With all the rain we’ve had over the past three weeks, you’d think my house would be squeaky clean.
Alas, not so much.
With all the rain we’ve had over the past three weeks, you’d think my house would be squeaky clean.
Alas, not so much.
Last Friday was prom night. Swimmer Girl is a planner, so by Friday afternoon, her dress was hemmed and hanging in her closet, her nails were gelled, her hair and makeup were done, and she was putting on the finishing touches before her date arrived. On cue, she glided down the stairs, pinned on his boutonniere, slipped on her corsage, posed for indoor pics and outdoor pics, and was tucked into her date’s ride just before a rain shower began.
Now, she has seen us head out for dinner, overnight trips, weekend getaways, and even week-long vacations without her, but I guess it hadn’t yet sunk in that our lives are no longer completely intertwined with hers.
I watched her have that moment of stunning realization: her parents have a life, separate and apart from her and her brothers. I witnessed the same moment with each of our sons, at about the same age. While they won’t admit it, I think before this epiphany, each of our children thought we simply deflated into catatonic 2-D figures that sat on the couch and waited for them to return from dates and activities with their friends.
I guess we created that assumption. When our children were young, we were with them round-the-clock almost constantly. And on the rare occasion when we had a childless outing, we made sure they were well-cared for by adults they knew and we trusted. We made them aware of our plans in advance, and assured them we would return on schedule. And so they grew up with a perception that their parents lacked spontaneity…or any real social life to speak of.
But now the secret is out, the jig is up. Our children see us as people who do things other than raise children. Which is a good thing, considering we have almost worked ourselves out of that gig.
P.S. If you’re wondering where my garden updates are from now on, please check out my Garden Coach blog posts. You’ll find all the gritty details on my garden week-by-week over there.
The love of gardening that is.
Any gardener will tell you that the honeymoon phase of gardening doesn’t last long. Once the plants are in, there’s weeding, watering and nurturing to do, year in and out. Unless you have a cadre of gardeners to tend to your flowers and plants, you don gloves and sunscreen and spend a lot more time on hands and knees than you do standing back admiring your handiwork.
Speaking from a “few” (cough) decades of personal experience, there’s nothing romantic about gardening in Southern soil. In fact, I would argue it’s not even soil; it’s just nasty, heavy, slick red and gray clay. Almost greasy when it’s wet and forms rock-hard clods or bone-dry silt when it dries, depending on what you did to it when it was wet. My garden beds have a voracious appetite for organic matter and they seem to devour it almost as fast as I can apply it. I hear-tell that Southern sandy soil is nearly as nasty and twice as hungry and thirsty.
I carefully applied a dozen bags of pine fines and mushroom compost around each perennial last week, and I’m happy to report that most of my transplant/refugee plants are taking off and growing like gangbusters.
After I finished with all those bags, I realized I need a lot more than that to get the beds topped off this year. So I talked Mr. Official into getting a load of bulk compost over the weekend. And by load, I mean 1 1/2 cubic yards. That’s a lot of ummmm, “stuff” if you catch my drift. And speaking of drift…
Oh my word.
As I pitch forkful after forkful of this steaming stuff, from big trailer to small trailer to garden beds, my mind conjures up all sorts of obscure adjectives. Words you just don’t hear every day.
The list goes on.
I’m just glad plants can’t smell, because this would be an intolerable situation to grow in if they could. And if you visit my garden in the next few weeks, I probably won’t encourage you to lean in close to sniff the flowers. But it did put me in mind of the old poem penned by Frank Lebby Stanton, a Charleston SC native and longtime journalist for the Atlanta Constitution:
“This old world we’re livin’ in
Is mighty hard to beat
We get a thorn with every rose
But ain’t the roses sweet?”
Forget the Ides of March and all that. Sorry Julius Caesar, but that was so last week.
It is the final week of March and the first full week of spring, according to the calendar. But the weather says otherwise. In fact, as I write this, it is snowing. Yes, snowing.
