Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Solitude

My husband is something of an adventurer. He enjoys scuba diving, rappelling, snowboarding, motorcycle riding, parachuting; you name it, he's done it. But his true love is off-road trail riding and rock climbing in his lovingly modified Jeep Wrangler. His ardor for the sport (and his propensity for breaking some expensive part or another every time he goes out) has even led to his opening a small business fabricating and designing bits and pieces to make a trail run better and safer. He is gone at least a dozen weekends a year leading, or taking part in, trail rides all over the country.

And if there ever was a more textbook example of "opposites attracting" than our marriage, I'd be interested in seeing it. :)

I am a homebody. I enjoy having a snug little perch where I can relax and putter. I love it when life is normal and boring. I've never felt the pull of adventure or had a "conquer it just because it is there" attitude. Hestia embodied in the slightly dumpy and nearsighted body of an approaching middle-age red-head.

Which is why, every spring, when my husband attends the big meet and greet trail ride put on by a well-known Jeep hardware catalog, I baffle my friends and family by going along for the trip. Even though I do not ride the trails (I get insanely car-sick, lol) I always go along and organize the camp. I spend four days sitting in a field, all by myself for at least eight hours a day. And I enjoy every minute of it.

About 150 Jeeps converge on the small town, some riders coming from as far away as Europe, to spend three or four days camping, talking Jeep lore, and riding the trails. We stay in a big field, bordered on three sides by a windbreak of trees and on the fourth by a quiet road. There is no sightseeing to be done, unless you count the groundhogs and the neighboring farm's sprouting corn. There are no "facilities" aside from a port-a-john or a carefully selected bush, and a waterhose which the guys use both for hosing copious amounts of mud from their persons and cooling off overheated engine parts. Some people stay in a local motel about twenty minutes away, but that wouldn't do for the leader of the "Xtreme Trail" and his equally heavily modified class buddies.

So, while my husband is gone all day, what do I do? For me it's a little like a form of meditation. I read piles of books, knit, nap, and just be. It's the only time in the year when I actually go more than an hour without uttering a word. The silence is such a novelty to me, the chance just to sit and listen to my own thoughts a real rarity. There aren't many people in our world nowadays who get the chance to experience that kind of all alone, no mobile phone, no electricity, no plumbing gurgle, no next door neighbor yakking, kind of quiet.

I also find that at the end of my own little "adventure" I am really ready to start back to my daily routine with a new fervor. I usually spend the whole two-hour ride home anxiously anticipating my home and my little Peanut's face. I can't wait to get back to my life. My stay in the field each year brings my life and goals into sharper focus.

But when I try to tell these things to someone else, they very often can not understand. "How boring!" or "I would go crazy with nothing to do" are the usual responses I receive. They can't understand it is that very "nothing" that attracts me so much. I guess, until you have had a chance to sit alone with your thoughts, you won't understand how refreshing it can be.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Anew

Lately, I have been in a holding pattern. I now weigh more than I did when I was nine months pregnant with my daughter. I have a house that is jumbled, messy, and stale. I have been struggling with an apathy that just isn't in my nature. I am a planner, a doer. Yet for months now, I have felt like I've been just going through the motions of my life. That bigger and better things would happen to me eventually, so why bother with my here and now.

Last week, I got a wake-up call.

I went to my yearly check-up with my OB/GYN. I was dreading it a little, knowing that she would be concerned with my weight, and also with the fact that we hadn't settled the baby decision. But the thing is, I love my doctor and I enjoy getting a chance to talk with her. Maybe because she is very caring, yet straight-forward. Maybe because she will tell you how things stand and not sugar coat things unnecessarily.

She didn't have wonderful news for me.

It seems that the results of some bloodwork that I had done show that I am not able to carry another baby full-term without medical intervention. I can physically conceive a child, but I lack the proper amounts of hormones to allow a child to develop normally. My Peanut was a one-in-a-million, God-given-miracle of a blessing. If I do become pregnant, there are medications and supplements that they can give me to try to keep me from mis-carrying, but that also carry the risk of side effects and birth defects. The long and the short of it is, we are not likely to have anymore children.

As my doctor sat there and relayed this information, I felt myself getting angry. Even though the fact of the matter is, for the last year, I have been seriously doubting whether I wanted to try for another baby. Now that the decision had been made for me I wanted to cry and rant and scream "It's not fair!". I actually sat weeping on the examination table, thinking about how I would tell my husband and what this might mean to my own identity as a woman. The mumbled refrain of "useless, useless, useless" kept running through my head.

Then I was still.

It occurred to me that even though I wanted a family and a home, I wasn't being a very good steward of the one that God had given me. I have been a lot less than I should have been, lately. While sitting there gnashing my teeth and crying "Why me?", I was forgetting the fact that God had already given me an amazing little girl and a good husband to love and nurture. And the truth is, I haven't been doing my job properly.

As I dressed, I began a catalog of the things that I have been letting slip in or sometimes slide completely from my grasp. I realized that I was crying about a reward I thought I deserved, when in fact, I deserved nothing. Any blessing I already had, was by God's bottomless grace and no other source. I felt ashamed at weeping.

