Showing posts from December, 2009

a day to reflect

Today is a great day. It is a sit-back-and-take-stock kind of day. It is a nose hair freezing day; it is a be glad to be inside listening to the wind howl, and not outside in it day. It is a look outside and see the swirling mists of white and enjoy it because you can turn your head and feel the warmth of a blazing fire nearby kind of day. As the year wanes and former Farmers arrive for visits, I am thankful; thankful for their visits and thankful that we have a lovely, big house to use for hosting friends and hosting parties.

Our friend and former Farmer--"once a Farmer, always a Farmer" (sounds a little Narnian)--Becca, arrived yesterday. After dinner she and I went over to Mummy Dearests' place and hung out and talked; so good to catch up with former Farmers because we just pick up where we leave off, reminds me how truly like family we are to one another.

I was able to take the day off to hang out with Becca, and thus far have spent the day sitting and talking with …

milking magic

I think that as Farmers, in this very distinct community, that we all have our moments where we stop and think, "what the hell am I doing?" It is very difficult to do work in the field that we work in under "normal" circumstances, but then add the fact that we live in the midst of where we work, well, that definitely throws a HUGE wrench into things. Lately I have been having a lot of those aforementioned wonderings. And yet, there are days that start winding down like today; days which catch me, shake me hard, rattle around the marbles upstairs, and almost shout, "SEE!"

I was very tired this afternoon, recovering from a visit with my old college roomie College Kim--her and her boyfriend were here for just hours yesterday en route to visiting his family, who happen to live in western MA--and two trips to the airport in two days (one to pick up College Kim and one to pick up returning Farmer S today). And of course today also happened to be my milking day…

the Prince of Peace is born!

A Christmas Carol

The shepherds went their hasty way,
And found the lowly stable-shed
Where the Virgin-Mother lay:
And now they checked their eager tread,
For to the Babe, that at her bosom clung,
A Mother’s song the Virgin-Mother sung.

They told her how a glorious light,
Streaming from a heavenly throng,
Around them shone, suspending night!
While sweeter than a mother’s song,
Blest Angels heralded the Saviour’s birth,
Glory to God on high! and Peace on Earth.

She listened to the tale divine,
And closer still the Babe she pressed;
And while she cried, the Babe is mine!
The milk rushed faster to her breast:
Joy rose within her, like a summer’s morn;
Peace, Peace on Earth! the Prince of Peace is born.

Thou Mother of the Prince of Peace,
Poor, simple, and of low estate!
That strife should vanish, battle cease,
O why should this thy soul elate?
Sweet Music’s loudest note, the Poet’s story, —
Didst thou ne’er love to hear of fame and glory?

And is not War a youthful king,
A stately Hero clad in…

good news of great joy

This year, for the first time in my life, I will miss Christmas Mass. I am really bummed about that, as I do love the sacredness of Christmas that I always find in the Catholic church, but midnight Mass isn't going to be an option since we'd get back so late and I am opening the Kitchen tomorrow, and since I will be working tomorrow I can't go in the morning. Tonight I decided instead to go to the UCC church in town for their Christmas Eve service to see B1 and Farmer MacDonald do a reading. I am so glad that I went. The service was simple: a reading of the Nativity story being done by several SmallTown community members, with breaks between readers to sing Christmas songs. When the last reader had finished, Pastor L reminded us that the light conquers the dark in the world--this is my favorite message about Christmas.

It was so lovely to walk into this small, old church on Christmas Eve, and feel the presence of so many hopeful people (so many of them Farmers too!), to fe…

the sun stands still

Happy Winter Solstice all. The days are getting (a very little bit) longer from now on out. The light of the world is coming! I learned today that "solstice," means, "the sun stands still."

For more interesting facts about the solstice, check out National Geographic.

from FOUR QUARTETS: East Coker

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark. 
The vacant interstellar spaces...... 
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope 
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love 
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith 
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. 
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: 
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
~ T.S. Eliot


When Mummy & Hubby, Big & Little Fish moved out this summer the Farm saw fit to bequeath their house to TSO, RugbyGirl and I. We moved into the house, Avalon, in September, and I've yet to post any pics. Was at home sick today and in a moment of weird wakefulness I took these. Oh, and I am really into taking black and white pictures right now.

This is one of my favorite things  about this house (there are dozens of favorite things about this house!) This is our cupboard for wine glasses and cook books galore, but we also have a stash of random on the top shelf: the cookie cutters we used when we were kids, a beer stein from Germany, etc.
This definitely gets my vote for the best hallway. I love the way that this hallway leads EVERYWHERE. To the right you go into our kitchen, straight ahead goes into the living room and then if you keep going you will wind up on the front porch. And I love the way our coats look hanging on our wall hooks.
A view of our living room from the…

O Tannenbaum

Here is a picture of our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, in our living room at Avalon.

Did some searching to find out what the hell a "Tannenbaum," is, and learned that it's a fir tree. Who would have ever though that it would take me 29 years to ask that question...

