(I know the date says June 25, but that's just the day I STARTED this blog entry... I really am actually PUBLISHING it on July 6th... tells you how long I had to work on it, sheesh!)
Well, it's been another (more than) month. I promise that I will not resort to this kind of behavior for the long term. It's just that I've been really busy (remember what I said about reasons for delay?). To add to my general busy-ness at the homestead, I have a new reason to be tardy getting on here.
Wait for it....
I have friends. Plural. Go figure!
I'm getting ahead of myself. Lemme start with the end of May.
Towards the end of the month, BT (neighbor dude helping me out) came over and started helping me put up the fence. We got the posts set, the trenches dug, the woven wire up, the chain-link fence gate up and a second scrapwood fence built. I went out and bought a ton of boards so I could build about 14 or so 2X6 foot rectangular boxes (using 2x10 inch by 16 foot boards cut to shorter lengths) and four 3 foot square ones. I drilled holes in the end of each board and then fit them together and used deck screws to fasten them into a box. Then I stapled weed cloth to the insides to help avoid soil erosion. THEN, I went to a local landscape supply company and got some "garden mix" (one part screened topsoil and one part organic compost). I nailed some paneling nails into the boards and stringed some twine across the boxes to make a grid and VOILA... Square Foot Garden using local stuff. The only bad thing was that when they delivered the soil, it smelled like a dead animal. No kidding. And even though I let it sit out and bake in the sun for a few days, the nitrogen content was so high in the soil that it actually killed most of my bell peppers. Nice, huh? The rest of the plants seem to be doing okay (except only half of the eggplants survived), but I WON'T be buying my dirt from that company anymore.
Funny story: One morning, I'm out watering the garden and I hear what sounds like a horse sort of snorting or coughing. I look around but can not see what's making the noise. I start whistling to see if it'll stop. It didn't. So, I started mimicking it. As soon as I started doing that, I suddenly saw a deer go gallavanting through the woods, LOL! He ran around and around. I found out later that the noise he was making was a "warning noise." I must have effectively mimicked it. LOL!
So, I go to Ryan's PTA thingy. I'm thinking, as I walk in, that it's a meeting and I'm wondering why I keep hearing that the kids are going to perform. I never knew that PTA meetings had performances, but Ryan is super excited to show me what he's learned. The performance turned out to be pretty cute. Ryan's class did an act called Hip Hop Humpty during which they all wore sunglasses and sang. Of course, I beamed proudly.
Afterward, the principal asked if anyone might wanna participate in the PTA. I had actually been thinking about asking how I could get involved, so I promised myself I'd ask about it afterwards. But, of course, I forgot.
I did speak quickly to Ryan's classmate's mom and she suggested we all go to a game at the local baseball team's stadium (the kids in Ryan's class who read four books got to have free tickets for their entire family given to them by Sylvan learning center (as well as a free tee-shirt and a free buffet at Cici's). She even invited us to come over for dinner to eat venison steaks.
That was AWESOME. The steaks ROCKED and the baseball game was cool. They happened to be playing a double header AND promised fireworks after the game. Funny thing is, the game went into extra innings. They did the fireworks IN BETWEEN innings because it was getting so late. We left around midnight and they were going IN TO the fourteenth. LOL! Still, it was AWESOME. We had a blast.
The next weekend, I invited Z's mom, A (Ryan's classmate and her mom) to go to a place called Lynchburg Grows, a place that grows seasonal vegetables in a sustainable way and teaches disabled people to grow things, too. I had been wanting to go there for a LONG time. Ever since my Realtor told me that her husband was involved with the place. And I was really impressed with what they had done.
Afterwards, A showed me this really REALLY good Chinese buffet that serves sushi. I don't think I really need to add anything to that, do I?
So, because I had had so much fun at the baseball game and at Lynchburg Grows with A and Z, (and J, the dad), I decided to go to church with them. You probably remember that I've been sorta looking around at churches. Ryan's been asking a lot of God questions. It probably has a lot to do with where we are. Remember, Lynchburg is where Jerry Falwell and his empire is/was (he's deceased), so the evangelicals run rampant here. It was the one thing that almost kept me from moving here (and the one thing that still makes Sam VERRRRRY nervous about living here). ANYWAY, because A and co. were so cool, I figured I'd give their church a chance.
