Oftentimes, when Mr. Quotidian asks me what I’m thinking about, I have to answer “nothing.” Which isn’t to say that my mind is empty, but that what’s going through it cannot quite be called “thinking.” It’s much too fragmented and garbled to be a thought. What it can be described as is tinkering. Like Belle’s father in Beauty and the Beast, I half absentmindedly fiddle with a half forged idea. Most of the time, these musings simmer on the back fire while I putter about my life, occasionally pulling them out and trying to prod them into something coherent. Then, suddenly, when my back is turned, they will boil over into a mess of thoughts on the floor.

These posts are my way of taking those melted thoughts and trying to pound out something useful.

Quotidian Ambitions

New Year’s resolutions are in season now. But I always feel a little disingenuous making them. After all who really cares about someone else’s resolutions once it’s not a third grade writing assignment? Also, it sometimes seems like the wrong time of year to be making new beginnings. Everything in nature has gone dormant and I often feel the summons to hunker down with them until spring.

And yet

Something in my psyche needs this shot of motivation after the let down of the holidays. Perhaps instead of dormancy, I ought look at the bare branches and listless patches of ground as a blank slate. Since I squander so many of them, I can use all the new beginnings I can get.

Perhaps it’s just the terminology I struggle with. Resolutions seem so rigid. They resound with do’s and don’t's. By mid-February most of us Resolutes are engaged in some form of double think. That didn’t count because I was tired. It was a special occasion. I won’t do it from now on. New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep precisely because a year is long time to hold to an intention that’s stiffer than a starched collar. I need something more along the lines of a pair of jeans. Something that I can take with me through my days, good, bad, and bland. A list not about guilt but about ambition.

Yes, an ambition. That’s a much better word.

Glad I got that sorted out.

Here’s a peek at my home and hearth list of ambitions for the year:

  1. Make fermentation a habit. So far I’ve only thought of fermenting foods as a way to preserve them. I’d this practice to become more integrated into my kitchen. Inherent to this practice is learning to make some kind of fermented beverage, be it kombucha, kefir, ginger beer, ect.
  2. Learn to sew or knit proficiently. Like, actually be able to make useful things, not just row after row of stitching.
  3. Relearn photography basics. Even though I took a photography class in high school, I can no longer remember exactly what’s meant by words like aperture and focal length. I’d like to reclaim this skill.
  4. Make soap.
  5. Learn to use more organ meat. Other than the occasional liver and onions for dinner (that I’m obligated to warn Mr. Quotidian about at least three days in advance, serve with dessert and sandwich that meal in between other more normal meals to make up for it) I don’t really know how to cook these parts of animals.
  6. Make regular trips to the thrift store. I’ve known for awhile that effective thrifting is habitual thrifting. While there are magnificent treasures out there, they most often go to those who are familiar with the bins, shelves, and racks.
  7. Learn more about traditional Southern food. Not the Crisco and food coloring South, but the way people cooked deep in the South’s history. Places to start my research are Anson Mills and Southern Foodways Alliance.

Posted 5 years, 10 months ago at 5:24 pm. 7 comments

:: a beautiful day in the neighborhood ::

Baby-tidian and I encountered this scene on our morning walk. The draw was not roadkill as I had expected, but a busted open tray of raw ground beef.

Aside from making me desperately want to invest in a telephoto lens, moments like this also serve to remind me of my place. I am not all there is. I am not the only one who eats. I am not the be-all-end-all of creation. As startling as it is to come across it while surrounded by sidewalks, front doors, and mailboxes, the truth still stands that all death breeds life.

Posted 5 years, 11 months ago at 2:58 pm. Add a comment

Still Life with Autumn

Living in the south, I  hibernate in the summer. The windows are shut tight. My limbs gets sluggish from being splayed in front of a fan for five months. Even the walls sweat here. My spirit wallows too, unable to rouse from its sticky sleep. Then summer snaps– sometimes all at once like a rubber band, and other times like a child clumsily learning to snap by rubbing his fingers together. Autumn gusts in. When the stagnant air becomes wind, I peel back the windows, inhale deeply, and begin life again. The fact that southern autumns persist well past Thanksgiving when much of the rest of the country is firmly in winter, I consider a restitution for the summer.

