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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

School Year Leap

I am typing furiously tonight. All is in flux. Its time for a new season! I have decided to scrap all the ideas I had for how everything normally goes and start over from ground zero in every way. Home schooling starts in earnest this year...we have a genuine first grader in the house. In order to maintain some level of sanity, make sure the laundry gets done and assure ourselves that said first grader learns to read his Dick and Jane we need new rules.

Henceforth, starting not this week but the next....if you try to call me in the morning you will go straight to voicemail. If you knock on the door and are not bleeding from an orifice I won't answer and if you are waiting for an email from me, rest assured it won't arrive before noon. I am blocking off all morning hours for housework, reading together and school lessons, such as they are. All our social engagements, museum ventures, errands and other jaunts will be shifted to afternoons. Life will become ironclad and organized.

Tell me its smart.
And clever.
And so soothingly arranged.
Will you? 
I'm pretty sure its the right thing to do and yet...its a big leap.

This involves letting go of my current art fellowship group and every single other thing we've been involved in.....besides our homeschool co-op. And no...we're not going to become one of THOSE families...I think social involvement for Mommy and kids is extremely key. It just means we're starting completely over. Everything I had in place is gone so we're on the hunt for all new, afternoon events. I'm feeling alternately optimistic and lost.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mud Monsters

And then sometimes you just have crazy whims like, "Why not!?! All the kids really want to do is play with mud today....let them." I got out all my big mixing bowls and the hose and whipped up some serious batches of good squishy mud and then the boys went at it while I stalked them with the camera.

Simple. Slightly demented. And pretty fun to watch. Maybe they'll remember it fondly. The only rules? No mud on the car. No mud on the house. No mud on your mother. There was a serious round of baths to follow. Epic.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Country Mouse In City Mouse

We had a spin at the fair this weekend and I was struck by how very out of place I felt. I put on my leather boots and my old blue jeans and I know all the songs playing over the loudspeaker but I feel like a little bit of an impostor just the same. It was so funny to walk around the fair carrying my baby in my Maya Wrap, such a normal part of my life and have people stopping me at every turn to ask me, "What in the world was that thing I had my baby in???" Several people actually said to me, "I've never seen anything like that before!" I live a different life from those folks, a different life from the one I was raised in and a I have to admit I am factually no longer a country girl. I live in a city and if half those people had any idea I came to the fair from my city home I expect they would have viewed my old jeans and boots with a bit more skepticism.

On some level this means kissing a part of myself or my former identity goodbye. I am a city mouse now. But lately I am learning more about how many facets and shades and sides there are hidden inside of any one person. There are things about country life that I am happy to let go but then here I am in my city neighborhood growing corn in the backyard, hunting mushrooms in the neighbor's maple tree, and letting my boys run barefoot in the mud. Am I one type? Nope. Rustic living is a real strand of myself: the can-do, the simple gifts, the homemade, and the scruffy edged-ness of it all but it co-exists next to the me that loves shopping in New York City, the me that loves living and eating off-the-cuff in a new culture overseas. It isn't something I once was exactly its part of me now...people are complex, full of all kinds of versions of themselves.

I have a friend who lives around the corner from us on our city block, goes to a salon to have her hair done and is edgy and chic and unquestioningly urban in many ways but she sometimes pops up surprising tastes and thoughts, courtesy of her upbringing in rural Montana. People are file-able but not exclusively. Labels are nice brain tools. They are short-cuts for our mind, a fast way to jump-start thinking about whomever we see in front of us but they are only short-cuts to beginning, not to completely knowing them. Observe people, including yourself. Don't tell yourself limiting stories about who they or you are or aren't, even allowing that kind of defining in can sometimes kill vibrant little strands of color we never knew were there. Don't worry too much about contrast or incongruity within yourself or the people you know...you are who you are...one of an infinite variation of people layered under the surface like rainbows with interests and preferences and talents that you may never suspect. Open your eyes and go digging and be brave enough to be honest with yourself about even the stuff people around you don't enjoy.

The rest of the night after I thought about this, I held hands with my computer man, smiled at my city boys, and went waltzing down the midway with my hippy baby carrier, happily taking in both the cow barn and the trick dirt bike show by turns, just airing out my layers. Be you! I'm trying.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Caulk, Baby and A Garden Boom

I have a new addiction. Caulking. This morning I was doing a little more work on the bathroom trim and I discovered a tube of white bathroom sealing caulk I'd stocked under the sink. It was all downhill from there! Love squeezing it out like glossy frosting and the tactile precision of smoothing it with my rubber gloved finger. I caulked everything in the room and am now on the prowl for more places in my life that need caulking! Caulk! Its fun!

The baby, Pom is growing wildly. He's trying busily to roll over although I expect he won't be successful for quite a while yet. He is completely intolerant of dirty diapers and will fuss until changed and then bloom in smiles. He loves to be held at my shoulder, surveying the world behind me and watching whatever brother is bobbing behind saying, "Hi Baby! Hi!" Pom also has the most incredibly blue eyes. I think he got my Papa's peepers. I've admired his eyes for as long as I can remember so I'm beyond thrilled to have this tiny sapphire eyed creature mirroring him. So fun! A has given up insisting that they're going to fade to brown every time I mention them. I think we may have three brown eyed boys and blue eyed caboose.

