A returning home ritual.
A pile of photos capturing moments from the week.
A collection of simple, special, extraordinary moments.
Moments I want to pause, savor and remember.
We’ve been pruning our apple trees.
I like the challenge of deciding what to do with each tree. But not so much the challenge of standing on the top of a ladder.
What branches need to go? Which should stay for the long haul? And what branches should only stay for now?
Each tree grows with a different personality.
They have twisty branches or willowy branches. They grow with limbs that want to grow out forever and others that want to reach up forever. The ones that grow up forever are John’s job.
Pruning the trees is a constant exercise in studying the details. Watching for rot and fungus while looking at angles that limbs grow out of the main truck. Checking to see how a branch responded to what was done to it last year to know what to try this year. And double checking to see if your ladder is stable.
And then, at the same time, trying to hold a picture of the whole tree in your mind, not just today’s tree, but what today’s tree should look like in three years. This is better than holding a picture in your mind about how far off the ground you are, that’s ill advised.
It’s a challenge, and I like it. Well, other than that whole “heights” thing.
Except that today, a week in to the process and so close to done, my brain broke. I couldn’t figure out what to do with another wonky branch or just how many waterspouts to cut and how many to leave. I left John plugging away at it and stumbled out of the orchard in search of a Diet Coke and dinner. Also shortly before this I may not have triple checked the stability of my ladder and while I’m sure I didn’t actually almost fall two whole feet to the ground and die – it felt completely possible at the time.
Pruning is a challenge.
I always like a challenge, I’ll be back out there again tomorrow. Unless the last trees are really tall and then it’s all John.
Picture taken for The Dogwood Photography Photo Challenge: Macro
Jane squished her finger in the door.
Not a mangled bleeding smash but a decently painful squish. She came to me, crying and holding it. I did the concerned mom thing, “Are you alright? Let me see it?” Jane did the woeful child thing and sniffled as she held out her, seemingly fine, hurt middle finger.
Then she looked down at her middle finger extended toward me and cried,
“I’m soooorrryyyyy! I think I just swore at you with my finger!” and collapsed face down on the bed.
It was good that she was face down in a pillow while I worked on controlling the middle schooler trapped in a mom’s body thing so that I was able to get back to the concerned mom thing by the time she picked her head up. I gave it a kiss and told her not to worry about it and that her finger was going to be fine and that was the last we heard about it for a few hours.
Later the subject of swearing with your finger came up again. That was when my suspicions were confirmed. The kids might learn things like reading and math facts at school, but the real learning happens on the bus on the way home. Jane relayed the story of the boy on the bus telling her all about how to swear with her finger then looked at me with a grin and said,
“Mom, wanna see me swear with my face?”
Middle schooler in a mom’s body showed right back up. “Well, Yeah!”
“Just kidding Mom,” Jane said with a laugh, “You can’t swear with your face.”
What do people even do if they don’t have chickens to model for them when it’s the last day of their weekly photo challenge and they haven’t come up with anything yet?
Life without chickens would be challenging.
I wake up to the radio because I’m less likely to smash things that don’t beep at me in the morning which means that occasionally I wake up to the day’s news report.
Yesterday morning was one of those days. I went from soundly sleeping to hearing the news that Stephen Hawking had died. Slightly stunned I was still half in dream world contemplating the loss of a renowned physicist who’s physical limitations had inspired so many while the radio man jabbered on.
It seems there was another newsworthy death in the world, Sheela, the local zoo’s 25 year old camel, had died. I sleepy blinked at the ceiling befuddled by the juxtaposition of deaths. I wondered at the oddness of the pairing of world famous scientist and author’s death with that of Sheela the camel, as well as wondering what an average camel life span is*, when the radio continued.
I was then informed that “the saddest” news of the day was that Jordy something-I-already-forgot-and-I-only-remember-his-first-name-because-my-cousin-named-a-dog-after-him wouldn’t be playing for the Packers this year. Since I give less than a rat’s behind about football, I got out of bed mind reeling. Really news? Hawking- dead, Camel – dead, football guy going to play somewhere else. These are my three bits of news you deem important for my day? This is the state of the world that I’m going to start my day with? These specific things are the things you think I need to know?
I continued to ponder this through making myself tea and ritualistically spilling it on myself as I drove down the driveway (I am my mother’s daughter) on the way to school. I was just coming to the conclusion that people value different things, and Sheela the camel and football are super important in other people’s eyes. Though, obviously, those people are lesser, ridiculous people with messed up priorities because who cares about a game where the ball bounces funny and you stop every three seconds when there are physicists learning new things about black holes… When there was a cry from the backseat.
“GOGURT DOWN! GOGURT DOWN!”
(I kid you not, that’s exactly what the girl yelled!)
And then I forgot all about the scientist, the dromedary, and the athlete because there was yogurt spilling in the back seat of the vehicle. And that is some seriously important breaking news.
We all have ’em.
*Stephen Hawking says be curious… and so… the average bactrian camels life span is 20-40 years in captivity but up to 50 in the wild. That gives me a whole new pile of things to be curious about, how about you?
