Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moving Right Along

Despite some unforeseen challenges, we are still plugging away at the original plan for the week - cleaning house!  The truck is loaded to overflowing with things headed for donation or the dump.

It finally stopped raining late this afternoon and I think it's supposed to only be cloudy tomorrow... no rain. 

And we have a tentative solution for the well issue.

The frogs are peeping away like crazy outside my bedroom window, filling me up and making me smile.

My more than exhausted self is going to knit a few rows, read a few pages about sheep, and rest my droopy eyes.

Things are good and moving right along.

Silver lining

OK... So, I vow to be positive here.  Yes, I'll be very, very positive.  Look on the bright side, as it were.  Walk on the sunny side of the street.  See the cup half full.  Find the silver lining....

I was very productive today.  I got lots done outside despite the pouring rain.  I flat out refused to wear a raincoat, thinking, "If I don't put on a raincoat, it'll stop raining".  Hmm... sometimes that works.  Not today, but that didn't slow me down.  I continued turning compost, hauling woodchips, laying new bedding in the coop, slipping in the mud, and making new ruts in the yard with the wheelbarrow.  Yes, we have reached complete saturation here on the Olympic Peninsula... when the earth cannot hold a single drop more water.  The ground feels like pudding beneath my feet.  Every step is slightly risky since my feet may going flying out from under me as they slide helplessly through the slimy, slippery, saturated mud. Ahh... dear sweet Western Washington, oh how I love your unbelievably uncanny rainfall.

So, come 4:30 this afternoon, it was time for me to wash up and get ready to take Sequoia to gymnastics again.  I waded through the mud, looking like a drowned rat in my wool sweater, to the laundry/mud room and peeled off layers of wet clothes.  I breathed a delighted sigh of cozy relief as I stepped into the warm shower to soak my chilled and soggy bones.  I leaned deeply into the steaming stream and... it fizzled away.  Just like that.  Water one second, gone the next.

Yes, dear friends, our well failed.  I can't help but note the irony that it hasn't stopped raining in weeks (with the one day exception last week).  There is so much water everywhere, and yet my well is done.
N o t   a   s i n g l e   d r o p.  Ha!!!  That's right!

I guess I should restate the situation.  Bright side, after all.  Our well did not fail, just the well pump.  Actually, we don't really know that for sure until we replace the pump.  So, we can either pull the pump (and pipe) up 275 feet out of the ground and replace it and hope that it just failed on its own and not because the well is actually dry, or we can drill a new well.  Problem with solution number one: we are at saturation level in our neck of the woods and the boom truck required for the job can't get to the well without sinking.  Therefore, it would require being hauled in and out with a bulldozer ($$$)... and there is no guarantee that replacing the pump would solve the problem!  Yeesh!  Problem with solution number two: drilling a 275+ foot well in a mountain comprised of solid rock ain't cheap either.  We are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  For real.

OK.. so positive perspective.  Right.  That's what I need right now.

The kids had a blast doing things "olden days" style this evening!  You know, boiling water for washing dishes and things.  It's lovely timing since I had actually planned a trip to our local Pioneer Museum for next week - that's where Cedar is at with his US History studies.  See, the universe just handed me a curriculum enhancement learning opportunity.  That's all!

Literally 20 minutes before the well failed Steve and I had been discussing a desire to set up an outdoor/outhouse style composting toilet; a project that would have taken us forever to get to.  Now I have a plan to work on it first thing tomorrow morning!  (Along with a bucket with wood shavings for use in the house during the night.)

I got a much needed reminder that I am quite happy to live just a couple miles from where I work and that I have a great boss who is so understanding and helpful in times of need.  I was able to zip on down to the farm for jugs of water for drinking and dishes.

I also got a gentle nudge in the direction of our permaculture pursuits.  See, in permaculture design, the needs for basic infrastructure (such as water) are met in various ways.  In other words, plan for disaster and design for it.  It's prudent for one to incorporate several water sources into one's overall infrastructure.  With all of the changes that have been happening around the homestead lately, I have been thinking a lot about the big picture design for our little piece of land.  Now, thanks to this little snafu, I have a bit more to think about!

Honestly, it's nice to have reminders.  Yeah mama, get back to the basics.  Remember just how sweet it is to have flowing water at my fingertips.  Find strength and gratitude in simple things like pooping in the woods rather than in our most valuable natural resource.
Hmm... silly, but a silver lining, nonetheless.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wow, that's a lot of stuff...