I liked Sunday school. The dude teaching it was nice, down-to-Earth and then, when I challenged him on something, he didn't freak out or run away, but instead appreciated my input. The congregational service, however, left a lot to be desired, to say the least. The pastor is a GREAT guy. Nice, funny and personable, but very steeped in traditional Bible rhetoric (what I call Bible-ese). I know he probably has to be because half or more of his congregation are elderly and he has to cater to his audience. But my first experience there felt like he talked for an hour and said NOTHING. Since then, he and I have had a few conversations and he taught our Sunday school class (during which I challenged him (about the whole rhetoric thing). There hasn't been any epiphanies or major resolutions. I think we've either silently agreed to disagree or just got busy doing other things. LOL!
My main beef with the church and its message is that it always seems to be talking about "keeping ourselves in line" and "doing what we know we're supposed to" and "opening up our hearts to let Christ in" and "being a better Christian" and "sharing the Word of God." (There are more, but I'm throwing up in my mouth right now.) To me, these are cliches we have come to use to keep us comfortably rooted in a church bench. They are soothing words that have lost most of their meaning. They are also pretty inaccessible to the rest of the world. And I think that's on purpose, because one of the things I dislike most about this kind of church is the "us vs. them" mentality. During the month I've been going there (and this includes Sunday school, congregational service, church events and Vacation Bible School--in which I actually participated as a "leader"), I kept hearing "the World" this and "the world" that. I am VERY much opposed to this kind of thinking. It's cliquish and exclusive. And it explains the comfort with the rhetoric. It's very American. Just like we sit here comfortably and complain about immigrants who come here to work for food and their inability to find access to English language instruction ("learn to speak English or go home... better yet, just go home anyway and git offma land"), many churches feel like, "learn our rhetoric and participate if you wanna congregate." This church is very tight knit. There are a lot of events. They do a lot of things together during the week (different members, etc.) but the problem is, they're always hanging out with each other (which I find ironic since they seem to speak a message of evangelizing). Us vs. them. "Christians" vs. "the world."
I don't like it.
Christ wasn't like that. He didn't just hang out with his little group of friends. I have nothing against having a tight-knit group who get together and share the same purpose. That's what having a church family means. It just seems like because they are regurgitating generations of Bible lingo, they are making themselves inaccessible to the truly spiritually needy (which, I dare say, does NOT include me, lol).
In my opinion, and I said this over and over during my time there, Christ's message was one of a SIMPLE, basic, fundamental premise: Love your neighbor. You can look at ANY rule you want to think you can find in the Bible but it all boils down to ARE YOU BEING AS LOVING AS YOU CAN BE? To other people. To your car. To your pet. To your friends. To yourSELF. If LOVE is what motivates your every interaction and reaction, you can't go wrong. All other rules are trumped by love because if you're loving, you're not lying. You're not cheating. You're not stealing. You're not walking past that piece of paper you've found lying on the ground. You're not overeating. You're not over-drinking. You're not short-changing that waitress. You're not flipping off that idiot who just cut you off in traffic. If you're being as loving as you can be (FULL FREAKIN' TIME JOB, btw), you're most likely not doing anything that would hinder your relationship with God, yourself and "the world."
Okay, I understand that being a Christian in the traditional sense means believing that Christ was/is all God and all human at the same time, that he came as a final sacrifice to pay for sins and that he was ressurrected after having kicked death's ass. Yes. I get that. But as far as rules for actually LIVING here on Earth and being "Christ-like" because dude, that's what "Christian" means--follower of Christ--it all boils down to love. If you don't love, you're not giving yourself the closest path to spiritual happiness. Life happiness for that matter. Think about it, the one person who had the prerogative to judge, didn't. And so many (I'll go ahead and take the risk of saying most) self-professed Christians are very judgmental. Always looking to see what their "brothers" are getting into. I disagree that that's our job. To constantly have our noses in someone else's business. I think that's God's job, personally. God's pretty capable, too.
