Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Right Toe

The photo looks crooked, but we live on a many angled slope. I tried to 'fix' the photo. When I adjusted the angle down to the right, the u-posts and mullein were then crooked.

Is it really July 25? It can't be.

The week began with taking Monday off to visit my in-laws. Good fun was had until I dropped the metal, weighted base of an outdoor umbrella on my right foot's big toe. The nail turned blue immediately. Blood oozed from beneath the nail. Funny, I had thought to myself that I ought to put some shoes on before moving the umbrella.

I held my act together until my sister-in-law asked me if I was ok and would I like her to bandage it. My face crumpled and tears rolled. I nodded.

She returned with gauze and tape and wrapped my bloody foot. "I'm ok with other people's blood, but my own..." she said. I was surprised and how gently but confidently she worked.

I hobbled. I stumped up and down our steps. The toe throbbed, but fear of stubbing it was even worse. That night, I rummaged in the cluttered fridge. It was packed with garden vegetables and leftovers from guests. The cheese drawer had broken eariler in the day, making the jam up even worse. Suddenly, a jar of homemade pickles fell out of the fridge and smashed. Jared was putting Beren to bed. "AH!" "Are you ok, Rachel?" "Yes," I said sullenly.

On Tuesday, Mountain Kitten joined me as I weeded a garden. He attacked my leg and threw himself down at my feet, as is his routine. This is an annoying game, and on this day he landed on my right toe. "ARGH!" I came inside to brood. I grumpily put food away. A piece of corn rolled out of the impossibly packed fridge. Guess what toe it hit.


"WHAT?!?" Beren exclaimed and ran to my side.

"Nothing. The corn hit my toe," I said. I wanted to be alone.

"Can I get you a pair of shoes?" asked Jared

"No, I just want my toe in the open!" I said.

I stubbornly went to Kung fu class later in the day. "You're late!" My classmates exclaimed. "Look at how I'm walking!" I avoided the jumping and hopping warm ups. I did everything else. Excepting a 180 degree heel kick maneuver, I was ok. Participating in class was easier than walking.  

Three days later I was rummaging through a pile of nursery supplies buried in weeds. I felt a sharp stab in the back of my left calf. "AH!" My Mom, who was working with me, and Beren came running. "Are you ok?" she exclaimed. "I got stung."

I'd been stung the month prior, and every little stab or pinch I'd felt while outside had me paranoid. A couple remedies and a Benadryl later, I was ok, but a little brooding.

In the evening, I convinced Beren and Jared to race me to the bathtub. "Last one in the tub is a spotted egg!" I shouted. "You're a spotted egg!" Beren shouted back. He ran up the steps and banged the bathroom door shut. As Jared approached, Beren giggled frantically and hopped up and down. I knew what was going to happen. He landed on my right toe.

Today it seemed I spent the whole morning and into the afternoon rendering 10 apples and two massive yellow squashes no one wanted to eat into something edible. Was it worth it? 

The squash chocolate chip cookies are good, we all agree. The applesauce is just ok. The dried apple slices are good. And the squash bread tastes fine. 

Now, I have to figure out what to do with the 6 massive cucumbers, provided they're not bitter. I  watched kids race decorated zucchinis on wheels at the Zucchini 500 today at the Easton Farmer's Market. Perhaps wheels can be mounted to cucumbers, too.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hurry and the Monarch

 Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on our corn (Zea mays). We'll be tending our milkweed, as we tend our corn.

"There's so many of them. Why are there so many of them?" Beren asks pointing to a painting of migrating monarch butterflies. His finger traces over an increasingly blurry haze of orange as the monarchs continue their flight into the distance. "They're going so far."

We were reading Hurry and the Monarch, a children's story about a monarch butterfly and a tortoise. At about page four, my voice cracked. I paused but could not regain composure. I whispered a few sentences and allowed time for us to linger over the illustrations.

I considered a possible extinction during my child's lifetime. Extinction of, a once very common, very iconic insect. It's likely there will be many extinctions during his lifetime.

"Momma, what if a dead animal decides it doesn't want to be dead?" Beren recently asked. I thought over my response. "Once something is dead it doesn't breathe anymore. It doesn't play anymore. It doesn't walk anymore. That's it." Beren looked at me, and that's where we left it.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Itsy Bitsy Spider

The thing about living on a mountainside is that the echo is incredible. I've been listening to about two hours worth of fireworks displays. I couldn't find any of the fireworks displays listed online so we could attend. Could they be really far away?

"We always miss out on the fireworks," Jared comments. "It's just as well, Beren really needed to get to sleep," he adds.

Therefore, putting a child to bed before nightfall with surround sound fireworks is not easy. He charged down the steps twice after "being put to bed".

I intercepted him once, giving him a flashlight (my idea) and the task of putting his stuffed animals to bed (Jared's idea). The second time, I followed him again back upstairs, but this time I stayed.

"Would you like to hear a story about when you were little?" Beren affirms an asks for a silly story. I tell him about when he'd eat raw kale in the garden as a toddler. He bend at the waist and graze like a goat.

Fireworks pop. We hear gunfire. Pow, pow. Pow, pow. Pow, pow. "What's that?" Beren asks. "Gunfire. It makes me feel a little scared," I say. Beren is silent. "Sometimes people shoot guns on holidays when there are fireworks."

I sing Itsy Bitsy Spider, which is perfectly in my range. I like singing it for that reason. After one round, Beren requests, "Momma, sing one where the spider doesn't come down." Fair enough, who wants to end the day on a bad note, even if the spider does climb up again?

I begin to sing, and Beren prompts me. "The spider goes for a ride on Milka's (my in-law's cat) back." I weave the suggestion in. He makes other suggestions and each one is woven in, until the spider and Milka become very tired. "Milka closes both eyes," Beren says. I add that to the song. Beren and I like a Margaret Wise Brown poem in which a mother cat advises her wandering kitten to sleep with one eye open.

I lose the melody a bit, but holding my notes. I ease down Beren's bunk bed ladder, and offer him a drink. He gladly gulps some.

I make my way into the hall. As I descend the stairs, Beren says, "Everything in this house is asleep."

Once downstairs, I plop on the couch next to Jared. "Every thing is asleep, but not a single person," I say. And we hear not another sound from Beren's room.