Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday's pigs

I surprised the kids yesterday morning with corn muffins. One by one they came downstairs, lured by the smell of something baking in the oven. One by one, they bit into the steaming muffins, and one by one their faces fell.


This was weird. I'm usually a fairly competent baker, though since I went gluten free a year ago I bake much less. I took a tiny taste just to see what the deal was and BLEH! Baking soda! Evidently I put in 3 tsp of baking soda rather than 3 tsp of baking powder. Into the rubbish they went.

Eddie the Coonhound stole one out of the trash can and downed it with evident relish, which gave me the idea to feed the damn things to the Terra Firma pigs. So I put them in a bag and put the bag in the front seat of the car for the next day.

Brian, unfortunately, discovered them there while picking Nell up from swim practice that evening. Nell said he spit the muffin out the window.

Brian eats everything. They were truly awful.

Here's Nell with her bag o' treats for the pigs.

These two piggies fought over the first one.

The rest came over to see what the commotion was all about and quickly downed what was left in the bag.

Got any more of those DELICIOUS muffins, Nell?

Monday, November 22, 2010


The last leaf has finally fallen, and my heart heaves a huge sigh of relief.

Most days the sky is iron gray. The sight of bare gray branches against the gray sky is visceral relief. Why does this dead time of year make me so joyful? I am continuously aware of a lifting of the spirit. This happens every year with the dimming of the light, this elevation of mood and productivity.

It carries over into every part of my life. I am writing more, reading more, running more. I am more patient, more motivated, more enthusiastic about life. I am a better parent and a better friend.

Even when it's pouring rain, I'm happy and light. The constriction in my chest which begins with the first buds in spring and reaches fever pitch by August, is now totally gone.

I should winter all year round. Winter in the north, then winter in the south. I would be perpetually sparse and cool. I might fall into the beauty and never come back.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cooper's Hawk

While Nell, Simon and I spent the day at a swim meet in Ansonia, CT, Brian and Ben drove over to Old Saybrook to help Brian's parents get ready to move. They are downsizing to a retirement community here in Mystic. They have a big house full of stuff which has to be shrunk to fit a small, easy livin' apartment.

So we are getting lots of stuff.

While they were at Grandma's house, a Cooper's Hawk flew into the plate glass window in the kitchen and died instantly in the bushes.

Brian is a great fan of hawks. He pulls over when he's driving to watch them fly. He stops whatever he's doing in the yard. He runs outside if the kids see one out there. He pages through his hawk field guide during his rare moments of leisure.

And then, boom! A hawk falls out of the sky.

He brought it home in a bag to show the kids. (I almost wrote "to FEED the kids.") They love hawks like he does. They spent quite a while just looking at that hawk.

Because you just don't see that every day.....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bennie's pom pom

Ben, who is proudly five, spent the better part of the morning making a big pom pom out of yarn. I helped him cut out a cardboard donut, around which he carefully wound yards and yards of some nice yarn he found in Nell's closet. He got the idea for this project from a craft book he checked out of the library yesterday. He had been waiting more than 24 hours to make his pom pom. 24 hours is an eternity when you're five. Believe me.

I helped him cut the yarn off the cardboard, and he was delighted to see how it fluffed into a real pom pom. He ran to show Nell and Simon. He kept it in his pocket. When some friends came to play in the afternoon, he bashfully showed it off. He was beaming.

When Brian got home from work, Ben ran to show him the pom pom. It was big and fluffy and cool.

Nell's friend came over after school. She lost her dad about a month ago. He always used to meet her bus. Some days now we go out to the bus stop and she comes home with us. Ben adores her.

She and Ben sat on the couch for a few minutes paging through the craft book. Ben pulled the pom pom from his pocket and handed it to her. "This is really cool," she said.

He looked up at her and said, "It's for you."

"Are you sure, Ben?" she asked. "That's really special."

"Yes," said Ben. "It's for you."

And then he whispered to me, but loud enough that Nell's friend certainly heard, "It's because of what happened to her dad."

Ben cannot fathom what happened to her dad. He's five. But he's doing what he can to help.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bunnies on the farm

Every Tuesday we drive over to Terra Firma Farm to do the morning chores. I guess you could call it our volunteer job, though it doesn't feel like volunteering. We invite friends to come help us. Often, it's the highlight of our week.

I am so grateful to Farmer Brie and Farmer Ethan for having the courage to make a community farm. They let the kids have the run of the place. It's heaven, I'm telling you.

We feed the pigs, feed and water the chickens, check the bunny food, collect eggs, carry bales of hay to the donkeys and the sheep, toss scratch grains for all the animals, make a puddle pond for the ducks, and do our best to keep the goats out of the grain shed.

On warm days we make a wet wallow for the piglets. They grunt and roll in the mud and root with their weird noses. While I was in the pig pen this morning, a calf was born in the next field. Mama mooed to beat the band and out popped #27.

A bunch of baby bunnies were born about a month ago. We were doing chores that day just a few hours after the birth. Mama Bunny pulls fur from her chest and puts it in a nesting box inside her cage. In exchange for half an apple, she'll let you pull the box out to peek. We saw them when they were hairless pink and mostly blind.

Today they were white and hopelessly cute. Farmer Brie let the kids take them out and hold them.

Simon, my gentlest child, is oddly rough with baby animals. I think it's mostly a gross motor problem, though he was trying to get his bunny to karate kick on his lap.

Here is Nell telling him to stop.

He left the barn soon after to run outside with the sheep. He had us all in hysterics in the car later telling us how he actually rode a sheep: "The sheep just ran and I held on to his wool."

Good friends, good bunnies, good morning.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yoga Studio

The kids take a yoga class on Monday afternoons at The Dragon's Egg in Ledyard. The class is 45 minutes long. I could theoretically go for a little run or a quick grocery shop, but I like to stay. I like to be in this space.

Marya, the yoga teacher, radiates peace. She floats on her toes waving incense before class begins. The smell reminds me of Portland, of being 25 and drinking coffee in shops with beaded doorways. The conversation in those days was intense. Everything was so important.

All here is glass and wood. This epitomizes Marya's teaching style. She keeps the kids in check, but gently. Nobody flies out the window. The ground is solid under their feet. Safe.

I sit in the little lobby and look at the yoga books on the shelves, the Buddha tapestries, the elephants. This place is calming. The Other Mothers are lovely. We chat in whispers, but not lightly. Conversations here too can get intense. We are Homeschooling Mothers after all. We have a lot to say to each other.

Sometimes I think I'm too harsh for this place. I was trying to get Ben to leave last week after class, but all he wanted to do was run and slide in his socks. Who wouldn't? I grabbed his arm to force him into his jacket, and it felt violent. It felt like a betrayal of The Peace.

I don't do yoga myself. It gives me a headache. Literally. Bending backwards makes me nauseous, and lying on the floor invites all manner of dust into my sinuses. Not to mention I'm neither graceful not bendy. I like the bang bang bang of running. Yoga has no bang for me.

But the kids love it. They giggle and bend. And all is well with the world.