The challenge of eggs.

Every year it goes like this: I prep eggs. I go to the trouble of buying white eggs (this is more difficult around here than you would think) and I make a point of blowing out their insides instead of cracking them open into two glowy saw-edged hemispheres. This results in spattery yellow-on-clear half-scrambled eggs instead of the round golden blobs I usually get to admire, but I’m okay with the sacrifice this one time of the year: spring.

 

Spring arrives in March and we celebrate by decorating with eggs decorated from years past, with a small bunny egg holder that looks at me with a soft despairing glower as his little attached egg-cups sit empty.  I pile empty eggs near the sink to dry as morning after morning we add a few more.

 

A few break.  But that’s okay.  I have more from last year and when I get to a dozen, we’re going to dye them.

 

Geeklet says, “Not now.  Can’t we do it later?”  And I guess I always have other things to do too.

 

I have a pile of onion skins that I’ve been saving since last year because I want to dye with them.  I have a purple cabbage and a can of organic grape-juice concentrate in the freezer.  I have a full jar of turmeric and jars of beet juice from a failed fermenting project (don’t feel bad–I have so much sauerkraut in the fridge that we put stuff on top of the jars that we won’t get to for months).    I’m ready to dye.

 

So what keeps me from doing it?  Even if G isn’t so into it, why don’t I?

 

But what if they’re ugly?

 

So here’s what we did last year:  We painted the eggshells with acrylic paints.  And they were awesome.  They’re the ones we decorate with.   And this year, I’ve sat down and drawn all over one of those beautiful white empty eggshells with sharpie marker.  It’s not so bad, either.  And maybe I’ll be the only one who decorates our eggs this year.  Ah, well.  If that’s the case, then I’ll be the one to say whether they are ugly or not.  And I’ll be the one to smash them with a satisfying ker-runch, and add them to the compost, where the worms won’t say, “Not now.  Can’t we do it later?”  The worms more often than not will say, “Yum.”

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Bowling.

Tonight we went bowling.

Over the last few days, the Boy and I have been rather homebodyish. It’s beautiful outside–after a day of rain, the last few days have had a glorious golden glow to them. Today was downright hot. It’s not very wintery, and I resent that.

I know, I know. Those of my friends who endure winter in places with snow plows and drainage ditches that are actually necessary would laugh at my desire to wear a wool cap in 50 degree weather. You would scowl at my whiny mewlings about “hot” and “golden” and “too sunny.” But there has to be a down time, when you curl up in your house with the elements held at bay outside and warm beverages and intriguing plotlines inside. When it’s lovely and growing outside, it’s almost too much. It makes one feel guilty for staying inside.

And yet, stay inside we did, on Wednesday, and again on Thursday afternoon after a morning spent running errands. We stayed in, and read, and snacked, and I quilted. I’ve had a tremendously strong desire to have a closet full of quilts to smother guests in when they visit (don’t be afraid, really). So I’m working on that, and while I ran my machine until the bulb burned out and the engine ran hot, I would occasionally peep out into the living room, where the Boy plowed his way through some of his favorites, the first three volumes of the Mary Poppins books by P.L. Travers. (He doesn’t know about the rest of them, which is good, because it gives me things to search for and give him and delight in his joy.)

Occasionally, as I peeped round the corner, I’d say hesitantly, “Are you okay? Do you need anything?”

Murmble.

“You sure? Can I get anything?”

Murmble.

So I’d go back and work some more.

Well, there’s only so much guilt a mother can handle. This morning, after breakfast and morning things were attended to, off we walked to the zoo. By the time we got there, we didn’t have much time to actually wander about, but an hour or so later we started walking home and I felt that at least he wasn’t going to die of rickets today. After a quick lunch, more reading, locking a manic cat in the bedroom (lunch was cobbled together of random cat temptations like nori, cheese, and corn), we headed off to the park.

Yes! Park play is good. Park play is outdoors, in the aforementioned golden afternoon. Running was had.

