Thursday, June 30, 2011

Strawberries, Shortcake and Jam, Oh My!

It hasn't been all that sunny, but guess what, the strawberries are GOOD this year!  Yesterday, we headed down to Harvold's in Carnation to pick our annual cache of lil red gems.  The weather was cool and a little misty, but we had sweatshirts and it was actually quite pleasant.  I've picked on sunny hot days before and yesterday's weather was much, much better.  Strawberry picking is sort of hard work; I mean, relative to berry picking.  You have to squat.  It is sort of slow-going, as you have to be choosy.  Cool mist beats trickles of sweat running down the backs of your legs any day.  There were a handful of people picking at Harvold's; we were the youngest.  And I don't mean by a little--everyone else there was a certifiable senior citizen; why is this?  I mean, good for them, they've got it right, but where are ya youngsters?  We picked 9 pounds at $1/pound.  Cain't beat that!  It's fun to pick your own berries; I've done it every year for years, and I will eventually be one of those oldsters out there for sure.  People are so busy nowadays that they often miss out on simple, satisfying experiences like strawberry picking.  OM and I talk about this stuff all the time.  The oldsters remember, and they show up.  I hope my kids will remember times like this and build them into their adult lives.  It's simple, but it's RICH.  

And, helloooo!  The spoils that come from picking 9 pounds of strawberries are heavenly.  We came home and started in on spoil #1:  freezer jam.  I washed and hulled berries and  Caroline squished them with a potato masher:

Add a LOT of sugar, a little pectin and ladle it into jars; how easy is that?  

We now have 22 jars of strawberry freezer jam setting up (for 24 hours) on the counter. I'm hoping to put up that much in raspberry freezer jam this year, too.  Last year, we missed raspberry picking because the patch was open at times that didn't work for us, but this year, we will be there, you mark my words!  

And of course strawberry spoil #2 is:  SHORTCAKE!  Again, Caroline donned an apron (and high heels) to help out:

"Lordy!  What a Summer-time fer to sing!"  --James Whitcomb Riley

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In A Beautiful Meadow

In a beautiful meadow
You come to a swing.
We call it Nature Playground--
It has grass higher than our heads!
If you come here you will see
A beautiful meadow
With a swing.
  --by Caroline

We love this spot.  We brought a picnic.  Caroline said we should have brought some paper so we could write a poem about it.  Ah, but I always have paper for poems, so she dictated her poem to me.  I asked Jack if he wanted to write a poem, too and he said yes.  When I told him I was ready to take down his poem, he just said, "What nature says, that is what I say."  I laughed.  He said that he knew I would think that was funny.  How pleased am I that Caroline wants to write poems and Jack can change up a Stafford line to make me laugh?  As Todd might say, I'm veeeery pleased!

It takes about 20 minutes to walk to the spot; the path meanders across the valley and it's like being in another world.  All you hear are bird songs and the rustle of the tall grasses.  Oh, and the sound of my sneezing.  Aaaaaahchooo!  

When we reached the swing, we spread out the blanket, ate lunch and then we all enjoyed flying over the beautiful meadow!  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In Wild Meanderings O'er Pasture Wealth

Yesterday was  a sleepy day at home for us.  The kids went camping with their dad over the weekend and he delivered them in the morning, tired and dirty, but happy.  Jack crawled into bed here at 8:30 and didn't get out until 1:30!  He said that he didn't mean to fall asleep, but couldn't help it.  Caroline embraced an angle of repose for most of the day, content to just sit next to me and suck her thumb and twirl my hair.  After Jack woke up, I let them watch a movie while I went out and busied myself in the garden.  I finally got most everything in the ground, save a flat of hollyhocks that need about one more week:

But I got the basil, cukes, blue morning glories, and calendula planted.  Then I fertilized everything with fish fertilizer, which is nizzasty-smelling, but I need to use it up.

You're welcome, plants!

