Cryptic Message from Kids


This scrawled calculation greeted me when I came down to the kitchen this morning. I could deduce that at least two children were up late discussing? arguing? proving things to each other? And it also explains, at least partially, why no children are visible this morning…..

The Moment


Ever a wanna-be practitioner of zen appreciation of the moment, I began looking forward to a needed visit to the laundromat. Our washing machine broke, and it will be several more days before a repairman can find his way to our rural residence.

I am envious of the true practitioners of zen meditation who can sit for hours with nothing in their hands, only the thoughts in their head that they are skillfully sorting into helpful layers of nutritious mulch. or something like that.

I, on the other hand, had my crutch with me, my digital drawing tablet. Armed with a sketchbook of any type, I can completely engross myself in the moment anywhere. (Perhaps the most challenging ” anywhere” ever, was the white classroom wall that my first art school painting teacher told us to draw…but that also came with the competitive and challenging drawing class environment…not exactly just any old anywhere)

Perhaps a time will come when I will be without my crutch. I think of prisoners, hospital patients, people crippled by disease. Will my mind be able to savor the moment enveloping it then?

Rye grass and breadcrumbs: the hard way?

the extra breadcrumbs

No bread crumbs and I’m making spinach salad for 10. Quick look on the internet, and then in the freezer for a loaf of home made bread, and voila, breadcrumbs are warm and freshly baked. Just think, I could have driven to the store but it would have taken longer. They only bake for about 6 minutes..

Earlier in the day, I am out in the veggie garden hand clipping the 2 ft tall rye grass. I can hear my neighbor running various gardening machines over at his place. I am worried he will hear the sound of my garden shears snipping slowly through about 200 square feet of tall grass. I am telling myself that I am doing it the ridiculous hard way again (I catch myself doing things the hard way out of schedule desperation, frugality, and sheer virgo-ness) when it dawns on me that this is another case of the hard way being a good way. I plant a 5 lb bag of rye seeds in the fall. It grows a little over the winter. Then, in mid spring, it is suddenly 2 ft tall and I cut it (a real farmer uses a machine) and spread it as mulch all over my garden. It saves running to purchase bales of straw to carpet the garden. Then, I till up the root material and let it remain in the soil where I am planting all my carefully nursed seedlings…eggplant, tomatoes, etc. I use clumps of the rye roots to mound right at the base of the seedlings as extra nutritious and protective mulch.

The result is a chaotic garden that never looks completely “under control” as there is either tall grass growing in it or clumps of gnarly root systems strewn about, but it feels smart to me now. I prefer spending an extra hour hand clipping in my garden to careening along in my car looking for somebody else’s straw. If I were handy with machines, it would be smarter perhaps to employ a small engine to help with the cutting, but again, in my case, this always involves driving to repair places, waiting at counters for help, and paying maintenance and repair fees for services I do not really understand. I’d rather be in the garden.

the unruly garden with cut rye carpeting the path in foreground, and some still standing in the back


Your dandelion is my flower

I have been carefully selecting books for my daughter to read for several years now. She has not been entranced by too many books, no matter how hard I delve back into the treasure trove of books I loved at her age…Harriet the Spy, Little Women, and then later, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, Gone With the Wind, etc. Is there a thread there? My daughter has found all of these suggestions uninspiring.

Imagine my surprise when she found The Red Badge of Courage on our book shelves. She paged through it a bit, read the back cover, and then could not put it down. She absolutely loves all the army vocabulary; “what is the difference between the infantry and the calvary mom?” (heck if i know) This parenting experience is one more reminder to let kids find out for themselves what floats their boat.

Day 1:Pie crust

We are feeding 9 Geology students and their Professor for about 12 days. So I must be up, uncharacteristically, at the crack of dawn to prepare yummy breakfast, and then we serve dinner at 6 each day. The menu is created, the house is clean. We still have to move a bed or two by the time they arrive noonish today. All sleeping teenagers must awake.

On the menu today: spinach pie, root vegetable hash, rice pilaf, salad. We create salad every day. For desert: chocolate cream pie.

Small triumphs

My son who is fourteen was engaged to act in a Columbia University Masters Program Film. He played the role of one of the other students with whom the main character goes to school. My son really hit it off with the main character and made an attempt to get his email/ facebook details back in February when the footage was shot. But all attempts at using the scribbled address failed.

To our great happiness, the youth was at the film showing last night. He and my son reconnected, and we saw the finished film. We got to see three others also.

Perhaps the greatest triumph of the evening for me personally was that I got to draw uninterrupted by fighting and arguing from the back seat. This is a picture of my husband driving down the Taconic. The children really are getting older….it helps that one of them is already gone.