Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October colors & sniffles

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Well we have been sick! For what seems like forever too. It's been well over a week for me and longer for Kevin. We don't often get flu's and colds since we don't see a lot of people, but one got us this year. Mine went into my sinuses so I had quite a lot of sinus pain for a few days which was not fun. We are still pretty run down and still coughing a lot, but it's trying to break up. It slowed things down considerably around here though and has been beating us up.

Today it is very warm outside, but also very windy so it's raining leaves. But before the winds came and before I got sick, me and the boys were able to enjoy a lot of nice walks.

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They love going on walks no matter when, but this is by far their favorite time of year for it.

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Especially Rollie's.

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Norman likes walking but he's not for running around like Douglas and Rollie. At eight years old, he keeps up well on walks and has bursts of energy but he's not full of it like his younger brothers anymore. He doesn't mind that I need to rest a lot too, he likes the resting part.

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One day we walked all the way to our Porcupine creek, one of my favorite spots on the property, it always has been since I first came here. Several of my animals have been buried here and some of my moms ashes even went into this creek. Its a peaceful spot. It's also a far walk there and back - for me right now. I don't think I've walked there and back in the year since my surgery. I've been there in the ATV but not walked since my stamina is so limited. But I did pretty well this time.

We call it the porcupine creek because they have dens in the rock ledges and piles there. It's a shallow creek, and the dogs are used to it and can easily cross it because of all the rocks... They had been back and forth several times during our recent visit there but for some reason Douglas then blanked out and forgot it was water and he just jumped straight in!

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And when he landed in it, he just froze and stood there in surprise. I couldn't help but laugh at him.

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After a minute he finally figured out standing there wasn't a good idea so he turned around and ran out to shake off, and run around like a crazy dog.

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Rollie thought it was pretty funny as he safely watched from the opposite side of the creek.

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It was a beautiful afternoon and the dogs and I were so happy to be out together in our forest. Nothing makes me feel as centered, calm, and peaceful as a good walk in the forest, and being able to just sit and enjoy it and it's magic.

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I've also spent time with the goaties, who are all doing great and getting nice and wooly as it starts to cool off. My little bottle baby from this spring, Lavender is growing into a real beauty and she's still as sweet as pie.

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And there has been plenty of cuddle time, which Max enjoys.

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We've also had some beautiful sunsets...

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And the colors were great. Rollie and I did some extra walking together, some tougher walking off trail which I managed well. It's going to be a while before I can hike like I used to be able to and endure the heavier physical activity but my body is growing stronger and I'm just so grateful to be able to be up and get around again.

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And of course I've been cooking! We've had lots of soups, stews, and breads...

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And these pumpkin scalloped potatoes which are just about the best thing EVER...

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Yesterday was our Thanksgiving here in Canada and although I was sick, I wanted to make sure we had a proper meal. It's my mother in me, no matter what, we must have a proper meal on holidays. It's worth it to me to put the energy out. I made a maple syrup oatmeal pie and a pumpkin pie.

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And then the rest of the goods to go along with it. My popovers came out on the first try so I was happy with that! :) And of course the dogs offered constant emotional support and clean up assistance throughout the entire preparation of, and eating of, the meal.

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But otherwise we've been doing a lot of this. We are exhausted from this bug. I'm sure mine is taking an extra toll since I'm so recently out of surgery. But we are getting it beat, just slowly.

I hope all my Canadian friends had a Happy Thanksgiving and everyone else a great weekend! Even though we are sick we have been busy getting chores done for winter as much as we can so we don't fall too far behind, there is much to be done in a short amount of time so it's really set us back, but we are working on it. And the weather has been holding well thankfully, but the change is coming quickly.

For this evening it's just leftovers and rest on the menu here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Easy Pad Thai

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Faye asked me to share my favorite Pad Thai recipe, so here it is!! I use chicken and shrimp in mine, you could easily use pork if you'd like as well. I've made a lot of different Pad Thai recipes and this is by far the easiest while still accomplishing good flavor! 


