Monday, December 27, 2010
With the New Year shortly upon us, now is the time to begin thinking about how you will change your health and change your life. You can start by implementing all natural herbal health care products into your home, and removing those that contain harmful chemicals. You can help your body by drinking plenty of clean fresh water and by picking a healthy lifestyle of fun exercise and deliciously fresh whole foods such as local pasture fed meats, crispy deep green leafy vegetables and wild herbals such as nettles and dandelions.
May your New Year bring New Health to you!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Okay, so the Julie Andrews song won't get out of my head. But, I thought it would be fun to list some completely random things that are my favorites in this beautiful world that we live in. Please comment and let me know some of your personally random favorite things!
Sanibel Island (I had to be dragged away from this magical island...I will return).
Early Renaissance Music For some reason, this genre really speaks to me. Perhaps it is the emptiness of the compositions, they leave room for personal interpretation and enjoyment. Unlike the 'wall of sound' of the Motown era, these songs are sparse and simple, yet rich as well. I like this. Sparse yet rich. That speaks volumes of good to me.
Tribal Bellydance and West African Dance Yes, I love dancing, barefoot (: Since I was old enough to walk I have been drawn to the rhythms and dance of Africa. When I am dancing, I am one step away from Heaven.
Art Is there anything more liberating to the soul than looking at art, making art, thinking about art? The whole creative process is such an exciting thing. I would surely cease being who I am if I knew that creativity were dead in the world. New things are being created everyday. So exciting!
Dimly Lit Rooms I don't collect shoes, no...I collect little table lamps (: I have always lived with little lamps turned on versus one big bright overhead light. (my husband likens me to a bat sometimes..but hey...it is easier on the nervous system. Bright lights overwhelm me.
1970's Music Was there ever a better time for good straightforward musical ballads? With real instruments and words that told little 4 minute stories, I could listen to 70's music all the time.
Bookstores I am like a kid in a candy store, no...worse...in a bookstore. So many little square packages of worlds unknown, just waiting to be discovered. And, magazines too. Save me! (Don't please).
Going Barefoot I'm sorry, I have never been a shoe person and I could never understand women who were. There is nothing better than the feel of the floor, earth, ground beneath the sensitive nerves that God gave us on our feet, to feel where you are at, what the temperature of the room is, and where you are going. Better yet is the first walk outside in the spring barefoot. Sheer delight. Now, running shoes? Sure, I'll take those (: (Although running barefoot on the beach is a pleasure all it's own). Listen to Michael Franks Barefoot on the Beach
Waking Up Really Really Early I have always been a morning person, an early bird. Now that I have children, it is imperative to the start of a good day that I get up while the sun is still sleeping. The earlier I can pull it off, the better the day! We're talking 4:00-5:00 a.m. ideally. Yikes, I know. Don't get me wrong, I still fantasize about sleeping in! I just know that the early bird gets the worm. It's true.
So: Tell me some of your favorite things I would love to hear them!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Today is the day we go and cut our Christmas tree. We visit a tree farm about 25 minutes west of here and ride a horse driven wagon out to the fields. There, we run amok like children (with our children) among the trees to find the 'perfect' one. "Be careful", we remind each other, "they look smaller out here!" Our son helps his dad saw the tree and we drag it back to the horse and wagon and ride back to pay. Once the tree is safely attached to the car top, we have Christmas cookies and tea or cocoa and head home.
Our tree of choice is usually a Concolar Fir. Beautiful soft needles that are still strong enough to hold up ornaments, the tree has a lovely orange-y pine scent for the holidays and loses less needles than any fresh tree we've ever owned.
Whatever tree you put in your home, tiny, big, old, new, fresh or not...may you enjoy your tree day when it arrives.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
May winter's snowflakes surround you with peace and may your Christmas preparations be merry!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
by Susan Cooper
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Here in Michigan, the weather is turning quickly. Ole Man Winter is beating at the door, and soon we will let him in.
May this week bring you moments of of peace and plenty with those you love, no matter how large or small your celebration, no matter how large or small your means.
A slice of bread broken over a table filled with love is more filling than a feast filled with strife. Remember this as you greet your loved ones and prepare your Thanksgiving Dinner.
We are looking forward to a small celebration and much quiet rest after a long and busy harvest.