The garden is churning out so many vegetables that I am hard pressed to keep up: zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, swiss chard..etc. etc. With all the new garden space we have this year I might finally be able to let go of having a CSA in the future. We really have so much available using both that its a bit manic. I need to remember the freezer and stock things away for winter. I have been freezing herbs in ziplocs which I also remembered to do last year and love, love, loved. Small victories! All our sweet corn is in now and sitting in a bag on the counter waiting to be shucked so that ought to be my first big project.

I am feeling excited about working on the house and a bit disenchanted with the outdoors (bugs, heat..etc.) and am starting to think fondly of our autumn hikes we start taking on Sunday afternoons once it is cool enough to deter ticks. Other things on the mind: curriculum arranging for this fall (1st grade approaches!!!), plans for roasting haunches of meat in the oven on cool evenings, prepping for Christmas (I will not be blindsided!) and our newly annual Thanksgiving dinner with friends. Summer is still with us right now though as the endless tomato salads do testify. Am hoping to have a dip in the community pool before we're through and this weekend we're headed to the county fair!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trimming My Sails

English: Paintbrush Português: Trincha
English: Paintbrush Português: Trincha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The radiator, segueing from old dingy white to glossy new white.

The sun is shining, the tomatoes are pouring in, the weather is finally cool enough to stand and the mosquitoes are thicker than thieves in our yard. My speckled legs bear testament. Urgh. So...I'm painting indoors for respite.
Before Trim
After Trim!

 The trim in the boy's bath is finally getting a glossy coat of white and I'm humming away. Coming along, isn't it? I'm so excited about the whole project. I think this room may really end up looking miles better. I adore the cool aqua blue on the walls and shiny white trim always makes me feel better. Have a peek!

The baby has learned to stay asleep for a reasonable amount of time and little jobs like this don't require any taping or hauling out of drop cloths. I could do picky detail work like this all day long. I love being down on my hands and knees with a bitty brush, trying to be sure to go right up to the very edge. What does that mean about me? Something important I'm sure.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Foxy Rocks Decorating

Foxy, and her son, my darling nephew.
My sister Foxy is a fabulously inspiring person.She's one of those people who takes on challenges with gritted teeth and a war cry. She is also a person of unbelievable resilience and flair. She's a veteran, an ex-fire fighter, a great cook, a step mom, a mother and a gardener to boot not to mention fashion-plate, brilliant home renovator and maker of the very best chocolate milk around. She is one of those people I have often called when I feel at my bottom and she always tells me to keep on. For years I kept a little Post-It note on the corner of my computer screen where I scribbled something she told me once on a bad day, "The tide will come back in and will bring with new wonderful things!"
English: A small pad of Post-It notes.
English: A small pad of Post-It notes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all need people of this caliber in our lives. Impressive, forgiving, funny, thoughtful, forever in our corner types. I hope you have one or two, if not...get looking...they're really valuable stuff. If you're in Kalamazoo, Michigan I recommend my sister...Foxy is top notch.

The whole shebang.
One of the most wonderful things that we did on this last trip to Michigan last week was stop and see Foxy and her family. They live a very frugal life, and travel money isn't always on the books so it had been a long time since we were together. Not only did I get to see her but my entire family (6 kids y'all!) converged on her house for lunch and noshing. A tasty and nostalgic time was had by all and we even managed to get a great big family picture with every single person looking at the camera!
Cousins, just playin' in the yard. Best ever.

Foxy's suave husband.
And people...in the midst of their well pump being out, her sweet husband being between jobs and her working insane swing shifts....I was inspired all over again. How does she do it??? In the middle of all of the stress and short ends in their life right now she and her husband are working hard on their house, constantly rearranging things and trying to figure out how to make better with what they have. I love their place. They live in a suburban neighborhood in a fixer-upper house they are slowly remodeling with an acre of beautiful fenced yard: a gigantic spreading cherry tree and the perfect childhood swing, a vegetable garden, and lots of creative spots for kid play. My children are in heaven the entire time we're visiting.
Foxy, my spritely niece, and my other sister Lockbox.
Sprite holding her baby cousin, Pom.
I love her can-do spirit her artistic vision and her romantic sensibilities. I've always said she had amazing innate ideas about taste and aesthetic. I am ever more sure that its true after this visit. As usual she's been busy shifting around the details of her house and thinking of clever things I wish I'd discovered. I had to share my favorite bits and bobs with you.

She made this little play-tent from an old sheet, a golden scrap of fabric, a hula-hoop and a little ribbon! Amazing or what?!?$
She's a decorating wizard and all around impressive person. I think I won the sister lotto! And this is only one of my amazing siblings if you can believe it. Hot diggity dog...my parents had it goin' on!
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