Little voice belonging to Morning Star:
Me: What is it Dear?
Morning Star: Come outside.
Morning Star: I want to show you something.
Me: But Mommy's cooking dinner right now.
Morning Star: But I want to show you something in the garden.
Me: What's in the garden that mommy needs to see RIGHT NOW?
Morning Star: Mommy you need to see it.
Me: What is it?
Morning Star: There is a dolphin in your garden, Mommy.
Me: REALLY!!! ( I live in the high desert, 100's of miles from an ocean.)
A DOLPHIN IN MY GARDEN??
NOW, THIS I HAVE GOT TO SEE.
(dinner can indeed wait.)
I allow Morning Star to lead me outside. She takes me to a lizard that is belly-up, graveyard dead.
There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, quite like having an almost 4 year old around.
I pulled the first Radishes this morning.
I immediately made a sandwich from the largest one.
It was mild and tender.
I learned to like radish sandwiches when I was very young from my Dad.
Happy Fathers Day, Dad!
Thinly sliced radishes
We finished installing the raised beds and we had a load of topsoil/compost delivered. This was the most costly part of building the raised bed garden. I debated a long time before making this decision. Topsoil is non existent here, but it seemed ridiculous to pay for it. For a gal from a state where great soil is a given, this seemed so extravagant. I calculated the amount of trips it would take to fill all the beds, and the time involved. (Not to mention the hassle of dragging along the tots) Finally I decided to bite the bullet and have it delivered
We fenced in the new garden, joining it to the old one. I planted potatoes and corn in the old garden. We made a gate, and I just love it!
I picked my first tomato today! Kinda cheated on this- We hauled this 3 ft high Patio tomato plant back from Maryland in April.
Spinach and Radishes
Else where in the beds things are beginning to pop up. It is so fun to go out early in the morning and see what has made an appearance overnight. So far I have found, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, red beets, onions, cucumbers, squash and lettuce.
Today after church, we headed for the mountains. A quick stop at Subway made an instant picnic with no prep work for Mom. It was a lovely day, clear and sunny and temps that were just right. We had our lunch at a picnic area, then drove to the trail head that leads to a lake.
DFD#2 rode on DH shoulders for awhile, Morning Star carried the backpack.
After hiking nearly a mile, we arrived at the lake.
Nearby we spied a patch of snow. Here is DH and our "current family" standing in the snow. A snowball fight broke out right after this picture. (how often does THAT happen on Mother's Day?) DFS#2 made a tiny snowman.
DFD#2 sunk in to her knees and was not too happy about it. As you can see, She's not getting any help from Morning Star....
After the hike back to our truck, we went on a long drive through the mountains on an unfamiliar road, just enjoying the day. The boys rode on the back of the truck, and the girls fell asleep. It was a wonderful Mother's Day.
Thursday evening we dined at Grandma Mary's house. This was quite a treat, since it had been many years since I put my feet under her table for a meal. In our family, Grandma's dinners are legendary. When my biological Grandmother died, I was very young and have only a few faint memories of her. Grandpap remarried, and Grandma Mary has been a wonderful blessing to our whole family. There is no evil step-mother in our family.
The table is set with the Nortake china, (Fairmont pattern) and Fostoria glass. It is beautiful. The main attraction however, is the FOOD. The woman goes all out. If you leave hungry, you have only yourself to blame. When Grandpap was still living, He would hone his big knife and carve the meat in his snow white butcher apron. After grace, he's announce, "Reach in and make yourself homely." Then he'd unfold his napkin, tuck a corner into his collar, pick up his knife and fork and eat with a purpose. The man loved good food. He was a grocer.
The menu this evening is:
Bread sticks, Italian favored with cheese
Caultiflower & broccoli salad
At this point, my brother leans over to my 14 yr old foster son and whispers, "When you think you've had some of everything on the table, Grandma brings out more from the kitchen" And he was right. A cake like bar with chocolate topping appeared. Then the candy dish was passed. After dinner, more Aunts, Uncles and Cousins came by for the weekly Thursday evening vist at Grandma's. Before we left for the evening, she served pretzels and chips.
Grandma Mary's eyesight is failing to the point that she cannot drive.
We are Not from tornado country, a fact that we are particularly grateful for. Today we are traveling east to Maryland and have been about 20 or 30 min ahead of the weather. This would vary as little voices from the back seat would annouce, I NEED TO PEE!!! A pit stop would happen in short order, after which we would again have a storm on our heels.
We stopped in Springfield Mo for dinner and then decided to keep driving awhile before getting a room. We made a stop for gas, all the while listening to weather reports on the radio. That was somewhat useless to us because we had no idea of the county lines and couldn't really tell where the tornado was headed. While DH was fueling, I took a good look at the map and made a quick list of names of counties that we would be passing through.