Okay, I can feel myself getting into a big long tangent with this... Preaching until my hands are sore from typing. And I could get into the final straw that will keep me from taking my kid back to that church (as much as I absolutely ADORE the people), and it has to do with whether or not God's forgiveness is conditional (I believe it is not) but I won't. It just seems easier to wave and walk away. I am very thankful for them taking us in for a few weeks and giving us the chance to meet them and for letting us share in their activities, etc. But, in the end, we have to move on. It's just not a good fit.
Speaking of moving on... Let's talk about working out...
I've been going to the Y. About two hours a day. I've fallen back into the groove of lifting light weights, doing step aerobics, hour-long spin classes, Zumba, Pilates, swimming... all that jazz. I've also been following my whole Eat Clean Diet and Weight Watcher's hybrid and have lost about 20 pounds. I seem to be the only one who notices, but that's okay, right?
Oh, yeah, so... Friends... So, I go to the end-of-the-year awards thingy, just to be present since I'm all PTA-y and whatnot. I get there early and when I walk out of the office with my "visitor" sticker, I see another lady sitting on a chair. She's wearing a sticker, too. So, I say, "Is the gym open yet?" She smiles and shrugs. "I wonder if they need help setting up," I say. She gets up and follows me. It's the beginning of a friendship. We start out about four seats apart, chatting. She gets up to go check on one of her kids and asks if I'll save her seat (and watch her camera/keys). When she comes back, she scoots closer. We continue to chat. By the time the show starts, she's sitting right next to me, we've exchanged email addresses and are cheering for each other's children (she has three just about the same age as mine).
By the time I get home, I have an email in my Inbox and a friend request on FB. Insta-friends, I tell ya. We both sign our kids up for summer reading at the library and plan all sorts of things together, including running marathons.
There was a SMALL speedbump the first time I went to her house. She was giving me the tour and I saw guns not locked in a gunsafe. But I told her how I felt about it (essentially that my son does NOT know how to NOT handle guns and if he were to wander into their room, he WOULD pick it up and probably WOULD point it at someone and even if it WERE NOT loaded, it's not a good scenario) and she quickly put them away. The GOOD thing about their being a hunting household is that her husband (as well as A's husband) both bow hunt. It's what I've been wanting to do for a LONG time. This new friend I'll call Al (the wife) and her husband D are very down to earth and laid back and easy to get along with. Love that. And D makes his own jerky made from meat he himself has hunted and processed! AWESOME!!! AND, they have a GARDEN!!! *sigh*
So, I have two friends and their husbands. And my neighbor friend and his wife. And all their kids. And all the cool church people. And soon, I'll have the PTA (keep reading). I'd say socially, things are on the move.
Okay, so, I wrote the following addition while on the plane to France:
So, my garden is done, by the way. I mean, the construction part is done. The fence is up and just how I had imagined it--with a small diameter fencing, a foot of which is underground, 8-ft posts set two feet into the ground (one of those feet set in concrete), the chain link gate from the front yard now at the bottom diagonal, the wooden gate at the top, the boxes all set, leveled out, filled with dirt and planted. The only thing left to do is put the coffee cups I am setting out for Ryan to pee in, down in the ground around the periphery so as to keep the deer away.
I’ll go ahead and admit that very few of my own seedlings worked out. Remember all those beautiful tomato seedlings? Didn’t work. Oh, I mean, sure, they worked for the other people to whom I gave them (as far as I know) but those suckers didn’t work for me. They finally died for good last week. Never fear, I went to the health food store (did I tell you this already?) and bought organic, pesticide-free seedlings. Two kinds of tomatoes (brandywine and roma). Thirty-six of them. Now, THOSE worked. I planted them, watered them, fed them, built tomato teepee cages made out of sticks I harvested from the endless brush piles around the place, with butcher’s twine around the sticks to form a trellis of sorts and now, yes, they are blooming. I hope to come home to sweet little green tomatoes. I have someone coming to water the garden, so if they do grow and ripen in the next ten days (while I’m in France--don’t worry, I’m getting to that) I’ve told them they can have them.
