Saturday, June 28, 2008

You can't imagine

You can't imagine what it's like to wake up in the morning knowing full well that the skunk, this time, has gone and sprayed not just the groundhog but under the house. Oh yes. This was the morning. I was up early to get ready for the market and Kevin sprang into action.

Two industrial-sized fans sucking air out from under the crawl space. ON.
Windows. OPEN.
Candles. LIT.

I felt bad leaving him to suffer through it himself, but had to get to the market which was great by the way. Just keeps getting better week after week. He brought the kids up after a while and it was clear he was miserable. Tell tale sign of a man defeated by skunk. He snipped at the kids and me, especially when I made suggestions about de-skunking, enough that I finally said, "hey, I'm not the skunk and I'm not the groundhog, remember me? I'm your wife, the one you love and adore. (smile)"

When I got home his mood had shifted again. This time sad and taking it personally. "Let's just bulldoze the house and start over (he's said this about a hundred times). What have I done to deserve a skunk spraying under the house? Is this payback for [insert ugly behavior here]? Seriously, what did I do to deserve this?"

And me, consoling, positive, proactive, taking the kids away for the afternoon to One Earth Natural Marketplace and the pool. Go honey, do what you need to do, take some time, go fishing. Much better.

The fans work wonders, but for the lingering staleness my new remedy is diffusing essential oils from One Earth. Man, does that work. My scent of choice today is called "purification". If that's not appropriate I don't know what is. I also bought a great handmade diffuser from her. Totally worth it. Better than 10 candles.

So what does the picture up above have to do with anything? This momma needs to kick back is what that means! Too busy for my own good but having a great summer. I've got all three kids going off the diving board. Yippee! They're having so much fun and I love watching it. Allie was at a point where she was frustrated she couldn't do more at the pool, but she's worked her way through it and challenged herself and now there's never a dull moment.

The market has been keeping me extremely busy but it's been a great business move too. It's much more fun than I imagined it could be. The wholesale orders for One Earth are still coming (one today) and keep me on my toes. With VBS over I'm looking forward to having time this week to get more knitting work done.

The garden is getting into gear. We may even have ripe tomatoes in a week. That's pretty normal around here, but it seems like ours always come in a little later than that. I'm psyched to see what we've got. I planted several varieties I've never tried before, including some heirlooms and threw all the labels/info away so I have no idea what's out there growing. I like being surprised that way. Guess I'm not your typical gardener.

But tonight I'm relaxing. Watching perhaps my favorite show, Ace of Cakes on Food Network. If you've never seen it you're in for a treat. It's like a living blog of some eclectic, artistic, completely laid back cake creators in Baltimore. Totally hilarious and will take me away from all thoughts skunk.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The short list

When I need to keep things in perspective, when I want something I don't need, when myself gets in the way, not much helps bring me back around better than a gratitude list. So here's a few things I'm thankful for today.

a field full of round bales

three freshly showered, sunkissed, pool-tired, waterlogged kids snuggled up with each other on the couch
the smell of chicken roasting in the oven and fresh veggies from the garden
full tummies and empty plates
health, whole bodies, whole minds
time and the creativity to utilize it
fresh ferns hanging from a farmhouse porch

freedom of choice
and the courage to use it

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We're thinking of adding on

Another day, more vanishing peaches and the door to the trap is closed but no groundhog. Kevin says he's too big and the door doesn't close all the way so he can still get out after he steals the peach. He says he needs to put an addition on the trap. Not kidding. An addition for the rodent. We're in the planning stages.

With vacation bible school this week I'm way behind on what I need to make. Some custom orders, a personal baby gift to make, a wholesale order and just replenishing the shop from the market last week could be a full time job in and of itself. So of course I'm here right now, watching "Flipping Out" on TV (a study on a control freak who takes himself waaay too seriously) with a half made bootie in my lap.

I leave you with a picture of the blooming cannas, before the Japanese beetles devour them. And after a heavy conversation with friends at the pool today about divorce, infidelity, addiction, kids left in the wake, I'm so not sweating the small stuff.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How does this happen?

He eats the food, the trap closes and still he's free. Kevin says to keep trying, that we're almost there and that I need to put the food further back in the trap. He thinks he's not all the way in and manages to wriggle out through the partially open door. Whatever. I'm still making him cozier than he's ever been before. I doubt he's ever eaten a peach until I said, here, have a peach, come and stay a little longer. Just when you think you're smarter than a rodent, you humbly have to accept that you're NOT!

On a brighter note, let's break here for summer fun.

What are you doing girls?

