IMG_5854The countdown to the end of Kung Fu camp is on… Two more days.
I’ve ended up having to help out more than I thought I would, so haven’t had nearly as much time as I’d wanted to get stuff on here. As I sit here in my cubicle at the Kung Fu school, I am trying not to worry frantically about the fact that I have massive amounts of herbs that desperately need to be harvested back at home. Worried I’m going to lose the rest of my chamomile and red clover, due to the incessant rain we’re having;worried my milky oats and rose hips are just going to rot. Just have to hope for the best…
I’m also hoping we get enough time this weekend to pick and freeze blueberries and boysenberries that seem to be ripening rapidly (and early!) this year (one of the benefits of the unbearable heat, humidity and excessive rain, I suppose). We managed to get them all netted this year, so won’t lose any to birds. (We didn’t manage to get our elderberries netted. I thought we had a couple more weeks, but the birds ate them all unripe, which I was totally not expecting. Got enough elderflowers to make tincture, thankfully!) We’ll have two days to get all of this done before my daughter and I take off to the Cape to visit family and go surfing (such as it is on the east coast in summer), plus making home-made chocolates and grain-free/sugar-free banana bread for our trip (check out this recipe I found–I had to modify it a bit to make it lower sugar;I’ll get my modified version up on here soon), so she has some healthy treats that she loves when her cousins eat ice cream, etc.

OK, will get a few more recipes up before the end of the week. Have to get back to researching computer animation programs for my daughter. She’s decided she really wants to make movies out of her drawings and photos, etc. Being a complete Luddite, I know absolutely nothing about this, so have messages out to all my illustrator/computer graphics friends to try to find how to go about this. If anyone (homeschooling moms out there?) has any suggestions for me, please write!

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Six months later (can it be?!)

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OK, well, here I am, after 6 months that somehow have escaped me. I feel I should at least apologize for disappearing, especially to the handful of readers/acquaintances that have been emailing me asking me to please get some new recipes up. I am truly sorry. I will start trying to get stuff up here again.
Not that I’m making excuses, but my explanation:I started homeschooling my daughter (who’s now seven) in January. After spending eight months or so, last year, being at her school all day, five days a week, to train a paraprofessional in dealing with all her diabetic issues, the director of the school informed me, on the last day of school last spring, that the para would no longer be available to keep an eye on my daughter for most of the day;they just couldn’t raise enough money. (Keep in mind [I think I’ve mentioned somewhere on this blog before] that we live way out in the hills, and our local school is a small, private, independently-run, fund-raiser-financed school that was kept going initially by a group of parents when our district closed our local public school a few years ago, due to lack of funding. They have no federal or state funding [so no nurse;no 504 plans, etc], and stay open each year by the skin of their teeth, the generosity of one rock-star dad and his amazing wife and family, and a whole lot of hard-working parent volunteers. The nearest district public school to us is a good half-hour drive one way, or a 45-minute-to-an-hour ride, mostly out of cell-phone range, on a school bus;not an acceptable alternative for a diabetic kid. That’s the context here…) So, I was informed by the director that the para I had just spent an entire school year training would now be in Vini’s classroom for only two hours each morning, and after that either Zeke or I would need to be at the school, or we could take her home and homeschool her for the rest of the day. So, we tried partial homeschooling, meaning  scrambling to get Vini to school by 8:30, after sometimes having been up most of the night monitoring her insulin/sugar;dealing with her breakfast and breakfast insulin;staying at the school until 9:15 AM, at which time the para would show up in the classroom;racing home to try to get some work done while constantly texting back and forth with the para (who, even after a year of training, did not feel fully comfortable monitoring Vini), often from areas of our property where it was difficult to get phone service, which meant walking away from whatever work we were doing at the moment to try to find a spot we could text from;racing up to get to school by 11:30 AM when the para went to lunch, to sit in the last half of math class;staying at school for recess and lunchtime, so Vini could have some social time (even though this “social time” was very regimented);then leaving at 12:30 (right after lunch) to go home or to one of Vini’s extracurricular activities. We did this for all of last fall, which was unbelievably stressful for us. In December we made the decision to fully homeschool.

Now it has been one full semester, and I won’t say it has been easy. I will say, however, that I don’t think we’ll ever go back. Vini has learned more in the last five months than she learned in 2 and 1/2 years of school. She is reading years beyond her grade level, doing math about a year ahead, has learned a lot of history, geography, mythology, cultural studies, science, music and art that she never would have acquired in school. She’s discovered many interests, has learned how to do research on her own into subjects she’s passionate about, and best of all, went through this entire horrible cold and flu season without getting sick once! She’s actually getting enough sleep! She has a couple of groups of homeschooling friends, and in general a much broader and more meaningful social life, including a few intimate friendships of the kind she never really had the time to establish when going to school took up so much time out of each day and week. She is thriving. A lack of diabetes care led us to the decision to homeschool, but the incredible community, freedom, artistic and academic exploration we’ve discovered is keeping us here.

