(This garden box is now full of two tripods and lots of little sprouts! This is an old picture.)
It's been a very rainy few weeks here. Rainy and chilly. I won't say "cold" because it's not snowing and we have had some warm summery days, and in fact lots of times there will be a couple of hours in the afternoon when it's not raining and is warm enough for the girls to play in the hose, but for the most part, it's been chilly and wet.
I have planted a huge garden and my level of pride is beyond words. I have planted such a wide variety of veggies and have really gotten creative about placement and choosing to do some potted plants and some raised beds, along with some vertical gardening on shelves and hanging on the fence. I'm just thrilled. I started a few things from seed (peas, bush beans, watermelon, pumpkin, and some herbs) but mostly I bought starters from the local farm store, which happened to be selling plants that were grown in one of our neighboring towns, not shipped in from wherever else starter plants might come from. We brought our blueberry bushes with us when we moved and have added to our yard a dwarf cherry tree and a dwarf peach tree. I hope they do well. The cherry is in the poorest soil and by the alley, but I hope it can defy the odds and thrive there.
My sister gave me a sourdough starter off of her sourdough starter which she got from our good friend and mentor, Katie. Katie is very wise and wonderful. She might even be magical, I haven't quite figured that out yet. In any case, she (Katie) has given me a starter from hers before and I killed it immediately. But this one I have been caring for much more carefully (in the whole two days I've had it, haha,) and tonight I made sourdough bread from it! Not just bread, but cheddar herb bread using herbs from my own windowsill! (and shredded cheddar from Aldi. High fives!) It would have been delicious, had I remembered to add salt, but as it was, Anja thought it was the best bread ever and ate half the loaf. (Not kidding. She just kept asking for "more of that delicious bread." Okay, whatever, salt-hater.)
To go with the bread, of which I am so proud, I made chicken soup with rice, with herbs and spinach from my yard! Thrilling!
Now, I have always cooked from scratch and always had a garden and definitely always used my own herbs. That part is no great accomplishment. (well, except for the sourdough.) But it was a long winter. A long, hard, disappointing winter. And every day I wake up and I see that the trees are green and even though it's still chilly enough to not allow hose play, the kids can go outside with bare feet. I roll the car windows down. We go for long walks. THINGS ARE GROWING. It's not winter anymore! I'm so, so, so happy that winter is over. I have never been happier to see winter go. Especially this winter.
Our house is coming along. The girls insist we will be staying there forever, so what we'll do is act like we are... even if it turns out we aren't. We're working on the outside and at some point we'll be able to work on the inside. I'd like to give the kitchen an enormous facelift (with a farm sink and wood countertops) and what really needs to be done is a whole-bathroom renovation including scary subfloor replacement stuff. The bathtub seems to be dangerously near falling into the cellar. Yikes! Also, the upstairs toilet stopped working so we need to get that fixed and we'd like to rip up the last of the carpet and lay a wood floor in the upstairs room, which we sometimes call The Aerie. Yadda Yadda, nobody cares about all this. Let's move on.
Every day I am reminded more of the benefits of living downtown. For example, this past weekend:
This weekend was enormous for us. My sister-in-law was visiting from Virginia and staying with us. Anja made her First Holy Communion, which required an 8-10am practice on Saturday. She also had her first ballet recital, which was a production of The Little Prince, it was very sweet. That required a 10am-1pm rehearsal, followed by the actual performances at 5:30 and 7:00 that evening. She got home at about 9:00, went to bed and we woke up early for brunch with Martin's side of the family at Heirloom, a newish downtown restaurant that features locally produced ingredients. (I think everything they offer is local to Indiana.) After brunch we hung out with his family before Anja needed to be delivered to the school gymnasium at 2:00 for her 2:30 First Communion Mass. And it was Mother's Day. And Saturday was my Father in Law's birthday. IT WAS A REALLY, REALLY BUSY WEEKEND.
But guess how many times, in all of those obligations, I had to drive? ZERO. Despite all of our running around, everything was within walking distance. And because of that, we were able to enjoy ourselves a lot more. Instead of rushing to get Anja driven to town and to the gym by 8am on Saturday morning, my sister-in-law zipped her down with Greta, and we all met up at the Farmers Market for breakfast before we had to pick her up and shuffle her home to change into her ballet clothes, then back down the street for ballet practice. Honestly, I don't even need to go through all of our walking because we were able to walk to EVERYTHING, until after the First Communion, when we drove to my sister's house for a party. That's it! Oh, but I did have to run to the craft store and Target when I realized Anja didn't have a white cardigan and that I didn't have floral wire--which I could have gotten downtown if I had realized it before Saturday night.
A full two days of obligations and only two car trips is pretty spectacular.
Doesn't Anja look beautiful? She was so excited. It was a really lovely day and with Mother's Day being on the same day, it was so special.
On Friday we met up with my sister-in-law over on campus where the girls ran in the fountain and we walked down to one of our favorite coffee shops for gelato afterward. We were going to walk to meet her, but didn't have time because I had a guitar lesson to give and then played a gig at a different coffee shop downtown.
What I'm trying to say is, it's really fun and ridiculously convenient to live downtown this time. My biggest complaint is that I can't have chickens, and that is why I am constantly looking for real estate across the river where it IS legal to keep backyard chickens, and we would still be within walking/biking distance from everything we need. But right now, I am enjoying the tradeoff of not having livestock for the fact that we only need one car and even that we don't have to drive very often. In fact, we sold Martin's car this weekend. ! I don't like driving. I am not good at driving. If given the choice, I would probably not drive.
So instead of driving, I'll sit on my covered patio and drink coffee until it's time to load up the stroller and walk to our next obligation or errand. (In our raincoats.) Cheers!