Sunday, November 21, 2010
It is not that I cannot sleep easily. Ask the Mister; I fall asleep quickly and inopportunely.
And it is not that I find myself amidst a vital, uncompleted task. I have completed everything I purposed to do today. (There are those freshly baked cookies waiting to be boxed up, but can you call baked goods vital?)
No child is sick. No worries press me down. No one is telling me to go to bed.
Ah. There it is. I am the grown-up now. I guess I want to be irresponsible. Though there will be consequences, I am enjoying this moment. I hope I remember this feeling and draw a breath of patience with my exhausted self and the demanding others. Others whose mother (me) made them go to bed at a decent hour. Maybe it will teach me a lesson on taking care of my body with proper nutrition (no cookies after 9 pm) and adequate rest.
But probably not.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
And why does everyone want to be the pretty young girl in the tub staring at the wrong side of the cowboy's neck?
Standing beside the bath, holding out a thin towel, the calico-dressed mother seems so much more knowing. She is stretched and faded with dust, but her position of experience (if it is a disappointed position) is surely better.
Maybe she was the mother, not the daughter. But if she was the mother, she would never let her daughter marry a man so unfamiliar with water. She would never allow a not-yet-groom in the bathroom with her bathing daughter, no matter how long he kept his back turned and head bowed. She would never name her daughter Callie and live on the barren prairie.
The girl grasped the high, curved side of the tub for balance and stood. She was neither the daughter or the old mother and she needed to wake up and take a shower. This dream had grown ridiculous... and she did not want to stick around for the heartbreaking wedding. The dirty cowboy was not that cute.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Can you see the fog? Can you see the excitement? Can you see that Willa hasn't lost any of her grumpiness from yesterday? Someone should tell her that a delayed school day means a better breakfast (fresh blueberry muffins and scrambled eggs) and a relaxed mommy. Delay or not, it's a spankin'-new-mercies day!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Once upon a time there was a mouse that lived in our attic toy room. His name was John-Nick. Can you believe it? He had a really big family. But they were hungry, because the only food in the attic was the plastic kind meant for the little kitchen play set. They tried to fill thier tummies with paper and crayons, because they were easier to chew. Can you believe it? Sometimes, one of the baby mice would try to eat the woolen blankets that are stored in the attic. But these really only made good food for moths, and Mrs. John-Nick told her babies that woolens are best intended as bedding for both man and beast. Can you believe that John-Nick and his family were not familiar with the living conditions of their cousins downstairs? It was probably for the best.
Monday, November 8, 2010
This is not a good time or place to have any crumb-bequeathing edibles nearby. As long as I may be at this, I fear my typing is not loud enough to scare away the mouse that seems to have taken up residence beneath the computer desk. The tiny little scratches upon the wooden floor (or is that a miniature mouth chewing on a stack of printer paper?) are about to drive me to bed. Since I don't have a laptop of my own, and my mind and emotions are a thick mushy glop of unsortableness, I will go to bed at this ridiculously early hour with the Archbold Community Library's latest selection from Alexander McCall Smith. If anyone out there is reading my words, please stop and go find one of his books. If you're disappointed in it, please let me know so that I can straighten you out.
Maybe over that snack and cup of coffee.
In another room of this old, hole-riddled house.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Where am I? Well, currently I am in the throes of fall, which has suddenly remembered it is meant to be a chilly season. Cooler temperatures find me baking bread, cleaning house and eating root vegetables -- or at least thinking about how I should be doing such things. In actuality, I find myself berating each day's slippery progress through my fingers. How can 24 hours move so quickly? And why do I feel as though I were sleep-walking through most of these speeding hours? Morning:
Think about hygiene (eh. wet hair is freezing, let's pony-tail).
Tip-toe downstairs for some coffee (reheated if I never drank yesterday's second cup) and a few minutes reading and praying. By myself. Or with a very small furry and tailed, uninvited friend. Or with a small child who shouldn't be awake yet and sits shushing herself on my lap.
Suddenly it is afternoon and I can't remember what happened or where it happened, but I have not caught up to whatever and wherever it was supposed to be.
I am ready for April. Time to slough off this pregnancy brain. Because I will be sleeping so much more with a fifth child in the house, I'm sure.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Inside, I am baking a fresh pear cake. With an abundance of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, its baking is better than any candle. If it were to become a candle I would call it Happy-Harvest-Home and burn it through Thanksgiving. I am out of fresh pears, and my trousers do not want me to continuously bake cake until then, so the candle really is a better long-term solution.
