Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas in the Snow

Here are some photos from my Christmas trip up north. So much snow, and sunshine too.

On Christmas Eve, Dad was out on the tractor plowing the road, and Mom and I were shoveling paths. Or rather, I was shoveling. Mom yelled to me that there were more important things to be doing. Upon investigation, I found that she had been working on this masterpiece: 

The old table in the yard provided a good measure for how much snow there was.

There was a flurry of baking on the 23rd:

Which resulted in pulla (a family tradition) and pies:

I spent the 26th at Tighe & Lisia's, helping Tighe touch up the trim in the parlor, priming the floor in preparation for some real flooring, and admiring this freshly fixed-up french door:

 And finally, a glimpse of my new lodgings:
 Since these photos were taken, the kitchen has been partially unpacked, and I put the legs on the table, but not much else has been unpacked. My time has been mostly devoted to shopping and finishing up moving all of my things from the house (via good friends and Zipcar).

I am so very thankful to have many good memories from this holiday season, in among the really tough ones. Sleeping in my childhood bedroom and watching the snow fall at night by the lights on the outdoor Christmas tree was probably better for my soul than anything else could have been these last few weeks. For the first time, really, I'll be starting a new year along with many other new beginnings- new home, new phase of life. I think I'm going to see 2013 in quietly in my own new place, reflecting on the past year and preparing for the one to come. I'll spend New Year's Day unpacking and organizing, which seems an appropriate way to start the year.

All the best to you and yours this year. May your days be merry and bright! 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Flying Solo

Hi Friends. I've been away from blog-land for awhile, because my life has been in upheaval in ways that are hard to write about publicly. I think now I'm ready.

Matt and I broke up on December 4th. I don't like to go into too much detail about my personal life on the blog, but I want to acknowledge here that it was not a one-sided thing: we both were in a place where we were hurting each other by trying to be true to ourselves, if that makes sense. Ultimately we could no longer be the partners each other needed, and some of our fundamental differences had become extra clear over the last year or so and were not compatible. We both agreed that this is the best thing for both of us, it gives us both the best chance at a life where we don't feel we have to compromise on things that are part of our core, fundamental needs. Logic aside, it breaks my heart and has been incredibly hard to come to grips with not being with Matt, after four and a half years as a couple. He is my best friend, but currently we are in only moderate contact and trying to figure out how to start our new separate lives.

I made the decision to be the one to move out of the house and find a new place to live. I love that house, and am so sad to leave behind the chickens and the garden and everything there, after all the work we put in, but I am needing to be on my own, in my own space. After staying with my cousin while madly searching for a place to live, I am now in my own little apartment, sans garden, chickens, or roommates, but with all my own things, as crazily scattered around as they are (thanks to an extremely generous friend (Hi, Lydia!), moving of the majority of my stuff was completed on Thursday, but unpacking is another story). New beginnings.

I have spent a lot of time with my family over the last few weeks, and I can't tell you how wonderful and healing that has been. I flew up for several days in the snowy woods with my parents right after the break-up, then came back to Portland and stayed with my cousin while searching for a place to live. Then I went back to the homestead for Christmas with my parents and Tighe and Lisia, where we had a nice low-key celebration in a log house buried under two and a half feet of snow. It was so, so good.

From here, I begin navigating a new phase of my life, on my own, with heartbreak and sadness, but also with hope. I have a week in which to get my little nest in order before school starts up again, which is an overwhelming thought, but I look forward to the organizing and rearranging involved in figuring out how to best run my new little household. There is some shopping to do, some replacing of things that were left with Matt, and a little bit of stockpiling in preparation for going back to school. After a few weeks of limbo, I have my own solid floor under my feet, and tasks ahead that will help me feel grounded again.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Slow Stitches

I am a very slow knitter. I learned to knit about three years ago, but I am very start-and-stop about it, and can still count on two hands the number of items I have knitted. I really enjoy knitting, but I am a situational knitter- I tend to do most of my knitting either on road trips or on visits to my parents. I rarely actually sit down at home to knit. Partially because of time, and partially because at this point knitting still takes enough of my brain power that it is difficult for me to concentrate on it with anything else going on.

BUT- awhile ago I finished my first non-square, non-flat knitted item!

A simple cotton baby hat, my first venture into the word of double-ended needles, and I am quite proud of it. It was really quite easy, but next time I'll use a bulkier yarn that doesn't take so long to add up. The dimensions are questionable, however- it would fit a very big baby!

I actually started it back in July...
Driving east near Boardman, Oregon, on our way to Spokane

And finished it in late August...
Driving north on I-5 near Kalama, WA, on our way to the Olympic Peninsula

And didn't remember to post about it until now. 

