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dispatches: these skills will help them someday

November 8, 2012

We’re all feeling a little religiously toward the sun right now, schlepping our troubles to the south-facing windows to be bathed in the benediction of sunlight. June through September, we hide from the overly generous Southwestern sun; but now I almost want to issue an apology for my shirky behavior and renew my vows at the altar.

The kids are deliciously themselves. Col is growing out his hair (it’s currently in the Einstein phase), and feeling entitled to co-opt what he needs around the house for his latest espeerments. We read a book about the inventor, Thomas Edison, and learned that because Edison didn’t do well in school his mother homeschooled him (AKA: let him focus on his 2 favorite pastimes: reading and experimenting). In the course of experimenting, Edison set 2 accidental fires, including one that burned his father’s barn down and another on the train he worked on (he was promptly fired). I like to remember this when I find Col chopping up various greenhouse plants (ON THE TABLE WITH A RUSTY KNIFE) for his experiments.

No, he didn’t ask first.

Rose is doing her part to keep our brains quick and agile. In the car on the way to the grocery store, she’ll ask, “can me and Col both get an earthball?” “Sure, one each,” I answer. Two minutes pass, in which I’m focusing on driving, reading bumper stickers and singing along to Styx, and Rosie says confidently like she’s the family secretary just confirming the schedule, “okay, so 2 earthballs each at the store and a movie when we get home.”

You can find me back at home, clutching my beer and muttering to myself: These skills will help them someday. These skills will help them someday. These skills will help them someday.

Dispatches from 6512 feet.

:: We’ve pretty much finished up in the garden. The greens went here, we harvested all the cabbage, the arugula is somehow still growing like a flashy, green uprising in a subdued brown world, there’s a few beets and carrots still lodged rootily in the ground, and the chickens get occasional garden bed amnesty.

 Cabbage row. That sucker on the far right was 13 pounds!

Two of those seven cabbages went to sauerkraut. The rest are in the root cellar. Wow, that is fun to say.

Photo by Rose. Me, sauerkrauting. This is our sunroom, which we call “The Solarium.” Dan built the frame 12 years ago in a post and beam style (no nails!) with ponderosa pine he logged from our local forest (There are some photos here and here). It’s 400 sf, and includes Dan’s bow making shop, my greenhouse and the stage for nightly raccoon/cat drama. We share the solarium with the folks who live downstairs. You can see the sliding glass door on the right, which is their entrance. 

:: The root cellar is an actual place where actual food is being stored. Like pears.

Dan likes to invite us into the root cellar for “an aged pear.”

Soon, a proper root cellar post. Now, I’m loving how, when Dan sees me hauling beets and cabbage heads and crocks of kraut around, he says eagerly, “we could put that in the root cellar.” (Reminds me of Portlandia: we can pickle that).

We’ve had some fun secret meetings down there. It takes the kids awhile to locate us.

:: I forgot that I grew these bullseye beets until I started digging them up. My new potluck dish is roasted beets in arugula salad with olive oil/balsamic dressing. The sweet/spicy/earthiness is like the edible manifestation of November.

Big Ass Beet.

:: Pumpkin test kitchen.

Really, I’m working on a pumpkin custard recipe to share with you! Must have one Ska moré stout first.

:: Col got the go ahead to take apart Rose’s cell phone (the broken one which she checks incessantly for text messages from Nana). He was thrilled to discover the tiny little speaker. See, it goes right here, up against your ear!

I am considering running an ad on freecycle requesting people’s broken electronics. But, I’m also scared of toxic elements and the proliferation of tiny electronic whatnot all over the house. Support group for mothers of future engineers? 

:: Last week at our first Family Meeting, Rose announced that she wants to learn to read. We promptly went to the library to get some easy reader books. Turns out, Rose actually wants to tell long, elaborate stories as she’s flipping through books, sometimes in different, previously unknown languages. We’re just going to chalk this up to pre-reading skills.

:: I’m reading House at Pooh Corner to the kids, and it’s absolutely delightful. It was written 84 years ago and cracks the kids up—snorts and guffaws—like they were watching Saturday Night Live.

As I write, Friday, 6:42 am, the clouds (nimbostratus) are perched low over the San Juans…and what’s that I hear? The glorious sound of rain.

Have a lovely weekend.

Rose: There’s no meat left on this chicken bone.

Col: Well, eat the bone then.

Rose: (huffily) I’m not a vegetarian, Col.