Tannenbaum, Ernst Anschütz, 1824

"O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur
zur Sommerzeit,
Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Dein Kleid will mich
was lehren:
Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit
Gibt Trost und Kraft
zu jeder Zeit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Das soll dein Kleid
mich lehren."

the white path before me

With so many people leaving for Christmas this week I am getting the itch to travel. To get in my car and drive until I can't go any further west. To drive and drive and drive until the road weariness comes over me. To drive and see the sun rise in one state and set in another. I haven't been on a good road trip in a very long time...hmmm...were that I were a bird, I would fly away.

"Song of the Open Road"

Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road.
Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

The earth—that is sufficient;
I do not want the constellations any nearer;
I know they are very well where they are;
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

All this thinking of traveling led me to this:
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens;
I carry them, …

revisiting the land I had lost with my childhood

Looking for our Christmas tree this week; in the very act of hiking in the woods, in deep snow, over sleeping mounds of tucked in stumps and un-navigable stones, I became buoyant with energy. It was as though that sleeping child, which hides deep within all of us, was reawakened. As I wandered alone I became less aware of the tree I was supposed to be looking for, and more aware of a memory which I had forgotten. I was suddenly thinking of one of my favorite moments alone with my Dad.

The woods behind our house lay as an open canvas until we had nearly outgrown it and the activity it provided children. In this, its uncharted-ness, my Dad and I ventured off, following the semblence of a trail; a hunters path; a deer road, perhaps. We walked for what felt like miles and though I can't recall exactly, I imagine that my Dad told me stories as we hiked. Maybe of the sea; stories which made me long to rock with the ocean, falling asleep to its sounds; maybe stories of his youth; stories…

looking through the thin frost

Something lovely after all those library related posts.

An Old Man's Winter Night

All out of doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him -- at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off; -- and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon, such as she was,
So late-arising, to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;

chopping in life, unchopping in literature

Thinking about how we are going to cut down our Christmas tree has reminded me of this, a favorite poem (which I know I've shared on my blog before.) Lovely, lovely.

Unchopping A Tree

Start with the leaves, the small twigs, and the nests that have been shaken, ripped, or broken off by the fall; these must be gathered and attached once again to their respective places. It is not arduous work, unless major limbs have been smashed or mutilated. If the fall was carefully and correctly planned, the chances of anything of the kind happening will have been reduced. Again, much depends upon the size, age, shape, and species of the tree. Still, you will be lucky if you can get through this stages without having to use machinery. Even in the best of circumstances it is a labor that will make you wish often that you had won the favor of the universe of ants, the empire of mice, or at least a local tribe of squirrels, and could enlist their labors and their talents. But no, they leave you to it…


I am hibernating, or at least that's what I feel like when I wake up in the morning and rumble and roll out of bed, freaking out the cat in the process. I paw at my hair to get it to stay under my work hat; paw at my face as I wash it, splashing cold water everywhere; fumble with my toothbrush. Mornings are rough these days. It is like our bodies know that the days of light are getting shorter and shorter,  and are working against our rise-and-shine-urges. I am sure that the cold outside vs. the warmth under layers of blankets might have something to do with it too.

Dragging myself out of bed and begrudgingly going to work this morning made me think that the day was going to all be for crap. But, it turned out to be this really good, good day which ends now with me laying before a fire thankful for so many things. After TSO's and my unsuccessful search yesterday I felt like going out during lunch today and searching for the perfect tree. I drove all around the Farm, staring ha…

where the answers are kept

Something is happening to me lately. Not like a Peter Brady-hitting-puberty-kind-of-thing, but rather something more introspective. I feel like in some small ways I am noticing how I am changing, and oddly enough, I am trying to be mindful of these slight things--I say oddly enough, since I am not a patient or particularly introspective person like others. I am noticing that I need more time to think and process; I am enjoying silence and solitude in situations were I normally liked the busy, noisy. I am doing a lot of thinking about what my future is supposed to look like, and where I am supposed to be this time next year (next month!).

And I got to thinking of this poem, and hoping the answers are still in the fridge...

How to Like it
These are the first days of fall. The wind at evening smells of roads still to be traveled, while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns is like an unsettled feeling in the blood, the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.

A man and a dog des…

living Animal Planet

Some days I feel like we are living National Geographic or Animal Planet (compared to my old life in the city).

Today TSO and I went for a hike on one of the Farm's many trails, in search of the perfect Christmas tree. What we found were many Charlie Brown looking species of evergreens and lots of animal prints; paw prints from dogs and racoons, deer tracks, people prints. We even saw 6 white tail deer majestically bound away from us as we hiked. We were marching in a swooping fashion that would pop us out by the gravel pit, where we had found a beautiful tree in a past year, when we heard cries from coyotes. My knee jerk thought processes were as such: 1. Coyotes? but it's not even dark out yet. 2. Holy crap! Coyotes! and I am in the woods.
I bravely turned to TSO and said, "we gotta go back." I am not sure when I became such a wimp, but I envisioned a very fat coyote picking his teeth with one of my bones after a very filling meal. TSO was very supportive of my de…

stands a child without her father

"On the beach at night"

On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.

