Saturday, May 30, 2009

Front Yard Veggie Garden

Peppers, tomatoes, onions, cukes.

Handful of Stories

Printed a copy of the new, completed manuscript. Apple-Apple read the first paragraph to me and Fooey, while CJ played, in our basement. (It isn't really for children, but on the other hand, it won't harm them if they do read it; an interesting consideration that hadn't crossed my mind till this very afternoon). Now I'll put this copy away and wait to hear what may happen next. (Be warned: this could take awhile. But it's nice to have completed this first step.)
(Nice? Sorry, as a writer, I should definitely come up with a better word for the feeling, but that's as good as it gets. In platitudes, may many layers be found.)

Today's To-Do List

5.Soccer in the park. Baking cookies, granola, and bread. Hamburgers and asparagus for supper. Family night (Bananagrams?).

There's been an interesting conversation going on about how a blog's tone develops, especially these mommy-blogs, in which stay-at-home parents reflect on their daily lives; and I've noticed this blog has really changed since its inception. More photos. Less text. But also less complaining? Less detail, perhaps. I've begun to treat this space more as a scrapbook than a diary. But is it painting a picture of our daily lives that is too idealized? Does it look like we spend our days cavorting in puddles, our fronts dusted in flour, our minds peacefully occupied? Well, that's 'cause we do.

Or, wait ...

Blogland is nothing if not selective. And I like selecting the good stuff. Tantrums? Siblings whacking siblings? Last-minute-supper-prep-madness? Bathtime resistance? "I'm so bored." Disturbed nights? Late-night glass of wine? Too much coffee? Warts, snot, burping, dirty diapers? Yup, we've got 'em, too. But I haven't started photographing that stuff yet. Maybe I will. Or at least slip in a few views of the darker side of this lifelong adventure, just to balance things out. No promises, however.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Tropical downpours turn our sidewalks into raging creeks. After supper, the older kids strip down and head out to do some puddle-jumping. Across the street, a fellow watching the rain from his front porch shouts, "Used to do the same thing when I was a kid in Newfoundland!"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Painting Party

It started with a jolly walk home from school and ended with hammock battles, not on the agenda, and in between we painted a mural on the fence beside the play area, and chalked up the bricks, and devoured pizza, ate cake and jello and cool whip (yikes!) while swinging on swings and sitting in the play structure, and the boy turned eight. He really did. He's a lovely boy and it's so easy to be proud of him. He is warm-hearted, a true big brother, open to experiences, enthusiastic, who delights to eat just about anything, earnest, with the ability to focus deeply, sometimes bursting with energy, noisy, the noisiest child on the block sometimes, and yet, able to find calmness, too. He works hard, plays hard, sleeps soundly. I didn't get any fabulous photos of him at the party, but here is one from this morning, just woken up eight-years-old, and about to open his first gift (from sister Fooey). It's not a great photo either, but he looks like the boy I know so well.

Layers of a Party

By the end, CJ was encrusted with the party's layers, he was wearing it. From snacking to painting to chalking to pizza and cake, to somehow discovering someone's cup of homemade grape juice and successfully (mostly) drinking it without assistance, Captain CJ did it all.

Last Day of Being Seven

Yesterday, was Albus's last day of being seven, so we commemorated the occasion ... by decorating the birthday cake. The girls did the icing, and Albus did the candy-application. Then he posed with his siblings. It felt like a big moment, as all "lasts" are.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Witching Hour

Have been worrying about how I'm going to balance the multiple demands of that delicate witching hour, 4-5, now that the weather is gorgeous and my toddler wants to play outside with the big kids. Can't be in two places at once. Well, this may be my fate (and our neighbours'): me shouting every minute and a half out the open windows, "Who can see CJ??" Thank heavens for good fences.
On the other hand, my shouting is probably the least of our neighbours' noise concerns, given the cacophony of construction orchestration going on outside our front door. This is the clearly marked "Road Closed" sign, which I ran out just now to photograph because it WILL NOT LAST. In fact, Kev informs me that the line-up of pylons has already been dismantled by some enterprising driver in a hurry. I am striving not to let it bug me lest I morph into one of our neighbours, whom I shall refer to as The Mayor of W Street, who lives to be the bearer of bad news, and is on a quest to smite those who commit all and any minor by-law and traffic infractions. He's also sometimes generous, and this afternoon left for us, without a word of explanation, this little red wagon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Inside and Out

So it was a gorgeous day, a holiday here in Canada ... and I spent it writing. Inside. Living in my head. My goal is to have this project completed before school's out (end of June) so as to Live Life Outdoors all summer. Is this realistic? After today's writing session, I'd say yes. Kevin and the kids enjoyed their holiday together, playing and working outdoors most of the day, planting grass and weeding dandelions, going to the park, eating hot dogs from a stand, injuring their knees, icing their injuries, et cetera.

