Monday, July 16, 2012

Fly! Be Free!

We are very proud to say that she passed her driver's test on the first go round, which is more than she can say for her mother (did you know that you don't have to pass parallel parking anymore?).  She has picked me up a diet Coke and bought gas.  She has a key chain that is bigger than my whole head.  And most importantly, she has already erased every bad moment of her childhood by taking her sister to a sleepover and the dog to the vet.

I know there are moms out there who fret every time their teenager is on the road alone in the car.  Who worry every time they leave the house.  Who faithfully track their child on GPS.  I'm not one of those.

Can I get a hallelujah?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

That's Right, You're Not From Texas

I love Lyle Lovett.  He says all the kinds of things that I'm thinking in my head but don't want to say out loud.  Back when G did not believe that night was for sleeping, we'd twirl and twirl to "One-Eyed Fiona."  Now, that's a song you want to expose your baby to early.  And often.

Anyway, one of Lyle's best songs is called "That's Right You're Not From Texas" a line which concludes with "but Texas wants you anyway."  Good stuff.  And I feel the same way. I am proud to be from Texas.  I'm a native Texan, born and raised, and it's one of the things that makes me feel like I'm special.  More special than people from other states.  Sorry.  Okay, not really.

My Kentucky friends think it's hilarious that there's a Texas Pledge of Allegiance.  And one of the funniest people in the world could absolutely not fathom that there is an entire year of Texas history in 7th grade (he didn't know about 4th grade then).  He said that Michigan history consisted of six short weeks somewhere in the middle of everything else.

And while it may seem a little outsized to most folks, it feels just right to us.

Until July, when the only place I want to be is in Colorado.  Where it's 56 degrees.  And raining.

What what?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Some Catching Up

So, it wasn't so nutty that I just sat around in my pajamas for an entire month and actively chose not to blog.  It actually felt like the opposite of lazy.  It felt like mass chaos all the time.  Well, except for the weeks that the French Open was on.  And the weeks that Wimbledon was on.  Okay, so basically for the 12 days between the tournaments, it was busy.  It seems only right that I catch you up on a few things.

1.  The Garden - I am actually pretty pleased with how things turned out.  And given my overwhelming need to control everything and everyone, I have been able to look at this first summer season as a great experiment.  Had some failures:  got tomato herpes, got round, orange cucumbers (?!), got squash borers, and had some deer damage.

We also had some great successes:  had bees, had some squash before the borers hit, had green beans, had LOTS of tomatoes, as in way more than I can eat (as in I become the tomato Unabomber, wearing dingy clothes and dropping off unwanted baggies full of the things), had LOTS of tomatillos (we're swimming in salsa), and finally, just before everything got pulled for high summer, had pickling cucumbers, and had a fair pepper yield.  And above all, I learned a lot of lessons.

But the best part has nothing to do with gardening.  The best part is that S, my little one, who is not always the first one to volunteer for hot, sweaty work or really any work at all, has become my right-hand farmer.  She's got a great eye for which tomatillos were ready to pick and was always willing to help or harvest or water.  Her enthusiasm and joy got me through on those days when it was just too hot, or too much trouble, or just too much period.   It's been a real gift to get to spend that kind of time with her, the kind of time that will hopefully lead to her having her own garden some day. Or at least will keep me from locking her up in her room for rolling her eyes.  Or arguing with everything I say.  Or not emptying the dishwasher after I ask.  Five times.  But I digress.

2. The Pantry - Looking back over the last month, my fallow period, in the words of a dear writer friend, I do realize that I might have been really busy doing exactly what I set out to do with this project.  With the time required by the garden, and the time required to put up food whose origins I can trace to my back door, maybe I wasn't so much not writing, but brainstorming!  Yeah, that's what we'll call it.

Anyway, it seems like at least twice a week, I would have so much produce that I had to can before it went bad.  Now, I love canning, especially when it comes with a group of friends and some cold beer, but I'll tell you, I wasn't necessarily prepared for twice a week.  Those folks who had to can to make it through the winter were not fucking around.  With all my own produce and some plums that a friend brought and a couple of pounds of organic strawberries on sale, I've put up gallons of tomatillo salsa, quarts of tomato salsa, sweet-hots (cucumber and jalapeño pickles that are the best things in the world.  On goat cheese.  All I'm saying.), pickle relish, jalapeño jelly, plum jam, strawberry jam.  It's fucking 10 o'clock at night, and I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow morning.  And I'm still canning.

