Thursday, May 29, 2008

eating out of the yard

we've had a book for years that one of scotty's brothers left behind. it's called "Lawn Food Cook Book (Groceries in the Backyard)" by Linda Runyon. i've always been intrigued by the idea that you can eat your lawn. last year i started learning a little bit about foraging but didn't get much further than purslane. so i notice in our yard we have tons of a particular "weed" that looked like it might be broadleaf plantain. the reason i was initially trying to identify it was because it said in one of the guinea pig books that they like it. then i got to remembering it was also listed in the edible wild plants section of a survival book we have (an army issue guide). which reminds me it's also in the lawn food book. but i was a little hesitant about eating it as i am unsure of my identification skills. and just a careful person in general. well, we saw our good friends CG and clan on tuesday and they assured me that it was indeed plantain.

so yesterday, as i was coming back up from the compost bin, i decided to grab a big bunch of it. had it not been raining like crazy i might've gathered more...but i got a good bunch anyway. i washed it and sauteed it with garlic oil and the green onions from my garden that i had recently picked, salt and pepper and an egg on the side. this meal would have been perfect had i used the eggs i bought from CG...but knowing hers were fresher than the ones i already had, i opted to use those up first. it was really amazing. so good, a little tough as i picked the larger leaves, but still so good. the kids had been eating already and so i just made this little meal for myself but i gave them a taste and they liked it. wow. yeah for more free food that my kids will eat!!!

i took some pictures too!!!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

some poetry on this rainy rainy day

i started reading a book today...a poetry book. "A Maze Me" by Naomi Shihab Nye. i usually don't pick up poetry, but the cover was pretty and the name interesting. it's a book from the juvenile section. one day, i will get back to the adult section. but right now, i'm making up for all the reading i never did as a child.

the poems speak to me, or the girl inside of me. but one in particular spoke to the present me. it gave me a lot to think about, to try out.

Sometimes I Pretend

I'm not me,
I only work for me.

This feels like
a secret motor
chirring inside my pocket.

I think, she will be so glad
when she sees the homework
neatly written.

She will be relieved
someone sharpened pencils,
folded clothes.

i just keep thinking about that. how i do things for my kids in this way. i wondered what it would feel like to do things for myself like that. i don't mean the "taking time for me" sort of doing for myself. but just the every day things. and the pretending. do the dishes as if i were not myself, but someone who loves me so much they want to do it for me, so i'll be happy and relieved to find them done. isn't that something to think about, to try. i just like it so much. it gives me this comfortable feeling.

i used to write a lot, when i was younger. i think i probably stopped sometime when i was in college, maybe i wrote a little when samuel was a baby. i guess i just got busy with all that having a baby (and then another, and another) requires. so i'm thinking about how i have so many little pieces of thoughts all the time. how i think to myself, that would make a blog post...maybe. but usually it's just too little a piece of a thought and i let it go out of my mind somewhere. so i got out a notebook and put down these words that were in my head as i was passing the door to my room on my way to the bathroom. and here it is:

i did not make the bed today
every time i pass by the room
i know i did not make the bed.

and i did not sweep the floors either.

as i'm writing this down
i wonder,
will i come back later
and make the bed after all...
and then maybe sweep too?

and make all these words
just not true anymore.

OR will i want to and refuse

just to see if i can...Share

Saturday, May 24, 2008

the making of a rain barrel

every morning i wake up about the same time with my mind filled with thoughts, i go to the bathroom and come back to bed and try to sleep but it never happens. i lay there and think and think and think. this morning, my thoughts were about yesterday and how it was the best and worst day i've had in awhile. i was hormonal, i was emotional, i was irritable. there were tears, lots of 'em. fun stuff! but the day got better as i got it all out and we had an evening planned with friends and so i was getting it together by the time we had to leave. we went to see a wonderful dance recital that our friend iris was part of. it was really wonderful to watch all those little dancers. afterwards, we went to o'charley's to eat and hang out and talk and laugh. i called scotty after we ordered since it was getting late and he would probably be leaving work soon. he was actually leaving when i called and i asked him if he wanted to come meet us there and he did, which was really awesome because he so rarely gets to socialize. it was so so so good, so exactly what i needed. the funny thing is that earlier i told myself that we would just come home after the recital because i was just not in the mood to be around people. shows what i know. i really do never know what i need and often gravitate away from what i do and towards what i don't.

