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Category Archives: my amazing husband

What Summer is About

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On Sunday, I saw one of my students at the grocery store. We said hello to each other and I asked if she was having a good summer. She said she was, but lamented that it was going too fast and that it seemed to be nearly over already. I assured her that we had five weeks left – I had counted – and she has plenty of time to relax.

Of course, I have to remind myself of that as well. I don’t feel as stressed out as I did last summer, when I was trying to develop an entire new teacher induction program from scratch, but I’ve still been plenty busy, and certainly not ready to go back to the classroom yet.

Husband and I vacationed in Prince Edward Island at the end of May and beginning of June. It was a lot of driving – two days of driving there and two days back, plus quite a bit of time in the car as we explored the island. Husband drove every last mile of it, which made us both happy. He loves to drive; I prefer to gaze out the windows until the hum of the motor and the movement of the car lullaby me to sleep. (And then I wake up with a sore back and a stiff neck.) We listened to seven audiobooks on the trip. While we were there, we went sailing (sort of – the wind died so we were really just out on an engine-powered boat that has the ability to sail). We kayaked out into the ocean (with a guide) till we found a sand bar where we dug for clams, and then kayaked back and assisted our guide in making (and eating!) clam chowder. We visited Green Gables (walking through the Haunted Wood and Lover’s Lane), toured an alpaca farm, walked along several beaches, and ate a lot of seafood. Lobster, clams, haddock, crab, mussels, and oysters.

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PEI is beautiful. Every single part of it is picturesque, and most of it is rural. I think Husband would like to live there. He’d have to live there without me, though, because one lady told us that last year, there was still snow on the ground at the beginning of June. No, thank you. Indiana might get miserably hot and humid, but at least our winter doesn’t last eight months. Of course, that’s one thing Husband would like about it.

Coming home made me happy. Everything is green here in the summer, and when the thunderstorms aren’t rolling through, the sun shines mightily.

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In June, Husband did some sand sculpting, and I picked raspberries and visited with friends I haven’t seen in ages. He worked on installing I-beams in the big carport we’d had put up in the spring, as part of setting up his wood shop to work on the timber frame house he is building.

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I went to a workshop on Project-Based Learning and started the second course in my Master’s program in Curriculum and Educational Technology. As July began, he drew designs for ice sculptures and house plans while he watched movies, and I listened to teacher podcasts while I washed the dishes or made dinner. We put up 13 bales of hay from our field, and then it rained three and a half inches in about two hours, and the hay – which we’d put in the barn but not in the hay loft – got wet because the barn floods. (Lesson learned.) He’s been playing soccer. I’ve been running and biking… and going to yoga, which seems a very middle-aged-woman-thing to do, but hey, I’m a middle-aged woman and I’m trying to embrace that. Besides, yoga helps keeps me flexible since I never remember to stretch after I run.

My book has languished. I’ve been waiting for feedback from a few of my students who promised to read my manuscript and let me know what they thought. And just like adults, when kids don’t have deadlines, sometimes they take a long time to get things done. It’s not such a bad thing, though. Most of my creative energies have gone into developing PBL unit plans, drafting emails to our new teachers and organizing their orientation, responding to online discussions for my class, and coming up with ways to redesign my classroom, both physically and culturally. Sometimes I play the ukulele. Sometimes I knit… and on days like today, I rip out twenty rows of knitting because I made a huge mistake waaaaay back there.

Summer, I’ve decided, isn’t about being lazy. It’s about giving my mind a rest by doing other things, by stretching it in new ways.

In Admiration of a Rooster

Written by The Husband

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This fellow is truly inspiring. He guards his hens with dignity — pecks them into the hen house if he spies a hawk and makes an awful fuss if he senses one of them is in trouble. He works through his fear by sidling up to danger and keeping the corner of his eye on you. He is the great, white, kingly Foghorn.

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Autumn on the Little Farm

Well, howdy.

It’s been a while.

School started and swept me away from pretty much everything else. I’ve been busy, but I’ll let you know what’s been happening.

The chickens are getting big! We’re getting about three eggs a day, though at least one of those eggs is still very small – more like a quail egg than a chicken egg. But we’re just about to the point where supply is keeping up with demand. Now that the days are shorter, we need to get a light with a timer inside the chicken house so that the girls will keep laying through the winter. (If we’re feeding them, we expect them to keep feeding us!)

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We currently have five rabbits: Bear, a buck who is getting old and may be just about past his usefulness; Brownie, a young buck whom we hope is virile; Licorice, an older doe who seems a bit lethargic lately, but who is still a good mother; and Fawn and Chocolate Chip, two young does whom we hope to breed as soon as they are old enough. Licorice is due late next week, and we’re hoping for a good litter of kits.