Why a solution?
What is the problem?
Although I love the change of seasons, each and every one, Autumn, with its quick-burning blaze of colors soon becomes dead and brown to me. Maybe a scent will remind me that a year in its maturity might still be spry.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Better than all of my tidy idioms created in the crazy talk-to-myself mode I adopt for housecleaning purposes, is the tableau presented in our yard during the past weekend. I had nothing to do with it, honest.
I did say, "Go play outside, or you're going to help me clean house."
I wasn't just making a threat, I really meant it. During a month of harvesting and preserving the yield of Corey's garden, general homemaking procedures hit an all-time low. Then we had a birthday party for a 5 year old and her grandmother. Then we spent 4 days away for our anniversary. Then we came home... to sticky floors, crusty stove top, laundry mountains and cobwebs worthy of the spookiest Halloween display. The choice was obvious: either open up a roadside attraction (Come see the Filthiest House in Fulton County! Living conditions worthy of an asylum! Shock your system! Only a nickel gets you in the door! If we can open the door!) or clean before a concerned neighbor called social services.
My children are smart, and Friday afternoon was beautiful. They went outside without a backward glance. I cleaned to the themes of All Things Considered, stopping briefly to peek out at the offspring (Hey! Are you still watching your baby sister?) when I witnessed what could have been a rerun episode from my own childhood, without the sibling squabbles and an older sister who was too grown up to play.
Collectively, the Four Ruffer Children had dragged a wooden wagon, intended to be pulled behind the riding lawn mower, out of the barn and parked it in a sunny patch of grass. Draped around and over, no doubt also piled within, were various blankets and towels cleverly scavenged from the house while my back was turned. An expanding baby gate, never good at containing any of my babies, fenced in a semi-circle on one broad side of the tilted down and towel-festooned wagon. Within this partial enclosure sat four camping chairs, situated around a Coleman lantern which was blazing its battery-powered brightness in the full-light of 4:30 in the afternoon. Scattered around the encampment was a miscellany of books, water bottles, baskets and garden produce. (What?)
I thought this cluttered mess looked like a Gypsy camp, as politically un-correct as that is to say. But my beloved four (yes, even the baby sister) were so enthralled with their adventure they don't even notice me tromping past, hauling trash to the barrel in the barn. They even had the dog involved in their play.
Later I learned that they were playing "The Boxcar Children," (this makes sense since I don't think they've ever heard of Gypsies, or the more acceptable term, Romas. Is that where we get Roma Tomatoes?) They continued to play this particular storyline until supper time and throughout an overcast Saturday. By the time that rain broke up their harmonious little enclave, they had packed up the wagon and moved it to 4 locations around the yard. Even the rain didn't really end the game; I still have a trashy little camp on my porch, minus the wagon of course.
Most of the interior of our house has been pulled back from the brink of sideshow disaster, and I should move on to strightening up the outside too. But I am loathe to tamper with the evidence of happy children.
Monday, July 26, 2010
And then I come puffing along. Without the cover of Queen Anne's Lace and Cornflowers, I notice far more beer cans and plastic beverage containers. I also notice some things I think someone is missing:
- An operating manual for an outboard motor
- A blue baby's pacifier
- A card-style hotel key (Best Western)
- A green latex glove
- Half a roll of paper towels
- An inhaler (like the type for asthma sufferers)
- One leather work glove
- A length of skinny rope
These items, found within a one-mile stretch of road (do not judge me by the length of my jog!) obviously point to a certain conclusion: After the fencerows were cut, Someone (or still the various Someones) was holding a boat wash for families from out of town. Working in the humid air was difficult for this person, but as they stopped for a few huffs on their inhaler, their dog snapped the skinny rope attached to its collar. A runaway dog necessitated a quick closure of the boat wash service, and this is why I never noticed these goings-on from my close-at-hand abode.
Of course, I do not have a boat.
And I spent so much time looking in the weed clippings that I missed the setting sun.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
One of my favorite words; I just like the sound. Stop and say it out loud. Slowly.
OK. So the sound of the word is no more special than it is written out. But imagine the smells of a summer dusk: growing corn, freshly threshed wheat, grass crushed by your bare feet. Close your eyes and hear the chirps, croaks and buzz of a summer evening. Feel the coolness of approaching night slowly climbing up from the ground dampened by the falling dew.
These make summer dusk euphoric for me.
These, and the memory that I excelled in hide-and-seek, if not in any other childhood game.