Just as DH was getting into the vehicle, the tornado warning siren went off. Another vehichle was in a hurry to leave and nearly ran into us. We drove across the street to a motel and pulled up to the door under the overhang. By this time the wind was furious and it was raining. We grabbed kids and ran. The wind almost threw us at the building. Upon entering this well known chain motel, we couldn't find anyone. The desk was deserted. The kids were crying, and I think I wanted to. It all happened so fast. DH finally walked through the open door by the check-in desk to the back room and found the desk clerk who hadn't heard us come in !?!?!?. She was calm and quickly calmed us down, gave the kids lollipops, and checked us in. In a few minutes, the forceful wind died down, and we were able to bring in our things. We are now safely established in our room, and have gotten a handle on the situation with the weather channel. We are glad we chose to stay here, as the storms are on the same path as our route. I THINK my heart rate has returned to normal. Tomorrow's forcast is not looking so great, either. Guess this will pump up my prayer life.
Here are 2 of our newly constucted raised beds. The husband of my dear friend put them together for me. He also made a stool that you see upside-down on the far corner. We need another trip to Home Depot for a few more boards to complete the job. BTW the date is so wrong on these pics. All were taken 3/09.
Another friend who has use of a tractor leveled a spot, and graded our driveway while he was here
DH supervised the hole diggers
Our foster son and our nephew, both 14 dug the holes
The first bed is settled into the holes
This journey my DH and I are on has had it's ups and downs. Today is a joyful day on the journey, so I thought I'd tell you how we have come this far.
We love children, and we wanted a houseful, but biological children has not been God's plan for us. Four years ago this month, I was pregnant and the joy was overwhelming. For so long we had dreamed of having children and I was approaching 40, we felt we were racing time. But then the disappointment came when we found out that it was an ectopic pregnancy.
Skip ahead to August of the same year. A case worker from social services told me about another case worker that needed to place a baby. The baby was hospitalized. She had been abandon by her mother several days after being born. Mom had left baby w/ grandma and went on a drinking spree. Grandma had taken baby to social services and reported her daughter. She was then placed in a childrens home, and like so many babies abandoned by their mothers she became sick. I got on the phone immediately with the baby's case worker and asked if I could have the baby. "Yes, Crystal, you may have her" was the response.
Morning Star* was one day from being 6 weeks old when placed with us. She was 6 lb 13 oz at birth, but 6 weeks later was barely 8 lbs. We brought her home with a paper to call the hospital for information. A call informed us that she was taking 3oz formula every 3-4 hours and that she was on Zantac for acid reflux. That first night we had her in bed with us. She would breathe fast, then stop. I'd touch her and she'd breathe again. She coughed horribly and we held our breath waiting for her to breathe. My brother-in-law told me that she'd pump up my prayer life. Boy, was he right. At night we are 75 miles from medical help, and 135 miles from the hospital where she had been. They had told me, if she turns blue around the nose and mouth to bring her in. I could hardly get her to take an ounce of milk, and she didn't cry to be fed.
The next evening was Wednesday, and we went to church. After church a bunch of us gathered round and our minister prayed for her. That night she woke up every 4 hours and drank down 4 oz of milk. A clear answer to prayer. Thank You Jesus!
She was with us in foster care for 2&1/2 months, then returned to her mother. We were in contact with the parents after the first week of her placement with us. By recommendation of social services, they met us for the hospital check-up appointment.
Just before Christmas, her mother called and asked me to come and get her. Dad was out drinking, and she wanted to go find him. (Or maybe she wanted to join him??) We had her for her first Christmas.
From that time on we'd have her in 2 or 3 week spurts. It eventualy evolved into us getting power of attorney. From October '06 to Oct '08 we had her almost solid. She go for an occasional holiday, or once in awhile they'd take her "for good this time" that would last for 2 or 3 weeks because she wouldn't eat for them.
When they took her the end of October in 2008, They once agin said it was for good, but we didn't believe it. Months went by and for the first time in her life, we didn't have her over Christmas.
This morning I got a text message, and by early afternoon. Morning Star is with us again after 4 months. I've been crying happy tears all day. My heart is high. This is a tough road to walk, with all of the struggles of letting go time after time. But this is the child that God put into our empty arms when our hearts were hurting. If I had had a successful pregnacy, I would not have taken on this baby when I was 7 months pregnant. She truly is a gift from God, and the child of our hearts.
*not her given name
The structure in the picture is called a Hogan (pronounced ho-gone). This is the traditional dwelling for the Navajo people. A hogan can be constucted of logs, adobe block , modern lumber or stone as this one is. The roof on this old hogan was made of logs and filled in with mud. I can imaging it created quite a mess during the monsoon season. My husband's family lived in this one, probably before my husband was born. By the time he came along, they were living in a 4 room house. He's the youngest of 9 children. Some of the older siblings had already left home by this time.
