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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bike With Me

It's difficult to believe that my boys are growing up and are independent enough for outings on their own. And it's heartwarming when G1 decides to take G2 on a bike ride. Those two are serious mud-lovers. They may not always pick up their library books or socks, but they believe in clean bikes! Look at that smile. A good time was had by both, and their mama is relieved to have them safely home.

Accidental Understanding

Almost one month ago, I was in a very serious car accident. I've never been in a vehicle accident of any kind before, and it was both a shocking and frightening experience. I was driving to work at the coast with a backseat full of clinic supplies. I was driving my mom's car (she often accompanies me for some beach and volunteer time), she was a passenger, and we had barely left our city on a drizzly grey day when it occurred. I remember that I was talking to her about the online class in Population Nursing I had started the day before just before it happened.

An oncoming log truck in the opposite lane was driving very close to the median, spraying up water from the wet road, a narrow state highway. I turned the wheel to the right, swerving a bit, to put more distance between us and the truck. When I tried to recenter the car the strangest (and scariest) thing happened. Each time I turned the wheel, the car overcompensated, swerving back and forth, almost into the oncoming lane, then almost off the road, back and forth. It must have happened four times. A friend later told me that this is called "fishtailing", and is a form of hydroplaning.

I had time to think, and say, "I think I'm losing control of the car!" and then suddenly we were crossing the oncoming lane of traffic (empty, thank God) and heading for the ditch on the opposite side. Then, too, a few thoughts flitted through my mind--I thought "Maybe this is it" and then "Oh no, my boys!". Meanwhile, I was aware I was shouting "Mom! Are you okay? Mom! I'm sorry!" It was terrifying. Suddenly we were landing, we were spinning, we were rolling--there was a fine shower of broken safety glass from the shattered windshield. Then we were still, and hanging upside down by our seatbelts.

I don't think my mother really realized quite what was happening until that moment, when we found ourselves hanging there. She told me "I'm okay, Heather. I'm not hurt." I could tell I was OK too, but had the thought that the engine might explode, so we needed to get out quickly. I couldn't figure out how to open the door from my upside-down position. As I groped at it, a face appeared upside down at my window. A Good Samaritan had stopped to help. He was unable to open the passenger side door, but mine opened easily. I told him we were alright and he called 911 while I undid the seatbelt and dropped down onto my head, then crawled out of the car.

Next I helped my mother to get out. She has severe arthritis and limited mobility with an artificial joint, so I was very concerned for her safety. After she was detached, fell five inches onto her head, and crawled out, it's a bit of a blur. The Good Samaritan led her to his car to sit and rest out of the rain while we waited for the police and ambulance. I remember that I kept trying to call my work to let them know I wouldn't be arriving that day, but I couldn't for the life of me remember the number, so I kept dialing random numbers until I gave up (shock?). My heart was pounding and I was shaking, but I felt overwhelmingly lucky to be alive, almost exhilarated, when I looked at the car and thought about what might have been.

Paramedics did come, but determined that neither of us needed an ambulance. Minou was called and set out to us immediately. He contacted my work. A state trooper arrived. A tow truck was called. For a little while, there were a swarm of people, including two Good Samaritans--I wish so much I had taken their names to thank them later. I crawled back into the car to gather up my mother's library books and the clinic supplies. I remember obsessing about them, knowing the car would be towed: I must save the birth control! At one point, my mother said "Oh no, I broke three fingernails." I responded "Better that than bones!" and we laughed with almost hysterical relief. "We're so lucky. We're so lucky." was repeated again and again.

That was around 9:30 am. Minou arrived to take us home. A statement was made to the trooper. Paramedicas left and the car was towed. The next few hours were spent waiting to be evaluated at Urgent Care and told that we both suffered from neck strain. Then we went out for lunch and home to take a nap. The adrenaline had almost calmed down. That night, I made a chocolate cake with G2, we opened a bottle of champagne, and had a Celebration of Life.

As with any close call, the experience marked me. I kept searching my psyche initially for an understanding of what it meant. Happy that I still had time here on the earth, in this body and this life. Did it mean that I had unfulfilled work to do, a mission to complete? That doesn't quite feel right. What does feel right, though, is to think about how I spend the moments that I have. To notice the beauty around me. To act as much as possible with patience and love. To remember continually that we don't know how much time we will have, any of us, any time. Just to notice, to appreciate, the moments that make up the days of our lives.

The weekend after the accident, I made the decision to take a leave of absence from my RN-BSN program. I was stuck to the computer all of Saturday, while G2 asked me throughout the day "Can we bake something? Can we go to the library? Can we work in the garden? Can we do something together?". Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I will go back, completing that BSN is important to me. But there is time to study later. The warm smiles and warm hearts of my not-so-little minous (G1 is about to pass me up in height) are most important, and their needs are now. I love them so much. I am so grateful for them (even when they drive me crazy!).

