Thursday, June 28, 2012

Knitting...a useful occupation, or not

I have fallen in love with the incredibly utilitarian art of knitting teeny tiny critters and other things. The new book by Anna Hrachovec; Teeny Tiny Mochimochi, is a delightful foray out of the useful sock or hat, into the world of Japanese-inspired sweet, funny little creatures. This little guy was the smallest I've done. The birthday cupcake collection I have begun for each child's special day will be ready to photograph real soon.

Mochimochi: World's Tiniest Dinosaur

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Aragorn is 14! (and a foret noir cake, made with love)

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Summer in the Burbs

Some things about life in the suburbs in the summer are sweetness itself: kids in the neighborhood to play with, catching fireflies in the dark, open invitations from friendly neighbors to backyard bonfires (neatly contained in fire pits, naturally), other parents outside on the lookout when you need to be in the kitchen or doing laundry. The fact that the kids can bike to many places is swell, so is the private pool down the street where they have been taking swimming lessons for over a decade.

Then there is the dark side of suburbia, the one you never consider before you make the big move to the medium-sized house with the big back yard. It is known as...the front lawn. The obsession of many an otherwise kind-hearted, well-meaning individual. You have to understand, that in towns in the Midwest, where houses are more typical than apartment complexes and where there is rarely ever a ban on watering, the state of one's lawn is considered a mark of one's character. Pretty is as pretty manicures one's yard, truly.

Sadly and sorrowfully, I have succumbed to the mental condition known as "grass mania" in which the victim becomes preternaturally occupied with making grass grow in that stupid spot where never grass grew and making the rest of the lawn a weird, homogeneous green, devoid of any curls, puffs or spikes. I really had other things to worry about up until now, small children will do that to you.

The discussions men have about chemical options for grass, the need to water the lawn or the neat little edging they like to torture themselves with on a perfectly nice Sunday afternoon, rolled off my back like so much dandelion fluff blowing away. Besides, Pierre always made sure that a certain percentage of our lawn was green. To where did this carefree attitude disappear? Blame it on peer pressure, Pierre spending more time at work with his new job,  and most likely, the poison distributors known as lawn fertilizer guys. If you live in the city, you may not be acquainted with the chemical lawn spray salesman. He comes right up to your door and shakes his head in dismay and disapproval at the sorry state of your lawn,  then promises the glory of a perfect green space between your front doorstep and the street in exchange for one low, low monthly payment. I have, for years, had to deal with these guys, since I seem to be the only adult in the house when they call. My answer has always been; "no thank you, we take care of that ourselves." 

As the bald patches grew balder, my confidence began to waver. I took things in hand this year and planted grass seed. I started asking around; "how do you keep your grass growing?" the way I used to wonder how a mother kept her baby soothed during teething episodes. Would you believe? Even the nicest, most environmentally-aware men that I have questioned, have all said the same thing; "Oh, yeah, I let the chemical spray truck take care of that. It's cheap...and I can't make grass grow anyway." 

NOT HAPPENING! Spend money on GRASS, an invasive species that neither nourishes nor flowers? Add more chemicals to my environment to that end? What an odd idea. Here is my last remaining bald patch, after 3 plantings, daily watering, fertilizing with my fragrant, homegrown compost and way too much time and energy for any rational woman to put into this sort of endeavor: (note that nary a green plant surrounding said bald spot is actual grass, all weeds, pathetic.)

Here is my solution:

Behind the pretty petunia is a tomato plant; beauty and utility, how can grass ever compete? Sigh, now we can all go back to enjoying life out here, caught somewhere between the city and the wilderness.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Training Up Mama

It has come to this. I have been proven to be pathetically out of shape.

I have known that physically, my children are getting bigger and stronger than I am. However, since I do not do meet them in combat in kung-fu, and I do not regularly chase after them anymore, I had not tested the exact decripitude to which I might have descended, at least compared to the kids.

I have been mumbling about getting started running for the past several months. I even bought these great barefoot running shoes that have completely resolved my ankle, knee and hip pain, at least while walking in them. But running, I was not. I was walking, a lot, even jogging for a few yards during my walk, but it could not be called running.

It took Lily and her enthusiasm for running to get me started. She has been patient and not laughed at me. I was a disaster area the first day out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Term and Sailing

It should not be a such a momentous, tumultuous event.

After all, our normal rhythm is to have some time for study and work each morning.

Back in the Day, when the kids were younger, there was no conflict. We would take a month off when we wanted to, or a week for a holiday, and kept on working the rest of the time. That was before they had friends and neighbors who went to school and made a huge, hairy fuss about summer vacation or conferences or whatever other time they had off.

 Diversity; some children go to school 7 hours a day and finish before you do. You are finished by noon and take days off when they cannot. We like diversity, it means freedom.