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evidence

December 29, 2012

that everything is back to normal:

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Welcome back to you, and to me. I think maybe we all went a little off the technological cliff this past week, like back to the late 90’s when we all showered more often than we checked e-mail. I wasn’t even in the same state as my computer for 5 days.

I was here:

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This may not be significant to anyone besides me, but the generous and tech-savvy (while still being a borage-loving hippie) Mary Beth moved my blog to a self-hosted format. (Is that the right term?). This will offer me more freedom, and as Mary Beth says, when I’m ready to sell my book on fertilizing gardens with urine (with guest chapter by Dan on self-camouflaging with elk pee) setting up e-commerce will be lickity split! Also, I think those of you who’ve had commenting issues should be be free to lavish me with comments now.

I am waiting for the good people at wordpress to whisk all my e-mail subscribers over to the new site, but those of you who are subscribed via wordpress or RSS will have to resubscribe, I think. It’s all magic to me, all of it, especially all of you guys who honor me with your presence here.

I think this should be my last post here, just wanted to let you know that if you’re not receiving your usual 6512 e-mail/RSS/microchip IV updates, maybe check this new site, which looks just like the old site, but is better, like me after a vacation, which yes, there is a post on, coming soon.

Also, winner of The Sun Magazine giveaway is Emily (emywizbuff)! Send me your address, dear, and I’ll sign you up.

Love to you all. Wishing you a gentle entry back into post-holiday life.

Rachel

a gift for you

December 20, 2012

Rose wakes up every morning, pads into our room, crawls on top of me and then ambushes my sleeping self with whatever urgent thought is currently orbiting her mind, like, “when can we have bacon again?”

These questions are startling at 6:02 am. Lately she’s been whispering, “so, tell me again how many hotels on our trip will have breakfast?”

We’re going on a trip! A little road-trip loop-de-loop high desert tour. It’s crazy, because I can’t even count how many zip codes away from Durango we’ll be. And who takes a roadtrip in December? Apparently people who can’t imagine leaving home during the other seasons on account of tomato seedlings and the commitment to pears and chasing elk and such. 

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And while Dan and I are excited about taking the kids to the Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon and the slickrock canyons of Utah and some hot springs in New Mexico, Rose’s fantasies center around the single-serving plastic creamers found at most hotel breakfasts. And I love her for that, I truly do. (And when there’s no complimentary breakfast, we’ve got the camp stove! And I know Rosie loves me for that).

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Our holiday celebrations have been perfectly lovely in our typical laissez faire unorthodoxy. We don’t have a tree this year, for no particular reason, but opening Nana Judy’s homemade advent calendars and finding a little teddy bear sticker has been an unparalleled delight. The kids are opening gifts sporadically, one at a time, when they have time to really digest them, which seemed to elevate the journals I got them to superstar status when I worried they might be duds. Our gifts to each other get wrapped and re-wrapped in the same worn-out paper. It’s sweet and celebratory and eggnogy without anyone feeling like there’s anything particular to achieve or get right.

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Also, we’re likely to half-assedly wrap the rum that we bought anyway for the eggnog and present it for opening because we’re all feeling extra gifty.

Rose orchestrated some complex math to make sure the nightly lighting of the menorah was as fair as possible, something like: number of candles ÷ number of family members² = Rose lighting slightly more than anyone else (but only slightly). The kids loved hearing about how Dan once mentioned to me, regarding the Hanukkah prayer, “I like the part about sharing kitties,” (there is a part that goes: asher kide shanu, pronounced: ah-share kitty shanu), which still elicits inappropriate giggles when we got to that part.

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This year I bought 2 friends a subscription to The Sun, my favorite magazine, to which I’ve been subscribing for about 15 years. It is a monthly literary magazine, mostly personal essays, some fiction, interviews, photography and poetry. Amazingly, there are no ads and haven’t been for its 30+ years. The writing is stunning. It’s brave-hearted and honest and dark and hopeful.

After buying those 2 gift subscriptions, The Sun e-mailed me with this offer: a very good price on one more subscription, and I immediately thought of you all. You guys would love this magazine. Leave a comment to be entered for a one year subscription to The Sun.

ps: has anyone read Lidia Yuknavitch? Oh my. My head is still spinning. In a good way.

pps: I’m teaching a new writing class starting in late January. Tell your friends. Details here.

ppps: I’m unplugging for our little desert peregrination. Lets meet back here after Christmas, okay? Have a joyous holiday.