This is the upside. The downside is that, needless to say, my book is on hold indefinitely, and any chance of me getting back into my painting studio in the near future is looking pretty slim. Obviously, homeschooling is a full-time job for me. Zeke does his part, but he’s the one now working outside the property at least some of the time (though we have many money-making ventures starting to come together ON the property [plugging our maitake, shitake and reishi logs this week!]), plus starting a business, so 99% of the schooling is my job. This includes doing Vini’s academic stuff for a few hours each morning, taking her to Kung Fu classes, art classes, spanish class, piano, science classes and field trips, homeschool group get-togethers, reading group, ice-skating, the list goes on… We happen to live in an area where there are quite a number (ever-increasing, as intelligent parents become disillusioned with the public school system) of homeschoolers, and a diversity of activities and classes (many very affordable) available. I’m presently in the middle of writing up my first year-end evaluation for the district, making sure it is comprehensive without going overboard. As one of the district administrators kindly reminded me:the evaluations/progress reports I write in these years will be my daughter’s transcripts in case she decides (or we decide) that she is going to re-enter the system (doubtful!) for high school, or even middle school (5 years away). Or, if she continues to homeschool straight through, these early elementary-school progress-reports are practice for when I have to write her high school reports that will be her transcripts for college. So, well, you get the idea:it can’t just be a scribbled note.
That’s just today’s task for me–In the last 5 months I’ve gone through ancient history; helped Vini take probably ten to twelve books a week out of the library delving into various aspects of ancient history and mythology/folklore, etc, that she loves;I’ve continued to teach her grammar and writing (organizing thoughts on paper), gone through first and 1/2 of second grade math (the Singapore curriculum–NOT the way I learned math back in the dark ages);taken her on numerous educational excursions, and painstakingly gone over everything with her, including homework from her various classes. The kid has a voracious appetite for learning, so on the one hand I’m lucky, and on the other, I can barely keep up! Anyway, it has been a learning experience for me, to say the least, and every day is a new joy and a new challenge. We aren’t really “breaking” for the summer–she is going to kung fu camp for part of the summer, and I will have to be there every day;we have LOTS of work going on here on the property, but we will be slowing down and getting over to the family, to the beach, to swim and surf, etc., so I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to write a little bit in here (and maybe even work on the book!).

Some good recipes to follow…

Zeke’s Kitchen Knives!

Remember that post I put up last week of Zeke’s knives? well, here’s a link to his new Etsy shop:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/echtzeke

Check them out. Really cool. He’s going to be posting a couple of new ones every day through the holidays I believe. Hopefully the above link will work!

End-of-summer pictures

Too tired to write or put up a recipe tonight. Trying to keep myself up, as I’m waiting out Vini’s insulin correction–for some reason her sugar went really high tonight. She had a pump-site change, so it could be her site’s not in right. I have to wait and test her again in 20 minutes, when the CGM comes in (re-setting it to calibrate, hopefully for at least another night or 2…)

Here are pics of the last summer veggies:

Calendula, tincturing:

Last tomatoes, waiting to be made into sauce…

Last summer salad:

Basil, soon to be last batch of pesto, frozen:

Buggin’

Today was the one day out of this whole summer that was going to be a full work-on-the-book day for me:7 undistracted hours. We had diabetic-trained child-care lined up (the one person [rarely available], other than Zeke and I, that we have trained in how to deal with MOST of Vini’s diabetic needs, though not all–she still doesn’t know how to change a pump or CGM site, or how to deal with any of the myriad problems that can arise with Vini’s technology, but she is great, and trustworthy, and only calls me once or twice during the day, unless there is some emergency).
Of course, this didn’t pan out. Vini woke up with some kind of a stomach bug, which as parents of diabetic kids know, can be a huge nightmare. She never did end up throwing up (thank goodness! No visit to the emergency room to get her on an IV due to uncontrollably plummeting sugar. That usually always happens to us during the winter right after a snowstorm when we can barely get out our road), it just all came out the other end, which at least means we can control her sugar, though I have now spent the entire day making her bone-broths, giving her small bits of home-made kefir and other probiotic foods, entertaining her. She is feeling better, sugar somewhat stable, and so far we have not had to resort to the dreaded white rice or banana, either of which would send her sugar soaring, but at least stop her up.

