impossibleway: (Barefeet)
It is a fair weather Holy Week here, a quiet sort of waiting for the burst of life that is Easter.  We have plans for a picnic, like last year, and we'll visit cemeteries, as we have done in previous years.  If Easter is the promise of new life, spending some time with people who have ended this one is fitting, I think.  I'll admit that the world feels especially heavy right now, and I know I'm certainly not alone in that feeling.  I was considering last night how it is that I can show the children that the world is good and beautiful in the midst of this messy world.  I came across this poem again and it is wonderful encouragement.

Palm Sunday

I guess the best thing is to keep moving, to do the the home things and the comforting things.

Bread Cockerel

So, warm milk with cinnamon and honey and bread cockerels on Palm Sunday.

Wheat Grass

Throw a few wheat grains into a dirt-filled manure frisbee and pour on water and hope.

Nature Table

And flowers.  Always flowers.  They just can't help themselves.  They bring every last one home.


I know a lot is made of parents trying to recapture their youth in their children, mainly in the name of sports or social pursuits.  Those, honestly, are not on my radar at all these days.  I suppose parenting, in some cases, is reliving your childhood.  You remember what it was like to feel a loose tooth, or the way the air smelled in Spring.  You recall the excitement over birthdays and the triumph of really being able to do something on your own.  Some like to think that youth is carefree, though I am seeing it is not really that way.  We all have our fears and our awkward feelings that started way back.  There are times that I wish I did not recall or feel so much, but I suppose those things are really assets to me on my way.
impossibleway: (Thread Rainbow)
Machines to Go

When I started to pack them up to go to the repair shop, it became quite obvious that I am well-supplied with sewing machines.  It's an interesting march through time, from the 40's when treadle power was still an option to the 70's.  We call the oldest one that Roan is touching The Dinosaur.  It was a beast to take out of the box.  My 2010 model is, well, out of commission for the long haul.  I have given up on it and it will sit indefinitely.  It was featured prominently in the doll tutorial of yesteryear, but the computer in it was failing.  I can't clean the fuzz out of that.

Someone asked me if it was really worth it to fix an old machine, as opposed to just buying a new one.  I think the answer is a big "yes."  Metal, mechanical sewing machines are the way to go, as far as I am concerned.  The Wizard will go back to my parents with a clean bill of wiring.  My favorite, for now, is the 1973 Fashion Mate, but I may really come to love the Portable (it is cartoonish in its size and lightness!) now that I have a power cord for it.  I was able to pick one up at the shop for $20 less than eBay!  We're expecting some rain over the next few days, so I'm hoping to read the manual and get it going.  Nice thing, too, is that I can use it in the house where it is warm!
impossibleway: (Warning)
Looking Out

This Winter has spoiled us.  We've all become accustomed to running outside without coats or hats on.  We've been used to mild breezes and drippy rain.  To have the weather turn SO cold after a month of sunshine and daffodils is a little tough.  We'd forgotten what Winter was like, I guess.  Cabin fever has been the theme of the week.  It stayed in the twenties all day yesterday, though the sun did bring a little melting.  I think it is likely that my blueberries are frostbitten, with the wind and cold.  Oh, well.  That cold wind couldn't get at my broccoli waiting on the kitchen windowsill.  There is frost creeping up the storm windows this morning and we've got plans for nature school at the Snail Place.  I'm hoping there will be some snow there for us to enjoy, all bundled up.  Everyone's waking up, so happy Thursday!
impossibleway: (Movingthe Soul with Color)
Cake Pie

Cake Pie

Inspired by Martin and Sylvia from Sparkle Stories, I present cake pie.  I baked it in a heart pan and the children thought it was great fun. 
impossibleway: (Picking Blueberries)
Little House

I came by this book from Enid's collection. We have our own copy of all the books, but this one is special.  It came from my elementary school library and is likely the very copy my first grade teacher read to me.  She was the last of a generation, I think, and had attended a one-room school herself.  She brought her slate to show us and made stone soup with us.  She was strict, to be sure, but gave us many good memories.  It was clear that she loved teaching.
impossibleway: (Tulip Tree in the Hemlock)
I can't tell you how many times I've driven by this little log church, both in my years as Ranger Brandy and these that have followed.  I'd seen weddings and other celebrations numerous times, but I'd never once been inside.  Katherine and I saw the door open this past Sunday, so we stopped in.  I think it's open all the time, but I never knew that.

