Thursday, July 30, 2009

Change of Plans

We were planning on taking a road trip to Colorado next month, but for some reason I could not bring myself to sit down and start planning the trip, and every time C and I tried to talk about it, it turned into a big meltdown session about everything that I am feeling frustrated about. Somehow the trip had become a metaphor for my life--a rut I could neither face nor get out of. Finally yesterday morning I called C and instructed him to buy plane tickets. It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders...now I could start figuring out what little things we need to do, buy, pack, take care of, before we go.

And now we can spend more time while we're there doing what we want to do and enjoying ourselves, and a lot less time driving across the mind-numbing dead zone known as the heartland of our country (sorry everyone from New Hampshire to Eastern Colorado, but if I'm gonna take a road trip, this is what I really want to see, not cornfields or billboards). My latest meltdown was about how our kids are NEVER going to be able to go ANYWHERE cool because we live at the farthest far corner or nowhere (again, no offense to anyone who lives in, like, the eastern 2/3 of the country).

Anyhoo, I have not solved that problem, except that we'll get to see a bit more cool stuff on our shortened but extended trip, and I have not solved any of my other intractable problems that cause me to press my lips together in a lockjaw-esque death clamp while I drive around (in the rain), at the edge of the middle of nowhere...still entrenched in the life rut, but maybe the release from the vacation rut will provide some relief.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Civics Lessons

Lesson 1: You can make a difference (maybe)

I received a letter from the mayor of Augusta yesterday, in response to my letter regarding the spraying of herbicides in the area where M's summer apprenticeship program met in the mornings. It was both more and less than I expected:

"Dear Ms. Lani:

"Thank you for your letter of July 15, 2009 with respect to herbicide around the flagpole in front of City Center. I am checking into this and appreciate you pointing this out.

"Sincerely yours,

"Roger J. Katz, Mayor"

More, because it sounds like an actual response, instead of a brush-off. Less because it usually takes me several paragraphs to brush someone off when I have to write letters of this nature. Who knows if anything will become of it; I guess I'll have to wait and see if any more pesticide flags pop up on the lawn in front of City Center.

Lesson 2: People suck

Our school union budget failed--again--despite passing overwhelmingly at the interminably long and torturous town meeting I attended two weeks ago. (If you're into pain, read the blow-by-blow of three of the four-and-a-half hour meeting here). There are just some people who don't think they have an obligation to educate children, and many who think they should use our kids to "send a message to the Blain House" that they don't want an RSU. This sort of thing just reduces me to pejoratives about my fellow Mainers like "wh*te tr*sh" and "f*ckers" so I should probably just stop here. B*stards.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Going Crazy

Last week I:

  • forgot to pick M up from camp,
  • forgot to leave my key when I dropped my car off at the mechanic, and
  • ran out of gas on the way home from dinner with a friend.

I need to see some sun right away because the rain in Maine is making me insane!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Poetry Published

Check out my poem, First Practice, on Vox Poetica. It's under Today's Words today (Sunday) and will be archived under poemblog after today.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cheese and Cake

My brother, being 18 years old and well over six feet tall, eats a lot. He also appreciates food of all types (what a change from preschoolers!). He requested a lot of foods I never got around to making (cinnamon rolls, brownies), but I did do a lot of cooking (and eating, as my rotund middle can attest). One thing he did request, above all others, was cheesecake, and because I've never made a cheesecake before (C doesn't like things with a soft texture, like cheesecake, pudding, custard, whipped cream, etc. Weirdo.) and because I have this bee in my bonnet about making cheese, I decided to go for it.

I found a recipe for ricotta cheesecake that intrigued me--I've never had a ricotta cheesecake before (have you?). First, I had to make the ricotta cheese. But because I decided to make it with the buttermilk method, I had to make the buttermilk first first (this I did on a Thursday night, while at the same time making bread and cookies--one of my rare but insane cook-a-thons--I was up till midnight waiting for the milk to cool down to room temp because I had first heated it up since we use raw milk).

Saturday afternoon, I got started on the ricotta. Here are the curds draining:




And this is the cheese after two hours (sorry for the poor lighting--it was pretty late in the evening by now).




