Eat, drink, (garden, knit, quilt, think, fix, read) & be merry


I remember very few events leading up to our final move away from John.  I can’t even remember the season or how old I was (maybe 13?).  I don’t remember leaving the house or arriving at our new apartment.  I don’t remember packing.  Nor do I recall what I could take or what I had to leave.  For an event that I had desperately wanted needed for years, my memories are remarkably absent.  But the first thing I do recall is putting a heavy, oblong watermelon in the clean, empty fridge.  John was “deathly allergic” to watermelon but “couldn’t control himself” so we were never allowed to have it when we lived with him*.  It’s one of my favorite foods and I asked my mom if we could buy one when we left.  She said yes.  It was the only thing in the fridge those first few days.  I would open the fridge just to see it there.

At some later date my mom was driving me to school.  Much of my ample childhood free time (I wasn’t allowed to go to school for most of my childhood) was spent daydreaming about a kind, perceptive adult asking just the right question, a key for the lock that would open the vault of dark and painful secrets.  I remember trying to figure out ways to document the abuse so I could substantiate my story, so someone would believe me, so someone would scoop me up, take me home, keep me safe, love me.  As my mom and I approached the school I asked if I could tell the gentle school guidance counselor what had happened.  We weren’t living with John anymore so I thought it might be okay to finally, finally, finally crack open the secrets.  She snappishly said something like, “Well, if you’re prepared to accept the consequences of your actions, go right ahead.”  That wasn’t exactly the answer I was hoping for, but I did it anyway.  I wasn’t prepared, but I had to tell someone.  I don’t remember walking into the office or how the conversation started but my memory picks up again with my back deeply slumped, my stomach tight, the tears falling hot and fast, the snot so thick I couldn’t breathe.  I was staring at my hands, trying to hear his questions, unable to say anything.  This was not going according to plan.

As I recall, my mom picked me up from school and we went home.  The counselor did not talk to her.  My mom didn’t ask how it went, although my face must have been red and puffy from all the crying.

But here’s what I do remember, clear as anything: it must have been late spring/early summer.  The trees had recently leafed out.  It was a warm sunny day with a brisk spring snap in the air.  I rolled down the window and breathed in the fresh air, felt it hit the bottom of my lungs as the sun warmed my face through the window.  The dappled light danced across my arm as I played in the wind.  I looked up and thought the trees looked so brilliant, leaves fluttering.  The sun shined so hopeful.  And I thought, “I’ve never really seen how green the trees are or felt the warm sun.”  Despite the enduring obstacles, I felt light, I felt happy.  It was as if I was emerging through a heavy veil.  I could see and feel things I had never really experienced.  I wasn’t alone anymore and the weighty self-protective haze had dissipated, just slightly, and the world was so much brighter than I ever dreamed possible.

*In hindsight, if he was so “deathly allergic” with so little self-control, I am wondering why we didn’t buy two and leave one in his fridge.


Sunday Scribblings – Guidance

Prompts for Sunday Scribblings can be found here.

It’s be a long, long time since I’ve done SS.  Truth be told, I had completely forgotten about it.  Then, browsing through blog categories, I stumbled back upon it.  Eureka! I though.  Just what I need.  I’ve got a lot on my mind and I love these community oriented prompts as a way of sorting through the muck.

**Long, navel-gazing, semi-depressing post ahead.**  Feel free to skip this post and go to the next one (a new knitting project!)

Guidance. Yes, yes, this has been on my mind lately.  Do you feel, as I do sometimes, that your life moves in orbit?  I can go through months of feeling competent, happy, connected, loved.  Or, if it’s on the darker side, months of feeling inadequate, perhaps even broken.  I wouldn’t call it depression.  I can still continue my days, still laugh at jokes, find pleasure in knitting or cooking a good meal.  I just feel less capable.  I’ve come to view those darker months as growing pains.  As I strive for new knowledge or skills I feel, temporarily, less satisfied with my current abilities.  I feel awkward, ungainly, unable to competently stand on my own.  Usually I muddle through it, reading books, journaling, thinking.  But this time it feels different.  This time I need help, guidance.