so these are the thoughts on my mind as i lay there hoping to go back to sleep. i thought about a conversation with iris' dad (and nesta and audrey's as well) about gas which led to talking about oil companies and his secret desire that everything does finally go in the crapper. he says i've got chopped wood and food put up from the garden, it's all good. which got us talking about gardens and how this is my first year doing a garden and we talked about that for a bit and he told us about ruth stout and how he's been doing her style of garden now for 3 years and it's great. we're going to look into that for next year as i want to do a much larger garden!!

this led me to thinking about it being a good year of rain so far and then i thought about my rain barrel and how i wanted to blog about making it today. and i was thinking about how i wouldn't know until it rained again whether my seal was good...when it started raining!!! at first i was bummed to hear the rain because i wanted to walk to the park today with the kids. we recently found out that we have a school nearby with an awesome playground. it's just down the street!! so that thought came to me but immediately i realized that i had just been hoping for rain. that was so weird how quickly i forgot that.

last month, my friend jess had offered to pick up barrels for anyone in our homeschooling group interested in having something that could be made into a rain barrel. i had no idea how i would do that but i jumped on getting one!! so some of you already know, i cut the top section out of the rain barrel to fit on the gutter drain spout some time ago. i put it up under the spout to be sure it fit and then i got busy doing birthday party preparations and left it there. then it rained and rained again and then rained some more...all before i ever got the spigot put on!!! so the other day i finally got my spigot supplies, drilled the hole and let it slowly drain (most of which i caught in a low bowl and poured into my 5 gallon watering buckets). initially i thought i was going to have to cut the top off to put in the spigot because i didn't know if the barrel was thick enough for the spigot to thread i had gotten together with the guy from lowe's and we came up with a 3 part system that i would put in from both sides and seal with silicone. after seeing how thick the barrel was i knew i would be able to just screw the spigot directly into the barrel...easy peasy no cutting off the top (which is what i was hoping for all along!!) so i screwed in the spigot, rinsed the barrel some more and then let it dry before adding the silicone seal. it got to dry for 2 days before the rain came this morning. i went out and checked it and it seems to be holding!!!! and already the barrel is 1/3 full.

so there ya go, the long and short of it...the making of my rain barrel. here are some pictures for you to enjoy!!:

the top hole that i made using the cutting wheel on my dremel

all the supplies i thought i would need

the supplies i actually needed (plus the spigot above)...i already had the drill bit
drilling the hole
the newly screwed in spigot
putting on the silicone
all siliconed up
my pretty rain barrel, ready for rain

Thursday, May 22, 2008

here's a fun thing to do...

okay, my kids like to play this game of running in and out of the house and locking the doors behind them. can you guess where this is going??? i have asked them to please stop playing this game!!

yesterday, i was outside enjoying a little bit of sun and pringles while the kids were running around outside playing. next thing i know, they can't get into the house...hmmm. silas and sadie both turn and look at me like i've just magically appeared there, they thought i was inside for some reason. i know instantly that they have locked us out! i try very hard to keep my head from exploding...and tell them so. i say, you have no idea how much of my anger i am controlling right now....i have told you not to lock the doors!!! all that good ol' mad mommy stuff. i sent them to sit on the front porch while i went to the neighbor's house to borrow the phone. now here's an interesting thing about the mind. something i had forgotten about...ironically. when pressed to remember something, it usually can. i normally couldn't tell you what scotty's cell phone number is. the brain gets lazy from speed dial ya know. but miracle of miracles there i was on my neighbors porch dialing his cell phone number...thinking all the while it was ringing, PLEASE be the right number. and it was. luckily, he was not all that busy and was able to come home within 20 minutes or so to unlock the door. AND, i was able to do a little of the gardening i needed to do that i'd been putting off because i had lots of little projects inside the house i was working on.

