Monday, November 23, 2015

New Website

I can't believe I never posted this VERY IMPORTANT update! 

14 Mile Farm has a new online home. Come visit us at

Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Withywindle

Chatanika Canoe

Some of you know that we had an evacuation scare recently.  There were two wildfires burning within 10 miles of our house, and one news source reported an evacuation notice for the subdivision just up the hill from us.  I packed a single duffel bag with things that I would regret for decades having lost : my grandma-made quilts, my handwoven scarf, my shaman's bundle, my Navajo rugs, and all the love letters my man has ever written me, our drums.  I also packed file folders of Very Important Papers and planned on another duffel with clothing for a week and my growing stash of cloth diapers.  This baby is on its way whether or not the house burns down!

It was an interesting experience, packing evacuation bags.  Fascinating what I did choose and what I did not choose to pack. 

Contemplating losing this house, this place; losing the few years of less-than-dedicated work on improvements to it made me cherish this home in a whole new way.  We live a half hour to 40 minute drive out of town and both work jobs that take us into town most days.  It is a commitment of time.  But in the end it is worth it.  I love this place.  I have dreams and plans and hopes and half finished projects for this place.

The photos above are from a number of weeks ago (Many of them.  Too many.  I'd like to get out on the river again) when we went canoeing on the Chatanika.  The river intersects with the road two miles towards town from my front porch and every time I drive across it, I feel the shift.  Heading into town, heading home.  When I drive home, crossing the Chatanika is the real homecoming. It is when I cross into "my place."  It is a cheerful river: usually shallow, winding and twisting, home to birds and dragonflies.  Getting out on it in the canoe, challenging ourselves against the swift current upstream, then lazily floating downstream in the sunlight, was blissful.  Truly.  I want to go back.  I want to raise my children on that river. 

It is my Withywindle.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

First harvest

First basket of goodies brought in from the garden! Parsley and calendula. 

I'll be making tabbouleh tomorrow. It is one of my favorite summertime foods : fresh herbs, flavorful from the sun (parsley is called for in any recipe you'll find. I sometimes like to mix it up with whatever is growing/comes in the CSA share: mints, thyme, oregano, etc), chewy bulgur, the pungency of onions (scallions work too!), a ripe tomato if you have it, all tied together with generous amounts of a good olive oil and bright lemon juice. It keeps well for days in the fridge and is a simple, easy, quick meal fix. 

The calendula will be dried and stores for making salve. I've got a baby coming whose bottom needs to be protected from any possible incidence of diaper rash with the family diaper rash salve recipe that hasn't been made probably since my younger sister was potty trained. She's now a PhD student so, you know, it's been a while! 

The lettuce doubled it's size overnight it seems and could bear with a trimming for a salad bowlful tomorrow. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A loan of perspective

It’s a cloudy, rainy, chilly June morning*.  I'm wearing a wool sweater dress.  The past few weeks have been in the 80's – shorts and tanktops and popsicles.  And I'm so grateful.  Because the past week we have been enveloped in smoke from the wildfires raging in our state.  Low visibility, high-risk for elders and children.  We half seriously talked about flying my pregnant self to visit family until the smoke clears.  And today it rains!  May all the fires be quenched.

I spent the morning at the table ... ok, so it was the early afternoon.  I mean, if we're going to be honest, I slept through most of the morning.  I spent the early afternoon at the table with a cup of coffee (half caf!) and a book.  I've always been a voracious reader.  The weekly trip to the library was one of the highlights of my life as a child.  In middle school I read through the entire – and I mean entire! – YA section at the library, priding myself on reading a novel a day.  I could read more than one on weekends and school vacations.  I have piles and piles of "to-read" books in the house.  Most of them focused on yoga, spirituality, wellness. And novels.  Those too.  I'm booming business for the used book store.

But of late, I've re-discovered the library.  In college, the library was a tool.  A beloved tool.  But a tool rather than a place of sanctuary and timeless enjoyment. A place to research concepts, find sources for papers. And for the last few years I haven't used the library – University or local – very much at all. Until recently.

