Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In No Apparent Order

I owe y'all pictures of the garden. So! First there was this:

which led to this,

pun completely intended. We ripped out poison garden, and my industrious husband built these:

(Two more to be added next year.) It was July by now, so we threw in seeds for beets, arugula, lettuces, carrots, and beans. At the nursery we found a couple herbs and peppers and a really raggedy tomato plant, all looking withered and on deep discount. We threw them in too.

It's not quite the harvest we wanted or intended but hey, I'm an aim-low kinda gal now. At least we know we can actually grow things to next year should be fun.

My big conundrum now is what to do in the bed adjoining the garden (see behind Bella's shoulder in the cucumber picture? The round bank of windows with a basement window underneath? That one); it had been over-ridden by some vine weed and mint (people, don't put mint in the ground. Grow it in a container, or if you must put it in the ground, plant the whole effin' container in the ground. I learned this valuable life lesson when I was about six from my mother, and am mystified to find people who don't realize what a pervasive weed it can be). The original plan was to put in blueberry bushes, but now with the lead we are not so crazy with this idea. Someone (I'm going out on a limb here and assuming not the people who planted the mint) planted peonies, which I really liked, but were overtaken and smothered. I'm toying with more of those and something tall in the corner next to the door (butterfly bush?). I welcome suggestions.


Because we've been busy with getting rid of houseguests and school and whatnot, the fishtank was cleaned and refilled (and forgotten pretty much, but) and has now been "established" for at least a month. We now have an ammonia sensor, not to mention a couple bottles of stuff to regulate water chemicals. The filter is clean and running. In total, I've probably spent $70 on fish-tank related accouterments. And yesterday, we went and bought two tiny feeder goldfish -- that bill was 28 cents. I told my mom this was apparently about guilt.


We're now wading knee deep in Fall and in addition to the pile of minutia I need to deal with, I've added to my docket . . . .coaching. No, for real. I am now head coach of Bella's soccer team after a fair amount of arm twisting and then using the arm to beat my husband over the head with. It's nerveracking, it wears me out, it's hilarious. After more than 20 years of playing the game, coaching the first time really puts things in perspective and has forced me to return to the essential, the raw, the root: Don't touch the ball with your hands. Followed closely by, Don't take the ball away from your teammate. The point is to score a goal. (A point quickly retracted when my wee scrimmage team goes up 3-zip in about two minutes, and I then tell them I'm not counting any more goals until I see them use today's skill of pulling the ball backwards on the way to the ball going in the net.) For me, it's a valuable lesson in not swearing for an hour, not laughing (out loud), realizing that running around with eleven 5-7 year-olds wears me the hell out. Aging is not a pretty thing.

It's also served to remind me that I haven't completely turned into some bitter, pariah freak of nature that really shouldn't be around innocent lovelies, even if I do know a thing or two about how to effectively bend a corner kick. It's reminded me I used to love soccer. Apparently, I still do.


It's my first fall with my new kitchen. Last year I wistfully looked at the recipes for baked apple whatevertheheck, and this year I'm itching for an excuse to make pumpkin cake. (Does one need an excuse?) We've ushered in the season of hot breakfasts, and afternoon cups of tea. It almost feels like my first settled fall -- the first one where I wasn't in fear about the spooky pregnancy, or tied in emotional knots, or running my house out of a makeshift kitchen while contractors took up residence in my downstairs. The first fall where I can now sit with my tea and pumpkin cookie and look at my favorite tree in the yard, and watch the yellow and red start to erupt behind it.

I wonder if life will be like this, always a series of firsts as Time that uneven bitch makes it way beneath my feet.

I'm sure there's more, but seriously, I'm still catching up on my August Tivo. Not to mention my blogroll. Which I feel like a real asshole about. I'll come say hi, I promise. PROMISE. In the meantime, what are your Fall plans if any? (I know this is loaded, any season is a ton of crap for some, so I'm really sorry. Feel free to tell me about those plans, too. Really.) Also, have any of you ever considered letting your parents live with you? Because when we moved here, we honestly thought this was in the realm of possibility. After August, we're both thinking we were fucking mental to have ever entertained that thought, and we've forbidden each other from speaking of It ever again.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Think That Was Me on TV

Ever run across a fellow babyloss parent on television, in a book, in the movies, in a play? Were they sad or psycho? Depressed or drunk? Feel you could write this stuff better if given the chance? I've got a post up today on babyloss parents in popular culture over at Glow In The Woods.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cusp of Solstice

(One of my favorite pictures of grandma with Bella, age 4 months)

(In the middle of my grandmother's very overly-long memorial service, Bella turns to me and says in conversational voice):

I wish I was at camp.

