Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sometimes You're the Windshield

...Sometimes you're the bug.
Sometimes it all comes together, baby.
Sometimes you're just a fool in love.
--Dire Straits

Ever have a day when these lyrics sorta fit for you?  I'm feeling a little bug-y today and need to figure out how to reclaim windshield status.  So far, here's my plan:
* Stay quiet.  Sometimes things go wrong.  Sometimes we get upset.  Sometimes talking helps, and sometimes it just makes you tire of your own drama.  That's where I am today, so being as quiet as I can should help.
* Get grounded by enjoying small happinesses:  Farmers Market, chicken chores, planting more stuff in the garden, etc. Pay attention to these little things because they really matter to me. 
* Go to bed at a decent time tonight, for goodness sake!  Up too late last night and I'm paying for it. 
* Play with the kids-- engaging directly (I'm the Pretty, Pretty Princess--yay for me!) with those rascals always cheers me. 
* Believe that tomorrow will be better.
* Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, la la la la la and warm woolen mittens....

That's all I've got today.  It's a beautiful mess, but as OM might say, que fatzo, which is Italian for 'what are ya gonna do?' <throw hands in the air now>

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Best Things In Life Are Free

Sorry if that ol' 80s song gets stuck in your head for awhile.  It's not really supposta be a Janet (Ms. Jackson if you're nasty)/Luther Vandross moment, just a statement of truth.  Specifically, today is library discard day at my school and there are 2 whole carts of free books to choose from.  I love this; it's like a holiday to me.  Free books = sa-weet!  I picked up a whole set of 60s field guides, on everything from butterflies to seashells to ferns to larger mammals of Africa (with a pangolin on the cover!).  OM scored The Hodgepodge Book and I know for a fact that this is a rare treasure.  Have you seen this book?  Erin and I had it as kids and luvvved it.  It's so full of funny nonsense!  I have our copy now (sorry, Airbo--don't know how I ended up with it) and my mom tried to find one for Erin's kids at Powell's and they told her it was out of print and in demand, selling for up to $80-$90.  OM is the lucky business, no?  We also both scored a nice big box of wood scraps from the shop class.  Our kids can use them to hammer on, though I may claim half of  it for next year's wood stove kindling (I know, I'm too practical and should let the kids have it all and maybe I will...). Anyway, the riches are raining down on us here at school today! 

So, those are the tangibles.  The intangible list of 'best things' is even more substantial.  It's who we love, spending time together, listening, playing, imagining, doing real work, noticing, all of the glory of our natural world, chickens, hammocks, etc.  And it's trusting yourself enough to live your own life, any ding dang way you please.  And knowing that sort of truth is good enough, regardless of society's rules or anyone else's expectations of you. 

To quote from the other, old-timey song, The Best Things In Life Are Free,
"And love can come to ev'ryone
 the best things in life are free."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

There Isn't a Train I Wouldn't Take

The railroad track is miles away, 
And the day is loud with voices speaking, 
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day 
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn't a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming, 
But I see its cinders red on the sky, 
And hear its engine steaming.
My heart is warm with friends I make,
And better friends I'll not be knowing; 
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take, 
No matter where it's going.

--Edna St. Vincent Millay

I just love the spirit of this poem!  I love the idea of adventure through travel or even through just talking to people and hearing their stories.  You never know who you might meet and what you could learn from them.  I think I first learned the value of this at SEP, the summer camp I went to at U of O during my jr. high years.  Growing up in Pendleton wasn't the most diverse of experiences. Being in Eugene in the summer, often traveling the I5 with Grateful Dead concert goers in VW buses with clouds of green smoke coming out the windows was a real eye opener.  Eugene in general is great--full of hippies, weirdos and university folks of all sorts.  My fellow campers were from all over Oregon and beyond and it was the first place I felt I could just be 100% myself.  I think everyone there felt that way as we all came back year after year and many of us are still friends today (oh, hi Brucifer)--it had a real community feel.  There were wavers and nerdballs and everyone got along.  And I learned the value of not judging a book by its cover because you never know who might end up being your friend.  I spent 11 years at that camp, as an attendee and as a worker bee, and it had a profound effect on my life, one that still colors how I see people and the world. 

Just today at what I thought would be a boring old meeting, I ended up talking to the most fascinating woman, someone I had just met.  We had some downtime to chat and I loved hearing about her life, her travels to Egypt and Turkey, her daughter in NY, her love of theatre.  I asked lots of questions and just enjoyed listening.  What a treat!

OM asked me to take a different walk today and it was fun to see new sights, notice all the different things growing near the sidewalk and smell lilacs in the air.  OM pointed out all the little houses she enjoys looking at on this route, and I felt like a tourist--just great.  Since I'm not in a position now to have great travel adventures, times like this sure hit the spot.  And hearing stories from someone else, even a total stranger, enriches me so much. 

