rest easy dear friend

saying goodbye to my good friend

I never knew a cooler, more loyal cat. rest in peace dear, dear sweet Ziggy. you were so loved. gosh, you were loved. I will miss the way you sought out my lap anytime it was available (as much as I claimed to not like it when Claire was a wee one and my body was so seldom all my own), the way you started purring before I even touched you. the way you always slept by my head- for almost 14 years. the way you meowed so loudly when we got home from vacation- yelling at us for having been gone and telling us all about your adventures. I will miss spooning with you on cold winter nights - me the big spoon, you the little. and the two of us fighting over the best spot by the wood stove…. I will even miss hearing you jump on the counters at night and making a racket because, well, because that meant you were here and well. love you Zig. xoxo I hope these last days weren't too terrible for you, and that I took off my rose-colored glasses in time to show you some respect and let you go with dignity.


the sweetest ever, despite the bitterness

newly hive-less and with a plan to take the year off from beekeeping, we find ourselves with an early spring honey harvest.  when added to the harvest from last July we're hoping this should get us through the next year or so, maybe even until we've got some girls buzzing in the back yard again with honey enough to spare for us.

it is the most delicious honey I've ever had.


light and blossoms, growth and fire

it's 10:01pm and I really should be working on rearranging the trays of seedlings so that all of the shorter plants are together and all of the taller plants are together, so that none of them are stretching too far for the light.  or I should be trying to get my ailing cat to eat, or working on an article I need to hand in before we head to the beach this weekend (spring break! heading back to Hunting Island but this time with dear friends- woohooo!).  or showering.  or finishing the dishes.  or getting the rental house ready for the next round of visitors.

but instead I'm here, getting photos from the last two days off the camera and onto (into?) the computer.  and then I click on this and that and then I look at older photos and then it's 10:01 and I've not yet showered, written things I need to write, etc.

the spring light, the blossoming fruit trees and daffodils, the wild violets…. oh my.  it's hard to experience these early spring days and not feel a bit giddy and relieved at the newness and the promise and the growth.  I recall smiling at the wild violets last year, finding peace and joy and hope in those tiny purple flowers when I was engulfed in such incredible sadness.   a year ago this Wednesday I listened in on a conference call with doctors saying my mother might be dying and now just look.  she is very much here and alive and well and the wild violets are blossoming again and life goes on.


a bouquet from my girl,

the tomatoes are growing strong and since I'm too much a sucker to pluck out the extras that sprout we now have an obscene amount of tomato plants,

morning beverages for the girls,

and a new wood stove, delivered today.  after much deliberation we went with this.  I am so pleased and so looking forward to going through much less wood next winter and gosh it's pretty with that soapstone, isn't it?  some girls want a closet full of fancy shoes and sparkling jewelry.  I am over the moon with this new 400 pound hunk of steel and soapstone.  swoon.


spring-ish, and other things

while officially it starts tomorrow, it has felt rather spring-ish around here for a solid week.  today it is cool and rainy, but we've had several warm and sunny days lately.  warm enough to wear short sleeves and have lots of snacks and meals outside.  to bring the seedlings outside for a watering.  to plant a bed full of greens and carrots, beets and parsnips.

the garlic looks great, the garden tools are being put to use…..
yes, SPRING.

she cuddles her favorite doll, Broccoli.  I think my dad bought that doll at the dollar store when Claire was maybe one and a half.  of course I initially snubbed it as an ugly cheap plastic thing but wouldn't you know it was the first doll she named and she loves her so.  others get loved on a good bit too but Broccoli is the one that has to be found before bed time and that has to come along on road trips and even came backpacking with us.

there is still rather a lot of cat-coaxing going on around here as I try to get Ziggy to eat.  something, anything.  I've never tried so hard to woo a cat.  I go to the store and buy a dozen different cans and packets and trays of various juicy bits that are really supposed to taste great to the feline crowd.  I even went so far as to get him that "cat milk" in the little blue box.  that he kinda likes.  if only he'd pick a food to like, I'd get him a truckload of it.  it looks (and, um, smells) a bit like a cat food smorgasbord around here, with probably at least 6 or 8 different little bowls and plates set about the house at any given time.  his kidneys just aren't cutting it anymore and sadly it looks like giving him fluids at least semi-regularly is our new normal.  he seems okay, if a bit tired and skinny.  we realize our time with him is limited and so we are loving on him as much as we can and enjoying him while he is here.  I am aware that in coming days it may become hard for me to see what is the reality, as opposed to seeing what I want to see.  so I'm trying to be conscious of that so that his best interest comes before my own desire to keep and hold and snuggle and pet and love.  you know?

there is also soft yarn, photo cards being shipped out to someone far away, sunsets out her bedroom window, and a bit of spring cleaning as we try (as we always are trying) to get rid of things we don't need.  certain things will stay, though.  I'm bad to gather 'treasures' while out and about.  feathers, seeds, shells, pinecones, creekside treasures….. they stay.  they have stories to tell, memories to nudge awake when I need them most.

happy spring!