Laurel Valley Community Church 1

The inside is very rustic, but has a real feeling of reverence to it.  It was quite dark, but I was able to get a few pictures.  They actually came out lighter than it really was in there.

Laurel Valley Community Church 3

I thought it was interesting that you could see daylight through the chinking.  I guess this must be common for some types of cabins, with the invetible shrinking of wood.  Makes me think of the Little House books and Pa making things tight for the Winter.

Laurel Valley Community Church 4

One of the podiums has fire damage from an arson incident a number of years ago.

Laurel Valley Community Church 5

Here are the pews, set on logs.

Laurel Valley Community Church 6

It was obviously made with a lot of care and attention to detail.

Laurel Valley Community Church 2
impossibleway: (Winter Fields)
We spent a good long time in the snow yesterday.  It made the children so agreeable the rest of the day!  It's too bad snow therapy isn't available all year round.  Water play is a close second, but it can get pricey if you have to run a hose instead of playing the creek.  Nonetheless, we had a wonderful time and really soaked up all the joys that Winter has to offer.  Everyone was thoroughly tired afterward and we went to bed quite early!

Snow Heart

There's a rock in my yard that always make a heart in the snow.

Michaelmas Daisies

The Michaelmas daisies made lovely shadows.

Snow Sparkles

It's been so cold that the snow hasn't melted much.
Today, it will!

Big Icicle

The sun did some nice thawing yesterday, and clearing of roads.
It also gave us some champion icicles!


These are my warm, shaggy mittens.  I got them at a yard sale.
I can't decide if they are hand or machine made.

Queen Anne's Lace

Last Summer's Queen Anne's Lace in the blackberry patch.
It looks so empty now!

Old Apple Tree

An old early apple tree with a long, curving trunk.

Squirrel Hole

And here's sweet little squirrel hole.

And now, all those who were early to bed are quite early to rise!  Time to stir the rice pudding!
impossibleway: (Peace & Joy)
"To insure the fruit trees did produce a good crop, it was the custom to toast or bless them on Old Christmas, or Twelfth Night.  Armed with a jug or a pitcher of cider or some other drink, the men would visit each tree in the orchard and drink the following toast:

Here's to the fruit tree
May you grow and bear fruit.
A hat full, a bag full,
A basket full and some to spare.

If the orchard happened to be fairly large, the men often found it difficult to reach the house after such a blessing ceremony. . ."

~ Christmas in the Mountains: Southwest Virginia Christmas Customs and their Origins :: Hubert J. Davis

Wassailing 1

Wassailing 2

Wassailing 3

Wassailing 4

I have to chuckle at that description of wassailing. The book goes on to described the way people wassailed apple trees back home in Somserset and Devon in England, where these traditions began. Sometimes, bread was soaked in the wassail and hung on the trees.  Loud songs were sung and shouted and people danced around the trees.  Our celebration did involve some singing and little climbing in place of the dancing.  You can tell that most of the trees are quite old, and may not even make it beyond this year.  Laurel took care of the youngest trees, the ones in our yard.  We are hoping for a big harvest this year, since last year was not so big.  We mourned the loss of a couple trees, one that was particularly good at bearing consistently (and cut down for that reason!), and we planted an Early Transparent a few weeks ago with hope for the future.

Here's the verse we used, from Sparkle Stories, and here are some more.  There are many to choose from!

Old apple tree, old apple tree,
We've come to sing to thee!
To bear and to bow,
Apples now!

Hats full, caps full,
Three bushel bags full,
Barn doors full,
And a little heap under the stairs.

And so it is that Christmas goes out.  Today, we take down the tree and welcome in King Winter.  There's awhile, I think, where having the tree up after Christmas feels silly, but we keep it for tradition.  Then, when it's time to take it down, it feels a little sad.  We're enjoying watching it twinkle one last dark Winter morning, before we send it back outside.  We've got a dusting of snow today and some in the forecast!