All the boys went out to see fireworks (finally) Saturday night in Hallowell, so I was able to work on my writing assignments in between cheesecake-making steps...overall a pleasant and relaxing evening. It turned out I had to make butter for the crust too, because we were out, so it was really and truly a made-from-scratch cake. The one thing I opted to NOT make was candied citrus peel--that's one recipe that seems way more tedious than necessary (and this from a girl who shakes a jar of cream into butter!)--instead I threw in a little lemon zest. I put the cake in the fridge and let it set overnight, and we dug in Sunday night.



The results were less than stellar. The crust was tough (crust is my achilles heel--although it did soften up a bit after a few more days) and the texture was grainy (using fresh whole milk ricotta was supposed to make it less grainy, and using the buttermilk, rather than the vinegar, method was supposed to reduce the grainieness of the ricotta itself). Since I've never had ricotta cheesecake, I don't know how the texture is supposed to feel. The pine nuts the recipe called for were a bit strange (oddly, I really like pine nuts while I'm eating them, but the aftertaste grosses me out a bit). Overall, I'd give it about a 6 or a 7...not bad, but nothing to blog about (ha!)

My brother liked it, though, and so did my kids. And I managed to eat about half of it myself (the last quarted I sliced up and put in the fridge for future sweet-tooth emergencies--made with nearly two gallons of milk, each with about three inches of cream on top, and a cup of butter, it has to have about 800 calories a slice!)

I'm not at all discouraged. Though time-consuming, the cheesemaking was neither difficult nor particularly hands-on (much of the time involves waiting). I used the leftover whey to make rolls, soup and bread. My next cheesemaking plan is mozzarella and, using the whey from the mozzarella, more ricotta, turning it all into a pan of crespelle or a lasagna...mmm, can't wait!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Walkway and Teenage Boys

As I may have mentioned, my 18-year-old brother stayed with us for some time this summer. While he was here I definitely had moments of, "Oh my god--I'm going to have three of these!?!" M, E and Z loved every minute and learned lots of new things--rave dancing, fist bumping, saying "Hi Five" like Borat, phrases like, "what's kicking? chilling hard."

And I got this:



A walkway from my front door to the driveway, which I've been wanting for years. I still have to rake soil between the rocks, encourage moss to grow (apparently this requires a flat beer and a blender), and get rid of the piles of leftover sand, gravel and rocks in the driveway. But, the heavy lifting has been done, and I'm pretty psyched.

It was amusing to hear his regular conversations with our mom ("I'm an adult!") and not so amusing to hear parenting advice (seriously?), and his moping around being bored made me want to scream (yes of course I understand that he's removed from his friends and his usual things to do, and that he didn't have full-time work the whole time he was here, but since every minute of my day is scheduled with more things than I can get to...I found it hard to be sympathetic). A week of roofing with C was a pretty good cure for this syndrome.

I also had to buy and cook about twice as much food, but he did say my cooking is "bomb-digity" (despite the lack of meat), which is praise my own brood would never bestow on me...and he even cooked for us a few times.

I was a senior in high school when this youngest brother was born, then I went away to college and moved to Maine, so I haven't spent a lot of time with him and it was nice to get to know him finally after all these years.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another Skirt

This is another one I made last summer, from Sew What Skirts. After the experience with the blue one, I went overboard with the ease on this one so it's a bit poofy, but this material (also Kaffe Fasset--all 3 skirts are Kaffe Fasset prints) makes me quite unreasonably happy. The best part is I can wear all three skirts with my lipstick shoes--a pair of "berry" clogs I bought at the Hannah Andersson outlet two years ago against all logic (really, I didn't even own anything magenta at the time).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What's Happened with EarthScouts?

We haven't done EarthScouts in a long time. The kids were just being too grumpy and resistant, I guess and even though we all had fun once we got out there, I just got tired of coaxing everyone (I feel like all I do all the time is coax people to do things). I was going to give it a shot in the arm at the beginning of summer, handing out Spring badges, but the weather wasn't what you'd call summery, and though I started the badges, I still haven't finished them. I had kind of secretly hoped that they'd love EarthScouts so much, they'd want to wear their vests and carry their foraging bags every time we walked out the door...guess that's what I get for expectations.

Oh, well. It was important to have a purpose and focus to get us outside in the winter and spring, but now that they spend most of every day outside anyway (even if much of that time is spent engaged in sword-fighting), it's less vital. And they're still immersed in nature. Z asks me to go on bird walks all the time and yesterday when he saw a honey bee on our yellow slide he said, "That's a part of nature."

After I picked them up from nature camp Friday, we hung around trying to catch frogs for awhile. Our only success was this newly emerged peeper.













Z was our most enthusiastic frog-catcher, and went in over his boots about the moment I snapped this picture. As we started walking back up the trail he said, "I had a hard time to catch frogs." Then, listening to his feet croak with water and suction in his boots he said, "There's frogs in my boots!" That kid is some funny.


All the loveliness of the lily pond reminded me of this amazing woman's sweet "pond life" embroidery, and that embroidery is on my "list" this summer...maybe I can turn some blue flags, damsel flies and frogs into a work of art...I'll keep you posted.















These big-brother/little-brother moments look much sweeter on camera--I believe I recall much scuffling over who got to touch the inside (worm-like bits) of the water lily. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Colonial M

I try to present an image as a non-competitive mama who doesn't have grand plans or ambitions for her kids, who isn't plotting their entrance into Harvard Medical School, but I do have my dreams. For instance, I envision M as a camp counselor and lifeguard in high school.

My aspirations began when he was very little, only a year old, while trying to find the hiking trails at the Augusta Nature Education Center, before they were well-marked and mapped, and I came across the Augusta Nature Camp, housed in one of the auto shop bays of the vocational school. One of the counselors gave us a map and pointed out the best way to find the trail heads. I determined right then and there to send M to Nature Camp when he was old enough (my resolve was further strengthened upon finding out C was once a Nature Camper).

Likewise, when we visited Old Fort Western when M was three, and I found out they had a summer apprentice program for kids age eight and up, I knew I would send him there also.
























I didn't really ask M his opinion (I'm controlling like that) and I was a little nervous that he would balk at wearing a costume (he rarely plays dress-up and doesn't even like Halloween that much). But he went along quite readily and looked quite rakish in his three-cornered hat.



















On Friday they held a lemonade party for the parents, and demonstrated a contra dance.

















Check out that fancy footwork!










Then the kids gave the guests a tour of the Fort (which is the oldest wooden building in the US, I believe, and a residence that figures prominently in A Midwife's Tale, which I've been laboring through for about two years now).
Here M mans one of the cannons on the boat.







Aside from the pesticide incident, a success! He even wants to go back next year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Letter

I don't know how much good it will do (probably about as much good as it does when people write letters to my department, i.e. nada, and some poor schmuck like me will have to write a letter back full of platitudes and empty bureaucratic nonsense (god I love my job), but I have put my complaints in writing (and next time I go to the bank or doctor's office and see similar signs, I will send similar letters):

July 15, 2009

Roger J. Katz
Mayor, City of Augusta
City Center Plaza
16 Cony Street
Augusta, ME 04330


Dear Mr. Katz:

This morning when I dropped my son off for the Old Fort Western Apprenticeship program, I was distressed to see a small white sign signifying that the area around the flagpole in front of City Center had been treated with herbicide. As you are no doubt aware, the children in the program meet on the benches in that area before and after the apprenticeship program every morning.

When we arrived, several children were already milling about on the gravel that had been treated and the Old Fort Western leader for the day had no idea what had been sprayed or what area had been affected. Inside City Hall, neither the receptionist nor the assistant planner who were behind the desk had any information either. By the time I returned outside, the white warning sign had been flattened, no doubt by a child walking on it. If it had not already been a completely ineffective deterrent to eight- and nine-year-olds, it was now rendered obsolete. All of those children will go home tonight with herbicide-laden shoes.

First of all, I would like to point out that cosmetic spraying of herbicide is a dangerous and excessive practice, as well as a waste of money, especially during times when the city is so pressed for funds; I don’t think anyone cares if a few green plants grow among the gravel. That consideration aside, however, it should be standard practice that if an area frequented by children on a daily basis is to be treated with a pesticide, the people in charge of the children (in this case the Old Fort Western staff) should be notified well in advance, so that alternative arrangements can be made for their drop-off and pick-up locales. However, that still would not protect the many children who pass through that area while accompanying their parents on errands inside City Hall.

I appreciate your time and attention to this matter, and I sincerely hope that the City will update its policies to eliminate the cosmetic application of pesticides for the health of all our children.

Sincerely,


Andrea E. Lani

C.C. Robert Labreck, Facilities Manager

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This & That

1. Another skirt:




















This is the one I made last year, that was too snug (especially after mysterious expansion that has taken place around my hip/butt/gut area over the last year). Last night, after much cleaning and adjusting of the machine in an attempt to get the tension right, I ripped out the zipper (which is actually a much more slow, painful process than it sounds), cut off the top 3-4 inches, added a bias tape waistband (which I like so much more than the facing it replaced), and sewed the rick-rack around the bottom (because I had meant to do that in the first place, but lost the rick-rack). Now I can wear it around my waist, rather than my lower ribs, which makes it much easier to sit down, and it's still a respectable enough length to wear to work. Yay!


2. After our kids spent time with various relatives this weekend, C and I have decided to make them T-shirts with basic care instructions printed in large, bold type across the front:

NO SUGAR
NO CAFFEINE
NO HAIRCUTS
NO ARMY RECRUITERS
NO JESUS


3. When I dropped M off for his Old Fort Western Apprenticeship camp this morning, the area where the children meet (around the flag pole in front of City Hall, Augusta), had one of those white "herbicides sprayed here don't let children or pets anywhere near" signs stuck in the gravel. I told M not to go anywhere near the area, but all of the other children happily trooped in and around the gravel. When their period-costumed leader of the day arrived, I asked her if she knew where exactly the spraying had occurred, she had no idea. I went inside to the front desk, but neither the receptionist or the assistant planner had any clue what had been sprayed, where or why the leaders of the children's program that meets in that exact area twice a day was not notified of the spraying and directed to meet elsewhere. Additionally, they did not appear to give a f*** and were giving me that "this woman is hysterical" look. By the time I returned outside, the herbicide application sign had been flattened by trodding feet. I ask you, are a few bits of green stuff growing out of an ugly gravel patch around three ugly flag poles so offensive that we need to expose children (and everyone else) to poison?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Glimpses of Sun(flowers)

Actually, the sun has made an appearance most days this month, of course there is so much water out there it all evaporates and turns into thunderstorms in the late afternoon/evening/night. Rain at night causes me a huge amount of anxiety, due I think to growing up in a house whose basement (where my room was located) flooded every time it rained. I always lie in bed worrying about what windows/sunroofs might have been left open, and what toys, tools, or equipment has been left outside--I have been know to make mad midnight pajama dashes out to the car to make sure it's closed up (now I have learned to just close all of the windows as soon as I get home).
This spider (and its supper) came in on some black-eyed Susans I cut for our dinner table Sunday night. It appears to be a Goldenrod Spider. C and I thought it was pretty cool, but my brother didn't appreciate sharing the dinner table with it (some boyscout!)
And I am getting some things done from the list. I had most of Sunday kid-free, thanks to Grampy taking them all to the beach for the day. Instead of getting busy and enjoying my time, I felt rather lost (why is the house so echoey?). I did some work for my class, tried to read in the hammock (until the mosquitoes drove me inside), even watched part of two episodes of Red Dwarf with my brother (TV? In the daytime? Unheard of!). I finally gave in and cleaned up the living room and made dinner (I had originally vowed to do no housework). I did spend a little time with my nature journal, which is always such a peaceful, meditative experience for me--I don't know why I don't do it more often. (Zoom in to see the hover fly).
I spent a lot of the day feeling guilty that I wasn't engaging my kids in some kind of wholesome family activity, and avoiding sewing this skirt, which I finally got around to starting after the kids went to bed, and finishing last night, again after the kids went to bed (after another full afternoon of feeling lazy and uninspired to do anything; I think I need some exercise):
It's a basic A-line skirt, with a zipper, a waistband with a button and back darts from Sew What! Skirts. I bought the fabric last summer, but never got around to it. It's the second skirt I've made from the book, which I for some reason like a lot more than a purchased pattern (even though drafting my own pattern is technically more work; I prefer it to messing with all that stupid tissue paper and obscure directions). I still don't trust my ability to measure enough to make the skirt actually fit, so it's a bit on the loose side (last year I made a skirt based on my favorite linen skirt, but neglected to add a bit of ease, so it's way too tight and now I'm gun-shy) and also the tension on my sewing machine is completely out of whack, and the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got, so don't look too closely or you'll see all kinds of puckered, lumpy seams. I did, however, install the hidden zipper correctly for once (instead of faking it), which is quite exciting!