Someday when my kids are grown, I'll go to France.  Maybe they'll come too, who knows?  I'll stroll through Montmartre and pretend I'm Amelie Poulain, I'll skip rocks in the Seine, I'll drink a lot of vin, and I'll try to blend in and hopefully meet some new French amis.  But until then, what's in front of me right here and now is lovely.  But don't think for a second that I'll ever stop listening for that train.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You Must Revise Your Life

This is the title of a William Stafford book about writing and writers.  I have it, but can't say I've read it...someday maybe. Anyway, I like this notion: you must revise your life.  You must revise your life!  This is another good mantra for me, much like 'suffer the little children.' I think it's an important thing to try to do every day.  Ask yourself, 'Am I living the life I want?' and then adjust accordingly.  I have an old book of epigrams and there's one in there that says, 'The way to begin living the ideal life is to begin.'  Same idea.  This whole notion of revising and making your life ideal is really doable I think.  Now, of course there are some things, many things out of our control that we have to contend with. But if you cain't change it, change the way you think about it  (somebody said that, I don't know who). 

Maybe that sounds simplistic.  But I believe in it.  The more I can pare things down, the better.  Add pleasing things and remove stressful ones.  And work on the ol' attitude about what I can't change.  Instead of thinking of it as the daily grind, see the purpose and value in the work. And don't waste time; it's simply too precious. 

OM and I were walking and talking yesterday and thought we should perhaps come up with our own Ten Commandments. Although we wouldn't call them that. We'd call them something like Ten Good Ideas to Try and Live By or Ten Ways To Go or Ten Suggestions for Livin' the Good Life.  It's really sort of in the idea stage, but the few we are firm on so far are 1.Don't waste time and 2. Embrace real work.  If we ever finish our list, I'll maybe write about it here. Or else we'll write a book and be wildly successful, enough to quit our day jobs and go in on a communal farm together, while doing book tours in the winter time.  You never do know! 

Yesterday I was able to recharge the ol' batteries. I had the opportunity to go listen to Wendell Berry speak, but I turned it down; I just couldn't do it.  My friend who offered the ticket said that Wendell Berry would approve of my decision.  I wish I would have been up for it, but I was sooo worn down by the end of the school day. I thought for sure I'd take a nap when I got home, but nope, it was so sunny and pleasant, I got busy in the garden and didn't stop 'til almost 8.  It was simply delightful. I made a little bean tepee in a barrel and planted more beans, I transplanted zinnias and calendula, put in over 100 sunflowers, got some more tomatoes in the ground (black cherry and sungold), transplanted 2 pumpkins from N, and put in some more beans by the front steps.  The chickens were nearby the whole time, making their gentle chicken noises that I love.  When I was all done, I sat down on the bright red Adirondack chair The Bobster made for me and just took it all in.  I looked at my pretty little garden beds and my shiny and fluffy black chickens and the setting sun and it was just right; ideal.  So today, I try again, revise further, and do my best (that might need to be Idea #3).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Suffer the Little Children

Snap!  Sometimes my kids are the bratty business.  Why is this? Are kids naughtier today than in the past?  Or did our parents just ignore it better?  I've talked about this with several moms and we seem to agree that today's kids are probably no more naughty than we were, but rather, parenting styles have changed and we're all so much more in-tune with the children these days.  It's easy to get caught up in nurturing them the right way so they'll grow up to be empathetic individuals with high self esteem whose actions are dictated by the natural rewards and consequences of their chosen behavior.  Wow.  That sure sounds like a load of b.s.  How about this?  Why doncha just freakin' do what I say because I freaking know best?!  Uh-oh, I've turned into the Swearing Mommy (NY-er magazine character).

I love my kids. Soooooo much.  They are good kids.  But sometimes they drive me The Crazy.  They bicker with each other, they are unpredictably naughty sometimes even though they certainly know better, Caroline can sure be a sassy-pants, Jack is sometimes dogmatic and stubborn, and they don't listen so good at times.  Ahhhhhhhh!  What's a mother to do?  Suffer the little children.  Suffer.The.Little.Children.  My atheist dad gave me this biblical line, and it helps. I have repeated it in my head like a mantra many, many times.  It's hard to be a parent, yo.  I'm constantly checking myself to see if I'm doing a good enough job balancing freedom and responsibility (Nietzsche is my Dr. Spock--haha), and if I'm doing or saying (ahem--I'm the sassy business, no question where Caroline gets it) anything that's going to screw them up in the future.  What I need to be better at is just accepting things as they are. That I am doing my best. That they will be naughty and mess up. That I will screw up. And that we will all turn out ok.  But maybe if I bought me some shootin' muffs and started wearing them around the kids that would help take the edge off, too.  Not hearing every peep out of them and feeling like I should jump in and start managing would be a good thing. When we were kids and would visit my Grandma Ethel, her house had the best play room ever, called simply, The Big Room. The Big Room was completely sealed off from the rest of the house with a thick, soundproof slider.  The adults could see us but not hear us.  Brilliant!  So, it's either add on, get some muffs, turn on some music (this does help, I've noticed),  dial back the mommy managment, or all of the above. Holy shit! Can you even imagine the bliss?