Where does dew fall from anyway? I never see it descend, but my mother sang about the dew of heaven falling on her.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Along the northern edge of the yard, directly across from the house, our vegetable garden is planted. In lovely north to south orderliness, the rows of edibles spring out of the earth. The love of my life is an amazing and ambitious gardener. He makes it seem so effortless, this growing of food stuffs. And indeed, without much encouragement, we have an abundance of lettuce and peas thus far. I cannot give away the lettuce; apparently, fresh greens are not a rare commodity in these parts. If the lettuce is underappreciated, the peas are fantastic. Verdant, lively, and spilling over the rows with wild little tendrils* of vine, they are beautiful and prolific. Amidst these peas I will set our snapshot.
The vines are not tied up, as may be tradition. He’s an amazing gardener, but he’s not into extra work for appearance sake, I guess. So, as I said, they spill. Actually, with nothing to vine around, these plants twirl around themselves and each other. Like an overly-affectionate couple, they can be a bit difficult to work around. They collapse toward the east of their roots, completely unharmed and undeterred in their productivity. There are a lot of pea pods under all that twisting mass of green ardor! To pick the swelling pods, one must lift up the plants and flip them over westward, then strip the little vegetables from the mother vine. It doesn’t seem to hurt them; they will make more peas tomorrow.
In the middle of two rows I sit on an over-turned milk crate,** picking first from one side, then the other. I toss the plump green pods into an empty and washed out ice-cream bucket. Sitting in the aisle, a chubby arm’s length away from the bucket is a toddler.
She is grimy, with garden dirt in the sweaty creases of her hands and feet. Her pretty hair clip has long since been pulled out, examined and discarded; now blond strands of baby hair are stuck to her face. Her shorts have been missing for hours and her juice-stickied shirt was removed with good intention. Of course she escaped before the replacement could be tugged over her head and belly, but who needs a shirt anyway? She has very colorful skin, a happy result of an unattended box of markers. Her eyes are pure blue twinkle. With precision she picks a peapod out of the bucket, pries it open, and hastily devours the tiny spheres within. Happily, she repeats the process.
She has eaten a lot of raw peas lately.
She wears cloth diapers.
I deal with the cloth diapers and their contents.
I don’t know what too many raw peas will do to a young digestive track.
I don’t want her to over consume, so I move the bucket to my lap.
Indignant that I have disrupted her contented munching, she rises and pilfers more pods while I bend another mother vine over and add still more to the bucket.
I place the bucket on the ground behind me, and spread my feet so that my knees meet the plants on either side, blocking the aisle.
She likes peas.
She does not regard the health and well-being of the mother vines.
She waddles past my feet and knees, stomping atop the fruitful vegetation and retrieves more snack.
I am the grownup here.
I am in charge of this eighteen-month-old.
I call for reinforcements. “Will you please take your sister out of the garden and go push her in her swing?”
The older, obedient brother grasps her squirming body to him and lugs her away a short distance to the swings. Despite her protestations and cries, I continue pea- picking. Even if neither of us is happy, at least one of us is still getting her way. Half a row of mindless plant-stripping later, the cries of objection stop. I guess she finally figured out who is the boss, right?
No. (Of course.)
Her brother can’t handle her distress and he set her free from the happy little swing set. He now returns to the garden and hands me her diaper. Tottering behind him is the naked girl child, eyes triumphant and determined. She marches to the bucket and reaches in.
How much harm can a few more raw peas do?
She is so adorable, and I am nearly finished with this task. Am I really letting a naked child sit in the dirt and eat unwashed food?
Yes. (Of course.)
I rob the wildly growing vines and am robbed in turn by a wildly growing baby. Both are beautiful, but the child delights my heart.
*I love that I got to use the word “tendrils” without reference to up-swept hair! Maybe I’ve read too many trashy romance novels, but I am so tired of “stubborn tendrils escaped her tight hairpins and curled against her neck/face/ears.” It automatically signals a good girl with some sexual frustration who is going to be uncontrollably attracted to the rebel cowboy / motorcycle dude with a heart of gold. They will fight their inescapable attraction to one another, barely talk except to argue, and end up engaged after a violent storm / life-threatening moment / marriage of convenience / barn burning throws them together in an impassioned embrace. It was much better in The Man from Snowy River when I was 9 and I would like to just once read about a heroine who knows how to keep her hair in place!