Fall seems to weak a word to contain this transformation. Although “fall” lends itself to some clever bulletin boards in classrooms and libraries, it only includes one aspect of this most delightful of seasons. And really, autumn is so much more than the falling leaves.

It is the smell of wood smoke unfurling across the evening air like a banner proclaiming allegiance to a new ruler. As the mosquitoes have slowly died off, we’ve been spending more evenings by the chimenea, watching the flames as if they were a drama.

Autumn is watching lettuces grow from nuggets the size of quarters to carpeting whole fields in the space of a fortnight.  I think autumn is secretly the farmer’s favorite. Even though there is still plenty to do, the pace is less dire. We find ourselves being able to stand back and admire the beauty of the farm, if only for a moment. Set against a background of velvety black earth is the iridescent wave of carrot tops, the sea of wine dark Rouge d’hiver lettuce, the dusty green crest of collards, and the dusky purple billow of Red Russian kale.

Autumn is pulling a carrot from the ground that you are positive is the archetype for all carrots. The mother carrot. The ideal of which all other carrots are just shadows. And then you take a step farther, pull out another carrot, and there it is again! The epitome of all carrots. And very soon you have a whole handful of orange perfection.

Autumn is letting your feet luxuriate in last warm days before slippers, socks, and blankets come rolling in like a northern front. I refuse to bundle up for the first few weeks of cold weather, relishing the new sensation of cold. Gradually though, all the blankets that’ve loitered around all summer find their usefulness again. The scarves are unpacked and hung by the door. Knowing the location of one’s slippers becomes a condition of getting out of bed.

Autumn is having finally said goodbye to the bright summer vegetables. It is making room on my plate for the deep green of fall. My psyche seems to be tapping into some deep ancestral craving for fresh green before winter sets in. Kale bulks up everything from soups to garlicky white beans to scrambled eggs.  Bok choy is a mild mannered partner for sassy curries. Collards sing back up to all manner of main dishes. My sink is continually full of chopped greens of some shade or other.

Autumn is relishing the warmth of the oven as you pass rather than going out of your way to avoid it. I’ve started making my own bread again, something I gladly pay someone else to to do in the summer. We’ve even fired up the oven for such unnecessary things as chocolate chip cookies. (Yes, organic carrots next to chocolate chip cookies is how we roll.)

Autumn is waking up to a find tendrils of frost on the leaves under you feet. No matter how strongly the news predicts a frost, it always surprises me to walk out with my morning basket of laundry and find that I can see my breath.

Autumn is that nap where you fall asleep wishing you had a blanket and wind up dreaming about snow tombs and giant cats. You guys get those too, right? This might be the first autumn that I’ve been both free to take afternoon naps and able to decide where I take them. Baby-tidian and I have taken our share of al fresco naps, whether in our yard in on the I Spy quilt or at the farm in hammocks.

 

If summer is wicker and peaches and winter is cable knit and hot chocolate, then autumn is copper and pears. Kettles start to whistle and the musk of apples and pears permeates our house. Each year we buy more apples than the last. This year we are up to three bushels, but that still doesn’t seem to be enough for preserved applesauce, juice and cider experiments, a stash of dried apples, and wanton eating out of hand. So perhaps next year it will be up to four.

Autumn is never long enough.  Like a school kid dreaming of summer vacation I spend the whole rest of the year pinning for it. But, on this second day of December,  perhaps it is time to let it go. There are good things ahead.

Posted 5 years, 11 months ago at 4:16 pm. 4 comments

Every Leaf’s a Flower

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower.” — Albert Camus

I think I once faked being sick in order to stay home and watch out my bedroom window as the leaves drifted to the ground.  Or maybe I just planned to and then chickened out at the last minute. I don’t remember.

This year I don’t have to play hookie to watch the leaves fall. Not only have Baby-tidian and I enjoyed many walks through our crunchy leaf strewn neighborhood, we’ve spent countless minutes watching out our windows as leaves have transformed the cement dead zone of our driveway into a sea as vibrant as any coral reef.

I always forget how falling leaves makes one appreciate negative space. We tend to scamper about with our eyes fixed where we are headed, whether that’s the front door, the coffee shop window, or our car at the other end of the parking lot. What stands between us and our goal is just empty space to be gotten through. Leaves falling through it changes the way I see that empty space. It’s like lining a blank hallway with pictures. With a big gust of wind, I’m suddenly aware of the depth of the space I inhabit. There is value and beauty in the getting there.