2 Tbs Tamari sauce (you can use soy but I prefer the taste of Tamari which is aged soy sauce, without preservatives which is why I use it, but also I like the flavor better.)
2 Tbs water
2 Tbs creamy peanut butter
3 tsp sweet chili sauce because I love it, but you can also use chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
3 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger (you can also use about 1/2 tsp of ground ginger if you don't have fresh or prefer)
1/2 cup of thinly sliced vegetables (I use carrot, zucchini, green onion)
2 diced jalapenos with seeds for heat, without for no heat & just flavor
3 chicken breasts trimmed of fat and sliced into thin strips
12 medium peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into chunks
1/4 pound rice noodles soaked in water as per package directions and drained
2 Tbs dark brown sugar
2 Tbs cider vinegar

Also: Chopped cilantro, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, and lime wedges for garnish.

**I use honey roasted peanuts in this dish because I love sweet, and hot, and they are awesome in this. But you can use regular peanuts if you prefer. I also use fresh chopped parsley instead of cilantro because I don't like the overpowering taste of the cilantro in this, but if you are a fan of it, go for it!!

Also most of these ingredients you already have on hand so I like this recipe for that reason too!

How to make it:

In a small bowl, whisk together the Tamari (soy) sauce, water, peanut butter & chili sauce until mixed well. If the peanut butter doesn't mix in smoothly don't worry about it, just mix it up well.

Then in a large Wok or large non stick frying pan, over medium heat, add the olive oil. Then add your garlic and ginger and let cook 1 minute, until nice and fragrant. Add the vegetables, jalapenos, chicken, and shrimp and stir fry until chicken and shrimp are cooked through. Then add your prepared rice noodles and toss to coat.

Add peanut/spice mixture, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar and toss to distribute. Cook until heated through, 2 or 3 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter and top with garnishes, peanuts, parsley or cilantro, bean sprouts, or let people garnish their own.

and then, enjoy!! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Oh Autumn, how I love thee...

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This is of course, the best time of year on the farm. Not only is Autumn beautiful, she brings along with her colorful delights, crisp air, less bugs, the harvest, and of course, fallen leaves to play in!

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And who doesn't love playing in fallen leaves I ask you? It's one of Rollie's most favorite things! And mine too.

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I have been beyond joyful, beyond grateful, that I have been able to get outside with my dogs, play in the leaves, and just laugh, and focus on something else other than my physical pain for a while. Something I had often thought I'd never be able to do again.

I have much healing to do and not all of my pain is gone but it is much improved. It is improved to the point where I can breathe again and where I feel like myself again, my creativity, my dreams, humor, it's coming back and coming out again... and I feel myself waking up inside as if from a long and terrible dream caught between two worlds.

I am so very grateful to these amazing Doctors, Dr. Sinervo and Dr. Dulemba for helping me, for offering me a chance at a much higher quality of life when no other Doctors would, and for dedicating their lives to women living in terrible suffering because of a disease that so little is truly still known and accepted about. If I had not been able to get to them because of Kevin and a lot of perseverance and probably a little magic, I would not have all this hope once again in my heart. The other day I wrote that I had felt a loneliness in this past year like none I had ever felt before. I have lived in isolation for much of my life and I have known loneliness... when you miss human contact, or a loved one you can no longer see, but this was much different than anything I'd ever felt before. It was a loneliness I was not familiar with, and that I did not understand.

I realize now what it was that I was missing. It was not human company, friends, or loved ones passed... It was myself. I was missing Donna, because I felt her absence more than I ever had before. But she has come back to me, and I can feel it. That spark is there again, that girl who wants to drink life in, good and bad.

Just getting on the ground to sit with my dogs and then getting back up, is amazing. I couldn't have done that before without swelling up so that I looked 6 months pregnant and crying as I did it.

I'm not cured of course, but I feel better, I feel stronger, and I have much faith I will continue to feel both, and I'm just so grateful for some relief, relief I thought may never come, that I could scream.

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Now back to Autumn, every one's favorite time of year...

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Even Norman loves the cool breeze in his hair, the fluffy leaves at his feet...

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And the nicest part is, we've actually been able to get out and enjoy it together!

