Thursday, July 29, 2010

brief and scattered

damn. time is flying. k is something near 22 weeks along. we saw it in an ultra sound. we did find out the sex last week because I want to name the little thing a very gendered name while it is still up inside her mama and so she has been named.

in other news, k is moving toward planning a home birth. we have a midwife and everything!

and approximately three weeks or so ago k, a, and i had to kill another chicken due to what i have home-diagnosed as vent gleet. this nasty ailment is basically a chicken yeast infection. it causes the chicken's ass to become a pasty mess and the chicken suffers from nasty shits.

one of our other-still-living-older chickens now seems to have it also. She has been isolated from the rest of the flock, and we are treating her with minimal amounts of apple cider vinegar and yogurt. but i fear another killing is in the near future.

we also have acquired two young, five month old hens. they are speedy demons.
The gardens are bumping along. Below are some pics to brighten your day.

New hive and experimental squash garden

comfrey and new gardens

bee hives, squash gardens under black walnut, straw layering new clover seed

buffy; she is not a sick chicken; waddles is sick and is now named raggedy ass number III

Friday, July 16, 2010

My grandmother's kitchen--a sedative

The last five months I have been battling chronic insomnia. I've said it before; I'll say it again: I've suffered from insomnia since I was in the fifth grade, but it usually comes in waves and does not hang on week after week for five months at a time.

A few weeks back when I was wide awake at 2 something in the morning, I started going over the contents and layout of my grandma h's kitchen in my head and then after awhile I found it worked in putting me to sleep.

From the fourth grade on, I grew up three doors down from my gram. We were tight. I saw her almost everyday of my life. I would walk in her backdoor (which she always kept unlocked during the day whether she was home or not) and pour myself a glass of her sweet tea and guzzle it and then set about on the rest of my afternoon. If she was home, we would sit and talk in her kitchen or hang on her porch and talk and people watch.

My grandmother is from southeastern Kentucky and she is (was) ultra hilarious. She has been afflicted with Alzheimer's for the last 9-10 years and if there is one thing I regret in my life it is my personal inability to deal with her mind's demise. I can deal with a lot. I can deal with dying loved ones; I can deal with conflict and upheaval and hurt, but I cannot handle the shutting down of a person's, who I knew so well, reasoning and personality capacities. When I do see her now, I spend time with her and stroke her head and every once in a while I witness a scant glimmer of the person who she was, but I rarely see her. I do not visit much. I actually mostly avoid her because of my own inability to cope (please understand if she was my mother or did not have proper caretakers I would be there all the time).

But that is not what this post is about. This post is about my grandma's kitchen and how remembering it--the smells, the organization, the late afternoon light slanting in the back screen door and window, the coolness of tea and lemonade and mountain berry kool-aid (which my mother never ever let us drink at home), the canning jars cascading over her small kitchen table and dining room table, the blow of the fan in the heat of the summer whipping around heavy humid air thick with the smells of cooking (always cooking)--help rock my adult insomniac-self to sleep.

I wish I could count the hours I spent in her tiny kitchen. Let me be clear her entire house is miniature. She raised 7 kids (she had 9 in total, but one died at age 4 and the oldest was out of the house by the time they all moved downriver) in an 800 square foot home with one bathroom and an unfinished Michigan basement. Her kitchen can sort-of-comfortably fit three people around the table. Usually two of us would sit at the table and then we would pull chairs around the doorway to the dining room and block the fridgadaire (that's what she called it) in.

My grandmother canned and cooked constantly. She instilled in me a love for cooking from scratch. My family ate at her house often; she was widowed before I was born and lived, alone, so we were her constant company in close proximity. She would fry potatoes in a cast iron skillet, whip up some skillet corn bread, cook down soup beans with lard and bacon all day, and fry salmon patties. Our clothes would stink of fish and grease long after we left gram's, but the food was to die for. Another favorite meal was biscuits and tomato gravy for supper. The gravy was thick and peppery spicy and her biscuits flaked off in our mouths. It was made with lard and homemade canned tomatoes.

