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homestead happenings: uplift

March 7, 2012

Last week I opened the blinds and announced to the kids, “it’s March 1st!”

They ran to the window to see if maybe they could see this March 1st, like maybe the yard was transformed into a grove of avocado trees. Outside, large-rumped snow shapes lounged like sleeping white dogs all over the yard. And then we promptly got another 5 inches of snow.

But in this season, snow is either falling or melting, and it really doesn’t matter which, because the thing about snow now, in March, is it all just looks likes food for cilantro sprouts.

Also, antlers. Dan’s losing his mind over deer antlers lately (elk drop their antlers later). Yesterday he spotted, while driving, an elegant, long-tipped warhorse lying in the snow winking through fence slats. I think these things call to him. We took a hike on his birthday last year and in the middle of chatting and hand-holding, he cried, “weasel!” and pointed past my face off to the murky periphery. Sure enough, a little white exclamation point darted up out of the fall grasses.

it’s like Where’s Waldo (Weasel).

So, Dan grabs the freshly shucked antler, comes home and starts rifling through his antler collection, certain that this antler is from the very same buck whose same left side antler he found last year. And then, I kid you not, the man pulls up a slideshow on his computer of notable bucks like he was searching for some vague cousin once removed and announces, “that’s him. Cemetery buck. I haven’t seen him in awhile.” And meanwhile, I’m watering tiny green sprouts in the greenhouse. And the kids are using the hammock as a human slingshot and everyone’s feeling the uplift of March.

Ol Cemetery buck: this year and last year. My, how you’ve grown.

On the homestead:

We scrubbed and ate our last bag of garden beets a few weeks ago. The apples we tucked into a cooler in the shed (in October!) are virtually pristine, minus the worm holes that come with the territory of backyard apples. I can remember Dan sorting apples last fall and noting, “oh here’s a beauty – only 2 worm holes.” The potatoes we stored in a bucket in the same shed and forgot about rotted with an odor like punishment. Oh, we need a root cellar.

I don’t know why I’m showing you a picture of our last homely beets either.

Gratuitous photo of elk in Animas Valley for David S, Ryan B and other Durango ex-pats.

Last week Col and Rose and their friend Kiva created this game where Rose was this queen named Ally, and Kiva and Col were her servants (Kiva’s name was Sweet Snowy Snowflake, and Col was—wait for it—Don). The servants’ main job seemed to be   dressing Queen Ally and tirelessly folding her clothes. Fantasy much, Rose?

We delved into evolution this week in homeschool co-op, for our unit “timelines.” The kids dig the fanciful story of it, how wonky aquatic millipedes armed with 13 thorny spikes got left behind in the pile deemed: “not fittest;” you can almost hear the resounding “gong” on some of the loony ancient species. But you can also hear the triumphant Chariots of Fire soundtrack accompanying the algae, which crab-walk out of the ocean to reinvent themselves into myriad land plants, which could only spread as quick as the soil they created by their own layers of composted remains. (Over the course of oh, 100 million years, so they say).

the kids made their own timelines of life on Earth

In other homeschool co-op news, the kids made an entire lunch for their parents one afternoon:

Each child brought a vegetable to add to soup, and they made challah bread.

Back in January, we tried to make maple syrup taffy, but it turned out more like a maple syrup snow slushie, which the kids had no problem snarfing down, even after learning that at the center of every individual snowflake is a particle of dirt, ash, hair, etc…

On Monday I took the homeschool co-op on a walk to check all our tapped box-elder trees and was singing a little math fractions ditty, “3/4 of the homeschool co-op are eating apples, 1/4 is not; 3/4 of the homeschool co-op have “a’s” in their name, 1/4 does not.” And Mathew picked up on my riff and sang, “1/2 of the homeschool co-op is tall, and the other half is short.” I bristled for a second, until Col said cheerily, “yeah, me and Seneca are short and Mathew and Kiva are tall!” End of story.

* Thanks for all your love on Grandma Joyce; reading your comments were a balm I returned to many times.

* And, also thanks for participating in this discussion. The richness lies in your comments, which have opened a door for me into a new way of thinking, encapsulated by this quote, shared by Stacy“I learned to open the door to whatever arrived, to welcome whatever was arriving. Sometimes I opened the door, invited that someone or something in — doubt, anger, sadness, whatever — and then walked them kindly through the house and out the back door.”

* How’s the ginger ale? Some of you have checked in with me, e-mailed me photos of your brews-in-progress. Anyone crack a sweet/spicy bubbler and fall in love?

* I’ve been getting some questions about the upshot of Col’s tonsillectomy last year. The best thing to come out of it is that in removing the landing pad where bacteria seemed to camp out, his illnesses have been shorter, less frequent and less gnarly. Yay! Thanks for asking.

* Erin’s giveaway is open 2 more days, after that you have one day to get yourself 50% off on her funshop class.

