Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Soccer and Goats


The weather has turned crisp and cool, courtesy of a thunder storm that struck near our house and fried our router, so we have been Internet-less since last Thursday and kind of enjoying it. Work's been more difficult, but we are reading more, cooking more, and the kids have never played outside so much together. Of course, the cooler weather has something to do with that.

Whatever the cause, it's been super fun at home lately. 



Annaliese, my strong-willed, bossy, opinionated little girl, is a strangely passive soccer player. She runs next to people with the ball, tentatively kicking every now and then. In other words, she's not the best, but her smiles are beautiful and she seems to enjoy it.


Caspian was a horrible player last year, content to look at the sky and constantly asking for breaks. This year, with no input from us, he has morphed into the tallest and most aggressive kid on his team. He dances when the game is going well, swings his fists when it's not. He pursues the ball up and down the field and really is pretty darn fast, faster than the other kids I see out there. 

This is his best friend Graham. They played against each other last night. At one point, the two of them were duking it out next to the goal and Graham scored. Caspian gave him and high five and told him, "Good job!"

With the advent of cooler temps, K attempted to get into the woods to do some woodcutting. His chainsaw did not cooperate, but fun was had anyhow.


Goat feeding. I'll admit these animals have won me over. Feeding time is hilarious, with the chickens lurking under the cows, and the cows driving off the goats, and the two little sheepies running to and fro.


Not a bad way to spend a Sunday...


It's our anniversary the day after tomorrow. Nine years. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And so it's September.

It's a hectic week here in the Valley. Lots of work, soccer, school, etc. I told the kids on Sunday night that there was a good chance K and I would be a bit stressed, and they needed to pitch in and help so we could check off the things that need checking. 

And guess what? They have. We rocked Monday and Tuesday. Homework, check. Games, check. Family dinners, check. Decent bedtimes, check. 

We were talking about some of their school's rules last night and Annaliese said "Some rules are appropriate. Others are stupid."

Smart kid.

Hopefully we will get caught up from our time away this week. Didn't much enjoy not seeing K on Sunday or after dinner last night. C'est la vie.

After nearly nine years, it's still this guy...


Uncle-Cousin Nick came home with us after BG and stayed for a few precious days, stolen between his two years in Moscow. He's Caspian's godfather and one of our favorites and can come back anytime.



Got to go inside one of the coolest Valley houses that's been bought and will be renovated, thankfully by someone other than us. It was amazing. And infested with fleas. We did not know that while taking this picture.



First time back at the local seafood joint after the staffing shenanigans that went on this summer. It's been an eventful time for me, between the W-M dispute and the two employees, one a friend, who quit mid-shift during the busiest week of the year. I've come to several conclusions... don't hire friends. Trust people's actions, not their words. 


We have had a long, slow month in-store. It was anticipated, is entirely normal for the season shifting, and I was doing a good job about not freaking out about it until suddenly I wasn't. I am officially freaking out. People need to come buy some m-fr$#ing groceries. Lordy.

My typical reaction to business not being what I'd like it to be is to focus on a new area of expansion. I have ideas, folks, but on the other hand, expansions take money, and people, and a lot, a lot, a lot of energy. And I have none of those three things. So let's hope business swings up and we can ride a plateau for a little while and I can come home at decent times and work decent hours and have two days off a week and not think about the store every waking moment of my life.

It'd be nice. I had a bad dream last night, a really bad one, but after the dream ebbed away, my first thought was "hey! It wasn't about work!"

There is a local merchant here who worked six days a week for four decades. He provided for his family, did not become rich, but did his job with integrity and knowledge day after day, year after year. And then he retired. People miss him being in the store but boy, he's having a ball, finally doing what it is he'd like to do with no daily commitments. He's a role model for me. I don't want to franchise, get rich, or stop working. I'd just like to make a modest living and work about 45 hours a week. 

We'll see. I guess I'm nervous because the balloon of the book is dying down and it's hard to predict the settling point.

But! all is well. Kids are amazing. Husband is... at work a lot, but in between amazing. House is beautiful, and I hear there will soon be a screened porch :) Fall is coming, my favorite season, a season I will forever associate now with being heavily pregnant with Annaliese and walking the dogs endlessly, putting acorns in my pockets to take home to windowsills and wooden bowls and thinking always of the future and what it might be like, to have a daughter and someday another child and a husband and a home.