Autumn also gives a blessed relief from the monotony of summer and winter. I love lush landscapes as much as the next person. And I’m a sucker for the pristine harmony of a fresh snow. But it’s fortifying to see trees bursting out of their verdant uniformity like a woman kicking off her slick high heels and stretching her bare feet. Where there was once a fire, now there are flames.

I find myself collecting these newly emancipated leaves. I’ll pluck one off a tree in the grocery store parking lot or stoop to pick another off the ground as I fumble for my keys at the door. I’ll find these leaves days/weeks/months later in my pockets or forgotten corners of tables in various states of crumbly decay.  Here’s a peek at my stash from this year:

 

Some are the color of Venetian glass while others sport the texture of a leather handbag. They evoke both the setting sun and night’s inkiness. They tell stories of swans, and rivers, and turkey tails. Of age, and beauty, and playfulness.

 

Posted 6 years ago at 11:50 pm. Add a comment

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything.

A time for persevering

and a time for idleness.

A time for cool baths

and  a time for warm towels.

A time for naps

and a time for… er… more naps.

A time for sun

and a time for shade.

There is a time for fire

and a time for ice.

A season  for every purpose under heaven.

Even if that season is endless summer.

Posted 6 years, 2 months ago at 10:38 pm. Add a comment

A Knuckle Sandwich

I want to eat his baby knuckles that dimple in rather than sticking out.

Posted 6 years, 3 months ago at 12:19 pm. 2 comments

An Infant’s Carol

Here we come a-swaddling
With a cloth so soft!
Here we come a-cuddling
All comfort to adopt!

Love and joy come to you,
And to you a swaddle too!
And God bless you and send you a long night’s rest.

And God bless you and send you a long night’s rest!

Posted 6 years, 4 months ago at 6:33 pm. 1 comment

Postpartum Necessities

So, once you have a Little like the one above, what do you need? As I began to see the whites of my due date’s eyes, I searched in every nook and cranny of the internet for the answer to that question. What I found was disheartening: endless product reviews and tired lists of the stuff everyone thinks of (nursing pads, onezies, diapers, ect). What I wanted was the stuff you didn’t plan on having around but couldn’t have done without. The “I happened to have this in my cupboard and it saved my life” list. I could not find such a list. I determined in my heart that I would keep an inventory of the things that were especially useful to me in the weeks immediately following Theodore’s birth, and so make my own list that might help some future mama-to-be.

So without further ado… Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 4 months ago at 6:23 pm. 4 comments

What’s in a name?

Little Guy.
Baby Bear.
Theo.
Buddy Bear.
The Little.
Thed.
Snuggle Bug.
Little Burrito.
Buddy.
Little Bear.
Sweet.
Glo Worm.
Teddy.
Cutie Patootie.
Mine.
Ours.
Theodore Mark.

Posted 6 years, 5 months ago at 9:11 am. 2 comments

Thristing and Nefting

There is a new sight around Casa de la Fredericks these days: Little Man Clothes! I know the day will quickly come when this sight is so commonplace to me that it will inspire chagrin more than anything else. But for now it gives me a little buzz to see all these eensy little things hanging in a row. For such tiny things they sure take up vast amounts of clothes pins!

While I don’t seem to have ever caught the full-out nesting bug of pregnancy (mostly I’d just rather sleep than clean the base boards), I have been perusing unknown areas of thrift stores recently. Like the baby clothes and children’s books. There is the usual rush of finding some unexpected and unlooked for treasure in a pile of dusty debris. But there’s also the added frisson of knowing that my baby is going to wear that onesie someday and I ‘m going to read that book to my toddler someday. It’s the thrill of thrifting married to the insistence of nesting that makes shopping for used baby items so addicting. It’s thristing. Or is it nefting? I’m inclined to go with nefting.

And the “Find of the Day” prize goes to:

The vintage, well loved copy of The Wind in the Willows.

I can’t wait till Theodore’s old enough to read this with me. We can discover this classic together, as I haven’t ever read it either.

Posted 6 years, 7 months ago at 8:48 pm. 7 comments