You know those weekends that fly by in a blur of happiness and activity and friends and little people and then, boom. Sunday night. And you can’t move. No? Well, I had just such a weekend. Actually, my weekend started a little early with Thursday evening being a rare “Home” night. “Home”? you ask. No I’m not just using air quotes at random like my niece Lucy does. I, in fact, mark evenings on my google calendar with “Home.” This usually happens after a particularly busy streak and I react by filling all the empty nights with “home” for a few weeks (which I slowly delete and replace with other things until my next introvert crisis).
Where was I? Oh right. A weekend. A delightful, full to the brim kind of weekend. Did I mention the week at work was intense? Lots to do. I am blessed with good work, but this introvert is ready for some quiet after being on the phone all day at the office. Anyway, I was home Thursday night, after catching dinner with a good friend who I haven’t seen in much too long. And then I got home while it was still light out. Do you know it is now light past 8:30 pm???? I attacked a very overgrown garden space, ripping out weeds, raking leaves, pulling sticks, clipping junk tree shoots, and basically rolling around in the dirt like a happy puppy (you’re welcome for that visual). A few weeks back I ordered some plants from an online nursery- they sent the plants mostly in root stock for very affordable prices. So I got carried away and ordered a bunch of strawberry plants, some rhubarb and asparagus, and some rose bushes. Okay fine, maybe I got bit by the spring bug and the desire to be further ahead on my yard and garden than I actually am. IT WAS A LONG WINTER, CUT ME SOME SLACK!
Are we still on Thursday? You may as well stop reading, this is getting ridiculous. But I’m blogging from my couch, where I finally sat down and I never want to move again. So I’m going to bore you with all the details and maybe even some pictures (just look at the pictures- skip the words altogether). Thursday after dinner the weather was gorgeous, the sun was fading but still visible around some gathering clouds, I was covered in dirt, LOVELY. There is something about working in the soil that makes me feel so entirely human. I can’t explain it but it feels miraculous every time. I spent a couple hours out there reclaiming some of the space and planting all those root plants- asparagus, rhubarb, and strawberries. We’ll see how they do. There’s still probably a quarter of that space with lots of violets and some other bulb or something? I don’t want to rip it all out since I can’t figure out what it is. As I was planting the last of the strawberries, the light was nearly gone and it began raining. I finished the row and dashed inside, marveling at how it was still light out. Amazing.
Friday morning dawned with the news that my friend (and former roommate) had delivered her twins the night before. BABIES! TWINS! Naturally I couldn’t wait to meet them. So I ducked out of work a bit early and went to see them. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Beautiful Mom looks amazing. Charlotte and John could not be sweeter. Lindsey was there with Christopher, who, at one month old, is double their size. He looks like a giant. So. much. cuteness!
From there I met my sister in law for an Wine and Canvas event. Basically they walk you through doing a painting. I’d bought it on groupon months ago and it was a fun and relaxing and great to hang out with my sister in law. And no, I’m not a great artist and my trees might be leaning unnaturally on one side of the painting. But hey, it was therapeutic and fun!
Saturday dawned a sunny and gorgeous day. I did some putzing around the house. A friend came to get her dog so we visited for a bit. We always love having Buck stay because he is a sweet and entertaining dog. And then we love when Buck goes home because it makes life seem so much more peaceful all the sudden and he always leaves a bottle of wine in his wake. As I started raking, the three of my nieces arrived for a long-awaited overnight. I told Lucy months ago that I thought her teepee was better suited for the back of the yard (don’t tell her I thought the original teepee right near the deck was a complete eye sore). Instead I had some brilliant argument with why the back of the yard would be perfect. Whatever the reasoning, she bought it hook line and sinker and has been begging for a teepee weekend ever since. I set the girls up with some wagons and bungee cords to transport the sticks (and convinced them to pick up a few big ones that fell this winter). Soon we were joined by my goddaughter Maria, who I’d invited to join in the fun. She jumped right in with the stick transportation while I continued raking the yard and picking up sticks. As we were ready to start assembling the teepee in the back, my friend Karen showed up with three of her people to join in the fun. It was fabulous. Karen helped me rake and transport leaves and we got to visit while the roving band of short people worked on the teepee, played fabulous games, wore out my dog, sang opera in a tree, and generally whiled away the afternoon.
Initially, we weren’t sure Maria would be up for the sleepover, so it was more of a play afternoon arrangment. Maria came up from the teepee (it seems there may have been some intimidating games happening out there- what happens at the teepee stays at the teepee).
Anyway, Maria comes up and asks “Aunt Reenie, when is my mom coming.”
Me: “Whenever we call or text her and say you are ready to go, do you want me to text her?”
Maria: What time is it? Me: 3:23, when were you thinking you’d like to go home?”
