And it’s all good.
The best time will be summer, when the vines are loaded with tomatoes and beans and peas and, hopefully, the couple of exotic edibles, the seeds of which I planted in March and the seedlings of which I planted today: peach/mango/melon and cucamelon.
With my bum knees precluding any dancing or even minor walking, gardening seems to be the best exercise for me, and I, along with the rest of the family worked up a good sweat today — they tilling and enriching the garden soil and planting some seeds; I tinkering with the little shade garden plots and tending my seedlings. The little orange birdhouse (upper right of photo, below) that my daughter made last year from scrap pieces of wood in the cellar, has just been taken over by a pair of Carolina Wrens.
The Northeast is a marvel-filled place to live this time of year.
I took the photos with my new LG Optimus G Pro from AT&T. I figured I’d treat myself with the money I’m saving by not having to buy cat food and litter any more — and also not having the expense of dance/exercise classes because of my bum knees. One door closes, another door opens.
I enjoy reading mystery novels. Even more if the main character is a female. Even more if the plot involves some kind of “headology” — that intriguing mish-mash of psychology and shamanism, magic and wishing. (Granny Weatherwax is what I consider to be the model for practicing headology, but I’ve posted about her before and that’s off the topic of this post.)
I am thinking about niches and headology (two rarely connected topics) because I just finished the novel Night Angel, which applies various kinds of headologies to the process solving a murder mystery that involves a group of former 1960 Haight-Ashbury roommates.
I never lived that hippie life except in occasional free-flowing fantasies that I knew would probably not be as satisfying if played out in reality. But that didn’t stop me from fantasizing.
In the 1960s, I was married with children and living in a rural suburbia; I believed that had I not been living the responsible life, I might have been on some Magical Mystery Tour of my own, taking the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. But I never even had a puff of pot back then. (Oh wait, yes, once, when a cousin who was married to a prison guard gave me a joint to try. Never having even learned how to smoke a cigarette, it was a failed secret experiment for me.)
If housewifery was not my niche, neither was hippiedom. Decades went by without the feeling that I had finally found where I was supposed to be in the world. I simply made the best of wherever I found myself. I guess that I am still doing that.
I look back and see myself as sort of a wife, sort of a mother, sort of a poet, sort of an activist, sort of a bureaucrat, sort of a dancer …. so many sorts, but no real niche, no place of grounding.
Maybe I found this Night Angel novel intriguing because each character seemed to have his or her own consistent niche.
My late once-husband had a very definite niche: He was a writer. He once said to me that everything else was just sawdust. He lived to write. He had found his niche.
Alongside my new La-Z-boy recliner is a box with 700+ pages of a typewritten novel of his that our son is self-publishing for him posthumously. It will be available soon to the public.
I want to read it because he often wrote with a strong sense of the power of headology, and his female characters were always forces of nature. But at the moment there is something in me that is envious of his niche — resentful, even. His niche has manifested into legacies that will go on without him.
You need a niche to leave a legacy.
I never found my niche.
Unless it’s late night blogging.
This afternoon, as the kid from next door sat on our front steps playing Mine Craft on his iPod, my grandson stood nearby, tracking the flight of our resident red-tailed hawk. Suddenly the hawk loosed a feather, and my grandson watched as it caught on a tree branch, and then let go, and finally landed in his waiting hand. He ran into the house shouting that he caught a hawk’s feather, wanting to share this miracle with the world.
Two kids, roughly the same age. One is home schooled. Easy guess, which one.
So, you could say that my grandson, Lex, received a message from his totem animal. Such is the spirit mystery of the natural world.
While the rest of the family is planning and preparing their vegetable garden on the more fertile side of the property, I have commandeered the side of the yard where the pervasive roots of the ancient maple that was destroyed during the Snowpacalypse two winters ago make it impossible to till soil or grow anything. Poppies have already spouted in the main stump container, and my mini calla lilies that spent the winter in the cellar are generating buds under the soil of the other.
I emptied the shed of all of the big pots and have begun a kind of container garden that will include herbs, flowers, and all kinds of tomatoes. And garlic. Lots of garlic. The pots are lined up along the nearby fence, which gets sun all afternoon. The soil there is not great, but hostas and wild violets seem to be happy there. I planted three sunflower seedlings and some Creeping Jenny and have lined up the pots, some of which already contain herb and flower seedlings. It is not yet the configuration I want; I will have a better sense of the aesthetics as the bloomings emerge.
In a month or so, it will be fun to compare this photo with one that boasts a more colorful and thriving container garden. There will be some re-arranging and adding to. My projects, be they gardening or knitting or sewing always seem to be continuous ones until something out of my control puts an end to them. Sort of like everything in my life. Circles. Now, there’s a metaphor.
I’ve been looking for some kind of statuary around which to focus the container garden. For the moment, I’m using a cairn that I found (oddly enough) at Home Goods. We already have a Buddha in a little meditation spot in a shady part of the yard.
