Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The children and I have all finally recovered from a terrible cold.  It was the kind that gets into your bones and makes you feel weak and weepy, inconsolable and feverish.  We spent the last couple of weeks coughing and sputtering and feeling just utterly miserable.  

Because it goes with the theme, I thought I'd show you a couple of sketches of the plague doctor that Sunburst and I penciled a few of weeks ago when we were talking about the Great Pestilence or Great Plague of 1348.

A few years ago we came across a lovely historical museum in Switzerland that had a section dedicated to the Great Plague, or Schwarzer Tod.  We were all mesmerized by the costume on display for the Doktor Schnabel.  It's an image that you don't forget easily, though I'm sure it's nothing compared to how the people of the time felt about it.

I just loved Sunburst's drawing of this-- it has such great feeling to it.  I love how she captured the mystery and foreboding-- the fog creeping over the ground, the clouded moon.  I think it's just marvelous.  Her drawing gives a much more sense impression than my static close-up pictured on the right.  It is such a joy to draw with her.

On a somewhat related note...

We're still house hunting.  We recently viewed an interesting house on the market-- a house from the 13th century.  It's wild to me that we could choose to live in a house that predates the Black Death.  I'm just a simple girl from the Southwest, so back home, that would be akin to renting out a cliff dwelling or something.  It's hard to wrap my brain around it.

It was a fascinating house with two separate stairwells, many little bedrooms and offices, and tiny period-sized windows.  My imagination was running wild the whole time.  The children, despite feeling a bit crummy, enjoyed poking around and exploring all the nooks and crannies, trying to imagine themselves living there.  Sunburst had the rooms parceled out in no time, before heading out to explore the garden which was another world of its own.

First of all, there was a pigsty.  Yes, an actual period building that housed pigs!  It was jammed full of boxes and things, so we couldn't explore inside, but the actual outside sty part of it charmed me.  The kids started dreaming up farm animals they could house there, like pygmy goats, and it wasn't hard to imagine.  It was all very ethereal.

Next there was a giant outbuilding, like a garden house but larger, perhaps the size of what I imagine Laura Ingalls might have lived in at one time.  It had a wide porch on it, the kind you could imagine somewhere on a hot day in the Deep South, sitting in your rocking chair, playing the banjo, and sipping lemonade.  Completely out of place in England, I'll tell you.  Until the sun came out four days ago, I couldn't even fathom a truly hot day here or drinking anything but a steaming cup of tea.

We couldn't explore inside that outbuilding either, because it too was crammed full of the forgotten remnants of someone else's life.  In fact, the entire house and outbuildings were completely packed and overflowing with stuff.  Clothes were strewn around the tiny kitchen, every closet and cupboard was bursting, and nearly every flat surface was laden with who knows what.  It was so strange.  I've never gone house hunting and encountered such a menagerie of, well... stuff in my life.  The character of the house was a little lost because of it.

It was very old world meets new world in a way.  And this wasn't lost on the children.  Sunburst aptly pointed out how strange it was to see teetering piles of plastic toys in an old, wooden house.  Or crayon and marker drawings all over the walls.  It was surreal to say the least.

The strangeness didn't end in the house, it followed us into the garden where we also discovered an old grindstone and some abandoned bee boxes in the far corner of the garden.  A little sleuthing under the overgrown ivy uncovered  a sign advertising local honey.  There was another outbuilding full of beekeeping supplies, strewn haphazardly about, as if several years ago the beekeeper walked out in the middle of his work and just left everything splayed out there.

Einstein has been considering keeping bees for some time now, so he was really intrigued by that one little room.  And the garden itself, though overgrown and mysterious, stole my heart a little bit.

We mused about it the entire drive home.  The village was adorable.  The house is bigger than what we have now.  But it's also darker, and by the signs of electric blankets on the beds, colder.  Every room was heated with electric heaters.  Every windowsill and corner had signs of mold, and the only word I can find to describe the wall in the stairwell is... mushy.  It doesn't even matter that our car doesn't fit in the driveway or that our sofa wouldn't have a chance fitting through the tiny doorway.  The mushy wall clenched it.

We're going to continue looking, but meanwhile, it sure does make the house we're in seem a whole lot nicer to come home too.


  1. It is surreal to walk around old places like that. I have often felt, when visiting Stratford or Hampton Court for example, that the places were full of ghosts, not in a haunted way, but just the imprints of people, if that makes sense. Even looking at some of your photos I had that impression, particularly the pigsty. I really could imagine someone sweeping the yard wearing a long skirt and scarf on her head.

    Those old houses look so romantic from the outside but I think you're very wise to keep looking LOL! Centuries of damp to go with the ghosts!

    Sara, there has been lots of weird things happening to my subscription of your blog over the past few weeks, and yesterday I went on line and discovered your blog was listed as private, subscriber-only. So I was very relieved to see your post in my inbox today and know that you're all ok (my imagination was running a bit wild). So, please, if you are considering putting a password on your blog, I would love to keep subscribing....


    1. Thanks, Cathy. I received a few nasty comments over the last few weeks, and I did click the privatize button earlier this week while I cleared my head. I don't know what gets into people that they feel that they can say horrible things to another mama, but I finally decided that I don't care. Thanks for worrying and checking in on us. Your sweet words really touch my heart.

      I completely agree with you about the old houses. It's almost as if there is a vibrational energy that goes along with these old places... it's not always a pleasant feeling, sometimes it is just strange. There is one spot (near a large boulder, actually) on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona that leaves me with the same sense impression. It's very fascinating stuff... I always wonder who and what passed this way before.

  2. "Renting out a cliff dwelling"...LOL! I love how your mind works, and Sunburst's drawing! :)

    I was seriously going to email you if I didn't see a post from you soon to see if you guys were ok. I suspected there was an illness going around and I didn't want to bother you and make you reply to me when you should spend your time resting and recuperating (or checking out houses that predates the Black Death...hah!)

    I'm bummed for you that it didn't work out because oh my gosh, that is one fascinating home. But, I agree: when you see mushy walls, RUN as fast and as far away as you can!

    I hope you're feeling tons better now. Big hugs for all! xo

    1. Thanks, Teresa. I was really hoping it would work out-- I figured at the very least we would be making some crazy memories. "Remember that time we lived in that house from the 1200s...?" Alas, it might be better to rent out a cliff dwelling after all. At least it wouldn't be mushy. We'd have the opposite problem wouldn't we... hmmm.

      Thanks for checking in on us and all the hugs. You are such a sweet friend!

  3. I am so sorry that happened to you. I really don't understand why folk are so small-minded and mean sometimes, why they waste their time and energy on such negativity. Cyber bullying.

    I'm glad you chose not to let it effect you, because I am sure that's what they want, to have your blog removed so it can no longer be an inspiration to others who might walk a similar path.

    I think you're doing an incredible job both as a mother and a homeschooler, and for a few small people threatened by that I am sure there are thousands more who really appreciate what you are doing here.

    1. Cathy, you're absolutely right about the cyber bullying. As for the last paragraph, that might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you!! Thank you for reading, thank you for appreciating, and thank you for so many very thoughtful, sweet comments. xo

  4. I love Sunbursts drawing! Was the Historical museum the one in Basel?
    You tell the househunting story so lively! I enjoyed every second of reading it. I hope you'll soon find a nice house.

    1. Aw, thank you so much, CCETSI.

      I just had a look through my pictures, and it was the Fricktaler Museum in Rheinfelden in June, 2008. I did take a few photos that day inside the museum, I will try to post them.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. I appreciate your sweet words so much!

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