* I’m going to be interviewed today on our local NPR station, KSUT. We’ll be talking about local agriculture and urban homesteading. It should be airing sometime around 1:45 mountain time. And I believe anyone can tune in, go to the website for more info.

* And finally, thanks for all the pinterest props you guys have been giving me. I dare someone to pin roadkill.

Roadkill on a bun.

Farewell, from Queen Ally



what are you uplifted by these days?

26 Comments leave one →
  1. Carrie permalink
    March 7, 2012 7:47 am
    Have you seen this wonderful book? My childhood copy is on my TBR pile for my own kids (same age as yours). Apparently there is an updated copy, though–I wonder if the science in my old copy is still good.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 7, 2012 9:56 pm

      Wow. Looks awesome. We LOVE Virginia Lee Burton. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Carrie permalink
    March 7, 2012 7:50 am

    Also, I’ve made sugar-on-snow a couple times with Catherine Newman’s recipe, and it comes out great. Doesn’t last, though–you have to eat it all up :)

    One more thing–I did not know antlers were like fingerprints or whale tails, traceable to an individual. Now I do. Thanks!

  3. abozza permalink
    March 7, 2012 8:28 am

    You are busy, busy, busy Rachel! However, it’s a good busy! Love reading about how you all spend your days!
    What’s uplifting me, these days, is down time, when I can find it. I’m the choral director for our spring musical, and so aside from teaching all day, I’m at school until 5 with play practice. Then, home to make dinner and pack the next days lunches and do laundry and all of the other things that come with taking care of a family and a home. When I find a moment to collapse in a pile with the kids or just snuggle up with my husband and chat, I cherish it, because it takes so little of it to renew me again and give me the strength to power through the rest, until those “extra” commitments are through. The play (Willy Wonka) is this weekend, then the Talent Show next weekend, and then I’m free and clear after school to go for walks, adventures, and be just plain silly with my brood.

  4. March 7, 2012 8:32 am

    I wish I knew something so well as Dan knows his bucks.

    And I love your soundtrack for evolution, gongs and all.

    My uplift these days is these cheeks.

  5. Nasha permalink
    March 7, 2012 8:35 am

    Nearly shot coffee out my nose when I read “Don”. Thanks for a great start to my midweek, full moon madness:) xo

  6. March 7, 2012 8:43 am

    We also had our fair share of rotten potatoes this year, shuffling the responsibility of who should deal with putting them away for the winter. The planter who planted 1/3 of the fairly large garden in potatoes, picked them (so bountiful and lovely) but left the “storing” part of the job up for grabs OR the future eaters of said potatoes who were busy dealing with the other 2/3 of the garden?

    Obviously someone dropped the ball, because about a month ago we waltzed into a very smelly basement and are now out of last year’s potatoes. I am pretty sure those poor potatoes saw some frost after being picked and then spent a period of time in the too warm basement. I suppose we also need a root cellar!

  7. March 7, 2012 9:26 am

    Oh, can I recommend a book for the evolution discussion? It’s Virginia Lee Burton’s _Life Story_, and it’s fantastic! Absolutely wonderful. I love the peeks into your homeschool.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 8, 2012 10:02 am

      You’re the 2nd person in this post to recommend, so clearly I need to get it. Plus, LOVE Virginia Lee Burton. Thanks Jaimie!

  8. March 7, 2012 9:39 am

    The bit about Dan and Cemetery Buck is quite fascinating. Loved how the kiddos made lunch – little slices of awesomeness that make me wonder about homeschooling.

    Yesterday we had a 72 degree day here. Today it is 30 and snowing. My peony-tulips have sprung and spread since last spring. That’s what’s making me smile, hope, promise, growth.

    Happy day to you!

  9. Christy permalink
    March 7, 2012 10:10 am

    I played in the garden last week! That was wonderful. Also we had the first pretty weather day that hubby and I were off of work. I had a too do list a mile long and a house that needed cleaning. 30 minutes in I walked into the office and said, “lets go fishing” And so we did. Because the work would still be there, but the beautiful weather would not. And the sunshine did me way more good than a clean house ever has. Glad Col is sick less this year. Didn’t try the ginger ale yet, but have just discovered ginger beer. (Which is so much more Ginger than any store bought ginger ale I’d ever had) Is homemade ginger ale more like ginger beer? If so I am definatly starting a batch!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 8, 2012 10:03 am

      Yes, more like the ginger brew of the natural foods stores than the ginger ale sodas of my childhood.

  10. March 7, 2012 10:19 am

    I’m uplifted by cycles and seasons Rachel. Those antlers and those beets are mile markers on the spiral of life :-) I wonder at the magic carpet ride of 2012 unrolling before us.

  11. March 7, 2012 10:24 am

    For an adult book on evolution, check out “The Beak of the Finch” by Jonathan Weiner. Made me want to go to the Galapagos so bad I could hardly stand it. It’s a great read. I’m uplifted by a maple tree in bloom and bees drunk with pollen.