3.  The Project - Well, I'm proud to say that we haven't fallen all the way off the wagon.  We are still not eating out when we are in town although I have gotten caught a once or twice six hours out from our last meal.  It's been an interesting dilemma:  do I literally starve my kids to make a point?  Isn't that just as bad as feeding your kids fast food?  I'm not sure what the answer is, but we haven't ever cheated with a full meal.  We did, however, one day a couple of weeks ago, have to buy a snack at a convenience store.  Not sure where, but it did amount to some food that hadn't come into our possession in an approved way.  I think it was some nuts and some peanut butter crackers.  Admittedly, those are both items that would have been in our house or even our car had I gotten my shit together.  But I didn't.

4.  The Miracle - It's been a tough summer for G.  A super-hard worker and awesome kid, she struggled with math in middle school, which put her behind a little for high school.  And because she has mean parents, she is taking Algebra II this summer.  Yep.  That's right.  Summer school.  And not just summer school.  Summer school in the subject that you hate the most.  Not only that, but she missed camp and an opportunity to go see her friend play softball in Colorado, where we spend most of July.  Things are sucking for her right now.

That said, she's been a real trooper.  She hasn't complained much and has even formed a pretty good relationship with her teacher, which will be helpful next year.  During all this, she turned 16.  Which meant that she had earned a dinner out.  At a restaurant.  Of her choosing.  But, as awful and miserable as most of her summer has been, the kid chose to eat at home.  Can you believe?  Now what she chose to eat were some insanely expensive steaks, but they were worth every penny, and we had a wonderful time.

So, this crazy experiment that has made her so miserable, this attempt to recalibrate and reset our eating priorities may, just possibly, have caused the teeniest, tiniest shift in her eating choices.  And in the rest of ours as well.  I'm almost afraid to say it out loud.

This just might work.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


So, uh, yeah. 

It never ceases to amaze me that Oprah Winfrey can read my mind.  I don’t consider myself an Oprah devotee by any means, but this is only because I am a snob and don’t want to admit it.  The book section of her magazine is the best there is, and her respect for writers and writing really touches me.  This month’s “make yourself a better person because you are a good person on the inside even if all you want to do is lie on the couch and watch tennis” article is about being a “real” writer, which appears to have no definition other than regularity and a passion for the craft.

Not too long ago, I had both.  I was loving being a part of this blog and felt absolutely nothing other than joy at having a little piece of me to add to the collective ether.  I am proud of the project that we are doing (more on that later).  I am proud of the accomplishments we have had in removing ourselves however slightly from the commercial food chain (more on that later).  I am proud of the women that my children are becoming even though I want to strangle them much of the time (more on that later).

And then all of a sudden, it was gone.  All I did for the entire month of May was bitch about how much I wanted summer to come, and how busy we were, and how tired we all were, and if summer would just come, it would all be fine.


At first, I only missed a week of blogging.  We were out of town for our official start-of-summer trip to the beach, G started summer school, and all of the tomatoes started turning red.  No big deal, just a bad week.  Week two began with daily drives into Austin, which if I had to do every week, I wouldn’t.  Sarah was a team leader for Vacation Bible School a/k/a Boot Camp for Jesus, and between the drive and the garden, and T’s overwhelming work schedule, it was chaos, so I didn’t blog.  It happens.  No big deal.

And then, I don’t know what happened.  The two long weeks that I had neglected this place became shameful.  I hadn’t written, and therefore, I didn’t want to write.  I was embarrassed.  I was the worst blogger, the worst writer, the worst person in the world.  Crazy, probably, but there it is.   So, I did the only logical thing.  I skipped writing for two more weeks.  Because ignoring it always makes the problem go away. 


There it is.  I could choose to beat the shit out of myself for something that was totally within my control or not.   

I chose not.  So, here I am, for what it's worth.  The kids and I will work on patching together the QC, and I'll get back to work.  

All will be well, and all will be well.  (Julian of Norwich) (I think).