The only thing that worked amongst my seedlings were a few of the bell peppers (all of them looked good when I transplanted them, but I think the soil was SO nitrogen-rich, it might have burned them), almost all of the hot peppers and about half of my eggplants. I bought a few more bell pepper plants and a few banana pepper seedlings to replace the lost ones. I put the hot peppers OUTSIDE the dream garden in a little side box I have over to the left of the house (I put a few cinderblocks around a metal trellis, filled the box with arctic kiwi (male and female) and filled it with dirt and then put the hot peppers in the holes of the cinderblocks.
I planted yellow squash and zucchini in the 3x3 boxes at the top of the Dream Garden. I put bell peppers in the 2x2 boxes (bringing the pepper count up to around 40, LOL). I also have all the beans, some dill, regular cucumbers (with trellises also fashioned by my own hand out of sticks and twine) and cornichons (tiny French pickling gherkin-y cukes), 36 tomatoes, a row of apple fingerling potatoes, two kinds of basil, arugula, lettuce, carrots, watermelon and cantaloupe. I have two more 3x3 boxes to build in which I’ll probably put my winter/fall gourds/squash pretty soon. Also, in pots, I have two different kinds of chives, cilantro, rosemary, mint, lemon balm and lavender. AND, I added two grape vines, bringing the count to about half a dozen. AND, I planted my blueberry plants in the front yard next to the existing one. We’ll see if that yields anything next year. So, that’s the update on the planting.
Now, lets talk about harvesting. I went to the strawberry farm to pick strawberries because that’s the one thing I didn’t grow this year (strawberries intimidate me for some reason… but I’ll try to muster up the balls to do it next year). A and Z went with us. When we got there, they told us that they had JUST closed the strawberry fields for the season. Booooo! However, they had also just opened the blueberry and raspberry patches. So, the four of us picked 9 pints of blueberries and 3 pints of raspberries in just over an hour. On the way home, after I dropped A and Z off, I went into Food Lion to get some sugar to make jam and guess what I saw? Strawberries on sale for $2. I bought ten of them. I took all the berries home and made a shit ton of different kinds of jam.
Remember all those peaches I found on the tree in my front yard? Oh, no? You don’t remember? I didn’t blog about that? Well, you see, there was this one tree that, for some reason, had so many peaches on it, I was truly afraid it might break from the weight. In order to save the tree, I harvested half of the peaches (because not only were they plentiful, they were peachy and rosy and looked ripe), figuring I’d just leave them out and see if they’d ripen fully. They did. I made like 8 or 9 half-pint jars of jam out of it.
Finally, after waiting and watching all spring and summer for the blackberries to ripen, I was rewarded with about three GALLONS of blackberries. I mashed them, pressed them through a mesh strainer (and REALLY freakin’ missed my food mill) let it sit and strain and then turned the juice into a baker’s dozen of half-pint jars of jelly (and ACTUALLY, I’ll admit here that it was my first time using powdered pectin… I’ve always figured I was against it because it’s so processed (and part of my mind still is), but in reality, the pectin they use comes from apple peels and cores, so *shrug*… See, the thing is, blackberries have a ridiculous amount of seeds in them (which I immediately put on the compost pile so the crows would pick at them and “plant” them all over my woods) and while the seeds aren’t THAT bothersome, I just can’t be bothered to deal with them… So, instead of jam, I made jelly).
Oh, I forgot the peas!!! Well, of course, they were the first thing I harvested. Even though I planted late in the season, I still got a nice little mess of sugar snap peas which I blanched and froze. And THEN, the sweet peas ripened and, again, even though I got them in late, I ended up with a bulging pile of pods to shell. But let me tell you a secret: It takes a BUTT LOAD of pea pods to make any amount of peas. Next year, I’m probably going to have to actually till up a whole new section of land JUST for the amount of peas I’m sure my family will want to eat (the kids love ‘em). Still, I blanched them and froze ‘em and will eat them slowly, savoring their meager quantity and maximum goodness because they were grown with love. The next thing to ripen were the green beans. There were regular green beans and then there were the awesome PURPLE green beans. No really. They’re purple, but only until you cook ‘em, at which time, they turn green (and all I did was steam them long enough to blanche). So, I picked, blanched and froze those three times and then picked them a fourth time and gave them to my garden-watering friends as a gift (and like I’m gonna spend my last night before leaving blanching beans, right?). When I get back, I hope to see flowers on everything. I hope I’ll have little squashies and maters. And maybe blooms on the taters. We’ll see. I feel like I’ve gone and left my newborn babies for ten days.
