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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I'm A Pioneer, Dragon Woman From A Special School

There's a meme going around that's totally delicious. Everyone is sharing the three fictional characters to blend together to describe themselves. I love me a character portrait and I also love personal examination. This little social experiment has both. Yum. Why stop at my three characters? I'm going deeper.

The three I chose were:

Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter

Danaerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones 
Milly from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

A and I got to talking together and one of the most interesting parts of this whole thing is trying to guess what a person is thinking of when they say that a character represents them. There are a constellation of pieces that make-up a character and real people are at least as complicated. I started chewing through the reasons for picking this character or that (I thought of several who could have been on the list) and whittled it down using the virtues that each one embodied, trying to map across each of them, different key aspects of my values. Kind of fun....

I picked Luna for: Loyalty, Unconventionality and Perceptiveness
Danaerys represented: Strength, Belief In Mystic Destiny. and Tender Vulnerability
Milly signified: Capability, Energy and Femininity  

These are some of my deepest held values. Kind of fun to unpack, weigh and consider...all because of a meme on social media. Nothing like a weekend away with a little fun time on your hands and the rippling tide of information and communication and ideas that is the internet. 


Friday, September 23, 2016

Mama Me

          One of the great challenges of motherhood is the push to consider everyone else and to keep drawing out of our well for the great, clamoring throng who beg to be satiated. The trick is that the well must not run dry....mothers need love and nurturing too and as legal adults we are now responsible for our own healthful self-care. Here are some good thoughts for what to try when you're running on E. (I am preaching to the choir.....)
10 Ways To Mother Yourself

  1. Give Yourself A Soothing Bath.....Do all the motherly touches, add a scented oil, sail something fun in the water (a blossom or two), have a soft, warm towel ready afterwards and add lotion to your dry skin like a good mama would.
  2. Put Yourself Down For A Nap or To Bed Early....This one requires either a good show for your kids to watch and an alarm to wake you before the show is quite finished or more ideally, another adult to sponsor handling the littles (if there are any in your life) while you catch zZzZzz's. Remember, good mamas know that the best thing to do when you're too tired to cope is to lie down for a little while. 
  3. Give Yourself A Nourishing Meal....A diligent mama will have none of this junk food business when her small one needs extra caring for. Nourishing, cozy food is the ticket....a warm soup with all the veggies, soft cooked eggs with a side of gently steamed asparagus, a freshly made green juice with a little floral garish to make it more alluring...beautiful but healthful treats.
  4. Give Yourself Kind Advice....Be the thoughtful, supportive voice you need to hear. Tell yourself that everyone makes mistakes, gently ask what wonderful lesson there might be in this experience for your edification, tell yourself that you are the most charming self you ever had and there couldn't be another in the world you'd rather have. Let the words you leave rattling around in your own mind be the kind a good mother would give. All warmth and unconditional love without a bit of empty flattery or chintzy trite shallowness. 
  5. Try A Gentle Foot Massage....Use a warm oil, add a drop of some essential oil that makes you feel snug and then just go over every inch of your tired little feet. Coax your muscles into softening and your bones into pliable release and let all the exhaustion, pain and work you carry out into your own mother hands.
  6. Read Yourself A Story That You Can Dissappear Into....Find a short story or a long one, a printed story or an e-version any kind of adventure that you want to never leave. Settle into pillows for your little getaway. Read aloud to yourself, do all the voices and insist that you close your eyes sometimes to imagine the scene for a second now and then. Sometimes we all need to be whisked off into the magical world of a far away land.
  7. Offer Yourself A Little Treat For Behaving....I'm not endorsing rewards and punishments....this is not meant to be a teaching episode or a bribe for accomplishment, just think of something you have done well recently and reward yourself. Perhaps you got caught up on laundry and now can have the nice smelling laundry soap, maybe you remembered fill up the car and so now you can take five minutes to joy-ride someplace that makes your heart sing. Its the little things. Celebrate your good choices and treat yourself in some small way like a mother would. 
  8.  Lay Your Things Out The Night Before....Pick out your whole outfit the night before a stressful day. Select everything from your earrings to your socks and lay out all the little things you know you'll forget. Your favorite coffee mug, the car keys, and your best water bottle with a lemon wedge already in it. A good mama knows what her child will need and provides it all thoughtfully.
  9. Brag On Yourself To Those Who Will Appreciate....This is not pomposity, this is lovingkindness for your little charge that leaves you bursting at the seams....talk about yourself the way a wonderful mother would speak of the one she is raising. Tell what you are proud of, the little victories, the hard won successes, the silly, charming errors that make you giggle. Those who care will be so pleased to share your personal pride. A good mother knows how to tactfully brag on her child. Follow suite.
  10. Be Endlessly Patient....You are just learning, you have never been this age before, you have never done this life stage before, you know very little, you are trying your best and you are a good soul who wants to do well and tires, and lacks knowledge, and flubs it up but is quite allowably imperfect. Mothers know and offer patience and grace to their children when they see their efforts and their exhaustion. See the same in yourself and offer loving support and patience as you learn. 


