Friday, November 10, 2017

7 Quick Takes - End of Summer

I can't believe I haven't written a QT in well over a year.  Yikes!  I'm really glad, however, that Kelly over at her blog still hosts them and so, for old time's sake, I'm linking up with her today.  Thanks, Kelly!

So, considering this blog left off with this little guy's adoption/birth story, I feel it only appropriate to dedicate this first QT to his birthday.  The end of summer brought the end of our first year with him, and what a year it was.  It absolutely flew by and I am missing those baby days oh so much. At 14 months now, he is rapidly turning into a toddler and is walking, trying to run, trying to talk, and into everything. He will have no trouble keeping up with his big brothers soon. I am so blessed to have this little one in my life. He has been a super easy baby (a big answer to prayers) and is full of laughter and curiosity. He brings us so much joy everyday and was truly worth all the pain and waiting that it took to get him here.  Knowing he is likely our last baby makes him extra special, and I will have a very hard time not spoiling him!

Getting on now to more mundane things.  As winter approaches, life in the woods means being inundated with furry little critters trying to find warmth and shelter in which to ride out the next few months. Deer mice have decided to invade our warm abode and stash their treasures of acorns and sunflower seeds in the nooks and crannies of our home, leaving of course, their calling cards to mark their trail.  After trying every mouse trap available, and being outsmarted by mice that lick the bait off the trap but never trip the triggers, we decided to design a better mouse trap.  We were particularly challenged by a mouse that spent each night partying on our kitchen table, and dining on the crumbs left in Dominic's high chair, and I was losing patience as I spent every morning disinfecting our table and high chair. After trying multiple traps, we came up with this design, inspired by the time that we inadvertently found dead mice in our garage inside the bottom of a bucket.  My engineering husband placed a 5 gallon bucket on a kitchen chair next to the table, then put a paint stirring stick on top, with some sunflower seeds to serve as bait. The first night we tried it, it worked! The next night, it caught another mouse. So, now when we have to pull out the "big guns" to outsmart a tricky mouse that isn't lured in by the standard snap traps, we use this design.  Now, we just need to figure out how to outsmart the coons trying to get our chickens!

Summer brought the usual gardening chores and our garden did very well this year, thanks to the deer-proof fence that we and my father helped build last winter.  This year, I tackled growing mushrooms for the first time.  It was really pretty easy but after months and months of watching my "mushroom logs" do nothing, I was about to give up.  Then, one day last September, after three days of steady rain (thank you, Hurricane Irma), I walked out and saw this!  Oyster mushrooms!  Since then, my mushroom log has produced another batch and my shiitake mushroom log is also showing signs of fruiting for the first time.  I'm definitely hooked now on growing my own mushrooms and it's fun not knowing exactly when they'll pop out!

Although summer gardening is over, our fall garden is still going strong. Fall gardening is my favorite kind of gardening, partly because greens and broccoli are my favorite veggies (and who doesn't love a salad picked fresh from the garden), and partly because I don't have to fight the bugs, heat, and weeds.  I'm lucky enough to live in an area where we can harvest fall garden produce usually until Christmas and sometimes, even winter-over a few things like our kale. I know some people prefer to grow tomatoes and peppers but give me kale and spinach any day!

The autumn colors here were much later than usual, to the point where we didn't reach peak color until the last week of October, which is about 2 weeks later than usual. But, my oh my, they were well worth waiting for.  I believe that this year's fall color show was one of the best ones yet.  It was certainly the best one I could remember. The red maples, hickory, sweet gums, beech, sassafras, black gum, sumac and sourwoods all put on a spectacular show.  We went on a few hikes to immerse ourselves in all the beauty, knowing that in a week or so, it would all be gone.  Now, as I write this post, the leaves have mostly all fallen, and we have entered into the gray, damp, chilly days of Appalachian winter, and hikes into the forest are not nearly as enticing as sitting next to the warmth of the wood stove.

We said goodbye to October with the usual Halloween festivities. We skipped the trick-or-treating, however, and instead, enjoyed a quiet evening of dessert, some candy, and "The Great Pumpkin".  The next day, the boys wore their saint costumes to Mass and we celebrated the feast day with "Saint Bingo" and more dessert.  John really enjoyed making his St. George costume with me this year, and I love learning and teaching them about the saints this way.  Joah was St. Francis of Assisi, and Dominic was his namesake, St. Dominic. Getting a photo of my little St. Dominic proved to be the challenge of the evening, however, and this one is the best I could do!  He would not stand still, not even for a second, nor keep his shoes on, stop pulling off his rosary, etc.  By the time mass was over, all three of my little saints had become "holy terrors". In my experience, evening masses and small children do not go well together, and by the time the night was over, we'd all been through a bit of mortification!

We've also been trying to remember to pray for the Poor Souls during this month and took a special trip to see the grave of a dear friend on All Souls' Day.  Her death was actually on All Souls' Day a couple of years ago, and I wrote about it here.  It's one of my favorite posts and sums up, for me, what God is trying to tell us each year when he sends us the the fall colors.  Even in death, there is often beauty.