Happy Thanksgiving from The Happy Peasant!!!
Friday, November 19, 2010
We have had an amazing harvest this past season...in all ways. I thought I would share some pictures of just what we have been busy doing since September.
It is always difficult removing ourselves from that century to return home to this century. Amanda, Albert and I took turns cooking the food on the old wood cookstove in the house, selling soaps and blacksmithing (Albert, of course) (:
~ ~ ~
I love to 'stack' these Cinderella pumpkins (otherwise known as the heirloom pumpkin Rouge V'ifD'Etamp) in stacks of two and three. They are so bright and robust. Very evocative of the bountiful harvest of autumn and very romantic and fairytale-ish, don't you think?
After the show, we hurried home to go trick-or-treating. (:
Thursday, November 11, 2010
How many times do you tell your child to 'hurry up' each day? Be conscious of this today and take a deep breath and wait a little. So, you may be late for whatever lesson, appointment, person you are going to. Are they more important than the mental health of your child? What are you teaching your child? Hurry hurry hurry, for what? I was using the phrase, 'hurry up and die', a lot this past summer...because it seemed so silly that we are all rushing towards....? what? What are we rushing for? But, now I have to rethink this phrase because a classmate from our son's middle school, a beautiful normal 13 year old boy, in our little small farming town of Dexter, has taken his own life this past week. A wake up call to everyone, everywhere. Stop pushing, slow down. The minds and hearts of our children are more important than success.
We are pushing our children too hard. All, and I repeat ALL of this will be waiting for them when they grow up. Why are we pushing so hard?
Relax, wait, be late, breathe, laugh, sit on the couch and read together. Do nothing for once. Slow down. Your children will be all the better for it.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Sometimes you cannot get away from an idea, no...not just an idea...a way of life... no matter how you try to dodge it. You can close your eyes, but it shows up in your dreams. You can try to take other paths, but it meets you at the end of each trail. You can talk of other things, and it presents itself, still, squarely and brazenly in your mind, words and heart.
The word, the concept, the lifestyle came up in talk last year. Certainly if any family desired a homeschooling 'set up' or lifestyle, they would be happy to overtake our life. With a full time farm, huge rambling farmhouse, and every tangible life skill at our disposal, we are all set to teach and learn about anything and everything. Our oldest child wanted to be homeschooled. Our life, he sensed early on, lends itself to the whole homeschooling concept. All summer we, as a family, tossed around the idea. But, my husband and I were public school graduates, former marching band geeks and we had 'subscribed' to the public school system in our heads and hearts. I could picture our oldest walking proudly to Pomp and Circumstance in my mind. So, abandoning these preconceived pictures in my head was a huge mental hurdle to even considering homeschooling. One friend who homeschools said, ' just jump in, you'll never regret it.' She was right. My heart told me at the beginning of this school year that my children needed home and what I could teach them. We jumped.
For four anxious weeks I struggled to grasp this new concept. I spent hours each night and early morning compiling curriculum and then presenting and teaching it to the children, all in conjunction with the advent of our busiest season of apples and cider, harvest, farm store employees and in-laws. I was constantly on 'show' for all to see and 'judge' my homeschooling abilities. I was mortified and stressed and anxious beyond anything I have ever experienced. "This can't be right for us", I reasoned. My dear husband saw my stress and suggested putting the children back in school after four weeks of homeschooling. In a moment of weakness and lack of tangible curriculum-induced anxiety, I succumbed.
We contacted both schools, re-enrolled the children. Our youngest had lost her spot in her school building, and after much combined communication we achieved her comfy spot back with her old teacher and schoolmates.
But, just like the unexpected death of a loved one in a car accident, something was gone that was never coming back: The ease of sending my children down the road on the bus for someone else to teach. Every minute they were gone, I was haunted by the 'what ifs' and the 'why didn't you's?' and reminded that I had abandoned a dream. Strength and dreams go hand in hand. When we believe in our dreams they become reality. We attract the reality and it works! When we believe in our dreams, no matter how silly or far fetched, others begin to believe with and alongside us, and, before we know it...all of a sudden...our dreams become inspiration for others!
The Waldorf educational style, which focuses on embracing the developmental stages of the child and nurturing, presented itself time and again. So much so, that a certified Waldorf teacher whom I had taught to make cheese last winter, showed up on our doorstep ready to educate me on the Waldorf homeschooling methods. Support and encouragement from people I had never met before poured into our lives.
