Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good Bye

This post has been a hard one to write. It has taken me several tries - how to share how I feel and my memories without sounding maudlin or overwrought. This post is dedicated to my cousins, the Morrows and especially to my late cousin, David Lendrum Morrow V.

This has been a busy 2 weeks. Rhiannon has had long rehearsals for the orchestra she is in playing for the production of "A Christmas Carol". I have been preparing for the Armstrong Farmers Christmas Market where I sold my peanut brittle and hats today. Amidst all that flurry of industry I learned of the loss of my cousin, David Morrow. I cried and cried when I found out. Hard to believe he is gone at only 46 years old and more than 20 years since I had last seen him. Then during all this activity, he has been there in the back of my mind - a surge of grief, a funny memory....

Although David is my second cousin, our families were close when I was growing up. For a time they lived in Prince George near us when I was very young. His younger brother, Michael, who is the same age as me, I loved from before I can remember loving anyone. He was like my own self. They left PG for Boise, Idaho and then Orem, Utah after only a year or two and we didn't see each other very often but anytime we did, he brings those same pure childish emotions of love and joy. It survived even all those stinky athletic socks he and Shawn would stuff in my pillow when I lived with them. David and his older sister, Sher were gods the way only kind older cousins can be. Our visits were not often as so many miles seperated our families but when we lived in Cranbrook and they in Idaho, we saw each other a little more often. I can remember Mikey laying in his sleeping bag on the floor beside my bed, asking me to sing him song after song. He thought my voice was beautiful...

When I finished high school, I went to live with the Morrows in Orem while I attended BYU in neighbouring Provo for the next two years. David was playing baseball for BYU and he drove me to and from school whenever he wasn't travelling with his team. In those 2 years he became an older brother I never had. He was a great example of me to unfailing kindness. He listened to my troubles - whether they were my skin struggling to adjust to the Utah dryness or boyfriend worries. He took me to my first (and only) college football game (BYU vs. Bowling Green - what kind of University name is that, anyways?). He took me out to A&W for the super thick milkshakes that preceded Blizzards and pointed out Steve Young to me who was the quarterback for BYU just before he took BYU to number one and was drafted for more than a million dollars. He nick-named me "Drea" - the only nickname that has ever stuck. (I used to call him "Vid" but I don't think that one stuck...)

The first two years I spent away from home, I spent with the Morrows. These were formative years for me. I was with them through the death of their mother to breast cancer. Sometimes I cringe at the thought of my insensitive, self-centred 19 year old self. I hope the memories of me have softened over the years... Mine of this time are only good. I shared a room with my two younger cousins, Melanie and Shannon, right beside Michael and Shawn who would listen with their ears pressed to the vent for me to discover their stinky socks inside my pillow case or who would call through it, begging me to come and rub their feet. But of course there is the time I accidentally died Shawn's jock strap pink in the wash so it all worked out....

And so I light a candle for my cousin, David who passed away this summer from brain cancer. I didn't get a chance to say good bye before you left and so I say it now. Good bye, cousin. Your kindness and thoughtfulness were a lifeline to me. You have been an example of the best of what a man can be. When I think of you, I remember your laugh, your easy smile, your genuine compassion, your happy attitude. My heart goes out to your 5 sons and to Stephanie who must go on with out you and to Mel, Sher, Michael, Shawn, Melanie and Shannon..... Until we meet again....

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Studio

I've written about this room before. Originally this room would have been the front entrance to the house. The room that is now the kitchen was added on after the house was built 105 years ago. There's a stained glass window above the door so I imagine it was a sitting room or something like that.... a parlour? And what is now the living room must have been the kitchen. Or maybe what is now the main entry way was originally a lean-to kitchen? Who knows.

Anyways this great room that has the biggest windows in the house on all 3 sides - facing West, North and East has been grossly under utilized since we moved in 2 and a half years ago. First it was the place we shoved all the boxes we didn't know what to do with. And then everything we didn't know what to do with got shoved in there. The only one who spent much time in there was Rhiannon because the craft stuff was in there and it got to be a mess on top of a mess on top of a mess...

Then we started calling it the 'homeschooling room' as most of our books and resources along with all the craft stuff was in there. My very kind and generous friends came over last January and helped me rearrange the furniture in the living room and this room until we had it looking really great. I just had some last sorting and organizing to do...

In the meantime, Rhiannon moved back in for the craft supplies and eventually you couldn't walk through it any more. Piles of abandonned books on the floor, a layer of drawings and other crafts, tables piled with stuff...

