Friday, May 29, 2009

Sometimes Less is More

Yesterday, I was going on and on about how camping is so wonderful with another parent at a birthday party. This dad is a wonderful person, wonderful dad, hard working owner of his own successful company. (I'd actually love to work there myself.) But yesterday I was promoting my new old idea of keeping the Sabbath. I was saying, "You know, there is some very real truth to it."

His response was, "So you're saying less is more."

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Twelve Years Ago

My life changed.
For better or for worse
In sickness and in health
Until death do us part.

Where has the time gone?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Waste Not; Want Not

About ten years ago my mom handed over the family mantle for growing green onions. For as far back as I can remember we had them prolifically growing, sending out shoots with babies bursting from the tip, in a corner of the family garden. Then one year the garden was gone, and I got the last of the onions for our own pastoral patch.

We now have onions growing in the front garden, onions by the hedge and onions butting up next to the rhubarb. It was these specimens that I harvested. Giving the blessed rhubarb, the anniversary rhubarb, more area and air to grow.

But what to do with an arm full of green onions. First I made onion soup. It is my own recipe:

Fill dutch oven half way with cut up onions.
Toss in some butter and saute.
Add four cups of chicken broth.
Bring to boil.
Toss in the remainder of the orzo that has been hiding in the cupboard for about 6 months.
Cook and serve.

Next is dinner tonight: Sausages, potatoes, red peppers and what else, onions.
Easy -- chop everything, put in a pan, cover and cook until soft at 300F.
I think it is great topped with mustard but the girls are partial to tomato sauce.

I contemplated making onion rolls, or bread -- but I'll leave those recipes for the onions crowding the driveway. I'll be thinning those out next week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Keeping the Camping

While reading by the fire, I glanced over at a cut throat game of Pirate's Dice happening at the picnic table and realized that this moment, this calm, this sense of peace was what keeping the Sabbath is all about. And I was filled with a sense of goodness.

Normally I run my life by the calendar. I can't make plans or a decision without first consulting its bytes of information; holy placemarkers of importance in our lives. Appointments, meetings, parties, social and school events -- all pulling and tugging, jockeying for position and attention. All wanting us front and center.

When camping there is none of that. We wake when we are refreshed, and go to bed when the marshmallows are gone and the fire dies. We eat when we are hungry and when we are not. Fish for hours, and swim until our skin is consumed by goose pimples. We play games for endless hours; and for better or for worse; I practice the banjo. At night there are flashlights out to help reading by a fire. We are rested. No major meals are planned. No fantastic plan is followed. The kids are smudged with dirt and soot morning to evening and then some. And the rocks about the site are marked with the coal graffitti claiming we were here, relaxing, and having fun.

Keeping the Sabbath. Some may look upon this commandment as an inconvenience, or old school. But in this hectic world we live it, it just might be the key to success, balance and harmony.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Renewed Empty Pew

For 16 years I have had a child sitting next to me, on me, under me, or sliding away from me in church. For 16 years a child has either held my hand or pushed it away; until today. For today, for the first time, the little one accompanied by her veteran sister served Mass, and I sat all alone. Smiling at the two wonderful altar servers at the 7 AM Mass.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Those Guppies Weren't Meant for Eating

I know they were labeled feeder guppies at the pet store. But they weren't supposed to be someone's lunch.

We had always had guppies in our tank, before Pleco. Pleco came and our entire guppy population disappeared. I researched the dietary habits of the plecostomus. They eat algae. Last I knew smallish guppies don't stick to the sides of tanks.

There are other fish in our tank besides the beast. There are four healthy platys and old man tetra. I've watched the tetra chase down a young guppy, so I know he could have nabbed a few niblets here and there, but to take our all ten newbies. All ten that were not really on the small side. I thought we had a chance at repopulation.

Instead, I feel horrible. The image I have is of being hunched over, and filthy. Luring innocent fish to their death, mumbling something about a glorious long life in a 20 gallon long, complete with fake plants and a sunken ship.

Ignore the 12 inch Pleco lurking behind the rocks.

