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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Moss and Brick

Time for a little bragging on my partner. A has been working with me on a strange little vision I had for a particular corner of our yard.We have this nook against the back of the house where the stone foundation creates two walls around a sheltered little garden spot. When we bought the house it was already a special feeling place.

One day while digging there, my spade hit a little china statue of St. Francis, resting in the black dirt and now he sits in the top of my china cabinet (probably some Catholic sacrilege to dig him out from under the roses and bring him in but I am none the wiser for having done it). The moss grows green and moist here and there were ferns of several varieties that didn't live anywhere else on the property. It was green and lush and the grass was even usually happy. I decided it needed to be a slightly enclosed, circular kind of contemplation garden. The kind of place where you could bring a good book and have a good cry, or a little boy could be alone with his favorite Matchbox cars which all have secret names. Eventually I want to enclose it quite a bit and have the flowers and things inside it be special lush haven. Someday there's going to be a little burbling fountain and a bench or chair for resting but for now...there's the first amazing, real piece.
Wall in progress, still a little sod on the right to be lifted and filled under.

Some of the old bricks we found on our property that got worked into the sides.

A built me a brick retaining wall, making the lawn a perfect little circle. The bricks will age and the moss will move in and sometime very soon I'll lay a set of steps. I'm rather in love with the effect. A was very energetic about the project, peeling back the sod and shoveling good topsoil underneath to raise it all the a level plain, morning after early morning before work. I am very impressed. Not bad for a guy with no masonry experience, eh? I think its all pretty magical.
Tah Dah!!!!! The finished beauty...minus steps.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kindness Is Not My Job

I love it when I see people being kind. Makes me so happy. I feel kind when other people, even people I don't know are kind where I can see it...even if they weren't kind to me.  If I have the foresight, on bad days, especially bad parenting days, I look for it around me.

 Yesterday I was driving to get A from work at the end of the day and I spaced out at a red light and didn't notice when it changed and the guy behind me didn't honk he just waved at me in a friendly way after I winced in his direction. What relief! Then I noticed at the next corner that the dog walker and her scowling pooch caught in a sudden shower got to cross the street early, sprinting for her dry apartment gratefully because another driver rolled down his window and hollered at her to "Go for it!" while he paused traffic to let them cross. (Am hormonal so I almost teared up there.) At another intersection I saw a young trio of clearly fit runners out jogging with their elderly relative (mom? aunt? grandma?) who was having trouble convincing herself to go on. They were flanking her...running extremely slowly, matching her pace and talking smilingly to her to keep her with them....all the way down the street. And man, do I know how it feels to be unfit and jogging...so hard, so embarrassing and so beyond humiliating to be jogging with runners younger and healthier than you are, what dignity those youngsters gave her in her pain. Potent. Hits me like a sucker punch.

I am really struggling with parenting right now. Trying to figure out how to get my boys to be physically gentle, to use respectful words, to be generous instead of greedy, to have remorse over their errors, and to understand that your success doesn't come from whacking all the other people down a peg or two. Lots of this stuff is super important to me, and lots of it is extremely baffling to me to teach. How in the world do you teach someone out of greed? I have so few answers sometimes and I feel so helpless as a mother.

I do know that often these things iron themselves out some as kids grow. I'm still going to keep working on instructing the boys about good character and maintain some household standards, don't worry. But there's a piece of this that is just getting older...and also some piece of it that is completely the choice of the individuals who are my sons. I'm not sure how to separate all of that and decide what to worry about and what to let go...but I do know that on some very real level I need to let go. I cannot control it all. I am not Mistress of Morality and sometimes all I really am substantially, is more grown-up.

In times like these I like to notice people being kind. Big people, people who don't know I'm watching, people I don't know from Adam, anonymous grown kids out there doing good things to other folks without their moms advice or knowledge....without any prodding at all. It helps me believe that one day, some of those folks will be my boys. And even if, (God help me!) some or all of my children choose a path of miserly, unkind living...it is not all on me to seed the world with good souls. I don't need to carry that on my head. There is always good. Good wins...It doesn't need me to make sure it does.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

In Which She Summons Normal

This past month has been amazing, "I'm so lucky" beauty side by side with ridiculous out of control "I can't believe this is my life" despair. Nobody died. We didn't lose our house. We all had more than enough food to eat but the feeling of real, painful frustration was still legitimately there sandwiched by flashes of fabulous.

