Friday, October 16, 2009

I Love My Mom

My mother is completely and totally wonderful.

Tonight, she sent a care package home with my husband, which nearly caused me to shed tears of joy:

A book on natural healing, with a sticky note on the cover which read, "Amy, Fever is in Chapter 10".

10 pounds of apples.

Half a dozen home-grown tomatoes.

15 pounds of absolutely beautiful russet potatoes.

Two big winter squash.

A Tupperware container filled with hamburger-macaroni hotdish.


(be still my heart...)

A freshly baked apple crisp.... STILL WARM.

I love my mom.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


My 11-year-old daughter has been bed-ridden with the flu for three full days now, and conscientious mother and citizen that I am, I've not left the farm in that time.  As the "Ask-A-Nurse" advised the other night that this thing will linger for five to seven days, I'm looking at a long stretch of seclusion... partly because I won't leave my daughter and partly because it would be irresponsible to encourage the spread of this nasty bug.

I like being at home.  Really, really like it.  Its where my family lives, where I keep my stuff, and its got lots of nice things like heat and hot water and pretty horses.  But even for me, the consummate home-body, forced seclusion eventually turns into a punishment of sorts. 

Cabin fever in October?  This could be a loooong winter.

It snowed all night last night, adding yet more moisture to our already saturated ground... and so outside its grey, snowy, muddy, cold, puddle-y.  Today while doing chores I looked up at the steely, cold sky and said, "Thank you, Jesus, that I no longer have to pile sugar beets or dig potatoes for a living... that I can do my chores quickly and go back into my nice warm house and not have to go anywhere or work in this freezing mud for twelve hours... and please bless those that do. Amen."

Gratitude.  Yes, its cold and muddy and grey outside and my daughter is sick... but we have a warm house and my daughter has a soft, clean bed with fresh sheets; we've got plenty of gatorade and Children's Motrin and Tylenol, a digital thermometer, and capable doctors a phone call away if needed.  I'm getting cagey, stuck at home... but am so grateful that I *can* stay at home with my daughter, without having to ask for time off from a job or entrust her care to anyone else. 

I am grateful for a five-year-old who is content to play games and cut and paste and draw to keep herself entertained, and a husband who is willing to shop for groceries and livestock feed and pick up a bucket of broasted chicken from the local pub when I have a hankerin' for it. 

I'm grateful for my mother who is sending home some hotdish and fresh Amish produce with him tonight, after he spent the day there repairing a part for the tractor.  Yes, I have a husband who uses his vacation time to lay in the cold mud, repairing farm equipment so he can feed my animals.

There are always two ways to look at a situation... with a cynical heart or a grateful one. 

I choose the latter.

Oh, and the best quote of the day comes from my worldly five-year-old, while she gleefully consumed the last of that heaven-sent broasted bird... 

"The chicken we eat comes from the chickens that are pets, except they're the wilder ones!"

Gotta love a grateful, carnivorous pragmatist.

With a Vengeance

We are now paying dearly for our short, beautiful summer.  Winter bullied Autumn into submission, gave her a swirly and stuffed her in a locker, it seems...

My eldest daughter lies up in her room, fighting the flu... 102F fever, sore throat, headache... for the second day now. On Monday she came home with the news that 1/3 of her class was out sick, and that she had a scratchy throat.  By noon the next day her symptoms were full-blown, and today, some schools in the area are closed due to half the students being absent, fighting the same bug. 

My calls to various "Ask-A-Nurse" hotlines resulted in a total of 45 minutes on hold, listening to elevator music, and the same advice: "Do not bring her in unless she is not drinking and needs IV fluids or is in respiratory distress; we are following CDC guidelines and will not administer Tamiflu unless she had an underlying medical condition.  There are 100's of kids out of school... we've stopped testing for H1N1 as 90+% of the tests came back positive... keep her home, keep her hydrated, give her OTC pain relievers and expect that everyone in the family will catch it and that it will last 5-7 days". 


Not that we would be going anywhere, as it is raining/snowing/sleeting outside, the tree on the front lawn is doubled over under the weight of the ice, and I shudder to think of what the roads must be like.  It seems that winter has, indeed, arrived with a vengeance.

And so, what was supposed to be a a few days of playing with the horses, dabbling with various home-improvement projects and enjoying a long, glorious autumn weekend, will instead be one of seclusion, hand-sanitizer and waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

Its scary to see my normally bright, sunshiny 11-year-old, so incredibly sick, and scary to know that her younger sister will most likely soon be sick, as well.  We do, however, find one thing about the situation truly endearing... her cat, Star, does not leave her side.  That big, black, one-girl cat lies on the bed, or on the sofa, right next to her 24/7. 

Star will get some cooked chicken and a big thanks from me, tonight.  For tonight, it doesn't matter that she cold-shoulders everyone in the house but "her" girl, or that I could spin wool and knit blankets for an army from the fine, black hair she leaves behind on everything from the commodes to the tv screen, or that she occasionally upchucks a nasty ball of it for me to step on, barefoot, in the middle of the night.  Tonight, she vigilantly watches over my beloved daughter, as do I... and I am grateful for the company on this cold, dark, stormy night.
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Friday, October 9, 2009


Autumn has arrived at Frostfire Farm. We had the first hard freeze of the season last night, and the first snowflakes this afternoon.

This past week has been, for me, all about nesting, as it's been predominantly cold, dark and raining outside. While for some, nesting means cleaning and organizing... in this house, it is (unfortunately) about cooking and baking. Why the primal need to feed my family to the point of acute carbohydrate overload, I've no idea. But after five dozen buns, a couple pans of brownies, six loaves of bread, a big batch of rice pudding and a pot of knoefla soup... I'd say the comfort food thing needs to slow up a bit or we risk a visit from the food police. In my defense... much of that is still on the freezer, and there was a batch of elk stew in there somewhere, too.  So we've consumed at least some protein and a few vegetables recently... but have otherwise been a dietician's worst nightmare. On the upside, I'm now actually craving salad...

As I've finally come to terms with the fact that I cannot live without the pleasure of creating yummy treats for my family to share and enjoy... in abundance... my only option is to make exercise as much a habit as brushing my teeth. The treadmill and Jillian Michaels are my new best friends.

I snapped the above photo this morning, while enjoying some otherwise elusive sunshine. It was brisk, bright and beautiful out, the colors so gorgeous that no snapshot can do them justice. This afternoon, however, a front came through and brought with it both sleet and snow (its snowing heavily, now), reminding me to batten down the hatches for another long Minnesota winter... and to buy a new pair of running shoes...

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