Sunday, August 31, 2014

Little green apples

I'm finally here.
Sort of. I kind of feel shell shocked from the crazy months that have been spinning by me at lightning speed. 
This summer has been full of kids. Lots of kids of all shapes and sizes. It's been full of mud pies, squirt guns, water fights, marbles, games, blocks, and did I mention, kids? 

Our house seems to be a hotel, bed in breakfast, kid entertaining station, the hub where all things  meet in our family. There's always something going on, going inbetween, going after.

Right now at this moment, there is a pause. And I will relish it. I know all to well that pauses, if left too long on their own will by the excess empty space bring into itself derbies, people, events, and stuff, always. 

Empty spaces have strong gravity pulls. If you don't believe me go clean your kitchen, and wait. 

Some kitchens have longer waiting periods before the inevitable happens. But it always does, sooner than later.

At our house, in our kitchen, with someone always cooking, with someone always making something, it's always sooner. Always. 

Besides being a place where my nieces and nephews like to take  summer vacation, our house is also the house where there will always be someone to rescue someone from something.

Be it someone's lost goat stuck in a irrigation ditch, (which did happen one summer and it was a stinkin billy goat) or someone's stranded at their house, someone needs an ear, someone needs someone to fill in---somehow if we can, and if it's truly needed, we are usually there, especially when it comes to family---they just get first dubs by default. 

The last rescue mission we just completed.  And now our house is uncommonly quiet. But this too is the pull of gravity, just like the silent last hush of summer, waiting for winter to rush in. 

Something is brewing, waiting to descend, some family event, something...

My sister in law's father recently died, so we had five extra kids, and a baby that's never been away from her mom to juggle for a while. I honestly don't ever remember taking care of a baby crying, and carrying on that much for her mum. It was enough to make me reconsider ever having kids. Seriously. 

I hope nobody in my family reads this or I'm in the dog house. 
Oh well. But honestly. It was tough. All night, all day she cried, and cried. I'm sure the neighbors thought that we were terrible people. We tried everything to sooth and comfort her. But she would not be comforted. Nothing worked. That kid was bound and determined to cry her lungs out, and then some. At night I'd lay in bed, and the ringing sounds of her crying would echo in my ears even though she had finally fallen asleep. 
Not until the last day we had her, did she finally start to warm up. 
I don't know what changed. Why she stopped crying. Why she began to giggle and smile, and do normal things that babies do? 

The only thing I did differently was tear up bits of paper to try to make her laugh. And it worked. It wasn't moment later that all her crying stopped. And there was this happy child in her place. It was such a switch I was baffled. That day I witnessed a miracle. Seriously. 

After that, my mom had this notion to put up corn.
This was not any corn, mind you, this was non gmo corn. So we had to put a lot of it up, because who knows if we could get this kind of corn again. 
               So thus ensued a corn fest.
                 Picking corn.
                    Shelling corn.
                       Cooking corn.
                        Chopping corn.
                         Bagging corn.
                              Cleaning corn out of the cracks of the table, and decorning the floors, pans, tables, chairs.
                       Disposing of the corn husks and cobs. Not to mention the people who had to grow the corn, and water it.
                            Why do people do corn anyway? Who thought of it in the first place? It's crazy.

By the time we were done putting the corn up, I was sick of corn. And can safely say that I won't be wanting any for a very...very long time. 

Then my mom's been harvesting cucumbers, turning them into hot yummy pickles. Those I can never get enough of. Yum.

Oh, and let's not forget the onions. Got to chop the tops off them and let them dry.

And don't forget the apples....the picking of the apples, the chopping of the apples, the peeling of the apples, the coring of the apples, the apple pies, apple sauce, and the bottled apples. And these weren't normal sized apples, mind you. These are small, golf ball, sized apples, that no one would be crazy enough to do anything with. 
But because we so happen to love the flavor....because they were so crisp, so sweet, guess what.

And more APPLES!

Oh, and in-between all this, my sister was in a play as the lead role--Sleeping beauty. My mom was helping out with costumes, and our house was littered with bits of cloth, costumes, and random bits of clothes. 
My sister, sleeping beauty in a dress my mom so artfully redesigned

 The play.
Now I must make a confession.