Yeah right.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I chose Us

In the movie Family Man Jack Campbell is given a glimpse of what his life could've been if he made different choices. At the end of the glimpse, he realizes his errors and pursues his love, issuing forth the memorable line, "I chose us."

In a similar vain, last summer I was all over the map and running in three different directions. The garden became a 24 hour buffet for ground hogs and chipmunks. The flower beds transformed into weed breeding grounds. And house projects remained undone. The garage paint job still resembles something in the line of urban camouflage.

Well this summer I am focusing on the household: family, yard, gardens, house and garage. Believe me there is enough work here to keep my nose to the grindstone 24/7.

In the few short weeks since I set my sights as close to home and heart as possible, I've seen the tide shifting. The garden fence is reinforced. The peas, corn, beans, cilantro, beets, and lettuce have all germinated without becoming someone's appetizer. The transplanted grass is taking hold in the balding areas of the lawn and the flower beds have a bit more order. The operative word that makes that last statement correct is a little bit... With each weed that gets pulled my mantra is, "One pulled weed closer to looking like this house isn't abandoned."

One of the school moms jogged by this afternoon while I was knee deep in weeds. Her quick comment, "That is constant work isn't it?"

I nodded.

"It looks great."

I knew she was just making nice... The path between the flowers could be mowed for hay.

This summer I chose us.

Round Two

Now the little one is home sick with a slight fever.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quite the weekend

It was straight out from Friday to Sunday.
  • Girl Scouts
  • 6.5 mile walk
  • Hosting Joey and Maria (dinner theatre) at the parish
  • Girl Scout Sunday at the cathedral
  • Confirmation of the oldest with the Cardinal officiating and my altar server serving.
  • Get together here at the house
I'm too tired to write. I'm too tired to sleep.

Friday, May 15, 2009

These shoes were made for walking

At a recent high school track event I laughed when I read the quote on the back of an opposing team's shirt. "My shoes have more miles than your car." For that is how I feel about my Tevas; my footwear of choice, from mid April to early November. During the cooler months they accent flamboyant handmade wool socks, and play a supporting role to wildly painted toenails May through September. I strap them on before heading out to school, church, the garden, the beach, fishing, vacationing in Colorado, Florida, Vermont or New Hampshire, on pilgrimage or for a neighborhood jaunt. The shoes fall next to my bed at night and the are on my feet first thing in the morning.

Last year they carried me for unnumbered miles between home and Australia. Never rubbing; velcro tight, always comfortable.

Though last November, when cold weather finally l forced me to put them away I had a nervous pang upon noticing that the tread was worn flat. What if I had to replace these old friends? Could I bring myself to toss them out with yesterday's non recyclables? I felt like a traitor. How could I do such a despicable thing after all the miles we've walked together? Instead I tucked them into their winter home, banishing the thought.

Now with the warming weather it's Teva time again and as I pulled old faithful out of their winter home the question about having to replace them flashed through my mind again. A miracle hadn't occurred. The tread is still worn, still I put them on over my pink woolies with the idea that I would try them out. If the footing felt unsure, then the decision would be made.

For weeks now I have been wearing them. They are the first shoes in the morning. The shoes that take the early morning wet grass as I walk out to the garden. The shoes that walk the 5 mile neighborhood loop. The shoes that trudge the grocery store aisles and then stroll out to dinner. The shoes that sit next to my bed at night, waiting to be scooped up again in the morning; not bad for an old shoe.

I truly believe that my shoes have more miles than your car.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Last night I dreamed of Disney

And when dawn peeked through my bedroom window I resisted. For I knew the mouse and the dog would recede to the slight upturned corners of my day long smile.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm not looking for lawn perfection

Each spring I treat our yard with grubx, fertilizer, and crab grass killer. (Ah yes let the children play...) And before each season I read the directions, set the spreader to the correct numbers and walk the lawn. Each season I follow the instructions to not rake the lawn after application or the crabgrass no grow barrier will be broken. But I ask the question: Who will tell the squirrels?

We have a population of fluffy grays that make it their daily business to check under every grass blade for something tasty to eat. I have thought about posting signing suggesting they dig elsewhere. But I doubt they will be deterred. In the meantime I think it is safe to say that the crab grass no grow barrier has been compromised.

