I used to think in my early twenties that I would either make a go of the world, let go of my black and white, good vs. bad thinking, get elbow deep into the muck of the world, or move to Vermont... read more here

When Life Gives You Currants…

When Life Gives You Currants…

These are the July weeks when our currant bushes strain with fruit begging to be picked.  Kevin planted them 6 years ago at a time when I hardly knew what a currant was.  We have red currants which are tart and about the size of a medium small blueberry and we have black currants that are about the same size and are also tart with a hint of pine that mellows when boiled down with sugar.  They both are rich in antioxidants.

The black currants have done really well and produce pounds of fruit with the potential for jellies and fruit juice… as long as they get picked.

We have found that picking currants is a challenge.

Our small grove of black currant bushes are situated in the far left corner of the garden right next to a stone bench made from slabs of rock found on our property.  Kevin built it the first year we moved here.  In winter this bench is a great spot to retreat to.  I love how it is set back in our yard and you can see down the gentle slope of the garden, which most often is covered in snow, and across the dirt road to the neighbors hill rising sharply in the distance.  Early morning sunrises are the best from this solitary spot.

The black currant bushes are on the right and the stone bench is to the left of it hidden.  In the foreground the purple flowers are catmint.

Our black currant bushes are in the upper right corner with the stone bench barely visible to the left of them in the opposite corner. In the foreground the purple flowers are Catmint.  The red are Poppies sown by birds, we originally planted them next to our house and they are now “popping” up all over!

But smack dab in the middle of the July heat it seems to be where the mosquitoes, deer flies, and the ferocious horse flies meet to have their yearly conference.   Last year during currant picking days the scalding heat combined with biting bugs defeated us after we had picked only half the harvest.  The birds happily made off with the rest.

I am determined that it will be different this year.

We have enlisted some unpaid labor (well do freeze pops and ice cream count?).  The boys have done a nice job, especially when Kevin joins them and they bring out some music.  I have also sent the 5 older boys out on a few week day days when things have gotten a little too rambunctious in the house:  “OK boys go out and pick currants for 20 minutes”.  Many hands makes light work right?

So far our efforts have amounted to about 3 -4 pounds in freezer bags in the chest freezer in the basement waiting to be made into something delicious.  We still have about half of the fruit to pick and the boys are getting a bit tired and battle worn at this point.

But when life gives you currants you pick them.  It’s not something that can wait till you FEEL like it.

The littlest ones slept in yesterday morning, so without a baby to be nursed and toddler to be fed, I got into the action.  I put on some pants and a long sleeve shirt, a hat, and then with the sun shade from the stroller as a mosquito net to protect my face I went out:

Picking Currants with netting

Yes I looked a bit crazy, but the mosquitoes, deer flies, horse flies, and any other bug that morning was foiled. Nobody got a piece of Lisa.

The bushes are so full of fruit it really takes a while to get it all plucked off.  I feel like I need a cotton gin or something to make this task more efficient.  But with none to be found at this point my next best option was to try to armor up to keep the bugs from getting the best of me.

Selfie with stroller netting on my head.  You do what you gotta do when it's currant picking time.

Selfie with stroller netting on my head. You do what you gotta do when it’s currant picking time.

 

I managed to pick a couple of pints before cries of babies called me into the house.

 

Kevin apparently needs no crazy get up when he picks the currants, too bad he is busy bringing home the bacon most days and we are the ones with the time for currant picking.

picking black currants

Isn’t he doing a great job?

 

Well wish us luck or send up a prayer for perseverance.  Because perseverance is really what we need.

Looks like rain and damp weather for this weekend.  The biting bugs will love it.  But fruit will only remain for a short while on its vine/bush ready and waiting to be picked.  Ignore it and like most fruit in life, it will be gone.  So join us, suit up if you have to and get picking!

 

 

black currants

Any fruit that needs to be picked in your life?  Are the biting bugs getting in the way?  What will you do to seize the moment, get over yourself and get out there for the harvest?

From the orchard,

~Lisa

Hidden Shoes and Lego’s Up the Nose…

Hidden Shoes and Lego’s Up the Nose…

Last summer I spent weeks researching and designing an entryway storage system / mud room that would work for our family of 9.  We had fast outgrown the set of hooks we had been using and had nothing in the way of shoe and boot storage.  Basically we piled all of our shoes by the front door leaving the door almost always blocked.

Kevin did most of the building using a base of some old cubbies that we found a few years before.  They were left to the curb of the elementary school up the road.  When we brought the cubbies home I painted one set and we stored the other in the shed.  Our family finally warranted the use of both now, so out of storage the other set came and per my plans, Kevin built a bottom for them where boots and sneakers and sandals could be kept.  We added bead board to the wall and added lots of coat hooks to that and the interior of the cubbies.  After a couple of coats of paint we topped it off with baskets from the Christmas Tree Shop.  The baskets are used to keep out of season items.

New Mud Room / large family entryway storage for our large family

Photo taken last summer right after our large family – entryway storage / mud room project was finished.

It was a vast improvement over our previous arrangement for containment of shoes, jackets, bags, and backpacks.  Each of the school age children were assigned a cubbie, Kevin got his own, and the littles and I share the other two.  No longer would we have a heap of shoes/boots blocking our front door.

