Confined to Five Acres

There’s a monopoly game in play at the kitchen table, in which I will not participate even if they bribe me with Easter candy. Not like there is any Easter candy in the house. I haven’t shopped for about 2 weeks, and frivolous items tend to disappear faster than something like oatmeal does. I have clamped down on snacking, having become more aware of how often these children think they are hungry. One day I came inside from the shed and one of them actually had cooked a small kettle full of pearled barley for a snack. No objections there!

Tonight Addy found a bag of very sticky marshmallows and roasted them over a small fire she had in the back yard. Little by little we are using up some odd foodstuffs around here.

On Saturday I read a lyrical description of how it feels to get a humongous cookie all to yourself. I decided to be foolish and go for it with this recipe. This was a first and my family was a little surprised. I said, “Okay kids, I am tired of baking cookies. This is your ration for the next 2 weeks.” I have to say, they were pretty good, since the dough was not as sweet as typical cookie dough. I made 7 cookies instead of the 6 the recipe prescribed. Also, it would never have worked to leave them in a round ball of 1/2 cup of dough to spread out as it baked. I flattened them like hamburger patties, which was just about right.I make noodles with our eggs and a lot of bread too. This is turning my family into pasta and bread snobs, but it is a labor of love that I quite enjoy since I got my grandma’s pasta machine and learned a few of the tricks of sourdough. Naturally I was running low on flour right at the worst time of the panic buying in the stores. Since I always buy flour in fifty pound bags in this season of my life, I was trying to think how I could do that without looking like a hoarder. Happily I found that a friend with a small discount grocery store was also selling large bags of unbleached flour. Perfect. Nobody even saw me haul it out because I was her only customer.

It is weird, but if everybody else is grabbing packs of toilet paper, I hold off on purpose to prove that I am not like that. This does pose a problem when we actually run low. I also buy this sort of item in very large quantity, so I am again faced with looking like a hoarder unless there is nothing but tiny four-packs in the store (limit 1).I intend to find out in the morning. A question I have: if one has an immuno-compromised person in the house, is it okay to shop the special hours, or will that also look like a slimy way to stay ahead of everybody else? Sometimes it is hard to figure out this sort of ethical dilemma.

I spent so little on household expenses this month that I have decided to lay in a stock of yarn to make baskets and some upholstery fabric for a little chair that needs help. When would be a better time, I ask myself? I found really neat basket patterns . These are simple enough that my girls could make them. What are the chances Walmart will have suitable yarn? Thank the Lord for shipping options! I do bless all delivery drivers in this day and age.WWe’ve been continuing our winter tradition that we learned from the cousins- having tea and poetry once a week. This morning we listened to Great Poems for Children on Audible Stories. (Have you discovered this free resource for children for the duration of the school closure?) Here is our favorite poem from the reading.

The Camel’s Hump

The Camel’s hump is an ugly lump
Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
From having too little to do.Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
If we haven’t enough to do-oo-oo,
We get the hump—
Cameelious hump—
The hump that is black and blue!We climb out of bed with a frouzly head,
And a snarly-yarly voice.
We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl
At our bath and our boots and our toys;And there ought to be a corner for me(And I know’ there is one for you)
When we get the hump—
Cameelious hump—
The hump that is black and blue!The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
And dig till you gently perspire;And then you will find that the sun and the wind,
And the Djinn of the Garden too,
Have lifted the hump—
The horrible hump—
The hump that is black and blue!I get it as well as you-oo-oo
If I haven’t enough to do-oo-oo!
We all get hump—
Cameelious hump—
Kiddies and grown-ups too!

I enjoyed that poem immensely, and the children were all going, “Oh yeah, you sure believe in digging until we gently perspire!” Certainly I am not going to let people go to seed here just because we aren’t going anywhere or seeing other people. This is a unique temptation right now: to just live in pj’s and not bother with trying too hard to do anything. That might be fun vacation mode for a week, but it has a peculiar eroding effect on one’s morale. Never was there a better opportunity to get the trash picked up and the house thoroughly cleansed as this spring. Gabe saw a meme that made us laugh, “If you drive past our place and see the children crying and picking weeds outside, just wave and keep driving. They are on a field trip.”

I wonder, does anyone else actually find this social distancing a bit relaxing? I do love people and would give a lot to have an ordinary Sunday church service where I can sing with a group and hug my friends after the message, and see their faces while we talk. Still, we are so connected and it is truly a blessing. I have to get past the crawly feeling of how long the isolation could go on, but I am enjoying the slower pace of the days. I predict that social media will have a huge falling-off once we can all get out and be with people in our community.On Sunday we made the children get dressed nicely, hair presentable, while we listened to hymns and a message online. It felt good to delineate the day somewhat. In the afternoon we decided to try a state gamelands trail that meandered to the top of the Sproul Mountain and along an old railroad grade we had no idea was up there. I have lived in this county 34 years and never hiked that trail. It was fun to poke around the old buildings and imagine the liveliness of the place a hundred years ago. Rita and Addy were delighted that the garter snakes were out sunning after the winter. They caught a few of them, but we advised them to leave them on the mountain where they will surely be happier.IMG_20200329_165458962_HDRThe photo above is a branch of ornamental plum that burst open within hours after Gregory brought it inside for me. The pear branch is slower, but ready to bloom as well. We’re relishing all the blooms as they come.Gabriel has had a week off work, after a marathon of nine consecutive night shifts. Today he was called in for some training with the “moon-suits” he will be wearing at work, since his unit in the hospital is the COVID19 unit. Last week there was one patient awaiting the results of the test. This week there are a few confirmed and a number waiting on results. It is amping up slowly, a huge blessing. The hospital is prepared, with ample PPE for their staff at this point. If you doubt that social distancing is effective, wait for two weeks before you fuss too loudly. Our counties in the middle of Pennsylvania have the lowest numbers in the state, probably due to not having many crowded cities and also having fewer travelers. Here’s to being homebodies! I vacillate between thinking surely it won’t reach us, to waking up from a nightmare that I am not able to go to the hospital with my child.

I read this story about a 101 year-old Italian man who was born during the Spanish flu pandemic and has just recovered from this corona-virus. It was oddly comforting to realize again that our times -all of ours- are in God’s hands.This is our ultimate defense- knowing without a doubt that He is with us, whether we feel it or not- and our strong place to stand. I have another source for free printable verse cards from Crossway. They are truly beautiful and inspiring. We printed a few sets on card stock to share with others as well as to remind ourselves of what it real and just out of our short-sighted view.

I was making mugs with a dragonfly flitting across a clay cookie and decided to make them limited-edition mugs with a Corona-spring message. They’re drying, ready to glaze in a week or so. “Trust.”

4 thoughts on “Confined to Five Acres

  1. Am I finding social distancing relaxing? Oh yes! (When I don’t read the news at least) I told my husband yesterday I don’t know how I can go back to running around;) Besides Sunday, of course. Granted, my children are ages 1,2+3 so they play so much better if we’re home a lot. Also, up till now our state (Oklahoma) only said no gatherings over 10 so I could still go to my mom’s. That may be changing soon tho…

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