Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Close to Home

I know every day in my new life will not be 70 degrees and sunny with the luck to run into a friend and his daughter on the way to the park. There will be tired days, and boring days, and "these children are driving me nuts" days. Nevertheless, as an inaugural to life post-jobbity job, I take this day as a resounding "YES!" to my choice to opt out for a while. If youth is wasted on the young, retirement is wasted on the old.

Charlie and I seized the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood today to see what's up with the neighbors. Y'all, my neighbors are cool. I felt so inspired by their front gardens, their declarations of "This Yard is Chemical Free," their quirky architecture, and their chickens. YES!

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Perfect Song

There is nothing I love more than a perfect pop song. Perfect songs are the ones that make you feel like you have pure warm sunshine coarsing through your veins. Every time you hear the song, it's like reliving the feeling of the first time you fell in love. I thought it would be fun to share regularly the songs that cause my heart to leap whenever I listen to them. To start this feature, I have chosen what I feel is the gold standard for all perfect songs: "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Super Local

Okay, so this spring has left a little to be desired as a growing season. I'm down to eight of the eighteen tomato seedlings I grew from seed. They just didn't make it through the transplant into the chill and torrential rains of last week. I made a quick trip to Mother Earth Gardens to buy a few more tomato plants so there will be an acceptable (i.e., excessive) amount of tomatoes come August. I also picked up some pumpkin plants for the boonies (our term of endearment for Charlie and Ellis) with hopes that jack-o-lantern time will also be super local. Cross your fingers for the plant that Charlie yanked out of its pot in excitement to transfer it to the bed. It's looking a little sad.

Despite the cold spring, one can always count on rhubarb to grow prolifically. I took my first harvest of the lovely, tart red stuff and baked two strawberry rhubarb pies:

The strawberries were store bought, since our strawberries still look like this:

Even if the fruits were out, the plants aren't quite established enough to produce a sufficient number of berries for pie and for direct picking and eating, which is the greatest pleasure. Our patience has paid off a bit this year, however, with the asparagus crop, planted four years ago:

The herbs continue to be our best producers. We already have relied heavily on the tarragon, sage, thyme and chives. I got my basil seeds in last week and eagerly await the soil getting warm enough for them to grow. The mint is just dying to be put to work in mojitos as soon as we clear this nasty virus that is making for sore throats and swollen sinuses:

And, finally, the lettuce is just the right size to start harvesting tender leaves for salad. One upside of this cool weather is that it will be a while until the lettuce shoots and becomes bitter:

Which also makes me think that it will be a good year for peas. Soon we'll be eating them right out of the yard and I'll take a rare opportunity to get green things into the kids:

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Blank Page

When you are starting a new chapter in your life and turn over the page of your old reality, you are faced with staring into the glaring whiteness of the blank page. Every story starts with a blank page. It can be tempting to rush to begin filling up this empty space to allay the anxiety caused by such proximity to the unknown. As you transition, people will ask you questions about where you are going and what you are doing, and if you don’t have a neat outline of page fillers, the conversation soon becomes stilted with their own discomfort with the blank page.

Viewed positively, however, the blank page is pure potential. It is a rare moment to stand between the chapters, to pause, to reflect and to think before you begin writing again. It is the ultimate exercise in exploring the freedom one has to make one's own life.

Right now I am standing on the edge of the blank page and I am breathing into it with my eyes wide open. I want to stand here until the tight little fist of fear turns into the wide open feeling of awe.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Almost Time

The sun came out and it's what passes for warm this spring today. I put the seedlings outside (tomatoes and peppers) for the process of hardening them off - getting them used to being outside a little bit before I plant them permanently in the bed next weekend. I suppose we're technically past the frost date, but I wanted to let the soil warm up a little bit more. I've also been fighting a spring cold so I'm requiring a lot of horizontal time in between bursts of yard work.

It's been hard to get motivated to get out there and grow things this year. It's been cool and rainy in terms of weather and pretty heavy on the emotional front as I'm poised to make the big transition on the work front. I'm grateful for all my perennials that grow independent of my energy levels. Less grateful for the weeds that are making it a bit scruffy out there. We'll see what becomes of the growing season of 2011. Charlie tells me it's fun to go out and garden with me so maybe as there's more time each day for him and me, I can baby step my way to a good harvest.
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Disaster Area

As Josh likes to say, "Never underestimate the destructive powers of a two-year-old." I can only bring myself to orchestrate clean up in the little boys' room every so often. Ellis, who is a more capable helper, complains the whole time because he accurately claims that most of the mess is from Charlie. Charlie helps by following behind me and taking out the toys that I've neatly placed back in their storage bins as if to say, "Thanks, Mom. I was wondering where that was." Before I know it, the wood blocks are back in the paper grocery bag because he prefers them there and he has created a little nest of toys and books that is comforting to him and deadly to bare feet in the middle of the night.

My sister, who shared a room with me for ten years while we were growing up, is right now thinking that this serves me right. I used to make messes of the size and scope that Charlie does now, and I am still a terrible housekeeper. Cleaning up only gets priority when I need to reset my space when the mess begins to disturb my emotional peace. In my adult life, it has been easiest during the few times that I lived alone to have a neat space because I've tended not to have very much stuff. With five people living in a relatively small house and only two of us working against the entropy in any significant way, we're always in some state of disarray.

I have a hard time with stuff. It falls apart if you don't take care of it, and much of the time I'd rather not. Of course things can be useful and I find a great many of the things I own to be necessary for the ways I want to live my life, but I'm happier and less overwhelmed when I have pared down the number of things I own. I'm hoping to find more time to clear out the extra stuff that we've accumulated and organize what we have as a way to be able to have a peaceful space without having to spend so much time focused on the maintenance of stuff. That's the outer work. The inner work is to develop more tranquility with the fact that things fall apart because my children are not going to become tidy any time soon.
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring Starts Small

One has to start slowly getting into the swing of living the outdoor life again. Here we are in May and spring sure is taking its time getting established. Charlie and I picked a simple spot for our first real spring adventure. We walked around Como Lake to see how things are progressing. Charlie loved being able to throw rocks into the water again. My favorite things seen were all the turtles sunning themselves on fallen trees. They were a decidedly cheerful bunch.

From tender green buds on trees to animals getting about the business of being, spring starts small and gains momentum powered by longer sun rays and optimism.
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