Rites of Passage (Or Of Key Chains and Chainsaws)

Time seems to be passing so quickly at our house these days. Unlike when there’s no apparent reason for this phenomenon, of late the reasons have been very clear. Certain events have been distinctly marking the passage of time – rites of passage. Being the mother of an almost 17 year-old I find myself noting these events with much attention. I’m happy and excited to watch my oldest boy grow into a thoughtful, fun, and energetic young man but admittedly it is with some angst. Two and a half weeks ago he crossed into the realm of being licensed to drive on his own. Yes, on his own…I’m still processing it.

He’s a very good driver – cautious, conscientious. It’s the “by himself” aspect that gets me. All the while we were driving with him it was fine but the first few times I watched him drive off alone I felt utterly insane for letting him go and completely ill at ease until he returned. I now know the red “PANIC” button on the car starter is actually for the parents of new drivers! 

Incredibly, two weeks later it is second nature to pass him the keys to run an errand, or head to the gym or hang out with friends. He loves his new-found freedom though was not impressed when his younger brother teased him about driving a “soccer mom van” (note:  I really was only ever a “hockey mom”). Needless to say, he now asks specifically to borrow the car.

So, after just getting used to “self-transportation”, yesterday brought another milestone.

The chainsaw.

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I grew up in a forestry community  and where we live now a chainsaw is something of a necessity for cutting firewood and clearing brush so it was almost an expectation that my boys eventually learn to use one. That said, when my oldest used the chainsaw by himself, just two weeks after getting his driver’s license, it forcibly highlighted the rapid passage of time.

Of course, he had on steel-toed boots and protective chaps and there were plenty of safety prompts. And of course, he did just fine. And, surprisingly, so did I. And happily I am starting to become  comfortable with the inevitable. He will grow up and it will be okay.

 

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“Me Before and After”

I’m rediscovering my love of needle and thread, textiles, texture, quilting and color, color, color and more color. However, first things first. Before jumping into new projects I’m completing a few left over from the past.

Here’s a peek at one (a self portrait) I’ve had on the go for sometime. I’ve finally decided how to finish it so I’m looking forward to a creative weekend.

"Me Before and After:  Partial Left" - Original art designed and created by Kristi Farrier

“Me Before and After: Partial Left” – Original art designed and created by Kristi Farrier

"Me Before and After:  Throat" - Original art designed and created by Kristi Farrier

“Me Before and After: Throat” – Original art designed and created by Kristi Farrier

Cats or Dogs?

My household, whether as a child or adult, has always included an extended family of four-legged creatures. Canine and feline varieties have dominated but there’s been the odd reptile too. These days it’s a three dog, two cat and one gecko menagerie.

I do like dogs. They’re  dedicated, loyal, consistent. But I love cats. I don’t mean crazy cat love but if I had to choose, well, there wouldn’t be much of a debate.

Cats just have a way about them. Whether they’re friendly or skittish it’s on their terms. Call them the control freaks of the animal kingdom. Not only that, they lounge so well. Need a lesson in relaxation? Watch a cat lay in a patch of afternoon sunshine on the floor.

That’s relaxation.

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Fossil, our 12-year old tabby, is a master relaxer and finds lazing locales in an instant. Laps are the most frequent destination but guaranteed if you are loafing around she will join you. A preferred spot being nose-to-nose perched on upper chest.

 

Maple Syrup

It’s been a few years since we last tapped any of our maple trees. We’d been talking about doing it again but admittedly it was at the prodding and initiation of our 14-year old son that it got done this year.

Right now there are fourteen maples with galvanized metal buckets and lids lining our driveway. Well, actually thirteen. One of the buckets had a hole in it so was removed (although for some unbeknownst reason the spout and lid still remain). No big deal though as that tree has yet to run.

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The trees have been tapped for a few weeks now and we’ve got a good amount of sap as most of the trees have run well. Hopefully it’ll be as good a year as we’ve had in the past.

Our first time was a real bumper year much to my surprise. Being from Western Canada and not having grown up with buckets hanging off trees in my backyard I figured there had to more to making maple syrup than: 1) drill hole; 2) collect sap; 3) boil til it looks good; and 4) eat.

Of course, there is a more science to it if you really care about producing a high-end product. We were happy with the thick dark syrup that resulted from boiling the sap outside over an open fire in two big canning pots. From our perspective, the “flankers” that snapped out of the fire and flew into the pot just added a “smokey, artisanal” flavor to our syrup. Never mind the bit of residue in the bottom of the bottle either. Once you get the hang of pouring slowly when the bottle is almost empty – no problem – the residue stays in the bottle. Not that any of us cared much one way or the other but the next year we did get the proper straining technique figured out with a thick felt filter.

Another memorable moment was finding a huge crystal of sugar in the bottom of one of the jars after it had sat a few months. It is likely a very clear sign of our amateur status in the world of “sugaring-off” but we were all quite fascinated with it to tell the truth.

As for our current attempt, the cold snap has put an end to the sap running for the time being. Hopefully the warm weather returns soon. Whatever amount of syrup we end up with this year it’s always great reason to get outside and get some fresh air with a delicious payoff.