July 15, 2007 ~ A Summer Day
This entry covers this past Monday, a window into a normal weekday of my life.
Grove woke me Monday morning around seven, patting my shoulder and wiggling against me. I rolled over to let him nurse a little while dozing, and I reached over to gently wake Morgan, rubbing his shoulders.
A few minutes later, Morgan stumbled to the bathroom, then got dressed for jogging. Monty and Rose, who has been sleeping soundly up to that point, jumped up instantly alert as Morgan pulled the side door open. With the commotion, Grove popped up out of bed yelling, "Doggies? Rose! Rose!" and started chasing after them.
"Bye!" grinned Morgan, ducking out the door.
I went to the bathroom, readied the tub, then caught Grove in one of his laps of the bed and swooped him onto the changing table. He screamed in protest, but I shushed him, distracting him with a toy. I undressed him then plunked him down in the tub where he played while I washed my face, brushed my hair, and dressed for the day.
As I dried Grove after a good wash, Morgan came through the front door, Monty and Rose wagging and howling greetings. He stumbled and tripped his way around the dogs to the bathroom. While he showered, I dressed Grove and brought him into the kitchen for his breakfast of banana. "Num num? Num num? Nanana!"
eating banana, still wet from a bath
Not really feeling very hungry, I settled for just a glass of orange juice.
Monty and Rose, sensing food, begged to be let out of the bedroom
When Morgan was out of the shower, I cleaned Grove of the squished banana, gave him his (liquid) vitamins, and set him loose in the bedroom. Rose is always very hyper in the mornings, and she was sitting on the bed howling and ruffling the blankets with her paws. Morgan teased her and Grove ran around the bed reaching for her and laughing as she rolled around and "talked" to him. Grove howled back when she howled, and giggled when she licked his face.
Finally dressed, Morgan stood up and instantly the dogs were prancing around his legs, mouthing his hands and wagging their tails. He leashed them up and took them out for their morning constitutional. When they returned, we all followed Morgan to the front door, and sent him off with wags and kisses and hugs and, "Bye bye, Daddy, bye bye! Bye bye!"
As soon as he was out the door, the dogs stampeded, jumped on the couch, and looked out the window. Grove joined them, eyes peering over the back of the couch, watching his daddy walk down the street and turn onto the trail to work. He said softly and sadly, "Bye bye, Daddy. Bye bye."
It was 8:00. I set Grove loose with his toys and the dogs while I got a few things done. I wiped down the surfaces in the kitchen with an old hand-knitted washrag, put away the dishes that Morgan washed the night before, folded the laundry we dried last night, and transferred the wet load from the washer to the drier (we usually do laundry on weekends, but started too late on Sunday to get through it). I started a diaper load and put away the clean clothes.
Meanwhile Grove had been playing with his wooden train and "reading" a book to himself--sitting down, he turns the pages and babbles on about what he sees, making up a story in his own little language. When I came out and crouched next to him, his face broke into a huge grin. He tossed the book aside and jumped up to hug me. "I love you! Do you want to go on a hike?" I asked.
"Go go go go go!" he exclaimed, latching on to the one word.
I laughed, but smelled something. "Uh oh. Before we go, you need a diaper change."
By the time I had changed his diaper, gotten my shoes on, found the backpack he rides in, filled the water bottle, took the dogs out to the pen, and refilled their water, it was nearly 9:00 and getting hot outside. The haze was very bad, a combination of pollution and humidity. I couldn't see the Craggy Mountains. I fought the urge to give up the hike. Summer hiking isn't as fun carrying a heavy, hot backpack.
We went anyway, out to Jones Mountain. I wanted a challenging hike despite the heat. Past the orchard on Davidson Road, the woods were a dark respite from the hot sun.
Does anyone know what the flower below is? It grows all over in the woods around here, right behind our house even, with these beautiful clusters of flowers every July, but I can't find it in either of my wildflower guides. I wonder if it is a naturalized domestic?
unidentified pink flowers
By the time we got to Ridge Top trail I was covered in sweat. Ridge Top trail builds and builds until every step is a significant gain in altitude with steep switch backs.
