Wednesday, October 31

Halloween has had many different meanings to me since I was a little kid through today. I met my husband at a club on Halloween in 1997 - the one time I ever went to a Halloween party, and one of the few times I ever went to a club. I have made it through trick or treating in snow and fending off drunks and vandals.

I could not wait for trick or treating when I was little and Mom would always make my brother and I some great costumes for our night out. The volunteer fire department would have doughnuts and cider and we would walk around town with Mom and Dad in tow, begging for candy and treats at each house.

Years when the weather was bad were horrible - we had to ride in the car from house to house and all that sliding over the back seat to let our cousins in and out at each house was not easy on the costumes. One house occupied by an elderly couple, who seemed ancient to me and my brother, always gave out home made cookies in little plastic bags. i don;t remember is we ever actually ate them. This was the 80's during the candy poisoning and razor blade scares, and even though this was a very small town where everyone knew everyone else, I still don;t think we ever ate them.

One year everything was ruined when Grandma hit a deer on the way home from work - who works at night on Halloween? I remember thinking - and trick or treating was over after three houses. My brother and I spent the rest of the evening in the back seat of the car parked in someones driveway up the road from when the deer had met its Halloween fate, but father and others clearing it out of the road and assessing the damage to Grandma's Oldsmobile.

Teenage years meant no more candy, and being a small town, there was not a lot going on as far as parties or mischief. Mostly we spent the evening at the fire hall helping out with the cider and doughnuts and looked at all the lucky little kids in costumes and their bags of candy.

After I was married and we were still living in our first house in a not-very-nice-area, Halloween turned into something I dreaded every year. I prayed each year for rain or very cold temperatures or even snow. It would keep some of the vandals and thieves at bay and we could have a semi-peaceful night with all the outdoor lights on, the dogs inside and the doors locked. One year, our car windows were broken, another year, the cars broken into and things stolen. One year the house next door had a party and we had a very drunk college student fall through a section of our wooden privacy fence, scattering wood pieces everywhere and setting the dogs off for an hour or so of barking.

Needless to say, we never got any trick or treaters.

Now at the new house, we still don;t get any trick or treaters due to the rural setting, but I have never really embraced Halloween again. Costumes get on my nerves now and the smell of those rubber masks turns me to coughing. And don;t even get me started on how gross all that oily face paint is. I have a plastic pumpkin on the front porch with a face that lights up at night and that is about it.

This year the little man will be Diego and he will be going around to the local homes with Roy if the weather stays half way decent. The baby and I will be home on the couch watching The Walking Dead marathon and keeping the fire going in the wood stove.

Tuesday, October 30

Storm Report - 8:30am

A windy and rainy night here but i am happy to report that it was not nearly as bad as I thought it might be. Some downed branches in the yard and the Halloween pumpkin flag has seen better days (I forgot to take it down), but compared to some of the photos i am seeing from areas a lot closer to the coast, we are fine.

The lake was churning last night and they did evacuate some of the homes along the immediate shoreline. Power is out for some people and schools are closed but the little man, the baby and I will be enjoying a play dough and lego kind of day since there is no pre-school today.

In our area, I believe that there was a little bit of over-reacting by the weather people. People cleaned out local grocery stores of D batteries, bread and bottled water. Generators were in short supply.

I can not tell you how wonderful it felt last night, when the wind was gusting and the rain was pounding, to know that we would be fine. If the power went out, we would have been fine. The generators would run the fridge and freezer, the wood stove would still be pumping out heat and thanks to our solar charged batteries, we would still have our internet service. A stocked pantry, plenty of baby supplies, wood stacked on the porch - goodness, that was a wonderful feeling.

According to the most current weather map what is left of the storm looks like it will be right on top of us Wednesday morning.

Monday, October 29

Storm Report - 9:30PM

Tuesday night and we still have power here at the house. It flickered a few times and the lights dimmed but we hung on and things are still humming.

The high wind warning is still in effect and we are getting hammered with rain.

Time to retire upstairs and await what might happen during the night.

Sunday, October 28

A Farm for the Future

I watch the documentary quite often. It inspires me and keeps me motivated in doing what we do here.

Saturday, October 27

Just. Let. Go.

Last week I started an email to a friend with the following: The weather is miserable and the kids are insane and I need to go grocery shopping but there is no way I am taking two insane children out in the rain to the grocery store. So we are watching Scooby Doo and eating pizza. I am supposed to be on a diet and little man watches too much tv as it is, but sometimes good intentions just go right out the window.

Weather influences everything. It always has and always will in any form, with climate change making it all the more challenging. Crops, moods, building plans, animal husbandry and summer sports schedules - all are influenced by and revolve around weather patterns.

When the rain was coming down that day last week - all day, cold and miserable - the kids and I were both channeling the mood.

The sun is setting much earlier which makes the days feel rushed and incomplete. The surprising 80 degree days like yesterday and today must be doing something to scatter us all off our axis - one extreame to the other and there is more to come.

