Monday, June 1, 2015

See You In August

After much thought, I have decided to take a break from all things internet for the summer. Time to do other things. I hope you all have a most excellent summer.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sadness, Happiness, Sadness

Lovely Beautiful Daughter visited for the holiday weekend, arriving last Thursday and leaving out on Monday. The day she had to leave to return east was a sad day for all of us. That particular good-bye was very difficult. She is such a spark of life, such a kind, thoughtful young woman, and everyone who is in her presence feels that spark, is buoyed by it. I know I wasn't the only one feeling the hole created by her departure. Funny Delightful Son seemed down when we all traipsed back into the house after getting her settled in for the ride to Chicago where she was to catch the train heading to Massachusetts. We'd been in the middle of playing Munchkin, but he just looked at the cards on the table and said, "I don't want to keep playing." I really didn't either.  For two days, as if the four people who'd been playing the game were going to return to finish it, the cards stayed on the table where they'd been left. On Wednesday, I finally boxed up the game and put it away.

Two bees enjoying a drink
My usual way of getting past a sadness, such as Lovely Beautiful Daughter leaving, is to immerse myself in some kind of project. This time I made a water source for the bees. I've been reading about what kinds of water sources work best for bees, and I found out the kind with plants seem to attract them more than just a bowl with water. One of my water barrels has a small space for planting flowers, but I'd never had any luck with any of the flowers I'd planted in it as every time it rained the flowers would basically drown. It finally dawned on me to make a small water feature out of it. I filled it with water and put two water plants in it. Wha-la! Every day now, I can stand nearby and watch the bees come to drink.

To give the bees another source for gathering water, I looked at different birdbaths online, found one I liked, and used it as the inspiration for my own creation. I found a trio of nesting terracotta planters at one of my favorite farming stores and liked the idea of having the different sized pots for the project. I then found a six foot piece of rebar, some clamps, the flowers I wanted to put in the pots, and the top piece to hold the water and water plants. I brought it all home, and within a matter of an hour or so, the new water feature/potted plants were in place. For less than $50 the garden now has a functional, pretty addition (this cost doesn't include the 3 water plants which ended up being the second most expensive part of the whole project; the 3 terracotta pots were the main cost at $30 for all 3). Little by little this particular garden is starting to come together. The next step is sowing some lettuce and grass seeds to give the hens some greens to go after. The hope is they leave the flowers alone. They've done a number on the little lilies near Buddha turtle, so I definitely have to do something to deter further destruction.

Buddha turtle bringing calm to the garden.
Buddha turtle marks the resting place of Angel Baby's pet turtle, Jake. Unfortunately, Jake didn't make it out of hibernation this year. I thought all was good in late March, as the turtle had awakened and moved about. I fed it, watered it, and thought it was ready to fully awaken to another spring. When Jake didn't eat or drink, and seemed to go back to sleep, I didn't worry all that much. I figured he would fully awaken when he was truly ready. He never did.

Angel Baby was deeply saddened by this. He found a shoe box and put an old kitchen towel inside it. He then placed Jake on the towel and closed the lid. We took him into the garden and laid him to rest in a nice, shady spot between the cedar trees. That evening, I went to work to find a grave marker and ran across the Buddha turtle. I knew without a doubt Buddha turtle was meant to be a part of the garden. I love the peaceful expression and think it fits perfectly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Taming the Snaggletooth

I finally took the plunge. I finally let my dentist have his way with my mouth and had brackets put on yesterday. Today, I'm finding out just how crooked my teeth are. My mouth isn't a very happy camper right now. I see nothing but very soft foods for me the next few days. My dentist keeps telling me, though, that in just a month I'll see a significant difference and I'll be so happy I went through with this. I have the one-month marker on my calendar, so we'll see.

I didn't tell anyone I was going to get the braces put on. I didn't even know until I was sitting in the dentist chair Monday morning for my 6 month cleaning. As usual, the doc asked when I was going to get the brackets put on. He really dislikes my snaggletooth and makes comments about it nearly every time I'm in. My response was I'd decided it was time, so whenever he could fit me in, I'd do it. He fit me in yesterday, not giving me a chance to back out yet again.

