Duendesday Already!

{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

What keeps this gal’s mind churning when she’s cabined up with us old people? Puzzles, games, and Kiwi crates cover a lot of ground (recently we have a glut of geography ‘Atlas’ boxes; we visited Indonesia the other night, resplendent with a ‘batik’ bag and a revving Komodo dragon) but it’s really the cardboard boxes that make this kid determined. I’m sure we’ve mentioned before about her dioramas, her ‘inventions’, her scenes and buildings from all the cardboard that passes through our life. She’s always been this way.

When she was all but barely 2, Josh got some big boxes from work and connected them in the living room – cutting in doors and windows, different height levels, and multiple rooms. She loved it. She painted it all kinds of crazy colors and decorated and lived in it. Not much has changed. When she manages to get a big enough box – she still decorates it, fills it with stuffies and blankets, a lantern, and then coerces the dog (or Daddy) to join her. If a suitable box is not found, she will make sizes of houses for the cat, or her dolls, or the faeries. All painted, some outfitted with furniture. Her inventions are generally some sort of ‘vending’ machine – I think the last one was a nut dispenser, when you put the coins in the slot, individual pecans would slide down a specially made chute. Though another recent one was a ‘cat cloning machine’ – she would shove the cat inside a painted box where wires and magnets whirred on the top and out would pop a ‘cloned cat’ who would promptly run away – the running joke was that I had a closet (where the cat likes to hide) full of grey cats. She’s also making a ‘green screen’ with pencil puppets (faces cut from magazines or holiday paper taped to pencils) and drawing a lot of ‘art’ to sell on Schmee-bay (don’t ask). There are so many things she’s made around here – it’s an entire Duende environment (as I sit here I see dried grass crowns with rosehips, faerie wands made of glitter and sticks, tomatillo paper garland, her new fashion magazine and cover presentation board, she’s also made a Winter wreath for her bedroom door, collages and paintings galore).

When she gets a scenario in her head, she goes all the way, too. Like her marriage(s) to the dog last year and the year before (she set up chairs, an officiator’s podium, made outfits for all of us), her baby showers for her ‘puppies’ (with tea and refreshments for guests, and a gift table!), and she frequently pretends to be my ‘assistant’ and I have to call her ‘intern’ or ‘Emily’ (from Devil Wears Prada, of course, though that might switch to Betty now) and give her impossible requests. When she was 3 or 4, she used to pretend that her whole village was killed and she was a lonely little orphan that we found and loved. This week she is taking me to court because she wants to protest her new bedtime ritual (Josh is the judge, I’m expecting that by the time this takes place there will be an English judge’s wig and robe and gavel) – she tried on her court outfit last night (hat, tie, button up sweater, handkerchief) and is bringing ‘witnesses’. I’ll likely lose this battle.

The truth is, I might (happily and lovingly) lose the war.


{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

Pre-snow adventures – as usual, out in the weather, underdressed though after half a foot of fluffy wet snow, she was head-to-toe bundled. So stiff she could barely make it out the door, to find a sled, and carry a bucket around knocking down icicles. But it’s a cold coldness after this storm, not the warm cozy blanket of snow yet. Just an icy crust – impenetrable and not as intriguing. Inside she comes, bringing new eggs, making sourdough pancakes and scones, building Kiwi-crate komodo dragons, playing Uno and Parcheesi with Daddy, writing movie scripts (ask her about ‘Woof Jones’), and designing block and lincoln log towns. It’s a busy life for a 10 yr old.

All the Tuesday Happenings

It has been a very busy week – more storms (our first Nor’Easter of the year – 6″ of wet heavy snow that has now turned to dense ice) with a lot of power loss. I know we are lucky and have some systems in place – generator (so the basement doesn’t flood and powers one room), and the woodstove but it was still a lot of work while the certainly more capable fellow of the homestead is convalescing from a minor (though necessary and restricting) surgery. He’s doing fine taking it easy and getting back up to speed but it left me to do tasks I don’t do as efficiently (like carrying wood, tying and rolling tarps for the chickens/hauling their water, shoveling, and delivering some goods to our lovely customers, and then make dinner on a hot plate! plus try and teach online when there is intermittent power – it’s been crazy for sure, or maybe just me). And worrisome news about good good friends – our hearts are in our throats.

