Sunday, April 25, 2010


Photos: Shoveling leaves over the moving boxes; watering in the pea seeds; the garden today - gravel down and peas up; the 59 remaining crab apple tree-lets.

We've been in the house - or mostly out of it - for a little over a month. I think we're staying.

After the initial unpacking and settling, I've been drawn outdoors. The vegetable garden has consumed countless hours and is still far from the vision my children and I "have in our heads". But it is coming along. Most of the beds are in place. I'm experimenting with a "no dig" method, which should not be mistaken for the "no work" method. Layers of moving boxes are composting under layers of somewhat decomposed leaves and a good thick topping of lovely black soil, delivered in a big pile and trundled (by me) across the driveway, up the yard, and into the garden. The beds are laid out with stuff made of recycled rubber (I think - recycled something that clogs the teeth of my little saw) - selected after the fallen trees claimed from our woods looked just a little too rustic next to our clean-lined home. It seemed to take weeks just to get the beds laid out and filled in.

But finally - things are taking root. We started with snap peas. The kids helped me gather sticks, build a tee pee, and string it with twine. Bella planted the seeds one by one in a little row in the shadow of the twine, and I think every one came up. They've reached the lowest twine and we're waiting to see them start to climb. Chicken wire will soon be bent into a tunnel to the tee pee door, and squash or beans will sprawl across. Corn and sunflowers will provide a friendly jungle, and a neighboring tee pee will sprout in the bed across the path. We may sneak in a few pumpkins and let them escape into the yard.

Impressed with our initial success, Bella and I have sowed lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, broccoli, parsnips, leeks and I think some onions. I should check the list - there may be more. The rhubarb and asparagus look happy with their spot in the middle of the garden -- the artichokes - not so much. Maybe next year. Strawberries are spreading out in their own little bed. Indoors the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, marigolds, and zinnias are up, waiting for the final threat of frost to pass.

We haven't limited ourselves to short-lived vegetables. We're thinking long-term. Alongside the garden, four little heritage apple trees are blooming their hearts out. Six tiny blueberry bushes grandly guard the entrance -- their 15 siblings stand sentry on the hillside along our driveway. Ten little tiny twigs, a gift from the Arbor Day Foundation, are lined up and leafing out. And 31 of 100 baby crab apple trees - bought in a fit of floral envy -- are dug into trenches along the hill. Ten others have been passed off, and the remaining 59 will haunt my dreams tonight.

A week or so ago, Bella suggested we send a thank you gift to the woman who sold us our land. I replied that I was thinking of inviting her to an open house - to see how we've made use of her childhood playground. Both kids fell silent for a moment - then the protests began. "An open house? But it's not for sale!" from Dexter, and Bella chimed in "You said we would grow up in this house!" Oh yeah. They remember those dreadful open houses in Pasadena, where Mom rushed around in a cleaning frenzy, boxing up toys and putting out towels they couldn't use. Apparently, moving is not an option.

Which is good. I'm putting down roots of my own.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


March. In like a lion. And somehow - gone.

Much has happened. We've moved. I've personally moved, re-moved, opened, emptied, torn down, and composted a mountain of boxes. The pup is (mostly) potty-trained, the kids are catching pop flies, and we've gone from snow to 80 in a matter of moments.

The move itself? There is nothing good to be said about the move. Kirk was out of town, my parents came to help, and the movers were 3 hours late and a guy short. But somehow, the truck was loaded, kids fed, puppy managed. While leading the caravan to the new house - for just one fantastical moment, I imagined telling the movers to take the truck and go. Don't unload. Don't unpack. Let me live lightly - so lightly - a breeze could easily free me.

But no. 26 feet of stuff stakes me solidly to this earth. Boxes of books, rusty chainsaws, wedding gown, family photos. I'm not going anywhere easily.

Still. The house makes my tethering tolerable. It may never be finished. The loft has no access, cabinets are door-less, and the library wall exists only in my imagination. A hundred tiny details need attending. Daily I battle the plaster and saw dust, and daily, it is replenished.

It doesn't matter. It's lovely. I wanted a house that blurs the line between inside and out. This house erases it. On these beautiful spring afternoons the house opens wide and we spill across the threshold. In, out, in, out, in? Out? Kids, puppy, parents. The house accommodates.

The front patio is quiet, contemplative. The puppy sits at the corner and watches the world spin by(our road, with its windy curves and gentle traffic, is beloved by the cyclists). The small child often sits and watches as well. We all could learn from them.

In back -- the party patio. Clattering games of cops and robbers - on scooter and fusion - take place here. Swoosh, crash. Knees are scraped, toes will be broken. Bring it. Life, lived.

The lovely long evenings also entice. The woodpeckers drum the refrain, and the frogs join in. Come outside, come outside. Dinner and dishes can wait. We may all be a little lacking in sleep, but we're overflowing with fresh air and sunshine.

But it is the morning I love the most. It is so still. No cars, no neighbors, no lawnmowers. I love to take my coffee, crack the door to hear the birdsong, and curl into a chair.

And for a moment, I too am still.