Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I spent about an hour today tilling up compacted lawn with some gnarled old pine roots thrown into the mix in our front yard today, trying to prepare it for planting. We have river birches, a scarlet curls willow, some butterfly bushes, and some odd perennials to fit there, mostly with an eye toward shading the living room window which permits blazing hot summer sun to enter the house. Winning more residents of Southern suburbia over to the notion that trees and bushes and flowers are far better than plain ol' grass in a front yard is my other secret agenda.

Wrestling a rototiller in the 85 degree heat had my heartrate skyhigh, being in such sorry shape as I am. But I got another kind of work-out today, too, when Sister, Bean, and I attended her school's science night. It would've been good, tame fun--holding sea urchins and pythons, playing with magnets, mixing up oobleck--except that Sister's father and grandmother were there, too, unexpected only by me. My Ex, I have very little problem with except for the odd email argument over summer vacations. He's really a good-hearted guy and means well. His mother, I loathe. I try very hard never to have to talk with or see her at all because she makes me feel so uncontrollably hateful.

So they were both there and despite the fact that Sisterwas dropped off at school by them just this morning, as soon as she saw them she had eyes only for her grandma. She turned her back on me, grabbed her grandma's arm, and steered her to all the booths she wanted to visit. Her grandma thought this was just great and allowed herself to be led and me to be turned away from. After about an hour of this, when it was time for us to go meet Husband at home for dinner, I was in the crappy position of having to exasperatedly ask Sister to please let's go while she gave her grandma a fifth hug and acted like I was never going to let them be together again. Her grandmother just said cheerily, "See you in a few days! And don't forget that we're going to the mountains!" Which I'm sure that she said to her this morning when they dropped Sister off at school.

God, I hate this. I hate feeling so jealous and hurt. Sister is literally counting down the days out loud to me til she can leave her stinky mama's house and go to the mountains with her grandmother. We had such a lovely week together last week, but this one she is pushing all my buttons. I swear it's on purpose, 8-1/2 years old or not.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I'm a bit...not burnt-out on gardening today exactly, but maybe a little garden weary. As I've mentioned before, gardening has been taking up all my baby-naptime for the past few weeks, hence the very scanty blog posting during that time. Today the sun in shining, the birds are singing, and there are pots of things to plant scattered in the yard, but I just can't get motivated. I'd rather be inside working on my springtime pillow project and hearing the birds sing through the window. Probably Bean having a bit of a cough that had me up with her--count 'em!--4 times last night is contributing to my weariness.

Some good things: my very best girlfriends are probably coming over to my house for a sleepover at the end of April when Husband is out of town on a fishing trip. I SO hope it comes together, even if I do still have to get up with Bean the morning after. I'm feeling a bit weary with the everyday household routine, too, these days. Wake up, take a shower, let the dog out, get the kids up, make breakfast, empty the dishwasher, etc. I could use a little novelty in my routine.

But wait, I was planning to list good things going on here, so what else? Fried catfish and buttermilk biscuits for dinner last night and country ham biscuits for breakfast this morning. Sometimes, some good Southern cooking is in order, at least in this household. Also, Sister woke up happy this morning because it was picture day at school. We had fun giving her a little hair-do with what little hair she has in her pixie cut before she left--a pleasant little mama and big girl interlude. Another ceramics class to look forward to on Saturday--have I mentioned that I've been taking ceramics classes lately? I don't remember.

Sometimes life just sorta ticks by, doesn't it?

Friday, March 16, 2007

2 Sisters

I had a moment of parenting bliss yesterday when I went upstairs to check on the girls. I opened the door to Sister's room and found Sister curled up on her chair writing in her journal, Bean on the floor peacefully stuffing dolls into their clothes, and very bad pop music playing on the radio. I crossed my fingers that, crappy pop music and all, this would keep happening through Sister's teenage years and tiptoed back downstairs.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Sunday

I know, Sunday was yesterday, but I was so busy basking in the warm sun that I didn't take the time to write.

Actually, what I really did was putter. Husband let me sleep in late, which because of the time change, was 'til 9:00. 9:00! Have I done that since I was 24? I don't think I have. After a leisurely cup of tea on the screened porch because it was that warm, I realized that we were probably ready for porch living again. Some of you out there are still dealing with some deep ass snow, but here in NC temps have been in the mid-60's. Tomorrow it's getting up to 78 degrees! Ok, ok, I'll stop now, but I assure you it's not gloating, but rather extreme glee making me carry on so much.

Back to the porch. I spent a couple of hours moving houseplants from their winter residence on every available bookshelf and side table inside to every available bookshelf and side table on the screened porch. I misted their leaves to get the dust off and gave them all a nice dose of some liquid fertilizer. I transplanted a few into larger pots, including my favorite, a tree-like jade plant that I've been nurturing since it was 6" tall in a 4"-nursery pot. It's well over a foot tall now, and half again as wide and I'm very, very fond of it. The porch is so inviting and green now that I'm dying to have a party, even with the yard beyond still nothing but a stretch of clay clods bordered by some planted beds.