So here are a few lines from Neruda's Sonnet XXVII that are my truth when I think about my darling kids. My darling, naughty kids:

"...I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way."

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Special Kind of Double

A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double.  ~Toni Morrison

I love this quote and it totally fits for my sister, Erin, and me.  Erin was here visiting this weekend with one of my nephews, and we had a great time!  My sister is fun.  She's funny.  She's smart.  As my friend CC said, she's just like my mom, but times 10.  Erin is really positive and doesn't complain.  We are similar in lots of ways, and also really different.  Which makes it interesting--in a good way.  We fought a lot as kids, but as grown ups, not much at all.  Sometimes, we'll get under each other's skin, as only a sister can, but it's short lived and sorta funny. 

Erin and I went thriftin' on Saturday, starting in Carnation at the Granny Thrift Store, Re-InCarnation.  This is really a treasure trove; I always find something good there.  All of the proceeds benefit the senior center and lots of seniors make donations, so it's pretty high on vintage goods.  I scored some pretty pink flowered linen napkins (50% off on all linens, yay for me!) and some kids books--neat older ones, and a very cool storybook characters coloring book from the 60s for Caroline.  Erin stuffed a bag with kid clothes at $3 a bag, as much as you can fit.  Carlitos got out of there with a ginormous tin of Lincoln Logs.  Then we headed to town, destination Redmond Valooo Veeelaj.  Erin got a cute work skirt, I got 2 pair of jeans and...the holy grail of shoes.  Shoes I've been looking for for a while. Shoes that I searched for on Zappos, looking at over 1000 pictures of flip flops.  These ain't no ordinary flip flop though, these are THONGS.  Old school thongs!  Black textured footbed, red and yellow stripes around the sides, red fake suede thong.  Awww yeah!  And...NEW!  And...$1.99!  And...my size!  Whose basement these have been in for the last 30 years, I don't know, but I am thankful. 

After our shopping adventures, we took Carlitos out for "Chinese" food (a.k.a. Thai--we're sneaky and he cain't read well enough to know the difference).  We ate yummy "Lo Mein" (phad see ew), fresh rolls, garlic beef and green curry with tofu.  Erin and I love Thai food, and after Carlitos' initial reluctance, ("This Lo Mein tastes different"),  he did too. 

It was a lovely weekend with my sister, my special kind of double.  No one knows you as long as your siblings do; think about that.  I'm grateful to have the sister I have.  Thanks for the visit, Airbo!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Sunshine Holiday

"...And the jocond rebecks sound
To many a youth, and many a maid,
Dancing in the Chequer'd shade;
And young and old come forth to play
On a Sunshine Holyday."

                 --John Milton from his poem l'allegro

My grandma Marge was a big Milton fan.  I must say, I wish I got Milton. I mean, I can get parts, but to try to follow a whole poem, is beyond me.  L'allegro--cain't!  Paradise Lost---fuggetaboutit.  Oh well, I can glean little bits of meaning, like from the excerpt above, which I love. Of course until I looked it up, I thought jocund rebecks were happy birds (actually they're fiddles).  But no matter, I get it, and love the celebratory mood of it.  Today is bright and sunshiney and feels like a holiday, if not a Holyday.  I belong to the Church of the Warm Spring Day. 

And it's shaping up to be a fine one, indeed.  I have spent the morning talking about poetry with a class of bright 6th graders.  I read their odes, their 'where I'm from' poems, and their apology poems, in the style of William Carlos Williams' poem, This is Just to Say.  We have some good shorty poets here!  Their teacher is also having them carry a poem in their pocket with the eventual goal of learning it by heart.  So, I was treated to several recitations, some great  poem choices, and one about cheerleading. Not that I have anything against cheerleaders, as that would be hypocritical (again, Go Bucks!).  But...
Anyhow, I love that the kids have a chance to know a poem well, to wear it like a scrunchie!  I was made to memorize a poem in 6th grade, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by R. Frost, and I still know it!  By heart!  Now, I know lots of other poems, too and it secretly pleases me to have a repertoire of poems at the ready.  You never know when a poetic moment will arise.  If you want to memorize something, I think carrying it around in your pocket and looking at it throughout the day is a great way to go.  If I could know any poem by heart, I'd want to know Ode to a Nightingale by Keats but that may be a stretch as it's loooong.  But soooo goooood. 