I’m on the darker side of the orbit right now.  I’ve reached the half-way point between returning to school and finishing (!!) a degree.  But this achievement has brought with it a laundry-list of doubts and worries.  What do I do when it’s all over?  Have my prospects measurably improved?  Or will I still be relegated to working mediocre, dead-end, marginally satisfying jobs?  P has, because of my good grades, been encouraging me to pursue an advanced degree.  I just want to get back to work and contribute to the household.  But then again, we’re doing just fine.  Should I just keep going?  What are the benefits of continuing on?  Is it worth it?  I feel like I’m about to set sail into uncharted territory, on to ground I do not understand.  Do I have the wherewithal to finish an advanced degree?  Am I smart enough?  Hardworking enough?  Do I love school enough?  What if we have kids?  Will I be wasting my education? Although none of those questions have straight forward answers, there are plenty of lingering questions that do.  How does grad school work?  Some of my friends are paid to go to grad school – is that normal?  How do my options improve if I do this?  Will I have to move?  How do I even find a program and apply? The fact that I don’t know the answers to these easy questions makes me wonder if I have the right to even consider this.

And then there’s the even uglier side of things.  I started counseling today.  Not for any one thing in particular, but simply because my past still clouds my present.  I want to close the door and move on.  I know the door will always be there, and I know I will occasionally peek in, but I want to be at peace with what’s behind that door.  I don’t want to keep a proverbial chair perched under the proverbial doorknob barely keeping the very real anger, resentment, and disappointment at bay.  As I debated how to present my needs in the counseling session, the best analogy I had was this:  I know the world doesn’t owe me anything, I know that comparatively I’ve had a pretty okay life, I know it sounds childish to wish for a better past.  I understand, and accept, all this on an intellectual level.  But I’m still angry, sad, and resentful (some days more than others).  While I’ve worked through some of the intellectual issues, I still struggle with the emotional ones.  I need someone to help me wrangle the emotions and  put those demons to rest.

Yes, these days I’m in need of a lot of guidance.  And I’m not very good as asking for help.  I’m feeling like I’m on the dark side of the orbit, clumsily working my way through growing pains, striving for a better future.  Fortunately, there are resources available to me, and part of this growing process is learning how to use them, learning how to reach out, ask for help, be vulnerable.  None of this comes easy, but then again, most good things never do.


What I’ve Been Up To

This week’s Sunday Scribbling’s prompt was “Healing.”  I couldn’t go there.  I have had enough of The Sad.  It’s time to move on to Other Stuff.  Here we go.


Info about cordials has been popping into my radar everywhere I look.  I thought it was time I made a little of my own.  Here is some peach, strawberry, and blackberry.  It will be ready about July 1st.  Just in time for heat of the summer.  Yum, yum.

First Morel Find, Mpls, 2009

The morels are right on time this year.  This was our Mother’s Day find (also known as Mushroom Day our household).  Nearly one pound.  All delicious.


Cinnamon Rolls Gone Wild

Last weekend I was feeling a little sad and decided to make cinnamon rolls.  This was the result of the first fermentation.  The next two didn’t go so bad, but then we burnt them in the oven.  And ruined a pan.  It was very sad and didn’t help my mood much.  The picture is kind of funny, though.  

First asparagus spear

Ah, this picture is sideways and I don’t think wordpress will let me rotate it.  But can you find the asparagus?  I can’t wait to eat them in, like, three years.

Rage against the Squirrels

This was P’s ingenious solution to keep the squirrels from tearing up our veggie starts.  It works, but it won’t work for much longer as they’re getting too tall.  I hope the soil warms up already so we can plant the rest of this in the ground!

That’s all I’ve got for tonight.  I’ve promised P a game of Sequen*ce, so I’d better hop to it.

