Skip to content

homestead happenings: recharging batteries

2013 December 6
by Rachel Turiel

You can tell I’m feeling better because I’ve been whistling while I work, which is to say, singing along tunelessly to The Wailin’ Jennys while I slip meat off a smooth turkey scapula with my thumb. (Also, turkey bones are the Lamborghini of bone broth, so there’s that to celebrate, too).

Another clue that I’m feeling better is that Rose spent her dog-sitting money on these blingy nail-stickers, and despite the fact that they made me cringe for five thousand different reasons, I helped her apply and trim them and felt a funny sort of pride in her courage to be so sparkly-spangled while the rest of us are more good-naturedly boring and practical.

hh -dec4

hh - dec14

Also, it’s possible that my mind is either getting more expansive or the tiniest bit addled. I’ve been taking my beer money to various healers and every single one is independently encouraging me to find my greater, supernatural-like support system (except my acupuncturist, who is encouraging me to buy a new bra). I’ve been calling on the Arnica Fairy, on Old Mother Juniper, on freaking angels. I’ve been getting to know an old, braced place in my chest I’ve named “The Shield,” one of those places developed to keep you safe in the scary wilds of childhood, which now is like leaving the house with a team of armed bodyguards when you’ve actually got grown up skills and life is really pretty safe and lovely.

Also, I’m learning how to recharge my mental/emotional/physical batteries. Mostly this means doing less, and as my friend Ananda confirmed, the world does go on just fine even if I go to bed at 9pm and shut my computer down for the weekend. But also, self care is sometimes doing more, like signing the kids and I up to volunteer at the local animal shelter (where Rose is already agitating for a very elderly female cat who’s been marked down to $10). Self care is not just an island owned by Oprah. Although, holy moly, growing up American, somehow you get the impression that mastering your times tables by ten years old is the brass ring to strive for. And to tell you the truth, I’m still a little fuzzy on some of my times tables, but getting clearer that I’m never alone.

On the homestead::

:: Hanukkah has been more special than I could have imagined. Not sure if it’s that Col and Rose can be bickering right up to the moment the flame leaps from the lighter, and then we all unify like a wholesome Norman Rockwell painting to sing the Hanukkah blessing; or maybe it’s how Rose approaches the blessing like a gospel song with jazzy riffs and long-held notes; or maybe it’s that Dan has taught the kids to sing the part that goes asher kidishanu as I share kitties with you, which is a pretty powerful blessing when you think about it, as the adopting of our first cat Jasper was certainly the start of our own deep committment.

hh - dec17

Notable: Rose is wearing a long-sleeved leotard in DECEMBER, hence bare legs; Col can’t keep his hands out of the fire (Dan is onto him); the ubiquitous bowl of soaking pinto beans; my lonely yet cheery bowl of bone broth soup in the midst of enchiladas. And ten points to anyone who spots Dan without his knit hat from now through April.

:: My parents just left after two months here in Durango (and are now obnoxiously e-mailing me pictures of the fresh tomatoes they’re buying at the Berkeley farmers markets. It’s ten degrees here today). We loved having them here, passing the kids back and forth between us like precious and very loud gifts. Yesterday Rose roped me and Col into a little “window-shopping,” which is something her and Nana do together (this is where you peruse stores without buying anything. For fun). I told her my limit was two stores unless someone hooks me up to a medical marijuana IV, when she scoffingly informed me that her and Nana usually do at least NINE stores.

hh - dec4

:: Col got a remote control airplane for Hanukkah and now it’s clear what his hands have been missing all these years. I can’t quite understand the magic of watching something launch…circle…crash over and over and over. But, I’m happy for Col’s happiness.

hh - dec6

hh- dec3

:: This picture, taken on Thanksgiving, sums up everything I’m thankful for.

hh - dec7

:: Kale poachers.

hh - dec1

:: Forcefully grooming reluctant chickens with a stiff-bristled brush: Don’t let PETA know.

hh - dec8

:: Col’s new homemade bow and quiver.

hh - dec10

hh - dec11

:: The complete, homely view of those lovely coldframe greens from my last post. Blankets overnight and a row of insulating bags of leaves on the northside. (Just so you don’t think I’m running some Martha Stewart-like operation here).
hh - dec9

:: Our library is celebrating its birthday and requested cards from patrons. Considering it’s our 3rd favorite place in town (after home and the river), we participated:hh - dec3

This could also serve as a great Holiday Book-Buying Guide for the 6-10 year old set.


hh - dec5


Col, recharging his batteries.

hh - dec13

Many xo’s,


ps: Earlier this week at you’vegottabekiddingme thirty in the morning, Rose wakes me up because her knees are hurting. I ask if she’s nervous about going to school tomorrow. Yes, that’s it. Would you like to call in some angels to help you? She would. She calls in 3 boys and 3 girls (each trio has an angel with black, red and blonde hair, suspiciously similar to Charlie’s Angels). I ask if she wants to ask the angels for help. She asks the boys to help her with the knee pain and the girls to help her get back to bed. One minute later she’s in her top bunk, calling out a bit like a drunken sorority sister, as she does when sleep-happy, “I love you soooooo much, Mama.” Just saying.


22 Responses leave one →
  1. susan permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Your writing is WONDERFUL!

  2. Carrie permalink
    December 6, 2013

    If Rose has not read FANCY NANCY, she needs to right now! All the FN books are good, but the very first one really does nice things with plain family/fancy little girl.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      December 8, 2013

      She’s onto those books for sure.

