Wednesday, February 29, 2012


The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

--W.H. Auden (excerpt from his Leap Before You Look villanelle)

Happy Leap Day, friends!  Had to write a quick post for the February 29 dateline, if nothing else.  Plus, we had a nice afternoon and Jack found a real Leap Day treasure in the chicken coop.  Check it out:

A teeeny, tiny egg!  Awwwwwww!

I made a nice fire and we all hung out in the family room to enjoy it.  I've found the fire is the key to getting everyone to hang out together at home.  I mean, who doesn't love some warmth on a cold day?  We read, play games, talk.  It's wonderful.  Who knew something so basic and simple would be just the ticket to getting that cozy close family vibe going?  Well, the secret is out and I wish everyone had a wood stove, a cord of wood, and the inclination, 'cause this shit's magic!

Continuing with our Leap Day celebrations, we had pizza for dinner with a side of garlic spinach, and homemade ice cream for dessert, with chocolate syrup. Good ol' Hershey's.  Did you ever drink Hershey's syrup straight from the can (!) when you were a kid?  You'd puncture it on both sides of the top to really get it flowing, and then suck it down.  Will my kids do stuff like that?  Of course they will.  Do I need to know?  Not really.  At some point in our childhoods, we start making tiny leaps, away from parental consent, toward becoming independent beings.  And I think we get braver as we grow up.  I know I have, in that I pretty much do what I want and trust that I can make a decent decision for myself.  As OM says, "I got this!"  

So, do the best you can and believe that it's enough and okay.  Then leap.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

In the Usual Places

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.

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

These weren't up yesterday!  




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Marvels Coast By

Maybe Alone On My Bike

I listen, and the mountain lakes
hear snowflakes come on those winter wings
only the owls are awake to see,
their radar gaze and furred ears
alert.  In that stillness a meaning shakes;

And I have thought (maybe alone
on my bike, quaintly on a cold
evening pedaling home) think!--
the splendor of our life, its current unknown
as those mountains, the scene no one sees.

Oh citizens of our great amnesty:
we might have died.  We live.  Marvels
coast by, great veers and swoops of air
so bright the lamps waver in tears, 
and I hear in the chain a chuckle I like to hear.

--William Stafford

I am slowly shaking the nasty cold, the dread mogus, as my mom and Bobster would say.  I feel like a human person--yay!  And OMG, we even left the house today!  

Though while we've been home, we have enjoyed watching one of the neighborhood deer grazing in our yard and our neighbor's yard, too.  This is a young deer, maybe a year old, and she is really cute.  And seems to have a gentle spirit, as most deer do or at least pretend to.  Our cat, Coco,  is interested in this deer and sort of followed her around all morning, lounging about while the deer grazed on lawn.  The chickens were not troubled by this large creature, either and went about with their scratchin' and peckin' undisturbed.  

And I marveled at it all:  the peaceful animals, my sweet kids, mug after mug of red zinger tea with LOTS of honey (medicine, yo), and feeling so glad to be on the upswing from this dang cold.  And tonight we are getting Thai take-out, and I'll be able to taste it and everything!  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Swan Needs a Pond

"...When I stand, I'm almost a tree.
Leaves, do you like me any?
A swan needs a pond.
The worm and the rose
Both love

--Theodore Roethke, from Bring the Day!

I've been sick all day with the nastiest little cold.  Sniffling and coughing and aching.  No thank you!  I almost never get sick, so I forget how it is to feel miserable.  What has gotten me through today, besides ibuprofen, tea with honey, and naps, is dreams of my garden.  I went through my favorite seed catalogue again, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and made my list.  I sketched out my garden space, including the 2 raised beds I'm building out of old pallets.  And also the bean tepee I made out of the chair rail trim that used to be in my dining room.  I'm also going to try a vertical pallet garden for strawberries this year, as they tend to hog garden real estate and I think they'll do fine in a standing up pallet.  They'll have a better view, anyway.  And the chickens will be SOL this year.  Ha!  
Sorry, Sookie
The raised beds are going to be fantastic. I'm putting them up at the top of my driveway, in front of the garage door I never open.  It gets awesome sun and the radiant heat coming off the garage door will be a plus, as well.  In those beds, I think I'll grow:  cherry tomatoes--probably one Sungold and one Black Cherry, Chioggia Beets, Lipstick Peppers, Early Scarlet Globe Radishes, Bloomsdale Spinach, Cosmic Purple Carrots, Pepperoncinis,  basil and parsley.  Also, in the front, my neighbor said I can garden his little patch of ground that separates our driveways.  I think I'll plant Golden Bantam 12-Row Corn with Missouri Wonder Beans.  Plus some pretty mixed zinnias, for fun.  Also mixed into my front border garden will be more cherry tomatoes, green pattypan squash, and garlic.  

In the back, it's Purple Podded Pole Beans and Chinese Mosaic Long Beans on the tepee, which will also double as a kid fort.  I'm going to fence the garden this year to keep out the feathered predators.  It was lettuce carnage last year and I can't stand the heartbreak again.  So, in the fenced garden will be Sugar Snap Peas growing on a length of metal fence from my dad.  Peas and beans are my favorite things to grow because they are sooo easy and soooo yummy.  The kids love them both, too and will snack away right out of the garden, which warms a mama's heart.  Also in the garden will be 3 kinds of lettuce, Purple of Sicily Cauliflower, 2 kinds of broccoli, lots of garlic, and lots and lots of potatoes!!  

