It Doesn't Take Much

O: The car is too hot. I won't get in the car. I guess we will just have to live here.

It was hot last week. No, scratch that. It was mind-boilingly, unreasonably, unacceptably hot last week. I wore my bathing suit cover-up in public because I couldn't imagine putting on real clothes. 

hot, sweaty, and cranky, even if she doesn't look it

hot, sweaty, and cranky, even if she doesn't look it

One day, we went to Pamper and Play, and you should seriously check them out, and not just for their wonderful air conditioning.

air-conditioning and an adorable, tiny, retro-kitchen, and a wonderful staff that watches your children while you enjoy some peace in the PARENT'S LOUNGE (that is a real thing with wifi and coffee)

air-conditioning and an adorable, tiny, retro-kitchen, and a wonderful staff that watches your children while you enjoy some peace in the PARENT'S LOUNGE (that is a real thing with wifi and coffee)

One day, we went to school and melted at the park and sniped at each other for the rest of the day, except while we had a french fry party on the floor in the girls' air-conditioned bedroom.

One day, we just stayed home. Now, we don't have a pool, heck, we don't even really have a yard. I had thrown away last year's kiddie pool the week before because someone small, blond, and adorable had thought that it would be fun to fill it with rocks and potting soil, and it was genuinely too gross to salvage.

Instead, I filled three plastic storage tubs with water, grabbed a ton of small cups and two grown-up paint brushes, and set them to work. 

P washed her precious rock collection.

O repainted my stairs.

Nothing like a fresh coat of water 

Nothing like a fresh coat of water 

When they started to lose interest about two hours in, I pulled out a tray of ice and frozen teething toys.

They drew on the cement with half of it, and ate the other half. Win?

They drew on the cement with half of it, and ate the other half. Win?

When that lost its novelty, we had popsicles. When O snuck the last bite of P's popsicle, it was time to come inside.  

There were a few casualties.  Poor Fred, the teddy bear, got an unexpected and un-needed bath. P did attempt to wash Sam, with Poor Fred as a sponge, much to Sam's displeasure, but all and all it was a very enjoyable day.

I often try to do too much, or even worse, I often feel bad about what I can't do, what they don't have. We have made this choice, to live in this city, to live in this small space, to forgo a yard, to not live in what, I image, is a more typical suburban neighborhood. Most days, I feel good about that choice and genuinely believe that there are positives that outweigh the negatives.

The day we stayed home during the heat wave was one of those days. It really doesn't take much. Most of the stuff is superfluous. In fact, it might even get in the way. Play is so much easier than we grown-ups imagine it to be. 

It doesn't take much

It doesn't take much

But I still really wish they had a garden. 

Last year's bounty, our closest garden approximation.

Last year's bounty, our closest garden approximation.


Humming Birds and Trumpet Vines

P: AAhhh egg canto black plaaa.  

O: She said she is going to find a spot where the flowers will grow, because that is the spot that will make them happy. 

We are too sick to go to school, but too well to stay home, and the weather has been beautiful, so we ventured out to the nursery.  There is a small family-owned nursery that has been around for generations, just a few blocks from us.  

this is our smelling flowers face

this is our smelling flowers face

While wandering the rows O spotted a humming bird's nest.  She admonished me not to disturb the mama while I took her picture, but was perfectly delighted when I offered to scoop her up so she could get a closer look.  

Is it spring yet? It sure feels like it.

Is it spring yet? It sure feels like it.

We found a climbing trumpet vine, with pink flowers.  It looks healthy enough and the man assured us that it would thrive in our very shallow, full-sun, flower box outside our front window. 

Behold, the conquering hero

Behold, the conquering hero

Every morning, on waking, O rushes to the front window to update us on the vine's progress. So far, we have gotten a new flower every day, well worth the twelve dollars and fifty cents, especially if you include the fresh air, the humming bird's nest, and the sense of accomplishment. 

They have the most beautiful orchids.  I have yet to bring an orchid home.  I tend to kill plants, not with neglect, but with an abundance of love, a good metaphor for my parenting (I'm working on it). Perhaps, next time, I'll bring an orchid home to practice mindful neglect. 

Growing Green on Concrete

O: When my sweet pea plants turn into sweet peas, I'm gonna do a sweet pea dance. 

We love living in Los Angeles, but I would be lying if I said there was nothing I wish I could change.  I wish people drove down our narrow street like it was a residential area, which it is, instead of like it was a highway, which it isn't.  I wish I knew the names of all of my neighbors and we would congregate on the front porch for cocktails and a catch-up on a warm summer evening.  I wish my girls had a garden, a verdant hideaway, where they could chase butterflies, make mud pies, hunt for fairies, and grow sweet peas. 

There are gardens in LA, beautiful public spaces to roam, private back yards of multimillion dollar homes, and, even, community gardens, where you can rent a patch of earth to call your own and get your hands dirty.  

Generally, we, the renters, are left with potted plants, sad window-box herb gardens, and that lush basil that I buy at Trader Joe's every few months that makes my kitchen smell like heaven, until I denude the poor bastard to make pesto.  

 

Out of my own sheer stubbornness, we do have a garden, a little plot of dirt, a raised bed that is intended to sit on harder-packed earth.  Ours sits on the concrete pad outside our dining room window.  The roots of the plants often creep out from under the forest green plastic, seeking soil, but we forge on.  We have grown kale (attacked and desiccated by cabbage worms), tomatoes (never ripened), pumpkins (this was acknowledged, in advance, to be folly), and cucumbers (of which we harvested 3, making them approximately forty-six dollars each). 

This bull shit is expensive  (the above contains actual bull shit)

This bull shit is expensive

(the above contains actual bull shit)

This season, it is sugar snap peas.  As we scattered the seeds, O was already planning for the harvest, listing the names of dear friends who would share in our bounty. I love, at times, how short her memory can be, how the failures of the past months don't even register in the face of this new and hopeful venture.  The tiny green shoots have been measured daily, their growth tracked by comparison to her tiny index finger.  The first bloom, (see, I can be hopeful too) will be an event, celebrated with leaping and dancing.  

 We have a garden, not the garden I imagined, not the garden I would hope for, but a garden none the less.  

It is pretty good for making mud pies

It is pretty good for making mud pies

Mostly, we just make a mess, but sometimes we make magic.  

When those sugar snap peas are harvested, dear friends, be they five or five hundred, they will be the best sugar snap peas you've ever tasted.  I'll keep you posted.