mona lisa

Something changed over the last week.  I went from a patiently waiting, almost happily full of baby pregnant woman, to a ticking time bomb.  My attitude was starting to decline, the heat was really bothering me, I got a nasty case of poison ivy, none of my clothes seemed to cover my entirety, and I had (have) some sporadic sciatica pain that was absolutely crippling causing me to hobble until noon everyday or anytime I had to sit in the car for any length of time.  You see, the problem is that I was two weeks early with both my boys.  And now, with that day approaching, and a super moon in the mother sign behind us, I have started the waiting game.  Oh yes, it has begun.  But, we all know this is silly and illogical and well, detrimental to myself and anyone who crosses my path.  When asked when I am due, I simply mutter soon.  It feels a bit rude and rash, but I can’t help myself.

Then my parents came to visit.  We gardened and cleaned and the boys were so happily entertained, digging holes and adventuring deep in the woods.  Meals were cooked for me and cleaned up afterwards too.  There was a lot of laughing, and a lot of commiserating, and I felt oh so much better.  Then they left, and I tried to hold my chin up.  But luckily it started to droop only in time for more family, sweet dear missed family that lives much too far away, to remind me of what it is I am waiting for.

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These sweet children played around all day yesterday with an ease I didn’t know existed in cousins.  The grown folks cared for me so gently, I swear I felt like a child myself.  A much-needed reaffirmation that this baby will enter the world so loved already, and that of course, of course I can hold out for that.  It is some what of a gift to allow this babe to choose his or her birthday and I am rejuvenated enough now to do this, with at minimal a mona lisa smile on my face.  I can manage that I think…

a long strange trip

Of all the troubles that go with moving, with children, with pets, with stuff, it seems I have been able to skirt around many of them.  Only because of family.  Only because of the kind of love that goes without convenience.  Certainly it isn’t convenient to have two nutty little boys and their mama (who may or may not be needy as well) staying at your house while it is under construction and you have only one bathroom and no washing machine.  Certainly it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to have a whole slew of people stay at your house when it is planting season and everyone everyone likes to have  their garden planted by memorial day (at least that is what I am told).  A driveway full of flats of flowers, to the point where the delivery man asks if this is a nursery.  A busy week for all.  But no problem, we are a family.  That is what they do.

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It can’t be easy to be the one who has to drive 18 hours once with two loud children just to turn around and do it with two cats, a dog, a batch of beer, and a batch of kambucha.  Clean the old place in a frenzy, try to set up the new one with gusto.  Study at all hours of the night for a new semester has begun and all the same start a very new, very exciting, brand new job in a town where you know not a soul.  No, this can not be easy.  But, my man does it with grace.  I am have much to learn from these beautiful people I am so lucky to have as mine.

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And most of all it cant be easy to be uprooted from all you know, all you can remember.  See your belongings in boxes, scattered about every room, stepping over things for days.  Dealing with a mama trying (oh so hard) to keep her cool amidst the chaos.  These two remind me to stay on course.  This is fun.  This is an adventure.  This whole entire thing.

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It is exhausting I am sure.

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And I have run out of time.  For now.  There is too much madness, to much stuff behind me of which I intend to ignore, and in front of me I see precisely what is in store for us.  

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Oh yes.  This is our backyard.  An adventure it is.

how to make a good red sauce

When I was about ten years old, my mother declared her days of slaving over a hot stove had come to a screeching halt.  And she meant it too.  When it came time for supper the following evening, we all assumed our positions around our table in the dining room, figuring she would come around.  We waited and waited until my dad finally submitted, and just ordered pizza.   This was the first time I understood fully that my mother is a woman of her word .  So, we happily ate pizza for about a week straight,  throwing in the occasional fish stick. It seems my brother and I were doomed to take out and frozen fare for the rest of our childhood.

My father, being forever loving to his old lady, didn’t utter a harsh word at her.  He understood.  It had been at least ten long years of three meals a day, with little to no help, and she had had enough.  He got that.  But his stomach didn’t follow his way of thinking whatsoever.  My dad is a particular kind of man, and the likes of our small town pizza joints do not suit his oh-so-sophisticated tastes.  And while he may be slim his appetite surely is not.  He gladly eats chocolate cake for breakfast only to be followed by a full spread of eggs and bacon, and popovers with jam.  He introduced me to the glory of the late night snack.  He gets the urge for a scone at midnight (and follows through!).   To put it plainly, he is always in the clean plate club.  The man loves to eat.