Meanwhile, some kind of bug related to the pine-borer beetle you hear so many nightmare stories about here in New England, has been busily (and noisily) sawing its way through our gigantic pile of 50-foot-long Spruce logs that Zeke has collected (all the dead-standing trees leftover from last year’s hurricane and the 2008 ice storm) (we know it’s not THOSE pine-borers, because they aren’t touching the living trees). Zeke had planned to mill them this fall, has been going at them bit by bit, but is now frantically trying to mill them whenever he gets a free moment (hah! Whatever that means!). The other night the three of us were out there at sunset, picking cucumbers and peppers, watching the clouds, and listening to the unmistakable sound of chomping. It’s almost a cartoon-sound. You picture little mouths with big pointy teeth. It would be comic, except for the fact that this is the sound of our future inverter shed, cabins, shop and studios being devoured from the inside out. Well, we’re managing to save some of it, and so far they’re not touching the hardwoods. Thank the universe for small miracles…

The other summer bummer this year is that we were so busy we put off covering the blueberries with netting, and in one day the birds ate all the berries! It’s our fault for not getting on it. I kept thinking about it, thinking “oh, we need to get to that,” but there was so much else to do, it kept slipping my mind. You live, you learn. At least it wasn’t one of our intended cash crops, but we had planned to freeze a whole lot for next winter, and now we’re going to have to find the time to go pick some at one of the nearby organic pick-your-own farms, but so far haven’t had time to do that, and V and I are leaving again in a few days to see Grandparents and cousins, etc. for 2 weeks, while Zeke continues to build the solar heating system and tear apart the house loudly all night, which he can’t really do when we’re here.
So, obviously, we have our priorities set:see family and get into the ocean. Vini’s sugar tends to be completely stable and for the most part predictable when she spends 5 hours a day swimming and boogie-boarding in the ocean. She falls asleep relatively early at night, so I can sit up and get some work done on the book, since I usually have to wait up until her dinner-time bolus of insulin is out of her system, as this is the time of day she often can have sudden, quick lows due to all the exercise during the day, and I often have to turn her pump off or, at worst, wake her up and give her glucose. It’s good for me, though, because I don’t have the distractions I do being at home:herbs to harvest, tincture and dry; food to harvest, cook and freeze;business stuff to deal with;the ongoing fight with the school district to provide a para for V at school to contend with;inevitable house/property issues that arise;figuring out how I’m going to fit in partially home-schooling her this year (forced on me by the district–a long story for a future post, when I’m really in the mood for ranting), and still get this book written, blog up, get some workshops together to make money, keep the house standing, keep us all fed and alive, etc. Not to mention, find some time in there to get some exercise and take care of myself. That hasn’t happened yet. So, this is my 2 weeks, coming up, of maybe getting a little work done on the book at night, and SURFING (though someone just got attacked by a Great White a couple of beaches away from where we like to go, so not so sure about this…. It’s not like California, where there always seems to be a school of dolphins surfing with you, protecting you from sharks!). Well, I had 2 weeks last month, so I consider myself lucky…

Got interrupted back there… Had to “save” my daughter from an earwig invasion. Yuch! My last bit about BUGS was going to be to talk about my severe tick-a-noia. I contracted Lyme disease a little over a year ago, didn’t catch it early enough (due to the stupidity of some lab technician at a doctor’s office we were trying out temporarily [the lack of progressive medicine in this otherwise very progressive area is astounding. I got spoiled in California]). I had the little #*%^&$ in a jar, in alcohol, just like you’re supposed to, got it in to the lab within 12 hours of pulling it, fully engorged, off my back, where it had apparently been happily sipping my blood and infecting me with spirochetes (Babesia co-infection too) for two days, since our return home from a springtime family visit to the Cape. The lab tech looked at me like I was crazy, looked at the jar, screwed up her face in disgust, and informed me that there “really isn’t any Lyme disease in this area–it’s all a bunch of hype.” “Well,” I said. “THIS tick came riding back here with me from the CAPE.” (Everyone knows that the Cape is full of deer-ticks.) “Well, we can’t test the tick,” she said. “But,” (me) “I read somewhere that you can get the tick tested if you get it into alcohol immediately, and get it to a lab within 24 hours…” “I’m sorry,” says techie. “You’ve been given some misinformation. I don’t know where you read that. I really wouldn’t worry about Lyme. It’s so rare.”
Long story short:she had no idea what she was talking about. However, there’s no excuse for me not finding another place to take it, except that I had to race back up to the hills where we live to get to school to pick up my daughter, get dinner ready and her to bed at a decent hour so we could get up at 6:30 AM for school the next morning. So what did I do? I went into tick-denial. To such an extent that I actually left the glass jar with alcohol and dead tick on the floor of my car for about 4 weeks. I would vaguely register the sound of something rolling around under my car seat when I took a corner too fast. I was just on overload. Dealing with Vini’s diabetes was enough. I didn’t even want to entertain the possibility that one of us would get sick with anything. I also knew nothing about Lyme back then. Anyway, the rest of the story is for another time. Or maybe not the whole story, but the end result of it:severe tick-a-noia which is humorous enough to relay to strangers… Something to look forward to…

Ahhhh….. Life in the country!

Gotta go pick Japanese Beetles off of everything. There’s something really satisfying about drowning them in a large yoghurt container full of soapy water. Sorry. Don’t mean to offend anyone, but they are just horrible, and EVERYWHERE this year–ate all my roses (that would’ve been a 1-year supply of rose hips!). It’s all because of all that non-native invasive stuff the woman who lived here before us planted everywhere.
OK. Baby steps…