june

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This month of June got off to a slow start, with day after day of cool damp rain. But now it has begun to show its true self and I couldn’t be happier. 🙂 The skies are blue, the air fragrant with peonies and roses, and the temperatures have reached summer-hot. We have worked hard to finish much of the vegetable planting, and today I have started on the strawberry jam making. Our feeders have been busy with young fledglings, led there by parents likely ready for them to soon leave the nest, as well as the arrival this week of our favorite hummingbirds. Plans have been made for a trip to our local ice cream shop, too. The extra hours of sunlight, the fireflies signaling the end of day, the young deer stretching their new legs, the anticipation of summer festivals and trips to the beach all add to my love of this time of year and fill me with gratitude, for a beautiful June day is such a gift to savor. Here’s hoping you too can get outside today and enjoy the season wherever you are!

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transformation

Around these parts, it’s hard not to witness the seasonal transformation as it’s all around us — blossoms popping out of the ground, the sky bigger and brighter, asparagus and dandelion on the table. And the songbirds! Though the sun set more than an hour ago, the mockingbird carries on singing outside my open window, and will likely do so all night long.

I too am undergoing transformation as the last two weeks of art classes are before me, graduation in just a little over a month, and then I find myself staring a wide, at times daunting, blank canvas where a career, vocation, lifework should be. Sure, I have plans, ideas, some freelance work and craft shows lined up. But there is still so much uncertain that I at times secretly long for the more predictable transformation that a change of season brings. Where the snowdrops bloom before the crocuses, which appear before the daffodils that arrive just before the lilac flowers, and the tulips, peonies, and hydrangea….

At the same time, I itch to be done with my final projects. It’s difficult to find them engaging when there’s so much more on my mind. Because as uncertain the future, I also know that it’s time for me to move on, that my work at the school is (almost) finished, and that, like the young birds pecking their ways out of the pale blue and speckled shells, also to enter an unknown world, I must go. Despite whatever doubt arises in the moment, I am ready.

With a major life change on the horizon and a birthday celebrated this past week, the time is right for contemplation. I am grateful these days have coincided with Easter and its themes of loves and miracles and rebirth. They’ve helped to fill in the pauses, the negative spaces of my thoughts, as has the singing mockingbird — our sentinel of spring and warm, bright days ahead.

 

midwinter fun

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One of our favorite midwinter treats is a trip to our state farm show. The livestock competitions and displays, cooking demos, agricultural learning booths, and of course the food (!) always make for a fun day out at an otherwise quiet time of year. This year we particularly liked the preserved food and craft competition areas (definitely plan to enter some of our Baldy Hill Pantry items next year!), the bar-b-que sauce pickled eggs, and the livestock barns — although we were disappointed to find out the chickens were on display only the first weekend due to a lack of volunteers, so we missed them. As always, the milkshakes were especially yummy, too. 🙂

Over the weekend, I made up some suet cakes for our outdoor bird friends. We’d been gifted some venison offcuts from a friend, which we make for the dogs, and I heated up the fat and added bird seed to old packaging from store-bought suet cakes

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I then put them outside on our porch for an hour or two to allow them to cool and harden, before transferring to freezer bags to store until needed.

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Super cheap, easy to make, and the birds love them, too! 🙂

In the US today, we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is one of my favorite quotes of his, so relevant now as ever.

Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

 

winter days

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Winter days on Baldy Hill can be cold and bleak, for sure. The sky has been predominately gray since we started the new year, and we’ve awoken to snow and ice and frigid temperatures most mornings. But we’ve done our best to keep warm, the wood stove our endearing friend, and make the most of these quiet, reflective days.

Our Ameraucanas (and occasionally an Orpington) are still producing enough eggs to keep us happy, so I’ve regularly been making vegetable tarts — this one was made with garlic scapes, broccoli, red pepper and the last of the NYE’s goat cheese. A steady stream of birds have been visiting our feeders as well. Among the usual visitors — chickadees, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, tufted titmice, sparrows, bluejays, starlings, nuthatches, a Carolina wren — a stunning pair of red-bellied woodpeckers stop by several times a day. I’ve heard that they can often dominate feeders, but this pair shows none of that behavior, patiently waiting their turn at the suet.

Although we’ve yet to reach winter’s midpoint, the light has begun to shift toward spring. We note the difference where the sun rays hit the dining table in the morning. My trip to bring in the chickens in the evening is fifteen minutes later than a couple weeks ago. Winter break from school ends next week and the spring semester begins. The seed catalogs pile up and garden planning begins.

But I don’t rush the days toward the next season. In fact, during this holiday, I have consciously slowed down, limited distractions, and focused on one task at a time. I’m not stressing about what doesn’t get done today, as I’m learning to be more realistic about what I can do in a single set of waking hours. I know I’m not alone in coming to the realization that doing, doing, doing all the time is no good, not to mention that doing less often miraculously results in producing more — more fulfilling, happier days. 🙂

marking days

img_5418As life would have it, this year James and my anniversary came smack in the middle of my finals week and his busiest sales season, so we’ve yet to really celebrate it. However, it was super-nice to find this little note tucked in my breakfast napkin. He’s a sweetie who makes me laugh — I can’t ask for more. ❤

I did finish up the last of my final critiques with my instructors yesterday, so the fall semester is officially a wrap — woohoo! Which mean my winter break began in full this morning, and I could start to check tasks off my holiday to-do list. The first was ordering the calendars we give to family and friends each year. Sorting through our photos is always such a nice way to review the past 12 months, as well as be reminded of the beauty that we live with each day. And on a day with negative wind chills and snow squalls, I was grateful especially for the summer photos, with their blue skies and hints of warmer weather. 🙂 Here are the photos that made the final cut:

With that Christmas task complete, I’m continuing the warming up thread by opening up a couple jars of summer, that is, our preserved homegrown tomatoes, and popping out a few pesto cubes from the freezer to make this tomato farro soup for dinner this evening.

Wherever you are, hope you are snug as a bug in a rug, too, and enjoying this almost-winter night.

around the homestead

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I’ve been parked in my office/studio for the past three days, working on my art and design projects for finals this week — a poster series, chili sauce labels, PSA fliers, a bondo sculpture, and a 3-tiered mylar chandelier. Yeah, I know, a lot, right? But all are in various stages of completion, from 50 to 90%, and although I know I still have a few busy art-absorbed days ahead of me, the end of the semester is definitely in sight. 🙂 My drawing professor from last year often reminded us to take a minute or two every day to just look up at the sky and take it all in. And I try to remember to do this, even on the busiest of days. When I don’t remember, I’m grateful for displays like this almost-sunset above that I catch out of the corner of my eye and make me do a double-take with their beauty.

I’m also grateful when I upload photos from my camera and find others that I had completely forgotten about! Like these two below, from earlier this autumn. This chipmunk is such a regular visitor to our bird feeder that the birds pay him (her?) no attention anymore.

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And although we are used to being on “deer watch” as we drive the country roads near our home, it’s unusual to find deer in the garden. But this year, the fallen chestnuts proved irresistible, and we found a steady stream of deer, as many as five at a time, passing through. I love to watch them,  but they did get in trouble when they got into the green tomatoes I’d been saving for chutney, ahem. Still a treat to be able to see them up close, and yet another reason I love living where we do!

Sleep well, and remember to look up at the sky tomorrow, OK? 🙂

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