"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Being Aunted Into Calm

 It was a slow day today, full of laundry on laundry, slow sifting through the camping boxes, ferreting out the sand and stray dirty socks and dead batteries and putting everything slowly back where it ought to be, neatly folded and washed. It feels incredibly good to just keep the washing machine on a continuous hum and spend all day with my arms buried deep in warm, fresh clothes. Everyone is shifting sizes again so there is more than just a massive amount of dirties to catch up with, there's all kinds of hand-me-down business that needs doing too. I've been back and forth to the storage boxes for each size in the garage and I am also accumulating a box for my sister, Foxy that will go sailing off to Michigan to the littler cousins.

 My aunt and I shared a Face Time chat this morning after breakfast over hot tea for me and coffee for her. What a beautiful thing it is to have technology and also those who love us deeply. I took her on a little mini-tour of the rose garden outside my front door and told her all about the angst of being a wuss camper. She was her usual bubbly self and listened to all the things that tie me up in knots and smiled effusively and told me that it was of no eternal account. And the strange thing about it is that being loved, and listened too meant that her dismissal lifted the tangled net off my shoulders. By the time I hung up I was laughing more and freer, able to shift the guilt and weight of my To Do List and my personal division. Isn't it great what perspective, wisdom and a little well placed love can do?God bless the aunties of the world....


There isn't a lot left to this week and I am almost through with the nesting back into our life. Next I must sit down and begin madly planning things for the school year. Our schedule is a writhing mass, waiting to be addressed but for now, the Schedule Beast can quietly growl. I have had tea and aunting and I on my way to the garden for a ripe fig from our tree with my man....we shall step gently over the two tents that are still spread out, airing in the backyard, between the tipped over tricycle and the two hockey sticks and upended lawn furniture.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Shadow Self Returns From Camp





We just got home from our first legit camping trip as a family. We took the boys to the redwoods and pitched two tents beneath the huckleberry bushes and set up shop with our cooler for a pantry. Every meal was over the open fire or else cold leftovers, we swam in the river every day, picked wild berries and kept strict daylight hours. I wish I could say that I came home elated and freshened and all Walden 'ed up. I am afraid I actually came home desperately tired of stumbling out of my tent in the dark, groping for the door of my kids tent zipper and trying to shush whoever was waking before the whole campground was awakened, I was sick of scrubbing dishes in tepid water and getting them sort of clean, I was was exhausted from lighting fires to try to cook anything and I was dying to take a shower and peel off the filthy blue jeans I wore every day all weekend. There were brilliant memories and great times and we were all glad we went and are already planning our tent pitching next year....but still I have this secret disappointment. I didn't feel like I wanted to. I wanted to be alive in the woods and feel free and lighter, to come home inspired to live more simply and to embrace more of the world of a life between the campfire and the tent. Instead, I feel worn thin and so grateful to live where I do and when I do. Have I softened with old age or am I just realizing that I have not given this pampered shadow self of mine enough voice?

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Canning Up The Summer

Today I stood in the kitchen all day long. Virtually all the steps on my pedometer today were counted between the sink and then stove. Its canning season! I got all inspired yesterday and packed all the kids up in the van and drove out of town to my favorite big farm stand and picked up four half bushel boxes of peaches, fresh off the trees in the orchard and then on an impulse nabbed two good sized boxes of tomatoes to boot. I haven't done any canning in at least two years....but I don't think I've canned tomatoes and peaches in longer than that. Bay Area weather is the best for canning.
It was warm today and with a boiling kettle going for blanching and another for syrup to hot pack the peaches it was pretty steamy....but it was nothing like the heat you have in the Midwest in August when you can all day. Its a blessed relief to feel the breeze through the slider and know that the temp is maxing out at 78 or so with extremely low humidity. I remember the way I would sweat right through my shirt and apron in my native climate on food preserving days. Its lovely to can here. The combination of personal satisfaction over the work, the ideal temperatures and the beauty of the gleaming jars in rows all full of produce is a pretty heady instigator. I was dreaming about adding beets, applesauce and dilly beans and maybe some canned corn to the stockpile. Doesn't that sound wonderful! I am part squirrel. I can't help it.


I was very pleased with how excited the boys were to help and how very directable and useful they all are now that they are a little older and there is no baby underfoot or strapped to my back. Everyone can help peel or sort of pack jars and they are all so proud of being capable and helping to make real food for the family. Ru even spiced and marinated the chicken for dinner for me so that I could keep working on the peaches!

We found four chrysalises for Anise Swallowtail butterflies on our street on the only wild fennel plant on the block....it was sticking weakly out of a chain link fence and leaning precariously down towards the sidewalk. We decided the cut it off and take all the chrysalises home and let them change in the more sheltered environment of our kitchen window. We have hatched out two of the four this week and released them into the garden, watching them fly off over our mammoth sunflower and the board fence and into the neighborhood sky. We are still waiting on the last two and hoping we are able to safely launch them all. So much fun to find a new caterpillar to raise and a new butterfly to hatch. I would expect that monarchs must be here too although I am not seeing them much this time of year. They were around a lot in the winter, in between the rains....a friend told me that there was a wintering cluster of monarchs on the palm trees at the golf course in our town this last winter and many years before. I have to remember to go look for them this year with the boys....apparently the gold course men are very kind about allowing adoring butterfly fans in to have a peek, even without a putter or a ball.



We've joined a co-op for the fall for homeschooling for the boys and I will be helping out as a teacher in the program too. We are going to give classical schooling a try and test our hands at Latin and history cycles and the learning of rhetorical method. I am most worried about teaching our kids to be big headed snobs who are no earthly use but most excited about the idea of them all learning tin whistle together, attending group field trips and giving speeches once a week in class. Classical Conversations will be a new adventure. I'm ready for a little more academic community here and a little more pushing strenuous goal setting too, as the boys get older it feels more important to me.

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