Love yous all! xoxo

lost and found

December 17, 2012

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It is finally snowing. So much and so suddenly it reminds me of those fast labors you hear about, where women go from enormously pregnant to cradling a peachy headed newborn in what seems like the blink of a contraction. Southwest Colorado has been restored to a certain measure of rightness, puffy mounds of snow finally covering the weird winter typo of desiccated leaves splayed over dry soil.

And then, Newtown, Connecticut. Our hearts are shattered for those families, as I know yours are too. The notion of losing a child roams the darkest, scariest caverns of my mind. And even as I’ve begun to imagine it this past weekend, my mind shorts out like a flipped breaker switch, returning quickly to the well-lit places of grocery lists and winter break plans.

I’ve heard my friend Kati’s 4-year old son suggest—when she fails to honor his request for say, a ginormous brick of sugar–that they find a solution together. I keep thinking of that. Can we find a solution together?

I like what Glennon Melton says: “I think if never before, now is the time to admit that the problems we have are very, very complicated and multi-layered and desperate. And to solve them, it’s going to take all of us. Right now, we cannot scream at each other for peace. I can’t anyway. If we’ve done what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten.”

Mostly, I don’t know anything. But, maybe affordable health care should be easier to obtain than a semi-automatic weapon. Also, as one of the wealthiest countries of the world, maybe we could take better care of our people, prioritizing our collective wellness over some worn-out Hollywood ideal of rugged individualism.

That heart-shattered place is sometimes the quickest and shortest path to a heart-opened place; I imagine you’ve noticed this too. And it is from the heart-opened place that we have the largest capacity to do good things, to care for others, to press for solutions.

Please don’t underestimate the small good that each of us can do. If you’re not sure where to start, we can start by not doing harm, by not yelling at or belittling our children. By treating people with kindness and compassion, especially ourselves. (And then forgive ourselves heartily, when we fail). Does this sound cliche? I don’t know. I truly mean it..

This morning, I cradled my children like newborns and dolloped their bodies with kisses—elbows, thighs, earlobes, cheeks—like I used to when they were gummy-mouthed babies. I filled them with Mama-love, because that, more than anything on their Christmas wishlist, is the most valuable thing I can give them.

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I would not know what to say to the parents of Sandy Hook. As the Quakers so beautifully say, I am holding them in the light, even as that will never be enough.

Holding you all in the light. xo

Speaking of pumpkin

December 13, 2012

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The newest bestest reason to put pumpkin in the food proceesor: pumpkin eggnog! Holy moly. I realize you may not have scads of pie pumpkins going sneakily soft in your root cellar, and thus, are using your mental capacities for things other than dreaming up pumpkin recipes. How nice for you.

Here’s the short version of pumpkin eggnog recipe. Recipe for regular eggnog here.

Pumpkin Eggnog

blend the following ingredients

1 quart half and half (or 1 pint cream, 1 pint whole milk, can also simply use whole milk)

3 whole eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup honey or sugar (honey must be room temperature)

1 tsp vanilla

sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice (or nutmeg for traditionalists)

1/2 cup rum (optional, but barely)

Also, there was a little wordpress kerfluffle which may have prevented the DIY Kitchen Pumpkin Granola Recipe from landing in your e-mail/RSS. It’s officially posted (you can easily make it without the pumpkin, it’s just my normal granola recipe). Also, if you’ve read the post, you’ll understand why Dan’s been announcing to the kids, as soon as I spoon the last bite of breakfast in my mouth, “look, Mama’s horse blinders have come off! You can ask her for everything now.”

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Root cellar pears also on special.

Today I am welcoming returning sponsor Kathie Lapcevic of Two Frog Home. Kathie is a wizardess of domestic arts and an accomplished teacher, both online and in her Montana community. She is launching the Homespun Seasonal Living e-course, just the name of which makes me swoon. This 3 month course, beginning January 7th, is a self-paced, teacher-guided exploration of what it means to live seasonally. Kathie will send out weekly e-mails with a short video and handouts on topics like Creating a Seasonal Refuge, Seasonal Celebrations and Gatherings, Tips, Recipes and Tutorials. More info here.