As you can see above, the snap peas are coming on.  I picked a mess of them for our appetizer, gathered lettuce for the salad, and made a frittata for the main course, using 8 of the girls' eggs, some of our chives,  plus store bought onion, potato, milk, sharp cheddar and Parmesan.  By the end of summer, we'll have our own potatoes and onions and this dinner can be whipped up with almost exclusively on-farm (on- cul de sac) ingredients--yay!  Here's what it looked like all plated up:

And onward!  Today it is a little cloudy but quite warm, and perfect picnic weather.  The kids and I are going to the trail and then down a country pathway for some 'wild meanderings o'er pasture wealth.'

"...So--on, with quickened breaths, I follow still--
      My avant-courier must be obeyed!
    Thus am I led, and thus the path, at will,
      Invites me to invade"
         --James Whitcomb Riley

Monday, June 27, 2011

Knee-Deep in June

"Tell you what I like the best--
      'Long about knee-deep in June,
    'Bout the time strawberries melts
   On the vine,--some afternoon
Like to jes' git out and rest,
        And not work at nothin' else!"
  --James Whitcomb Riley

Amen,  JWR!  I just got 2 new books of his poems and this snippet of poem came from Riley-Farm Rhymes, which may be my mos' fayveritist book of his (how'd I do?).  If you haven't given him a real read, I recommend it. Not all of his poems are in this old timey Indiana dialect, but I must admit that I love the ones that are.  He also writes poems that are much more formal in structure, but just as rich in sentiment; I am a fan.  And the Farm Rhyme book also has fabulous drawings, some complex and some simple line drawings.  I might jus' copy the line drawings for embroidermary.

I felt knee deep in June this weekend.  I think I'm easing into Summer rather well, if I do say so myself.  My nice neighbor brought over his pressure washer and I did the deck on Friday. Check out what my legs looked like afterward--the filthy business!  But the deck was clean...
...until the chickens came up to investigate.
Merci, Ruby.

Saturday was spent with CC, driving around to country garage sales, visiting my great-uncle's and his wife's lovely nursery with their big garden art show going full tilt, and eating delicious sushi for lunch.  At one of the garage sales, I saw a great looking vintage bike, which got me to thinking about Caroline's upcoming birthday.  Perhaps instead of looking at new bikes, I should be thinking vintage?  I didn't see any kids vintage bikes, but they must exist, right?  Boy, I sure wish I still had my old yellow Schwinn with the white banana seat covered with pink flowers.  <insert wistful sigh> Enter Craigslist. And can you just imagine my surprise to see MY OLD BIKE for sale?  In Seattle.  For a decent price.  Soooo, I emailed and held my breath.  Yesterday morning I had a reply and the bike was still there, but they were having a garage sale. I left my number.  He called.  He trusted me when I said I'm a SURE THING and that I'd pick it up by 3.  <insert hollerin' and a little happy dance here>  L and I were going to the city anyway to hang out with D, so we swung by the nice, trusting people's house and got the bike!  That's right!!! I GOT THE BIKE. 

You want more, yes?

I KNOW!!!!

But what do the chickens think??

They're impressed!  And so am I, with June, as a whole, and with all of the sweet things that have come with her this year.

"...Whoop out loud!  and th'ow my hat!--
June wants me, and I'm to spare!
Spread them shadders anywhere,
I'll git down and waller there,
    And obleeged to you at that!"  (JWR)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Full Spectrum

Here's a little poem I wrote while sitting next to the Umatilla River a few days ago:

Red. One red rock for a hundred gray ones.
Orange. Underbelly of a dead crawdad.
Yellow.  Sedums blooming on rocks at river's edge.
Green.  Glass beer bottle, sweating silver.
Blue.  Summer sky, sky, sky.
Indigo.  Electric bachelor buttons at trail's top.
Violet.  Waterskipper's shadow.

What a fantastic trip we had.  Not long, but rich in relaxation and fun and the deep sense I feel of being home.  Mark my words, I will retire in Cayuse.  So, plan on visiting, ok, and we'll hang out by the river and drink cold beers and listen to the birds.

