Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I am Exhausted and My House is Covered in Cheese

Last night we had homemade pizza; sausage, arugula and fig pizza. It was delicious. We also had dessert; a double citrus tart. Homemade because a) it's better and b) that's what we can afford.

But here's the thing. The girls didn't want our pizza. It was too fancy. Too exotic. And me? I was too tired to make anything else. So I pointed them to the remaining dough, the pizza peel and the oven.

It seemed like a good idea; to have them cook their own food. Roll out dough, prepare toppings and slide it in the oven. And they did. They cooked plain cheese pizzas without injury (at least without injury to their person).

Now the kitchen? That's a different matter. Those girls spread cheese ALL OVER. I, being too tired to do their cooking, was also too tired to do their cleaning.

So this morning a fantastic mess awaited me. Deep in the muck I realized this is it. This. The cheese. The kitchen. This is the pinnacle of my life. Everything I have worked for, everything I have strived for is summed up in this moment. Me, still in scrubs, expunging the filth.

❊❊❊ ❊❊❊ ❊❊❊

My birthday is in two days. I turn forty. For my husband's 40th birthday he and I took a trip to Italy. It was awesome. While there we made grand plans for my 40th. A family trip. Somewhere fun. Somewhere foreign. Surely in four years we could save enough money. Then the economy happened. We will not be traveling this year (or anytime in the foreseeable future).

I can accept our financial egress. It is what it is. My birthday desires have changed, downsized. What I want now, really and truly want, is a clean house. Top to bottom. I've expressed this to my family. But my children don't understand this type of request. A clean house? What kind of present it that?!! (One you can afford my pretties!)

It seems the only way I'm to get what I want is to give it to myself.

❊❊❊ ❊❊❊ ❊❊❊

I read an interesting article today - "The Medium Chill". Indeed that is our new and improved life. We settle for day old coffee over ice rather than frappacinos. We are gerber more than rose. The Joneses have surpassed us and then some (much to the chagrin of select neighbors who would like to see us gussy up a bit.)

We don't pay for lawn service or housecleaning. Presents are more often than not homemade. I sew and knit and have chickens in the yard. And I like it. I like who I've become in this less than stellar economy.

Do I hope to travel someday? Of course! Do I dream of property and a hobby farm? You betcha. Do I fantasize about financial solvency? You know it! But it's not worth it if I give up myself; forty year old me knee deep in cheese.

Now what should I make for dinner?

Friday, June 24, 2011

{This Moment}

{This Moment} - A Friday Ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, to savor and remember.

Play along with Soulemama.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trying Not to Panic

It's dance recital week. This means a five hour rehearsal on Monday, another on Tuesday and then the performance tonight and tomorrow. All of us girls are dancing. Yes. You read right. All. Little, Middle and Me.

In an mid-life moment I joined the adult dance troop. Tonight I will be up on stage, in a tutu, tapping my heart out. And then the audience will be treated to a lovely rendition of hip hop. This a week before I turn forty.

Today I'm washing and gathering costumes, figuring out some sort of snack so the girls don't starve (and subsequently meltdown), finding the boys recital tickets *and* hauling a load of yard debris to the dump (long story).

Oh yes and today is my son's birthday. Happy birthday boy! I've yet to get his real gift. For now he gets recital ticket. What every fifteen year old boy wants for his birthday --to watch his mother dance on stage. Yippee!

When this is all said and I done I suspect I'll have a great sense of accomplishment. In the meantime I'm simply trying not to panic.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

We Have Bees! Beekeeping 101

beekeeping 101
I've had my hive all set up. My equipment ready. And no bees. Turns out this was a challenging year to start beekeeping. Our spring has been wet, gloomy and late. Bees were in short supply. I'd all but given up. And then.

Thursday afternoon I got an email from a gentlemen in our local beekeeping club. He had an extra nucleus hive. Yippee! I contacted him immediately and we had a source of bees.

Last night, at 10:00 pm, we drove out to his place to get our girls. Me, Mr. Peculiar and two of our kids on a late night adventure. Going to the house of someone we've never met to buy a box of bees.

Ed, the man who kindly sold us the bees, drove up shortly after we'd gotten there. He'd just picked up the bees from the breeder (do you call it a breeder? I have no idea.) Anyway when he opened the back of his truck a bee immediately flew out and landed on my shirt. Whoo boy. I stood nice and still, calm as can be, until she flew away.

Because here's the thing. I have *no idea* whether or not I am allergic to bees. I am allergic to many other things so it is plausible that I could also be allergic to bees. And, as far as I know, in nearly forty years, I've never been stung.

There was the one time, in college, when I was stung behind the ear by something. But it never really swelled and so I doubt it was a honey bee.

