Seeing Flowers

Parenting is overwhelming.

Not necessarily on a daily basis. On a daily basis you are required to keep the children safe and feed them. That’s not bad.  I mean they keep requesting to be fed three times a day this summer, but if they are all still alive at the end of the day you’re winning. It’s when you start to think about the tiny humans you are raising and what they might become that the weight of the parenting responsibility comes crashing down like a summer’s worth freeze pops and pool floaties.

Are you raising them to be kind but also to stand up for themselves? Will they be generous but not taken advantage of? Are they polite? Do they wash their hands when they are supposed to? Do they know how to fold a paper bag and collapse a cardboard box? Can they cook a meal? Have you taught them not to talk to strangers but also to be friendly? Can they swim? Can they ride a bike? Do they have decent morals? Have they learned not to lie but also to tell white lies when opening gifts in front of people? Do they eat the food they’re given? Did you remember to teach them how to behave with strange dogs? What do they do with a bully? Are they the bully? …

Parenting is overwhelming.

Today I took my kids to the beach (either I was trying to teach them that if you hurry up and do chores then you can play or I was just tired of being hot and sweaty myself, I forget which). While we cooled off in the lake we noticed catalpa flowers floating by, the girls started to swim them down collecting as many as they could.  As we gathered a small pile on our floatie and tried to tuck them into swimming suits and behind ears as decorations, we heard a group of girls squealing about the toilet paper that was floating by them again.  Aghast I looked up to avoid this floating health hazard only to realize that they had misidentified the beautiful catalpa flowers as toilet paper and were swimming in the other direction. I was still aghast, but for a different reason.

A dramatic re-enactment of the situation staged in our rain barrel.

Parenting is overwhelming.

Are you raising them to be curious enough to look, really look, at the world around them? Are you remembering to teach them to use their brains? (One of mine is in middle school, she forgot how to use her’s but I’m hoping it comes back to her in a few years). Do they run from something different or lean towards it? Can they tell the difference between a nasty piece of trash and flower dropped by a tree?

I left the beach thinking that maybe the only parenting goal should just be to teach children to recognize a flower when they are faced with one.  Even if it’s out of place, even if it’s different, even if they have to stretch their brains to figure out how it came to be there, even if it’s something they’ve never been faced with before.

And if they can do that maybe they can do anything.

Except fold a paper grocery bag.

That one is apparently much trickier than I thought.

Parenting is overwhelming.

But I fed mine more than once today and they got to bed alive, if hours past bedtime, so I’m totally winning and I bet you are too.

 

 

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A Shifting of Stars by Kathy Kimbray

The words you guys. The words. Yes, I know, you are thinking. “Uh, excuse me Jessie, books are literally made of words.” But these words describe places in such lyrical ways they roll around in my head painting vivid pictures. I was only on page two…  “Beside me, buildings cringe with moss. Walkways glisten with dirty puddles. Teetering balconies slouch from walls with garments strung between casements like cobwebs.” …and there I was, in love.

I’d like to think it’s more than personal preference that makes this setting of such a vivid scene so important. Thrown into a whirlwind of a fantasy world where the heroine is being marched away in chains by the end of the first chapter you’ve got to be able to get your bearings quickly.  And the beautiful descriptions make sure you do.


I hit the unveiling of the big plot point and found myself in an unexpected conundrum of not knowing whether to complain to the book (sometimes I talk to my books) that “Your characters “big news” is the same thing everyone says and does” or yelling “OH MY… You did what now?!?” which brought me right up to the end where I still was in a conundrum because I couldn’t decide if I was so mad the book ended because I just really wanted to know what happened next or that a reader should seriously and legitimately not be left hanging at such a point.

Would I recommend it? Fellow YA Fantasy readers I suggest you give this one a read and then call me so we can talk about that ending!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

Grey Hairs

Why do I have grey hairs?

It could be my age.

It could be my genetics.

Or it could be that some certain little girl, after being dragged to school every morning for nine months, on the second day of summer break, which mind you was a Sunday so it’s basically still just like a weekend, said to me, “Some days it would be nice if it was a school day.”

Perhaps the real question is, why don’t I have more grey hairs?

Louie’s Limerick

There once was a pet dove named Louie,

Who was bit by a cat called Kafluwie.

The cat spit him out,

There was never a doubt,

That Kafluwie found Louie too chewy.

-Ogden Connell aka Granny

Louie. The seventeen-ish year old, ring-necked turtle dove, post cat attack.

True story.

Mostly.

The cat’s name was probably Simone but since she wasn’t caught in the act we can blame it on the mythical Kafluwie Kat.