so we got in and no children were harmed in the making of this fun thing to do.

the end.Share

Sunday, May 18, 2008

the kids are always watching

i think an awful lot about the example i am to my kids. my actions, habits, reactions...good or bad. i think about it. recently, my friend and her family got to witness the feeding of a deer to wolves at a state park. it sounded like something really amazing to watch. she describes it here in an email to one of the unschooling lists:

"Yesterday, we watched wolves eat a real life. The kids were fascinated by the whole process and watched as guts and bone were eaten with abandon. It was an incredibly beautiful process to me, watching one life feed other lives. It's hard to describe the feeling, because of course we're sad for the deer. But being an observer to the very sacred and real circle of life felt amazing. It could have been me saying "ooh, that's gross" or "don't look, it will freak you out" kinda stuff."

i thought that was really awesome, that she didn't cloud the experience with fear or negativity.

the other day, scotty and i were talking and somehow we got on the subject of the lottery. i think we were looking at how to save for a trip we are taking in september and winning the lottery is just a joke around here. i told him that it was funny we always joke about buying a ticket one day but we never do and i wondered why that was. and samuel looked up at us and said, "buying lottery tickets is stupid and a waste of money." i looked at scotty, pointed at samuel and said, "oh yeah, that's why!" scotty had no clue what i was referring to. i told him, "everything we do sets an example." if we bought into the idea that there was some free, easy money out there to be had, our kids would probably think the same way.

i've always had this idea of what i want to show my kids about living. that you don't lie, cheat, steal, litter, intentionally hurt people for no reason, all that. but not by telling them, by being an example of it. when they were younger we had some friends that always lied about their kids' ages to get cheaper meal prices. i get this, i understand money can be tight. but i just never felt it was something i wanted to start doing. i remember one time we all went to mr. gatti's together and their daughter turned to me, she was maybe 6, and said "tell them your kids are all under 4 and they can eat free" with a big grin on her face. this is not some evil being practiced here. i'm not saying it's deeply wrong. but the impression it made on me was that she learned that lying has these perks. i didn't like it.

so fast forward to now. samuel just turned 13 and he is very excited about all the new 13 things. no more kids' menu, using the teenager computer at the library...all that stuff. we went to the drive in for the first time in years. he is no longer 10, so his ticket is adult price. sadie is no longer free. it could've been cheaper than it was, had i lied...not that samuel would've let that happen, he was yelling from the back...hey i'm adult price now!!! and for a split second, i HAD thought about saying they were all under 10. i don't know why. another day we were at a mexican place and he shouts out that he can't order from the kids' menu now and in the back of my mind i'm thinking "sure you could've, it wouldn't matter!" ah well...they learn so much so well.

i've gotten away from my point here. ooh, that's unusual. but i was thinking about my friend's attitude and not setting the example that seeing a wolf eat a deer was gross. i am really freaked out about blood. so is my dad. watching surgeries (even the fake ones) on tv is not easy, the room spins. stuff like that. i wonder about tolerance levels for that sort of thing. is it just part of who you are or is it learned? did i learn that seeing blood should make my knees weak, did i see his reaction to it at an early age?

so i was telling my kids about the wolves and the deer and they said they would not want to watch that. funny thing is, i knew that already before i told them but i still wanted to tell them about our friends' experience. it's something interesting. so i'm wondering, did i set an example at some point that seeing that sort of thing was difficult. it doesn't bother me to watch nature programs that show animals killing and eating their prey, but my kids usually cover their eyes or ask to change the channel. it's people blood, especially accident and surgery blood, that bothers me...animals in the wild blood doesn't.

for them, it's more of an "i can't stand to watch the animal die" than a "it's too gross" sort of thing. and i get that, i know that about them. they hate when i kill spiders or flies, even. they would rather chase them out of the house. i think they are buddhists! LOL. so it gives me a lot to think about. to be aware of. to look for in my behavior. there is always a chance to do differently.

these are just random, sort of all over the place thoughts that have been running around in my head. usually i just leave them there to run until they get tired and go away. but i'm trying to learn to put some of my thoughts down in this blog (now that i can) there ya go.Share

