musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “discovering”

some days

….are just like that.

I am thinking of people who need to be thought of.

I am appreciating the beauty in tiny moments, but I can’t upload the pictures from this morning’s drive to preschool. In fact, I lost my header photo and can’t seem to retrieve it.

I wanted to do more edits, had an awesome session of it yesterday and finally completed for the thousandth time the emotionally relevant chapter that is twice as long as the rest of the chapters, but I finally accepted that it was okay, because a middle reader can handle one 10 page chapter in a book of 35 chapters that are 3-5 pages each. But see people statement re: doing more edits today, but maybe I still can. And there is laundry, of course.

I wanted to go to a retreat this weekend, but it isn’t in the cards. I am sending Mr. Cynic, and he is cool with that.

It’s a gorgeous day, the library book I was waiting for was finally in yesterday, and I checked it out. I feel like going outside to watch the blue jays and cardinals flit between the changing trees, listen to the wind rustle them, too, and maybe, just maybe read for half an hour uninterrupted, outside, where there is beauty to be found everywhere, if you just look.

That last option is sounding the most appealing at the moment….

And then I will go pick up Toots, and the mayhem will resume. Captain Comic is having a rough first quarter of the school year again, and Mr. Cynic still needs to pack for the weekend and I am not sure when his ride is coming for him.

But yes, tra la la – opting for some time in the warm autumn breeze and light and colors.

spiders and bugs and shrooms, oh my

I’m not certain I’ll ever get used to south coastal Virginia seasons. We have long stretches of no rain, but threatening rain, but nope, still no rain, and just when we give up and water the garden after all, rain. For days and days and then muggy muggy muggy still in the 80s, and it’s fall.

I’m from New England: I just want a dreary rainy day, a bright day, a chill breeze, a sweater and trees full of yellow, orange, red and purple right about…..now.
So, in the past week or so, there has been a lot of drizzle then sun then drizzle drizzle when there was supposed to be major storm. The local news is giddy about all the mushrooms and no, people, please do not eat those mushrooms in your yard, even if they do look like gourmet chanterelles or oyster shrooms. 
It’s also a big spider season. Grandma says there are tons of tiny black spiders in her room. I am finding big orb weavers and other strange large spiders and – things on the deck, on the front of the house and in my gardens. A silverfish strode cockily across my desk this morning, too.
One day, a couple of weeks ago, we had a big yellow and black garden spider building a web on our deck. Toots misses her. I do, too. Then, a couple of days ago, I stumbled across a giant orb weaver a pace away from the other’s web, building a gorgeous enormous structure. After I yelled, “Holy Crap!” to my friend over the phone, I checked it out pretty well, then later, it disappeared before I could get a picture. 
We still have at least remnants of both webs on our deck.  I love spiders and their handiwork, so I haven’t removed them. They are big. Toots joined me on the deck briefly as she ran around the yard with her preschool class frog, Freddie, who is visiting this week. She looked up at the webs, and said very sadly, 
“Oohhh, where did our spiders go?”
She was quite forlorn. 
So was I.
But I wasn’t when I saw a giant Giger art looking bug on my garage the other day. After some unsuccessful googling, a friend sent me a link to Wheel Bugs. Bingo. 
And today, I went out to do some gardening maintenance to discover where that giant orb weaver took up residence: right between my bean poles that I wanted to remove. She was very active and pretty ticked off that I watching her work. She ran at me, and Mom didn’t raise a fool, I ran, too – away. 
So we’ve entered the season of creepy crawlies and mysterious mushrooms, and I may just grow to like it down here pretty soon because of this…but the leaves will never be like in Massachusetts. 

pardon me

……while I realign, please.

Thank you. 

gardening

I think my favorite thing about growing okra (besides frying it up and eating it) is these beautiful blooms. They bloom for one day, then the next you have the beginnings of a pod and within 48 hours, you have an edible delight. I tried my best to capture the deep buttery yellow petals and burgundy center. Temporal nature of beauty at its best. Tough to do the other day, even making some digital adjustment. I’ll get one soon with a better than cellphone camera. Macro that baby up.
Tonight I’m frying up a batch with my grandmother’s recipe (but I sub peanut oil for her bacon grease.). I can’t wait.
Blurry Cucumber Babies

A Green Pepper

Yay Tomato!