What poem would you want to know? 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Learn the Flowers

Sometimes I feel sort of mishami about not giving my kids the small town growin' up experience I had.  I live in a small town, yes, but it's surrounded by big towns, big suburbs outside of a big city.  I grew up in Pendleton, Oregon (Go Bucks!), a small community of 15,000 folks in a sea of wheat fields.  Pendleton is a completely self-sufficient community with everything a person could need.  It has a swimmin' pool--actually, now it's an Aquatic Center and it's awesome--the best kid-centric pool set-up I've ever seen.  It has ball parks, and several grocery stores. It has a pretty downtown with character and old buildings. It has a library, a college, a few museums, antique stores, Bi-Mart, one middle school and one high school, railroad tracks used by actual trains, and a river runs through it all.  I miss small town life. 

But, I must embrace what I have.  I thought about this on the trail the other night--I don't have all the Pendleton stuff, but Pendleton doesn't have this trail!  And I love the trail!  My kids love that trail and someday it may signify home to them.  Sometimes, it's just hard to be where you are.  Important to try, though. I like to think of these last lines from Gary Snyder's poem, For the Children:

"...To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It Was a Day You Could Put in the Bank

That's a line from a William Stafford poem, but it suits; yesterday was just great.  The weather was so pleasant, OM and I squeezed in a walk, I sat outside and did paperwork, and track practice was a breeze.  Then I picked up kids and we went to the market.  They disappeared to the playground while I secured the BREAD, bought some Gouda since they were out of plain cheese curds (don't even think herbed curds will pass muster, they will not), and went with a new veg for farmers market dinner:  rapini.  Have you tried this? It looks sort of like flowering broccoli greens but the gal said something about a turnip.  Confusing yet delicious!  We managed to eat 80% of the big loaf of ciabatta before even getting home. The kids kept running up to me at the playground while I was SOCIALIZING with another human mom to ask for huge hunks of bread.  We got home and I sliced up some Gouda, cheddar, and blue (ok immature people, I cut the cheese--fine!), a little salami, tore up the remainder of the bread, and sauteed the rapini in olive oil with garlic.  Kids liked the flavor of the rapini, but I should have cut it into smaller pieces and sauteed it a little longer--it took a while to chew--especially the stem pieces.  Guess who's gonna love it today, though?  That's right: Fanny, Sookie, Ruby and Rick!

After din-din, we loaded the bikes into my car and headed for the trail.  The Freedom Wagon can fit 3 bikes in the back, but it's sort of a cluster getting them in and out.  I need to charge up Sister Bluebell's battery and use her as bike transport--it will be much easier to just pitch the bikes in the back and g.o.  We parked a ways down on the trail and started riding.  It was a perfect night for a ride but unfortunately for Jack, his bike didn't cooperate.  First the back wheel somehow got loose and sort of wobbly and then crooked and started rubbing against the frame.  Now, I have zero bike fixin' skills so we were sort of screwed.  What I do have is a can-do, show-must-go-on spirit, so we ditched the bike by the side of the trail and he jumped on the back of Ruby Mae with his butt in my basket.  This was sweet!  He loved it and so did I.  I gave him my helmet because we accidentally left his with his bike, so I had the pleasure of riding helmet-free, just like the olden days.  I know, I know, helmets are important and I grudgingly wear one but man, it was sweet without it!  C. Line zipped down the trail with me and we heard hummingbirds and saw ducks and the air smelled sweet and green.  After a while, the kids switched places and I rode Caroline back to Jack's bike, where he dismounted her bike and pushed his back to the car.  I pushed Ruby Mae with him in solidarity and C. Line rode waayy ahead.  All in all, a fantastic time. 

And now, it's Wednesday, it's sunny again, and who knows what will happen???  I love the not knowing! 

"...Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
Others by "First, do no harm,"
or "Take no more than you need."
What if the mightiest word
is love?
Love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light.
Love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle,
 any thing can be made,
any sentence begun.
On the brink,
on the brim,
on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light."

                                                            — Elizabeth Alexander

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Singest of Summer in Full-Throated Ease

This line from Keats' Ode to a Nightingale speaks to me today on several levels.  One, it's just beautiful outside and I certainly am ready to 'singest of summer.' It's Farmer's Market day, Bread Day, Mama-Don't-Have-To-Cook-No-Dinner Day.  The kids will get to play at the playground that adjoins the market, I'll sit in the sun and nibble on ciabatta, listen to music (the market has live music every week), and take in the sights and sounds.  Usually when I take the kids to a playground, I'm the mom with a book or magazine.  But I don't try to sneak in any reading at all at the market because it's such a great community thing and I should probably try to be friendly and chat up the other parents sitting near me.  It's hard to not fall into the free reading time habit, but if I'm ever going to be social in public, this is the place.  I am not good at this in general and was a terrible soccer mom--broke all kinds of soccer mom protocol by sitting on the opposite side of the field as the other parents (it's where the sun was!) and reading a book when Jack wasn't in the game (hello, boring!).  I do believe in community, and the farmer's market community is much more my speed. 