As I went, occasionally pointing out interesting features in the landscape and vegetation, Grove mostly quietly watched the passing scenery, occasionally making commentary like "Bird" or "ock" (rock). Every time I passed a tree within his reach, he asked me to stop so that he could touch and inspect it.
When I reached the summit, I decided not to go down Davidson Road to the viewpoint; it was too hazy to see anything anyway. Despite the early hour, I could feel the difference in my lungs thanks to the unclean air. Instead we cut down Freeman Ridge, and back toward Kalmia.
woods toward Kalmia
Down through the woods to Rhododendron Ridge, past the huge clear cut, down Ruins Trail past the line of huge tulip poplars and the old foundation with only the chimney still standing. Beautiful butterflies flitting through the woods. ("Moss! Moss!" Grove whispered. "No, not moths. Those are butterflies.")
day flowers are in bloom
blue jay feather
On the way home we ran into a member of the MFA program faculty whom I hadn't seen since I worked for them. She'd never met Grove, so we talked for a bit.
Back home around eleven. Normally I'd set Grove loose to play while I try to get some freelance work done between interruptions. This day, though, he was having a lot of teething pain, so he was much more clingy than normal. I gave up, because he was pulling my hands off the keyboard, fussing and pleading. I let him nurse some, and then sat with him while he played with his blocks. Besides, this let me engage in a guilty pleasure, reading--I read a little further in Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
As long as I stayed there on the floor with him and let him nurse now and then, he was content and the morning passed peacefully, me reading a paragraph or two between answering questions, reading him a picture book, letting him nurse, or just talking. Since I've learned to let go of an hour or two of work on his occasional bad days, I've been a lot less stressed out. I push the worried grown-up thoughts from my head and just enjoy our time. "It's okay. I love you. It's okay."
The Road was pretty incredible. Very possibly the darkest book I've ever read (and I've read a lot of post-apocalyptic and dystopia novels), and very sad, but still beautiful and even inspiring. I highly recommend it.
playing with blocks
A little after noon, I started to prepare lunch--rice with leftover chili and adzuki beans mixed in, plus a salad for Morgan and me and disguised pureed veggies for Grove with a little cheese to make him eat it. Soon, I heard Rose pawing at the front window and whining. I poked my head around the corner to see her ears down and her tail wagging furiously. That meant Morgan was walking down the street.
We had a good lunch, talking about my hike, Grove's apparent teeth pains, some problems Morgan was having with his programming at work, and The Road, which Morgan also recently finished. Afterwards, Morgan sat down on the couch to enjoy his novel for a bit (Cryptonomicron by Neal Stephenson), and I changed Grove's diaper, brushed his teeth, and got him ready for his nap. Goodbyes were said and Morgan headed back to work.
Morgan, reading after lunch
I nursed Grove down for his nap around 2:00. I'm embarrassed to admit that the only way that he will nap, still, is next to me in the study, in his little rocker chair on the floor. It works, though--keeps him happy and asleep for much longer. I enjoy being able to look down and watch him sleep. I just can't make any noise louder than keyboard clicking.
The noise restriction is good, though, because it encourages me to work. Which I did. I worked on a few projects for the wolfdog sanctuary, then tried to make up for the work time I had missed in the morning, pulling some work-related pictures off of the camera, answering some e-mail, and starting to write up a recipe for my culinary column.
Grove woke a little earlier than normal at 3:30, wanting to nurse for comfort. I nursed him, and we walked out to the living room to find the dogs curled up on the couch, having napped while he did. They were eager for love and attention, though, which I was happy to provide.
trying on Daddy's shoe
Snack time, and he was still very clingy so I held him in my lap and read to him for quite a while, and then we played. I usually judge his mood, and if he's usually happy to entertain himself for half hour intervals here and there in the morning and afternoon while I work. This day, however, it wasn't to be, so I just had a lot of fun with him.
reading The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
At five, I called Morgan to see if he'd be off soon. We arranged to meet at the garden, and he promised he'd be there by six. I changed Grove, got the garden supplies, diaper bag, and compost pail loaded in the car, picked up the scattered toys, took the dogs out to the pen, put sunscreen on Grove and myself, and finished all the other little leaving rituals. Finally, around 5:45, we were ready to go.