On Endings

Writing day, and I'm afraid to tackle this opening story. The project feels close to its end, and rather than filling me with delight, I'm slowing down, dragging heels, aware of enchroaching emptiness. 
I almost never watch television, so it seemed fated that last night, while folding mountains of laundry, I should switch on the glowing box and be immediately confronted by gorgeous, haunting black and white photographs, swept into the middle of a documentary on Sally Mann, a photographer whose body of work has been intensely personal, and controversial. Her own three children were and are her subjects, as is the land she lives on. The documentary follows her journey to create a new collection called "What Remains," which is about death; the show is planned for a major gallery in New York who cancel at the last minute. The camera captures her shock and self-doubt and grief at rejection, and her husband's grief too, and his silence, how he has no way to comfort her other than to listen and be present, and I turned to Kevin and just stared, struck dumb. She was saying the same words I say, at low moments, yet how could she possibly doubt, when what she'd created was so obviously of merit and worth and beauty? That moment also gave me a glimpse of what it must feel like to be the one absorbing that grief, on the artist's behalf. Later, as she walks with her son in the woods, she says that it doesn't matter if what she's making is going to sell, she has to make it. She has no choice. I was in tears. It felt very close to the bone. 
Her photographs are eventually shown in a museum in Washington D.C., and well-reviewed and celebrated.
My stories ... well, it's presumptuous to compare myself to someone who has succeeded as an artist; my success feels transient, and sporadic, and there's no telling whether these years of work will this time add up to something of beauty and merit, but I felt a kinship watching her struggle, mourn, reflect, create. It's a blessing and curse to want to translate experience into art--not just to want to, but to do it. The work involved. Working toward an end you can't see until you find it. Will it be whole, or still-born? All these infinitessimal choices along the way that shape the final artifact, that leave you wondering--why this and not that? So much room for criticism, self and other. There's the artifact created, and the one intended, and the multiple ones that might have been. 
At times I question whether I'm too patient, too painstaking. A year feels like nothing to me anymore, writing-wise. Will I rest, at peace with this project, or will I keep chasing the ones that might have been? How will I know when I've arrived? Is it only when someone else tells me so? (Hair Hat might never have been finished either, in my mind, had it not been picked up for publication). Can I accept and find an ending in solitude? 
The answer might be ... no. Which is terrifying. Which is why I'm typing this, and not that.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Green Things Good To Eat

That previous post was too long. Note to self: no drinking & blogging. Above, our first local food of the season ... green onions grown in neighbour Nina's garden!! Wow. Things this tall and edible are growing in gardens around us right now. I hadn't realized how starved I was for fresh and green--woke bright and early to fantasize about market morning and to make a list--then sent my hobbling husband with two children. And here this post shall end, perhaps too soon; but it's soccer in the park. Which means it must be raining. Or just about to.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Strawbarb Loaf & Last Tomatoes

Local food round-up ... wow, that's really fallen off this blog's radar, and the truth is in the evidence: we really haven't been eating very much local food. That's because March and April may well be the worst months for local eating in our neck of the planetary woods. The root veggies are wilty, pitiful, diminished, the cans have dwindled, and ain't nothing coming out of the earth; yet. Except now we''ve reached May, and I keep hearing rumours of fiddleheads! asparagus! baby greens! So this Saturday my list-to-accomplish will include to market, to market, to get us some fresh-picked edible spring greenery. Thankfully, Nina's buying club starts up again May 29th.
That's my last bag of frozen tomatoes, pictured above, cooking in a pot earlier this week, with tofu, onions, garlic, and spices (only the garlic is local, too). Last bag! We would have arrived here earlier had friends (thanks, friends!) not brought us meals during The Knee episode, now thankfully disappearing in our family's rearview mirror. (Have I mentioned how much easier EVERYTHING seems with Kevin upright and bendable again? Everything. And I still take the recycling and trash out sometimes, just because I like how tidy it looks when I'm in charge of arranging the ... good grief, perfectionism is a curse ... please explain how I can possibly experience a thrill of satisfaction to glimpse through the front window the garbage can-recycling bin-recycling bin trio, taking pride in their well-ordered contents).
Now, that was an aside.
So. Er. Local food. Last tomatoes. Tomatoes, we knew you well, we ate you often, now you're gone.
Strawberries and rhubarb, not so much. How few desserts did I make this winter starring strawberries and rhubarb, that loveable duo? Apparently fewer than anticipated. So here's a link to a pleasant rhubarb muffin recipe, should any readers be in the same boat (you can add more rhubarb than the recipe suggests). I made them for playgroup. No photos. Shoot. Someday I'll take pictures at playgroup and share the happy chaos, the muffin crumbs, the over-caffeinated adults.
Another rhubarb and strawberry recipe worth sharing (Fooey and I made this together earlier in the week) comes in loaf form. I'll call it Strawbarb Loaf. Because I'm drinking a glass of red wine right now, that's why.
Strawbarb Loaf (adapted from Simply in Season)
Mix together 2 cups flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour--or all whole wheat, if you wish--3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons cinnamon--more if you like the flavour. Add 2 and 1/2 cups rhubarb and strawberries (combined total; frozen fine), 1 and 1/3 cups oil, and 4 eggs. Stir just until combined. Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour at 350 or till done.
I'm guessing any fruit would be suitably substitutible. That's so not a word. I'm not even going to spellcheck it.

Hair Trials and Twirls

"Three girls, and then a little boy, aren't you lucky?" To be fair, she was elderly, and Albus was at a distance, and, yes, he really does have such pretty locks. It needs combing, however, so he and his dad suffered through a session that involved a great deal of conditioner and a few tears, and resulted in the top photo (wet). The morning after his hair had dried into, well, this remarkable look pictured below ... with an impressive twirl at the side. I wasn't really able to brush it into submission. It almost looks like it's spelling something out, if only one could break the code.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our Boy

We love him in pink. We love that he's fascinated by flashy flip-flops, and can walk in them. We love him that he lets his sister and her friend dress him in a dress, without protest. We love that he shows an affection for dollies and buggies. Will he love that we love these things about him, not to mention that we mention it publicly? Will we love that he's gotten into the garbage and is kicking the container around the kitchen while his doting mama types this post? Will this debatably charming interrogative style annoy or amuse? Will you back away from the glowing screen and serve your long-suffering kids an after-school snack for heaven's sake, mama? Like, now?

Mother's Day

This mama doesn't really like eating breakfast in bed. Reminds her of invalidism. But sleeping in while daddy and children cook up eggs and potatoes for breakfast? That's just about perfect. What would make the day just the littlest bit more perfect would be ... a crown, of course! Designed and fitted with precision by Apple-Apple.
"But when do we get to have Children's Day?"