Less Talk, More Action

I think I sprained my uvula.  I was sipping coffee vigorously and I think I twisted the little guy.  You know how it is.

And that’s the most blog-worthy thing that’s going on these days.

The local pool will be closed for the season as of Tuesday so we went on Saturday though we generally avoid the weekend crowds AND even though the temperature was only in the low 70s F.  It has been a wonderful summer being dunked by my little boys.  Shhh – don’t tell them I’ve been taking a dive.

Wearing a swimsuit in public has gotten easier with exposure (HA!) and with the deep dark sun damage my skin has experienced.  It also gets easier with every pound I lose, which means I’m a lot vainer than I really wanted to admit.  It’s also easier to shave when the belly’s not getting in the way of bending.

So, yes, I’ve been keeping up with my fitness goals.  I’ve finished couch to 5k and am working on my speed and endurance; I think I can do a full lap at the pool, though I’m waiting to test that at the YMCA this fall; and I’m on track to hit a healthy BMI some time in the next five months.  I’ve also added some other goals because apparently when there is a formula to follow, I can do almost anything.

It turns out that if I really want to accomplish something I need to refrain from talking about it too much.  Less talk, more action.  So, that’s why  I haven’t been blogging much about it.  Well, that, and the fact that while losing weight and feeling strong is exciting to experience, it’s pretty boring reading about the minutia involved with getting there.

But OK, since you asked, I’ve lost about forty pounds since January and I have about thirty to go.  I’ve done it by eating fewer calories than I am burning.

Summer of Good Byes

Summer has been hot and glorious and full of pools and oceans and and family and freedom.  And it is all ending.  Fall will be cozy and warm inside, but I hate when summer leaves.

I hate good-byes.  Even when they’re right and good and for the best.  My oldest friend, the one who gets all my shorthand and my moods, just left.  She has a beautiful family and a full life six hours away from me and I am so happy for her but I miss her when she leaves.

My grandma rescued me time and again when I was a child, a teenager, and a young adult.  Sometimes from the foolishness perpetrated by the people around me and sometimes from myself.  She did that for all of us.  She took in babies and the elderly, family and friends.  She fed us and comforted us.  She was our safe place, our calm shelter, our hot meal and clean sheets without a lecture.  Our sympathetic ear.  She suffered much and gave much and she has gone on to her reward.  I miss her even though it is not a tragedy when an 86 year old woman who has been sick for 25 years passes away at home surrounded by people who love her.  I wish she didn’t have to leave.


Random Worries and Wonderings

I want to tell you about knitted socks and running from zombies (so fun) and homemade blackberry toaster pastries.  I’d love to share with you my  thoughts about mending pillowcases and Flannery O’Connor and Will Arnett, soccer games and swimming pools and state parks.

But my mind has been traveling darker and more slippery paths.  I have no intention at the moment to ever flesh these out in written form, but here are some of the some of the weirder places my imagination has been visiting.  Maybe you can do something with them.

What if the majority of the electoral college  turns faithless in a form of jury nullification?

Why are there so many Confederate flags on display here in western New York State?

Why do people say that a school district is “bad” when what they really mean is that it has a high immigrant population?

And why are there failing school districts anyway?  If so many people are so keen for equality, then why should districts within the same state, the same county be unequally funded?

When will Christians admit that their lives are less than holy, that they don’t measure up to the standards they believe in?

If women make up half of the earth’s population, more or less, why do they allow themselves to be oppressed, excluded, beaten, tortured, enslaved?  The people have the power, right?  I wish an army of Amazons would go kick Boko Haram’s ass.

Whatever happened to nuance?  To shades of gray?  To being able to see some merit in the arguments of your opponent?




Culling Roosters on Independence Day

This is the third year we’ve turned chickens into food.  See here and here.  Some differences this year –

  • We didn’t buy cornish cross chicks – the so-called meat birds that possess a body shape that resembles the chickens found in grocery stores.
  • Instead we decided to cull our extra roosters.  There were too many and were getting to be a little hard on the hens.
  • We only did two birds rather than ten or twenty.
  • I did not do any of the work.  My husband did it all himself with a little help from the kids.  The kids rounded up the two birds and put them in a crate.  My husband set up the pulley and bucket, table and hose, scald pot and plucking counter.  All I did was remind him to wear long sleeves and to read the directions.
hen with bald patch because of too many roosters

hen with bald patch because of too many roosters


covered animal crate

covered animal crate


bucket , table, hose

bucket , table, hose


one of three roosters who gets to stay

one of three roosters who gets to stay

  • Because these were older, scrawnier birds they’ll probably be for the pot rather than for roasting.

Our roasting chickens were delicious and twenty of them lasted us almost a full year so we’ll probably do that again next year, but at least we’ve got something.  And it’s nice to move a little closer to sustainability.

Enjoying Today

Bright yellow light is filtering through green leaves. I’m feeling all the promise of an unspoiled day.