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Destruction Day

We spent a lot of our time today working on destruction. Its the time of year for heartlessly uprooting the yellowing, flopping and barren members of the vegetable garden. The borage and squash were so prickly that I left them to black into the crisp bits of stiff stalk several weeks ago and they were still incredibly prickly. I never had enough borage in my garden to realize how very covered with tiny, crystalline needles they truly are. They are practically cacti! Astoundingly off-putting. I ended up picking them up between two trowels and forking them over to the compost can. There was a lot of dropping and accidental shredding and a few prickers in my fingers despite all my efforts. Next time, I might do well to wear gloves and consider containing the borage in future gardens. The next frontier will be putting in a few fall crops. Its funny to think about gardening year round here without even trying. The kale just gets chopped down with a larger and larger axe as the seasons wheel round and it grows new stalks from its roots or from the old stalk bases and it basically becomes a grove of kale that lives with you eternally.

The boys and I are so dead after one day a week at the co-op that we are attending. The whole next day is marked off for recovery....dinner the night of our co-op is always a deflated afterthought. I wish I could say I was organized enough to have something snug in the crockpot every week but yeah,.....truth....its like leftovers and take-out and whatever I happen to have in my canned good pantry.  I'm kind of embarassed at the way it takes the wind out of our sails. How do all of you "normal" people do it every single day? Perhaps the contrast of a whole day out and about, teaching and learning, and leaving the house early and packing lunches and filling water bottles against the backdrop of our quiet, homey normal is what is really getting us. Whatever it is...its incriminating. I feel like a total wuss! I am trying to quit beating myself up for it and give us all a little extra grace to deal with what is. Its hard to accept something that is loaded with negative meaning.

This weekend we are headed up to Lake Tahoe to hole up in a little cabin together, skip rocks across the lake and take a chilly dip in that clear, clear water. Nib is hoping desperately for some fishing and I am hoping for a peaceful, foggy morning rising alone, before the whole camp is up....the mist rising off the lake, a loon in the distance. Mommy wishes.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Autumn, Geneology and Italian Novels

Even here in California, the land of eternal sunshine and placid seasons that go stepping on fairly evenly...we have begun to notice that autumn is coming in now. The blackberries are almost done everywhere. The vines just blushing crimson and lying barren at the side of all the roads. Grapes are in, sitting heavily on every farmer's table at the market on Wednesday nights downtown. They sell every color: misty Concord blue, reds with a shine on their cheek and the pale dusted yellow ones that taste a darker sweet right before you swallow.
 The oaks on every hill have acorns beginning to drop and every walk we take brings pockets full of shiny little nuts to the laundry pile and the kitchen counter top. Such a deliciously seasonal problem. I have been collecting them when I find around the house and I now have a little heap on the kitchen window above the sink. I like how acorns and apples both glow when you polish their cheeks.
 The apple tree is still dropping fruit in the yard and the boys alternately bring the fruit eagerly to me and play kickball with them, splattering them satisfactorily against the foundation. Mommy is not so very keen on this game of course because it means a lot of scrubbing after the fruit has been discovered dried onto the wall the next day. Not all of the ideas can be good ones.
 We are working away at Latin, a new subject for us this year in our homeschool, and memorizing the locations of the European seas while I follow in real-time the travels of my Michigan pal who has gone to Italy to find her family's roots. I am also neck deep in my own genealogical obsession so the combination of travel + family history + real life geography studies has me utterly captivated. I am living off her photos and sharing them with the boys every time another one pops up like it was their father away on a business trip. They are a little mystified I think but game for whatever strange thing Mom want to show them. The fact that A's brother Miq lives in Italy right now helps them to see that there might be something interesting in the whole thing. We have been dreaming of hitting up The Mediterranean for our next big family adventure for a while. Once we thought we'd combine Morocco, France, Spain and Italy but we have been wisely counseled to avoid Moroccan water until our children are a little older. Our latest revisions of the dreamed of trip have us tooling around Italy and spending a lot of time letting our kids romp with their cousins in the castle they are renting, (not a joke) My childhood friend is making it look so very good.