So, he did what any intelligent person would do.  He tried to cook.  The first meal I can remember him stirring slowly over the stove was spaghetti.  And before you think please, that is a sorry excuse for a meal that anyone who knows how to turn a knob, boil some water and dump contents into a bowl can complete, realize my father doesn’t do things half way.  He goes all out.  He went so far as to take a class at a cooking school from an Italian Woman who taught him not how to make spaghetti sauce, rather she showed him the art of red sauce.  She divulged the amazing secrets of  how to flavor olive oil by browning chunks of peeled garlic into the simmering golden liquid.  She relayed the patience necessary to wait several hours for a tomatoes’ skin to disintegrate before your very eyes.  And subsequently she paved the way for the next hobby he would pursue: fermenting limoncello.  Oh, how I remember loving this hobby of his later on when filling small flasks of this potent liquor before leaving the house for the evening in high school.   I promise, I was the star of the party with that fire water.  But that is a whole ‘nother story now isn’t it.

Prior to this, I have no memories of my father cooking a meal with the exception of Saturday morning pancakes cooked atop the interchangeable piece on our stove top.  (How cool is that?  I have not seen a stove like this since…)  Over the next few months he became more and more confident in his skills.  He even had the nerve, unbeknownst to the rest of the family, to work in a high-end french restaurant for a small (oh so small) period of time.  Luckily my father has grace and could not tolerate the high temper and out right nasty words of a stressed out chef, and quit.  And though he claims he hated every last thing he learned to cook there, I think that perhaps this is where my love of the croissant may stem from.

My dear stubborn and oh so intelligent mama still makes a mean omelette now and then.  And no one, I mean no one, can touch her apple pie.  But all in all, she won the battle of the cooks.  She got what she wanted, and in turn made my father into a truly magnificent chef.  Even though years spent in a kitchen have taught me to reserve this title for a person of employed stature in the business, I would call him that regardless, because there is no other word for his level of cooking with out it.

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Quick Quick red sauce

a ton of cherry tomatoes

a few tablespoons of olive oil

a few cloves of garlic

a handful of fresh basil

salt and pepper

Warm the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat.  Meanwhile peel and chunk up the garlic into about thirds.  Brown it in the oil and discard, just enough to flavor the oil.  Halve all the cherry tomatoes and place them into the flavored oil.  Cover and cook on low heat for several hours until the skins are all but gone and has developed nice flavor.  Periodically check to see if the sauce has become dry, and if this is the case add a few tablespoons of water.  When the sauce is good and thick,tear the basil leaves toss them in.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

with a little help from my friends

The day before we left for our adventures I was faced with yet another challenging afternoon.  With space between this day and now I can see more clearly these things happen out of boredom.  Too much time spent indoors to try to escape the Georgia bugs and heat.  Too much time folding and cleaning.  Regardless, Lee sent me on a run upon his arrival home and off I went without a blink of an eye.  I felt very defeated this particular day.  Fried crispy and ambivalent.  And I hate ambivalence.  It is just plain old awful.  I set off at a break neck pace so I could start to feel again.  Upon arriving at a place called blue bill pond, I slowed to a trot.  This particular pool of water is usually somewhat devoid of birds and gators in the afternoon sun.  For whatever reason they prefer another location as the evening approaches.  But there they were.  I paused and looked upon at least fifty juvenile woodstorks standing in shallow water, the sun reflecting gold into their plumage.    Scattered along the outskirts of this flock were about half a dozen adult storks standing tall, wings spread wide.  Keep in mind these birds wingspans are a good five feet.  That is nothing to scoff at.  Those big black tips pointed to the sky for what reason I am unaware.  I stood in awe brainstorming the possibilities.  Protection?  A lesson in flying?  To scare possible predators?  Or just simply cooling down?  I have yet to determine the scientific reasoning.

But what I do know is that the was a clear demonstration of the dynamics of a family.  Those little ones are not raised alone.  They are raised together with their flock.  

Goosebumps traveled up my arms and down my spine as I realized that this journey north to the place I belong is more than just a vacation.  I need my flock.  This is a chance for much-needed help.  It is an opportunity for advice and ideas.  It is a chance to laugh and renew.  A time where I can gather the energy needed to go at it alone for the next few months.  I know now with all my heart it truly does take a village to raise a child.  It is not something to go at alone.  Whether it be friends or pop pops or bupchies or aunties or uncles or neighbors; A girl raising her boys needs a little help now and again.

And I am ever so grateful.

 

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