Stream of Consciousness

Our outdoor activities were just interrupted by the 137th gulley washer of the year. The girls screeched and threw all their dolls and snacks and purses onto blankets and skittered into the house as the big drops began to splash. I was in the process of washing the algae off our white deck railing because with 136 rainstorms in the recent past we are growing moss in unusual places. My aunt said if I spray a solution of Norwex detergent onto the railings and wait five minutes, it will hose off like nothing. It’s true; it really does just wipe off. I sprayed a few sections of railing quickly before the storm, just in case it would rain hard enough to hose off the green. The boys yelled and stowed construction materials from the back yard into the shed.

As soon as the lightning subsided, the children whooped and danced in the rain as if they were welcoming a monsoon after a prolonged drought instead of getting themselves doused by the 137th rainstorm of the year. I wish I could be just a little more like that. Besides, when have we ever had so many rainbows in a year?

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Last week the little girls brought me enough ground cherries from their garden so that I could make a pie. Then they politely declined to eat it because I put raisins in the pie. Ordinarily they love raisins, but I suppose the rehydrated ones do look a bit odd.

I am happy that the end of the gardening season is here. We will gladly pay for fresh lettuce and cucumbers raised by someone else during the winter season. Modern shipping, while controversial in terms of effects on the ecosystem, is still a wonder I applaud. Oranges in winter? Yes, please! Tomatoes raised in the south with an astonishingly long shelf life? I won’t sneer at them either. I try to imagine how the “eat only local food or die” movement would look to the pioneers who survived on prairie chickens and salt pork for months at a time, with no option of fresh food shipped to their supermarkets. I suppose it is a modern luxury like tiny houses. Ma and Pa would probably shake their heads at the kids these days.

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We celebrated our 17th anniversary yesterday. By that I mean we didn’t forget it in a day full of normal things to do. Probably this would have seemed a tragedy of middle age when we were newly-wed. No roses? You forgot the card? What? Not even going out to eat? We did squeeze in a coffee shop stop on our way to Gabe’s dad’s birthday party. “Are we even any further ahead now than we were then?” was the rhetorical question as we were discussing our starry-eyed honeymoon love and now. The answer is, “Yes! Yes, indeed!” Neither of us feels like we know everything, but we would not prefer to go back and start over.

The hard-won lessons of living and loving have given us perspective and courage for the future. Sometimes that thing you just can’t see past or through, that just stands there in the path so that you face it down and figure it out? That is the thing that you might not even be able to remember what it was, but it stretched you and wisened you up in the processing of it. It’s kind of hard to explain to a newly-wed, but when you refuse to retreat from the impasses of marriage (what? are you saying you don’t just love to talk everything through while sipping fancy coffee and gazing into each other’s souls?) you come through feeling safer and stronger. You learn to like each other better, and you learn to like yourself more. Funny how that works.

We are dead opposites. It’s what makes life so hilariously interesting and undeniably annoying. He is careful and quiet. I am impulsive and chatty. We are both opinionated. Can you see how that could produce some jolly times? He is a perfectionist. I am a rip-into-it-and-see-what-happens person. When we talk about a project on the house, I am ready to do demo day tomorrow and he makes plans on paper for years.  He uses graphs to plan his trees and berry plots. I like volunteer sunflowers cropping up everywhere in the garden. When we shop, he never ever buys anything without fitting it on. I have been known to say, “I can always return it if it doesn’t fit.” He keeps our finances carefully, accounts always balanced, bills paid on time. I keep my receipts in my wallet and wait to enter them into our budget until I can’t ignore them anymore. He wears Converse and I like my Flex-soles.

We each have our systems, how we like to do things. Neither one of us is always right or better than the other. Both systems work pretty well by themselves; the great work of our marriage is blending them.

When it comes to the sanctifying that God wants to do in our lives through each other, there is no question that our opposite-ness is by design. I am learning to be more patient, do research, read the reviews, think ahead. He is learning that life can be pretty great even when it is messy and flinging us in circles. It’s really an amazing plan God had, and we look forward to figuring it out as we go for many more years.

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We have a project going on that is pretty exciting. I moved my pottery paraphernalia outside into what used to be a garden shed this spring. Raw clay cannot freeze, so we were trying to decide what to do about winter. My skills are tentative enough that I was afraid I would have to relearn everything if I took the whole winter off. The basement was not a good option, because we do so much living down there. Gabe decided that wiring, insulating, and heating the shed is a viable option. That’s what is going on now. This was his first post-and-beam construction project and I have always felt affectionate about the braces and rough wood. It’s too bad that the insulation will cover it up, but there are plans in motion to make it cute again once the wiring is complete. At least the outside will remain the same, including the rounded doors.

I am delighted with this upgrade! The broken window will be replaced and the wrens will no longer be able to squeeze in through knotholes in the siding. This should also fix the carpenter bees that dribbled sawdust onto my workbench every day, and possibly discourage the field-mouse family that remained unfazed even when the father drowned in my bucket of water.

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School has gotten off to a strong start. Alex is still working/doing school in the evenings and on weekends. The rest of us power through the basic lessons every day. I have learned that things just go more smoothly when I stay right there in the school space with the children, even when they know exactly what their assignments are. I don’t know how other people turn out conscientious little students who diligently do all their lessons without a hitch, but that just isn’t the reality here. I have figured out a strategy that works pretty well for the child who just can’t resist poking a sibling: disturb another intentionally and you get to do their next main task, which is likely to be dishes or laundry.

This year I am not letting my checking accumulate. Yet. And our daily read-aloud is a delight for us all. I say it again, this is So Much Easier without toddlers.

A friend of ours just sent her only child off to college, and then packed up totes and totes of craft supplies/ toys/ books for our children. It has been like Christmas for them! And it has been like mid-winter for me, with that choking feeling of being up to the neck in projects and not-always-successful results. The window clings that just went wrong?… I peeled them off and dropped them into the trash as soon as they were dry. But the fresh stack of woven potholders is great!

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Well, I see it’s time for my husband to return from work. I will save my best pig story of the summer for tomorrow. Have a nice night!

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