Thursday, August 19, 2021


There is little or no summer garden this year. Even the plants that reliably volunteer are expired, or are simply no-shows. It wasn't a plan, but a lack of planning, a lack of motivation. I think I psyched myself out of planting, tending, weeding, watering, and battling squirrels, gophers, and goats, by imagining long, hot, summer days. In fact, we have mostly had long, cloudy, summer days, with virtually no consistency of sunlight, nor heat. For me, it's been heaven. Of course, being an anxious, fretful woman, I have been waiting, breath abated, for the other shoe to drop. I watch the sky for signs, I check the forecast, twice daily, and again before bed... is the heatwave coming? Will there be hot dry wind, and merciless temperatures? Any day now. Probably. Soon. And still it is fair and mild, just as I love it. I could have had a flower bed, even tender lettuce, and sweet chard. I don't think tomatoes and peppers were ever going to succeed in this sort of gentle summer. Maybe, there is still time to start those flowers.

I don't think I have entirely retired from gardening. I hope this has only been a long pause. I am slowing down, though. I've noticed. Sometimes, especially when the kitchen is clean, and there is laundry washed, dried, and folded, and a dinner simmering, I don't dare start anything else. I feel like beginning a project will only add to the workload, make another mess. So, I haven't painted, haven't stitched, or crocheted, or baked a cake. I blog a lot, which is safe, I suppose, in terms of not creating disorder. I am older, and feeling it, and... and I am scared of pain. Injuries, from that incident, are still an issue, and limit my mobility, and when I do something "wrong," or too much, I end up locked, and hurting. I can't even be sure what I am doing "wrong," and it's a terrible shock to be reminded how much discomfort can come from turning my head, or whatever. I took Max and Maria to the beach, and we were jumping waves, floating, paddling around, having a lovely time. Then a small wave, just the peak of it, before it broke, hit the side of my head and neck, and it felt electric, it stunned and disoriented me. Maria walked me out of the water, and the happy outing was over. I have never had an experience like this, playing in the surf and being aggrieved by the water, and it makes me very sad. I've lost a happy place, the confidence to frolick and be released in the waves.

You know, if I could take that pill, the one that makes you forget a traumatic event, I think I would. I can expect to age, to change and slow down, but nothing happens that I don't question... is it because that woman drove into my van? Is it because of the injuries I sustained, the ones that will never go away? Then, I can't help but feel powerless, and weak. Powerless to stop the memories, to ever feel restored or healed, or safe, and weak for not healing myself, for not being ok, fine, over it. It makes me think of everyone that has been traumatised, abused, and my heart feels heavy for everyone. I think of how much more compassion, patience, and healing so many of us must be in need of, and I feel sympathy and concern, some sadness. I know... I am not the only one, that people do recover, can move forward, act courageously. Well, whatever is hurting you, or giving you pause, I hope you can still garden, splash in the ocean, find quiet moments to enjoy peaceful thoughts, and feel safe... I so wish we all could have happy places.

Would you look at our home cafe? It's delighting me. It's a happy place, for sure. There is still an empty drawer, which is surprising. I moved the table cloths down into a cupboard, and teacups onto the top shelf. The cupboard is holding our crockpot, and a rice cooker. I love those two appliances, and it's nice to have them put away, and not rotating between inconvenient spots throughout the house. I shared this picture on Instagram, and sat for a long time trying to think of a good caption... something about hygge and coziness and feeling good. Maybe, I even felt pretty, but not me, not how I look, but pretty reflected in the procelain mug of chamomile tea, pretty in my comfortable dress and comforting apron, pretty in the hum of the dishwasher, dinner dishes cleared, and the cats all inside, pretty from the soft way my legs feel after a long bicycle ride, from hearing crickets, and knowing that everyone is home, and no one has a cold anymore. Thankful and content, is what I wrote, and I like being reminded that contentment in simple things is rich, and satisfying. I am lucky.
Another thing I shared on Instagram is our kitty, Sakamoto, and I called him a land-seal. Land-seal is a nickname I have for him, especially when I come upon him napping in the middle of the floor, sleek and black like a seal, his shiny fur even looks wet, like he's just come out of the surf. The he rolls, slowly, on his back and shows his soft belly, round and full like a healthy seal. He is adorable, a shy and tender soul, with a lust for noms, and foody comforts. He meows in his plaintive peeps, imploring and sing-song. His voice is tiny, but the message is compelling, Feed me. Food is love, and I want love. He wraps his tail around my leg, then slides onto the floor, and rolls around expectantly, and I pet him, scratch around his neck and heap terms of endearment on him. He eats it all up.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

