Monday, August 27, 2012

Potholders! Made 'em myself! Gonna make more!

I'm really too tired to write this, but I'm going to give it a try. It's Monday, an everyday, normal sort of Monday, which is to say a Monday that doesn't involve sleeping in or lounging about with a cup of tea reading a novel like a Monday in mid-July might. No, it's the normal sort of Monday where one gets up at 6:45 a.m. and makes breakfasts and drives boys to school and walks the dog and eats breakfast and sits down on the couch and goes to work making up stories.

Pretty rough, huh? So why am I so beat? Still getting used to the routine, I guess. By next week, I should be leaping around like a happy tree frog at 9:45 p.m.. Just you wait.

It's nice to be back on a regular writing schedule, that's for sure. I'm very deep into making up a fictional town (in Kentucky, where my parents live and my ancestors roamed the mountains a long, long time ago), which is quite satisfying. Have you ever made up a town? You should try it.

What to tell you? Last week I looked out of my bathroom window and saw a squirrel hanging upside down from a dogwood tree. I thought it was dead, and I spent many minutes wondering how it had died. It didn't look traumatized, like maybe the hummingbirds had finally taken revenge on it for sucking all the nectar out of their feeder. It didn't look like it had fallen and broken its neck. No, it looked sort of peaceful. I decided it had died in its sleep of old age.

And then I realized it was chomping away on the little dogwood berries and not dead at all. Stupid squirrel.

I had a glass of wine with my recently widowed neighbor on Saturday night. I was afraid going over there that I might cry, or say something stupid, or that it would just be so, so sad. And it was sad, and a couple of times I almost cried. But we also laughed a lot and talked about all sorts of things other than her husband's dying, but we talked about that, too, and what shape her grief is taking right now (exhaustion, mostly), and how everyday surprises her with some new realization about life without Adam.

This neighbor and I had only just started on the path toward a real friendship a few months before her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and what surprised me most about Saturday night is that we're still on that path. I thought that given everything she's been through, she wouldn't be able to grow a friendship right now, that we'd have to wait a couple years and start over. But nope, there we were, talking and laughing and telling stories on ourselves. It was lovely. And sad. And good.

Will and the Man made an arrow with a real arrow head on Saturday. When I went on my walk on Sunday, Will asked me to look for a feather, and I found one. You don't find a feather every day. Why is that? Do they all get stuck in the trees? Like dead squirrels? Or maybe the squirrels eat them. Stupid squirrels.

Okay, time for bed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

And so the summer ends ...

Today was the first day of school. The boys got up at 7:00 and were ready to go by 7:25. We didn't need to leave until 7:40, so there was a lot of standing around and sighing, like Why does our mom make us do stupid stuff like wake up at 7:00? 

Tomorrow there's a chance that they'll be ready by 7:30; by Thursday I'll be yelling at them to hurry up, we're going to be late. It's the same every year.

To that end, we have contracted with Jack about his behavior. Actually, his behavior is quite good. It's his habits that are horrible. So last night I typed out an agreement that basically said, Here's all the fun stuff you get to do IF you keep up your end of the bargain by getting out of bed on time in the morning, doing a good job on your homework after school, and making A's and B's on your report card. Oh, yes, and by actually talking to your parents from time to time.

Jack agreed to the agreement, not a surprise as it a) gives him a lot of independence in exchange for his compliance; and b) not agreeing was not an option.

Yesterday was Open House, and you'll be happy to hear I only said one or two stupid things as I made small talk with the other parents of fourth and eighth graders. I'm learning to ask questions and shut my mouth and to not feel I have to be clever or funny or entertaining. This strategy works well, although I'm so busy trying not to say funny or clever things that I miss half of what's being said by the other person. Oh, well. Hopefully I give off the appearance of really listening.

Now it's 8:00, and we're all exhausted. After I dropped off the boys at school, I met with some fellow moms from Our Fine School for coffee (only I drank tea, as is now my way). Nobody's kids slept last night and everyone was ready to go at 7:25. That's the first day of school for you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Report

Summer's bounty: A basketful of Romas on their
 way to becoming paste. Photo: The Man.

It occurred to me the other day that summer is the only season I actively review. Has it been a good summer? Did I get done this summer all I had planned (ha!)? I never ask myself if I had a good fall, if I enjoyed the winter, if I accomplished all my springtime goals.

So has it been a good summer? Well, it's a been a good summer for tomatoes. Our freezer is loaded with tomato sauce, tomato soup, and tomato paste. With my stomach ailments, I haven't been able to eat tomatoes this summer, so I have been an admirer of tomatoes. They are such beautiful creatures.

(By the way, I just ate a sliver of cheddar cheese to see if it would give me a stomachache. I should know in the next ten minutes or so. I'm very tired of chicken, brown rice and steamed zucchini, as you might imagine. So I've become a risk-taker. Cheddar cheese! Tortellini! A grape! It's all an adventure.)

All this to say, culinarily-speaking, it hasn't been such a great summer. Writing-wise, not so hot either. Who knew that I needed to be caffeinated in order to create? I've started drinking Lady Gray tea, which has just a smidgen of caffeine, and I seem to be able to tolerate it, so maybe in a couple of weeks I'll move up to the hard stuff. That's right, Earl Gray. Just try to stop me.

Quilt-wise? It's all good. Right now I'm quilting a quilt for a friend. Here's how it looks:

I'm free-motion quilting, which is about as much fun as I can legally have.

I have not done a good job this summer of handing over all the household chores to the boys, as was my plan. I lacked resolve. My tummy hurt. I was too busy worrying about the terminal illness my bad gut surely portended. It's impossible to work up the enthusiasm for showing a boy how to scrub out a toilet when you're convinced you only have a month or two to live.

Many good walks this summer, a bit of weight loss, some nice get-togethers with friends. Too much time in the dentist's chair. The very sad loss of a neighbor who wasn't yet fifty and left behind a wife and two teenaged children.

I don't think I can sum this summer up. Well, there's two weeks left before school starts (and two months more, at least, of warm weather). Maybe I'll see the big picture as I wave goodbye to the boys on the first day. I suspect when I think back to this summer, what I'll remember most of all is sitting in the family room with the Man, knitting and watching the Olympics and "Foyle's War," very cozy indeed. Not so bad at all.