The weather is this drastic in its changes, it seems to greatly effect my mood and my outlook on just about everything. that rainy day I was perfectly happy to do absolutely nothing, sabotage my diet and engage in an obscene amount of television watching and internet surfing. The summer-like days had me itching to get out in the yard and get something done - anything done. I was short with Roy in that there was not enough time to get the laundry list of projects done that I had wanted to check off and he grew aggrivated with me as a result. Drastic weather changes definately effect my mood.

And now Sandy is coming and it threatens to bring a great deal of rain and high winds to our area starting Monday afternoon. I am not worried. We are prepared.

But that fact was not making my mood any lighter. So I went outside and stood in the wind. If all this crazy weather was going to disrupt my frame of mind then it would help me knock things back into perspective. The wind was strong today - enough to snap branches and send a great deal of dry leaves flying across the side field. I stood there and let it hit me like a slap in the face. I tried to picture all the nasty and unsettling emotions being carried away with the leaves in the side field.

I don't know if it was some cosmic, fortune teller sort of fairy magic that made me feel better or the fact that I was outside, alone and standing quietly but I felt better. So I thought I could take it one step further. I thought about all the things that have been happening here lately - disappointments, stressful situations, anxious waiting, anger, fear, anticipation - and I just let go.

Just. Let. Go.

I pictured the gusts taking away all the pent up energy that had been gathering inside me for weeks - the kind of energy that makes me clench my jaw and grind my teeth all night while I sleep. The kind that makes me snap at people I care about and worry about things over which I have no control. I pictured all the horrible anxiety working it's way down the lengths of my hair and being shaken and snapped free at the ends by the wind, like water after a shower.

If I can get rid of this anxious state of living, just think of how great things would be. Why is a windy day better than a bottle of xanax?

A fovorite author of mine once wrote something that has stuck with me. I hope that she does not mind if I quote her here in that I mean it as the highest compliment. How simple it really all is...

 "Whatever your destination know that the day is passed, the fight has stopped, and there is nothing more you can do but rest and heal. Set aside the day's anger and fear. Whatever haunts you is not welcome here, and it is too late in the day to do anything else towards that fight. My dearest friend, you can relax."

Just. Let. Go.
It's that simple.
How has this evaded me for so long?

Monday, October 15

Barn Tours, Sick Days and Birthday Parties

There has been no shortage of exciting activity around here for the past couple of weeks. And by 'exciting activity' I mean heavy frosts and trips to the grocery store with both children that did not result in paying for any damages (among other things).

Preparing for winter has been on the top of the list. We have officially put the vegetable garden to bed for the season, checked all the windows for gaps and we are bringing up loads of wood to the front porch. We are ready to settle in for whatever this winter will throw at us. Last year was very mild in our area so I am expecting a cold and heavy season this time around.

As if to kick off the cold weather festivities, we have all been slogging through our first colds of the fall. The little man and the baby were the first to fall victim with the runny noses and the coughing. A weeks worth of rest and constant humidifier running turned things around for them, just in time for Roy and I to take our turns. We are all germ free for the moment and feeling well - ready to enjoy as much fall as there is left before the snow flies.
We had our first hard frost last week and the last three pepper plants did not stand a chance. They were just about done so I did not bother to cover them. The next day I went out and removed the three wilting plants from the garden and, after a few coatings of dead leaves and grass clippings, the garden will go to bed for the winter hibernation.
The baby turned 1 this past week and we had not just one, but three parties to mark the occasion. Not because we love to party, but because of family living a bit too far away and older relatives not able to travel. A party here, a party at the Grandparents and a party at the Aunt and Uncles and the whole family tree was represented. I can not believe that she is 1 already.

She currently has 4 teeth, a moderately bad temper and she will be walking any day now. She is already giving the little man a run for his money and one of her favorite activities is to ambush the little man when he is laying on the floor by crawling up and smacking him in the face. He loves it and they are actually playing well together, which I love.

We were all over our colds for this past weekend so I left Roy home with the kids while I went on an historic barn tour with my Mom. Centered around some of the older barns in the area where I grew up, that were still in really good condition, the tour was a very interesting mix of construction, function and historical musings. One of the barns was located on a working alpaca farm and the owner generously opened up the gates for the tours so we were able to wander the whole operation.

Alpacas are interesting creatures that just make me scream "you can do this - it seems so easy" in my homesteading brain. They are cute, they seem calm, they graze the field all day and their fiber is amazing. Then I saw the section of the barn where the medications, syringes and other tools of the trade were kept. Giving shots to 95+ alpacas might not be the way I want to spend my day. So I bought a pair of gloves and a pair of socks at the little shop they have onsite.

The barn tour also provided a demonstration on hand hewing barn beams. Kevin Holtz set up near the town fire hall and we watched as he used a period ax to strike and shape an 8 foot log into a substantial beam. He graciously answered any and all questions and I struck up a conversation with him about the future of the American Chestnut tree. Turns out that he went to the same college as Roy and that the college is currently in the middle of the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project. A very interesting site well worth the time to go through.

A blight-resistant American chestnut tree...... I want one.
The photos in this post are from the barn tour. 


Friday, October 5

The fisher cat was out again the other night and I got his vicious little scream on video. Listen at about 10 seconds in and at about 27 seconds in.