Saturday, April 23, 2016

Surprise! OR Look What the Full Moon Brought Us!

A couple of days ago I was tending the bunnies and had the sense I should prepare Petunia's nest box. Checked the calendar. It was still significantly early. If you set the mama's box up too early, they just eat the hay in the nest, instead of create a nest in it.

Saturday, I told myself. Plenty of time.

Yesterday was crazy! I had a couple of kid things happening, school, the launch to some work being done on a little house I own. Special bakery orders. Lots of multitasking and coordinating. Thomas and I were just about to head over to the little house when I saw the chicken and bunny food waiting to be delivered to the coops.

We ran the bags over to the coops to feed the troops. I noticed strange movement in Petunia's duplex. Four squirming, mewling, VERY COLD little baby bunnies!

I chided myself for a second, excitedly greeted Petunia and Prince Charming, wrapped the little things up in my t-shirt and tucked them in, next to my body. Ran to the rent house, tended that business with babies by my tummy. Got back home, set up their nest box, rubbed them with bunny fluff, and tucked them in. Evening came and all seemed well. Still alive.

I try to pay attention to that still and quiet little internal nudge. Yesterday was a good reminder! We can see more than we can see if we just let ourselves!

Happy Birthday, bunnies!

PS Black Beauty and little BunBun, Petunia's first baby, now live with our friends in their backyard. I had great ideas we would integrate rabbit meat into our locally grown protein source list. So far, we haven't been hungry enough. But the manure has already enriched the gardens. And the bunny care has enriched the lives of me and the kids!

PPS this morning the nest box was fully fluffed out by mama. One baby didn't make it through the night. Mama had separated it from the bundle. The rest were warm and safe, deep in the fluff.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Track Season

A few years ago, I watched Thomas run and leap in Special Olympics track meets. Then Patrick and Maggie, their long limbs stretched, gliding along, like music.

Rose jumped into the scene in middle school. Now a sophomore. We watched her run today at the area meet in far away Denver City. Good grief? When moving to far West Texas, I had no earthly idea I would have kids in the Athletics program at the public school here. Let alone how many miles they would cover, by their own minimally-soled feet, and by the school buses, as they covered practices and run club and cross country and track meets.

My one season of high school track consisted of a somewhat overweight coach yelling at us to "Just go run! Do those hills!"

I pretty much always came in second to last. Choir and yearbook were pretty much more my speed.

Our homeschool physical education program was directed by my late husband. He loved to run. He found an old Navy Seals exercise book at a Goodwill in town. Led the motley crew through their calisthenics by the back door on the milking pad after morning chores, then across the back field, over a felled tree, up and over a fence, down the hay meadow, over and around the barn, finally to the house, huffing and puffing and ready, well, somewhat ready, to hit the books.

Who would have guessed? The day we moved in, a couple of running neighbors saw the kids pile out and suggested we contact Rick Keith, the high school long distance running coach. I guess the kids contacted him.

The rest is history.

That man has been more than a coach to my kids. They have probably spent more waking hours with him than with me the past five years. He explained to me that his philosophy involved teaching kids to enjoy running for life. Not just a high school competitive sport, but a lifestyle. He would drive them to gorgeous ranch roads for high desert sunset runs. He would run with them to Dairy Queen for Sundae runs. He would buy them shoes, probably knowing they were well beyond a single mom's budget. He taught them how to glide and not injure their knees. To run for themselves, to compete against their times, to set reasonable, achievable goals, and then coach them, step by step, week by week, in the how to reach those goals, just a bit more challenging than they thought they could reach. And sure enough. Walked them step by step, rather, ran with them, stride by stride, along the way.

For the past five years, that man has encouraged, cheered, consoled, scolded, taught, and more than anything else, has loved my kids.

He doesn't drive alongside, yelling at the kids to run. He works right by them, teaching them nutrition, giving them books, showing them inspiring videos, basically, has been as spiritual a leader as any priest.

College kids still come home to run with him on their vacation. And love to brag on the runs they do for fun, as they run for their life! Yesterday Maggie was so stressed by her rigorous course work at St. Edwards and her jobs that she paused to take a ten mile run. The other day, Patrick joined the UT cross country run club and they ran from Austin to San Jacinto, all night long, 200 miles, for the Texas Independence Relay. They and Rose ran in the Big Bend Ultra 30k this winter.

And now, Rose, a sophomore, after making it to state twice in cross country and so far once in track, ran again in the area meet today. I decided to close the bakery and go to watch her run, all the way up in the Texas panhandle. She got first place in the two mile. Her friend was right behind her. Watching those kids run fills my heart with such joy and delight. I remember seeing Maggie conquer exercise induced asthma, striving harder than any kid should have to, training her, not for athletics, but for the real life hard stuff that requires some grit. Some go for it. Some push and drive.

