Firstly, we're in the process of rearranging our living room. Which means that even though I plan on painting it, I put up portions of the Elfa shelving unit we planned on using as both bookshelves and media stand. This change includes selling our armoire and TV and using the computer as our TV (we just do DVDs anyway). Once I did it, we realized the computer would be too close to the wood stove, but I'm not moving the shelves again until I take them down to paint this weekend. Which means I am currently standing at a less-comfortable, less-convenient version of a library computer kiosk typing this entry. Not particularly conducive to frequent blogging, but cutting down on my internet time satisfactorily.
Secondly, the bounty is upon us.
[not quite ripe, but harvested early or the jays will get them all] [I've been told to remove the bracts before drying them.]
[The true quantity of the harvest is anybody's guess--no nut, little nut, or big nut?]
Our CSA box has been full to the brim, and we're devoting time to devouring it. We received our 2 pounds of basil last week and I'm still trying to get the rest of it pesto-fied and in the freezer. We have two plum trees, an old, heavily-laden apple tree--don't know what kind of apple it is or when it will be ripe, and a gilbert grove to take advantage of, not to mention blackerries till hell won't have it. [I had to leave that typo in. A grove of Gilberts? Okay! Filberts are good too, I guess.]
Matt has been keeping the upper yard yard-like, but we practically need to call in someone with hayin' equipment to take care of the rest. I have been thrifting, reorganizing, dreaming and planning. And I have an exuberant, opinionated toddler. Busy busy busy.
We've gotten over the hard part--recovering from the major regression in sleeping and weaning caused by vacation. She no longer bursts into tears and howls, "Boooobieeeeeees!" when I enter the room. She's sleeping pretty well, eating pretty well, voluntarily kissing and hugging and professing her love, jumping, dancing, commissioning cat portraits, and
WHOA! My husband just hit the house with a golf ball.
Sorry, where was I? Jane is great, and we can't wait to find a way for her to play with more kids. And to find some adults with kids to play with ourselves.
So, apart from the day to day, I've had my mind very much on our Handmade Holiday. Sadly, other than making lists, my hands have yet to enter in. This is the thing--we're short on time, we're very short on cash, and we love love love to give presents. I spent some time coming up with ideas for everyone, and I think I found something perfect for just about everyone on the list. Perfect, but not exactly feasible you see. So I'm returning to an earlier idea. For the adults we know and love, a tin of delicious homemade treats, hopefully including our very own hazelnuts. All our parents' birthdays are coming up in the next few months, so we will have a chance to make something special for them anyway. For the kids, something simple. What is a gift anyway? It's a present--a presentation of your love to the recipient. I had a professor in college, young and recently married, who caught a lift with me to Portland for Christmas break one year. She told me how she met her husband, how he worked mostly as a pro-bono lawyer, how they were both renting a single room in someone's house until they could live together permanently. For their Christmas present to each other, they committed to make something out of a yogurt container. A yogurt container. And yet they kept their Christmas. She was practically rose-tinted with joy and anticipation.
Christmas, and the months leading up to it, is my favorite time of year. I have always been almost demented about Christmas, lighting candles and cutting snowflakes in August with the window shades down; listening to Christmas tapes OH-ver and OH-ver and OH-ver until my parents confiscated them. That type of thing. And when I was a girl, my mother and I made presents every year (I mostly hung around and ate cookies). One year, velveteen mouse bookmarks. Fabric cats. Miniature pin-cushion chairs. Garden fairy wall-hangings. Shooting stars. Wreaths. Ornaments. Everything turned out so beautiful. My mom really has the touch. And I loved being with her while she made. I adore our family traditions. And yet...
This past year, as I baked the usual Christmas goodies (fudge, cheese straws, and spritz cookies being the essential triumvirate) I felt tired of them. I was tired of the same old music (thank you, Bob Dylan). I loved being with my parents and sister and her family but it was exhausting with a small child. I loved making a few presents, but I sewed in the basement the entire Christmas Eve day. And...I'm not the kid anymore. I'm the mom. I have my own family. Somehow around holidays this is harder for me to let go of. But now, I'm ready.
So there will be new traditions this year. The three of us will spend the holiday itself in our own home, blending the old music and feasting and decoration with the new. Next Sunday I will unveil my action plan and some links with ideas. In the meantime, if you have any recipes for treats that do well by mail, I would love to see them. If there are any holiday traditions particularly dear to you, please share.
And until I'm here again, I will be reveling in the end of summer, knowing that autumn is just around the corner.