Suburban Homesteading in Southwestern PA

By Stacy Artis

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September 26
    Today began in a thick blanket of fog and it wasn't spotty, it was everywhere!  It took me nearly twice as long to drive to work because I couldn't see and it made the bus runs "interesting" since it didn't burn off until close to 10:00 a.m.  Now we have a gorgeous autumn temperatures, bright blue skies and leaves just starting to turn.
    I am such a fall junkie that I had all my decorations out at the end of August (in my book Fall starts when the kids go back to school) and now I'm thinking about getting the Halloween decorations out.  It's such a glorious time of year with all the colors, tastes, smells, sounds......well, you get the picture.  Fall is a very sensory oriented season.  My favorite image so far?  Yesterday morning a magnificent 10pt. buck ran out in front of the bus.  I was able to stop and he just stood there posing majestically.  All the kids on the bus were standing up and crowding around to see him.  Incredible!
    Tim has been working on my aunt's garage during the evenings he can.  She is having a hard time pulling her van through the existing door and wants a wider opening.  I hope that will help.  She had a stroke about this time last year and she is sometimes very muddled.  It concerns me that she still drives.
    We've had some good news from Tim's job this week.  The company gave him some concrete block that was left over from a job.  He is going to start hauling it home tonight.  He thinks there is enough to do a crawlspace under the addition we hope to put on the end of the house next year.  There is also a chance that we will be given enough berber carpet (hotel grade) that was left over from a job to recarpet our whole house!
    The kids have spent their spare time this week stacking firewood.  I'm sure they will be thrilled to hear that I've ordered another load.  We didn't really have a good place to stack it since we built the chicken coop, but Tim got a couple of free pallets along the road one day and we put them under the pool deck.  It's out of the way and has the added bonus of the deck offering some protection from the elements.
    My mom and her husband harvested concord grapes at their "mountain home" this week.  They brought them down to their "town home" to process them yesterday. could smell grape everywhere and the chooks sure enjoyed the grape mash John fed them.  Mom canned juice last night and will make some jelly this weekend.  I invited them here for dinner since I'd done a big crockpot full of chicken noodle soup.  It was cold and rainy yesterday, so it really hit the spot.
    Wednesday evening I took some of the youth from the church out to the local shopping center to practice servanthood.  They hung out in the parking lot and offered to take carts back, help unload groceries, etc.  They weren't allowed to accept tips and when people asked why they were doing it they were to tell them they were just sharing God's love.  It was a really fun evening and people were very surprised, but thrilled, with the helpfulness.  The kids can't wait to do something else.
    Speaking of church, our council met Monday evening and made the difficult decision to ask for our pastor's resignation.  It was such a tough thing to do, but it also offers some relief.  It's no longer hanging over our heads and there is hope that things will improve now.  Poor Tim, who's been stuck right in the middle of it all, is finally able to sleep well again.
    Tomorrow is Railroad Days in Derry.  The community's beginnings centered around the railroad and once a year they celebrate that with food, crafts, a parade and real hobos come to town!  The company I drive for will have buses in the parade and a booth.  The kids and I are going to go and walk with the buses and pass out pencils.  It should be fun, though I did hear tomorrow may be chilly and wet.
    Well, I'm running a taxi service today....actually taking Tim's aunt and her son to and from the dentist...and it's time to make a pick-up.  I hope you are enjoying beautiful autumn days and the bounty that they bring.

Carpe diem!