I am woefully behind on my 30th year goal to blog once a week. To recap since April, poem-a-day went fairly well and generated a good chunk of material plus an essay I’m excited about, Brandon traveled a lot for work, I worked a lot for work, Henry turned one, Lydia turned six, we celebrated all over the place, soccer is almost over with no horribly embarrassing mom-fail moments, t-ball has begun, and summer hours are back. Whew!
This afternoon and evening, Brandon and I dug up a good chunk of our backyard, with the help of the kids, of course, to double the size of the existing brick patio. For one thing, we never put down any weed cloth when we laid the original brick patio, so every few weeks during the summer we’ve had to scrape our knuckles against brick to pull out weeds. That or spray loads of chemicals every month or so as well each year. But mostly, we wanted to make more room for tables and chairs for entertaining in our backyard. You know, the four months out of the year when you can be outside comfortably in Ohio.
I love physical labor, especially the kind that gets down into the dirt. There is an instant reward for this kind of hard work, clear and obvious results. Where there once was grass there is now just dirt, and it is because of these muscles in these arms and legs. Once this project is complete, we’ll order a delivery of mulch, another one of my simple pleasures. I love the transformation of it all.
Alongside all of this earthiness I have to share how we expanded the garden this year, and I’ve planted the full stretch across the back of our property. This isn’t saying much, since we live on a city lot, but it is about double what it was last year. We’re trying a few new things this year — lettuce, a selection of herbs, pumpkin, watermelon, sweet corn, peas, and yellow squash — in addition to the vegetables we’ve grown in the past — tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cucumber, and others. I also bought two blueberry bushes at Home Depot for $4 each. I don’t know anything about blueberry bushes, so if you want to weigh in on care and maintenance, please do.
Gardening reminds me a little bit of making your own baby food. It sounds so much harder than it actually is, and it’s about ten times more rewarding. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the back of the packet and the dirt and weather do the rest. I’m big mama proud, for some reason, when I walk out to the garden and see that we have rows of sprouts already popping out of the soil, as if I had anything to do with it besides digging the holes and dropping down a few seeds. But there they are, I boast, my sweet little sprouts, all growin’ like it’s nothin’, no big thing.
In other news, this weekend is the River Teeth Nonfiction Conference. I get to talk on a couple of panels at it, which intimidates me and excites me at the same time. I think they’ll go well — they are both with several other fine ladies, so if I fail miserably, at least I can count on them to redeem it. One panel is called “Balancing Act: Motherhood and Writing,” and the other is “Spreading the Word: On Marketing and ePublishing.” I have some good news about my writing BUT I can’t share it yet. Just know that it makes me smile. That’s enough, right?