And then some new clients called for counselling. I had been using the Inner Light Yoga space to do my counselling but it was less than ideal and if a client didn't show up, I had to pay for the space anyways not to mention the inconvenience of leaving home... So I decided that this room was going to become.... 'my studio'! It took me an entire week end to clean and organize it from getting the cobwebs down, washing the walls and windows and putting the winter storms up to re-organizing the books and making everything look tidy and inviting.

Now I'm in-love with this room. This is my favourite view - the view through the french doors from the living room. That is my pile of hats and latest wool purchases beside the chair. It is so calm and peaceful in there, I love to just sit there. Or write in my journal beside the window looking out on the apple orchard. Or work on the latest Inner World School project at my table.

Here is the view of the other end of the room that leads into the kitchen on the right. Another great place to sit and read a book as Rhiannon often does looking out over our backyard, under the weeping willow tree to the chicken coop. I'm loving it! When I do counselling, I pull out that floral chair and my rocking chair to the centre of the room and put a pot of tea and mugs on a maple chair that doubles as my tea table.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Update 4: Fall Pictures

These days with all the fancy stencil carved pumpkins, these are my favourites. The one on the left is the one Rhiannon carved and the one on the right is the one that Caleb carved. They spookily lit our porch on Halloween night.

My yellow yard courtesy of the maple tree.

Rhiannon on her way out the door on the first snow. It didn't stick to the ground but she had fun anyways.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Update3: The Chickens

Well, it seems I have finally pleased the chicken Gods. What was it? Paying $5 each for eight 2 - 4 year old chickens? Feeding them all last winter when I was only getting 0 - 1 egg a day? Willingly buying eggs weekly for the first 18 months of owning laying hens? Whatever it is, my days of 'egg drought' are finally over. And I was greatly blessed in my chick purchase this spring. I ordered 15 Ameraucanas and 10 Buff Orpingtons. They threw in a few extra so in the end I had 26 adult birds and of those only 8 were roosters. That is pretty good considering that the male/female ratio is supposed to be 50/50. So right now I have 24 laying hens (including what is left of my original flock - 4 old hens and then Fluffy who we hatched last summer and Edie who we hatched last January) .

I see this often. In fact I have even got 24 eggs in one day once. And now I get so many eggs that I am selling them and they are even paying for themselves. And Dean doesn't grumble everytime he picks up feed or has to buy eggs.... "why do we have those chickens.... I shouldn't have to buy eggs..." muttering under his breath.

And I have to say that I am so impressed. The first young hens started laying at only 4 months old. And by the time they were 5 months old pretty much everyone was laying. Considering they aren't supposed to start laying until 6 months old (which would have been October), I am very pleased. We're almost sick of eggs now... almost....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update 2: Hair Routine

So, I promised Pea and Bean this post in the summer. I don't know if it will work for you. Although we have similar curls, I think mine are drier than yours. But here it is. I have been doing the "Curly Girl" routine since shortly after Sarah's wedding when Katie told me about that. When was that? 4 or 5 years ago? Since then, shampoo has not come near my hair.

First of all, I now only clean my hair about twice a week. Sometimes it is only once a week but it is never more than 3. (see mom, in the end, it turns out you were right!) I found that using only conditioner was leaving a real build-up on my hair. For the first time in my dry-haired life, I was getting greasy hair. So my friend and hairdresser when she failed to talk me into using shampoo occasionally, told me to rinse it with baking soda and water.

Step 1: So before I get into the bath (I almost never shower) I hang my head over the shower and pour either a yogurt container with 2 Tablespoons of baking soda in it or for more greasy/sweaty weeks I use a gallon bucket and 4 Tablespoons of baking soda.

Step 2: after rinsing the baking soda out of my hair I use a scrub made of a rich conditioner (Riche by Curelle made in Vancouver) and brown suger. I use about half the amount of conditioner I usually do and then add 2 - 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar. I scrub my scalp with this. This is a recipe from the "Curly Girl" book.

Step 3: after risning the scrub out of my hair, I apply the light conditioner I use (Whenever by Kiss My Face) mixed with 1/2 a lemon (about 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice). Again I use about half the amount of conditioner that I usually do and add the lemon juice. If my hair has be especially tangly, I might apply some of the Riche just to the ends of my hair. Then I rinse it all out. This lemon juice recipe is also from the "Curly Girl" book.

