Thursday, April 2, 2015

Getting Ready

- sewing up our old table runner with patches and tiny precious embroidery. (My favourite way to deal with stains.) Someday I will have white linen, pure as the driven snow, but right now all table linen meets a fate worse than death. So I patch.

- knitting up little chicks for our Easter guests. 

- sewing up little birds. 

- blowing eggs 

- forcing buds in time for Easter on the Julian calendar because I didn't get around to it earlier. They are so beautiful in the window! This is my absolute favourite way of remembering the miracle of new life.

- rock garden and tomb. Hugh made a beautiful cross from birch branches.

- Easter food plans for two Easters, including one gluten, dairy and sugar-free Easter! Thinking strongly of natural juice gelatin jello with berries and trying to imagine Easter without cream.

- Paskha! So, so excited for paskha! I've never made it before, but the slavophiles of my childhood always made some variation at Easter and shared it for our Easter table. The pretty photo is from here. The recipe I use was brought from Russia by a slavophile friend. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Season of Mud and Mellow Muddiness misquote the poet.

Oh how we have longed for this warm weather! It's still snowing here and there, but the general trend is warm enough for tapping maple trees! There was a general exodus from the Pemberton house today: playing in mud, drilling holes for maple taps, squaring logs, and bush clearing—therapy for Will, firewood for me!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Goats, Lent, Aunts, Spring

The lenten spring has come!

Let us begin the time of fasting in light!

Preparing ourselves for the spiritual efforts.

Let us purify our soul; let us purify our body.

As from food, let us abstain from all passion and enjoy the virtues of the spirit,

So that perfected in time by love

We may all be made worthy to see 

the Passion of Christ and the Holy Pascha

In spiritual joy!

~from the Lenten Triodion

We are all basking in new light and the appearance of grass in certain sunny places. Spring soon baby! Shortly after the winter solstice Will and I noticed a wonderful phenomenon: our chickens started laying more eggs and our goats started giving more milk. Our theory: the sun just makes everyone happier. Look at these happy animals soaking up photons...and slowly taking down our lilac. They killed some of our most beautiful old apple trees. Frankly I'm ready to strangle them.

But the milk they give us (nourished by our valuable plants) is lovely—creamy and sweet and healthy for my babes. And Will seems to enjoy the daily rituals of feeding and milking and moving hay. 

At our house the goat milk we can't drink ourselves goes into cheese and yogurt. See my high-tech operation, the cloth bag and wooden spoon method....

We pregnant people and small children are still eating dairy (our own homegrown) even though it's Orthodox Lent around here for everybody else (Will). It's a new kind of austerity for him, and he's handling it very well! In fact, we are both marvelling at how fasting, even our small sad attempts, strengthens the spirit and opens the heart. We eat a lot of hummus, black bean tortillas, salad, soup. We also went into a season of gluten-free (yes, again!) after a season of colds and flus. So that rules out bread from our diet. I'm no cook, so this latest restriction was stumping me until Will bought me this beautiful baby (see Still Life With Tortilla Press below) and we've been churning 'em out. Our children are slowly warming up to the idea of beans.

We had another magical, wonderful visit from my sister Elizabeth. Here's a bunch from her camera:

Elizabeth, rockstar goat-milking sister...what would I have done without you?
While Will was away, Elizabeth and I attempted to take over his chores for a few days. Yeah, yeah, I can do it, I told Will recklessly, thinking to myself—Booyeah, who's a rockstar genius pregnant feminist? Well I threw my back out the first morning carrying a big, man-sized water bucket. If Lizzie wasn't here to bail me out, chores would have been endless misery. 
Me and Cow (the cat)
Auntie Lizzie, being a delicious, doting auntie and all-round fun adult, took the boys treasure hunting around the farm for hours until, finally, what should they unearth under the floorboards of the duck house but a chest full of pirate treasure! Who would have dreamed it? Pirates or robbers have been stockpiling treasure in our duck house!

Anyone who knows Hugh understands that this is a new standard of unrealistic prayer-request-granting that we'll never be able to match. Hugh loves treasure. I was tempted to say, See how much God loves you, Hugh? How he hears your prayers? But then I thought, what happens when the mask falls off and Oz is revealed for the religious hypocrite he is, so to speak? 

