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Homestead happenings: springy

2011 March 16
by Rachel Turiel

Rosie has been asking, for about a month now, “when is it going to be spring?” And really it’s such a hard question to answer. There’s early spring, which is now, when spotting a single iris leaf spearing up through the cold wet dirt is like a holy revelation. And then there’s late spring when your fingernails are forever packed with a thin crescent of dirt and you can’t remember what it feels like to shiver.

I think Rose just wants to know when she can start wearing sun dresses again.

Planting lettuce

I love this season of surprises – how chives push up, vibrating with greenness, and then get pummeled by snow. I love how the sun sweeps through skeleton trees, and then two days later those trees are crawling with a hatch of tiny leaves. Even if it snows now, which it inevitably will, it’s like watching a scary movie you already know the ending of, and the end is daffodils and rising rivers and pea shoots twisting up fences.

soaking peas for planting

If parenthood had a theme song, it would be something like “2 steps forward, 1 step back, doe-si-doe, now breathe and relax.” There’d be a nice guitar solo and some harmonizing by Johnny Cash, or maybe Mrs. Piggy, and then you’d hear Johnny Cash hacking up two tons of lung-tar in the background while Piggy falls to the ground in a thud of disgust. Breathe and relax.

This is to say, Col’s recovery from his tonsillectomy has been of the non-linear variety; two steps forward, one step back. Last Saturday night his dinnertime thankfuls were “I’m thankful for Mama and Daddy and Rosie and Chris and Iris (dinner guests) and for getting my tonsils out.” Dan and I raised eyebrows while Col ate three bowls of refried beans, put on a blue satiny skirt and carried our CD player into the kids’ room for a dance party.

Runway models reading, it's the next thing.

Previously, some upright drawing was seen as *huge* progress. A collaborative drawing: I did the coral, Col drew the sharks.

After the literary dance party, Dan and I had that buoyant feeling we’d get when Col was in the NICU and seemed to be crawling out of the latest scary hole. We discussed easing up on his pain meds. Then in the middle of the night, Col’s ears began to throb with what’s called “referred pain,” and he cried and thrashed, his squeaky, scarred voice blaring in the night. This referred pain lasted for four heartbreaking days. Then yesterday he woke up, ate two bowls of oatmeal (without a wince), and announced that he wanted to go to Riley’s birthday party that afternoon.

Meanwhile, it must seem to poor Rosie that Col is living in her dream world, where every other second someone is offering him popsicles, juice, ice cream, jello, rice milk, movies, chapter books, snuggles, presents and more ice cream. We’re practically begging Col to chew gum, which is supposed to help the pain, and he refuses, while Rose would volunteer to chew her weight in gum everyday.

(This is my dad. He and my mom have been incredibly helpful and generous. You’d be amazed how many adults it takes to care for a totally lethargic 6-year old. Also, if you are interested in reading that book I’m going to write, I’ll give you their address so you can plead with them to move here so someone can watch the kids while I work)

I love it when Rose hops up next to Col on the couch and sticks a car in her eye. “It’s a car-eye!” And Col cracks a fraction of a smile. Other times are more challenging, like when Col’s writhing on the floor, pressing his hands against the painful microcosm of his ears and Rose is growling “it’s not fair.”

“Do you think it’s fair that Col had to have surgery?” I ask Rose, because I’m three years old too.

“Actually Mama, it is fair that I had my tonsils out.” Col whispers like a beacon of wisdom in a sea of lowly lifeforms.

“I just want everything that Col has.” Rosie sputters before bursting into tears. And given the amount of empty ice cream cartons spotted in the garbages around the house, we all do. Really what Rose wants most of all is her old playmate back.

Also on the homestead:

Tomatoes are up!

Ricotta cheese proves to be easier to make than yogurt or feta or farmers cheese. Next up: mozzarella.

We’ve been spending as much time outside as Col can tolerate. Sometimes Rose just likes to pull up a chair while the family labors.

Col has been on the same wavelength as our cat, Bee, who amazingly, runs to any kid who is crying.

As of today, Col is doing so much better. This afternoon he ran outside for some fresh air and then came back in and announced “I didn’t know the plants had grown so much.” Oh, baby, I think we all have.

