Friday, May 29, 2009

It's official:

I cried while reading a book to Diego.

Baby in a Basket by Gloria and Ted Rand did me in. Okay, so I "fought back tears", not cried, but nonetheless: my poor aching mama's heart. Yeeeouch!

Using a true story from 1917 Alaska, the Rands have created a perfect marriage of text and illustration. Traveling from Fairbanks to Seattle in midwinter, Marie Boyer and her two daughters, Betty and Ann, are among passengers and freight tossed into an icebound river when the horses pulling their big sleigh panic. Betty is pulled under the ice and Ann, in her snug basket, vanishes in the Arctic dark. Rescued, Betty and the other passengers are comforted at a nearby lodge while a desperate search is mounted to find Ann. At the last moment, two trappers arrive to a joyous reception, carrying basket and baby Ann, discovered sliding down the river atop the ice, pushed by the freezing wind.

Gloria Rand's detailed, dramatic text is well matched by Ted Rand's robustly wintry illustrations, and presents the hardships faced by Alaskan pioneers in a manner comprehensible to the young. Almost unbelievable in these days of jet planes and superhighways, this gripping tale of near tragedy will enrich a social studies curriculum. Even more, though, it's an exciting "good read."

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Wooded Room

We found a very special place this past week: the inner sanctuary of an old barn at some friends' place. They are an older couple, and had partially torn the roof off of it years ago in hopes of dismantling the poor thing for scrap lumber, but didn't get very far. Meanwhile, Mother Nature and all the little wood-fairies have been hard at work reclaiming it for themselves. I felt completely transported to another realm in this room; my eyes must have been shining the entire time.

I have always been attracted to the inner sanctum - alternate realities - hidden realms - secret places. Some of my favorite books, or parts of books, from childhood involved hidden spaces: Hester Gray's garden in Anne of Avonlea, The Secret Garden, Sarah Crewe's attic room at the girls' boarding school, or the Alden children's home in the boxcar with their pineneedle beds.

Being in this room, with its enormously high vaulted ceiling, the sun streaming in, trees growing up from the dirt floor, the sunlight dappled with green leaves - oh my, it transported me. I want to go back. I want to live there. I want my children to feel the tug of intrigue and have their senses filled with the ethereal atmosphere.

And yet...I also felt mournful there. I imagined its history: all the people and cows and hay who have been inside that place. How the farmer who built it would slap his forehead in disbelief if he could see it now. How the children who played on the thick rope swing in the haymow would feel teary to see their magical playland a mere shadow of its former self. And how even the trees from which the lumber was milled would see themselves, astonished: still strong, but leaning, leaning, and slowly on their way back to mildewy dust.

This place . . . affected me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Warmed cockles

If you want to warm the cockles of your heart too, go to my SIL's blog and have a look-see.'s enough to make a mama radiant sunbeams from her giant, happy grin.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A full report on getting too thin and battling systemic yeast

I am starting to get too skinny again, but I've gained, count 'em: 5 lbs, and I am so very thankful for that. At the beginning of May I was down to 132, which for 5'9 is frightfully thin.

I noticed the gain yesterday morning: I bought a pair of short-pants last fall that were pleasantly form-fitting; but at the beginning of May they were literally falling off my hips without a belt, making me feel like a sloppy young Bag; wonderfully, when I tried them on yesterday, they were merely loose. I've bulked up a bit! Thank heavens.

I am still nursing regularly, so this is a factor in my weight loss - but the biggest reason for the skinnies is cutting out all dairy in April. I had been hovering in the 137 to 140 range before that. Why did I cut out my beloved and wonderfully-delicious dairy products, you ask? The answer is systemic yeast. My body is out of balance. It (the yeast) has been terrorizing my face, and now my vag, too, for 3 years. I believe my body was knocked out of balance with the use of oral contraceptives and then thrown for a loop through the hormonal changes of pregnancy and nursing. And I've finally had ENOUGH. I'm not taking it anymore. It is time to get radical.

For two years, though I've suspected yeast, I couldn't understand what it was eating: I don't eat refined flours or sugars except on occasion. I eat tons of vegetables, my grains are whole, and I do eat meat. What was this yeast eating? What could it be??? I was so sad to realize that it had to be dairy. Lactose! So much dairy, in fact, that I dropped 5-7 pounds in a week after cutting it out of my diet. Milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, butter, cottage cheese...I love it all...and I love LOTS of it. Like, with every meal.

And so, I cut it out. I plan to re-introduce it into my diet very slowly after several months. I am also taking an arsenal of supplements to battle the yeast: Vitamins B, D, E - Zinc - Cod Liver Oil - Probiotics - Calcium - Digestive Enzymes - a homeopathic to "dig it out" - and Capryl, an anti-fungal, to kill it. I am also eating coconut and olive oils with every meal, which are anti-fungals, very tasty, and an aid to digestion and nutrient absorption. [For the record: coconut oil is fabulously tasty spread on crackers and olive oil drizzled in soups right before eating is divine. Wow...! I would have never known.]

