Chapter 4.

Excellent news. So today I had some rage. That’s not the excellent news go to the back of the class. After a morning of farm CSA bin inventory (looking through stacks of plastic bins and lids, trying to check names off a list of 90, two bins and two lids per, and it’s more than a jungle down there in the farmhouse basement), I left feeling I had underperformed. I feel like this a lot at work. It’s not that my bosses pressure me—quite the contrary: they are part of the reason I’m learning to lean less on high performance for a sense of self-worth—it’s that I pressure myself. I spend a lot of time unconsciously thinking of myself as ye olde Atlas, shouldering the weight of my corner of the world. If I feel l wasted some of my farmers’ hard-earned and scarce money on frittering, I leave work at 1:30p.m. feeling like a moldy puck. And a sense of underperforming at work leads to a sense of underperforming everywhere. Because of all the things I spend time doing God knows parenting gets the absolute worst of my skill set.

On the way to pick my daughter up from school I was tired—tired because underperforming and because dehydration (you never feel thirsty on cool, windy days at the farm, it’s a goddamn fact), and also because the bread I made last night rose too long and fell in the oven, making a lumpy sunken loaf, which I stared at as I ate a sandwich therefrom on the drive from the farm to downtown, and also because there was a hair in it, and it was my hair. Some shite.

When I picked her up she wasn’t sure if she was glad to see me, which tepid (if not downright sullen) response seems to come in waves. She did this for a couple of weeks earlier this spring, but by this time I had been basking in a running, arms-open “Mama!!!” response for a month or son. Today it was ambivalent, and then in the car there were whines and tears and guess what, I am the worst mother, and therefore will I savagely tell my daughter that she will get NO cupcake for Black Kitty’s birthday party today if she continues to whine and throw things at me. THIS is the point I’m coming to.

At this point I became aware of rage, a feeling that I had been wronged by a powerful adult capable of hurting me further. I was conscious of it enough to poke around for a real reason—did someone also just cut me off? Did I just remember I don’t have dinner planned? Am I hungry? What did I even DO today? Nothing. Just my three-year old, pouting and throwing a balled-up piece of paper at me. And yet.

And yet my body, I slowly realized, felt like a gun tower: I have a prismatic miasma of ball lighting revolving and snapping in my ribcage, I am at high alert, scanning for The Threat which I am ready, more than ready, forever ready to destroy with a single razing advance. I’m in no hurry. The ball lightning sizzled and folded on itself with perfectly ready calm. Where is The Threat. I’ll fuck its shit right up.

Probably not the time to interject that I had my first real experience of road rage last week, racing some chick at 80 in the far left lane. Huge sigh? Staring into the middle distance right now.

Regardless: there I was, driving down the interstate swiveling my gun tower slowly. Surely The Threat isn’t my daughter, she’s just a toddler, what the hell.

And there was the point, and here is the excellent news: I was able to break it down (after a few shots and apologies) from rage to sadness. I’m beginning to think this is the right path for me, because there only seem to be two, and rage is done. I’m done with the damage rage does, however good it feels to respond to my suffocating limitations with the power, fucking POWER of rage. I feel powerless, unable to direct my life or move toward what I want, and the only power that comes up when I trawl the lake is dark monsters full of teeth and terror. I never knew they were down there. They give me fantasies of breaking dishes on the kitchen floor, breaking mason jars one by one against the side of the house, of breaking windshields and windows, of obstacles blowing away with twisting glitter like a dam bursting. But in reality. Not so. A little person in a rage only creates a little chaos, but even that little chaos is big enough for a three year old. So I’m off that, as much as I can manage it. And sadness manages it.

If I can move from rage at my lack (of a writing career, of time, energy, purpose, friends, cheer, beauty, kindness, patience) to sadness, I can be the dam that bursts. I can cry, and cry, and cry, and I will no longer push my daughter away (“No I don’t want Penguin in my face, people don’t like things in their faces, actually you know what? If you don’t stop touching me you’re going to time-out. Ok! time out it is!” *wailing* “I hate my fucking, fucking life.”) and instead she will stop making Penguin try to open my eyelids, she will sit in my lap and hold me, and what else could I fucking ask from this strange universe. It feels so godless. It feels so empty.