The second reason this Keats quote caught my eye is because OM and I just listened to an 8th grade girl audition for our 8th grade promotion ceremony and she was incredible.  She played the guitar and sang a song that she wrote herself--and it was GOOD!  While she was singing, she was full of honest happiness and full-throated ease.  Music is so obviously her passion, and to see someone completely in their element always moves me.  She was so good I was digging my thumbnail into my other hand to keep from tearing up (this is a good strategy to keep from laughing inappropriately, too, btw).  This girl is a writer and a singer and a guitar player and her performance was all passion and truth, no veneer.  Love it!

"I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
    Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
    Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
    White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
        Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
                And mid-May's eldest child,
    The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
        The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves."

                                      --John Keats

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday

wish it was Sunday
that's my funday
I don't have to runday
just another manic Mondaaaay

Coming back to work is a real shock to the old system!  Especially as the end of the school year nears.  It is just starting to feel like I cain't take much more worky-work.  My job is great; I really do love it, but man, it's time for summah. 

I had a fantastic weekend with my dear friend, J.  The highlight reel:
  • awesome road trip--warm weather, blue skies, road tunes, windows rolled down, hair pulled back and those Wayfarers on, baby.
  • great visit with J--laughing, talking into the wee hours, sleeping in, sitting in the sun, great sushi, seeing prom-goers in fancy gowns, playing with Em, a trip to Auntie's bookstore, packing/organizing stuff to help with the move, seeing J's new house--it's lovely with a panoramic view, weeding and planting hollyhocks in the new yard, did I mention packing and organizing--I looove packing and organizing SO much--thanks, J!  You are beyond awesome.
  • nice trip home, hardly any traffic, I heart cruise control, and thanks to M for babysitting chickens and ki'ens, newspapers and garbage cans. 
And at 6:00 this morning, when my chickens seemed to be telling each other, "C'mon, let's go make some noise," I was lulled out of my dreams of Valentino and thrust back into the reality of Monday...

"Time it goes so fast when you're having fun."--The Bangles

(And yes, Brucifer, I KNOW Prince wrote this song--ha!)

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's Gonna Be So Grand

I've got my car all packed with cassette tapes
and sweaters and loose change and cheap cigarettes
and I'm gonna drive thru the hills with my hand out
the window and sing till I run out of words.

--Rosie Thomas from her song 'Wedding Day'

Can you say ROAD TRIP??? I am sooo excited to be on my way this afternoon, bound for Spokane, to see my dear friend J.  So, if you know where I live, please don't rob my house.  But if you do rob it, I'm sure there are windows that aren't locked so use one of those; don't break any glass or bust my door, k?  Thanks! 

I love road trips!  Of course a road trip with someone in the car is a teeny tiny bit more fun, BUT I still enjoy the solo road trip veeery much!  The part in the above song about the cassette tapes is totally true in my case.  The Freedom Wagon don't have no cd player or even newer fangled technology like an ipod hook-up or whatever else is out there.  She has an am/fm cassette deck!  Not trying to be ironic or authentic or anything else, just too lazy to upgrade my system!  But it's ok, because I have TONS of tapes and I'm one of the last people alive who can actually enjoy driving to the sounds of mixed tapes from the 80s, 90s and today! And I DO!  On my line up is Peter Gabriel Live, Sinead O'Connor, one of Schmole's mixed tape gems (shut up, Brucifer, he had a GREAT music collection), maybe a little Salt-n-Pepa (if looks could kill you would be an oozie!), a mix from my sister, circa 1995, that includes Cyprus Hill, Primus, Concrete Blonde and Jane's Addiction, and a lovely mix of all the music I love  best from my friend M.  When the Freedom Wagon stops ticking (perish the thought!), I'll be sad to lose my am/fm cassette deck.  Does anyone still put those in new cars?  <must research this.>

The sky is blue, it's warm here and even warmer where I'm going, and my friend is a'waiting.  As Rosie says at the end of her song, 'Wedding Day':
It's gonna be so grand
It's gonna be so grand

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Yesterday after my pilgrimage to bread nirvana, I came home and worked in the garden.  Well, ok, I sat on a blanket in the lawn and ate some bread in the sun and ok, had a G & T, then got busy in the garden.  Don't worry about all of the G & Ts I'm reporting...I only drink them when it's warm here, which is almost never, so I'm covered, I'll be alright.  The chickens like to be near me when I'm in the yard, so they sort of hung around the blanket and my friend fed Fanny Chicken some banana, which she liked, but wiped her beak off on the grass after every bite.  Who knew grass was a good napkin? (Well, I have used it to wipe my really dirty hands on in order to preserve the pristine quality of m'yard jeans.) Chickens, they're just like us! 