  3. December 6, 2013

    Rachel, this post had me laughing out loud in my quiet train compartment. Thank you and joy- and light-filled holidays.

  4. Bree permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Oh my, now I’m all filled up for the day :-)
    Glad you are feeling better. Also that sentence about Rose being all spangled-out among your family’s ‘dullness’ had me laughing so hard, and feeling so thankful for all those who tread against the flow, you know? She is amazing.

  5. Denise permalink
    December 6, 2013

    What an enjoyable blog post! I teach school in Texas, and we are enjoying a rare “school closing due to weather”. I will carry your musings and humor with me throughout the day. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Molly permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Much love to you and your family, Rachel. At our house we are celebrating Advent, at least as much as Christmas itself. I’m not sure what Advent is about, except in some general, interreligious “hold back the dark times with candles and sweets” sense, but for us it involves little muslin spice bags, one for each day, hanging on a line, with chocolate or a clue to a hidden gift in there. I should probably look it up. I’ve been advised that I may wake my girl early, if there’s any danger that she might sleep too long to open the bag for the next morning. And I, too, get the “I love you so much’s” after she’s kind of indirectly asked for help, and I’ve given it without making her wait or drawing attention to the request itself. It’s like clockwork, and gets me every time, and makes me hope (each time) she’ll always tell me if she ever gets an F, or gets pregnant, or hurt. I run through this litany of hopes for future disclosures every time we go through the “help me, thank you” cycle, which is a lot, since she’s five. And then the other day, we had to get ready quickly, and I jumped in the shower and she was dressed when I got out, entirely by herself and without prodding. Which reminds me that she may in fact choose to handle some problems on her own, and that could be totally legit. I’m glad you are feeling better.

  7. Chris permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Totally concur on turkey broth – so much more flavor than chicken! It seems to be a well-kept secret, though. My family always looks at me a little oddly when I offer it up for their freezers in the weeks after Thanksgiving when I’ve got so much on hand, but they certainly seem to enjoy all the dishes created from it! Beautiful, warm post – it was an antidote for the subzero air that’s descended in my part of the country this week, thank you!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      December 8, 2013

      I know! I’ve been totally scheming on how to create a mobile service where I come pick up people’s bones off their cleaned up turkey carcasses without seeming totally weird. (or, you know, *weirder*)

  8. Edward Oak permalink
    December 6, 2013

    I enjoy the equal representation of family radness from the masculine and feminine sides of your tribe. Col’s airplane and archery exploits look rad!
    Also – I really think that you are on to something with the angels. Kids have such an amazing access to spiriuality that often tends to close down by puberty. I think that my spirual play with Drew as a child was some of the best time we spent together. How awesome is it for us to retain our sense of magic in the world as we mature?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      December 8, 2013

      Yes, super important/helpful to retain our sense of magic in the world as we mature. Wish it came as easy to me as the children.

  9. Baba permalink
    December 6, 2013

    So much to laugh out loud to in this post-even when being the butt of a joke. Love your sense of time as in “you’vegottabekiddingme thirty in the morning.. Miss you all! Love Baba

  10. Andrea permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Lovely, seriously.

    Your feelings regarding Rose blingy nails matches my feelings for boy child’s belief in Santa. Like, it’s so wrong in every way but I am surprisingly into it.

  11. Grandpa Gerry permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Rose’s nails are just fabulous–and little girls are just amazing. After years of only boys to parent, I’m learning about the feminine side with the help of two wonderful granddaughters. Like Rose, Adeline is a bit of a tomboy–but goes to milk her goat in pink turtleneck, snazzy overalls and frilly headband. And she wants a “pink poofy” dress for her birthday. Iris is an amazing diplomat, smoothing out the inevitable conflicts between her cousin siblings. Obviously I’m smitten.

  12. Amy permalink
    December 6, 2013

    Health. That makes my heart swell a little for you. I didn’t even realize I was pulling for you until I read this good news.

  13. Ellie permalink
    December 6, 2013

    I read this earlier in the day and meant to leave some profound comment but then got swept into work. Now it’s late, and I don’t remember my comment, but I remember the warm feeling with which reading your post left me, as always. So, thank you.

  14. December 6, 2013

    Supernatural-like support system, new bra. Potato, potahto.

  15. Emmanuelle permalink
    December 8, 2013

    Rachel, your stories have a unique way to radiate nice warmth into my heart.

    Which reminds me of something : this Saturday I took part in an informal drum circle in three parts : 1) singing specific vowels, one at a time – okay, where does it vibrates the most ? 2) chanting a few holy songs from various cultures, while thumping their rhythm on an African drum (most of us had never touched one, but we were surprisingly into it) 3) lying down, eyes closed, while listening to various instruments or objects being played one by one, in a “sound massage” of each chakra.

    Well, at some point there was a kind of friendly, cheerful vibe going on just above my head, and I had the funny feeling that my angels were taking this opportunity to say hello :o)

    Which is really nice of them, since at this time a friendly nudge is truly helpful.

    Sisterly hugs to you and Rose,

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      December 9, 2013


      Love this.

      A million xo’s

  16. December 9, 2013

    Glad to hear you are feeling a little better Rachel!! And that is saying something in the stone cold heart of winter! Imagine how June will be! <3

  17. Amy Morrison permalink
    December 22, 2013

    Reading your posts just makes me feel good.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: