Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I spent two-and-half days last week curled up on the couch in a blanket with a bad cold, a pot of mint tea with honey and a stack of library books.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Our summer One Small Change--eating locally-grown food only--officially ended last Monday as the boys ripped into a bag of Mesa Sunrise for breakfast, as if it were not corn & quinoa flakes, but rather a box of Cap’n Crunch.
They had been complaining for a couple of weeks about having oatmeal or granola every day. C had been complaining about having to make oatmeal when we were between granola batches. I promised everyone that they would have ‘real’ cereal when school started. Getting three kids to the bus by 7:35 would be hard enough for C (my plan being to be out of the house by 6:30), without daily breakfast battles.
I do plan on continuing to buy our produce locally at least through September, and to continue using up the dry goods on our shelves before buying more. And told C I wouldn’t buy him olive oil until he used up the stinky canola, but I’m going to need to get some soon to make my basil into pesto (along with some Pecorino Romano and pine nuts).
Sometime around the middle of August, C asked if I had gotten any fennel seed at the store. “That will have to wait until September,” I said.
He looked confused for a moment and then asked, “Are we doing the Hundred Mile Diet again?”
This tells me two things: 1) either I don’t communicate or he doesn’t listen to me; and 2) it’s not much of a deprivation to eat locally (at least not in July or August). I did find local cheese and root beer and salami, which I guess kept the masses happy.
“Good thing I didn’t go grocery shopping,” he replied. I don’t think we were in too much danger of that.
The thing I like about eating locally (and I’m pretty sure this will become an annual event, with a hopefully ever-lengthening season), is that it strips you down to the truly necessary, shines a bright light on your limits and what is non-negotiable. What will you take in your covered wagon across the prairie? Salt pork and cornmeal or Pecorino Romano and extra virgin olive oil? Apparently for us it’s breakfast cereal. Our prairie schooner will be piled from wagon box to canvas with bags of Mesa Sunrise and Heritage Flakes.
We watched No Impact Man, The Movie this past weekend and it made me: a) really jealous of New York’s farmer’s market...with options like that why would you even want to go into a grocery store? and b) want to push the envelope a bit more with our small changes. But I’m not sure what that would be yet. I like his discussion about volunteering and building community. I’m just not sure when I’d find the time for one more thing.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
It came a few days after the actual event, in a big, unmarked box. “Is it a laptop?” I joked as I peeled away packing tape.
“I’m not that rich,” C replied.
“I guess it would have an apple with a bite out of it on the box if it was.”
“Or a circle with ‘dell’ in it,” M offered.
“Circle with a line through it ‘dell,’” I said.
By then I had gotten through the outer box to the inner one and saw the apple with a bite out of it.
I admit I got a little weepy. Then I chided myself for getting weepy over a material object. But really, it was because C knew what I really wanted and gave it to me. I’ve been saving up for my own computer for almost 30 years (truly, I started my first computer fund in a toffee tin when I was in 3rd grade. Of course, back then my handful of coins and $2 bills were heading toward an Apple IIe or a Commodore 64). All the computers C and I have had have either been hand-me-downs or, in the case of the most recent two, purchased for his work. In every case, he’s taken the interest to set them up, configure them to his preferences. I use a computer eight hours a day, five days a week, so it’s generally the last thing I want to do when I get home at night. Until now.
At first there was nothing much I could do with my new computer. It didn’t come loaded with any useful software and I couldn’t connect to the Internet (we use C’s Blackberry as an external modem--we didn’t run cable to our house when we built it and by the time DSL reaches our neck of the woods it will have been replaced by some other technology, like teletransporting oneself to an Internet cafe--and the software disk he had didn’t work). I could mix music tracks, play chess or take pictures of myself like this:
(Believe me I did that for a good solid hour). I realized that I still think of a computer as a fancy typewriter while for the rest of the world views it as a multimedia experience...a really expensive toy. Now we’re one of those families with more chargers than people: C’s Blackberry and Bluetooth, my cellphone (which I use mainly as a really expensive alarm clock), both laptops, plus a variety of battery chargers.
That weekend I found my way to a wi-fi location and downloaded a trial copy of iWork. I still haven’t solved my internet connection, but I can type!!
I even made it its own cozy.
I was going to make a bag, but when I looked around on the Internet for ideas, I saw that the laptop sleeve is the done thing. Since I already have a messenger bag, it made sense. Plus I didn’t have to fiddle around with straps.
Even though it's tiny, the computer doesn’t fit inside my desk with the door closed because there are pigeon holes in there, but it fits nicely on the shelf. Now nothing is standing between me and a bestseller.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Last week was a bad week. Very bad. I can’t think of time when I’ve felt less equal to the task of parenting (actually I can...the first two years of the twins’ lives and M’s 5th and 6th years).
I don’t know the right way to respond to a child who filches pocket knives out of drawers, one who spits in my face, one who kicks and hits me, one who sprays the hose directly into the house. I know lots of wrong ways.
Mainers use the word “ugly” to describe a type of personality or behavior--angry, mean, grouchy, ill-behaved. We all four were ugly last week.
It was the first week of school. The first week of Kindergarten at a new school for the twins. It was probably a hard transition from summertime’s easy living to learning new rules, meeting new people, holding it all in and behaving for six hours. Every day I failed. It was also 90 degrees and 85 percent humidity every day, with high ozone and particulate matter in the air. Too much for even heat-loving me. Weather that can make anyone ugly.
I tried to be understanding. Every day I vowed to be more calm, patient, loving. Every day I failed.
I tried to build extra moments of connection into our days--reading books in the afternoon, letting them squeeze lemons beside me as I made dinner, coming home early with ice cream sandwiches and filling the pool, lying in bed with them after lights out.
And still they were ugly at dinnertime and bedtime and wake-up time and pick-up time. And I was even uglier because I resented that I had made those extra efforts and there appeared to be no benefit. I did not want to be around them. I wanted to run away to a villa in Tuscany. I could hear my own voice in their angry interactions with each other and it made me sick to my stomach.
Friday was the worst--they had the day off of school and I had it off work. We were going to go up to our friends’ camp on the lake, but decided to put it off one day because of Hurricane Earl’s expected arrival, which was a huge mistake. It was still hot, a perfect day to be at the lake. Having other people around to pay them attention and being outside on the water would have calmed everyone’s ugliness I’m sure.
Finally, I shut myself in my room just to avoid any more confrontations. I did some sewing, some lying on the bed blankly, some cleaning. I could hear them downstairs making messes. I could hear them outside, with M as the director of activities. When C came home, he took them all out to dinner and left me home alone.
I reread the short story, “Boys” by Rick Moody. It reminded me that boys are dirty, smelly, ill-mannered creatures, not the angelically behaved cherubs that appear to exist all over blog-land. The reality is much less pleasant, I reminded myself, but a lot more interesting. I would prefer interesting children to pleasant ones, right?
I had just written a short piece about nature journaling as a form of meditation, so I took myself outside to contemplate the sunflowers and the stunted giant pumpkins, colored pencils in hand. I lay on the couch mindlessly. I ate cold onion rings and half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s after C got home (emotional eating always helps). I told myself I just needed some restorative time to myself, but really, I just did not want to be around my own children.
I hope our weekend at the lake helped and we’ll all feel restored this week (though what I truly needed was a weekend in a sensory deprivation chamber!) and better able to cope with whatever comes along.