For me, living seasonally grounds me to the earth, my region and my own life in a deeply meaningful way, especially when the outside world looks like a loud, plastic carnival urging me to Buy More Stuff. Kathie is offering HALF OFF her 3 month workshop to readers of 6512 until Friday night. Use this special link when signing up via paypal.

What else is happening?

Col and I dug up the last of the garden roots, Dan and I had an argument about Col wearing holey jeans, and now Col has a lovely new assortment of thrift store pants.

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The Fertile Ground Life Learners Homeschool Co-op presented their homemade book to the Durango Public Library.

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Next time you’re at the library, feel free to request: The Super Candy Adventure (what did you think- homeschooled kids were all about kale and fish oil?)

Deer hide tanned!

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The kids are embracing our motley assemblage of holiday celebrations. Rose has taken the opportunity to create a horde of new Christmas carols. This morning she asked Col,”do you want me to sing Christmas is coming, or Christmas is going?” They earnestly and sincerely recite the Hebrew Hanukkah blessing every night as we light the menorah, the menorah that illuminates the little jade buddha on our table, the table on which the laptop sits, playing “oh come let us adore him…”

With love,

Rachel

linking with Simple Lives Thursday

DIY Kitchen: pumpkin granola

December 11, 2012

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Mornings, I’m my own brand of drug-sniffing dog, singularly seeking a quiet corner of the kitchen in which to drink coffee and read the newspaper. I’d come to the table with those horse eye-flap blinders if I could get away with it.

The kids don’t understand this. Col climbs in my bathrobed lap and taps my neck like he’s checking my thyroid. Rose has circular conversations that start and end with herself but are directed at me. “Mama, when will you draw me a maze? Oh yeah, when you’re done reading the paper.”

“Read us the Miscellaneous For Free!” (in the classifieds) they plead, which always leads to Rose lobbying for one of the kittens offered, which always leads to me reminding her of the neglected cat we already have. “Read us the teenager!” they beg, which is what they call the comic strip, Zits, that pits a techno-teenager against his square parents, which we all love. (Recently I asked Dan who he identifies with more, Jeremy or his parents. “Parents,” he admitted defeatedly).

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Is our food processor getting sick of pumpkins? This was a batch of pumpkin tahini cookies, which Rose said tasted like hummus.

Also, the clock we installed in the kids’ room for a visual of what 6:00 am looks like (so no one gets up earlier) appears to be backfiring. Last night Col appeared apparition-like, by my bed at 4:45 am. “I woke up and the clock said 4,” he reported bewilderedly, “and then the next time I woke up it said 3, and now it says 4 again.”

Which is to say, mornings occur early around here. What does this have to do with granola? Granola is the closest I’ll get to horse-blinders; the shortest distance to newspaper/coffee refuge. I make 2-3 gallons at a time (one gallon is in the root cellar, after we pickled it and put a bird on it) and it takes the decision making (and cooking) out of the morning equation. Plus, it’s basically a bowl of protein and good fats. The kids eat it with either milk or yogurt (yogurt recipe here).

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Afternoons are a different story. While the chickens roam, ruining our yard, we play ball. And while some of us have some athletic abilities, most of us don’t actually know anything about sports. Which means that we were playing baseball with a warped tennis racket until Dan caught on.

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Pumpkin Granola Recipe – makes about 1 gallon 

Does 1 gallon seem like a lot? It doesn’t seem worth it to get out so many cookie sheets if you’re not going big. Also, I’m trying to selectively breed out food pickiness and its cousin: the need for great variety. (When Dan is home for mornings, he makes cinnamon rolls, sausage scrambles and other delectables, otherwise: hello granola!).

It should be noted that this is a very flexible recipe. Mine tends to be heavy on the nuts because they make the granola more interesting. I also like using honey and molasses as my sweeteners because the liquid coats the dry granola, which makes the clumps, which is the whole point of granola. The butter gives the granola a lovely rich flavor. Of course you can omit the pumpkin entirely.