I tried to harvest some compost out of the bottom of my bin, but it was all matted up and hard to get out.  I used the pitchfork to really agitate it and push it toward the bottom, which was sort of hollowed out from previous digs.  I finally got the dirt where I wanted it and scooped out a big ol' bucket of lovely compost then worked it  into the soil where I would plant my beans.  The beans--Purple Podded Pole Beans and Black Valentine Pole Beans soaked for an hour or so while I did all of the other business.  I'm planting the beans this year next to my front steps and I'm hoping they'll enjoy climbing up the chicken wire I stapled to the sides of the railing.  I love the look of chicken wire and it's super functional, but it's a bitch to work with:  hard to cut (tin snips!), scratchy edges.  Last year I planted the purple beans next to an 8 ft piece of fencing I nicked from my dad that is actually in the veggie garden, leaning against the house.  This year, though, I planted my sugar snap and snow peas there, so the beans had to find a new home.  I think they will look spectacular on the steps and hope they will put on a good show! 

Working in the garden is about the best thing I can do for myself, anytime ever.  It is a head clearer like no other.  Pulling weeds is meditation.  Stirring compost, planting seeds, transplanting seedlings and watching it all grow are simple joys that I never ever ever tire of. 

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.
- Mohandas K. Gandhi

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Sweetest Things in Life

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life."
–Robert Louis Stevenson

I could easily write pages about how this quote is so true!  The air was warm-ish this morning, or I should say, warmer-ish. There's a promise of sun later, although it's nothing but grey flannel sky right now.  I'm looking forward to the day for many reasons; yes, the light in my eyes, the duties at my hand, the path of right, but mostly...the bread.  It's Tuesday, the day of the Carnation Farmer's Market, and Alex the bread magician from Preston Bakery (which is his solo operation) will have a loaf of ciabatta waiting for me.  I never tasted such delicious bread before this.  It is an experience.  He bakes it at like 900 degrees or something crazy like that in an outdoor wood-fired oven. <Note to self: someday have an outdoor wood-fired oven and make own bread.> It has a darkish crust that's just on the right side of being slightly charred, and the inside is airy and chewy and with incredible texture and flavor.  I honestly cannot bite into that bread without vocalizing its tastiness.  If anyone besides my kids heard me, it would be an, "I'll have what she's having" sort of moment. 

This bread will be my dinner tonight.  It's my dinner every Tuesday night from May-September.  We are big fans of Farmer's Market Dinner at my house, but instead of a meat-centric main dish, it's always the bread. We usually buy some cheese curds, aka, squeaky cheese, from the cheese people, Golden Glen Creamery, and the kids each get to pick out a veggie from the farmers.  This is fun, since what's available of course changes from week to week.  And a kid will always eat a veggie if he or she picked it out.  The kids are with their dad today, so I'll go by myself and get my bread FIRST--cain't risk the dreaded sold out sign, then I'll perhaps indulge in some fresh butter because why the hell not?!  I'll look at all the veggies and see what appeals.  A little salad would suit.  I think it's still too early for radishes, but can't wait to get my hands on some, slice 'em up and drizzle on a little olive oil with a sprinkle of flaky salt. 

But the first thing I eat is the bread.  I'll tear off a chunk before leaving Alex's stand.  I'll eat some in the car on the way home, past the little blue clouds of forget-me-nots that line 203, past the eagle's nest just north of Fay Rd., all around the roundabout,  and into Duvall; I'm shameless! 

Man cannot live by bread alone?  Pshaw!

Monday, May 9, 2011

While I Was Not Watching...

"...sunrise came with a ruby throat
and gold-flecked wings..."

This bit of poem seems to sum up the speed by which my weekend came to an end.  As always, I used up all my time and find myself marveling how I need an extra day to catch up on all that I ignored.  You should just see the pile of laundry I'll be doing today!  I think weekends are like houses: whatever the space, you manage to fill it up. If you move into a bigger house or have a 3-day weekend, it's all the same.  After a 3-day weekend, I invariably need a 4th day.  Ahhh, such is life. 

Besides being over too quickly, this weekend was fun:
  • Easy <read: lazy> dinner Friday night--grilled cheese, tomato soup, apple slices.  Then movie night--The Goonies, recorded by me off of the telemavision circa 1989, no commercials and also swear words dubbed out-SWEET!  I was talked into making popcorn and shared with Caroline.  After a bit she wanted to save some for later, so we set our bowl aside.  Jack reached over and helped himself to our popcorn. "Hey!" I said. And he said, "You don't mind."  That's MY line! I use that on them all the time when I'm helping myself to their Easter candy/Halloween candy/ Christmas candy, etc.  Oh, to have the tables turned was rich!  We laughed and laughed.  And we really didn't mind, as Caroline and I were full anyway.  Eat up, Grasshopper. 
  • Saturday, we went to the Civic Club/Library plant sale.  Highlights--we ran into several friends, I got a bunch of cheap plants, they had an area where kids could pot up some marigolds for mother's day so the kids did just that, and a lovely woman made a fairy house out of sticks and leaves and other bits of nature and Caroline and I must have looked at it for 10 minutes.  It was the size of a large doll house and magical! 
  • Saturday night, Jack had a buddy spend the night and we made pizza, walked to the park afterward and got caught in the rain--loved it--and made ice cream when we got home.  The boys were happy to build with Legos and Caroline was happy to play on the periphery and sort of have me to herself for story reading and reindeer games. 
  • Sunday was Mother's Day and the kids made me sweet cards and presents at school. Perfect!  Nothing beats a handmade card or gift.  We had raised waffles for breakfast with bacon and strawberries. The weather was supposed to be yucky, but it was nice all day.  We spent the day mostly outside, picnic lunch, planting seedlings, pruning hydrangeas, a G & T for me, and leftover pizza for dinner!  I ended up staying up late and it was lovely, but now it's Monday and I don't quite know how that happened!

