Thursday, May 22, 2008

keep a stash of cash hidden in your glove box

Or, maybe not the glove box. That's the first place thieves look for enticing stealables, yes? So maybe in the little finger-well on the door on the passenger backseat that suspiciously fills up with paper scraps and ginger chew wrappers and the tips off of broken ballpoint pens. Do your self a favor and stick a twenty in there. Because you just never know.

You just never know that even though you laid out clothes for everybody the night before, even though you woke up bright and early and got breakfast going straight away, even though lunches and snacks for the day were packed, even though you restocked the car with diapers and wipes and car sickness vomit catchers, even though you threw a book into your bag in case the two-year old naps in the car and you won't be stuck without anything to do, even though you remembered EVERYTHING you could possibly need for a whole day in the city afoot with a toddler, you might still FORGET YOUR WALLET.

I discovered the offense half way in (on our hour trip). Too late to turn around. Forge ahead. I immediately launched into a grumpy IF ONLY. . . wishful thinking diatribe, feeling mad at myself for being so forgetful, mad at my house from being so far from my destination, mad at the world for not delivering me a time machine yet. Where's that De Lorean, Emmett Brown?

It's hard to remain too grumpy, though, when one travels with an encouraging life coach and motivational speaker in the form of a wild-haired nine year old. "Don't say How could I forget it", she told me, "say, What should I do now?".

A friend who answered my plaintive cell phone call suggested we check to see if the Zoo would accept phone payment and allow for Will Call ticket pick-ups. Nope. Well, then, no zoo. Which is unfortunate because, up until I discovered the missing wallet, and for the last several preceding days, I'd been talking up the Zoo big time to the boy, who was too little to remember the last time he went, a year ago. We deposited the girl at her drop off spot. And then we parked the car by the river and attempted a walk.

It was a decent twenty minute walk. But we have five HOURS to kill. And it's cold here today. Yeah, yeah, make up yer dang mind already. Last week was too hot and this week we're back down to the fifties. It was still in the high *forties* when I pointed out rowboats along the river and my little guy responded with, "peeese no more walk, mama. peeeese go back to car. peeese, i so tired mama".

So he napped all the way home and we've had lunch and I have forms of payment and identification again and if it took me having to go back and thorth and back and thorth (ah, my daughter, who just about came out of the womb with impressive and articulate language skills, had a few baby-words, that being one of them. it wasn't until she was five or six that she said back and forth, before it was always repeated twice and with the extra 'th' and, i must admit, i was sad to see it go) to learn it, this isn't a lesson I'll soon forget. The lesson, no. But my wallet again? Probably.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

so like moles

going underground

Who was just wishing it would warm up already? Was that me? What? Who knew I had such powerful Magical Thinking? It's been hot here. Like so respectably Hot, not even my Arizona friends could sneer. Sure, it's no One Hundred and Seventeen degrees, but even 97 is sweltering when you don't have central air. Nobody around here has central air. Oh, sure, maybe some folks do, but aside from the occasional window unit, I'd say most households rely on fans and iced beverages for keeping cool. And, if you're lucky, auxiliary living space in a Basement.

I'm lucky.

I don't have an interior thermostat, but ground temps are still in the high fifties and our basement is probably about that. There have been movies watched under blankets and rowdy big movement play without breaking a sweat. Two nights ago, the children tossed about in their own beds (did you hear? the boy has been starting out every night in his very own bed in his very own room, sometimes lasting ALL NIGHT! which translates into hours of uninterrupted sleep for this tired mama, how about that?!) until long past bedtime, so we packed it all up and went underground. The children and I slept on our extra queen bed in the "guest room" (we have, in fact, hosted guests there, so I guess the title fits) and the husband retired to the sofa (our television is down there in a cozy little den space). My teeth may have chattered a bit that night: my children are cover hogs.


And if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need, aw yeah.
I landed in this town which was not the town I was aiming for, I landed in this house, which was not the house I imagined, and yet, I keep being reminded, that it's all Just Right.

Our Must-Have criteria included more than one toilet, walking distance to community resources, roomy kitchen, plenty of storage. Under the Wish List were items like, big front porch, clawfoot tub, tall trees. I didn't think about a finished basement, although as soon as we saw this house, and went downstairs, I realized how useful it would be. All that extra space, for playing, creating, hanging out. I guess we could have looked around longer, waited for the original bungalow with leaded glass and hex tile, but we put an offer on this place and the deal was done before I blinked. It is not at all what I thought I wanted, but for so many reasons, has been just what we needed.

