the process (for me).  The feel of fiber running through my fingers, and perhaps a little bit of dreaming as I imagine the possibilities.  Yesterday, I managed to find a few minutes to wind a skein of two-ply yarn I spun nice and thin.  I am a bit clumsy at this sport still and I know not the details of what it is “supposed” to be, or what the skills of a refined spinner even are.  When I spin, its purely for the enjoyment.  It reminds me of why I am drawn to create in the first place.

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A long time ago I lived in a little Lincoln log cabin in North Carolina.  For a spell of time I had no car, no job, and not much to do out there.  I can only imagine how much crafting I would do if this was the boat I found myself in today.  It is funny how different my days looked.  I mean, it truly makes me laugh to think about how I chose to spend my days.  I did a LOT of exploring.  There were horse trails all around this 500 acre property and I explored every inch of them.  Alongside the trails were old, but restored buildings, and fallen down trees in spooky graveyards, and schoolhouses, and churches.  None of them actively used, but all of them clearly cherished.  It was a magnificent place to fall upon.  I remember spending a lot of time watching and searching for turtles; Giants surfacing occasionally in the clear blue ponds scattered around the property.  I would spend my weekends, when I had a car to borrow, pouring over books from the library about these prehistoric creatures, taking notes and pictures with my polaroid camera.  We didn’t have the internet, and really it wasn’t so strange not to at this point in time, so my scope of learning was thin, but satisfying.  I had no end goal for all that “research”, I just did it, out of curiosity.

And then one morning I remember waking up to the sound of an excavator.  I felt a desperate panic that started in my toes make its way to my throat as I came to and realized the sound was coming from the direction of those lovely armored creatures  humble home.  My feet hardly touched the ground as I made my way across the pasture and up the small hill to the digging site.  Tears burned tracks in my cheeks when I discovered from behind a curtain of kudzu that the pond was already demolished, with no end in site.  I stood there frozen for a month waiting for it to stop; for those metal jaws to slacken.  Eventually they must have because at some point I found my self staggering out in to the open.  Cheeks stained black from wiping away the sorrow with muddy hands, I walked across the draining soil and assessed the damage.  My heart pounded as I stepped over muddy carcases, cracked and oozing.  Some were clearly suffering, others already gone.  Desperate for a way to fix it, I shot home, hurdling bales of hay behind my blurry, raging eyes.  I grabbed a shovel and a bucket from the shed, pulled my barn boots over my mud caked toes, took a deep cleansing breath, and a good shot of determination then I headed back to the war zone.

I managed to unearth three turtles that morning.  It was terrifying, and I questioned the need for this.  These were very much alive, and very much of the snapping variety, and I was nothing if not scared out of my mind.  One by one I drug those muddy beasts about a half a mile away, to the next pond I knew of, and dumped them in.  I’m quite sure I never stopped crying for the tasks entirety, making the whole mess that much more difficult to accomplish.  By noon, I collapsed on my front porch.  Behind the veil of morning glories and Carolina jessamine I ate a pint of ice cream, dried my tears, and took out some embroidery.  I stitched all afternoon on the back of a jean jacket, making up the stitches as I went along, not even imaging that there were real, actual stitches and directions that existed to be followed.  I intended on adding a bit to that jacket whenever the mood struck me, as the years went on.  I never did, but I still have it.  And I suppose it’s not too late.

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picture taken many years later but nothing has changed except the season

I think about all the crafting “adventures” I have tangled my wrists in over the years.  Really, there are so many it makes me laugh.  An episode from every stage of life.  I have never woke up to find myself an expert at any one of them, they are more of a passing thought; Something to keep my hands busy, something to breath into when the day gets long.  It is like a beer on a hot day.  It just feels right.

alter ego

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The feel of a frog in your hands, the sound of rocks in the dryer,  bloody noses, grass stained knees, tick checks, tears on rosy cheeks, big fights, “mama, i love you” notes tucked in my pocket, a million dandelion wishes, and bowl cuts.  Always bowl cuts.  They are currently known as super weaver and hawk eye (appropriately named after a friends big old farm dog) and I love them with all I have got.

Let me tell you, last week sucked.  I will just go out and be honest.  There were never ending fights; Battles so big even I shed a few tears.  There were punishments to be fulfilled and early bedtimes to insist upon.  It was a long, long week.  One in which I am so grateful is behind me!  And now, these two super humans are outside arm in arm exploring while I am in here surely jinxing that.  (Upon editing this, yes, it is a fact:  I did jinx this.)

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It amazes how one glimpse of them riding bikes together, or one moment of sweetness passed between two chubby hands can make up for ten ugly moments.  We are on a roller coaster of ups and downs, learning so much about cooperation and getting along.  It isn’t easy, but I really do see progress.  I see them using strong voices and big phrases helping them solve their own problems and it gives me so much hope.

Sometimes I wish I could travel to the future, just for a bit, to feel how hard I am going to miss holding little toes in the middle of the night so I can come back and thoroughly drink this up.  The fights, the making up, the hugs and the cuddles, the never ending snack delivering.  All of it.