In. The. South.
It is not expected to stick or accumulate, and we should start a slow ascent into warmer temperatures as the week wears on…at least that’s what the weather men and women are promising. One can only hope, because my Easter dress is sleeveless and my shoes are strappy, and I have no intentions of wearing a jacket. So have a heart, Mother Nature.
It is definitely March Madness around here. Every night the sound of rubber soles running, stopping, spinning and jumping on oak flooring reverberates throughout our home, thanks to high-def televisions in practically every room. It matters not that we have no dog in this year’s hunt…Smokey is on hiatus and resting up for fall football. We will watch teams we have never heard of play all evening long, until the Sweet Sixteen becomes four and four becomes one NCAA champ. Then we can resume regularly scheduled programming. (Okay, I confess: I sneak off to a corner of the house and watch Dallas on Monday nights. And Duck Dynasty on Wednesdays. But otherwise, I’m all-in for whoever’s playing next.)
There is a glimmer of silver lining to this unseasonably cold weather: I have a good reason to try my hand at one last chicken pot pie for the season (new recipe, new hopes), and a pot of Cincinnati-style chili and beans over spaghetti. The crockpot will get a workout with a brisket that will be turned into hash and a new slow-cooked barbeque chicken with sweet potato cornbread on the side. Then maybe…just maybe, the weather will warm and we can begin welcoming spring with grilled foods and cool salads.
Oh and one last thing…March Madness can also explain away a recent shopping spree through Macy’s online store. Right? As long as the new Fiesta bowls arrive while it is still March, that’s my defense and I’m sticking to it.
Oh blog, where are thou?
Yes, I know…it’s been here all along, and somehow my attention (meager as it is) has been diverted for several weeks. Long story short, be careful about taking on volunteer “opportunities” in your “spare” time. The result can mean you wake up and realize a couple months have raced by and you barely looked up to notice the clock racing or the sun rising or setting.
This past weekend was the annual springing ahead of said clock. It is the weekend I love and dread in equal proportions each year. I love having longer evenings and here in the South, the time change is immediately followed by warmer evenings as well. But for a few days, I struggle with the alarm going off in a pre-dawn hour.
Our Saturday was spent driving to Knoxville to watch the Vols beat Mizzou, then driving back, knowing the East/Central time zone switch would be compounded this time by the arrival of the annual time change. It arrived right on cue, so Sunday morning came all too soon, but I was up and out the door bright and early. After lunch, Swimmer Girl and I went shopping for Easter dresses and we emerged victorious, with two dresses in tow. We rushed to the high school for a matinee production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” It was very well done, but my eyelids were drooping after the intermission, so when we got home, I grabbed a nap. Even with the nap, bedtime came early Sunday night.
And the Monday morning alarm was completely ignored. Tomorrow, treadmill, tomorrow.
As I started this post, I was thinking about the Super Bowl and Beyonce’s “performance,” and wondering why one of the world’s most sought-after and well-paid entertainers would want to grind and gyrate like some pole dancer in a sleazy dive. She can certainly dictate her own terms as to what, when and how she will perform. She doesn’t need to prostrate–or prostitute–herself to get the job.
Ah, well–it’s a sad mystery and I guess it will remain that way. If entertainers and the networks think that’s what the majority of their viewers and fans want, that says something pretty sad about all of us. Rant over. The Super Bowl was–as usual–a good excuse to hang out with friends, but the details of the game are already hazy and the entertainment wasn’t exactly memorable.
January blew by in a whirlwind of weather and frenzied activity around here. Our weather ran hot and cold, tornadic and snowy…and that was just last week. Weather notwithstanding, we have all had extra-curricular schedules that kept us from having much downtime, and the first 30-plus days of 2013 simply sped by.
