Friday, July 28, 2006

Larry and Theo have returned, at last, from their New Mexico adventure. They were starting to regale me with tales of the hardships they endured, but I upstaged them with graphic descriptions of the stomach virus we contracted while they were gone. Yes, another one. Unless it was food poisoning. I don't know. All I know is that I was left alone here with clean-up detail and Larry owes me big. On the bright side, all our bedding and slipcovers are now freshly laundered.

Our neighbors have a big For Sale sign in their front yard. I try not to take it personally, but I can hardly blame them. They're probably worried that the fertility is catching.

In case anyone is wondering just how long it takes me to kill a thriving parsley plant, the answer seems to be approximately 2 weeks. The basil plants refuse to die, despite my tender ministrations. The cucumber seeds and zucchini seeds and radish seeds I planted are all optimistically sprouting - they don't know they're doomed. The transplanted peppers and tomatoes are just sort of standing there, wilting. "Why bother?" they're thinking.

Rachel and Brian enjoy accompanying me to the garden for about, oh, 5 full minutes. Then it gets too hot. Or dirty. Or buggy. Did Laura Ingalls complain this much to her mother? Their first time there was typical: Brian started dancing around the way he does when he forgets to go potty before we leave the house. I solved that problem by having Theo (long-suffering eldest brother) instruct him in the manly art of peeing in the woods. Having gazed off in the distance to ascertain that that little project was going correctly, I turned around to find Rachel standing next to me with a puddle forming between her feet. Luckily, it was in someone else's plot.

We were supposed to take care of Theo's plot while he was gone, but I didn't have a machete handy to hack my way past the gate.

Before he escaped with Theo to New Mexico, Larry again outdid himself in the Dutiful Husband category by installing two structures next to my garden boxes for my tomatoes and cukes and zucchini to climb on once they grow big enough (yes, I am being super-optimistic here). He was probably hoping that this whole gardening scheme would blow over by the time he gets back from the hiking trip, and I would return to my usual method of foraging for fresh veggies at the grocery store or the local farm. But I just can't afford to lose face this time. If I have to, I'll buy vegetables at the farm and just tell him they came from my garden.

We are doing our best to make it to the pool as often as possible while we are healthy. It sure beats sitting around the house and listening to the children bicker at each other all afternoon. On non-pool days, we visit the supermarket or Target. It is nice and cold there and Susie enjoys riding around in the cart and the kids don't seem to notice that we have nothing to do.

Imagine - it's not even August yet.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"But It's Summer!"

It's a little soon for another newsletter; but I'm stuck sitting up with Rachel, who has an earache (we, uh, had another bout of cough/cold sickness here, wouldn't you know). Larry could sit up with her, but he's not here. He's in Oklahoma. Clever of him, wasn't it? This time he took Theo (aka my personal chef and pest exterminator) with him. They're headed for New Mexico to enjoy 6 glorious(?) days of hiking in summer heat with no showers or other 21st century conveniences. That man will do anything to get away from me, won't he? I glanced at the little booklet the Boy Scout reservation/camp puts out. It was filled with useful tidbits of info about hanta virus and rabies and (get this) bubonic plague. Considering the sort of year we have had, healthwise, I figure the chances are pretty good that Larry and Theo bring home some version of the Black Death.

So - this may be my last newsletter. I'll try to cram everything in here. Larry and I have a new favorite saying: "But it's summer!" It's an Anna quote, uttered in total shock and dismay when I explained to her she was grounded for the afternoon because she hadn't taken care of her laundry (yes, I'm mean). We can't wait until the next time someone asks, "What's for dinner?" "But it's summer!" we'll wail. Or, "Where's my allowance?" "But it's summer!" Yep, this handy phrase could turn out to be mighty useful.

Larry thinks that I'm going to drive all the way up to Maine in August for a fun week of not visiting any of the places that people normally go all the way up to Maine for in the summer. Instead, we're going to sit in a town 10 miles west of Augusta and pretend we don't want to visit the beautiful Maine coast. Bar Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Acadia National Park - who needs 'em? We can visit Lake Oochee-Goochee near his sister's house and play on the pseudo-beach. Over my dead body. I'm making (expensive) reservations while he's away. I'm not suffering in a car for 12 hours to relive all that, um, fun I had at Christmas.

You know, we do have some very nice beaches a mere 3 hours or so from our house. I think it's that New Englander's need to suffer (read Ethan Frome) that explains Larry's predilection to travel much farther than we need to, to have way less fun than we could have. Read that sentence twice, and it might make some sense. I'm getting pretty tired here. Rachel's asleep, but I'm scared to move her; she could wake up and scream for another hour, and I just don't think I could take that right now. These kids are wearing me down, bit by agonizing bit. And now I hear the baby stirring. So much for a quiet evening.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Beware The Madness

Well, the madness has struck again. Every few years I get this inane idea that I can manage a small garden - you know, in my spare time. After all, with only 6 children, I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs a lot. I've read my square-foot gardening book (new and improved), I'm next in line (finally) for one of those organic gardening plots down the road from my house, I've got 6 hungry children to feed. I can do it! Think Victory gardens, think Little House on the Prairie, think about anything but the fact that every other time we've tried this, we've suffered abysmal failures (not to mention that I seem to wind up pregnant each summer we're responsible for one of those plots). This will be the year that we troop down the road, a merry little band of fresh-faced children with their indefatigable(?) matriarch, to pick green beans and lettuce and tomatoes and bring it all home for our supper. Never mind that year that the vine-borers destroyed our promising pumpkin crop and made the children cry. Forget about the watermelon patch that yielded one precious melon which rotted because I didn't have the sense to pick it in time. Totally disregard the fact that by August the mosquitoes get so bad no one dares go near the garden for fear of being eaten alive.

Larry is being amazingly tactful about this plan, considering my record of gardening failures. He seems to accept that this bout of mania needs to run its course before we can get back to living our lives sans horticulture. I don't think he really wanted to spend his day off spreading a weed barrier over our newly acquired garden plot and sawing and hammering wood in the 95-degree heat to construct the garden boxes for me. He probably didn't enjoy hauling the bales of peat moss and bags of planting mix out there either. But he did it. That man has what it takes to stay married, I'll tell you.

And did I mention our compost pile? Recycling at its best. Just throw in all those carrot peels and celery leaves and whatever else; and, with any luck at all, it won't all just sit there and rot the way it has all the other times I've tried this. Anyway, the children are very enthusiastic about the entire enterprise; well, except Anna, who is only too happy to stay home and watch the baby rather than help weed. Works for me, works for her.

Results? Well, so far we have 4 basil plants, 1 parsley plant, and 1 cilantro (all purchased elsewhere) growing happily. It's been a whole 2 days and they're not even dead yet. Pretty good, huh? Maybe if I succeed, we'll all be eating more healthily and we can avoid being sick all the time. Although we haven't been doing too badly lately. I mean, aside from that unfortunate vomiting incident of Rachel's on our not-so-glorious 4th, I think it has been almost 2 weeks since one of us was laid low with any mysterious ailments. And Rachel didn't really need to go see those fireworks anyway.

Well, I've got to go mulch (whatever that is).


the Hapless Gardener