I tried out for the play as well, and was cast as one of the good fairies. But then, after reading the script, and going through the schedule, and comparing it to what my summer would be like if I followed through, I had to face the fact that by being in the play, a lot of more important things would end up not done.  So, again, I had to be brave and say no. Had I known the play schedule before I tried out, I would have not been so bold.

That no was really hard no to say. It made me look yellow, made me feel terrible to bale out after the first practice. 
But it would have made me feel worse to be indentured to a play---to spend my entire summer learning someone elses words, saying someone elses lines, while I forsook writing my own words.
  That was a really hard no because I have always liked acting, music, and the connection that comes with creating art with a group of people. My ego really didn't like saying no to that one. Nope.  But I knew it was a lot more polite to drop out sooner than later so that the directer could find someone else to fit my shoes. And believe it or not. He did. He found someone that did a great, fantastic job as the fairy. Watching the play at the end of this summer, I didn't feel bad either. It was really excellent. And I was again reminded that it's okay to say no.

It's humbling as well as relief to know that I am not irreplaceable in all aspects----that saying no sometimes will not cause the cosmos to stop in their orbit, and spin into oblivion. 

I just wish no got easier to say.  
Then betwixt everything I had a job I was looking into, interviewing for, but I finally decided that it would eat away too much of my time.  I had to weigh in everything else I would have to say no to if I said yes to this.  
Plus in light of our rescue mission, watching kids, and after giving it good consideration, again I had to say no.


I must be the queen of no. But I find myself saying that word a lot these days, even sometimes to my family. It sure makes me feel mean. Maybe I am? 

But, by golly, sometimes it's just the only right thing to do. Yes, it may be viewed as selfish. But more important than hoards of friends that like to use you, is having integrity, and a few close friends who can count on you, and who you can count on. For me, no has been more oftentimes coupled with integrity---and saying yes, more coupled with my ego.
But that's just my experience. 

I'm just sitting here I wondering what No's I will have to say in the future. And how much more courage I will have to require before I can say it with conviction. 

What no's await me? And coupled with that no, what yeses am I saying yes to when I say no?
Will I be strong? 
Do I have the courage to live what I believe regardless of my ego, and what the world thinks, whatever no's or yeses await me.

At harvest time, when all my no's, and yeses have been gleaned, the things that mattered, things I did, or didn't do gathered into a bunch, what will fly away, like chaff, what will be solid?

Will my harvest of no's be more than that of the yeses because of the greater yesses they led me to? 
Did I make the right decisions? 
Will I make the right decisions?

Will my harvest be like those bunches of small golf-ball sized apples, loading the tree, weighing the branches down, small, simple, but abundant, not particularity wanted by everyone, but full of flavor, and when diced and sliced add up to more than a bunch of large apples.

Gathered into my kitchen, at first, when I started chopping the apples and coring them, I was afraid that we wouldn't get very many jars of apples. I was afraid that all our effort picking them was a waste waste.
Then, as time went on, and my sister, and mom came to help, jar after jar became filled. More jars were needed. More jars were filled. What looked like a measly harvest turned into quarts and quarts.  At the end of canning, my mom said something like, "Maybe the small apples make more, after all."

Maybe that's what most of life is like---moment by moment, they come. Those small, sweet, delicious little things, that yield the most flavor, and greater harvest.  Little green apples, loaded with flavor. It doesn't take much to enjoy them, only a little thought and some action, picking them one at a time until the barrels are full. Oh yes, the larger apples at the top of the tree are nice. You shake them off too. They come in one's or twos. Some, the birds have eaten, some the worms have got to. They looked much more prettier from far off, out of reach. And now that they are on the ground, you see that those large apples you tried so hard to get aren't as grand as you thought.

So maybe, decisions are like that to, some small, some large, some wormy, some bruised, some sour, some tart, some green, some ripe, some sweet, some juicy, some full of flavor, others not so much.
But maybe at the end, it won't matter so much how big your apples are, or how long it took you to pick them, what you picked, but how you picked them, who you picked them with, and what you did with them once you had them. Maybe it's the quality of flavor that counts, and the sweetness that makes apples worth keeping in the end.


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