Thursday, October 16, 2014

H O M E



As the days, weeks, months tick by, we get closer and closer to having lived here longer than anywhere else. It's still surprising to me that in a near 8 year history together it takes just under two years to win the title. And I know home isn't necessarily defined by how long but in some ways I think for us, with all the shuffling that we did, it does matter where we were the longest and how long we've been here. I hold dearly onto the almost two years we spent living above a bakery in Boston's North End at the beginning of our relationship. It's where we screamed at each other for the first times, where we brought home our first Christmas tree, our first two dogs. It's where I learned to cook and finally finished my degree. It's where we first cried together over how difficult having children would be. And as much as I've hated living 5 months here, 9 months there, 7 months here, and having countless farms and houses fall through, I'm grateful that when it comes down to home and where we've really planted ourselves, it will always only be that 5th floor walk up in Little Italy and this tiny farmhouse on the coast of Maine.

Pictures from my new and daily evolving studio! I didn't realize how badly I needed a designated space until I made one for myself. The new physical space I've given myself has been the gateway to much needed headspace- thoughts on my writing, my business, family and social life- things are flowing. And with that being said, I shall slink off the internet, except for maybe a word here or there, until I open my shop on October 28th! xx

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Very Dull Mind

















I've been trying to get back into the habit of writing. Over the summer I stopped- for busyness, for a sticky trackpad on the laptop anytime the temperature was above 75 degrees, for a broken camera. I had the thought about a week ago that perhaps the break was in my lens, not my camera (and it was), and I also thought hey, it just might be cool enough in this house that I could start using that computer again! (and it was). So I changed my camera lens and started taking pictures. I opened the computer and stared. It felt like trying to bring down a brick wall with my fists. In all that space I left between writing regularly then and wanting to write regularly now, I lost my rhythm, my words.

In the past month or so, in addition to all the normal things required of me, I've been knitting like a fiend. Hours daily spent with the needles clicking between my fingers in hopes of opening an online shop. I've given myself a loose deadline of in the next week or so. I would like to think it's for that reason- the singular focus- that I am unable to think. Then sometimes I worry that I've got Lyme disease because my mind can feel so slow and thick some days that I start to believe there has to be some greater culprit than lack of varied stimulation. But then I remember the sleep regression we're going through with Gus and I consider that maybe it's just a perfect storm right now for A Very Dull Mind. But one can never be too sure about anything with A Very Dull Mind, so who knows.

Maybe these are just the sticky wheels of the mind transitioning to the time of year when we turn inward. Time to pause, time to think? Not in months. And so maybe the brain sludge is not so much to be blamed one any one thing. Perhaps it is just the time to pick up old habits that feed the inside rather than the out. I've ordered some books, made the effort to look up from my working hands every now and again, and had more cups of tea that promise to support my mind than I can count. Sleep- I'm trying to get more of it. And writing- I'm doing it until the wall comes down.

Cheers to you and yours as we travel toward darker days and carry our lights within.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tending Fires, Dutch Babies



 I've been striking a rhythm of extremes lately. Obsessive focus, extreme neglect. One ball high in the air, the rest scattering at my feet. It's no way to live, really. But for better or worse it seems to be my most worn route until I short circuit every few months from the laundry that's never put away, the stacks of books that remain out and open, the overgrown beds in front of the house. Then, like a madwoman, I make lists and set up 20 minute blocks to be used explicitly for this, for that. I clean and organize, feeling lighter with each this and that checked off the list. Through these manic episodes I am enlightened again and again with the truth that although my passion may lead me elsewhere, a life of singular focus is not one of health for me

 In the evenings, and sometimes mornings, too, I've been squeezing in games of cribbage with Craig. A nice walk in the woods here, a trip to sit under the apple tree there. Sitting amongst the chickens for lunch a few days back I thought with both surprise and regret about when last we had made time for a meal outside. The days are shorter and chillier now, our window closing, and I wonder- were all those things that shaped my priorities worth it? I mean, what even were they? Too often my passions squeeze out the things that ask less of me but are just as important. True downtime, communion with nature, books, yoga, writing that isn't instantly gratifying, i.e. not blogging- allowing my thoughts to really dig deep and root before they bloom and are put out there.