It's cooling back down already. On Friday we stood so close to Triple Digits, we could feel that hot air on our necks, but today it's only in the eighties. I like having the main level doors and windows open, the breeze, the sounds, the children running in and out. But I like knowing that when it warms back up again (and it will, Oregon sees plenty of hot summer weather), we're just a flight of stairs away from relief.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

but the river it goes right on

Every time Mother's Day rolls around, I think of this one particular quote from The Grapes of Wrath. It's well suited and is not some questionable word association that wouldn't make a lick of sense to anyone else. I have a lot of those. Words and images and ideas that randomly bumped into each other once in my brain and then, dubiously, remain attached. And it doesn't matter how long it's been, how weak the connection might be, the relationship endures. Like the way I'll always think of Clowns anytime someone says Clear when specifically speaking of traffic. It's all clear. And in my head, I see Clowns. Don't expect further explanation. I have no idea.

But this one makes sense. I think the first time I discovered The Grapes of Wrath it must have been in the spring and around Mother's Day and I must have read that little passage and thought, yes. Not the first time I read the book, that was much earlier, before I had any perspective. It wasn't all that long ago, really, that I brought the audiobook home from the library and was completely astonished by it. I was astonished that something so ubiquitous and referenced could actually be so good. And then immediately after listening to it (and if you haven't listened to it, I sure recommend it, says someone who loves to read and generally disdains audiobooks. The version read by Dylan Baker is fantastic), I borrowed an old harback copy and read through all my favorite parts.

So in my head, I can hear this certain passage being read and I can see it in the borrowed library book, but since I've never read through the thrifted paperback copy on my shelf, I can't find it.

You'd think if I hit the right google keywords, I'd be able to dig up the excerpt somewhere online, but the only quotes I pull up are from the movie.

I've seen the 1940 production and I enjoyed it, but it's no substitute or even near comparison to the book. But Ma Joad has a line that's just about the same as the book, so I'm sharing that one with you. I can't remember how it's different in the book. I'll keep looking and report back.

A woman can change better'n a man. A man lives, sorta, well, in jerks. Baby's born and somebody dies, and that's a jerk. He gets a farm or loses it, and that's a jerk. With a woman, it's all in one flow like a stream. Little eddies and waterfalls, but the river it goes right on. A woman looks at it that way.

Yeah.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

the pox, take two

oats to quell the itchies

The boy's outbreak occurred two weeks after his sister's. And about six weeks after beginning his most recent (and most virulent!) objection to bathing. So the frequent baking soda baths that helped the girl aren't an option for my boy. There's nothing therapeutic or relaxing about his baths lately. In fact, I'm a little bit not looking forward to warmer weather (even though, yes, really, I am looking forward to warmer weather: it's been one long and incredibly cool spring around here) because that means we'll have the windows open and that means the whole neighborhood will hear his I HATE WATER! screams. Of course, they might be the same neighbors who would find him soaked and dripping any time we have the garden hose out. That boy will find the one muddy puddle in the backyard and be totally drenched in the time it takes me to turn around and sneeze. He doesn't hate water, he just hates baths, and I don't even think he hates baths all that much. It's just a convenient thing to have a fierce opinion about. Which is one of the most charming and most frustrating parts of toddlerhood, the fierceness. Such big ideas in such little people!

So as much as he's been letting me, I've been giving him a rubdown with oatmeal water. I pour rolled oats into an old stray sock, tie off the end and let it steep for a few minutes in barely warm water. Then I squeeze out the sock to get as much milky oat water out, and wipe him down with a cloth. I'm not so sure if it's helping or not. He still tells me, "me no feeling so good, mama". But it makes me feel a little better, to be doing something. When your baby is hurting, you just want to help.

Last night was pretty miserable, we were in bed for nearly twelve hours, but there sure wasn't much sleep going on. He's been much more chipper today (which translates currently into ripping his sister's reading material from her hands and pulling her hair, for attention, eek!) so I hope we all make up for lost rest.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

she's got electric boots, a mohair suit

There's something about the long stretch of highway between our house and the big city that makes my kids puke. They're both car sickness prone, just like their mama (who abates sickies by being the driver), so it's not a surprise or anything. Our car is well stocked with extra towels, empty lidded containers and plastic grocery bags. We've got a regular gig going that gets us up and out the door early, when tummies are less settled. I've built into our driving time enough room to stop for one clean-up. I've almost declared it an inevitability. I am a careful but speedy driver, hurrying (within limits!) to beat the dreaded up-chuck. I keep one eye trained on the rear view, so I can rally the girl into throwing her brother a bowl or whatever if he gets that very particular green look.

Today I noticed a few quick urgent movements from the backseat, oh no! And I glanced behind me, but it wasn't what I was expecting, it was just my daughter rocking out to Elton John on the radio and my son throwing back his head in laughter. She saw me watching her and said, "you probably don't know this, but this is one of my favorite songs. Who is this guy, again? Does he have any CDs?" And I think I might get her a greatest hits album, but maybe minus any candle in the wind.