Recently I've moved away from gorging my brain on a continuous input of other people's perspective on yoga and towards gorging my brain on other people's perspectives on raising children.  Neither are practices that should rely on outside perspective.  And I rather think that I don't (or won't)... in either case.  But outside perspective can do a lot to form opinion, to educate and to inspire. I've always been one to read widely on any topic that I approach. And so I've been reading umpteen books on pregnancy and birthing and mother-wellness – these from my mother's home library (she being a midwife who will be opening a private practice) – and alternating them with books on raising resourceful kids, on unschooling, on homeschooling, on how children learn, on mindful parenting.  I read in one genre until it seems that all the authors are repeating themselves, and then I switch genres until the same thing happens again, and I switch back.  Occasionally I mix it up with a novel.

I guess its my way of nesting...  just as, if not more, important for my mental and emotional movement towards motherhood than the physical preparation work around the house or the entrepreneurial restructuring of my livelihood. 

And so I'm grateful for the library.  I've no doubt that over the years a handful of parenting and home schooling perspective will find their way permanently onto my shelves.  But for the time being, I am grateful.  So grateful to the public library.  For a being a haven in the middle of a long day in town, and for providing the precious free gift of a loan of perspective.

*written last Friday

Thursday, June 25, 2015

In the garden: June 25

Joining in with SouleMama for a tour of what is growing and thriving and green:

You will notice that I just discovered an app that lets me
write on photos!
The garden this year is still small, but its growing food (and flowers)!  It is a nice change, this year, to actually be home this year - instead of away at Yoga School - through the heart of the summer.  Wildfire smoke notwithstanding.

Fireweed, calendula, and baby sunflowers
You can't see it in this photo, but there's parsley here, just about ready for a trimming that will be the first harvest from the garden!

This is what I'm probably most excited about!  I planted a couple dozen strawberry plants last year, and was so good about pinching off all the flowers, so that the plant's energy could go into root growth.  And it worked!  16 of them came back this year, and a couple are sending out runners.  Many had an abundance of delicate white flowers, and are now showing promise of a handful of fruit!

My dear friends over at Maple&Me gave me starts of a Siberian tomato from local heirloom seed folks at Pingo Farms
I planted these two out in the garden, and the rest in pots on the upstairs (sunny! warm(er)!) porch:

We shall see, but so far, the garden planted tomatoes seem happier and more robust and vigorous.  Which totally disproves my hypothesis that they would be happier in containers on the porch.  Isn't science fun??  The real test, of course will be in another year or three when we get the greenhouse built!

P.S.  All photos were taken at 10 pm last night.  Three cheers for the Solstice sunlight that penetrates through the thickest smoke!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Introducing the fence...

With wildfires raging all over Alaska, and one (now said to be contained) scarily close to us, I'm appreciating in a really acute way the things that we do have. Like this fence. 

Meet the fence.

The fence that finally kept one intrepid escape artist...

...inside of its bounds with her species-compatible compatriots.  You will also notice the bear skull she found and buried in the strawberry bed one time when she got out.  We found out last night that in her escapades (pre-fence re-construction) recently, she made off with two of the neighbor's roosters.  How she managed to come home without blood or a single feather, the picture of canine innocence, we are not quite sure.

The Darlin'Man went over last night to talk to the neighbors about the fire (I've yet to meet them!); and later went back over with reparation payment for the roosters.  Just as soon as the oven is working again, I'm baking them a pie.

"Good fences make good neighbors."  There's so much truth in that.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Gifting Handmade

It always warms my heart with such such joy when I'm actually able to align my good intentions, my brilliant ideas, my always seemingly scarce time, and the activity of my hands to create a gift for a loved one.  It always impresses the heck out of me when I conceive of, start and FINISH said gift by the date for which it is intended.  Witness the 5 year old unfinished tapestry project for my sister, the 11 year old unfinished quilt for my highschool bestie (this one I'm giving up on, I'm repurposing what has been sewn, putting the leftover fabric back in the stash and beginning a new project, again quilts, this time for her twin babies).  Someday this particular sort of accomplishment will cease to be a small miracle in my life and be rather an enjoyable customary occurrence.  I promise.  Eventually.

And I did it!  I succeeded.  A few days before her birthday, no less!  My dear friend Faye is mommy to two super sweet pups, and after the Yule stitching for my mom I wanted to try my hand at working off of a photograph rather than a woodblock print, so I figured this would be a perfect project!  Happy Birthday dearest!