The birds.  My god.  It's next level!  My dad and Tina have about 3 or 4 hummingbird feeders on or near their back porch and 2 bird feeders nearby, too.  When we came back from the river for lunch, before going back to the river, the kids and I sat on the back porch and just watched and listened.  They currently have mostly black chinned and a few tiny calliopes.  I was very happy to see a calliope, as I'd never seen one before outside of a picture in a bird book.  I have the flashy rufous hummingbirds at my house, so it was neat to something different.  The Cayuse hummingbirds are quite assertive and bold.  My dad said the calliopes are especially cheeky.  I like any creature with a little cheek!  Anyhow, Dad and Tina have to refill those feeders several times a day.  It's nuts!  Actually, it's sugar water!  Crizzazy. My dad drilled 3 swallow-sized holes into the lintel above the slider and the kids and I enjoyed watching the swallows swoop in and out all day. At the conventional bird feeder, I saw goldfinches, redwing blackbirds, magpies, mourning doves, cowbirds, house finches, and grosbeaks.  The best part for me is listening to the cowbirds sing.  Their song is a watery trill and just beautiful.  After we ate, Caroline sat on my lap and we just watched and listened, both of us completely entertained.  I think I said to her at one point, 'Now do you see why Papa and Tina don't have a TV?'  She did indeed.  After a bit, she skittered off, I slunk lower into my chair and nodded off for a short while.  I woke up energized and ready for River, Round 2.

So we walked back down the long driveway, crossed the road and slipped and skidded down the rocky path to the river.  I got wise and brought a cold Heineken and boy, did I ever enjoy it!  The kids played, I skipped rocks (of course thinking of Amelie and also that the  Umatilla is no less than the Seine in my book!), and we soaked up the day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hot Fudge Sundaes and Taco Pizza

We are on our first official road trip of Summer and it's shaping up to be a good one!  I am blogging from Big John's Pizza in Pendleton, while we wait for our taco pizza to-go.  Now, if you haven't had taco pizza, you are missing out.  So come on down to Big John's in Pendleton and get some for yourself (they MADE me say that in order to use their network...just joshin').  Taco pizza is so delicious although I've never seen it outside of Pendleton.  Now that the kids have had it, we have to come here every time we're here visiting...ahhhh, the sacrifices a mother makes.

We had a great drive. It was HOT, 85ish once we got on the east side of the mountains.  The Freedom Wagon, she's a free spirit; sometimes her AC works, and sometimes it don't.  When will it work?  Who knows, but ya gotta have faith, you gotta have a little faith, yeah ya gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith-a!  We sort of hit a boiling point around Prosser, so we stopped at Mickey D's for treats.  This is when I realized that the kids had never had hot fudge sundaes!  Problem remedied!  They loved them and I looooved my soft serve nilla cone.  Nothing like a treat on the road.

Pizza's ready now and we're off to Cayuse.  My dad and Tina have been on the river for the last few days, so the pizza will be easy to come home to.  I'm sure the Prosecco is chilling, too, as that's tradition for Tina and me.  The kids want to go to the river when we get there and why not?!  It's hot, it's summer, and we're on vacation!

"What the river says, that it what I say."  --Wm. Stafford

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Computamer!

Just in time, on the first day of my summer vacation, the nice FedEx man delivered my new MacBook Pro.  Like half an hour ago!  And here I am, connected to the intermaweb and blogging.  I managed to set up my wireless router without a hitch (thanks Mr. A, for the AirPort!!), unbelievable.  And the directions for MacBook set-up were so cinchy even a cavewoman could do it.  Ha!

This is one slick computamer, and trust me, that's saying a lot coming from me, as I tend to be unimpressed by technology in general.  But, seriously, wow; this shit is spectacular!  And user friendly.  I've never used a Mac, I don't own an ipod or iphone or ianything.  And again, here I am, no problemo blogging away.

