Monday, October 27, 2008


I have a wonderful friend named Julie. We have been friends since we met in church in NJ, and are still friends, even though she lives in Charlotte and we live here. Her children are like cousins to our children. They have known each other for most of their whole lives.

Julie came bearing gifts for the farm and the farmer yesterday! For the farmer, a basket of incredible spices from Penzeys. At least 6 or 7 different types of curry powders, seasoning for sate, special paprika, unusual cinnamon. My nose is still in shock from sniffing so many pungent powders. Julie helped me cut up lots of ripe tomatoes to make two different curries and a special marinara. I wish I could imbed a smell chip into this blog like some people attach videos and photos!

For the farm, a lovely Jacob ewe. I named her Ophelia. I don't know why. She looks like Ophelia to me. What a gift. She is beautiful, with the most incredible wool. She is due a shearing immediately. I can't wait to introduce Boaz to his new bride. I think they will make amazing babies! And amazing yarn.

Some people suggest I add photos to this blog.


Not going to happen. You will have to use your imagination, and imagine a lovely ewe, lavender spotted wool, black nose, dark eyes, a little timid, two strong black horns curving toward her back. Cute little stick legs, like a sheep on Wallace and Gromit. Or just come by for a visit!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Weekend Without the Farmers Market

Since early spring I have milled nearly a ton of grains and baked them into loaves of bread, pizza crusts, pound cakes and more. I decided to take a week off. What a good decision.

We got our tax rebate in the mail the other day and with a portion of that money, Philip bought tickets to a Derek Trucks concert and took me out on a date. We even had Thai food in a restaurant! It is not a normal Friday night for the children to see mom and dad getting on fancy clothes, leaving them to their homemade pizza and an old movie. Maybe not normal, but plenty of fun for all. I love to hear live music. What a rare treat to know that the kids were old enough to babysit themselves, that the farm would not fall apart, and that someone else was going to cook my dinner and even wash the dishes! Toward the end of the concert I realized maybe I should have had a cup of coffee with my meal. What an old fuddy duddy I am turning out to be! I tried really hard to not be too obvious with my yawning during the standing ovation!

The weekend got even better as we all relaxed Saturday morning, did farm chores in pajamas, listened to car talk, read books, and basically hung out until noontime when the housecleaning chores began. We had all forgotten what it was like to have everyone home on a Saturday. The rainy morning turned into a lovely fall afternoon. I organized green tomatoes and ripening tomatoes on the deck. Sorted through hastily picked peppers. Salted the feta cheese, strained the chevre. Decided to know my limits and wait on making mozzarella. Made many cups of warm milk and honey for the kids. CLEANED AND ORGANIZED MY DESK! At least it is clean and organized for my standards, and for those of you who know me personally, you can actually see the surface of the desk, may not last for long, but at least I can enjoy it today.

Nights are dark during this period of the moon. I miss the moon. The wind is picking up occasionally. It blows the yellow leaves around like happy birthday party confetti, leaving them scattered across the ridge and the surface of the pond, detritus from some party we missed. On more gentle mornings and evenings I can hear the music of the wind playing across the tops of the trees on the ridge, just like a brisk mountain stream, then feel it pour down the hill and into our yard, surprising me like a splash of cool water. Much nicer than the ferocious wind that will try to blow us, our house, our barns and trees over, like the big bad wolf.

This is the season for pulling things together. Winter is coming. That wind is going to blow all the leaves off the trees and leave us cold. Now is the time for splitting wood, cleaning out barn, making home cozy. Next week we'll be back to baking, farmer's market, and mozzarella. And will be much happier to do it after a change of pace this week...

"The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised." Pslam 23:1-3

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thank God for Thursday

We have had a rough week this week. I know sometimes blog life on the farm can be rather poetic and picturesque. Then there are weeks like this week.

Noone wants to get up before 8am in the morning this week. Chores have been getting done around 9 or 10 in the morning. Some people in our household have been eating breakfast and reading the paper at 10 in the morning. School has commenced at 11:30 more mornings than not. One day we started school at 1 in the afternoon. Some lessons have been interrupted multiple times with exasperated teacher smacking books on the table because of bickering students. "Quit looking at me!" "He took my pencil!" "They're being too loud! I can't concentrate! Make them be quiet!" Someone let Victor in the field with the dairy goats we wanted to breed with another type of goat. Parents of the house begin to bicker. Grrr.