I guess I should look at the bright side: If they are feasting on grubs or other root destroying larva I should be thankful. Otherwise, next year I would be reseeding as well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Australian Night

I was going through my Australia pictures from last summer when I realized that most of these shots have never seen the light of day. Here are two favorites that I snapped when we went for a night stroll to the Opera House.


I love reading about other families and their approach to gardening. So far, The Lazy Toad Farm posted about gardening with toddlers. And when I read about their experiences I smiled. I can so relate to the 7 seeds in the cup. But here, due to time constraints, lack of space and the close proximity of a wonderful family run garden store, we don't start from seeds those plants that can't make it without a stint in house under grown lights. But those that can... we are planting seeds in what can only be called the Monet Approach to Gardening.

We always start with a plan. A row to lettuce here; mixed greens there -- abutting up against the carefully laid out bush beans and the corn to the back. Cilantro for mommy tucked in front. But as Monet painted so the garden gets seeded. For we have a hearty unknown type of squash in the lettuce -- don't ask. The majority of the beans clustering for friendship and support. I know the feeling. Corn germinating as tight as Storm Troopers departing landing vessels, peas mixed with corn -- but that okay since both are against the back fence, and no cilantro for mommy. There is no sign of the beets, gourds or zucchini which were loving planted in their mounds. I'll give them another week then replant.

I love our garden.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spring is really here.

Piggy Alert?

Right before our mom's day dinner the middle one reported she was sick. Fever, pale, no appetite, sore arm muscle, tired. She is home today, of course -- the policy is: Fever free for 24 hours. And she still has a fever this morning, so she will be home tomorrow as well.

But do I take her to the doctor's? If it's Swine Flu, why would she go anywhere where she could infect others? I say it's on the couch, juice, water, soda at the ready. Movie on, popcorn popped and she'll be good to go. No kissing.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What did you get for Mother's Day?

It was by far the best Mother's Day ever because I got patience and tolerance. Patience for us all to go visit Great Nana. And tolerance for a longer than expected visit when it became apparent that Nana required assistance to eat lunch and who better to feed her than the once little girl who ate milk and cookies at her kitchen table.

She's afraid, frightened, scared. She's 16, lonely, nervous. She is looking for money, her father, her sister. She told me, she is dying.

I felt the love between us, as I told her not to worry, all is good, all will work out. For an hour and a half we sat inches apart. She doesn't know me. And doesn't even remember I was there. But that is okay.

My girls gave me the best gift this year. They sat with us; quiet. Not begging to leave. Not moving a muscle; just sitting and watching. Allowing me to be with my Nana.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The chair has the floor

Actually this chair is up on a table. I spent the winter, now into spring learning to cane. To say I am slow is an understatement. But I'm finally getting the hang of it. This is a friend's chair. Broken and handed over for me to practice upon. It is my hope to replace the cane on the seat and back so it matches. This winter project will probably carry me into the fall.

Knitting on the wild side

I don't lead a very exciting life. I'm a stay at home mom, who loves her kids most days, and reminds myself I love them on those other days. And despite being highly educated, I spend my days playing taxi driver to the stars, cooking, cleaning, coordinating parish events, cleaning some more, volunteering at the school, writing a bit, walking less than I need to, gardening, and knitting.

Knitting a sock or two, preferably two, is something you can carry to track meets, dance competitions, Girl Scout meetings, religious education classes, and other parish meetings. Knitting gives the old hands something to do. Generally I knit baby socks for family, friends and for the parish to donate to hospitalized babies.

At the last Crafters for Christ meeting a skein of yarn called to me. It was just like the pirate's gold was calling to Barbossa's men when they found Elizabeth Swann. It was not sock yarn. It was heavy, but very soft. I wondered, "Could I make socks with this?" I would have to use larger needles, and maybe follow the baby sock pattern.

Talk about blowing the gauge. These socks are basically the same pattern. For the larger sock I knit a few more rows here and there to give it a better shape. Pretty wild... for a knitter. And to think I have the opportunity to knit the mate. Be still my heart.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Three in one day...

