Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gentle Jess

     I really wanted to name him Rowdy Valentine instead of Jess Valentine, but I am glad I didn't. This little guy is so mellow and gentle. His whole presence has a soothing effect on whoever is holding him. He's bright and engaging, too, but not in a rambunctious way at all. He lulls me with his peaceful power into hours of holding him as he sleeps. I don't get much done, and most times, I don't much mind.
     Since his birth, I find myself experiencing real moments of tranquility. I know it is a gift he carried into this life. 

Sweet Grass and Sick Hot Hay

A continuation of the post titled "Mercy"

  sweet grass...
    The grassy areas surrounding the farm were littered with (what I call) chamomile grass. When I walked my little bare feet in the fields, the smell of honey and apples would spring from the earth. This chamomile grass had a wonderful, soft feel, almost like a tiny, fuzzy succulent. I can't help but smile when I smell chamomile. (hey, that rhymes, if you pronounce it wrong!)

sick hot hay...
I grumpily skulked along side the wagon. All the adults were in the field with pitchforks in hand. A number of days before, the hay had been cut and left on the ground to dry. 

Today was the day it needed to be moved to the barn for storage. The sun was hot, the air was muggy, and our activity was sending the bugs flying angrily in the air and around my face. I couldn't have been more miserable!

I watched as the adults threw forkfuls of hay into the wagon, first filling the corners and then the middle. This enabled them to stack it very high before taking it back to the barn. There they would again use their forks to unload it. It was a time consuming process that was an eternity to my four year old self. 

I wondered why I was even there. It could have been because all hands were needed for the work, which left no one to look after me. It could have been to teach me my place in the world, to pluck out any seed of entitlement that might have begun to take root in my soul.
The smell made me feel sick. The sun baked the grass until the sweetness was overpowering. Its rays reflected off the dry grass, burning my eyes. I will never forget that day. 

For years and years, after leaving New Hampshire, I couldn't bear to look at a sunny field. It does sound silly, I know, but it is true. Riding in the car, passing a sunny field, would strike a chord of dread in me. My eyes would fervently search for the shade of a tree to counteract the effect.

 I am amazed that I live, and love living, in Arizona. The sun always shines. I think it has forgiven me for hating it all those years.

When I studied with The School of Natural Healing, working to become a Master Herbalist, I had a question answered that had been in the back of my mind since that hot hay day. We studied the chemical constituents of many herbs.

Coumarin was the answer. 

It is the constituent responsible for the sweet smell of freshly cut grasses.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Garden Planted

  We found another little space in our yard to plant a garden. 
 This is where I put the corn and pumpkins. 
I should have planted about 20 days ago, but I wasn't ready. 
We'll see how it turns out. 

I made a stone path down the center. 
This puts everything within a two foot reach.

Here is another bed against the house.
It will have more tomatoes, soon, and some peppers.

Our strawberries are very happy under the pine tree.

I am catching lots of runners to plant!

Here lies the raised bed that will grow us some green beans.

I went ahead and planted some cucumbers with them 
to see if they can get along.

The grapes like their new location.

Garden good news:
This is the biggest tomato I have ever grown in AZ!
 It is actual "tomato-sized!"

Too bad I dropped the biggest one on the floor and busted it 
before I could stow it for ripening!

I'm going to eat it anyway.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Mom moved us from southern Florida to New Hampshire when I was four years old. There she embarked on a dream of living a homestead lifestyle. The farm we lived on belonged to Mrs. Cooley and had been built in colonial times. We lived there about a year, but it was a short season packed with so much newness, that I swear I can remember almost everything.

There was a snake that slithered across the floor of my bedroom the day I moved in. It really scared me and gave mom a little start, too. Needless to say I was reluctant to spend the night or even set foot in the room. I don't know how long it took, but mom reasoned with me and I finally showed my bravery by sitting on the floor in front of the dresser where the snake had gone. The big help was learning there are no poisonous snakes in New England. Under the big step of the barn was a nest of snakes that I ended up befriending. I have not been afraid of snakes since.

