Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Her Masterpiece & Creme Fraiche

When you grow or raise much of your own food, there are many stories to accompany the meal. Let's just say our food has a "face." Sometimes as we eat we count how many of the dinner items have been provided by our own land, or at least grown locally.
Today I have a new story to tell- a little sad and amazing. I went to check the eggs this morning, and I noticed one of the hens slumped over in the nesting box. Her head was down, which is not normal for a hen in the process of laying an egg. I poked her gingerly, and horrified, I realized she was dead! We have had one hen laying double yolked eggs lately, which is a sign of old age in hens. I found the double-yolker-layer. And on taking her dying breath, she produced her last masterpiece. As I scooped the dead hen out of her nest, her last egg sat still warm from her body's heat. Oliver had the honor of eating the last double-yolker.

On another note, we have been enjoying the season's delicious strawberries.Now we have another reason to love them even more! I just learned a new way to make Creme Fraiche at home. Creme Fraiche is a sweet,thick cream. To make your own, stir in two Tablespoons of sour cream(not light) into a cup or two of heavy cream(ours is unpasteurized, but It's fine to use pasteurized). Allow the mixture to sit out for twenty-four hours at room temperature (you may cover with a light cloth). When the cream is done it should be thick and sweet. The longer it stands, the thicker it gets. Pour over strawberries and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Tommy devoured two bowls of strawberries and cream...

Anna gave hers to Tommy....

Tommy being silly...

Emily took this picture of Mary Margaret:

May is a special month to honor Mary. Emily took this pictue and I just discovered it while writing this blog entry:

Monday, May 17, 2010


I want to do something. I want to put the "Yes" back into "YESterday." Yes, I walked to the creek with Tommy when he asked. Yes, I called that friend I haven't talked to in several months. "Yes, I love you." Yes, I sat in the sun when I felt weary. "Yes, I can read that book to you," and "Yes, I can help you tie your shoes." I paused, I thought, and I said one simple word: "YES!"

"Yes!" To Life (My sister's stunning photography)

"Yes !" To My Children, and More "Yes!" To My Children! (click to see some neat links on saying "Yes!")

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Library Musings: A Composer, A Pilot, and a Little Backyard History

I might have titled this post: "The Library: All You Would Ever Need To Get An Education." The irony of the title, however, is that the books in the library are only a fraction of what would contribute to your "education." For starters, most libraries these days have access to the Internet,programs for people of all ages, puppets, CDs to check out(And how about those new play aways?....stories that you just plug earphones in to-our library even supplies the batteries!)

Despite all these wonderful avenues to learning provided by the library,there is a unique dimension to the library learning experience.The library is a place where people are coming together, of their own accord, to seek and use knowledge for a variety of purposes.Such an environment naturally leads to connections made, thoughts discussed, ideas explored.

Last week I read with the children the inspiring and true tale of Oliver Messiaen. Messiaen was a composer in a Concentration camp during the Holocaust. I won't spoil the story, but it is worth finding and reading the book (check your library, first!!) While at the library, I decided to ask the librarian if the library has a copy of the "Quartet For The End Of Time," The piece that Messiaen composed while a prisoner.

I was telling the story of Messiaen's life to the librarian, when another patron inquired, "Exactly what is this music and composer you are talking about?" I told him about the story, as well, and he was very intrigued. He queried, "Are you a grammar music teacher? I know when I was little we sang "ring-around-the rosie" and "Mother Goose"; that was about it! We didn't have anything like you are teaching!"
I told him, "I am a grammar music teacher of sorts, but not in the way you are thinking! I home school my children." He went on to say how great that was, etc...

The conversation then took a turn. Talking about music somehow led to discussing aviation. Turns out that the librarian(Jack), the other patron, and Travis(Smithdeal Dad) are all pilots. Jack said he read that only one percent of the population has its pilot's license. We remarked how coincidental it is that so many aviators were in one spot. We discussed aviation for about ten minutes, touching on topics from home built planes to Orville and Wilbur Wright. Turns out that the patron who is a pilot had an instructor that flew with Wilbur Wright!

Another patron joined the conversation: "Did you know that Lindbergh made an Emergency landing in a field on 250? " (A spot about six miles from our house) I told him I had read that interesting fact a while back in a fascinating book that tells the history behind all the local historical sites. Across the street from us stands an old home that used to serve as an inn. In Griffin's book I learned that Santa Anna and Napoleon's relatives were some of the people to grace its halls! The other patron was very interested in reading the book, so we found a copy right in the library. He went home very pleased and thanked me profusely for passing on the title.

Well, we all went our separate ways, each of us the more enlightened and inspired- and all for free! Of course, libraries aren't the only place where this type of "organic" learning occurs. Every time we interact and engage in conversation, we learn. Let's just say that the library is "fertile" ground for ideas to take root. Happy learning!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Caution: Contents Under Pressure...This n' That

The weather has been so beautiful that the kids go to the river every day. They build a fire and cook lunch, swim, and fish. Today they had "science class" at the river as well! The plan was to cook Ravioli. They built the fire, and put the can into the fire. Weren't they surprised to have the explosion of a lifetime! The lid was left on, and heating up in the fire, the pressure got so great in the can that it exploded. Emily was burned, but thank God no one had the scraps of can hit their eyes! You should have heard the kids' eyewitness accounts. Tommy said, "I was peacefully swimming in the little pool, when I hear a sound like this : KABOOM! I looked over and there was this huge explosion." Well, they learned about contents under pressure. I learned the same lesson in college when I tried to hard boil eggs (in their shells) in the microwave. The microwave was at the end of the dorm hallway. I put the eggs in and went to take a shower. Wasn't I surprised to find a MAJOR mess when I came back to get the eggs!

Will had a dirt bike race last week...Here he is, soaring through the air. He got into an accident, which "made me want to go race again even more." :

Anna comes with me every day to milk the cow. She sits on the ledge of the barn watching all the animals. Tonight she had a real show! Emily was bottle feeding another calf we got(Darby). The dogs were romping around in the hay, I was milking Penny, and Charlie, our little guinea rooster was pecking furtively at her feet. I need a picture of Charlie. He is adorable! He's a miniature rooster that completely fends for himself. He always hangs around my feet when I'm milking in hopes to get some grain.

Tonight I made french toast and sausage. Tommy suggested we sit out on the porch and have tea together. He said " Having tea is berry special." We then played blockhead. Tommy and Anna took great pleasure in destroying my building!

Tommy said this afternoon: "I love you Mommy, because you take me to the creek." WE have been enjoying the creek immensely. Mary Margaret and Sam built a big dam today. Sam said, "I have two questions for you, Mommy: Why is the sky blue? and How do they build tunnels under the bay?" This led to many different discussions. Oliver said that the difference between a pond and a lake is that ponds don't have to have a water source leading into it, but lakes do. I wonder where he picked up that information. Is it accurate?
Other family news: Ben and Emily were confirmed last week, Emily had her piano recital, and Will is being home schooled again!
Our birding is in full force; we had our annual plant hanging on the porch today in anticipation of the House finches. (click on highlighted area to see a link to last year's plant hanging!)
Spring is blooming all around; it's hard to believe that the snows of winter are becoming a distant memory....