Buckle Your Seatbelts! (2024)

Buckle Your Seatbelts! (1)Buckle Your Seatbelts! (2)The other day in an email exchange with my mom, I was asking that we have our meal all together a little later as we had a long list of stuff for our family farm day and every extra minute would be helpful. I must have said something to the effect of how much we needed to do and the time available not being compatible. Apparently my dad piped up, "What's new?!" It is most certainly a perennial problem/challenge/growth edge for us - there will ALWAYS be more to do (that we WANT to do even) than what we will humanly be able to accomplish. So the mantra I'm attempting to try on is, "Let some fruit rot!" The critters won't mind and the earth will accept any that remains back. I told a dear friend the other day that maybe every time we are together, we should share and celebrate any balls we have managed to DROP since our last time together. I'm also thinking about a conversation with a different dear friend yesterday who has been navigating long Covid now for about 2 years and in some of her readings they talk about being aware of one's "energy envelope!" I'm realizing just how much I've trained myself to ignore or push through my body's attempts to let me know when I've used up the energy I have available to me or am even pushing past my body's physical limits and causing harm. I just started physical therapy yesterday (and first treatment session today) for the tingling, burning and numbness I've been experiencing in my arms for years now. I feel a little silly admitting how long it's been an issue and how little I've done to address it. I'll be going 2x/week for the next 6 or so weeks and am hopeful I can establish some new routines that take my (aging) body into fuller consideration.

So now I invite you to join me for a little ride through the last few weeks. I'll start with a few updates from previous posts:

1. Jason's stomach muscle has healed!! What a sweet story some of us got to enjoy, but he was pretty uncomfortable for a while and was even worried for a bit that it was a hernia. Phew, gotta watch that laughter!

2. The new Ninja (blender thing) came and it's great. BUT just before I chucked the old one, I decided I'd give it one more go to make sure it was totally dead. I do not understand how this happens but it miraculously works again - better than it has for a LONG time! This particular kitchen implement seems to be like a cat with 9 lives. I'm still glad to have a back up for whenever it does actually completely die.

Buckle Your Seatbelts! (3)3. My Dad is officially 80 and we had a lot of fun celebrating that life milestone together. The eve of his birth included a family meal and games out at Tangly Woods, topped off with decorations and a few presents (we wished my sister in PA could have also joined the festivities!). The girls had a lot of fun getting the packaging ready for the water guns that we gifted him to attempt to fend off the squirrels that are ever persistent in their pursuit of the bird feed he intends for the birds! They clearly had one circle with themselves drawn in it with a clear x over it along with a warning that not following the package instructions could result in retaliation. You can see what was transpiring very shortly after the box was opened!

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May 28th was monumental not just because Dad turned 80 but also because the Myers-Benner family ate INSIDE a restaurant for the first time since before Covid! It was delicious and fun to be back in the Little Grill!

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A little jaunt around the JMU arboretum followed before we all went our separate ways for the remainder of the day.

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Buckle Your Seatbelts! (9)Exactly a week after Dad's birthday, we marked the 16th anniversary of Nora's death. The day ended up being way fuller than I wanted it to be and I was so glad Jason and I had planned to walk to Hensley's Pond together in the morning. That time of connection was so much what I needed at the start of the day. I was really struggling with whether or not and what to post on any online platform. To not put up something felt like it somehow communicated that I didn't find the date/anniversary significant, which is quite far from the truth. I just find putting something online gets all messy because then my experience is impacted by what I'm putting out there for others to see and it can feel like I'm somehow trying to prove that I'm grieving enough or right or honoring Nora's memory in a meaningful way. Sooo, Jason was charged (willingly) with putting something on Facebook and I also named that in future years I really want to block out the day so we intentionally talk about how we want to spend it together. Without the organizing event of a blood drive, the day can morph into more of a "normal" day (i.e. TOO BUSY) and I don't want that. I took a pause in writing this to update our google calendar from 2025 onward to block out both her birthday and death anniversary!