Lauren: playing games

Lots of water involved.

Allie: doing an experiment.

Who says trucks are just for boys?

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Atlas, a recently sheared alpaca made his rounds, Mary's red onions looked so good I wanted to buy one even though I'm allergic to them,

and a great crowd of well over 800 came out to enjoy the market despite early morning sprinkles. It was another one of those days where it seemed everyone I knew was somehow connected to someone else I knew. But the kicker was when a woman who I've worked with as a PT for 13 years came up and told me her granddaughter was one of the vendors right next to me and that her other grandchild in Wisconsin had one of my hats and she just realized today it had come from me.

I don't use Mayberry as a derogatory term, I've just found it startling over the past few months how interconnected it seems we all are. Or maybe this is normal for people and it's just me who's finally getting out there and participating in life. Whatever the case, it sure is fun and I'm meeting some great people. Like Halsey, of Hickory Green Farm who not only keeps sending her friends my way, but she also gives me some of the most amazing cut flowers week after week and as an added bonus, a dozen eggs today. Her sunflowers have exploded,

and if she doesn't let me give her something in trade I'm going to have to resort to sneaking jewelry into her purse.

The chocolate dipped booties are gone, definitely a hit. And hats, hats, hats. I know what I'll be making this week!

Friday, June 20, 2008

As the groundhog eats

So far we've trapped one squirrel, let him go, and managed to feed the groundhog a nice diet of lettuce and peaches without him getting caught. So not only am I providing him shelter, but I'm feeding him as well. If I set out a bowl of water I could call him a pet.

New strategy. Hang the food from the cage so he can't eat it from outside the trap. Also, I moved the cage out from under the front steps. Someone (me) put it under there thinking it would be nice and shady, but neglected to see that the mechanism to close the door wouldn't work because it kept bumping into the underside of the front stoop. Oh please. If this doesn't work, you might see me pull a true Bill Murray and start sticking dynamite in clay groundhogs. kidding.

I will be at the market in the morning, for those of you who might go. I'll have with me some new jewelry and the "chocolate dipped" booties from the last post.

I leave you now with some happy pictures. Here's what's in bloom. First, the daisies,

yellow day lilies,

and the first fruits of the garden! I picked this zucchini tonight,

and hopefully these will be ready tomorrow for dinner.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It is definitely the groundhog's fault

Yesterday afternoon I was on the front porch taking pictures of these cute new booties I'm calling "chocolate dipped" and I heard a rustling underneath me and the smell of skunk was increasingly pungent. Instantly my heartrate went up, the hair on my arms stood up and I was thinking, where are my husband and the gun at a time like this?!! But my thoughts quickly swirled to, "what if it's the skunk and not the groundhog?". I had visions of myself being sprayed, banned from my own house and society, and sitting in a tub of tomato juice or whatever it is that you do to get rid of skunk nastiness. Just then, the rustling and the stench increased and the groundhog stuck his nose and head up by the steps. I sat motionless, just watching him, wondering if he'd charge, bearing white teeth and chattering at me like in some bad movie. So I stomped on the porch, he saw me and terrified, darted back under the house.

I went inside, picked up the phone, do I call Kevin? I know he's in the middle of a meeting right now. I put the phone down and went back out to take more pictures. The same scenario played out again. That's it. Calling Kevin. "Where's the gun, how do I load it, he smells like roadkill, I'm gonna get that sucker, how do I shoot it once I get it loaded???" I got the I'm-in-the-middle-of-something-brushoff and an I'll be home soon, I'm leaving now.

But I'm a figure it out for myself kind of girl. I found the gun and put in the cartridge, kept the safety on and started lurking around my own yard looking quite suspicious, enough to bring a neighbor out of her house sipping wine for the full show. I crept from tree to tree trying to get in a good position and waited. As this all was happening, I turned around to see the other groundhog that lives under a huge mass of forsythia bushes, munching on the alfalfa the farmers just cut. I had a clear shot, I aimed, I started shaking and just as I was about to pull the trigger he ran. A minute later Kevin pulled up the drive, laughed at my sudden, out for blood kind of attitude, and showed me that I'd failed to put the first bullet in the chamber. Oh.

In case you're wondering, it's perfectly legal out here to shoot a gun on your own property. But since this is not always so reliable, especially when it's up to me, we've added another weapon to our arsenal. A live trap. So far she's empty. I just hope we don't trap a skunk.

p.s. the rest of the chocolate dipped booties should be up in the shop later this morning.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It could only mean one thing

All the windows are open,

all the candles are lit,

and an industrial-sized fan sits by the crawl space door drawing air out from under the house. If you guessed the skunk is back, you'd be right!