In addition to beefing up on good fats to gain weight, I have also been attempting to eat extra meals. Not just snacks, folks, but actual full-out extra meals. Tons of eggs and meat and vegetables, which has been hard on my philosophy of seasonal eating, as you can imagine. We are also running very low on meat, but a recently sourced supply of grass-fed/grass-finished beef just went to the meat locker yesterday, so we will be replenishing our supply with 1/4 of a cow within the next few weeks. (Thank goodness.) And once our garden is in full-swing, I will really be able to hone in on the foods that yeast cannot eat: meat and vegetables. I'm going to starve those little bastards to death!

Yeast is a single cell fungi that is usually kept in check by the natural flora in the body - but once it gains a foot hold in your system, it actually sends out mycelium just like any other fungus. Can you imagine that creeping through your tissues??? It is enough to give anyone the willies. That is the reason is it so hard to get rid of: it is growing in you. And from what I've read, once it gains a hold in your body, it is a nasty, nasty thing to try and get rid of. I'm in it for the long haul!

I shall keep you posted on my progress in both weight and yeast-eradication. Presently, I just am so thankful for the extra pounds I've been able to add back on. Squeeze has noticed too, saying my face looks better - not so bony. He wishes I would gain weight, the poor guy. I'm trying! My face is looking better too, which is such a relief. Being red and zitty at the age of 31, though not as mortifying as it might be for teenagers, is still painful and unpleasant.

So, ultimately, my goal is a fleshier body and clear skin. I - can - do - it!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

To my #1 fan, Ash - and her husband, my brother

Ashley ---
So sincere and honest.

I love it that you're working at
Kelowna "General Hospital".
It sounds like a soap; but in reality...
You're wiping butts and cleaning cuts.
And staying up all night.

Ashley ---
Hard at work at her new hobby.

You're smart and sassy,
not quite as slow as molassy;
working through the tedium of...cross-stitching.
(Or is that bo-bassy?)
I smile at the thought of it.

Ashlik --
or Erley ---
You're half my hits each day, you silly girl.
And that is why you, my dear, are my #1 fan.
You're the record-holder, fo' sho'.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What I've been thinking about recently...

  • Amazingly textured skies.
  • Windblown grass.
  • The scent of a bright, dewy, crisp morning.
  • Old homestead garden varieties that fill our grove - daylilies, lily of the valley, fancy nettle, violets, yarrow, and even struggling crabapples - all remnants of a farm long-gone: testaments from the past.
  • How taking a hard line in the philosophy of locally-produced, sustainable eating seems to veto vegetarian and/or vegan eating, especially in this part of the country.
  • My selfishness as a mother, and how to get beyond that.
  • How my husband and I compliment each other almost perfectly; and how remarkable it has been to recognize that very fact more fully these past few months. How can we be so lucky? Does every pairing contain strengths/appreciation on this level?
  • Friendship. Knowing and being known; feedback; great conversation; delving into the abstract; enjoying a well-prepared meal or drink together.
  • Coconut oil on Bible Bread. Nummm...
  • Rhubarb sauce sweetened with chopped dates and orange, spiced with cloves: on pancakes or oatmeal.
  • Anticipation for the coming growing season: knowing I will be able to go out back and pick a full meal in a matter of months.
  • Soaking grains and seeds for greater digestibility. Next up: nuts soaked overnight in salt water. I'm ready.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009

Garden news

WAY up --
Cool-growing vegetables:
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Mustard greens
  • Spinach
  • Sunflowers
  • Rhubarb
  • Garlic

More vegetables:

  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Salsify
  • Dill (re-seeded from last year)
  • Fennel (ditto)

Transplants, in:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage

What a thrilling time of year! The grass is green, the trees are budding, we've had several sunny 70 degree days, and the garden is coming along nicely. Still very ugly, of course; but filled with potential. I can hardly wait to walk out back to gather our evening meal. It's gonna be great!

We have big plans for planting this weekend. We even have a friend coming out to help -- she offered and we took her up on it. Prepare to slave, Kate! (Just kidding, of course.) My hope is that it will be a productive weekend in the garden with a pleasant nightcap each evening, loaded meaningful conversation and perhaps a chocolate martini. You never know what "Squeeze the Bartender" has up his sleeve.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A weekend in review

I don't usually post more than a few pictures at a time, but we had such a fun-filled extended weekend visiting family and friends in the Twin Cities and Wisconsin that I am spurred to splurge. We ate delicious food, visited grandparents, relaxed with friends, explored waterways, hung with my bro, enjoyed a sliver in time of child-free moonlighting, re-connected with an old friend, and engaged in meaningful conversation.

All in all, a delightful trip.

Driving through leaf-budding Wisconsin

Squirrely sleep-deprived boys with their great-grands

Four friends and a fetus

Posing before a DELUXE breakfast


Go get 'em, boys

The most amazing fruit salad ever:
chopped fruit and sour cream spiced with
cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon

Rainy day + busy street = happy baby
Nepalese buffet lunch = sublime