Sunday, October 30, 2011

Best Soccer Game of the Season!

We had SNOW this weekend, believe it or not. About 2 inches up here on the hill. The peas and peppers were snug and warm under their blankets, and are still going strong. It was supposed to warm up to 60 today, and be sunny and bright, shows you how much meteorologists know!

L's game was at 1:00 today at a field we had never been to. We got lost on the way, JP made a couple of 3 point turns in the middle of the road, so we arrived a few minutes late. Part of the field appeared to be under water, so they had moved the goals down a bit. There were still several big puddles on the field, which the kiddos were sure to hit several times each. It was cold and gray for most of the game, but the sun came out toward the end and brightened every one's mood.

J's game was 30 min after L's ended, but back in town. We booked it and got there with time to spare (that doesn't happen often with us!) Her team has been undefeated so far this season, with all of the kids showing incredible improvement in the game. They got one goal early on in the game. After a lot of back-and-forth action, the other team got several goals. J's team came from behind at the end of the second half, and scored 3 goals, ended the season undefeated. It was a great game, with all of the kids showing how hard they could work and how well they could work together as a team. It did my heart good after a long a trying season. Good job GREEN TEAM!

This afternoon, after repairing the fence around the orchard that the deer knocked down (they managed to nibble tiny branches off most of them...GRRR! Their time is coming...on Nov. 28th I plan to execute revenge!), I emptied out the back of my van. Two soccer balls, and three folding chairs went back to their post-soccer homes. I can breathe easier and have my evenings free. Oh wait! Tomorrow night is trick-or-treat and we haven't even carved our pumpkins yet!

Friday, October 28, 2011


I forgot to mention the 10 2 pound jars of peanut butter in our pantry. After being forewarned that the price of PB was going up due to the demise of the Georgia peanut crop this year, JP dashed to Sam's club and stocked up on creamy Jif.

The van passed inspection. The cheapest bill I've paid all month!

Last soccer practice is over and done.

Snow accumulation of 1 1/2 inches due tonight.

Good times.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sanity Update

I just came in from covering the peas and peppers with my Mom. It was snowing a bit by the time I came in. Most of the years I've been in this area, we have had a light snow before Halloween, so this is right on time. Hope the peas make it though!

All three pets, both kids and I made it to and from the vet without incident, although we were quite a bit poorer afterward.

All four of us have gotten our flu vaccine.

JP's truck is repaired, inspected and has new tires. My van is still waiting on new parts, I'll try the inspection thing tomorrow.

School today went well enough that we had time to "bake" pre-made cookies before dinner.

There is still a bin of winter clothes sitting downstairs for the girls to try on, and I found some more of their clothes hanging in an extra closet downstairs.

It is almost the weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Comparative Anatomy

My Dad got two deer during the Jr/Sr rifle season Thursday through Saturday last week. Despite this, JP still caught 2 deer jumping OUT of our orchard last night. He and I plan to hunt in November when the regular rifle season opens. My Dad has big plans for my first kill...he wants me to get the hide tanned, and then he will make gloves for our entire family. I already own a pair of doe-skin gloves that he made for me, they are amazingly soft, supple and warm, and beautiful to boot!

We decided to give the girls some supplemental science education today, since my Dad invited us over to help process the meat. Both my girls watched my Dad skin the last doe, and J helped to cut off the limbs to prepare them for processing. L and I worked on grinding meat for burger.

Never once, in the hour and a half that we were there, did I hear an "ewww" or a "gross" from my girls. They appeared interested, asked good questions, and seemed to actually enjoy what they were doing. J in fact, is back over there, because she wanted to help process the meat from the ribs and spine.

L would probably be back too, but she is sleeping. The poor thing was up Friday night/Saturday morning crying with earaches, and has been on antibiotics for over 48 hours. She is still not feeling well, and did not protest when I sent her to bed for a nap.

JP and my Dad finished the lean-to behind the garage. Here's what it looks like in the rain today:

And here's a pic of the tether ball set-up that I finally got around to taking:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ready For Winter

There was a frost advisory last night, so it was time to finish up the garden for winter. I never got around to planting any cover crops, so the beds will just have to be bare this winter. The Fall peas are still going strong. In fact, I picked them for the first time, and we ate them for dinner last night. (They were delicious!) There are dozens and dozens of peppers on the plants that haven't turned red (or yellow) yet.

I dug all the onions, then searched and found a few more taters. I came in yesterday evening with those, plus Brussels sprouts, chard, and armfuls of herbs: parsley, oregano, dill and basil. I dried the oregano, and made a bunch of pesto with the basil.

Now the garden is looking sad and lonely. The only things left are the asparagus, strawberries and blueberries which will over winter, some marigolds that will look cheerful until they freeze, and the peas and peppers, which we will cover and nurse along until they are finished (or we get tired of covering them).

click on the picture to enlarge it

Even Lazy Laura, the scarecrow, is in the barn for the winter. She will need a make over before she goes back to work in the Spring: new clothes and a replacement head. J tells me that she will still have the same personality, even if we give her a head transplant!

