Odds & sods

Summer has arrived here on the farm. We watched the hay being cut and baled. We picked strawberries. We caught frogs and minnows at the pond and had bonfires. We laid in the hammock and read in the treehouse. Every day is full of special, simple moments. I do not take this life for granted.

The world is a heavy place. I see extremists with power imposing their vision on society–regardless of the beliefs citizens hold. Whether it’s Russia with the Ukraine, the US with guns and abortion, Canada with Indigenous peoples, or pretty much every society with climate change, people who hold power are using old and extremely narrow thinking to make decisions for today.

Most people look to the future. What do I want to be? How can I do better? We must fight to make sure our countries do the same. Society must progress. We must recognize the wrongs that have been done and correct them. People’s and the planet’s welfare should be a priority. We must treat each other fairly.

This is the world I’m trying to build at the farm. My actions are reading, learning, listening, voting, writing and speaking about my values, being an example for Ellie, respecting and trying to repair the land where I live, and living each day with love and joy as much as I possibly can.

Here are some links from this month that made me laugh, made me think and made me remember.

“We tend to disconnect the digital world from the physical world… But the surveillance that you don’t notice tends to be far more insidious than the one that you do.” Making the case for better digital privacy

I’ve waterskied since I could walk, and it’s a highlight of my summer. This video brought back good memories and made me laugh.

“You better come quick ’cause there’s a hippo in the bathtub. And it’s going down the drain, oh no it’s gone.” Anne Murray. Sharon, Lois & Bram. Raffi. I downloaded my childhood soundtrack for Ellie.

An illuminating, personal look into Julia Child

“The less you disturb the top layer of your soil, the fewer weeds you will have.” Some encouragement and advice for the battle against garden weeds

“One day, you’ll leave this world behind so live a life you will remember.” My father told me.

This week is 4 years since my Dad died. I was having a hard time on Sunday, and The Nights came on at exactly the right time. Life is precious. Don’t let it slip away.

How are you looking to the future? What are you doing to share your values? Where is your refuge? What was the highlight of your month?

Odds & sods

I took an unexpected blogging break this month. Between spring on the farm, work projects and a little getaway, a lot of things were taking my attention.

I am still here.

One of the books I read this month was What Comes From Spirit by Richard Wagamese. This quote spoke to me:

“The Creator meant for me to write. Not to think about it, not to plan for it, not to wait for inspiration, but to write to honour the gift I was given. So I come here every day and I write something.”

Even though I haven’t been writing here on the blog, I have been writing.

It is nice to be back here, sharing my thoughts and some of what we’ve been up to.

The highlight of the month was a getaway with Matt’s family to Manitoulin Island. If you’re looking for a peaceful, private spot surrounded by nature, I highly recommend Rainbow Lodge. Fun fact: it had a previous life in a CBC show.

This chocolate cake was yummy, despite its weird ingredient list.

This book was heart-warming and fairly light. I had to hide it so I could actually do some work, or else I would have read it all at once.

The number of farms in Canada decreased 2% in the last five years. The new Census of Agriculture has lots of data about farming. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture breaks down some of the numbers.

It was lovely to have our little holiday away. However, there is no place like home.

“Long after the final i-gadget has been discovered, we’ll still yearn for hugs, kisses, and personal conversations. When we’ve traveled to the last exotic place and finished participating in the last recreational or entertainment venue on our list, we will want a haven and we will call it home.”

Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

This week I’m hoping to take some time to catch up on projects around the farm and with some family and friends. It’s also election week in Ontario, so I will be voting. If you live in Ontario, I hope you will too. I’m considering winding up the week with our first bonfire of the year–a big part of my summers for the last two years.

How was May for you? What’s keeping you busy these days? Have you read any good books? What’s the weirdest dessert you’ve ever made? What are you focusing on this week?

Odds & sods

Doesn’t this photo illustrate what we need more of in the world? More nature, more compassion, more gentleness, more help. More children learning to be compassionate, gentle and helpful to nature.

As April comes to an end, I am hanging onto Earth Day. This month’s round-up is made up of things that have taught me, inspired me and helped me to think about the Earth and my place in it. I hope that some of them help you to do the same.

April’s links:

Pastoral Song by James Rebanks was a major focus of my last blog post, but I have to share it again and encourage you to read it for yourself.

May we raise children who love the unloved things

A creative sewing up cycle

Books are one of the ways I’m trying to help Ellie understand the world. Here are a few about climate change, environmentalism and the Earth that we’ve liked: We Are Water Protectors, I Am The Storm, A Rock Is Lively (this whole series is a great way to introduce science to little kids).

How did you mark Earth Day?

Odds & sods

March felt tough. We marked Matt’s 43rd birthday–the third birthday without him here. Ralph died. Spring tiptoed in and out, and I’m really ready for it to come and stay. I’m tired, and the juggle has been feeling tough some days.

