Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Last year we hosted a Halloween party and made gingerbread houses, creepy foods, decorations, handmade lamps and pumpkins. This year, since we are happily going to a friend's party, we almost forgot to even carve pumpkins and only settled on costumes yesterday.

Now that we've all submerged our hands in the pumpkins and roasted the seeds, we are thoroughly back in the Halloween groove. Bwa ha ha!!!

Not much compares with Halloween.

Monday, October 29, 2007

If the Red Sox can win the World Series twice in three years...

what else is possible? Anyone who grew up in Boston, being brought to the edge of victory time and time again, only to have your hopes obliterated - gruesomely smashed like a precious North End Pastry being thrown against the barnacled wharf to be gobbled by a lobster - anyone who is in Red Sox Nation knows what I mean.

I am very happy to have witnessed these two big wins. And I'm back to being a non-sports person (but for soccer-mom duties) until they make it to the playoffs again.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

You can't always get what you want..

In my case, at the moment, that means not getting the autumn leaves of New England. So, as Stephen Stills says, instead you love the leaves you're with. ;)

New cucumber flowers and tendrils, in October!

Beautiful Italian Parsley

Tender new, buttery soft lettuces.

I wish that Gillen and Jesse wanted to dance, play an instrument or do theater. I wish that Gillen didn't want to wear his hair over his eyes. I wish that I were completely over Chronic Fatigue, for ever and ever and not just for months at a time. I wish that Nicolas would eat breakfast and play soccer on a team.

But, as Arnaud Desjardin said, you have to say yes to (be one with) what life puts in front of you before trying to change your reaction to it. And with non-reactive wisdom and patience, maybe my illness will abate, Gillen will grow tired of not being able to see and Nicolas will carve out time for more fun. As for the kids taking part in theater, music and dance - it's time I did more of this my own self!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Some of my favorite kids, who just happen to be relatives

A section of our NY family was here for the past three days, getting their rubber boots on and running free at the farm. I love these guys. I'll just mention a few of the things I so like about each one.

Above is Christine, the momma, who has always gifted me with fashionable clothing and accessories that make me feel that I still have a foot in the door of my city life. She is generous and creative. While living in Tokyo for five years, she learned the Japanese art of flower arranging - Ikebana. Yesterday, at the farm, these skills helped to inspire her to create Indian head bands out of vines and turkey feathers. Here she is loving my shaggy boy.
Clementine, the only girl cousin on Nicolas' side of the family. She is gentle, kind and beautiful.
Julien, the youngest of Christine's three, a unique expression of mystery and innocence. He is infinitely huggable.
Remi, the middle child. He has his father's musical talent and I believe that this picture could be a future CD cover (thanks in part to the back up singers'attitude). He rocks!

And then there are the boys that I am lucky enough to know as a mother. They had quite a week while I was gone. Gillen shot a quail with his BB gun and then cooked it for dinner. Jesse, after two years of avoidance (due to a bad crash) tried again to ride a bike without training wheels and immediately succeeded.

No, that is not the quail; it's"Zack", the last of the original fifteen turkeys that Gillen bought in August.

One more cool attribute of this NY contingent - they speak to one another in French, all the time. It comes from having a Belgian mother and a French father and going to a French school. Even whining and accusations sound OK when in French (not that there were many of these).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back to Reality

I got back last night. It was a long journey that had me delayed in MN (I thought of the very special bloggers I know there) and later circling Atlanta for almost two hours while waiting for permission to land. I was glad of the extra time to assimilate all of last week before reentering my normal life.

What I loved: the endless Montana skies; the crisp, clean air; yellow leaves highlighted against snow-capped, gray mountains; Magpies - who knew they could be beautiful; going to bathe in the Hot Springs and then getting to spend time alone with my sister at her magical home; being "shotgun sally" - fastest sharpshooter in the old west, in a skit; doing art with happy children; reconnecting with amazing friends; meditating every morning; following rather than creating the schedule; listening; and learning. As if that weren't enough, I also really loved the way my hair acted in the dry climate. :)

Arnaud Desjardin is a brilliant, wise, inspiring spiritual teacher, who is now eighty-one years old and still tireless. What inspired me the most was his joyfulness. I highly recommend his books, in particular the book, Jump Into Life.

We have a full house - my sister in law, Christine, is here from NY with her fabulous kids. It is good to be home. I missed my guys.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Congregating, without technology

The above print is by the artist Nikki McClure. I have reproduced it here with her permission. She creates her pictures by cutting from paper with an x-acto knife. Amazing. I have her calendar and each print in it has been powerful. But this one really struck me on a personal level because of the timing. It is the October picture and this is the month when I will be congregating, in just this way - taking my shoes off as I enter the building where I'll be for a week, gleaning wisdom and community from wise friends and spiritual teachers in Montana. No phones or computers or television. Just working alongside inspiring people and getting back to the reality that comes from sitting on a pillow for hours.

