Tuesday, August 31, 2010

peachy past

these photos are from this summer's first peach picking outing-

sunny peaches; samuel walking among the peach trees

eva wore all white and her fairy wings to pick peaches. i love this one with her next to a peach tree- and is that a sunflower next to her as well?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eva's video on how to make a boat-


Yesterday was a two tart day- or two galettes, as the case may be. The first was a Gravenstein apple- blackberry galette. The apples were from our own tree out back. I *think* they are Gravensteins, mainly because they are so early each year. This year they are delicious and decidedly more edible than in past years. And some of the apples look {more} suspiciously like Gravensteins {than other apples} or than they ever have before, so I am going with that.

The blackberries were Triple Crown thornless blackberries, picked on Thursday at the upick. There are three varieties of thornless blackberries at this particular upick right now and my favorite changes from year to year. I think last year- if I remember correctly- I picked more Chesters than anything else. I'm hoping to go early next week to get some of their fall raspberries.

The second galette was savory. The filling was sauteed zucchini, onions, green peppers and garlic which I mixed with grated raw mild cheddar (I think the recipe I was originally inspired by called for a stronger cheese...). I put sliced tomatoes on top of this filling and baked it for nearly an hour. I loved it. When I offered it to Eva this morning, she eyed both the galette and me suspiciously and said she didn't like zucchini and she was wary of things that looked like that. Then she said, "I'll have more of the other one, though," with a smile. Indeed. Blackberries and apples with sugar and crust. What more?

What's left of the apple-blackberry galette and the whole savory galette.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

sitting outside during {one of} my favorite times of the day at {one of} my favorite times of the year. i've been taking note of the increasing number of signs that autumn is moving in. the transition of a transitional season- autumn takes us from summer to winter and is a season in it's own right, known to me as the season that takes beauty to a new level. i've written before (or at least thought it to myself!) that autumn makes beauty for the hell of it. sure, we know *why* the leaves have their many shades of reds, oranges, yellows... *why* they fall and blow tsk tsk tsk across the patio. not necessarily *why* everything seems to need sleep. rest makes more sense to our minds conditioned to make each moment count. be productive. get something practical done. or at least enjoy! ourselves, for goodness sake. and where does that leave us with sleep? with autumn?

even in warmer climates where autumn is less noticeable, there is still a changing of the flower guard. vegetables in season and out. sometimes. kale, not tomatoes. not all the time. here in the pacific northwest there is autumn- a much longer autumn than i knew growing up in wisconsin where autumn really *is* the transition to winter. a beautiful transition to a steadfast season who comes early and stays late. an uninvited guest who is nonetheless always expected.

it's this time of year that i start to wonder if the remaining tomatoes on the vine will ever be able to ripen with this left over sun. will the sunflowers not-yet-bloomed ever burst open for the bees? will there be bees left flying or will they only groggily stumble from flower to next-burst-open flower, taking one last sip of sweetness before the winds really begin to blow.

but of course. then i remember how long autumn stays. how there is plenty of time for ripening (tomato upicking hasn't even begun, i remind myself) and picking and canning and bursting and blooming. a whole pint of berries is still on the last blueberry bush! there are fall raspberries to be had and pears to be tasted. the transition to the transition, always a harvest friendly time with vegetables from then, finally ripening now.

so i sit in this. this time. and make plans for how quickly i will or will not rake the leaves this year and wonder if the neighbor will care, now that she isn't raking her own leaves. i plan canning days and dismiss other projects, wondering if the kids will need new hats and mittens and fingerless gloves. should i even make mittens? will i ever have the time? i think of framing the ones they won't wear again...

autumn brings a wistfulness, a closing down, a contented beauty. and at other times- a zing! zow! i drive down the street laughing and pointing excitedly- "would you look at that!" trees bursting now, blooming in reds, {no blues, no greens}, but golden! and oranges. of all shades. just because. a few pink flowers linger in the flower box out front, the pots in the back.