Anyone who walked into our house right now would think we were moving.  There is stuff everywhere.  We spent all weekend pulling everything out of the attic and beginning the process of sorting through it all.  What a job!

There's stuff all down the stairs, piles across the living room floor, heaps filling my bedroom, and stacks in each of the kids' rooms.  Boy, did we open a can of worms!  While the work is tedious, it's also been fun rediscovering things we haven't seen in a long time.

I found an old knitting book my grandma gave to my mom and me back in 1987.  It was published in 1971!  Tucked inside the jacket, I found the note she sent along with the book and a sheet of bird stamps she thought I might like.  It's funny, I don't remember collecting bird stamps, but apparently I did!  It was a sweet find that I am very happy to now have at my fingertips since I can't stop knitting these days.

The kids discovered a box full of Garbage Pail Kids cards from Steve's childhood.  Those things are so friggen gross, but the kids loved them.  They spent at least two hours looking through and sorting them all, laughing hysterically the whole time.  Listening to them made me chuckle!

Next, they found Steve's old comic books and Mad Magazines.  Even more hours of entertainment!

I also got to dig out and sort through my entire fabric stash.  Our house is rather funny, and while it has a couple of big rooms, those rooms make up most of the house and there aren't a lot of individual little spaces.  Simply put, there are four of us living in a two bedroom house creatively.  Anyway... this has made it so that I don't really have any space to use as a crafting or office area.  My dresser serves as my office and bins in the attic serve as sewing/crafting storage.  Needless to say, this does not lend well to productivity.  But I'm working on it!  Pulling everything out of the attic was a great first step!  It was so fun!  I have so much great fabric that I have collected over the years that I totally forgot about.  I can't wait to start getting productive with it!

Among the exciting, happy finds, there were a few sad ones as well.  As some of you know, one thing I really enjoy is making costumes.  I have made a few really fun ones over the years, my favorite being a dragon I made for Cedar when he was about 3 years old.  It got many years of good use before going into a box in the attic awaiting a new friend.  Unfortunately, mice found it first.  A box of beautiful fabrics that I brought home from my time in Kenya had the same fate.  Most of the fabric was salvageable, but a couple were goners.  Oh well... good lessons in letting go.

Jellyfish - one of the costumes that survived the attic!

And letting go we are!  It feels so good to be getting stuff out of this house!  I love purging.  Just let it go and get it gone....

The weekend's motivation sponsored by Elysian Jasmine IPA and The Clifford Ball - WARNING: impromptu dance parties may ensue.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring cleaning

Steve is taking next week off from work so that we can tackle some spring cleaning.  We plan to finally deal with loads and loads of stuff that were never dealt with when we moved into this house in a hurry nearly six years ago.

We bought the house in the heat of the market boom and the sellers were in a rush to close and move on as quickly as possible because they were trying to close on another house that was contingent on the sale of this house.  Anyway... long story short, our home purchase went freakishly fast.  We closed less than a month after we saw it for the first time.  Needless to say, buying a house isn't a cheap thing, so we needed to get out of our rental asap.  And, we moved in even more of a super hurry because Steve was scheduled to leave country for a while.  So... in less than a month's time, we found, inspected, negotiated, bought and closed on a house, packed up everything we owned, moved it to the new house only to discover the former owners left all the stuff they didn't want behind, and unloaded all our stuff anyway because, woosh!, Steve left the next day for China.  To say that it was a whirlwind, would be a massive understatement.  And to say that we have been way too busy to really deal with the fallout ever since would also be putting it mildly.

So, here we find ourselves, back at the point of this post.  Today begins what we hope to be the biggest, deepest, most ruthless and dispelling spring cleaning ever.  Out with all the stuff the previous owners left behind!  Out with all the stuff we never had time to sort through!  Out with all the things we never touch or use!  Yes!  It'll be a whole new world around here.

In the midst of the cleanse, we also hope to get some outside projects worked on.  Haul, split and stack more firewood.  More sheet mulching.  Some spring sowing.  But, when the weather forecast looks like this:

it's rather hard to feel motivated for outside tasks.  Ugh! We got one clear day this past week for the first time in over two weeks.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am always looking at land in other places.

But, hopefully this weather will keep us focused on the task at hand - Spring Cleanse 2011!  So, bring on the music, the coffee, and the satisfaction of a job well done!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yay Spring!

Today was beautiful!  The first nice day we've had in several weeks.  Oh, it felt so good to see blue sky and feel sun on my face.

