I awakened to that blissful feeling of a whole Saturday to just do whatever I felt like doing, which for a mother means Whatever Yells Loudest. I got out of bed just about the time Gabriel got home and got into bed. He was the only nurse for the entire 12 hour shift last night in the emergency department. Weary is not even the right word to describe it, but it will have to suffice.
There was a blustery blizzard going on, and I’ll admit, I was not especially pleased about it. It seemed like a good day to wear my robin egg blue sweater and drink lots of coffee.
Two days ago it was raining so hard that I kept checking the basement to see if the dehumidifier and drains were keeping up with the trickle of water coming in from excessive snowmelt. A bunch of old towels made temporary dams, but this morning we had to address the situation in the basement, now that the precipitation is solid again. I picked up the sodden towels, then we sorted through the big bags of snow clothes from last Saturday when they were skiing and put them away. Gasp. A whole week later!
There has been a stack of boxes in the basement that were never unpacked since we moved. Cringe. Eighteen months later. I found that the threat of a possible flood gave me the nudge I needed to get rid of the cardboard boxes. One was full of framed family pictures from newborn portraits to recent, and I repacked them in a plastic tote to take to the attic. The rest of the boxes contained stuff that we shouldn’t have moved. We haven’t used or missed that stuff in 18 months. Salvation Army, here we come. We had a small bonfire as well, and I feel better.
I mentioned the girls’ play corner downstairs. We curtained off about 10×10 feet for them to set up as their playhouse. Sometimes it feels like it is completely out-of-hand, spilling into the entire basement, but I think it is worth every square foot we ceded to them. They cook on an induction burner, make tea for their friends and serve it in pretty dishes. Then they wash the dishes and use an antique washboard in a bucket to wash their tea towels. Occasionally they sleep down there on the floor with its patchwork of area rugs, surrounded by hodge podge furniture we don’t want anywhere else in the house. They reign there in a miniature scale they can manage.
This morning I saw that the girls had a bunch of my pottery towels in their play corner in the basement. They were clean, but stained, and looked ugly. I told them they need to make some tablecloths and runners out of fabric pieces. When those were hemmed, they needed to be ironed, which reminded them of the tiny iron I got for them. They promptly decided to make an ironing board to match. I heard a lot of hammering and drilling, and what do you know! They have an ironing board for their linens.
Gregory and Olivia are doing a history course together this year: Ancient Civilizations and the Bible from Answers in Genesis. It’s a different approach to history than we have done in the past. Gregory likes the freestyle idea of reading supplemental books, following trails that interest him, picking a research topic for each unit, and then procrastinating until the very last minute to write the report after I have twisted his arm. Olivia does not like the freestyling at all. She prefers a history course where you memorize dates and timelines and do normal tests. Her reports are masterpieces of conscientious research that she is sure are not good enough, and they are done before the deadline. Children, children. (To be honest, this history course is stretching me too. Rather more library books to chase down than strictly necessary.)
Anyway, all week I wanted to make baklava to finish up the chapter on Greece. Today we had time to do such fiddly things. Olivia brushed butter on twenty sheets of phyllo dough and Greg chopped up the nuts and mixed the honey/spice drizzle. It was a golden brown triumph of pastry to enjoy with our tea.
Eventually the sun shone on our world in that aloof way it has in winter. I took a walk outside, slipping barefooted into my fur-lined boots, which is about as edgy as I care to be in 17 degree weather. Lady and I checked out the creek, which was flowing brimful in midweek as it drained away the snowmelt. Today it was a normal size again, with little dangly icicles left behind as the water level went down. I heard birds singing, but there are no rose hips or other edible berries left along the edges of the trail. There was a brilliant flash of a cardinal digging seeds or bugs out of the now-brown seed heads on the sumac. Other than that, the world was monochrome. I noticed that the woodpecker’s ash tree broke off right at their biggest bug mining hole, crashing across the picnic spot in the woods, and I fantasized about getting out there with the small chain saw and cleaning up. I have Plans for Paths and all manner of projects in the backyard just as soon as the snow melts and the mud dries. I cannot wait to mow lawn again!
We planted some seeds this week. Rita started a lettuce garden and I sowed grass seeds in containers, an idea I picked up from my sister. It should be lush and green by Easter. I also planted some little bulbs, crocuses I think. Last year we grew paperwhites, but honestly, we could not stand the scent. It was just too much, and I had to throw them out.
See my tropical grass on the windowsill up there? Last fall I had a piece of ginger that was very wrinkly and old. We stuck it in a pot of dirt to see what would happen. After a long time, a shoot emerged, then another and another. It is now a grass stalk about 3 feet tall by my kitchen sink. We love it, and can’t bear to check if it has made more ginger roots in the pots. Maybe once we have green outside we can sacrifice it. I have a coleus on the windowsill, saved from my outdoor planter, and it will be the mother of many babies for my window boxes and planters. Then there are the fiddle leaf fig leaves that we hope will eventually get roots. Do you notice a theme emerging here?
Tonight I took Rita along to Walmart to help me load up bags of salt for the water softener. She is strong and useful for such errands. “Just essentials,” I said as we picked up milk and eggs. Somehow the two of us also came home with blueberries, strawberries, bananas, lettuce, cucumber, avocados, and a coconut. Isn’t it wonderful that we have access to so much bounty? I am very very grateful.