Now *this* is what I signed up for

I’m pretty sure the gardeners, whom our landlord insists on paying, stole our rake today. So after I muttered to myself and raked four small lawns with my kids’ toy rake, the little guy and I lay on our backs and watched the sky. And he gently pulled something from my eyelashes, telling me, “just be still, Mommy. You have something on your eye-brown.”

The cuteness, people, erases all the rake-theft grousing.

We were running late on the way to school and there were a few tantrums about not getting dressed and not going to school and not wanting a cream-cheese-on-pumpkin-pancake sandwich and not wanting a jacket because “it’s hAWt, mom!” And all of these ruffled my feathers not a little, on a day where there wasn’t much time to breathe. But the hour I had to chill a bit involved my oldest teaching me to play chess, as Spouse taught him.

The awe and connection, dear reader, eliminates all the tantrum exhaustion.

The doorbell arrived just as my seven-year-old put my king in check. I’m not a good loser, and I seethed on the way to the door. Damned delivery ruins my damned mojo and likely loses the damned game for me and this damned whippersnapper trained by his damned father…box from Cowgirl Creamery. No, seriously, y’all. A surprise package from my favorite West Coast cheesemongers and cheesemakers and cheeseteachers. Inside the familiar white paper and balsawood box, beneath the recycled-paper faux straw is some Mt. Tam, our favorite triple creme brie, a large wedge of Wagon Wheel, the tastiest and mildest aged local and organic we can find, and some seasonal porcini-mushroom-encrusted washed rind cheese. And a phenomenal cookbook I hadn’t known even existed (because each trip to the Ferry Building or Pt. Reyes Station has me tasting all the salty, nutty sheep’s milk cheeses I can find while blindly ignoring all the environmental staged thrusts of jams and crackers and cookbooks).

The savory, creamy goodness, y’all, eases all first-time chess losses. Especially when the accompanying cookbook solves, in just the first chapter, my dilemma about wanting phenomenal coffee at home without any plastic. (Yes, Chemex is probably ideal, and my almost-all-stainless french press is okay, but cold-brewing is exactly my kind of make-ahead and use-as-you-go goodness.)

So my eye-browns were tidy, my brain full of chess (and evidence that my son is a diabolical mastermind), and my belly full of cheeses. But dinner was fraught and bath was looming and the children were wrestling. Again. There is apparently something hilarious about kicking your brother, literally, out of bed. One hundred times a day and despite repeated requests for some feet on the floor and bodies in the bath. And I’d had it. So I called my mom. Because nothing makes the kids pay attention to me like my ear near a phone.

Sure enough, they started bickering and calling me to intervene. I shut the door. They hollered louder. I walked into their room and signed, “stop; you hear him say stop, then stop,” to one; and “you bath now” to the other. And they laughed a gleeful, devilish laugh and hid under the bed. Problem solved. I continued listening to a story about a friend’s daughter who survived a fire and my mom’s subsequent story¬† to her friend about my PTSD after the fire. Just hearing the woman’s harrowing escape I cried, sad that anyone has to go through those moments just after a tragedy in which they call people, trying to be logical and thoughtful moments before falling into a million pieces of writhing fear.

And I hear giggles.

The dreadful little monkeys had shed their clothes, hopped in the bath, and were laughing that they intentionally disregarded the house rule about emptying bladders before getting in the bath.

Ugh. Little goofballs stopped my fear and my tears with their artisanal urine brine because they were beaming with pride that they’d joined forces and tricked me. I love being bested by my bestests.

The silly beauty, my friends, staunches fear and sadness.

Here’s hoping your eye-browns and your chess set and your coffee grounds and your cheese needs and your grin muscles are all attended to this week. Because melting into the cute and the awe-eliciting and the delicious and the comforting will cure what ails you. I hope.


White banana

My mom tells a story about a child who, when asked what color a banana is, replied, “White.”

True that.

I took Peanut and Butter to the playground as part of a whirlwind “let’s get out of the house even in the rain because I might kill both of you if the whining and the hitting and the jumping off couches continues” morning. Long walk, quick grocery trip, and playground. Peanut romped all over like a madman while I introduced Butter to the finest pleasure of all time: Acme sourdough baguette with Cowgirl Creamery Cheese. I selected a Mt. Tam because nothing says rainy day at the park like a ripe, triple cream brie.

Peanut got wind that we were basking in Bay Area deliciousness and joined us. Both boys would take a bite, then run off to climb or slide or play. Then come back for another bite. We must have had 7 or 8 minutes of bliss before it all went to hell again. That almost-ten is pretty good ’round these parts. See the rest of this blog if you doubt that assertion.

And after the spell was broken, we were all full of organic, local fat and carb-y goodness, a handful of kids from the nearby middle school came running over. Three grabbed empty swings and another started to mount the swing next to a land-based Peanut.

One of his friends reprimanded him, saying, “Hey, I think that kid was using that.” The boy, startled, asked Pea if he was, in fact, using the swing. Peanut shook his head, “no,” and the boy recovered his momentum into the saddle.

And as my five-year-old watched these teenagers swing, I listened to them.

“Don’t rob a green banana!”
“Don’t kill a green banana!”
“What’s a green banana?”
“Well, old people are brown bananas.”

I looked at my boys. One is a very, very green banana. One is barely an apple banana (the teeny tiny bananas that are so cute you want to just keep them in your sock drawer and coo at them).

And as I digested the bliss that came from the previous moments of culinary and parental joy, I realized that I’m neither a green nor a brown banana. I’m neither underripe nor overripe. Probably freckled with brown but not splotchy yet. Yellow. Somewhere between tomorrow and yesterday on the ripeness spectrum. And maybe, when I make it out from under the weight of all that is life, when I and step out for a moment or two as my own person in 20 years or so, maybe I’ll still have enough yellow left to do a few things, say a few things, and change a few things in this world.

You feeling green or brown or yellow today?

I feel quite like a white banana, under my peel.