Small town, big town

I grew up in a small town. I can relate to the Miranda Lambert song “Famous in a Small Town.” Through the school years, it was easy to find yourself in the newspaper fairly regularly. Most everyone knew everyone else. It was the kind of place where you were almost certain to see people you knew anywhere you went.

Now I live in a much larger town. There are pros and cons to either big or small. I have come to appreciate the convenience of a larger town. Businesses tend to have longer hours, and there are just so many more stores, restaurants, parks, museums, etc. to choose from. The main con in my mind, other than traffic, is the very lack of “everyone knows everyone else.” There are tens of thousands of people living in our town. It’s not unusual for us to go out on errands without seeing anyone we know, or to play at the park without seeing anyone we know, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised to experience that small town feel last weekend. Our town was having its annual celebration of, I don’t know, just of community I suppose. There doesn’t seem to be any particular occasion, but there is a 5k race and a parade.

My daughter and I did the 5k (better late than never in getting that “summer” 5k in with her – good thing she was patient as she waited for my knee to heal up). We saw several people we know at the race. Nice. We then headed to the parade, and by coincidence, we ended up right next to people we know as we watched. In the parade itself, we saw the kids’ ice skating instructor, my son’s current baseball coach, a baseball teammate, a friend, our Pastor, a friend’s big sister, a fellow homeschool mom, a former teacher, a former classmate, my husband, and a lot of familiar faces from political events. It felt small-town to me in the best way.

Like I said, I enjoy the conveniences that a larger community can offer, but I don’t want to feel like a stranger in a strange land. I am glad that our big town can feel like a small town sometimes.

P.S. I don’t know these people, but isn’t it awesome?!?

Curried Apple and Celery Soup

Wow, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve shared a recipe here.  I really got into a cooking rut over the winter, and frankly didn’t try many new things.  Then, in the spring, my husband announced that he was going on the Paleo Diet.  The challenge involved did perk up my interest in cooking for a while – any shortcuts in the kitchen went against his requirements.  For example, I made my own chicken stock for the first time in a long time.  Unfortunately, Paleo goes against my own natural appetite.  No grain?  No legumes?  So much meat.  I suppose it was my own lack of enthusiasm that kept me from sharing recipes.

After the initial 30 days, hubby was ready to relax the rules a bit.  I may have relaxed a bit too much.  I could actually see how this diet benefited hubby’s health.  I need to find a good balance.  Grains and legumes will be part of my life, but they can usually come in the form of a side dish, so hubby can avoid or partake as he chooses.  This soup is a compromise.  The meat and veggies fall in line with the rules, but I did use store-bought chicken broth, and I did include salt.

Curried Apple and Celery Soup

Ingredients

2 T butter
1 apple, diced
1 small bunch celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 T cumin
1 T red curry powder
2-3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.
2. Add apple, celery, garlic, cumin and curry to skillet.  Cook until tender.  Add a bit of broth if needed to prevent sticking.
3. Remove to blender.  Add broth and puree, using enough broth to achieve desired consistency.
4.  Return to skillet.  Add the chicken, salt and pepper and simmer for a few minutes before serving.

This is one of those dishes that doesn’t look the way it tastes.  Luckily, I wasn’t entering a cooking competition with it (not that I’ve ever entered a cooking competition). In a perfect world, all food would look pretty as well as taste good. In my reality, that’s not always the case. Unpretty as it was, it tasted SO good. It was quite spicy.  My son liked it, but my daughter thought it TOO spicy.  The combination of flavors work well together, but you may want to experiment with how much cumin and curry to add.  This made three servings.  If I make this again, I will likely increase the amount of celery, apple and chicken to yield more, while lessening the spiciness for my daughter’s sake.  My cooking often is experimental.  That’s half the fun, I think.  🙂

The unpretty but delicious result.

Brothers

Yesterday, my kids and I had the chance to visit my uncle and aunt while they were on a trip back to Minnesota from Washington. This is my dad’s brother and his wife. I don’t see them often. I enjoyed visiting with my parents, one of my brothers, and my uncle and aunt.

I enjoyed watching my father and his brother interact, and considering the decades-long relationship they have.  I hope my kids remain friends for life.  What a gift.

Brothers poring over pictures as they share memories.

The Poetry of the Earth

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.”
– John Keats

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life forms on earth.

Sometimes I like to consider the details that allow different life forms to function in different ways, to survive in different conditions, to interact with each other.  Fascinating, really.

Sometimes, though, I simply notice the beauty that exists all around me.  The contrast of color and texture among these evergreen trees captured my attention on a recent run.

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”
– e. e. cummings

An exercise in futility

During my Couch to 5K Part 2, I’ve been running time rather than distance.  Still, I find that if I know I’m almost done, say 3 minutes to go, I start to speed up.  This makes sense only if I’m going for distance.  News flash to myself:  time won’t move faster just because I do.

Ever catch yourself doing something like that?

Enjoying Fall – A Day in the Life

One benefit of homeschooling, for us, is that some days can be pretty flexible. After eating breakfast and doing a lesson in geology, my son asked me if we could “do school” outside. I told him that it wouldn’t work for everything we had on the docket that day, but that we certainly could for some of it. I began packing up books, paper and pencils, and my children went and bundled themselves up. A few short days ago it was 90 degrees, but it was only around 50 degrees now. While not terribly cold, it was colder than we’ve been accustomed to recently. I personally think they overdid it with the warm clothes, and told them so, but they remained convinced that it was all needed. I didn’t mind.

We headed out with our books, called “hello” to our neighbors who were waiting for the school bus, and walked to a nearby lake.

My daughter took up her favorite spot – a chair carved from a stump. She sometimes likes to draw while sitting in this chair, but this day was for reading.

My son clambered down the rocks and found a good spot. I soon joined him on the rocks.

I read to them from our devotion book, then Shakespeare’s Seasons – selections from Shakespeare’s work with lively illustrations showcasing the different seasons. (We had read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare the previous day. There are really lovely books for children out there.) I then read a chapter from a biography of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. After my son read a story to me from his children’s Bible, the kids were ready to explore the lakeshore a bit more.

We all enjoyed looking at the various rocks.

My children examined everything from the soil between rocks to the air bubbles forming at the edge of the water.

They got right down to the water’s edge for a closer look at all that captured their interest. Amazingly, and thankfully, everyone stayed dry.

We then walked the short distance to our nearest playground. My kids had a great time. They divided their time between simply playing on the playground equipment, inviting me to join them in a game of tag, and imagining what it would be like to have to hide in a small secret room, leaving no trace behind, like the people in our Corrie ten Boom book.

When they were ready to move on, we walked home and had lunch. We then completed lessons in life science, math, and music. My daughter also had homework from the literature class that she is taking at our weekly co-op.

This a snapshot of a single day in our homeschooling journey. Some days are more focused on book work than this particular day. Some days will be less book work, as we might be out attending a play or visiting a museum. For a beautiful fall day, though, this suited us quite well.