The kids and I took full advantage.  We went for a nice long walk through the woods to the beach and picked baskets full of spring nettles.  Hooray for nettles!  They are so delicious and nourishing, especially after a long, dark winter.
Sequoia decided the easiest way to carry her basket was on her head.

Ducks and loons riding the current as the tide went out.

Filling baskets.
You can see from Sequoia's goggle face that winter still isn't quite over yet... yesterday was great on the mountain!  

Throughout our walk we discussed, among many other things, what all we might make with our succulent harvest.  Cedar is strongly in favor of nettle raviolis.  Last spring, while Steve's mom and her husband, Lou, were visiting from New York, we made several hundred nettle raviolis.  Our kitchen became rav central with people at every station- some mixing dough, some mixing the stuffing, rolling out dough, stuffing, folding, cutting, and the kids whipping up the most amazing "scrapiolis" from the dough scraps you could ever imagine.  It was heaven.  Somehow, I'm pretty sure Cedar will get his ravioli wish come true again this year.  Now, if we could just magically whisk the grandparents in from the east coast....

With my recently discovered gluten intolerance, I must insist that raviolis be just one of the nettle delicacies we indulge in this year.  Lucky for me, we harvested plenty.


Gotta watch out for those hairs/spines!

Such a beautiful plant.

I have several spots still tingling from hours ago.... love it!
Can you tell I look forward to nettle season all year?  It's so fleeting and so amazing.

Believe it or not, there are many other signs of spring around the homestead as well.  Signs that are making my fingers itch to do more than inside chores, knitting and tickling the computer keys.  These tingly fingers are digging back into the soil!  Today, after our nettle walk, the kids did math and spelling while I made lunch, then back outside we went.  I got to spend the rest of the afternoon hauling chicken poop... heaven.  Seriously.  It was fantastic!  I got two beds in the main veggie garden covered with wet cardboard, then mulched with this winter's partially composted straw and chicken manure.  Soon, more layers of fully composted material go on top until the beds are ready for planting.  It felt so good to move load after load from the chicken yard to the garden.  My body is ready to wake up after a long winter's nap.
One of the beds I worked on today.
I was so blissed out moving poop and building beds that I lost track of time.  I grabbed Q (Sequoia) in a hurry and zipped off to gymnastics.  Only when I sat down in the bleachers among the other smartly dressed parents chatting about their neighborhood association did I realize that maybe other people don't have the same deep love and appreciation for my chickens' fabulous fecal fertilizer as I do.  I discreetly shifted a little further down the bleachers and hung my fertility clad boots over the far edge.
Umm.... moving right along.

 More spring springing forth:
The raspberries are bursting from the canes.
Egg production is increasing.
The house is full of peeping.
And they are so cute.
So cute indeed.  We can't keep our hands off them, or them off our hands!
And, as for Napali junior... you remember, the November chick... well, she turned out to be a he.  And he has just started his adolescent crowing.  Hmmm, how lovely.  However frustrating, we are all so smitten after our winter together by the woodstove, he'll be sticking around as part of the clan.  Say hello to this handsome young man.
Napali Jr. and some of the ladies working in the garden.

I hope that wherever you are, spring is popping up all around you!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Shall Not Be Moved...

There is so much, I can't do it justice.  Suffice it to say, it's been a full month or so.  So full... so full indeed.

I shall not, I shall not be moved
I shall not, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's standing by the water
I shall not be moved

The highlight of my last few weeks, by far, was having the amazing opportunity to see Maya Angelou speak.  She is such an inspiring being.  I literally had goosebumps for the entire hour or so that she spoke, and tears for most of it as well.  Not tears of sadness, but those of immense admiration and overwhelm of so many feelings at once.  To sit with someone who has experienced so much and overcome so much and has lived a life so rich... who can fold those experiences into such beautiful prose... well, I was moved.  Every word she spoke that evening went strait to the center of my heart.  Singing these words with this 82-year-old powerhouse of wisdom and compassion while the vibrations echoed off the walls shook me to my core.  You could have pushed me over with a feather.  And yet I sing....

I shall not, I shall not be moved
I shall not, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's standing by the water
I shall not be moved

Thank you, Maya Angelou, for sharing your genius, your strength and your love with the world.  Just as you spoke of, you openly offer your talent, and what a gift it is.  I am forever grateful.  I will strive to remember that, always, someone is watching and learning, so be mindful of what I inadvertently teach.  When I get, give.  When I learn, teach.  And never should we hide our gifts inside.  For gifts, after all, are meant for giving.... 

I shall not, I shall not be moved
I shall not, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's standing by the water
I shall not be moved