Showing posts from July, 2018

Something is a little different

You may have been a little startled when you opened up the blog, and everything looked different. Since it had been a year since we had lived in the Big Ugly House, I contacted my web designer, otherwise known as my sister-in-law, and asked if she would help me out again and come up with a new look. Once again, I love what she has done.

We have decided to call our place Bittersweet Farm. The move to this place has been both hard and wonderful; bitter and sweet. It seemed an appropriate name. (Adding to the appropriateness is the amount of deadly nightshade, otherwise known as bittersweet, that I've pulled up over the past year. I'm sure we're still not done with it.) What I also love about the name is the word order. It ends on sweet and not bitter. It reminds me that the best is yet to come.

So welcome to our new place. It's still Ordinary Time, because I still believe that there is great sacredness and purpose in ordinary things, but we're living life in a differ…

Well this explains a lot

It seems that there is another, little known, benefit of having a large family: the ability to play telephone around the dinner table. Now, I know almost all of you are familiar with the game, but since I know I have a large international audience, I'll explain it in case it's an American thing. To play telephone, you get a large number of people to sit in a circle. One person comes up with a sentence, and whispers it to the next person. That person then whispers what they heard to the person on their other side. The message gets passed from person to person around the circle until it reaches the last person before the one who started the message. That person then announces what the message is, often to the hilarious amusement of others because it is often extremely far removed from the original message.

So last night we played telephone at the end of dinner. I don't even remember what started it, but it was pretty funny. The most hilarious example was the one the L. began…

Putting the cart, er... saddle, before the horse

We continue to prepare to have horses. If you are at all aware of the equine world, you will know that inexpensive and horses do not go together. Besides the actual animal itself, there is a lot you need. So when I saw a notice that someone was selling a bulk lot of horse supplies for a pretty fair price, I jumped on it.

Three saddles, not in pristine shape, but decent enough for trail or casual riding. Some girths, stirrup irons, a huge stack of breeches, an even bigger stack of horse blankets of various weights, feed buckets, hoof picks, halters, fly masks, and a few show coats are just some of the things J. and I hauled home today. It was a good deal even if some of the things don't end of up working. I do have a little repair work to do on some of the blankets, but that is something I can manage.

So to recap... horse trailer? Check. Saddles? Check. Blankets? Check.

Fencing? No....

Some kind of shelter? No....

And thus no horse.

I have a new article published. …

Friday bullets, July 13, 2018

And here we are again...

Look at this:
These are the first two eggs laid by our hens. They are probably, at this point, the most expensive eggs in history. And since they're the first eggs from a young hen or hens, they are still a bit small. Here they are next to a regular store bought egg.

Y. was the first one to find the egg. It was very exciting.
It gives me hope that the rest of the hens will start to get with the egg laying program, and won't just be feed-eating patio decorations. What in the world did I ever blog about before we had chickens?With J. home for the time being, we are working on jobs that can get done. Painting the kitchen has risen to the top of the pile. It truly has the worst paint job in the world. It's sort of pinky-lavender, but with "decorative" splotches on it, so it is not one single color. There are many things to dislike about it, but the thing that drives me most crazy is that it always looks dirty. Dirty looking walls in a kitchen ar…

Life is just a bowl of cherries

Guess what we did yesterday? In my continuing efforts to can all the fruit, we went cherry picking. I adore cherries; they truly are my favorite fruit.

The cherry orchard is a couple of hours away, so we first had to have our picnic before the grueling work of cherry picking.

Then it was on to the cherries.

We picked 12 gallons. Want to see what 12 gallons of cherries looks like?

After you pick them, you take them to the wash stand to wash them. After they are clean, you then have them pitted. I really love the fact that we don't have to pit 12 gallons of cherries!

Guess what I will be doing over the next few days? I have the cherry jam and cherry pie filling recipes already laid out and ready to go. Is it odd that there is a small part of me that worries we didn't pick enough?

Serial obsession

I came across this phrase a while ago, and found that it pretty perfectly describes how I learn. I will find one thing overwhelmingly interesting, and spend all my free time reading about it or trying to do it or generally learning about it. After a while, once I have sated my curiosity or reached a functional level of ability, I will set that thing aside and move on to something else. Usually, I will circle back and revisit that thing, but at a different level. Even as a child I would do this, with non-school subjects.

I find many of my children function the same way. The past two days, the current obsession has been hand sewing. L. (who so often is the instigator of the next obsession) decided that BlueBlue, her precious blue teddy bear needed lunch to take to school with him. So she got out the felt and thread and started creating felt food.

Here is BlueBlue with his entire lunch.
He has a glass of milk.
Cookies with candy on top, salad with tomatoes and dressing, and a couple of s…

How to have a rotten day

Step 1: When you wake up, be sure to focus on all the bad or worrisome things in your life. Do this before you have even gotten out of bed. It will set the tone for the entire day. Do not under any circumstances think of all the things you have going for you. Brains devote more space to things that are repeated. Thus, a brain practiced in looking for the good or being thankful for what is around them will do so easily and habitually. If you want to have a rotten day, you will need to guard against this.

Step 2: Delay getting up and going. If you can do this while also focusing on the less-than-spectacular aspects of your life, so much the better. And to truly get your day off to the worst start possible, delay getting up until you are well past your usual rising time. Being dressed and put together before heading out of the bedroom can make you feel organized and on top of things. This could very well derail your rotten day, so be sure to avoid it. Lounge around in pajamas for as long…

Garden update

As I mentioned last Friday, the garden is booming. I still have moments of just standing and staring at it, because I find the whole thing so surprising. I thought you might like to see some pictures.