When Hubby saw me, I gave him a big smile. His reaction? "What the f**k is that?" I think he said this three or four times. It's not like I'd never talked about getting the braces before. I had. Lots of times. I even remember saying just a couple of months ago that I was going to do it right after the semester ended. I usually follow through on what I say I'm going to do. You'd think he'd not be so surprised by me doing what I said I was going to do.

Yesterday was just the first step in my doc's plans for my mouth. Apparently, I have a pretty bad cross bite, which accounts for my popping jaw, so in addition to the brackets, he's also going to put in spacers and bands. For now, he wants to give me a few weeks to get used to the brackets. I'm pretty sure the spacers are going to be a bit unpleasant, which makes me glad he's not rushing to get everything in place all at once.

So another journey begins. It might be a long, sometimes painful one, but I am way past ready to find out what it's like to have straight teeth.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Growing the Urban Farm

Enjoying the morning sun
For a long time now, I've been wanting chickens. I grew up out in the country, and my parents always had chickens. Before moving to the city, I owned chickens and a turkey. Having fresh eggs every day was pretty much a given. Being able to simply enjoy watching the hens roam around the yard was something I didn't know I would miss so much. But I did. I really wanted chickens again.

Unfortunately, living in the city doesn't make having chickens easy. First there was the hubby who needed to be convinced. Then there was the city ordinances to take into consideration. As if those two obstacles weren't enough, I had to think about my neighbors.

So I went to work on Hubby. I talked about chickens all the time. I'm quite sure he finally just reached the point of thinking all right already. Give the chicken talk a rest. Please. I kept suggesting I was going to buy a coop and create a space for the chickens behind the house. They'd be completely fenced in, I told him. No one will even know they're there, well, at least until one lays an egg. Then people might start looking around, wondering where in the world the chicken squawking was coming from. But chicken squawking only lasts a short time, I assured him. It'll be fine. He would just nod his head, so I took that as the signal to go ahead, get the coop. In March, after researching for months, I found the coop I liked and brought it home.

As I was working on Hubby, I knew I had to check with the City. I knew the last time having backyard chickens went in front of the City Council it was voted down, but I also knew some people were harboring chickens right under our noses. I wondered how they could do so. I emailed each City Council member, inquiring into the status of owning chickens within the city limits, and waited for a response. A week went by and nothing. Finally, one City Council member emailed me back. His response was information I already knew about the previous vote, but at the end of his email he wrote, "Please call me." So I did. During our conversation, the City Council member said, "Basically, it's a complaint-based ordinance. You can have chickens until someone complains." At the end of the conversation, he said, "I suggest you go ahead and get the chickens. The worst that can happen is you have to get rid of them if someone complains about you having them." Well then . . ..

That left my neighbors. One sunny March Saturday, as I was preparing the hive for the new package of bees I had purchased, my neighbor who lives directly behind us, who would be most affected by the chickens, was outside. I called over the fence to him, asking if he minded if I had a couple of chickens. He sort of cocked his head to one side, saying, "No. I want to have some myself, but it's not allowed here." I relayed the information I had learned to him, and he very enthusiastically said go ahead. I promised him fresh eggs and honey for being so accommodating.

In early April, the ladies arrived to their new home. They were maybe a week old when I bought them. Still soft with down. Now, their feathers have grown in, and each is getting bigger by the day. Hubby visited them last evening for the first time in awhile, and he exclaimed over how big they had gotten. For me, like the enjoyment I receive just by standing and watching the bees come and go, doing what they know to do, watching the chicks grow, listening to them peep and squabble, witnessing their funny antics is far more entertaining than any TV show. Hubby and the boys know that if I'm not in the house these days, I can be found out in the garden that is now home to chickens and bees.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear Friend

The other day, Mother's Day, I received a text expressing a very happy Mother's Day to those of us who are moms. Because I am notoriously bad about putting numbers into my phone, I had no idea who the text was from. As such, I wasn't quite sure how to respond. I thought about just saying thanks and leaving it at that, but that seemed kind of dismissive. So I typed in, "Yes, Happy Mother's Day!" Yeah, I know. That's about as bad as "Thanks!" The next text I received started off with a nickname only one other person calls me. I knew instantly who it was. And she's not a mom. So, yes, my response was ridiculous to say the least.