Friday, April 29, 2011


I hid this:

from Minou:

...because I knew our basket of Easter chocolate would go fast. The perils of working from home! It's too easy to answer the Call of the Chocolate. I wanted to be sure that I could, ahem, partake a little too. But then I got this:

So now it's this for me:

Think I should liberate the chocolate??

more images of the urban farmette

Okay, so I'm sharing these because I hope to contrast lovely green spring chaos with summer bounty...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Feel Like a Farmer

We live on 1/3 acre of land in the city. Our lot was originally a flag lot, but we were gifted with a little more land that has now become our vegetable garden. We are lucky to live in a kind of compound--surrounded on two sides by family and a close friend, and friendly neighbors on the other sides. It's difficult to imagine a nicer arrangement for kids than to run over to their grandmother's for a visit, to bake a cake, or to feel helpful and responsible by walking dogs and doing chores for loved ones.

All this to say, our little Urban Farmette (so named by my dear friend Kristen)is really not an active farm--though my relatives have a wondrous one in Western Colorado! But we have high hopes for food production here in our yard. This morning, I put in the eight new blueberry bushes, bringing us to a total of sixteen. One can never have too many blueberries. And we will probably still eat them right off the bush or with breakfast cereal, needing a trip to the larger blueberry farm for jam and freezer stock. Many seedlings are in the works: snap peas, chard, red lettuce, and orach have already been planted, along with red cosmos, nasturtiums, and sunflowers (I want to have a RED flower garden this year--red for passion, creativity, life).

And somehow, when I find myself out in the garden at 7 am before breakfast cleaning the chicken coop and planting blueberries before going to work, I feel like a farmer!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Delicious Day Off

A midweek day off--I love my alternate Tuesdays! (I also love my job as a family planning nurse). Today was a treat. I started the day with a quick (though slow) jog with the dog. After taking the boys to school and a brief stint studying, I went out with my mom to a local garden store. As an early birthday present, she allowed me to choose EIGHT gorgeous blueberry plants to fill the EIGHT holes I had dug for just that purpose. (My birthday isn't til June, but the rainy weather now is perfect for establishing the root systems!). I chose eight different varieties, from very early to very late: Blue Ray, Bluecrop, Chandler, Darrow, Rubel, Earliblue, Duke..I forget the last one. Then she treated me to lattes and a healthy lunch out: Thai chicken salad and fruit salad. After we got home, I figured out how to post photos on the blog--very satisfying! Then went to meet a friend whose little "Nicolas" is due to be born any day now. (She put it: "You'd better come see me now before I pop!") We walked to a local bakery and had treats after her first little one gave me a tour of his room. Then I rushed home to get to pick up my own boys from the Y and ballet class, fixed dinner with a glass of wine, and began our evening routines after G2 taught me how to single-and-double cast on (we're learning to knit!). Now off to a nice early bedtime--must get up early and plant those bushes before work tomorrow!

note: pictures are in reverse order--still figuring this photo business out

Easter Rising

It seemed fitting to climb something last Sunday--the perspective gained from rising above daily views and worries. So we set out to climb the Butte, a small mountain nearby, from a trailhead we don't use as often. The hike was a little longer than I had remembered, but it started in an old apple orchard and meandered through some lowland forest full of beautiful wildflowers before ascending the hill. We ended up covered in mud (the dogs also found some lovely green poop to roll in) and a little late for Easter Dinner at our good friend's next door, but it all worked out well. A good hike was had by all, the dogs were hosed down, people showered, quick Mac-and-Cheese with garlic bechamel whipped together, and we arrived in time for Bunny Cake (decorated by Grammy and G2) and good company. The evening finished off with an intense game of Life. Hope your Easter was lovely too!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Garden Is Waiting For Me

A new blog beginning. I'm not sure how often I will be posting, but I hope to do so regularly. I love the bursts of inspiration I have received from others' blogs and have thought about starting one for a long time. My husband (henceforth known as Mr. Minou) tells me that we are not really a "Maison des Minous" as our little Minous are no longer so little--11 and 14 to be exact. However, it seems to fit. For as long as we've known each other, lo these almost 20 years, we have called each other "Minou" and "Minou". One younger Minou (to be known as G1) is eating all the fresh rolls I made downstairs--the hunger of a 14 year old is insatiable! The other younger Minou (lets call him G2) is cuddling one of our three real kitties (the oldest, most crochety one). Warning yowls are being issued (that's enough cuddling--let me get back to my nap!) And on this soft grey spring day, the garden is waiting for me in all its overgrown glory. Time to do some garden hardscaping!