Note the appropriate response here is: "When did THAT happen?" because let's be honest, life is moving so fast, there's no other question to ask.
Every time I look out my dining room window and see these growing on the hill, I think, This is my household. My three sons.
I can almost hear them bickering: Bruh, you're standing too close to me. Yo, let me squeeze in. Ouch! You're on my foot. You just elbowed my groin. Stand still. Why can't you ever just listen? Dude! Let me stand in between you guys. Guys!
Etc. Etc.And for the love of all that's holy, one more etc.
They're tall and lanky, these guys on the hill. And now so are the guys inside my house.
One son — Junior — is 16 years old and six feet tall; one — Everett — is 12, almost as tall as I am, and stuck in tweenager awkwardness; and one — Cam — is eight years old, trying desperately not to get left behind.
Junior was seven months old when I started this blog; in a few short weeks he'll round the corner towards his driver's license. I don't know where the years have gone but at the same time, I feel like we've lived 100 lifetimes since.
Five years ago, when we first moved into our new home near New Haven and I first saw the plants in our yard, I thought we had accidentally planted corn. Really thin, oddly kerneled corn. I'd never seen them in Mulletville; then again, we only had 0.25 acres of crabgrass.
I found out the strange, stalky weeds are actually common mullein.
That summer, and every summer since, I hacked them down but this year I let them proliferate, and I kind of love them. The weed is delicate, with its rosette wreath of leaves, but strangely phallic. It's a little schizophrenic-looking, as if the top and bottom of the plant can't agree on who it wants to be.
It's said that mullein can be used to treat respiratory issues, to reduce inflammation, and in salves for burns or rashes. Mullein's velvety leaves were once used as toilet paper, hence its nickname, Cowboy Toilet Paper.
Interestingly, mullein spreads but isn't aggressively invasive. Like, Hey, if you let me grow here, I won't change your landscape, make extra work for you, or take over your home.
They're tall and lanky, these guys on the hill. And now, the more I think about it, so very unlike the guys inside my house.
So very, very unlike.
First, the bad news about my recent (er, em, 2 months ago) suet post: My suet wad fell on the ground after a windstorm.
It melted and when I first found it I let out a long "eeeeew" because if you're grossly perverted, like me, you might see the remnants of a Peeping Tom, and not suet, in the leaves.
The smell of bacon brought me back to reality.
I never got to see birds happily flitting about it — like the ones in Cinderella — but I did see an already-plump squirrel happen upon it and I swear to God, you could see the grin on his face as he sat down and went to town on the fat, nuts, and peanut butter. He ate the whole damn thing himself, that little fatty. Instead of shooing him away, I thought, "Good for you. Sit down and feast."
See, I'm trying out this new way of thinking, which is, slow the fuck down and enjoy life.
AND I LIKE IT.
Which kind of ties into the good thing that came from my last suet post: Chuck read it, and he came home from work and did the dishes. More than that, though, we had a heart-wrenching, brutally honest conversation about the lack of equality in the way our household runs, and how the distribution of labor needs to be reassessed.
Basically, I said, "If things don't change, I will have a nervous breakdown, and I will gladly let you commit me."
The whole family got in on it — Junior, age 13, Everett, age 10, and Cam, age 6, the two dogs, and our cat. Oh, and Chuck, of course, age 48.
It wasn't an overly prescribed conversation, in fact, it was pretty laid back. It wasn't about doling out more chores — not yet, at least — but instead how it feels to be the person managing the shitshow and constantly barking at everyone to pitch in.
I call it Phase I.
At one point, I gestured at my chest and said pointedly, "THESE don't give me superpowers. My boobs don't make me better at loading the dishwasher or doing laundry or vacuuming."
So far, the biggest change has been in Chuck. He's pitching in more, but the best part is that he is starting to SEE, like me, the do-to list. He's reminding the kids to pick up after themselves. He's putting the laundry away alongside the kids. He's making dinner and doing the dishes.
The most important part is that as Chuck takes on more, he's more conscious of the work and effort that go into running a household with working parents, three sons, two dogs, and a cat, and he's more connected to it, rather than detached in his easy, breezy "hey babe, this'll get done, I promise" way — which made me want to strangle him on a daily basis.
Nope, now he gets it. A lot more.
And he's finally stopped leaving puddles outside my office window.
I'M KIDDING. Relax. It's suet, I swear.
I love you, Chuck.
We eat more meat than I'd like, but we have three sons and it fills them up so for now, I make meat.
Sometimes there's fat leftover from the meat. Sometimes the fat sits in the pan for a few days because no one washes a Godamn dish in this house but me (deep breaths). One day, as I was scraping the fat off, I thought suet.
Then I thought, if I make a suet ball, I can hang it near my home office window and watch pretty little birds all day, which will make me forget about how no one washes a Godamn dish in this house but me, and that will be good for everyone.
I looked up how to make suet balls.
I miss the days when you'd Google a recipe and just get the recipe but no, nowadays people have to give you their life history and pictures of their cat and throw in every adjective possible to describe their dish/project — yummy! moist! succulent! tender! — so the fricken details are like 50 web pages in but praise be, I finally found a succinct suet recipe. Here is my interpretation:
Make bacon or hamburgers and let the fat harden. Or you can buy pre-made suet, which is lame.
