Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rocky Mountain High

It snowed right before Thanksgiving.  It was beautiful, soft and lovely, but it made me miss the mountains.  Not our gentle, rolling Appalachians, but the rugged, snow capped peaks of the Rockies.

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of our favorite places in the country.  Once we left Kansas, we logged miles until we were back camping in Glacier Basin.  Rocky is one of those places that instantly feels like home.

When we're there, hiking is by far our favorite activity.  But, we've also found RMNP to have some of the best Ranger programming in the National Park system.  There's a wide variety of programs, and all of them are informative, creative and engaging.

This year we had an epiphany and realized that now that the kids can handle long driving days we can be in Rocky in two and a half days.  We know we'll be back soon.

At Lake Lucy

On the Tundra at the top of Trail Ridge Road (too bad his tongue is sticking out)

Indian Paintbrush - my favorite Western Wildflower

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Another Reason I'm Glad My Kids are Readers

It's a rainy Sunday afternoon.  We didn't do much for Christmas so most of the clutter is cleaned up, and the few new gifts from Grandma are stashed away.  My mom did my laundry when she was here.  We're headed to a friend's house for dinner and I only need to bring cookies which I pulled from the freezer.  Then ski resort didn't need me to teach.  Both kids are inside, and yet, it's quiet.  Why?

Because they're readers.  Both kids got stacks of books under the tree, and the girl loaded herself up with borrowed books from my classroom library.  So what are they doing instead of whining or fussing or fighting or being wild on this rainy day?  They're reading.

Bliss, Comfort and Joy!

When The Woodsman comes in, I'll ask him to stoke up the fire and then the world will be perfect.

Silent Night Indeed!

I had to duck under the roof of the pillow house blanket and he was quickly covering a magic trick instruction page.  

Full Disclosure:  Right after lunch I kicked them outside for an hour because I could... not... stand... their noise.  At least for this moment it's peaceful.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

I don't know about you, but I hug my kids a little tighter this time of year.

If you're an educator or a parent, you just can't forget about the anniversaries of loss.  There have been so many senseless acts of violence against our children and their teachers.  It seems like every year there's a new date to mark and a new set of names to mourn.  For me, mid December and mid April are the darkest days.  My mind just can't forget the parents, siblings, friends and colleagues who are still here.  I wonder how they're coping, and I wish that I could do something.  But then I think of how powerful the gun lobby is in this country and I feel totally helpless.

Sometimes I feel like just a voice crying in the wilderness.  I've learned over the years that when I feel hopeless I should do something, or I'll wallow in the overwhelming sadness of it all.  So, today, I made a donation to The Newtown Action Alliance.  Tonight, I'll light a candle and hold the victim's loved ones in my hearts.  It doesn't seem like much in the face of so much violence, but if I act, and you act, and we share our actions... maybe together we can change the world.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Always Over Extending Myself

Sometimes old friends really do know you the best.  They're so good at picking out the patterns of your life.

Recently, I was discussing a new part time job (working a few hours on Saturday and Sunday as a ski instructor for teeny weeny ones) with a friend who has known me almost as long as I've known myself.  I told him about the plan for the new job and then pondered, "I hope I'm not overextending myself."

His response....  "Sweetheart, you're always overextending yourself."

And isn't that the truth.  I think I've always been like this.  I don't remember ever, ever being a person without several projects or plans on my plate.  I don't do well with idleness or being unproductive.  It's not that I don't like to relax - I do.  I just think it's more like that old joke...

How do Germans relax?  They work.

The thing is, as long as I have a plan, and I have time to prepare, the stress of having a full calendar and a to do list usually keeps me moving forward and engaged.  I don't like being so busy that I don't sleep, and I don't like having so much happening that it impacts on time I get to spend with my kids, but usually, being busy really fits me.

So, am I overextending myself?  Check back next week after I don't have the weekend to regroup from this even more than normally busy week and I'll let you know.  In the meantime, here's some of what's been keeping me flying.

Had a great Thanksgiving visit with my family including:  cookie baking and house decorating with my Grandma, Black Friday Shopping with my sister, kids and mom, a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with everyone at the farm, a date night with the Woodsman (lunch - Italian and a movie - Hunger Games), and buying a car (Forrester - replacing the Outback that died the week before).

Before Thanksgiving we all ran in the local Turkey Trot.  The Girl ran the 10K with her Daddy and came in second.  The boy and I completed a 5K (I wasn't even last like last year).  I also cooked a couple of incredible dishes using fall ingredients.  It's been lovely having the CSA, but the kids are already sick of winter squash.

Smoky Black Bean and Butternut Ragout

Arugula Salad with pickled beets, clementines and Asian Dressing.

Butternut Squash Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Prepare 3 c. of mashed winter squash.  Season with salt, pepper, butter and fresh parmesan cheese.  Set aside.

Saute 2 lbs. of sausage or ground beef or vegi burger or a combination.

Add 2 cans/jars of tomatoes, garlic, oregano and 1 t. soy sauce.  Simmer until the mixture reduces by about half.

Stir in green beans or peas, then place in individual ramekins or a 9x13 pan.  Top with squash mixture.  Top squash mixture with good sharp cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until heated through and bubbly.

Finally, our favorite activities, and the ones that keep us the busiest have been the ones involving the kids.  In the past few weeks we've had a dance recital, Lego Club, Code Club (including a presentation to the School Board members), Orchestra concert, musical practice, confirmation class, acolyting, usher, special music at church, Sunday School, Youth Group, and a boy's trip to the Redskins game.  Of course, there's also the regular, normal, everyday activities of running a household and working full time.   Busy?  Yes.  Blessed?  You bet.