Our front yard, which I have taken to calling the meadow, never got mowed this year. (Last year, someone came and mowed it for the hay.) We’ve been lamenting how all that grass is just going to waste because we didn’t have a way to bale it. And then my amazing husband went to YouTube University and built his own baler! Now we can mow the meadow and bale it for use for the chickens and rabbits. It’s late in the season this year, but we’ve managed to get about half a dozen bales made. Next year, I’ll mow it earlier and we’ll bale a lot more. (In fact, we may be able to get two cuttings out of it if I plan it well.)

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Husband is planning the house building project. He made a model of the house and he’s scouting out trees in the woods to fell and cut for timber. He’s looking at attending an advanced timber framing workshop in June (he attended the basic workshop this past June). The internet browser is crowded with tabs of various tools he wants.

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Autumn on the little farm is lovely. The woods is just beginning to turn orange and the dry leaves rustle in the wind. Days are warm, but nights are chilly and cozy under the blankets. I spent part of today collecting kindling from the yard so we’ll have plenty for our fires this winter.

I’ve put away the summer clothes and pulled out fall and winter gear. We’re keeping wood stacked close to the house, and in all ways getting ready for the cold weather. I hope we’ll be able to keep ourselves and our animals snug in the coming months.

An Ongoing Process

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At first, we were planning to build the new house exactly where the current house is.  But we’d have to build something else to live in while we built the new house.

Then we thought we’d build it on top of the pool.  Then Husband started thinking that the process of filling in the pool (putting in dirt, tamping it down, putting in dirt, tamping it down) would be tedious.  And I realized that our view to the south would be this:

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And while we are thankful for our pole barn as it houses Husband’s business, I’m not sure that’s what I want to see straight out my windows every day.

Husband suggested we situate the new house in front of the current house, but closer to the northern property line.

Then my view to the south would be this:

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And my view from our private deck (just outside the master bedroom) would be this:

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And this is what I would see to the north, out the bedroom windows:

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And right outside the mudroom / laundry room / utility room would be the chicken coop:

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(I don’t know why the chickens aren’t outside in this picture.  Perhaps they wanted shade, which I cannot understand since this is the first sunny day we’ve had in a DECADE.)  (I exaggerate the truth, but not my feelings.)

Husband went out and measured and put in stakes where the house would be.

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That’s our front porch.  Isn’t it pretty?  *wink*

I think we’re pretty sure about this decision.

But then, I was pretty sure about the other decisions, too.  It’s a process.

Husband has spent the last two weeks drawing plans.  Then tweaking and redrawing.  He impresses me.  I cannot see that stuff in my head, but he can.

It’s getting exciting.  It’s still probably three years away, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

Outhouse, Part 2 (finally!)

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Negligent, that’s me. The outhouse has been finished for weeks, and I still haven’t given you part two of the process.

Perhaps I should not attempt to write series. I’m too inconsistent a blogger.

Anyway, here it is.

Husband finished putting the siding on. He took apart wooden pallets and put the slats on the sides. He thought about painting it, but I preferred the natural, weathered look.

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On the back is the hatch to remove the waste. Husband put a door on it later, but I forgot to take a picture of that.

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Finally, he painted the door and put that on. I wanted a bright yellow door with a blue moon. We decided not to cut the moon into the door because it’s a pretty nice door, so he cut out a crescent moon out of another piece of wood and screwed it into the door. Because every outhouse has to have a crescent moon. I don’t know why, but it does.

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We decided to put the outhouse near the woods – far enough back to be slightly secluded, but not so far as to be inaccessible. The bright yellow door shines out from the dark green of the woods.

Inside it’s perfectly functional.

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I like it.

We Think We Have Decided

The First Fall At Our New Place has been mostly consumed with Stephan moving his business from the warehouse he rented for the last six years to the pole barn next to our house. There was much to be done. Decking to be built, freezers to assemble, compressors to hook up, lighting to install, drywall to hang, and a lot of equipment and furniture to move. In the midst of all that, Stephan had the biggest job he’d ever been contracted to do.

Not much else has been getting done.

But the shop looks great!

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The carving area, with all the tools.

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The CNC machine.

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The freezer Stephan built.

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Right now, it’s messy, but under some of that stuff are the two Clinebell block makers.

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The office.

As I had mentioned, one of our rabbits gave birth (the little ones are happily hopping around the colony these days), and we welcomed some friends who visited from California in order to attend her college homecoming. Oh, and I’ve been mowing as often as I can in order to mulch the leaves that have been falling from our multitude of trees.

There have been other things going on that are invisible from the outside – things just happening our our heads. We’ve made a couple of decisions.

First, we determined the plan for the cottage we’ll build. This cottage is where we’ll live while our main house is being built. After that, it can be a place for visiting missionaries to stay, or for friends who want a little getaway. Eventually, it may house a pair of elderly parents.