Now accepting books that make you see visions of the Italian countryside and dream in Italian. Under The Tuscan Sun and......?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Passionfruit Gifts

Check out this incredible fruit to my good friend gifted me after she harvested them herself from a farm she frequents. Only the coolest people are friends like this and come proffering exotic fruits and conspiratorial plans to use them to sprout plants in our yards in tandem. Love having people in my life who are givers, who see small things as gifts and who want to share this dynamic, interesting California life with me.

 Its a lesser known variety of passionfruit. This one won't be in the grocery stores...its way too thin skinned.

The fruit is about the size of a hen's egg and has the most tender, delicate feeling skin when fully ripe. The outer rind is the most gorgeous, dusty apricot with such a shocking, sweet, seedy pulp. Totally amazing! Can't wait to see it clambering in viney profusion over our garden fence. I hear the secret is just to take one of the fruits out to the garden and bury it like some secret sacrifice in the dirt.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Shabbot, Canning and Tim Ferriss

I can't stop listening to Tim Ferriss podcasts. I am not a bro-grammer, an entrepreneur, a start-up aficionado, I don't weight lift and I have no interest in the financial sector...but still. Seriously, that Tim! He's one of my new favorites. I love his zest for life, his Paleo self, his laughter, clarity and his hilarious and transparent drunk episodes. I wish I could have him over for dinner, I'd make him a great roast chicken and we'd have a hilarious night of storytelling and knee slapping, I can just tell.

I am waffling back and forth between listening to Tim and listening to (don't laugh) a totally fabulous Orthodox Jewish housewife, Rivka Malka who runs a video blog on YouTube. She's fascinating, and Judaism is my study subject so I'm enthralled by everything about her world from how sex works in Jewish marriages to how in the world Jewish women get everything done for Shabbot....oh....and what in the world IS everything?

Speaking of Shabbot...last weekend I started observing. In a very small way. I'm not converting and I am in now way celebrating in a legit form but I think its a good practice to bring into my life. I've been thinking about having a day of rest for a long time and meaning to figure out how to actualize and I just realized that Judaism was the perfect hook to loop me into it, all the compelling interest and strategy and advice...and there I was, planning out our family celebration together. I've decided that for me Shabbot will mean:

  • A special tea party to kick things off the night before.
  • Lighted candles and a blessing over my children.
  • An entire day with no food prep and all meals served on paper plates.
  • No laundry or other housework
  • Permission to sleep in as late as I need to.
  • A long hot shower with all the extras and a nice cold rinse at the end (my favorite)
  • A break from my phone except for calling people I love.
  • A nap if needed or suggested by my husband. (I guess that's a nap or a "nap" then.)
  • A good hike.
  • Activities that fill me with joy. This weekend I painted and listened to my favorite music.
  • Some prayer and meditation.
So, one round under my belt....now to make it part of my rhythm of life. It feels good. I've been ready for this for a while. 

The garden is all whoppsy and long limbed and falling all over itself but even though there are an unbelievable amount of tangles and disordered corners there is also a heck of a lot of food out for being basically completely neglected for the last month, even in our dry season weather. Amazing! I have kale coming out my ears (wish I had enough basil to make a kale pesto or something. Am tempted to try freezing it somewhat obsessively but I have a feeling that the kale is just going to grow year round and be very happy here no matter the weather. The kale we have with us always.

 I planted two cherry tomato plants and I have little tomatoes coming out of my ears! Just tonight for dinner I cooked squash from our garden, an eggplant from the garden, kale from the garden and some herbs from the garden too. Amazing. I love this time of year. The tree that hangs down into our garden from the next door neighbors is loaded with beautiful apples and they are starting to fall off copiously. I have put the boys to apple collection detail every morning and I am just simmering a perpetual pot of applesauce and canning up pints of it whenever I get enough jars to fill the waterbath. It smells AMAZING in the house all the time and I have to say, these apples are totally wonderful tasting. I wish I knew what they were. This morning I also finished my first batch of roasted cherry tomatoes....I have been filling jars full of the roasted fruit and fresh herbs in layers and then covering with a good olive oil for long keeping too. Feels unbelievably good to be stashing and storing and laying up things in the garage for the cooler months ahead. 
May your crisper drawer run over and may your canning jars never run out....