And then? We went bowling. Oh, bowling, the activity of the gods. We went with Chris’s coworkers to a bar with the cutest widdle bowling alley in the world, five lanes of sweet bowling goodness (topped, it must be said, by the most frighteningly graphic television-and-ad screens, but luckily the Geeklet was too busy hi-fiving most people to notice. Later, he merely commented that the screens had been “scary” so he stopped watching after he saw the monsters. Such a practical guy). It was his first time bowling, my first in a long, long time, and Chris has only ever been an intermittent bowler. Boy was pleased with the idea of special shoes to bowl in. He thought they were pretty stylish. It was the first time I’d seen velcro on a bowling shoe.

They raised the gutter barriers for him, and he went to with a will. As his 6lb green ball wuh-wuh-wuh’d it’s slow and meandering way down the lane, we’d just stand there and watch. Inevitably it would only get one or two from the sides, but as the game progressed, he’d get five. It didn’t matter. He’d hi-five everyone, saying how great they’d done no matter how great they’d done, tell them, “It’s okay. It doesn’t matter how many pins went down! You did well!” And generally, he made me all sorts of mama-proud. Between turns, he’d eat a few french fries and sip orange juice, but mostly, sat on his tall stool, watching the bowlers on our team. When he scored a strike, he was so overcome by the congratulations that he buried his head in Chris’s chest and just shook for a while.

Then, Thai food. And home, and Plum Creek, and sleep, oh, quick and deep and delicious sleep. I felt the glow that doesn’t come from sunshine, but comes from having fun together, and pride in my Boy, and knowing that we’ve probably earned another day or two of homebodyness, if we want it.

Merry Yuletide to All!


As has been the case with the entire past three months of homeschool first grade (which will need to be another post entirely), Yule has not gone as anticipated. Illness and exhaustion on the part of myself and my sweetie mean that our annual holiday goofiness parade (i.e., our holiday party) was cancelled and, as yet, we have not baked a single cookie. (Every day I say, “Tomorrow we’re going to bake cookies,” in some conversation to someone. I really mean it, too.)

Tomorrow we’re going to bake cookies. At least a gingerbread house. Mother Holle needs a house!

However, my silver lining is having a seven-year-old who is learning to love ritual as much as I do. On the night before solstice, we were ready to begin our celebration with our traditional spiral of greens in the back yard, which we walk with candles. (I’ve never taken photos, as we’re in the midst of a sacred celebration and all, but if you google “winter spiral” there are enough photos to give you the idea.) However, that evening, our back yard was a pond. I would say a lake, but that would be hyperbole. I only sank up to my ankle.

The boy came to the ready. Instead of accepting our weak cries of “but it’s raining,” the boy suggested that we do a spiral inside. Nice idea, but the greens were in the trunk of the car, in the rain. (See? Even typing it sounds lame. But the entire car was covered in a tarp because it leaks dreadfully in the rain. Extracting said greens = uncovering the car.) Pas de probleme: voila, a spiral of silks. Green silk scarves formed a small spiral on our kitchen floor, which we carefully walked with our apple-candles.

I love my boy.

Happy solstice, everyone.

Baby Beluga bunting

Or Badoufa, I should say. I finished it, three and a half months after he was born:

The Badoufa quilt!
Badoufa quilt
Baby Badoufa in the deep blue sea
Swim so wild and you swim so free
Heaven above
Sea below
And an intrepid wee Badoufa on the go!

I like the puffins:
puffins

Okay, and the crab too:
crab & star

There are more close-ups over at Flickr.

I hope that years and years from now, when he takes it out and sees the worn patches, the puffins with no eyes and the dirty flannel whales, that he will feel that he was loved and wanted and anticipated with joy. Every baby deserves that, and if a bit of fabric to wrap the baby ‘doufa in can give him warm fuzzies, then I’m happy to oblige. But I only make quilts for my favorite babies. (You know who you are.)

Oh! And G and I made raisins!
We made raisins!
Because, when you have a multitude of tiny tiny grapes, and hot dry weather, you make raisins, right? They were going along fine and then it turned cold and damp (yay!) on about day 4, so into the oven they went before they could get moldy. I left them in a bit long and they ended up slightly crusty/chewy, which wasn’t so good for regular raisin use but had a caramelly kind of flavor that I liked. I’d make them again. But I hope we don’t have the weather for it for a while.