Just a picture I've been playing with on the computer. I love taking pictures of dandelions, but I totally dislike them in my yard.

Poor Piglet

He seems to be getting the short end of the stick. KB thanks for emailing the comic to me. It made my day.

Swine Flu

Our town has eight reported cases of swine flu. We've gotten notices sent home from all schools, emails from the local Board of Health, and our elementary school was the backdrop for interviews conducted by the big town local news.

It's almost like that six degrees of separation: I know someone who knows someone whose brother has swine flu and the whole household is under quarantine for seven days.

The advice being handed down is consistently:
If you're sick stay home.
If you cough; use a tissue or your elbow.
Wash your hands; then wash them again.
And then my own personal favorite for all those teenagers in love: Give each other a little bit of space. It's only a week...

This morning my oldest came down for breakfast with the sniffles. Not only did I do a homerun head swing in her general direction, I glared at her. "How do you feel?"


"Your allergies aren't to pollen and such; cats and dust. (Now that I think about it, she may have a point there with the dust thing...) How do you feel?"

"I'm fine."

Now, I have this weird sympathetic response that happens anytime my kids are sick. Any and every time they are sick, viral or bacterial, I get a sore throat. It happened this morning. I'm standing at the sink, rinsing out Capri Sun juice pouches for the little inventor's recycling efforts, (2 cents a piece via feeling just fine, no pains, no worries, until I heard the track star sneeze then voila instant sore throat. She hadn't even got within 12 feet of me.

Of course, now I'm having visions of the town prescribed seven day full house quarantine. I wonder if we could set up a milk and egg drop off by the back door?

My last words to the lovely: If you feel the slightest bit sick, go to the nurse. And I love you.

Nothing like the swine flu to throw a monkey wrench in the family schedule. I have been trying to squeeze in some ultra quiet down time... I guess I should really be careful about what I ask for. It could end up being my Mother's Day gift. Really all I want is peace and quiet and cleaned bathrooms... and of course, no swine flu.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Inventor

For the past two months and as many rolls of tape, the little one has been building a musical instrument. I believe the core of this thing (for lack of a better word) is paper, but it is layered and covered with tape upon tape; giving it a belled horn at one end and 10 inches away, a small hole at the other; with four holes aligned down it's body. At times she spends hours quietly working away at her project.

Two weeks ago she asked her sister for one of her clarinet reeds. All she got was, "It won't work. You don't have a mouthpiece." It was true. A clarinet reed needs to vibrate against something.

But what about an oboe double reed? Everyday, sometimes twice, she would ask if my errands would take me by our favorite music store, Centre Music. Finally, with the inventor in the car, we stopped.

"That will be $12?"

"Is it worth it," I asked. "Do you have the money?"

Yes she answered to both.

Twelve dollars. That is a lot of money to be spending on a maybe this will work, or a what if when you are a second grader. Confidently, she parted with her own cold hard cash without blinking an eye.

And after a slight modification, making a tiny hole in the top bigger, it worked. Seeing her delight, I want to find her all sorts of instrument making materials and let her work away.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Free Art Sundays

The Danforth Museum has free art the first Sundays of the month from 2 to 4. We've gone twice now, and had fun both times. Today the projects were cardboard and tape sculpture and circle art. I liked the circle art best. The girls enjoyed the cardboard and tape exercise best.

As we left the Director asked to see our masterpieces. The girls laid these work before her Ouuus and Ahhhs. (I held my back... after all moms are just there to play taxi right...) Then she asked if we had fun. There were nods all around until she mentioned the fun would be ending if they didn't get additional funding.

We just found this free fun. Still I see the method in their marketing. The museum provides wonderful instructors and a few cents worth of tape and paint, with the hope it leads to an enrollment worth a few dollars to hundreds. And it does. My girls are hooked. They did an April vacation course after experiencing our first free art Sunday. Now they want to take summer classes.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

She's a lady

Today, my track star won two third place medals at the Freshman Sophomore Meet, came home, showered and went to the Cotillion a lady.

Green Up, Green Up

Everybody, Everywhere
Green Up, Green Up
Everybody, Do Your Share.

Today is our town's Green Up Day.