Coincidentally (or not) our entire set of 2nd grade and 8th grade curriculum that had been ordered during our first few week's adventures into homeschooling, arrived in the mail the very 'day' the children went back to school. The boxes sat for two weeks, and then I opened them and gingerly set them out for each child. Amazingly, even after being in school all day, they wanted to work on their education. They worked simultaneously on homeschool curriculum AND went to public school. Admittedly, our oldest was lost somewhere in between and though he has always been a straight A student, I could see his heart and mind choosing sides. His assignments at school began to fall by the wayside, while his love of learning and education at home continued to grow.
We continued this way for the bulk of October, culminating in this final All-Hallows-Eve weekend. I sold soaps at the now-famous Art on the Farm art show next door and then took our youngest trick-or-treating. She had a small cough and sniffles for which I decided to keep her home from school the next day, and we all fell asleep exhausted after her sorting of candy.
Monday dawned fresh and cold, and our 'Closed' sign was placed on the door for cider and apples. There was a quiet hush to the landscape and our home. No employees, no customers. Just the occasional mewing kitten and the stirring of our corn bin drying the harvest across the road. Both children begged, my heart recovered, and my dreams dusted themselves off.
I have failed. But, I try again. We all fail at things everyday. We try again. This is life. Don't stop trying just because you fail, or your dreams will never manifest themselves.
It is with the most sincere and heartfelt apologies (and let me tell you that I see their hardworking faces all too often in my thoughts and prayers and think of them with thanks for the job they strive each day to accomplish) to the dedicated and super-hardworking teachers of our children, that we return to our homeschool journey...a little worn around the edges from taking the beaten path, but ready to journey down the less traveled, colorful and soul strengthening road of life, education and dreams.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
What things are blue.
How words taste.
Whether a diphthong is one syllable or two.
Whether anyone will get the allusion to Shakespeare's 53rd sonnet.
Whether Eliot stole it first.
The difference between puce and magenta.
What rain puddles remind them of.
The sound of one dog barking.
Whether to imagine bagpipes or flutes.
When to stop alliterating.
Whether the magpie image will offend mother.
How similar things are different.
And vice versa.
The pleasures of paradox.
Why the line breaks before the direct object.
What depends on a red wheelbarrow.
Larks, nightingales and ravens.
Why April is cruel.
When to borrow and when to steal.
King James' English.
Drivel and doggerel.
Time, eternity and due dates.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
~Francis Hodgson Burnett
Saturday, September 18, 2010
One thing I've noticed this year is that September is more beautiful than I ever remember. But then, so are a lot of things. I don't ever remember it being so golden and glorious, so heavy with fruit and possibility. I used to push September aside to try and quickly get to regal October. Oh, but look what I have missed out on all these years!
This has been a month of lists upon lists and work beyond measure. I have undertaken new tasks that I never thought I could accommodate, and yet life makes room for what it needs to.
Evenings are full of fairy tale books and the Redwall series (a book about mice who live in Abbeys). So, now we have a pet mouse (a wild field mouse who is living well beyond his/her? means in a critter cage complete with cozy wool nest and all the grain she/he can store away) (:
My wish is that this September is more beautiful than your last.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Cleaning the sales room and the old attic above the sales room left me covered in dust, dirt and cobwebs. Add to that the dirt from cleaning an unused horse stall...unused for the last, oh 25 years or so...and then throw in a mix of about 30 various customers from all walks of life AND the moving of the boys from the girls. Sheep, that is. (:
Today I finally found the time to clean out another stall in the old horse barn and I moved the girl sheep away from the boy sheep. (Just for the record, I'm not giving any birds and bees lessons here.) I moved everyone to their respective stalls as I do not wish to have January lambs that run the risk of not surviving the harsh night temperatures, or January lambs that live out their early days in our kitchen next to the wood cookstove.
The boys were all excited when I moved the girls. They thought it was play time. The girls thought it was fun too. "Oh look", they all said, "We're getting attention and maybe there is corn over there." It wasn't until everyone sniffed around their freshly hay strewn stalls that their little sheep eyes dilated when they realized that they were not together in their 'herd'.
