Browsing Archives for February 2012

Bedtime Stories

February 16th, 2012

I was laying beside Jack in his bed a few nights ago talking to him about his day when the following conversation took place…

Jack – At school if we find a pencil laying on the floor in the hallway we have to turn it in to lost and found.  I think that is a dumb rule.  I mean it’s just a pencil!  No one is going to go to lost and found looking for their pencil!

Me – So what do you do if you find a pencil laying in the hallway?

Jack – I just keep it.  Especially if it is a cool pencil.

Me – Mmmkay… well what about if you found a hundred dollar bill laying on the floor in the hallway?

Jack – I would turn it in to lost and found.

Me – And what if it was only a ten dollar bill?

Jack – I would turn it in.

Me – What if it was a five dollar bill?

Jack – I would turn it in.

Me – What if it was only a one dollar bill?

Jack  – I would still turn it in.

Me – What if it was a rusty old coin that was so blotchy you couldn’t even tell what it was?

Jack – I would probably just throw it away.

Me – What if it was wad of chewing gum?

Jack – I would tell the teacher.

Me – What if it was a dead mouse?

Jack – I would also tell the teacher.

Me – What if it was a single birthday candle burning in the middle of the hallway for no reason?

Jack – I would tell the teacher.

Me – But it’s just a birthday candle!  Why not just blow it out and throw it away?

Jack – Uh… I think the teacher should know about a burning candle in the hallway.

Me – Okay… so what if it wasn’t a birthday candle.  What if it was a tiny campfire surrounded on all sides by a family of grasshoppers who had set up a tent and were now sitting around on tiny grasshopper sized logs and roasting marshmallows and singing campfire songs?

Jack – Well… first I would take some pictures of them and then I would tell the teacher.

Me – But what if the grasshoppers told you not to take pictures of them!  What if they said that if anyone found out about them, they would get put in a zoo or a laboratory and scientists would conduct experiments on them and try to clone them and they would never be free to roam the earth again!

Jack – Hmmmm…  Well then I would take some pictures of them anyway, but I would help them to hide in the jungle after that and I wouldn’t ever tell the teacher about them.

Me – Okay… I hope that plans works out alright for the grasshoppers!  Goodnight Jack.

Jack – Goodnight.

Ethan had to dress up for a recent school dance.

So we had to purchase a tie and a dress shirt for him.

For some reason I can’t really understand, I went into complete hyper-drive spaz mode over purchasing this tie.  We drove to Manhattan (Kansas) on a Saturday morning to get the ensemble and after much debate, chose the white tie and the turquoise shirt.  But then later as we were checking out, we ran into Nurse Kay.  I explained to her what we were purchasing and as she looked over the shirt and the tie that was laying on the counter she said, “I like the shirt.”

She said nothing about the tie.


Not one word…

Making me feel like maybe the tie wasn’t very good.

Like maybe the tie was completely WRONG.

Like maybe I was buying the UGLIEST TIE EVER!

But I didn’t have time to pick out a different tie because Ethan was due at his basketball game in less than an hour and he still had to get home and change!

But I was still worried about that tie.

So when I got home  I laid out his dress clothes on his bed with the pants, the shirt, the belt, socks, shoes, and the tie and  I looked it all over.  I called Calder to come upstairs and look it over with me.  Calder said, “I think you should have picked a plain white tie.”

This did not make me feel any better.

I started to fret out loud, but then Calder said, “Mom!  Calm down!  It’s just a tie!”

But I couldn’t calm down!

It was my mission to get Ethan a tie!

And I had FAILED!!!

So I schlepped back to Manhattan and after obsessing for what seemed like a decade over the tie selection in J.C. Penneys I finally bought a different tie….

A black tie.

The entire family voted on which tie looked better.

The white tie won.

By a landslide.

But I decided to keep the black tie anyway.

In a house of four boys, I am sure it will come in handy at some point.

And then Ethan got a tie tying lesson from his dad as he watched the KU game.

It took several tries to get it right.

The CD used the black tie to demonstrate.

Ethan and his date.

Calder and his.

Thank goodness we only have one semi-formal a year!

I can’t handle the stress!

I can only imagine how hard I would freak out if I had a daughter!

I am not even kidding you.  Of all the crops I have grown or attempted to grow over the past few years in my little garden, my absolute favorite has got to be the humble carrot.

Why the carrot?

Why of all vegetables… of all fruits… of all herbs… of all the delicate perennials and annuals, shrubs, trees and grasses that I have attempted to grow, are carrots my favorite?

And why am I writing about this love in February?

I tried to grow carrots a few times before last year and I failed.  The first few times, I did not have raised beds and I did not know anything about gardening.  But this past season I had raised beds and even though I still don’t know much about gardening, raised beds seem to be particularly helpful for carrots.  Pushing that big root through the hard earth of my former garden beds is much harder than pushing it through the nice, loamy, friable soil in my raised beds.  And yet, when I sprinkled the almost microscopic carrots seeds into my raised beds early last Spring, I was pretty certain that I would get zero carrots for my efforts.  And yet LOOKY!

I grew carrots!

I grew so many carrots that I was even able to put some up for the winter months!

And that brings me to the reason that I am waxing so poetically about my carrots in February!

Because lately, I have been eating those frozen carrots that came out of my garden and THEY ARE DELICIOUS!

They are sweet and tender and plus I know exactly where they came from and who the maniac was that put them up!


Well… me and Paco.

I think the reason that carrots are so fun to grow is because you pull them out of the ground. You can’t really see what they look like until you have already committed to yanking one up and you never know what you are going to find until it is dangling from your fingers by their stringy tops.  Sometimes the results look like regular carrots, but other times they are split down the middle or they get weirdly stunted and look more oblong than they do spear like or they run into some impediment in the soil and come out with a weird twist or they go to all tops or they suffer from crowded conditions and come out pale and weak and much too thin. What that carrot is going to look like is always a mystery and I do love a good mystery. But then there’s other part about growing carrots.  The way that carrot crops show up in literature like Beatrix Potter and cartoons like Bugs Bunny.  They way that carrots always feature prominently in freshly harvested baskets of produce as if they were the ultimate symbol of a well grown garden.  Growing carrots has an added layer of strange anthropological wholesomeness for me. My carrot crop connects me to the past, to humankind’s first fumbling attempts to find food in the earth, to nurture crops, to find satisfaction in cooperating with nature to feed themselves.  It makes me feel so peasanty!

Raising a crop of carrots has a weird primitive feel to it.  Yanking a root crop from the ground, examining it’s shape and color and irregularities is positively aboriginal.  It connects me to the human legacy of gardening much more than say plucking a tomato. Digging potatoes is grunt work, and pulling beans is tiresome. Waiting for a green pepper to ripen takes forever so that when you finally do pull it, all you can think is “it’s about time!”  My herbs are so robust that sawing them down with a pair of scissors feels more like taming a wild field of weeds. But carrots? Drawing a bright orange sweet dagger from the earth, brushing off the mud and inspecting it in the warm summer sun has got to be a joyful ritual as old as… well… as old as dirt.

And the nice thing about carrots is that you can pick them as you need them, leaving the others in the ground until you need some more. And then! When you decide that it is time to pull them all, you can take them inside, shave off their rough hides, slice them into bite sized pieces, parboil them for just a minute or two and then dump them into freezer bags to use on a bitter cold winter day in a hearty soup or alongside a roast chicken or tossed at the last minute into a yummy stir-fry. I only wish I had put up three times as much!  I plan to dedicate a lot more space to carrots this coming year and I am unreasonably excited about this.

As you may have guessed, I am longing for Spring.

What are you excited about growing in your garden this year?