Now I've talked to my allergist and testing is apparently controversial. There are quite a few false positives when testing for bee sting allergies. And so he suggested I wait, get stung and see what happens. As such I have benadryl and epinephrine at home in case any horrific reactions occur.

So back to the bees. They arrived in a BUZZING cardboard box. Cardboard. And the lid was not taped to boot. We taped that lid before placing it in the car. Indeed we did. And then I drove 45 miles per hour all the way home. Cars behind me were perturbed. I did not care.

When we got home we put the box next to the hive and left it overnight. My initial plan was to open the entrance this morning and let the bees stay in the box and acclimate to their new surroundings. However this morning it was looking like rain. I was nervous to leave them in the waxed cardboard. And yet I had to go to work.

So, at 6:00 am, I suited up and went about transferring the bees to the hive. The advantage of working the bees so early in the morning? Most of the neighbors are still asleep and therefore aren't yet alerted the the presence of the hive.

Now keep in mind I am a total novice here. And my family was not interested in being out with me. I was on my own (my son came out and took a few pictures before I opened the hive and then hid back in the house).

Given my unknown allergies I went with a full suit, gloves and boots (check out the fashion statement of cowboy boots and bee suit. Fancy!)

I lit my smoker which worked on the first try. Hooray! I used pine bedding material as fuel. It worked nicely though burned quickly and might not have lasted for a full hive inspection.

Then I went for it. I smoked them lightly and opened the box. The bees were wonderfully cooperative. They buzzed around a bit but not too much. I looked for but didn't see the queen. There were a couple of bees that were larger than the rest but I wasn't quite sure.

I placed the frames in a deep super, added additional frames, the interior cover, a feeder with a 1:1 sugar solution and the outer cover. There were only a handful of bees left in the nuc box so I simply placed that in front of the hive. Happily those bees began to move inside.

There were a few dead bees on the bottom of the nuc box and one larger than the others. I really hope that wasn't the queen. And now I wait.

I must wait a week before going in to check on the hive's progress. Hopefully a member of the beekeeping club will open the hive with me and help me assess it's health. *Fingers crossed* for a happy healthy productive queen.

In the meantime I need a name for the hive. Any suggestions?


Oh yes -- and Mr. Peculiar says this should be the song of the day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An offering

Today is Wednesday. Wednesday! I've had two days to recover from a marathon weekend at work. And I do not yet feel whole or human. I've neglected my house and family. Today I did things I wanted to do. I gardened and puttered. I listened to a book on tape and I wrote. I wrote the beginnings of a memoir. Oh it feels weird to say that. A memoir as if I have something to say. My indulgent words may not go anywhere or do anything. And yet they kept me from making a hair and nail appointment for my soon to be graduating 5th grader.

Hair and nails for a 5th grader! For graduation! This flabbergasts me. And yet I simultaneously get it. We all love pampering -- the massage of the scalp and the feet. Pretty perfect toe nails. Well styled hair. I simply didn't know to ask for it, to demand it, at the fragile age of eleven. And, I think, in many ways I've chosen to ignore my daughter's pampering requests despite her vehement insistence. I am ignoring the fact that my middle child is a step closer to womanhood.

At her age I was still stomping through the desert hunting lizards with a pack of boys. How oh how am I going to survive middle school? Once, as a tomboy, was bad enough. How to handle it with a bonafide girl?!!

Tonight I'm cooking a conciliatory dinner. An apology if you will for being absent this weekend. For schlepping the kids to their grandparents and for being, well, a zombie. For indulging myself and not making those appointments.

We are having sogliola alla fiorentina (Sole, Florentine Style). Only I'm substituting fresh caught wild snapper for the sole. It has lemon and fresh spinach and butter and cream. And the piece de resistance? (yes I know this is French rather than Italian; we'll just pretend I'm multi-lingual here). Parmigiano reggiano direct from Italy. Delicioso!

And here is my offering to you. A portion of what I wrote today. A part of me I don't always talk about or show on this page. It is raw. And honest. And perhaps too much. The beginnings of something that may or may not become anything.

*** *** ***

When I pick up my kids from school I invariably find myself surrounded by young girls who want to be veterinarians. I smile awkwardly, shuffle my feet and wonder what to say to them. The reality of my profession is vastly different than the adolescent fantasy. It is different, too, from the idyllic quaint and quirky days of James Herriot.

My daughters’ friends envision happy clients arms full of exuberant puppies and cardboard boxes overflowing with tumbling playful kittens. There is the occasional broken leg to be sure. A puppy who, perhaps, fell from it’s owner’s arms. The injury easily remedied with a cast, a decorative heart and a plethora of tender loving care.