You have to understand... I don't really care about athletics. Or competitions. I yell for pretty much every kid that runs along that track or across the finish line. Just ask my poor embarrassed kids!

It is the back story. The farm. The wet tennis shoes and panting kids and dad. A journey. A coach who is so much more than a coach. I will owe him my whole life through. And thank God for him regularly, as I see his fingerprints all over the lives of my kids as they fly away from here. And continue to see his gift as he offers up his presence. What more does a young, tender, growing teenage girl need if her dad dies? A young man, missing philosophical discussions and hikes? What more than a kind, devoted, dedicated, hard working man who not only believes in her, or him, but runs alongside, giving strategies for making a way into the world that awaits.

I am not sure how Rose did in the one mile this evening. I have to work tomorrow, and was afraid I would be too tired to do so if I stayed for the final event and had to get home by one oclock tonight. I know she loves the two mile and I cheered like a crazy fool. Coach Keith will be riding home with them on the bus, late and exhausted after a full day in the sun, directing his kids. And will be back at school in the morning to teach.

I don't care how she did. I am proud. And thankful.

So very thankful.

How Rich Am I?

The tomatoes are set out. Some cherry, thanks to seedlings gifted by my dad. Brought home Easter weekend in a yogurt container, tender little babies. Some yellow cherries. A few Early Girls, just cause. A couple heirloom varieties. A Solar Fire, because we live in the desert!

The peppers are set out. A couple of shishito, a japanese pepper, great for the grill. Jalapenos, of course. Several New Mexican varieties, because, well, we all know how much my kids and customers love green chili quiche. A thai pepper, because they are beautiful. And super hot. And just right for a Thai stirfry. Am thankful for a giant yard with many little cubbies. The thai one is on the other side of the house, so hopefully all the other peppers don't cross pollinate and turn super spicy!

Cucumbers nestle against the trellis. I think I saw a couple of okra seedlings pop up to say hello. Eggplant, the asian variety and the italian are tucked in their special spots. Yellow squash, near the Early Girls. Zucchini over by the okra. Green bean seeds to plant, some on one side, some on the other. Potatoes, very late, but better late than never. Dill is up. Basil growing. Chives aflower. Stevia nestled near the mint for kids who like tea. Mexican Mint marigold for moms who like tarragon. The cilantro and arugula are bringing in plenty of pollinators. Roses and irises are blooming their sweet little hearts out. Sage is begging to be browned in butter. The lime tree and olive are tucked into the gazebo, along with all the other green house plants. Leeks continue to offer savory compliment to meals. Wild sunflowers provide tasty salads to bunnies.

The established fig trees have babies the size of my thumbnail. The new fig, Chicago Hardy, is unfurling velvety leaves. Two varieties of blackberries, planted a couple weeks ago, show a tiny swelling on bare stalks, I have faith. Two years of sheet composting along a fence. Please God? A friend brought by six raspberry plants. I found dry soil along south fence to be surprisingly rich and deep. They will live in dappled sunshine in between the pecan and the neighbors giant pine.

I had the vision of berries for several years. Every vision takes a few steps, some waiting. Faith. Hope.

Claret cup cactus smile at me. Prickly pear stick out their hands to wave, ready to offer bouquets in a week or so. The desert willow is poised. For something. A party next week? The purple wildflowers my sister planted two years ago. Why? Because she said I needed them. Are giant happy greetings to me, every time I step out the bakery door. I think they were very happy to have some of the ashes of my friend, Peter, from Ontario, laid to rest among them, right by the door, where he and his wife came to inhale and devour my breads on their twice yearly visits. Honeysuckle, gifted and planted by Patrick, was it last year? Year before? Right outside my bedroom window, for obvious reasons, is sweetly surviving its desert life.

Others, so many, I am too tired to look up their sweet names, yet they give me delight as I look at them and honor their beauty. They give the pollinators great delight too!

Quite rich, says she, enjoying the bouquets, whimsically scattered about the house.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Red Skies by Morning Bakers Take Warning!

My mornings typically begin long before day breaks. Especially bakery days! Don't get me wrong, on a day off, I dearly love to let the late morning sun wake me.

This morning, a half hour before sunrise, the sky was washed with a pink glow. Rising sun painted the clouds preteen hot pink, not red like the old saying. But with the colorful early morning came a damp, cold chill. Maybe those clouds will deliver some rain? Please? Please?