What a nice morning at home it's been.  I like my job a lot, but man, I sure like being home.  I rolled out of the rack around 9:30.  Now, don't be gettin' all judgy and thinking I'm a lazybones.  I was up 'til 2am working on a re-org of my recipe system.  I really like my system--it's good enough and works great for me.  Here's what I do:  I organize all of the recipes by category--Breakfast; Appetizers, Drinks, Dips, Nuts and Salty Snacks; Soups; Salads, Veggies, and Sides; Main Dishes; Desserts. Then I gather up all of the pieces of paper, large and small, typed and hand-written, and I organize them within their main category, i.e. all of the muffins recipes together, then I put them in plastic binder sleeves with a table of contents on the top, and then clip them into a binder.  I also have a separate sheet for cookbook references, including page number.  So when I want to make Fanny Farmer's raised waffles, I know instantly that it's on p. 556.  (Best waffle in the world, word!)  Anyway, I sorted through all of my collected recipes and weeded out the ones that I'll never use, plus added a ton from Martha's Everyday Food.  I have subscribed to that magazine since its inception, in 2003 or 2004, maybe, and kept every issue.  And even though it's little, it was time to pare down and let go, so over the last few months, I've gone through every issue and ripped out the recipes that looked promising.  I only have room to hoard one magamazine, and that's Martha Stewart Living, which I've taken since 1996.  I have every issue, organized by month--which is lovely when you're looking for some seasonal inspiration!  That is a gem of a magamazine.  Not that Everyday Food isn't, but I've got my rules to live by and limited hoarding is one of 'em.  So, back to the recipes, I added some, but dumped more so yay for me!

I sat outside in the warm morning air in my rolled up pajama bottoms because the sun was out and your legs cain't get tan through PJs.  I drank my coffee, watched the chickens and hummingbirds and talked to friends on the telemaphone.  Very, very nice; and I'm grateful for it.  Next up, mow the lawn before the kids show up at 5.  Totally doable, and perhaps there could even be time for one teeny, tiny G & T?  Why the heck not, it's summertime...and the livin' is EASY.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Trilly Morning

It's my last day of work and I began it like a real morning person! I didn't have to come in until 8:30ish, but I woke up at the usual early time, got ready, and actually had time to sit outside, drinking my coffee and listening to the trilly birds.  My apologies to the chickens, though, who saw me and got excited, pacing in the coop and eagerly anticipating their release into the cul de sac.  Alas, girls, it is not to be until this afternoon when we get home.  But, the air was warmish, the robins were singing, a rufous sided towhee was visiting my feeder, and I was up and out experiencing the best of life. 

And now I sit here at my desk and look outside at the glorious sun shining on the rhodies in the courtyard out my window, which doesn't open (who designs a window that doesn't open--hellooo!).  I've got the Amelie soundtrack on, which certainly helps, and just listened to one of my very favorite songs ever, la vie en rose.  How I long for la vie en rose; don't we all?  You know what, I think we can have it, too.  You have to believe it's possible. I think that's the key for most things in this life, n'est pas? 

The kids are home tonight before going to their dad's for father's day weekend.  By request, I'm making tacos and we're going to use the lettuce from our garden, for crunch, as Jack says.  Jack has his last cub scout pack meeting of the year tonight where he will 'cross over' from wolf to bear.  Yay for you, Jack! 

And yay for today:  the trilly birds of morning, French songs, last day of work for 7 weeks, my new computamer is due for delivery, tacos with crunch, and a night sky that holds onto daylight until after 10 o'clock.

 Ahhhh, la vie en rose... je suis pret.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Pedigree of Honey

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, anytime, to him
Is aristocracy.
--Emily Dickinson

Don't you just love this tiny poem?  I have had a clover sort of day and you know what, that's ok--great, actually!  Things don't have to be perfect for me to like them.  This poem isn't even perfect, since male bees (drones) don't gather nectar at all--their only job is to mate with the queen.  But who cares, 'cause this poem is GREAT! 

I had to make a website for work today, well had to if I was interested in getting $ for doing so, which I am.  And of course I put it off until about the last possible day, as it's been sort of something I was dreading:  boring.  (Blogging: fun, by the way.)  Sooo, I when I tried to actually use the school's site, I found out I couldn't because I hadn't taken the required class to have a page built for me.  Whoopsiedoodle!  But, it's ok, because then I found out I could use any old webpage building site.  My friend, EE, showed me which one to use and easy breezy, an hour or so later I was done!  Is it the BEST site ever?  Of course not.  But, you know what?  I like it, I'm sort of proud of myself for figuring it out, and it's good enough. 

