black thumb would be my pirate name

I’d been saying easy come, easy go with my gardening efforts but I won’t lie: it was a bit of a disappointment to view – on the morning before the last frost date for the area – the crispy terrain in my backyard covered with ice. My broccoli starts reproachfully eyed me with their mouths open in frozen death screams. Well who knows, maybe something will have survived.

Another rather silly thing is that I’m actually one of the charter members of the Community Garden this year, and I can’t really grow a thing. I’m going to be helping the grade school kids with their own garden plot. So that’s even more excellent: planting tender flower shoots, say, only to find them next week brown and sad and dead. “Hey kids, failure is a natural part of life so let’s learn about it!”

I’m really hoping I get some help from a Master Gardener.

even when I’m a mess / I still put on a vest / With an "S" on my chest

Today I felt defeated by the end of the day. Really, I’d had successes and I’d had good times but somehow around 4:30 I deflated with a big, listless pfffffthbh.

The Genius At WorkMaybe it was that I’d left my bike guy with the go-ahead to drill holes and install a piece of wood to part of my new bike work. I dunno, that took the starch out of me a bit; but it had to be done.

Bitar's Bike Shop, Detail
The Bike Shop has some excellent systems for running smoothly.
Here’s the thing, it’s so incredibly cluttered and crazy yet Terry will never lose even your tiniest set screw (although it might take him a minute to find it).

"Mama...  I Can't Feel My Legs."
Sophie makes do in the Lariat while we wait for our keys to be re-delivered to us. It has been so very, very cold – alternating between sunny, sleet, rain and wind.

Highlights of the day:

Cleaning up my sewing room (yay!) but even more meaningful, once again moving my tomato starts to an even sunnier spot and making a hallowed little place for them (tonight my mom asked if I’d named each one). I think growing green things might keep me cheerful this spring.

Driving next to Nels and listening to our latest download (Alicia Keys’ “As I Am”) while he puts his arms around me and sings to me.

Getting a coupon for free bread at the Franz outlet – what a creepy yet almost wondrous place that is! Nels got a “Cookie Credit Card”, an ingenious marketing ploy to inspire children to pester overworked parents to stop in for mass-produced refined grains.

Making dinner, despite being so tired I didn’t want to.

Having dinner with the kids; simple fare (homemade pizza dough with layered cheese; roasted brussel sprouts, sauteed tomatoes and squash) but so nice to see their joy in eating and pouring their own beverages from their little pitcher of water.

My husband trying to take care of me. He doesn’t always know how much I appreciate this.

thanks, giving, taking, illness, happiness

Thanksgiving is come and gone. There was a lot of food. There were visits from family and friends. Yesterday I worked for ten hours straight and didn’t even take a bathroom break. It was surreal. It was a nice day.

This morning we woke up with Nels in the bed (in between Ralph and I – how did that happen again?), and a curious kitty visiting each member of the family one by one with his snow paws until we all gradually had our eyes open and we all had our arms around one another. What’s nice is we get two more mornings like this in the weekend, mornings without Ralph having to rush off to work and me having to get the kids to school.

It seems there were a few people out for walks today as the weather was brilliant and clear. Our foursome walked a little under three miles and it was such a nice time talking with the family – well, especially Ralph who’s looking so especially handsome these days for some unknown reason – and viewing Skanky the Seal in the Hoquiam River. I finished Sophie’s two skirts but lost energy before I could start sewing the dresses.

My parents arrived back home today after their Thanksgiving at the family’s Mason Lake cabin. It was so nice to see them again tonight although being around them fills me with inner sadness I dare not show them. My father is having trouble swallowing because (we think) of the tumor growing just behind his stomach. He kept putting his hands to his face because his new medicine irritates the lining of his throat and mouth. I think it’s like having one’s entire mouth be a canker sore. The steroids are making him sleep poorly. He talked about waking up at 3 AM and being wide awake. I hated the thought of him being alone and wish I was in the house to sit with him. Despite all his suffering he was gentle and sweet tonight, chasing my children and hugging them. We talked about a recent ridiculous letter to the editor and laughed and laughed.

My mom was also bad off. We talked about some of the things bothering her for a while and she was, uncharacteristically, not able to feel better by the time I left. It isn’t just my father and his illness, but also some of her experiences with her own father and two of her siblings this weekend. I think my mom’s world is slowly crumbling in more than one way. I obviously know a lot more about her situation but there is no point to writing more about it here. These days I’m out and about I really will experience what people call “a chill around my heart”. When this coldness creeps into me it stays with me for hours at a time, even if I look like a loving mother or caring wife or a happy friend – I still feel it there.

