Rain, Rain

I’d tell it to go away, but it’s just too beautiful.  I love the way it rains here: big, cold drops that soak everything, a fine mist hanging in the air like we live in a cloud, and the world is all in shades of blue.

I have made so much bread this past month that my favorite, base recipe is memorized and I’ve gone through almost twenty pounds of flour!

Last week, while unpacking and going through my clothes, I found all my work slacks and blouses and had the surreal feeling that I was unpacking, shaking out, folding, and repacking a whole different person.  One year seems like a lifetime ago.

I don’t think I’ve ever taken so long to try at putting a new life together.  I could tell you it’s because I was so tired and so busy with new motherhood or I could tell you the truth; I didn’t want to move so, in my stubborn way, I did, but I also didn’t.  I’m incredibly grateful we happened upon this crazy, lovely house in this tiny, lovely town.  We have been welcomed so warmly, I’ve found it impossible to hold on to my anger and depression.

There’s a patch of blue sky getting bigger outside my kitchen window and the weather app says we’re heading for over 70 degrees . . . I think I’m going to pack up my sweet Sunshine when she’s done napping and find some water today.  : )

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Sleep Deprivation

It was a long night.

My nod to hygiene today was to undo my braid from yesterday and pile my hair on top of my head in case the birds are looking for somewhere to crash.

Sweet Sunshine finally fell asleep for her (much needed) nap about five minutes ago. The dogs and I are in the kitchen looking dazed and afraid to make a sound.

I’m on my third cup of coffee, but already have that feeling that no amount of coffee is going to clear the fog from my brain.

Our kitchen is a wreck (though I did wreck it for the noble cause of two blueberry lemon loaves, one seed bread, and homemade pitas!!!) and my only goal for the day is to clean it up.

The seed bread for sandwiches needs some work.  We sort of combined recipes and while the flavor came out perfectly on point, it didn’t rise as much as I’d like it to and has the density of a dying star.  The pitas got off to a rough start because whoever wrote the recipe said quarter inch when what they meant was an eighth of an inch, but after the first two, we figured it out and the rest came out perfectly.

Okay, I do have one other goal and that is to write an update or three about Mac n’ Cheese Manor to include: settling in, strange plumbing, and the discovery of mold (not a devastating amount of mold, but mold nonetheless).

Happy Tuesday everyone!

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Making Bread

The laundry is started and the clean dishes are put away.  There are roughly 72 more things on my to-do list today, but I’m pausing a moment over a mimosa (I am seriously considering calling them “momosas” from this point forward.) to write and bask in a lovely week.  Admittedly, I have roughly 72 things still on my to-do list because I did exactly none of them throughout the week as I usually try to do; instead, I explored local water spots, went to a friend’s house for snacks and a chat, and made bread.  : )

(The first is a rustic rosemary/roasted garlic loaf and the second is jalapeno/Swiss.)

I haven’t made bread in about three years.  Life has been busy and other priorities have taken precedence.  But this week, I remembered thinking through all the things I’d like to do if I didn’t work a full-time job and making bread has always been near the top of that list.

I initially learned to make bread primarily because of how much I love eating it.  I also have lovely memories from when I was little, living in Ohio and making bread from scratch with a neat, old lady in our church named Eleanor.  Making bread always reminds me of standing on a chair at her kitchen counter punching the dough down (my favorite job) and then picking flowers from her garden to take home to my mom along with the fresh bread.

Once I started making it by hand, though, it became about more than just eating the tasty results.  Making bread has become a form of meditation for me.  It requires patience (not always my strong suit) and it requires focus (hence the reason I only make bread during Miss Baby’s long, afternoon nap.).  If I’m not paying attention as I knead, I might miss the moment that perfect texture arrives.  The recipe books will all give you a number of minutes, but that just isn’t how it works.  Kneading time changes with the temperture, the humidity, different ingredients can affect it.  By no means is it rocket science, but I love giving all of myself to the process.  Making bread always leaves me feeling mentally refreshed, proud, and more often than not, uncomfortably full.

So here’s to Friday (insert raised momosa glass here)!  May I catch up on all the things I do not regret not doing while I made bread.  : )

(And thank goodness for the warning on the cap to my bubbly, or I may have lost an eye this morning!)
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Memories

My sweet Sunshine, you are currently rifling through a box full of spices in the kitchen, tasting some containers before dropping them at your feet, while others are tossed over your shoulder without so much as a cursory glance.  I’m not certain of your criteria, but you do seem to have a system.  I love to watch you explore–touching and tasting absolutely everything–cataloguing your environment with the precision and care of a scientist.

