I am sitting on my couch, wishing to be outside. Waiting for Kaya to get out of the bathtub. This fall’s beauty has been stunningly insane. Truly breathtaking – all the superlatives in the world cannot quite get it. The trees have been truly glowing. The sun so warm and the air so crispy and I cannot get outside enough! And here I am, inside.
I am ready to go, Kaya is almost ready and we will tarantula hunt…. It’s the migration of tarantulas now and I have seen a few on the road, and only one teeny one, in our driveway, up close! God – can one CRAVE being outside? I think so. Of course, I am reading Walden by Henry Thoreau. I thought I would have to force myself to read it slowly, but it is, actually, such a page turner that I couldn’t get myself out of bed this morning! He is a man after my own heart.
And home to sit outside “until the coyotes start howling!” I crocheted a bit – I began a baby blanket for my sweet sister midwife long-lost friend Bobbie! Kaya brought me a piece of this deliciously decadent chocolate torte! (Check it out here, Kaya writes all about it!) And we soaked in the last remaining sun.
Kaya made a minestrone for dinner – with beets and kale from the garden. Warm soup and a fire to end our day. Fall is the perfect combination of warmth and crispiness. Just enough to make you remember, at the end of the day, that you were outside!
Without much ado and without much explanation, here is my small tribute to Mikey. A yummy food blogger on the East Coast lost her husband very suddenly. The story is heartbreaking, it moved many. Me too. Jennifer asked friends and readers to make a peanut butter pie, her husband’s favorite, as a tribute. Kaya took this project on with gusto, she made it for our small pre-memorial for our beloved Elizabeth.
All the midwives and close friends of Elizabeth gathered at the Birth Center a few Fridays ago to laugh, cry, tell stories and support each other through the sadness we are all feeling about losing our great mentor and friend, Elizabeth. The huge celebration of Elizabeth’s life will be September 24th, but we felt so little closure during the first few days and weeks after her death. We felt acute pain. We decided to come together to acknowledge her life and death even before the larger celebration. It felt good, even if some of the relationships there were strained, the intention was clear. The energy was pure. We had flowers. Simple beautiful flowers.
As is the case with all midwife potlucks, the food was phenomenal. Vibrant, bursting and made with love and care to beauty. After a sweet and sacred ceremony in front of the Birth Center, we ate and chatted and moved forward. It felt like a sigh of relief. A quiet exhale. I will carry Elizabeth in my heart and in a locket. I will forever be grateful for her and to her. You will be missed – as will all the loved ones who leave too early.
It is September. A new school year beginning, an internship continuing. We are trying to use all that is in the abundant garden – putting it “up.” Our Viva Birth! gala is coming, quickly. Elizabeth’s memorial is being planned and readied. The air is getting that crispy feeling. I am never outside enough these days. Perhaps that will be a goal today. One of them.
To do today:
1. Be outside. Walk the dogs. Sniff the air.
This week I began making cilantro pesto to freeze. Our cilantro went to seed, it flowered. I think I rescued much of it, while feeling horribly guilty that I had waited that long to harvest it. I know the same is happening with our basil as I write. I will pull beets today to make a little room for the remaining ones to grow a bit larger. Beets with butter and chicken for lunch today.
Kaya has diligently been using the zucchini. She made muffins (oversized cookies) with chocolate.
Last night we had a sweet and small dinner party with clients-turned-friends. (This is always an interesting phenomenon.) He is a writer, one I respect deeply. And admire. She is an artist and horse trainer. I love our connection and enjoy the conversations. Michael wrote “Isadora and Joshua: a True Tale of Loss and Love in the Holocaust” and much conversation centered around the book and his travels as well as Falko’s childhood in East Germany. Politics were fun too – Kelly described a letter she wrote yesterday to Obama, a long, rambling letter telling him her true feelings and some disappointment. We laughed a lot imagining Obama coming to dinner in Dixon. (Dixon is the tiniest town with one co-op, many artists, fruit orchards, it is nestled deep in the gorge along the Rio Grande. It’s a haven to the local generations of Spanish and an eclectic mix of older hippies who had moved there to homestead in the sixties. It’s truly a bit of heaven yet riddled with politics and a bit too far for us to live, though I would like to.) Kaya vomited and Luke (their four-year old son) was very concerned, attentive and proclaimed to love her. We will visit them soon.
