Monday, March 28, 2011

Wild Weekend

It feels surreal to be "getting back to normal" after the weekend storm wee just had! For a few minutes this past Saturday, I thought we might need to evacuate from our house. So much rain fell in such a short time that the ground became completely saturated and earth began sliding all over the place. I have never seen a storm so powerful right next to my house! At one point part of the ditch that runs through my front yard came loose and clogged the drain that runs under the road. Water piled up against our fence and began to wash in large quantities over the road. I was so thankful when the whole neighborhood showed up and went waist deep in the stream to unclog the drain - saving theroad. Near our house (about six feet from the foundation) we have a retaining wall that started to go, tumbling blocks into the stream. Behind the house water flowed down in glassy sheets, every gopher hole ever dug sprang a leak! Two more huge mudslides just on our little road made getting out impossible for hours. Then we found our two main routes into town totally closed with firefighters standing around enforcing things!

Today things are clear and sunny and warm and the flowers are full and perky! It is a wild turn around. The two main roads I mentioned earlier are still in bad shape, losing ground underneath them. But they have opened them both as one lane roads while the county road crew considers the options.

As soon as the storm subsided and things were relatively stable, I went out and stocked up on staples and bought a new shovel! The experience made me realize that we are sorely underprepared for a quick departure. I will take some time this week to try and have a better emergency plan in place. If the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan was not enough to make me get my act together, a huge storm in my backyard sure did the trick!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Flowers

Spring is really starting to pop around here! I love my dog walks each day lately. Sometimes the fog hugs and sometimes the sky is clear blue and sunny, but always the spring greens and early flowers are full and lively!

My daughter took some wildflower books out of the library this week. I think she intends to make drawings for her art class. I opened one and immediately learned names and interes
ting facts and lore about some of my favorite spring wildflowers.

Here are some striking Hound's Tongue (Cynoglossum grande) growing along the trail on a shady wooded hillside. It gets its name from the shape of its l
eaves. In medieval times it was believed that if you laid these leaves beneath your feet, dogs would not bark at you as it was known to "tie the tongues of dogs". Later it was used, mixed with animal fat as a remedy for dog bites. Native Americans used the roots medicinally to treat colic and ulcers and topically to relieve pain from burns.
I am getting my annual craving for some nettles tea. The young Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) in the yard are just right for picking. I find it to be an excellent spring tonic, full of iron and vitality.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Trouble in the Hen House

After all these years with chickens, I suddenly have one who wants to eat eggs! This is new to me but, apparently it is not that uncommon. For now I seem to have solved it by adding lots of extra straw to the nest box and collecting the eggs several times each day. I am also giving the ladies extra calcium in the form of oyster shells. It may be that a craving for more calcium is driving the egg-pecker to her crime. I began to suspect something was wrong when my daily egg count began declining and I noticed a tell-tale wet and sticky spot in the nest box.

These last two days (since the new measures) my egg count is back up and I have a lovely fresh rainbow in my fridge!

I have one suspect, "Red", my only remaining Rhode Island Red. I already have one hen, Olivia, separated from the group, I really do not want to have to pull Red out as well. I did manage to make Olivia her own private condo, but I have not really had that carpentry craving lately.

Cooking and gardening are my main two pulls right now. Last night I made a rich stock with roasted vegetables and roasted oxtail. The beet tops give the stock this nice red color.

I had a feeling this would be a good meal to serve my family right now. Acacia seems a little low in iron and she needs to be on top of her game right now with the college entrance tests around the corner. Ziah, well, with the fractured jaw I figure feeding him a little oxtail might help his bone healing powers. Rowan is certainly hitting his stride with school and violin and soccer. It is just a joy to watch him in his peak of childhood days. Something about the 10 year old child is such a treasure to behold! I suppose it is made more special for me because I have the other two moving into and through adolescence and all of the new challenges that entails. Now that my youngest is about to move into this next phase of development, I truly savor these last precious days of open innocence. So I think perhaps I too need the extra boost the oxtail soup provides to help me keep up with these kids and other animals in my life!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Miso Soup and Mammograms

I have not made miso soup for a very long time, even though I make some sort of soup just about every week. Today I revisited it and it was delicious! This version was filled with green onion, carrot, daikon, burdock, broccoli and fresh oyster mushrooms. I made it in honor of my very first mammogram, which I received today.