Weep not, child,Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones …

disorganized thoughts

The fall came upon as most falls do, unassumingly, and yet, I am lost in this snowy fall-ready-for-winter season. There is something hushed and sacred in the nights like last night; the heavens look down upon near winter nights, and in their near darkness blast out bright lights which are lit chandeliers over conversations.

Last night was our Farm staff party, which wound up being one of those great nights where everything lines up just right and everyone has a good time. We were allowed to host the party at a Farmers' off-Farm property, which is this absolutely gorgeous house built before the Revolutionary War. BHill has so many great, spacious rooms just perfect for conversations (both private and public) to be happening in, and I spent so much time wandering around the house admiring the unassuming presence and a lived-in feeling. Everything was great and I think everyone had a really good time.

So glad that I took today off because I was a little ermm...tired this morning. Bei…

we've got talent

"America's Got Talent," has nothing on our Farm. People here are so amazingly gifted in so many ways, but I think I become immune to that until I sit down and watch an Open Mic Night like tonights. It was amazing and great and fun and funny and...satisfying. Sometimes, once I am home at the end of the day, it is so hard for me to want to go back into the community for all-Farm events, but I am so glad that I did tonight!

Everything about the night was right. The Open Mic Night took place in the old living room. Twenty or thirty some people crammed in, grabbing empty chairs or floor space, and a makeshift stage was set up in front of the fireplace. The charm of events like these is buried in everything, even the simplest things like how we all cram in together, all of us Farmers: friends, coworkers, staff and guests snuggled in together, sitting elbow to elbow. Just being. I sometimes stop and look around and really appreciate how we are like a big family (the true gift an…

vintage fun

Searching for that just-perfect Christmas picture on my last blog, I came across some other really fun vintage ads. I offer them now:

Wow. Words can't even express...

Is this a maternity dress or is it just baggy and ugly? And why is she standing like someone slammed her leg in the closet door?

Coca Cola: satisfying all those whorey urges.

For the family who wants to outdo the funeral home in town, the new Chrysler Hearse.Why do her paddles look so sneakily like car ice scrappers?The fat girl in me just burst into tears...while simultaenously wondering where I can get those charming clothes for my next Chubbies convention.
Schlitz makes you ALMOST forget about how small your TV really is.

alternative Secret Santa gifts

Secret Santa began yesterday at the Farm; names were drawn from a hat and we marched forth into the cold afternoon and possibly all pondered those ponderous pre-Christmas (Hannukah/Kwanza) thoughts about what to get our Secret Santees. We were instructed to try to not spend over $5 over the course of the week, which isn't too hard, but how to be clever and original? In years past I have given my Santee: poetry, candy, cookies and even a snowman, but what am I to do this year? Brainstorming, I have come up with a few ideas:
A "snake-coiled" brownie in a cellophane "holiday" baggy, with a note that says, "Santa's reindeer left this for you." Make sure the brownie has corn pressed into it...everyone knows reindeer LOVE corn.A stripper who pops out of a lifesized fruit cake, sings Christmas carols and has a mischieviously placed candy cane. WINK!Someone dressed like a snowman who will pose on the persons' front lawn. When your Santee comes home and…

holiday traditions begin

This fall, like this summer, has been so strange. And so too December began with snow on the first day, (just a dusting; enough to remind us what month it is) then a couple relatively warm days, and now 20 degree (Farenheit) temperatures and snow. And ice. Yes, ice. Gone are the days of even the sturdiest farmers eating breakfast and lunch outside, it is too cold for even us now. And so begins the coldest season, the time of year which also pulls us along towards the holidays, which means Farm traditions.

At the Farm we have many cool traditions, which I really appreciate, having grown up without a huge emphasis on any traditions which we followed yearly. Today marked the first of the Christmas traditions with the Farm Lighting of the tree, which entails us standing around a tree singing Christmas carols until the spirit of the season is so moved within us that the lights come on. The tree is lit and thus forward we march towards Christmas with a sure indicator of the light of the worl…

Thanksgiving stats

People always ask how much food/what kind of food we make, so here are the Farm's Thanksgiving stats:
12 turkeys, which equaled roughly 108 pounds of meat176 dinner rolls (made by our baking/pastry program)50 lbs mashed potatoes40 lbs Farm Brussels sprouts40 lbs Farm squash (butternut)224 cups (I estimate this wound up being about 40/50 lbs) of stuffing **this is what I made for the meal**2 gravies: 1 turkey, one vegetarian (mushroom)12+ lbs of white bean stewQuinoa with walnuts and raisinsCranberry sauce6 + lbs of Farm applesauceGallons and gallons of Farm apple ciderWater, coffee and tea40 pies/tarts: 9 Blueberry Pies, 9 Pumpkin Pies, 9 Chocolate Pies, 9 Lemon Curd Tarts and 4 Cranberry Tarts (made by our baking/pastry program) About 2 dozen pairs of hands went into making the meal; 6 people carved turkeys Thanksgiving morning; 134 people enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal.

It was a busy day which began at 6:30 for me, opening the Kitchen, and which didn't end until a very sleep…