My children are a saving grace. They give me focus, direction, and ground me in reality. Life goes on and my children are evidence. They are irrepressible, at turns incredibly wise and ridiculously irreverent, made of sturdier stuff than the rest of us. Give them a nap, tell them a story, feed them, wash their hands or play a game of 20 Questions and they are as good as new, able to handle a hike or bad news or a visit to the hospital or help with chores. They give us lessons in survival and unconditional love. I’m not sure what I’d do without them. I’m glad I have them.

it’s not just for Tiberius

This week we had a sort of bittersweet milestone. My dad is officially done with cpt-11, the horrific chemo that has held his metastatic cancer at bay all these years. He’s done because it is losing efficacy. So our celebration is mixed; he won’t be sick for a while and he will be enjoying his days more. It means the most effective medicine they had for him is no longer working.

Tonight I made him a lemon meringue pie (his favorite) and we had a family dinner. He read to my kids; we talked and laughed and Nels and Grandma did their typical battle of wills which I find delightful. My dad drank some wine and seemed happy and of course looked too skinny.

I feel too tired and sad to write much about my father and his illness. Normally I’d try to dig down deep and let you know how I feel, but I don’t want to.

Today was a big day; I was out the door by 8:30 when my mom, my aunt Patti, and her girlhood friend Nancy picked us up for breakfast. From there we were dropped off at the salon for haircuts; then walked to the Y where Nels and I watched Sophie in her swimming lessons. We walked another half mile to the Farmer’s Market; then two buses home. Long, long naps for the kids as I baked, made dinner, and blogged my latest sewing accomplishment.

And oh Jesus. I can’t stop, even though I know it’s fucked up.

the good, the bad, and the chocolatey

I’m kind of extra exhausted today. I’m physically tired because I’ve been biking and bussing everywhere with the children (who continue to love this lifestyle). I’m lonely but I accept this is reality for now. I’ve made a few choices recently (jettisoning a person / conflict or two) and although I am better off, these choices were painful. I haven’t found close friends to consistently spend time with (that’s bad!), but neither have I sacrificed my personal integrity to join a group I don’t feel right about (that’s good!). I also just know it’s hard to move, hard to leave a life behind. I’m not trying to push myself feeling any better than I do, which is not so good.

My creative well is being drained slowly and for a while I was watching helplessly; but I’m coming to a decision about my sewing. Currently, I’m not sewing enough to feel happy about my sewing, to succeed in my Etsy contest efforts, and to create clothes for my family in my 6-month commitment. It is not working for me to try to sew at home and this is mostly because my children often do not nap and I am not getting the one to three hours of solid, silent, me-time. In the evening I am far too tired, mostly from the additional physical exercise we’re getting. I am not going to bemoan this or be overly frustrated, but I need to find a solution. Perhaps when my parents get home from their vacation I will take my mom up on the “sewing studio” offer. I have finally let go of thinking I could sew daily, and although I’m sad, it’s more realistic.

Today my Nels did in fact nap; while he did, my daughter watched and helped as I made a chocolate cake from scratch and homemade pizza (from easy and tasty recipes on allrecipes.com for dough & sauce). I have been enjoying learning to cook new things: also buying cheaper groceries than I’d been used to in PT. Because of this I am now, finally, making yeast breads my bitch! You heard me.

I’m grateful to my husband. He has shown nothing but enthusiasm for our biking routines, for my cooking, for my requests at housework and my desire for more recreation as a foursome (tonight: family swim). And today two books arrived from Amazon: Ralph had surprise-ordered me a sewing book and a cookbook, both that I’ve wanted for some time.

So due to my efforts being applied in the culinary sphere I now have, foolishly, 85% of a giant chocolate cake on my counter. Anyone?

here’s what you need to know

1. Yesterday we found out my cat Fancy had been killed. R.I.P. my beloved, sweetest kitty.

2. The last 22 hours have been me at a surprise 30th birthday party / going away party / slumber party with my FOO and my most dear friends. I am still kinda shell-shocked (including, see #1). I need time to myself with the kids – to clean up (us and the house), rest, relax, nap, and pull myself together.

Individual thank yous will follow, but for now: thank you to all my friends and family who really, really surprised me with a wonderful thirtieth birthday party. It was a lovely experience.