one good thing

I read this article on panhandling the other day and found myself quite moved by it.  I am no stranger to bringing boxes of food and clothing to the food pantry/shelter here in town, and make sure that Claire is involved with each step when I do so.  But panhandling has always been trickier for me.  It's one thing to drop off boxes and nod hello to the friendly older volunteers at the pantry who invite Claire over to sign her name on the board and see where everything goes.  It doesn't prompt nearly as much self-reflection and forced sudden (perhaps disconcerting and uncomfortable) awareness of your own privilege as staring poverty directly in the eye when someone on the street, or at a highway exit, reaches out and asks you for spare change or a meal.  What do we do about that?  (aside from hoping your car isn't the one stopped directly next to the person at the traffic light) How do I handle that?  Just thinking about it makes my heart feel heavy and a pesky little notion of guilt starts tapping at my conscience.  And I wonder….. why is it even an issue, this not knowing what to do?

I'm going to be completely honest here.  Aside from the handful of times I've given boxed-up leftovers after a meal out to someone in the street or offered a bit of money, more often than not, I have simply looked the other way and continued on with what I was doing.  I know I've tried hard to make it appear that I perhaps didn't even see the person in need, no doubt to make it easier for myself to deal with the fact that I just outright ignored that person.  How very used to being 'pretend-ignored' they must be.  How uncomfortable I feel afterwards, like I just put on a false costume and an awkward show that felt wrong all the way down to my toes.  Nearly every time I've done so I have spent quite a while mulling it over afterwards.  What should I have done?  What could I have done?  Was it the right thing, this ignoring of the actual human in the street but then bringing boxes anonymously to the shelter?  Surely it couldn't be, or I wouldn't have felt so badly afterwards (versus when I actually did give and afterwards felt so, so incredibly happy to have shared a bit of my own relative abundance with someone who really needed it).  Sometimes my excuse is the worry of 'what if I gave the person money and they just used it for cigarettes or liquor?'  Why that is such a common worry and such a common reason given for not giving, I don't really know.  After all, if my life was such that I often found myself begging from strangers to make ends meet, it's likely I wouldn't always spend that money on organic kale and chia seeds, you know?  The article touches on that a bit- on the point that maybe, if we are moved to give in the first place, maybe we should be able to let go of worrying about how what we give is spent (in this kind of case, anyway).  Maybe part of our philanthropy can and should include releasing the need to control what other people are doing and thinking.  Especially when we'd be hard-pressed to put ourselves in their shoes.   Who knows.

Part of the author's spiel was to say hey, if you aren't exactly sure what to do, but you know you want to do something, and you aren't sure how you feel about just giving money, then why not put together some bags and keep them in your car (or backpack, if you're out and about in the city) for these occasions?

And so, that is exactly what Claire and I did yesterday.  We went shopping together and discussed what kinds of things might be most helpful and useful in such a bag.  We discussed the merits of flashlights and lip balm and packaged snacks.  Then we brought the booty home and spread it out on the table on the back deck and proceeded to divide items to evenly fill three bags (she even got some math in there along with the philanthropy and service).  In each bag, we put:

-alcohol based hand sanitizer

(see what I just did?  I specified alcohol based because I didn't want you to think I bought the stuff with antibacterial whatnot in it because, you know, I'm concerned about the overuse of such things.  but that doesn't matter one bit in the context of this post, does it?  not really.  it's like the whole kale and chia seeds thing.  you get what I'm saying, right?  making these purchases actually gave Claire and I a bit to talk about because she recognized that these are not all things we'd buy for ourselves.  I basically told her (when asked why I wasn't buying more of those pb crackers for her) that sometimes, you do what you can and the characteristics that make one thing better or worse than another, when you are considering them in light of such bigger issues like poverty and homelessness, well….. a lot of it is relative and somehow unimportant in comparison.  Yes, the crackers have oil in them that is probably from GMO soybeans, but that just wasn't really the battle we were focused on at the moment, and I'm starting to see that sometimes we have to separate out such battles when we are forging ahead in murky waters trying to fight the good fight.  Sometimes, we can't carry the whole of the world on our shoulders when we are simply wanting to do one good thing.   It's the whole 'don't let perfect be the enemy of good' thing….. whew.)

-hand cream
-lip balm
-a travel size toothbrush/paste set
-a flashlight with batteries
-a pair of cotton socks
-a small package of cotton swabs
-a couple bags of cheddar crackers
-a couple packages of peanut butter crackers
-a couple granola bars
-a couple cereal bars
-a couple boxes of dried cranberries

And I believe that's it. (with the exception of little happy drawings that she insists she needs to put in each one, which I think is pretty stinking sweet)

The plan is to keep the bags in the car and have them at the ready the next time we see someone panhandling.  She has already informed me that, while she wouldn't mind giving the bags to someone herself, she'd rather I do the talking.  I get it.  It's uncomfortable on some levels for all of us, perhaps.  Or maybe it's just the fact that she is often a bit shy around people she doesn't know.  Either way, I'm hoping that by doing this kind of stuff,  any awkwardness in these exchanges and experiences will be nonexistent for her, and that recognizing a fellow human without feeling any call to 'pretend-ignore' them will be second nature.  And hopefully it will be the same for me, as well.