Friday, September 01, 2017

Herons

Some of our favorite feathered friends have been spending the summer months on Someday Farm.
This beautiful blue heron liked to hang out on the dock.  He was very skittish, so I had to creep down the lane and tiptoe through the weeds in order to get a good look at him.

The green heron lives out back in the marsh.  

I saw him from my bathroom window, crept out the back door and down the deck stairs with my camera (all in my pj's!) to see what he was up to.  He sat and sat and sat and then swooped in for a bite to eat!  Not sure if he caught a frog or a little fish or what he has, but it was gone in a flash!

The Garden

We moved the asparagus patch to the fenced in garden.
 It took off right away!
We have another raised bed ready to plant more asparagus next year. 

Our bean plants produced like crazy this year!  
We have bags and bags in the freezer already!

The cucumbers were perhaps the most prolific, (second only, of course to cherry tomatoes).
We had HUGE long cucumbers, meant for a family much larger than ours,
as well as delicious little pickles!
  
Even the strawberry plants that we moved (and lets NEVER do that again!) are thriving!
They are blooming and getting a few berries even in August!

Of course, tomatoes.  WAY too many tomatoes!
I might have gotten a little carried away in planting this year!
We have canned stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce,frozen roasted cherry tomatoes and even some tomato paste and we still have oodles!
This weekend, we are going to try canning salsa!


This is a panoramic view of the garden (so we remember what not to do next year!)  
We will certainly cut back on tomato plants next year, and we will move the sweet potatoes to someplace where they won't interfere with other plants!  
The Mister has also added more raised beds for me to move my herb garden and to get some rhubarb growing.  While I love having my herbs right outside my door, they aren't getting enough sun to produce much.  I look forward to next year and all the herbs we might have!

All in all, this has been the best garden we have ever grown.  The Mister put in so much work fencing it in, tilling, framing beds and even helping me build better supports for the tomato plants in the middle of the season.  I am so very grateful for all his work in making my little dream of a garden come true!  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer

I wake to the robin rehearsing his song over and over as if performing a Shakespearean soliloquy in the trees.  I finish the book I started before bed and then venture out in my pajamas to see Charlotte.  Always eager to play (and escape into the house), she joins me on the porch as we ease into our day.  Sometimes the deer are under the apple tree.  Sometimes the cows are already lying under the pines.  She stays with me until her love tank is full and then heads off to see what playthings are nearby.  Maybe a dead leaf has landed in the drive.  Perhaps a piece of mulch is on the bricks. I head into the house then to get my day started - every option open to me.  I usually start on the elliptical - "worst things first" I always tell my students.  Some days I head to the garden after that.  Charlotte happily accompanies me, following close behind as we stroll down the path.  Once inside the garden gates, she often wants to play.  Hands picking weeds are prey to be pounced on.  Tomatoes, potatoes and corn provide excellent cover for a kitten trying to hide.  I tend to weed a little, pick a little, nibble this or that.  Beans are bountiful; tomatoes just starting to ripen, cucumbers ready faster than we can eat them.  I love time in the garden.  Even drenched in sweat, covered in dirt, the garden is so beautiful this year.  The Mister not only built a beautiful perimeter, but has continually adjusted the watering system to the needs of our dear plants.  

About this time, The Mister is usually home.  He sometimes has a project or two in the garden - tilling, fixing supports or moving a sprinkler head.  Every day he checks his corn.  We ate our first two ears this week, it will soon ripen faster than we can devour it.

My afternoons are for dabbling in school work.  I only do what is fun and excites me for the year to come.  There will be time later for all the "necessary" preparations to begin.  For now, I amend presentations, create math stations, organize my thinking and plan out lesson ideas.  My mind is constantly thinking about school ideas.

Late afternoon is for porch sitting.  Sometimes I'm snapping beans.  Sometimes I'm just moving the sprinkler on the grass seed.  Every day is for holding a kitten.  She comes up from under the bushes, happy to sleep on a lap instead of the mulch.  She'll sleep and play and sleep and play.

The Mister and I cook dinner together.  He is in charge of the grill, I handle everything else.  It isn't time consuming or taxing.  We keep it simple, fresh and light most days.  Potatoes are always available from the garden so they are often on the menu; roasted, boiled, baked or fried with onions.  We end our evenings with a couple episodes of something streamed on TV.  Right now it's "Blue Bloods", a show we are both enjoying immensely.  No real violence, great character development and superb family morals.

We head to bed together, The Mister to sleep, me to start a new book.  The robin sings to me at dusk, a bookend to my day.