I've been over doing it a bit because I've been so excited to be able to do anything at all, that I can hardly stand myself. Today I have taken it off to completely rest. But it's been a very happy time at the farm. Yesterday and today Kevin and Jim planted 10 pounds of garlic, so it can start to set roots before the frost comes. It's been REALLY warm this week, we are talking in the 70's F and 80 degrees F one day! Today it's actually cooled off enough to start a small fire in the wood stove. I have been busy harvesting what I could, which was quite a lot considering our growing year.

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This was just one days harvest of peppers, tomatillos, some herbs, carrots, and cucumbers...

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Yesterday I spent all afternoon getting a few dozen bundles of herbs hung up to dry, along with some flowers, peppers, and this falls harvest of garlic (which is so delicious by the way!)

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My ghost chili (once the hottest pepper in the world) did grow!

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And I properly labeled it and put it away for safe keeping, just in case.

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I managed to get some of my banana peppers pickled, candied some jalapenos, and pickled my pimento peppers. I also made a few jars of spiced pickled crab apples which are so darned tasty!

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And Kevin found another giant Puffball mushroom, a fall staple round here, but this one was twice the size of my head this time! Enough to feed a small Country I think. If you haven't eaten a giant puffball, they are spongy and really delicious. Inside they have the texture of tofu or cheese, which is really strange, but also great for using in a variety of dishes. It's also one of the easiest wild mushrooms to identify because it's pretty hard to mistake a mushroom the size of your head for something else. Also they are solid all the way through and perfectly white... if they are any other color inside like brown, they are past their prime.

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 I have also been doing a WHOLE lot of cooking again! It feels so good to be back working in my kitchen. I've been cooking every day. These banana scones with a brown sugar cinnamon glace were pretty tasty...

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One of the first things I made after we got home was Pad Thai... I had a craving!

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And sweet potato biscuits which are one of my absolute favorite things.

It's been nice to cook again, but not just cook, to be creative, and enjoy it. I've got all sorts of new recipes I cannot wait to try now.

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Our last Prairie dog, Olive is doing well but slowing down considerably since the summer and since her friend Nelly passed on. She is the last of our 7 Prairie dogs and is 15 now.

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The goats are very happy, they love this time of year and of course they are very hormonal, frisky, and playful.

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I never knew Brie could fly but apparently she can!

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It makes me smile to see them all running around, playing, be happy...

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The bucks of course are nice and smelly but have no access to the girls. Poor Buckwheat won't be getting any action this year, and I haven't decided yet if the Pygmy buck, Barnaby, will or not either. I'm thinking about it, and won't breed until October anyway if I decide to.

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Braveheart, our blind ram, is very excited and hormonal. He doesn't get mean but he has been running into everyone because when he gets excited he forgets where he is. When he's calm he can get around everyone and everything just fine- but not when he's hyper. It's hard to believe he will be 8 years old this December.

And my little Ruby the ewe lamb is growing up! She has the sweetest face of all time too.

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And of course, so does Puffin... cutest and littlest goat on the farm. When someone was here the other day and I told them she was a year and a half old he choked, he thought she was just a few months old because she is so tiny!

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Braveheart (Lambie) does love a good snuggle with his mom. He responds to our voices so he runs toward us when he hears us and away from any strange voices he hears. Nothing freaks him out more than a strangers voice.

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The dogs are very happy to be active with me again, but Douglas also makes sure to keep reminding me it is very important to rest... and in his opinion, as much as possible.

I'm so happy to say although I am exhausted, wear out quickly, and need to be careful... I'm so excited about everything again. About living. As crazy as that might sound, but I know it won't to anyone who has dealt with ongoing physical pain. Or emotional for that matter. To anyone in the midst of a struggle, struggling with a painful disease, or a painful heart, just remember that although it might not happen today, or tomorrow, there is always hope, always a way forward even when we cannot see it in our sight.

I'm looking forward to being much more active in blogging again too! And sharing with you guys,  and trying new things...

But for now, I'm most looking forward to pulling the apple crisp that is almost done out of the oven and eating it with some ice cream! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A journey of (several) thousand miles...

