Of Popsicles and Weeds

It’s glorious summertime, with the solstice past and the year waning. How is that for jerking around your feelings in the first line? The ebb and flow of life is mostly wonderful in June. With a house full of tweens and teens, someone is constantly checking the cupboards or the fridge. My oldest son goes to work and he and my husband both pack a lunch, although Gabe eats his at midnight and Alex has his at the regular time. I pack one lunch in the morning and one in the evening. When I don’t do it in a timely manner, Alex packs a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some chips and calls it enough. Gabe grabs a granola bar and some cheese and calls that enough. I make a point of staying ahead of them so that there is lettuce on the sandwich and nourishment in the snacks.

Meanwhile the garden is not quite producing what the little girls like to pack in their daily picnics. I let them pack whatever they want, provided it’s marginally healthy. (That means no, not popsicles,) and every time I want to make a salad, I hold my breath that the veggies are still there in the crisper drawers. I buy prodigious quantities of Ranch dressing which they pour into personal containers for dipping.  (I also buy saltines; those cheap ones for 98 cents a box are the preferred variety. As long as they have salt, the kids are happy.) I am excited to see the first peppers setting tiny fruits and the cucumbers are starting to put out blooms. This past week the girls have been grazing off the pea patch. Finally I told them they have to stop or we will never have enough for a meal. There are still a few strawberries ripening. The patch is old, so the berries were all small. I was thinking about how long it takes to cap such little fruits when I heard Rita gushing about how cute they are and how much fun it is to cap them. I did not disrupt their fun.

Last year with all the rain, most of Gabe’s raspberries gave up in a despairing shower of yellowing leaves. There is still one row that is producing berries this year, so I was walking along, deep in thought while I looked for them in the tangle of canes and weeds. I kept hearing a hissing, but couldn’t place it until I nearly stepped on a duck that is sitting on a huge nest full of eggs. She was flattened out in her effort to keep them all warm, and she meant business! I tiptoed away quickly. The girls informed me that there are two other expectant mother ducks in the field. It looks like the slugs and bugs had better beware this summer.

On the poultry side of things, there are a bunch of baby guineas sprouting feathers and attitudes in the barn. They were only 3 days old when we observed them fighting over food and running dizzily hither and yon. “Showing their true colors already,” Gregory observed sagely.

We’ve had a brilliant social life recently. Last week there was either an event involving our family, or we had visitors here at our house every day except one. It was a blast! I literally went for one day at a time. Actually, make that one meal at a time. One morning recently I went down to the laundry room to sort the hampers. Both my sons’ towels and entire wardrobe from the previous day were on the floor of their bathroom (which doubles as our laundry room) and there was one shirt in the hamper. It belonged to Gregory’s friend who had spent the day here. When I texted his mother that little story, she replied that when my son was at her house, he alone brought his mug to the kitchen after it was empty. I feel that an identity crisis would be in order: if they only do what they are supposed to do when mother isn’t there to remind them, what is a mother for? (I jest. I hope you know that. Recently I witnessed some incredible thick-headedness when a friend made tongue-in-cheek comments that left her back-peddling for dear life. It made me nervous!)

A few days ago the boys and their cousins were swimming in the pond and wishing the cousins didn’t have to use precious time to take showers before continuing their journey. One of my children said, “You’re plenty clean! You were just swimming!” He replied, “I must take a shower. Dad’s orders. But I only need 30 seconds for that, so let’s play until the very last minute.” I was not terribly surprised to find his swimming trunks and other sundries on the bathroom floor after they left, but he was as clean as 30 seconds under a stream of water could make him.

So many times, with teaching children line upon line, precept upon precept, you take the victories as they come. They really do wash their dirty hands. You can easily see that by the dirt smears on the hand towel. We have a rule around here about popsicles. If you don’t dispose of the wooden stick or the wrapper or the plastic tube, as the case may be, you don’t get a popsicle the next time. I have discovered a flaw in the rule. Short of forensic science, it is pretty difficult to isolate the trash-offender, especially if there have been non-family members around also eating popsicles.  It’s as if no one ever deliberately says, “Now I will toss this in the lawn so I can do other things.” So the rule is kind of useless unless I personally observe the offense. I amended it to “go pick up any trash in the lawn. If it is big enough to get hold of with your thumb and finger, it counts as trash. And no, it doesn’t matter if it was or wasn’t you.”

Addy whined a little today, “Why do I have to do dishes?” and my wise answer was, “Because you live here.” I noticed recently that the very thing that annoys me is often an indication of a great blessing. The refrigerator is needing repairs. Well, glory be, I don’t have to go to the spring house to keep the milk cold, although running downstairs to the egg fridge every time we need milk is probably the modern equivalent. And who has an egg fridge, anyway? People with so many extra eggs they can eat them every day and sell them too.

I have a few bits of advice for those who like to stay alert to potential problems.

  1. Never have a yard sale on a rainy day, even if you have it under a roof. People simply don’t believe the signs.
  2. Don’t throw things away. It may be exactly what the person who does stop at your yard sale was looking for, and they will feel so very happy about that. Also, the lace on the old curtain might be precisely what your daughter needs for edging on her colonial dress that she made out of an old sheet. See concluding picture below. (pattern bought at a yard sale.)
  3. Do throw away ratty stuffed animals. Nobody wants them. Sorry, Velveteen Rabbit.
  4. Don’t wear flip-flops to the doctor’s office if you expect to wait an hour in the refrigerated tomb that is an exam room. You will be so chilled by the time you actually see the doc that she might mistake you for a corpse and order a post-mortem.
  5. Don’t worry too much about preserving yourself. It’s not natural. I quote from The Last Battle: “Susan’s whole idea was to get to the silliest time of her life as quickly as she could and then to stay there as long as she could.” (Speaking of her absorption with lipstick and invitations.)
  6. {Edit} Weeds. I just looked at my title and remembered that I was going to mention that this is the weather where “weeds go mental,” in the words of a British gardener. Here is what you do: you pull them out, compost them, use what is nasty and messy for the benefit of all.

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3 thoughts on “Of Popsicles and Weeds

  1. I’m always thrilled to see you when you post. It starts my week off right😉
    I adore your word choices and the stories of mundane life turned into hilarity.
    My only complaint is that it’s not often enough! But as a mother, I understand that time is always in demand!

  2. Sounds like a full and eventful summer. 😉 Those flower dolls/little people in the header are SO ADORABLE! My neice would love to make them, but alas, I know not how to advise her in the fine art of flower people making. :/ Would, by any chance, any more pictures and instructions be forthcoming on a future blog post to help me out of my delimna??

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