Twelfth Night
impossibleway: (A Winter's Solstice)
Snow Cookies

Now. Now, it can snow. Right? My optimism could really use a boost right now.
impossibleway: (Willow in the Sling)
We took turns making wishes from the Yule log on Christmas Eve.  I don't know if you're supposed to share the wishes, but I made mine for a good garden this coming Summer.  I had a brief moment of feeling like I need to get to work on working on the raised garden beds this morning, only to realized that Spring is still a good ways off.  Could be the cool, wet weather that has me a little confused.  I could sure use a good snow right now!

Yule Log

I told the children that the sparks from the Yule log represented the spirirts of our family members who have gone before us.  We were inviting them to our celebration.  The highlight of my childhood Christmas Eve's was the time at Grandma Lois and Grandad's house.  They had a table-top Victorian tree and let us drink Cheerwine from their huge collection of tiny (more historically accurate) wine glasses.  How I loved that!

Tomten Treats

With that in mind, we keep Christmas Eve in that mood, with finger foods and Grandad's favorite shrimp cocktail.  You can see the Tomten's plate here.  There was homemade egg nog, cheese log, wee pickles, and plenty of cookies given to us by friends.  I'll admit my Christmas baking was pre-empted by all the Christmas crafting this year.  Mike gave me some snowflake sprinkles, and I'm waiting for just the right snowy moment to put them on some frosted sugar cookies.  I haven't made those in years!  So many cookies, so little time.

Christmas Nature Table

Christmas morning was nice--in a glow of candles we enjoyed our blackberry pudding and the culmination of all the weeks of waiting.  We celebrated with family throughout the day, with plenty of quiet time at home.

Holy Family in the Stable

Here's Roan's little Nativity, with the Christ Child nestled in an oyster shell.   I think the little folks came out just right!

I'm wishing you all a Merry Christmas and peace in the days and years ahead. 
impossibleway: (Wilson Bentley)
Frosty Rhody

Frosty Dogwood

Frosty Grass

Frosty Blackberry

Frosty Leaf Pile

Nine degrees here this morning--mighty cold! The frost was so beautiful.
impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)
Winter is dark,
Yet each tiny spark
Brightens the way
To Christmas Day.

Shine little light
And show us the way
To the bright, bright light
Of Christmas day.

~Wynstones :: Winter

So much light and darkness this time of year; so much joy and worry.  I'm trying to find beautiful moments every day.  It was a cold, wet rainy day.  Katherine and I took a high through the woods and we loved seeing the water drip from the trees.  I'm really struggling with my anxiety right now and just want to pull away from everything outside of home and family and nature.  Say a prayer for me, if you feel like it.
impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)
Heavy Rain

You, whose day it is,
Make it beautiful.
Get out your rainbow colors,
So it will be beautiful.

~Nuu-chah-nulth :: Enki Multicultural Poems

impossibleway: (Children of the Forest)

It's been awhile since I've done a school update, so here's a little one.  After dragging my feet about form drawing for a long time, I decided it's really time to jump in and do our best at it. We did some last year, but I ran out of steam.  I really feel that Willow would benefit from doing them on a regular basis.  Here are some "alphabet 8's" that we did last week.  This is a simple form, but it has been challenging for Willow.  In it, you make the figure eight shape over and over and then get a letter out of it.  This works for practicing: a, b, d, e, g, j, o, p, and q.  I suppose you could get c out of it, too.  You can tell by this early picture that it needs work.

Alphabet Eights

On the other hand, math comes very, very naturally for Willow.  She often does mutliplication and addition in her head during the course of the day.  I think I was similar, in some ways, though later on.  Below is a simple number finding puzzle from Enki.  The goal is to find all the ways that you can make a total of ten.  Then you count by tens and see how that adds up.  Base ten blocks are suppose to be a part of this year, but I have not gotten any yet.  I'm not sure that I will this time around.

Number Search

Here's Willow working her puzzle.  It was fun to do and there are many other such math games in the materials.  We have touched only the tip of the iceberg for math games.  Luckily, the materials repeatedly remind the teacher that trying to use everything is not good for teacher health!  That takes pressure off when life feels full enough and I'm feeling a little critical of myself.  The truth is that learning in this way is holistic for us, and the school day is just woven in with all the other learning we do.