Friday, May 16, 2008

thoughts about inspiration and art

written 5-11-08

I have gone for so long trying not to be inspired that now that I actually want to be inspired, I do not know where to begin. When I say that I tried to not be inspired, what I mean is that I avoided art, of all kinds. Galleries, magazines, books, everything. Especially anything having to do with sculpture. I remember picking up magazines at the bookstore and seeing all this amazing art and feeling this rise in my chest, this pulling sensation, this fear, this sadness, this excitement. All at the same time. I remember pushing it all down. Not wanting to feel those things. Not wanting to long for a world in which I called myself an artist. For so long I just had no place to do it. Living in apartments, the camper. Excuses. But I’m feeling a pull to it again. I have the space now, I want to do something but I feel so stuck. I have no ideas.

I’m just feeling like I need to create again. I go through these dry spells and for awhile about a year ago I made art, it felt good. But then I quit, I couldn’t get myself into it. I’ve tried little things, crafts, jewelry, knitting. I don’t feel like doing any of that. It’s frustrating because in the moment that I find something new to learn, it feels so right, like I was meant to do “this” all along. Then it fades. Like the hemp jewelry that lead me to macramé. It was such a high for awhile and then it just went away. Part of it, I think, was that it came during the time we were living with my parents. It was hard to feel inspired when I was so focused on getting us into our own space. But I’m like that no matter where I am I guess, that is the truth. I get fired up and then the fire dies out.

So what am I doing now? Well, I’m creating food. That feels completely awesome. It is the most exciting thing I’ve felt since making babies. I get up every morning and go out and look at all the new growth, every tiny bit that they’ve grown since the day before is rejoiced and celebrated.

But…oh you knew a big ol’ but was coming. Even though I’m loving the gardening, I am feeling this pull to make ART again. It feels good because I haven’t really even wanted to for so long…a year maybe. I have come to realize what I want to do is sculpture and so I’m trying to figure out how to get inspired to do that. Then I remembered what used to get me going. LOOKING AT ART!!! Duh! So I pulled out some old journals and sketchbooks from college. Nada. Next I pulled out all my books on sculpture that I have on my shelf. That feels like a good place to start but I had all these thoughts and so I thought I would put them down first.

Okay, now I’m going to go pour over these books. Hope for inspiration. And then figure out where to work. I have thought about building a work space in the backyard or using the camper when we get it moved over here (my mom’s idea!). But I know I will think of some way to have the space I need for sculpture. Trying to do art that requires little space has made me frustrated, they were good to keep the flow going but still not what I needed to be doing. So, what will I do next? I do not know, but I’m looking forward to it.Share

Thursday, May 15, 2008

reading thoughts...

I’m reading a book right now…um from the juvenile fiction section again…I’m into chapter three and already I’ve found a few quotes I want to put on here. I wonder at that sometimes. When I read books that seem to be filled with little jewels worthy of being on cute little desk plaques or bumper stickers at least. Sometimes it seems like it’s not even the best of books that have the best of quotes. In fact, sometimes I get the sneaking suspicion that whole books are written right around a great line the author came up with and couldn’t make the rest of the book sound near as good but are readable. That could be the case with this book, but so far it’s intriguing. It didn’t have a dust jacket with a synopsis, nothing on the back. Just a great title and really cool cover. “100 Cupboards” by N.D. Wilson. A boy goes to stay with his aunt and uncle and cousins after his parents become missing. The characters are interesting and different. The small town they live in is called Henry, Kansas. The boy’s name is also Henry. There’s a locked room in the house which once belonged to a dead grandfather who Henry sees one night but then doesn’t remember it but does remember it, sort of like a dream. Then one night, some plaster on the wall above his bed starts flaking off and 2 knobs poke out. This is the beginning of his finding the 100 cupboards. That’s where I’m at right now. So anyway, here are the parts that spoke to me:

