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Category Archives: summer

School’s Out!

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The weather’s hot, the grass is growing, and teachers around the city are beginning to relax.

Yesterday was my last day of school for the year.  Hooray!  I have approximately 10 weeks to sleep late, go to the bathroom any time I want/need (without waiting for passing periods), eat when I’m hungry (rather than only at 12 noon), and do those things I’ve been putting off.

So maybe you’ll see more blog posts from me.  Things have been happening on the homestead — animals born, others butchered, progress on the house-building, fruit ripening.  But I also have a lot to do this summer.  I agreed to develop an orientation program for new teachers at our school, and I need to write curriculum for the second year of my two-year honors class.  There are home chores — cleaning the chicken coop and the rabbit barn, putting a cover on the pool and taking down the fence, reorganizing the guest room closet.  I picked the first strawberries today, and there will be raspberries and blackberries ripening soon.  There are little green cherries and little green peaches on our trees.  Then the rest of the garden will start to be ready to harvest.

I want to write, knit, and draw up plans for a tree house / writing studio.

There is a lot of stuff to cram into 10 weeks.

I hope to make the most of the time.

The Progress of the First-Year Garden

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Today, I put up two quarts of squash and two quarts of beans.

The corn has little bitty ears on it.

There are tiny cucumbers and teeny watermelons and itty bitty cantaloupes. Even a couple of decent sized pumpkins that we didn’t plant. (The pumpkins we did plant aren’t doing as well.)

But next year, we’ll mark things better. ‘Cause this year, we didn’t mark them and we keep saying to each other, “Do you think this is kohlrabi? Is this kale? Did the beets not come up at all?” And we’ll need to be diligent about weeding next year, too. It’s sometimes hard to find the beans growing in the midst of all the grass.

Still, considering it’s a first-year garden, four quarts of vegetables (plus all those we’ve already eaten) isn’t too bad for the first of August. (Not to mention the seven quarts of black raspberries I put up earlier this summer.)

But next year, I hope it will be better.

Garden Harvest, July 20

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We dug a lot of potatoes, but not as many as Husband had expected.  We think maybe it was too wet this year.  And when we dug them up, we found that quite a few of them had already rotted.  I accused Husband of planting mashed potatoes in the hopes of harvesting mashed potatoes.  Instead, they were just mushy, stinky potatoes.  Still, we got a lot of good ones.

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We’ve had a few tomatoes over the last month or so, but not a ton.  The little yellow sunsugars have been coming at the rate of a couple a week for a while.  This is the first red one we’ve gotten, but it was small.  Still, it was enough to add to our lunch today which was…

rabbit tacosRABBIT TACOS!

That is a new one.  We’ve never had rabbit tacos before.  They were darn good.

Anyhoo, back to the garden.

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We got a couple of squash, too.  There are a lot more yellow squash growing out there.  The zucchini are not growing as fast, it seems (this one being an exception.)  And we had a volunteer squash plant come up and it’s been terribly exciting to try to figure out what kind it is.  We think maybe acorn.  I was hoping for butternut, but I’m okay with acorn.  Or whatever it is.

Oh, and we got a handful of green beans today, too, after I took the photos.

One of the cherry trees is not looking good; its leaves turned yellow.  So that’s sad.  And I accidentally mowed down a blueberry bush, and that’s sad, too.  And the pumpkins don’t seem to be doing much.

But the corn looks okay.  Maybe we’ll have ears in August.

And it is, after all, just a first year garden, planted in newly tilled sod.  Even Pa Ingalls said a first year garden in tough sod can’t be expected to do much.  At least we’ll have enough food to get us through the winter and it’s very unlikely we’ll have to live on potatoes and brown bread and convince Almanzo Wilder to give us a milk pail full of his seed wheat so we can live until the train comes through in the spring!  (Can you tell I’m reading The Long Winter right now?)

And this fall, Husband will till up the ground again, plus maybe a bit more for next year.  And next summer’s garden will be even better.

Out to the Garden

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I step outside and the humidity seems to hinder my progress. Instead of simply walking to my destination, I must push through the thick air, wading through an invisible barrier that collects in moisture on my skin. The warm breeze does nothing to ease the situation.

In the distance, dark clouds gather and thunder rumbles.

I make my way to the strawberry patch to check the progress of the new plantings. Though it seems sad to do so, I pick off this year’s blossoms so that the plants’ energies go to the roots to make sturdy plants for next year. If all goes well, I’ll have strawberries galore next year. And perhaps peaches and cherries, too, if the trees are mature enough.

I mosey past the spot where I hope to put the rhubarb patch this fall, and down the rows of potatoes. They look bushy and healthy. No flowers yet, but they’ll come. The vine patch shows evidence of cantaloupes, watermelons, pumpkins, and squash, but while most of the hills have plants in them, some of them are bare and I wonder if we had some bad seed that will not germinate. In the next section of the garden is the corn, which is small but growing. I wonder if it will be “knee-high by the Fourth of July.”