But there were ups in the month. There always are. We saw some more family members for the first time in a while and actually ate dinner together. Those connections are special. Cigo has very much settled into the farm and our family and we’re having a great time together. The snow has melted (though it returned yesterday). Ellie is learning to ride her bike. My mind is going to outdoor projects, though I will wait for the ground to dry and temperature to rise.

Here are some things that are motivating me today and as I look ahead.

Even if your life is 80% sunshine and 20% storm, it is so easy to let that 20% be the weather. Do your best to keep it in perspective.

Source

A magical moment with the maple moon

Maybe I’ll try this planting technique in the garden this year

It’s time to get rid of spongy moth eggs

What if we treated our home as our most important organization?

How to build a business as a mom with small children

As March ends, I’m trying to regroup. Refocus with work. Recharge with sleep. Refresh my attitude. Remember my quest to be content.

How was March for you? What are you focusing on as the month comes to an end?

Odds & sods

Sun rising over snow covered farm

I am ending February in gratitude. Gratitude for what we have. The world still feels full of turmoil and conflict. There is still illness, but I am grateful for the security and peace that we have at the farm and within our family.

Cigo is settling in and we are feeling comfortable in our new family. Being able to share our love and joy is very special.

We celebrated Valentine’s Day, Family Day and three birthdays, including Ellie’s. We didn’t see as many family members as we would have liked, but we celebrated.

We had snow, rain, wind and days where we could see glimpses of spring.

Life keeps going. We keep doing our best.

Here are some things I enjoyed this month:

A conversation and a prayer. “In a world that is struggling, a world that is swirling, a world that is tumbling, may we not lose hope… May we each trust that our acts of love and our acts of kindness no matter how small help the dawn of a new reality break upon this world.”

Putting a price on how nature protects us

We’re doing 1000 Hours Outside again this year (we made it to 841.5 hours last year)

A thoughtful, sensitive renovation of a historic lakehouse

We are never getting an emu… though this is hilarious (the whole account is hilarious)

A thoughtful perspective on renovation, the life of a house, and how we are just a moment in time

I hope that you are safe and are able to find peace in your day. I am grateful to you for reading and connecting in this way. Take good care.

Odds & sods

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny, cold day. We spent most of it at the pond. We shoveled, skated, slid, sledded, tromped, ran, played Frozen (I am Elsa, always), climbed the beaver tree, tried to light a fire, ate lunch on the ice and immersed ourselves in the magic of the farm.

I started the year motivated, inspired, optimistic and content. But as January went on, I felt more and more that the world is filled with cruelty, conflict, intolerance, tragedy and lack of care.

The farm is always a refuge, and I’m glad to be able to retreat here. But hiding out at the farm is not a solution. We also live in the world, and I want it to be a good, kind, safe and healthy place for Ellie.

I don’t have a solution.

One thing I can do is speak up. Honestly, I’m fearful to speak too loudly. The intolerance I see in the world is not disagreement. It’s cruel, personal attacks. Fear keeps me quiet, within the shelter and safety of the farm.

But, I can share others who are speaking up.

Usually at the end of the month, I share links to things that are funny, inspiring, thought-provoking, motivating, positive. This month, I’m sharing two posts about the protest that happened this weekend in Ottawa.

I say often that I choose a life of love and joy. Part of that is trying to be tolerant, caring, kind, helpful. I am not seeing that in the world right now.

Odds & sods

Nov. 9 marked 2 years since Matt died. I didn’t mention the date or write a post because I don’t want to commemorate that day. If we’re focused on joy, there are lots of other occasions that I can acknowledge and remember him.

I love collecting quotes. Growing up, I would write quotes in the back of my journals. This month, I finally read Little Fires Everywhere. There were a few quotes that stuck with me, but this one feels like how I think about sharing Matt with Ellie.

“She told Pearl the outline of everything, though they both knew all the details would be a long time in coming. They would trickle out in dribs and drabs, memories surfacing suddenly, prompted by the merest thread, the way memories often do… Everything, [Pearl] had come to understand was something like infinity. They might never come close, but they could approach a point where, for all intents and purposes she knew all that she needed to know.”

I struggle that Ellie will never truly know her Daddy. He is everything. He is infinite. I tell her as much as I can hoping that she will approach a point where she knows him.

Here are some other things that I’ve been reading, doing and thinking about this month.

What is a conscious closet and how do you build it?

Letters to a young farmer

We made salt dough Christmas ornaments, including a paw print for Ralph.

I did a major clean up on my Instagram, turned off my data regularly and left my phone behind a few times this month. Focusing less on social media–from quitting completely to taking breaks–can actually improve your communications work.

Ellie loves shrimp and this is a super simple, delicious way to cook them.

Children’s book of the month. This one surprised me. I expected it to be scary, but it was so sweet and beautiful.

One more favourite quote from LFE:

To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, … a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for existed all at once.”