So, cheers to that!  Cheers to plain old clover and random webpage sites.  Cheers to good enough sometimes being GREAT!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In the Pebbles of the Holy Streams

"...And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
     In the sun that is young once only,
          Time let me play and be
     Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
          And the sabbath rang slowly
     In the pebbles of the holy streams." 
--Dylan Thomas (from Fern Hill)

The end of the school year makes me feel this way, green and golden.  Focused on the time soon to come to rejoice in free time, reconnect with the pebbles in the holy streams--truly my idea of a religious experience.  This poem, Fern Hill, is both celebratory and mournful.  Celebratory in that it exalts the best of life, the best of feeling: 

 "Happy as the grass was green"
" I was prince of the apple towns"
"And fire green as grass"
"And nightly under the simple stars"
"The sky gathered again and the sun grew round that very day"
"On to the fields of praise"
"Happy as the heart was long"

Mournful in that it reminds us that time is fleeting, time is short:

"In the sun that is young only once"
"Time let me play and be golden in the mercy of his means"
"That time allows in all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs before the children green and golden follow him out of grace"
"In the moon that is always rising"

And the last three lines of the poem:

"Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
          Time held me green and dying
     Though I sang in my chains like the sea."

This is one of my favorite poems!  And it's speaking to me today:  Enjoy your life, ME, don't waste time.  Embrace the best parts of life and cherish them.  Love, be kind, help others, rejoice in the noise of nature and the quiet of home.  Hold each day in the palm of my hand, roll it over, look at it, rub it for luck and live it for goodness sakes. 

In 2 days, it will officially be Summer for me.  I can't wait!

"On to the happy fields of praise!"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Things Being Various

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
the drunkenness of things being various.
--Louis MacNeice

It's sort of nuts sometimes, but thank goodness for things being various; I like it that way!  This morning I got to enjoy our 8th grade promotion ceremony and it was so various and so nice.  Highlights:
  •  Looking at the faces in the audience while they listened to the kids performing--JUST like Amelie and how she likes looking back at the faces in the movie theatre.  Watching people watching something good is lovely. 
  • Hearing this dear boy play piano and sing 'Let it Be' sweetly and with perfect pitch.  Add in that our principal backed him on the drums--golden. 
  • Seeing the boys not wear long basketball shorts and admiring all of the girls' pretty dresses, lots of poufy skirts and flowery prints...omg, is it the 80s again? Probably not, 'cause I didn't see any metallic dresses, praise His light! 
  • Also enjoyed watching the girls walk very gingerly on their wobbly high heels--sort of like watching baby horses learning to walk--adoramable. 
  • Ukulele playing--please tell me this is going to catch on.  Love it.
  • Girls singing songs about Sisterhood and loving yourself and the amazing song written, played and sung by a girl who will be the next Sheryl Crow.  Wow. 
  • Ending the ceremony with a dirge by Alice in Chains, performed by 3 boys who live for music like that. 
 I'm proud to work at a school where things being various is the status quo.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Hear the Lummis Drumming Through the Night

This is a line from a villanelle poem I wrote this weekend while visiting Lummi Island.  OM and I slept out under the stars on the sandy beach in sleeping bags; it was fan-TAS-tic!  The air was cool but pleasant, the sand was pretty warm from the day's sun and so comfortable, like our own custom adjustable mattress, and the stars were out.  The moonlight was bright and I watched the herons fishing by its light--I didn't know herons fished at night, but they do!  They made their low, guttural heron noises and skimmed over the water, swooping and diving.  My dad wrote a poem about a heron called Shitepoke( which is another word for heron, I believe), and in his poem they say, "GOD, GOD, GOD!"  And I can now confirm the truth of this for myself, not that I would doubt my dad on birds or poetry, or much else for that matter.  Anyhow, this show was going on and in the distance from across the water was the sound of the Lummi Indians drumming and singing. I could picture the fancydancers in my head and just laid there on the beach taking it in and drifted off to a surprisingly wonderful night's sleep amidst all of it.  Thank you Lummi Island. 