Normally we walk to the garden, but I drove so that we could go straight to the store afterwards to pick up some bread for dinner (this prompted a discussion with Morgan later about how we really needed to get back into baking our own bread). I picked up the mail and was thrilled to find our old college friend Julianna's CD in the box. (Also, in the mail, the $500+ hospital bill from Grove's emergency room visit. Which we've barely paid any on. Sigh.)
Grove at our garden
I weeded some, tied up some more tomatoes, and picked a few ripe ones. While I worked, Grove dug in the garden for a while then went to collect rocks from the gravel road nearby. He excitedly led me over at one point to show me a colony of ants. I told him about ants and how they live in the ground and he grinned and pointed and grinned some more. "I love you," I said, kissing him and going back to the garden.
A thunderstorm was brewing in the Northwest, so I decided not to water, hoping it would hit us. The wind picked up, tossing the tops of the nearby trees and starting an eerie rustle in our neighbor's patch of corn. Just when I considered calling Morgan to see where he was, Grove called, "DADDY!!" and started running down the road.
I finished up, got a hug, "I love you," and we gathered the picked tomatoes. The storm was drawing close, so we hurried down the road to the car. As we pulled out, fat drops started hitting the windshield. We went down the street to the store for the bread then hurried home.
garden fresh tomatoes
By then the storm was over save some sprinkles. I added the tomatoes to our stash (none of my favorites, Cherokee purples, that day) then brought in the dogs. While Morgan warmed up our dinner (leftover Brunswick stew), I indulged Grove, who was asking to go play in the rain.
playing in the rain
Grove wiggled his bare feet in puddles, watched how certain things floated in a pot of water while others sank, and marveled at how a cardboard box had disintegrated in the wet. "I love you. Love you." I breathed the fresh wet air and smiled at the clouds and now distant thunder. I hoped the storm had cleared the haze. After a time, Morgan called us inside for dinner.
"Can I have some food, please?
"meow" says the cat
While we finished getting ready, Grove "read" himself a book. Once the food was on the table, the dogs finally settled down and curled up at our feet, still alert and hopeful for scraps. It was later than we'd intended, around 8:00. We talked over dinner and enjoyed the sweet-flavored stew.
Morgan's bowl of Brunswick stew
Morgan cleaned up a little while I fed Grove some squished squash since he wouldn't eat the stew (probably a little too spicy for him). Wiped him up and set him free for a little play time before bed. At nine o'clock (sigh) Morgan started getting Grove ready for bed, changing his diaper and putting him in night clothes. I brushed his teeth and Morgan held him in the rocker and read to him a bit while I did a little work on the computer. Soon I heard Morgan calling my name.
I took Morgan's place in the rocker, kissed Grove, "Night night. I love you." Off goes the light. On comes the radio static to help him sleep. Nursed him, and when he was sleepy but not quite asleep, put him down in the crib. Stood in the dark, listening to his breath slow. When I counted to 200 after his last shift in the bed, I slipped quietly out the door.
Morgan and I sat and talked a little while. Soon, he went back to his work (freelance web design) on the laptop. I stepped out on the porch, said hello to the stars and wondered if I was hearing a night hawk, then retired to the study for a few hours more work, fighting sleepy lethargy (and losing).
Finally, at 12, I gave up. Morgan fed the dogs and took them out while I showered. Thoughts of Grove's little friend down the street, Josiah, and how we'd go to his house the next morning to play. Morgan joined me in the bathroom and we brushed our teeth and did our nightly routines, slipping into bed exhausted around one. We talked for a few minutes, vowed to get to bed earlier the next night, kissed, then fell asleep in each other's arms. Grove woke around two, Morgan stumbled to his room to retrieve him, and he slept the rest of the night with us in our little double bed.
There's never enough time in a day, I never get enough work done, and I don't spend enough time with Grove either, but that is our life, and we take what we can, and we pack so much into a day. Sometimes the work isn't enough to pay the bills, but we're working as hard as we can. I know I will soon be looking back on these early years and marveling at how fleeting they were.
This entry has been a collaboration for WordGoddess, "Summer in your neighborhood."