So now, my daughter is hanging over my shoulder on the couch, reading each word as I type it. “It’s time for math, mom!” So here we go, another day of homeschooling.
This is exactly is what I love for my weekends. Lovely. After a great birthday celebration for Falko on Friday it was a sweet and slow weekend. Saturday was rainy – a special treat here in the high desert. It provokes quiet and indulgent stay-at-home projects. I was able to stay home almost all of both days. My own personal heaven. The girls had ballet Saturday morning which left me a morning in bed with coffee and my book. I haven’t had much time to read and I’ve decided to take the time again. The rest of the afternoon was consumed with Kaya’s baking projects, a deep and soaking bath, some quilting (I’m moving forward), lots of homeschooling talks as well as corrections and assignments. Both girls are moving forward nicely. In the evening, Kaya and I bundled into bed and watched “Stress” a National Geographic documentary on the neurological and physiological impacts of stress. I know it sounds geeky, but I love ANYTHING about the brain. I just bought two more books (brand-new) on the subject of neurology. I can’t help it.
Treska stayed up quite late last night working on grammar. Her english book this year is focusing on grammar a bunch. Also Poetry. So, while Kaya memorizes a Shakespearean sonnet (her second one), Treska is learning more about sonnets from other poets. Memorizing, reading and writing poetry. I love this curriculum!
Today was a slow and easy morning again. Reading and then to Yoga. Restorative yoga – which is about all I can handle at the moment. It must have been the wonky positions I found myself in at some recent births, but I’m sore. I love going to yoga with Treska. She’s so good at it and I can see that she really enjoys it. She was complimented a bunch today in class by a teacher who doesn’t usually praise. She felt good about it – I love his class. (Probably because he is always mentioning the pineal and pituitary……located in my favorite place.)
Treska and I shared a coffee and yummy sandwiches at a favorite local spot with a friend. And she drove! (More about this driving experience in another post….) Kaya went to a pumpkin carving party. I – another long soak, a bringing in of the squash, and booking of flights. (This is a tedious job, but full of anticipation! and Joy!) Squash soup for dinner! Then more corrections of grammar, with a difference of opinion regarding handwriting standards. I am a “harsh” critic. Yes. As parents we are much less lenient than a teacher. We want the best for our children. This means that no mistake goes uncorrected, no handwriting will be accepted, if it is sloppy. Throughout these discussions, Falko did Spanish homework and Kaya watched a documentary on Thomas Jefferson. This movie was her choosing and her desire. Yep. I would like to take more advantage of documentary watching. Such a fun way to learn! Since we don’t have a TV, and there is extremely minimal movie watching (about once a month due to just never having the time – not due to lack of desire), documentaries seem like a great idea! Kaya thought so.
Meanwhile, the fire was going in the wood stove the entire weekend – a backdrop of coziness. It’s beginning to get dark earlier and earlier. I love this. I really love daylight savings time. Most don’t. I like the days slowing down and I love getting home earlier, eating earlier and having quiet time in the evening. I sleep more, rest more and get more done at home. I love this fall season and am looking forward to winter. For now, we’ll stock up!
After more than a decade of nourishing my daughters before, and after they were born they have begun to feed us. Both girls love cooking, not just baking, but the creativity of planning a meal from recipe books and creating an entire menu. And they are good at it! Both pay attention to the aesthetics of the meal as well. It’s important, I believe. We love the colors and the beauty of the food and the arranged plates. They both take a lot of time thinking about how to present it. They have been cleaning up the kitchen behind them. I am enjoying this bunches!