But this is what I am most excited about. Right now that striped beauty is about the size of a large grape. Soon enough, it will grow to the size of , that’s right, a watermelon! After the squash bugs decimated my beautiful bevy of squash, I was really worried they would get the cukes and watermelon, too. But both waited to fruit until after I got rid of the hordes of death. At least, I hope so while crossing fingers. 
I have also been picking quite a lot of beans and basil, two kinds. I think tomorrow night’s dinner will be pesto. 

innovation by kids

We planned on the kids playing SlipnSlide.

 They waited pretty patiently for my friend to blow it up. In the oppressive heat, it eventually dawned on us to use the bike pump, but it didn’t work so well.

Then we discovered, by the two older girls’ turns that playing SlipnSlide the way it was intended could be very painful.

And that’s where toddler and dog innovation came in.

And then the school aged girls figured out the physics of squeezing the tube on the side, making a sprinkler.

Pardon the Adirondack block. Come on now, it was hawt! Cut me some slack. I’d already done a bit of yard work and all I wanted to do was sleep right about when I took this shot.

Something else proved much more fun, as the toddler and preschooler initiated a new game.

I was just happy to be sitting in in the shady yard. Shady was nice, but I still melted into a my very own puddle.

walkin the dog

It’s hot.
I walked the dog.

What’s that?

Get in for a closer look, but not too close. Sorry, only had the cell phone, again.

 Egret!

Yesterday, on my fence, a lizard skittered. By the time I got the yes, cell phone, out of my pocket, he was replaced by this dragonfly.
And then I found these Kentucky Wonder Beans under the tangle of vines covering my posts. I found quite a bit more than those. I think I’ll cook them tonight. If Toots hasn’t eaten them all in refrigerator drive-by snacking.
Today, I spent a few hours at the library, editing another chapter and a half. I hope to make more good headway tomorrow. I am making good, if slow, progress. 
Kinda like walking the dog in muggy Virginia mid-July.

mountain adventure

I arrived home with West Virginia mountain soil ground into my skin, everything smelling slightly musky and very smokey from rain and campfire and feeling more alive than I’ve felt in a long time. Hot, sore, soaked, dirty, smelly and utterly alive.

Honey and I have this little thing. When we’re in sync about something, any little thing, we have kind of a slide-five, confirmation of everything right between us. We did that a lot more this trip than we have for a long time.

I had dreams, amazing dreams of people far away but near to my heart, as I slept with my head in a Civil War trench on a hilltop, in a damp tent, surrounded by RV city. One friend currently working, far from his family and friends, in Argentina. Others in a far off land…I think it’s called Wisconsin. 😉

This is who I am. I am of the land, mountains, rivers, sea and sky and night fires. This is where I am happiest, most content, completely myself.

And I haven’t been camping in over 20 years. Now, I know why I feel such discontent. It’s not the suburbs. It’s not my family circumstances, or other minute aggravations of the day in day out or the lack of writing time to myself.

It’s that I haven’t fed my soul the way it loves to be fed most in such a long long time. A lifetime. A roasted marshmallow soul under the moon and stars soul. A sun on my skin, rain on my hat, kid in a backpack on my back soul. A dog leash carabiner’ed to the backpack soul.

This is the seven year old Cathy, who when my family couldn’t call me in from dinner so easily, my mother sent my brothers out to look up the nearest tree for me.

But I seem to be starting at the end here, rather than the beginning. and this is probably going to be a very long blog with lots of pictures. So maybe I will leave the end here, at the beginning, and give you the beginning to the end tomorrow, and maybe the day after, and again, after that.

I am happy, my family is safe. I love my spouse, and my daughter camped for the first time. Her favorite part was ‘camping’. Parental translation: sleeping in the tent with Mommy and Daddy and Lucy.

“Can you see the real me, doctor, doctor?”

Honey and Toots at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers

I obviously need to do this more. The boys are coming next month.  Life is good, go for hike. Roast a marshmallow over an open fire, under the moon.

Warning: not so mild language.

It’s that time – short family vacation, camping, after we drop the boys off to their father. See outside the walnut grained vinyl veneer station wagon? That’s our camping reservations forecast for  the duration. Lucy is not a fan of thunderstorms when in the house. I wonder how she’ll fair in a tent?

We should be back in four days. Glub glub.

And then we’ll do it again with the boys when we get them back in August.

hot hot hot

It’s supposed to reach one hundred or so today. My morning shower was a waste of water, as I am now covered in sweat, from just a little gardening.

I fed and pruned the roses and other flowering bushes. I am way late for feeding them, should have put a post-it about it on my forehead. As I cut back dead branches and tied up the hydrangea, I found a chrysalis. I think it’s a swallowtail, but I don’t know what type. We get a lot of swallowtails around here, state butterfly and all.