I tell The Mister every day how lucky we are.  How beautiful our summers are.  How relaxed and blessed I feel.  Stress will come, the pace will quicken soon enough, but for now, we are enjoying the simple, steady, slow cadence of summer.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What You Didn't Know

Whether it's on the porch, couch, in the car or at the counter eating together, we are often side by side.  Even seated at a table in a restaurant, we always sit in adjoining seats.  I only realized today when we chose a booth at lunch, how rarely I sit directly across from you.

The restaurant was all-but deserted, which meant my people-watching was limited to the man seated across from me.  That's not a complaint in the least, in fact, it felt more like a date than a quick bite on a Tuesday afternoon while we were out for a Jeep ride.

It was your eyes that caught my attention.  While I know they are green, they seemed today to be especially iridescent.  Maybe it was the blue of your shirt, or the sunlight through the window, I don't know, but they just seemed to have more than the usual amount of twinkle.  The well-earned laugh lines touch me to my core.  I always wanted someone to grow old with, and those beautiful lines are evidence that you are doing that very thing with me.

Your face is full of sunshine - a mix of tan and pink from the sun.  You lift your cap just the way my granddad used to - the only other farmer I ever loved.  Your arms, full of poison ivy and raspberry scratches will always mark you as a hard working man.  Your already-worn ring gives the impression that we've loved each other far longer than we have - a sentiment I've felt since the day I met you.

You eat with passion.  Every morsel is savored, and you have this look when a particularly delicious bite touches your lips.  With the simplest of lines, "I would never abandon a sandwich!" you make me laugh from the pit of my soul.  Your humor is easy, fun and welcomed.

These are the moments I hope to remember forever, the feelings I wish I could bottle.  This is how I fall in love with you again and again.

And you thought we were just having lunch.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Back Home

Joining my aunt and uncle in a trip to Michigan, my dad and Judy decided to come a few days early to visit and hang out.  The Mister and I were both on vacation, so Dad suggested we think about maybe a day trip somewhere, since we had the time.  During a bout of insomnia, an idea crossed my mind, one that enticed me.  I dismissed the notion knowing how many times Dad and Judy had been there before and my assumption that they had no desire to return so soon, however, Dad called me later that same day saying, "feel free to say no, but I had this idea..." and suggested the very idea that had come to me at 4 am.  Let's go home.  Together.  You can't argue with an idea that comes together like that.  I don't think The Mister nor Judy got much of a vote (although we did entice them with all the great food we could think of back home!)

Back home.  


Home has been so many places for me - Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, even Iowa and Louisiana had short stints in there as "home".  But "home" being "the place where I started from", is only found in one place, Woodstock, Illinois.  We figured I hadn't been back there since probably 2002, when Dad and Judy moved to TN.  The town is most known for being the home of Dick Tracy and where the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed.  For us, however, it's home.

Our trip, I hate to admit, was centered a lot around food.  There were some MUST eats, like chocolate long johns from Swiss Maid Bakery and an Italian beef sandwich from what was Beef Villa.  We also felt like a twist cone was mandatory from DQ and we stopped long enough to bring back Julie's favorite deep-dish pizza.  We spent much of the rest of the time driving around, looking at all the places that were significant to my growing up.  We saw my elementary schools, middle school and much-renovated high school.  We drove by three houses my parents had lived in and I took pictures of the two that I had grown up in.  For the first time for all of us, we spent the night in a local hotel, something that seemed extremely odd given this was our hometown.  

We reminisced a lot.  I teased Dad that I should have used his old Dictaphone and recorded his commentary for all time.  I will never remember all the stories, people or places, but I left Woodstock having learned - or been reminded of - a few key things.

Dad told about how he and Mom used to make all their "major decisions" at the Dog-N-Suds.  As he spoke, it was obvious that the location, while used repeatedly, wasn't relevant.  The desire to make decisions as a team was the priority.  Whether talking about housing, jobs or perhaps even me, they sat together and talked it over together.


Food was meant to be shared.  The Italian beef sandwiches that I remembered being in our house were most often for a gathering.  Whether my parents were hosting the new teachers, a graduation party or the neighborhood, a roasting pan of beef and long baguettes of delicious bread filled our counters!  We decided to stick with the tradition of sharing and after having our own meal together, we took five pounds home for the weekend to share with the rest of the family!

No matter which house we were parked outside of, the conversation always turned to the neighbors.  My parents met most of their life-long friends over the proverbial back-yard fence.  Neighbors were more important than the layout of the house or the amount of acreage in the yard.

We celebrated accomplishments as a family.  Whether a band or choir concert, piano recital, little league game or performance on stage, Dairy Queen was the celebratory choice afterwards. Family bike rides would even sometimes stop mid-way through for a quick twist cone or chocolate malt. Just pulling up, standing at the counter to order, I felt as though I ought to have done something to earn it that evening!  