Ingredients

7 cups oats (if you do a quick blend of 1/2 of the oats on pulse – but not so fine as flour, you’ll get more coveted clumps)

1 cup honey

1 cup molasses

1 1/2 sticks butter

5 cups assorted crushed nuts and seeds (I do 1 cup each of walnuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, whole flax seeds

2 cups raisins (add these after baking or they’ll burn into little charred husks)

2 cups shredded coconut

2 cups pureed pumpkin

2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

Melt butter, add honey and molasses until all warmly blended together. Assemble dry ingredients in 2 big pots or bowls (no raisins yet). Kids are ideal helpers for this. Let them use their clean hands to get everything integrated. Add wet ingredients: honey/butter/molasses/pumpkin puree, and stir very well.

Lay moistened ingredients about 1/2 inch thick on cookie sheets and/or casserole pans. Bake at 300F for 60 minutes if containing pumpkin, 40 minutes without pumpkin, or until a nice, roasty brown color. You’ll need to stir up the granola once every 10 minutes or so, and break up any really big pumpkiny clumps, because they won’t dry out enough to store for a long time.

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Oats for the apocalypse. Incidentally, oats are a starred food in the book, the 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, on account of the beta-glucan (immune system!), avenanthramide (anti-inflammatory!), low glycemic load (easy on the pancreas!).

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This part—the mixing of the dry ingredients—makes the kids feel like they have access to wondrous, grown up things (like what? a multitude of sesame seeds?)

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Before oats are added, with a kid’s mixey hand.

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Everything added and ready for baking pans.

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Makes a good bedtime snack, in bed.

Linking up with Simple Lives Thursday

A few things + happy Hanukkah!

December 10, 2012
1) Winner of the book giveaway, Preemie, lessons in love, life and motherhood, is:
Jeanne
December 4, 2012 6:11 pm

“I would love to win this, read it, and then donate to our local library.”

Jeanne, please send me your address via e-mail and I will pass it onto Kasey. And Louisa Holt, for goodness sakes, I’ll just bring my copy over to you across the street. xo

2) Ruth Cutcher of Guitar Dojo, is offering the parent class (value = $150) FREE to new students who sign up for the spring semester (starts Jan 7, 2013). Just mention your friends at 6512 and growing. To read more about the Guitar Dojo, go here and here.

3) Tomorrow, pumpkin granola recipe, as requested.

4) Hanukkah is in full swing at our house. Swing being the operative word.

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Happy 3rd night of Hanukkah, dear ones!

homestead happenings: earnest goodwill

December 6, 2012

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We’re on a family hike and Rose is walking ahead of me, turning around regularly, like the loyal family canine charged with keeping the pack together.

Rose: “Mama, can you sneak a little pinch on my butt while we walk?”

Me: “Just do it, or surprise you?”

Rose: “Surprise me. Right now.”

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Meanwhile, Col seeks the projectile essence of every rock, stick, and pine cone, but grabs my hand often enough for me not be too scared of anyone turning 8 next month.

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It’s a little Shakespearian around here lately. There’s the comedy of Rose asking this morning, “is Mississippi a country or actually a planet?” And then the utter tragedy of Col waking up at 5:00 am, parting the curtains to determine if it was light enough to justify legos and singing, and thusly popping out of bed to do both. Next, the tragedy (real tears!) of Col choosing to watch Inspector Gadget, when Rose wanted Curious George, even though she gave Col first pick. Later, the comedy of Col slapping hand to forehead, “oh, that was the moonlight.”

This is why children are our best teachers. They lead us to the cliff of sparkly rainbows where we sigh gratefully for this life, these babies, the whole cherry pie of motherhood. And then 10 minutes later we’re all falling down that same cliff, the one perched above the nest of poisonous snakes, snakes who won’t go to bed at night, who won’t wear a hat when it’s 2oF outside, and who invent dubious sibling poker matches: I’ll see your blood-drawing scratch and raise you a small kick in the shin.

But truly, all I ever remember by the blessed end of the day—by the time I’m ghosting through the kids’ darkened room, pulling blankets over slumbering bodies, those bodies that, sleeping, appear to be cobbled out of such earnest goodwill that I imagine them exhaling world peace in their sleep—all I remember, is the joy of parenting that, like cream, always rises to the top.