The one calm spot in the midst of our helter-skelter schedule last week was the unexpected surprise of a weeknight dinner with all three of my children. Oldest Son stopped by on Thursday just as I started preparing tortillas for tacos, and I got to hear brothers and their sister teasing and talking as they set the table, made iced tea, stirred the beans and prepared to tuck into the towering stack of sizzling hot tortillas. I couldn’t help but think how many weeknight meals slipped by unnoticed when they were all living at home…and how I took them for granted.
The week ended on a high note, Phil did not see his shadow on Saturday morning, and neither did I. My “boys” treated me to a dinner at the Melting Pot for my birthday that night, and we shared a lot of laughs over the steaming fondue pot, the perfect counterpoint to the deep freeze that has come our way. I’m hoping that winter finishes its business and gracefully gives way to spring a few weeks earlier than average.
February will be short, but I plan to make it sweet, too. I’m getting my bake this week with some sweet-and-salty peanut butter cookies (recipe on Friday) and maybe a king cake to celebrate one of the more family-friendly aspects of Mardi Gras. I’m hopeful this is the month I will actually get my new lighting hung, and maybe make some headway on our closets. What’s on your to-do list over the next three weeks?
I don’t know about you, but when I decide to clean something, I go all in. On Saturday morning, we enjoyed cornmeal and blueberry pancakes from a cookbook Middle Son gave me for Christmas (the recipe needs some tweaking but it has potential.) And as we ate, I kept looking over at the kitchen and thinking about the pent-up post-holiday clutter that never seemed to quite go away no matter how many times I glared at it. Hmmmm.
So as soon as breakfast was over, I set in to clean, and clean I did. The dishwasher and oven cleaned themselves, but every surface and several cabinets got some one-on-one time with me. Every countertop was completely cleared, scrubbed and buffed. The backsplash areas got a damp cloth and stubborn stains got treated to the magic of a Magic Eraser. The plasticware cabinet was overhauled and the coffee grinder was relegated to the garage. Every now and again, I might need it…but with the arrival of the Keurig, those times are few and far between these days. As I wiped off the top of the microwave, a strip of plastic suddenly appeared…it was one of those protective strips they put on in the factory so it doesn’t get scratched from store to installation. For shame. This house was finished over six years ago and we’ve lived here for almost two years….and I’m just now finding and removing it? I *do* wipe that ledge atop the microwave occasionally, I swear.
The finishing touch was to scrub and buff the sinks. I had seen this tip on Pinterest and decided to give it a whirl. Well, at least the last part. I used my trusty Barkeeper’s Friend to do the scouring, then did the olive oil buff job. They are definitely shinier and I hope they’ll stay a little cleaner…for at least a few days.
Do you clean your sinks? I hear horror stories of people who don’t…really? I scour mine at least a couple times a week, and definitely after any raw meat has dripped or dribbled in a basin.
Even clean, the kitchen is visually busy. My rainbow of Fiestaware isn’t exactly a soothing monochromatic color scheme and I use tools, prep bowls and appliances too often to keep them tucked away in cabinets.
But when it’s clean, it definitely sets a better “tone” for our open floor plan. And I know the kitchen won’t stay this clean for long. We work hard, play hard, and eat hard in this area and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For now, we’ll do what we can to maintain it….and in a few weeks, I’ll be running a sinkful of scalding hot water and doing it all over again.
After the kitchen was finished, Swimmer Girl and I headed out for pedicures and a movie (Les Miserables). Five hours of uninterrupted mother-daughter weekend time = awesome.
I hope your weekend was filled with some activities that gave you a sense of satisfaction, and some opportunities to savor a special moment. Those are the best weekends, in my book.
P.S. Yes, I’m still keeping up with my daily Bible readings, which is proving extremely convenient since they are posted on Facebook every day. Last week’s passages blazed a trail through the lives of patriarchs, and I’ve once again pondered our oh-so-human frailties: deception, favoritism and envy marred the relationships of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their families. This week will focus on Joseph…and his ability to see God and good in the trials of life. We could all learn a lesson or two from his story.