** Someday, if you like, I will write about all the uses I have found for some milk crates, proving that I did not pay too much for them at that estate sale. Even if no one else bid so high.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
This morning the weather was cool, cloudy and wet, but by mid-afternoon it had turned. By post-dinner time the fading day was absolutely beautiful. So who wants to stand at a sink in artificial light? I missed the loveliest part of the sunset because I had some bedtime issues to share with our four year old. Fortunately, her bedroom has a Western facing window, and as I waited for her to fall asleep I was able to enjoy the golden light so peculiar to that time of day.
Once she was finally slumbering, it was already 9 PM and well past time to enjoy the sun's retreat from a blue sky. But still the horizon was filled with pink and purple cotton balls. Who could clean up from dinner with such a magnificent bank of puffy clouds turning colors outside?
So I went out west. Just a mile or so. Just a song or two through the buds in my ears. Just enough time to bid the nearly-clear day farewell and welcome the gentle night.
On my return, I spied my first fireflies of the season. Maybe they have been out for some time, but it was my first glimpse of them this summer. Ever since childhood, I have been entranced by their tiny dance of lights over fields of growing corn. Ever since childhood I have avoided dishes. Just ask my sisters.
I caught our two half-grown cats mating yesterday morning. I didn't stop them because I figured they would just go off and resume their behavior in hiding. Somehow, this made me feel like a bad parent, even though they are not my offspring. But they are still adolescents, and I do not feel they are ready to make the decisions that parenthood brings. *sigh* Also, I am pretty sure that one of them left me a small dead present on the outside sill of the only window in my kitchen. Flies buzzed around it, and I wanted to gag. I cannot open the windows. How did I end up with such rebellious cats? Teen sex and gratuitous bloodshed. They are just trying to get attention by shocking me, I know their game. I will pretend not to notice.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Some Definite Inclusions (because I have the seeds or bulbs already in possession):
What else? I love the simplicity and durability of Shasta Daisies and Black Eyed Susans, so I would like to plant some of each. These lovelies have the additional bonus of being perennials, so I shouldn't have to re-invest in starts year after year. Hollyhocks and Hydrangeas remind me of my grandmother, so of course they should be added. Piki would approve of a cutting garden.
Am I missing something? What flowers would you have me grow?
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Once upon a time 16 Rhode Island Reds named Rosie moved
into my house. With tiny chirps and a heat lamp, they brought great
delight and merriment to my children.The End.
We have Livestock (just "Stock" to the family.) We are Real Country folk now.
We have Livestock in our house. We are Real Peasant folk now.
But they are small, so small Weston was afraid he would hurt them if he held them. And they are the cutest little reddish fluff balls ever. And they are named Rosie. Surely that makes it OK.
And besides, peasants didn't have computers.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I can't wait to tell the boys about them.
The girls and I went to Kroger today; Norah had her own mini cart for the first time. Strictly for fruit. And vegetables. And the food that she likes. "This is my favorite grocery store," she decided. I loved her happiness, even when she bumped into my heel. Several times.
Probably she would delight in dead frogs as much as her brothers, and they would enjoy a miniature grocery cart as much as she, but it doesn't sound as right to me. Even as a four year old I hated frogs, dead or alive.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Baby Jesus was born in a little stable.
And He was in a little trouble.
Because He was going to die.
(Chorus, you would recognize the tune)
In the Shelstien's stable.
In the Shelstien's stable.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The former owners transformed one section into a basketball court. I think of it with hope. My children's hands are yet small for basketballs, but they should love this open stretch of concrete for bicycles and rollerblades. As their father has worked to repair/rebuild the basketball rims, he must also be thinking of the fun his children will have.
Should love, will have.
I speak in hope because we do not see much use of this court, for balls or wheels. Winged squatters have appropriated this sheltered expanse of air for an aviary. With convenient roosting beams and a shortage of predators, they have declared adverse possession, and set up several generations of nestkeeping. They have also dropped poo all over the smooth cement floor, with no thought given to free-throw lines or boundaries.
"No more!" declares the man of the house, and he scales impossibly high ladders to plug tiny holes in the eaves.
I imagine the birds circling outside the barn in confusion, like a weary shoppers who have lost their cars in a full lot. Like an alternative, hopeless Mary Lennox who never finds the secret gate, these birds fly up and down the roof's length, duck under the overhang and smack hard into solid wood. I smile at that picture.