Today was our first Camp Fire club meeting. It went really well, and we were lucky enough to be able to meet at the camp’s grounds (walking distance from our apartment, yay, with a multitude of rambunctious squirrels to keep the small fry distracted). We have grand plans for future gatherings. I could tell you some of them, but then I’d have to knock you over the head unconscious or give you a BWG club jacket, and well, I don’t know if you’re ready.

Confused? Not a Trixie Belden fan? Sigh. I had such hopes.

Airplane therapy

It’s been a busy last few days. Eh, they all are, aren’t they?

TMoTH sent me to San Francisco for Mother’s Day. He actually had a free ticket that had to be used, so there you go. Off I toddle at the crack of o-dark-thirty to wander Berkeley and eat a poached egg and drink Earl Grey while watching birds and minimal traffic. Passing through a neighborhood of softened elegance, of roughened gentry, like small gingerbread summerhouses had been taken over by young couples with more enthusiasm and grace than money. I saw through a latticed fence a weed-protected front porch, on which sat a laundry drying rack. Upon each rung hung a row of perfect tiny clothes, tending toward the pink.

I was so taken with the awakening neighborhood, I forgot to wear my iPod, or bury my nose in my book. And it was a good book, too. Fabrication by Susan Neville.

So I sat in the cafe and ate toast and the first poached egg I’ve eaten since I was 11 and it was good. My tea was tasty and I read my book while watching a young girl sit in the corner name-stamping coffee sleeves with focused gusto.

At noon I visited Lacis, a lace museum and shop of innumerable textile-making delights, with a gorgeous book section and many Folkwear patterns, including the one I’ve been ogling for years. I bought this book, too, which I’m hoping will make me smarter, and a couple of vintage Simplicity sewing patterns.

Simplicity patterns

I love them. I can imagine sewing the little dress on the upper left for BGR, or maybe the Hollie Hobbie-style nightgown in an offbeat nebula-dotted flannel.

Afterwards, I took the BART, people-watched, and then spent the afternoon at the Asian Art Museum, one of my favorite of all places. I ate lunch in their lovely dining area in an outdoor patio from which I could watch the folky/reggaey music festival thingy across the road at the Civic Center. I ate Thai food. I flew home.

While at the AAM I wandered. I noticed the predominance of horses in the Chinese art. I took off my Birks and cooled my tired feet on the cold marbled tile floors, staring at Buddhas who stared back at me.

I came home tired, of course. But my insides were happy. I think it’s necessary, sometimes, to make our insides happy.

Beltane!

Happy Beltane, all! Very mellow here. Geeklet and I spend our morning walk sprinkling nearby plots of grass with seeds for the birds. We’ve established a formal homeschooling routine as of this week, which is fabulous but is kicking my butt (I’m wiped every single day). Since this week is Beltane, we’ve been reading a Beltane story each day for our story time; this one comes from Circle Round and focuses on the many kinds of love that exist in the world. We’ve also talked about days (Beltane and Samhain, specifically) on which the veil between the worlds is thin, and it is easier/more likely that one can communicate with spirits, members of the fairy realm, and so forth.

For our artwork today we wove ribbons into a green plastic grocery-store strawberry basket, lined it with a piece of green tissue paper and put seeds, nuts, and a scone in it, then delivered it to a nook in the corner of our local “wild space.” Our wild space is nothing more than a double-wide demolished house lot that has (due to the sad housing market) gone to seed, literally. It is overrun with dry grass and four-foot-tall spiky dandelions behind a sagging chain-link fence. Our nook is a corner where the grass is still green and where the corners of the chain-link spread apart due to the sagging. It is protected from general view by the remains of a green-mesh plastic fence covering. We pulled the opaque mesh covering to one side and Boy G made a nest in the grasses for our basket, where we left it.