Maria thinks for a moment and says brightly “3:24”
Karen and her people left around 4 pm. Sometime afterward the talk turned to dinner plans. I had informed the girls that there were new rules at Aunt Reenie’s house. 1) I’m not doing all the cooking and cleaning up for you. You have to do it. 2) Always look for ways to include one another and the person that feels the most left out. 3) (Old rule) No fighting and bickering. 4) Don’t be too friendly with Maggie, it freaks her out. Around this time, Maria begins to think maybe she could stay for dinner… and when I informed her that she was welcome to sleep over, she was ecstatic. She was sure her mother wouldn’t allow it, so you can imagine the excitement when she was allowed to stay for “my first overnight ever!” It was fabulous. We got out “fancy” wine glasses for our lemonade. Jane made the mac and cheese. Elana and Maria made the brownies. Lucy had the arduous job of scratching Suzie, which all the girls think is a full time job, never to be neglected. Of course they all thought it was the best dinner and dessert ever.
As you can imagine, although everyone got into bed at a reasonable time, there was a lot of giggling and shenanigans. I can’t imagine why my parents made sleepovers such a rare treat! It took me back to the days of sleeping over at our good friends’ house. We’d all three share the double bed, giggling, getting shushed, giggling again. Oh to be 6-7-8-9 again. In the morning, we went to Mass together and some girls went home then and some a few hours later after the later Mass. All in all, a fabulous time with my girlies.
A few of my favorite quotes:
Norah: We’re looking for the not-quite-white-woman (Karen).
Maria (when appearing downstairs at 10:30 pm with friends to find me sweeping the living room): “Aunt Reenie! How will you EVER get enough sleep if you stay up SO LATE?” Right. “I have the same concern for YOU.”
We were sitting in front of the fire on Saturday night telling stories, we were telling the story of that day (Maria’s first sleepover). Maria was delighted as I told the story. We finish and Lucy says bluntly “Who here has a diary? Anyone?” I raise my hand (no one else does). Lucy: “Right. That sounded like the PERFECT diary entry.”
Lucy, telling a story around the campfire about how the (in)famous teepee came to be. “Well, I came here for the first time, and I saw all these sticks, and I KNEW I had to do SOMETHING with them.” (That’s my girl alright.)
Lucy: We’re calling the house “White man’s teepee”
Jane: “I like to sit on you because you are SO comfortable.” Did she just call me fat?
After Mass, I pulled out my clippers to just clean up a few things. Suuurrrreeeee. I trimmed a huge lilac bush of all the dead sticks and branches. And then I trimmed all the crabapple trees along the front, getting rid of dead sticks, suckers, and new shoots at the base of the tree. And then I found myself staring at this:
We’ll generously call it “the grape arbor.” Last fall there were some grapes and they even tasted good! But the vines are completely overgrown (of course) and there are millions of junk / weed trees / briers / etc. growing up among it. Side note: The more time I spend in the yard, the more I love it. And the more convinced I am that it just needs love (and good dose of crazy). There are a lot of good bones out there: beautiful trees (and some that need to be removed), beautiful meadow, grape vines, crabapple trees, an old overgrown apple tree, lilacs, a few perennials popping up in strange places. It is lovely. And boy there’s a lot of catch up to do.
So on this glorious sunny Sunday afternoon, rather than finishing the leaf and stick hauling, I got carried away with the clippers, making lots more piles of sticks, dead vines, weeds, yard mess. And somewhere, when I was there in the middle of a mess of vines and pickers, a neighbor pulled up and got out to meet me. She was very sweet, welcomed me to the neighborhood. I introduced her to Suzie and she said that Suzie was welcome to come over and hunt ground hogs at her house any day. And that they have a pool so I should come over sometime (she saw I had kids visiting). Very sweet lady. They are the people that live directly behind me. Nice to finally meet some of the neighbors. She said over and over again how glad she is to see someone in the house at last and someone who is taking care of things. I do try at least, though there is a long way to go!
She went on her way and I was wearing down and needed an excuse to take a break. Just at the right time, I got a text that my nephew Christopher wanted to nap on me. So I put away the tools and went to see the cute, tired boy, who did indeed nap on me for awhile. And then we took him outside and taught him about pruning rose bushes and weeding. I split some plants from their garden (that I’d given them a couple years ago) and dug up my stash from the back corner of their yard. Just before leaving the Nichols Homestead last summer, I stashed some plants at Donal’s and my mom’s houses. Not sure what would come up, but I had wanted to take some splits from my gardens at the old house. The plants did quite nicely in the back corner of the yard and digging them up was like rediscovering old friends. I have to admit I do have a relationship with my perennials. And lest I spend too much time gushing about my plants, Christopher is starting to smile at people. SO INCREDIBLY CUTE! I got a few smiles from him and even managed to catch some fuzzy ones on my iphone. Isn’t he awesome?
After a few hours of visiting and gardening and baby adoring, I headed home to plant the boxes of plants before dark. I got most of them in before dark and will plant the iris splits another day.
And this is where you find me: Dirt under my finger nails. Scratches all over my arms. Too tired to move. On the couch. With a broken remote beside me and a laptop on my lap. Exhausted, peopled out, happy, and feeling really good about the weekend behind me and really not good about the Monday ahead of me. And the crazy goes on!