Friday, July 10, 2009

100ish Summer Things

I started making a list of things I want to do this summer in my journal over the weekend, then I saw Salt & Chocolate's list of 100 things to do and thought, hmmm...could I come up with 100? (My last attempt at a list of 100 only made it to 50). This could turn out to be an exercise in frustration, considering we only have about 4 weeks of summer left (once you subtract our cross-country road trip, which I guess I should add as one item on th elist), of course I can be rather loose with my definition of summer, and go beyond the start of the school year, right up to the equinox, or even until the (gulp) snow flies...here goes:

1. lie in the hammock
2. take kids mini golfing
3. take M to rock shop
4. roll pennies and deposit in the bank (we have lots more to go)
5. make living room curtains
6. make duvet
7. read lots of books
8. write a short story
9. make cheese
10. make knight costumes for E & Z
11. learn embroidery
12. go to the beach
13. make ice cream sandwiches
14. have a dinner picnic at the beach
15. camp out in the backyard
16. make pillow case butterfly nets
17. finish reading Little House on the Prairie with M
18. needle felt birds
19. drive to Colorado (and back)
20. swim
21. fix my bike; ride it somewhere
22. pick strawberries
23. make jam
24. make strawberry shortcake
25. work on my nature journal
26. have the kids paint canvasses with acrylic paint
27. make some skirts
28. get a haircut
29. make mojitos
30. set up my old pup tent
31. eat dinner outside
32. make a bag for our trip
33. take M to dig for gems
34. go to Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve
35. use the solar oven
36. stay home and do nothing
37. draw some cartoons
38. catch frogs with the boys
39. keep the kids awake late enough to catch fireflies
40. go see fireworks
41. go canoeing
42. make cheesecake
43. walk outside barefoot
44. make hemp bracelets with M
45. roll down a hill
46. cook bread on a stick over a campfire
47. go to the art museum
48. pick blackberries
49. make a lasagne completely from scratch (ricotta, mozzarella, pasta & sauce)
50. make fresh masa...turn it into tamales (fresh corn husks?)
51. go to the farmer's market
52. eat a meal completely out of our garden
53. hike
54. make hammer leaf/flower prints with kids
55. turn a cartwheel
56. play in the sprinkler
57. go to the lake
58. go to a flea market
59. eat a wild edible plant
60. make chiles rellenos

Oof, this is hard! But I made it past 50, so that's pretty exciting, and I must say this is a pretty respectable list; another 40 items might push me over the edge. And if I get all of these done, I can always steal a few ideas from Salt & Chocolate. There are plent of things that are not on this list that I ought to do (clean the basement, get the yard in order, manage photos, etc.) but don't particularly want to do. There are also some things on the list that I have already done and/or that I can/should do multiple times (hello, beach!) What are you doing this summer?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Finding Summer

Despite the rain, rain and more rain, we have been taking tiny sips of summer as they present themselves. M even managed to get sunburned, on the one day it has been warm enough for the kids to go in the pool at daycare (apparently once children reach the age of eight, they are entrusted with applying their own sunblock).
On Friday, I was able to check three items off my summer to-do list. First, in the morning we rolled as many pennies from M, E and Z's banks as we had rollers to hold them. Second, we went to the nearby mini golf course, which is kind of quaint in a run-down, dilapidated, typically central-Maine kind of way.





