So, I try and take a few moments to focus on the loveliness of the world that I really had nothing to do with – it’s just my advantage that I get to experience it when it comes, even if it comes at a really bad time (or rather, a more perfect time). Like the bright clear almost Winter moon on the sparkling snow, or the layer of ice on tiny red rose hips, or my beautiful child catching snowflakes on her tongue. Or the man singing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s “Posh Posh, the Traveling Life” song over and over while he tries to get everything together for me to stay sane. Or the ridiculous pup who loves to nest in the blankets in front of the fire. Meanwhile we snuggle up and eat Pork Belly Ramen bowls, and Tofu Saag with Flatbreads, drink Warm Cider with Cinnamon, and lots of hot Chicory Tea. We both find and make those moments.

I wish you many small moments of living and loveliness.

Duendesday Wednesday!

{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

I will not be surprised when this child grows up to be either a meteorologist or a conservationist or even a National Geographic photographer – mostly because she has no care of weather. She loves all weather – she loves to be in it, to immerse herself totally (generally underclothed, for my taste). If it snows, she’s face down in it – or building/sledding/observing (and trying to save) it. If it rains and it’s warm enough (though her threshold is pretty iffy on that – she has no temperature gauge – or maybe she just runs hot), she’s splashing, sliding, collecting, drenched in it. And of course, if it is sunny, she’s open to it like a gorgeous little flower. I think though, she prefers the cloudy, overcast, or foggy days – she likes the quiet it seems to bring (maybe just to amplify her own sounds – she’s a bursting, sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, whooping and hollering type of gal). She is such a nut.

We had quite the little storm (I’m sure nothing compared to the hurricane it came from – my heart goes out to those who weather worse storms) – lost power for a day and half, right after a few wet days where the sump pump died and the water filled the basement. But Josh is amazing – he has all sorts of Plan B’s put into place (generator for the front room/water heater/sump pump), skills to put in a new pump, battery lanterns, etc) – I’m dreaming of the day we can afford a battery for the solar (it’s not that I don’t believe in the social benefits of being grid-tied but Maine makes it hard to afford to be so, and the benefit of being sufficient sounds nice).

Right now she’s taking care of Daddy – she’s his convalescence accomplice (somehow I’m caring for 2, instead of just the 1) while he’s recuperating from a minor setback (all is well, he’s patched up and ready for healing). They are snuggled on the couch, on the extra foam mattress I bought for this occasion, playing Legos Star Wars (she’s an instant junkie) with a stack of ‘movies’ they’ve picked out: the animated Hobbit, The Muppet Show series (I caught glimpses of the Leo Sayer and the Pearl Bailey, so fun), and Daddy is hoping for come classic Westerns or Kung Fu. Maybe if I’m lucky I can get this gal to help a Mama out a bit (though she is good at snuggling).

Enjoy your weather – wherever you may be.

Monday’s Muse

You will remember…
~ Pablo Neruda

You will remember that leaping stream
where sweet aromas rose and trembled,
and sometimes a bird, wearing water
and slowness, its winter feathers.

You will remember those gifts from the earth:
indelible scents, gold clay,
weeds in the thicket and crazy roots,
magical thorns like swords.

You’ll remember the bouquet you picked,
shadows and silent water,
bouquet like a foam-covered stone.

That time was like never, and like always.
So we go there, where nothing is waiting;
we find everything waiting there.


{life with a curious and crazy 10 yr old}

Duende was very excited to see some active but light snowing when she woke up today. Just a coating, mostly in the crevices and paths of the grass but a few icicles to really make her happy. She’s playing Parcheesi with Daddy right now but then we are making pizza’s soon for dinner. Hit the Farmer’s Market yesterday so she could get her Pumpkin Vine Mango Lassi fix (yum!).

These days she’s obsessed with the Winter Solstice already. Somehow that seasonal jumpstart affects her, too. The other day she looked up a recipe for gingerbread cookies, set them up in the refrigerator overnight, got up early and baked them/frosted them – she was determined. She’s been building Winter dioramas and in lieu of no Santa in our life, she’s made a holiday dog character named Thanta Paws (which she dressed J up as). She’s building a cardboard gingerbread house (and people, and paperchains) and is already making her presents for us.

