Saturday, August 25, 2012

Late Summer

So, here we are! Another summer is winding down.

Sorry it's been so quiet. The summer just whooshed by while I was in the throes of a health breakdown. Well "throes" might be a bit dramatic. My sweet mother came and stayed with us for a few weeks and kept my household going while I slept and took herbs.  Mums are awesome. (For the curious, it was stress related burn-out manifested in weeping eczema like hives, very icky.)

We'd planned to homeschool all summer, but my illness forced me to cut out everything other than basic hygiene and food for the masses.

Right now I'm just focusing on rest and recovery and herbal medicine until I'm up and running, however long that takes. I'm aiming for a permanent cure.

(In this genteel space I decided to share homeschool pictures, not eczema pictures. You'll understand.)

But we've been puttering away on gentle little projects like painting Hugh's phonetic alphabet (to go with the song "A-a-apple, b-b-ball..." etc.

So we sing alphabets,  read a lot of books, play a lot of lego, and go on little adventures up the bike trail.

Will finished reading the Narnia books to the boys, and they've begged him to start again. I'm reading Pippi Longstocking and the Wind in the Willows, which is a bit "old" for them, but they request it anyway. I feel that the English language in the Willows is so delicious and beautiful, what's to lose? (The amazon links are just for your benefit, I don't receive kickbacks for them.)

For a number of reasons, I've decided that this is still better than sending my guys to public school.

Of course my total-health mission means that my house looks like someone has thrown everything onto the floor, heaped it into piles, then walked through it.

some piles are charming
Come to think of it this is exactly what happened.

a few gifts from the garden—herbs for tea, flowers, and kimchi!

In compensation for my failure as a housewife, the garden has surprised us by surviving drought, neglect,  chipmunks, abuse by neighbourhood children (including my own) and given us a few late summer gifts to remind us that in spite of us, the earth still struggles to be Eden...

 A few flowers for the table, some tangles of invasive herbs, which will be dried for tea,

...and these sad, neglected little vegetables:

creepy little turnip
Gifts? you say...

Why yes. Bitter, deformed turnips might be abominable on the plate, but they make awesome kimchi!

Kimchi can be made out of anything, as long as you have the four essential spices:


These you grind up and pack, along with pickling salt, into a jar of  thinly sliced vegetables. For the last batch I used my creepy little turnips (finely shredded), turnip tops, cucumbers, carrots, a beet, napa cabbage, and green onion.

I have no pictures of the process, because kimchi-making at the Pemberton's inevitably happens in the last fifteen minutes before the baby wakes up,  resulting in a flurry of work and the entire contents of the food processor being spilled across the floor. I'm frantically mopping up while the baby cries angrily in his cot.  It is not conducive to peace of mind, even if I could find the camera.

Rafe and friend Leo
But it's a good feeling to lay food by, especially in the last anxious days of summer when the PhD poverty budget has dwindled to its end. I've gotten quite handy with the limp cauliflower and the kidney bean.

Cauliflower is awesome, versatile, flavourful, and delicious. But kidney beans! If anyone knows how to turn kidney beans into something pleasing, please respond immediately. I've got several billion pounds of them. (Want some? I'll share!)

What else to tell?

The boys are digging a basement for their fort in the hedge.

Will is translating, writing, committing several languages to memory, and rubbing his hands to dive into into La Commedia Divina. I'm thrilled because I feel that his whole academic career has been leading up to Dante. He just doesn't know it yet.

And that's the news for the Pembertons.