"At middle age the soul should be opening up like a rose, not closing up like a cabbage."
-John Andrew Holmes

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Flip Side of Weakness

Its Single Mama Week at our house. A is pulling 9 to 5's in California and I am here, manning our urban homestead. Been reading Gladwell's, David and Goliath which is not a sacred book about the Sunday School story but a super readable social commentary on underdogs and cultural giants, power and clever thinking outside of the box. I'm really enjoying it a lot and its making me think that I should spend some time brainstorming. I'd like to through the things that I think are my shortcomings and the places where we as a family are odd or can't quite measure up and see what hidden strengths are there and also what fresh thinking can do to help me/us accomplish things that seem otherwise difficult or impossible. (Also, I now want to learn more about my Mennonite spiritual roots, the Huguenots and the Quakers. I'm a pacifist in my soul.)

Been thinking about Single Mama Week like this a bit today and yesterday. Its hard to be apart but in some ways, if we're optimistic and energetic...it can be a chance to connect more deeply. If we do what we plan we will have real conversations twice a day in special, private, kids are asleep kinds of settings. We mean to talk and hang like that in normal life but I think we actually end up being more scattered than that. A business trip is also a good chance to reboot our texting, photo sharing, spur of the moment phone calls and short love note emails. More contact in some ways means more connection, even though we aren't in the same place physically.

The other strength to being apart for a week like this is that A can get caught up on sleep and kid-free space and I can get caught up on projects. The evening time after the kids go to bed is free...I can read, I can paint, I can work on the house, I can deep clean the cellar....whatever is nagging me on my list can actually get my full attention because there's no call drop everything and watch Game of Thrones episodes with my husband. God knows I love watching Game of Thrones with my husband...I'm not complaining...I'm just saying.... Looking at the flip side of the loss means seeing what can be gained and there's always something to be gained. I am determined to think that way normally anyhow but this book is pushing me to be resourceful about how to strategize and visualize the hidden goodness of my own "losses."

Am also reading Eating On The Wild Side, which is SUPER INTERESTING nutritional data all about which foods are the most nutrient dense, which varieties are the best to grow for nutrition and even how to prepare them for the best dose of nutrients. Fascinating stuff. There's all kinds of little nuggets of info:  carrots are best eaten cooked....and its best to cook them whole and then cut them up for serving, shallots and scallions are the most nutrient dense onions and outpace bulb onions by fathoms, tomatoes release more nutrients the longer they are cooked....tomato paste is out of sight! Some of this stuff connects to the stuff in the other book. Its amazing what foods are popular and are cultural giants and yet have so little nutrition. Some of the least known and loved or the marginalized and not trendy (cabbage anyone?) are the best picks. 

Breaking my routine and reading, are my latest reminders to examine my life, my habits and my assumptions.


Monday, September 22, 2014

I No Eat

I was standing in the kitchen when I heard a scuffling, mousey kind of noise behind the pantry door. I froze and listened, wide-eyed...hoping that it wasn't rodent visitors. Please no tiny, naked tailed, scuttling, creepers, clambering all over the shelves leaving me tiny poop gifts between the canned goods!!! Please! I tip-toed towards the door, and then....a thought occurred as I stood flinching on the threshold, listening with my hand on the knob.

"Pom? Is that you?" The scuffling stopped. Silence.

"No Mama!" He called....and then when I came around the door he informed me: "I no eat yo poh-teen powduh!" No mice. And no worries...he didn't eat my protein powder. Good to know. Guess we're good to go. Tee hee!!!!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Mug At A Time

Its one of those early fall days, the leaves haven't started to turn in quantity yet and there's been no frost on the pumpkins or in our case...the plethora of zucchini...but it feels like fall. I'm not sure what it is, some kind of change in the air, the smell in the wind, a yen for spiced coffees, my end of summer cold? Hard to say.

I just have to say that I am having a major, all-day, fantasy of teleporting to a secluded cottage for two in Vermont, complete with roaring fire, wool socks, mug of tea and plaid blankets. I think about it all day long. I have told this to A. I have told my sister. I think I've even told the boys. Maybe its just my sinus headache but I'm having a hard time being patient with my children (especially the ever constant chaos) and I am having another hermit phase where I hide to recover from life. If I can't have my log cabin oasis dream then I can pretend to create it in my own house. So, I am drinking big mugs of warm turmeric milk, taking naps, beginning the fourth Narnia book with the boys and lying low. No big reason to go out, life with keep spinning and I can always get on again when I the post-nasal drip goes away.

Speaking of my fantasy....one thing I need in order to recreate it is firewood, and a chimney sweep. I love that we have a fireplace. I kind of love it more than I can say, honestly. Even a tiny, little house with a fireplace feels perfectly accoutered. This summer, one of the things I did finally get changed was the fireplace. One of the previous owners had incorrectly installed a fireplace insert stove and then the doors had broken anyhow. I got it all cleaned out and called a pair of scrap metal dudes to haul it out of our house. I gave the newly uncovered tile a scrub and now I need a serious chimney cleaning (its never been done in the history of our owning the house) and I also need to stock up a nice pile of firewood.
Our new, no insert, fireplace....all that glossy black tile was hidden before.

 Our neighbors across the street just rented a log splitter and stacked a neat heap of pieces in their backyard, I wanted to go running across the street hollaring, "Oooo! OooO!!! Can I have some too?!?!" I see free firewood all the time on Craigslist....now to figure out how to get it cut. Wonder how much that splitter rents for anyway....

We have nursed a sick chicken back to health. Pearl, our extremely ugly (truth, y'all) little Auracana chicken who had a woman troubles once before was back in the sick kennel in the house with us again this past week. This was my most serious pet doctoring yet. Truthfully, folks...I was freaked out, and scared and had some trouble sleeping. I know that my mom has no trouble harvesting chickens when they don't keep up their end of the bargain but whew! I am not my mama. This was some serious sickness....there was blood, medication, sprays, maggots (maggots, y'all!), special baths, and rubber gloves. It was for real. I feel like I should get a badge for making it through that one. I'm glad to say that Pearl is back to her old self...although still a little thin and not back to laying yet.

Life on the city farm is sometimes intense.