 I don't know that there's balance. Sometimes I feel like I'm running from fire to fire, tending to them just before they snuff out, and that life is just that way because of how many interests I hold, because of the weight of the particular interests I hold. But I do know that as I feed one part of myself and neglect the others I start to go off kilter. I find it difficult to be the person I want to be in my family. I find it difficult to source the energy needed to do all the shit that no one wants to do but someone must do when one decides to live on a farm. I find it difficult to hold thoughts that go longer term and are more complex than what are we going to scrounge out of this pantry for our next meal?

 So what gives? How does one tend to all of one's fires?
 Milla recently answered a few questions about her writing and I thought I might do the same, although I must say she always seems to have her ideas much more fleshed out than I do so I feel a little hesitant! But here goes.

 What am I working on?

Right now I'm working on opening an online space to sell some of our wares. It is the big singular focus right now. I feel equal parts excited and wholly inadequate. And as a means to creativity, I'm working on balance. There are other things that I want to be working on but have yet to find a way to siphon time over to them. I came up with a concept for a children's book a while back but have yet to really work out the story and I would love to find the time to do that. I'm also trying to get my piano lesson business off the ground. So far, I have 1 student and 1 flier in 1 co-op up. Progress though!

 How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Honestly, I just feel like I'm not there yet. There being so mindful and connected to my homesteading life and my writing life that I'm able to connect those two and write in the powerful way many of the farming/homesteading writers I admire do. I don't mean to get down on myself; I just find that those who farm/homestead and also write seem to really connect larger, more complex issues- things beyond just the day to day on farm life. It's what I want to do, it's what I'm striving to do, But it's definitely a process.

 Why do I create what I do?

In the beginning it was about connection and sort of a show of love for this life we had created. Now it's a place where I go to scratch this writing itch that has been getting stronger and stronger over the past few years. It took me a while to openly admit that I would like to write a bit more creatively, a bit more meaningfully but I can say now- I want to write! And I want to write well! I've also discovered that I write to figure things out. In the process of trying to say things the way I want to say them, I've so many times come to understand my thoughts in a more complex way. Writing helps me understand myself.


 How does my writing process work?

My writing process has always been a rather painful one- at least to those around me. I can take hours to write something very small and insignificant because I can be so particular about how something is worded. If I can't strike the tone I'm going for it can take forever. And, once I start, I like to finish because 9 times out of 10, if I come back to finish something I wrote earlier my mood has changed and I can't get back in the flow. My draft folder might as well be a trash folder.

I write best in silence and with an open ended block of time. i edit as I go, rewriting or editing, I go back to the top and reread the entire thing to make sure the mood of what I'm feeling and trying to express is maintained. I like to write the way I would talk and if something doesn't read that way- I chisel away at it until it sounds like the inside of my head. The funny thing is that it doesn't always lend itself to readability. Many, many, many times I've had Craig read something for me and he can't make sense of what I've written because brain thoughts don't always equal good written thoughts. But, for better or worse, it is my process.

And because if I'm going to have you here to read my ramblings for this long I might as well feed you..

 The third installment of Great Eggspectations...and it's a baby!

 Dutch Baby

A dutch baby is a delicious and simple puffed skillet pancake. It grows to epic proportions in the oven and is always a treat to see once removed. It's also a great way to stretch your prized pastured eggs when feeding overnight guests.

4 just gathered eggs
1 cup raw milk
3/4 cup spelt flour
a pinch of salt
4 tablespoons local butter

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Crack 4 eggs into a medium bowl. Whisk until fluffy, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk. Whisk in flour and salt.

In a medium, oven safe skillet, melt four tablespoons butter. When butter is melted completely, brush around bottom and edges of skillet. Slowly pour butter into bowl while whisking batter.

When batter is mixed, slowly pour into skillet and place gently in oven. Cook for 23 minutes, or until very puffed and golden brown. If it's your first dutch baby have every gather around when you pull it out of the oven. It's grand, puffy size quickly deflates once removed from heat.

Serve with syrup and fresh fruit to keep things traditional. Or, take a page out of our book and saute apples or pears to serve on top. If you're more inclined for savory dishes, add a 1/4 cup of grated sharp cheddar to the batter and serve with sauteed kale, apples, and/or sausage.