But what is ball lightning? In what retrograde way does electricity become water? Why do I begin healing the moment I resign what I thought was my only power? There’s a god in that.

Advertisements

Chaper 3.

I started this diary after re-reading “Song of Myself.” I loved Whitman as a teenager, those stormy days full of burgeoning self & independence. I had very little independence, even after I left for college, so reading Leaves of Grass was, essentially, an introduction to free living, mentally and otherwise. I never felt like I could live like that, though. I unconsciously believed that women, especially Christian women, couldn’t practically speaking have a free life: the real and fictional women (and those strange hybrids of real and fictive personalities that are female Christian missionary memoirs) I knew of were severely circumscribed by stone-tablet church by-laws and marriage vows and (no less powerful) social norms. But I opened that book and a freshening wind blew. This was the life I wanted.

Whitman seemed ambivalent about whether women could live this freely, and of course he was always paired in textbooks with Emily Dickinson, the essentially bound woman. This pairing spoke to me about what my conservative Evangelical upbringing had laid as the backdrop for my childhood: men are free and need a harbor from freedom; women are bound but never their minds. Jane Eyre’s pronouncement to Mr. Rochester on this idea was stamped indelibly in my person when I read (and re-read) the novel as an adolescent. Women are mentally free, but not otherwise.

Emily Dickinson and Jane Eyre became little furies inside their little places. It’s why they’ll never be forgotten, and will mean enormously subversive things to women until the world’s women don’t need them anymore. When will that be? The women I knew mostly went the other way, tamping their fury out and renewing vows to being nice and quiet in their little places. Yes, I saw them. Yes, I saw their little fury burst into flame occasionally, but the social contract of our time and place said “Put it out asap little bitch.” I exaggerate? No. I don’t.

To keep from being told to souse my flame, I wrote it out—into journals (neverending journals), poems, and I made graphite drawings, painted with acrylics and oils. I was on my way to follow Emily and Jane, my adolescent matron saints, on my way to freedom. And even the women I watched diligently put out their furious little flames unconsciously ushered me on my way.

Chapter 1.

Last night my three-year old daughter got out of bed three times: 1) her blanket had fallen off  the bed, 2) Papa had put her to bed that night and forgot to leave a cup of water at her pillowside [gears grinding], and 3) she needed her nose “sucked,” i.e., she still refuses to learn to blow her nose and depends partly on her own ability to pick with her tiny fingers but mostly on us in the middle of the night to suction her nose out with an infant bulb suction device that we still have for this reason alone. She gets hay fever in the spring and fall and wakes up truly congested, but my god. My current thought is, Why not throw it away so that we will have one night of misery and then she’ll have to learn to blow her own nose?

Regardless. I dragged myself out of bed at 6:00 am like a normal fucking human mom, and am writing. This child has rarely been a cock blocker; she has always been a writing block. Is that fair? Are children fair? Are moms fair? Notions of fairness recede a little further every day. For three years I’ve clutched my daughter’s slowly-expanding pond of nightly sleep (she’s given up naps already, though they were rarely a regular thing) with disbelief and the greed of the starving.

She was born three weeks early, and somebody (not sure, now, who?) told me to feed her every two hours until she reached her birth weight. If I’m remembering correctly, which of course I’m not, because I’m a mom now, it took her two weeks to reach her birth weight. I was setting alarms to wake every two hours for two weeks, and who says babies that little have no memory-storing ability? She was like, Every two hours? K. Forever. Much later, when I would take her in to see the pediatrician/nurse practitioner, I would lie about how often she ate, because although I didn’t know much (I was a mother now), I knew every two hours was too often, but I also knew she wasn’t like, ill, or weird, or anything. I was incredibly depressed, and the thought that I was doing something wrong was paralyzing—almost literally. Didn’t realize it till later, but I lied a lot about little things back then. Little tiny maniac of a woman doing jumping jacks behind my eyes, saying, YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING SO DON’T STOP DOING EVERYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF TO DO AT ALL TIMES! RAH! RAH! RAH! EVERYONE IS WATCHING!!

