"At middle age the soul should be opening up like a rose, not closing up like a cabbage."
-John Andrew Holmes

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Mug At A Time

Its one of those early fall days, the leaves haven't started to turn in quantity yet and there's been no frost on the pumpkins or in our case...the plethora of zucchini...but it feels like fall. I'm not sure what it is, some kind of change in the air, the smell in the wind, a yen for spiced coffees, my end of summer cold? Hard to say.

I just have to say that I am having a major, all-day, fantasy of teleporting to a secluded cottage for two in Vermont, complete with roaring fire, wool socks, mug of tea and plaid blankets. I think about it all day long. I have told this to A. I have told my sister. I think I've even told the boys. Maybe its just my sinus headache but I'm having a hard time being patient with my children (especially the ever constant chaos) and I am having another hermit phase where I hide to recover from life. If I can't have my log cabin oasis dream then I can pretend to create it in my own house. So, I am drinking big mugs of warm turmeric milk, taking naps, beginning the fourth Narnia book with the boys and lying low. No big reason to go out, life with keep spinning and I can always get on again when I the post-nasal drip goes away.

Speaking of my fantasy....one thing I need in order to recreate it is firewood, and a chimney sweep. I love that we have a fireplace. I kind of love it more than I can say, honestly. Even a tiny, little house with a fireplace feels perfectly accoutered. This summer, one of the things I did finally get changed was the fireplace. One of the previous owners had incorrectly installed a fireplace insert stove and then the doors had broken anyhow. I got it all cleaned out and called a pair of scrap metal dudes to haul it out of our house. I gave the newly uncovered tile a scrub and now I need a serious chimney cleaning (its never been done in the history of our owning the house) and I also need to stock up a nice pile of firewood.
Our new, no insert, fireplace....all that glossy black tile was hidden before.

 Our neighbors across the street just rented a log splitter and stacked a neat heap of pieces in their backyard, I wanted to go running across the street hollaring, "Oooo! OooO!!! Can I have some too?!?!" I see free firewood all the time on Craigslist....now to figure out how to get it cut. Wonder how much that splitter rents for anyway....

We have nursed a sick chicken back to health. Pearl, our extremely ugly (truth, y'all) little Auracana chicken who had a woman troubles once before was back in the sick kennel in the house with us again this past week. This was my most serious pet doctoring yet. Truthfully, folks...I was freaked out, and scared and had some trouble sleeping. I know that my mom has no trouble harvesting chickens when they don't keep up their end of the bargain but whew! I am not my mama. This was some serious sickness....there was blood, medication, sprays, maggots (maggots, y'all!), special baths, and rubber gloves. It was for real. I feel like I should get a badge for making it through that one. I'm glad to say that Pearl is back to her old self...although still a little thin and not back to laying yet.

Life on the city farm is sometimes intense.


Monday, September 8, 2014

The Bethlehem Fair, birthplace of holy memories

We just did our annual trip to the county fair, one of my very favorite, ever end-of-summer rituals. Little things can make wonderful traditions.
 We live in a size-able city that is a bedroom community of The Big Apple...that means that living around these parts is quite urban and rather devoid of fairs. In urban New England, people in our neck of the woods have mostly grown up attending carnivals which are like fairs, minus the agricultural bits. I love agricultural bits.

 I love the part about how you park in a tromped down hay field and walk forever to get to the gate. I love the quilts and the baking contests and the view from the top of the ferris wheel that is all trees and rolling hills and the occasional church steeple.

I love that you have to wear your old boots because the midway is just a dirt path that gets messy from so many feet tromping through it all week. I love that nobody thinks twice when our four year old has grass stains on both knees and our toddler is hanging off the fences by the livestock pens.

The fair was one of my childhood rituals. I grew up entering things I made, dreaming of owning a horse of my own after visiting velvet noses in the horse barn and spending my savings on the Tilt-a-Whirl and The Scrambler. I feel so right at the fair, lots of great memories there. Wonderful, precious to me, part-of-who-I-am, things-that-make-the-world-feel-right-memories. Its simple stuff and silly stuff, (the ridiculous carny patter on the midway still makes me laugh out loud and The Scrambler makes me giddy) but its so happy and so gritty and inspiring to me.

 I always come home and want to go to visit the area farms more and grow bigger carrots and teach the boys to knit and work more carefully on my pie edging. I love that fairs make me think of things that I can do myself and want to do them. I love that they make me proud of capability and relaxed warmth and my own state. I love how much the fair has become a celebration for my sons. Its super fun to share the things you love with the next generation.

And I have to say, my husband, who isn't an agricultural devotee has been very gracious about learning to appreciate this ritual that I love so deeply. Affectionate shout out to him for making me feel understood and helping the kids value things he knows matter so much to me.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dee, At The Moment

Spending some time being conscious, just thinking about my second child today. Noticing all the new little changes and the way he is shifting and what he has let go of since the last time I took a day for just him. May we all be dynamic...and may our children do the same!