but not yet. that's later. right now the flowers bloom pink, purple, bright gold, yellow. the mint blooms peaking, with bees hovering, flying back and forth, mint, no- sunflowers!, no- cardoons! plenty for all while spiders grow in girth, getting fat on fly season, once again upon us. it keeps coming, again and again, each time like the last in flavor and quality of light. but distinct, as it always is, unique and singular in this moment. i love recognizing the signs of what is to come, what is now. in this recognition there is appreciation for this season, for the next, when i never can quite decide which i like best and realize i don't need to. each a beauty of its own, gliding slowly, then quickly, into the next.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

eva's shawl

I finished Eva's shawl today. The top part in blue is garter stitch and the bottom purple/pinkish part is a feather and fan. I used 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran and number hmmm 3 needles for a gauge of roughly 6 stitches/inch in garter stitch. The pattern was the Multnomah shawlette from Hello Knitty. Now I am definitely onto a fall poncho for myself...

Eva posing in her shawl. (I think I need to block it to keep the feather and fan part from curling upward. I don't currently have a good space for blocking, though, so I put it off for now.)


Friday, August 13, 2010

meteor showers and then some

Eva and I sat outside last night with Maxwell and Magoo, watching the sky for meteors in the Perseid Meteor Shower. We saw a few, although not as many as we had hoped for, but definitely more than last year when it was clouded out. I always forget how meteors are an exercise in fleeting. I want to hold onto them for a split second longer to make sure I really saw what I think I saw. I did. Because they are also an exercise in trust. Yes, I trust that I really did see that flit of light sweeping across the sky, the one that I have been hoping for, sitting-outside-for-the-last-hour-combing-the-sky-with-my-eyes-for...

We played games and said things out loud to one another like, "I want us both to see a magnificent meteor at the same time that leaves no doubt that it is *indeed* a meteor," or "I want to see another bat." And then we would rejoice, "Look, it IS another bat. Right there! Right across the sky."

That part was the best. (Meaning, all of it.) I enjoyed sitting outside, looking up at the sky, searching for meteors and watching stars twinkle into sight. I pointed out a few constellations and remembered when I used to know most of the summer evening sky by heart. By sight. And Eva talked. She talked and told stories and concerns and worries and jokes. She pointed out bats and wished for raccoons and brought us both giant pillows from the living room to rest on. She turned out extra lights. And that part was the best. (The time with Eva.) The talking time. The quiet outside in the summer-time-night-time.

And then we came inside and she was so tired and satisfied with out meteor-time-together that she barely made it to bed before she was {almost} asleep.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

unschooly flow

The last few days have been spent at home organizing and cleaning and processing fruit sitting about. The kids and I did a huge garden clean up the day before yesterday which was incredibly thrilling. I cannot wait until the sunflowers bloom now that I will actually be able to see them! And I just noticed that the cosmos are actually almost as tall as me!

So then today, fueled by a few days at home, we went out. As days go, today has been one of those unschooly-in-the-city sorts of days that flows from one learning-while-living situation to another. One of those days that makes me smile from the seeming ease of it all. And it IS easy. Or it can be. At least two hours of this day have been. Mostly. It obviously seems to be easy on days like today. The learning and inspiration come in quickly, hand over fist. Little minds. Big minds. All open and ready for adventure. It all seems to flow more easily if I remember to flow with the day or even get on for the ride, whichever the case may be...(Of course, other days, less *inspired* days [I hesitate to qualify days like that, as though one is necessarily *better* than the other.] are valuable as well. All days, up or down, have their place in the ebb and flow. Were it not for the last few down-time days, this day could have been more about chaos and overload than about flow and ease. You just never really know what kind of day it is until it actually is. And all that.)

So we started off going to the Wednesday Farmer's Market in Downtown Portland {spontaneously!} to pick up tomatoes! and melons! I also picked up an eggplant. Can't wait to roast it later on tonight. Eva tried a handmade key lime chocolate and we all tried samples of Hot Lips' new cherry soda. I really enjoy the smaller size of this market and need to remember it is so easy to pop over here on Wednesday for an hour to pick up produce. (The close proximity of the parking garage makes it even easier.)