The house will stay messy today because we are going out right after school. We’ll go look at the falls and climb some stairs and take deep fresh breaths and exert our muscles and use all these gifts that we take for granted too often.

Then tonight we’ll stay up too late waiting for the last light to leave the sky while we collect lightning bugs and poke the little flame in our ring of creek stones which doesn’t really approach the magnificence of a bonfire but which we give that name anyway. We’ll come home filthy and tired, covered in charcoal and bug bites, grateful for a shower and bed.

What a luxurious life! Hot coffee, slow starting, warm air, interesting children, books to read, clean sheets, comfy chair, creative projects, long walks. My favorite things. What are yours?

Soda Bottle Rockets

One of the best things about homeschooling is time and flexibility – drawing the attention of my students to the feast that is set before them and then allowing them to take their fill.

I wish we had the time and the … whatever it is… to study like the ancient Greeks; sit in a room with some sand on the floor and figure out geometry. Not because it’s necessarily useful (though it is!) but because it is interesting, beautiful and just because it IS.

My middle boy spent some of his own money on a big jug of white vinegar and two boxes of baking soda and has spent every free minute for the past three days figuring out the best way to make various pieces of recycling shoot into the air. I’m pretty sure it was the best $3.60 he ever forked out.

I could show him videos and books that demonstrate the “best” way of doing this but he is so invested– financially, temporally, emotionally, intellectually – I don’t want to ruin it. It would be like telling Archimedes about pi while he was figuring out his approximation.

Bonus: he has been entertaining his brothers as well.

Excitement in the Neigborhood

Yesterday afternoon the electricity began to flicker and then went out. I stepped out on the front porch. There was smoke coming from the direction of my neighbor’s house. Could he be using his woodstove this time of year? I sent my son up to his room to look out the window. No, the smoke was not coming from the chimney. I walked along the road toward his house and almost walked right into a downed power line that lay across his lawn in a smoking black snake. At the end of the grass it lifted into the air to a pole at the edge of the woods – my woods – where it was smouldering.

It took the electric company about forty-five minutes to arrive to shut off the power so the fire department could put out the fire. Then they had to send for another crew to repair the damage, but the repair itself only took about a half hour.

There is no major damage to either the woods or to my neighbor’s home, though there is a burnt wavy line across his front yard.

While we waited to see what would happen neighbors all came out and stood around talking to each other. I miss that about the city. There is so little casual interaction here. There is no daily hello and wave, except from inside our cars. Here, if you want to talk to people it has to be purposeful; you go to church or Kiwanis or Rotary or a spaghetti fund raiser or an auction or an event of some kind.

And it was exciting to begin making contingency plans. Would we stay in our own home? If so, what would we do for water? (electric well pump) Should we pack a bag? Maybe we should camp out. Where are the batteries? Go swimming? Visit relatives? Well, the power was back on before we got to do much of that.

But we did eat all the ice cream!

I’m On a New Schedule and Can’t Think Properly

New schedule sooooo tired.  Words not werking write.  I make free sociation pohum.  Brain back soon hoping.


There are 34 reasons to quit

And 86 times when I did

And I stop and I stare at the lies in the air

Swishing from side to side

I wanted to cry or scream or die

But I lived and that’s why I’m here

So suck it



I Studied This in Grammar School

in the 1970s.  Did you?
by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Wildflower Beauty

I spent years feeling like there was no restful place for my eyes.  Maybe there is something wrong with a person who has such difficulty finding beauty in her surroundings.  Now that I’ve moved away from “the city” I think it wasn’t so much an inability to find beauty as an inability to ignore ugliness.  Beauty was everywhere, but it was tainted, surrounded, out of place.  There was sorrow too apparent in beauty’s struggling on, in its insistence on survival.  That’s still true, I suppose, but now I find beauty the abundant rule and ugliness is the intruding exception.  There is less bitter with the sweet.  What changed?  Me or the landscape?

dame's rocket and a little buttercup

dame’s rocket and a little buttercup

Dame’s rocket is a flower that is among the first to bloom in a succession of uncultivated flowers that celebrate the passing of the temperate weeks.  And as these pass away they usher in other blossoms.  They look like Easter candy in shades of violet, lavender, pink, and white.  They line the roads and ditches and creek banks.  They fill the edges of the woods.  In the evening they give off a sweet musky springtime scent and seem to glow in the diminishing light.

Its latin name is hesperis matronalis which I think has something to do with mothers at night, but makes me think of “The Wreck of the Hesperus” – fitting since dame’s rocket is banned in Massachusetts (and Connecticut, Colorado, and Wisconsin) owing to its invasive nature.

But it sure is pretty on my counter.

ETA:  I apologize to everyone who landed here because I erroneously added the tag “beauty.”  I didn’t realize that was code for cosmetics.  I’m just figuring this tagging thing out.