Years later I realized I probably also have fewer milk ducts (right term?) than many women, so my daughter was likely getting less milk per feeding than other babies. So she made up with frequency. And, as you can (if you’re a mom, and can’t if you’re anyone else SORRY) imagine, neither my body nor my time was my own from the moment she was born. BLAM.

Anyways, this is a diary of The Year I Got My Shit Together. I am committed to rising at 6:00 am 3x/wk, opening up the laptop in the pink salty glow cast by yon Himalayan salt lamp which are all the rage right now (or did I jump on the bandwagon late? Who knows—not me, I’m just a mom) and writing myself into a new season of life. This diary will show how a maniac climbs up a stem, weaves a cocoon around itself, undergoes a magical process that is super fast and efficient and unpainful, and then struggles for two years to not die of panic attacks while it tries to crack its imprisoning cocoon open and tries to keep believing in the outside world, freedom, courage, change, that it is not the ugliest insect to have ever existed, that wine is not the best answer although it is an ok answer in moderation, etc. R U EXCITED.

I had a little burst of optimism this afternoon that I immediately wanted to write about, and may as well blog since I want to keep up with the sisters and I haven’t blogged in log tog. “Blog”—worst word!

Firstly, thanks mostly to my dad, our kitchen project is off with a BAM. He brought his sawsall (?), drills, tools, implements of all kinds, and helped Marshall BUST through one kitchen wall so we could widen that doorway and move it over a bit, and then through another wall this past weekend to make our new second doorway. I’m not gonna be all DIY-blogger about it, because it’s not my area of expertise, and it intimidates the fuckin hell outta me, even though I have been helping [a tiny bit]. Also there are so many details to go into, and I only have prob 20 minutes to write this whole entire thing. But getting this renovation started is YUGE. I’m not sure I can explain how yuge, without making us look like a couple of exhausted depressed anxiety-ridden weirdo maniacs. Marshall would add that probably, it would make him look kind of normal-ish and me look like that previous thing. Fair enough!

Secondly, I think the season is beginning to turn, which is always—ALWAYS—the point at which my inner witchy spirit feels it turning and considers it actually fully turned. As soon as there’s an end in sight, as far as I’m considered, the end is here. I’m a real tough bitch and can handle whatever [without dying], but midsummer and midwinter are tough for me because where is the end? Can’t see it. Now, however, hyacinths and tulips and amaryllis are being hawked with garish display (because we want and need it) at every greenhouse and grocery store. The end is in sight. This cold, soggy winter is about to end.

And THAT means that I can start seeds, which is the beginning of the garden and the birth of that merry carousel of garden daydreams that doesn’t generally start bogging down, for me, till July. Which is saying something. This year’s garden is of course mapped out precisely and v. v. ambitious.

I’m starting more herby perennials to be moved at the end of the season into the perennial garden: yarrow, echinacea, and black-eyed susan. I’m growing Tennessee Red Cob & Cherokee White Eagle Blue dent corns again, and adding a hybrid popcorn, because we eat so much popcorn around here. I’m growing several flowers I’ve never grown before, like sea holly (eryngium), craspedia, green zinnias, celosia, bicolor sorghum. Dill, calendula, and chamomile, are old friends, but new ones will be beets, red and black carrots, torpedo-type onions, and an heirloom okra called “Show’s.” I’m growing Italian Heirloom, Matt’s Wild, and Principe Borghese tomatoes again but adding Green Zebra, Black Vernissage, and any sweet and hot peppers I can rescue from the farm’s compost pile. I’m hoping to quadruple basil and therefore basil pesto production, and last but not least, I’m devoting a big area to my favorite winter squash from last year: Greek Sweet Red. Guys it was amazing, if perilously late-maturing. Plus any Long Island Cheese pumpkins the farm has extra. Last-for-real, have to add on dry beans: Tiger’s Eye again, but will try Turkey Craw and Mbombo beans this year—the first is a regional heirloom, the second is GREEN and from AFRICA.