We wandered down to check out the music put on by the Portland Center for the Performing Arts (mostly so that I could verify it was indeed happening because no one was interested in sitting and listening to it- at least not today.) There were a few art projects set up for kids and a few booths selling handmade cards and clothing and such.

Next, we went by Finnegans, just to check things out, but ended up coming out with several sciencey type projects including a volcano that turns into a dinosaur, odd squishy cubes (silly squares) that you add to water {and they grow!} and one of those Mystical Gardens that you add water to. All three of these projects are on-going right now as the kids move back and forth between them and the game they are playing together in the back yard. So that's all good.

Then we tried out some tacos and a burrito from the food carts on 10th and Alder in Downtown Portland. Samuel is hooked on those Jarrito sodas, specifically the mango flavor, and we hunted down one of those as well.

And so a full day-out-of-the-house had by all. And now for a little knitting, which is surely {one of} the best ways to finish off a day. Or at least an afternoon. Gotta rest up, after all. All hell could break loose at any moment and I would love to be able to flow with that {as well}...

summer market goodness

Sunday, August 8, 2010

peaches [still? yes, still.]

i can't resist. peachy peaches peachily peaching. frozen peaches. canning peaches. peach watermelon beet juice. peaches with blueberries. peach cobbler. peaches in the buckle cake. peaches for breakfast. peaches dunked in sugar. peaches. peach season.

i sliced my finger at an inopportune time. what with all the slicing and dicing that needs to happen during the peach process (or processing peaches), having one less working thumb than usual has been turning peach time into a time of reflection. i honestly wasn't sure if i was going to be able to {actually} can the peaches. my hands can slice peaches, albeit slowly. and the slices won't win any awards in the peaches-sliced-to-perfection contest, but that's fine. it's always {mostly} good to test those perfection boundaries and make sure they are realistic and livable. it turned out eva wanted to help in the peach process and while i had decided to simply freeze the bulk of them this year and be done with the idea of canning, at least for the time being, eva's enthusiasm with skin removal and then joining in the slicing herself, definitely helped in my decision to go ahead and can. so i froze two gallons and canned 11 pints. it seems small by some standards but should be perfect for us, what with all the berries and my hope to can pears as well. i try to keep the canning and processing very manageable because i dislike feeling overwhelmed with processing fruit (or anything, for that matter). the minute it become too much, i know i have gone too far. from play to work, and all that.

eva taking the skins off of peaches.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

slowly, then all at once

Sitting outside ready to meditate, I noticed the sun had shifted ever-so-slightly in the direction that signals the coming of autumn. The pagan holiday for this time of year is Lughnasadh (Lammas). It is a pre-harvest celebration, midway between the autumnal equinox and the summer solstice's longest day of the year. For me, it is signaled by this subtle change in light, particularly in the morning. There are peaches, blackberries, tomatoes (finally!) the beginning of melons, the end of my blueberries. The heat of summer can still be found some days even as the sun's intensity is diminished overhead.

I love holding these two seeming dichotomous states- the {sudden} shift of light and the knowledge that this process has been in effect each day. Every day. An imperceptible change in sunrise, sunset, until one day a noticeable difference. It reminds me of Hemingway's quote on how people go bankrupt, "Slowly, then all at once." And so much of life. Our children's transformations, learning new skills, new developments. How did I learn to knit? Slowly, slowly, over the course of many years. Then all at once. And suddenly I had a project I couldn't believe I had made.

Of course, the movement of the seasons hardly stays all-at-once {for long} and is by it's very definition, a continuation of slowly. The process constantly changing, shifting, moving in the direction of the circle. We notice the all-at-once on a particular day, label it fall, and watch as it shifts again toward winter, the uneasy nebulous nature of change given a static label. We switch our shoes. Coats. Activities. As the movement becomes imperceptible again. Until the next subtle shift of light becomes noticeable to our eyes. Our minds. Slowly. Then all at once {we notice}. Again.