I’ll admit that I am writing this because there’s a contest at nerdwallet.com. I don’t know whether my suggestion falls under “service” or “purchase.” I would think both.
I can’t imagine any mother who would not just swoon at the thought of getting a chair massage. Whether you’re a young mom hauling around a baby or toddler, a typical mom keeping up with household chores while also (or not) holding down a job, or an empty nester still carrying around the weight of family cares, your shoulders and upper back can always use some TLC.
Even an enterprising offspring might have a little trouble tracking down a place to get his/her mom that 20 minutes of nirvana, but it can be done. Fitness centers, spas, and Senior Centers sometimes offer them. Sometimes massage therapist offices do. You have to call around. But it’s worth every minute and every dollar spent.
I am lucky. My neighbor, a massage therapist, does them in her home. I think I’ll give myself one for mother’s day.
Under the new platform will be the old three-seater swing that used to be in the front yard, but the big snow storm over a year ago collapsed the awning and damaged the frame. But it’s good enough for kids to swing in. I bought a new one for the front yard, where I like to spend warm lazy days.
This boy and his mom, they are always building — Lego structures, learning tools, curricula, benches, closets, costumes — using tools from computer programs to circular saws. They need to make things. I guess that they get that from me, although they are much better at it, and they follow through a lot better than I do. Someday, my grandson is going to make someone a great partner; he’s only ten but he already helps with cooking, cleaning, and building.
While they build, I plant seeds and tend seedlings. This year, everything is organic. The challenge for me will be the follow-through in finding the best place for it all in the garden. We are going to do suburban farming, with teepeed beans towering between the spirea, and garlic scapes trending around the gaillardia. And marigolds popping up everywhere.
Now, all we need is some warmer weather.
And I need my knees to calm down after I aggravated my osteoarthritis dancing NIA barefoot. My new recliner is arriving on Friday, though, and relaxing in that is sure going to speed up recovery.
I’ll rest while they keep building.
A day of almost 60 degrees. We are all antsy for Spring.
The branches of the pruned Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree make an interesting temporary front yard sculpture in the container that eventually will feature flowers.
I got my windowsill garden started with some herb and berry seeds. Usually I think to start doing this in May, when it’s really too late. Hopefully I’ll have an abundance of heirloom edibles by the time Summer is in bloom.
It’s sunny out today, finally, although the temperature still hasn’t hit 50.
The title of this post is from the end of this poem by Theodore Roethke, one of my favorite crazy dead poets.
Gilda Radner‘s signature phrase “it’s always something” is playing through my brain today. Just when I’m revving up for some physical movement and some windowsill seed planting, I do something to my left knee and I’m down for the count. Ice packs and visits to the chiropractor are helping, but at my age healing takes a lot longer than I like.
I’m not exactly sure what I did to my knee, but I think it has something to do with rolling out of bed one night a week or so ago in the middle of a dream about Bing Crosby. (I have no idea why I was dreaming about Bing Crosby, but, as he was sitting in my living room singing to me, I reached over to pick up a sheet of lyrics that dropped on the floor and that’s when I rolled out of bed.)
I am an elaborate dreamer, often playing out scenarios that seem so real that, when I wake up, I’m not sure where I am.
Hmmph. The sun is gone again. Maybe it will be back tomorrow. Maybe my knee will feel better tomorrow. Maybe my son will find work.
The sun. The son. The sun.
I know that at my age I could easily be misremembering, but I don’t think so.
Back in the early 1980s, I found two books that I gave to my pre-pubescent son to read.
Girls: A Book for Boys and Boys: A Book for Girls
They were the best two books for kids that I ever saw analyzing gender/sex and the physical and psychological changes of puberty in a way that supported respect for both your own and your opposite gender. Both the explanations and the illustrations were clear, honest, and age-appropriate. Together, they provided an approach to sex education that also placed a high value on each gender, encouraging understanding of the differences and appreciation of the human similarities. I eventually I gave them away to another mother, and now neither Amazon nor Google has any mention of them.
I think of these books now because of all of the discussions around the rape of the 16 year old girl by the high school football players.
My son says that he doesn’t remember reading those books, but I sure do remember sitting there and watching him read them, ready for any questions he might ask. Even though he doesn’t remember those books, the reality is that his strong respect for females can be traced, in part, back to the concepts in those books that became embedded in his subconscious.
Next month he’s participating in this, offered by Ball State University:
Gender Through Comics: A Super MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that examines how comic books can be used to explore questions of gender identity, stereotypes, and roles. This highly engaging learning experience is designed for college-age and lifelong learners. I guess that there are some things I did right as a single mom bringing up a son.
I keep thinking that kids today need those two books more than ever. But all traces of them seem to have disappeared from both the real and virtual face of this earth.
If you know any feminist parents who were raising young kids back in the 80s, please ask if they remember those books. They were published about the same time as the original Our Bodies, Ourselves.