Buckle Your Seatbelts! (10)Here's what Jason shared on June 4:Today marks 16 years since our little Nora's body couldn't hold on any longer, and we held her close while she finally gave in to the exhaustion. We learned a lot from watching her and loving her through all she experienced in her short 7 months. I had to think of her recently when a chick hatched on the farm (it needed help getting out of the egg) that couldn't seem to thrive on its own, and was having trouble keeping up with the rest of the brood. I found it in the coop chilled down and unresponsive. I brought it inside, and Alida (with the help of a heating pad) nursed it back to alertness and warmth. When night came, I put it back under the broody hen, where it wanted to be, and I knew that was probably its best chance for recovery and thriving, but I wasn't surprised to find it dead a few days later. Nature's blessings of health are delivered unevenly, and there isn't always something we can do to even things up. I take comfort from the knowledge that, no matter what the natural limits of life were for Nora and the little runt chicky, both were able to experience some generous measures of warmth and care in the time they had.

And now we find ourselves nearing mid-June already! It's a mostly "normal" day here at Tangly Woods except that Jason is working a longer stretch away from home this week on a Sassafras job AND we've had a lot of fox pressure so the chickens are being kept in on a HOT day AND our kids got up at 7:15 a.m. to pick currants AND I'm attempting to combine currant juice making with Bear care AND the kids just returned from taking care of our neighbors' cat and fish while they are traveling.. So not an entirely normal day but some parts match our Thursday routines!

Alida and Terah will be enjoying some sewing/crafting time this afternoon with Grandma. They have each finished another quilt top to donate to Mennonite Central Committee so I don't know what projects they will get into next. What I do know is how much they enjoy those times upstairs!!

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And I have a sleeping Bear on my front as I type. I do continue to wonder if a little human can just keep getting cuter indefinitely? The last few weeks he has been partial to Terah and has really enjoyed playing with her. Today he was trying out red currants for the first time and was delighted! He is also fake sneezing which is adorable and he says "all done!" What a baby!!

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Speaking of babies, how many can you see? While I'm partial to human babies, seeing a mama hen with chicks poking out from her feathers does a number of me. It's soo sweet. And then if we get too close she starts walking away and all these chicks spill out that were completely invisible in there.

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A few garden updates! We are in whatever "lull" June gives us at this stage. Other than berries, there are not MAJOR harvests for another week or two and we are caught up FOR NOW on seeding. Monday's family work day felt like the culmination of a pretty big push and we made a good team. Here's some of the recent projects!

The barley is harvested and threshed. We are working at developing a hulless barley that will be much more useful to us (and hopefully others) in the future. It's not fully hulless yet, but Jason is excited about the improvement and potential. Terah was a big help in the threshing and I know at least Kali was out there harvesting.

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The second hay cutting is done - thanks to Jason and Kali's scythe work. The potato and delicata patches are mulched and look very happy (if healthy plants are a sign of happy ones)!

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Flour corn is in and protected from chickens and we majorly overseeded to overwhelm the critters. This is definitely our new and improved strategy when we have abundant seed - put in LOTS of seeds and the slugs and cut worms and other critters won't get them all. It's working wonderfully and we have a great stand of corn in what we have affectionately called "our cookie patch" because of the large percentage of the crop that goes to making our favorite cookie recipe for us and for many friends who are also fans!

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We also got the PA Dutch Squash seeded where the barley just came out of and Kali's popcorn will join the squash as soon as it's a bit bigger (hopefully more chipmunk proof!).

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Other than sunflower variety one, all 8 of our Perennial Atlas Project plots are doing pretty well. Alida, Terah and I are enjoying being civic scientists and I think we are all going to learn a lot and have fun in the process. So far we have learned that NOT overseeding sunflower seeds is a bad idea in a garden area overrun with critters AND for some reason the first variety must have particularly succulent seeds/sprouts!