I read ahead in one of my nutritional guides and it suggested drinking carrot juice before and eating miso soup after a mammogram just to help with the processing of any radiation. I also decided to drink a glass of Kombucha and take several droppers of reishi mushrooms for good measure.
I decided a while ago that I would go ahead and get a baseline mammogram at age40. Well, I turned 40 in January this year and so here I am submitting to a very strange machine. I was nervous because of stories I have read and heard about the pain of the actual process, but for me, it truly did not hurt a bit.

Next, after the results come back and I hopefully get the A-ok, I will need to consider whether I will get another mammogram every year. At this moment, I don't like the idea of exposing myself to that sort of x-ray every single year unless there is a reason for concern. When I saw my lady doctor last week we had this same conversation and it appears that even among the experts, there is no clear path.

For today, however, I am just spending some time taking care of myself, a novel idea! I had a luxurious meditation and a fine shower and then soup and garden time!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mishaps and Mysteries

Well, I wish I could say that I have just been on vacation and that is why I have not posted here in so long.

Part of my trouble with posting here is that my life in changing somewhat. I am no longer a home schooling mom. My kids are not so young anymore. I am still at home, but more of a straight up home-maker, not a home schooler. It is a new identity and since this blog started when I was a home-schooler, I am not certain exactly what to say here that might be interesting. When I was home-schooling I was always planning and full of good ideas. These days, I just move from one task to the next.

One thing that holds true through all my years of parenting is that rhythm is key! I love those weeks when the routine carries itself and our household runs smoothly, with tasty meals served on time, not too much homework and time to relax. I am lucky to get one week out of four like that lately! But I have experienced it and know it to be possible, so that is what I strive for.

This winter has brought a series of mishaps and mysteries with my children, forcing me to rearrange my priorities from one moment to the next. Of course, these trials also make me appreciate how lucky we are in so many ways!

First Rowan failed his vision exam at school. This might explain some of the challenges he has been experiencing with reading and letter reversals! I scheduled him for another exam with our own eye doctor - someone who specializes in developmental optometry, but that is still weeks away, so I have no idea if we will be heading for glasses or special (time consuming and frustrating) exercises or both. Luckily our family has vision insurance!

Next we have Ziah! This boy has had a rough season. First of all he had the flu, bona fide influenza! It is funny that he was the only one in our family to really get knocked down - fever, chills, aches and aches and aches. He missed a full week of school, with his public school teachers and administrators already on my case for too much missed school. He recovered a bit and then went down again with a sinus infection. This time he got antibiotics and began to pull himself together, but not before we had to cancel our annual family trip to the snow. Truly we could not afford the trip to the snow anyway so it was rather a blessing that we had to cancel. The real excitement came, however, when we took a little trip to Austin TX to see some sweet family. Ziah brought along his bike so that he could check out the semi-famous "9th Street Jumps" a series of small and large dirt bike jumps close to the center of the city. Ziah rode well all weekend and then just before we were set to leave for the airport, he wanted me to film him doing one set of jumps that he was proud of. There we all were, the smiling audience when, bang, he hit a tree! He was wearing a helmet but the tree hit his chin straight on, causing much blood and loose teeth! After a stint in the waiting room of the large city ER, we decided to walk out and catch our flight and deal with the whole thing in our home town. This turned out to be a good decision, but that flight seemed much longer than it usually does!

All in all, Ziah was lucky. He did fracture a small portion of his jaw bone (the part that holds the lower teeth in place), but his teeth actually look ok! He did not lose consciousness, something I am happy about with all the new research about repetitive concussions. He did need 9 stitches in his chin, but now he looks even more "badass" to use his phrase. He now has a strange looking wire cage along his lower teeth, but his jaw is not wired shut. He cannot chew for four to six weeks, but his favorite food is soup and he can now have a milkshake every day! Luckiest of all, we have excellent health insurance!

Now for dear Acacia. Hers are the mystery ailments that will require more investigation and may not be the right subject matter to delve too deeply into here in this forum. On the bright side, she is super enthused about school right now and is doing well or even better than well in her high-pressure prep school classes. She has her eye on the prize (which right now is college) and seems to be really coming into her young womanliness beautifully!

Through all of this runs the daily routine - meals, rides, homework, violin, chasing the chickens, hanging the laundry (yes, my dryer broke a while ago) and sweeping up the mountains of dog hair that seem to be taking over! I so look forward every day to my dog walking time. It is for this half hour or so, twice a day, I can breath, be calm, think clearly and spend time with my fur bag of unconditional love and slobber.