I sense that in the sphere of lame titles, I have just hit the jackpot, but it does give you an idea as to the intent of this post. I have written many articles in my head this spring, but I never had a computer accessible to type it out. One daughter uses my laptop to stream her arithmetic instruction and the other daughter uses the desktop computer for her schoolwork. I also turned my beloved reading/writing room into an extra bedroom. The girls were having daily drama with 3 in the bunk beds and just simply too much stuff in one little room. I moved my desk and chair out and set up a single bed and dresser for Olivia. She is ecstatic to have a place where no one throws nighties on the floor willy-nilly every morning. Her orderly soul delights in fixing the bed every day, arranging the teddies just so, and having a place to read early in the morning.
I miss having a place where I can go to shut the door and think or read or write, and yes, extroverts have needs like this too. This winter I spent a lot of quiet time just making stuff in the pottery shed. Some of my experiments turned out hilariously funny (teapots), some are mildly disturbing (pedestal bowls that sagged just a little), and some were great triumphs (new glazes). It really did help me to be so absorbed in making stuff and doing glaze tests during the long dark of winter.
The biggest project so far this spring was a massive clean-up on our property, trash bags in hand. Living with so much road frontage and in a valley where the wind sweeps through, we end up with a lot of junk from the un-classy motorists who chuck beer cans and go-cups out the windows, as well as our own blown-away bits and pieces. We have also cleared out the playhouse, and I confess to burning a few things when the girls weren’t looking. (Have you ever watched a massive, ratty teddy bear burn? One that was given generously at a yard sale after you told your child “no”…)
I have been washing and stowing snow clothes in the attic, one load at a time. My huge capacity HE washer started struggling with bulky loads again, so I was limited to smaller, normal clothing loads, no rugs or blankets or even heavy coats. Gabriel decided he was done fixing it. We did some research and found an appliance store with the Speed Queen of our dreams (simple dials, no computerized nonsense), but then we experienced sticker shock and went on Craigslist. To our delight, there was a listing for an even more advanced Speed Queen for almost half price of new and it was only a few minutes’ drive from a conference Gabriel was attending. Funny… the single lady who was selling due to a move just happened to work for the same employer Gabriel does. She hasn’t told her boss about the move yet, and didn’t want us to leak it, so don’t tell anybody! The poor appliance salesman went from licking his chops over a customer almost in the bag to admitting that we found a tremendous deal.
That nudged me into painting the laundry room white: ceiling, trim, and walls all the same. People Who Know are doing this. It makes for simple painting and makes my eyes feel a little skinned by the stark cleanliness every time I do a load of laundry. I do enjoy it. I’m sure it won’t stay so pristine for long. It took Alex and me an entire Saturday forenoon to do the painting. I trimmed, he rolled, and we listened to 99 Percent Invisible podcasts. Then he hooked up my new washer and I just want to say how handy it is to have a capable young adult hanging about with all sorts of muscle and skill. I look at him sometimes and think, “How?”
I ran 6 loads of laundry through that blessed machine in the time it used to take my very intelligent load-sensing washer to do two, (and even then it might have found an issue in its heart). I am not into low-water use situations in this season of many children covered in great dirt. And seriously, folks, this is the washer for the people with children. Yes, it is. How do I know? A lady with 12 of them told me so. She knows what she is talking about. Then my mother-in-law, who is the cleanest person I know, also said so. Now I have been using it for half a week, and I am sold. It is heavy, American-made, quality. I feel so blessed! I might even start washing everything in the house, now that spring is here.
I planted just a few starter garden things last week. Since we couldn’t start the tiller to prep for peas, (yes, peas! What can I say? I love them so much I am willing to do the work.) we spaded a corner for red potatoes. I also sowed some lettuces and radishes, and got basil going on my kitchen windowsills. The asparagus bed had an astonishing amount of hearty dandelions in it. When I saw the size of the roots, I decided that this is the year we try for dandelion coffee. It turned out to be delicious, in a non-coffee sort of way. Especially when we added cream and sugar. We have been drinking a lot of Dandy Blend, an herbal drink with no caffeine that is a great “iced coffee” for children. Also it is expensive. So now we know why it costs a lot. It took a good bit of time, scrubbing enough roots to cover a cookie sheet, chopping them up into half inch pieces,
roasting them in the oven for an hour, running them through the coffee grinder, doing one final roast, and the all-important taste test. We got about 1 cup of dandelion grounds/ersatz coffee for our trouble, but it only takes a teaspoon to make a cup. And it is good! Now we know we can do it, which was the whole point.
The general consensus: this is a drink that all of us enjoyed. We brewed it like coffee, with water. When we make Dandy Blend, we mix it in sweetened milk and drink it cold, sort of like a chocolate milk substitute. I did a taste test plain, beside black coffee. It tasted more earthy (surprise!) with hints of mushrooms. If we ever hit a time when we cannot buy coffee, you can expect to see me out in the yard with a weed digger for my substitute.
Here we are a day later. I found me a block of quiet space and brewed a cup of Earl Grey. Looking out of the kitchen windows this morning, I see two bright yellow kayaks on the pond bank, a fleet of paper airplanes on the lawn, some ropes, and a goat cart that the girls rigged with better success pulling it themselves than hitching up Betsy or Horny. (Oh, yes, that is her name.) I also see bike ramps, a sagging teepee, a bunch of play dishes, an incongruous snow shovel, and some abandoned flip-flops . It does not look pretty, but it is a beautiful sight to me!
I haven’t told the children yet, but we’re taking the day off school. We are actually ahead of schedule, a rare feeling indeed! It’s a big week at Keystone Vinyl, my dad’s deck and fence business. The annual open house is coming up this weekend, so my job is to get things looking pretty outside. A local nursery has agreed to let us borrow plants and shrubs for curb appeal in exchange for free advertising. Alex and I will be hauling them in our Suburban, as many as we can cram in.
I live the high life with a student-driver chauffeur willing to take me anywhere I want. It’s pretty nice to sit back and read or check out the scenery while we go places.
Okay, the Peightlets are up, and I am off. Have a lovely day!