These children do not envision a client so distraught that she is clawing the walls as if she’s been buried alive and is trying to dig her way out. They do not imagine this woman wailing and moaning her voice so loud it can be heard outside. They do not picture this woman falling into a heap on the exam room floor and you, standing there, unsure whether or not to touch her or speak or call the police for assistance.

They do not imagine a hospital full of dogs; each plagued by profuse bloody projectile diarrhea. They can not fathom this excrement on your shoes or clothing or hands or face. They do not understand that such diarrhea travels like a wave at a football stadium; one patient after another; the odor from one enough to cause bowel eruption in the next.

These children do not picture arduous nights with dogs who will not, not even for one precious second, stop whining. The noise ever present, rattling your brain, and you, sleep deprived, utterly exhausted teetering on the edge of complete collapse.

They do not conceptualize necrotic wounds, ripe from the summer sun, writhing and dripping with maggots. The smell so intense, so putrid, that your guts recoil and you stave off nausea as you pick the bugs, one by one, from an animal who is incomprehensibly still alive.

These children, in their protected pocket of the world, have yet to contemplate financials. They’ve yet to walk that precarious tight rope between income and expense. They’ve not yet fathomed six-figure student loans or business costs. And they can not, even remotely, imagine a client unwilling or unable to pay for treatment.

And so I smile. And benignly quip “that’s nice.” Because I don’t know how and do not want to say these things to a ten-year-old.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The things I do when I should be sleeping ...

On a whim I bought a raspberry start from the Farmer's Market. I had been thinking about getting raspberries. But in a more ethereal way. As in how lovely would it be to pick raspberries off my very own vine.

What I had not considered was raspberry containment and protection and placement. Raspberries are delicious plants; tasty to chickens, deer and songbirds alike. They must, therefore, be fully protected.

A quick search of the internet brought me here. This fruit cage would look fabulous in my yard. Um yeah. Gorgeous as it is it's not *quite* in the budget.

Instead I pounded together some scrap lumber, painted it to match the bee box and splurged on a couple of copper fence toppers. Then I planted my lone bush and surrounded it with a tomato cage and deer netting. My carpentry is mediocre at best. I did not cement in the posts. Nor did I level them. There is a very good chance it will fall over. Flat.

But no matter. This is my test trellis, a prototype if you will. As the plant grows (and the world turns) I'll modify it to meet my needs (aka rebuild the whole thing in a sturdier manner).

And, if I'm lucky, come autumn I might, just might, have some fresh fruit to munch on.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Par for the Course

I’m sitting at the kitchen table. Though the temperature tops out in the high forties (and yes it is June) the back door is open. One of the hens incessantly clucks and I suspect she’s laying an egg. Benjamin, the labradork, wanders in and out, in and out. He occasionally pauses to sniff at the tomato seedlings on the patio.

I wonder what he smells. Me? I smell tomato worms. Which, in truth, is simply the aroma of the plants themselves but as a child this scent was filed as that of the worm. These plants don’t have worms. At least not yet.

The seedlings are soaking up the sun which sporadically peers out from the clouds. I’m guarding them, these precious progeny of mine; wary of impending rain and/or hail that would destroy a months nurturing in seconds.

I’m hardening these plants off; cutting the apron strings as it were. The tomatoes will spend their adolescence frolicking with the sun, the wind, the rain and varying temperatures. They might as well get used to it now. Strong stalks and deep roots will be important. I hope I’m instilling both.

I check my other babies. Heirloom basil seedlings soon to sprout in my table top terrarium. Nothing yet. That’s to be expected as they were only planted yesterday. This cold wet spring is testing my patience; a skill I’m told is a virtue. A skill I’ve not yet mastered.

The wind rustles through the ponderosas. If I close my eyes it sounds like the ocean, waves rhythmically coming ashore, consistent, ever-present.

Frogs croak in the background. Build a pond in suburbia, the desert no less, and frogs will come. How do they find it? How do they get here? Clearly these amphibians know something I do not. Though I, too, have come to the desert. Come to live an improbable life and to grow where no woman has grown before (or something like that).

With the sky getting darker I carry the seedlings indoors. Back to their yellow formica table. Back to their south facing window. Back to the relative heat of the house. The room smells like soil. I inhale deeply. I love the smell of the earth and plants. I’m enjoying my dining room aka greenhouse.

And now it’s time to start some bread then pick up the girls from school. I’m planning on soup for tonight’s dinner. If I’m lucky, if the weather cooperates, we’ll get our ingredients from the season’s first farmers market. Parsnips and pears and onions oh my!

We’ll see. It seems I brought the seedlings in just in time. Thunder rumbles in the distance. It seems thunder is par for the course this time of year.

Oh fickle spring and your erratic weather. I do hope summer is just around the bend.