Sometimes I'm tempted to sympathize with the manipulative religious authority figures of my childhood. It's so easy to trick people into faith. But more often I find it's better just to be quiet. It's enough to savour the magic. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March Faces

I broke my promise to not take pictures of Will until all his hair fits into a ponytail. Sorry dear. I'm asking your forgiveness, which is much easier than permission, especially now now that I have this adorable picture posted online. Anyway, by the time you read this post your hair will be in an cool manly ponytail. (Note the nude genius baby playing with math manipulatives in the background.)

The pink thing is a yoga mat which gets more use as a dividing wall/floor/ceiling etc. of kid huts and now has curious gauges and BITE marks in it. I keep saying it's MY yoga mat, but they look at me like "Who are you kidding? Go away." 
William now wears a hat 24/7 because I gave him a dorky (handsome crewcut) haircut. He only takes it off in church, and then he sits in the back where he thinks no one can see him. 

This blog is a place for me to share my personal favourite, happy, sweet, joyful details of daily life. 

The real shit happens outside the screen where we 6 are working out our salvation in fear and trembling. (I don't know where that quote is from...the Bible somewhere...but it totally captures everything: our confidence in the love of God and his salvation, but dang, when I look into my heart it's clear there's still so much WORK to do.)

We have to dig down deeply every day to find the patience we need to keep going, to build a relationship, to forgive each other. 90% of the time I'm pretty sure I wasn't cut out for this job. Tempers flare, tears flow, I threaten to throw in the towel with this home schooling business. 

I just re-read this ludicrously positive and idyllic homeschooling post and I had to wonder: what planet was I on? Did I really think this was the way it was going to be? 

The real challenges of our life, the real personal growth, the really scary reality checks, the real spiritual awakening, the real painful transitions from small-and-selfish-person to bigger-kinder-person, never make it into writing. 

But this life is moulding me into the woman I am. We have a friend who is the director of St. Benedict's acres, a community farm nearby. I introduced him to our boys as 'the man who runs the farm.' He laughed and said, 'I would say that the farm runs me.' How true! I would say that this family runs me. These beautiful people, with all their idiosyncrasies and fights and struggles and strengths and needs, they keep me from getting lost in myself, from the awfulness that would be the Single Me.

Changing the subject, Will has his major fields exam (comps.) coming up this month, so everything else has come to a halt. I promised him a clean, tidy, quiet house so he can study, which if you know me is pretty much an olympian feat. I have reluctantly shut the door to all visitors. The exam date is March 17th, known to some as green pistachio ice-cream day. Praying friends: please pray for us! The rest of you: warm fuzzy feelings are greatly appreciated too. I wouldn't even say no to karma.

XOXOXO from a clean, tidy, quiet, studious house. (Everyone is asleep).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Much-Maligned February

Dwellers in northern climates have given February a bad name. We start grumbling shortly after New Year's—it's so cold, it's so dark, I'm tired of snow gear, I'm tired of shovelling snow, when will it be spring?

Not me! February is the month I perk up. Our little planet tilts toward the sun just enough for a magical change of light. February skies are an intense blue, the snow crisp and deep. Goodbye pale winter sun, hello serotonin!

February marks fresh starts at our house. After Christmas is packed away, it feels good to clean house, purge house, reorganize, make new exercise and home school goals.

I kicked off February with some chalk board paint and laid some love on my pantry. I'd never used chalkboard spray paint before, but I have good things to report. You really only need one coat, it really gets in the cracks. I  painted some labels (the ordinary paper kind) to use on food storage bins. See above. They look deceptively like I'm an organized pantry person and they're aesthetically pleasing too.

new cultures started: kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar
Will and I started cross-country skiing every day. We have several kilometres of nice trail in the vacant property behind us. There have been days when twenty minutes of solitude in cold air was my only  link to sanity. But I always come away grateful for the beautiful, if snowy, home we've chosen.

The boys were skiing begrudgingly until Will cut a new trail and invited them to ski with him. Suddenly skiing was cool. 

One of my most cherished memories of this winter is turning around on my skis and seeing a whole line of goats following me up the trail, followed by dogs, followed by cat. 

And that brings me to the freshest, newest, and most wonderful news: another little person is among us! 22 weeks today and feeling (mostly) fabulous.

We are all rooting for a girl of course, but we have to wait for the ultrasound to tell us.