Monday, April 23, 2012

Glowing Fluff

There is a Frisbee golf course at the park where I took George and my son this morning. All over the park are signs that warn “This park has a Frisbee golf course!” so that you know that at any moment you could get clocked on the head by a Frisbee. (A good thing to know when you’re out, strolling nonchalantly, enjoying the cool breeze and blue sky.)

I’m getting to be quite an expert at packing for outings. Baby in stroller, extra blanket attached to stroller with clothespins for extra shade, folded blanket to spread on grass, travel dog dish and bottled water, baby toys, bottle and formula, diaper bag, cell phone, sun hat, Starbucks iced chai tea latte, a book for if he’s sleeping. It was a perfect morning, and the Frisbee golfers kept their distance and were entertainment instead of a hazard.

As we walked, the breeze shifted and suddenly the air was filled with fluff – big cotton ball-sized pieces of whatever had been blown off nearby trees. It looked like a soft snowstorm, and I dodged the bigger pieces as we walked, hoping I didn’t get pieces stuck in my hair.

Later on the blanket, I lay on my back and stared at the sky. I should stare at the sky more often – the world is at a different perspective that way, literally and figuratively. The tree we laid under looked different from down there, its branches and leaves reaching up away from me toward the sky. A helicopter flew overhead way up high, far enough that I could barely hear it. Then, hundreds of feet above the treetop, I saw the fluff again. It was flying way up high in the wind, gently flowing with all the high currents, and was lit by the sun like glowing fireflies, or round twinkles in the breeze. I never would have seen them up there if I hadn’t lain on that blanket.

What other beauty am I missing because I don’t look at things from a different angle?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Red Doors or Roses

I love houses with red front doors. And while I’ve never lived in one with such a bold statement, I always find myself taking photos of houses with bright red or blue doors, huge pots of flowers, or benches with floral cushions - any type of entryway that makes the home look inviting.

Right now our entryway looks pretty amazing, thanks to Mother Nature. The one rose bush I planted long ago has taken over the doorway, and I often have to prune it so that people don’t get whacked in the face when entering or exiting. And the scent is amazing! You can smell its overwhelming sweetness from thirty feet away. (It’s a white banks rose, if anyone wants to plant one.)

I think front doors of houses, or their entryways in general, should be made to look welcoming, no matter what the rest of the house or yard looks like. It’s like the old theatre rule: no matter how many mistakes you make onstage, always keep smiling. The audience will forgive anything if you just keep smiling. So even if the yard is a mess or the house needs paint, a fresh coat of paint on the front door and a pot of flowers to match can forgive a lot.

At Christmas I try to follow that philosophy by putting outdoor lights only near the front door, to lead inside where the festivities are. They should put a focus on the entryway so people want to come in.

The irony is that I do not have a mat that says “Welcome” in bold letters at our door, and I never will. The people who come to our home will hopefully know they’re welcome long before they reach our “welcome” mat.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Of Bunnies and Tap Shoes

The first thing that pops in my head when I think of Easter is Fred Astaire singing “Happy Easter” as he walks down the street shopping for his girlfriend’s Easter gifts at the beginning of the movie Easter Parade. It was a tradition (and still is) to watch Easter Parade every Easter morning. By this point, even my husband can say the lines along with the movie, but he has yet to join in when I tap dance along with Fred and Judy.

As a kid we decorated Easter eggs by coloring them with crayons before dipping them in dye. It worked really well and allowed for all kinds of eggs: polka dotted, scribbled, striped, plaid, and a few with rabbits or chicks if we got ambitious. These then went in a plastic grass-filled basket on our kitchen table until they got old and had to throw them out.

The eggs at Easter egg hunts were not filled with candy when I was a kid. Instead, we searched for the real eggs we had decorated, after the adults hid them in the yard – it was all about the hunt, not about the prize.

I’ve always liked Easter because it’s a simple holiday. The colors are pastel and laid back, it’s a warm fuzzy Sunday with fluffy bunnies and cute chicks, and it’s all infused with Spring: a meal with fresh Spring produce, the air fresh and crisp, blooming flowers peeking through the ever-warmer ground, ladies in floral dresses and wide-brimmed hats, men in light colored suits.

This year I look forward to playing my son his first Easter records: Peter Cottontail and The Red Red Robbin. And of course, he will “watch” Easter Parade for the first time. I wonder how long till he will join in with the tap dancing?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

In the Kitchen in My Birkenstocks

I never dreamed I’d be one of those make-your-own-baby-food people. It sounds like something you do if you wear Birkenstocks and have your own chicken coop. Okay, so I do own a pair of Birkenstocks (which my husband calls my lesbian shoes), so I should have known I had the potential of falling into the homemade baby food trap.

But for some reason, I love making baby food. Who could have guessed? We received a Baby Bullet as a shower gift, and as soon as our son was old enough to try his first spoonful, I cooked some peas until they were mush, pureed them, and fed them to him as he made horrible faces. I loved it.

I don’t know why I get so much satisfaction from making his food. It could be that it feels good knowing I am giving him the best nutrition possible. It could be that I feel it gives me Gold Stars in the Good Mommy category. But overall, I think I like the orderliness and simplicity of making his food. I don’t have to plan elaborate meals or think about their cost or about if a side dish goes with an entrĂ©e. I don’t have to wash a lot of dishes or make sure my husband is in the mood for a certain dish.

Instead, I pick out a vegetable in the produce section. Something fresh. After all, these are his first tastes. His first foods! What fun to introduce him to a smooth avocado or a sweet butternut squash. I pick out the brightest, freshest ones and take them home, chop them up, put them in the pan in the steamer basket, and then forget them for a while.

Even pureeing them is satisfying – adding some water and watching the mixture get smoother and smoother. Then I spoon it into ice cube trays, freeze them, and pop them out into Ziploc bags perfectly labeled with the contents and the date. The freezer shelf is a pleasant place to poke about, to see his fresh veggies there waiting.

So far, in addition to rice cereal, multi grain cereal, and oatmeal, he has had peas, yellow squash, avocado, sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini, and apples. (Those apples sure smelled good cooking on the stove!) This week he’ll have bananas for the first time, and next on the list is green beans. I’m excited for him!

Maybe I need to make some for myself, too, and reintroduce myself to simple, good food.