Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sad news

Astrologers believe that when Mercury is retrograde, things go wrong.  This week, Mercury definitely is retrograde.  It was intense and sad for me and for many people I know.  My neighbors came over to tell me about a near catastrophe at their pond the day before, when a visitor's child almost drowned in the pond.  We sat in my yard when they told me of this hair raising experience, and all of the sudden my Mom, who was weeding the garden, called me over to her.  Our cat Oscar lay dead in my flower bed.  There were no signs of struggle, no wounds.  He looked like he was sleeping.  The kids, my Mom and I stood around him as we held each other and wept.

I really, really liked this cat.  Although I'm allergic to cats, I let him come inside in the evenings so we could pet him and give him some love.  He always hung out with me in the garden, hiding behind bushes and rubbing up against me when I sat down.  I miss him.

One very small consolation is that

1) We found Oscar and don't have to wonder what happened to him.

2) He died surrounded by flowers.

And of course, life goes on, Mercury retrograde or not.  Fortunately, I have plenty of work to take my mind off death and misfortune.  I am working furiously on my online cheese making class, perfecting my e-books, collecting recipes, taking pictures and making movies to demonstrate techniques.  You can learn how to make this yummy marinated chevre if you take my online class!  

The veggie garden keeps me busy, too.  I swear, the plants (and the weeds) grow half an inch a day.  I spent two hours weeding it today, and tomorrow the boys will have to hoe the potatoes.  I'm staying on top of things - it feels good and looks great!

The visit with my Mom from Germany is going marvelously.  Lots of bonding happening, and lots of walks in our beautiful backyard.  These photos are all literally in our backyard!  Remember, we live in the wilderness!

And don't you worry - there is plenty of time for ice cream with Oma, and freshly picked strawberries with whipping cream!  Gotta show those Germans that Americans can do gourmet food, too!

Let me leave you with a very short little movie that my ten-year-old son Luke made all by himself.  He has been watching me make movies for my online class, and he is trying it himself.  He is filming his parkour moves that defy gravity.  Oh, to be young again!  I'm proud of him.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

My mother is visiting from Germany. I haven't seen her in six years.

My Mom is visiting us from Germany. We haven't seen each other for almost six years. The last time she was here in America was when I gave birth to my third child at home. I remember my Mom leaning over the edge of the sofa where I labored, petting my head and cracking jokes to lighten the mood. Nothing like German humor to get childbirth under way.

Now the tiny, wrinkled newborn my Mom watched being born is a bossy self-confident preschooler named Eva. She adores her German Oma. She chats her up all day long, which is a little difficult since my mother doesn't understand 80 percent of Eva's dialogue, but that doesn't stop those two from bonding. I watch them with their heads together, or holding hands on a walk, or sharing a piece of pie as if they had known each other all their lives. It makes me teary, knowing that a continent separates us and that these times of togetherness are extra special. We would visit each other more if it weren't so expensive to fly to each other's countries. I haven't been back to Germany in nine years. NINE years! I want to show my children my home country, but there are some obstacles, like the five thousand dollars or more just for the flight for our family of five, or time away from our homestead with all its animals and chores.

My kids are fascinated by their German grandma with her funny accent, hilarious choice of words, and the mystique and sense of adventure swirling around her from her BMW-motorcycle-riding-days, when she used to come visit me and we toured together on our motorcycles.  Despite the language barrier and despite the fact that they only met her once, they are getting along like best pals.  My twelve-year-old son Kai baked her an apple pie for her first dinner in our house.  My middle son Lukas plays drums and keyboard for her to keep her entertained.  And Eva shows her around the forest to collect salmonberries, or introduces her to the animals on our homestead.

My mother and I used to be estranged and didn't talk for a couple of years.  Now, while we are weeding and planting my garden together, or go for long walks along the river, or feed the pigs, or play with the goats, we talk for hours every day.  There's so much to catch up on, so much to remember from the past, so much to explain and heal.  We both feel very tender, I think, and know that these days are numbered.  She will leave again in a couple of weeks, and who knows if we will ever see each other again?

I am so proud to show her my life because I love my life, and I have worked hard to build it.  It moves me to see how happy she is about the fact that I have succeeded in finding love, purpose and happiness.  

So we walk and talk, do chores and drink beer late into the night.  We have hugged more in the week she has been here than we have our whole lives.  We are smelling the roses together.  Ahhh, the roses!  Ahhh, the garden!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blooming and growing - our plants and our lives

Life is moving at a relentless fast pace – in a good way. It has been warm and summer-y, and all the plants are way ahead of schedule. My roses are blooming two or three weeks earlier than usual. I am not complaining – I love the scent and beauty of my Old English roses.
I am relishing my flower garden a lot. On Mother's Day, my husband Steve helped me tackle (and complete!!!) a project that has been on my to-do-list for over half a decade. It never gets done because there are always so many other priorities. So when Steve asked me what I wanted do do for Mother's Day, I quickly made my wishes known, and after hours of hard labor my garden beds now look Sunset Magazine-worthy. My previously wild-and-tumble flowers are now somewhat tamed and look a little bit more civilized – just in time for my mother's visit from Germany.

We also re-did the access to the beehive.  Before, it was a mess: uneven ground, mulched with cardboard, ugly.  We leveled the area, mulched it with cedar chips, and landscaped with rocks.  It looks decent now, and we can actually inspect the bee hive without having to do a balancing act while trying to stay calm and move slowly as to not upset the bees! 

We love our bees!  They are very well behaved and are busy building comb and making honey.  We have so much to learn!

Aside from gardening (my garden is in!  my garden is in!), I have been working hard on my online cheese making course.  I am writing e-books on four different varieties: how to make Greek Yogurt, how to make Chevre, how to make Gouda, and how to make Cabra Al Vino.  I'm putting the finishing touches on all four books.  Next, I will make movies to demonstrate all the techniques.  Check out my class here.  At $59, it's a really, really, really good deal.

You can totally learn how to make this wine soaked cheese!

We are managing to fit in some fun as well!  The other day, we went to one of our local, wild creeks, "swam" (which involved jumping into the glacier fed creek, screaming really loudly, and jumping out again really fast!) and roasted sausages and marshmallows over a fire the boys built.

And, of course, we continue to play with the goats.  The goat babies are growing up!

I will leave you with a picture of my twelve year old son baking an apple pie, all by himself.  One day, he will have a very happy wife.

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