Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31st

We've arrived at the season of the year where we get crazy swamped with the actual tasks involved in running a greenhouse-meaning, despite what it may look like from the outside, it's not all romping through fields of flowers over here. There's also a hefty amount of stuff we have to do every day that can't be neglected. Because we hope to be selling live plant material instead of dead, we have to watch the weather, decide when to water, fertilize, trim, and prune; inspect our seedlings, check our propane levels, maintain good air quality, --every day--along with all the marketing/design stuff that there never seems to be enough time for.  And then there's the children, and taxes, and getting dinner on the table, which has happened maybe thrice in the last two weeks.

A few days ago, I guess it all got to be a little overwhelming.
Or, as we say in our house, the S hit the F.

I'd been up all night with my thinky head, too hopped up on anxiety for the sleep I so desperately needed. I'd flipped my pillow to the cool side, removed some of my pajama layers, fetched a drink of water, fired off a few silent screams, when I suppose my worry became audible. I know this because he said, all sassy-like:

What is your problem?

Now, typically, I like to reserve my cat-like reflexes and witty rebuttals for daylight hours, but for all I knew it was practically morning anyway. This might come as a surprise to some of you, but I don't actually own a bedside clock. I'm currently using a broken one from Restoration Hardware-- for aesthetic purposes only, of course. I suppose you could call it a prop in the epic drama that is my life, but just know that it has done nothing to move the plot forward. I have--almost exclusively--relied on the kindness of strangers to tell me what time it is at any hour, a quirk I feel is greatly under-appreciated.

Thus, I initiated the snappy-retort body-language sequence, which is difficult when prone, but includes lots of neck action and eye squinting and usually some gestures. He cut me off at the pass.

It's four in the morning.

I deflated, mostly because it was pathetic to be awake and popping like a Real Housewife. Four am is prime for sleeping and there I was squandering it on attitude.

I whispered. I just can't do everything. I listed all the large and small cares, each one like its own lead apron on my chest, all the things I had to do and couldn't do alone, keeping me awake at night and crazy all day long. I mentioned that we needed to prioritize our projects--for instance, it might be fun trying to relocate the chicken coop using a forklift and duct tape, but was it really moving the plot forward?

When I was done, I felt instantly better, and drowsy--finally. My husband, on the other hand, was in a dither. He got up, pulled on some pants, and left for the greenhouse. I tried to stop him, but I was calling out from underwater; an ocean of relief. Did I say come back, or was it a dream? I was blissfully unaware for the next four hours.

For me, keeping all my cares in order is like herding cats in my mind. I can't do it, they're running everywhere, knocking things over and pawing at me when I want to rest. Opening the door to let them out is about the smartest thing I can do.

And added bonus is a husband who relieves the stress of unfinished projects by actually doing them. I showed up much later that morning to find many of the things I'd been stewing over--completed. Of course, he was exhausted--but we both slept great that night.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Headless Chicken

Well, obviously, I've been a little busy. And I'm sorry. But in between watering 10,000 tomato plants and contemplating my first haircut in eleven months, I've managed to conjure up some imaginary blog posts that, given the right audience, could wind up being downright genius. Or at least remotely interesting, if you're into things like goats, mothers-in-law, people snoring, and leprechauns. So please, everybody, keep your pants on--it won't be too much longer 'till my midnight internal monologue finds its way out my fingertips. Pinkie swear!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

To Market

If you read my last blog entry, it will probably come as no surprise that when my mother called a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to attend an event known as "Crazy Charlie's Meat Sale", that my response went a little bit like this: hell to the yes. My apologies to my Christian brothers and sisters, some words cannot be confined by an asterisk.

This is how the story goes: I was in bed, pondering my fate on one of those rare Saturday mornings I'd wound up alone in the house. Seriously, there was no bait-and-switch or false witness involved, still I'd managed, somehow, to bow out of our weekly trip to the lumber/hardware/tractor/dirt store, which although often includes a doughnut course, almost always comes with a generous helping  of tears (the children despise farm-related errands)--and, all in all, is not that great of a time compared to lying in bed in delicious silence. As in, no little person appearing at your bedside to request you immediately turn on PBS, and when you say in a minute, they start counting.

So my mom rang, and even though it was her birthday, she plowed right on through my heartfelt felicitations to the true nature of her call: The meat sale and was I going or not? I'm usually game (ha!) for most bargains, but to be certain, I'm no Mrs. All-American Meat-Lover. I prefer my Pad Thai with tofu, close-ups of sausage pizza make me nauseated. And while I did spend a couple of years in an identity-crisis-related/doomed-relationship-induced state of vegetarianism (translated: my boyfriend was one), on a random Sunday afternoon, home from college, I consumed three servings of meatloaf out of nowhere. And that was the end of that. Still, I do care about things like standards: what did this thing eat before it died, how many times was it washed with bleach before it was labeled safe enough for my consumption, etc. You know, questions one doesn't necessarily consider whilst mowing down one's neighbors in a race for the cheapest styro-pack of chicken thighs.