It worked great for a few months, ~G was 16 months and not quite walking when it was finished.   Once he was truly mobile at around 18 months he discovered the mud room.  It was then that ~G began his love affair with shoes.  He carries them around, tucks them all over the house, and generally plays with them as if they are toys.  They could be a car zooming across the floor or toppled off chairs, the pseudo cliffs that abound around the kitchen table.  He tucks them all over the house in unexpected places and generally has a good time with them.  They are his go to toy.

If you squint you can almost see our delightful storage system morph in the eyes of a toddler into endless entertainment.

If you squint you can almost see our delightful storage system morph in the eyes of a toddler into endless entertainment.; tucking shoes in the wrong cubbies / easy access to take them off to unknown lands throughout the house…

Our new shoe storage system basically became ~G’s favorite play space.  The only thing I could think to do was to tell everyone to hang their shoes on the hooks.

Bogs Boots hanging

Goodbye neat and tidy shoe / boot storage. See you when Mr. G phases out of this. Oh and yes, that IS a ride on car parked in one of the now empty boot spots :)

Of course we do not always remember… and then a shoe or two or three goes missing.  We can usually find one at least, but not the match.  Especially if you are going out, assume your shoes will be there and need to leave soooooon.

Putting away daddy's sneakers in cubby

Caught in the act… Not really, I set him up by giving him daddy’s sneaker so I could get a picture of him for this blog post. Of course he decided to put the sneakers away exactly where they belong. Ha! “I don’t steal shoes Mommy!”

So here we are on Monday and Tuesday of this week, days after returning from our fantabulous vacation in Massachusetts visiting my dad and other family and friends AND our pool party weekend at Kevin’s Aunt and Uncle’s in New York.  Sometime between Monday and Tuesday one of Kevin’s Birkenstock sandals that he has had for years disappeared.  On Monday he wore his sneakers to the town pool when he got home from work not quite sure if he had misplaced his sandal or if it was actually missing.  We were in a bit of a rush to get to the pool so we didn’t take the time to do a thorough search.

Yesterday after working on the cleaning crew at our local elementary school he came home and it was hot and muggy.  He was taking the kids, yes all 7, to a Boy Scout meeting one of our sons had.  I wasn’t going to be home, I had a summer book group meeting.  All the poor guy wanted was to wear his sandals.  We looked high and low throughout our fairly messy from just-getting-back-from-a-ten-day-trip house and the shoe was no where to be found.  I asked Kevin if he had checked the trash.  He said he looked through the top layer and found nothing.

He left with the kids for the meeting.  I had about a half hour before I had to leave.  I ate the last 15 or so M&M’s from our COSTCO sized bag we had brought on vacation.  When I went to throw the bag away I decided to check the trash a little more thoroughly.  I hesitantly dug past the top layer, to the dirt and poopy diaper cavity, and there it was.  ~G had trashed it.  I felt like a miner striking gold.  I smiled and then wrote a note to Kevin for when he arrived home and placed the sandals and note on the kitchen table.

001I felt so satisfied and imagined how happy it would make Kevin when he came home tired from his day of cleaning at the school in the heat and then wrangling kids at the Boy Scout meeting…  It felt so good to have gone the extra mile, literally through poop to get him something he cared about.  I love the times when I can purely not think of myself and give a good gift (it is a muscle I need to use more and more).

AND then today…

Well, ~O got a Lego stuck in his nose this morning.  It is amazing, our speech therapist who was here for ~G this morning commented, that with 7 kids in the house this is the first time this has happened.  She was just finishing up her time here with ~G when 4-at-the-end-of-August, but officially still 3 year old, ~O came out of his big brothers room crying saying his nose was bleeding.  I didn’t see blood so I asked if he put something in it.  He said yes, a Lego.  I couldn’t see it, but sat him in the kitchen and told him not to breath through his nose.  I fumbled around looking for the pediatrician’s number thinking we would have to go in and have them remove it.

Once I got through to the nurse’s station she asked me if I knew which nostril it was in.  I said yes and she told me to block one nostril and then put my mouth on his and blow.  Really?  I was a bit incredulous at this response.  She must have sensed my hesitance and then affirmed that I wouldn’t hurt him by doing this.  She told me to call back if it didn’t work.  Ha! OK… I was willing to give it a try.

So I knelt down, the speech therapist was keeping ~G busy and thankfully didn’t rush out.  It was nice to have a little moral support.  I blocked the one clear nostril, put my mouth on ~O’s, and blew hard.  I didn’t feel a Lego, but I did get snot all over my face!  I tried one more time.  Still didn’t feel a Lego, but ~O could tell it was out.  Once I got up to my feet I found the Lego on the floor, it must have blown past me.

What a rush.  Motherhood.  It is a ride for sure.

019

The culprit. Lego up the nose, motherhood right of passage? More like blowing Lego out of your child’s nose. Never thought I’d do that!

My mum would be proud.  Digging out shoes from the poopy garbage and blowing Lego’s out of my kids’ noses.  Life sure is an adventure!

Have any out of your comfort zone stories to share?  I’d love to hear them!

Love from Vermont,

~Lisa

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