Sorry, still stuck with cellphone shots, until I figure out a better camera situation that doesn’t eat batteries.
Here’s some lavender by the driveway. I should really trim it back. Grandma parks on that side of the driveway and it attacks her as she gets in and out of her car. 
The crepe myrtle I planted street side a few years ago is blooming. The white blooms smell like cinnamon Necco wafers this morning. 

I think I mentioned before that I didn’t realize the sprig was spliced with pink when I bought it. The little pink bloom smells like cinnamon, too, but in a different way, a larger, more mellow scent, not as sharp as the white blossoms. Kind of like when I used to take a fireball out of my mouth as a kid once it was licked white and my tongue was on fire – after I drank something to cool my tongue.

Besides the chrysalis surprise, I found something Lucy left in the yard. She’s been digging a lot lately because we have moles, again. She left me a present of a dead one by the deck.

Well, I”m too hot to write much more. How’s the weather where you are? 

bravery

When I was a kid and teen, I spent a lot of time on stages in dance recitals and in choirs, specialty choirs, and in a few plays. I had dreams of being a Broadway star or a movie star, or rock star in the way that any fifteen year old girl dreams what she dares to dream.

The drama teacher I had in high school had an approach that was very intimidating for me at that time. She terrified me. She terrified me right off of the stage. I don’t know why I let her get to me so much, well I have an inkling, but I don’t really want to get into here, this is not a therapy session, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of battling my personal demons.

After one play in which I had a decent role, and one background chorus part in a musical my freshman year, I never went back. My mantra for years afterward was, if I have to deal with another director like that, I don’t even want to do this anymore.

I continued to do chorus in college, but didn’t seek out solos anymore. I was terrified anyone would hear my individual voice. I hung around a bunch of bands and musicians, secretly wishing I would just jump in and join them, but I never did. I was a party to infinite jam sessions in college and beyond. I even felt intimidated to learn to play guitar, though I carried one from one dorm room to another, to apartments in Boston and beyond. It was an old one my mother had picked up in a pawn shop in the mid-fifties that never held a tuning.

After college, I still longed to do something like that, but was too chicken. Slowly, I was led back onto  a stage of sorts, reading my poetry at coffeehouses and getting featured gigs. I was still terrified, and anyone who saw me give those earliest readings especially, can tell you how much my leg shook, which was violently. My teeth chattered, too. Not so great an effect when you’re baring your poetic soul into a microphone.

I never did get used to mics. I learned to tolerate the presence of one in front of my face, but, never enjoyed hearing my voice hovering around my words as I spoke them.

I have always sung at home, and in my car. But I’m self-conscious about singing in front of others besides my family. Captain Comic’s sensory sensitivities also put a damper on my singing, as I can’t sing freely, without him suddenly and vehemently saying he can’t take it, stop!

But something happened as I reached my mid-forties. I didn’t care so much about what I couldn’t do anymore. I didn’t care about intimidation I felt when I heard someone with a beautiful voice do a solo on Sunday morning, I didn’t feel particularly intimidated by professionals when I went to concerts. I just felt like I wanted to get up and sing again, after over twenty years without a chorus, only singing in the shower, in the car, or in the kitchen, with someone screaming for me to stop it. I joined the choir at my fellowship. I was comforted and felt the joy of blending voices again. I did a solo line in a song surrounded by them last year, and another, actually the same one, again this spring.

And then the music director said, if anyone wants to do a guest song during a Sunday service, he would help make it happen.

And then I got an Idea. And it grew, and I sent a song to the minister, choir director and music director. And then things started to happen. For Real. It wasn’t just an idea anymore. In the end, it didn’t happen quite how I thought it would, but it happened, this Sunday. I sang a capella in front of an audience, on a mic, with virtually no rehearsal. I faced my fears square on, and loved it. And then my heart did arrhythmic flip flops after the second service performance.

Honey took a bit of cellphone video, and I find it incredibly hard to listen to or watch. I do not have the control of my voice I once had, when I sang with a lot more practice twenty some odd years ago. I think I do, and then I heard this. I am going to share it, because I need to face my fear and embarassment because only through doing so, will I be free of it. Besides, I did sing in front of people. On a microphone. All by myself. If Toots can be proud of jumping off a curb enough to say, “Yay! I did it! I did it! I jumped off the curb!” Then I can be proud of myself, in all my imperfections. Because I faced what most terrified me in my life, and did it anyway.

It’s just a piece of the piece, but this is me, as is.  Thanks for listening.

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