With love,


26 Responses leave one →
  1. March 16, 2011

    Yay! You know it’s lovely? After all the worrying and anxiety, what Col (and, hopefully, you all) will remember about this tonsillectomy is that it was a time of great love: family, couples, ice cream, cuddly cats, etc. the pain fades.

  2. March 16, 2011

    I’m so glad to see Col feeling better, even if there are steps back.

    Also, I’ll take that address ;)

  3. Ami permalink
    March 16, 2011

    Love it! Wishes for a good transition back into normalcy! I’m surprised you haven’t tried making some Kale ice cream for Col! I was looking for that recipe! :) Hee Hee!

  4. Melissa permalink
    March 16, 2011

    Real tears here this morning as I read about your sweet family–not sad tears but just, you know. My heart aches for Rosie, even though she’s fine and Col’s fine and it’s all part of the mixed bag–I like your parenting theme song. The kids may need their own; I wonder what it would sound like.

    And Col’s wisdom is so heartbreaking and amazing. It reminds me of when I try to apologize to Avi (for being snippy) and he tells me earnestly, “You weren’t being mean, Mommy. It’s okay,” or my favorite, “You feel better now, Mommy?” I feel like such an a-hole sometimes when we are rushing around trying to get out the door in the morning.

    Did you hear the Morning Edition piece about tonsillectomies the other day?

    So glad your parents are there to help and yes, they may as well stay so you can finish your book (:

    PS. What does it mean when some of the kale leaves turn sort of yellow-ish? And some are literally falling over, they have grown so tall. Oh, this bounty may be wasted on me!

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 16, 2011

      Your kale may need some nitrogen (nitrogen makes leaves green). You could add some compost or some diluted urine to the soil. Or maybe the leaves are just old and fading away. Maybe cut the plant back and let it resprout. I missed that NPR spot, but my mom heard it.

  5. Molly permalink
    March 16, 2011

    So glad he’s starting to feel better in a more sustained way. Eesh.

    We need a collectively owned yurt or condo or something in Durango so our parents could take turns staying in it. Mine comes for almost a week about once a month, about 8 months of the year, and we want her to have her own space, too, close by us :)

    I’m wondering what milk you used for the ricotta? I like to use organic for my kiddo to drink (and I’d love to use it for cheese) but I read that organic is sort of hyper pasteurized and therefore less great for making ricotta.

    Be well.

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 16, 2011


      A collectively owned yurt for grandparents! I love it.

      We use raw milk, there are several sources in Durango. If the milk you buy is just “pasteurized” as opposed to “ultra pasteurized” you may be able to make ricotta/cheese etc…

      Growing children at 6512 feet:

  6. mama meredith permalink
    March 16, 2011

    So glad to hear the recovery is going well. I think when things have returned to normal, you need a professional massage/hot tub and / or a hot stone treatment, and a few glasses of wine. Let me know how that all goes….

  7. March 16, 2011

    There was no way that Col wasn’t going to heal and be just fine…too many prayers of intersession for him and the family.
    Everything looks like it’s going well..and Spring will bring us new chapters :o)
    Grandma Ginny :o)

  8. March 16, 2011

    So glad to hear the surgery went well. I hope your next post declares him fully recovered!

    Love and light from Canada…

  9. March 16, 2011

    This alone should motivate your parents to move:

    “If parenthood had a theme song, it would be something like “2 steps forward, 1 step back, doe-si-doe, now breathe and relax.” There’d be a nice guitar solo and some harmonizing by Johnny Cash, or maybe Mrs. Piggy, and then you’d hear Johnny Cash hacking up two tons of lung-tar in the background while Piggy falls to the ground in a thud of disgust. Breathe and relax.”

    I mean, C’MON FOLKS! We need this book.

    • March 17, 2011

      totally agree!

      i actually thought the other day….hmmm…”maybe rachel could do a kickstarter fundraiser. i’d sure be happy to chip in what i can to buy some childcare so she can write her book.”

      the world needs your book(s) my friend!!!!

