November 2013

This is the day that the lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

That part of growing up Catholic sticks. Whatever psalm or song that comes from comes to mind on days like this.

Today I’m rejoicing for being here, for things that might have seemed small a few years ago, or not. Life is still marked for me, or to say it in the active tense, I still mark life, according to how many years since my marriage fell apart. It will be five years this February since we told our kids we were getting divorced, Valentine’s Day 2009, which I’ve said here before and hope not to say too many times again. It would be nice to mark time in some new way. I hope to learn.

This past Saturday we had an impromptu outing, my kids, my new guy and I, their dad and his new wife. All was good. We walked, we talked, we lunched, we shopped, we toured my new guys’ s home, attic to basement, where he raised his children and lost his wife. We came together and we parted, all with little to no animosity that I could feel. Whew!

Today I’m on my own. Kids were with their dad last night, including boy home from college for the holiday. I’m eating toast from Northampton, in honor of my guy, who bought it at a lovely bakery, The Hungry Ghost, spread with almond butter, his favorite, and blackberry jam, made by our Ashfield housemates, who did not abandon me, nor my ex, nor our kids, through all the craziness of breaking apart a family. I’m drinking black tea in the way my new guy likes, British tea with milk and half a spoon of sugar, in a mug given to me for Christmas by my ex several years ago as part of a collection of pottery we were building for our family, one of two mugs, a pitcher, and a juicer still living with me, other pieces off to his place now, some no doubt broken, too. The toast plate I bought as part of a set from Goodwill when I was looking to upgrade day care dishes from plastic to glass or ceramic. The tea kettle I bought myself when the last one broke, in the company of my new guy and my gal, bright green because I like color. The toaster oven, size of an airplane hanger, which my ex bought when the last one broke, which none of us liked then, has grown on me some, and takes up a whole lot of the counter. Table is here from before the kids, if I remember correctly, carried up the stairs by George, a then middle aged guy whose extended family sold me a doll house and furniture for my gal last summer in an attempt to help him clear out his shop while he still could, as he is getting older, in a moment of weakness when I still hoped to keep my gal in the world of toys. The doll house is in our front room, beside the tv, tv my daughter uses a lot more than the doll house. Neither of us is ready to move on, beautiful doll houses a dream the two of us have had since each of us were tiny.

This is the way life works, sort of a phyllo dough of stuff and memory and dreams, interlaid, overlaid, eased together, made into one big flaky pastry, if all goes well and the bakers are careful and skilled and the butter is cold and the house is quiet.

Today I’m happy to be alone. In fact, I wonder if I’ll have time to do all I’ve planned, bake or begin to bake two pies for tomorrow, lemon meringue and pecan, both my ex’s specialties which my own extended family came to love and which my son made the last few times, roast and mash a squash, tradition from my own growing up, modified into my traditional Thanksgiving offering, with maple syrup from Ashfield, orange juice, butter and ginger to spice it up, chopped pecans on top, Texas treat, go to Iggy’s for fresh rolls and maybe bagels, things my vegetarian kids love, write here:), paperwork, clean the upstairs and make beds for my mom and nephew, visiting Friday for my birthday, write some cards for a friend who lost her dad yesterday and others celebrating Hanukkah along with Thanksgiving, drive to get the kids at school midday, make dinner tonight of tacos for the gang, when the house will be full again, no longer just me or just me and my guy, but me and my three kids, maybe a gal friend or two for the boys.

The cleaners are here, still coming these five years later, another surprise and gratitude in my disrupted life. Time for errands and baking and chores and quiet for a few more hours until the kids arrive then a not so quiet holiday and birthday long, long weekend, when I won’t have time to wonder about being alone. Interesting to observe and take part in life as it moves along. Good to find a few minutes to think about it here. Thank you for reading and for putting your thoughts together with mine. Five years now I’ve been writing here, too:)

Today I started the day preparing food in the kitchen. A young guy was reluctant to say good-bye to his mom. I invited him to use the vintage egg beater to scramble the eggs for lunch. At first he wasn’t sure, but when I sat beside him at the table, he asked to give it a try. I cracked the eggs one by one into a small bowl, then dumped them into the larger bowl he was working with the egg beater. Soon a crowd joined us. We took turns, the first guy a four, the five additional kids all twos. “Take turns”, one of the younger twos kept saying as we passed the bowl of increasingly frothy eggs and the beater around the table. Each child learned to use two hands on the simple machine, left hand steady on the top handle, right hand turning the crank to beat the eggs. The nice thing about beating eggs is that it can go on and on and on. As the kids finished, some drifted off to play while two remained to sponge the table, another chore that can go on forever.

At lunch today, we had soba noodles, fluffy eggs, edamame, and golden delicious apples from the farm of one two’s grandparents. The apples were so delicious, we told the story of where they came from, and the kids called them golden apples, asking for seconds and thirds and fourths. The two whose grandparents grew the apples told us he plays at his grandpa’s house. There is a ball there. Inside there are toys. I comment that his grandpa must want him to visit to have all those things for him to play with there.

The noodles challenge the kids, too. They are long and unwieldy. Are they fork or spoon or finger food? All three for most. The eggs are so good today the children eat them all. The edamame is in the pod for the second time this year. Children must learn to remove the seeds from the pods. Once they figure out how to do this, they work and work and eat and eat. One two takes such pleasure in this task and treat she stays at the table after all the others are settled for rest, finishing all the pods in the bowl, putting the beans in her mouth, the pods in a “peel bowl’ we keep on the table to help us transfer peels to kitchen compost bin to side yard compost bin where the worms await their turn. Which reminds me it’s about time to introduce our new kids to this local pleasure, the compost bin with it’s colony of worms, pungent odors, and mystery contents transforming into soil.

Today our lunch time was generous due to an early arrival home from the park. Same was true on Friday, when we had a rainy day. It was a great pleasure to spend half an hour with our little ones enjoying our meal, taking our time to free the edamame from their pods, to retrieve noodles from their bibs for a second trip to the mouth, talking about the apples and the grandpas and wondering on other things, conversation ranging from storytelling to focus on the food. I’m reminded to get the group home in time for leisurely lunch, grateful to parents who arrive midday and are patient while we finish eating, pleased to be in a group of such curious cooks and eager eaters, happy to begin to do cooking projects with this new group, to watch children begin to pour their own milk, to scoop their own cereal, to choose their own bread. Even that choice today at breakfast, between bagel and bread, felt empowering to the children. Which do you prefer? is a way of getting to know a child, for a child to be known, allowing him or her to create a more elaborate identity, to choose. There is power in that, as much as in the healthy food we serve the children.

This afternoon as Liana washed the dishes later than usual, with three young twos up from nap more interested in helping her at the sink than in puzzles or in drawing, I realized again how much these young ones enjoy real work, and expect we’ll find more of it day by day. I’m going to think about what other cooking and real work projects we might do this year, reminded that many twos do love the kitchen and the work we do there.