New Season

With the first day of school comes a new season. But it doesn't feel like Fall, only the end of Summer. I suppose that there are Natural Seasons, and then there are Calendar Seasons, and we have begun the New School Year Season. Officially. So, Maria is a senior, and so are Leo and Acorn. It's also cousin Dom's birthday! And it's the start of sophomore year for cousin Izzy, for Simon, too. Max is still in Intern Season, which, by the way, is going very well. I know for sure I have at least one post, per year of high school for Maria, when I go on and on about how quickly I expect these years to go by, and sure enough. Still, even with experience and anticipation, I am a bit shocked that Maria is beginning her last year of high school, that she will be diving into college apps, and we need to make that appointment for senior portraits. How is this already the last year? I have a fifteen year old nephew! And my youngest son is programming, sitting in meetings, in on conference calls. This is a strange, wondrous season!
Fall semester, and she has Cartooning. AP Physics. Creative Writing. And, oddly, a free period, and we aren't sure why. She's going to look into it. There are more classes she is interested in taking, eager to have... but then we remember that she has applications to fill out, and that might be more than enough work to make up for a free period. In the Spring she will be in Math, AP English, Gov/Econ, and Fashion & Design! Yeah, maybe she doesn't need an eighth class.
Apparently the policy will be "Masks optional outside, and mandatory inside." I'm on edge, I can't deny. Hopefully, there's full cooperation, and compliance. Hopefully, there isn't an outbreak. Hopefully, these students can enjoy a safe, and closer to typical year of high school. We still feel fortunate, and comfortable, all things considered. Geoff and Max are still expected to work from home, and everyone here gets along, and we have plenty to keep busy, happy, to feel sane. So, if lockdown returns, we know we can get by. But, there have been disappointments, and a lot of settling, compromising, and anxieties to cope with. Clearly, things aren't normal and even our attempts at normalcy feel tempered by doubt, and dampened by news reports. Living with uncertainty takes a toll, but it's nothing that compares with the bigger challenges, and heartaches being felt in the world. Maria shared a meme with me, and I think it describes our circumstances rather succinctly...
We don't dwell on these issues, I promise. But mentioning masks and pandemics, lockdowns, and online learning, even the cognitive dissonance of things being mostly ok when the world is in turmoil, is an honest, transparent look at the whole picture. My brain repeats the invocation, over and over... Hopefully, there's full cooperation, and compliance. Hopefully, there isn't an outbreak. Hopefully, these students can enjoy a safe, and closer to typical year of high school.

Normally, when Sony has Summer interns they've met in person, worked in the office, and done fun team building activities, had outings, and engaging experiences. Sweetly, someone has been hard at work coming up with ways to continue the same fun, team building engagement, even though the interns are in their homes, and in different parts of the country. They do online gaming events, and they assembled terrariums, made boba, and recently, they all took an online cooking class with Chef Lenka, of Bake With Lenka. They made Slovakian Pirohy, which I mistakenly called "pierogi." There is a difference, in language, but it seems the cheese and potato dough, and filling, are about the same. We loved them! And I enjoyed watching Max figure it all out, while the instructor gave directions, and he watched on his phone, while mashing potatoes into a dough, and preparing the filling.

Ah! I see another silver lining of lockdown... being priviledged to observe things up close, like my son as an Intern, or meeting my husband at our home cafe for his coffee break. And speaking of coffee breaks, I did a thing!
All summer I've had my eye on this cupboard at the second-hand shop. For a long time I have held with this idea that our dining room would be great as a coffee shop, like a cafe that you discover on vacation, or frequent with your best friends. It's why I collect old, comfy chairs, and try to keep the line between living room and kitchen blurred. We can't get away to places like this, as we used to, so the urge to recreate the vibe has felt more compelling than ever! I was so relieved and giddy when I called the shop, and asked about the cupboard, Is it still there? Is it less than 55" wide, so I have some hope of bringing it home in my van? The answer was Yes! William helped me, and in no time I had it set up, and looking just as I had hoped!
Someone suggested that it might, possibly, be a tad crowded! Silly. It's not crowded, it's cozy. It's not cluttered, it's maximalist. I am convinced that how we phrase something makes all the difference. We don't have a shed... we have a barn! We don't have some chickens, and goats... we have a farm! Now, we can add Cafe to the Bird House lexicon. The whole arrangement makes me ridiculously happy. Also, I never noticed how many of our mugs feature either birds or cats. And, just now it occurs to me that Duh, because I love birds and cats.
Here are the goats being goats. They swarmed Geoff when he was opening a package, and the girls moved in with the will and strength of goats that suspect they are getting food. We realized it was the crinkly bag, sounding something like a bag of Veggie & Flaxseed Corn Tortilla Chips that made them so willful!
Ruth stopped by, and asked to meet Grace. All three goats came out, and gave Ruth the full display of the adorable antics, and untempered enthusiasm! After the goats entertained us, we put them away, and enjoyed a picnic lunch, and catching up visit. I am glad she came. We were over-due for time together. I feel like when I anticipate Summer, I fill it up with so many things that we will be sure to do, because Summer will be long, unstructured, full of opportunity. And then... the days slip by, and fill up, and there are unfortunate cancellations, or delays, and suddenly we are on the brink of a new season. Just now, I sighed, and said to myself, Ah, well, we will make up for it in Fall. In Fall we will visit, and make plans, and do lovely things!
Whatever season it is, Summer or Fall, or early Spring... I wish we could get together more often. I wish no friend, no loved one, was more than a beautiful day trip away. I'd hop in the van and take more flowers to Mom and Dad. I'd swing by for Ruth and take her to the Redwoods, and to see the dunes in Oregon, and we could do it in a casual weekend. We wouldn't have to fly to the Northwoods to have breakfast and bike ride with Laura and Gary. I could pop over and get an apple cider donut with Jennifer, just for fun. We could press Summer flowers, then have a hug, and make plans for next week. I could stop by and watch Dom do gymnastics, and sing him Happy Birthday, and it would be like they were just down the street, and there was no traffic nor toll roads.
As it is, time is fleeting, and freshmen become sophomores, then juniors, and seniors. And we don't do everything we planned, or hoped to do. But, I will still plan and hope, and wish, and pay as close attention as I can manage, and make days count, and be thankful for the visits, the trips, for playing and make believe, and for new seasons.