I folded and put away most of your nine month footies today because the necklines are beginning to stretch and your tiny toes are pressing uncomfortably against the feet.  It hurts every time–putting away bits of the present that somehow, without my noticing right away, became the past.  It is so strange that these moments which are molding and redefining me as a person and a mother, you will not remember.

You will not remember how I shrieked with joy when you took your first, wobbly steps or how I cried in relief and squeezed you tight after fishing that wad of drool-soaked paper out of your mouth.  You will not remember crawling around the yard, picking dandelions and trying to eat pebbles under my watchful eye.  You will not remember dancing in front of the oven door, giggling at your reflection.  You will not remember the way you turn diaper changes into the baby version of a greased pig contest.  You will not remember throwing all the spices out of the box.  And you will not remember your silly mama, sitting at the kitchen table, crying while she writes you love letters from your babyhood.

And oh how I love you, my baby.  Though our time together this way is short, one day, in the not so distant future, we’ll be making memories you can keep.  Until then, I will continue writing (and crying) you a path back through the years to the curious, determined, and much-loved baby you are so that while you may not remember, you can at least have a glimpse of your sweet, small self through your mama’s eyes.

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Mac n’ Cheese Manor: The delivery guys who didn’t deliver and why is the toilet water hot?

The weather was rather uncooperative this past week so I have no updates on my adventures in learning how to make old, ugly furniture new again.  That said, we still accomplished plenty!

My first update relates to the plumbing.  The new septic is in and the company that did the work even re-seeded our lawn!  On their last day, while they were still cleaning up, Carl and I made ourselves mimosas and went to the side yard to chat while his mama was in the shower.  As we came around the corner of the house, I noticed water just bubbling up out of the ground!  At that time, we both thought they may have burst a water pipe with their heavy equipment, but no, in fact, it was a very old school system in which the grey water was piped into the yard and ONLY toilet water went through the septic system at all!  Ew.

Luckily, we noticed while the work was still in progress and once the issue was discerned, they scheduled a plumber to run all draining water through the septic system.  When he came out last week, we decided to go ahead and ask him about an issue that had been confounding us from day one:
Why is it that our toilet occasionally refills with hot water?

Now, I don’t know about you, but until living here, I had never once seen hot water in a toilet.  But sure enough, every once in awhile, we’d flush and steam would billow out of the bowl!  Also, it was hard to tell which valves were for hot and which were for cold on all of our sinks because it seemed all of them would go from cold to hot and back again!  Very strange.  And when we asked, judging by the confused/concerned look on the plumber’s face, I’m pretty sure he thought it was very strange as well.  He agreed to take a look and went on down into the basement.

Turns out, there is a little thing called a “sweat valve” that can be placed near the inlet to the toilet and if the water is cold enough to cause condensation on the tank, it will automatically mix in some hot water.  However, on our house, instead of using an actual sweat valve, there was a two-way, manual valve that just mixed all hot and all cold together for everything.  Thankfully, all it took was removing said, manual valve and we had normal, separate hot and cold water throughout!  Oh the things we are learning as we dig into this awesome, crazy, old house!!!!

Okay, onto the furniture.  : )

Some of you may recall that we bought furniture and it was delivered a couple weeks ago but the delivery guys said it couldn’t be moved in because it simply would not fit unless we took it through the window.

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Well, our ancient windows don’t just open up. I’d have to get the drill and literally remove the whole thing in order to do what they wanted.  Also, because they would not touch anything but the furniture under any circumstances, it wasn’t going to happen because even if I got the window unscrewed, I could never have safely gotten it down without another pair of hands.  I suggested we take the doors off the hinges and they said that wouldn’t work.  Needless to say, I was not impressed with them and even though I was pretty sure the furniture would fit, I decided I’d rather not have them try because they clearly weren’t interested in doing a good job.  So I had them take it to the barn where Carl and I could fetch it later.

Later turned out to be this past Saturday.  And, with just a few doors off the hinges, we managed to get both the couch and the chaise in-in no time!  I won’t say it was easy, but it was definitely easier than “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum Delivery Services” made it out to be.  : )

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So now we have a couch!  And a chaise!  And after five months with no furniture other than a bed and a dining room table, it feels soooooooooooooo good!  : )

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The weather is supposed to improve drastically starting tomorrow, so we’ll hopefully be able to get back to sanding and painting shelves and such for the laundry room/pantry this week.