I think we are all a bit tired and burned out. Sorrys were said many times this week. Many times we prayed for God to intervene and help us to have faith, to act sweetly, to behave in a gentle and kind manner, just to turn around and bite someone's head off! I gave a big family pep talk to the kids last night and they all (even Thomas) were up by 8 this morning. Out to do chores right away. Schoolwork done with minimal bickering by children and absolutely no yelling by teacher. We began our new read aloud novel after lunch in front of the fireplace: THE SAMURAI'S TALE by Erik Christian Haugaard. We are studying medieval times, feudal systems in England and Japan. Since we didn't have anyone coming over or anywhere to go I read a couple of extra chapters. Three little sisters spent the afternoon playing together. Thomas and Philip worked on a building project. Patrick helped me with a cleaning project. I cleaned light fixtures then made 4 pounds of butter. Discovered a glitch in the computer that had hidden all my itunes library was no longer glitching and all my music was back where I could access it! Yeay! Happy day! I could listen to Nanci Griffith's Dustbowl Symphony while working in the kitchen.

Thomas and Philip finished up their outdoors work and came in to help me with supper. Philip chopped up homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers and added them to homemade feta cheese for an out of this world greek salad. I sliced up some sweet potatoes grown in our friend's garden and made oven fries. Cooked up the last batch of this years' fresh green beans. Thomas danced with me to Ella Fitzgerald while the steaks cooked. He and I cooked up an unbelievable sauce for the steak. Maybe we should call it Ella's sauce! After taking out the steaks from the heavy iron skillet we added a bit of horseradish sauce, some Coleman's mustard powder, thyme, chopped garlic, lots of freshly cracked black pepper, a spoon of bacon grease and some heavy cream. It cooked down into an absolutely scrumptious, silky sauce. I hope we can remember how to do it next time! We heated up a loaf of bread, pulled out the butter and big glasses of milk, lit the candles and put on the Van Morrison. Everyone told silly stories, the girls made Philip do silly big belly dance, fire crackled, and yucky miserable week seemed to fade far away.

I now listen to Waterdeep sing You are So Good to Me and am so thankful as I write out the thoughts of the day. God is so good to us. Sometimes this mother wonders at the amount of grace poured out over her proclivities, weaknesses and just plain old stubborn pride. I don't deserve it, but the grace flows anyway. Right about the time we think we all want to quit, run away and slam the door, grace pours in, the light shines, music plays, banquet appears, family laughs, hope reigns.

Tomorrow is another day. Philip promises to make pancakes for breakfast. Everyone is slightly recharged. We have plans to head to Tinker Cliffs sometime in the next couple of days. Everyone is friends again. Thank you God for Thursday night family dinner night. There is something about preparing a meal together and sitting down to eat that helps make things right. I hope that everyone out there will stop the craziness, put on some music, light some candles and make dinner together. Make sure someone will do a silly big belly dance, or at least make weird funny faces. And say a prayer! You never know. It just might help.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Frost is on the pumpkins, or at least it would be if we had any pumpkins this year.

Saturday night was our first big frost. It was 28 degrees when I checked Sunday morning. It got even colder last night. I covered up a couple of peppers and tomatoes with a blanket. Somehow I didn't have it in me to thoroughly protect all the plants, like the green beans and the majority of the tomatoes. Summer gardening is officially over. I was too pooped to think about picking green beans when I finished up with work on Saturday evening. Too bad. The dragon tongues were loaded. I was able to rescue a few that remained unscathed by the frost. Enough for lunch. The pigs are enjoying the rest of the mushy frozen beans and plants.

It is time for cold weather to hit here in the Blue Ridge. Hard for this Texas gal to be ready for it!

One picture of grace: our figs, planted on the south side of the chicken house are still covered with almost mature fruit. Only the tips of the outer leaves were damaged. We will enjoy a few more luscious figs if the days warm up a little. What a treat.

This weather makes the children and I start talking about stews. And pots of beans with cornbread. And spicy eggplant parmigian. I start to drink way too much coffee to stay warm. Better switch to tea. And consider making time for a field trip to McAfee's Knob to work off some calories!

Coming soon, my top 10 list of favorite garden plants I will definitely plant again next year.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


It is a delicious morning today. The thermometer reads 55 degrees but it feels warmer. There is a balmy breeze. The moon is setting toward the west and has a scattering of shreds of gray silk over her face. The trees continue to surprise me with their beauty. The humidtiy and warmth make me think some stormy cool weather is on its way.