I think we will be moving the chickens into the garden this winter. They can work on tilling the left over mulch into the beds, and fertilizing everything. It helps me, and makes them happy too. They always seem to lay better after they have been in the garden for a day.

It is very satisfying to put the garden to bed each year. We got hundreds of pounds of produce from the garden this year, and it was a LOT of hard work. When I told JP how relieved I felt to finish the garden for the year, he reminded me that I will be so eager to go out and plant peas in March, that it will be hard to keep me in! He is right, of course. I'll be perusing seed catalogs in February and dreaming of digging in the dirt. For now, I'm glad to clean my tools and bring them in. My diggers are ready for a break.

This afternoon, I pulled out the plastic bins of clothes from the tiny storage space under the stairs, and the girls tried on their winter clothes. Friday, JP and I moved the sofa away from the wood stove, so that we could light our first fire of the season. Now, I'm going to sleep on the fresh, clean, flannel sheets on my bed. Mmmm...snugly! As much as I dislike winter in general, I look forward to the change in seasons. We're ready now!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Feel Lucky!

Yee-Ha! I checked my last post this evening, and found a comment informing that I won a drawing for 3 lovely, vintage Louisa May Alcott tomes over on Forgotten Bookmarks . While I was jumping up and down, J came to find out what was going on...she probably thought I finally snapped! I stumbled over my own words trying to tell her how much I was looking forward to her reading Little Women. Ah well, she will discover it, along with Miss Jane Austen all in good time.

Kali went to college again tonight. Her last session is next week, and then I will find out if I was lucky enough to win the PetSmart gift certificate. I feel lucky.

We are down to 3 soccer practices and 4 games. I'm starting to feel the freedom, leaking in around my toes. Oh, I'm so ready!

In bits and pieces, I've been noticing the lovely Fall up here on the Ridge. For some reason, the colors have not been quite as brilliant as in the past, and many of the trees are bare after our slew of rain and wind storms. The blue skies, however, are something to rejoice in, and the crisp air that feels somehow cleaner is so refreshing.

Pictures of my gardens this Fall:

JP and my Dad have been making great progress on building the lean-to's on the barn and the garage. They finished the barn one this afternoon before the rain started.



Monday, October 17, 2011

Beautiful Day

It is amazing how clear and deep blue the sky can get on these crisp Fall days. Unfortunately, I spent the better part of this lovely day inside at work or doing school with the girls until soccer time. I've been having delicious day dreams lately of life without Cyber School, where my time with the girls would be pleasant without wheedling, coaxing, or threatening for lessons to be done, and the sky is blue and breezy all the time. It will be better once the soccer craze is over with, right? Then I'll be able to stop popping the Zantac and Advil and breath deeply once again...right?

In the meantime, we've managed to squeeze in a few fun activities, and presently JP and my Dad are busy building the long awaited lean-to's on our garage and barn. JP poured concrete into an old tire as a base for the tether-ball set that has been stored in our garage for over a year. It is extremely stable now, but a bit too heavy to move around. By the way, it's no fun to play tether-ball with JP...he simply smacks the ball up so that it wraps around the pole about 2 feet above my head. He needs to play with someone his own size!

Several of our friends made a spur of the moment trip to Pittsburgh to attend the U2 concert this summer. JP was a bit sad, learning that he had missed his (possibly) last opportunity to see them. So, we did the next best thing...bought a live U2 concert DVD from Amazon, and played it on the big screen downstairs with surround sound. It was an incredible concert: Sept. 1, 2001 at Slane Castle, Ireland, and a great pseudo-concert experience. The last concert I attended (before Suzuki Violin recitals became part of my life) was Jimmy Buffet, so avoiding the crowds, the backpack margarita machines and vomiting was quite pleasant as well! The only down side is that the girls now sing "Sunday bloody Sunday" over and over again...just. that. one. line.

I was overly proud of myself last night for finishing up the last of 2 bushels of apples into sauce. JP brought me down a notch when he told me that his mother canned 110 quarts of applesauce yearly. I'm still apparently not quite Mennonite enough!

I passed up the opportunity this past weekend of taking a road trip BY MYSELF. Yep! It's official: I'm nuts. My 20th college reunion was held last weekend down in VA, and JP was willing to let me go, while he stayed home with the girls. I bailed though, because the van has been making odd clunking and squealing noises of late, and I was a bit nervous to drive it 5 hours South by myself. I would rather stay home and make applesauce and tend to feverish children than sit by the highway somewhere in West Virginia, waiting for a tow truck.