I know I just said that I am hoping to help Nicolas find more fun and less work this year, and leaving him alone here with the kids and the farm for a week seems like a strange way to start. I know. It does to me as well. But this opportunity was given to me as a gift (free flight) and I hope to return more grounded in service to both he and the boys. That's usually what happens when I go to this place. Plus, I get to see my sister. That's reason enough for this journey.

When I first looked at the above picture, on my calendar, I didn't see it as being about people congregating without their shoes in a sacred space. I saw shoes, in rows, and thought - Nikki McClure loves shoes as much as I do (not that I get to fully act on this love) and has celebrated the sight of them congregating together. I have no idea what she really meant, but I doubt it was that. I saw the deeper meaning when the picture spurred a memory of my last trip to Montana, when I was going through security at the airport in order to fly home. After taking off my shoes for such long periods of time for several days, I was used to just leaving them behind once they were off. So I did just that. I picked up my purse from the conveyor belt and walked towards my gate, shoe-less and without a clue.

I look forward to re-congregating here a week from Tuesday. Nicolas said that he may come through with a post or two here while I am gone. Wouldn't that be fun?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Two Anniversaries

On October 15th, 1995, Nicolas and I were wed, by my amazing step-father Wilson, at a beautiful plantation a few miles from here. Two years ago, on that same day, I started this blog. I have paid much more attention to this blog (and other's blogs)in the past seven months than I did the first seventeen. It would stand to reason that I then gave less attention to my husband, which is sometimes true. I think he has appreciated the nights when he gets to watch more sports, uninterrupted by my "sharing" or by my need to change the channel. I'll have to ask him tonight, when all my attention is on him, on an actual date!

I have grown really fond of the blogging world. It gives me a way to connect to so many fabulous people, to ramble freely about whatever I please and gives me somewhere to put these pictures I so like taking. The only problem is that there are too many amazing blogs and too little time. I need some sort of blog IV to get my fix, while still being able to grind the spelt, soak the beans, create a full and varied life with the kids and watch the Red Sox with Nicolas - they're back, in the playoffs, Manny sporting wilder hair and more attitude than ever, Poppi even more focused, and I am loving the possibilities...

This next blogging year, I intend to get better at juggling everything in my life, not just my favorite blogs. As for my marriage, I aim to convince Nicolas that he doesn't really look quite as great as he thinks in these sunglasses:
oh, and find a way to get him to have more fun and less work.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How to avoid falling in a hole, part two

Gillen calls this move (that enables him to jump over the hole) - "le twist". A word of French! Nicolas speaks to both boys in French (his native language) and they understand him, but they never choose to speak it. "Le". It's a start. ; )

This week, there has been a lot of activity: two soccer games, two sleepovers (one camping at the farm with their cousin Alexander's Montessori class), a professional production of To Kill a Mockingbird in Atlanta (with their unschooled friend Tendal getting rave reviews as young Dill)and a visit to Field of Greens, a festival that raised money for Georgia Organics. Not to mention the Botanical Garden. whew. No wonder I loved today so much. We spent it here, all day, in newly cool weather.

Gillen transplanted his Salvia into pots to keep them warm in the greenhouse all winter and he collected lots of seeds from his garden, hoping to sell them next year. Jesse got a lesson in losing (something that he hasn't done with any of us for too long:) when I beat him at Clue this morning. It was a traumatic few moments. But once I finally got out of the way, he got the chance to go all the way with it, into the depths of despair, and then he recovered well.

My favorite part of the day - sitting outside in the sun, all reading our own books, eating plums and only coming inside in order to refill our cups with our favorite teas(peppermint for Gillen, licorice for Jesse and English breakfast for me), and to check on our first attempt at boiled peanuts (not very successful). And it is really and truly fall. Bliss.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Atlanta Botanical Garden, with friends

For the second year, we went with friends to the home school day at the Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful fall day. The highlights, for me, were the carniverous plants, the large collection of different water lilies, the many unique scarecrows that were designed by different groups in Atlanta, the Orchids, the large ant sculpture and so many amazing plants! The kids loved the Venus flytraps, the lilies, the Childrens' garden playground and playing tag and duck duck goose on the main lawn.

My inner evil "fly lady" (murderous fly swatting mad-woman)loved watching these plants so easily attract their prey. If only it could be that easy.

Can you see the blue dragonfly?

"Disco Crow" was pretty groovy.

This scarecrow was created by a knitting association in Atlanta and was titled, "Getting Ready For Winter". It was my favorite one.

If you are botanically inclined, there's lots more flowers from today on my flickr badge to the right.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How to avoid falling in a hole

A hole in the trampoline became the source of pre-halloween, creepy fun for Jesse and friends.
I wonder if I can create a really big patch.