What? Ten days? Where are you going? What the hell are you doing? Well, right now, as we speak, I am on my flight to France (well, TECHnically, it’s to Munich and then to Switzerland where Ryan and I will have Pepe come pick us up and take us to his house so Ryan can hang out with his grandparents for a day and a half without the competition and distraction of his sisters). Yes. I’m going back to France. Can you believe that shit? I guess it had to happen. Sam’s parents won’t be around forever. Areva won’t always (or ever again?) agree to pay the tab for Ryan and I to go over and help Sam and the girls move back. Who KNOWS how long it’ll be before we can go back and see Pepe and Meme, right? And the girls have seen them EVERY Sunday since Sam returned to France. So, my main reason for going back is for Ryan to see his grandparents. Sure, it’ll help Sam to have me there to watch Lily (because today was her last day in school and now, he’d have to pay for day care if I wasn’t coming), but the main reason is Ryan. I plucked him up out of his French school with his shitty, tyrannical teacher and made him leave all his toys and friends to come and help me rake the woods. Of COURSE, it has been really good for him and he was actually tearfully sad to leave the homestead this morning (which, I will admit, warmed my little frozen heart), but he really needs to soak up the grandparents for as long as they’re around (and as long as we have the free ticket).
So, I’m going. For ten days. The other good thing is that I get to see my girls almost two weeks earlier. AND, I get to meet my brand new godson (Flavia’s baby boy Will). And I’ll get to see a few other friends. Drink some really freakin’ good beer. Eat some yummy cheese. TRY to soak up any semblance of positive nostalgia that I might have banked up while I was there my first year (before the whole deal went to shit). We’ll see. It just somehow feels like this trip is a bookend. Closing the chapter on a project, you know? Yeah, so I came home for the last four months of the experiment, but I had good reasons and I believe I made some real headway. I would have LOVED to do more, but I’m a mere mortal, right?
Okay, I’m going to go back to the whole PTA thing. So, I go into Ryan’s school to see the PTA performance. It’s cute, the kids do their little thing and then the principal stands up and invites the parents to get involved with the PTA. I plan on talking to him right after but end up talking to someone and forgetting. I think about it the next day, but forget again. I go a few days later to Ryan’s Field Day and as I’m passing by the office afterward, I stop in and ask if I can get involved as the principal suggested.
“Are you interested in an office?”
“Uh, what offices are left?” Cuz I’m thinking my kid is only in Kindergarten and I don’t know much about public school and I’m new there and don’t know anyone and am not sure I’m really the right person for a board position.
The secretary tells me she’s going to have me talk to the Assistant Principal. So, I do. She tells me there are two positions: Treasurer and President. I’m thinking neither is suitable for me. For one, I’ve been a treasurer before and it was disastrous. I mean, I didn’t pull an Enron or anything and there wasn’t very much money to deal with and all that, but dude, numbers and I are NOT friends. But president? Again, I don’t know what the heck the PTA even does (cast your mind back to the whole meeting having a performance element… I’d never heard of that before). I don’t know much even about public school since I quit in the fourth grade and did home school. I don’t know anyone in the town. I don’t have any connections, etc. etc. etc. I say all of this to the Assistant Principal and she says this:
“Listen, I’m just looking for someone who is good with people. Who doesn’t mind getting up in front of a room full of people and talking. Who is open-minded and who likes to think out of the box. Who is creative and dynamic and energetic. I’m looking for a team of people like that and the president would only be one of a team.”
I’m all that stuff. I mean, I think I am. I am, I think. But it’s the word “president” that freaks me out. It connotes responsibility and accountability and even worse: blame. I tell her this.
She tells me, “We’re not into finger-pointing.”
I want to work. I want to be involved in Ryan’s (and ultimately Lily’s and Lolo’s) school. I know that already the little bit I’ve been doing has helped IMMENSELY, so what if I really put in some effort? I’m still a little nervous about the whole president thing, but I’m ready to work. I’m ready to help inspire change and get some stuff done. I’m ready.