I wish I was at camp too.


Bella we missed you yesterday!

I was at the Deadness Thing for my grandma.


Funerals are odd in that they're sort of fun family reunions minus the fun. I shouldn't say that -- there's still fun around the edges, but sometimes the funny stories take a sharp turn and you find your eyes brimming over, or someone else's voice cracks mid-story and everyone's left fumbling in an unexpected pause of silence.

I got to talking with one of my mother's cousins from Florida, one I don't think I had seen in over a decade if not longer (there was a family reunion in '98, but my memory is a bit fuzzy on all the cousins -- the one great uncle had a LOT of kids). I spoke during the service, framing my discussion on my grandmother's lousy cooking (in a real stretch for me, I tried to make it funny and touching), and cousin told me how much she loved what I had said, and how many memories it pulled out for her. And after lingering over some photos she turned to me and put her hand on my arm and said,

I'm sorry, I only just heard that you recently lost a child.

I did the two sentence spiel I have canned for such occasions, and she said,

You know, my mother had a baby who died. Gregory. He was three days old. They say he choked, probably on phlegm that no one then thought to rid him of. He was perfect. My mother couldn't speak of him for years without fully breaking down. I grew up knowing my brother that I never knew.

You can't know how relieved this made me -- not that there was another deadbaby in the family tree, but that here was this grown, totally sane, well-put-together smart beautiful woman with a family of her own who had gone through this. Whose mother had gone through this. She in no way looked as though she were living under a bridge, and though I've only seen about 10 minutes of Jerry Springer and a grand total of five or so Oprah episodes, she didn't look familiar from either milieu. Phhhhheeeeewwwwww.

I told her how much I now appreciated the silver lining of being able to talk to Bella straightfowardly about things like Grandma's death and funeral, and Bella exemplified this moments later by delicately tiptoing on the fresh mound of dirt covering my grandmother in order to see what flowers were still alive after last week's burial. No fear, this one, King of the Hill of Death.


The cemetery in which my grandmother is buried is older than some, but for this region decided not "old" -- I think the stones closest to the church date back to the early 1800s (this was indeed a stretch of road where Washington rode and slept, and some of the churches just up the street must have older occupants), which give way to the recent, as you walk back through the yard, to the last row where my grandmother now lies. I always pause at the military stones to read which war, and how old. (There's a veteran of the Spanish-American war in the same column as my grandmother a few rows back, and I've already promised myself when I go to plant pansies and bulbs by my grandmother, I'm weeding his place and tidying up.) As a historian I'm always fascinated by family structures: how many wives/husbands over time, how many children, elderly sisters who are buried as neighbors. Now of course I laser in on the children: fourteen years old; ten years; three, one, and then . . . there it is. A life measured in days.


At some point in early July, when I realized summer was getting away from us and we weren't going to the Outer Banks because the family that we usually meet up with there had decided to go even farther southward (should we take this as a message?), I suggested that we quick find a close beach getaway for a few days or a weekend in August. I hope that laughing I hear is with me, not at me. August obviously got sucked into a maelstrom of houseguests, grocery runs, meals, trips to the country, funerals, services, cleaning up and out my grandmother's things, and that ever familiar drive-through of grief. I'll take the usual. So last Monday, I piped up -- mostly to myself -- let's go to the beach! And go we went, to a close one, for two days and one night. Beach for Bella, brewpub for us.

It was unseasonably chilly, extremely windy, overcast; there were tidal warnings, red flags, anxious life guards; wind burn, sand in every orifice . . . . . and it was AWESOME. The sand was clean and soft and perfect for castles, we bundled up in our covers and rash guards (save Bella, who is a leper when it comes to water, and ran around in her swim suit as if it were a sunny , still 92 degrees), read, napped, watched a pack (school? herd?) of dolphins swim by, oogled at the parasurfers, ate, slept, and went back for more. I made no decisions. I didn't make a meal. It was a slice of heaven.

Now I'm back staring at the yard I didn't weed for a month, the list of school supplies I didn't shop for, the soccer gear I need by next weekend, the garden that needs tending, the fridge that needs disinfected and I'm wondering, where did summer go? I could point to times when it was fast, and times when it was slow. Overall, it was . . . disappointing. I'm going to eat home-grown beet salad for dinner, and look forward to Fall.