Very hungry caterpillars. I don't know why I thought the slugs were eating these petunias. (A hazard when growing petunias to be sure. Everyone seems to want to eat them. They must taste as good to them as they smell to me.) Eva and I have been studying the three, four, then five! caterpillars living on this one petunia plant for a few days, noticing their different colors and how they sometimes stand up or lay down, depending. Somehow one of them (or a family member) ended up on the patio near the peaches and we duly placed him back on the petunia with the others. Perhaps later in fall when these guys have all turned into cocoons would be a safer time to grow petunias. The two I planted out by the sweetpeas have {so far} remained untouched. It is flower central out there with plenty to choose from, which probably has a lot to do with it. Or maybe purple petunias are particularly tasty.

The sweetpeas and chamomile are having a long season this year. I have been drying the chamomile as I remember and am thoroughly enjoying the strong fragrance of these particular plants. I love these multi-colored sweetpeas with the different shades of purple.

I let several of these plants stick around this year to see what they were. I love them with the sweetpeas and calendula. Their clusters of tiny flowers are a lovely shade of pink. Any ideas on what type of plant they are?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

i'm that mom (blueberry inspiration)

today i got the truly inspired idea of offering my kids a dollar for each pint of blueberries they picked. our bushes out front are prolific and one of them is peaking right now. the other three have already peaked but still had a few pints left on them as well. i wanted to get to them today before the robins ate {too many} more (i love sharing the blueberries with the birds but they do tend to take bites out of several at once, all over the bushes. after i was done picking, i made sure i left some for them as well. they do love them so...) i normally don't pay my kids to do things around the house because i want them to do things in the spirit of family and-all-that. today, however, i decided to make an exception to this rule. the picking would be relatively easy, particularly on the busiest bush, and the seasonality of the work would ensure it didn't keep coming up over and over again. (i also offered to pay them to pick up spoiled apples in the back yard but there were no takers for that one. in fact eva asked that the apples remain on the ground because they are a part of a game she plays while swinging.)

initially, both eva and samuel were enthusiastic about picking the blueberries. they were excited about the money. they each planned out how many pints they would pick and settled on one. maybe two. i was happy, patting myself on the back for this moment of inspiration, thinking how every now and then a little money here and there might be alright after all. ahem.

then it all shifted. eva started asking me if she could just have the dollar rather than picking the blueberries. samuel started sighing loudly when he looked out the window at the berries. both averted their gaze when i announced i would be heading out front to pick.

normally, when i go out front to pick blueberries, the kids join me. not to pick, mind you, although that can happen too, depending on the day. eva rides her scooter around the drive way, making obstacle courses, singing songs with the ipod, stopping long enough to scoop up handfuls of berries to take with her. samuel has been enjoying a game with his nerf guns, sitting perched on the hood of the car, legs dangling through the sun roof, shouting orders at transformers or iron man and the like. today, there was none of this. no scooters. no games. no camaraderie out front. there was, however, eva coming out a third time with a sad look on her face asking again if she could {please} just have the dollar rather than actually picking the berries.

and that's when i went inside, got out my purse, pulled out two- one dollar bills and handed one to each child. i told them i was retracting my offer to pay them to pick blueberries. i would love to have their company out front. if they wanted to join in the picking, so much the better. but i would not be paying for this service. it had turned out to be a very bad idea.

both kids looked down at their one dollar bill and then back at me. they thanked me for the dollar and went back to what they had been doing before my course correction had interrupted them. then i put on my headphones and headed back out to the blueberry bushes where i enjoyed the berries, the afternoon sunshine and the birds. i smiled contentedly when i saw eva come out to walk around the roses, grabbing a handful of blueberries as she passed the car.

i was thankful today that i could be that mom who saw when i had made a mistake. eva's handful of blueberries, the smile on her face, my contented picking... all worth so much more than quicker picking and finished tasks. a lesson well learned and much appreciated on this path of letting go and moving on.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

i'm that mom (and another)

You can easily see where my mind is at these days, what with the blueberries and peaches and picking and summer time love. Eva eating fruit, running around behind me as I pick and process and taste and bake. Moving around the blueberry bushes outside one day, filling up one pint and then another, I took a break to go inside for water and a quick snack. On my way back to the bushes, I reached out to grab another berry basket for picking, distracted by my ipod, searching for a different song, sure that the berry baskets were on the hood of the car, right where I had left them. And yet, no. No baskets. I looked up. The hood of the car was empty. I looked over to where I had left the already filled baskets. No empty ones there either. Hmmm.

