I have been meaning to post here for some time. Toward the end of December, I was working on a gardening plan for the yard, which included a list of things we have planted since returning to the old homestead in December of 2005. It was fairly surprising and impressive, considering the devastation of tornado and ice storms that have taken up a lot of our time. Of course, without the cleansing ability of natural disasters, we'd be complaining about the lack of sunlight and all that. There's no great loss without some small gain, as Ma Ingalls liked to say. Someday, I will get that retrospective listed here.
This winter, I've been working on a gardening workshop that I will present in a couple of weeks. I've been reading a lot of gardening books, and learning myself. I'm a former master gardener, but really I am a chaos gardener at heart. Whatever it says in the gardening books, I take with a grain of salt, because reality is usually different. I enjoy paying attention; as our permaculture instructors drilled into us: observe, observe, observe. Pay attention to the feedback you receive (there's no mistakes, just feedback). Experiment and observe. To me, this couple of lines of advice is the best gardening advice I've ever received.
Anyway, I've been reading a lot of gardening information, trying to get into my brain enough info that I can repeat it without confusing myself. I'm done with researching for now, and am writing up my notes into some kind of presentable format. This whole project has taken a lot of time and work, but I will forever have this work already done, and will forever have this presentation ready to give. It's a gift that I hope will spread throughout my community. So, basic gardening workshop, Saturday, January 17 at 9:30 at Springfield's public library in the Carnegie meeting room. It'll be fun!
An advanced gardening workshop will be presented in February. The main reason that I am doing these workshops is first and foremost, that many people do not have the skills and knowledge to garden. The secondary reason is that our local extension is not interested in organic gardening, and considers it more of a weird phenomenon than a realistic endeavor. This attitude is regrettable, but rather than trying to change extension's attitude, I am attempting to disseminate the information myself.
Another project I'm working on is a celebration of the author Laura Ingalls Wilder. We're putting on a big day of events in February. I think it will be a lot of fun for the homeschool pioneer geeks around here. I know I will enjoy myself! Another project that is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I ran across this quote from the older and wiser Laura, which I loved:
"I believe we would be happier to have a personal revolution in our individual lives and go back to simpler living and more direct thinking. It is the simple things of life that make living worth while, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest and living close to nature. There are no hothouse blossoms that can compare in beauty and fragrance with my bouquet of wild flowers."
We will soon be saying adios to Mike and Abby, who are going to Guatemala for a couple of months. There are a lot of projects to be involved in down there, and they all sound exciting. I know they will have a lot of fun, and I am excited at the information they'll be bringing back. Don is taking their family to the airport, and they are generously giving us the use of their van for a month. It is quite a blessing to have a tax return and a vehicle at the same time. Last year, this did not work out for us, and it was quite a strain, especially since we were looking to invest in a wood stove. This year, we have a list of things we want to invest in, and the means to haul them home. Yippee!
We're also planning on some field trips to out of town places like the children's museums in Bloomington and Decatur, and possibly a trip up to Funk's Grove for maple sirup and to enjoy their nature center. We'll make a few trips out to Chandlerville, both to enjoy the cousins and to assist the home folks. My parents have had a lot of things to deal with at their home, and we're hoping to be helpful now that we have the means to get there. It will also be nice to see the old place, and for Kaleigh to get reacquainted with it. When my step-dad passes away (and he's 72, and is living with congestive heart failure), the house will be razed and that will be the end of my last childhood home that still stands. I want to soak up the memories while I can.
While we're still emphatically NOT interested in owning a vehicle, it is helpful and useful to have access to one. We're hopeful that a car co-op may appear, and may be more fruitful than the last attempt at having one.
We may make one other road trip, to south central Missouri. Kaleigh and I may go to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed farm, to their festival held on the first Sunday of the month. It'll be cold, especially if we sleep in the van, but it'll be fun, no doubt. Baker Creek is very near to Mansfield, Missouri, which is where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her Little House books. Of course, it is a great combo road trip. I hope the weather and gas prices allow the trip to happen. We'll see. Don will be staying home to keep the fire going, so the pipes don't freeze.
I've went through my collection of seeds, and seed catalogs that we've received. I've already filled out the order to Baker Creek, and am just waiting until January 15 so I can file the tax return. As soon as we get the refund, I'll send off my order. I have a lot of seeds, and I'm excited that we may have an intern to help us in the garden this year. I hope to find a couple of heritage apple trees as well.
Of course, we are enjoying the wood stove this year. It has kept us toasty warm for most of the winter. The only exception was the day or two it was zero degrees, with a wind chill of minus 22. The wind was causing our useless vents to pour cold air into the house. We got those covered up, made soup and baked bread, put on a couple more layers, and we were warm again. Don has kept busy hauling wood, cutting wood on good days, and keeping the woodstove operational. He still thinks of it as play more than work. It's all in the perspective.
With our oven working again, we've been making homemade wheat bread. I've also been cooking lots of soups. Soup full of vegetables, beans, and/or chicken broth, plus homemade bread makes for a delightful meal. The 30 odd quarts of tomatoes I canned last summer have made our meals very delicious and nutritious. There's nothing like summer tomatoes on a winter tongue. The raspberry and strawberry wines are good also.
Kaleigh and I have been knitting, and she has been crocheting. She finished her first project, a Christmas headband. I am working socks and a hat to match her Christmas present scarf. We have enjoyed getting out and hanging out with our knitting friends. We've been reading the Little House series again. It's been a couple of years since I have read it, and it is totally enjoyable once more. We're up to Little Town on the Prairie now. Kaleigh has read the Boxcar Children series, pretty much every book they have at the library. She decided to start over and read them in order, and she's about 25 books into it. She's been reading a book or two a day most days.
Right now, Kaleigh and Don are collaging and painting our flat fridge magnets, formerly printed with advertising and other useless information. Kaleigh is highly enjoying herself. I am realizing I need to get into the kitchen and get some lunch together. More for another time, but just wanted to let y'all know we are still alive and thinking here in Zomba.