One little cherry tomato is turning yellow, and another plant is getting so big I had to put a cage around it to support it. Beans are coming up and looking good. Since we did not mark things well when we planted, it is hard to know what each little seedling is, and since some of the seeds were old, it is hard to know whether they will come up.

It’s enjoyable to have the garden just outside my front door. For thirteen years, we had such a small, shady yard that gardening was difficult at home. We tried a community garden and then had a plot at a friend’s house. That was nice, but it’s much handier not to have to drive or bike a mile to check on the plants.

The wind picks up and contains the faint scent of rain. Time to head inside.  I don’t need to be watered like my little seedlings do.

Summertime Schedule

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School-year daily schedule:

Get up, feed dogs, have prayer time, eat breakfast, get dressed, leave for school. Teach all day. Come home. Change clothes, maybe go for a run, eat dinner, relax a bit or do some grading, go to bed.

Summertime daily schedule:

Get up, feed dogs, have prayer time. Go for a run or bike ride. Take a shower, eat breakfast. Then what? It’s only about eight o’clock, so what do I do with the rest of my day?

There is much to be done. This I know. Laundry, mowing, cleaning. Checking on the garden. Reading and planning and preparing for next school year. Writing, or at least trying to get into the groove of writing. Knitting, mending, organizing. But it’s unscheduled, unregulated.

My parents arrived the afternoon of the last day of school, and we worked seemingly every hour until they left five days later. We planted strawberries and irises and sunflowers and petunias and zinnias. We weeded a sidewalk and a patio and around the air conditioner and along the fence. We cut up old lumber to use as kindling. We moved gigantic railroad ties so that we can try to re-grow the lawn where people had parked and spun tires in mud over the winter months. It seemed I never stopped moving while they were here; they may be in their seventies, but my parents are workhorses.

A few hours after they left, I was zonked out in the recliner.

Without them to keep me on my toes every minute, I can get more brain work done. Budgeting and school work and writing are easier when I’m alone. But it’s also easier to get a little sidetracked, to be a little lazy. It’s the same trouble I have every summer.

Or maybe it isn’t trouble. Maybe being a little lazy in the summer is what I need. After all, I tend to have 50-hour work weeks when I’m teaching, so perhaps a bit of unstructured time will rejuvenate me. It’s possible that living without a schedule for eight weeks will refresh my soul and energize me for the school year to come.

It’s just that getting used to it is the hard part.

Rapunzel Meets Romeo

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Wind tossed my ponytail as I stood on the balcony, a jump rope dangling from my hands. No, wait. There was no jump rope and no balcony. That was my hair, in a long blonde braid, cascading from the tower in which I was locked.   The aromas in the air were not the neighbor’s freshly mown yard or Mom’s meatloaf wafting from the kitchen; instead, they were the grassy meadows where the cattle and horses grazed, and the scent of game roasted by some peasant.

“Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” I wailed. Never mind that I had never read a single word of Shakespeare or that I didn’t understand the meaning of the word “wherefore.” I was Rapunzel, calling out for her knight in shining armor. I wore not shorts and a tee-shirt, but a long flowing dress and ribbons in my hair.

The trees in the woods behind our house – or rather, the forest in which I was unjustly imprisoned – whispered their sympathy for my plight. Birds chirped their own hopes for my rescue.

Suddenly, finally, with great flair, came my rescuer, on a majestic white horse! So what if an onlooker saw only my older sister on a hand-me-down bicycle? I knew what was true.

My prince came, dismounted his steed, and declared that he would release me from my entrapment. He took hold of the jump rope – or rather, my golden tresses – and used it to climb the tower as easily as an eleven-year-old girl might climb the stairs to a balcony. Together we cut my long beautiful hair from my head, tied it to the railing – that is, the bars trapping me in the tower – and used it to descend to the ground, where the prince had his own horse and a horse for me as well.

Off we rode together, looking for all the world like we were just circling a back yard, but knowing that really, we were riding our galloping equines at breakneck speeds toward sweet freedom from evil kings and wicked stepmothers and all the other bad things in the world.

A summertime game, played so often that it is seared into my memory. At the time, it was just something to do to fill the long, hot and sticky days of summer vacation. Now, it is a sweet memory of imagination, happiness, and sisterhood.

Memorial Day Weekend

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Memorial Day weekend was busy with get-togethers with both our families. In the time I had at home, I wanted to get some things accomplished in the yard and in the house. There is so much still to do, and Saturday morning I kind of wandered around, feeling unable to keep my attention on any one thing. Nonetheless, I managed to get a lot done around the place. I mowed, helped Husband plant all the garden seeds we have (we still want to get carrot seeds and tomato plants), moved all the stuff that we’d stacked on the outside of the pool fence (I mostly just tossed it over the fence – the pool area is a wreck anyway, and at least the fence hides it), cleared out some weeds and small scraggly trees from a couple of places (and got some crazy poison ivy in the process for which I since have been prescribed Prednizone), moved a bunch of river rock and landscape timbers, did several loads of laundry, and cleaned the house.

I foresee a busy summer, but I also think this place is going to really shape up in the next couple of months!