Wednesday, September 29, 2010

All Righty, Then!

Let's bump the depressing crap down the page a bit, shall we?

When I'm not feeling cranky about other people's good luck (there's got to be a German word for anti-Schadenfreude; Freudenschade?), I've been getting my hand back into making stuff a bit:

Our fairy house in the neighborhood park

(I left the chocolate chips out, not from any misguided notions of health, 
but because I tragically didn't have them on hand)

A hat for Sarah 
(please let it be big enough; please let me have enough yarn)

(that would be the sound of a needle scratching off a record, dontcha know)

Oh, damn. The green tomatoes. So I had all these visions of making pickled green tomatoes, right? Or maybe chutney, or tomatillo-esque salsa verde, or relish. But, um, I didn't use the tomatoes the day I picked 'em, and the next morning... white moldiness everywhere. Dang it.

Anyway! So! Soldiering on!

Oh, here's a little Public Service Announcement for you all. A great antidote to general blechiness? KITCHEN DANCE PARTY. How could I have forgotten? Let me tell you, dudes: the Go-Go's, The Wiz soundtrack, Beyonce, Blur, Fugazi... puh-lease. I defy you to mope with those beats bumping. I sure couldn't, not with a pigtailed four year old easin' on down the road behind me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What Not To Do

Here's an item for the Not To Do List, Like Ever Ever Again: read the blog of another family's experience in the NICU.

Hol-ee crap.

It was by accident. Of course. I mean, I'm not stupid (usually) (I hope). But in the way of the intertubes, I found a thing that lead me to one blog that recommended another, and before I considered the wisdom of my actions found myself reading this woman's account of her daughter's 96 days in the NICU. Her story is different than mine, of course, incomparable and yet so similar, the way these things are. Monitors, alarms, desats... My stomach is still tensed hours later, the way it was for so many months last year.

So, here's the thing. I get angry when I think about people who went through so many of the same things that I did but got to bring their kids home. It comes over me in a flash, a brief but engulfing conflagration of rage. And jealousy. And so, so much bitterness.

How exactly does one get past this sort of thing? Oh, shut up. I know. Time. Stupid, slower than I can bear Time. I know this. After all, I no longer automatically think, "Bastards" as I walk past the pregnancy and parenting section of bookstores, so I assume that someday I will no longer think similarly uncharitable thoughts about those families luckier than ours.

I'm not a complete beast. I am happy for such people. And I understand that coming home isn't necessarily the ending of their troubles. Truly. I'm just deeply bitter that we're not among the fortunate*. 

The real kicker? (And by "kicker" I mean, "stomp on the head in the manner of Edward Norton in American History X".) Sarah sometimes talks about Jane in the present tense. I can only hope Time will take care of that one, too. Soon, please and thank you.

*I feel compelled to acknowledge that in most areas, we are in fact among the incredibly fortunate. I know this, too. But I'd trade any of the rest of it to have my girl back.** 

**I know you know this, too. Sometimes, though, it just needs to be said.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Loose Ends

Loose ends being where I'm at.

Summer's over. The vegetable garden's winding down, so I'm in that odd moment of not having to fuss over taking care of anything outside (unless there's a frost warning, of which we've had three in the last week), but not needing to rake (much, yet) or weed or otherwise, you know, tend. I do have bags of bulbs standing by that I could certainly plant. And I fully intend to. However, I have this idiotic thing with bulbs. I love them, I love the promise they hold, and I love buying them and fantasizing about drifts of daffodils and bundles of crocus and stands of tulips. And I bring them home and put them... somewhere, meaning to get them in the ground promptly-ish, and then suddenly it's November and hard frost and whooosh! There goes my vision of spring.

I did put by (what an awesome concept and phrase that is) a dozen half-pints of freezer pickles. I served some at a neighborhood cookout, and people said complimentary things about them which they may even have said out of truth and not just kindness. I'm going to try my hand at green cherry tomato dill pickles, too. But I'm still hopeful that some of the little guys may ripen, so I'm holding off. (I've heard you can ripen green tomatoes in a box of newspaper kept in a cool, dark place, but I really don't need additional fruit fly infestations elsewhere in the house. The few that keep cropping up in the kitchen are more than sufficient, thankyouverymuch.)