That's the story of my life lately: blue skies to balance the black holes where I think I can't possibly make it through this school year, U2 concerts in the privacy of my own home against the auto repair issues and missed parties, tether-ball inadequacies and applesauce abundance. Through it all, I have a good man by my side, and 2 lovely girls who look a bit like me. Life couldn't be more beautiful.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


J had a Science test today on the 5 categories of vertebrates. She got a little grin on her face every time we talked about frogs and toads. I've never been squeamish about wiggly things (it comes from growing up in the country, I suppose), and the girls are growing up the same way.

I drove home in the rain after dark the past 2 nights, and both times I had to swerve to miss little frogs hopping across the road. These tiny things, no bigger than match box cars, seemed to pop up around every bend. After the first 2 or 3, blowing leaves and shiny patches in the road tricked my eyes.

I was out tonight at a literary reading, where my good friend drew me right out of our little town and into her short work of fiction. This is the second time in the past 2 weeks that I was so completely absorbed in a story. The first was while reading the novel, "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty last week. It is almost like taking a vacation: living vicariously through someone else's life, a break from my own harried and monotonous life.

My life is not dull, just in a rut this month. (How can tiny amphibian sitings, and relocating for cyber school due to power outages be dull?) Yesterday I realized that I can now count on both hands the number of remaining soccer practices and games this month. Kali only goes to her research training 2 more times. Both vehicles need to be inspected in October, the dog and both kitties have vet appointments, and we all need to get our Flu shots.

I'm breaking out the champagne on November 1st, Extracurricular Liberation Day. Who's with me?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lovely Day for Soccer

We had a full, but enjoyable week in Mennonite Land, aka Lancaster, PA. We did school in the mornings, and visited friends and family in the afternoons. The girls enjoyed playing with their second cousins on the dairy farm, and playing games with their great aunt and great grandfather at the retirement community. They also loved swimming every evening in the Hotel pool, and playing mini golf just outside.

On our way home, we stopped to visit my brother and his family, newly returned to the Commonwealth after a 12 year stint in New York. We enjoyed seeing their new home, and realizing that it's just a few hours away (vs 7 or 8)!

Yesterday, I did 4 loads of laundry while JP mowed the grass. We went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner with Mom & Dad to celebrate JP's birthday, then returned for 5 Flavor Pound Cake and Strawberry ice cream.

Today JP has been sifting through the 3 inch stack of paperwork from the office, while I worked in the garden and took the girls to soccer. It was a glorious day for both activities!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Theme in Blue

Butterflies and bees drink from me.
I am called a Bluebell.

I wave in the wind.
I smell nice in the summer breeze.

People pick me to make bouquets
and weave my stems together to make
beautiful crowns and necklaces.
A fairy makes a tiny house in my bell.

I sleep all Winter long under the snow.
I wake up again in the glorious, good Spring.

- LAM, age 5

Monday, October 3, 2011

Musings From My Hotel Room

We are joining JP at his conference this week, so are doing cyber school from our Hotel Room. It's amazing how much easier it is to accomplish a significant amount of school work when:

-L has only a limited amount of clothing to pick from
-no one has to make their beds
-I don't have to unload the dishwasher
-there are no dogs to walk, cats to feed, or chickens to tend to
-no violin practice to get through first, and
-I have a week's worth of lessons and materials prepared and on hand

So this morning we breezed through lessons, and made it to the restaurant mere seconds before one of my dear college friends and her 2 boys. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch of Mennonite food, before exploring the Wilbur Chocolate Factory, then the Sturgis Pretzel Factory with them.

This evening, we met JP's sister and brother-in-law, recent empty-nesters, for another Mennonite meal and lovely conversation. This was followed by a brief dip in the Hotel pool before showers and bed.

The girls are sleeping soundly, completely worn out from our very full day. Tomorrow we hope to visit my cousin and her children at their dairy farm, and the following day to eat lunch at the retirement center with my Grandpa.

If only I could leave the beds unmade and the dishwasher unemptied at home, we would be in a much happier place as far as school work goes. SIGH. If only...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Going Pink

I've gone pink on Poplar Ridge this month in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. Did you know that Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, second only to skin cancer? In addition, Breast Cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, the first being lung cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates somewhere around 200,000 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the next 12 months. Since I have several friends who are Breast Cancer survivors, as well as one who recently succumbed to the disease, and I work with patients who are getting a new diagnosis several times a month, I want to do my part and spread the word about PREVENTION.

The three best ways to diagnose Breast Cancer early, while it is usually more treatable are:

-MONTHLY BREAST SELF EXAMS - if you notice anything different while examining your own breasts, make an appointment to have it evaluated right away.

-YEARLY CLINICAL BREAST EXAMS - have your health care provider examine your breasts yearly, or sooner if you notice something has changed

-YEARLY MAMMOGRAMS STARTING AT AGE 40 - it's not a lot of fun to have a mammogram, but it only takes about 20 minutes of your life. Do it.

Ok, I'm done preaching. Enjoy your October!