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

Friday, June 24, 2016

Nostalgia In June

Its summer now so, I am playing The Dixie Chicks and The Avett Brothers and sometimes even a little Gretchen Wilson or the Stanley Brothers. I miss my roots in this weather. I can't wear shoes for love nor money and I want to spend all day at a little weedy lake fishing with my boys. I am out in the garden every chance I get, picking roses and leaving them on the steps absently, chewing the blossoms of clover and honeysuckle and forever forgetting to go grocery shopping or make dinner on time. I remember that I have a guitar this time of year and I get it out to play randomly, (I can still play!?) but I have the worst time telling the boys to practice their piano. Its the wrong season for piano, its time for banjos and mandolins. I wish I was at a music festival or a picnic or a rodeo all day long.... I feel incredibly at odds with my "real" grown-up life situation in summer.

Pieces of my current life feel alien and fake, even hiking feels like a weirdly upper class activity that isn't rootsy or real enough, there's no throwing dirt clods or laying in a field watching the clouds whirl past. I don't know how to be goal directed and in my proper social class this time of year. I can never seem to keep dirt from under my fingernails or remember to bring my purse when I leave the house. I miss my sisters and the whole universe I grew up in and sometimes laying in the cicada buzzed summer night when the whole house is sleeping I wish there was a radio running ad infinitum on low like it was in our teenage girl bedrooms so many warm summer nights ago. Its strange how you can grow up and become so chafingly  different from your teeny, childhood self and yet feel so permanently tethered to all that once surrounded you. I keep thinking about my grandma (Favorite Person Ever Nominee #1) and how she just sold the house where she said goodbye to my grandpa, watched her grandchildren grow up and became a retiree. How odd and between worlds it must feel to know that the things you miss no longer exist.

I have been doing a lot of genealogy research on my ancestors and marinating in the information I keep unfolding and un-knotting. There is so much before me, so much that is part of who I am. So much past, so much old-time once-upon-a-time story. It makes me sad because so many things and people are gone, irretrievably and I long to hear all the inside jokes and hidden heartbreaks and I never will, but it also buoys me because even if its just me reading about these people and trying to re-tell the stories to my boys its part of me now. So many things are in our DNA besides just the bare facts of eye color or nose shape.  I wanna pass this past I know and yearn for and remember, my own early beginnings to my boys and also these mysterious people in black and white photos who had so many beautiful, sad, ridiculous stories. I want them to know that they are not islands, that all these people who were, before are part of them and that all the previous parts of themselves are allowed and don't need to go away. I hope I can tell my kids that its fine with me if they change and fine if they revert. Its all there, future growth and ability to become really different along with the permanence of all that has been.

I don't really know how to untangle all of this for myself. I know I have permission to be shockingly different than I ever was and also permission to hang onto illogically primitive inclinations, maybe that's enough. Its lonely sometimes. I had a boyfriend break up with my once with the line, "You're not the sweet little country girl you were when I met you. You've changed." It made me proud at the time and felt so reactionary but it is strange now to realize how much that was true and also wasn't at the exact same time.

“Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” -Linda Hogan


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Foods That Comfort Me

Time for a little listology tonight. Its been a long time since I had a listy post. Been thinking about food lately, especially since we were just on a little weekend away and I was cooking for pure pleasure one night. Some people think vacation is a time to get away from food prep (and I do that too sometimes) but I find a deep enjoyment in cooking for pleasure with no time pressure or requirements. Food is a kind of art, but also a kind of loving communication. We all care for others with food. How do we care for ourselves with food? I think the notion of comfort food gets a bad rap. No need to imagine Bridget Jones gorging on a tub of ice cream while sobbing to illustrate the idea. Comfort food can be frivolous or ridiculous but it can be just as building and health giving too. The real idea is to think of what foods bring kindness to you in an intimate and reflexive way. Comfort is something our country needs a little bit of right now.

When life has handed me lemons and I am lower than low, when I wish I had a Mommy in-house to take over for the day, when I have company coming and everything is at all ends....these are my comfort foods:

