I'm just getting over being sick, so this post is a bit rambly, but then, so am I--
Finding myself back at home, out of the wedding industry after slamming the brakes on a 12-year stint as a high-end wedding cake decorator, and back to my Real Life this year, has been a revelation. You can read the original story here and a second update here. This summer has been a journey about, I don't know--contentment, and finding joy in just being a wife and mother again, in hanging up the working-woman shoes (though I miss the shoes themselves a bit) and being just fine sharing a 20-year-old Celica with my 17-year-old instead of driving a new BMW (though I miss that like heck and look forward to another one; I'm not Mother Theresa, people).
Every day I still marvel at the simple pleasure of waking up WITH my family, having time (not stolen, annoyed omg-I'm-going-to-be-so-late time, but really just...time) to read a book or cross-stitch, or sit and think and watch my hens doing...whatever chickens do. I have had time to plant and harvest our garden, which I missed so much. I have had time to start reorganizing some of the house closets that have been on that list of messy things that need tackled--someday. I have started working on the cookbook of all our family's favorite recipes that I've been promising to write for my daughters, so it will be published and ready for them when they start to graduate and go Out There.
I got to catch up with some old friends from high school (the only thing Facebook is *actually* good for--more about that later). I got to take coffee and my laptop and my two cat friends out on the back deck to balance bank statements or work on *cough* blog posts, and lay in the sun on the grass at the beach or in the back yard with yet another medieval history book and some Sour Patch Kids, right there on a Thursday afternoon, just because.
I finally have time to start reassembling the giant file of family history notes, pictures, and emails from around the globe, that I began in 2003 in an attempt to get some sort of all-in-one record to pass down for our kids. I love family stories and history, and I feel strongly that, if you don't write it down, those people are gone forever. No one will know that they even lived, so I am working on two posts about both sides of my family history right now, but it's slow going.
I got to take the kids camping and stay all week, not race back and forth while baking and delivering wedding cakes. We swam and rode 4-wheelers, kayaked, browsed through Sandpoint, shopped at used book stores, and ate Italian for lunch, on a Friday in August, which they can't remember EVER doing.
I am endlessly grateful that I stopped in time to have this year with them, before my oldest graduates next spring, and so are they. We have had time to do all sorts of fun/silly/girly and yes, sometimes dumb stuff together, and they seem to appreciate that I never outgrew my dorky 80's self who loved dancing to Cyndi Lauper and Aerosmith and thought that Sammy Hagar was all wrong for Van Halen. It's been fun to have time to be really part of their everyday lives, their ups and downs, and to give sometimes unwanted advice from a years-later point of view, while keeping in mind that I remember that age like it was yesterday. And sometimes their eyes roll...Mom...thanks, but...yeah...uhh, we actually weren't asking you to solve our problems for us.
I am enjoying every.single.day of watching the vegetables grow, although now I am watching the weather temperatures and simultaneously the tomatoes, and everything else that will need to suddenly come inside and be preserved, all at once, the minute we have a cold night. There's a whole tree full of plums to pick and preserve still, all the corn, some pickles, all the beets to turn into borscht (Shane's favorite lunch), all the herbs and teas to pick and dry, and minestrone to make and can, but I'm fine with it, because I have time for it now. I may run out of canning jars, though...and I'm sure that it will happen all at once and there's going to be a panicked few late nights of peeling beets and frantically bringing things up to the house in a wheelbarrow, but as long as there's sunshine, I procrastinate.
I am looking forward to the fall, to closing things up outside and putting the gardens to bed, pulling in the hoses, winterizing the chicken coops and the roses, turning off the pond waterfall, and taking down the gazebo roof. There's a yearly rhythm to doing those things, which I love. I love being inside stirring pots of stew and fruit jams while the leaves are falling outside. I love the first fire in the fireplace and the first snow (though I hate snow after January 5th, and I totally *get* the snow-bird thing). I can't wait to start making candles for Christmas gifts, and baking cookies and listening to music.
I can't wait for Oct 31, or as we call in my house--our Pre-Holiday Kick-Off Day. We have never celebrated Halloween, because I just...don't like it. Never have, never will. So, instead we make gingerbread and work on holiday ornaments or crafts on Oct 31. We drink hot cocoa and blast Christmas music (classic, Sinatra-era, only please!), and leave our porch light off, even though I've had trick-or-treaters only once in 14 years. And they were alarmly...tall. Like, bigger than me...umm, hello?
So, other than the car, I never miss cakes, that life, or that schedule. I mean...never.
Shane started an absolutely awesome re-arrangement of our garage last night, which we've been threatening to do for several years. Soon it will look like the picture of a perfect garage that we all have in our heads, not the jumbled yard-sale-is-over, hope-we-can-still-fit-a-car-in-here look that many of our garages end up having. A real, organized grownup garage. This morning, I went out to take out the trash, and there were some of my styrofoam cake dummies (brand new, from the bakery, just in case I felt like decorating a display cake), sitting outside in one of the trash cans. I stood there holding one of them for a minute, considering. I stacked them into a cake shape and pondered some more, waiting for any rush of inspiration or angst. The only thing I felt was--hmm, too bad these are still new, and I put them back in the can and dragged it out. I hate wasting stuff, but I don't want to be that old cake lady with a storage unit full of cake decorating supplies from two decades ago, who saved all of it just in case, dear. When I'm done with something, I'm just--done. So this stuff has to go. Whatever's left in the next few days is going to Goodwill, and tah-dah, beautiful garage.