As I got older, my Uncle Junior, my grandmother's bachelor brother, moved in with my grandma and I would often sit at the kitchen table with the two of them and talk about the mundane which in reality was really the sacred and today to me means more than I can say with words. It means a peace that passeth understanding when I remember and reflect on those times in the warmth of my gram's kitchen.

These reflections of the mundane hours spent with my grandmother cast a lullaby shadow over my restless mind in the night hours when I toss and turn. My gram scrubbing dishes so fast I thought she was a superhero dish washer, my gram chatting about tomatoes and beans with Uncle Junior, my gram's deeply wrinkled, agile hands wiping down her always table clothed kitchen table, my gram slicing watermelon and gently salting it (I can see her fingertips wrapping around her well-worn white plastic salt shaker), my gram commenting on how she, "wouldn't have another man if he had a golden asshole; if he had a golden dick." My gram always being on her porch; the reliability of seeing her there in the evenings and knowing there was more home to all my home.

These memories are like a sedative: sleeping over at grams and watching her get ready for bed then cozying up next to her night-gowned self and falling deeply to sleep in her steady bosom. Gram rising much earlier than me or my sisters and brewing herself coffee. Then us rising and finding her in the early dawn drinking her cup of coffee and eating a piece of toast with butter and jelly. Gram finishing up her food and making us a fancy breakfast of palachikas or pancakes or eggs (whatever we wanted). Sitting next to gram in her tiny living room and watching the grand ol' opry and the ralph stanley show. These snippets of memories--common and everyday, but sacred and substantial all the more--the beginnings of who I am today are forever (unless I inherit her brain-mush disease) fortified up in me.

But again her kitchen, the first feeling of fry grease splattering about that I ever did feel happened there. I watched her pressure cook beans, and chop pears, peaches, strawberries for canning. I mowed her lawn and hung up clothes on the line with her.

I husked corn with her on her front porch and snapped bean after bean. I helped her water her yearly garden. I listened to her stories of her childhood on the farm with her single mother. Her father died when she was eleven and her mother continued to farm without him. She told of hog killings, chicken neck wringing, dressmaking, and canning.

In her back yard I gutted my first fish with my Uncle Junior and brought it in the house and fired it in her cast iron skillet and ate it right there in that kitchen that has become my night salve--that healing comfrey balm for my mind.

The gifts that continue to bring me a calm and a smile are the minutes, hours, and years of time spent with my gram. Those regular everyday moments. Those foundational pieces of time that make me so in love with the earth and growing my family's food and building clothes lines and fishing and cooking and food preservation.

Last night, as I struggled wide awake from 2:00am on, my sweetheart said, "think of your grandma's kitchen; remember count on her kitchen."

So, the scent of her kitchen in summer came breezing across my nose and my eyes shut tight. The worn brown-stained sharp edges of her handleless cupboards drifted over my eyelids and fingertips; the rag rugs by her stove and sink wove their way under my small bare feet; my ears perked up to her twangy, southern voice, "Nat, I love that short hair of your's, Nat. Sis, you want some mustard on that ham sandwich; how about some potato salad?"

And, I drifted into other dreams.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ultra update, art fair, butt balm

we saw bones and a bouncing baby. However, the little creature was sitting in a kind of floating lotus position so the tech and doc could not see the bottom of the spine or the genitalia.

we go back in two weeks cause i guess it is important to see the skin on the bottom of the spine. hopefully, our stubborn and active soon-to-be-child will be moving into a different comfortable position by then.

speaking of comfy positions, k's over at the shadow art fair right now sitting over the bike ypsi booth. we made a bunch of stuff to sell for donations for our sweet little bicycle group. HOLE stencils (for DIY marking of shabby, dangerous roads), butt balm, stickers, a kids, jankily thrown together coloring book and then a.c. put together more of his super fine pamphlets: ride in the winter, how to shop by bike, and riding legally in ypsi along with some great reflective decals. Plus we have t-shirts and some informational stuff.