I walked toward the blueberry bushes, looking around and checking for where I might have left the berry baskets {on my way inside}. That's when I saw them lying on the ground in the middle of the driveway. I hadn't left them there. It was slightly curious but I dismissed it as I bent down to pick them up so that I could get back to my picking.

I was suddenly struck by the pattern on the ground. There was a large rock. A pine cone. The berry baskets. An image of Eva on her scooter, zipping around the driveway, around the rock, the berry baskets, the pine cone... Ah yes. An obstacle course. Of course. My berry baskets had been incorporated into Eva's obstacle course. I smiled. And then I bent down to pick them up anyway.

And I stopped myself. Surely I could find other berry baskets. Other containers, even, to put the blueberries in. There was really no reason to disrupt the obstacle course (and with it the pleasant equilibrium we had all reached while spending time together in the front yard). Sure enough, I checked in the car and found half a dozen more berry baskets. (I'm sure there were more inside, in addition to several dozen different styles of bowls and buckets in assorted shapes and sizes. At least.) No shortage of those around here. (No shortage of anything, really, when I thought about like that.) I grabbed the new stack of empty baskets, smiled again at the obstacle course, and headed back over to continue picking blueberries, happy to be that mom who could be creative enough to allow for many different uses for berry baskets. At least.

Monday, August 2, 2010

i'm that mom

In keeping with a meme that has been floating around facebook for the last couple of weeks, I'm that Mom is an homage to the choices we make as parents (in this case, as mothers) in the spirit of allowing our children to be who they are and fostering that original nature within. It's in the spirit of learning. In living life fully. In letting go of- throwing out, even- the stories and rules that no longer work for us. That we no longer wish to have govern us. It's in that spirit that I approach these stories- stories of me and my children, my responses to them, how things flow within our lives {at least some of the time}. It is about my intention. Where I am headed. What I am thinking about {often}. I'm that mom- who I am, who I choose to be in each day-to-day-moment. And my children. The ones who inspire me to be so. Do so. In so many ways.

So here's how it goes- today, Eva brought me a peach (from the boxes of peaches ripening on the patio outside) and she said to me, "Momma, will you cut up this orange for me?" and I said, "Of course (or some such-like in the affirmative...) and I nodded {probably} and took the peach from her...

I'm that mom who didn't correct her. Didn't say something like- "You mean the peach?" or "What orange? It looks like a peach to me." or even just "Peach." because I know that Eva knows she is holding a peach, not an orange. That we picked these peaches together. That she has eaten them, dripping peach juice down her chin, while I stood by smiling and noticing my fear of peach juice dripping on her white (who on earth wears white to a peach orchard...) shirt and comforting myself with thoughts like- I will be able to get out any stain that lands on that shirt and also, if not, well surely there are other white blouses. And I am that mom who didn't harp on her {this time} about peach stains and enjoyed her peachy enthusiasm. I was there.

And- I am that mom who knows that even if- outlandish as it may seem to me now- she doesn't know it is a peach that she is holding, she will. Someday. Most people do. And if she doesn't? Well, that isn't the end of the world either. (The more likely scenario is, after all, that she will find out the name of the peach if only to make sure she can have so many more of them in her life.)

Still, I'm pretty sure she knew it was a peach all along. And that peaches and oranges and tangerines and nectarines are all so deliciously interwoven in her life with their tasty bites of goodness that Eva's first priority was having that bit of goodness fixed up for her to eat, after all {not talk about}. And with that in mind, I was happy to oblige and honor her priorities therein.