Food is important in our lives. We can’t live without it, even when it feels inconvenient to sit down and eat – or just eat on the run. I have learned, I can’t skip eating too much. As a mother I’ve gotten so healthy about food – when it wasn’t about just my body anymore, I was able to realize the importance of food. It used to be purely functional for me. I wasn’t a “foodie” as my daughter calls it. I was an – “OK, I have to do this to live, kind-of-person”. Strange, now when I think back on it. I still have that tendency but I have created a framework in which that way of living works and is consistent with my other philosophies. We have a garden and good food in the house, in order for me to be able to grab a handful of carrots, some fruit, a bag of nuts or some other easily simple meal. (Runner beans!? – No, those weren’t actually mine anyway. But the reason that happened to me is because of this way of eating. Whole foods, often raw.) We are actually quite lax and not restrictive. We eat wheat, dairy, Kaya and I eat meat, we eat sugar, honey, maple syrup, yum. We only restrict foods with labels that have long lists of ingredients. Hopefully we can buy food with lists of only 3-5 ingredients or something like that. Our tortillas only have three ingredients, but many have a paragraph-long list! It’s fun when the kids are motivated to make the food instead of us buying it. Like Bread.
So what is a “foodie”? Treska is – I’m realizing. The way I understand it, it is someone who loves good food and will take the extra time to make it. Yesterday, for example, Treska made herself a black tea. She grated a little ginger into it and made it creamy with half and half. Very simple and very special. That’s all, I think.
So we have dinner together every single night. It is a sit down dinner, table set, sometimes a candle – sometimes Dee! Sometimes haphazard plates, mismatched utensils. It all works! The meal isn’t always elaborate, actually, mostly it is not. Lots of zucchini and pasta, greens and pasta, zucchini and pasta, lately. (Did I mention zucchini…..) But we sit down, we chat. Last night Treska, Falko and I sat around for more than an hour after dinner just talking. A glass of red wine and a great discussion. Now – that isn’t always the case. But I love it when it is. A friend of mine always said a blessing before the food. Sometimes it was a silly one, sometimes a serious one, but always a grateful one.
Always grateful for this food we have.
I have been back from Iowa a few days already – already my life has risen up and consumed me enough to begin to forget Iowa already. In an attempt to hold onto the feelings, the relaxation, the green wetness and the inspiration I am going to share some of the best information I received from the conference. The first will be David Cavagnaro’s workshop: Kitchen Gardening 101.
This eloquent man caught our attention well. His tall, lean frame dressed as I imagine a beatnik from the sixties would dress. He wore a button-down, baby blue straight bottomed shirt, was it embroidered? I don’t remember. Jeans, cool shoes and an easy and warm open smile adorned him. He began his workshop by telling us a little about his life and beginnings at Seed Savers. He told us he teaches many weeks of many hours of a Kitchen Gardening 101 class. He felt daunted to try to teach anything in a one hour workshop. He came up with the idea to condense all his thoughts into 10 main points. As he taught the class he thought of more top points – so he added them. His list of 10 is incredible. I’d like to share it with all:
A mad dash to the airport – we had to leave a little piece of heaven behind us. We are delayed here, so we can take a minute, breathe, drink coffee and decompress. Treska and I have talked non-stop since we got in the car and left the magical home of a sweet family, in the lush woods, prairie flowers, ponds and singing children. Wow. Oh my goodness. What a time we have had. I am so in love with so many ideas, people, land, trees, children…. thankful and grateful for having this experience and even more full of gratitude that my daughter experienced this. Not only did she experience this, she was embraced and held throughout this conference, she was recognized and loved by so many people. Where can I begin? It’s the magic of inspiration. It is almost overwhelming, yet I have such an intense desire to try to convey what we experienced. Where do I start?
We stumbled out the door this morning at 7:15 (I tried to go to the 6:30 one, but Treska doth protest so loudly, I gave in!) to arrive for a bird walk. we marveled at the dew, something we never (or very rarely) experience in our dry desert climate. We walked and the older gentleman didn’t find any birds to show us, (except a red-wing blackbird) so he named tons of the native prairie wildflowers. My brain loved the repetition. I had learned many of the names yesterday and promptly forgot them. This time, I retained almost all of them. We smelled the pungent citrus berries of the prickly ash tree.
I returned to a pancake breakfast with a few new acquaintances, good conversations. Learned this weekend that midwifery is illegal in Iowa. And, oh – well you can imagine where the conversation went…. twisting and turning. Learned that there is a healthy homebirth and homeschool community. Always pockets of people in our tribe. And then – Treska’s first workshop. Oh my gosh.
