Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Smashing---Pumpkins!

Guess what I've been doing besides not blogging? Picking my body weight in ornamental gourds, that's what. I bet I'm the only person you know who can say that with a straight face.

Yes, spring flower season is over....but the Mr. and I decided, in our infinite wisdom the spirit of adventure (and bank accounts), that we'd open our doors again in the fall for a little harvest halloween to-do.

We'll set up shop this weekend with all that we raised on our own land---first time pumpkin growers that we are--and hope we sell enough to pay a mortgage or two. Hot cider, anyone?

I still remember June, sitting at the baseball diamond--dusty and parched, when he called to say he was putting the pumpkins in our two bottom fields. So much of farming is now-or-never; he wouldn't make it to the game. That night, while I watched little boys kick up clouds of dirt chasing bases, he made hills in the clay with our old Ford Tractor and a borrowed seeder. At the time October seemed forever away, as far-off as Christmas, or the moon. In the months since, I've stood and stared as the fields went from tidy to overgrown, as the rows he planted by hand disappeared in the green and the wooden stakes differentiating Jarradales from Jacks became dwarfed in our down-home jungle.

In between, I've cussed out a couple hundred cucumber beetles and watched the clouds like tea leaves. Will it rain, will it be too much, will my brow ever not be furrowed? I am smack in the middle of a season in life called Wait. Wait is like autumn, fraught with possibility but lacking the newly-sharpened-pencil smell and paper-bag book covers. We might land on our feet, but then again, we could come down hard--and wrong.

We are doing things we never dreamed we would do in this life, which is beautiful. All this chance and emotion, the flying blind. It takes moxie, am I right?


Speaking of moxie, my dad is riding his bicycle across the state today. Width-wise. I felt I had to clarify that. Joshua dropped them off this morning near the Indiana line. It was cold, he said, but there they went-- off like a couple of teenagers. We talked later about how they might now have enough socks, or the right socks. How Joshua waited near the launching point for a little bit, just in case.

Maybe waiting is always in season. And moxie is knowing the risks, but doing it anyway.  Diving in...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life with Bob



First, thank you all for your lovely comments welcoming me back to the Internet. You all are like the USO, only you don't have to wait around the airport waving miniature flags looking for me to show up in camo. I am glad to be back, and it feels good to know you haven't written me off, deadbeat blogger that I am.

I am working hard to guard the solitude, which here on day two is proving difficult, mainly because of my distractibility, which I wrote about here, but also because I am sharing a space with a husband who is Trying To Be Quiet. Nothing's louder, I'm certain. Presently, he is Quietly Emptying the dishwasher in the style of someone slowly unwrapping her Starlight Mint in the middle of the staff meeting. Sigh.

I suppose I should be grateful I have a friend and partner who is so efficient, whose strengths balance my shortcomings. Sometimes, though, during this, the off-season, I long for him to have a little army of his own to manage-a project requiring his absence, but only during certain hours. Of course, I would choose and sign off on those hours, and this schedule would be completely malleable to my every whim. Selfish, right? I'm mostly joking.  I love my husband with the breath, smiles, and tears of my life--but am just as fierce in my independence. I also know my limits. In the last few hours, while trying to write this post, I have googled garden gnome costumes, warmed up some leftover rice for breakfast, stared at myself in the mirror trying to ascertain the likelihood that I have some irreversible ocular disease, and finally, taken a shower in effort to literally wash the preoccupation away. Surprisingly, this last maneuver will occasionally do the trick. A therapist once told me that this made sense, water being a conductor. I thought that sounded a little new age-y for me but find myself believing it, just a little. Today it seemed to work out okay for a while, but I will eventually either have to relocate, or find a way to manage my proclivities. Earplugs? A white noise machine?

This time at home is a gift, I know. I want to be productive, and ever-grateful. I have a lovely life, distractions and all. There must be a balance between indulging my weaknesses, my need for stillness--and my love for the one-man-band that is my spouse. Who else in my life can lead us all in an impromptu tap lesson? Can your husband buck and wing? Still-when he came in a few moments ago to inquire about my "plans", I couldn't help but feel a little bothered.  

