Monthly Archives: March 2014

Dirt under nails


The season of dirt under nails has begun.
Next up: green stains on the skin,
Lashed fingers from grasses.

Time to excavate the garden clothes
From the heap in the closet
And stow them by the muck boots.

Winter coats need washing.
The fleece will stay around
Busy spring, both inside the house and out.

Daffodils are on their way
The daylilies and irises, too.
Tulips, I hope, will surprise me soon.

The onions are sprouting
And getting prepared
To settle in and swell.

The chard of many colors
Will soon be tossed in the soil
And I wish it well.

An overflowing, edible yard.
It’s my dream from year to year.
Maybe 2014 will be the time for lots of harvest cheer!

(Writer’s note: it’s a draft!  Sorry!)


Causes to celebrate


Many of today’s events are cause for celebration (for me, anyway).

1) Philip had a great (he listened, had fun) dance class.

2) We picked up 47 books at the local library and found out that Mo Willems has a book out (That is Not a Good Idea) that we didn’t know existed.  The awesome librarian who helped us borrow our stack of books put it on hold for us.  So nice!

3) We dug in the raised beds and planted 3 of them with the following:

Nantes carrots

Cincinnati Market Radishes, Plum Purple Radishes

Bok Choy Tatsoi

Bloomsdale Spinach

I was reminded today how much I love raised beds.  It is wonderful to be able to stick these in the soil and wait for them to grow while the rest of the ground is still working on thawing.

4) Philip and I spent the afternoon in the garden and I am looking forward to spending even more time weeding and clearing out the detritus from the winter tomorrow afternoon.  The forecast looks promising (read: WARM WEATHER!).

5) Even though the dog pooped on the floor, he pooped on a rug that was able to be picked up and the poop just plopped into the toilet, expediting the cleaning process.  Hey, I know, not a commonly listed reason to smile, but I am going to embrace the silver lining here.  He’s an older dog; I am more comfortable being sympathetic than angry.

6) Received a letter about an application I had submitted a while ago; it was not a rejection (though it was a formality, i.e., “your application is incomplete,” they could have just rejected me because of my incomplete application, so…I’m going to call it a win).

Other highlights from the past week:

  • Finished Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.  Enjoyed it.  If you are interested in some relatively light reading, I recommend it.  Some of his monologues, which are integrated among the essays, may throw you off a bit because he is not writing as himself, but as characters he’s created.  They are not particularly light-hearted, just so you know.
  • Finished Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.  We loved it.  Even if you only have a small amount of time to read, pick up this book.  It helps reassure people who daydream (it’s normal) and reminds us that we are all trying to be the protagonist in our own life stories (so, yeah, sometimes, our view of our lives is a bit skewed in that direction).  Lots of amusing commentary and food for thought.  Well worth the read.
  • Started reading John Paul Rathbone’s The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba’s Last Tycoon.  So far, I am learning a lot and the writing is approachable.  Will keep you posted on progress.

It’s getting late.  Time to call it a night.

Here’s hoping your Saturday gives you causes for celebration, too.  Good night.

Pick me ups


Yesterday was a rough day.  I can’t fully explain why.  Too little sleep.  Too many hormones.  Too much worry about my financial future.  I don’t know.

But, today was better thanks to some kind people as well as some entertainment.

1) Carol, Colton’s grandma, always sits next to me and talks with me when we’re at the Run and Read program in our town.  I always appreciate her friendliness and conversation.

2) I picked up David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls at the library and started reading it while Philip was with Ms. Jo.  Two of the mothers were there deep in conversation with each other and I sat in a nearby chair laughing at passages in the book.  The essay, “Dentists Without Borders” is wonderfully funny.  His commentary in “Easy, Tiger” about foreign language programs discusses comparisons of Pimsleur’s Japanese and German versions and highlights some amusing differences between conversations on the tapes.  I won’t spoil it for you; read it for yourself and enjoy it.

3) I went for a quick run (jog, really, let’s be honest) and had a great time.  I did my physical therapy exercises briefly before embarking.  Then, I just kept a nice, relaxed pace.  For all of you who feel the need to feel better at my expense, I may have been at a 12-minute mile pace today (See?  Not a run!).  But, my ankle didn’t hurt and I just felt good.

4) I danced around the house to Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” to distract Philip from his mood swing and had fun being silly.

5) Bruce made a fabulous dinner.  I didn’t have to do a thing except to show up, fill water glasses and toss some napkins on the table.  He made fresh gluten-free roti with hummus and a cashew ranch dip.  Then, there was a delicious array of fresh vegetables: cucumber, broccoli, tomatoes, green onions, and carrots.  Toss all of that into the roti, throw in some romaine and voila!  Taste heaven.

Getting our first thunderstorms.  I see grass peeking out of the earth.  Good news.

Gulliver’s Travels


Philip and I are reading, bit by bit, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.  It is slow going.  Even though there is something inherently exciting about an average man landing on an island of little people and being restrained by them, the narrative gets a bit choppy when Mom (that’s me) gets to stop every few words and define the new word that’s been introduced.  Today, as we moved through chapter 2, here are a few I tried to explain as we read during lunch:

beeves: “that means cattle for beef”
fobs: “those are tiny pockets” (incidentally, I also learned that a fob can be a chain for a pocket watch.)
palisadoes: “that means…well, I don’t know what it means, but we’ll look it up” (turns out it means “palisade,” or high fences to protect an area)
impudence: “that means being kind of rude”
clemency: “or being kind to people that aren’t nice to you instead of punishing them or getting mad at them”
prodigious: “really big”
dispatched: “get rid of, like a villain or an enemy”
demesne: “someone’s area or territory”

I am considering NOT explaining the words until he asks, “what does ______ mean?”  But, the linguaphile in me may not be able to resist! We shall see.