We were sick over and over and over from Nib's hospitalization through two days ago in June with no apparent cause besides random chance, the roses bloomed beautifully, the house was trashed perpetually, the baby continues to be a gentle soul who sleeps and only wakes once or twice in a night, my hive got overcrowded and then I accidentally killed a few of my bees babies through sheer clumsiness, Our CSA began and it is wonderful, Nib started teething his two year molars and we had the most amazing summer thunderstorms, the heat was withering (literally in the case of my garden) and I hit my pre-pregnancy weight. And on and on it went...back and forth like a crazy rocking pendulum.

It feels like it is evening out a bit now...more stable, more normal or at least less painfully raw moments of bad happenings. I have tried to be strong or to figure it out or to even let go of it and I'm not sure I succeeded at any of it. I just survived accidentally. Am very happy to be apparently on the other side though and hoping to have a very smooth stage next. I am so desperate for some regularity, some even living and some frigging social contact! I cannot wait for the next bit.

I have hacked into our hedge, I have formed a health accountability partnership with Jane, I have a 38 day spiritual contemplation spinning, and I am itching to paint. I predict good books, fresh batches of kombucha, beans from the garden, a clean guinea pig cage, and some grand adventures with my boys. May it be so.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Potato Blossom Queen

Our garden is lush and full of growing and leafing and beginning to churn out genuine vegetables. I am always amazed that it happens every year by the simple act of planting. Dirt magic for sure. Right now the potatoes are growing like gangbusters and they have just begun to bloom in frilly clusters.

Potato blossoms are so incredibly pretty, every one dangling like an earring, little violet shooting stars in clusters. I'd love to paint some eventually. (Note to Self) Every time I see potato blossoms I think about the random fact I heard somewhere about how Marie Antoinette wore them in her hair.

Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria, the late...
Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria, the later Queen Marie Antoinette of France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Somehow I can completely see them on her. They're just frothy enough to go with her aesthetic...still there's something downright amusing about the humble nature of the plant coupled with her royal, and exalted titles and positions.

I've read about the rolling potato fields of Maine and Ireland and I also think about them right now. I know it isn't the most normal travel dream but I'd love to see them all in bloom some year. They  must be incredible, all full of pale purple blossoms, in row upon row, as far as you can see. In the meantime, no reason to let Marie have a monopoly on self decoration!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Strawberry Mama

The strawberries are ripe. We're eating them at every meal now after our big trip the u-pick farm. We always mean to look further afield and one year we went to our CSA's organic field for them but we usually end up at Jones Farm like we did this year. The taste of a field-ripe strawberry is cliche but it still has to be remembered every single year that they are so, so, so much better than the ones we buy in the grocery store all winter to tide ourselves over.

Yesterday I finished putting the last of the jars of freezer jam into the freezer. A joined us around the dining room table this year and helped mash berries and boil pectin with the boys and I. Said he truly had no idea there was exactly that much sugar in jam. Heh. Now you know why I substitute that low-sugar pectin stuff that I buy at Whole Foods, eh buddy?

It does make me feel good to have him start noticing how much sugar is in a given food, not just have me be the food-nazi around the house, always on everyone's case about "feeding the children good things." Nobody likes to be the lone policeman. To be fair though, despite my very wholesome nutritional training there was a time when I was in his shoes, not paying much attention to what went into the jam.

Once as a teen I made jam(one of my favorite summer activities) with one of my best chums whose mom was a devoted naturist hippie type, committed to real foods and the avoidance of processed goods. We'd been out picking wild strawberries together which was all very idyllic and then ended the day in my parents kitchen, with everything we'd picked, intent on making them into jam. My friend balked at the amount of sugar in the recipe and told me that her mom would never go for that....and asked me if we could possibly substitute a smaller amount of honey or fruit juice or even skip the sweetener all together. At the time I didn't exactly get it but here I am, mama of my own domain and retroactively impressed by my friend's scruples and I kinda wish we'd just eaten those little berries raw and fresh instead of boiling the daylights out of them with a wagon load of sugar on top. I hope my own little boys learn the same standards my friend espoused, even when her mom wasn't watching. That's what Pamona's Universal Pectin is all about I guess....at least as far as jam is concerned.

So, there is jam, and there are plenty of "leftover" fresh berries and last night there was even a pie. And for breakfast tomorrow, I'm going to have some strawberries in cream...just a little maple syrup drizzled on top to keep it on the straight and narrow. You haven't lived until you've eaten fresh berries in cream.
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