Not A Pink Girl

Ah-huh, well, good luck with that.

June 7, 2008
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So much for my weekend by myself! My guys decided it was too hot to go canoeing with the Boy Scouts. They were going to Luray Virginia & the National Weather Service issued an extreme heat advisory for that area through the weekend.

Secretly, I’m relieved. I’m such a puss when it comes to my son. He’s 15 but I still worry so much when I know he’s going camping. I know these guys (“adults”) that go on the campouts are great guys & a few of them – I think – actually look out for my son like he’s their own kid. But you know, things happen. See? I’m a puss.

The Thursday before my son goes on a campout, I start feeling that fluttery (not in a good way) feeling in my stomach, a little bit like panic although not as melodramatic. I do some deep breathing & chant a basic mantra (in other words, pray like heck) until I calm myself down enough to get to sleep. Sheesh. I’ve been doing this motherhood thing for over 28 years & still I go through this stuff with myself.

So I went outside tonight at sunset & picked some strawberries from my garden. They are so heavenly. Now I must tell you they’re not these little nuggets of pure honeyed sweetness. They’re so yummy & super-juicy & still warm from the sun when they hit my tongue (I don’t use any chemicals in my garden), but they’re not like dizzyingly, stunningly sweet. But I gotta tell ya, there’s nothing like picking a strawberry from your own garden & popping it into your mouth (okay, I do a quick check for spider mites or bunny bites first).

I heard that the best strawberries you can grow are alpine strawberries. I want to try them someday. You can’t get these in the store because they don’t ship well (actually, they pretty much don’t ship them at all because they turn to mush about 4 minutes after being picked & put into a box).

So since I was going to have to be “on” as a wife & mother tonight instead of in calm, quiet, all-encompassingly-selfish bliss, I took a shower, dried my hair (which is like a wild animal & with a mind of its own & will be discussed in a later entry), watched an episode of Ballykissangel (which I think is sublime), then went out & picked strawberries. & it’s still flippin’ hot as Hades outside, even with the sun down.

More later this weekend!

My queendom for a weekend alone!

June 6, 2008
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This weekend my husband & son are going canoeing with the Boy Scouts. *insert Hallelujah Chorus here* I have been looking forward to a weekend without my fellas for months. I can’t believe how fast the time flies by when I’m puttering around my house when no one else is here but me.

The last time I had the house to myself was November 2006. How do I remember that right off the top of my head, you ask? Let’s just say the otherworldly-heavenly-ness of the weekend made an impression on me.

My front stoop (or porch, depending on where you\'re from)One Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago when my guys were camping, I worked in the garden. I live in a townhouse & have a postage-stamp-sized front- & backyard. I mow the lawn & do weeding, yes; but my real joy is gardening. Although my garden is small, I am a firm believer in vertical– & container gardening. I like to plant seeds in little peat pots in spring.Low-tech seedling labels much? A few years, I can remember planting seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost (isn’t that how it’s always worded on the seed packet?). But I don’t have a lot of counter space indoors so it’s difficult to find somewhere to store the pots as the seeds are trying to germinate.

So now I pretty much wait until spring fever has struck me full-force (usually around the second week of April) & then I go outside & start some seeds. So far this year I have little seedlings of marigold (tagetes) French Vanilla & butterfly weed (asclepias). I’ve planted Shasta daisies (Alaska), dwarf sunflower, Love Lies Bleeding (amaranthus caudatus), & florist’s verbena (do you believe that the verbena seeds need complete darkness to germinate? Sounds like my sex life after 45).

I can remember mowing the lawn that weekend a few years go when I was on my own. I puttered in the garden, deadheaded some flowering perennials, planted some more seeds (cosmos, I think, & others), & generally avoided anything high-tech like a ringing telephone, cell or otherwise. Suddenly I realized the streetlights were coming on. I was incredulous! How could 5 hours have sped by like that?

Just knowing I don’t have anyone in the house I need to “look after” makes me so much more relaxed & “myself.” I’ve never lived alone, not in my whole life! That always stuns me when I think about it. I had 4 siblings, a mother, father, & grandmother that lived with me until the day I turned 18. That day I left to marry my first husband. We got married in Maryland, & there you have to wait three days to be married after you take your oath to get your marriage license (it’s 48 hours now).  So I swore my oath at the courthouse in Upper Marlboro, Maryland on my 18th birthday. Three days later we were married at the same courthouse. I stayed with my best friend Nancy for the 3 days I had to wait to get married.

Me & Wendy in the Atlantis (Ocean City MD) pool, 1982When my ex-husband & I separated, I had a 6-month-old daughter, so I didn’t live alone after my marriage ended either. It was right back into the lion’s den, otherwise known as my parents’ house where I grew up (with an exceedingly unhappy childhood).

Me in 1967 in the backyard of my house in New Carrollton MDSo now, when I’m alone, it is blissful. I know that’s not what wives & mothers are supposed to say when their husbands & children go away temporarily. But knowing I don’t have to make sure there’s a hot meal on the table or someone’s favorite tee-shirt is laid out for the next day just gives me a certain serenity I don’t feel when I have a houseful.

It’s difficult for me to even go out to a restaurant & order what I want. Honestly! I look at the menu & it’s just second-nature for me to gravitate towards a dish that will leave me with leftovers that my son & husband would want to eat. So instead of ordering a personal pizza with mushrooms, roasted red peppers & basil, I’ll order one with bacon & ground beef. That way, I’ll be able to satisfy those wistful guys at home that sigh with envy when I tell them I ate at their favorite pizza place – without them.