Dee Loves....

  • Rotisserie Chicken: He'll sit and eat it until he can't eat anymore and who can blame him? The stuff falls off the bone into its own juices.... This mama is super glad that one of her secret tricks for saving dinner is such a big favorite.
  • His Great-Aunt Sheila: She has a quiet, peaceful house with a basket of small, quiet toys in corner of her walk-out basement looking out onto the salt marsh. She makes lunches with many little details all organized and thought out and she saves a particular napkin holder for his cloth napkin which he loves. 
  • Hand Sewing: We've started hand sewing together a bit, working on a project, making a set of bean bags for a friend's first birthday. He loves the stitching and he's begging me to teach him embroidery although he didn't know the name for it, "Teach me how to write with sewing, Mom!" I bought him a small sewing machine and working up to teaching him how to use it soon. 
  • Watching Video Games: Its funny to me but, he doesn't jocky for video game time himself like his brothers and if its specifically offered to him he will often refuse anyway...but he does love to watch. Ru's video games end up counting for his screen time most of the time because he genuinely enjoys watching, sometimes advising but often just enjoying the ride second-hand. Love his curious, observer's mind.
  • Seashore Science: He took a solo class on seashore biology and microbiology and LOVED it and that combined with his Aunt Lockbox's knowledge of all things marine have lit a serious fire. Its amazing the details about the blood of sea stars and the diet of anemone's that he retained. I see more ocean classes in his future and maybe some field guides.
  • Studying Things Consistently: He's such a creature of habit and lover of routine that he bugs me if he misses a reading lesson or if we fall off the wagon with his math time. He inspires me. Love that he knows what's good for him in this way. 
  • The Idea Of Playing The Flute: He's only 6 so no instructors will take him yet, they all insist that you wait until 8 before the mouth has enough strength to develop an embouchure. I'm amazed at the persistence of his dreaming...he knows he has to wait and is still holding out for the day when he is old enough. I see a Pied Piper in our future!
  • Little Girls: You'd think Ru would be my confident dandy but he's very mum about his personal feelings towards girls. Dee loves girls...and has had several little favorites so far already. He's very quiet but confident about his choices and makes no bones about his feelings towards them and his intention that one day he should end up with one of them.

Dee Abhors.....

  • Raw Apples: They used to be fabulously handy for taking along as a playground snack...all my kids would eat them, they are cheap and they travel decently. No more. We are on to a stage where they aren't cool with Dee anymore, he'll take pretty much any other fruit as substitute and apples are accepted if they come with peanut butter.
  • Factual Errors: He's a stickler for the details, this one. He hates it when people exaggerate, miss the facts or remember things wrong. Trying to teach him about hyperbole, kindness and tact while appreciating his love of truth.
  • Swimming Lessons: He's proud of what he learned but he hated, hated, hated the stress of taking swimming lessons. The deep end makes him tear up, putting his face under water is terror and being forced to self-propel through water is mortifying. Add in his instructor's thick accent and brusque manner and you have a special kind of hell. Poor kid cried at every, single lesson. 
  • Shots: I mean, who doesn't, right? But really...he hates, hates, hates them. Its all I can do to keep him in the room and reasonably still. Good thing he's getting to the end of the schedule for childhood immunizations. Whew!
  • Having His Hair Cut: He hates all kinds of physical disturbance...washing his hair is another one that still really gets his goat. He complains that every little snip hurts and that the hair itches and that he is nervous I'll cut him and that its taking too long. I am letting his hair grow out a little longer at the moment and I wonder if he'll eventually try long hair just for the sake of avoiding the physical annoyance of getting it cut. 
  • Not Being Prepared: He needs lead time, lots of it...I'm  always reminding myself to tell Ru at the last minute and Dee, two weeks in advance because that's what works best for their vastly different selves. Ru loves surprise and thrives on spontaneity and hates waiting for things. Dee loves to think about things and mull over them, needs warning and wants to figure out what he is doing far, far ahead of time.
  • Wearing A Swimsuit: I wonder if this is related to his hatred of his swimming lesson experience. I haven't been able to get him to explain so far. He sometimes flatly refuses to wear his swimsuit and will purposely wear other shorts to play at the beach and even swim in. I'm not sure if its a control thing or a sensory hatred of swimsuit material or a rejection of lesson memories...whatever it is, its curious. He just says..."I don't want to." when I try to get him to put his swimsuit on, so mostly...I don't make him.
  • Coconut: He'll ask me when I am making a smoothie if I put coconut milk in it, he wants to know if I have fried things in coconut fat and he will skip candy or ice cream if its coconut flavor. I am slightly obsessed with coconut so maybe its his way of asserting independence or maybe its a real personal taste preference. Hard to say...he's not big on explaining.