We managed to live here about 7 years before we experienced what can be an extremely unpleasant occurrence, when a skunk decides to eplore under the house. Sometimes the smell can be so bad that it's clear the skunk has sprayed under there. Other times we wonder if maybe he's sprayed the groundhog that also goes under the house. This time it's not so bad, but a good airing out is in order.

Used to be I thought we were just unlucky in this regard, that we were the only people so negatively affected by the critters we live with, but the more people I talk to, the more I realize we are not alone. One day a woman drove up the driveway, as random strangers often do out here, and she wanted to talk with me about getting up our hay. She said she lived in an old farmhouse further out, and out of nowhere asked me if the skunks liked to spray under the house. I was floored. It was good to know we weren't the only ones, but more importantly I was relieved to know it wasn't something WE were doing wrong.

As I chat with more folks who've lived out here a long time, I find that the skunk thing is well known and not rare. Also, it seems most folks out here also have the random mouse that dies under the house, smells for 3 days and then returns to normal. The same people also regularly battle ants. If you live in the country and this hasn't happened to you, consider yourself lucky. If you live in the city or the burbs and dream of country living, consider yourself informed. And if you don't think you can stomach being "one" with nature, don't move.

But if you're on the fence, consider this, you could also enjoy watching the deer early in the morning and at dusk who come to nibble on the alfalfa in the field just beyond the back yard.

Luckily my anti-hunting and anti-gun husband has had enough of the vermin. Yes, they've impacted us so strongly that his groundhog count is up to about 8 and the skunk count is at 1. We thought we were rid of the skunk, but as I've said before, just as one is gone nature supplies another to slip right into its place.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

This is Virginia

This is the Virginia I never knew about when I moved here 16 years ago. Choosing to move here and go to school without ever having set foot in the state, I envisioned tree covered mountains and the beach, but didn't know much at all about what lay in between, especially the wide-ranging network of rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay.

As an outsider coming in, this appeared to be a world all to itself, a whole separate and unique culture, similar to the coastline in North and South Carolina, but the presence of the Bay making it singular and special, it's own place. And the disparity between the have's and the have not's, wider, more apparent.

Here waterman earn their living, and city people have their summer homes. Jet skis and large boats fly by trees that have fallen in on houses and remain that way. Here the water is brackish and tidal, blue crabs are revered and the water and nature itself respected.

I learned what a paper mill smells like, how dried salt feels on your skin and in your hair, and that fish named croaker make sounds like burping frogs. I learned about Tangier Island, the sulfur-smell of gray river mud and red-right-returning.

Today's spur of the moment trip to Croaker, Virginia started as something fun to do with Dad on Father's Day, but became an adventure, and another file in the children's mental memory books. They found crabs, saw blobs of jellyfish washed ashore and reeled in fish. But the favorite of each was the discovery of their own "private" island.

For Kevin and I, each time we head east and go to the water, we wonder why we live so far from it. We feel strangely as if we belong here, like we've come home, and for a midwestern girl that's an odd and surprising discovery.

Friday, June 13, 2008


The urge to hear Billy Joel's "And so it goes" hit me this morning as strong as chocolate. So I started pulling out old CD's, the ones that still sit in the cabinet or in my car as they do in this iPod-less household. I need this music today.

Most days I'm listening to the best radio station I've ever found, WNRN out of Charlottesville. Anyone who plays 80's alternative, The English Beat, Sugarcubes, Cure, Fugazi and REM, but also all the new stuff, Kate Nash, Feist, Matt Nathanson and even Patience's beloved Flobots has me as a listener for life.

But today I feel quiet. I want to listen more than I talk. I want something familiar, something reassuring and good. This is what I need when change is imminent, feelings are bruised, life seems big and when new doors open. Music is there when I'm tired, or exhuberant, thoughtful or blank, or when I just want something real.

Barney didn't last long here. I'm quickly converting the kids to my taste in music and even some of their friends. Yesterday Lauren's friend who was over was dancing like crazy to Feist's "I feel it all" in the living room. I love it. Allie is partial to Pete Yorn and John's favorite is U2's "I will follow", a boy after my own heart.

One order of business. I will be back at the Goochland Farmer's Market tomorrow from 8-12. So happy to have had a break, haven't made nearly as much as I wanted to but I'm okay with it, and I'm excited to be going back. I've missed it.

Hope you all enjoy your music today and have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

summer school and the thirsty snake

The heat has finally broken and so we decided to spend as much time outside as possible today. That meant lunch and dinner outside as well. My favorite.