Uncle Frank pulled the truck onto a dirt patch that straddled a ditch and faded into the field.
“Here we are, Henry. Tumbleweeds are like people. They tend to collect someplace out of the wind.”
“What?” Henry asked. Frank was already getting out of the truck.
“It’s not just people and weeds,” Frank said. “It’s everything.” He stepped down into the ditch. A trickle of water ran along the bottom and into a culvert. Tangled and muddy, tumbleweed clung to the culvert mouth and rustled around Frank’s legs as he moved. He grabbed the matted weeds, lifted them up, and threw a pile onto the gravel shoulder. The bottom of the lump dripped brown water.
“You ever wonder, Henry, how bits of dust find each other on the floor?” Frank began kicking the remaining weeds into a mound. “Some part of blade of grass gets eaten by a cow and dropped out its back end, where it dries in the sun and gets trampled. Then some wind picks it up, and, of all the little bits of nothing much in the world, it comes in your window and lands on your floor.”
Henry watched while Frank scrambled out of the ditch and threw the tumble-blobs into the back of the truck.
“Then,” Frank continued, brushing off his hands, “that little bit of dust meets another little bit of dust, only it came off your sweater, which was cut from some sheep in New Zealand, and the two bits grab some of your hair and some other hair that you picked up on your shirt from a booth in a restaurant, and then they get kicked around until they all roll under your bed and hide in the corner.”
Frank was trying to tie down the weeds with string.
“It’s the same with people. If they’re a little lost, they get blown around until they drop into some shelter or hold or culvert.”
He snapped off the end of the twine and climbed back into the truck. Henry climbed back in beside him.
“There are holes like that in cities,” he said, “in houses—anyplace. Holes where the lost things stop.”
“Like where?” Henry asked.
Frank laughed and started the truck. “Like belly buttons. Like here. And Cleveland. Henry is on a much smaller scale, so fewer people drift here. And when they climb out, they end up pushed around until they come to rest someplace else.”
Henry watched Uncle Frank shift into gear.
“I was lost once,” Frank said, and looked over at him. “But I’m found now. I’m under the bed. I’m in the same culvert you are. Only, I don’t think you’re done tumblin’.”

Why does this appeal to me? Well, it’s just one of those simple and wonderful musings that I like. And it speaks to that part of me that feels just exactly like that. A tumbleweed. Like a small bit of dust in a tumbleweed. Lost and blown around until I got found along with the other tumbleweed dust riders just like me.

This other bit reminds me of how often I feel like I simply don’t know anything and that the rest of the world is somehow in on the joke.

Henry had never heard of such a thing as a forgotten door. Back at school, he never would have believed such things existed. But here was different. There was something strange about here. He felt just like he had when he’d found out that kids his age don’t ride in car seats and that boys pee standing up. He remembered unpacking his bags at boarding school while his roommate watched. His roommate had asked him what the helmet was for, and Henry had suddenly had the suspicious sensation that he had been kept in the dark, that the world was off behaving in one way while he, Henry, wore a helmet. He had barely prevented himself from answering his roommate honestly. The words “It’s a helmet my mom bought me to wear in PE” were replaced with “It’s for racing. I don’t think I’ll need it here.”
Whatever was going on inside the wall in his room was much bigger than finding out that other boys didn’t have to wear helmets. If there really were forgotten doors and secret cities, and maps and books to tell you how to find them, then he needed to know. He looked around at the tall, dew-chilly grass and for a moment didn’t see grass. Instead, he saw millions of slender green blades made of sunlight and air, thick on the ground and gently blowing, tickling his now-damp feet, and all the while silently pulling life up out of the earth. Each was another kid without a helmet, a kid who knew how things were actually done.
Above him, the stars twinkled with laughter. Galaxies looked. Nudged each other. Chuckled.
“He didn’t know about secret cities,” Orion said. “His mother never told him.”
The Great Bear smiled. “Did his dad tell him about forgotten doors?”
“Only having to do with science projects or bicycle trips.”
“Mostly topographic, or the kind that shade countries in different colors based on gross national product or primary exports.”
“Nothing with ‘Here be dragons’ on the edges?”
“Never. He found a hidden cupboard with compass locks, and do you know what he thought was in it?”
“A unicorn’s horn?
“Or pens.”
Henry sighed. “I don’t even know how to work compass locks,” he said. He stood and started back to the house with a familiar feeling, the feeling of Now I know. The feeling that means tonight you will sneak down to the dormitory dumpster with your helmet, a stack of nightgowns, and your therapeutic bear. The feeling of Tomorrow I will have changed.