The weekend with the girls was fun, funny, relaxing, exciting, and completely rejuvenating.  I was only there for 24 hours but it felt like much longer.  Just being away from everything made time freeze for me and I had not a care in the world.  I found tons of good beach loot: beach glass, agates, shells, cool lookin' rocks; the kids will have fun sorting through it today.  We laughed and told stories and shared and teased and listened to Many Blankets deliver her sermons.  I had a notebook and captured some choice quotes.  One of my faves, from Blankets of course, was something like, "Honor is doing what we do based on our values--and those fluctuate."  Another was, "Do the best you can while you're awake."  I can't bring myself to type the dirty one she said about what we should "Tweeter someone." 

In line for the ferry on the way home, we were behind a hippie van/bus with 3 kids from Michigan.  The hippie boy in the group took out his accordion (yay!) and played a beautiful song and I videoed it on my camera, and panned over to the Sisters sitting on the side of the road talking, and the gorgeous garden with the espaliered fruit trees behind them, and the Sound beyond that, sort of like our own personal soundtrack.  It was a lovely way to wrap up a lovely, lovely weekend.  Thank you, Sisters!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Know A Place Where Summer Strives

That's the title of an Emily Dickinson poem that's going to be my theme for le week-end.  Summer will be striving mightily this weekend on Lummi Island where my tribe is meeting up for our annual powwow.  All the usual suspects will be there:  Still Water, Whispering Wolf, Many Blankets, Lady Hawk, Kind Heart, Laughing Sparrow, Running Wild, Splashing Otter and me, Prairie Feather.  We will miss Blue Dove and *Fights with a Fist* but will send the Sister vibes their way all weekend. 

Lummi is such a great place to strive for summer.  We will walk along the shore and look for beach glass--best beach glass hunting ever.  We will talk and talk and talk--in groups of 2, 3, 4, 10, whatever.  It's just so easy to be around everyone.  No nonsense, no image management, no pretense--it's bliss.  We will eat delicious food and drink delicious beverages.  We will sit around a beach fire at night and bond.  We will most likely get in the hot tub, some will skinny dip for sure.  OM wants to have a swim in the Sound--I will support her from the beach (no cold water for me, thanks).  If weather permits, some of us will sleep outside.  We'll get up early and drink coffee on the beach wrapped in blankets.  I will try to write a poem, too.  Lummi is a place of connection and reflection, and this tribe is ready to STRIVE! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Angels in the Architecture

This is a line from a Paul Simon song, 'You Can Call Me Al' that I heard this morning on the way to work.  It was playing as I was driving on Tolt Hill Road, where the field grasses come right up to the white line on the shoulder of the pavement and stand about 3 feet or so tall.  The road is lined on both sides and if you have your window down you can hear a soft swwwishhhh as your car passes by.  It felt to me like what southern France must feel like. 

"I never saw a moor, I never saw the sea;
Yet I know how the heather looks, and what a wave must be." 
 --Emily Dickinson

I play a little game with myself sometimes that I call 'new eyes,' where I try to look at the scene before me as if I were a tourist, not a resident.  Try it sometime, it's fun.  So this morning with the grasses and the mountains shining beyond the edges of the valley and the curve of the Tolt bridge and the faintest swirl of white mist hovering over the river and the light from the newly risen sun spilling over all of it, I saw angels in the architecture with my new eyes. 

I think if I focus really hard, maybe I can see my life with new eyes, too.  As in, how would I see it if I were regarding it from the outside instead of from my own personal vantage point?  Something to think about, for sure.  If you could view your life like a tourist, what would you see?

Choke me in the shallow water, before I get too deep. (EB, wife of PS, incidentally!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Spring Rain

"I hear leaves drinking rain;
   I hear rich leaves on top
Giving the poor beneath
   Drop after drop;
'Tis a sweet noise to hear
These green leaves drinking near." 

