New month, new possibilities

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It’s hard to believe it’s August already! It seems like it was just 4th of July when I was out mowing my lawn back before lack of rain fried the grass. July was certainly a busy, productive month and I have a feeling August will be similar.

I got an early start to this first day of August when Jazzmin came into my room at 4 a.m. I’ve been a light sleeper since I had babies and as Jazz usually sleeps in the girls room, it was unusual for her to be in mine. I heard her footsteps into my room and her wagging tail whacking my hamper and was then fully awake. I figured she had to go outside and I was right.

When I took Jazzmin out in the pre-dawn darkness, the air was thick with fog and the grass and dirt were damp beneath my feet. I’m not certain if it rained again or if it was just the excessive humidity but the wetness felt wonderful on my bare feet. Along with the moisture in the air, I also felt a change in the air. It wasn’t weather-related, it was just a feeling I had. A feeling that August is going to be full of positive changes and new opportunities.

I went back to bed after taking Jazzmin out and she settled on the floor between the girls’ beds like she usually does. When I woke again a few hours later that feeling of positive impending changes and opportunities remained.

The girls and I had to do some running around today and while doing so, I saw four hawks, a great blue heron and my first monarch butterfly of the year. All very positive signs! I believe that the universe was reaffirming the feelings from the morning darkness with Jazzmin and I’m curious to see what new adventures August brings.

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Harvest Moon Wishes

Tonight is the Harvest Moon. I can see it out my daughter’s bedroom window as I sit on her bed writing this. I can also hear a squirrel rearranging his private harvest in my gutters which is hindering my enjoyment of the serene full moon. I can hope he’s only using my gutters as temporary storage until construction on his new tree nest is complete. Wishful thinking I suppose but then I always make wishes when the moon is full.

The last time I had the pleasure of viewing the full moon it was a blue moon and I saw it  from a darkened beach in Rye, New Hampshire. That night will forever be a cherished memory and it marked the end of a chapter in my life. That chapter encompassed the years I’ve looked at the moon alone, sad and filled with longing. The end of that chapter came unexpectedly and in the most amazing way.

Now I continue on the new chapter that centers around how I feel when I look at the moon. I feel in awe and blessed. I send my wishes to the moon. Wishes that everyone I love continue to be safe, happy and fulfilled. Wishes that my father’s spirit continues to guide me and give me strength when I falter. Wishes that the moon carries my thoughts to their intended destinations.

The end of summer is drawing near but Mother Nature has seen fit to bestow a few more warm days before the chill of autumn settles in. During the day, the butterflies, bees and birds make the most of the warmth and bright sunshine. At night the air cools, the grass grows damp and I wander out to look at the moon…and perhaps have a discussion with the squirrel rattling my gutters.

Berries and Bravery

Black raspberries ready to be picked!

Black raspberries ready to be picked!

The black raspberries are ripe early this year. I imagine it’s from the non-stop rain we’ve been getting around here. I love black raspberries and it’s hard to stop picking them once I start. The thing about black raspberries though is that they grow on pickers and are surrounded by lots of underbrush, tall grass and weeds. It’s always hot when I’m picking them so I’m dressed in shorts and a tank top. This means I inevitably get scratched somewhere or other but that doesn’t deter me. The sweet reward of those berries is worth the sweat, scratches and hard work. The same is true for more than just berries.

I’m not known to take the easy route. I do occasionally get stuck in a rut and trudge along with the status quo but that never gets me where I want and need to be. I have some really big dreams I know I can accomplish but it will take bravery, determination, persistence and a bit of stubbornness.  Giving up on those dreams is like giving up on berry picking the first time a pricker pokes my finger. My tender fingertips can attest to the fact that I keep going for more berries.

Gloves would protect my fingers from the prickers but trying to pick berries with thick leather gloves makes no sense. Berries need a tender touch or they get squished. Dreams can be the opposite though. Sometimes grabbing onto dreams tightly is the only way to achieve them and to protect them so others can’t squish my pursuit of them.

When I first started picking black raspberries this afternoon, I only saw a few clumps here and there. As I continued searching I found more and more until the bowl I chose was overflowing and I had to get a second one. Amazing how pursuing one little thing can grow into something so plentiful and rewarding…

Fruits of my labor.

Fruits of my labor.

Kiddie Pools and Magic Brews

Jaycie scooping up water for her magic brew.

Jaycie scooping up water for her magic brew.