It was super fun.  The only trick is in deciding what level of detail and which lines of contour to choose to trace from the photo.  I'm pretty in love still with my diy light table of tracing on the window.  Come winter though, I'll have to plan around the few hours of daylight midday to trace a project!  The stitching itself is tied with the gifting for the prize of Jasmine's-favorite-part-of-the-process.  

Oh, I've got so many ideas for more!  If you're as totally in love with this idea as I am, I encourage you to grab some fabric, thread, embroidery hoop, tracing pencil and photo and get started!  If you're not the crafty type but you are as in love with this idea as I am; contact me in the comments, I'd love to do custom work (and promise a firm and reasonable delivery date!) for you.

Rage Rant

This.  This is what is sick in our society.  This makes its way through a major publishing house, and is put on the shelves at your local bookstore.  And we wonder why rape culture continues to perpetuate itself.

Yeah, yeah, I get it.  Its supposed to be cute.  Its supposed to be clever.  "What new parent hasn't wished that their tiny bundle of a baby came with an instruction manual along with the enormity of responsibility?" asks the marketing assistant. Its a sentiment repeated on mommy blogs and social media.  It in itself is a symptom of a culture that has devalued intrinsic wisdom and the intuition we all have access to and has chosen instead to rely on the outside authority of 'experts' in nearly every field including, perhaps unsurprisingly, child rearing. Baby knows what baby needs, and so does Mom if she listens, so does Dad if he listens. But that's a whole 'nother conversation.

What got my goat, what made me gasp in outrage when I saw it on the shelf, what got me to whip out my cameraphone and snap a photo to post in rage to social media is the title and all the (unexamined - I will charitably assume this of the author who seems to be a well educated woman) assumptions that underpin the title.

You don't own your baby.  You don't own your child.  They are autonomous humans entrusted to your care.

But more than that?

A GIRL'S BODY IS NOT CHATTEL.  A woman's body is her own.  It does not magically become her own at the stroke of midnight when she turns 18.  It is her own as a teen, as a girl, as a baby.  It is hers.  It does not belong to the scary man in the alley, it does not belong to her soccer coach or her pastor or her teacher.  It does not belong to the guy she went out for drinks with.  (Pardon, the guy with whom she went out for drinks.) It does not belong to her boyfriend.  It does not belong to her husband.  It does not belong to People magazine or the paparazzi.  It does not belong to her mom.  It does not belong to her dad.  It belongs to her.

"Baby Girls : an owner's manual." That is not clever.  That is not cute.  That is sick.  It is sad. 

My inner snark had hoped to get even more righteously indignant over the fact there was no boy baby book with a parallel title.  But there is.  By the same author.  I don't know if that ameliorates the issue or makes it worse. 

If we intend to teach our children that no means no, that yes means yes, that they don't have to accept abuse, that they have no right to abuse or force themselves on another person; if we intend to heal a culture - a world - that has become inured to interpersonal violence and sexual harassment and assault... it has to start with the children.  We have to raise children who believe, who know, that they belong to themselves.  That their mind is their own, their feelings are their own, and that their body is their own. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A winter's worth of wood

So, the Darlin'Man cut down a whole passel of trees before the sap ran this spring, clearing out a piece of what I dearly hope will become a sheep field before too entirely long.  Today, he and his Finnish axe made a bet that they could chop in a day what we'd otherwise use a wood splitter to make our way through... 

I think he succeeded in his challenge. I'm reminded of the legend of John Henry.  Thankfully there's no heart attack for us at the end of the day, just an icepack on his back. 

I'm so proud of - and oh so thankful for - my Mountain Man... I think I'll keep him. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Quiet Beauty

I've discovered the joy of naps recently. I took one today, with kittens (grown up ones) to cuddle and snow falling softly out the window. It was the last full day at home I'll have for the next couple of weeks, and rather than trying to be productive, I spent today simmering soup, watching snow fall, sipping tea, reading, and writing letters. Have I shared yet about how much I love correspondence? Of the on paper in the mail variety? Because I do. It makes me happy and warm inside.  2 of these letters have been sitting half written on my coffee table for weeks, and it's lovely to know they will finally be posted to NYC and the Maine woods tomorrow! 

And then my darlin' darlin' darlin' man brought me home the loveliest bouquet. It's a nice reminder that despite the snow, spring approaches. And it's just so pretty. I smile Everytime I pass by. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

(This moment)

Joining in with this Friday. 

