29 mayo 2015

The kids

A happy and healthy Sophie!  So, I once told the kids that mud was good for the skin.  Before I knew it, yesterday, as I was watering the garden, there was Girumy, painting a thrilled Sophie with mud.  After I cringed, I thought, "Perfect!  This is exactly what kids should be doing: playing outside in the mud."
The kids have been wanting to touch the hens lately, after they have been endearingly pecking the little hands that feed them weeds all day long.
A spontaneous hymn-singing jam session
Girumy has taken to making breakfast and lunch.  Here he is, liberally applying the green sauce.

The convincing Girumy

So, yesterday, the child came into my room in the morning.  He sat down next to me on the bed and looked at me with these gorgeous, intent, pleading eyes.  And then the smile... the sweet, unopened smile.  "MamA, it is such a beautiful day!  There are no clouds!  You should look and see that it would be the perfect day to go to the dacha."  And he continued, "I know what we can do: You just lay here and think.  I will go wake up the babies and fix up the room.  We will all get ready to go... just in case you decide we can."  And off he went!  After doing all of his morning chores, he came back, "MamA, we kids will vote, OK?  To decide if we should go to Rocket Baby or Colectivo, if you decide that we can.  We will just vote now."  And Colectivo was the winner.

What was I to do?  The kid came up with a great plan and made it happen.  I put on my dacha-clothes and away we went!

A garden tour for Ty's God-family

An overview

These are the delicious Hakurei turnips.  I love just eating them raw.
Garlic!  There can never be enough garlic!
I have always struggled with growing onions; however, this is the year for success.  They are interplanted with lettuces, which I pick by the leaf.
The raspberry patch is doing so well.  I am thankful to see that there are flower buds higher than the kids can reach, otherwise I'd never get one!
This too is a Japanese plant, commonly called Fuki.  I guess you can harvest the stalks, peel them and cook them like asparagus.  I am waiting another year to harvest, as I have been moving it around, looking for its best home.
This is a good representation of what we currently harvest for our salads: radishes, scallions, herbs, spinach, kale,  Japanese chrysanthemum, arugula, mixed lettuces and green garlic. 
Our first dinner at The Blue Table.
An overview of the flower bed
My favorite, the poppy
That purple iris smells like purple sweet-tarts taste.  Ah, the memories...

Finally!  I have moved these poor peonies around so much that I interrupted the flowering.  This year, though, should be wonderful!  Again, memories...
And the amazing Dicentra

25 mayo 2015


So... I went to Indiana this weekend.  

And you are thinking, "So?"  Well, let me just say that "I HAD a bad experience."  So, it was a big deal for me.  As soon as we crossed the state line, I began my yoga breathing... just to stay calm.  And, what a blessing our time turned out to be!  Thank you, God.

And God kept giving me earthly gifts... tangible dreams of Ethiopia, a taste of Puerto Rico last night and...

...our dear Colombians today.
Thank you, God.

22 mayo 2015

Around here

Garden:  Thank God for Spring!  The children and I have been outside as much as possible... a breakfast picnic and gardening at the dacha yesterday and then breakfast and all morning in the yarden today.  Thank you, God!

And, it is such a pleasure to be able to walk out the back door and pick a salad!  Last night's was delicious!  I have decided that I really enjoy strong salads, when the flavor comes mostly from the leaves and not so much from the dressing.  Spinach, kale, lettuces, mint, lemon balm, thyme, summer savory, oregano, chives, scallions, pea shoots... yum.

Even though it doesn't seem so from what I just wrote, I am a bit discouraged with the state of the yarden.  I don't know if it is just how I am or it is from all of those years of teaching the same thing hour after hour, year after year; but, as soon as I begin something, I critique it and want to fix my mistakes, which means that I am already thinking of next year's garden.  Ah!  I am sure that once the plants grow a bit more, covering up the brown dirt, and once that last voracious-for-crucifers rabbit is taken care of, I'll be more pleased.

School:  So, due to another run of iritis and the beautiful weather, schooling has been a bit different as of late; however, I am still pleased.  I am really a contradiction: The martinet and the hippie in me are constantly at odds with each other; but lately, thankfully, the hippie has been gaining ground.  Anyways, we have been doing a lot of legitimate plant and animal studies outdoors, but we are still continuing our long periods of reading aloud indoors. (The kids LOVE Laura Ingalls Wilder's books!)  And sometimes, when I think that what I am doing is just not working, I get a surprise.  For example, the other day at the doctor's office, Sophie was looking at a magazine.  All of the sudden she said, "Nave nave moe!" and pointed to a printed painting.  Now, although it wasn't Nave nave moe, it was another by Gauguin and she had recognized it.  Wahoo!  And the other day as we were going over the countries of Asia again, it was Ty that knew Brunei, not Girumy with his bum eye.  Again, wahoo!