But I haven't made anything in a while -- crafted, created, not cooked -- and it's got me feeling unsettled. I tried to start a crocheted wrap thingy last night, but I'm not digging it. I want to make a poncho for Sarah, but nothing's inspiring me yet. Honestly, I need to just pick a thing, anything, so I can pull my feet out of the sucking mud hole of inertia. It's a crappy place to be, and it's dragging me down.

I haven't only been sitting on my duff watching Buffy reruns, however. In my ongoing war against stuff, I went through my clothes, and bagged up an entire trash bag of items I will never wear again. And I've made some minor forays into the scary mire that is Sarah's playroom. What is it with four year olds and their need to hold onto every damn baby toy they've ever known? But I've cruelly ignored her piercing bids for continued ownership and wrested mangled shape sorters and abandoned puzzle pieces from her desperate grasp, dumping them in a box bound for... well, I don't want to send them to the landfill, but they're pretty useless. Free box on the sidewalk, I suppose. Ew, no. Salvation Army and let them sort it out? Yes, indeedy!

The question remains, however, of what to DO. What to make. How to make better use of my time. How, to be frank, to fill my days. Crafting aside, I suspect this isn't actually going to be an easy issue to resolve. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sniff, Sniff

What's that I smell? Something kinda fusty, kinda wool-socky?

That's right. Heat's on.

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Modern Conveniences

So, it's September 15. It's 49 degrees right now. I'm a little worried about frost tonight. (Not that I covered anything in the garden. Oh, no. That would be, like, prudent or something.) And the house never got above 64 degrees today. Which, naturally, is just cool enough to be noticeable but not cold enough to turn on the heat. Because I am cheap thrifty and ignore the thermostat until wearing two sweaters becomes imperative. (Not that it gets that far. Tom likes his conveniences a bit more convenient than I do. I am, however, not unreasonable and will lower raise my standards to his level in the interests of domestic peace.)

What to do? Make a mug of tea and feed the kid pancakes for dinner. Obviously. And hope for a warmer day tomorrow. Otherwise... two sweaters, kiddo. Dad's out of town.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Flow It, Show It

Have I ever mentioned that my kid has never had a haircut? Ever? And she's almost four and a half?

There's a lot of hair there.

This photo just doesn't do it justice. I'll see if I can find a better one. I mean, it hits her waist dry. There's still a little bit of the wave and curl she had when she was younger and her hair was shorter -- there was a transcendent period when her hair formed ringlets down to her shoulder blades without my doing a thing to it. Even now, as long as it is, the ends still curl a bit, especially when it's been freshly washed. And it's glorious. Truly. I love it.

Okay, I have a confession. There was a commercial years ago, in the mid-'90s probably, that featured two little girls with ridiculously long hair running down a hall in their nightgowns. I think they jumped onto their parents' bed, family hijinks ensued, etc etc; I have no idea what they were selling (not hair products; coffee maybe? mortgages? Hell, I don't know). ANYWAY. I loved that ad; I was completely charmed by those two kids and thought I'd love to have a little girl someday with hair like that. And now I do. (Okay, a confession-within-a-confession: Jane was very much part of that picture. I think she would have had similarly glorious hair, maybe darker. [These are the little things that get to me: missing out on the older Jane, not knowing who she would have been, what she might have become.])

But the thing is, when does it become too much? I mean, Sarah lets me wash and condition and comb it. It's usually in braids or ponytails, generally tangle- and food-free, so maintenance isn't yet an issue. But there's going to be a point when it's just silly. Just a silly, silly amount of hair. I just hope we'll recognize that point before we get there. 

(Ooh, found another picture from earlier this summer:

See? Way long.)

I'm sure the day will come in a classically inevitable way: she'll hack at it herself, or burdock will get ensnarled in it, or she'll fall asleep with purloined gum in her mouth and wake up with the wad inextricably fused into a fuzzy mat (not that such a thing ever ever happened to me when I was maybe six or seven, and my mom and I discovered that ice and peanut butter do not solve all gum/hair peccadilloes). And when it happens we'll march off to a punnily-named hairdresser's and hope there's enough uncompromised hair to donate to Locks of Love.