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Speaking of critters, we want the foxes to be able to feed their little ones BUT would really like them to not start to adjust to chicken as a good option for their nourishment. We've lost a couple dozen young birds lately and find it really discouraging to not be able to free range our full coops of birds on hot days. It's bad enough that we have been uttering an unthinkable phrase in our home: "Should we get a farm dog?" If anyone remembers, years ago on a rough day in our household, a child uttered, "At least we don't have a dog!" Yes, you could say we were not a "dog family" with fears abounding in our little ones and not a lot of desire to put the time and effort into the needs and care of another social creature in our home. But, if life is teaching me anything, we change! Our needs, our preferences, our relationships, our life patterns... This idea has not been fully discussed (or really at all in a serious manner), but we are open to wisdom from our itty bitty readership! We have definitely started enjoying other people's dogs more and more as the children's growth outpaced that of most dogs and so they have become much less intimidating!

In the meantime, Alida has Olivia and she's a pretty grand pet (that the foxes better leave alone!).

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What a fruit year it is shaping up to be! We are in the thick of black raspberry season - one of my favorites.

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Also blueberry season next door and we've been over twice so far to pick a bucket or two. That means it's also "vanilla pudding making" season as well! Berry pudding parfaits is a common delight at this time of year!

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We are savoring AMAZING mulberries from the tree Jason grafted by our parking space.

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And the red raspberries are giving us a nice offering of berries ever other day. Bear was happy to help me polish off some that I picked right before he arrived this morning.

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Some social highlights of late:

We had a lovely evening at the home of one of the families I accompanied during their first pregnancy and birth and some mutual friends. We are eagerly anticipating a weekend in wild, wonderful, West Virginia with this crew in November. And we are happy to report that we have officially secured farm care/sitters for the weekends we intend to vacate the place this year. What a relief!

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We had a full table for a recent Tuesday evening with Jonathan, Christen and Luca. My parents' deck is getting lots of traffic these days as it's such a pleasant place in the evenings. It was pretty sweet to watch Luca pop olives on his fingers and once I told him that Kali did that when she was his age he wanted Kali to do it now too!

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Alida and Terah did not celebrate the end of soccer season. I think they are a little comforted by the fact that we signed them both up already for the fall season, and they will be taking part in a week long JMU soccer camp next month. They really enjoy this sport! It was fun having some extra friends join us in the stands for the last few games. Luca was my accountability buddy as he would mimic everything I cheered - I still struggle to not do some coaching from the sidelines (but I think my kids would admit that I'm much improved!). It was a fun game when Alida surprised even herself by scoring off a corner kick (her coach had just taught her before the game how to give the ball some spin and try to curve it in towards the goal).

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We are trying to not miss the week that Alida passes Kali in height. It's coming! The last time we put them back to back we had to get the level out. Kali still is holding on by a smidge!

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Since I wrote last, Kali and Terah both had their "Sunday times with Mommy and Daddy all to themselves" and Alida got to enjoy a long hike/bird watching/rock climbing adventure with my parents.

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Buckle Your Seatbelts! (42)Let me end with just a bit of random ridiculousness. When I order household supplies I normally order in bulk. So recently it was time to restock dish detergent and I ordered 10 bottles. It arrived as 4 separate orders in 4 separate boxes of different sizes. There was 2 in 2 boxes and 3 in the other 2 boxes and in the bigger boxes they either had stuffed a lot of brown paper packaging OR they were flopping around in there. AND most did not have firm seals, a lid or two was cracked and some of the bags had detergent in them, in one case soaking through the box. All of them could have fit in ONE box easily! It was a mess and so I went to the website to communicate the state of things. I never talked with anyone but before I knew it 4 replacement bottles were on the way. I guess they decided not to take any chances the second time around!! I've never seen such poor packaging and then immediately following such over the top packaging. Sigh!

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Buckle Your Seatbelts! (2024)
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