Do you think you should take a few minutes to jot down your supply list for the children's garden? he asked.

No, I said, tartly.

Man. And I was just getting somewhere, too. Children's garden? My mind took off down a rabbit hole to elsewhere, so I shook my head to bring back focus. The opposite of what happens with a snowglobe. I turned back to my computer to indicate my level of busy-ness, my dedication to my craft. I was hoping he'd get the idea. Then, out of nowhere, he's posing. Hands clasped together, bending at the waist, then straightening, now a lunge.

What's happening? I said Why is there now yoga?

Come on, honey. he said. Let's salute the cow. Don't we have a DVD somewhere?

This is my office, I whispered in a very small voice. And right now it's starting to look more like jazz hands. This was louder, and made him smile. He switched abruptly to something more Fosse-esque.

I waved. See you later, Big Spender.

He's left me alone now for thirty minutes. I'm starting to hope he comes back soon. Just a little.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hello

Many years ago, I had a job in a hospital-sponsored Alzheimer's day-program providing care and facilitating activities for patients with varying levels of dementia. It was funny and sad and beautiful and there was more than enough humanity to go around, which was one reason I don't do that kind of work any more. Imagine someone clutching their forehead and, with one fist thrust heavenward, shouting Oh the humanity!, and you will have a picture of my daily emotional response to my job. Nice, right? I left, and it was the right thing to do, but I still remember with much fondness the men and women I cared for, a few in particular.

Sam was a runner--a wanderer. His wife dropped him off in the morning at eight and picked him up each day around three-a schedule that no doubt improved the quality of her life (and in turn, his) tremendously. The problem is, because of Sam's disease, the routine was meaningless--he had no day-to-day memory of it. He'd walk out of the building and down the street in search of her, which was dangerous, as well as a liability. We placed an alarm-sensor on a lanyard around his neck that helped monitor his whereabouts, but ultimately, his anxiety went unchecked--new anxiety, fresh fear, several times a day. Can you even imagine?

This is when his wife came through in a moment of genius: a simple note, tucked in his shirt pocket.  

Dear Sam, it read.
I will pick you up today at 3:00. I promise.
Love, Dottie

The humanity! Of course we had to remind him the note was there, but the relief he felt unfolding the worn slip of paper was palpable. It was something he could hold on to, and it worked.

As for me, here: It is now or never, writing this blog post. How I can explain a nearly-five month absence is the hardest part and what's been waking me up at night with the rattles. You know, when you're awake in bed, your thoughts rattling around making their distracting sounds while you roll over and fret and toss in covers so unruly they had to have been raised by wolves. What can I say? I got busy? My fingers fell off. Someone stole my computer. I fell down a hole inside myself. Hmmm. We're getting close.

On the morning of my last entry, we were days from opening our greenhouse and I was managing a mental to-do list a mile long. The thing about what I do is, once the gun fires and we're off, there's no time for lovely photos or a witty aside. It is intense, sticky, and all-consuming. I worked every single day in May and almost every one in June and July until we closed. I rarely had time for myself and when I say "time" I don't mean an afternoon of shopping or lattes, I mean time in solitude. I am someone who needs this, second to food and sleep and fresh air and maybe more than coffee. I am learning how to guard these moments and it's a struggle when the work I do, when I'm doing it, leaves little time to tend to even basic needs like the big three above. If I don't protect the quiet, or seek it out, it is nearly impossible to write what I feel, or for that matter, feel at all. The upside of all this is I can honestly say I relate to the time-to-make-the-donuts man in a way that I never could before. Somebody give that guy a hug. If I would have only had a note--one like Dottie wrote, but from myself. Don't worry, it would have said. I won't leave you in this place, this hurried, stilted state. I'll pick you up in five months; maybe I'll bring a donut.

These last few weeks have been a flurry of back-to-school festivities and travel...and today it is raining and grey, and yes there is time for glorious quiet.  Introspection and laundry: a winning combination. I'm hoping, yes--intending, to create a rhythm of words and solitude for myself here at my little yellow table, and I'm thankful to any of you out there who might still be reading. Your sweet nudges for a word from me mean so much. I promise I'll be back in a day or two.

Love,
Dottie