After the sunshine holydays of last weekend, the rain is here again.  Living in the PNW, this is really no big shocka, even for June.  Personally, I sort of like it--a little of this, a little of that--our weather is predictable in its unpredictability.  And my plants are loving it! Everything is getting HUGE in the garden.  I walked around yesterday and marveled at the size of things.  Irises from my dad and Tina's place are blooming, purple and yellow, and their smell reminds me of childhood memories when everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky.  (can you name that tune? haha) The valley is green and full of lushness with scrambling vines and grassy pastures and leafed out trees.  Oh, how I love this time of year.  It makes me want to bake pies and drink lemonade out of jars and have picnics and read poems. And I have the rain to thank for it. 

"And when the Sun comes out,
   After this rain shall stop,
A wondrous light will fill
   Each dark, round drop;
I hope the Sun shines bright;
'Twill be a lovely sight."
   --W.H. Davies

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stand Up!

"...Stand up for something different,
and have a little fun
fighting for something worth fighting for
before you've done." 

I scored another great free book from our librarian today, The Oxford Book of 20th Century Verse.  This D.H. Lawrence poem was in it and as I was paging through the book, it spoke to me.  I think these lines ring true.  Something worth standing up for gives life purpose.  It's so easy to fall into a rhythmic lull of the daily grind, but for me, I need more. I need something different, to keep it interesting.  That's not to say I'm not satisfied with my life, which many would find bor-ing. I am intensely satisfied.  But it's because I fight for it, fight to make my life the way I want it.  It doesn't always go as planned, of course, but I adjust and push on. 

"Stand up for a new arrangement
for a chance of life all round,
for freedom, and the fun of living
bust in, and hold the ground!"
We never know what life will bring us.  Be open to possibilities, to 'new arrangements.' And when you find something good, something you can't explain that shakes your world up, stand up for it!  This poem is a great reminder for me on how I want to live my life.  Every. Single. Day.

What will you stand up for?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Voila, viola!

I had some wonderful/nerve-wracking experiences today at work!  Our lovely orchestra teacher peer-pressured me to bring my viola to school and play FOR her classes today.  Oh my!  Sort of stressful, but I survived...and it was really fun.  I played the violin from grades 4-6 and viola from 7-12.  Then I went to college and sort of just forgot about it.  I always liked orchestra but honestly, I wasn't that good and almost never practiced (gee Marge, maybe there's a conn-ec-tion there, ya think?).  Most of my best buds were in orchestra and it was nice to have something different to do, mixed in with the extreme academic rigor of PHS (go Bucks!).

So, today I got to go back to junior high for awhile.  The teacher and I played a bit of a duet, the Telemann Concerto for 2 violas, which incidentally is the same piece Becca and I played our senior year.  I was super shaky, but maybe I tricked the kids into thinking I was doing some sweet vibrato.  Doubtful, as I was rocking the vibrato with my bow arm, too.  haha.  We also played bits of a few other pieces and I relaxed a little.  Then my principal came in to watch, but it was ok and afterward he told me it was "cute."  Which, don't worry, wasn't creepy at all coming from him, my work dad. 

After the spotlight, I was able to settle back in with the group and sight read some music. It was so much fun to play in an orchestra again.  Of course I missed sitting next to Becca and making faces at Mindy and Colette, as well as slyly imitating Mac our grumpy, good-hearted teacher who had the same pair of flats in 15 colors.  The kids here were welcoming and sweet and next year I'm going to make an effort to play with them once a month; it will be good for me. 

"...My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I'll play once more."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vernal Sentiment

"Though the crocuses poke up their heads in the usual places,
The frog scum appear on the pond with the same froth of green,
And boys moon at girls with last year’s fatuous faces,
I never am bored, however familiar the scene..." 

Such a beautiful morning today!  As I drove to work, I watched the mist hugging the valley floor start to rise and dissipate.  The sun peaked over the mountain tops and laid its yellow light on the fields.  The air felt warm and carried the promise of a grand day.  And I agree with Roethke in his first stanza of the poem above, I'm never bored, however familiar the scene.

When I get home from work today, the kids and I are going to set up the hammock.  It's TIME!  We'll assemble the stand on the shade garden lawn, hook up the hammock, plop the feather bed, quilt and pillow atop it and get in!  I predict that the 3 of us will try it together and will most likely end up getting dumped.  If the balance is off even a little, down ya go.  but, no matter--hammock time is bliss, even if you end up in a laughing pile on the grass. 