Look at all my tomato plants!
And cucumbers
If you look carefully, you can see some very large hot peppers on this plant.
This odd plant is called a cardoon, and its presence in the garden is due solely to staring too long at seed catalogs in the dead of winter. It seems you eat the stalks, after more than a little bit of labor. I'm sure I will let you know how this little experiment goes.
See that squash growing up the side of the dead tree? This is another too-much-seed-catalog purchase. This is an edible gourd, which I'm told can be used like zucchini. The cool thing is that the gourds grow very long and look like snakes. I picture them hanging down from the dead branches of this tree. It sounds pretty cool in theory, huh?
The garden from the other side.
This is the other, sma…

Feeling kvetchy

I've been feeling vaguely irritable all day, and I find this mood hasn't left me when it is time to sit down and write a blog post. Consider yourself warned, because I probably won't be very popular with a certain segment of people.

Most of you know we have homeschooled for nearly 22 years now, if you include that homeschool pre-school co-op I did with M. ages and ages ago. During those 22 years, a lot has changed. Homeschooling has gone from just became legal in all 50 states to a much larger movement that is seen as a target market ripe for the picking by anyone who makes or sells anything vaguely educational. The other change over the past 22 years is the rise of the internet and all those small electronic devises with which we surround ourselves. It's a whole new homeschooling world, and I often feel like the crotchety grandmother.

While there are many things that I could find irksome in this new homeschooling world, the one that most irritates me is the use of com…

Friday bullets, July 6, 2018

And just like that, it's the end of the week and the middle of July. I need summer to slow down just a little bit.

These flowers were a gift from friends when they came over for dinner a while back.
TM has named them "Rainbow Bunny Tails". I have no idea what their official name is, but I love Rainbow Bunny Tails so much, that it is what they shall forever be known as. The garden is doing really well. I have completely weeded it, and reseeded some things that needed it, but for the most part, everything is growing well. We had baby bok choy from the garden, and I've picked a couple of cucumbers already, with many more on the way. This is good, because I plan on making quarts and quarts of dill pickles, since my family can eat their weight in the things. The 24 tomato plants are starting to set fruit, and I cannot wait for fresh tomatoes. L. will still not sit on the cushions on the dining room chairs. We had adult children and adult children's friends over for the …

Learning new things

I just finished a book about micro-mastery, which sounded really interesting at first, and then just became vaguely annoying. I was disappointed because the premise was good. It wasn't annoying because of errant information or ideas, it's just that the author came up with some catchy phrases to describe an idea, and then forced everything else into his neat little jargonish mold. Oh, and the breathlessness with which he delivered this less-than-earth-shattering discovery was also a little tedious. It made me sigh. A lot.

So why do I even bring this up, since I'm obviously not going to recommend this book to you? Well, because I still like the idea of it, even if I found the author trying. The main idea is that anyone can learn to do a lot of different things well enough. The corollary to that is by learning to do a lot of different things well enough, it makes you a more interesting person, plus all those different things inform one another and increase your creativity.

I …

Luddite dreams

(I realized after I wrote this, that today is the 4th of July, and this is not even a vaguely related post. Sorry.)

I have a very short fuse when it comes to things, particularly electrical or technological or mechanical things, not working right. My theory is that I expend so much of my limited patience on the people in my life, that there just isn't a lot left over for the non-sentient things. I expect them to work when I want them to work, and have no tolerance for when they don't. (See But how will I practice my mad kick boxing skills, for reference.) I also don't like to rely on them too much, for the same reasons. We are not a family awash in the latest tech gadgets, much to some of my children's dismay.

You need to know this backstory to understand why I came very close to ditching my smart phone yesterday in order to go back to my flip phone. (And since it is still updating as I write this, to my mind, the jury is still out as to whether that actually becomes a…

Empty fish tanks

In M.'s world, there is not such thing as too many tanks. (You might have figured this out for yourself from yesterday's post.) When we cleaned things out last year in order to move, I think there were five empty tanks that we gave away, from M. having collected them. So it doesn't surprise me that M. moved in with an extra tank. An extra tank just waiting to be filled with... something.

Here is where you discover at least one reason why the younger half of the family is all so thrilled with M. moving home. With empty tanks, young children can be instructed to go fill up a pitcher from the stream and empty it into the the empty tank. That way they can discover what is living in the water.

This particular time, there were snails and water nymphs visible in the water. (Snails you can see in the photograph, water nymphs, not so much.)

The small dark spots are snails
M. continues to be an extremely popular older sibling. 

The zoo has arrived

Yesterday, J. drove into the city, helped M. load up a vast amount of animals and a few possessions, and brought them all out here. For the next two years, M. and animals will be living here. Well, at least on the property.

This has been a year in the planning. M. had decided a new life path needed to be forged, so has decided to go back to school to get a vet. tech. degree. In preparation, money has been saved, a trailer bought, moved, and gutted, and a job resignation turned in. This month will see a great amount of work on the gutted trailer. M. would really like to be living in it by the end of summer. In the meantime, The third floor crew is playing host to M. and several animals.

Want to see the zoo that arrived yesterday before dinner?

Downstairs, we have a tank with Secunda, the long-lived African clawed frog, who is probably around 15 years old now. This is not Secunda's first time to move home.

Also downstairs is a tank with guppies and snails.

Upstairs on the third floo…