She had a small group in the first workshop – maybe 10 or so people. In the second workshop there were more people. In each there were board members of Seed Savers and really amazing men and women. Treska talked so well, she was articulate, poised, enthusiastic, eloquent and loquacious. She spoke well, encouraged questions and earned the respect of many. David Cavagnaro, an esteemed author, photographer, founder of a non-profit working with kids, avid gardener, orchard owner and well-spoken man spoke with Treska at great length after her talk.
He mentioned he would like to fly her out to work with his project and to be a youth ambassador for the slow foods movement. Treska loved that idea and is inspired to try her hand at more writing. She did, however, also become incredibly inspired by Kenneth Street. I mentioned him yesterday. He is the seed hunter in the documentary “Seed Hunter.” He is originally from Australia and is now based in Syria. Treska talked to him today regarding the possibility of accompanying him on his next seed hunting journey to Tajikistan. He was not discouraging and told her to contact him if she was truly serious. Serendipitously, he was present in the beautiful colorful cabin we were invited to after the conference. I introduced myself with my new title: Treska’s mom. He asked me how serious she was, and I said, “You have no idea, how serious she is. She would go tomorrow.” My daughter has wanderlust. He wanted to know if I would allow her to go across the world alone. I told him I would only consider it, if I could go too! I meant it. He thought it may be possible to arrange. He gave us hope. For Treska, his activism was a wonderful combination of two of her three passions: traveling and gardening. She told me, in the car, before knowing we would see him again, “Mom – every single cell of my body wants to go and learn with him in Tajikistan.”
And so much more to come…. I think this will coming out for a few days in short bursts. What amazing people we are surrounded by in this world.
Friday was a full day of traveling – early morning in the dry mountain desert – to the lush “tropics” of Minnesota. It feels wet and soppy here. I feel drenched, the paper is wet, clothes sticky – hair wild. I love it!
As soon as we got our rental car in Minneapolis and headed off into the green, it was smooth and easy. Treska found some music, had the camera ready and we were filled with such anticipation. Our hopes were exceeded as we drove deeper into the green. “So green, mom, it looks like it’s breathing!” Everywhere I go, I can imagine being and living. I love traveling and Treska says that she loves it way more than I do. She explains that by saying that if she were me, she’d be traveling all the time. “Mom, if you love traveling so much, why aren’t you doing it?” I can think of a million reasons, but really I just listen and it’s true. Why am I not doing it? I will – more and more. This is how we learn from our kids. They remind us.
Friday was chock full of fun events. As soon as we arrived, we hadn’t even signed up yet or registered a young bearded guy walked up to us and apologized about bothering us, but he recognized Treska from the Mother Earth News article and wanted to talk to her. We chatted for a while. He was homeschooled his whole life and we compared notes and life stories. A fun introduction to all the contacts and possibilities conferences will bring. We were introduced to different people, given a tour and Treska met with one of the women coordinating the Dig and Discover part of the conference. Treska would be working and doing activities with the kids on Saturday and then giving two workshops for the adults on Sunday.
We watched a documentary called “Seed Hunter” and Treska was incredibly inspired. Kenneth Street traveled the world collecting seeds and preserving genetic diversity. Seed Savers is an organization, a non-profit dedicated to saving heirloom seeds. It is in fact, the largest seed bank in the US that is non-governmental. It was founded in 1975 as a small grass roots organization with a passion for saving seeds. To this date it “maintains more than 25,000 vegetable species.” These are all heirlooms. Seeds that are becoming rarer and impossible to find are stored here, and saved from extinction. The conference here is full of passion and diversity. Young radical organic farmers and old school corn growers mingle with authors, amish gardeners, kids and seed technicians. Everyone has stories to tell and an incredible wealth of information is being shared.