That’s all for now, happy Monday, Everyone!  : )

My Mama Bear

Today is my very first Mother’s Day.  My loves have run to the store while I laze about in pajamas drinking coffee and writing on our couch (Yes! Our couch is in the house!!  But that’s a post for another day).  In other words, I think Mother’s Day is a day I’m going to like.  I had planned to write about how much I love being a mother, but all the words swirling around in my soul at present moment are about my own mama, so here goes.

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(Me eating cookie dough while Mama Bear is attempting to make actual cookies)

I have always loved you, mama.  Yes, even that time I called you a butthole (mere moments before dad put a bar of soap in my mouth) for grounding me when I was sure it was completely the brothers’ fault.  Yes, even when you used to use the Vulcan death pinch on my shoulder to get me to leave church quietly when I was misbehaving.  And yes, even that time in high school when you told me you believed me that I wasn’t doing drugs but I was going to be at the wrong place at the wrong time one day and I was so angry I called a friend and spent twenty minutes reciting everything I didn’t like about you, not knowing you could hear.  Only to be picked up by the police two weeks later.  At least I really wasn’t lying about the drugs, right?

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And I have never doubted your love for me.  After all, I remember you singing songs with me in the car while we went to the hot springs and everyone else was at school and work.   I remember your hugs (always and still the best) smelled like your violet perfume when I was growing up.  I remember you cheering me on at basketball games–a sport neither of us particularly understood or cared for.  I remember you taking me to every mall on the I-5 corridor looking for the perfect prom dress and shoes.  I remember you crying when I tried to sing in church a few months after surgery to remove my thyroid cancer and I couldn’t.  I remember you buying me a blanket that felt like my dogs’ fur when I was in radioactive iodine isolation.  I remember declaring I was going on a spirit quest and while everyone else looked at me oddly and said nothing, you sewed me a medicine bag.  I remember too many memories of you showing your love to list them here.

It’s strange to think that no matter how much we love someone or how well we know them, there are always parts and pieces we never get to see.  Having a daughter of my own, has given me new eyes and, with them, I see a facet of you I haven’t before.  You are incredible.  And not just for keeping four, adventuresome but not always wise, children alive into adulthood.

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How you managed to create so much love, fun, and happiness with so little under such difficult conditions over the years is nothing short of magic.  How you did all that while working and going to school, I will never understand.  I already admired your strength.  I already thought you were warm and giving.  I already thought I knew you.  But this one baby has broken my heart with love and fear and when I think of you now, with all of us and all we’ve been through, I am in awe of your warmth, humor, resilience, and grace.

So, on my first Mother’s Day, I want to tell you again that I love you and to tell you again that I thank you for everything because I truly do.  But I also want to tell you, that this year, I see you a little better, I understand a little more about how much of yourself you have given to us, and I am humbled by all you have accomplished and all that you are.  You are a blessing to our family, Mama Bear, Happy Mother’s Day.  : )

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Mac n’ Cheese Manor: The Bat in our Belfrey and other Creatures

And, by belfrey, I mean master bedroom.  While my Mamatu and my niece were visiting, I received a text around 11:30pm (long after we had all gone to bed) from my mother-in- law asking me to send Carl to their room because there was something flying around in there and it sounded big!

Carl and I got up and went to their room, turned on the light and found this little guy:

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Now, I think bats are the most adorable rodents of them all, but even so, I don’t particularly want them flying in my bedroom at night.  Fortunately for all, this little guy was quietly and easily moved outside with the help of an Amazon gift bag and we were all able to go back to sleep without any more excitement.  Our adventures with the local wildlife continue!!!

We also (finally!) trapped this little guy who cleverly ate three spoonfuls of peanut butter from two different live traps without getting caught.  He has been safely relocated many miles from the Manor and will hopefully live a happy and full life not in our attic.  : )

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We’ll keep trapping and moving, but the fact remains that until the house is properly sealed, we will likely continue to running into critters here and there as we go about bringing Mac n’ Cheese Manor back to life.  My favorite part of the bat incident was the picture my talented niece drew the next morning on our whiteboard.  Gram is the one hiding under the covers, my niece is the one sitting up with the blanket over her head and Carl and I are under the bat.  LOL!

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