I know that if I am lucky, that time will come and I will have empty arms and a full heart.  And for now I will sip up these baby cheeks with a straw.  They are so deliciously plump and perfect.

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What are your ideas for dealing with sibling squabbles?  How do you keep sane?

the garden

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The lilacs have just finished their jobs, but not before I could squeeze out one last vase of sweet smelling spring.  The most recent days have been cool; Cool enough for a fire even!  But the warm days before were enough to bring on the radish maggots.  I had to yank dozens.  Luckily we got to enjoy a few of those colorful spicy treats before the end was near.  This year I planted The valentines mix and the easter egg mix.  I will try to plant them EVEN earlier next year, to avoid those underground critters.  My eggplant starts were munched to bits before I could even get them into the ground!  So, knowing how precious those little purple globes are, I went to a nearby farm and picked out a few more to set in the ground.  It was really fun to visit another farm, and see how they do things.  This area is so full of them, it seems like you could visit a new one each week and never visit the same one twice in a year.

We have eaten a few salads from the garden now too which is beyond exciting.  I have a few different types of lettuce and spinach to mix in.  The other day, when we arrived home there was a giant bag of fresh greens on my porch step; A lovely gift from an egg exchange I supposed.  There is nothing quite as satisfying as eating fresh spicy bitter greens in the beginning of spring.  I remember last year, big and pregnant craving this so hard, I about ate the maple leaves right off the trees.  Thinking of this has given me a good giggle more than once.

We built a little sand box just outside my garden gate for trucks and building and digging.  It has been satisfactory for all the boys, and unfortunately a delicious treat for the littlest.  I have been trying to make the space surrounding the garden more welcoming.  We checked out a book from the library yesterday with patterns to build some rustic benches out of saplings.  This will likely not happen until my boys are grown and gone, but a girl can dream.

I am loving the garden this go around.  It is so nice to feel a bit more settled in this spot, and have a bit more knowledge of the perennials coming up.  For there is no lack in them, that is for sure.  I have been working in little chunks to eradicate some of the more spread types (COMFREY!) and to arrange the ones I cherish.  And most importantly I feel so at peace with growing what I can and knowing deep inside its OK that I get the bulk of my vegetables elsewhere.  My neighbors are amazing organic farmers.  In fact, I would say they are magical.  We rode bikes to our first CSA pick up yesterday and found ourselves with new potatoes, several pounds of chard and spinach and two gorgeous heads of buttery soft lettuce.  It is really exciting to grow your own nourishment, and this year, right now, I think it is equally lovely to leave it up to the experts.  But I’ll keep doing my best!

 

second chances

IMG_7027Freedom for children comes at a price.  It means making mistakes.   Sometimes really big ones.  It means letting go and seeing if you can trust.  It is pushing that trust so hard it breaks.  And then learning to trust again even when you feel they have pushed you too far.  It is giving second chances.  And third chances, and fourth chances.  Freedom is imperative to childhood.  Just as it is to all stages of life.

My boys have gotten into some trouble recently.  And today I am following through with a consequence I feel is natural enough. Though it turns out the punishment is sometimes more terrible for mama then the punished.  They are being watched today.  (Truth be told I got the idea from Pa Thanks Little House on the Prairie!).  No outside time, what so ever until lunch, which for these fellas that ain’t no easy task.  There are other strings attached, and I won’t bore you with the details.  I have not had to resort to such a classic type of parenting tactic.  And I know the reasons why.  My boys are just beginning to be that;  Boys.  They are hardly out of babyhood, some might argue they still are in the midst of it.  They have yet to have chances to really test their boundaries.  I will be honest, thinking of it all is terribly overwhelming and scary.  I so want give them the tools to help them make sound choices; Choices that they can be proud of.  I want to give them the confidence to stand in their truth, always, even when it feels bad inside to admit it.

And I know they are going to mess up.  And I know I am going to mess up.  And I know we will grow.  Thank goodness for that, huh?  That we have the choice, the chance, to never, ever stop growing.  

four legged things

While we are not (yet) willing to venture into the land of larger livestock, we are benefiting from neighbors who are!  We currently have two sweet cows grazing in our front pasture: Gladis and Erin, both due to calf in mid June.  We have been oh so carefully crossing the thick electric wire with a tray full of grain hoping to gain their trust.  So far it seems to be working as they usually finish up and then hound us for more, chasing us to the finish line.

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And my most direct neighbors are becoming fully stocked with fleeces these days.  Their herd is growing and we never miss a shearing.  It is really so fun to watch the whole process!  I FINALLY got around to washing this one she gave me from last fall.  You may remember a little midwifery I got to practice…  Well this is the babe I helped to welcome earth side.  I love this fleece and look forward to running it through a friends drum carder.  It is full of deep browns and silvery whites and even some patches of black.  It will make an interesting batch of yarn without a doubt.  Lee built me a few sizable screens to dry them on and I set them on the cinder blocks originally intended for the maple syrup arch, then morphed into cold frame and now a good sturdy drying rack.  They have certainly gotten there moneys worth at this point.

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I really do look froward to the day where we can have a family cow, or a few sheep to keep me knitting and now is not the time.  Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free???  (Or at least a really, really good price.)