Sunday, December 28, 2008

We had a good Christmas. We generally host the Christmas festivities for both families -- I'll happily trade away holiday driving in return for holiday cleaning and cooking!

On this year's menu: tuscan white beans, vegetable pot pie, potato/sweet potato galette, broccoli with garlic, vegetarian gravy, tossed salad. And then gifts and a couple hours of Christmas caroling (always my favorite part of the festivities -- and every year I tell myself I'll start doing more communal singing. I miss Glee Club, miss singing with friends at the slow food potlucks. Maybe it's time to get my banjo fixed.).

I got some really excellent gifts, this year. The Ultimate Building Book, The New Vegetarian Epicure, Piratepedia and Pirate's Most Wanted (inspiration for my pirate ship room), a Louis Armstrong CD (of an album that was the first one of his I owned, many years ago, on a tape long ago lost to me), and a gorgeous wooden tray with an insert of what looks like a bit of a sari. Absolutely lovely.

One of Sarah's gifts was the Scholastic Atlas of the United States, and we're using it to plan to visit all the states. At least, all 48 contiguous states. Obviously we've got New Jersey taken care of just by going about our lives, but I think this week we're going to do something *classically* Jersey, to start our road trip journal off right!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Earthy dreams

Naturally, the first real snow day of the season, we're feeling inspired to start planning our Spring garden! I've been meaning to get rid of most of the lawn since we moved into this house, but wanted to wait to get to know this land a little better before I started doing much planting.

I'd meant to do the lasagna-gardening thing before the first snow fell, but just didn't find the time. So whenever we have a couple snow-free days, over vacation, I'll spend a few hours doing it now -- layering mulch-making ingredients over the spots I want to turn into gardens, then covering the whole dealy with burlap.

The front of the house is the only place we get consistent sun throughout the warm, leafy, weather, so we'll be doing wildflowers on one side of the front lawn, and our vegetable garden on the other side, away from the neighbors. I'll also be increasing our herb garden by the back door (this year it was just thyme, cilantro, chives and parsley, I think). And eventually I'd like to ring the entire front yard around with hedges of one kind or another. That'll be a big project, obviously, so we'll probably just get started with a couple plants, this year.

For the wildflowers we'll be doing black eyed susans, coneflower, bee balm, a couple kinds of milkweed, blue phlox... In the back we'll be doing lily of the valley, and hopefully some honeysuckle and morning glory and moonflower on the fence (those two are just about the only non-food annuals for which I'll make an exception. Otherwise I'm a perennial girl all the way. I know some annuals are supposed to be self-sowing, but I haven't had great luck with that in the past. Maybe I'll try again if anything particularly lovely calls to me...).

For veggies we're thinking tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, string beans, zucchini, lettuce (especially arugula), cauliflower. Maybe a blueberry bush (yes, not a vegetable, I know). Eventually Sarah wants an apple tree, but that's not happening this year. And unfortunately I just can't do organic broccoli -- I've found bugs too often, which then makes me squeamish about eating even conventionally-grown broccoli for a few weeks, which is just unacceptable. Broccoli sauteed with garlic is one of my favorite things in the world. So I won't grow my own.

And for herbs... mint, sage, rosemary, chives, cilantro, parsley. The thyme is already nicely established. My book says cilantro and parsley are perennials, but they don't seem to come back in this garden. Of course, the last owners used the backyard for storing their trailer, so the soil wasn't the most welcoming. I think I'm going to go drool over Seeds of Change for a while, now...

Snow Day!

We did, indeed, have a snow day yesterday. I woke up nice and early (the ungodly hour of 6:45!), to see what the radio was saying about the weather and about other school closings, and even once I knew for sure I wouldn't be going in to work, I still couldn't fall back to sleep. So I sat in the glider and did some writing by the light coming in the front door window, and watched a couple episodes of The West Wing until Sarah woke up.

I spent most of yesterday working on this story I need to finish for a Holiday story exchange I inflict on myself every year. Joe came home several hours early, and we all spent the evening having Random Vegetable Soup (so named because its exact ingredients depend on what's in the crisper) and brownies, and staying warm in our cozy little home.

Right now Joe and Sarah are out in the snow while I finish up my story. This afternoon we're off to friends' for some board games and movies. I'm trying to give myself permission to really relax into my vacation, to let go of all the work I'd like to get done in these two weeks, and just enjoy my day of leisure.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


This isn't the first journal I've kept, not by a long shot. I've been journaling for almost as long as I've been writing, in the most basic pencil-to-paper sense. And in the back of my head there's certainly always the idea that someone, down the line, may find and read the diary, and learn more about me than I tend to share, face-to-face (I usually imagine my daughter, or her daughter, or even *her* daughter, coming across old, yellowed pages, covered in my scrawl, and finding it so odd to see that Mom/Grandma/Great-Grandma was ever so shy/cranky/romantic/bizarre). But with a paper journal there's always, also, the sense that I have the option of tearing out the page, or just tossing the whole book, years before there's a chance of anyone reading it. Not so much, here.

This isn't even the first online journal I've kept. I keep in touch with one group of friends over on LJ, and recently dipped my toes into twitter and facebook, as a way to keep in touch with other friends. But those are tools for keeping in touch with people I already know, who already know, more or less, how my mind works. Keeping a journal that's going to be open to anyone who might wander by... It feels like a stranger's reading over my shoulder while I type. Not *bad*, but disconcerting. I imagine I'll get over that, as I go.

In the meantime, what else am I up to? At the moment I'm at the school, setting everybody up with their own journals, while making maps and a map legend with Lucy.