Victor has been kissing Nita and Thistle through the fence. We have them in a separate field because we intend to breed them to a dairy buck. The make-out session must have been a little intense in the light of the moon last night because the first thing I noticed in the sunrise this morning was Victor, head stuck in the fence! I went out and helped fanagle his horns back through the wire. All well. Glad to have to run out extra early by myself and enjoy such a delicious morning. Such beauty brought to mind Psalm 8 "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Okay-the moon is REALLY full tonight!

Victor is sleeping in Coco's room in the barn for his visit. I have been milking Coco on a concrete area in the yard by our back door. She is such a good girl. It has been nice being outside for milking time. Tonight I watched the full moon rise as I milked. I couldn't believe how quickly it moved up the night sky. There was no circle of light surrounding the moon this evening.

It was a very hot day today! We had temperatures in the 80s. The children caught a few guinea keats. They gathered hickory nuts. They took grapes off stems so I could make jelly. They played with our friends, Sofie, Boone and Meck. The girls had piano lessons, thanks to our wonderful teacher, Ashley, who comes to our house once a week. My friend Rachel and I skinned tomatoes and mushed grapes and talked about important things and occasionally told kids to go back outside and work out their own disputes, as long as there was no blood.

I was in a bad mood today. Politics. Paperwork. People. Didn't see the margin for having friends come over but had them come anyway. I am glad they did. We mudddled through, together. We were designed to live our life together with other people. Even when the laundry doesn't get finished when we want, or when our moods aren't sweet.

Thank you God for full moons and full lives, full of friends and goodness, despite the fact our world is in a mess. May we all work together to make it better.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Full Moonday! or, When the moon is full and bright, dogs bark loudly through the night...

The moon is so bright and full tonight. There is a cloudy ring around it. Wish my Grandpa Rowe was still around so he could remind me what that means. Guess I better ask Daddy next time we speak. I know what it means around here. Our dogs and the neighboring dogs go into full protection mode on bright moon nights. Never fear, our defenders are here to scare away mean coyotes, bear, and other frightening predators like deer and raccoon.

Today was laundry day for me. Such a pretty day. I wanted to be outside pulling weeds but the mounds of clothes would not let me. They growled at me from many rooms. We separated, folded, set summer things aside, small things aside. Put away, put in piles to give away. We are not done yet but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Should I have the boys bring the winter things down from the attic? Maybe tomorrow.

Fall is making her presence known in our neck of the woods. The trees are so lovely. Yesterday we walked around the garden with some friends who were here for a visit. The silken strands of spider webs floated along lazily. They glistened in the late afternoon sun. It made me think of the magical string spun by the sweet grandmother for the little girl in George Macdonald's THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLINS.

Another sign of fall is that it is time to breed goats. We have a guest this week. His name is Victor and he arrived to the farm yesterday, courtesy of his owners, Don and Donna. He is a hunk of a goat, full-bred bohr and all the girls(goats, that is) are hearts and tails aflutter! They go wild with his masculine scent. We of the human species think he stinks, but what do we know? Our hope is that his visit will result in baby goats come mid-March. Baby goats! Goats require aprox. 5 months for gestation. We like to breed them so that at least most of the most bitter weather has passed. Nothing like sitting out in the 18 degree barn waiting for babies to be born! We love love love baby goats and are so happy to have Victor over for a time.

The last couple of mornings have been nippy. 38 degrees or so. The milk has been steaming in the bucket as I bring it into the house. The days warm up to 80 degrees. My favorite time of year. Sweaters in morning give way to t-shirts in afternoon. For some reason this weather makes me crave pecans and chocolate and big glasses of milk. Instinct to put on a layer of insulation? Hmmm....

The dogs are yipping and howling as I type. Such good protectors. I hope they will scare off all those bad guys by around 10pm so we can all get a good night's sleep!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mother-Daughter Time

Maggie asks if I have written in my blog. I tell her no, but what does she think I should cover?

Here are some things Maggie thinks are of note:

We had our friends from Mass. here for a few days. They have four children and we have know them since the Patrick and their oldest were little babies. We have gone through a few pregnancies, labors and deliveries together. We both have moved a few times. We have camped together, laughed together, cried together, fought together. They are as close/closer than family. On this visit Nora and their corresponding 5 year old became friends for the first time. What a treat! Rose and Maggie and the bigger girl friends performed a brilliant play. I was impressed by the acting of each of the girls, the costumes and the giggles. Patrick was the hero for the 8 year old little fellow. I left a big pan of steaming cinnamon rolls and a bigger pile of dirty dishes for our guests and went to the farmer's market to sell our goodies. I came back to a big pile of clean dishes this afternoon. We will be friends forever.

