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

Friday, May 25, 2012

Poetry Friday: A Hedge Poem

Happy Poetry Friday everyone! Today I'm writing about a task I'm mostly not really doing these days but more fantasizing about. Our hedge desperately needs a good buzz and I am normally the woman for the job but at the moment the thought of expending all that energy is ultra-daunting and so it stands there in rabid neglect getting hairier by the hour. At least I can write about how it feels to trim it all up nicely, right?

Sometime soon I will take a good hack at it. Although "soon" may not actually come until about July. Boo! I am seriously considering a landscaping company taking a one-off drive-by at my house just to whack it into shape once before spring ends and I go crazy looking at it.

Clipping The Hedge

The vibrant hedge needs haircuts
Just as well as my crop of sons.
It has to be kept within bounds,
Snipping off the clouds of wagging
Shoots that hang down over its face
It will lose itself altogether if allowed
Bulging inappropriately in
Front of the whole neighborhood.
I grind the big shears a pass or two
Warming up the jaws before bites.
With my head on the side I chop
First, the few, high snips to level out
The leafy green table-top above.
Then I advance with my weapon
A cheek pressed against the wall
My sword arm deftly slicing off
The extra limbs and stray parts
As the flanks appear again, decently
A rain of tender stems and leaf bits
Sifts foot-ward leaving a bright,
Lush runner down the driveway.
Sticky green juice edges the blade lips
As they snip hungrily along the wall.
Sometimes I reach a hand up
To feather the cut edges of the hedge
As though it were my husband's hair
Knocking loose the bits of snipped green
Tenderly, brushing it off a brow or a cheek.
As a final touch I must squint down
The line of the shorn wall, my nose nestled
In the bright smell of chloryphyll
Sighting out any stray, missed bit
And when I finally have it perfect
Inhale the bright scent and run an arm
Down the fluttering length of green on my
Way to the garage for my favorite rake.

 Our Poetry Friday host this week is TeacherDance. Click your way over and have another helping or two of poetry to send you off into the weekend.

Until Monday, Friends....until Monday....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Little Sand In Our Shoes

We took the afternoon off and headed to the beach. A little sand in the shoes, a little saltwater behind the ears, a little wind in the hair, just the ticket. I am still so new at identifying all the little things we find at the shore. I think I know more than last year but never enough. So many little glinting mysteries in the sand. So glad to watch the boys pawing around on the edge of the sea just as curious as I am and never ready to leave.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pregnancy Portraits Fourth Time Around

Here are the long awaited pregnancy portraits. Usually I take them all myself, some kind of make-shift tripod arrangement and a million takes. This year I had the handy help of a pint-sized 6 year old photographer, Ru the magnificent.

So, here I am...all 38 weeks of me and Baby. Impatient and panicking by turns about the time left.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Zen Quilting

Life is calming down around here. We're back to trying to follow a housekeeping routine, catching up on the dishes and the laundry are a daunting task but I am starting to believe it might happen soon. I can at least find clothes in the drawers again.

 We've been doing lots of slowing down though...cancelling things, playing outdoors, reading together and naps, naps, naps. I've been working on a compilation of data about how to increase the strength of the immune system, since we've all been clearly a bit low and susceptible.
 I got the urge to mend our big master bed quilt the other day, there were flaps open on several of the patches after a lot of use and love over the last decade. Once I sat down in the sunshine with a needle in my hand, I couldn't stop.
 I did the utilitarian mending and then after all the holes were closed I just kept going. Its a block quilt with no real top stitching anywhere and so I just did some random top stitching, following my inner creative urges. It was so cozy there in the sun, with my needle, and the little stitch tracks going in and out and in and out....
 One of the most incidentally meditational things that has happened to me in a long time. I could be  hand quilter for hire. Any brilliant quilters out there who love the piecing and need a slightly obsessive, tiny bit harried housewife to sit glaze-eyed for hours pleasantly stitching designs over the patchwork? I am your woman! Please get in touch directly.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sarsparilla and Jenny Come To Stay

Pardon the very dirty socks, ya'll.
Snuggling into the soft, warmth of a living animal is a pretty irreplaceable feeling. We tried fish, we tried caterpillars, we tried observing wild animals on occasion and we tried subsisting on visits with pets that friends own. All those things are wonderful and helpful but not quite the same as developing a relationship with a living animal yourself, saying goodnight and good morning to each other, cuddling together on a bad day and learning to observe and understand cross-species communication.