But this person found it funny. This person is a friend who goes all the way back to fifth grade. She is truly my first best friend. Though we don't see each other often, she let's me know she's thinking about me, and I let her know I'm thinking about her. In one of her text, she said she misses the days when she and I wrote letters to each other. We used to do this often. Now, though, we rely on emails and the occasional text. I responded by telling her I was going to write her a letter. And I did. This morning. The letter is now in the mail.

As I was writing, filling her in on Lovely Beautiful Daughter living so far away now, and how much I miss her but am looking so forward to her coming "home" next week for Funny Delightful Son's high school graduation ceremony, I thought yes, we really should be writing letters instead of emailing and texting. The act of holding a pen and watching the letters form on the page provides a much different experience than tapping away at keys. While typing is much faster, and I could have been done with an email in a quarter of the time it took me to write the letter, I found I truly enjoyed sitting at the kitchen bar, right where the early morning sun hits and warms the space, my hand moving slowly back and forth across the page. I stopped every now and then to sip at my tea, to reach over and smooth the soft fur between Ado's ears, to just think about what I wanted to say. I felt more connected to my friend this way.

I ended my letter like she and I always did with our letters: Write soon! Then I addressed the envelope, attached a flower stamp, and walked it out to the mailbox. I hope she smiles when she sees the letter in her mailbox. It's such a small thing to do--writing a letter--and I hope it makes whatever kind of day she might be having all that much better. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Quiet Life

Every now and then (okay, if I'm going to be honest it's way more than just every now and then) I go through a period of just not having much to say. Like recently, as Hubby and I were making a run to the big home improvement store for more top soil to dump into the two new veggie boxes, and Hubby says something like, "You really got to stop talking so much." I've been teased by others through the years over my tendency to just sit and listen. I truly don't feel the need to say anything, adding yet more noise to the cacophony that already exists. I am completely happy as well as comfortable with silence. Which is why I've not written anything during the last month. I've been enjoying my quiet life.

Along with the quiet, I've been enjoying watching my apple trees leaf out, the blooms opening little by little each day. The winter of 2014 was bitterly cold and snowy, leaving nothing for the rabbits to eat, so they ate the bark off my fruit trees. Two of the apple trees didn't make it, so I replaced them, and this past winter I anticipated the rabbits, being sure to wrap the trunks to keep the rabbits from nibbling away.  I'm hoping, given all the beautiful blooms, that I'm able to pick some apples this year.

This past winter wasn't as cold or snowy as that of 2014, and spring seemed to arrive exactly when needed to make sure all the flowering trees could show off just how beautiful they are. Not only did the apple trees burst with blooms, but so did our sour cherry tree. I've never seen it covered with flowers the way it was this spring.
I picked so many cherries last summer, but if the blossoms are any indication, I'll have even more this summer. Just thinking about the cherry jam I made last summer makes my mouth water. Of all the jams I made, the cherry jam was the biggest hit. Funny Delightful Son and Angel Baby ate it straight out of the jar. Both were quite sad over what we thought was the last of the cherry jam. When I found a jar hidden at the back of the cupboard and pulled it out, both boys descended upon me like vultures, both trying to get the jar before the other. I'm definitely going to have to make double the amount this summer.

Each day I go out to check on the trees, to watch the process of the blossoms. I watch the bees drift from one bloom to the next, which makes me hopeful that not only will the trees produce fruit but that the bees are getting the much needed pollen for their stores. Being able to help the bees even just this tiny bit makes me happy. I've read so much about bees, the work some are doing to make sure bees thrive, and while I wasn't successful with my first colony, I've learned a lot and hope to have better luck with my new colony. The day I brought them home, put them in the hive, then sat and watched the few that didn't make it inside the closed-up hive, I felt such joy over having bees once again flying about. The sadness I'd experienced over losing my first colony had sunk in pretty deep, more than I'd realized. I still feel vestiges of that sadness every now and then, when I think about opening the hive to find every bee dead, but seeing the new colony at work now helps assuage that sadness.


Each day, evidence of spring becomes clearer. Lawns along our street are vivid green. The lilacs are blooming, filling the air with the perfume from my childhood. And the dandelions! I hope every single moment that my neighbors see the bright yellow flowers and love them as much as I do, leaving them not only to brighten our days but to also help the bees add to their stores. So much life happening right now. So much to watch. Listen to. No need for noise.