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We are home! And I am so grateful for it, even if there is tons of work to be done.

August and most of September has been crazy. On the 11th of August we left the farm and started our journey to Texas for my 7th surgery.

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We left early so we could enjoy the drive, and a little time away.

We drove through part of Shenandoah National Park. It was gorgeous, but much of the road was impassable because of the thick fog making visibility zero.

We also finally stopped at Luray Caverns in Virginia, something we've been by several times but never been able to stop and see. If you have not explored the cave, it's so worth the visit.

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It was the first cavern I'd ever been in, and it's pretty awesome to see.

Then we spent a week in Florida with Kevin's brother and niece, which was a nice break. After that we headed to Dallas slowly, stopping in Grand Isle Louisiana for a night since I'd never been in that area ever before, so we explored a bit of the bayou country.

Sunday we made our final drive into Dallas, and Kevin had an allergic reaction and his eyes were once again almost swollen shut. Monday morning I called my Doctors office to let them know I was there and would see them the next day for  my appointments - and they let me know they needed me to come in right away because they had moved my surgery up a day!

Although the hotel did not have a car service, they had the maintenance man drive me to all of my appointments - three different ones and 4 1/2 hours worth. It was beyond kind of them to do, especially since they had already made an exception for Douglas even though they had a strict no dog policy. The manager also came in at 5:30 AM the next morning just to drive me to my surgery. I can't say enough about how good they were to us.

My surgery went smoothly, Dr. Dulemba was awesome, and that is probably the least pain I've been in after surgery since they had me on a pain pump I could control myself and I also had a pump with numbing medication going right into my pelvic area. The nurses were very good to me. I was pretty sick from the morphine however. I stayed overnight and almost did not get out the next day since I was really struggling but they got me well enough to send back to the hotel Wednesday afternoon. I made it until Saturday before ending up in the ER with a severe allergic reaction to the medication, which was probably the worst part of the entire experience. I didn't think I was going to die but I was ready to. They took care of me there however and got me quick relief with a bunch of different medications, and I stopped taking the pain medication I was on. I went back to taking my pre surgery medication so I had more pain because it's not very strong, but I felt better overall because I was not sick.

We stayed in the hotel until Wed and then made our move. This surgery was not nearly as difficult as my last since much less needed to be done, so I was not in nearly as much pain. But my body went through a lot of changes this time, so that takes a long time to sort out, but we knew that was coming.

Instead of coming straight home, we headed to New Mexico to visit friends for a few days which helped give me a break too. Either way it was a 5 day drive to home, so we decided to take it slow,

On the way to our friends house near Quemado, NM, we had to pass right by Carlsbad Caverns so we decided to stop. We made it there 10 minutes before the evening bat flight! It was unreal. I was so excited to see the bats, hundreds of thousands of them, exiting the cave for their evening meal. I had never seen anything like it, and it was really incredible. I was holding my breath half of the time, it was such a special thing to be able to experience.

The next day we went on the 1 1/2 hour tour of the big cavern, I couldn't walk enough to make any of the guided tours so we did the easier self guided tour. Thankfully at Carlsbad they have an elevator down, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to walk it.

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It did wear me out pretty badly but I'm so glad I saw some of it, it was beyond words. That cave is the biggest and the most impressive by far. I also appreciated that they had less lighting so you felt more of the feel of the cave, and also that you could walk alone and stay as long as you wanted to in certain areas without being pushed along like you are at Luray.  I really hope someday when I am better we'll be able to go back and explore the cave further, there are several different tours of varying difficulty you can go on.

Before we left the town of Carlsbad, we stopped at the Living Desert museum and Zoo.

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I was really worn out but I had to go and see the Prairie dogs. It was worth it.

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They had a nice little set up there and they are the cutest creatures around. I could have watched them all day long... and also brought them all home with me.

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We also stopped at Three Rivers petroglyph site, but I couldn't handle the walking at all so I was only able to see a few of the rocks (out of thousands) before I headed back to the camper to rest.

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It's a pretty interesting site though and you could spend days exploring it.

