Thursday, June 21, 2007


You know, it’s always easy to get bogged down in what hasn’t gotten done. We haven't finished the vegetable garden. We haven't started the root cellar or the patio or the much-needed repairs to the shed/chicken coop to be. We've barely thought about home modifications like rainwater catchment or wood heat. With the baby due at the end of August, sometimes time weighs on us most oppressively. This morning, though, as I watched Jacob check on the bees from the upstairs bathroom window, which affords a handsome view of the back yard, I thought I’d prefer to think of what we have done in the nine months since we moved in here. It’s a heck of a list, really.

We’ve painted three rooms, one of which had to be stripped of a century of wallpaper and one of which needed all the crown molding replaced. We’ve put together comfortable and attractive spaces in the living room, library, kitchen, and dining area, and our bedroom is finally really coming together, too. We’ve put in a nice washer and drier, shifted a few cable connections, insulated some water pipes, made some repairs, and replaced various wood screws. We’ve unpacked all of our things, and acquired a great many more things.

We’ve put bees in the back yard, and they’re currently going strong. Jacob’s attention is constantly being redirected elsewhere, but even so, he’s got the makings of a very nice little metalworking and blacksmithing shop coming together in the garage, with an assortment of tools that's nothing short of incredible considering that a year ago we lived in an urban apartment. We have a happy little apple tree and a lovely raspberry patch. We’ve cleared, fenced, and planted a garden, and eaten our own radishes and peas, with carrots, cucumbers, peppers, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and tomatoes on their way. We’ve improved our garden soil tremendously, and maintained a compost heap to good effect. We’ve torn out no end of weeds and grass (the difference being largely one of intention in our minds), and planted a sweet little culinary herb garden in the front yard, and various other herbs along the side bed and elsewhere, to the total tune of 31 varieties of medicinal and culinary herbs. We’ve dug up and saved for future projects a rather tremendous amount of stone. We acquired two cats, whom we love dearly.

We’ve put up apple sauce and strawberry jam and frozen strawberries, cherries, asparagus, and rhubarb sauce. We’ve experimented with making hard cider and apple cider vinegar, with varying success. We’ve made fruit leathers and jerky, cookies, breads, simple cheese, and pasta. Over time, we’ve collected an amazing number of canning jars and lids at little to no expense to ourselves, and stand ready to draw this summer’s bounty to ourselves as much as we possibly can. We’ve bought the chest freezer we dreamed of so long, and in addition to the things already mentioned, it currently contains most of a beehive, locally raised chicken, and locally raised beef.

We’ve made fast friends with the neighbors. We’ve learned how to eat whole blue crabs, which brings us one step closer to being true Marylanders. (We still don’t think all that well of crab cakes, though—but we do like us some good pit beef with horseradish. ;-) We’ve learned the art of the country auction, and gotten some great deals on things which truly enhance our home. We’ve gone to various events—SCA, herbal, blacksmithing, and sundry others—and learned and had a good time. We’ve gradually discovered some of the many wonderful places to buy local that are all around us, and explored the wider landscape of our new home. We’ve striven with notable successes to reduce our ecological impact and increase our self sufficiency. We’ve maintained good friendships, and grown much closer to Jacob’s family than we were before. We’ve gone a long way towards growing a new family member, too, and feel happy and excited and fairly well-prepared to greet him or her soon. (Plenty of days, growing said family member has been all I've gotten done). We’ve shared pain and sorrow and fear and frustration and, most of all, a deep happiness and satisfaction, and grown closer through all of it.

Oh, and we finally bought a family car, after two years of talk. So, see--even things on the "long list" eventually do get done.

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