19 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy permalink
    November 9, 2012 9:28 am

    Please tell Col – especially – that the next time you come to New Jersey we will go to Thomas Edison’s laboratory in West Orange – where he did so many espeerments. It never bothered Edison if the espeerment didn’t work: he just kept trying – over and over. We can also visit the Edison house. All very interesting!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 9, 2012 11:29 am

      Cool! I think Col is inspired by reading about curious inventor types who maybe weren’t so good at the whole cleaning up/organizing parts of life. Also, it’s good for him to know how it takes repeated (and repeated…) trials to come up with desired results. The fun thing about Col’s current experiments is that he rarely has a desired result.

  2. November 9, 2012 10:34 am

    oh goodness, i had some snorts and guffaws from this post. i’m still laughing at reality inventing rose and your beer clutching self. feeling awe at the emergence of The Engineer and it feels like a page turner book…what’s gonna happen next? i’m also feeling november nourished from all the bounty here, sunshine in light form and sunshine in produce form. can’t wait for the deets on the root cellar and got a kick of glee knowing that it’s become a marital secret hideout. xo

  3. ike permalink
    November 9, 2012 10:59 am

    It’s great that you are comfortable letting Col’s imagination lead him to new discoveries even though there will be”messiness” along the way. What a great way to learn.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 10, 2012 12:00 pm

      Messiness: okay. Fires: not so good.

  4. November 9, 2012 12:09 pm

    “but now I almost want to issue an apology for my shirky behavior and renew my vows at the altar” this is true at my house as well. I cannot sing the sun’s praises enough in October and November and I hated her in the summer months.

    We danced around with family meetings while my kids were growing up. Sometimes we did crafts, sometimes we talked about chores. I think, secretly, I was looking for a ritual that would replace the ache in my heart for church.

    One day I realized I needn’t be too formal. That my family was regularly meeting. That’s when I realized I had everything I was looking for. I think it took me searching to find I already had it.

    Big love to that chicken who looks about as well blessed as any chicken I’ve ever met. Color and richness abound at your home!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 11, 2012 9:37 am

      Rebecca, clearly you are a Colorado girl and know the sun of which I’m speaking.

      As for family meetings, we certainly do a lot of family togetherness, but these meetings are a little more purpose-driven, ie: a chance for each family member to bring up family concerns and personal hopes and for the rest to listen and help problem solve. xo

  5. November 9, 2012 2:25 pm

    You can pickle that. Or you can put a bird on it. Either way. xo

  6. Sabrina permalink
    November 9, 2012 7:38 pm

    My husband and I had a great chuckle over Rose’s “vegetarian” observation. The kids are so funny! I’m sure it’s a direct reflection of their wonderful home :-)

  7. November 9, 2012 9:39 pm

    I’m jealous you’re growing arugula. And beets. And cabbage! And…oh who am I kidding? I come here for gardening porn, you know that right?

  8. Danielle G permalink
    November 10, 2012 11:49 am

    Totally jealous of your beets. They are the one thing I’ve never been able to successfully grow. No clue why. I left for work trip to Europe yesterday, so spent the entire day before roasting my pie pumpkins, pureeing and freezing which counts as quality time with the kids too – by the way. Who does that before a work trip?! (OK, thought you might, that’s why I mentioned it).

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 10, 2012 12:11 pm


      I’ve been known to make a “quick little batch of garden tomato sauce” before leaving on a camping trip. Enjoy Europe! Wow!


      • Danielle G permalink
        November 10, 2012 12:29 pm

        Thanks. A lot more glamorous than it sounds, trust me. My eyes are enjoying some sights, my brain is over-engaged in seemingly fruitless efforts to do something good for the world, meanwhile my heart is still beating loudly back at the homestead 6,000 miles away.

  9. November 10, 2012 12:59 pm

    I smiled. I laughed. I identified. Another good post, thanks. My six year old son announced three days ago that he wants to learn how to read. Then last night he exclaimed in a huffy, accusatory voice, “Mom, you didn’t teach me how to read, yet!”

    The Winnie-the-Pooh books are brilliant and always will be. When they find a Disney version on the shelves at the library, I firmly announce, “We are NOT getting that, its Disney, its not the real Winnie-the-Pooh.”

    Mmmm, beets. I love beets.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 11, 2012 9:32 am

      Your son…too funny.

  10. November 11, 2012 4:42 pm

    I love Rose’s reading skills. Being able to get so much out of an early reading book is art!

  11. November 13, 2012 2:52 am

    I want to see that root cellar! Love your family. And the root cellar already!

  12. Chris permalink
    November 25, 2012 8:05 pm

    Rachel, one day we will have to get our kids together. Will and Col have A LOT in common, including rusty hawksbill knives. Will spent the day today inventing almost-workable snares and cutting stuff with an old knife that my dad gave him. Fern is doing exactly the same thing with “reading” books, especially when there are people around to listen. I’m glad there are other kids out there with lots of imagination. And dangerous rusty knives.

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