On March 20th, the 1st day of Spring and my dear old Dad's birthday, I will plant sweet peas practically everywhere--5 different kinds, all very fragrant.  Poke 'em into the ground or in pots, give them something to climb, and they'll bloom by June and go all summer.  They may be an annual, but to me, they're a perennial favorite-hahaha!

Until then, here are a few pics of the garden in years past.  It really will look like this again!   And even better, hopefully!!!  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

it is or it ain't

"Love is or it ain't.
Thin love ain't love at all."
--Toni Morrison, from Beloved

I'm still thinking about love.  And why it's so important.  I think it's what binds us together in a community.  Whether that's a family, a circle of friends, a marriage, or a society.  Loving each other.  Loving the work we do at home.  Preserving and building things that will last, even beyond ourselves.  That is love. Love is like the egg in the crab cake of life.  It enriches and holds it all together.  Without it, life is fragmented, disconnected, boring.

Toni Morrison's quote above truly resonates with me.  If you love someone, then LOVE them!  Love is the answer.  Love will set you free.  Love conquers all.  The cliches just go on and on!  And you know why?  Because they are true.  If you want connection and deep meaning in your life, then fatten up the way you love.  Feed it.  Nurture it. 

Because if you don't, you'll look up and have nothing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Light is the Center of Darkness

I love a love poem. Especially on Valentine's Day.  So here are a few for you, dear reader.  <3

Celestial North

 Nights like this you could tell me time
is porous as gauze and I would believe
you.  Tell me tonight has always happened
and always will be happening, since nothing
I know any longer says No.  Whisper it
and I would believe you.  Tonight the breeze
cooling us comes from the place where dreams
are harbored.  Say this moment when winter
swivels into spring is genesis writ small,
say light is the center of darkness
and I would turn toward it like a flower,
following your hand across the heavens
as it finds the north celestial pole.

 --Floyd Skloot

And, it wouldn't be Valentine's Day without a Neruda poem.  We should all be so lucky to have a love like this:

Sonnet 17

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

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

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

--Pablo Neruda

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Out Of The Blue Drench

Southern Sunrise

Color of lemon, mango, peach,
These storybook villas
Still dream behind
Shutters, their balconies
Fine as hand-
Made lace, or a leaf-and-flower pen-sketch.

Tilting with the winds,
On arrowy stems,
A green crescent of palms
Sends up its forked
Firework of fronds.

A quartz-clear dawn
Inch by bright inch
Gilds all our Avenue,
And out of the blue drench
Of Angels’ Bay
Rises the round red watermelon sun.

 --Sylvia Plath

Over the last few days, I've enjoyed the bright blues all around.  Morning skies, the milky periwinkle mist over the valley floor, the electric blue of the day, and the indigo nights.  The sunrise this morning, while not Southern, was just as described by Sylvia above.  In what may be, one of her most upbeat poems.  Love it.  Love nature.  Love it all. 

The feel of a coming Spring will do that to a person.  Even when I've had crazy days at work (full moon--no, seriously) and moderately bicker-y kids, the loveliness of season trumps all.  The smell of the air, and my sore muscles from working in the yard all day on Sunday tell me I'm waking, emerging from fallow fields, and ready to broadcast new seeds over the world. 

Today, while driving the kids to school, we talked about travel.  It was one of the best conversations we've ever had.  I love traveling and I really love meeting foreign people, in general--much more so than Americans, if we're being honest. I'm a reverse xenophobe.  I realized that I haven't really talked travel with the kids and it was soooo fun to do so.  I would love to take them to Europe, specifically France, England, Scotland, Switzerland and Italy (Sicily with OM and brood).  Not in one trip, and I know that's a big list of wonderful places, all deserving of serious time spent, BUT, we're dreaming here and why not?  My passion for these travel dreams rubbed off on them and they had lots of fun questions and I'm looking forward to talking more about it.  And then doing it someday! 

So I'm off and out--while the watermelon sun is still shining.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Winter Birds

The winter birds are bold.
Showy baubles on the bony fingers
of February trees—
against a backdrop of bolts and bolts
of gray flannel sky.

I watch them as they watch the river.
Silver flash of fish
and the brief brightness of
unfiltered sun on the water
blind me into seeing this moment.

These eagles and herons
make themselves known now,
like the daffodil in Spring—
shocking beauty in the bleak,
a harbinger of awakenings.

--Meagan Elliot

I wrote this poem several years ago, inspired by what I see on my drive home from work.  Today is February 1st and I can feel things a'changin'.  Yesterday, the air smelled like Spring, like life.  I'm seeing the Winter Birds again.  My tulip bulbs are nosing up through the dirt.  The chickens seem perkier and expectant.  Pretty soon, I'll hear the varied thrush's referee whistle in the morning, smell the skunk cabbage, and hear the year's first frog.  These are exciting times!

I've been in a very mellow place over the last month.  Doing what needs to be done, but then taking much repose.  Dreaming.  Planning for Spring and Summer.  Imagining what I want my life to look like and making an effort every day to live that.  I am ready for change.  I am ready for awakenings.

Are you?