  • Mushrooms of any kind but especially morels, chanterelles, or oysters sauteed in butter.
  • Roast Chicken....especially cooking it but eating it too. Its my tradition that I always make roast chickens for people the first time I have them over to dinner. Its my safe meal, and it makes me feel calmer to cook it.
  • Early Grey Tea is my favorite flavor...its the stuff that feels like ideal winter evening or ideal summer vacation early morning or idea slow afternoon remedy. Extra cream, drizzle of honey....ice or hot. 
  • Raspberries are my favorite fruit, I think. They are so delicious and totally one of things I grab for a Mommy comfort snack during a rough shopping trip to the store. 
  • Eggs. Fried, boiled or scrambled....its my favorite breakfast. I eat them almost every day. I think A might have finally decided to stop complaining about it. Its just how it works. I love eggs. Blame my mama...I remember her eating them the same way when I was a kid.
  • Shrimp or Crab. I like them canned, fresh and frozen and all the better for a little melted butter and squeeze of lemon at the end of a hard day. 
  • Coffee. It has to be admitted that I drink it not only for the caffeine but for the comforting, nurturing ritual of the whole affair. Nobody loves you quite like your coffee pot some mornings.
  • Goat's Milk is a throwback favorite to my early childhood. When I was a little girl we had goats and that was the only drinking milk I really had. It must have imprinted deep or else the romanticism of the idea lodged in my mind....in either case, a glass of warm goat's milk makes me feel okay in short order.
  • Sprouts, are always the very most fragrant, delicate and tender of the leafy greens. I love all kinds of sprouts: sunflower, radish, pea, bean etc. I feel like I am getting the most intense shots of nutrition and the most gentle and motherly of foods (no tough chewing, just all melty, baby sweetness) both at once. 
  • Chocolate Croissants or Pain Chocolate, if you're being properly French. I know they aren't good for me but they make me feel like a Dutchess who will make it through her trials. 
  • Chocolate Chips + Coconut Flakes + Coconut Oil + Tigernut Flour, melted in the microwave and stirred until a melty, chocolaty goo, eaten with a very small spoon, huddled in the kitchen after the kids are in bed.
  • Avocado, with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of sea salt, eaten right out of the skin with a spoon is a really big favorite of mine. I've been known to eat them in the car, pack them for picnics or even take them camping. 

What do you eat or cook to bring yourself some measure of safety and love? 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Radios and Summer Days

We are slowly filtering our way out of school and text books and our educational season groups and commitments...its kind of down to baseball and outdoor play, church and the Farmer's Market suddenly. I love this time of year. How can you not? The air smells like jasmine and honeysuckle, every afternoon is sunny and every evening falls gently with grills firing up all around the neighborhood. The little boy from two doors down has begun popping by for driveway games of scooter chase and basketball and Ru has learned to run the lawnmower himself and is keeping the air humming with the rattle of the engine and the bright scent of fresh cut grass.
 I am starting to hunt around again for something for Dee to be part of on his own. He enjoyed a Rainbow Loom group over the winter and now that Ru's baseball team is blasting their way through the Tournament of Champions, its clearly time for him to have a little more of his own time to shine. I have considered a chess group which he enjoys, golf or tennis which he's said he'd be interested in and I know that in Connecticut he really loved a marine ecology course for kids with lots of hands on sampling and equipment use. Sure would be fun to leverage the ocean again since we're near another one now and summer feels like the time to be at the shore. Tricky stuff trying to give each kid their turn in the sun without being indulgent or pushy!

 I sure have enjoyed being Team Mom for Ru's baseball team this season. Its been less work than I feared a lot more rewarding than I hoped which is a pretty fabulous equation. I continue to really be impressed with the camaraderie, the generosity of the coaches and the quality of the families involved. Baseball might be in our life for a while.
 Nib has asked me to give him cooking lessons over the summer. He told me very earnestly that he'd like to learn to cook and that he's concerned that the only thing he knows how to cook now is microwaved hot chocolate. I tried to reassure him that at 6 he's doing fine with that "recipe" as his starting point but he wouldn't be placated. He asked if he could please have instruction in cooking: (his list)

  1. Asparagus
  2. Cakes
  3. Lemonade
  4. S'mores
I think its going to be a delicious summer. I plan to actualize on all of the above. Look out camping....we will have private lessons on s'more cookery before we hit the campsite we registered for in August!

I am journaling in the morning and in the evening right now with the newly discovered The Five Minute Journal which, one week in has made a big boosting lift in my energy and productivity as well as mood. What a great resource! I think I found it through Tim Ferriss. I am having a huge Tim Ferriss fan-girl stage. I read a couple of his books awhile ago and enjoyed them but have recently discovered his podcast which is a great way to start my day in the kitchen alone after breakfast when A is working on math lessons with the big kids and the little kids are playing. As much as I love podcasts (also check out Magic Lessons by Elisabeth Gilbert if looking for great listening material), I also really, really want a radio in the house and in the car. Sometimes you just wanna turn on some background tunes! We have been trying to have a streaming audio system in the house but it isn't the same and also isn't reliable about coming in steadily and our car's audio system had to be ripped out recently because it was installed wrong or was faulty or something and it was draining our battery. No more audio books for my while driving about to appointments. Now there is just a rectangular, empty socket on the dash staring at me as I navigate through kid appointments and traffic and try to deep breath without distraction when kids are having meltdowns. Ah, self-reliance....you are lovely....but so is a radio! I miss it. Must wire my life back up again.