Today I attended three workshops: “Garlic, Garlic, Garlic”, “Hands-on Seed Saving”, “Prarie Wildflowers”, and went on a hay ride to the outlying gardens for commercial use. I also walked to the apple orchard with a new acquaintance, learned how to save heirloom tomato seeds in a demonstration filmed for PBS through a process of fermentation by author Amy Goldman, and ate fantastic local organic foods provided for us. We were treated to many wonderful speakers tonight including Maria Rodale Ceo of the Rodale Institute. It is incredibly inspiring to be here and to be learning. I will save my seeds. Some of them anyway. And gosh – I have so much more to say, to convey and to process through, but I am exhausted. It’s almost midnight and we are doing a 6:30 am bird walk tomorrow morning…… so off to sleep I go. I’ll leave you with some photos and I hope when I return home and begin to decompress and think about everything Treska and I experienced, I’ll be able to write more. I am just so incredibly grateful that my daughter gets to have this kind of experience. I feel like it is perfect for her, and her enthusiasm and curiosity has been a joy to be around. What fun memories we are creating together!
Are you getting tired of goat blogging yet? It is a bit thought consuming at the moment. We had a scare today. Treska came back from (not) milking and said that she was dried up. She had no milk and her udders were empty and sagging. Well this led to a wonderful homeschooling moment. I watched as she called every single friend who has goats, then went on to the internet to search out reasons why our goat might not have milk. She had several long conversations with one good friend and then found many reasons on-line why this could have happened. She looked up a local goat vet and called him as well. She was very quick and very resourceful. We all came to the conclusion that our goat was lonely. Seriously – goats are herd animals and don’t like to be alone. Then Kaya went down with Connor – milk pail clattering away and came running back triumphantly! “I milked 1/2 a pail of goat milk – she’s not dry – she has plenty!!” Well – it didn’t even dampen her enthusiasm that the goat had stepped in the pail and we had to throw it all away – she was just thrilled that there was still milk. We all were.
Later Treska and I went down and finished milking her. We got almost another quart (before the goat stepped in it again)! We can safely say that we milked three quarts today. A triumph! You can read more about Treska’s milking experience here. (Leave her a comment if you want, she’d love it!)
The rest of the day was good. Calm, productive. Yoga in the morning – it’s my hardest class. It seems like a combination of Vinyasa and Ashtanga. Perhaps, I know nothing, definitely not enough. I just love how I feel in the class and when I walk out of it. Like I am beaming – maybe. Then Treska and I made pie crusts for Quiche. I made a goat milk, chicken egg, dried tomato, dill, onion, garlic, cheese Quiche. And listen – I am so excited, ’cause the eggs, milk, dill and tomato were all from the garden. Unreal to me – I can’t believe this is my life – that I am able to really make a difference in our own food. It’s wonderful and the Quiche was so incredible.
Everyone really, really loved it. The four of us ate two! Kaya was a bit mopy at first, a bit hesitant to take a bite. She doesn’t really like goat milk. She thinks she will like the yogurt, maybe. She will definitely like the cheese, but she has said, on many occasions, that she does not like it. So we were all sitting at the table, Kaya’s face was a bit long, but she wanted to like it, cause she knew it was kind of a special meal. She was nervous, I could tell. I told a white lie. I don’t know how all you great mamas feel about this, and please don’t judge me too harshly, but I did it. I lied to her. I said, “Oh Kaya, by the way, I didn’t use goat milk in this Quiche after all. Her shoulders relaxed, her mouth smiled and she took a bite. She absolutely LOVED it. She got herself another piece. She was eating that, when I decided I ought to tell her. She was shocked! She had to admit that she liked it and I am so glad I did that, ’cause I would never have been able to cook with goat milk for dinner otherwise. Treska said it reminded her of my own “venison story” from my childhood. Ahem…. wonder if one of my readers remembers that story? It had to do with a certain neighbor of mine – my very best friend. It had to do with deer hunting and the such.
Then Kaya made chocolate chip cookies (and popcorn with butter and yeast). A friend and neighbor came over to watch the movie Grease. He, a twelve-year-old, had never seen it. So they had cookies and popcorn and watched the movie. A fun day – a later than normal night. Maybe. Our nights seem to be getting later and later. Anyhow – Kaya got another Math lesson done today and Treska wrote a blog entry. Progress is always being made in homeschooling. It was a productive day. I find that I have been really enjoying these domestic days at home even more than usual. I am lucky to have them – glad both my girls still live at home. (I mean seriously, Treska will be gone in less than 4 years to college! No joke. ) We all know how fast time flies.