Below please see my new drawing that adorns my homemade butt balm; the drawing for the balm says butt balm not what this one says, but i thought you'd all prefer this to "butt balm":

Thursday, July 8, 2010

she's hot

yep, literally and figuratively.

and she's mine.

she's wearing the fun outfit in these pictures right now, next to me, on the couch. she's got it on to keep her cool, cause damn it has been hot. and since she came down stairs sporting her belly and her bountiful bosoms, I just had to take a picture and share with all of you her tube top and yellow shorts.

kk is going for the big ultrasound tomorrow afternoon. we will check the sex and make sure he/she is alive and all that. We will also check on the hemorrhage to see what she's been up to. hopefully, she dug a hole out and has permanently left my beloved's body.

we will be checking to see what hangs or does not hang between the little thing's legs. these queers--that's us--are checking the sex cause we have two very gendered names picked for the kid and so one of those names will indeed be assigned to the kid based on the sex. we still live in a very gendered world and still happen to prefer two very gendered names...lifted, of course, from two dead people who left remarkable bits of stardust and wisdom all over the pages of books and in the halls of libraries and the bedside reading tables of many, many people.

back to sweating by my sizzling mama to be.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

displaced, but ok

my darling is 5 months and 1 day pregnant today. and, lately, i've been submerged in the in between space of that which is to come. of course, i am thrilled beyond measure about the insanely huge change that is looming like an enormous convergence of clouds on the heavy set fields of some horizon, but I am also feeling a little displaced.

everything as we know it is going to change.
all of you out there with kids know this and tell this to us and we shake our heads and say, "we know, we know."

But really, I do not know shit.

K and I have been together nearly eleven years. We have forged through the good times and hard times like two pieces of granite or two stalks of corn. We love our time together: alone and with others. But we are so use to being alone, just the two of us.

And so this is where displacement starts to come in. Soon and very soon, we will never (or rarely) be alone.

And the other piece of the displacement is connected to the idea of what each of us will be like as a parent. This is all new territory. We are talking about it and soon will be writing down our ideas about how to parent together with our very different backgrounds when it comes to involvement with infants, kids, and teens.

I desire to fall even more deeply in love with k as we both take on this new cloak of parenting.

I grew up heavily involved in church life--in the pres..byterian church to be exact. two of the best things about this otherwise mostly repressive church was the community of caring people and the responsibility for child care that was taught to young folks growing up in the church.

As a preteen and teen, I worked in the nursery with infants, the toddler room with little ones, and the preschoolers. I know how to change diapers very well and keep rambunctious wee ones occupied. As a young adult (age 19- to almost 21), I worked with junior high girls at a sister church in detroit and then with the high schoolers and also with the kindergarten kids. Quite a few of the kids i worked with in detroit had not had much parenting at all and some of them had witnessed atrocious stuff. A 10 year old named S had seen her mama shot in the head when she was five, ya, she was a handful with a good heart buried beneath her steely, complicated exterior.

But, I learned how important boundary setting was for these kids and I learned a bit how to set those boundaries and how to enforce the boundaries in gentleness. Example: 5 year old throwing fit, striking other kids, lashing out swearing; me holding kid as he thrashes about until finally he calms down and then is just held in my arms--quieted, calmed and well-loved.

K on the other hand has very little experience with kids and babies. I think her most involved interactions with kids have been with my sister's three children over the last ten years. and she has enjoyed it.

Here i am an anarchist politically and at heart, but who on a whole believes in the legitimacy of boundaries for children, teens, and adults, alike. KK is much more laid back than me about all kinds of things. I do not intend to be a fascist parent. I do intend to develop rules (not necessarily etched in stone or chalk or anything else) and parameters together for all of us to follow.

K is so calm and stable and i cannot wait to see this all unfold in our endeavor together as parents, but damn am I nervous.

Sometimes, I find myself standing in random places and a song or a slice of life around me will startle me to stillness and my throat will seize up with a tightness and my eyes well up with tears and all I can think about is the cataclysmic event hanging on the precipice of december. I am willing it to be wonderful but every now and again the wonderful also has a hint of doom shadowing the W and L of the word.

I guess this is where big change often leaves me, scurrying about wanting answers and plans when that is not the way of life and i know it. Sometimes i wish i could gut the calvinism (the theology of predeterminism) that is imprinted on the lining of my veins, even though i have rejected every bit of the theology of my youth in my mind, from under my skin.

in the meantime k and i will keep on loving as fiercely as we can and plan where plans need made and dream in the in-between places.