I've decided to write a few paragraphs at a time about this period in New Hampshire. Only recently have I realized how tremendously that short time has impacted my life. It was a perfect set of experiences.

Hmm. It just occurred to me that it had to be spectacular.

This was the move that separated me from dad.

Perhaps God mercifully sent me this slow-motion set of magical events to distract me from the full force of loss that would have been too much for a little girl, had she been looking straight at it.

Here is a list of a few things I want to remember to write about:

The Two-Seater
Banging Down the Bees
Sweet Grass and Sick-Hot-Hay
Tapping Maples
The Glass Eye in the Mystery Room
The Visiting Fiddler
Beenut Milk
Flying Jack O Lantern
Dump Shopping
The Silver Box
Jane's Clean Dirt Floor
Fieldstones and Chipmunks

Friday, August 15, 2008

Building Blocks and Relationships

It has been a challenging few months.

Marshall is two.

When Jess was born I felt like I lost my best little friend. Marshall withdrew from me and seemed unhappy for a while. Knowing that this is normal didn't take the sting out of it. He and I had been inseparable for almost two years. I left him with other people less than a dozen times in those two years-no joke, so you can imagine our attachment.

His turning two has not been fun either. Again, knowing he is acting normal doesn't lessen the ever changing struggles and stresses of having a child this age.

Forget the "reality" shows that sensationalize hard jobs that people do! Let's see a crab fisherman keep his cool with a tired (because he refuses to nap), hungry (because he refuses to eat), screaming (because he's tired and hungry) toddler who just deliberately woke up the baby after trashing the kitchen you spent an hour cleaning and removing his diaper before releasing the trouser trout to swim on the newly shampooed carpet because company is coming.

But yesterday, I got a glimpse of something
something MAGICAL!

I can see the day coming soon when we will play and learn and talk together. This thrills me! The magic is coming back to the mothering. It is new and different. It is easy to feel the magic with a newborn or a squishy goo-gooing baby, but to have it with a two year old takes work.

We have been playing blocks everyday for a week.

Each day he throws them less.

Each day he creates a little more.

Each day we fight a little less,

and each day a little more light shines on the future.

We are building together-ness.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Important Instructions

    I am so lucky.

I happened to be at Logan's house (brother) when a package arrived from his grandmother who lives in West Virginia. I knew what was in that package. It was unopened and Logan was still at work. Hmmm...

I asked Gabby (SIL) to call and ask if I could open it. His answer was "Yes, and you can have half." I am 10 years older than Logan. Although he is an adult, a married man, and serves in the military, I like to think he is still a little afraid of me and that is why he made this generous offer. But maybe he is just generous. Or, maybe he does not worship the red gold as I do.

Behold the Beefsteak

I do not believe this can be achieved in Arizona. I don't think they can grow like this here. I would love to be proven wrong, wrong, wrong. Until then,  I will have to rely on my luck to get my hands on beauties like these. Either that, or have Logan's mail forwarded to my home every August...

And now for the important instructions:

World's Best Tomato Sandwich

Toasted bread
Miracle Whip (one needs the "tangy zip")
Fresh Ground Sea Salt
Fresh Basil Leaves
One inch thick slice of Beefsteak Tomato
Assemble and enjoy!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Remember to Laugh

     This is what I tell myself everyday as I attempt to be a mother to MARSHALL. His name is in all caps because that best represents him these past few days.  I lamented to a friend that when a baby turns two years old, there should be a special coupon that arrives in the mail for the parents...$5.00 off "Shut Up" Spray and Buy One Get One Free "Sit Down!" and "Quit It!" homeopathic tablets.
     What works best right now is to remember to laugh. Let's see what I laughed at today...

     I sat on the couch, nursing Jess, thinking how nice it was to finally have Marshall occupied and quiet in another room. Then I realized that silence from a toddler only means trouble. After I saw what he accomplished in less than 10 minutes, I honestly felt it was worth the 10 minutes of peace.

where is everyone?