As November wraps up this week, we are enjoying the beauty of our second snowfall at the farm–and struggling with our second cold of the month. Heading into December I’m thinking about holiday baking and presents. Thanks to a blitz over the weekend, I’m nearly done shopping, aside from stocking stuffers. I’ve never been this far ahead this early. Now I have more time for baking. Yum. Please share any favourite holiday recipes.

How did November go for you? Does anyone else collect quotes? How are your holiday preparations going?

Odds & sods

October was a beautiful month. Warm, sunny fall days. But also beautiful times together, playing, working and learning.

We got to spend time (cautiously) with family for Thanksgiving, which felt special after so many separate celebrations. And there is more excitement to come this week as we celebrate Hallowe’en.

Here are some of the other things that I came across this month.

A thought-provoking podcast about the challenges for Black parents who are trying to raise confident, empowered children

I love to cook, but I haven’t felt motivated in a long time. But I’ve found some new recipes, and I’m reinspired. This month there were two lemon recipes that we loved, one savoury and one sweet.

I started making green monster smoothies for lunch. Their colour was a little weird at first, but they’re tasty and I feel very healthy.

Garden inspiration – straw bales and no dig

Think like a monk

Photos are some of my favourite Christmas gifts to give. Here are a few special ways I’ve found to share them (start now if you want them under your Christmas tree): photo-a-day calendar, photo books, jigsaw puzzle.

I added more Indigenous authors to Ellie’s and my reading. Here are some books we’ve enjoyed recently (and would also make great gifts): Sweetest Kulu, I Sang You Down From The Stars, The Girl and the Wolf.

This week I’m hoping to finish off the treehouse and bring home a load of topsoil to grade around the garage. After a major sorting session last week, we have an unbelievable 13 boxes of baby stuff to donate (and renewed motivation to have less stuff). There’s also a pumpkin to carve and treats to share. There are more beautiful times together to come.

How did October go for you? What are you doing for Halloween? Any favourite recipes or books to share?

Odds & sods

This month was unintentionally quiet on the blog. Things are happening. Progress is being made. But it’s small and slow. Not blog-worthy yet.

I’m trying to stay focused outside. The treehouse. The garden. A new compost area. I want to work (and, let’s be honest, play) outside while the weather is still decent.

However, I feel my attention being pulled indoors. I’m feeling very compelled to organize all the things. Go room by room. The shifting seasons make me want to prepare to hibernate.

But all of that has to wait. If I’m going to work inside, the new mudroom has to come first. I varathaned the stair nosings over the weekend. I need to finish patching the walls and trim so that I can put some paint on the walls. Then I can install hooks, hopefully before we need to hang up jackets.

So, there’s progress. Hopefully I will have more to show and share in October.

Looking back at this month, here are some of the things that caught my attention.

This amazing home in Idaho. The riverfront setting. The log construction. The M-A-S-S-I-V-E stone fireplaces. (Plus Jesse Pinkman!)

How to prepare for climate change. Detailed. Scary. Practical. Helpful. Recommended read.

Encouraging agriculture and sustainability. The corn harvesting workshops look really interesting, but we weren’t able to get a spot.

Inspiration for our new compost system

My screen time was down last week. Three rules to help you put down your phone

I have collected quotes for most of my life. This one stuck with me this month:

“Mona had always liked that daughter rhymed with water. Both of them elemental, necessary, and yet impossible to keep in your hands.”

The Brightside Sanctuary for Animals by Becky Mandelbaum

Are you focusing inside or outside these days? Anyone else trying to wrap up projects before the weather turns?

Odds & sods

We had our final inspection for the garage and mudroom last week, and everything passed. (Yes, this means our missing door arrived.) Our contractors are done. That feels like a nice way to wrap up the month.

When I look back over August, this seems like a long month. Time is still flying in the weird pandemic time warp that we’re in. But a lot has happened–including a lot of tragedy around the world.

I’m working on being thoughtful in my own choices. Being kind and generous as much as I can. Finding simple joy in family, friends, the farm and Ellie.

Here are some of the things that have made me think or given us joy this month.

Canada is going to have a federal election on Sept. 20. After all of the outcry about residential schools just a couple of months ago, I’m disappointed to hear very little about Indigenous communities in the campaign so far. On the topic of making thoughtful choices, this election is important for me.

The Olympics seems like a long time ago. I didn’t watch a lot, but I’m glad I caught this inspirational story.

This series made me think about what I share of Ellie online

Matt’s Mom got these sticker mosaic puzzles for Ellie and they’ve been a huge hit.

How to reduce your carbon footprint

Ever wonder what happens to things thrift stores don’t sell? This book made me think about what I bring into our home and how to reduce the impact our “stuff” has on the world.

Some we love, some we hate, some we eat

Do you feel like you have a purpose? It can make you healthier and happier.

I’ve lost count of how many loaves of zucchini bread we’ve baked this year. This chocolate one is still Ellie’s favourite, but I think this lemon one is mine (I cut the icing in half).

Any favourite summer reads to share? Or summer bakes? What’s been thought-provoking for you recently? How are you balancing the weight of the world with finding joy?