Six years was a pretty long life for a trampoline

shared by so many enthusiastic kids, not to mention the assorted props used for Cirque de Soleil, Pokemon and other play.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gillen's Survival tips

Here now is the original "Survivor Man" of our family. When we viewed the whole "episode" that he did, I was impressed by Gillen's knowledge of rare plants and creatures, by his fire-making skills and by how well he recreated the Canadian survivor man. But it wasn't hard to choose which clip to share here. If ever stranded for days at our farm, Gillen will survive.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Survivor Man Jesse - take one

I had to push the video icon button, unedited video or not. I couldn't wait any longer. So this is probably not the best part of the 50-minute "Survivor Man" episode that Nicolas filmed of Jesse in the "Jamaican woods" at our farm. And the compression of the video to get it to upload here seems to have really messed with the quality. Any advice there?

Regardless of the outcome, I got to push the button. sigh. Now I can sleep.

Surviving without hitting the video icon

In the interest of having a rich and varied life, that isn't only about us all sitting at our screens all day (learning new exciting things though we may be...) I am stepping away from i Movie before it gets to that point when I can only do so kicking and screaming. Unlike the rest of my family I am a slow learner and this video editing, since I am so interested in it, could take a while. I'll save it for insomnia-filled nights and/or a day when I am completely unnecessary to anyone but me.

We had too many other cool things to do today:

-Gillen had flowers to pick for the market and roosters to chase into new housing.
-Pesto-making for the winter
-Getting to know our new cat "Fracas" better
-Making chocolate cupcakes for our 90 year old neighbor, Miss Grace; saving all the broken ones for us.
-Jumping over large lizards

-Taking pictures.

Gillen has the first of two games tomorrow at 8am. I really should go to bed reasonably early. I really shouldn't start playing with the Survivor Men videos. I really shouldn't. I truly won't.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lost in iMovie

We just got the kids' computer back from the repair store so there has been lots of excitement today over putting in an "Oregon Trail" game as well as other software that formerly didn't work. As the kids learned their new games, I learned about the movie software on my mac so that I could edit their "survivor man" videos into something short. Well, I started to learn. The possibilities are so cool, and too abundant and I will have to keep it simple or I will never come out of here to feed and care for my family. Eventually I'll get a few minutes of the survivor men movies up here. It's riveting stuff - one only survives on star fruit and a muscadine grape. We learn about old rocks,poisonous mushrooms,turtle shell patterns and how shaky the world can look when viewed through smoke. Many rocks are slung in the direction of wild animals, but only one cricket meets his demise.

I was reminded today, yet again, of how challenging it can be to learn something new when there are distractions, and the interruptions of a schedule (soccer practice). Hopefully I'll remember this feeling when I'm the kids' distraction.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

For the want of a cord..

When Tamar was here on Sunday, she gave me the gift of a new browser on my computer and thereby changed my blogging life. I had asked Stephanie how she added videos to her blog. She and Tamar were mystified that I didn't have a video icon in the area where I create new posts. In fact, the only icon I had was one to upload photos. No spell check, no italics, no bold. All this had been very challenging for an English major who cares a lot about spelling and a woman who really enjoys emphasis. Tamar did some detective work and realized that it was because of my browser - Safari. Now, with my newly downloaded Firefox browser, not only do I have video, spelling and emphasis tools but my pictures are suddenly clearer and there are lots of extra tools popping up as I visit other sites. Thank you Tamar!

I now want to use my Mac's "imovie" software to edit the Survivor Man episodes that Gillen and Jesse made and then share a few minutes of them here. But after an hour of searching, I have surrendered to the fact I have lost the old video camera's computer cord. So, for the want of a cord I can't post video of Gillen eating a cricket. There are other things going on in our lives, but that video icon is calling to me and nothing else has a bit of significance. Any minute, I may be reduced to crudely bribing my children to get in the car and drive with me to Radio Shack, when I should be putting up pesto or sending my finished baby gifts to Australia. Hey! That is a mandatory excursion. Zoe is growing and could outgrow my gifts any day. We must go to the post office and we might as well take the long scenic route ;)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Facing me

Stephanie took this one of Nicolas and I yesterday. We had a wonderful day spent here and at the farm with she, her son and Tamar. She blogged about it so beautifully, seeing corners of my home in a poetic light that didn't get overshadowed by our home school clutter and cob webs. Her post made me appreciate our simplicity and how grounded we are. Stephanie's a good writer and an inspiring woman.
Blogging sisters - me, Stephanie and Tamar at the farm.

These last two were sent to me by a photographer who takes pictures at our farmers' market. I'm glad to have evidence that once in a while I am truly a farmer's wife.

These photo gifts of the past few days, coming all at once, have made me decide two things - to get more pictures of me up here(when they happen)to help tell the story; and to embrace growing older - but without so much dependence on the pony tail. I love the party in my hair, brought to me by Julie Persons, but it is only a party if you indulge in it sporadically, right? For day to day, I need a change. A cut maybe? I might pull out the hair iron and make-up more often. Any makeover ideas would be greatly appreciated. This vanity is inspired not only by pictures but by hearing, indirectly, the phrase "aging hippie" last week. Yikes.