Until that day comes, however, I'm going to delight in it, thrilled that she lets me play with it and brush it and braid it, and hoping that the cut, when it comes, will be another grand adventure for her.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oh, Snap!

Three, yo! I'm on a roll.

Actually, there's not much to report except that I boxed AND LABELLED Sarah's clothes and shoes and put 'em away. That's right, stuff. It's go time.

But really, I'm posting because I wanted to show you guys this:

That's what I pulled from the garden when we came home Friday. I harvested half a dozen more cucumbers yesterday, and there are still more coming. This is why I'm starting to hate the green beasties.

It's hard to appreciate just how much biomass is gathered there on the step. For a sense of scale, here's Sarah holding trying to hold the largest zucchini:

She dropped the thing moments later. It's a monster, I tell you, almost half her height. (Those cucumbers aren't a whole lot smaller.) And it's destined to become tomorrow night's fritters. What kind of weird-ass summer is this that I'm looking forward to the zucchini and dreading the cucumbers?

Oh, and I have approximately a metric ton of green cherry tomatoes on the vine. Has anyone used them in a recipe for full-sized green tomatoes? Or pickled them? We're only a week away from our frost date (I KNOW), and I 'd hate for them to be wasted.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Progress, By Golly

That's right. Pledge one day, progress to report the very next! Fear me! 

This morning I cleared out all of the stuff Sarah has outgrown from her drawers and shoe basket. Ha ha, stuff! You Shall Not Prevail!

Hey, lookit that. Two posts two days in a row. It's a veritable streak! I, uh, noticed that I only posted five times in August. Granted, I was gone for the second half of the month but still. That's pitiful.

But I wasn't just lollygagging around the house, I swear. In fact, before I left for Michigan, I whipped up a little something I'd promised for my friend's niece. (At Easter time. I suck.)

Ahem. ANYWAY. She's finished, and I think she's pretty darned sweet.

It's a rotten photo (like a dummy, I only took one before we left town); it looks like her legs just end, but she's really wearing little black shoes. I think she looks kinda French, don't you? Her jaunty little blue scarf hides a not-great neck seam (French women have a knack with scarves, after all). I was particularly pleased with how her hair turned out, but if I'd had time I'd have redone the mouth. It's not quite there. But still, done. And cute to boot!

I can't guarantee another report tomorrow, but this morning Tom cleared out all the mail that's piled up. Contagious tidiness! Awesome.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Honeys, I'm Home

Aaaand I'm back!

I was, to be honest, a little shocked to be home Friday afternoon (stupid Earl hype, cutting our trip early). Not because I didn't want to be here, but because I'd completely forgotten what being home means. Dog hair. Cat hair. Weeds. Plant casualties. Laundry. And, overwhelmingly, STUFF.

I spent most of a week in Michigan and a week on the Cape in lovely houses devoid of clutter and now I'm home staring at rooms and rooms of crap. And of COURSE my first thought upon walking in the door was "OH MY GOD MUST GET RID OF STUFF", but it's 36 short hours later and I'm already almost used to it again. But this week, some clearing out shall be undertaken. Ruthless sorting out of unworn clothes! Disposal of (or at least storage of) unplayed-with toys! Possibly even a paring down of unused kitchen stuff! And maybe, maybe, a daring attempt at whittling away the craft stashes!

In fact, I think I'm going to pledge, right now, spur of the moment, in a fit of Sunday optimism and in the afterglow of a fabulous end-of-summer vacation, not to buy any more stuff. Anything that comes into this house for the rest of the year will be necessary and needed. By golly!

Until Christmas. All bets are off for Christmas. But I would like to buy less and make more. But I'll worry about that later.

There's not a lot of later left, really. There's a chill in the air this morning, and the heat turned itself on in the mudroom (which doesn't seem to have a thermostat. At least, in the two years we've been in this house, I've never found one. Hmm. Must remedy). But the tomato plants are still heavy with fruit and I've harvested so many cucumbers I don't want to see another, but there are dozens more coming. I even have bell peppers! Tiny, but still! Oh, and the miniest of mini watermelons has finally begun to grow. Little glimmers of summer on the vine. 

But there's no denying the autumn wind blowing leaves around the yard. And folks are already picking apples around here. Time to break out the sweaters and stash the swimsuits. It's fall, dudes. Whether I'm ready for it or not.