crow magic

Dropping in ever so quickly to share this photo from back in the summer of me, holding a crow head that I found one morning in my driveway.  I love crows.  I think they are smart and amazing and magical.  Who knows what the story was behind this poor girl (or fella?).  I said a little prayer (or my version of one, anyway) and buried the head in the garden. 

I am planning to spend more time in this space soon to write about our homeschooling year thus far and what's going on in the garden (and in my head), but for now, just this.


thirty eight

Every year on my birthday, for about the last decade, I've composed a list of things that I am grateful for.  Things I say a big 'YES!' to, things I want more of in my world.  A list of things equaling the number of years old that I am.  I aim not to think on any of it too much, but rather create a list of what first comes to mind, and surely the list includes thing big and things small.  I don't look back on previous lists until after writing the new one, but of course there are lots of repeats year to year.  And so, as today I complete my 38th trip around the sun and say hello to my 39th year on this amazing spinning orb of blue and green and other colors, I hereby present my annual gratitude list:

:: my daughter, for being such a wise teacher and a powerful mirror

:: my love- for all of the things

:: slippers

:: fire

:: birdsong in the mornings, cricket serenade at night

:: my garden

:: two jobs I enjoy immensely

:: my healthy, strong, and generally in-good-working-condition body

:: the excitement and anticipation of looking forward to our big trip next summer

:: Pandora (I know there are other options, but I'm sticking with it) - favorite stations being St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Van Morrison and Billie Holiday (and others). And while we're on music let me just add Rising Appalachia to the list.

:: listening to her practice the piano- particularly certain chord progressions, 'Let it Be', and John Denver's 'Country Roads'

:: the silky smooth and forever loyal & loving (and vocal) Ollie cat- the handsomest little grey lion that ever was

:: the option to homeschool, and the time I therefore get to spend with my brave and growing girl

:: all the same, that blissful 5 days solo recently (!)

:: tea.  preferably strong and black with a drizzle of honey and coconut milk

:: sunshine on my shoulders

:: soft, grey days

:: my favorite plants (and all the other plants as well)

:: yoga

:: salty ocean air, and the opportunity, typically, to visit it at least a couple times a year

:: living in a walkable town

:: (yet dreaming of finding that right patch of land)

:: kindness

:: honesty

:: books. BOOKS!

:: so......um, yeah..........Poldark. (the BBC show- the newer, current version) What can I say? I just really, really care about the plight of the 18th century Cornish copper miners.  That and the scenery is amazing. *ahem*

:: creative outlets, and the occasional (too occasional, so....working on that) tendency to get lost in them

:: a good, dry, hard cider

:: my friends~ they are lovely and dependable and true and good

:: the biannual handmade/homegrown swap gatherings that I host, and the amazing community of women who are a part of that

:: big dreams

:: laundry on a clothesline

:: waking to an empty kitchen sink and a clean counter

:: a sizable herbal tea stash from our very own garden

:: my family- the ones who created me, raised me, grew up beside me..... those who became family through marriage, and the close friends who have practically become siblings.

:: the great good luck of finding myself in a time and a place with resources enough to live the life I want to live

:: our local library

:: community

because it's fun to look back, here's last year's list 

(I just peeked- it was a good list- and there are loads of photos from the year.  no loads of photos this year. maybe soon, but right now I'm off to have some dessert)


around here :: flying solo

My people recently went north without me for five days (!), and all I have to show for it is this photo that I took one morning of flowers and tea dappled in sunlight just as I was starting some yoga on the porch.  Reason being, I have finally succumbed to the siren song of the smartphone (took me a few minutes to climb on board) and I am both amazed at what good photos my iPhone takes and also, I now totally understand what folks have meant these last several years when lamenting that Instagram 'ate their blog'.  Now I see.  Instagram is indeed a pretty place to spend some time, and a most convenient place to share snippets with your people.  So, that's where I've been doing just that.  I do want to share a bit in this space as well though, as I love the idea of having this chronicle of our days and hope to someday come back to reread all the bits and pieces of our days as a young(ish) family of three.  Et cetera.

So.  Five days.  Solo.  Not something that happens often in my world.  This would make the third time I've had the house to myself for an extended period of time since entering the wild world of motherhood about 8 and three-quarters years ago.  So, how did I choose to fill my five days?

