that’s where you’ll find me…

Somewhere over the rainbow, in Kansas that is. We are officially moving. After many discussions, time mulling and fuming, disagreements, and some tears, at least on my part, we are accepting Mike’s new position at Kansas State.

I had three big wishes for our next move. Well, they were more than wishes – more like absolutes, which are now not such absolutes!

1. a great Montessori school

2. a farm or land for animals

3. ocean

Well, Kansas is only a short drive from the ocean, right? So for the times in between our jaunts to the beach, we can make do with the local rivers and reservoir. And farm land should be plentiful! In fact I am now questioning the desire for peace and solitude as I will have that in abundance, I am sure. The trickiest part of making up our minds was the Montessori school. Manhattan, Kansas is lacking in alternative educational options. To start a school would be a challenge, one I am not feeling up for and would totally miss my children by the time I was established. And homeschooling I fear would not suit me for the long haul. A year or so, maybe, but I am learning it is not something I feel I can do well, or let just happen as with unschooling. After many searches and changing of plans, we found Montessori schools in Topeka (1 hour) and Lawrence (1.5 hours). They even have elementary programs in Lawrence!! We are now considering living on the outskirts of Topeka and each commuting, hoping that I can find employment at one of the schools to reduce tuition for the boys as well. Mike was told today there are people who do this in architecture department so maybe he can even ride share.

It is not what I wanted and what I have dreamed of this whole time we have lived in Muncie. But at a time like this, we have little choice and will have to find ways to see the advantages of this move and the place we will call home. I am trying (though not well) to not dwell on the negatives – losing so many good friends for the Mike, myself, and the boys, moving so much farther from family when the boys are just coming to remember and love their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins so much more, moving to a rental and the uncertainty of selling our house, and the packing and moving and unpacking (UGH!!!). And the list could go on. (BUT, ona positive note, we do get to live closer to Aunt Michelle, Uncle Keith, and cousin Shane! Yeah!)

This year we will also reduce our garden planting and have to double up our work efforts on repairs we did not finish last year when we thought we were listing the house. Oh, I can already see this spring and early summer playing out… busy, busy, busy. Especially with two ‘helping’ children!

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it starts with a seed

Today, in a moment of peace (well, more like 20 moments of peace), I had the luxury of sorting my seed packages, planning what needs started early, and cleaning my garden box. While writing out my notes, I could already see the blue podded peas growing, taste a black cherry tomato, and could imagine the rich smell of soil as an early carrot is yoinked from the ground. Yes, yoinked, but only when the ground is just right. Otherwise, my yoink becomes a curse as the green snaps off. Then, instead of doing the logical thing – getting a shovel to dig it out – I waste ten minutes getting soil under my fingernails as I scape around the carrot top, depsreate to get that carrot out. And in the end I get the shovel and I get it. And it is tasty. Oh, I am already there!

I can already feel the cool mornings and hot afternoons I manage to get into the garden, the anger and exhaution at weeding, the joy of finding the first baby squash, the dread at the sheer number of beans to pick and the utter satisfaction when I look at the mounding bowl of those same cursed beans. I love watching the magical transformation of our five dirt strips into a lush overgrown tangle of plants with little hidden delights under all the leaves. And I love sharing it with my boys, who seem to be developing their own love for the garden.

This year is exciting in its own right. What will succeed? What will fail? What new seeds will become treasured favorites that I want to plant again and again? What food item will I be utterly sick of and vow to plant less of next year? (This year, it will be less beets and less chard. Major winter overload right now!)  

My daydreaming is over for now. In the week to come, armed with my new book Carrots Love Tomatoes , I plan to spend a little bit more time on my garden map. Yes, I map each garden out and save the notes. It is great for looking back at what I have planted in the past, what worked well where it was at, and how much space was devoted to each item. There are online tools for mapping your garden, but since I cram so much into so little space, I do my own planning to get it just the way I want.

today’s thrill

Despite it being Halloween, today’s thrill had nothing to do with scary costumes or silly tricks. Today was the day we said goodbye to the garden for the year. That in itself was not thrilling. We had to rip that last plants – the tomatoes, the Brussel sprouts, the okra – and harvest what was left before we mixed in compost and tilled the soil. This also was not exactly thrilling.

Bringing in the okra pods for their seeds, harvesting a large bag of swiss chard, and finding just a few more yellow tomatoes to pop in our mouths was thrilling. Elliott’s delight at finding more caterpillars camouflaged in the veggies was thrilling. Showing Elliott how to carefull use a knife to cut the okra from the plant and turning the job over to him was thrilling. Sharing the same excitement with everyone in the family when we found a small patch of forgotten carrots was thrilling. Working as a family and finding ways to have Oliver be part of it was thrilling.

Today I felt happy with the garden and with the hard work the family has done all season long. I had doubts in the garden this year, but it proved me wrong. My freezer can attest to its success. 

While sharing the day with flocking starlings and the last caterpillars, we all felt very pleased even though it was a full work day and we had to said farewell to the garden. I hope you had a thrilling day in your own way.

garden work

Yesterday was a hard day. Under threat of rain and thunderstorms, we ignored children’s requests, barely ate meals, and spent the whole day outside in the humidity, all to get the garden weeded and planted. As I worked, I felt angry at the garden. Why were there so many weeds? Why were seeds not sprouting? It was not until the end of the day when I realized that I was remembering last year’s garden and the conditions that made it what is was. Last year, I had small chunks of time to weed and I remembered to water my seedlings when I first put them in the ground.

May 2009 Garden Set Up

Each year the garden changes. Its life depends on what my life has going on. Being busy with two children, less time has been devoted to the soil and seeds and weeds. It also varies due to rain, sun, frosts. All of these issues have kept me from planting a week earlier, kept me from tackling weeds sooner. And errors from last year effected this year. When small tomatoes were rotting and falling last year, I was so pregnant, I let them stay where they fell. I think you can see why!

And I paid the price. This year, I weeded out hundreds of volunteer tomatoes. Plus, our compost added volunteer sunflowers, potatoes, and a few other random plants to the garden. We tilled it in and the seeds loved it!

So when this realization hit, I felt more at peace with my little garden and cannot wait to see how it is different from last year. I can be in love with my garden now… now that the hardest work is over.

a full day

Today was a busy day with many ups and downs, but not much time to pause and reflect on it. Until now.

* satisfaction… over killing off weeds that threaten the flowers, with a little help from our new electric weed whacker!

thinking about… seeing my aged neighbor trying to keep doing what he loves and struggle

excited about… a step that could change a lot for my family and is giving me a new confidence in myself

laughing about…  big E asking about the picture of the jellyfish, “why does it have so many testicles?”

* looking forward to… sitting and being peaceful near our garden, work done, and putting a big line through it on our list