Scrape fat into a container. Freeze fat.
Affix frozen fat to a hanger. You can buy one or use string.
Roll the frozen fat in peanut butter and/or bird seed.
Hang it to something outside.
I like my suet ball — maybe it's more of a wad — because it's imperfect, like me. Awww. Self-love.
You certainly can get fancier. You can even add mealworms and dried flies to yours! Because I have three sons and spend my fair share of time washing dried urine from the sides of the toilet, I think my life has enough of a yuck factor for now, so I'm sticking with peanut butter and seeds but by all means, if your afternoon consists of talk shows and bubble baths, handling mealworms might be good your soul.
Not to judge or anything.
Sadly, my suet ball has been hanging outside for well over a week and I haven't seen one bird. I have, however, stopped our dog from climbing the tree to eat it, so it's not a total failure.
I have faith, too, that soon enough, some intrepid bird will get a whiff off that tasty — yummy! moist! succulent! tender! — ball of beef fat and swoop down and wow me with its delightful plumage.
And soon this
will be nothing but a faded memory.
Or, more likely, Chuck will read this post and attack the dishes, like he did the eggnog, and we will be carried off into the sunset by a flock of wood-warblers, blissfully entwined and smelling of cooked bacon and Dawn dish detergent.
Is it getting hot in here or what? Seriously, I should start writing ornithological erotica.
If you are hungry for more, you can learn about types of suet here. Now go make some bacon!
I've been looking at this container of eggnog since Chuck brought it home from the store mid December and officially announced it was "eggnog time." Junior drank one glass and remembered how he vomited up eggnog several Christmases ago.
After that, no one else drank any.
Christmas came and went.
The eggnog remained.
New Years came and went.
The eggnog remained.
The eggnog expired.
The eggnog remains.
Recently, I started opening up the fridge and thinking of the famous William Carlos Williams poem, The Red Wheelbarrow. You know the one:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
I started thinking of my own Red Wheelbarrow poem:
I have been fighting the comfort aspect of remote working and remotely homeschooling — mainly because I am a masochist at heart.
I live by no pain, no gain. Just ask Chuck — thanks to me and the way I run the house, he lives by that motto too, but he sure does put up a good fight.
Love you, honey!
I also firmly believe if you're put together you can't fall apart and that wearing pajamas out in public means you've given up.
Since Covid sent us into hiding last March, I've diligently showered and put on real clothes mostly every day (except that first week, when I was 100% shell shocked from living 24-7 with four boys).
Some days it was a boost; others, pointless.
I'm over that now (the masochism, not the living with all boys thing, though I am kind of over that too). Somewhere around August I started to realize that if I didn't slow down and provide myself with some comfort, I was going to implode. I had to stop worrying so much about being put together and concentrate more on feeling better.
That meant putting thought into my surroundings and what I put on my body instead of the mechanical I MUST GET DRESSED BECAUSE IT IS TUESDAY.
If you find yourself in need of some small pick-me ups too, here are some suggestions.
I was on the fence about the tassels, but their large size prevents them from feeling kitchy or juvenile. These Anthropologie curtains are so quirky and so cute, and the salmon pink brings a splash of soothing colors to the walls.
They're pricey, so I only ordered one panel per window. I also scored them during a 30% sale. Now, whenever I walk into my bedroom I feel a jolt of happiness. Unless there is a child hiding in my room, which there always seems to be.
Something that hides your butt
I've been hiking but I've been stress eating too, and I don't care to wiggle my middle-aged jiggle in my stretchy pants. I know Chuck is rolling his eyes right now because I am such a freaken prude, but I want my ass covered and warm. It's 35 degrees in Connecticut and we have old, drafty windows. And like I said, the jiggle.
So I ordered this cozy sweatshirt from LLBean. I ordered the Medium so it would hang loosely. It's definitely not a jacket, but it gets the job done and costs less than similar versions at Athleta or Title Nine.
Something soft for your bottom
Junior is a teenager and has embraced the Hollister brand with passion. I
am 40+ and obviously have not. But when Chuck and I were shopping for
Junior for Christmas, these pajama bottoms were on a table by the
register, and all I did was touch them and I was smitten. They are
ridiculously soft. And on? So warm and cozy! When I scored a clearance sale hoodie for Junior for $14, I also grabbed another pair of these for myself.
Something soft for your top
Something naturally pretty
Of course, comfort doesn't have to cost money. When moss invaded some of
my planters this fall, I didn't pull it out. Instead, I let it grow. I
even moved more into my empty planters. Now, there's a lovely little
collection. The soft green is comforting to touch, and it's a pretty pop
of color by the front door.
Even better, Connecticut can't tax it. At least, I don't think they can. Uh oh, time for my last comfort item:
Something pretty and tasty
What helps battle the stress of taxes in the Nutmeg State, Covid, remote learning and work deadlines more than beautiful clinking glasses of vodka? The flower essences taste like summer, which is literally right around the corner!*
*If you're sauced it's easier to believe the lies, so bottom's up!
Note the appropriate response here is: "When did THAT happen?" because let's be honest, life is moving so fast, there's ...