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On the homestead:

:: Like probably everyone in Southwest Colorado, we’ve been surfing the limbo of eagerly anticipating the snowy hammer of winter dropping, and also rolling around in the dry grassy sun like a pack of happy dogs.

Which is to say, we’ve been hiking without jackets. And that ain’t right. But it feels so good.

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The kids wanted to run all the way back to the car. We explained that if they wanted to run, we’d have to take the long route, rather than the steep, rocky short cut. “Long way,” they said and exploded down the trail.

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:: Despite being the homiest of homebodies (Col recently told me his winter goal was simply to stay inside. Oy), the types who tend not to leave the comfort of our own zip code, we got a little crazy and took a day-trip to Pagosa Springs (2 zip codes away!) for Dan’s birthday. We spotted a hot air balloon landing and zrrrrrtttt turned the car around, parked, ran down a private driveway (note: Dan did not approve of this, while I’m of the mind that no one can get too ticked off about children running joyously towards an 18th century mode of flight), and arrived in time to see the entire landing.

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Also, we make U-turns for wild turkeys, naturally.

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The hot springs are cheapest on Tuesday, but they offer a local’s discount every day. Super sulfury and be sure to take off your silver jewelry.

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There’s about 10-15 different pools, plus the agony/ecstasy of the frigid San Juan River to cool off in.

We visited the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park, just a few miles past Pagosa, which is like a zoo, in the sense that the animals are captive (most born in captivity, many rescued from bad situations), but not like a zoo in that the animals have largish enclosures in their native habitat. If you go, go for the 2pm feeding time, in which a very knowledgeable person tells you interesting stories and answers all your questions while wolves devour 5 pounds of raw meat in 2 minutes without actually chewing. The kids and I loved it. Dan was much more excited about the hundreds of deer we saw on the road between Chimney Rock and Arboles.

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Predator meets prey.

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Big tough bull elk eating…fruit salad.

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Knobby deformed antler that weighed more than my kids, who admittedly run pretty small. 

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Wild-ish turkeys and feral rabbits hobnob at entrance to Wildlife Park.

:: We will survive the apocalypse with kraut and sour cabbagey breath.

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:: And pumpkin granola.

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Before baking:joy12

Pre bake: use your normal granola recipe and add about 1-2 cups pumpkin puree to each gallon. Mix thoroughly and bake 20 – 30 extra minutes, or until completely dry. Wait – do you all need a granola recipe? Will consider posting one if I get 3 or more hallelujahs.

After:

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:: Rose feels best when she’s really, really close to the people she loves; which is exactly how we like it.

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:: Our new homeschool unit is Bookmaking, which makes my heart soar with literary happiness. Annie of Alphabet Glue has been our fairy godmother in this department.

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Col’s sasquatch book.

Rose made a book for Dan, and where I’ve been known to be a little anxious about Col and his academics, with Rose I’m like: you just shine your earnest goodwill across the land and everything will take care of itself. Not sure if this is neglect or the best gift I can give her.

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The illustration of Sunday morning drives with Dada.joy27

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All of a sudden there’s 4 people in the car. Nope! Fooled me too. Rose has climbed in the front seat with Dan for a better view of the animals, while the car is stopped of course.joy29

Apparently Col drew the car on this page.

:: We’re reading Huckleberry Finn right now, which is an interesting bedtime book, what with the chapter titled, “The House of Death Floats By,” plus Huck’s perennially drunk dad, the school beatings from teachers, and of course the whole slave issue. The kids appear to be loving it, though Rose does ask regularly and nervously: is this fiction or non-fiction?

I am gorging on Mary Karr right now. Re-reading Lit and just got Cherry from the library. She is the master memoirist and just as Mark Twain makes being shoeless, floating down the Mississippi River sound exciting, Mary Karr does the same for growing up with knife-wielding mothers.

……

We bought the kids a clock and instructed that it was only safe to eject themselves from the covers if the first number on the clock was a 6. They’ve been rocketing into our room at 6:01 am. And at 6:02 this morning Rose was counting to 60, with headachy exuberance, twenty times, due to my promise to make her breakfast in 20 minutes, which sort of defeated the whole point of 20 more minutes of morning amnesty. Tragedy or comedy?

With love and gratitude,

Rachel

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