Category Archives: Reflections

I Grew Food!

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During the years I was sandwiched – raising my kids and in charge of my mom while also working a paycheck job – I wondered what I would do with myself once I came out the other side and ever had a minute. In that time period, which I refer to as the Whack-a-Mole Era, a lot of things got neglected on the domestic front as I spent all of my time and energy handling one crisis after another. My husband was working long hours during this time, too, and our house got the bare minimum attention to keep it livable, while I tried not to notice how my physical surroundings were falling apart.

Now I do have some minutes occasionally, which gives me the leisure to look around my house and see all of the things that could be better. Add in the fact that I’m an introvert who spent years with no time to myself. These days I find myself with a desire to simply be home and focus my energies there.

One of my efforts this year was growing a few plants. My husband has always been the gardener. I’ve helped with weeding and harvesting, but never actually grown any food myself. I’ve put in a couple of shrubs and I plant annuals every year along our walkway, and that’s about it.

This year I decided to try starting a few things from seed. My greatest hope was to put in milkweed, as food for monarch butterflies. Beyond that, I thought I’d start simply with a couple of herbs for us, some to be put in the ground and a couple in planters.

I bought peat pots and staked claim to a spot by a sunny window. I got great starts with half a dozen each of milkweed, cilantro and basil. Three basil plants survive to this day. That’s right, every last milkweed and cilantro shoot died. But I have basil! Two in a pot and one in the ground. Yesterday, I harvested some leaves and cut them up into a pasta salad. For the first time in my life, I ate food that I grew myself.

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I also threw in some of my husband’s banana peppers.

It feels good, mastering a new accomplishment, feeling somewhat competent in basic survival skills (if I don’t think about the cilantro or milkweed.)

If the apocalypse happens and the grid collapses, you can depend on me. I’ll supply the salad garnish to keep us all going.

 

My YA Offspring Handling Things

Even though my children both live with me at the moment, and even though I sometimes find myself wishing they both were more independent in some ways, they will occasionally surprise me with what they handle on their own.

This is Captain Marvelous (Marv for short), in his heyday:

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R.I.P. Captain Marvelous

My firstborn, C, has had a succession of little pets over the years — rats, gerbils, hamsters and mice who are treated to the best life and care a rodent could ever hope for. (Rats make excellent pets. They’re pretty clean and usually very affectionate and well-behaved.) Unfortunately, even the best cared-for rodent has as shortish life span. Marv was not quite three years old, elderly for a rat, and we knew his time was drawing to a close. He’d been having breathing difficulties for several days.

This morning, C told me Marv passed during the night. I expressed my condolences and started to talk about what to do with his body. That’s when I discovered everything was already taken care of. My two kids had taken him out and buried him in the yard at first light, while my husband and I slept. They put a large rock over the grave to keep other neighborhood animals from digging there.

This feels like a big milestone. They didn’t even wake us up. Or wait for us. They simply took care of it. Is burying your own deceased pet without parental help a marker denoting childhood’s end? Maybe? It’s just not one I had considered.

A Whiff of Schadenfreude in the Air

Is it wrong of me to take a little joy in hearing my firstborn vent frustrations with the difficulties of supervising a teenaged employee at work? There was no breach of manager/employee confidentiality, in case you’re wondering. Just a generalized statement about the struggle of getting a young person under your authority to see and accomplish needed tasks without being prompted every step of the way.

I can sympathize. I really can. (Laughing up my sleeve.)

Memorial Day As Mom of Draft-Age Kids

Just a short post here. My children are 22 and 19 years old, respectively. Prime age to be drafted if we ended up in a war with a draft.

It’s fully hitting me for the first time that most of the soldiers we’re honoring and remembering on Memorial Day were just kids, basically. The majority of the troops who have been killed in battle throughout all the years of our country – around the ages my kids are now. Pretty sobering.

This song seems fitting for today. Particularly these lines:

And I just turned twenty-two
I was wonderin’ what to do
And the closer they got,
The more those feelings grew

 

Old and Young, It’s All Relative

Every year we have this cluster of celebrations in our family. My kids’ birthdays are May 13 and May 15th. Mother’s Day always falls right in around there, too, this year sandwiched in between.

Unbelievable as it is to me, my oldest turned twenty-two yesterday. That’s the same age I was when I got married. Whoa if true! And it is true.

As an official adult, they spent their birthday at work. They’re employed as assistant manager at a retail store that caters largely to children, and as a result often come home with adorable or hilarious stories.

Yesterday’s tale involved a conversation with a little girl who was celebrating her own birthday and, of course, had to let everyone know. It went like this —

My kid: “That’s cool. It’s my birthday, too! How old are you?”

Little girl: “Six! How old are you?”

My kid: “Twenty-two.”

Little girl: “Oh.” Pause. “Do you have dentures?”

What’s young and what’s old? It’s all relative, isn’t it?

 

This Muskrat, Living Its Best Life

I know life is stressful for everyone right now, but let’s all commit to a little self-care so we can keep going. For me that means taking walks. I try to do so mindfully, soaking in the sights, sounds and feel of what’s around me, rather than simply using my body as a vehicle to transport my worries from place to place.

Yesterday’s perambulation along the MKT Trail was particularly restorative. I stopped on a bridge for a bit to watch this muskrat enjoying nature’s salad bar. It’s fully in the moment, not fussed about what might or might not happen tomorrow.

Let’s all promise ourselves that for at least a few minutes each day, we’ll be this muskrat, living its best life.

 

A Cat and Her Boy

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This critter staring at you from the screen is named Luna. Feel free to extend her birthday greetings, as she is fifteen years old this month. She’s been a member of our household from the age of eight weeks, coming to us about the time my youngest kid was turning four. The two of them bonded immediately. She’s supposed to be my cat, but I’m the only one who signed that contract; she never agreed to the terms and conditions. As far as Luna is concerned, she has one human — the boy she helped raise.

Both of my children are good with animals, and even at such a young age, my son showed a remarkable gentleness with our tiny kitten. The two of them spent many hours playing and snuggling. It wasn’t uncommon for my son to fall asleep with the cat wrapped in his arms.

For a few months last year, Luna’s boy moved away, and I could tell she was looking for him, going to his room repeatedly. Since he returned home in late December, she’s been dogging his footsteps, so to speak. Sometimes I wonder about cat brains and what they remember. Does she know the big, gangly human she loves now is the same person as the little guy who used to drive his Hot Wheels cars around her? I think she must. But I’m sure neither of them remembers a time before the other.

The boy is considering moving away again in the fall. I hope it doesn’t break either of their hearts too much.

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She still likes to sleep in his bed.