If I wash my hair in the middle of the week, I will use just the light conditioner either by itself or mixed with lemon juice - whatever I think my hair needs. I don't use much product in my hair unless I am going out somewhere that requires dressing up on the evening. I also don't do much to help it dry curly, either unless I am going out. I am just more of a wash-and-go kinda girl. I'm not much into fiddly-farty kind of stuff. However, using the techniques in the Curly Girl books, I have got my hair to look pretty darn awesome, if I do say so myself. But most of the time I like my hair soft and flowy. And I must admit that I do occasionally use a hair pic kind of comb on my hair when it is just too knotty for my fingers.

What I would really like to do is learn how to make my own conditioner. All that packaging just seems so wasteful. And my grandmother who was known for her beautiful curly auburn hair didn't use any store bought products. How is it that in the space of 2 generations we have become so dependant on manufactured goods? My Gram once told me that she washed her hair once a week with an egg in the trough. I wonder what she did in the winter? I have actually tried an egg rinse a long time ago in the late '70's but I am just not so up for the cold rinse needed to get the egg out of the hair without cooking it... But that is my next step. Make my own conditioner. How hard can it be?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Update 1: The Sheep

Okay, okay already. At least you are reading my blog, though! hehe! So, the sheep. So we started with 8 sheep with an intention to only have 4 for the winter. These are the ones we are keeping to breed - 3 ewes and 1 ram. Really it is 1 ewe, 2 ewe lambs and 1 ram lamb. At this point we have had the first 2 rams butchered. I sold one to a friend and the other we have been eating. I have to say that Icelandic lamb is the best lamb I have ever tasted. It truly is very mild flavoured. It is very tasty!

That was Oregano and Taragon. I must admit that we didn't take their slaughter easily. Dean had got especially attached to Oregano who was very sweet. He wanted to keep him as a pet.... We all felt sad saying good bye and we had some interesting conversations about the effects of domesticating animals - how unneeded males aren't eliminated in other ways, etc. How they are now so dependant on our intervention and management. As soon as they were dead, though, it was all business. The slaughter guy came to our house and did it here on our property. My homeschooling neighbours took the heads to dissect. That was a bit much for me. I could deal with the carcas but I didn't want to see their faces... I saved the skins which I have washed and are currently rolled up in my freezer waiting for a piece of plywood I can stretch them on... We have two more to be slaughtered - Bubba and Paprika (Pappy). Bubba will be going at the end of this week and Pappy will be around until the spring. He is just too small to be worth it.

So I am in-love with my sheep. I have been tethering them in the hayfield since August. Consequently they have become very tame. And since feeding them many apples, they now come running to me whenever I approach them. Renald is still a bit crusty but that's okay. You don't want a ram who is too friendly. Freya (the white one) jumps up on me like a dog, demanding apples. She can smell them hidden in my pockets! Draga is the sweetest. She will come when I call her name - come running from anywhere like a well trained dog. And she rubs against me to get petted and stays glued to my side when I am out there. Here she is running towards me. How appropriate that her names means 'precious one' in Croatian.

And Brida is just so beautiful. Sometimes I just stand and watch her from afar. She looks so wild and natural with her brown (moorrit) wool and her long horns. She is like the ancient Goddess to me. There is just something so primaevally female about her..... I know, I'm dramatic but that's how I feel when I look at her. I love her!

So breeding could be happening right now. I am not sure. Renald occasionally does that lip thing that rams do when they are sniffing out a female - they turn their top lips inside out and stretch their heads out in front of them. It is rather hilarious. So far no ewe seems especially impressed. They go on eating grass right beside him. I wouldn't mind if they don't breed quite yet. I would rather have April lambs.

I got them shorn at the beginning of September. Bags of wool! Beautiful lambs wool - so soft! And I have managed to work out a trade with a local spinner and mom in our homeschooling group. She is trading with me to clean and spin my wool! I am so excited! I'm going to have to make something great for myself! Unfortunately there will be no brown wool as Brida was shorn so late in the spring it wasn't long enough yet. But I have white and black!

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Okay, so it is really hard to get started blogging again when I haven't for so long. There is so much I want to tell you about what is happening right now but there is so much I want to tell you about the time that has passed since I last blogged that I don't. So my plan is to blog a week of updates and then get back to my regular schedule which is 1 - 5 blogs a week. Not so regular but then neither am I!

Right now it is early Saturday morning. An owl is hooting over my head. The darkness is starting to turn to grey and it is almost time to take the sheep out. For the last 2 months I have been tethering them in the hay field in front of their pen to eat the grass that is growing there. Then I will let the chickens out, feed them and fill up the waters. In my 'unroutine' life, this is my routine. Then maybe, sometime after breakfast, I'll sit down here at the computer again and write an update!