We’re seasonal and witchy people. We’ll put up our tree right before the Solstice and take it down on Imbolc to celebrate the change of the season – lights and love during the coldest and darkest shift. On Imbolc we usually have a lovely Scotch tasting party (so sad that it will not be happening this coming Winter) that gets us altogether in the midst of the dark season, just to get us through until the Vernal Equinox (which still certainly does not feel like ‘Spring’ yet to many – just the whisper of worms waking and maple sugar making). We’re not Thanksgiving people, for many years we have celebrated Indigenous People’s Day on the 4th Thursday of November instead – it seems now the rest of the ‘holiday schedule’ has caught up with us and there is a separate Indigenous People’s Day and the entire month of November is also nominated towards this celebration (except for said ‘Thanksgiving’). That said, we’ll still eat a turkey because it’s what’s on sale and we all love turkey and I bet the Native Americans ate turkey long before the fundamentalist Pilgrims ever did. She made a hat and beak to dress Josh up as the turkey.

She’s a peach and loves a good celebration regardless of the ‘holiday rules’ around here. Any chance to decorate and eat fancy food and be together.

Haps for Tuesday

I spend a lot of time at my desk lately – between teaching, tutoring, and writing my own dissertation my desk is my anchor. Therefore, I spend a lot of time looking out my window at the goings-on in the world. I don’t see much of the world, per se, but I can see the road, and a couple of our mature apple trees, a bit of the neighbors, that we like, and a bit of those we don’t know, and a bit of the store when it is Fall or Winter and the trees are bare. In this stretch I can sometimes see my child running around outside, Josh tending to the trees, the dog digging up voles, and mostly my passel of chicken-ladies roaming from safety area to safety area.

This last part is definitely one of my favorite distractions – mostly they move in their flock of 15, but a couple of them don’t mind the solo or roaming buddy life and I’ll see them sneak into the bushes by the road (where there’s a ditch and a giant hedge of rose, alder, wild cherry, and in the summer goldenrod, asters, and jewelweed – someday I dream of a sumac stand there). When a big logging truck (or the jerk with the super souped up engine in his primer truck) goes by they burst out of the bushes, if there are a few – scattering everywhere away from the road. Sometimes they all huddle beneath the witch hazel outside my window or the dwarf apple tree farther out (some in the branches, so funny). I love watching the ladies traverse the entire cultivated ‘yard’ (maybe about 2.5 acres) – sometimes we find them in the woods that separate us from the neighbor or the wooded area between the ‘yard’ and what we call the orchard (it’s not a neatly lined up affair, more of a dotting of trees wherever we want them). Since the leaves have fallen, they have had to find new hiding spaces.

Meanwhile, we’ve been steaming up the house with lovely tart batches of Cranberry Jam (flavored with our maple syrup and orange zest), and Apple Butter. We need to take a break for the next two weeks for bread baking but I’ve been hatching up some delicious pasta plans to try and make up the difference (I’m thinking more Ricotta Gnudi, of course, but also Pumpkin Tagliatelle, Beet Gnocchi, Spinach Fettuccini with some quick sauces like our Rock Bottom Pesto, Roasted Garlic and Herb, and Roasted Summer Tomato, Artichoke & Preserved Lemon). We’ve lots of eggs right now so the pasta will be rich and silky (which will leave me with a lot of whites – I’m thinking Berry Swirled Meringues?). So many ideas, so little time.

Until then, may your window watching be relaxing.

Monday’s Musing


With thick strokes of ink the sky fills with rain
Pretending to run for cover but secretly praying for more rain.

Over the echo of the water, I hear a voice saying my name.
No one in the city moves under the quick sightless rain.

The pages of my notebook soak, then curl. I’ve written:
“Yogis opened their mouths for hours to drink the rain.”

The sky is a bowl of dark water, rinsing your face.
The window trembles; liquid glass could shatter into rain.

I am a dark bowl, waiting to be filled.
If I open my mouth now, I could drown in the rain.

I hurry home as though someone is there waiting for me.
The night collapses into your skin. I am the rain.