At one time, I thought I liked birds, but husband dearest has fostered an ugly hatred for these Starlings. He has taught me that these pests are an invasive species, not at all native to North America. Being introduced to this continent several years after this house was built, I do not feel they have a right to live in our barn. They can have the trees if they insist on inhabiting this 6 acre patch of ground. (We planted 13 more trees last summer; let them roost in one of those. But they must leave our raspberries alone.)
I just hope the birds do not realize that I have lived here far less time than they. I hope their beaks are not equipped to create entrance holes. I hope my children can use this barn for their own recreation, not just BB gun practice.
DON'T WORRY MOM, THEY DON'T HAVE BB GUNS!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Swathes of snow can still be found in our yard. Not one green sprout has been sighted. March 20 is eleven days away.
Still, we're acting as though Spring has arrived.
We pore over seed catalogs.
We plan Easter outfits.
We hang laundry out to dry in the almost warm air.
We consider the windows that must be washed, outside repairs that must be made, porches that must be painted.
Mostly, though, we play in the mud.
Monday, March 8, 2010
My head and ears hurt, and I am slightly tired. I want to sleep, but really should tidy up a bit, now that the children are washed and abed. Strange, I find this soothing. Before bedtime, the children and I spent about 30 minutes back in the 1970's. What great clothing, what happy faces, what smooth dance moves.
I think we're going to start our own musical family group with groovy choreography. After I feel a little better maybe.
Otherwise, I'm reading a Very Good Book and listening to another Fairly Good Book. Check them out. The Very Good selection was one that my aunt was reading to my grandmother in the last few months of her life. Piki didn't get to hear the end of this sweet novel, but I can easily imagine her enjoying it. I happened to catch an author interview of the Fairly Good, and this made me curious. This book won't make my top 25, but it is a diversion while doing dishes and other importantly mindless chores, should the Jackson5 not be available.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Unless I am that auntie. Tell me where I've hurt you, because I am
And I want to make it right somehow.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
"I don't know, Sammy..." I was distracted, and not really focusing on framing any arguments against the gimmes.
"But everyone else has a wii!"
"Well, Sammy, Mommy and Daddy don't like being like everyone else. Haven't you figured out we're weird?"
Wait. What has happened to me?
It's not that I'm against video game systems. It's not that I don't want to give my kids things. It's just... did I really say I don't want to fit in? Is weird my new cool?
Growing up, I chaffed against being "different." Home-schooled. Big family. Hand-me-down clothes. Tour-bus-sized family vans. I inwardly cheered when my parents bought a minivan. Mind you, I was an adult and SUVs had stepped past minivans in coolness, but after a childhood transported in vehicles of enormous proportions, a minivan was a giant leap for this family.
I love my parents and never told them that I hated feeling like a geek. I believe they knew it anyway. Their decisions on our family's lifestyle choices weren't driven by what would make their children happy, but what they felt would make their children better. Looking back, with the eyes of a parent, I think my mom and dad had it right. At least, I hope they did, because I am OK with being different.
At least, I hope I'm OK with it.
Sammy will probably get a wii eventually. And I don't wear my older sisters' hand-me-downs anymore. (And really, I still think it was OK for me to hate wearing them as a child. They are so much older than me, the styles were all wrong.)
Monday, March 1, 2010
I am not one to spend money without thinking; the beauty of online shopping is that you can carry merchandise around in your virtual shopping basket for days before you decide on the best choice, the greatest bargain, and google coupons for the biggest discount possible before finalizing your purchase. Of course, this lengthy deliberation can backfire: a decisive stranger can snatch that maybe-perfect item out of your cart while you sleep.
Today, I was happy to see the boots I wanted still in my cart. They cost a little more than I really wanted to spend, but less than I've seen rain boots going for in stores. I'm trusting that the brand will prove to be durable, as I have two not-so-little boys that are pretty tough on footwear. Now I just hope that Sammy will like the available bright yellow that I chose.
Does anyone have ideas for reducing the mud traffic? Yes, I can wash my floors as easily as I can the boots, but isn't one goal of living inside a house to keep the Great Outdoors, well, out doors?
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Other People would enjoy reading my cleverness. I will write it down, or type it out, just as soon as I finish this next most pressing task.
But more tasks press down, press the time clear out of my day. I don't type. I don't exercise. I don't have coffee with friends. The diapers, the meals, the picked-up toys and swept-up rooms are important, I know they are. But no one else remembers them. I remember them, and their memory pushes the clever thoughts away. I want to have more on my mind.
Thanks to my cousin Mary Clare, whose two first names rise and fall in perfect rhythm, for telling me to write.