We’d originally thought about a very tiny home of about 200 square feet. We had thought we’d use a shed plan and convert that into a house. Then, Stephan found some small house plans from Tumbleweed that were really cute, and we decided that 200 square feet might feel awfully cramped. We looked at a few, and finally decided on the Bodega.

Image from Tumbleweedhouses.com

(The name puzzles me. Isn’t a bodega a grocery store in Spanish? Anyway, we think it’s a cute house.)

Next, we had to determine where to build it. We had originally thought to put it back in the woods, but then we thought about the issues that the many trees would create. First, it would make the house darker because of all the shade. Also, when the trees age or when there is a storm, there would be the danger of trees or limbs falling on the cottage. Additionally, the added distance from the well might make running the water lines more difficult. Stephan thought of putting it between the pool and the basketball court. I didn’t think it would fit, but we measured it, and it would fit just about perfectly. I was concerned, though, about the close proximity to those two features. It didn’t seem very nice to me to be smack in between the two, especially since the pool fence would be right outside the eastern windows, blocking any view. (Stephan proposes removing or changing the fence so it is more aesthetically pleasing, but I’m wondering about legal and insurance issues with that.) I suggested putting the cottage to the west of the basketball court, nearer the woods. It would be far enough from most trees that the cottage would still get plenty of light, especially from the south, and far enough from the pool to give it a more spacious feeling. It would still be close to the well, close to the clothesline, and close to the main house.

The site for the cottage.

The site for the cottage.

So it may not look from the outside like much is happening, but much is happening, nonetheless.

First Day of Fall Break

Fall Break began Friday afternoon, and I have a week away from my students’ faces. Today, though, I spend a couple of hours grading papers, planning lessons, entering grades, responding to students’ emails, and editing and uploading articles for the middle school newspaper.

Stephan is incredibly busy trying to get his business moved from the small warehouse he has been renting for six years to the pole barn on our property. It has taken more time and money than he anticipated. I’ve been wanting to help, but there is so much I don’t know how to do. I try to remind myself that I can help by making sure his laundry is done, by cooking dinner and cleaning up, by taking care of the dogs. I can help by making sure that he doesn’t have to worry about those things.

He always wants me to relax, though. “It’s your fall break,” he said. “You should take it easy.”

It’s hard for me to take it easy when he’s working so hard and feeling stressed out.

So I volunteer to make Monday Night Dinner. That doesn’t seem like much, but it is something.

I finish my schoolwork for the day, and I plan to go out on the porch to write. And then I remember that months ago, I planned to mend something that belongs in Stephan’s shop. I put down my notebook and my pen and I go to put an iron-on patch on the item.

And then I find out that the item is not safe for ironing, and I melt a big hole in the fabric.

Plan B quickly forms, and I patch the item by sewing a piece of cloth on the holes. Then I have to clean blue goo from my iron, then iron the rest of the clothes that have been waiting for a month to be ironed. Next, I assemble the item that I had repaired (for a few moments, I am sure the cover has shrunk in the wash, but I finally get it on the frame.)

I return to the house, realize that I might not have enough beans soaking for the bean soup, and so add more. Will mung beans taste okay in navy bean soup? I don’t think more navy beans would have time to soak enough to be soft for dinner, so mung beans it is. I really should have planned this out better. Just like I really should have tested the iron on a small part of that fabric instead of just plopping the whole hot metal appliance on top of the melty fabric.

Back to the barn to see if Stephan needs more help. I have only an hour to spare before I need to start cooking, but he gives me one small job to accomplish. I am on the verge of another, but then the ice delivery arrives, so I am dismissed back to the house. (I likely would be in the way of the four or five guys unloading three-hundred-pound blocks of ice.)

Toss the rest of the bag of mung beans into the bowl of soaking beans, and now I have no idea how much is actually in there and whether I will need to add more of everything else. Chop up the carrots and onions, and since I don’t have celery, dig in the cupboard for celery seed (will it taste the same? Who cares? With the mung beans added, it won’t be the same anyway), add the garlic. Unload the dishwasher.

I sit down for a few minutes and try to write. It’s not the best writing, for sure. I’m feeling nervous about the bean soup, even though I know our guests won’t complain even if it’s a weird soup. I’m noticing the temperature fall as the clouds cover the sky and my wind chime continually sings in the constant breeze. I’m wondering if the noise of it bothers my neighbors. I’m realizing I should probably take a shower before I get dinner started.

I turn and glance out the window to see the bright golden maple tree in the back yard, the leaves fluttering to the ground in the wind.

I think that perhaps I should have mowed today.

People come for dinner, and the soup is fine.  We talk, we clean up, and they leave.  I sit in the living room, listening to the sound of hammering and the whine of the circular saw from the barn.  The breeze blows through the house, ruffling the papers on the bulletin board and fluttering the leaves of the houseplants.

The first day of fall break is nearly over.