Okay, those were much longer than your usual quotes, but I liked all of it…so I left in all the bits instead of just chopping out and using only the meatier parts.

But if you’d like to hear a good short bit. Here’s one that follows just a few lines after the above:

The wind scratched its back along the side of the barn. The stars swung slowly across the roof of this world, and the grass swayed and grew, content to be the world’s carpet but still desiring to be taller.

Okay, back to my book…

p.s. yes, there are capitalized words here. Do not panic! I have not been inhabited by an alien. I’m typing this in ms word, it corrects all my laziness and bad habits.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

big backyard birthday bash

written on 5-8-08

Yesterday was Samuel’s birthday!! He is officially 13!!!!

We had the best party ever. I think there were 40 people including us. Cripes. But we had so much fun AND it didn’t rain!!! Yeah!
Our other concern besides weather was parking, but our neighbor was nice enough to let us park around his house and in his driveway. Still there were cars all over. There was lots of running in the yard and climbing the tree. Pizza, and snacks and cheesecakes.
Ren did some really beautiful face painting which was a wonderful surprise for us all.
And presents. And conversation. That was the best. It was a lot of fun and exhausting in a good sort of way. Several husbands joined us. Which was nice as we so rarely let them out. Scotty was so sweet and played a lot with little boo bear so that his mommy could relax and eat and talk. We love him for that!!

We even had a request for an overnighter. Which I thought would be fun and extend the party for the kids. There’s something really awesome and thrilling about getting to spend such a huge chunk of time with friends. So we had 3 extra kids for the night. Sierra, Iris, and Nesta. The girls ended up staying up ALL NIGHT LONG. OMG!!! Then they crashed at some time around 9 am I think. The boys had gone up to see what they were doing and found them sleeping. They had watched the sun come up and played outside way before anyone else was up. I’m sure that was just about the best experience Sadie has ever had with friends. Very independent and exciting. And tiring. It was her first all-nighter. And she loved it.

Another first we had recently was that I let the boys and their cousin walk to the comic book store last Sunday…by themselves. Silas said he felt dudely. Samuel felt independent. I actually didn’t throw up or anything. No horrible nightmarish thoughts ran through my head. They came back so jazzed up because they got more free comics (we had gone on Saturday for free comic book day and we all got free comics then too.). I’m having a constant run-on of dejavu right now. I had a real long one last night too. Very strange.

Well the girls are up finally…it’s 2:00!!! Iris left some time ago when her mom came to get her. They woke up a little then but went back to sleep. So so so tired.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

birthday days

today is my beautiful baby girl sadie's birthday. she is 8!!! finally, all of my children are ages that i can actually sort of kinda remember being...LOL!!! they got guinea pigs last month as early presents and they thought that was going to be it!! ha ha, i am too smooth for them. we snuck presents in yesterday and i gave them out this morning!! very happy and surprised kiddos. sadie and samuel each got cd players for their rooms and silas got the harvest moon game for the gamecube he has been asking for for months.

tomorrow is samuel's 13th birthday as well as the day of the big backyard birthday bash!!! 2 parties in one!! scotty made 3 cheesecakes!!!! oh my, the kids are wanting to dig into them. we'll have some of one tonight since it is sadie's birthday after all and she must be sung "happy birthday" to and have some cake.

we're having some library time now and then off to barberito's for sadie's surprise birthday lunch. and later we'll be getting ready for the big party tomorrow.

man, i still can't believe my baby is 8...and that i am one day away from being the mom of a teenager!! well, i always said i couldn't wait to have a teenager. and even when everyone said i was crazy, i always felt it would be an awesome part of this parenting journey. sadie is becoming quite the young lady as well and i'm loving watching her grow up. a little sad, but it's wonderful too.Share