There are still families who live in Hogans, but not as many as when I came here 15 years ago. Today many families live in single and doublewide trailers. There are many houses also and there is the Navajo Housing Authority housing. The joke for NHA is that it means "No Hickeys Allowed" or "No Happiness Allowed"
Inside of a hogan you would typicaly find a small wood stove in the center with the stove pipe going straight up through the roof. A bed or 2 along one side, a table and a couple of chairs and a cupboard or shelves for food. A chest of drawers for clothing. Most had a dirt floor. To sweep a dirt floor, you would sprinkle water on it, then sweep with a broom. Children mostly slept on a sheep pelt on the floor.
Most hogans have only one or two windows, and the door was always to the east. If someone passed away in the hogan, it was usually deserted by the family. A hole would be broken through the north side to allow the spirit of the deceased to leave. Some Navajo's are superstitious about owls. If an owl perched on a hogan, it too would be abandoned.
I know a family with 5 children who live in a hogan. It is a large hogan and they have built a room on that they use as an entry way/ mud room/ kitchen. They have a large closet built along one wall in the hogan that is used for clothing storage and changing room. The larger part of the hogan is used as a dining/living/bedroom. They do not have electric or running water. They use a generator some. (did a double take once when I visited near Christmas and they had Christmas lights outside ) They now have solar & wind power. The windmill and the solar panels are on a platform as large as a skid. These are rented from the tribe for about $25 a month. They have a propane refridgerator/ freezer and a propane stove. The solar/wind power gives them light and runs the TV!
One of my goals for this blog is to let you have a peek at reservation life. My first visit here was in 1991. I came away a little shell shocked. I had heard stories and seen slides of third world countries all my life, but I was not prepared to see this on American soil. My heart went out to these wonderful people and after several visits, I moved here in 1994. At the time, I had only planned to be here for a year to teach Kindergarten. God had other plans. I met my husband. We married in 1997, and I have made this place my home. I am no longer shocked by the lifestyle here, instead I'm shocked when I return to my childhood home area and see how everyone has so much.
We married in the fall of 1997 and moved into a singlewide fixer-up trailer. We had no water and no electric. We did have a propane tank and a propane stove to cook on. We live about 250 yards from my mother-in-law, so we put our small chest freezer at her house. Everyday I'd go over there and swap ice packs to put in an ice chest where we kept some cold food. We hauled water in a 55 gallon drum on the back of a pick-up, then bucket by bucket we'd dip and pour into another 55 gallon drum inside the house. The two of us used a barrel of water every 5 to 6 days. This was for cooking,drinking, dishes and showers. Laundry was done in the closest town 22 miles away, which is also where we pick up our mail. Showers were taken with a camp shower. We didn't solar heat the water because we did not have a good place to put it outside where the dogs couldn't get to it. Instead we heated water on the stove, mixed in some cool water and filled the camp shower. A camp shower is NOT the most satisfying shower, but we did get clean. We had an outhouse,too, of course.
After 20 months and paperwork troubles that I don't care to recall, we got electricity. After 4&1/2 years we got running water.
It was a hard way to live for me. For DH it was a way of life. I do not regret those years. I know now that I can live this way if need be, and I can THRIVE while doing so. It also helped me make friends here. I was living just the same way other women here were, and dealing with the same frustrations. I was one of them.
Today was one of those days when best laid plans are blown away. Every effort I make to plan a sewing day is an exersize in futility.
When I called back the hall this morning to wake the boys for school, I was unprepared for what happened next. They came out and began to tell me how awful they felt. DFS1, age 14, fell last evening and ran a splinter into his knee. He didn't get all of it out, and it had festered a bit and kept him awake all night. DFS2 was a bit warm and complaining of a tummy ache and sore throat. He ate breakfast, and I never did hear anything more about the tummy, but a quick look down his throat affirmed that he did indeed have a sore throat.
I decided to take both boys to the clinic. DFS1 has a bald spot on the back of his head that began before he came here, and I've been thinking we should have it checked out. His hair covers it, but he needs a haircut, and with the bald spot, I don't trust myself to give the haircut.
So the morning was spent in the clinic, NOT my favorite place to hang. I mean everyone there is sick, and who WANTS to be exposed to all those extra germs....
DFS2 needed his shots updated, and he was not happy about that, but now it's done, no more until he is 11 in 4 years.
Dr said, (tongue-in cheek) he'd give DFS1 a perscription for stress. I said, "Oh give me one also" He laughed and said,"Crystal, you INVITE stress into your life" . He knows me too well
The first day on the new board. This is so exciting. My day has been busy, so I've not had the time to figure this all out like I want too. I've messed around enough to come to the conclusion that this is like walking into a new house and discovering a floor plan that is full of surprises. Hidden passageways, secret rooms waiting to be discovered. This should turn out to be a delightful adventure.