I am a worrier. I’ve become less of a worrier than I used to be but I still worry. As a single mother, homeowner and “Julie of Many Trades” I always have a lot on my plate. I imagine there are women in similar situations that handle it all effortlessly and without stress, but I’m not one of those women. I do my best with the time I have but don’t expect to find my house pristine, my hair perfectly styled and my clothes stylishly coordinated if you drop by unexpectedly…or expectedly for that matter.

Stress and worry rarely get me anywhere productive though so it finally gets to a point where I have to take a breath, let things go and force myself to relax. I did just that yesterday. This was my weekend with my daughters and my “plan” was to hang with them and be a mom. It was supposed to be quite hot and humid so I thought we’d stay inside the AC. I went out at one point with Jazz and realized it wasn’t too awful hot yet so I decided it was time to get the kiddie pool out for some fun in the water.

The kiddie pool is a bit too small for my girls to fit in comfortably anymore but they still enjoy playing in it by sitting or kneeling around the outside of it. They then fill their sand buckets with water and begin concocting “magic brews” as they call them. In the bucket of water go magical ingredients like clover, dandelions, birdseed, wildflowers, grass and a rock or two. My daughters then stir up these magic brews with their sand shovels until they have them just right.

Sometimes they take the brews over and water plants with them and other times they dump the water back in the kiddie pool. Considering the kiddie pool is in the shade of a tree that drops all sorts of leaves and seeds I have to dump it out anyway so a bit more stuff floating in the water isn’t a big deal. Yesterday Jazzmin was thirsty and drank out of the kiddie pool as Jordan and I cooled our feet in it. Jaycie had already dumped a brew back in the pool but luckily Jazz wasn’t transformed into a frog after quenching her thirst in the magical water.

Jazzmin drinking from the magical pool.

Jazzmin drinking from the magical pool as I soak my feet.

Sitting on the two-seater bench I’ve refurbished, with my feet soaking as I listened to my daughters compare notes on what to put in their magical brews was truly relaxing and wonderful for me and my worries evaporated in the warm afternoon. My daughters are already far too old for my liking and despite my demands that they stop growing, they continue to do so. I cherish every moment with them and I always will. The magic those two little girls create with clover flowers floating in buckets of water casts a strong and unbreakable spell upon my heart and forever lifts my spirits.

Mistress of Mowing

Mistress of Mowing's Front Lawn

Mistress of Mowing’s Front Lawn

I’d never driven a riding lawn mower until I mowed the acreage of my new home in the summer of 2011. It took me 3.5 hours that first time and when I finished I’d made such odd-looking circular patterns the lawn resembled a golf course. I was tempted to stick some flags into the center of the various circles but I resisted. Regardless, I was proud of myself and enjoyed the experience. Almost two years later, I still like mowing my lawn.

Yes, I said I like mowing my lawn. Even on day’s like today when the battery was giving me trouble and the shed doors closed just after I started the mower which left me coughing in exhaust fumes. I then had a stern talking to the doors (hooked them open) plugged my battery into the charger and set about my morning, all the while wreaking of tractor exhaust. I didn’t see any point in showering when I still had to mow once the battery was juiced up. All that is not what I enjoy about mowing though.

When I finally did start mowing, it felt wonderful being out in the sunshine under the bright blue sky. The air was warm, there was an occasional breeze and the grass was finally dry enough that it didn’t bog down my mower. It’s still early in the season so my grass was only really deep in a few areas but I did the whole yard to give it a uniform start. I listen to music while I mow and quite often dance along to it. My neighbors undoubtedly think I’m insane for all sorts of reasons so I don’t see any harm in doing what makes me happy during chores. I occasionally pause in the shade to change my music or answer a text but otherwise I continue mowing.

There was one lone white butterfly flitting around the front yard as I finished that last 1/3 of my property. I adore butterflies and always take them as a positive sign of hope and renewal. There were few other bugs out thankfully and I didn’t have any other major issues mowing today.

When I get off the mower my whole body is still vibrating from the ride but eventually that subsides and I feel human again. I came inside and happily washed the mower stink off and dressed in comfortable summer clothing. I enjoy mowing but it isn’t my entire life and I don’t obsess over every little spot or insist on weed whacking every time. Mowing my yard is something that has to be done and I take as much pleasure in it as I can. I am not a master of mowing because I’m always learning but I am a Mistress of Mowing because I am skilled at being the keeper of my land.