Husband worked hard himself this weekend on getting the backyard much closer to done-ness. The French drains are all filled in and the yard is nearly level after a couple hours spent passing a tiller over the enormous piles of clay left over. The vegetable beds are marked off, and I still have to turn them over before Husband tills those up, too. They're nothing like our suburban homesteading neighbors' beds in size and intention, mind you, but we'll still grow cherry tomatoes for the girls to snack on as they play outside, plus regular-sized ones, too, and probably cucumbers, herbs, melons, beans, and exactly ONE plenty-prolific squash or zucchini. Tomorrow I may go ahead and plant the dahlia tubers I have, though maybe I should wait til it's "officially" warm enough.

But nah, I don't think I can wait.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Be so nucleic

Does anyone else out there find spam subject lines fascinating? "Be so nucleic." I certainly feel like I've been very nucleic lately. If "nucleic" means something along the lines of confined in an atom-sized space, which it may not, I'm too lazy to check. I have been right close to home for the past week since I last posted, but this has been lovely for me. Sprintime is holding here and I've been continuing to plant and work out in the backyard. I'm nearly done laying a stone path around the side of the house. (When I say stone path, I just mean some stepping stones--nothing elaborate.) I've nearly filled a couple of shade beds on either side of the path with holly ferns, ajuga, creeping jenny, cinnamon ferns, columbines, Jacob's ladders, and brunneras, plus one soon-to-be-gorgeous rose-flowered climbing hydrangea vine that I'm hoping will someday cloak the brick chimney.

This has occupied all my baby naptime breaks. I don't do a thing else with that chunk of time, and even errands out of the house involve trips for more bags of mushroom compost or more plants. It's an obsession that I'll put on hold once the weather gets too hot to plant anything, or for me to stay outside long enough to weed, given that baby naptime happens during the most scorching part of a summer day. I'm cramming it all in while I can.

You know, I actually started a private gardening blog so that I wouldn't have to bore you all with my plant talk, but as you can see, it still spills over into this here. How about another subject then? Today was also a glorious food day, very welcome after my annual winter food doldrums. This morning I made the girls some French toast out of challah bread, close enough to French brioche to be equally decadent soaked in nutmeg-y egg batter. I heaped the slices high with sliced strawberries and blueberries--which aren't too bad at Whole Foods these days--sprinkled lemon juice on top, then drizzled maple syrup on top of it all. Oh, and did I mention the whipped cream? Yeah, we all had whipped cream with our breakfast. Bean took one look at it and said, "Duh-dirt!" which is how she says dessert. SO delicious!

Husband and I took the girls out after lunch for a trip to a local goat dairy where they were kicking off their cheese-making season with a baby goat viewing. We packed a snack of baguette slices and cherry preserves and ate these with some fresh goat cheese on their porch. Also extremely delicious, especially after chasing the girls around outdoors for a couple of hours.

And lastly, Husband and Bean have made an ice cream run. While they were gone, I made a quick pot of homemade fudge sauce which sits steaming and thick on the stove, even as I type this. Do you all want the recipe? Sure you do.

Hot Fudge Sauce

9 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
2 C heavy cream
1-1/2 oz butter
pinch of salt

Bring sugars and cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate and butter. Let rest 5 minutes, then whisk to combine. A couple of tablespoons of good rum or bourbon would do this sauce no harm.

May I recommend that you scoop yourself a bowl of vanilla ice cream after you make this? And then add either chopped strawberries or crushed Girl Scout thin mint cookies before pouring on some sauce? That's just what I'm about to do, once I decide between strawberries and thin mints.

Happy spring, y'all!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Peaceful mama

After all my angst last week about not having a career and being just a stay-at-home mom, I've had such a lovely week being just that. Sister and Bean have required rather intense parenting lately--very hard and tantrum-inducing math homework from the one and games of demand-then-refuse-then-demand from the other have been absorbing to say the least. But I've been sort of giving in to it lately. I don't mean giving in to them, but rather giving in to them needing the attention because they're little. I sometimes forget that Sister especially is still a little girl. She can do many things on her own, but at 8-1/2 she is still little.

Lest I pat myself on the back too much for being grown-up enough to maintain my equilibrium in such a stellar fashion, I should also mention that I've spent the 2 hours of Bean's daily naptime this week gardening. This is exactly why my attitude has been transformed. It's been in the 60's during the days here, and while the official frost date of this part of NC is April 15th, I can just feel that the weather balance has tipped towards spring now. No more hard frosts, and maybe not even any light ones. I'll probably hold off on the zinnias and the tomatoes, but I've put in many, many plants in our new backyard landscape. I'm looking forward to putting up before and after pictures once things are in their full growing prime. I can't tell you how lovely it feels to have a garden again. I don't even miss my old garden!