Maggie reminds me that this afternoon, after our Mass. friends departed, some church friends arrived. This Sunday's topic in youth group in the passage in John 10 that describes the good shepherd. They came out and interviewed the children and videoed the sheep. It was fun. Of course, the sheep were very cooperative when we gathered them up before our friends arrived. We called them. They came. When the video rolled the sheep ran. Oh well...

As we chatted with our friends and prepared to say goodbye the phone rang. Some of our other friends, the 8 mile down the road friends, called. They were back in town from a week at the beach. The store bought milk made tummies ache. Did we have any extra? (we give them milk, they give us stuff we need) So I quickly said goodbye to other guests, grabbed the milking bowl and met up with Coco in the barn. Friends arrived right as I finished. Strained milk, made brief small talk, said good-bye. Thomas greeted us in the kitchen with a sheepish grin. (or should I say wolvish?) Dirty bowl was on counter, pan of brownies in oven. He decided to make supper...

I supplemented supper of brownies with some pizza crusts I did not sell. Drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, cooked til crispy. We ate pizza crackers and brownies for supper standing up in kitchen. Washed down with cold Coco's milk. Not bad. Glass of red wine for the mother and we are good. Dishes done, counters wiped, everyone tired. 8 oclock felt like 10:30. Even the kids felt like it was late. We talked a bit about goat herd management. Victor is coming for a visit tomorrow. Who do we want to keep? Who do we want to breed with a bohr for meat. Who do we want to breed for dairy? Who needs to go.

I was going to skip writing in the blog tonight, but I am glad for Maggie's suggestion. Especially since she has been massaging my head and playing with my hair the entire time. And giving good tips for writing ideas.


Thursday, October 9, 2008


Yesterday we bought 30lbs of cabernet franc grapes from a local vineyard. After school we turned a gal. of cream into butter, a big pile of black-eyed peas into a nice bowl of yumminess and around 10lbs of grapes into 3 jars of juice. It takes quite a bit of effort to make enough juice for these kids to quaff in about 15 minutes. I think I will ration the juice. It may be time to pull out those cute little tiny glasses that hold about 4 oz. We will make some more juice tomorrow and hopefully many jars of grape jelly.

Some dear long-term friends from Mass and their 4 kids will be arriving shortly. It will be fun to have them on the farm for a couple of days. Supper is almost ready. Thomas got a big pan of potatoes from the basement, washed them, boiled them and is now mashing them with some of that fresh butter. I picked some green beans, and they are nicely sauteed in olive oil with sea salt and garlic. They are a variety called dragon's tongue. Such a cool green bean! They grow flat, like a romano, but are a marbled chartreuse and purple bean, about 4-5 inches long. Unfortunately these turn a yellow-green when cooked. But they taste great! We are going to slice up some cucumbers and tomatoes that are still coming out of the garden, and cook up some grass-fed beef. I even pulled out a spaghetti squash from the basement and that will be baked with butter and salt and pepper. For dessert I picked some big fat purple figs and we will have them with almonds, homemade chevre and a drizzle of honey.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Taste and see that the Lord is good!

The kids just beckoned me away from the computer for a few minutes to enjoy the sunset. The perfect appetizer. Hot pink, purple orange, yellow and lilac with fall trees glowing. Even the grass looks more beautiful. Young girls playing tag on the lawn, giggling are dessert enough for me.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Yesterday evening I could see the crescent moon out the barn door while I milked. It was hanging over the pond, just over the roof of our screened-in deck. Tonight she had moved a little bit to the east and I couldn't see her at all while I milked. She is a bit more plump. A bit of a haze around her when I went out to the barn, but as I returned to the house the haze was all gone. I was quite sad the last week or so I couldn't see her. It was so dark. So empty.

The other evening we read a fairy tale by George Macdonald called Little Daylight. It is the story of a precious little baby born to a king and queen, named Little Daylight because she was bright as the sun. Everyone was invited to the christening of the liitle princess, and everyone came. Good fairies offered their special gifts to the baby, but unfortunately, as in real life, there had to be a wicked fairy. She gifted Little Daylight with the gift of "little daylight", giving her the gift of sleeping all day long,whether she like or not, and decreed that every night she would wax and wane with the moon. Of course, as in every good story, a redemptive fairy came along behind the wicked one, and her gift stated that the curse would be undone when a prince came and kissed the princess without knowing it. You will have to borrow the book to see for yourself. It is a cute little story and I think of it as I enjoy the moon.