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On the way to Quemado we drove by the VLA (Very Large Array) which is the radio astronomy observatory near Magdalena. It was pretty cool to see those giant dishes out there in the desert listening carefully.

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We spent a few days in Quemado, visiting, exploring the area and for me, mostly resting, I needed it. Also my body realized at this point what had happened to it and I got pretty sick for a while.

But after some visiting and resting, we started out for home.

Before we left New Mexico, Kevin wanted to show me Taos since I had never been there and always wanted to go. He said it's so much different than people think, and he was right. The town was fine but no big deal to me, but the scenery! WOW. It was incredible.

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Then we just pushed on and headed for home, many LONG days of driving which was tough on all of us, Kevin, me, and Douglas too.

Douglas was a really good boy, at the hotel, and camping, he was beyond well behaved and he tried to take good care of me. I am so glad he was able to be with me, it really made things easier, especially when I was suffering the most. He hardly left my side.

We got home Sunday night, and man was it good to be HOME.

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I missed the critters so much. And my bed. And my kitchen.

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The dogs are all very happy to be back to their normal routine too.

But since we've been home we've had no time for rest. Monday we found out Kevin's cousins wife, and our very close friend passed away. We loved her dearly for many reasons, but to know her, was to love her. She was kind hearted, warm, honest. She taught me how to make my very first batch of strawberry jam and how to make pickles and she was always there for me through my earlier surgeries. She was a great lady. She just had her 67th wedding anniversary with her husband in August. She had begun in the past few years to forget things and wasn't herself, and I am grateful she is at peace now and that it was a peaceful passing, but still, those left behind must grieve, and my heart is broken for her husband. So we spent this week dealing with that, and also of course since we got home everything broke, the washing machine, the tractor, etc, which is normal, so there is a lot of stuff to be fixed!

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 I had to start back on one of my medications I was taking pre-surgery which has helped with the ongoing trouble but it also makes me sleepy, so it's slowed me down a bit. I am feeling a lot better but I still have pain, and I'm still really worn out. But it's only been three weeks since surgery and also, I have had little time to properly rest. I have more energy than before however, so I am raring to go, so I have to watch myself carefully since it's very easy to over do it.

But I had to get out to the big creek to see her in all of her red glory - she turns red every September and only for a few short days, it happens super fast and it's easy to miss. I look forward to it every year. Rollie came with us, as he's learning to ride in the atv, and he loved it, especially when he found out he gets to explore new areas too!

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I mean how could you miss this? It's my favorite spot in the entire world. It feels good to come home and be happy to be here. Sometimes we wonder if our hearts are content here or not, and its always good to be reminded.

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The Chihuahuas did just fine at home with Jim, but I did not like being away from them one bit, I am so used to traveling with all of them at once.

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The F word (well more than one of them probably) has been getting thrown around a lot and honestly it's a little ridiculous since it's only September, But frost did indeed come Thursday morning! We moved all of my plants into our sun porch or undercover, and I harvested the rest. I got a good crop of tomatillos, lots of peppers (that's not even half of them) and I still have a ton of herbs to cut and dry... a lot of my herbs I am bringing inside for the winter to try and winter them over too. I also got cucumbers, okra, tomatoes, carrots (grown in a pot!) and some other goodies.

I am surprised at the weather. Since we've been home, almost a week, so many trees have changed color so fast it's hard to believe. I see an early fall leading into an early you know what. But I won't say it and jinx us. I hope all of your gardens grew well this summer.

Today Kevin harvested our garlic, which did pretty good considering we did not tend it at all since we've been gone. It tastes delicious. I have beets to start pickling among other things but for today, I'm resting with the dogs. I need it.

I am so happy to be home to our little world, when we get here it easily seems that nothing else matters except what exists and is happening in this forest around us. And I like it that way. For many years I wondered why I chose to live such an isolated life since I set out on my own at 17. But now I know why. Because my heart told me this was the way... and I listened to it.

Thank you all so much for your messages of support as well. This has been such a long journey and while I don't expect it's over, I am making progress, and that's all I've ever asked for.
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