Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Swimmer Babs

We are making excellent headway on the summer list. Our house is a 15 minute walk from the river, and B has spent the spring scouting the best places to lounge and swim. The kid is bananas for the whole scene - he chased floating leaves, scrambled up and back down a sand bank, and squealed with delight upon being plunged into the chilly water. We all came home tired and Osh slept for two hours. Might have to be an afternoon tradition... This morning there was sand in his bed and I felt summer squeeze my hand.

Yah, can you tell there are eight (8!) teeth in that smiling mouth???

Monday, May 23, 2011

Icky Goo Icky Goo Icky Goo Goo Goo

We here in this family have been sick. I ran point, getting sick first and longest and worst. B was right behind me just by actually getting sick at all (the man usually just observes from the sidelines). And Osh drafted off of us both and got away with an adorably hoarse voice and a minimal amount of snot: rockstar. Suffice to say that the semester ended ages ago but it wasn't until this weekend that we got some of our spring on and got around to enjoying ourselves.

Yesterday we returned to our old home and picked several gallons of sun warmed strawberries. Funny, it is easier to do that when you are not eight months pregnant. We planted more goodies in our garden down the hill, some things that say we're staying like sage and silver thyme. And in perhaps our favorite mark of spring, we made a sour cherry rhubarb brown betty. Unfortunately we left our own rhubarb plants behind, but the boys are quite chummy with the garden manager here so rhubarb was procured in exchange for a promised delivery of brown betty. Today we made good on the deal and left reminded of how nice it is to trade rather than pay. How exciting is it to give someone five dollars? Exactly. But it is durn exciting to deliver a warm pyrex baker's dish of fruity goodness to a guy who has spent all morning working hard.

The babs is growing like a weed - every day he looks longer to me. He has twice come upon me unexpectedly and issued a quiet "Mama!" and so I endeavor to surprise him when possible but usually am received with more of an "ba-ba-ba-be-be-ya-ya" sort of greeting. We have also abandoned feeding the child pureed things with a spoon. He tolerated it and then hated it, and we were right there with him. Now we give him what we're eating and enjoy the mess. Let me say right now that it is insanely hilarious and awesome to watch the kid pick up individual french lentils and eat them. The seriousness of the task was only slightly undermined by our giggles.

The plant identification project continues. We are getting into the things I have been looking at for my entire life: sorrels and plantains and hop clovers and vetches and hedge nettles. A few days ago I sat at a red light and identified a goodly number of the plants around me: pleasing. I am hopeful that there will be time to walk my family farm with my Granny and a flower book this summer. She is from whence my plant love sprung, and there is always a part of me that is thinking of her when I examine a leaf to see if it is toothed or run my fingers down the index to find the six-regular-parts-opposite-leaves-entire section. (Gran, I had a dream that you painted your kitchen deep lilac with black trim.)

Stay well out there, this late May bug is a meanie.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Will the end of Spring semester always kick my ass? Probably. Fine. Whatever. Such a thing only sweetens the days of summer, right? This summer I am gunning for the following:

Swimming with my boys, both in our river and in the pool.
Camping. Hopefully with this gal and her boys.
Picking berries.
More camping and more swimming and seeing my family in West Virginia.
A week in Maine on a beautiful lake with lots of time for this girl.
Doing some more plant identification (see below).
Playing more music.
Reading novels again.
Knocking out a few more squares on my stagnated quilt project.

Right, I should probably stop there. This month has been a bit about recognizing and honoring my own capacity. When work chews my head off I quickly find that my own expectations for myself really need to adjust. Like I need to take it down to: sleep, bathe, eat, love on the kid, love on the husband. I am not used to paring things down so there can be some crankiness when it's called for. Growing up now.

With that said, my gorgeous mother was just here and B and I were able to knock out some work in all three of our gardens. Yup, three. We went to our old house and did some cleanup yard work there. The place is absolutely bursting with flowers and rhubarb and strawberries and asparagus and herbs and and and. I said to B that our garden there is acting like a really good haircut - sucker is growing out nicely. Then we visited our community garden plot that is bursting with a huge crop of onions. Soon we will plant squash and basil down there. And then we planted our new garden up on the hill beside us. We put in tomatoes, a funky italian chard, kale, carrots, lettuces, beets, arugula, cilantro, dill, parsley, and bok choy. Mom kept the baby from eating the seed packets and B and I dug and seeded and boy it feels damn good. I was reminded that a good garden really only needs a few huge pushes of work and then you just visit it a lot and do a little weeding and picking and watering and planting. Oscar loves visiting that garden - today he cried when we left because he did not want to let go of that hose. No sir.

In the kid department. The squish is amazing these days. The long arm of the Osh can reach many, many things. Computer mouse? No problem. Things right off the dining room table? Sure thing! After ten months of trying to teach him the sign for milk I am still not sure what he thinks about it. However, this is a kid who pretty much only eats because every few hours I poke my boobs in his face. Make the sign for bath and he'll crawl right into the bathroom and stand expectantly beside the bathtub. The first time he did it was pretty stinking exciting. He is also quite game for a good old fashion tossing of the ball back and forth. And if you leave the ball out somewhere and later holler "Gimme the ball!" (family: you must holler this just like Mikey does when he is quarterback for a game of touch football) the little genius will crawl off and get the ball. We have yet to tire of this.

In the plant identification department. Now that we live in the middle of many hundreds of acres of forest and field, B and I want to know our plants. In college I screeched my bike to a halt in front of a flower that blew my mind with its geometry and color. I wanted to know what it was so I took a botany class. I loved plonking down in the weeds with my id book and counting petals and examining leaves and the flower that nearly made me wreck my bike turned out to be a columbine. When I asked my professor what it meant to be a botanist she told me I would end up outside counting plants a lot. At the time that sounded terrible so I subsequently marked being a botanist off my list. Not only was that a lousy answer, had I asked it about five years later even that answer would have sounded awesome. Hey wait, I am getting off on my we-all-go-to-college-too-soon track. What I meant to say is that we own a wildflower guide and we're putting it through the paces. It is ridiculously fun. Our first specimen turned out to be a Daisy Fleabane. Then a Bulbous Buttercup. Then Multiflora Rose (it's fun to use the guide to id ones you already know). Then Prickly Lettuce. Then Hairy Beardtongue. I mean: the names alone! I can't wait to teach Oscar - I am not even a little boy and how I love saying 'Hairy Beardtongue.' Right.

In the home concoction department. This morning B and I made vermouth. Dry vermouth, to be more specific. We have been getting somewhat adventurous in the cocktail department of late, what with our homemade limoncellos and limecellos and trying various weird boozes. Anyway, I never gave vermouth much thought but as it turns out we both like vermouth quite a lot. If you've only ever had sweet vermouth in a Manhattan or dry vermouth in a Martini, it might seem weird to consider it a base ingredient, but give it a shot (in fact one of our favorite cocktails, The Duplex, is just equal parts sweet and dry vermouth and bitters). We've tried enough different kinds to be able to say that there's a lot of variation between brands and we like a dry vermouth that is pretty herbaceous. So after hunting around for wormwood and quinine and some other weird ingredients, we now have what we've realized is an effing lifetime supply of ingredients used in making both vermouth and bitters (the next project). So like two witches we measured all of our ingredients and simmered and strained and now we're letting it settle in a little bit before giving it the full review. A first sniff and taste was pretty exciting.

And that, people, is probably more than any of you wanted to know. Enjoy the weekends out there, try a Duplex for me.