Catching up doesn't happen on social media.  It happens Wednesday night, at the summer band concert in the square, where the town gathers.  Within seconds of walking under the cobblestone entrance, Dad and Judy ran into people they knew.  The entire time we were there, they were talking and laughing with people they hadn't seen in years.  We even saw a teenager we were certain belonged to a family we knew - generations of our life coming together.  


Finally, I was reminded that a grave site is just that.  Visiting the cemetery where Mom's headstone is holds nothing for me.  It doesn't remind me of her, it doesn't make me miss her, it doesn't even feel like her.  Walking along the town square, remembering the shop she and I bought my prom dress at, the place we used to come to pay the utility bills, the place we took family pictures after Julie's wedding - those all remind me of my mom.  I had to stop and catch my breath at one point feeling like time stood still and I could have been ten years old all over again, looking around for her.  Short of the farm she grew up on, my home town feels like it is bursting with memories of my mom.  It is the place where she lived - the cemetery only marks the day she stopped calling Woodstock home.

I am so grateful for this trip.  I am so grateful that my dad was right beside me for it, reminding me of so many sweet memories.  I am also grateful for Judy and The Mister, as they not only tolerated this trip down Wilson-Memory-Lane, but they relished it alongside us.  


I grew up in a beautiful mid-western town in northern Illinois.  I attended a gorgeous college, lived in an amazingly picturesque area of Pennsylvania and I now live on a small farm that often feels like a resort.  I am so glad to know that my hometown is even more beautiful now and that perhaps there are new generations of families creating the same kinds of memories that we have.  More than a movie scene, more than the home of a famous cartoonist, Woodstock is my childhood, and the lessons I learned from being there will live with me always.

More Bird Watching


Female Cardinal


 
We were surprised when our viburnum tree (shrub?) filled with berries this month.  It has brought the most interesting birds to our front yard!  This yellow-shafted Northern Flicker was really enjoying the berries!

Northern Flicker

This remains my mystery bird.  I'm going with a phoebe bird, although it seems much grey-er than my bird book would indicate.  

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Oriole



This little guy stopped by today to try out my oriole feeder.  I think he must be a young, male oriole, but I'm not certain. 

He drank from the feeder!  I was so excited!  We'll see if he comes back to visit again!

The Bovine Pair

Delilah was a hoot today.  We went for our evening walk and came upon Delilah standing over a sapling she had bent to the ground to get to the leaves on top.  The minute she saw us, she stood up with an expression as if to say, "What?  I didn't do it!" and then came trotting over to see if we had anything yummy to offer.

Earlier, I caught her napping under her favorite tree (Samson was very nearby, too).
It's unusual to catch her sleeping, but it sure makes us happy to see such contented cows!

Little Samson is growing up!  His coloring is so beautiful!  We thought he might lose all of his white highlights when he lost his winter coat, but he has more than ever on his head and face!  Even his tail is full of white!  He has gained a lot of weight (I can say that, it's good for a bull!) and yet is still as sweet as ever.  Delilah still grooms him and they are never far from each other!

He was napping with Delilah under the pines as well.  Usually around mid-morning and again in the afternoon, they will spend time just laying under the pines.  Of course, I'm spending the same time sitting on the porch in my favorite chair, so I think it's safe to say, everyone is enjoying summertime on the farm!

Aren't they just the sweetest pair?  We are hoping that she might be pregnant.  We only witnessed a few unsuccessful attempts by Samson earlier this spring, but we think he might have figured it out at some point as she hasn't been in heat that we've noticed!  A calf would be so exciting!

(Delilah refused to look my way.)

Caption This!

"Can you hear me?"

"So, a cardinal and an indigo bunting land on a birdfeeder.  The cardinal says, hey fella, can I get you some seeds?  You're looking kinda blue!"


Does He Have a License?

The other day while buying my eighteenth sample of paint that I still didn't like for the living room  running errands in town, I saw this dog waiting at Chick-Fil-A.  I wish I would have waited around to see exactly how this might have worked.  I mean, where is he going to ride when his owner returns and how, exactly, is the owner going to keep the dog out of the chicken?

Welcome

I've been working on the front porch/door area this year.  I wanted to bring a little of our "rustic" design from the inside to the outside.  After painting the porch, I finally got everything re-assembled and looking just like I want it to.

My favorite part is our new welcome sign officially welcoming everyone to Someday Farm!