{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, savor and remember.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stitching for Yuletide

Every year I tell myself (and sometimes others) that I'm going to give handmade gifts.  Sometimes this is for the beauty and the love and the care and the ethic of handmade.  Sometimes it is because the bank account is looking real thin.  Both were true this year.  The difference was that I actually managed to give one meaningful handmade gift -and it was completed in time for the actual day of gift giving!  Happy Yuletide Mom!

This is a stitched copy of a medieval print from the first published midwifery manual.  Its an image I'm familiar with from a childhood raised by a childbirth educator, doula and midwife!  

This is probably my best "I saw it on Pinterest!" project to-date.  It wasn't precisely this image that I saw, but another medieval print done in black (and red!) line embroidery in this style.  I'm really pleased with how it came out.  And the stitching itself was both fun and therapeutically soothing.  I was working on it during a time when the dark was getting to me, when I felt frustrated, trapped into spending far too much time in town and not enough at home and overwhelmed with large projects; the stitching was something that I could control.  I could watch it grow.  It lulled my over-active mind, eased my way slipping into a meditative state.  It could be worked in small bits in companionable company with my husband on the couch in the late evening or in the coffeeshop or at the studio between appointments.  It was wonderful.  I would probably really benefit from and enjoy getting another stitching project started.  They're manageable, portable and addictive in the best sort of ways.

This one, I gave to my mother for Yule.  But the internet is full of out-of-copyright medieval prints.  I've got my eye on one of two witches summoning a rainstorm!

First I traced the image onto the cloth (I used special tracing paper and pencils from JoAnn's but I don't believe that is strictly necessary.  Also if you have easy access to a computer and printer, you can print onto wax paper and iron-on).  And then I stitched every line. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Winter Prayer

I ask for the strength I will need to endure until spring
and the wisdom I require to learn from the dark 
and cold the lessons they will teach.
May I receive them without flinching

Jenna over at Cold Antler Farm shared this last winter, or possibly the year before.  I copied it down and made a note to myself to use it as the basis for a winter time blog post.  Its a good prayer for me right now.  We are having issues with all of the 'modern' infrastructures of the house: a leaking generator, a broken inverter, failing batteries, and now more plumbing issues on top of the ones that have had us hauling water in blue jugs the last year and more.  Its almost enough to make me want to rip out the plumbing (itself probably as arduous a job as fixing it), set up a grey water system, install the compost toilet, sell the hot water heater and water softener and the whole generator set up and invest the sales monies in a wood cookstove and a bajillion Alladin lamps.  I want to curl up in a ball of tears and ask why.  Instead, I count our blessings.  I'm grateful for woodheat and candlelight.  I'm grateful that the leaky generator still runs, and that the mountain man has its manual on order.  I'm grateful the batteries have not yet given up the ghost.  I'm grateful that I get to learn about plumbing.  I'm grateful that the prospect of a housejack makes me sigh, but does not scare me.  I practice gratitude because that's the only way to hold my determinism.  We will have running hot and cold water and a working electrical system before snow flies next fall.

I ask for the strength I will need to endure until spring
and the wisdom I require to learn from the dark 
and cold the lessons they will teach.
May I receive them without flinching

Friday, February 6, 2015

Hi again

Hello. I miss writing here. So I'm back. I think. We'll see. It seems sometimes (a lot of the times) (nearly always) that I have better intentions and more projects than I can live up to or finish. And sometimes this space feels like another one of them. But at the same time, this is a useful space for me to catalog and share those intentions I do live up to and those projects I do complete.  Not to mention thought tangles about life and beauty which seem to want more than just a journal entry no one else will ever see. Why do thoughts seem more valid when shared?  
Which I realize really gives this space a lop sided perspective on my life; it elides the rough patches, ignores the sink of dirty dishes or the fact that the summer garden is overgrown and that just outside the perfectly composed frame is the mess of life. But there you have it. We all curate ourselves on the internet, do we not? 
So, here goes. An experiment perhaps? That takes the pressure of a resolution away. A return to this space and an experiment in using it however best suits me. Even if that means entries that are nothing but pictures of pies. Like this one. 

Blueberry rhubarb. My new favorite combo. And with rhubarb hopefully surviving it's first winter in the garden and blueberry lowlands just down the road, one that's sure to return for many years to come.