I still hear that overachiever's sigh of disappointment at some of the things that I so did not get done this year, though. Sometimes I think it's the devil, throwing in my face all the Things I Failed To Do. Yes, I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped at knocking down the weeds in the front yard or the pond garden, though we tackled the pond something like four times (what IS it with weeds? Why can't garden flowers be like that??). The front has been mowed and dead-headed all year and is...sort of tidy...but to me it still looks like an overgrown mess, and the weeds inside the beds have obliterated any sense of dividing line between lawn and flower beds. You can't even see the edging. But I'm learning to get done what I can, and put the un-done stuff on the list of Chores Future.
The rose garden is blooming and looks beautiful, from a distance. It's also totally still suffering from a pretty bad outbreak of black spot, lack of fertilizer, and surpluss of weeds. There are 3 roses still in pots, which I haven't been able to find spots for, to plant them out, because I haven't cleared the weeds enough, which points back to weeding again.
Maybe next spring I'll hire a team of men with names like Renato to come and fix all this. I could just give them a picture of what the yard *should* look like, and then tell them to call me when it looks like *that*.
The lawn still needs sprayed to deal with the massive take-over of clover this seaon, and I'm hoping to get that done before it gets too cool, but my hope is dwindling. At least we have the spray on hand, neatly organized in the garage. So, next spring I will be totally all over that clover, I promise.
On the plus side, we did just get three of our four outbuildings (both chicken coops and the little storage shed) painted a fresh lovely coat of my favorite green, and touched up the white trim, and they look awesome. The garden shed is still waiting, but I'm out of time, so it will go to next spring when we paint the house. Plus this gave us a chance to see the green we chose out there on some buildings before we commit to painting our whole house that color. Aaaahh--What if it's the wrong shade?
I did get to go to the beach one last time, last week, while the kids were at school, right there on a Thursday afternoon again (miraculous). It's cooling off fast here, and I knew this would be my last lake swim, so I got IN the lake and swam for like 45 minutes. Around here, all year, the water is always almost too cold to get in and you have to just walk in without stopping, even though you are silently screaming Oh my GOD this is SOFREAKINGCOLD, but once you're all the way in, it's so worth it. I love water anyway, so any time I can swim, I absolutely do and I'm getting better about what qualifies as "too cold", even if it makes me scream a little. I tried not to scream, though, or thrash around all out of breath from the shock of it. I could picture one of the lifeguards watching me, fingering his rescue board thing-y and thinking is that older lady drowning; she's thrashing around and screaming, and the other lifeguard being like, dude, she's standing up. She's fine--it's just cold, man.
I have also enjoyed recently weaning off, almost completely, social media (Facebook and Twitter). I've never been big on either one, and I'm fine being more or less disconnected from the world (we also don't have TV, haven't for years). I like Twitter for news blips, but in terms of, I don't know, interacting with anyone, it's a total waste of time. The only time I've put a question Out There on Twitter, as in, Hi-I found this possibly lethally poisonous plant growing in my yard. Can anyone identify it, since I'm feeling a little woozy...I get: Nothing. So, eh--whatever.
And it's sort of a love/hate thing with Facebook. You want to stay connected to your friends (my list is short because they need to qualify as *actual* friends or family), but at some point you realize, you're not actually connected. When did you actually speak to any of these people, or see them in person? Does it really matter what they made for dinner or where they went for vacation? My real friends know where I am and what I'm up to. And now, so do a bunch of total strangers, too, thanks to this blog...Not sure how I feel about that, but, whatever. I won't go into much more about Facebook, because I've already done that, here but I have found, on days when I don't check Facebook at all, I realize I'm just living my life rather than uploading it, or checking what everyone else is uploading. I'm on a stint to see how long I can go without logging in. I doubt anyone misses me, since I don't really post anything anyway, (except hey, guys, I wrote a blog post!) so I'm pretty sure it's all good. I'd hope if any of my friends had any Real News, they'd remember to just call me anyway.
I'm loving being a little more disconnected from technology. Not that I don't love my friends--I do, but I'd rather that we call or text each other, or (here's a thought) get together sometime, and also without everyone spending the time together either texting other people or saying "Omygosh you guys, we have to get a picture of this and post it." What? I didn't come dressed for a photo shoot.
Yesterday I was sick, or sick-ish, or tired, or both, so all day I sort of just wandered around and laid around half-heartedly reading and trying to nap, and I didn't get anything done except complain about how crappy I felt. So, I was still lying on the couch reading under a blanket when my oldest got home, and I said, from under my blanket, "I am so glad I'm not doing cakes right now...ugh," and she said "I can't even tell you how glad *I* am, that you're not doing cakes any more. It's nice to have a mom who's not stressed out all the time, and when we have something come up (sports, school stuff, fun stuff, whatever), that it doesn't have to be scheduled, and it doesn't stress you out. Because...it's stressful to have a mom who's stressed out."
That made it worth it, all over again.
wow, this was kind of long and rambly. Sorry. I blame the flu.