The bad news is she bit him in the head. The good news is that he is on his way to a full recovery. Still on antibiotics and not quite back to his normal self, he has been cooing a bit again and is currently soaking up the sun as he spends the day convalescing in the greenhouse.  In the meantime I’ve put up signs declaring our bedroom a cat-free zone and then rearranged half the house to move his cage into it. Now I’m in the process of running around with a tape measure and inspecting all our bird cage options trying to come up with a better long term plan.

Animals keep life interesting.

More good news- he didn’t lose an eye like I thought he might! (That weird poky thing is just a scab that’s coming off above his other eye).

Free to a mediocre home, one cat named Kafluwie.

(Simone, for better or worse, is Jane’s cat and will be continuing to live with us.)

Apt

I was up. I was moving. I was feeling sassy in my new tank top. And I was late and in a hurry.

I was happily (for morning me) zooming around the house, eating breakfast as I ran in and out of rooms getting ready for the day. Hot tea in hand to wash my breakfast down and finish opening my eyeballs, I was flying through the bathroom when I took a gulp of tea and choked on my breakfast (I know, this is why you aren’t supposed to eat and run around the house at the same time). I reflexively coughed and sprayed hot tea from both my mouth and nose. Everywhere.

I was in front of the bathroom sink when it happened, which in someone else’s house might have meant a good location and easy clean up. Instead, hot tea covered toothbrushes and toothpaste, contact cases, hair brushes, an electric razor, hair ties… you get the picture. I looked up, nose burning and eyes streaming to see that I had thoroughly sprayed the mirror as well.

“But did you die?”

And that’s when I found my shirt to be much more apt than I really would have preferred.

A Hostage Situation

I loved my grandpa and he loved purple martins.

I shared his love purple martins too. These colony nesting birds make their homes in man-made houses on tall poles, eat on the wing and sing beautiful songs all day.  And I could, and have, spent hours just watching them zoom in and out of their homes.

In the year after he passed away, I was explaining to John the necessity of me traveling three and a half hours north to our family’s cabin where the purple martin colony that Gramps spent years attracting, taking care of and recording their activity was.

John looked at me and said, “Alright, but you realize that you are being held hostage by your dead grandfather’s migratory birds, right?”

I laughed and went and took care of the martins.


Last week I was standing thigh-deep in the lake in my underwear holding up the purple martin pole so that it’s three tiers of gourds and their precious cargo didn’t go crashing into the water with John’s words ringing in my ears.  I could have laughed but my arms were too tired.

You see the cabin is on a flowage and on years that the water is high, the base of the martin pole is underwater. The martins don’t mind. In fact since they have eschewed the identical set up on land for many years in a row, I’d say they prefer it that way. Perhaps they just like to watch us squeal when we wade out to crank the whole colony down and check the nests when the water is cold and the wind is high.

In any case, one hazard of a pole being sunk into the water is that winter is often unkind to it, and by the time spring has come and the ice is gone, the pole develops a serious lean.

The preferred method of dealing with this lean is to run to the local hardware store and rent a trash pump. A trash pump being a fairly large pump that you can pump water and any other debris that might be floating by directly from the lake, through the pump, back out a four inch hose. Then, using a handy and ginormous wand my dad created, the water gets funneled to a one inch pipe and the resulting jet of water can be used to dig out the sand at the base of the pole. I was promised that “in less than five minutes” you can push it back to vertical.

It started out swimmingly. I, a novice to this project with only pants in my bag, was in charge of starting and stopping the pump as well as checking the status of the lean from dry land.  My mom, in her experience and shorts, was in the water directing the jet and pushing the pole.

Then suddenly, with the help of a gust of wind, the pole started rapidly descending toward the water. Mom threw the wand down to grab the pole. I shut the pump off, threw my jeans in the grass and jumped into the water and before I knew it, there I was. Thigh deep in a northern Wisconsin flowage in May in my underwear with the words “you are being held hostage by your dead grandfather’s migratory birds” ringing in my ears.

Following that flurry of activity we had some minor issues with the pump that were eventually resolved, though it took a shovel, a canoe paddle, two wire stakes, a wooden bench that had floated to shore, approximately 37,000 hours of me or my mom standing holding a pole attached to a dozen gourds full of nests of Purple Martins, (did I mention they are cavity-nesting birds…basically dependent on man-made housing, just like what we were about to accidentally dump in the lake, for survival?) and a large amount of sheer stubbornness.

All the while as we pushed and schemed and figured how to get the pole upright, the martins swirled around us, calling to each other and even popped in and out of their chosen gourds. I guess it’s true. I am being held hostage by my dead grandfather’s migratory birds but I have to admit, I’m loving it, cold water and all.