Leave a comment »

Sunday Scribblings – Confession

I’ve been known to make dinner in just an apron. Or just my undies. The kitchen can get so hot in the summer…


Sunday Scribblings – Language

I took French for five years.  I loved the decoding, the slow steps, the paragraphs that seemed so impossibly foreign one moment and so fascile just a few short months later.  The entire process was a beautiful mystery to me, how my brain could learn to read, listen, and speak in an entirely new way.  I also found it a little sad.  There was some sweet, lonely mystery in staring at words and punctuation which held so very much but I could only appreciate the way the letters and symbols strung themselves across the page.  There was part of me that liked being left in the dark.

This love of mystery prompted me, my first day of chemistry, to stare at the copy of the periodic chart that had just been passed across to me in a giant stack of unruly papers.  I took a clear moment to focus on the signs and symbols in a purely abstract way.  I shut of all outside sense as my own voice rung clear in my head, “Enjoy this.  Enjoy the abstract.  Because by the end of the hour this will look entirely different.  You will never be able to enjoy this and not understand anything.”


Sunday Scribblings – Scary

Forgive me if I’m mixing details in my vague memory of fine literature.  

Whenever I dwell on “scary” I am taken to a late night, reading Orwell’s 1984.  I’m in that heartstopping moment when the protagonist is taken to “room 101” where people face their worst fear, knowing it can stop if they pledge allegiance.  For Winston (thank you, Wikipedi*a) his worst fear is rats and the cage is slowly raised to his face and the gate is snapped open.  The rats rush for the “soft tissue” of the eyes.  I’ve never been afraid of rats, but I easily could have been after experiencing that godawful, stomach churning image.

I remember little else from the book, except the rats and the pervading sense of fear for those who thought out of line.

That book terrified me.  I remember lying away trying to decide what my worst fear was.  Being burned alive?  Being left behind?  Going to hell?  Being beaten to a bloody pulp?  I couldn’t decide.  I just didn’t know what would be in room 101 if I ever had to face it.  And this drove me to a mad obsession.

But I now realize that what scared me the most was thinking that someone else knew my worst fear and could orchestrate the perfect trigger when I, myself, was clueless as to what might be in that room.

Leave a comment »

Aging, snapshots

P is nearly four months my senior.  Every year about this time he starts asking me how it feels to be on the verge of 28 (or whatever it is that year).  He starts asking me, irritatingly often, how it feels to be on the verge of being so old.  I remind me that he’ll reach that mark well before I will, that I’m not even halfway between birthdays yet.  It doesn’t phase him, he keeps asking me and then asking if I want a big party for such a grand occasion.  

Ellie, our cat, is sprouting grey hairs at an astonishing rate.  She arrived in my life as a shiny black ball of fur.  She had a mouth that opened so wide and red when she meowed that it dwarfed her tiny body.  She’d sleep in the kangaroo pocket of my sweatshirts and slept our first night together stretched across my neck (literally), neither set of paws touching the ground.  That was in the spring of 2003, nearly six years ago.  We’ve been through a lot and we’re so tightly twisted together the thought of losing her makes me sick; it seems improbable, impossible even.  

My nephews turned four this past week.  Those tiny, fragile babes born weeks early, are busy, joking, running, story-telling, song-singing HUGE children.  While I used to carry them both simultaneously, one tucked into each arm, now they don’t both fit in my lap with all those long limbs and big heads.  They’re strong and heavy and I can barely tip them upside down or spin them around.  I swear to god they’ll outgrow me by second grade.  

Their birth came as a very exciting time for me – I had just finished my first few stints as a bicycle mechanic and was one of the city’s few, full time girl mechanics.  I was on my way to an eagerly anticipated farm internship that changed my life and in seven or so months I left on the trip I had been planning my whole life.  It’s saddening, somehow, to realize that that vibrant, much-hoped for time is now four years past.  

P is also popping grey hairs, has been since the day we started dating.  I sometimes pluck them, but mostly ignore them.  I think grey hair is handsome.  I think I must have a few, too, but dishwater blonde has its’ advantages – they’re awfully hard to find.  Not that I’ve looked.  