Now, don’t lecture me about Environmentalism and Littering and Feeding Wildlife. I would agree with everything you could tell me. I know we have opossums and raccoons and general rodentia (who normally feed the feral cats) in our neighborhood. We live in a gentrified urban area. This is our only “wild space” for blocks and blocks, and very occasionally we have to take advantage of this. This evening, while Boy was in the bath, I ran down there and flung the contents of the basket far, far into the space, then replaced the basket. In the next day or two, if G decides to leave the basket, it will magically disappear on another of my frantically orchestrated “trips to the car” while he is in the bath. If he decides to bring it home (since the fairies don’t need it any more), there you go. The basket won’t stay there to become litter and hopefully the wildlife will not associate the small extra ration of seeds and nuts (and one lonely scone) with people-stuff.

The idea is to honor the Goddess and God and all their creatures, to commune with the fairies on a day in which the veil is thin, and to bolster a little boy’s belief in the magical and reverence for the universe. A few frantic runs down the block, a little choreography, are nothing compared to watching Geeklet, kneeling, gently creating a special place for the fairies to “feel safe.”

Dark days

We’ve been pretty Spring-centric around here these days, for obvious reasons. We celebrated the equinox (on Saturday due to TMoTH’s work schedule) with an outdoor ritual and egg-hunt in the backyard, with lots of build-up and continued discussion and play since then. The Lucky Rabbit of Spring made the Boy very happy.

It made me wonder about the other quarterly holidays. Obviously, we celebrate winter in a big way–our Yule celebration is mirrored by holidays of lights-in-the-darkness everywhere around the northern hemisphere. Spring has its own glamour–the Rabbit/Easter bunny thing–which isn’t quite as powerful as the winter solstice build-up. Beltane/Midsummer/Fall equinox? For most people it seems to be forgotten, or superceded by Memorial Day and Labor Day, the end of school. Halloween marks the beginning of the dark, and the beginning of the build-up.

Unless your religious or spiritual path takes you there, spring and summer do not tend to be times of passionate connection with–what? A holiday? A sense of the divine? Perhaps it is the latter. A connection to spirit, whatever that means. In the light of day it is so much easier to ignore feelings of peril, of being alone, of being watched. For pagans, Halloween is a time of contemplation, of family joy, of connection to young and old, the living and the dead, but it is a time when the line between this world and the next is blurred a bit, and that line seems to waver a lot during the darkest times. Why is that? Do we sense the possibilities of something greater than our perceived boundaries when the lights are out and we can’t see the walls? Does that sense of possibility scare us, when possibility is not necessarily always a positive thing? (Possibility of war, depression, loss.)

Coming back to spring… It wasn’t meant this way, but I’m reminded that the equinox is often seen as a time of balance, a time to see that which is ahead and that which is passing, to honor the dark even as we embrace the light. While here in San Diego we’ve had a lot of growing going on in the garden for at least 6 weeks, somehow this week felt like spring. Geeklet has been playing in the mud and going barefoot with abandon, not his speed at all and almost like he’s under a spell. The birds are louder, the garden has called us to do spring planting with a will.

I’m feeling a sense of growth, restlessness, and renewal. I stretch and feel like moving, dancing, singing; like buying new toys and clothes for all of us, and being outside in the grass, trying new foods, new routines (which we are). What has happened in just a week?

I suspect that despite our protests that winter isn’t really a San Diego season, when once we began to be aware of seasons, singing songs and cutting out images and telling stories and walking in the woods and parks, it became part of us. Already once I’ve heard wee boy use the words “back in winter when we”. Our stories involve births and baby animals, eggs and flowers and pollination. We run from winter, because winter is a time of uncertainty. Who loves January and February? Even here, there is a sense that the year really starts when spring comes in March.

All the stories of darkness and fear are gone. There are no stories of darkness for at least 6 months, only birth and renewal and hope. Those who have died will now move on to new incarnations, and heaviness and waiting is past. Wildflowers are growing. Fruit is appearing at the farmer’s market. What is there to be afraid of? Why sing appeasing songs of wassail when we are on top of the world?

Just a few thoughts on beginning.