Willow continues to make progress in her reading, and she's doing it rather independently.  She asks for help with words now and then, but she figures out many on her own.  She is starting to read the many picture books that we have.  I'll admit that I have been against the early readers that are so widely produced, in favor of just learning to read what books one already has.  We did have Dick and Jane and those stories are sweet and funny.  Others seem to lack substance or seem to be too moralistic for my preferences.  It's a personal choice and I know that I may have to take a different approach when Roan learns to read.

Speaking of Roan, he's making his own progress lately, though I have no pictures.  He went from just drawing people and ladders (railroad tracks) to drawing houses and trees, which is a wonderful place for him to be right now.  With Willow's help, he has learned the pattern of numbers to count to one hundred, and she also helps him with copying letters.  My own time with him is still devoted to movement, artistic expression and stories.  I have no real feeling of whether first grade would be appropriate next year or a more in-depth version of kindergarten with some letter stories.  It's something I'm considering very carefully, for sure.

With that, it's time to get going on my day.  Mike's headed out for a few days before Thanksgiving and there are pumpkins to roast (still more!) and loose ends to tie up.  We're reading An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving lately.  I'll have to get some pictures of that sweet book.

impossibleway: (Dodecahedron Lantern)
Lighting the Lanterns 1

Lighting the Lanterns 2

Back at Home

Looking In

Sit by the lantern, watch as the years turn
Slowly bringing truth for every child to learn
And the magpie meadow darkens gently blue now
As the family sit, their faces lit by ember fire

~Vashti Bunyan
impossibleway: (The Flower Picker)
November Roses

The year of the roses continues, in spite of the page on the calendar.
impossibleway: (Autumn Fern)
Leaf Peeping is my favorite pastime for mid-October.  Every tree feels like a masterpiece waiting to be appreciated.  I know that sounds trite, but really, it is.  "The world is full of color, 'tis Autumn once again."  I find myself having a need for pretty views as the weather, the news, and a mysterious backache are all weighing on me.  Say a prayer, if you would, that I'm fine.  I'm so used to being fine and fit as a fiddle that this has me a little worried.  Well, the house is waking up, so I'll leave you with these pictures from our Autumn jaunts.

Leaves on the Water

Atonement Lutheran

Pugh Mountain

Teas Valley

Rowland Creek
impossibleway: (Ranger Brandy)
Bonfire Picnic

We had a little bonfire last night, made up of all the squash vines and old straw and tomato plants.  It was our way of closing up the bulk of the garden for the year, since we had our first frost on Monday.  There are still a few tomatoes around, but the shorter, cooler days mean they are ripening at a snail's pace.  Our meal was pesto pasta with cherry tomatoes, avocado, and monterey jack cubes.  Cranberries have appeared at the local grocery store, so I made some sauce for the freezer and we had some to eat.  I've canned cranberry sauce in the past, but I am done with the canner for awhile.  We eat a lot of cranberry sauce around here.  I laughed when I saw a Thanksgiving television special where they called it a condiment.

Armed with a pitchfork and a hose, we had our little fire.  It was more of a smolder, but the children were quite excited.  Willow danced through the smoke and Roan had a fine time as "Fire Chief."  Laurel found the last of the red raspberries.  This was all part of our Work Day, which is going quite well.  When I mentioned missing a work day recently, the children were very vocal about not missing it.  I have to say that really, really sticking with our weekly rhythm is a great motivator for them.  And it's fairly easy for me, since it means I just have to follow it to make it work.  Today is Baking Day and I know I'll have no complaints there.
impossibleway: (Mike Panorama)
It was perfect weather for the Grayson Highlands Fall Festival. The drought hasn't really let up, but cooler temperatures make it a little easier. It was 73° F at the park yesterday, just perfect. We started by going to auction for the pony roundup.  We were on time, but I guess you must arrive quite early!  We were able to see a little from a bramble-covered hill above the action.

