Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Marking Time

I was working yesterday with my cabinet installers and one of them had done some work for me when he had just graduated from high school, 2003. We had a little reminiscence moment. But then I started to remember all the things that I have tied to that particular year. It was a really busy year- with surgery and difficult to finish projects. The kitchen started in 2003 and ended, well, yesterday. And that is only mostly done because I have touch up wall repair and painting to do still. But I could actually say that we are 99.9% done. That last little bit being such a small amount of the whole project.
I have other major events that mark time for me, too. My wedding to Eduard is coupled with the purchase of this house in my mind. It is all in the same year. My trip to Europe with my children some how got stuck in that year, but it was really the following summer.
There is a blank area of fuzzy memories which becomes really clear at the Kitchen remodel of 2003-10. Somewhere in this large date, all jumbled together, is a foot surgery, hysterectomy, neck injury, Scott's graduation from college, Bryon's foolish meltdown, the new garden beds, and Lorrie's death. The fact that Sara is starting college (moving to the dorms) and on the edge of her own stupid meltdown is like the punctuation at the end of a very long sentence. When I try to remember anything in that mess, I can't find a foothold for dates and times. Forever, Stefanie's wedding will be the year before the baseboards, instead of 2009.
So this brings me to a very important information point- Always write the date on the lid of anything you have canned. Why? Well, most home canned goods are good for one year (two if you are really brave and it is a high acid item). As we took everything out of the cabinets (so that we could do the baseboards), I found lots of stuff from 2006, 2007 and 2008. I didn't even preserve anything for 2009. That was the year of the wedding and I was too busy with stuff. But now, rather than put all this expired stuff back, I am dumping and washing. I do not want to risk any illness from my own foods when there is so much out there that is fresh and new. So I have dumped 2006 applebutter, 2007 pickle relish and 2008 applesauce.
What happened to those years that I didn't have a chance to cook with these things? I actually can't remember much of those years at all. Somewhere in there Stef bought a house, Scott went to China, and my mom had a stroke. Eduard's dad died. But aside from big punctuations, I can't remember much of the time. We built garden beds and hauled top soil- but I can't tell you when. The seasons came and went, kids moved on, chickens became dinner- but when?
This promises to be a remarkable year for Eduard and I. I will try to remember it better. It is starting with the end of the kitchen remodel and the end of childhood. It is starting with the beginning of Eduard/Jeri with no kids at home and time for each other at last. It is starting with a trip to China and some Thanksgiving Duck.
I think the end of 2010 is going to be the beginning of a very good year (s). I hope I can remember it in 2011.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Well, that just about says it all- except that it is really Gophers. When Eduard and I returned from Oregon, we had May, June, and July gloom to keep the garden in stasis, but we also had a gopher attack. Gopher(s) got into the raised beds- which I had not lined with wire mesh because we had never had gophers. But now we do and they are terrorizing my garden. In some ways, the tunneling and churning of the soil is good, but the eating of the roots and plants is bad. So we have launched a gopher control program.

First thing in the program was to try to trap them. Failure, dismal failure. This must be a second or third generation intelligent gopher because the traps mean nothing to it. Just covers it with dirt until it snaps, then goes around it.

So in desperation we transferred all the edible plants to an unaffected bed to see what the gopher would do next. There are plenty of weeds and grasses in other areas of the yard, so the gopher just went into another area to wait for something good to eat. Between the weather being cold for a long time and the gopher hovering under the possible vegetables, I decided not to plant anything at all. But this is just too depressing for me.

The next idea was to remove all the dirt from the beds and line them with wire like we should have in the first place. And this we have been doing. Bed one got finished one week ago, and planted with potatoes, beans, onions, garlic, and other small things. It is doing very well. The turning of the soil, with a bit of amendment and fertilizer has made it the wonderful dirt that I loved when it was new. And I am excited to have Chinese long beans climbing up my bean tower. They are the red ones and will make lovely stir fry.

The second bed got finished yesterday. It had some onions left in it, but I haven't had time yet to plant. It needs some amendment and fertilizer before I replant the onions and start the next set of plants. I am hoping for a short season pumpkin, kabocha, and some cucumbers. If we get any warm weather at all, it will be between now and November, so I am attempting some seeds that are from short season areas. Russian melons. New England pumpkin. And a Japanese Cucumber and squash. It is possible that the nights will stay dry enough that the mildew will hold off. But if not, at least I have tried.

Bed three has been dug out, but not lined with wire. That will happen over the next week and the dirt will be returned to the bed next weekend (or sooner). In the meantime, the gopher burrowed over to the herb garden that is near the patio. Must be the same guy, because the traps are useless. But I am hopeful that we will be able to corner the bugger and flush him/her out.

I hate to resort to poison, because gopher is low on the food chain and will kill the birds of prey that eat it. I am not really too concerned about the coyote who also eat gopher, rat, squirrel, rabbit, cat, dog, small children, and garbage because they are not endangered and drink the beer that I put out to kill the slugs and snails. They can eat all the poisoned rats they want.

In the meantime, I am sorting through my seeds and giggling like a child at the thought of having some vegetables again. I needed this moment in the dirt to make me feel alive.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Weary and worn

I was looking through my clothing so as to make a donation to the thrift store, and I realized that most of what I own doesn't look nice enough to go to a thrift store. It all looks very worn and tattered. In fact, I would say they look like rags. And I have worn every hole and tear into them with hard work. I am pretty worn, too. So how does one revitalize oneself. Can I purge something to make myself more allert and energetic? Is there some special food that brings glow and perkiness (without crossing the danger line)? Do I just need to spend a few hours at the spa, a game of tennis, maybe a stroll on the beach? How do I shake off the fatigue of a lifetime of work so that I can feel that Joie d'vivier.
I have found ways to escape and hide from stress. I can meter out my remaining energy for high priority needs. But how do I get that special bounce back, that spring in my step, that little float that comes with my head in the clouds.
I am feeling weary, and looking like my tattered old clothes.
I think I need some time off. Real time off. Away from people needing stuff. I am giving this some serious thought.
In a conversation today, I realized that I am the one who continues to say yes to other people taking up my life and energy. I have realized this before, but I always slip back into the roll of - well, mother superior. Maybe it is time to just slip out the back of the cloister and let them take care of themselves. Or better yet, take care of me. Maybe I could just stay in my room in bed all day and play games on my cell phone, talk to friends, and polish my nails. I wouldn't need any clothes for that, at least nothing nice. Maybe I could just read and knit something for myself.
Well, it is a very nice thought, selfishness. I think I feel a headache coming on. Maybe, when it goes away, I will go buy some new clothes.
I actually know that I won't do this, but sometimes just imagining it helps me feel better. Now I am off to bed for real. Tomorrow, I have a lot of stuff to do.