Monday, May 05, 2008

fizzy lifting drink

kombucha

I have vague memories of visiting my grandparents many years ago and listening to my grandma tell me all about some wonder mushroom tea she and my grandpa were drinking every morning. But I also have vague memories of watching bad saturday television while eating -cold and uncooked, one after another- those frightening processed wiener dogs with the cheeze product in the middle. Which is to say, my childhood wasn't exactly a compendium of good nutrition, so one particular health supplement wasn't bound to make much of an impression.

Kombucha has been on my radar for a long time. I have been curious but not compelled to try it. Until now. I've lived in my new town almost eight months now. Which isn't long enough to, say, be recognized by clerks at the store or library, or have finally gotten the house organized after all those last years of moving (on the average: at least one move a year!), but it is long enough, as it turns out, to have made a friend who will gladly have me over and then send me home with symbiotic yeast and bacteria cultures and an extra pickle jar to brew it in.

I'm already a big fan of cider vinegar, so kombucha isn't that much of a stretch. Oh, and I'm also quite a tea drinker. And I like carbonated things. But not soda. I haven't had a soda since I was pregnant with the girl, lo! a whole decade ago. I cut it out for the good of the little alien critter in my womb and found out, after all, that if you don't drink sodas for a long time, it's nearly impossible to start again. Too sweet and sickening. So I'm particularly fond of slightly carbonated and unsweet beverages. Like beer. I'm particularly fond of beer. For the ritual of five o'clock, for the snap of the opener on the cap (no twist-offs, please), for the tiny, tiny ice crystals that form when I leave one in the freezer just long enough (but not too long!), for the way it feels in my mouth. . . for the way it feels in my head.

I don't expect kombucha to be all that, but I do think it will do me well to have a new drink in my end-of-day repertoire. Also, not even the best northwest brew ever claimed to assist with inflammation, aid arthritis (someday maybe I'll tell you about my stiff and clicky joints, and my increasingly crooked fingers, but I've still sorta got my head in the sand about that stuff), or level one's metabolism. You mean, I can drink this fizzy, fermented tea drink every day and it might boost weight loss? Because beer? Yeah, it works the other direction. See my shrinking wardrobe and my expanding waistline as evidence.

I've read conflicting information on its neurological properties, that it either gives a little energy burst or it instills a sense of well-being. Maybe it does both. Quick and mellow? I can use some of that.

I can't give much of a personal report yet, though. I drank a few glasses from my first batch today. Two days ago, five days into the brewing process, it was still too sweet to my liking. Today it was just right. I shared with my children (the eldest sincerely liked her serving and looks forward to more, the youngest took a mouse sip and said, mmm, that's good, but refused further tastes) and had two small glasses myself. And I like it.

Who knows if it will do me any good. I am assuming that it will, or at least won't do any harm, and I am not at all opposed to any possible placebo effects. Because in addition to having a refreshing, barely bubbling beverage, I guess I already enjoy the process. You know me and process and ritual. I appreciate having an oversized pickle jar sitting on my kitchen counter for a week, covered with a napkin affixed with a rubber band, and doing sniff and taste tests every couple of days. I like taking a slimy starter (which is really called a scoby, so much for the magic mushroom tea) and turning it into something we can drink and use. I mean, when I usually find symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast growing in the back of my fridge, I throw them out, not drink them, right?

And, yeah, I guess I like having a reason to use these cool self-corking bottles from ikea:


bottled

Friday, May 02, 2008

faith like a kale seed

faith like a kale seed

Kale is in the mustard family so I'm not exactly taking liberty with that reference. And I'd consider it a common reference, but maybe you haven't read the new testament lately, or at all, so I'll tell you that it's from the book of Matthew, Chapter 17, verse 20. And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

I'm not so sure about moving mountains. But doesn't putting such a tiny speck into the ground with the hope it will yield a bounty of nutritious greens seem just as impossible? It's biology, sure. Or not. Like raising babies.

Anything could happen. But you trust it will all turn out for good in the end. If you don't believe it will, then don't even start in the first place.

If you're certain that the birds will eat the seeds before they germinate, don't waste an afternoon getting mud in your fingernails, poking them into damp soil, just don't.

It's hard to believe. My gardening past has been spotty. Flowers in pots and sporadic attempts at container vegetables. One year we had piles of romaine lettuce but the broccoli was anemic and wilted before maturity. We've moved around a lot (no really, I never stop playing that broken record) and I haven't grown all that much. So it's not rote yet and still very much fantastic and magical.

Maybe it never becomes routine. Maybe serious gardeners with years under their rubber clogs still believe in magic. Like having babies. You can do all the right things, you can read the right books and put forth your very best effort, but these little people come to us so full of their own ideas and dreams and predilections: the resulting yield might not be what we are expecting. Or it might be so much more. Amazing!

We hope for the best. We have faith. We water and weed and shoo starlings away.