Friday, January 15, 2010

listen to this

Thursday, January 14, 2010

we'll rescue each other

First things first. A reader posted about the earthquake in Haiti, and how some of us may be able to help. While CAF isn't set up to take any sort of foreign aid donations like some other blogs are—I can direct you here. I'm not asking readers to donate, but I will say this. Many hands make work light. Even the worst work. I'll be making a donation tomorrow. If anyone understands the kindness of charity: it's me after this winter. If all of us with solid roofs over our head give something, even just a few dollars, it could turn this world around.

Now with that said, here is what's new in this small life. I'm feeling better. Tuesday night was a horrible argument with the flu and I spent most of it either in the bathroom heaving or in bed with Jazz. He'd lay his wold head on my chest and let me scratch his ears, telling him in a sickness-induced delirium that he's cooler than Han Solo ever was in Empire, even after the part when he told Leia "He Knows." Two days of rest and a gallon of orange juice later and I'm me again. I don't take back the Han Solo comment either. Jazz is cooler.

Tomorrow I will mail out a small package/fancy begging container to the family that owns the cabin. I've collected local references, will write a note explaining about me and my hopes for the property, and a copy of my book. I'm hoping my intentions and the positive things I want to do with their land will help them decide to give me a chance.

While in a perfect world they'd want to sell to me, and a bank would grant me the loan—I need to be prepared for kind denial, a poor home inspection, or a solemn head shake from the bank. So many things can fall through...But there are all sorts of plan Bs in the works, too. Perhaps the cabin owners will allow a rent-to-own deal if the bank says no? And if they don't, a local reader and his family offered to let me (possibly) rent a cottage on their land and bring the animals along too. Which means that even if I can't buy now (though I pray it will work out) I may have a meantime home waiting for me. Just knowing that these two options have the chance to happen, helps me sleep better.

I was writing tonight about taking that first sheep class two springs ago when I first moved to Vermont. While writing about it I remembered the friend who told me about the class in the first place. Her name is Trish, and ever since she stopped working with me, I fell out of touch. Inspired by the memory, I looked her up in the phone book and called her. We talked for a while, and eventually I told her about the cabin. I told her how perfect it was, and how close I felt to having a place of my own. That I could practiaclly see the clawmarks in the air around me. She stopped me mid-sentence and told me (serious as a heart attack) '"Jenna? Did you know my mother is a mortgage broker?" I told her I did not...but could I have her number?! "Of course! HA! There is a reason you called!" she said, citing the kismet, making us both laugh. It was so good to hear from her again. And the weird coincidence felt like a second bar of a song I started writing ealier tonight when I picked up my last reference letter from Nancy over at Wayside. Things are slowly starting to happen, people.

The last bit of news I have to share is very good. Tomorrow I am getting a visitor. If you read Made From Scratch you might remember my mentor, Diana. (She's also a common commenter and forum member over at the Locals.) She's flying in from Idaho and we're spending the weekend together! Just a short trip, mind you, but a good one. There will be lots to catch up on. We haven't seen each other in almost two years, but by this time tomorrow I'll be waiting for her at the airport. It'll be good to have her back in my life for a little. Two years is a long time. Trish may meet us for coffee and yarntalk at Northshire. So, hey, how great did that work out?

Tonight I feel invigorated with the small possibilities that are starting to unfold. I am realizing with the help of my readers, solid faith in the future, and some stupid luck—I will land on my feet. A week ago I felt like the world was pulled out from under me, and while I'm still a bit shaky, I am starting to find my Foothold. A little hope is all this girl needs to stand a little taller.

And just between you an me, sometimes I lose my balance from the gratitude. It's a drunk and lovely vertigo. I dance to it, even when I fall down.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

i do apologize

I'll be back soon, and updating you all on the story and the farm. But I'm currently dealing with a bad case of the flu. See you all tomorrow, perhaps. Today, sleep.

Monday, January 11, 2010

voice lessons

When I was outside tonight feeding the animals I heard a sound so bone chilling it took each piece of my spine and stuck frozen Jell-o in the orifices. I was out by the car and stopped dead in the snow path. I was certain I was a dozen yards from some murder scene. The sound was something like a banshee wail mixed with the death rattle of a mako shark. (I speculate. Don't judge.) After the initial spookiness was past I realized that, once again, the scary sound in my backyard was coming from the chicken coop. Why can't any of my roosters be like normal chickens? Why do they all have to audition for Spinal Tap?

When Winthrop (my reigning rooster) started to crow I was shocked by the sound he made. He didn't crow, he moaned, and then graduated to an all-out werewolf howl. I could not believe that noise came from a chicken and not a dog. (He literally howls people. When Winthrop hollers the neighbor's dogs holler back.) Now John (the new rooster I raised since I bought him as a chick in July) has followed in his footsteps. John howls too, but the difference is his voice it totally normal. It's the same rooster crow you've heard a million times in movies and on the Waltons, but stretched like taffy at a long, shrill, pitch. All I can gather is this little boy grew up listening to the man of the house bay at the moon, so he must think that's the way to do it? I'm possibly horridly wrong but unless there are some audio-linguists of the domestic avian practice out there to correct me, I'm going with my nurture over nature thesis.

I like this. We all howl around here at Cold Antler.

Even me, sometimes.

sal in the light

Sunday, January 10, 2010

brown baggin' it

Here's the messenger bag I made last night. (A few of you asked if I would post the pattern or instructions.) I didn't use a pattern though, just some basic outlines in a book called Sew What! Bags By Lexie Barnes. The book has instructions for everything from wine bottle covers to advanced carrying cases. (My favorite is the DJ bag - made for carrying your records.) I used a basic personal purse guideline and figured it out from there. The book is big on common sense and easy instructions, so it made it easy even for a beginner like me. I bought the fabric online: a thick corduroy for the outside and a pattern with birds and antlers for the inside. (I lifted the flap there so you could see the pattern better, but you get the idea that it just covers the front of the bag.) It also has little pockets on the side panels for my phone and a granola bar. I took it out on the town today for a test run and it carried my life around just fine. The bottom worked and no one asked me to remove it—so I think it passes!

fiddle workshop?

If you emailed me with interest about the beginner fiddle workshop in February, will you please email me so we can make arrangements? So far out of the original six interested only one has reserved her spot.


across the water

I picked up a magazine at Tractor Supply a few weeks ago because it looked interesting, but I had never seen it before. It was called Home Farmer, and was about small scale farming and homesteading, with a heavy focus on backyard livestock. I scooped it up, checked out, and then let it sit on my coffee table for a while before I really dug into it. Last night after sewing (and two episodes of HBO's John Adams - which is wonderful) I started paging through it. It was wonderful! Turns out I wasn't familiar with it because it's a British publication. But I was so thrilled reading it because it was like sitting in someone's backyard in England and being shown around their gardens and coops. (Let me tell you something, the British have perfected backyard bird homes. Check out and Framebow.) Anyway, my favorite take away from the magazine is how universal homesteading is. This was an English magazine, but could easily apply to someone in New York or Portland. Same animals, same desires, same understanding that freedom isn't in our bank accounts or the cars we drive—it's right past the garden gate.

This is one of my favorite things about backyard farming- everyone needs to eat, and we all want to eat a little better. To some that means a better restaurant and to others it means a hen house and a veggie garden. I'll always be on the second side of those options, but I'm just thrilled the later is so well understood 5,000 miles away.