I finally finished a waffle-weave dishcloth I started back in August:
I finished it at Mom & Dad's over Thanksgiving, although I spaced out and screwed up the pattern in the last inch or two (it being a dishcloth, I didn't go back to fix it :) 

This week I cast on for another one. Maybe I'll finish this one by the time I graduate! :)

Slow or not, I really love knitting, and have the goal of being able to knit substantial baby clothes by the time I actually have babies of my own. In the meantime, I have a couple other babies to knit for. Over my winter break, I will be knitting a couple of squares for a community baby blanket for a classmate who is due in January. Then I'll start working on something for another little one who is due in the summer. Maybe at some point I'll even get it together to join Ravelry for some more inspiration! Until then, slow stitches it is.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Farmhouse Thanksgiving

We had a really nice Thanksgiving weekend with my family, getting home late last night. Matt and I arrived at the Spokane airport on Thursday morning, where Mom and Lisia picked us up for the 20-minute drive back to Tighe and Lisia's beautiful new (old) house.

Built in 1889 (and renovated/added onto a couple times since), theirs is the oldest house still standing in Medical Lake, WA, population 4,000. Their big bright kitchen/dining room was the perfect place for a Thanksgiving dinner that afternoon.  Sadly, Lisia's parents weren't able to join us, as planned. We still managed to have a good time, and made some last-minute changes to the menu to make up for what they were planning to bring.

What I wouldn't give for a kitchen like this....

The Thanksgiving table.

Cranberry-orange relish

Garlic-tarragon-lemon potatoes. The potatoes and garlic were grown by Tighe, and the tarragon came from Mom and Dad's.

Alla would like some turkey, too, please. 

On Friday morning, most of us headed outside to do some outdoor projects.

The someday chicken coop. I tried to convince Tighe that they should get chicks this next spring, but he wants to focus on the house renovations first.

Dad and Tighe transplanted a couple of young cherry trees to better locations at the south end of the yard, while Alla "helped."

Mom and I took on the garden, which was totally overgrown. Mom found a couple beds full of Egyptian top-setting onions, and replanted them so Tighe will get a harvest of them in the spring. I dug up a big heap of Jerusalem artichokes, and after pulling out a lot of dead grass, we found several types of herbs, some strawberries, and a bunch of chives. 

I fell in love with the rock walls made from the local volcanic basalt. 

When we came back inside from the quite cold weather, Lisia had made chocolate croissants for everyone, her family's day-after-Thanksgiving tradition!

We offered up our many sets of hands to help with some of the house fix-up projects on Tighe's list. He took us up on the offer, and in the afternoon we went to work to get the trim in the parlor painted.
All of the yet-to-be-unpacked items that had been stored in the parlor were moved into the living room. Limo and Mina, the feline members of the household, found this to be a satisfactory development:

While we tackled the parlor, Mom scraped paint from the cabinet windows in the kitchen. 


 Men contemplate the next course of action

 How many people does it take to paint a room's worth of trim?

Meanwhile, in another room...
...the lady of the house does homework.

 Before the masking came off, the room took on a patriotic feel. 

In daylight, bright red trim!

Matt and I spent Saturday night at Mom and Dad's, where I neglected to take any pictures at all, but where we enjoyed cold walks in the woods and yummy hot meals. I was so glad to finally see my brother's new home, and to help contribute to fixing it up. Plus there was lots of relaxing in between, touring his new hometown, and of course heaps and heaps of good food.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Quiet Sunday

Thanks, everyone, for all the encouraging comments on my last post. Writing about my motivation issues definitely helps- I have gotten my groove back a little bit since then, getting through some school projects I had been putting off.

It's been a quiet weekend around here. Matt's dad has been in the hospital all week- he is okay now, I won't elaborate on it, but it's been an exhausting week. So it's been nice to have a fairly low-key weekend. Yesterday morning Matt and I ran a bunch of errands, and then I worked on homework while Matt went to visit his dad. It's been gray and rainy since Friday, a typical Portland November. There's a big windy storm rolling in just now, and it's supposed to be pretty blustery the next couple of days. The rain is splattering all over the windows quite vehemently as I type this.

This is where I've been for most of today- my basecamp at the living room table, where I work through readings and research projects fueled by lentils, satsumas, and tea:

Matt's been working on progress notes for his job (he's salaried, and tends to fit his hours in across all seven days of the week- he went to the office tonight for a few hours to get caught up before Monday), so we've been hanging out together with our laptops all day. We took a break in the afternoon and walked to the community garden in the rain. We hadn't been over there in a couple of weeks, and needed to get outside.

The parsnips are at several different ages, and all are coming along well. 

The chard is thriving. We cut a big basketful and had a bunch of it in the fry-up that Matt made for dinner.

The cover crops are doing well, but everything else is growing very slowly. The leeks are fine, but the kale and bok choy and beets are all inching along- we definitely got them in the ground a little late in the season. I thought they'd get enough warm weather to get a good start, but I guess not.

Back home, we did a few outside chores, then Matt made dinner and we got a loaf of bread into the oven.

Then I went back to work on a seemingly endless research proposal while Matt got a few more chores done and packed up to go to the office. Now I've burnt out on homework for the night, and when I'm finished writing this I'll wash a few dishes and sweep the floor, and then the house will be in pretty good shape for the week. We fly out to Spokane on Thursday morning, and I have a mountain of schoolwork to climb before then, so I'm going to sign off until after the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you all have a great weekend with loved ones, wherever you may be. We're looking forward to seeing my brother's new home, and have been reminiscing about our wonderful midsummer Thanksgiving at the Wavehaven two years ago, far away from the cold and rain.