I've been wanting to take M there for several years, but only now are the twins old enough to (sort of) play along, although they lost interest after about hole six and spent their time after that looking for frogs in the water hazards.
















I won the game with a 68, followed by M with a 69 and my brother with 70 (the course was par 41!). Several of the greens were soggy, some had pools of standing water and all of them appeared moldy (one of my many duties when I worked at a miniature golf course was to squeegee off the greens after it rained). Whenever we lost a ball in the lilies bordering the course, we came out with a different colored ball.

After our 18 holes, we took the pennies to the bank and deposited them in the boys' accounts. M even deposited the $50 bill he has been hanging onto for at least a year! Third, we stopped by Chickadee Rock Shop, where E and Z picked each picked out a handful of tumbled rocks to buy with their dollars, and M, in rock hound heaven, found a huge hunk of amethyst, an uncut emerald necklace and handfuls of small stones to spend his cash on. On the way out to the car, he opened the necklace bag and the emerald, which wasn't firmly attached, fell out somewhere in the grass. We hunted around for a while and then I took a tearful M back into the store. The incredibly kind owner, who had already given M great discounts on his purchases, let him pick another necklace (they were out of emeralds, so M chose a garnet), as well as a key chain.

After we got home we headed to Portland for dinner and an evening at the Portland Museum of Art (free on Friday evenings). We had a moment when a security guard almost threw us out because M walked too closely to the paintings and E and Z were overcome by the urge to run around in the big echoey rooms, but after that I took M's hand and steered him away from the walls and C took E and Z each under an arm and managed to contain their enthusiasm.















We managed to avoid rain through the Fourth of July parade, but without the usual heat, the water sprayed from supersoakers on various floats lost its appeal.















At one point, I dropped a big chunk of freezy-pop (thrown off one of the floats) on the ground and it remained there, totally un-melted through the rest of the parade.















(This is how M has watched every parade of his life).

We spent the afternoon with friends in Harpswell,















(see that?? Blue sky...a very rare sight indeed).
and squeezed in a kayak trip between rain showers. After the grownups (including M, who paddled most of the four miles, C towing him back the last little stretch) came back, the boys headed out under power.




Our attempts at viewing fireworks on the way home were foiled by the mysterious Maine custom of showing fireworks on every night EXCEPT the Fourth (one show had happened on the third; another was scheduled for the fifth). No matter how long I live here, I will never comprehend this state.

Sunday was the first clear, beautiful, sunny all day day that we'd seen in a long, long, time. I spent it catching up on yard work and even put in some time lolling about in the hammock with a magazine (I needed a blanket, though--the wind was chilly!) The kids, so thrilled to be outside and dry entertained themselves pretty much all day (Z did help me mow the lawn, and I had to take away the hose more than once; really the yard does not need any more water, although my poor house plants have been suffering their own private drought under the overhang in front of our house).
Monday, another sunny day, while the twins went to Nature Camp, M and I went on a super muddy, insanely buggy hike, then we camped out on the lawn outside Nature Camp and I helped M make a hemp bracelet (another check off the list, although it is waaay too long and we'll have to make another). Afterward we headed to our friends' lake house and played on the beach all afternoon. The boys swam in the lake, heedless of the icy water, until finally they came out shivery and blue. Then Tuesday I apparently found it inconceivable that we could possibly return to cold rainy weather, because I sent everyone off in t-shirts and shorts and had to stop at home for long pants and dry shoes between picking them up at camp and dropping them off at daycare.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Trough

This morning I overheard one of the meteorologists in my office say, "We're just stuck in a trough that we can't seem to get out of." Talk about metaphors for my life. I have lately had the line from Bear Wants More running through my brain, "Oh what luck! I am stuck, stuck, stuck!" In terms of my writing, but it could apply to so many other things right now (my job, this summer, anything creative). I just feel like I want to peel off my skin and crawl away to a sunny rock. Maybe it's that other trough, the meteorological one, that's keeping me down, or maybe I have succumbed to a psychological low pressure system.