 Our new house residents are a pair of baby sister guinea pigs that the boys named Sarsparilla and Jenny. We found them for free on Craig's List, (source of all good things) and drove home from a small town, a-way up Hwy 15 excitedly making stops in commuter lots and on curbs to peek at them one more time and stop to pick them green twigs and other leafy treats. Ru in particular is pretty beside himself about their arrival but all the boys are very pleased about having our own animal friends and have been very faithful about helping me take care of them. Even Nib is very territorial about his little personal job of filling their food dish with new dried seeds and nuts under my supervision.

They are gentle and silky soft, no finger biting or panicked clawing like rabbits. They are nervous about humans but they have become less skittish over time and are much calmer when people act calmly around them. They now recognize feeding and petting and our other interactions and they will happily sit in arms or laps for fairly indefinite periods of time. They are clever, bright-eyed, social foragers who are most active during the day which makes just watching them lots of fun. They are non-invasive, not smelly, neat and not loud although they do make gentle little squeaking, chirping noises to communicate. They eat raw vegetable and fruit scraps (squishy grapes, carrot tops and apple cores are well-loved), hay in quantity and packaged store grain based food but they get very excited about gifts of grass bouquets trimmed with dandelions eating the flowers and leaves the boys bring them with equal relish. They love to play with green sticks and gnaw rows of little hash marks down  them like miniature beavers keeping their teeth trimmed just so.

Such fun to have a little bright spot like this in our home routine. I have spent some exhausted evenings when the house was finally quiet and I felt spent with one pocket pet snuggled up on my chest, nuzzling that soft fur and looking into those glinting bright eyes just feeling better again. Companionship is so warming, even of the rodent variety. I think A is still not sure he allowed a good thing (I swear to you I got his permission first!) and he has yet to physically touch either one of them and calls them a bit reservedly, with a sniff  "the pigs" but hopefully he'll warm with time. Until then, the boys and I will get in all the snuggles we can....genuine pet-owners at last! I like to think Beatrix Potter would be proud and I think she'd especially approve of their forays into the garden on sunny days We have found that they can be carried outdoors in arms, followed by the boxy, wire section of their home and then put to graze directly onto some warm spot on the lawn, not too far from a good patch of clover. A little garden work seems to make them very happy indeed, life is not so very rough for our girls.
"Guinea Pigs" a watercolor by Beatrix Potter from her collection Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Scent of Grandmothers

We are in high floral season here at our house and when I wander out to catch a whiff of what are now the tail end of the lilacs....I think of my Grandma Joyce. She is the only grandparent left that I can visit with in the flesh. One very special grandma who stocked lilac scented spray in her bathroom all through my childhood.

There's something very exciting and alluring about your grandma's bathroom when you're a little girl...all those jeweled lipstick cases, the fluffy towels and various hydrating lotions and curlers that were such mysteries from exotic lands. I always lingered and lingered  there in that land of forbidden treasures where I was alone behind a closed door. I admit to sometimes requiring parental retrieval in the bathrooms at all of my grandma's houses.
Somehow, through their bathrooms, each of them imprinted themselves on my mind in the form of a scent. Whenever I smell lilacs I think of Grandma Joyce and smile, remembering the pretty painted design on the side of the oh-so-exotic room spray she faithfully stocked in her upstairs bathroom. I'm thinking of her often these days since the smell of lilacs is always on the wind and really looking forward to putting Baby into her wise arms for the first time this summer when we visit.
My artistic Grandma Sally is the oiled scent pressed out of geranium leaves. I climbed up on her bathroom counter and sat cross-legged, fondling tiny, little guest soaps, printed with geranium blossoms that she brought back home from her amazing visits to The Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island and kept against another day. In her sun room, a few steps below the kitchen, live geraniums were in near perpetual bloom, creeping along the windowsills in numerous colors and varieties no matter the time of year. I think about her every time my watering can brushes the leaves on my geranium as I make my rounds in my own sun room now, giving out plant drinks.