  12. March 7, 2012 12:25 pm

    68-degree sunny days in March! And in Chicago nonetheless. That’s pretty uplifting huh?

    Loved that comment by Stacy. What a great way to approach life and the emotions that it brings.

    Also, your roadkill on a bun just made me super hungry for a burger. I don’t care what kind of meat it is, I just want some meat! Preferably medium rare :)

    Good luck on your interview!

  13. ike permalink
    March 7, 2012 12:48 pm

    How can we tune in to your interview if we are out of town?Thanks

  14. March 7, 2012 2:21 pm

    I can see it now: your first children’s book, “The Adventures of Sweet Snowy Snowflake and Don.” Rose can do the illustrations.

    Love it.

  15. Melissa permalink
    March 7, 2012 3:12 pm

    Your dad is super cute. I would like to hear the interview as well.

    You probably know this poem by Rumi, The Guest House, but it’s a lot like Sarah’s comment “welcome and entertain them all!” check it out . . .

    I’m feeling uplifted by the possibility in seemingly every aspect of things–spring does that to me! Also I’m feeling so grounded these days; and so, so grateful.

    I missed Avi’s Purim party at school today (because I was presenting to our MSW interns about self-care–ha, that’s another topic altogether) but Leeor went and I can’t wait to download and post photos . . . he has been soo excited about the holiday (Leeor and Avi drove all over Oakland last night to deliver the Misloach Manot packages and Leeor snarked, you should have seen these giant homes where we were leaving this pitiful cardboard boxes, but I was just grateful the two of them did it and not, ahem, me)and got himself all dressed up this morning. I am uplifted by the kids, by our lives, by the good possibility that we will have another 4 years of a democratic president and (fingers crossed) we can turn things around for the better. Whew. time to have some lunch to minimize the impact of that latte! xo

    PS. Loving your homeschool co-op. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Melissa permalink
    March 7, 2012 3:12 pm

    PPS. All hail Queen Ally!

  17. March 8, 2012 2:38 pm

    so much goodness! my ginger-honey brew is mmmm good. not very bubbly but SO tasty! i might let it have some more time to ferment, but might not also, it is yummy the way it is. and i felt amazing drinking it with my sore throat that i have. today my throat is less sore, which may or may not be attributed to homemade ginger brew. i’m being uplifted by, quite honestly, some seriously good lovin from my man. and my little man, age five, who was comforted yesterday when i told him that even when he’s too big for me to pick up anymore, in fact, even when he’s bigger than me, which he will be, i’ll still let him sit on my lap. and sunshine, we have had some rays over the past few days! xoxo

  18. Maggie permalink
    March 8, 2012 8:10 pm

    Was uplifted today while sitting outside in my adirondack chair on the front porch…a book in one hand, a bowl of macky cheese in the other, reading glasses perched on my nose (yes, I’m really 50!)… it was 64 degrees or so, sunshine all around me, the barest of a bare cool breeze, and the sound of a lawnmower… not quite summer, but the sounds and the smells made my eyes close of their own accord and my mouth slide up into a contented smile… yum!

  19. Anonymous permalink
    March 9, 2012 12:02 pm

    Ah yes, a Durango ex-pat… I’ve been missing it greatly recently. I think Emmett had the first emotional wave over the initial months – now it’s my turn. Karin’s no doubt too busy to think about it – though Skype has been good to her in connecting with some girlfriends. She’ll be heading to Las Vegas with a few Durango girlfriends here pretty soon (an annual trip that she’s made with Michelle and Wendy). Then the whole family will be back in Durango for the one-year anniversary of leaving. We’ll be there the last week of July. Can’t wait!


    P.S. Thanks for the shoutout with the Elk in the Animas Valley shot. That brings back wonderful memories. Karin and I used to canoe the wandering waters from Trimble to 32nd often.

  20. March 9, 2012 1:44 pm

    loved this post. and i have a soon-to-be 9yo boy reading over my shoulder and exclaiming about those antlers.

  21. March 9, 2012 5:34 pm

    You have me thinking about the algae, creeping out of the ocean, making flowers over 100 million years. That’s patience.

  22. martha permalink
    March 16, 2012 7:12 pm

    hi rachel, I’ve been wanting to tell you… the 2nd jar of ginger brew, the one that wasn’t bubbling as fast as the 1st one, eventually came to life on its own, and we drank it up with gusto. I love that stuff and I’ve started another batch already. Turns out the glass milk bottles from our local milk farmer are just the thing to use as their caps keep things pretty airtight. So now I’ve saved a couple of them to use for the new batch. Thanks so much for introducing me to this.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 18, 2012 11:30 am

      Martha! I am so happy to hear this! So happy, that I’m full of exclamation points for you!!!!

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