Seedlings are all doing well.  The forecast says SNOW tomorrow, so I don’t think I will be out there planting anything hardy in the next day or so.  Will just have to wait until the weekend.  Patience.  Must have patience.

…I will add “have patience” to the list of ways to help change the world and then sign off.  Good night!

Bare Bones


A poem for you (well, for me actually) to help me cope with the challenges of the day.

Bare Bones

When you see me
You will notice
That my face is not
A mask.

I am not an actor
A fabricator
Or a glowing showcase
On display.

I come from a place
(a foreign land)
Where the heart
Drives the lending hand.

Here, that hand is full
Of strings attached
And hidden fees
That I do not pay.

I do not befriend you
To net my network
Of anointed allies
For that maybe someday.

I befriend you, when I do
For the times we may spend
In pleasant talk
About sad, but hopeful days.

I am told today
That I am a fool,
That I need to know
the rules.

Don’t I know
The club is open
To everyone?
But only when I shine like jewels.

It takes a special paper
Written down in rare ink
Handed to you by the intelligentsia
When you dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

I am bare bones.
I am rolled-up sleeves.
I do not glitter.
I merely bleed.

Cousins and Cool-down Corners


We had a wonderful time visiting cousins this afternoon.  First, we joined them in their hotel room and stuffed ourselves with falafel and hummus.  Then, Philip played with his cousins Kyra and Fiona by tossing around a ball they had given him as a gift.  After a while, we all went to the pool.  At first, Philip didn’t even want to go into the room.  But, after a while, we had him jumping into my arms in the water and tossing the ball around to his cousin.  Eventually, we were all cold and ready to get warm.  We returned to the hotel room, watched parts of Maid in Manhattan and laughed when Uncle Mike said, “She’s going to kiss Voldemort!”  Apparently, to him, Ralph Fiennes has been marked for life and will forever be the Harry Potter villain.

After saying our goodbyes and giving out many hugs, we headed home amid the blowing, gusting wind.  I was reminded of how winter is often reluctant to give up her domain to spring.  After we tackled chores and put Philip to bed, I briefly checked out the news when I found an intriguing blog post on the New York Times: “Teaching Children to Calm Themselves” by David Bornstein.  It is a post about a particular program that is helping traumatized children build constructive anger management skills.  Some of the approaches, such as the reminder bracelet and the “Calm-Down Corner” are worth noting even if your child doesn’t have trauma events in their past.  After all, feeling angry is a very human emotion.  We can’t escape it, no matter how replete our personalities are with equanimity.  The more everyone, including children, can learn how to navigate their anger, the more we will all benefit.

As a mother and a partner, I’ve had to confront my tendency toward volatility.  Having strategies, whether it’s breathing, going for a walk, or simply saying, “I need to take some time to think,” can be very beneficial.  Once, I had a friend tell me that people who suggest resisting the urge to yell are “living in La La Land,” but I don’t agree.  Yelling to warn someone that they’re about to be in danger is, of course, appropriate.  However, yelling in anger doesn’t help anything.  It does more damage than it purports to resolve.  Every term, I have students in my Human Relations class watch the 90/10 Principle according to the late Stephen Covey.  I think it illustrates my point without having to belabor it.

Bruce and I are still reading “The Storytelling Animal” by Jonathan Gotschall.  It is quickly becoming my new favorite book.  The latest tidbit we learned was about the art of confabulation, how we all unwittingly make up lies that we think are truths, and tell them to ourselves and others…and that it’s pretty unintentional and altogether human.  Fascinating.  Also, the whole section on conspiracy theories as “more compelling stories” than the truth was rather alarming and thought provoking.  When you read it, you’ll know what I mean.

On that note, we’re going to tackle some more of the book tonight.  Maybe we will go ALL OUT and have cereal for a snack while we read on the couch before heading to bed.  WOW.

…Have a good night.

Beautiful day


This afternoon, Philip and I excavated a T. Rex dinosaur from a kit his grandma had sent him while enjoying the sunshine outside on our back porch.  The chisel in the kit and the other tool with the curved rubbery tip broke while we were hacking away at the material.  So, I pulled a hoof pick from the barn and it worked just fine.  Eventually, we eschewed all scientific caution and care and began dropping the clay brick of goodies on the concrete.  Worked like a charm.  After about twenty minutes with that approach, we were ready to assemble our dinosaur.  It led to Philip telling “The Amazing Dinosaur” story (his title) to me as he played.  It involved, among other things, a “rampaging robot,” “big rocks,” a “rocketship spaceship” and “a water slide.”  Fine entertainment.

After Bruce returned home from work, I went for a 30-minute run.  I admit that I could not have done much more.  I will need to work hard to regain my former fitness.  It is slow going so far.

Garden projects are underway.  Here are some tips in case you aren’t sure what to do this time of year:

1) Haul away all the detritus (dead leaves, grasses, etc.) and put the mounds/handfuls/cart fulls in your compost pile.

2) Turn over your compost pile if you’re able.  It may still be frozen.  If you don’t have a compost pile, pick a spot that’s in the shade and likely to be damp and build one.

3) Start setting up fencing for your beans, peas and squash if you’re planting any of those.

4) Plot out your garden(s) to determine where you will plant what.  Remember to rotate!

5) Clean out your old beds and, if you used containers, dump the dirt from those into your compost pile, too.  It’s important to freshen things up each year.

Here’s my personal favorite.  When you’re just feeling tired and the sun is just right, close your eyes, tilt your head back and take a deep breath.  Then, smile.  It’s a beautiful day.