I discovered last week that John could multiply. This wouldn't be so shocking were it not for the fact that he's just seven and recently finished first grade. It started when he wanted to know what the 5X meant on his toy binoculars. I explained multiplication in terms of "sets" and he could quickly tell me the answers to all the single digit multiplication I threw at him. He could also quickly figure out 3x12, 4x20, 2x18, etc., etc. Today's car ride:

John: "give me some times questions mom"

me: "what's 3x15?"

John: "45. because 30 plus 15 is 45"

me: "uh huh"

Thinking I needed to foster this new knowledge we went to the bookstore for some summer activity books. Math for John, reading comprehension and writing for Lauren and letter practice for Allie. I found a book for John with more difficult addition in it as well. Here's how that conversation went:

me: "see John, it even has harder addition and subtraction in it like 570 + 50"

John: "you mean 620?"

me: "you did not just say that."

John: smile....

When we got home he was working on adding 3 digit numbers to 2 digit numbers. To my surprise his answers were right. I then proceeded to try to show him how to "carry" when adding and it was clear I was confusing him. It was one of those moments where my little voice inside said I needed to back up, stop inserting myself where it wasn't necessary and just let what was going to naturally happen, happen naturally.

Even with this new discovery, his favorite passtime is still...what else...Legos.

Then there's Lauren, my little reader and author. I told her that when she finished her activity book we'd go back and get another if she'd like. Shouldn't have said that. She made it her personal quest to try to finish the whole thing today. "I just love this, Mom" she said. I remember being like that.

And Allie? She's still being Allie, on top of the table, on top of my computer right now, so happy that big brother and sister are home all day all summer.

What post would be complete without a nature shot? Fair is not for those with an aversion to reptiles. I noticed this outside the dining room window last night.

My first thought was that that had to be one fast black snake to snag a hummingbird out of midair. But as I stood and watched him for a while it became clear that what he was really after was the water in the cup atop the feeder that's meant to keep ants from getting in the sugar water. That's one smart snake.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The unconservationist

I worked yesterday and came home to find the entire living room floor and front hallway covered with "canoes", faux lakes and rivers and a veritable hanger full of paper airplanes. Gone was all of what was left of the pack of printer paper which had to be at least 3/4 of the pack. This is what happens with 3 imaginative children and their babysitter who's a recent college graduate and going to be an elementary school teacher in the fall. They'd also managed to put price tags on everything and they each had a store. They bought, sold and bartered their goods using the money from Monopoly and Operation.

While I'm a bit irked that I now can't print something I need from work, I'd much rather my paper be gone than know that the kids were parked in front of the TV while their sitter talked on her hot pink rhinestoned cell phone all day. Perhaps they made up for themselves by splitting apples open from the tree out back and planting apple trees all over the yard. What do you think, are they even?

The rest of the week I'll be trying to get back up to full speed getting ready for the market on Saturday. I'm bringing back an old favorite, the preppy flower hat.

Sometimes I get so sidetracked by new stuff that I forget to keep making what's been working all along. I've got the wheels turning again figuring out a new purse design, but I'm not expecting to have it done this week. I really need to come up with something bigger to please those of the "I carry it all with me" persuasion.

enough talk...more knit...stay tuned!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mars and Venus at the boatramp

The summer is my favorite time of the year and always has been. I'm usually cold and so the warm weather is a welcome change and the ability to wear shorts, sleeveless shirts and go barefoot, is in my view the way it seems life ought to be.

But lately it's been a little too hot even for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not holed up inside with the air conditioning cranked and in front of a fan, I'm just not out for as long at a time as usual. In fact, when I was watering the garden this morning and rivers of sweat were running down my legs I acquiesced to a break. When the haze even shows up in pictures, well, it's just plain steamy.

The weekend of "rest" has been just what I needed. Rest is probably a misnomer, as we were up before 7 on Saturday and out the door by 8 to the river with the John boat and canoe. We thought we'd get in a little float on the river for a couple of hours before the heat became unhealthy. So we drove 12 minutes and put in, motored up the river a bit and waded, played, fished, floated, counted fish, made up new versions of "Row, row, row your boat", paddled and learned to blow bubbles with Big League Chew.

