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Not much to say

As you can tell from my recent silence, there hasn’t been much to report.

My seventh grade students have learned to knit and are working diligently on making 7-inch-by-9-inch rectangles we can sew into a blanket and give away as a service project. The eighth graders made their own kumihimo looms from cardboard boxes I saved this summer. They spent several weeks whipping up friendship bracelets made from embroidery floss. We’re also up to our eyeballs in direct and indirect objects. This week we’ll start diagramming sentences.

The farm looks the way I feel. We keep getting threats of rain, but it’s all sound and fury, signifying nothing. The most moisture we’ve gotten at one time has measured a whopping two-tenths of an inch and those showers have been few and far between. Things are dismally dry.

The cows continue to produce milk, though less and less as the grass disappears and the days shorten. I’m still making butter, though it’s not the golden yellow it was this spring. I added Ricki Carroll’s 30-minute mozzarella to my repertoire and if I get a four-hour chunk of time, I might actually make some hard cheese yet this year.

We’ll see.

Julia, the recalcitrant cow, has now become the good cow. For awhile she was the one leading the way in the morning. Now, as the days get shorter and shorter, I have to walk the fields in the dark to roust the girls out of bed. I know how they feel. I’m not exactly bounding out of bed myself these days.

Tonight’s project is the unraveling of a sweater I started awhile back. I got the body finished, but I’m not pleased with the length and fear the armholes are too snug. Starting over will keep me entertained, and it certainly helps the yarn budget to knit the same project over and over again.

Only Good Things

I try to tell my husband one good thing that happens at work each day.

Here’s today’s:

While I was chatting and laughing with my homeroom students as we waited in line to enter the cafeteria, a lower grade boy stopped on the stairs beside me, made sure he had my attention, then hollered: “You have the most awesome smile!”

He made my day.

Run for Your Life

Teaching is often stressful and overwhelming. I won’t say more, or I’ll just be complaining. After a particularly frustrating day that ended with John suggesting I stand out in the driveway and throw rocks, I decided it was time to plug back into the Couch to 10k app.

After four weeks of the Couch to 10k program, I finally finished week two. Hooray! Last night was the first round of week three.

I’m not sure what it says about me that I thrive on mindless, monotonous, repetitive motion. At the end of my 50 minute workout I didn’t want to get off the treadmill. I could have run/walked all night.

Pizza! Pizza!

On Sunday we had friends and family over for our biggest pizza party yet.

It took us awhile to sort out the complex family relations, but we got that done. The family and friends – some of whom we had not met and so did not yet know were friends – were folks we do not get to see often enough.

The pizzas were some of the prettiest we’ve seen. My favorite was made by a six-year-old. I’m hoping she grows up to be a bread baker, a pizza maker, a chef.

My favorite comment was (and I’m paraphrasing hugely here): Once we had an outdoor dinner in France. There were sawhorse tables filled with cheeses and wines and food. I never thought I would have that experience again. And now I have.

Another salute to the magic of fire.

Home Life

School has started, and now the farm is more of a place to sleep than a place to live. It is exhilarating and exhausting to try and inspire 12 and 13-year-olds to be excited about grammar. We’ve been learning to excavate the simple subject and simple predicate from sentences. Several times a day I repeat: Is is a verb!

My evening energy level is low. There has been no running – not even on the treadmill. In the morning I hustle to milk, then feed the milk to the chickens. In the evenings I’ve been letting my growing calves nurse the cows dry while I throw food to the rest of the critters. Then it’s time for dinner. And once I sit down I find I have no desire to be on my feet one second longer. The result? An hour or so in bed playing Words with Friends (a new addiction) and a few more chapters of Anna Karenina. Then sleep.

My outdoor garden has given up the ghost. After the long, hot, dry summer, I decided to forego any attempts at a fall garden. I’m glad I did. Instead, I brought my gardening indoors and grew a flat of microgreens from a hydroponic kit I ordered at www.growmicrogreens.com. My first harvest was yesterday. The greens are fantastic – spicy and fresh and full of flavor. Looks like we have salad for the week.

My first harvest.

The rest of this weekend will be spent catching up: make butter from the milk in the fridge, whip up a batch of yogurt for my evening smoothie, and make a big stockpot of beef and vegetable soup to get us through the week. Already a loaf of fresh bread has made its way from the oven.

Fresh from the oven.

Oh, and with a lot of luck, I’ll finish the shawl that’s on the rented loom that should have been returned a week ago.

Yoga

What I learned in yoga – Be where your feet are.

What More Can I Ask For?

If this is the way the rest of the school year will go, I’m in for a real treat. My students were engaged, engaging and ready to learn.

Back-to-school

School started today. More later.

Peachy Keen

Columbia Farmers' Market Peaches

Julia Child’s birthday was today and I wanted to do something big – say make her peach galette – but we kicked off the school year with a day long faculty meeting. I settled for leftovers.

But I did think of Julia today. A lot. She would love 21st-century technology. I just know it.

Through my mom’s personalized newspaper clipping service, I was introduced to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. I love ice cream. I own a White Mountain ice cream maker. And a Cuisinart ice cream maker. I milk my own cows. Need I say more?

So, I downloaded the book on my iPad. It took forever to load, and now I know why.

It contains videos. It’s like having Jeni in the kitchen with you. I watched her introduction and then her spiel on making caramel (the dry-burn technique). The next day I made a trip to the grocery store and farmers’ market.

I made the Peach Lambic Sorbet (no cream, but lots of fresh peaches) and the Salty Caramel (lots of cream). They are both extraordinary.

Salty Caramel Ice Cream

I can only hope that someone will take Julia’s PBS series and plug it into Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I would love to cook side-by-side with Julia Child.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

Rain

It’s raining. Hard. I hope it keeps it up all day. It’s been so dry here it’s depressing. Mature trees have wilted leaves, we could have used a pick to help dig potatoes from the garden last night, the grass is dying and it shows in the butter I made on Monday. Monday’s butter was light yellow, a sign of poor grass; bright gold would mean the cows had been dining on bright green grass.

Still, it’s been cooler these past few days. You can see everyone’s spirits lifting. The dogs are back to harassing the wildlife in the brush piles, the chickens have stopped panting, and the cows are back to grazing. I’m hoping the heat is behind us.