George Macdonald was a rather unorthodox Scottish pastor who lived 1824-1905. His fairie stories and fantasies were source of inspiration for Tolkien, CS Lewis, Madeline L'Engle and many others. Some of his passages are a little wordy and very "Victorian." Some are absolutely and unforgettably inspired. The fairie stories, like the Light Princess and The Giant's Heart are so contemporary and humorous I have a hard time believing they were written over a hundred years ago. Other books, like Lilith and Phantastes are out of this world with a Salvador Dali-like surrealism. We especially love The Princess and The Goblin.

I have been milking Coco since the end of December. Almost 10 months. Every evening I want to groan as I look at the clock and have to head out to the barn. Til I get outside and look around. And listen. The moon and stars are becoming my friends. I have great prayer time milking Coco. When I feel stressed, I try to think of all the scriptures that apply to my circumstances, or my family's circumstances, or the plight of the poor and hungry, hurting and needy. Lately I have taken to speaking those scriptures aloud. Coco doesn't seem to care, one way or the other. But she certainly gives great creamy milk. What a gal. I forgot to tell her that one of our cow share people emailed her a blessing on Sunday since it was the feast of St Francis. Hope I remember to tell her in the morning.

It is a blessing having to go out and milk every morning and night. I never used to miss the moon when she was dark and hidden, back in the days before milking. But if I don't make an awful lot of mozzarella cheese and butter tomorrow, our fridge is going to be BEYOND overflow! Wonder if I can get the kids to drink one more glass of milk before they go to bed.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

C'est la Vie

This morning I sent Philip and part of the kids to the farmer's market and I stayed home and fried up some potatoes and drank too much coffee and milked Coco in my pajamas. It was fun.

Then Philip, boys and little girls went on a hike and I joined Maggie at the farmer's market for a couple of hours. That was fun, too. Sat morning has become a fun time to catch up with our farmer friends and customers. Social hour.

Our afternoon plans didn't go as planned, so Maggie and I ran into town to the bank and over to Goodwill, hunting for tennis shoes. We found a pretty silver plated wire bread basket, seven almost, not quite matching brown stoneware bowls we decided would be perfect for french onion soup this winter, with melted gruyere all over the sides, a faux crystal bowl with a silver rim perfect for fruit salad or mashed potatoes, or something fancy, a little cut glass plate for olives and carrots or figs and chevre or something fancy, a stainless steel wire colander for straining cheese or vegetables, an 8 cup big glass measuring cup/mixing bowl for making brownies or something fancy like, I don't know, maybe creme brulee. We did not find any tennis shoes. But it was pretty fun having such a spending spree on nonessentials for under $15!

We girls hung out and cuddled in the afternoon and I had my hair done by three different stylists.

Philip and Thomas are moving the pigs to another section of the garden. I picked a mess of okra, cucumbers, bell peppers, green beans and at least 25 lbs of tomatoes. Still need to pick blackeyed peas and another 25 lbs of tomatoes to go. Too dark now. Have to wait til tomorrow afternoon.

We had bad news this morning. Some predator attacked and killed the baby turkeys. The good news, we thought that the mama guinea sitting on her eggs must had lost them. She had 20 or 30 eggs, then disappeared. This morning she returned home, with over 20 little keats! What a happy surprise. The cycle of life... I guess we will try try again with the turkeys next year. I guess we don't really like turkey all that much anyway. Maybe we will have to support one of our other farmer friends if we decide we can't live without one for Thanksgiving... How long does it take for a guinea fowl to be large enough to eat???

I should mention that the other evening on the first of October we were greeted by our blustery friend, the wind. We hadn't seen or heard from her for a few months. When she returns this way in the fall she slams the door of the valley wide open and knocks down a few branches on her way through. Loud, a little obnoxious, with a bit of a temper. But I kinda like it when she comes back to join us. It's about time. Of course by winter's end we may be ready to say farewell. Nevertheless, there is something awesome and powerful about that wind and the warning sound like a steam engine coming through the trees on the ridge. It is nice and still tonight, but I have no doubts that she will make her presence known to us on a regular basis now that fall is with us.