“So, I’ll write you down as president, then,” she says, not waiting for an answer.
I’m the president of the PTA. And the biggest sucker in the universe, huh?
But seriously, I’m getting excited about it. I’ve already talked to some teachers and heard some great ideas from both them and some fellow parents. I’m genuinely excited!!!
[end of flight excerpt]
Quick bee story: Okay, so, Al and her kids are over at our house, giving us a bunch of clothes she doesn't want any more, and the youngest, oldest, Al and I all go outside to water the garden together. They are all wearing flip flops and flopping down the stairs. By the time I get to the bottom, there are these flies buzzing around my legs. I realize in the next second, they are NOT flies but rather the HORNETS who have built a nest under my deck stair landing. And they're chasing me. And I do get stung and man does it hurt like a bitch, but even more so a couple of days later (like in my freaking MUSCLE, yo). Luckily, the other girls didn't get stung, but DUDE!!!!
Al's hubby D came over with his bro and sprayed the nest and then came back at night and bagged it but the hornets were back out building a new nest the next day. I ended up having to call an exterminator!!!
Then, just a little time later (a week?) Z was over visiting and exploring the woods with Ryan. She's a leeeetle bit dramatic, so, when I heard her scream, I figured she had gotten a tick on her. I told her to come to me. She had some deer flies buzzing around her and a few bites on her legs. I told her to run inside to get away from them. Then I went inside (I was saying goodbye to OTHER, long-awaited company (yeah, you know who you are N and girls!!!) to inspect the damage. Turns out, she had not been bitten but STUNG all over her body. Like, over thirty times. I started putting vinegar on the stings because that's what worked when the hornet got me. But as I went looking for more stings, an actual YELLOW JACKET flew OUT of her SHORTS and started chasing us around the house!!!! I yelled at the kids to go down into the basement. When we got down there, I started to put vinegar on the stings again when Z said, "I feel a tickle in my hair!!!" Sure as shit, there was another one stuck in her hair. I didn't know what else to do, so I knocked him free. Then HE flew around the basement chasing us until he finally noticed the light bulb down there (THANK YOU Ryan for having accidentally left the light on!!!). Finally, we ran upstairs to my room and called Z's parents who came out and rescued us, lol. When the exterminator came out to take care of the hornets nest, I had him look down where the kids had been playing because I figured they had gotten into a YJ nest, but we didn't find it. What I DID find was the realization that I'll NOT be letting my kids play in the woods by themselves this year. Nope. This winter, I'm going to SERIOUSLY clean the woods all around my house. I'm raking up leaves, I'm cutting brush, etc. I've got yet another bug to contend with.
I won't go into the story about the huge black hornets that chased our Jeep up the driveway and US back INTO the Jeep as we tried to get out. Because just the last two bee stories has given me the heebies. You've heard enough to know that just because we live in our little woodland Utopia doesn't mean it's without it's annoyances.
So, here I am in France. I had my dukes up, okay? I think most of you know why and if you don't, you can do your homework at the other blog.
The good news is this: It worked.
I went to Rustburg early to gather my force. To heal. To take out my frustration on the soil. To find solace in digging my claws into the Earth and finally cajoling a harvest out of it. I wasn't sure that it had worked until I got back here with my dukes high in the air, ready to fight, and kick France's ass back into submission. I was ready to admit my own weakness. I was ready to get my own ass kicked. To hide out in the apartment. To be submissive. To hermit myself and ride it out just long enough to get my family home.
But what I've found is that it worked. I feel healed. I feel strong. Not only am I oblivious to France's neener-neeners, I am actually experiencing quite a bit of nostalgia. I know a lot of it has to do with Rustburg. Rustburg has been like a gas station. Like a well or a spring of healing waters. Like rehab or whatnot.
I also think it has something to do with the seasons. I left here while things were gray and cold and steeped in death and rot and ashes. And now I've come back while things are green and alive--just like me. And I've rediscovered my old friends: the hillside facing our apartment, the faithful flowing river, the view out my kitchen window where I used to cry into my dishwater, even the traffic. The park. The sound of the bus beeping at the intersection. All familiar and in some way soothing.