Hosting:  The current situation with our Saudi student isn't the most familial, as I am looking for, but it is easy enough... once I let go of certain things... like tissues all over the floor and his not eating my food.  Every Monday, when I go downstairs to clean, I do sigh more than I should and my children are picking up on it.  In fact, the other day, Girumy said, "I am glad that I wasn't born in Saudi Arabia, so that I don't make a mess!"  A wide-eyed oops!

15 mayo 2015

A bit of this and a bit of that

An update on my classical reading project:  So... Heart of Darkness is not pleasant reading for me.  Ugh.  I spent the first third of it utterly confused; and since, I have been trudging, tripping, crawling.  There have been a few lines that have hit home, but... ugh.

Something else through which I have been trudging, tripping and flat out falling down on is cooking for our current international student.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  My experience when living with a family is this: You show up when they tell you dinner is served and you eat everything that you are given, whether you like it or not.  I clearly remember choking down meals around the world.  It is just what is done.  Well, I guess our current kid didn't get the memo.  He very irregularly shows up and he only wants chicken and rice and REFUSES to even try anything else!  I don't know what to do.  I am against the eating of meat, especially if it is everyday.  Our world can't handle that.  And, vitamins!  Where is this kid getting nutrients?  What shall I do with him?

On a happier note:  Our yarden is getting greener and fuller by the hour, it seems.  The dacha is planted.  Our kids are speaking Spanish like little Colombians these days and I have been learning lots of useful vocabulary.  And, God is always good.  Always... when Saudis diss my cooking and when the Colombians eat everything I make.  :)

11 mayo 2015

The first salad from the yard!

We had kale, kale flowers, spinach, deer's tongue lettuce, thyme, marjoram, and oregano with a rhubarb dressing.  Thank you, God!

See others' harvests at Daphne's Dandelions.

02 mayo 2015

A cleansing exhalation!

Well, well... I am well!  Thank you, God, for the sun, its warmth and the earth!  I really think that I should be eligible for a doctor's note, mandating me to move to the Tropics.  What a difference!  I received an e-mail late Thursday saying that the dacha would be open on Friday.  Wahoo!  Usually it's not till the end of the month.  So, I came up with a plan and surprised the kids in the morning.  What fun we had!  We first stopped at the bakery for Danishes and coffee and then headed out to the plot.  We had a lovely breakfast picnic and then spent HOURS there, picking dandelions, digging in the dirt, picking rocks, collecting sticks, running, running, and running.  I have decided that the garden plot is going to be where the kids can just be: I am going to let them lay in the dirt, roll around in it, get wet... I don't care.  Around lunchtime, when we came home, we were all so happy!  Thank God!

So Ethiopian!
And then Friday's greatness continued: So, I have a new Spanish-speaking friend that offered to come over for two hours a week and play with the kids.  Yes, please!  So, they get real Spanish input and I get to... wash the floors, bake granola and clean the toilet, all undisturbed.  I love it!  The kids love it... and her!  It went so well.  You should have heard my kids, just talking with her like it was no big deal.  Later that night, as we were talking about that time, I looked at Rob with a huge, caffeinated, sun-induced smile and said, "I did it."  Seriously.  My kids speak Spanish.  Will they ever be thought to be native?  Probably not.  But that's OK.  They speak Spanish.  And frankly, after a few more weeks with our friend, the kids will be speaking better than I do!  Again, thank you, God!

Around the yarden, the Life is looking great.  O!  Do I love digging in the dirt!
The strawberries, beneath the box, are covered in flowers!
Garlic, interplanted with carrots and radishes.  The tomatoes will be added in a couple of weeks.
Apricot blossoms!
The cherry tree looks so great!  Soon it too will be covered in blossoms!
Aren't currant flowers so pretty?
This is a busy corner: two grape vines, three currants, and an apple, decorated by bergenia, dicentra, muscari and tulips.
And... drum roll, please... our first harvest: rhubarb, which will certainly find itself in a compote.