When I eat at home when my guys are away, it’s sublime. I’ll have something I consider decadent for dinner, like scrambled eggs on toast with plenty of ketchup (no one around to saw “Eeew! Ger-OSS!”). Then I’ll make myself some camomile tea & take it upstairs to my bedroom to drink while watching a Poirot DVD or a rerun of Will & Grace (again, without having to hear a male voice groan, “GROSS!”).

I was laughing the other night when I heard David Beckham tell Jay Leno that he & Vickers (Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham, his wife) eat baked beans on toast all the time & that it’s one of their favorite foods. Okay Becks, I can believe that maybe you indulge every so often, but Vicks? If she ever ate a whole plate of anything (at least during the last 10 years), I’ll eat my hat (admittedly not a hat filled with baked beans though if you don’t mind). But it just goes to show you that even celebrities need their comfort food every once in a while.

I will make sure I don’t schedule any social events for when my guys are going to be gone from the house overnight. I don’t want to go out with friends or have anyone over. I just want to be. I don’t want to have to be on or to have to impress anyone. I don’t want to have to make sure my legs are shaved & my eyebrows are plucked, or that I remembered to put on my deodorant or changed my shirt to something more presentable.

I once had a “friend” who had to be in control of all my free time. Oh Lord that was the most gawdawful relationship. This was a woman that I had broken up with twice (at the time). Have you ever broken up with a friend? This woman was the first person I’d ever broken off a friendship with, & that was when I was 30. What a laugh: I thought I’d put all my years as a doormat (with the footprints on my back to prove it) behind me. But I was wrong. I got back together with this terror twice more after our first breakup. I will tell you all about her as this blog goes on.

I broke up with her – let’s call her Jez – almost a year ago. I feel like it was another Independence Day! When Jez would find out that I was going to be alone for the weekend, she would literally descend on my house. I got to the point that I would turn off the living room lights (I have matchstick blinds on my bay window, so you can see in) & go either downstairs in the basement or upstairs to my room to get some peace & escape from Jez. I got better – with help from a professional – at “setting boundaries” (do you think I even knew what that meant before I got counseling?).

I’ll talk more about Crezzy Jez in a future blog post.

So this weekend I’ll be meditating on the bliss of peace & quiet. & I’ll be listening intently in the silence in case a higher power wants to give me a little friendly advice.



The Rarified Air of May

May 25, 2008
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What a beautiful day. I puttered in my garden & got my hands down into the dirt. This always feeds my soul. I don’t do this anywhere near often enough. Why do I deprive myself of this pleasure? I allow myself to be distracted by the mundane: going out to eat, sitting at the computer, grazing. More often than not I seem to allow life to live me.

My roses are so gorgeous. I don’t remember them ever being this beautiful. We’ve gotten rain almost every day of May this year. On top of that, the days have been breezy & sunny (not too warm). My two rosebushes love that.

I am not a rosarian. I consider myself a novice gardener. (Check with me when I’m 85; by then I may have progressed to beginner.) I don’t use any chemicals on my roses. I let nature’s food chain take care of things. A few years ago the aphids were heavy on the buds. I went to the local nursery & bought a plastic container of ladybugs (you know, like the containers that cole slaw comes in at the supermarket, except with holes punched in it). I opened the container at sunset & placed it on the ground under my rosebush. They munched away at the aphids & voila, problem solved.

This year I notice I have all these baby ladybugs on the rosebush leaves. (I suspect they’re called larvae or something but I’m not a bug expert either.) I can tell you this: baby ladybugs look almost completely unlike ladybugs. But I think they’re cute because I know they’ll help my roses be happy & healthy.

I have two rosebushes. Both are antique roses. One is called Zephirine Drouhin & it’s a Bourbon rose from 1868. It has the loveliest dark-pink flowers that smell heavenly. (Did you notice how roses you get for Valentine’s Day [although I haven’t gotten roses for Valentine’s Day since 1991] never have a smell? That is a calamity! I love the fat classic blooms but… no smell? How sad.) The blooms last about 4 days; as the flower matures it turns a lighter pink until the petals start to fall.

My other rosebush is called Hansa. It’s a rugosa rose. I think rugosa means wrinkled in Japanese or something. (The leaves do look different than regular rosebush leaves.) This rose is from 1905. I got this rose in Texas. (I wanted to hate Texas. I am a DC native & a lifelong Redskins fan, so I hate the Dallas Cowboys, & therefore thought I would hate Dallas, & therefore Texas. I also despise George Bush [junior more than senior but…]. When I visited Texas for the first time, I loved it. The men in Dallas were utter gentlemen to me [although they were completely in shock that I was traveling with my children & “no man & no gun”]; Houston was wonderful too; & I adored Amarillo [yes, there was a Texas Tornado there when I was visiting & I was camping in a tent so it was an event]).

My Hansa rose has deep magenta-purplish-pink deeply-ruffled blooms & smells wonderful & strong but different than my ZD rose scent. What an embarrassment of riches I have in my tiny backyard just because I have these two gorgeous rosebushes.

This evening, just before sunset, I deadheaded my roses. I weeded a bit & planted sweet pea seeds (Captain of the Blues & High Scent). I checked my compost heap for my friend (a black rat snake); he was not in evidence. Then I headed back upstairs to the deck to pot out some plants.

I’ll tell you all about my new container garden tomorrow! The evening air smelled so nice. It had the smell the spring air gets before it gets too hot outside. It was sweet & pleasant. I could tell the birds liked it too; I heard a catbird (don’t hear them too much around here) in the woods; also a robin or two; a mourning dove (I like them but in small doses because they remind me of when I was 12 & had to get up to deliver newspapers at zero-dark-thirty on Saturday & Sunday mornings), &, of course, the Twilight Bark.


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