Great-grandma Grace lived in a farmhouse, out in front of the family vineyard where I was married. I was a very small girl when I first absorbed the hot pink smell of old rose in the little half-bath off her farm wife's kitchen. I am remember washing my hands an extra time or two just so that I would be sure to smell that dusty scent on my hands after I had dried them on her pretty little terrycloth towels. She was a little woman with translucent white waves in her hair, incredibly soft palms and a soft smile, always there, standing quietly in her kitchen....living forever in my memory in a misty cloud of eau de old rose. All June I'll think of her whenever the scent drifts down the sidewalk from a neighbor's garden.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rainy, Frappe Days

Today was rainy, so rainy...and I am unbearably sleepy. A has switched jobs which has meant a re-juggling of our schedule...new sleeping times, new waking hours...and a toddler who is still just as much of a persistent early bird as ever and doesn't understand change.Whew. I kinda think that's why I'm wiped. Of course, it could just be stressful, familial, medical emergency recovery + third trimester exhaustion. Had a midwife appointment today and dragged all the kids along with me through the rain and had a major meltdown after the totally insane check-up.

There were kids rudely talking over the midwives, kids un-sterilizing instruments, kids dropping nacho cheese dip on the floor and kids getting lost outside the exam door down random hallways. Argh. Sometimes real life feels unbelievable. Afterwards, it must be admitted there were frantic texts to the husband person and a caramel frappe with a large fry to accompany the mini-meltdown.

To be fair though...there have also been some good moments. There are blink-your-eyes-green baby leaves on every tree, swelling peony buds, our first, fresh garden radishes and my first, real portrait in watercolor....a terrifying endeavor that I think I genuinely like. And tonight, the babysitter is coming over to feed my kids mac and cheese from a box while A and I jack ourselves up on a little adrenaline via the movie The Avengers. Am very curious. Can a superhero movie possibly be as good as "The Critics" claim? Am skeptical but game. Am also counting on the adrenaline to keep me awake since the caramel frappe did nothing in that department.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rocky Mountain Spotted What????

We have been on a crazy, wild roller coaster as a family. Our first, real, health emergency. Sweet little Nib was bitten by a tick, ostensibly right here in our own city yard (we weren't really anywhere else at the time) and came down with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, the deadliest of the tick borne diseases. I've had Lyme's Disease before so I'm pretty cautious about tick illnesses now but this one was the scariest run-in yet. As with many of the tick sicknesses, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a very evil trickster. It looks like nothing much (fever, rash, generalized aching) and then suddenly it starts doing clever things like attacking your internal organs systematically. The real key with tick borne illnesses is to look carefully for ticks attached to you after you've been outdoors and if you notice any symptoms of illness afterwards (particularly fever) get thee to a doctor and get thee on antibiotics. (So says the CDC in their official guidelines for tick illness.)

Some doctors (ours for instance) are conservative and feel disinclined to treat first, ask questions later and will drag their feet, suggest a wait-and-see plan and tell you it is unlikely you've been infected. While I completely and whole heartedly agree with this plan of action if we're talking about ear infections or the run-of-the mill coughs, tick diseases are different. The stage where they can be cured easily is the stage when they look like nothing much. Once they look serious the patient is often either untreatable or seriously damaged. My personal opinion is, treat....ask questions later. If a doctor tries to get you to have a blood test to prove that what you have is a tick borne disease, go along with it happily but insist that you be treated immediately after the test is administered...not when the results come back. Tick testing takes two weeks or so and waiting that long can be detrimental to health. Don't wait! The treatment is simply an antibiotic, a really kick-butt strong antibiotic but still...that's all it is, nothing crazy or involved.

Nib ended up being hospitalized in order to be observed and to have his antibiotic administered via iv in order to get it in his system more quickly and to keep an eye on the many things in his body that had started to complain by the time he was finally diagnosed (his kidney function, his liver enzymes, his hemoglobin numbers, etc.) after getting the run-around from the first doctors who saw him. We are so incredibly grateful for the internet, for the knowledge available at the tips of any parent's fingers about CDC policy and disease symptoms and even drug details. Without it I'm not sure we'd have our boy alive today.

We are also incredibly grateful to our local city hospital where our son was correctly and swiftly diagnosed and we were given such wonderful care from infectious disease specialists, nurses, pediatricians and everyone else involved in our case. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a rarity in our area but it is here and so are several other more prevalent tick diseases. Don't fool around with ticks: use repellent, landscape with care, inspect yourself and your children after outings and use your local health department who will often receive and identify ticks  and sometimes test them for diseases which can help you determine if you should seek treatment....even when few or no symptoms present themselves (which can happen).

This week, I plan to call a non-toxic tick control company, lay down a little more mulch, double check our bug repellent stock, hug our son, and breath. Just breath.

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