Now I know. It's worth everything.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

I googled myself and found this.

http://www.biographile.com/alexe-van-beuren-on-the-summer-she-opened-her-own-business/33776/

Wrote it when a random house girl asked me to. Never knew it went anywhere.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Turkey bumps



Annaliese accompanied me to the chicken yard this afternoon. She was telling me about sharks. Her class is talking about them.

I have thoughts about this.. why? I have done my best to keep my shark-phobia to myself, and now they're going to teach her fear at school? Arg! Annaliese saw a picture of that girl who lost her arm surfing and she was telling me about it as I gave the chickens scraps and fresh water.

"It was gross, Mama," she said.

"Not her fault she lost an arm, kiddo," said I.

"It gave me chicken bumps. NO.... turkey bumps. It gave me turkey bumps."

Sharks give me turkey bumps too. But unlike her school, I'm gonna keep it to myself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pardon me...

K has taken over the more frequent documentation of daily life, but I've missed checking in too.

In my family, houses have names, and so for the first year-plus we lived here, it really bothered me that I didn't have one. We thought of a lot of options... K was pushing hard for Turtle Hill, as I remember... but this place we have landed is not at all grand. It's a 1940s bungalow with an awkward 80s addition that we've cloathed in cedar and cypress that will take a good five years to mellow to the gray we want as opposed to the orange it came. It's a Mississippi hill farm. It's hard to find a good name for a place that doesn't sound... overly inflated, shall we say?

I read the kids Pippi Longstocking and the description of the horse on the porch and the nonsensical air of the place reminded me of home. You're fairly likely to find a barnyard animal on the porch here. It's a place of whimsy, butterflies, big old trees and goats, and so I christened it Villa Villekula.

(I can't tell you how relaxing it is to have the name in my head.)

I have many plans awaiting our home but sadly, a complete lack of skill to execute them, so I am focusing on the garden and the rose bushes and the things that I am capable of impacting.

But what K has made already is pretty spectacular. The plan this year is I get Wednesdays off every week, barring emergencies, and both the children are in school now, which means I get to spend some time appreciating this corner of the world we are calling home. It's a beautiful one.















Feeling very lucky these days.

Can you tell?





This boy... five now, riding the bus with his sister to kindergarten. Handsome and smart and loving and... everything.

He's the one who really loves life at the farm. I found him underneath the azalea bushes the other day, crooning to our dog Olive, singing her to sleep while making a neat pile of mudballs.

More soon. Have to go meet the bus. But I want to get back to this.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

April 2nd

Have not posted many pics of the new house because we've been in renovation mode so long. But things are pleasing me lately.



Our room is like a treehouse. The view from the bed...



I finally have linen bedding (h&m, I recommend) and my tulips are blooming.


First local delivery of the year. Broccoli rabe and spinach too....



This came out in the paper today. Loved it.


My little girl wore her new spring cotton frock to school today!


Dinner on the porch. Caspian wants baby chicks, ant eggs, red rosebushes, and seeds for his birthday. (He is covered in ant bites because he tried to retrieve an ant on his own.)

Just another spring day in Mississippi...



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 18th has come and gone

I've been wearing a little charm necklace lately that has three peas in a pod on it. Annaliese was sitting in my lap on the downstairs porch the other day... we were snacking and watching the sun set-- and she held my charm between her fingers and pointed.

"This one is Daddy, this one is me, and this one is Caspian," she said. "And you are the shell that keeps us all together."



Don't want to forget that one.

We had the book signing, and the book is out and about into the world, and as much as I want it to become an international best seller with script options (because that happens to all cookbooks, right?), the part I also really want to hang onto is how many people showed up to the local bookstore and bought books. Not strangers. There were maybe ten strangers. Instead they were customers and neighbors and friends and my mother and my sister's godmother and almost everybody bought multiple copies. The bookstore staff were astounded.

Not to mention we've sold books like they were the newest apple toy in-store like they were going out of style. All to people we know. I've gotten emails and hugs and phone calls telling me how wonderfully I write and how proud they are of me, the store, and Dixie.

It's incredibly sweet.

This is a good place to call home.

