Friday, September 28, 2012

This Moment - Bath Time

Today I'm joining Amanda of SouleMama for this moment,

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour, and remember.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Licensed under Creative Commons

Last night around 3 am, I grudgingly stumbled outside to the outhouse. It had been overcast when we went to bed earlier, but when I looked up, I saw that the clouds had cleared off. I switched off my headlamp, and stood in the yard beneath a breathtaking canopy of stars.

Low on the horizon, I could see my favourite constellation, Orion. I love this one because it is so easy to spot, from anywhere in the world. The perfection in the way the belt stars line up blows my mind. And the total absence of light pollution where we live means that Orion's nebula is really easy to see with the naked eye, and even more stunning with magnification.

This constellation derives its name from Greek mythology. There are several versions of the story, but the one I've seen most often goes like this: Orion was a giant and a famed hunter, said to have descended from the sea-god Poseidon. Due to his heritage, it was believed he could walk along the bottom of the sea. 

He fell in love with a woman named Merope, who lived on the island of Chios. One night while drunk, he became violent and forced himself upon her. In anger, her father Oenopion blinded him. Orion made his way east, into the rays of the sun, which restored his sight. 

On his way back to the island to seek revenge, he met Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. They fell in love, and some stories claim she intended to marry him. Apollo, Artemis' brother, was concerned for her chastity, and so one day, while Orion was out walking in the sea, Apollo challenged Artemis to hit a black spot bobbing in the waves (Orion's head). Not realizing it was her love, Artemis rose to the challenge, and killed him. Grieved, she implored Zeus to immortalize Orion in the stars. 

Orion is followed by Sirius, the dog star, and this is another of my favourites. One of the brightest objects in the sky, Sirius sparks and flashes with colour. In mythology, Sirius is one of Orion's favourite hunting dogs.

Am I just a total geek, or do you have a favourite constellation, too? What do you love to see in the night sky?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Doubts and Fears

This post has been brewing for a couple of weeks now. I just need to write it out, work through it, and move past it.

Wasn't it just yesterday that I was loving my hopes and dreams of the future?

On days like that, I imagine a huge vegetable garden in high summer, overflowing with ripening vegetables. There are chickens pecking around between the beds, eating the bugs off the plants, clucking contentedly.

And then, magically, it is fall time and those chickens are all dead, their feathers disappeared, the meat neatly packed into a chest freezer to feed us through the winter months, alongside moose, butchered and packed.

The produce has all been processed. It lines my (currently non-existent) pantry in neatly labelled mason jars, or in just as neatly labelled bags in the freezer.

I am settled in front of the woodstove, a stew simmering away in the cast iron dutch oven, knitting, while Aedan plays with a sibling or two quietly at my feet. I am assured in my self-sufficiency, in my ability to provide chemical free, sustainable and ethical food for my family, year-round.

Missing from that idyllic snapshot are the hours spent building those raised beds, planting them and tending them all summer long, hauling water for them (because we don't have water on the property). Missing is my fear of being up close to birds, of handling birds. Missing is the beheading of the chickens, the blood, the feather plucking. Missing are the inevitable failures I will encounter along the way.

I keep asking myself: can I really do this? Do I have what it takes? Do I truly understand the amount of work that will be required of me? I'm not sure I do.

The only way to find out will be to jump in and get my feet wet.

The books all say to start small, and of course I know that. I must hold that in my mind. A couple of raised beds next year. Our food for the summer months, certainly, and hopefully some put by for the winter, too. Maybe a few chickens. Maybe.

Or maybe I'll just learn to catch a fish.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

These days, I'm lovin'....

The way the setting sun lights the birch and aspen a flickering gold against the darkening sky

Warm sweaters and thick socks

Hoping and dreaming of the future

The scent of snow on the wind

Friends stopping by to visit

Sloppy baby kisses

Boards going up on all the seasonal businesses in town; quieter streets and bittersweet goodbyes

The closeness of community, and knowing I've found home 

Beautiful music

Cooking comfort food

Devouring book after book after book...

What are you lovin' these days?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today I'm joining Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots in her Sunday tradition.

This week, I've been grateful for...

-Stepping outside at dawn to see that the clouds had cleared off to reveal a slender crescent moon, with Venus shining just below.

