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Homestead happenings: northwest of southwest

2015 May 15
by Rachel Turiel


It’s been raining Northwest style here, complete with clouds that move in and camp out for days, unleashing extended drizzle interrupted by regular downpours. One of our tenants recently asked Dan what he did to the lawn, it looked so…green…and lush…and lawnlike. And, yesterday I had the thought, for the first time ever, “Hmm, the garden might like a little sun.”


Kathryn, my garden apprentice is back for another season! So are the hollyhocks!

All the carrot seeds that our outlaw chickens recently unearthed from neat rows have germinated in random clumps. Also, every seed that has ever bounced, drifted or paraglided into our yard, has split open and sent down an exploratory root, the conclusion being: hey, this place will work. The hollyhocks, comfrey, and mint have received the biblical decree to go forth and multiply take over the world. The garden walkways are crawling with volunteer upstarts, each of which I should yank, yet I see as potential and future friend. (The cosmos: beautiful!; lamb’s quarters: edible weed!; Rocky Mtn Bee Plant: a special native!). Which is to say, like all relationships, it’s complicated. And strange. And beautiful.

On the homestead:


Rose turned 8 last weekend. She is a delectable mix of very innocent and very mature. Last night, walking one of her dog clients, she asked, “Is there a dog in the world who’s ever married a cat?” And for a moment it must have seemed possible that the right mix of dog and cat could walk down the aisle together, making it official. She wondered, watching the 4th Harry Potter movie, “Do you think the actor who played Wormtail really cut off his hand?” She loves when I feed her like a baby, scooping up soup and zooming it in her mouth. And, she told me last week, before a drama performance, that she was feeling “just a wink of nervousment.”

And yet, she is completely authorized to answer my phone, fully trusted to take messages or explain to a caller that I’m in the garden, rhapsodizing over carrot seedlings, which were unearthed by chickens on April 25th…Which is to say, the child pays attention. She knows people’s passwords, where their spare keys are hidden, can psychoanalyze any of us, and can detect that precise moment when celery has malingered too long in the fridge, turning from mild to bitter.

12Rose’s party in the park, complete with fun, challenging and uniting scavenger hunt. Riding on your 13-year old friend’s back on your birthday = TOPS!


Rosie got an ipod from my parents for her birthday. Because I’m still beholden to mixed tapes and Pandora, she has officially surpassed me, technologically speaking. She’s figured out that 1 dog walk = 4 itunes songs. She likes to listen with Col, and the music soothes the two of them into quiet, thoughtful, non-bickering creatures. All the music she knows she’s heard through me. So when I hear her singing, very loudly, “Virgil Kane is the name and I served on the Danville train...” I say to her, “Wow, you have such great taste in music, Rosie,” both of us secretly congratulating ourselves.

Col’s birthday present to Rose:5

:: Because plants in the cucurbit family (squash, cucumbers, zucchini, melons) have such a hard time transitioning after being transplanted, I am experimenting with germinating cucurbit seeds in a wet paper towel and transplanting outside before they put out leaves. It’s beautiful to watch how the rootlets literally grab onto the paper towel, determined to steady themselves.

:: A rare sunny day (can’t believe I just wrote that…but locals, can I get an amen?), launching a cardboard tri-plane from the roof.


:: Take me to your leader (Or, what you might find if you have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Or, as Brittney Spears once said: I’m not a girl, not yet a woman).6

Daytime, the baby chicks go outside to hang out in a cold frame for what Dan calls Chick Daycare, where we hope they get worn out enough to sleep through the night rather than party it up, squawking and pooping all over the bathroom floor.10

:: Dan, bringing home the bacon, dandelions.


: Baba and Nana are in town, being their typical awesomely kind and generous selves, taking the kids and then sending me texts like “We are having SOOO much fun!” Bonus points: why is there a gallon jug of water suspended in this photo?
:: In case you were still ambivalent about the cuteness of rats:

This weekend, on the two days (literally!) between extended rain ambushes, Dan and I are taking Col’s homeschool co-op on a backpacking trip. The idea being: get everybody hooked on backpacking through comeraderie. Next up: dandelion green eating party! Invite friends over for house cleaning!
Dan just shouted, happily: Insane in the rain brain! 

13 Responses leave one →
  1. Ellie permalink
    May 15, 2015

    Happy Friday, Rachel. Thanks for making mine so with these lovely happenings.

  2. Sara permalink
    May 15, 2015

    “Virgil Kane is the name and I served on the Danville train…” I say to her, “Wow, you have such great taste in music, Rosie,” both of us secretly congratulating ourselves. – Love it. Love all the rest too. Just when I think I don’t have the time to read anything, I find myself reading every word; you keep me until the end, Rain Brain. Thanks yet again. And your dirt looks great.

  3. Sara permalink
    May 15, 2015

    PS – Nice commentary on the dimensions of Rose.

  4. Andrea permalink
    May 15, 2015

    First, the whole plant carrots in one straight line and thin appropriately is not the only way to grow carrots. I can prove this.

    Second, Rose. That Rose. Don’t want her to grow up. Can’t wait to see it happen.

    Third, that jug of water is suspended to keep out the flies. Obviously.

  5. May 15, 2015

    Rose looks like a little lady! Happy belated birthday to her.

    We’ve been having a lot of rain too. More than I’d experienced in Chicago, let alone here in drought-prone Austin. Great for our region, but not so much for those of us craving the sun and just wanting to be outdoors.

  6. Emily permalink
    May 15, 2015

    Happy Belated Birthday Rosie!!
    One of these days I’m coming by to get the real-deal catch up : )

  7. May 15, 2015

    everything/everyone was sooooooo aligned and perfectly attuned at Rosie’s b-day party!!!

    in deepest great-ti-tude from the feeble ilg clan!

    we send our collective bow….

  8. Jen permalink
    May 16, 2015

    “nervousment” is a most fabulous word. I will commence using it immediately – totally captures that feeling not really explained by “nervousness”. Thank you Rose!

  9. Solyssa permalink
    May 16, 2015

    So many tidbits of awesome. I may have to try your technique with germinating the cucurbits. And I always love the surprises unearthed from the spring garden; our menu tonight is veggie fritters with some holdover leeks and potatoes I found while planting today. Enjoy every drop of rain while it lasts!

  10. May 18, 2015


  11. Jessica permalink
    May 19, 2015

    Happy Birthday Rose!!

    I love the pure joy on the face of your Dad and Col in the last picture. Priceless.

  12. May 19, 2015

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  13. December 17, 2015

    Jess has such a practical method to well being and wellness and serves up infinite inspration that has empowered me to remodel my life for the better.

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