Wednesday, August 29, 2012

end of summer milestones

red calabash tomatoes, provider beans, some type of okra
It's hard to count all the things we've had happen in the last few weeks.  Our first tomatoes of the year, the finishing of the patio (pictures to come soon, but not today) first vacation in a while, a new car (cylinder count is now nine, including lawn mower) and most significantly- the first day of school- ever- for our daughter.

I managed to keep it together as we left her in the room with all the other five-year-olds and acknowledged that our little punkin' is growing up.  It wasn't easy.  I had to swallow hard a few times and rub my eyes a bit.  But I survived.  She did much better- coming home with stories of new kids she met and the dresses the other girls wore, and told us about how she finished her lunch first, even before the teachers' timer wound down.
 Gita and I were both overflowing with love for our little girl and pride in how well she did her first day in a real school.  And each day- the third day today- seems to get better.  

Her little brother is a bit less excited, and maybe a little envious at all the attention, but his time will  be here soon enough.  He heads to preschool again in a week and a half and back to his old friends. 
the first day of kindergarten!

little man was less excited- preschool hasn't started yet
 Our other baby- the garden- is coming into its own as well.  Gita picked what felt like 10 pounds of tomatoes and beans and okra last night at our community garden plot.  Our late start this year meant that we're getting a late harvest, but the hot weather late into the summer seems to be helping.  I was worrying that we might not see much produce from it this year, as it was really struggling through July,  but it proved me wrong.

The Red Calabash tomatoes are doing well- small, meaty tomatoes, good for sauce - and have eclipsed all the other varieties- Opalka, and Portugal Orange (?) if I remember correctly. 

With the work of starting a new community garden, and the fact of the poor soil of the new site, and with Gita's (very successful now, thanks) fight against cancer I've been a much more distracted gardener this year than I have been in the past.  I watered some, mulched a fair bit, and weeded when I could, but I didn't cut back the tomatoes or squash when they really needed it, and as a result, the peppers were overrun, and all but disappeared beneath squash and tomato vines.  The tomatoes got hit by some fungal blight late in the season (late blight, maybe?) and aren't looking so good, but are still producing tomatoes.

Really this year was a year to build soil there anyway, so any produce is a bonus.  We'll be making a batch of salsa soon.  With peppers from the farmer's market this year.  But our own tomatoes and garlic- so that's something.

In our backyard, we have finished the patio.  More about that another day, when I have time to talk about building with brick and stone a bit more.  It's good to be able to cross that off the to-do list after almost two years.

And, because of the onset of kindergarten and preschool, and with Gita going back to work, we are now, reluctantly, a two-car family.  We had a five-plus year run of making our lives work with a single compact car, but that has changed.  The new car is a four-cylinder as well, but larger and better suited to long car trips.  With both cars and the lawn mower we are up to nine cylinders (a 1: 2.25 human to cylinder ratio).  Still a lot less than the average American family, but it still feels a bit decadent to me still.  

I actually enjoy commuting by bus, and was a bit sad driving to work on Monday after seeing our little girl off.  It was nice to listen to the radio on the way in, but I was losing one of the few times I have for socializing, or for checking email without (too many) distractions.   I've gotten to know a lot of our neighbors on the bus, and often spend the ride chit-chatting with them. I won't have that anymore as a car commuter.  Instead I get to swear at other drivers who are texting while merging.

I've gotten a temporary reprieve as Gita is working part-time and will be able to do both the drop-off and pick-up for a while.  But the change is coming.  

While we've become more car-dependent, at the same time, I've gotten a new bike.  

My previous bike was a hot-looking bright green mountain bike that was probably a bit too attention grabbing, as someone noticed it enough to enter our garage one evening and help themselves to it.  I haven't had a decent bike for riding for almost two years now, and have really missed it.  

I have an old beater, which is actually a pretty nice bike that just needs some work, and which I have intended to fix up for most of those two years.  But I've had to face the reality that so long as life continues at this pace, I will never get around to fixing this bike.  I've had it for almost twenty years, and rode it from Minnesota to Utah one summer, so I can't get rid of it.  And I know it'll cost a mint to fix it up to the point where it's a great bike again.  So it hangs in the back of the garage waiting for me to get around to making some decisions.

As I have one of those scary, round-number birthdays coming up, I decided that my present was going to be a comfortable and practical commuter bike.  Which I got.  An old man bike with a light on the front and a rack on the back and a pannier the size of a grocery bag.  A real dorkmobile, but fun to pedal and something I can ride relatively fast in relative comfort.  Something that makes it fun to ride to the grocery store or to the community garden.  Which I've done now, and enjoy much more than taking the car, or even walking for that matter.

So there's change all over our lives right now.  The only constant in life is change, yes?  I roll with it, as I suppose everyone has to, and usually am happily surprised by how things change for the better- Gita's successful fight with cancer being one of those things.  I'm fortunate to have what I do, and am grateful, maybe not every day, but am grateful for it still.  


  1. My neighbor had a "little man," and that is exactly the same term he used and I hadn't heard the expression before then--about 15 years ago. Having a highly developed mind at an early age (for my neighbor, it was so early--infancy) seems to bring about a somberness of demeanor.

  2. Hi Joe-

    I don't remember how or when we started calling our son 'little man' but it seemed to fit. He's not always serious or somber- he's really playful and lighthearted sometimes- but he has an unusual ability to focus on a task and complete it- at least for a kid his age. He's amazingly serious -at times- and very analytical for a kid. Yes- he's a smart one, but in a different way than his sister. I guess that's what makes being a dad fun. Kids are full of surprises.