Wednesday, December 14, 2011

state of the garden

It was so so hot this summer, and so dry, that we basically gave up on the garden after about mid-June. When July 4th rolled around, (pumpkin planting day, if you want them by Halloween) I thought about how many gallons of water I'd have to pour on a tiny pumpkin plant to keep it alive through August, and said, maybe next year. 

But then once it was semi-bearable outside again, we planted them anyway. And now we have pumpkins in December, even if I do have to run outside with an armful of sheets to tuck them in a couple nights a week.

I don't tuck the kale in, and it doesn't really seem to mind. Neither does the chard. These guys are just the eternal givers of the garden. Total workhorses. I haven't watered them in a month, I go out and break half of the plant off and then next time I go outside it's ready to be harvested again.

And oh how much the children will rejoice when there's finally no more left. But not today! sauteed chard for everyone! MWAHAHA!

These ladies will also rejoice if I call the garden done and let them clean up the leftovers.  Early dark means we get fewer eggs, and the cold seems to make them a bit broodier than usual. The last hard freeze finished off the birdhouse gourds (which is good, because they were covering up the wiring on the outside of the house... they got... kind of aggressive there at the end). But there's still lots of bug-eaten salad greens and flattened squash leaves and little green bean shoots from various spilled seed packets. 

My garden helpers, always there to insure that I'll never know what will come up where. They take their banished-outside microphones to the top of the playscape and give the neighborhood Christmas concerts, whether the neighbors want them or not. Coats over pajamas seems to be how we roll around here, on weekend days.  

Anyway, that's the state of the garden, mid December. There are lots of things I'd like to do differently next time- I definitely learned stuff this year. I still don't quite feel like I get out of it what I put into it. I know that I'll keep learning, and every year I work in this garden, my soil will get better and easier to work with. I just want to be better at this! All at once! (One of the many things montage-to-upbeat-music-in-80's-movies has to answer for - I feel like I should just be able to put on some ABBA and BE GREAT AT THIS). 

We're renters here, and so I don't want to make these big infrastructure investments with cedar raised beds and stuff... and I don't have the money to do that anyway. I just... work with what we've got. And that means we've got a lot of kale. 

Good thing I like kale. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

holding the adventmass line

I am trying to walk a line this season -- 

I am trying to be present (which feels hilarious to write, here on my MOM BLOG, while my family is running around asking for dinner and I am ignoring them). I am trying to be present and engaged and not always asking the girls to please for the love of God take those damn "Merry-okie" microphone toys OUTSIDE.

I want ridiculous mom blog things - all our gifts to each other to be handmade, with love. I want to help each child make a gift for the others- the gift that they dream up for their sibling. I want to make pajamas! For Christmas Eve! For everyone! I want to KNIT ALL THE THINGS. 

I want to give two dozen cookies and a quart of bourbon to everyone who has dealt with my kids in any capacity all year. I want the dogs to have little sweaters on. And to stop digging through the recycling bin in the garage. 

I want to have the perfect little containers for homemade vanilla extract, and to have... you know... made it. And also to make all the cookies that have over the years become Christmas Necessities, including the refrigerator cookies you roll in a tube that only my mom likes.

BUT. I also want to be sane in January, and to have spoken to my children in something other than a yell during the most wonderful time of the year. 

So... There's a line. The line means watching the Grinch and eating popcorn for dinner. It means picking my battles and trying hard to believe that when Jane says she doesn't need a coat because she's not cold, she might actually not be cold. It means going to HEB for a tree, not driving out to Elgin and slogging through a field full of anthills, so I can have a file in iphoto that matches last years'...  Instead of some of those handcrafted gifts over on pinterest... There might be an EZbake oven and some My Little Ponies under the tree. And it's not going to bother me. Because I'm holding the line. I'm not going to go nuts making my kids hold still so I can get good shots for grandma's silhouette collection (07). I'm not going to throw a roll of butcher paper across a room when I drop stitches on a hat the night before Christmas (09). It means I am never setting foot in a post office in December with my kids again, even if it means no one who doesn't live in Austin gets their gifts on time (11). 

Hold The Line.