  10. March 16, 2011

    Whew, sounds like you have been bumping over a rough road, but are coming out on the other side. Poor kiddos. And look at all that bare, snow-free ground you have there!! Talk about not fair!!!

  11. March 16, 2011

    xox to Col. And xox to Rose, for the “car-eye.” I’m just back from my writing class and thinking, such surrealism! Such poetry!

    And, yay! Tomatoes! Or tomato plants, I suppose. Finally saw my first crocuses of the year … on Friday, I think? Or was it yesterday?

  12. March 16, 2011

    Onwards and upwards, Col! Hope things are back to normal soon so you can enjoy the lovely weather you’re having! We’re enjoying living vicariously through your pictures for now :)

  13. March 16, 2011

    This is so tender, so sweet.

    Oh Rosie, it’s hard to let your sibling have the spotlight. The tiny sisters in this house know just how you feel. And, there’s so much to learn from watching the work, eh?

    Has Col learned how to blow bubblegum bubbles with all that gum coming his way?

    Love *Col whispers like a beacon of wisdom in a sea of lowly lifeforms* & the blue satin skirt image – like a disco version of a hospital gown.

  14. March 17, 2011

    Uff-da. Sounds like some trying times. I think the hardest thing a parent can ever watch is their child suffering, in any capacity. Someday when he is sullen and quiet over a broken heart…. your heart will ache nearly as much. (just minus the medically concerned part). Ahh the trials of parenthood.
    Rose cracks me up! I hope she gets her playmates back soon…. and after I ran outside to check my seeds mid post, I wanted to let you know…. you beat me :)

  15. March 17, 2011

    So glad to hear Col’s better. At the very least, there’s ice cream and popsicles. Poor Rose – it must be torture for her to not be able to partake.

    The bit about Cash and Piggy had me in stitches. So awesome.

    I’m excited for spring too, although being surrounded by mountains and beautiful nature, I think you’ll have more of a feast for your eyes. I’ll just be happy to see the daffodils on my sidewalk that some kind neighbor has planted. Oh and the buds on the trees!

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 17, 2011

      The buds on the trees…and the bud in your belly!

  16. Christy permalink
    March 17, 2011

    I’m so happy that Col is feeling better. Many times last tuesday I would find myself sending healing thoughts for a quick surgery and speedy recovery to Durango, CO.

    It is a little warmer here in Arkansas, and I was THRILLED to see the peonies I planted last year peeking up through the dirt. (Off of a plant that a neighbor in her 80s got from her grandmother no less!)

    Were are putting out a garden this year with my parents and grandparents (a first time for me as an adult) and I am so excited. We are also building a chicken coup and seriously thinking of raising some rabbits (for meat). When a few nights ago I was daydreaming about raising a pig or maybe starting some beehives, my hubby sweetly said, “Babe, let’s start with the garden and chickens and rabbits this year.” What me bite of more than I can chew?

    Back to the tonsils, I was eight when mine came out and it so drastically improved my life. I remeber knowing as a child how much better I felt. And I no longer had to drick the nasty pink stuff that never quite tasted like the bubblegum it was supposed to.

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 17, 2011

      Christy, I love your 3-generations garden plans! Thanks for saying hi and for the good words on being tonsil-free.

  17. March 17, 2011

    Your parents are lucky to have you. But I bet they know that.

  18. March 18, 2011

    So so glad things are on the upswing for Col. Been thinking of him and you all, even though I haven’t spoken out on your comments for a bit. We be busy…outside! It is warming up and there’s a mess called “let’s leave the plants all in the garden to die back naturally over winter and provide homes and seeds for winter creatures.” Ugh. I do this each year, and each spring I look at the tangle I have to prune and haul away.
    But….the peas are in, tomatoes are making their way to light through the seed mix, and all is good with spring springing. Now, I think I need dinner…yes, it’s 11:00 where I am. Long days:)

    Be well!


  19. Sylva permalink
    March 18, 2011

    You are truly one of my heroes! Every time I read your blog, I feel so inspired to have more children, grow a bigger garden, try a new recipe…. and I too will take your parents’ address!!

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      March 18, 2011

      Sylva, nice to “meet” you. And thank you for your kind words.

  20. March 30, 2011

    Love it and miss you!

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