Daffodils are out and I have jars of them set around the house. My garden is planted-- chinese cabbage, snowpeas, sweet peas, broccoli, carrots, potatoes-- and things are growing. Slowly, but growing. The pearl bush I planted next to the front steps and the pink tulips Kagan's sister gave me are blooming. This is my favorite time of year... before the weeds, before the heat, when all is green promise.

My chickens are laying-- all of them!-- and the rooster has learned to crow. K. hauled two pigs to the slaughterhouse yesterday, so the store's freezer is stocked with pork chops and patty sausage, and our freezer at home is full to the gills.

We both have thousands of projects ahead of us but the skeleton is in place, and now we can just do a little here, a little there, when we feel like it, and in five years or so, we'll look up and it'll be amazing.

Caspian's best friend came home with us after school yesterday and played until dinner time. They ran around in the field and played with legos on the porch and Caspian's face just glowed with love and joy. He is so my child.

The avocados are perfect right now. Caspian shucked sweet corn for dinner and we ate pork chops, corn on the cob, sliced avocado, tomato, and drank prosecco at the table last night.

I feel very rich these days.





Friday, March 14, 2014

Time

Is so precious these days and I've been avoiding screens in my off-time. 


Softball try-outs...


Could not resist a stealth shot.

Broccoli, from seed.


Dinner last night.


The boys were out playing with dirt until dark. Annaliese and I had girl time. Baths, pigtails, snuggling, and cat doctoring. 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February... cold, grey, snow, snow day. Everyone in town has reached a level of frustration expressed as a constant stream of commentary about the weather.

Book comes out in a month and people seem excited about it. I am less excited. I hope people like it, and it sells well, and perhaps leads to other revenue-generating income streams for me. I am much more excited about this year's produce season: can not wait to flood my store with peaches, blueberries, Amish strawberries.

Had a brief flurry of baby fever completely cured by a trip to see Stinks' baby, who is adorable, and a good baby, but nonetheless a baby, and so there goes that, thank goodness.

Have been cooking a great deal of good dinners lately and somehow it's relaxing, to lean into that responsability as oppposed to handing it off, as I've been doing for years now. I think about it the day before. That somehow makes it manageable. I also don't try anything very exotic: roast chicken, minestrone, spaghetti. Although I did make a completely amazing risi et bisi that no one seemed to like except me. Salmon cakes, on the other hand, were a winner. Go figure.

Annaliese lost her second tooth yesterday. Caspian is enormous. These are good things.

This pic cracks me up... we were at the store on Sunday to hand over a small lost dog to a good woman (long story) and it occurred to me that there we all were, dressed in our church clothes, and so we handed K's phone to an employee. The kids did not seem as thrilled with this idea as we were.

Oh well.

Pig roast on Sunday. House guests this weekend. K's birthday on Tuesday. My first book club meeting next Wednesday.

Busy times, good times. maybe someday, warmer and sunnier times.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

January was off to a rocky start at my house. There was stomach flu, an infected finger, bitterly cold weather, burst pipes, livestock concerns. But I don't want to talk about any of that.

Last night we made a fire and ended up on the couch in front of it, playing rummy with the kids perched on the back of the couch, watching us, since their card proficiency does not extend beyond Go Fish. I'd already played Jenga with them anyhow. They sprawled. There was some tooting. Some teasing. So bitter rummy competition between me and K. It's easy to entertain ourselves these days.

Quotes I'd like to remember:

Annaliese with a birthday package on her lap, Caspian wistfully wondering if there was anything from Grandfather in it for him. Annaliese: "Don't worry Caspian. I'll let you play with my toys. Pinky-swear." 

(And there WAS something for him! A hand-tooled wallet with a $5 bill that completely made his day.)

Caspian, yesterday, as Annaliese handed him a yogurt she'd brought from the store for him. ""I've been waiting for the yogurt truck my entire life." 

Annaliese lost her first tooth this week. She took her gold dollar coin to school to show her class that the tooth fairy does exist. Her other bottom tooth is hanging by a thread but I haven't let K. pull it because I'm not adjusted yet to her missing one tooth, let alone two. 

The store is in the January woes and it's challenging these days to keep solvent, but it doesn't phase me as much as it used to. It's been this way before. It'll be this way again. In the mean time, I get to hang out with my favorite folks.