Sheep have a very strong herding instinct. They will stay together in the most ridiculous, and sometimes deathly, of situations. Silly as they may be, they are very lovable creatures (and warm I might add, as the temperature dipped quite low today).
I felt quite the Shepherdess when I had to hand tie a rope around a horned female Dorset and urge her towards her new home place.
(And don't think I've forgotten for one minute that I promised the Sheepherder's Bread Recipe on this blog. I haven't. In fact, the starter is sitting on the counter right this very moment, waiting to be made into a fresh loaf. I will then post the recipe and instructions so, you too, can try your hand at separating boy sheep, oh, I mean...so you too can try your hand at baking Sheepherder's Bread. (:
Goodnight. I'm off to count sheep....
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
When I was very little, frequently my daydreams would include a big old house with many rooms to explore, and each room would have a box inside of it, a magic box waiting to be opened....
In the midst of all the farm work that you see me doing on my blog posts, I do have a quiet side that I don't share very often, and that is my artistic side. I have decided to try and devote more time to this side of myself and am starting by sharing some of my art.
This blog post is about art. It is not about politics or the divisiveness of religions, it is about art and love and beauty.
The pictures below are of a specific grouping that I made for Art on the Farm 2008.
First, I was very (and continue to be) impressed with the God/love poetry of Rumi. I made two 'dream boxes' that are pictured below. The first one, is handwritten in French and is an original composition of mine.It reads (translated):
Love, without thought. Another Rumi-esque quality.
was painted black and layered with elements of time. An ancient clock key, a fortune I had picked up off the sidewalk that reads, "A man without aim is like a clock without hands, as useless if it turns or if it stands", a page from a scientific magnetic observation chart that I had found in the attic of this old farmhouse and my favorite quote about time,
"Time flies, suns rise and shadows fall, let it pass by, love reigns forever overall.
On the front panel of this second dream box the sepia book panel reads, "Physical beauty is a noble thing when it is seen in perfectness; but the manner in which the moderns pursue their ideal prevents their ever really seeing what they are always seeking; for, requiring that all forms...." I honestly didn't read the words on these panels until after the project was complete. I chose them solely for their color. Amazing, huh?
At that moment, you realize you are reading about looking for your love while you are looking at your own reflection, and you shut the box!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Around 41 I started realizing that I was living 'mid life'. Aha, so THIS is what everyone is referring to...'Mid Life Crisis'. Halfway between. Not quite young, but not ready to be old. Strange. A very strange place to live.
Some people, I've noticed, deal with this 'in between' age by getting plastic surgery. I've never been a fan plastic surgery. The whole 'plastic' part gets me first, but then I also happen to actually like what God gave me, big nose and all. And I immediately agreed with what Robert Redford had to say about wrinkles, the first time I read it, “Look, I know I don’t look the way I used to. Everyone in Tinseltown is getting pinched, lifted and pulled. It’s becoming a sick obsession. They lose some of their soul when they go under the knife.” The part about losing some of their soul, yeah, I can agree with that. Some people have affairs or get divorced or paint their walls sixteen different colors. New car, old car, trip to Europe; Every middle age crisis has it's own antidote.
So, instead of plastic surgery or a new car or a trip, what did I go out and do? I GOT A GOAT.
I didn't get a collagen lip boost, I GOT A GOAT.
I didn't go to Italy. I GOT A GOAT.
I didn't buy a Lexus. I GOT A GOAT.
But wait! Not just one, I GOT TWO GOATS! Yes, that's right. TWO. ha.
Like Charlie Brown on Halloween. Can't you hear me? I GOT A ROCK. No, I GOT A GOAT!
Dear sweet Charlie Brown. Your rocks were beautiful because they were different. Just as I am proud of my silly stinky sweet brown little goats. Different, but perfect.
So, if you are feeling a little bit of 'neither here nor there' in your system...don't fret...don't worry about fitting in. Do what is right for you and be proud of it. For me, it was a goat (or two).
I GOT A GOAT (and no varicose veins, yet.)