-P being able to take Tuesday (my 29th birthday!) off of work. We spent the day at home doing a bit of clean-up in the yard, but mostly relaxing and playing with the babe.

-Going out for a delicious dinner Tuesday night, of wild salmon and roasted local farm veggies.

-Someone giving us a box full of moose meat. I am so, so glad we'll be able to eat some wild meat through the winter!

-Someone else giving us cabbage, spaghetti squash and fingerling potatoes from their garden. I'm making moose-meat cabbage rolls for dinner tonight, with a side of roasted spaghetti squash!

-Aedan taking longer and longer naps, without me having to be in the bed with him. It gives me some much needed time to myself! And I'm also so grateful that we allowed him to reach this milestone at his own pace, instead of sleep-training him.

-Forest walks with golden leaves falling all around.

-Waking up to the sound of rain on the roof this morning.

-Good conversation with like-minded friends.

-All of the love I feel every day from friends and family.

-Being given such a wonderful, unexpected opportunity to embark on a homesteading journey. More and more I realize that's where we're headed...we've got the space to do it. It just feels so overwhelming at times, and although I've always had vague notions of "making a living simply living", I've never put much thought or research into what that entails. I look forward to a winter of doing lots and lots of reading and research!

-Walks to the spring to have a drink.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Out for a Stroll

I just love that Aedan is on his own two feet these days. That means he can explore the world at his own level and his own pace! This afternoon we took a little stroll in the woods around our house.

Here we go!

I just love this action shot of Cilla running up to Aedan!

Stopping to pick a berry!

We found an old boot! There is lots of decaying bits in the woods from when they were building the Dempster highway back in the 70's.

Hi, Mama!

Hi, doggies!

Beautiful fall grasses.

Fireweed all gone to seed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Birthday Baby

It's hard to believe that one year ago, I gave birth in the backseat of our car, in front of the Whitehorse General Hospital. That one year ago, I held my new baby boy to my breast for the first time, while P looked on from the bedside, both of us in total awe that we created this tiny human being.

And now, a year later, we're both still in awe, as he changes every day. How did the time go by so quickly?

At one year old, Aedan is walking all over the place; he hardly ever crawls now.

He loves to play "put": we find he puts things in the oddest places. Today I found a container of bay leaves in the wood box. We find his blocks in our water jugs and pot lids in the grey water bucket beneath the sink.

He babbles almost constantly, from the moment he wakes to the moment he sleeps. He tries to say "dog", and he repeats "guck" when I tell him something is yucky. He can make the sign for milk, and he does an approximation of the sign for "more".

He takes a real interest in his books now. He loves to pull them all off the shelf, and will crawl into my lap to have one read to him. He turns the pages himself, carefully studying each picture, and will sign for more when we finish.

Aedan eats almost anything. For his birthday supper I made curried lentils with sweet potato and cauliflower, what I judge to be one of his favourites. He also loves oatmeal, broccoli, bananas, kiwi, wild berries, and tofu.

He makes the silliest faces these days, for no apparent reason other than to get a laugh. He loves to play peek-a-boo, either with a blanket or scarf over his face, or crouching down beside the couch and popping back up again. He points at everything, waiting for us to bring the world alive with names.

He's my favourite person to hang out with. He makes me laugh, he drives me crazy sometimes, he reminds me to slow down and take each moment as it comes.

Happy 1st birthday, my sweet boy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yarn Along

I'd been planning to do a post about knitting, and thought I might as well Yarn Along with Ginny of Small Things.

My nana taught me to knit when I was younger. It's something I've done off and on throughout my life: I've never been terribly passionate about it. Maybe it's my tendency to never finish something I start. I could fill a closet with all the projects I've cast-on and never completed!

Or maybe it's that I get careless, and rush to complete something, never doing a gauge swatch, making mistakes and knitting on, then never wear it.

Lately, though, I've been knitting again and really enjoying it. I've been taking time to follow patterns carefully and finish them so that I'll actually get use out of what I knit. Right now, I'm knitting the Iced cardigan, from an old edition of Knitty. I'm using some yarn I purchased months ago to knit a different cardigan, that I never actually started. See? Told you I'm terrible at this! But so far it's knitting up rather quickly, and I enjoy having something to relax my mind and my focus in the evenings, after Aedan has gone to bed.