We reached the boat ramp just when everyone had had enough, parked the boats at the side and the kids and I waited for Kevin with the trailer. Just then three canoes came up each bearing two teenagers who looked like they either had very little sleep or insufficient morning caffeine. They docked right in the middle of the concrete ramp, despite the large boats and trailers going in and out, with their mouths agape, staring lifelessly at a tree, the water or who knows what. Down the ramp backs Kevin, seeing the daydreamers and still not slowing down, putting the breaks on in uncomfortably close proximity to their canoes as if to say "WHY are you not moving?". Meanwhile I fumble over my words, practically apologizing about the need to remove our boats from the water. It's a bad habit I've got to break, feeling as if it's always me in the way.

Both afternoons found us at the pool, or rather IN the pool, the only place to be. Which has made for some wild

and some very tired


Friday, June 6, 2008


wake up at 1 a.m. when Allie comes through bedroom to go potty
go back to sleep
wake up at 3 a.m. when Allie says she's scared
go back to sleep
wonder why Allie's not up by 7 a.m.
check her breathing
remind self to mention on blog that you won't be at the market tomorrow
you need to rest, spend time with family, build up inventory
remember this is a big day for Kevin
keep secret
check Allie's breathing at 8 a.m.
do laundry, make breakfast
check Allie's throat when it hurts too much to eat
decide you have to go to the doctor
congratulate Kevin when he comes home with the Humanitarian of the Year Award from Rotary
listen to him reference the Bible about pride and boasting
how it cautions against accepting recognition from man
pause to think about it
go to doctor
make pair of booties
get negative strep test and lollipop
go to Target for Tylenol, jello and gatorade
wonder how it can be so hot
eat lunch
admire cannas

hear from Richmond editor that your bloomin' booties will be in the July issue of Skirt!
do figurative backflips
teach Lauren to finger crochet
listen to her ramble on about life
write letter to John's coach
get choked up
read it to Kevin
tear up
see him dumbfounded by emotion
blame it on hormones and basic sappy personality
laugh and go inside
plan to get Lauren summer haircut
watch Allie sleep
wait for game tonight
take random picture of baseballs

have a happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I was telling the truth about the groundhogs

There he sits, basking in the mid-morning sun on the front steps, peering out over the carnage of beheaded marigolds. I still haven't managed to plant something new in those pots, because I'm sure whatever I buy will be his new favorite dinner.

Kevin is still having luck with his method of ridding the place of groundhogs, but just as soon as one is gone another seems to slip right into place. One of those cycles of life I suppose.

In keeping with the animal theme today I thought I'd show two hats I just listed in the shop. The batik cotton in the first one was a de-stash from Pam's mom, a.k.a. quilter extrordinaire, and I really like it. It reminds me of the drawings in the children's book "Swimmy" by Leo Leonni (did I spell that right?) which was one of my favorites growing up.

The kids are officially out of school and started arguing the first five minutes home. This after John's wipeout on the road when he got going too fast running off the bus with a loaded down backpack. It ended in a deep cut on his elbow and blood streaming down his arm. I will be very happy when the pool is open for its full summer hours!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What is this?

Translation: what the four year old decides to do in the hour-and-a-half long, hot, loud end of the school year assembly at elementary school. Yes, we are genetically related despite the apparent discrepancy in skin color.

John received a math award and Lauren received a perfect attendance certificate, although now she has a temp of 100 and may have to miss the half day tomorrow. Maybe that's why Allie's crashed too. The summer's starting with a bang!


A patient once told me a story about something in her life so "rememorable" that she just had to share it. Of course I filed her word away for later use.

This season in baseball has been just that, one that is so full of good moments that I want to remember them over and over. In a short time, John has gone from a boy who could barely play catch to one who can now make a play at second and even hit it into the outfield from time to time. He has struggled, worked, played, listened and soaked up everything he could.

We will remember this coach. His quiet strength, patience, encouragement and influence have nurtured John in such a way that we stand back in awe, thankful that there are adults other than ourselves loving our children along their way.

We will remember this team. Happy little boys of 7 and 8 who cheer, pat on the back, say "you can do it John!", and hand out gum when things aren't going well. This team who could have picked on and poked fun at one of its littlest, are amazed at how far he's come. To watch other children admire his hard work and unfailing dedication is like love falling from the sky and wrapping it's arms all around us.

He will play in the championship playoff game in just a few nights. A huge achievement, and a testament to the fact that sometimes good really can prevail.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Let's finish the day on a good note

Sunday confessional

Today I'll let go of judgment, and if tomorrow it comes back, I'll just let it go all over again. It's been one of those days, you know? Can't quite explain it, I just need to get my smile back, for my own sake and everyone else around me. Lucky for me they haven't seemed to notice or at least aren't holding it against me.

Think I'll go try to keep some shade grass alive.