Over the weekend, more of the same.  We may hook up with OM and kids on the lake by her house if it's warm enough.  Jack will get in if we do, even if it's freezing.  Little dude has always loved all water.  Not I--you won't catch me in cold water ever, if I can help it.  And lucky for me, I usually can.  I also predict that the kids will request that we fill our baby pool, since they've been asking almost every sunny day since February, regardless of temp.  I need to stock up on popsicles and rose' for the weekend.  Not a bad grocery list, eh? 

18 more days of Spring; enjoy it!

"...When from under the barn the cat brings a similar litter,--
Two yellow and black, and one that looks in between,--
Though it all happened before, I cannot grow bitter:
I rejoice in the spring, as though no spring ever had been."
--Theodore Roethke

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Looove Technology...Always and Forever!

Wellll, you know that's not quite true, but I'm having a very Kip (from Napoleon Dynamite) sort of moment.  I am about to buy a new computer.  That's right.  New Computamer.  Me!  Buy!  I haven't bought a new computer since 2002--for freakin' reals.  She was a spankin' new Dell desktop and she still runs, albeit slowly.  So slowly in fact, that when I'm home the last thing I'd want to do is be on the computer.  Too annoying.  I also like to secretly shun technology and feel sort of a pioneer pride about saying, 'I ain't even logged onto Facebook for 2 months now!'  I'm sort of a technology redneck.  A redtech?  A techneck?  I have a cell phone (since 2005 now!) but it's a dumbphone.  It just makes telemaphone calls and sends and receives text messages.  That's all.  No camera.  No intermaweb.  I'm low tech and I likes it. 

But...I'm getting something slick.  A laptop. A Mac.  A Mactop?  My techie buddy EE is helping me order it and he's pointing me in the direction of this model that's light and thin but has a keyboard and a disc drive. I cain't remember the name, of course, but it's sounds perfect.  I will have to get a wireless router for home but he says it's easy and that I just plug it in to my other one. Ok, I can do that.  It stresses me out because it's something new, but I shall overcome.  With this new purchase, the chances of me blogging a bit over the summer just went up, like 100%. 

So, it's my computer purchase for the next decade, right?  I'd rather spend the money on clotheslines and chicken feed and hammock supplies, but even this pioneer chick needs to update.  Kind of like when Pa would go to Mancato and come back with something new, like a rotary egg beater or something, for Ma and the girls.  My wagon of technology is getting majorly traded up.  So, pimp my ride, Pa!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


To quote from one of my favorite poets, James Whitcomb Riley, regarding June,
"O Queenly month of indolent repose!"
How ready I am for some seriously indolent repose. I think I have it worse than the school-children with my senioritis here.  Two and a half more weeks of school and then it's summah summah summahtime.  Cain't wait.  I have never not been on a school-year schedule. I went from high school to college to grad school to school job.  It works splendidly for me, too, I must admit.  And I'm sorry and not trying to rub it in at all for those of you who work year-round; my condolences.  Ahhh, June.

Today already feels much better than yesterday.  The kids and I had a nice night at home.  We hit the Farmers Market between rainstorms, I shopped and they played.  We got The Bread and some Japanese turnips.  Dinner was roasted turnips, fingerlings and carrots, The Bread, and scrambled eggs, courtesy of The Girls.  The kids drank leftover Hawaiian Punch (from my work) in wine glasses for a super treat-y bev and I drank rose', which could easily become my new water.  I looove it.  It tastes of summer, too.
"I drink thy breath in sips of rare perfume." (June AND rose', that is.)

After a good night's sleep, I'm feeling much better.  More windshield-ish for sure. And my little list of ways to re-focus helped, as well. We all have those days.  So, I'll leave you with this, from JWR:

"Before thy listless feet: the lily blows
A bugle-call of fragrance o'er the glade;
And wheeling into ranks with plume and spear,
Thy harvest-armies gather on parade.
While, faint and far away, yet pure and clear,
A voice calls out of alien lands of shade--
All hail the Peerless Goddess of the Year!"