Fall Festival 1

The call of the auctioneer makes me feel a little embarrassed, I must admit.  It's certainly a shock to the senses for a young child who slept over the mountains to get there!  After watching the sale of a few ponies, we headed down to the main festival.  Old-time and bluegrass bands played all day.  There were not a lot of dancers, which made me a little sad.  I sure wish I could find clogging lessons that didn't involve yoga pants, as the ones around here seem to do.

Fall Festival 3

We stopped at the heritage apple booth and picked out a yellow transparent apple tree.  It's a lifelong investment, that little tree, but it will yield many gallons of wonderful applesauce.  Our Arkansas black apple tree from the same people gave us the first six apples this year.  We got it at the Ramp Festival in 2012.

Fall Festival 2

Dry stone walling, the children informed me.  The park is full of it, as we live in a very rocky place.

Fall Festival 5

Since we arrived in the afternoon, I guess we missed most of the action.  The apple buttering was done, alone with the molasses.  The fires were smoldering and the old timers were sitting around talking.  We did get to see the mules, though.  They were nice and cool in the shade.

Fall Festival 6

We got hobo pies, though, so that made things all better.  These are white bread, spread with margarine, filled with homemade pie filling, and cooked in sandwich irons.  After, they are sprinkled with powdered sugar and wrapped in foil.  They are scorching hot!

Fall Festival 7

Roan and Laurel ate theirs, after some cooling, while Mike and Laurel waited for the apple cider.

Fall Festival 4

Here's the pulp from all the apples they squeezed.  I must admit that I think they could use a bigger press and a little help with efficiency.

Fall Festival 8

Those fellows were working really hard!  Someone washed apples, while another filled the grinder, while yet another turned the handle, and a final fellow did the pressing.

Fall Festival 9

Here's a view of the little valley where they were doing the food and the cooking.  This was at the end of the day, when things were wrapping up.  Such a beautiful landscape we have here!

Fall Festival 10
impossibleway: (Movingthe Soul with Color)
We're one week in now and the new year is going well.  I think we've found a rhythm that should be sustainable for the whole nine months.  I've got a little built-in wiggle room that affords us the option to take the day off when needed, or to hold on to the pattern of days when that is most prudent.  Today, we'll take the day off and make preparations for Mike's birthday tomorrow.  Willow and I have planned a 35 mm camera cake for his big day and there are eggs to devil, beans to bake, and presents to buy.  For now, here are some scenes from yesterday's school work.

The Two Foxes

We're reading trickster tales from Scotland right now.  This fox: it's a wonder he ever gets anything to eat at all.  Someone always outwits him.  He and his brother hit the jackpot when they came upon a man with a pack basket full of fish, a head full of dreams, and a song on his lips.  One fox played dead to get into the basket while the other collected the loot!

Three Billy Goats Gruff

Roan is enjoying the kindergarten stories, hearing each one three times.  He really likes the repetition and enjoyed performing his own puppet show of the "Three Billy Goats Gruff."  A llama and two sheep were the goats and the sweet Tomten was the grumpy troll sleeping under the bridge.  I think the artistic digestion and work that is really his own is so nourishing to him.

Her Own Book

Laurel manages to be just what a toddler should be.  She scribbles along in her main lesson book, narrating her pictures, and makes little trains out of cuisenaire rods.  She is not always pleased with the attention shift, but it is clear she's absorbing everything around here.  She told the whole story, with the repetitive verse, of the billy goats while rocking to sleep on the porch swing.  And she kept saying "ker-flip, ker-flop" on our hike yesterday, the very sound the fish made as the fox threw them out of the pack basket!

Hanging Place

Me, well, I found a place that I hope is safe for storing the marionettes, both from rowdy hands and insect invaders.  If nothing else, we've given all our wooly toys a dose of lavender oil, which makes us humans more relaxed, either way.  There's one empty spot for another marionette that I hope to make before Christmas, one that represents Mary.  In other news, I'm working on learning the multicultural dances that Enki recommends and I'm practicing my flute quite a bit.  What a blessing it is to be able to read music!

And now, time's awastin' and I've got to get those eggs boiling and the bed made and the grocery list written.  It's going to be a full weekend here!


impossibleway: (Default)

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