This is a good ending. Maybe not a happy one, but definitely a good one. When I came here, I chewed my nails over how it might be a mistake, but I don't think it is. I think coming back here to retrieve my family is like a bookend.
And my CHILDREN... *sigh* I can't even tell you the place I go to when I hold them. It's amazing. I guess I had gotten so used to the hole where they once were that I didn't know how incomplete I was until they were back in my arms, all together. The hunger is a tactile one. I can't stop hugging and petting and tickling and smooching. And they, too, smother me with love. Lily, in particular, will NOT leave my side. She takes off my glasses and stares into my eyes a lot. Takes my face in both hands and whispers, "My mama" as if she, too, has been waiting an eternity. To see all three of them play together again is like putting a puzzle together.
Okay, I can tell I'm waxing dramatic, so I'm gonna get the heck on outta here. I don't know if I'll be back to write anything more while I'm here. We'll see. But I will finally reward your faithful readership with some photos:
Skyping with the girls:
Neighbor kid's lizard playing dead... AWESOME:
Ryan caught a lizard and let him hang out on Big Red:
Ryan picked me a bouquet:
Hornets' nest under the deck stairs:
First post-France quiche... threw it together and took it to Al's house:
Ryan with Al's kids:
Copperhead in the front yard:
Brush piles along the driveway:
Ryan's school stuff....
Hip-hop Humpty Dumpty:
Ryan's girlfriend (self-proclaimed):
Three pigs and Big Bad Wolf:
Macarena of the Months:
Cool off station:
Ryan's Muse (um, teacher):
Lovin' (introducing Z):
End of the year award ceremony...
Ryan's perfect attendance:
End of the year class picnic....
A and Z:
Local baseball game (Lynchburg Hillcats):
Fireworks after the game:
Lynchburg Grows... A local garden/animal rescue (?) who works with local stuff, organic practices and teaches the disabled to work with the soil, etc. Very cool:
Library program with a fireman showing us how to put on his suit, how to use his truck and how to get relief from the summer heat!!!!
Al and J-Chick:
J-Chick (Ryan's future bride):
Free craft at Lowe's: Wooden Monster Truck (with Z):
Ryan near the fountain outside:
Bakery inside... Brioche!
We met some French people here who MADE us taste the baguette they had just purchased and dude... it was really just like France!!!
Fish loaves made especially for Father's Day:
Ryan went to the Greenmarket workshop to learn how to make an open-faced cuke sammich and a blackberry-yogurt parfait:
Went to a U-Pick berry farm to get strawberries but they were all gone. Brought home blueberries and raspberries instead:
Dream Garden upgrades:
Hole for post:
Trench for fence:
Braced post (to hold it level for concrete):
Row of braced posts:
Posts done... quickrete cured:
Recycled chain-link gate:
Square Foot Gardening boxes...
Drill holes about an inch from one end of each board:
Desk screw the ends together:
Line the insides with weed fabric and staple it in (to avoid soil erosion):
Burying the fence to keep out the bunnies and some of the burrowers:
Hang fence on posts:
Gate made out of the 1x6 scrap boards used as braces!!! Recycling!!!:
Bean with a worm:
Our first blackberries:
And just a week or so later...:
Tomatoes (before cages):
Helper in front of cages:
Tomatoes (with cages):
Other tomatoes (trellised where the snow peas used to be):
Cukes (before trellis):
Cornichons--baby pickling cukes (before trellis):
Cornichons (with trellis):
Grapevines (which NEED trellising):
The morning I left for France (a quick walk around the garden):
(Thanks to D (Al's hubby) for hanging this gate for me!!!)
Citrus (lemon, lime, orange):
Since I wrote this post (this morning) the fit has hit the shan already. Honeymoon's over. Not the one with France so much but the one with that French Impregnator guy. Back in the saddle. Blah. I'm not gonna indulge it. I'm just gonna push ahead and try to keep the smile on my face in spite of it all. We'll see where things end up.
Anyhoo, I hope it won't be another month before I write again. LOL! I'll probably have a lot to talk about (about France or whatnot) in the upcoming days. Stay tuned.