P also has these wonderful little wrinkles around his eyes when he smiles.  I hope they become permanent.  My dad had them, too, as does my aunt and all the other people from my childhood whom I remember being laughing a lot and being happy.  I hope I get them, too, someday and I hope I love them as much as I love them on people around me.

I knew how to plan my early twenties – I knew I wanted to travel and learn to cook and learn to grow things and knit and and and…  I dove in, I did most of it, and I loved most of it even though it was often challenging.  

I don’t know how to enter my late twenties or even my thirties.  I didn’t plan this far ahead.  I didn’t do what everybody else did in their early twenties and how I don’t have a herd to follow as I move forward.  I’m behind on the career curve, I don’t want to have kids or be a stay-at-home wife (P still does his own laundry and I have no intention of taking it over).  I don’t much care for my work options.  I’m a little bit stuck.  Ok, a lot stuck.  Life is good, very good even, but I don’t know what I want to do anymore.  I thought I would have had it figured out by now.

What should I be when I grow up?


Dear Past Me, Dear Future Me

Dear past me:

There is little to say that doesn’t sound cliche, but I want you to know it’s pretty good this side of life.  You’re a long way down right now, digging out of a ditch you didn’t put yourself in.  It sucks, it’s not fair, but it’s not your fault and you’re strong and creative and you’ll find your way out.  Mostly.

Sure, there are still fears and the residual film that always clouds your vision.  But it clears up a lot and you learn to make good choices.  Despite your fears, you don’t end up in an abusive relationship, in poverty or with a drug or alcohol problem.  You end up with a great guy who thinks the world of you and you have enough to pay your bills, have a little fun, and save for the rainy days you know all too well.  You’ve become a decent baker and a good cook.  You travel, although it’s not what you expect you love it just as much as you dream right now.  You have the sweetest cat in the world and an endless curiosity you’ve never lost.  Believe it or not, you eventually attribute your love of learning to the dark years you spent in homeschool.  You can do all sorts of creative things and you remind yourself a lot of your dad.  You do lose your dad, but not nearly as early in life as you think right now, and the grief is not as debilitating as you anticipate.  You don’t need to fear regret as strongly as you do – you learn to do your best and accept the results.

There are still things you struggle with – social interaction does not come easily to you even now.  You still sit outside puddles of milling, social people wondering how they move so easily among each other.  You still get angry with J for locking you up for so very long, telling you you’d just figure out how to interact with people once you were an adult.  You have a better relationship with your mom, but it’s not great and it’s not what you would ideally would like.  But you see no road to a better one and you’re weary of bushwacking and scraping yourself all up with no real reason.  You can’t shake the feeling of being cheated, of being brought into this world to be shut out of a real chance at an early life.  But you’re figuring out how to be happy now.

Hold on tight, all you need you’ve got within you and around you.  Embrace the people who embrace you, let yourself be loved and cared for.  All in due time you will learn how to give back.  Your road is not an easy one, but it is rewarding and it will be worth it.  Know that.  Hold on to that.  And you’ll be just fine.


Lost, to a synaesthetic

It’s a quiet word, quite at home in a whisper.

It’s sweet, like caramel, but a little burnt and bitter around the edges.  It’s comforting as long as it isn’t terrifying.

I crave it, sometimes, to wander in cool greens and breathe a damp blue air, circling in a happy haze.  Air can find the bottom of my asthmatic lungs when I’m lost and wandering with no real place to be or go.

I get scared, sometimes, hopping on harsh reds and feeling the prickly hotness flashing states of consciousness when I cannot find where I need to be.  

It’s tug-of-war between wanting control and letting go, of relaxing, of living in a little mystery and softness.  I lean towards an firm grip and rigid outlines but I’m happier in a little haze.  Learning to be a little lost, a goal and a hope.



Found along the Greenway

Art, eh?

The word itself is uninspiring to me.

The only thing that comes to mind are the words P whispers in my ear whenever we go to a particularly conceptual play or an exhibit that we think is reaching a bit far.  He first sniffs the air a few times, quietly, subtly, and then he leans over to my ear and whispers, conspiratorially, “Who arted?”