I said yes anyway. On the basis of the following: quality time and that she was buying. You really shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, should you? Grass-fed diets and ethical treatment aside, we still have to eat, I rationed. Besides, I like a Saturday morning bargain hunt. It was just like old times--almost.

As I stood in the driveway waiting, I thought, once again, how different my life is now. One of my last forays into the world of big-city bargain scavenging was Kim Zolciak's garage sale. I didn't go, but her realtor and I have a mutual friend who tried to talk me into it. I declined, but mostly because I knew they'd be filming and the last thing I wanted to worry about was being caught on camera with my wig on crooked. Just kidding, I don't wear a wig. But I do like to roll out of bed on the weekend and not wear makeup or comb my hair and let's get real, Ms. Kim does not rock that romantic prairie aesthetic. She is gilded bedposts and silicone and I am Earl Grey Tea and moccasins. Time was running out by then anyway-if I was to score any more deals in Atlanta there'd be no time for circus sideshows.

Speaking of sideshows, it must be said that within 25 minutes of our arrival at the local supermarket, the atmosphere around the meat counter had reached such a frenzy that at one point, I looked over at my mother and she was holding an enormous cut of beef, unwrapped, in her bare hands. It had apparently loosed itself free of the plastic wrap and while she was undisturbed by this development, I found it both profoundly hilarious and frightening and had to excuse myself to laugh in private. And douse myself in hand sanitizer.

After we'd checked out, I got in the van and realized this really wasn't that different from Kim's sale.  After all, her sale was a meat market in its own right. Everyone's just trying to move the merchandise, I suppose. And I would go anywhere with my mother, really-- in the last ten years, there were more days that I can count that I longed for her to be with me on my weekend treasure-hunts. And I, for the most part, like to be alone. The best part of the whole morning? After we got home, surrounded by meat, my mom sighing over the fact that she hadn't gotten anything to make for dinner. And I am not kidding you, she went right back to that grocery store for a pound of ground beef.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Good Will Hunting

  (The last time we were all clean at one time)
A few weeks back, before the spring growing season got underway, a friend (best) of mine commented on how she envied my stay-at-home mom lifestyle. I think I'd been waxing poetic about one recent Salvation Army find or another, perhaps mention of a trip to Whole Foods snuck its way into the conversation, and before you know it, to the average working woman, those kinds of mid-week activities can sound suspiciously like Saturday. The fact that I get to pencil these kinds of week-day errands into my invisible calendar whilst my children learn the pledge, etc. under the supervision of capable others does seem rather luxurious and first-worldly, I suppose. What I told her, though was this: Well then you shoulda seen me last year. 

When we lived in the city, apart from domestic upkeep and meals, if I wasn't freelancing, I was basically wandering the various neighborhoods betwixt the hours of 9:00 and 2:00, mostly for my own pleasure. I did my fair share of volunteering at the childrens' school, but for the most part, I was alone. And it was grand. The world, for many years, was most certainly my oyster, if by oyster you mean a Goodwill store stacked with the discarded spoils of the 9th wealthiest neighborhood in the U.S.  I'm talking tags-still-on stuff from Neiman's. Take one daily stop at the GW, add in a grocery run and a couple loads of laundry, tack on carpool at either end, and you've got yourself a day. It was blissful, but I managed, still, to become inexplicably angst-ridden, even in the midst of all that delicious alone-time.

My life is vastly different now. First of all, the thrift stores around here are just...bad. Thrift stores that were raised by wolves. This has been a grave disappointment to me, it must be said, and one can only assume that the wealthy mid-westerners are also compulsive hoarders with really big closets. GIVE IT UP ALREADY, I implore you. Those too-small Jimmy Choos are not getting any bigger just sitting in your closet. And also-my children's frocks are looking more and more tattered by the day: please, I ask you--think of them. Over-order from Mini-Boden, and instead of returning the rejects, just put them in a garbage bag and drop them off at your local donation center. You won't even have to leave your car, and in exchange you'll get a lovely receipt your accountant can use in preparing your 2011 tax return.

I suppose, though, I should let it go: after all, it will be months before I see the inside of any retail establishment besides my own. Tonight, Joshua and I were lamenting our financial state--in an "it's always darkest before the dawn" sort of way. I spoke of my sister, who has so kindly offered to take me for a haircut, and how nice a gesture that was, and he said he hoped that people (our families) didn't think we'd squandered our money foolishly. As in, on ourselves.

I was quiet--kind of amused at the obvious, because I knew it was coming when he exclaimed, emphatically, "I mean, look at us!"

We're bedraggled. Shades of gray, hooded sweatshirts, brown stripes underneath our fingernails.

It could have something to do with our days spent, literally, in the dirt. Planting, working in the sun. Which, when I think about it, affords its own luxury, right? As I walked out of the house this morning, I thought to myself-I can't wait to get out there today, in the warmth. There are days I emerge covered in potting soil, with an almost-literal bird's nest atop my head--and the most beautiful thing about that I have just spent an entire day blissfully unaware. This treasure, for a song.