"...I turned
and the earth hushed.
While I leaned into silence
a morning too vast to fathom
filled with light."

--David Lee

Friday, May 6, 2011

Always I Have A Chair For You...

With Mother's Day coming on Sunday, I thought I'd write a few words about my sweet mom, Heather.  Now, she won't be reading this because she doesn't know how to turn on a computer and even if she did, accessing the intermaweb would be as unthinkable as skipping wine-thirty.  My mom absolutely shuns technology and is 100% comfortable with her position on this.  She has never had a cell phone.  But, you know what, I've never not been able to reach her when I needed to. 

My mom lives the nicest life now.  She worked hard for years, at 2 jobs, no less!  Her job at the college Study Center helping people get their GEDs was on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-9.  Then she worked days at Sunridge Middle School, nee Pendleton Junior High School, aka The Big Banana.  Of course as a selfish teen, I didn't think about this much.  But now as a worker bee myself, I think I would croak if I had to work two nights a week til 9.  Did she ever complain about it though or talk about being sooo tired?  Nope.  In fact, OM and I were talking the other day about how we don't ever remember our parents complaining about much of anything.  What a nice gift that was to us.  It rubbed off, too, as I try reeeeal hard not to be a complainer; well, at least around my kids.  We all need an outlet.  OM gets a lot of it on our walks and J hears about it on the phone, and CC and I jibber jabber during our television program watching night.  But, back to my mom; she set the bar high, I'm sure without even knowing it.

That's my mom.  She is not a worrier.  She takes each day as it comes and always has a cheerful disposition. She laughs and smiles a lot.  She rarely gets mad, but when she does, it's mild--eye rolling and a disgruntled, "SPARE me!"  But mostly, she's happy and full of "yessssss"  (say it in a sing song way with your voice going up at the end).  And it doesn't look like she has to work too hard to maintain this relaxed, happy outlook; it's just how she is.

She lives with the Bobster in a house on the river and her days are spent reading, while he putters around at the ranch with his mules, woodworking, and his office.  My mom reads more than anyone I know and has excellent taste in books; 98% of my books are passed down from my mom.  She loves to hang out with my Auntie Rowan and they have so much fun. They go on trips, love casinos and slot machines, they play amazing Scrabble games and if you play with them, they will help you, even at the detriment of their own scores.  I went to Cirque du Soleil with them last year and it was a blast.  They are always game to do something fun and interesting.  My mom has good friends who have been her good friends forever.  She is loyal and kind.  As a mom, she put our needs above hers always and did special things for us and sort of spoiled us with love and attention.  And I am grateful.

"Always I have a chair for you in the smallest parlor in the world, to wit, my heart." --Emily Dickinson

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The S is for Super and the U is for Unique...

...the P is for Perfection and you know that we are freaks! The E is for Exotic and the R is for Raps, so tell those nosy people just to stay the hell BACK! 


My homegirl A reminded me of the awesomeness of this song!  A 6th grade(!) girl busted out with the lyrics in A's class yesterday and we were so impressed!  She told A that her mom loved that song in high school.  Yep, we're the parents not the kids anymore.  At track,  A and I did a little rendition of the above to her 6th grade girls and it was funny.  And supa fly, of course, cause we are the home chicks who are rockin' your world!  Who says parents just don't understand (besides the Fresh Prince...holla!)?

This morning during state testing, I had a little time after the initial dashing about, and  was treated to a dvd of our school's variety show auditions.  Some acts were great.  Others were awesome in their badness--the performers clearly believing that 'it's finally my turn to rock the mic.'  Overall, highly entertaining! 

Later, a track meet--possibly in the rain, but who cares--we're party rockers, non-stoppers and our names are def!

And don't forget, Scratchin' and Peckin' is the name of the game!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Poetry Of Earth Is Never Dead

This is a line from Keats' poem, On the Grasshopper and Cricket, and how true it is!  We are having a gem of a day weather-wise and it's hard to be at work, inside on a day like this.  I'm longing for my garden and just biding my time until I get there.  It's been a very cold Spring, and though my garden has been planted for a while, without the sun and heat, not a lot of growth has happened yet.  Ditto for my indoor seed program, but perhaps we're turning a corner here and it's finally warming up.  Either way, I am getting out there today and there's so much to do!  Spring is the time to do the work, amending the soil, planting, weeding, and by the middle of summer, there's not much to do but get in the hammock and enjoy it. 