Monday, June 19, 2017

One Moment

A fatal accident occurred this weekend at an intersection we drive through regularly.  It's a back road, the straight shot from my home to my sister's four miles away.  An 18 year old ran a stop sign and the 30 year old driver of a passing car died.  I drove by the site this evening and cried.  Not just for the man who lost his life (whom I don't know) but for the child, the 18 year old whose life is forever changed from that instant in time.

I am not afraid to die.  I'm not afraid of what comes next.  I know my family would all be okay.  But I cannot for the life of me imagine what my life would be like if it had been James who had been struck, or Jacob.  I cannot begin to think of how I would even cope if one of them was taken so suddenly.  It doesn't just take a car accident.  My dad reminded me just yesterday of a well-known family fact: one trip to the doctor can change your life forever.

I know James loves me deeply, I have no doubt.  And I don't have one single regret or wish for our life to be any different than it is.  I wouldn't mourn for all the things we never got to - we live our life as full as possible most every chance we get.  I would just miss him so.  I would miss him dreadfully so.

And Jacob.  I don't see him very often now, and I don't hear from him too often, either, but if he was gone forever?  Oh how my heart would break.  He is such an amazing person, I just want to see where his life takes him and all the happiness that surrounds him.

In the blink of an eye, it could be gone.  Life redefined.

This 30 year old man left behind a fiancee.  Her life redefined.  The 18 year old who ran the stop sign will never ever be the same, nor will the passenger that was in the car with him/her.

I am so grateful that was not my James, nor my Jacob.  But my heart and soul aches for those affected by this one instant in time that went horribly wrong.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Contented Creatures

It's hard to catch the cows napping.  Not because they don't, but because they are convinced we always have a treat and they come running to the fence just in case.  Today, the hottest day so far, I was able to sneak up and catch Delilah under the pines, enjoying the very spot The Mister specifically included in the pasture for days such as this.  The grass she and Samson were snoozing on was carefully planted by James last spring, after tilling, grading and even later raking away all the pine needles.  

Samson was there, too.  He was keeping his eye on me just in case the camera really was a sweet treat for the hot day.  

All we wanted was to create a pasture that was beautiful and practical, where our beautiful beasts could enjoy as much contentment as we do on Someday Farm.

Mission, accomplished!

The Gift

The past week was a bit stressful.  My last full week of school, complete with day-long meetings, field trips and assessments, and the ever-changing plans of out-of-state company made things more frantic around here than normal.  Friday afternoon, our company arrived and within a couple hours we were enjoying the deck, take-out pizza, wine and each other's company.  Saturday brought a trip north to see James' folks along with his brother and sister.  The frenetic pace of getting everyone accommodated for, snacks packed, plans made and finally the drive itself was tempered by a day of sitting on their screen porch with a beautiful summer breeze, laughing, talking and catching up.

In the midst of all the goings-on, I found myself sitting comfortably in a chair, watching a nearly 90 year old man tease his 87 year-old wife; a baby brother provoking his much-older sister; and an older brother try to remain stoically unemotional when surrounded by his loving family.

I could feel it with every heart beat, "Be Present".  I need not think about the upcoming last few days of school, or the long drive home, or what health ailment might next prove overwhelming to James' aging parents.  I need only to be.here.now.  I took a breath and I watched, I listened, I laughed.

I saw my husband wink from across the room, something that always makes me smile.  I saw a sister, walking with her mom through the yard, ostensibly to look at the flowers, but as it had been two years since their last visit together, I knew it was a chance for a mom and a daughter to say anything that needed to be said - just in case.  I saw an elderly man who seems anything but on most occasions - a man who still mows his lawn, makes the traps for the gophers and invents devices to make watering easier on his back - laugh at the antics of the grown children.  I heard jokes, teasing, discussions about each person's life and James' never-ending quest to learn everything Henry has to offer.  Wisdom is always shared with humility in this house.  I heard a compliment from a master-of-everything to The Mister about his syrup making - a compliment that will never be forgotten, coming from the wisest man we know.

I heard it again in my soul, Be Present.

This trip was a reminder that time stops for no one.  It's a thought that's always near the front of my mind but watching it unfold reminded me of the preciousness of the moment.  We long-ago stopped taking our cell phones into his mom's house.  Everything else can wait.  Beyond just feeling over-full from all the food they are intent on us eating, we leave with our souls feeling full; our hearts overflowing.  We always part knowing the next time is never promised to us.  We leave knowing their love abounds and everything else seems unnecessary.  We leave knowing, in every way we could, we wanted these people to know how much they matter to us and how much their love shapes our world.
I pray we have many, many more such visits, but if not, I pray that these beautiful people know without a doubt how much their very presence was a gift to us, each and every time.