So, as I pulled on my socks, I vowed that my ennui was ending there and then. No more half-done housework. No more resenting my husband's long hours away. No more seeing my mothering duties as dull drudgery and a drain on "my" time. I was going to quit my moping around and do my job correctly.

When I do my duties as wife and mother with purpose and joy, that is when I am truly happy. Feminists can say what they want about the self-deluded state of a housewife, but I can tell you that I never feel more content and fulfilled than when my home is running smoothly and my family is happy. I realize now that the thing causing me to feel depressed and zoned out was not that I didn't have what I wanted but that I had stopped doing the things that I should. My heart's dearest desires were sitting around me in a cluttered home eating dinner from a box.

Hopefully, my fire continues to burn.

I have started myself back on the track of wifely and motherly excellence. I have decided that there is no reason why I am not accomplishing the things that make me happy, other than my own laziness and lack of commitment. Keep me in your thoughts.

IZZE

I have a new addiction.

While browsing the isles of my favorite store of all things fun and enjoyable (Target), I came upon these beautiful, slender, little cans of carbonated juice from a company called IZZE. All I can say is yum. The drink is made of just juice and sparkling water and is delicious. (my favs are pomegranate and grapefruit) I've never been a soda drinker, but I can't get enough of IZZE.
IZZE also sponsors and funds a program called "Project Reach" which provides education for the workers who pick the fruit that they buy, which are usually itinerant workers or newly arrived immigrants. And while I am not naive enough to believe that they are not in the business to make a profit, it is nice to see a company who feels a little responsibilty for their surrounding community and world.

Do yourself a favor and find some IZZE!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Fraud Confesses

As I was making lunch today, I realized that I was living a lie. It is time to come clean.

I love to cook. I love growing, and harvesting, and preserving my own food. I love to can my brains out. I love being a homey, lovely, soft kind of person. I have a large repertoire of soul and body nurturing recipes and practices that make me feel fulfilled and strong. But there is a glaring chink in my armor of love.

I cannot make biscuits from scratch.

Under my sweet FIL's tutelage, I produced rocky lumps of concrete. Under the proficient hands of my Grandma, I produced biscuits so light and flaky that they were nothing but flakes so loose that you could not take one from the platter without using a spoon. I have studied recipes from southern cooks who claim that theirs is the "fool-proof" way.(anyone know what the level below fool is called?)I have watched shows and read books, studying the method and technique of countless experts and ordinary people. All to no avail. Even my guru of cooking, Alton Brown and his Ma Mae's recipe were no match for my incompetence.

It's not that I don't understand the pastry processes behind biscuit making. I get the science. I just lack that special magic touch. It is one food that just doesn't click for me. Therefore, I am forced to fall back on supermarket alternatives to meet the biscuit needs of my country-cooking-raised husband.

Every time I pick up "Pillsbury's Lard Chunks" my hillbilly foremothers spin in their graves. Whenever I tear open that packet of "Biscrete Baking Mix" I blush and quickly toss the incriminating evidence in the wastepaper bin. The only mix that makes me feel slightly better is Jiffy's "Buttermilk Biscuit Mix" and even then I have to roll them out in wheat flour just to be able to sleep at night. The shame knows no end.

Maybe someday I'll be able to manage what most girls around here can do in their sleep by the age of thirteen, but until then, can we keep this our little secret?

And as the lovely, Aussie, Fe just reminded me, most of the world outside my secluded behemoth of a country would call what I am trying to make, scones. Biscuits/cookies are a whole different story! :)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday, April 10, 2006

Eureka!

If you were all sitting at your keyboards and biting your nails, worried about my sanity in the quest for the mystery smell, I can now put your fears to rest. The smell has been discovered!

It was a dishtowel. The odd thing is, it was a clean, dry dishtowel. Stacked in the drawer with all of it's brothers and sisters, it was quietly stinking up the place. Apparently, some nasty bacteria or other decided that my favorite green towel was the ideal place to settle down and raise a family. And now, after multiple washings and a boiling the smell is still in residence. So, I must bid a tearful adieu to my cherished, dries-glasses-just-right, always-fluffs-up-perfectly, green dishtowel.

You will be missed.



Okay, now you can all go back to worrying about my sanity for the everyday reasons.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Peanut-isms

From the lips of my hilarious two-year old:

"No-see" = snow

"baby-cute sauce" = barbeque sauce

"rainbrella" = duh :)

"whey-ner" = livingroom (I have no idea, lol!)

"crunch toast" = french toast

"green juice" and "pink juice" = apple juice and grape juice respectively(refers to the color of the packages instead of the actual content)

"Lalapillar" = "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Smelly

Did you ever have one of those mystery smells in your house?

One of those empty-and-scrub-every-garbage-can, look-under-the-beds-for-a-crusty-old-sandwich, pry-up-the-floorboards-in-search-of-a-dead-rodent kind of things?

There is this smell in my house that I have been picking up on for the last two days. My husband swears that he doesn't detect a thing. No one else seems to smell it. I keep getting these little whiffs that are driving me on a mad search-and-clean mission throughout the house, for the offending item.

But it's not here.

Maybe it's just my home-selling paranoia. Hopefully, it's not some neighbor's missing pet, lol!