Two posts in a day!

The mead’s doing well! I made two batches: one with honey from the first nectar flow (lighter colored), another, smaller batch with later honey (darker color).

They’re about the same proportion water and honey – though, to be honest, I’m going the Sandor Katz-way, that is, I’m eyeballing it, adding a bit here and there as I see fit.¬†The first batch is doing better: the yeasts are developing a nice foamy head on the must, and it smells yeastier too.

That picture was taken before the daily shake. When I opened it after its shake the other day, it fizzed so much it spilled over the rim.

I tried to capture this on video today  but the effect was less spectacular. Still, you can hear the fizz when I open the cap. Smells great, quite yeasty.

Yesterday at the beginning of a new pottery session I got back the ten pieces I made during the last session. The glazing turned out totally different from what I thought it would be. Fortunately this ruined only one pot, as the glazing of its lid turns out not to match it. My first handbuilt piece – “a platter for garlic etc.” – is also a disappointment but then I didn’t make it with the right mindset in the first place.

I like the lidded pieces (except for the glazing on the one), and the “urn” (first picture), but for the rest I feel I am stuck in a rut, which my teacher generously calls my “voice”.† This session I promised myself to be bolder!

Amie came home from school with a cold on Friday, I kept her home this morning, but she’ll be going back to school tomorrow. But I also got it. Runny nose, sneezies, ringing ears, head ache – o please let me be better by the morrow!

It is especially annoying because I couldn’t make it to my pottery class this evening – the first class in three months! My hands were itching. I gotta make something!

So instead I made lists. TO DO when I get better, that is, this week, please:

  1. use up last peaches (pickle them?)
  2. make pickles with Farmers Market pickles
  3. bake bread
  4. make yogurt
  5. make no-churn butter
  6. investigate quilting
  7. investigate making soap
  8. make a big flower press
  9. learn to use that sowing machine, again

And TO DO, better sooner than later, but not this week:

  1. build cheese press
  2. build hand churner
  3. build bread oven
  4. build cider press
  5. build stovepipe oven
  6. build workbench with vises
  7. build solar cooker


Amie has a cold. Dripping nose, little cough. No fever, but I’m thinking that might come tomorrow, and I’m sure she’ll be staying home from school. But all in all I am quite happy with her health since coming to live here.¬† She has been sick less often and less severely than when we were living in our little basement apartment in the city.

Not so for us grownups. We’ve never been sick so often, especially DH, who caught a cold last week a mere week after he had recovered from one. A couple of weeks ago I was so sick he had to stay home from work to take care of things. We’re stressed, we don’t exercise enough…

But I’m fighting. I’m telling myself I’m strong. I will not be sick. I’m impervious. I’m strong. Not me!

This hurts, because to tell you might dimish my own chances – no one said I was perfect – but Peak Oil Hausfrau is hosting her first give-away: a year’s subscription to Mother Earth News!

Don’t go over there, though. I mean: do go over there, by all means, just don’t comment.

Oh that’s not good either.

Do comment but on another article.¬† ‘T Is the Season is a great one, about more era-appropriate gift baskets.

{UPDATE} Bummer!


Amie end of May 2008 (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

Sometimes when Amie is concentrating on something – reading a book, making a drawing, or watching an episode of Caillou – I sneak closer and observe her in detail. I “do the rounds,” check everything. Her eyes work – they see, they blink. Her mouth works, for eating and talking and breathing. Her nose and ears work. Her little hands, every finger on them, do the most amazing things. Her feet keep her upright, and along with her legs and arms allow her climb and jump. Everything on the inside seems to work pretty well too: food goes in, waste comes out, the heart beats strong, and her brain is doing fine too. It’s just amazing! I can’t wrap my head around it…

Summer has drawn to an end. Fall is suddenly upon us. So, time for a new banner: a suitably melancholy, darker one. I lay the old¬†one¬†– the¬†fresh splash in the pool –¬†to rest here:

new header Mamastories

photograph of grandparents (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

These are my dad’s parents, taken in 1999 at a typical family meal in summer. For me, the picture¬†crystallizes “family”: the shared food, cooked by my grandmother (who was a great cook), the shared wine (note the three bottles!), selected by my grandfather, the unseen but imagined presence of many family members around the table, the slanting sun, the old cherry tree…¬†

I wasn’t present at that gathering, I was already living in Boston and we coulnd’t afford to fly over very often. Most of my family lives in Belgium (Ghent and Antwerp, two cities that are half an hour’s drive away from one another). Two of my uncles emigrated decades ago and live in Toronto and in Taiwan, and one of my nephews lives in Barcelona, Spain.

My grandmother passed away two weeks ago. Everyone flew in to Ghent for the funeral and to support my grandfather. It was too difficult and expensive for us. That Friday of the funeral was a very strange day for me. Knowing that everyone was gathered there, except for us, and my grandmother, gave me a bizarre feeling of solidarity with my grandmother: we were both absent in person, though, I hope, present in spirit.

I wrote a while ago about the importance of family, especially of grandparents, for raising children and ourselves, and the appeal of a family more¬†extended than our present, very nuclear family. That week after my grandmother’s passing, that message was made crystal clear to me.

In the meantime, however, we’ve realized that we cannot afford to buy a bigger house, even one in the country. The dream of an extended family will have to be put on hold for a while longer…