**In other news, while editing this post, John became curious and asked Google “What is the most difficult punctuation mark to get right”… he is a smart ass but I feel vindicated because it’s commas and apostrophes because they have seven jillion rules apiece and who can remember all that?
The Jack of Ruin is the much anticipated…
(You know, when people say that I always get belligerent wondering just who these “people” are that were waiting with bated breath. So, I’ll tell you. It was me. And John, and likely other people, but I don’t know them. So, yeah, I’m making that grand statement on the authority of my own feelings!)
…sequel to The Jack of Souls. If you took my advice three years ago and read The Jack of Souls with it’s goodish guy and it’s new worlds and magics, culture clashes and ideals, angry immortals and horses and general epic fantasyishness, I’m excited to tell you that this installment did not disappoint. The epicness continues, the good guys have a tendency to be a little grey rather than white and it seems vows were made to be broken…
And if you didn’t?
What are you waiting for, get reading!
Would I recommend it? If you are a lover of epic fantasy read The Jack of Souls, then have this one ready because it picks up right where the previous leaves off!
I did something recently I’ve never done before. Something I would have never guessed I would have done. Something that I still can’t believe I did.
I bought a bag of makeup.
This might not sound so ridiculous to you so let me be more clear. I, whose makeup purchases in the last 10 years begins and ends with two identical tubes of mascara, bought a bag of totally random makeup. A bag of makeup that, I might add, didn’t even have single tube of mascara in it.
The woman selling it was very good, very sneaky saleswoman, she caught me at my most vulnerable, in the toy aisle of Walmart. You see it happened like this…
Ivy needed a birthday gift for a friend. I needed printer ink and tortellini. Walmart was the place to go. I met the girls in the driveway after school, so we could all go shopping together. This was mistake number one. The girls (well everyone really) are at their worst at 3:45 in the afternoon.
Everyone knows that at 3:45 you should either be taking a nap or just getting up from one. Not a single one of those girls is either sleeping or has just slept when they climb off the bus. I, waiting in the truck, was also not sleeping, and I hadn’t taken a nap either. That was probably mistake number two.
After school is also the time when everyone is hungry. I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that Ivy keeps growing and is a bottomless pit, Jane eats slower than a snail in February and always has at least half of her lunch left and Clara, well Clara eats a snack at school at 2:30, I have no idea why she’s starving when she gets home but she is.
So I took those tired, hungry and therefore cranky children, who I knew would be tired, hungry and cranky and loaded them up in the truck anyway. All the other mistakes pale in comparison to that decision and all things that came after this point were directly related to that decision.
Now, Walmart is the closest place for us to buy these three random things but it’s still just about a half an hour away. And remember how the kids are always hungry when they get home from school? Good, because I forgot. So Jane’s leftover lunch parts were fought over, Clara performed a random feat of magic and pulled half a bag of veggie chips from her backpack (I have no other explanation for it’s appearance) and then all the available food was declared boring and fighting erupted. The backseat food wars escalated until the truck pulled over and children were separated in such a way that no one could stay buckled up touch anyone else.
And you wonder why we drive such a big vehicle.
Now before you envision me as the wild haired frantic mother yelling “Don’t make me pull over,” I just want to say that, on this day, I handled everything with a remarkably calm and cool attitude- on the outside.
Approximately 23 grey hairs later we pulled into the park lot. Parking lots, if you don’t know, are triggers for kids to start begging for snacks. Me, evil monster mother of ridiculous expectations said, “No.”
There was crying, there was begging, there was the slowest putting on of shoes ever. And then we went into a Super Walmart.
Miraculously, and in a way that you may only understand if you also have young children, the girls all became angels. They held hands and stayed close and smiled and giggled with one another. They happily tried on super freaky looking giant animal heads. My mind reeled with the sudden change of attitude. And then we hit the toy aisle.
Ivy was looking for a Smooshy, or a Mooshy or a Squishy or some sort of weird smash-able toy. And while they all maniacally ran up and down the aisle asking if they could get toys of their own, (No!) Ivy tried to educate me on the differences between Smooshys, and Mooshys, and Squishys and Smashies and Gooshies and… Under the guise of looking for a Mashy-Smooshy-Smush I threw one last “no” over my shoulder and snuck off toward the LEGO mini-figures.
That’s when she pounced.
Targeting moms in a Walmart toy aisle. It’s either the cruelest act ever or complete stroke of brilliance. Just wait until those mothers have said “no” so many times to their kids they don’t have any resistance left. Then use normal adult language without even a hint pouting while you show them your wonderful shimmer powder and bag of makeup that they can buy, right there between the LEGOS and the Barbies…
I didn’t even protest, I didn’t even fight, I just handed over some cold hard cash and walked away with a small bag of makeup products half of which I’ve never owned and had no idea what to do with.
When I got home I looked at what I had bought, saw that it included a pair of false eyelashes, panicked and did what every girl faced with a bad day and a pile of makeup does. I called my friends. I had to let them know I was probably having some sort of traumatic crisis and I was in need of help, support, love and makeup tutorials.