Thursday, August 5, 2010
To all who read here: I have acquired a scanner, finally, and will now be able to share works of art instead of just photographs! Coming soon (as soon as I get it all figured out) (:
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I am the bird flying over you
My wings my bones
Not to darken your way
But to follow you with love
I am the bird flying over you
Angel of the elders
Opening the meeting place door
Soft as golden velvet
I am the bird flying over you
~All words copyright of Amy Lesser 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Isn't it so true, that at the beginning of the summer, when the three months lay ahead of us like unopened oysters perhaps containing that one special pearl, that we feel so fresh and exuberant in a child-like way? And, isn't it true that by this time of the summer we have, as adults, accepted that the pearl may not be in the oyster and, well, the oyster may not even be there?
Each summer turns out differently than I expect. Each leaves such strong bittersweet memories. I have to say that I have bitten off quite a few more tasks this trip around the sun than I did last year. This year, I began to be afraid that I was becoming a 'jack of all trades and a master of none." A personal insult to myself, which I pondered deeply. First, I know that it is good to do one thing well, rather than many things poorly. However, I am the sort of person who functions best (and most creatively) under duress and pressure and schedule, under multiple jobs. So, while this old cliche may hold true for others, it does not hold true for me. Jack of one trade? Nope. That is not me. I like who I am and I like juggling all the beautiful things I am trying to learn while I am here. What have I been juggling this summer?
Here's a short synopsis:
Feeding one Nubian goat and 4 mixed breed sheep (my little ruminants) morning and night and then milking said goat. (Penny, Charlotte, Eustace and S'more from left to right with Amelia in the back. )
Filtering milk, making cheese, gathering eggs, washing eggs, waiting on customers, cooking breakfast, cooking lunch, cooking supper, doing dishes by hand, making stacks of supplies and notes for each art project and each creative idea that comes into my mind, helping cats give birth to kittens, mowing lawn, taking children to piano lessons, swimming with children, teaching children to swim, keeping children safe, gathering big magical maple branches to decorate with, baking homemade granola, feeding wild birds, laughing, reading, writing, singing, playing my fiddle, driving long distances and home again, missing home, missing those who have gone on before me, running on the cool dirt road and saying hello to my friends the chipmunk and the trees, gathering herbs,
making medicine, making pickles,
making jam, eating juicy blackberries, swatting mosquitoes, climbing the hayloft in the dusk and throwing hay down while the setting sun beams in, crying over how quickly children grow up, praying, lighting the night candle,
cleaning, dreaming of baking bread,
consoling, helping, Twittering, making wonderful new friends, throwing impromptu tea parties, telling my children I love them, smelling the sweet smell of corn pollinating in the field, hunting for lost kittens and wishing for more time to do all these, and more, over again.
Today, in the name of family, I went with my husband and our children to his 'favorite' pastime, an old steam engine show. Oh good Lord it was hot and miserable for a girl (for two girls). Hot steam tractors in the August heat, ash raining down, fried food and hot sun beating down. Sitting on a hot bleacher in the middle afternoon sun I suddenly burst out laughing in hysterical laughter. It was all just too silly...Amanda and I sitting there in our calico skirts. One of the 'old-timers' sitting next to me looked over and laughed with me. I said to him, "he said there'd be girl things...girl things!" and I continued laughing. They laughed too. I kid you not, we drove through Hell, Michigan on the way home (and no air conditioning in our car, mind you!). Um, I was sooooooooooo glad to be home....cool water, cool vegetables, not Hell. I don't think tractor/steam engine shows are my thing.
Tomorrow is more garden scavenging (amongst the weeds which have proliferated in the equatorial rains we have had) for pickling cukes, zucchini (I think August 8th is sneak-some-zucchini-on-your-neighbor's-porch day, if I'm not mistaken) and eggplant. But, more importantly, MOST IMPORTANTLY after today's tractor show...I have realized how very very important the Arts are in my life and how I am going to give the art in my life front-and-center for the next few months.
Do any of you realize how bland and ugly this world would be without music, dance, art, and the written word. I never realized, before today, how very utterly important it is to support the Arts and to encourage new artists to continue creating. It is the balm for our troubles, the soothe on our cuts, the ahhh at the end of the long day. For every loud muffler, hot shadeless park or miserable work day, there should be an equal love song, cool shaded nook with book and inspiring painting waiting for our senses. Join me in supporting the Arts, they are so very important! They are the balance for our world, and it is tipping. If you know of an aspiring painter, song writer, musician or writer, support them with your words and a little bit of your time, would you? The world will be a better place for it.