I am a big believer in hammocks.  I have one, courtesy of my dad, that hangs from a metal stand. It's portable and convenient to set up.  I plop a feather bed and a quilt on it, add a pillow, a book, a little blue sky and it's heaven.  All this lovely work I'm doing in the garden now will pay off this summer during Hammock Time (which is sorta like Hammer Time, but without the big pants and gold chains). 

So, today I'll transplant some calendula seedlings, throw down some zinnia, nasturtium, and sunflower seeds, move my hollyhocks outside to harden off, thin out my lettuce and spinach, and mound up a little more dirt on my potatoes.  If the weather is warm enough, I'll celebrate this poetry of the earth with a nice lime-studded G & T on the porch afterwards, and maybe even read a little Keats!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Little Bit of Accordion Music Goes a Long Way

And I mean this in the very best way!  I have been sitting at my desk, bubbling booklets in prep for our state testing that starts in 2 days, while listening to the Amelie soundtrack on repeat (like you, T).  Now, this is the most mundane of tasks, made bearable,  no, enjoyable because of this music that's heavy on the accordion, and full of rich visual memory cues for me associated with my favorite movie of tout temps!  I may not be skipping rocks in the Seine right now, but I as good as am. 

Music has such power to influence, inspire, depress, awaken.  I went through a bit of a retrospective on my way to work this morning. I am a radio station hopper, bouncing between my 12 pre-set stations to find the best song of the moment.  It started with Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue by Crystal Gayle (right?), and I was back in Angelica's basement, sitting by her record player amid a scene so thoroughly 70s, it could have come straight out of Saturday Night Fever.  This song was very confusing as a kid because how in the world can brown eyes turn blue???  Then I listened to Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar on Me and I was back on the dance floor at the PHS Mixers, where CC and I always made sure we were dancing right next to each other, as we had choreographed 'moves' to go with the lyrics.  Now this song was confusing on a few levels: 1. Is it fast or slow?  I suppose it depends most on who you're dancing with, i.e. cute=slow, anyone else=fast. 2. The lyrics!  I tried to transcribe them once onto some loose leaf in my Trapper Keeper and man, they were weird.  "Love me like a bomb baby come and get it on. Livin' like a lover with a red eye phone."  WHAT?????  Anyway, I cranked up the volume and thought about my formerly feathered bangs and smiled!  I finished the ride with a little rewind back to the early 80s and Kim Carnes' Bette Davis Eyes.  This song fascinated me mostly because of how she sang it:  'All the boys think she's a spaaaaaaa, she's gaaaat Bette Davis ahhhhhhhhhs.'  It's still one of the best sing-along songs ever, as long as no one else is within earshot. 

So, here's to Tuesday and lookin' like a tramp, like a video vamp!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Lovely Light

The weekend for me (and everyone else probably) is the very best of times. I love having plans, I love not having plans.  This weekend was a nice balance of both.
  • Friday night, C and I kicked off our girls weekend by hanging out with W and Little. Little wanted to hold him a chicken, and Fanny was happy to oblige.  My chickens are NICE!  Then the 4 of us walked down to Ixtapa and partook of some delicious food and drink.  C managed Little on the walk home and they navigated their way through "evil ditches" and other obstacles in the game she had going.  Little is so sweet and tough, too--he's quick to hop up and carry on when he falls down; reminds me of his mama and her can-do pioneer spirit.  Thanks for the visit, W!
  • Saturday we had plans but C was sick to her tummy all day, so all plans were canceled.  I was looking forward to what was on the agenda, but must admit that it felt good to know we could just stay home all day.  I love knowing that I'm needed nowhere else. C stayed in her jammies and we read and watched movies and she didn't eat much, but it was a good day.
  • Sunday was binge day. The weather was perfect.  I hung clothes on the line. I mowed the lawn; this might be my favorite chore.  C felt better.  When I drove her to meet her dad, I enjoyed all of the sunny day drivers touring the valley.  My favorite: the motorcyclists.  I was behind a motorcycle the whole way to Carnation and I love how they do that motorcycle wave, arm thrust out in a low greeting, when they pass all other cyclists.  I got to wear a summer skirt and flop flips.  I took a hammock to a friend who needed one (everyone needs a hammock). I drank an afternoon beer on a blanket in the grass.  And I got to see my dear, old friend M and her man M from Nashville and catch up on her life. T and Copper made the dinner plan for us and we were treated to 2 great Tom Douglas restaurants--Brave Horse Tavern, where we even actually SAW Tom Douglas, and Serious Pie. Both were seriously good.  The whole day was so juiced with adventures and possibilities, and I feel like I lived every second of it.
                My candle burns at both ends;
                It will not last the night;
                But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
                It gives a lovely light.

                          --Edna St. Vincent Millay