My nana doesn't knit anymore, and her once sharp mind is gradually being decayed by dementia. That makes it even more important to me to carry on with this skill she taught me years ago. Maybe one day Aedan will want to learn, too--he certainly enjoys playing with my yarn!

I started reading "French Kids Eat Everything" last week, and I have to admit, I'm not loving it. It's about a woman who moves with her family to France for a year, and learns a vastly different food culture. There are many interesting points, and the French definitely go to great lengths to ensure their kids learn how to appreciate real, nutritious, beautiful food. There is just something about the rigidity of it all that doesn't sit right with staying up til midnight at their parents' dinner parties, or the idea that kids should be seen and not heard...there are some great tips to take away from it, though!

Yesterday I dove into "The Hunger Games" (on my e-reader, not a very exciting photo), and I can hardly put it down! The knitting might go on the back burner for a day or two...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today I'm joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.

This week I've felt grateful for... 

-4 days with P all to ourselves! Running his own business can be so liberating at times, but it's also very demanding. All summer long, he's had no one to do the office work in his stead, so he's been going in every day. It's so hard on us all. But he finally got some relief, and we took a trip down to Whitehorse. We took Aedan to the park, did a little shopping, ate some delicious food, but most importantly, spent a whole bunch of time together! 

 -Coming home. It's good to get away every once in awhile, but I'm always so happy to be home. 

 -Fires in the woodstove keeping the house nice and toasty. 

 -P building a gate around the woodstove and across the stairs to the loft. Now I can relax with Aedan toddling all over the place! 

 -Apples and grapes at the farmer's market this week! Amazing! I'm also so grateful to John and Sarah Lenart, who are taking chances and dedicating so much time and effort to growing experimental plants in the Klondike. 

 -Aedan making his first sign! I started signing with him not too long ago, and this week he began making the sign for "milk". It is so neat to see him really communicating with us. 

 -This funk I've been in the past few days finally lifting. I don't know where it came from, but it was not fun, and neither was I. It suddenly cleared today, though, and I feel calm and patience returning. 

 -Friends sharing moose meat with us...I've got a roast in the oven right now that smells delicious! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gathering rose hips

After a morning of grey skies and rain, the sun broke free of the clouds and cast its warm rays into our yard, illuminating the birch and poplar leaves, and making the damp grass glisten. The wild rose hips, a vibrant red and a little shriveled from the first hard frost, hung like precious jewels from the prickly rose bushes.

I left Aedan playing contentedly on the porch while I filled my little bucket with these juicy, vitamin C rich wild fruits. I could hear the Sandhill cranes winging far over head, their grr-oo call softened by the distance. The golden leaves were falling silently around me: such a peaceful autumn moment.

I was surprised to learn that 3 rose hips contain more vitamin C than an orange! It's so strange how we immediately think of oranges when we think of vitamin C...but there are many rich sources of this important vitamin! In her book "The Boreal Herbal", Beverley Grey writes that rose hips are antispasmodic, and can be used in a decoction to treat menstrual cramps.

The seeds inside the hips can be irritating to the digestive tract...traditionally, they were used to help expel parasites. People sometimes call rose hips "itchy bum" for this reason!

I'm drying my rose hips to use in tea over the winter, but they can also be used in jams and jellies, or made into a syrup. I might try that next year!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gratitude Sunday

Today I'm joining Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday:

Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.

This week, I've been grateful for...

-A wonderful visit from an old friend, Justine. It's amazing how we can just fall into things as though we'd never been apart. It was so great to see her getting to know Aedan, to share meals or a pot of tea, to go hiking...just to have her around!

-Finally getting one raised bed built, with Justine's help. It feels like there is so much work left to do before the snow flies, but I'm so happy to have been able to cross one thing off the list.

-Sunshine lighting up the changing leaves, making them glow golden.

-Delicious, fresh halibut that friends caught in Alaska, for dinner one night.

-Bonfires on dark nights.

-Refreshing afternoon naps with the babe.

-An abundance of rosehips in our yard!

-Getting out to Tombstone Territorial Park. I sometimes take for granted that I live only a half hour's drive from this absolutely stunning place. I was reminded this week that I need to get out there more frequently. It is so good for my soul!