I have been feeling so frozen with respect to writing lately (in spite of, or perhaps because of, the class I'm taking), that I couldn't even put together a coherent sentence. Then, this morning, after being rudely and abruptly awoken by a mosquito buzzing in my year at 4 a.m., I got up and wrote (wee early hours are the only time I can get access our computer anyway, when C isn't working, my brother isn't Facebooking, and my children aren't demanding attention) and wrote and wrote and wrote. I finally got all of the stuff rattling around in my head for my workshop piece for class down in a first draft. I'm sure it's a (as Anne Lammott says) shitty first draft, but a first draft it is, and a huge breakthrough for me at this time and for this topic. Perhaps, just perhaps, I am rising up out of this trough.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hello??

Yes I'm still here. No I'm not off on some fabulous vacation to some exotic locale. And I am not enjoying summer's bounties so much that I can't tear myself away from the sun and excitement for ten minutes to get in touch with my bloggy public. Mostly I can't think of anything to write about other than the fact that it won't stop raining! And it feels like March again!!! And I'm going crazy! Freaking out!

No, really, I'm fine. The sun made an appearance on Friday, but since I had planned my day around rain, rain and more rain, I felt somewhat unmoored and unsure what to do with myself. I didn't want to get in the car and run errands when the sun was shining, but I wasn't sure what else to do with myself. Eventually, Z and I went and picked wild strawberries in the neighbor's field, which was really nice...amazing actually to spend a few minutes focused in on just one of my kids. We did go on our errand-running--library, consignment store (where I found a pair of cammo shorts for M which he has not removed all week), shoe store for my brother (yes I realize I haven't written about the experience of having an additional male--a teenage one at that--in my house yet. I'll get to that, I think. Once I recover). We opted to not go to the pool one last time (I suspended our membership for the summer, thinking we'd be swimming in the great outdoors--ha!)

Saturday, I determined to go to the beach, no matter what. As it turned out, the weather was beautiful--sunny, warm, clear; a little breezy, and the ocean way too cold for swimming (although my friend's son dove right in). It was hard to tear the kids away. Next time I'll just bring lunch AND dinner and stay until twilight. On the way home I stopped at the book store in Damariscotta and picked up Call Me Okaasan, edited by Suzanne Kamata, who co-taught the online writing class I took last summer. The collection includes an excellent essay by a fellow student in that class, Katherine Barrett, about the contrast between the life between a Canadian expatriat in South Africa and the lives of refugees and immigrants from other African countries. Some of the essays I found truly beautiful and insightful, while others I thought lacked a certain something. Many focused on the issues around raising multilingual children, which appears to be more complicated than I thought.

Saturday night, C and I actually went out on a date--dinner at El Camino, one of the Mexican restaurants I wrote about last month....mucho amazing good food (wild mushroom tacos in homemade tortillas--much better than mine--rhubarb mojito, home made chips with guac and salsa, Mexican chocolate pot de creme)...a bit of a wait on a Saturday night, but we weren't in a rush (we were alone! together!)

Sunday morning I went strawberry picking--the berries were a little on the pink side of ripe and it started downpouring while I was out there, so I only got about 10 quarts (and only three quarts made it to the freezer--the rest found their way into bellies, strawberry-rhubarb cake and strawberry shortcake, minus the shortcake, because I didn't feel like making it, and minus the whipped cream, because it kept turning into butter). On the way home, I pulled into a public boat launch parking lot along a lake, pulled out my notebook and wrote, wrote, wrote totally uninterrupted. Amazing.

And...drum roll, please...we've finally made a decision on our summer travel plans: we're going to drive, which was my original plan, but which was poo-pooed by C, who wanted to make the trip fast, resulting in me having a major melt-down about life in general, and particularly having to live in this god-forsaken climate with a steady stream of his relatives flowing in and out of my life and never seeing my own family, and, oh, yeah, my job sucks. In that order. Humph. So now we're back on the road, so to speak, and I'm both excited by planning the little details (travel amusement packs for the kids!) and really traumatized by the vision of the three of them fighting the whole 4000 miles. Wish me luck.
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