Sunday, May 13, 2018

Flowers for me

I had a very nice Mother's Day, which really started on Saturday afternoon, when my in-laws gave me a large bouquet of lavender tulips with beargrass. I've never seen tulips this color before; they have white and blue in the very heart of them. Blue is such an unusual color in tulips. They really are special and so pretty. It's a lot of tulips, which is just lovely. I'm using my largest vase and it's still not big enough for all of them; the beargrass is jammed in rather artlessly.

On Sunday morning, I was presented with wonderful gifts by my Bear crew. The children made gifts for me in school; the GB created beautiful art in watercolor and crayon, depicting many kinds of flowers and leaves. The LB wrapped and glued yarn around a small glass vase and put flowers inside; his teacher bought several large bunches and gave each child several to take home. The painting now lives on the wall above our homeschool cart, where I keep art supplies, school books, papers and other learning tools like our base ten blocks, maps, rulers and calculators. I really like how it looks there; it brightens up the whole corner! I have children's art in every room of my house. I'll probably display it for the rest of my life; it's the best art in my house.

The Bear gave me two Mark Bittman cookbooks; we'd borrowed How to Cook Everything: The Basics from the library a month or two ago, renewing it several times while I pored over it and bookmarked numerous recipes with Post-Its. I've made four of them so far - one of them twice. I really love this cookbook; it has some great recipes made with simple ingredients, as well as excellent tips and advice for better cooking technique. I've enjoyed it so much that the Bear decided to buy me my own copy, as well as Bittman's earlier book, How to Cook Everything, which is more comprehensive and, in some ways, more complicated and aspirational, but also useful and interesting to read. I've always loved sitting down with a cookbook in my lap - I can get sunk into a well-written one as if it's a novel - and I find Bittman's writing about food to be really engaging and approachable. I'm only sorry I didn't discover his books sooner, but now I should have plenty of Bittman to keep me busy in the kitchen.

I hope you had a good day too, if it was Mother's Day where you are. I know it can be a complicated day for many people, and for many reasons, but I hope you found peace and happiness in it. Thank you for your comments on my most recent post; I appreciate them very much. Life has been busy lately but good too; we're all doing well and we're enjoying the busy season for the most part, if not always feeling calm and rested at the moment. But school will be finished by the middle of next week, then we'll have a blissful week of doing as little as we like before the summer activities start up in early June.

I'm reminded again how much I love our rhythms, the seasonal patterns and the way life unspools around them. I know my garden by heart; if the averages hold, there will be hibiscuses in about six and a half weeks. I pruned my roses for the first time, lopping off the first dead blooms, and I know there will be new ones in about four weeks. Every evening now, the tram cars on the mountain glitter in setting sun, the cables picked out like gleaming silver threads. Summer, for all I prickle at excessive heat and endless, aimless days, is a time of the year when I can count on certain things happening exactly when I expect them to, which feeds my deep need for settled, staid living, as much as it still surprises me every single year - the roses always come back, the storms always set in, the weeks at home together always seem a little too long, but I always miss them when they melt into autumn.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Hot and harried

Hello! Gosh, it's been a while since I've been here - almost three weeks! I'm not sure I've ever gone so long without blogging. It's been such a relentless whirlwind lately as the school year winds down. Every activity has an end-of-year program or performance or must-do festival, fair or get-together. It's all a bit much, really, and I have to admit that I'm completely exhausted. In addition, a member of our household has recently started having some issues with dairy products, so that's been a learning curve - and let's face it, kind of a hassle - when it comes to cooking and stocking the fridge. I'm happy to accommodate, but it hasn't been simple. Otherwise, when I'm at home, I'm pretty much vegging with a magazine or something lighthearted on TV.

It's quite hot outside now, so we're trying to keep as cool as we can. We've just started using the swamp cooler again. I underwent a rather frustrating repair to my car's air-conditioning system, which began failing last summer and totally died a couple of months ago. I thought I was being Mrs. Responsible by taking it for service in March, to beat the rush as well as the really hot weather. We paid a pretty penny for a new system, which I assumed was the end of the story until last week when the heat really set in and the A/C only blew roasting-hot air. Long story short, the new parts themselves were faulty and needed to be replaced too. Fortunately, the repair people saw their error and did not charge us extra for the second fix. I was thrilled because one more expensive repair on my twelve-year-old car, and I'm really going to need to consider buying a new one instead. I'm actually pretty excited about that because and I've never had a NEW car before and we do plan to buy it new. Even better if I can drive it for a couple of years before the LB is ready for his learner's permit. You can get one at 15 years, 6 months in our state. The countdown is on; he has just under three years left, so I may need to get on this soon.

We've done our spring planting, a couple of weeks ago, actually. I planted geraniums in my barrel on the back patio, as I've done for several years running. They really do well in the barrel, and aside from occasional dead-heading, need very little effort to look great. I got to Lowe's early enough in the season - and early enough on a Friday morning, it turns out, because they were going like hotcakes - to get four different colors of geraniums. They don't photograph as well as I'd like, but I have a fuchsia with reddish marks, a pale lavender-pink, a basic red, and a bright coral. The Bear and LB rigged up a great watering system for different parts of the backyard, including my barrel, so after the first week or so, when I watered daily in addition to the automatic watering, I haven't even needed to water them myself. Awesome. We also planted lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon and several herbs. Our grapes are putting on fruit, and our apple tree is absolutely loaded. I think it will be a decent produce year overall, especially if we ever get any rain.

I'm almost finished with my hexagon blanket, though I haven't taken any photos of it lately. I have one more row to add, then it will be plenty big for whatever we want to do with it. I still think I might put it on our bed; it's crazier and more colorful than I've lately wanted for my bedroom, but it's cute and folksy and it makes me really happy, it's just so cheerful. My warm-weather bedding is very plain, just a grayish-green coverlet which could use a little perking up. I haven't done much other crafting lately, but I'm really hoping to get back to cross-stitch when school is finished. Meanwhile, Miss GB is becoming quite the master of friendship bracelets. I wish I'd known her when I was a kid, I could have used some tips back in their heyday!

School will let out the week after next, and we're all ready for the break. It's been kind of a rough year, for various reasons. I'm very much looking forward to a slower pace, though it won't even be all that slow because I've got swimming and diving lessons scheduled (four weeks for each child), weekly "tween" events for both children at the library, summer ballet and continued guitar lessons, and a couple of weekend camping trips too. We'll have plenty to do, and I'm never one to enjoy toooo much downtime anyway. It's all good; I'm looking forward to library and pool trips, hopefully some good summer storms, and a general break from the hectic life of late. I'll be pulling my hair out by the end of June, probably, but for now, it's looking pretty good from here.

I hope you're doing well. I'm sorry to say that I'm quite behind on blog-reading, but I hope to get back in the swing of it soon. Have a good weekend! Here, we'll be continuing the yard management and doing things around the house. I'm thinking about making jam, maybe on Sunday, if the strawberries on sale at the store look good when I shop tomorrow morning. Hope you have happy, peaceful things going on where you are too. Happy Mother's Day!
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