Well, there was no homeschooling, obviously.  So instead I filled the weekday mornings before teaching afterschool art class with time spent in the garden, doing yoga, reading, getting a massage.... those sorts of things.  One of my strengths is that I am good at self care.  Yes indeed.  I have a loner streak a mile wide and while I adore and love my people, I also know that I thrive when given ample time to myself to fill my cup in whatever way I need at the time.  There was a solo dinner out.  Sushi and sake and such.  A long walk to and around town.  On the equinox I cooked myself a special dinner made with all local ingredients and went ahead with our traditional beginning-of-a-new-season bonfire.  I watched a movie.  I cleaned.  I had girlfriends over for a little ladies' night.  And on the morning of the day that they were driving their long way home to me, I tackled a long hike that I've wanted to try for years.  I drove a few miles up the road to the trailhead and hiked up a mountain and along the ridge, down another mountain, and looped back to my car.  It was about 9.5 miles all together and it was great.  That was yesterday morning, and despite the yoga class I took shortly after the hike and the time spent in the sauna, I am most definitely feeling it.  In all the good, best ways.

So there's that.  That's what I've been up to.  And I know there is a way I can get the photos from my phone on here, and I know I can connect all the things to make it all sync and whatnot, but......well....... I'm slow to come around when it comes to these things.  All in due time.  In the meantime, feel free to come hang out with me on Instagram if you so desire.  My Instagram 'handle' is amanda.w.riley.

happy autumn, folks.


around here :: fleeting summer days

A bit of juicing, a bit of elderberry medicine-making, a bit of silliness in the form of bathroom mirror selfies....  some art-making and bike-riding and kraut-making.  Asian pear butter, pickles, hot sauce, salsa.  Got the garlic trimmed and cleaned for storage.  Loads of veggies, and happy dolls finding a new perch in her bedroom window.  (I love that she still loves her dolls and I so hope that love lasts a good bit longer).

Much as I love autumn and her general crispness and startlingly blue skies, I find myself hanging on this year, just a bit, to these fleeting late summer days.  The crickets are so loud at night, practically screaming of summer's impending end, but the sunshine stills falls heavy and pleasant on my shoulders.  I am loving the cooler nights and mornings that often necessitate a sweater, and I see the light changing its game in a way that day-to-day seems to be sneaky and slight but when taken by the week is actually quite startling.  And so, I am both basking in the midday sun and enjoying the barefoot-ness of this time of year, and happily awaiting the increase in hot tea drinking and sweater-wearing.  It's a good time of year.  My favorite.


in the garden :: late summer

 It's a tangly mess out there right now.  Late summer flowers mixed up with the second planting of bush beans and greens, herbs going wild, and the very last of the blueberries being picked and mashed and turned into jam.  The onions have all been cured and brought inside (which reminds me I need to trim the garlic and do the same with it!), the winter squash picked, and loads of sad remains of once-happy plants pulled and tossed on the compost or brush piles.  Beets and okra and surplus tomatoes and hot peppers from the farm have been pickled and turned into tomato jam.  There's a batch of salsa being readied slowly (it's been too hot these last few days to get the canner going), and I keep meaning to look up tasty ideas for preserving asian pears (also from the farm).  I'd also like to preserve, somehow, some of my thai basil.  Even with the season really winding down, there's a feeling of abundance out there right now, for sure.

Thinking ahead to next summer, when we plan to be away for 6 weeks.......... wondering what shape my garden will take then?


go to the river

Almost-end-of-summer trip up to Burnsville with dear friends to visit other dear friends and spend some time in the garden, time by the river.  Sigh.  Such soul food.

Anyone else love the Natalie Merchant song "Where I Go?" - love it, love it.


late summer beach trip, part two :: carnival and aquarium fun

We snuck in a trip to the aquarium (homeschoolers get one free family visit per year!) and some fun carnival/fair rides and games during our recent trip to the beach.  The great big "Fun Slide" was a big hit, for sure- as was the ferris wheel.  I realized as we were riding up and around that big wheel that I feel more secure in the ones where you sit two or three astride and face out, as opposed to these that merely dangle from some unseen and hopefully very secure bolt or something.  Sigh.  This mama doesn't always have an easy time trusting carnival rides, but I get by.  The swing made me feel like I was going to barf though.  I kept thinking the sheer power of centrifugal force was going to loosen my swing and fly me across town to land smack into a building or something.  Obviously, happily, that did not in fact happen.  Good thing too, because that really would have put a damper on our beach trip.

Claire, I'd like to note, is much braver than I.

Also, ice cream.  Of course.