On the same note, the weather now is CHILLY. Cold at night and in the morning. Was 38 degrees this morning. But near 70 this afternoon. Perfect weather for corduroys and jean jackets and sweatshirts and socks and a fire in the fireplace. We need a bonfire with some friends and apples and marshmallows on sticks to make it just right.

Better go milk Coco. Will have to see where the moon is tonight. I saw her come back as a tiny crescent last night. She has been missing for a few days and I have missed her. It has been dark, dark, dark, and the stars have been clear and bright.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stewing tomatoes, or stewing in my own juices, or processing on a fall day

It is chilly today. Perfect for the first day of October.

The sky has been a deep shade of periwinkle off and on and the leaves on the willow tree are silvery as they wave to me. I am working on hard red frozen tomatoes. A gift from my garden queen sister, Terri. Bags and bags of frozen orbs. She cleaned out last year's tomato harvest from the freezer to make room for their beef. I was the lucky recipient!

Part of the tomatoes are bubbling in a canning pot on the stove. I will boil them down, take out the skins and cores, then can them. Or make marinara sauce and tomato basil soup if I get really energetic. It is easier to have jars on the shelves of the basement to make room for beef, pork, chicken and duck in the freezers.

Working in the kitchen alone for a little bit gives me pondering time. Sometimes that is a good time, sometimes I wonder...

Earlier this morning I was sharing with an old friend that a mutual friend from ages and a couple of states ago found out her son, similar in age to our son, was recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. When I told Thomas about his old pal's diagnosis, we thought it was kind of cool that someone else we know was wired in a particularly special and unique way; that it was neat to know someone who could relate to certain struggles and also certain joys. Thomas was helping clean up the kitchen with my friend as we chatted and I was absolutely mortified when she responded to that news with "Oh how horrible! Poor poor "friend"." Of course she had no desire to hurt Thomas or me. And PLEASE know that I am all too well aware at how easily my foot flies into my mouth on a regular basis.

I guess I hated having Thomas hear that our friend thinks that having a child with aspergers is a curse. That she would think it a horrible thing for our friend and her family to have to endure such a diagnosis. Of course all was smoothed over and conversation moved along. But I have been in a bit of a funk nonetheless.

I love Thomas. Sometimes I wish life were easier for him, easier for him to navigate social issues, sensory overload, difficulty in verbal expressions. But he and I know of all sorts of people who had difficulty navigating social issues, had terrific problems in expressing themselves in socially acceptable ways, and couldn't handle certain overstimulating environments. These people were responsible for making amazing contributions to the world through inventions, technological advancements, etc.

Thomas was upset and a bit confused by our friend's comment. He is very very perceptive. One of his areas of giftedness. Sometimes we forget about aspergers and just get annoyed at certain behaviours that are AS(asper.syndrome) symptoms. He is who he is. I annoy people all the time, and don't have a label to justify it! If Thomas were "cured" and we no longer had to think about aspergers, would it make our life so much better? Would it be less "horrible"? Would our teenager all of a sudden miraculously get out of bed at 7:30 without our haranguing? Would he run and jump to get his math books out and eagerly work on his writing homework?

Thomas has an incredibly wry sense of humor. He makes me laugh. He lets me hug him. He has an amazing ability to focus on a task for hours, whether it is splitting firewood or peeling apples. He reads books like something crazy! He must read 8 or more novels a week, plus another I don't know how many historical or reference type books. He retains information like a sponge, if he finds it interesting! He wishes he had a pal, but it is hard for him since most of his peers don't know how to meet Thomas where he is, and he doesn't know how to meet them where they are. Sometimes that feels horrible.

Living with autism is a challenge. What in the world is NOT a challenge in life? Living with autism has helped each member of our family be a better person. We are learning that some people labeled "weird" by society may be wired a particular way and that wiring enables them to do certain things that other neurotypical folks could never hyperfocus enough to accomplish.

Thomas, our friends' son, and our many other friends who are on some spectrum or other are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Their limitations, bumping up against our limitations, make for real life. Flavor. Salt.

Fall weather makes me think of a stew. Lots of ingredients. Not really expensive ones. Humble, tough cuts of beef or pork or chicken. Some old potatoes, an onion or two. Maybe some gnarly carrots. Garlic. A slow heat and lots and lots of time makes for a comforting bowl of melded flavors that feels like home. Family. Autism has been a great seasoning/tenderizing agent in our family "pot". I bet it has been in the life of our other friends who live with autism. I reject the word HORRIBLE as an adjective to describe our life with special needs. There are many many adjectives I could use to write about our experiences with special needs. That would be another article.