We’re just now dipping into frozen whole tomatoes, having just finished the last of our frozen tomato sauce, and we have one more pizza’s worth of frozen sundried tomatoes. Shocking! And I do so much self-congratulating about this freezing-tomatoes business, you have no idea. I mean, I guess I instagram some of it. But I also have a little party room in my head where I go to secretly party about my frozen tomato situation. And how I’m going to improve upon it this year. Guh!!

Ok I think I’ve gotten garden excitement out. Next item of optimism: sewing. I’m doing a patchwork thing to get rid of my rando 8-year old stash, but am experimenting with new blocks for the first time in forever. I always though string quilts looked lame, but turns out they’re pretty cool. I’m probably going to get back into the eight-pointed stars I was making last year, too, which would be great. I’m making some reusable paper towels, hoping to use fewer single-use disposables, and they’re super satisfying if slow-going. Yay!

Last thing, which should maybe have been first, is reading. I took a break from reading (for the most part) after my daughter was born, being super depressed and disconnected with any real sense of self, but I’ve got a GoodReads account and have been (weep!) unbelievably happy to tear through a bunch of novels, recently—I’d say since Christmas. I set a goal of 40 books in 2018, because Katie J had a goal of 75 and I was like, “surely I could do about half that,” but almost changed it when I realized how many books I’d actually have to average per week. But I’ve been doing it, damn! And how wonderful it is.

I’ve read food writing (The Supper of the LambThe Gastronomical Me), nonfiction (Julie Andrews’ wonderful memoir HomeThe Empathy Exams), and fiction (George Saunders’ Tenth of December and Lincoln in the Bardo, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies, and Satin Island and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet). Reading new fiction and old food writing has been envigorating & exciting, even if I did have mixed feelings about the Tom McCarthy. I finished the Ada Limon poetry collection Bright Dead Things, which I put off reading for an embarrassingly long time because I wasn’t ready to read poetry again … and it was beautiful, rich, wonderful. Poetry still feels like a very strong medicine, to me, but Limon will be the next I read.

OK daughter is out of her “quiet time,” naps being a thing of the past, and I’m out of battery. All this feels good to get out. Cheers!

 

A persistent sense—are you aware?—
of being too much for the world,
its limited admissions & selection committees,
its soft surfaces torn by too much crying
or too much divulged of
your like whoa inner life, “heavy stuff!”
“ha ha!”

Fly like a bird to your mountain.
Lay yourself on that ridiculous
funeral pyre you’ve built,
be different.

Crying in the car after dropping
your empath daughter at school,
throwing a fucking circus of bright
forced smiles and watching the heat
on that simmering pot of tears
and when you’re alone & crank up
the sad music
because fuck everything,
including me
and actually don’t fuck the birds,
they’ve never done anything wrong.
I’m a different story,
I’ve blundered my way
into outrages and
pain that doesn’t desire healing.
It licks me, it rides between my shoulders,
it wants me for itself.

If I don’t know my way out, now,
if I desire the key,
the secret, the way,
if I flare a match
dropping it on the funeral pyre
and stand still, watching,
it’s because I sense that fire is soulless
and I know I have
a soul.

A gigantic spray
of maple and hackberry trunks
spreads bare branchtips
like placental arteries,
like a brain against an empty winter sky,
tips feathering
& no buds fattening yet.

A bird enters the frame,
lights inside the braintree, tiny
& alive.

 

  1. On the one hand, the official kick-off of Anna Laura 2.0 and Marriage 2.0 (random piecemeal conflagrations, slow burns, snatches, letters, epiphanies-not-ground-into-harmless-glitter, etc.) have really have boded well. Optimism, hope, and fog clearing to reveal a position near the middle of the mountain; neither too low for despondency, nor too high for cheerfulness. A feeling of lying underneath an exposed crag and brushing sand from clothing, bright blue sky above.
  2. On the other hand, there is an incredible, almost unbelievable amount of things in our life that scatter with a careless gesture: a bean box, full of a mixture of soup beans and multicolored lentils; glasses half-filled with water and wine hidden weekly about the house; plates of crumbs, crusts; diminutive pink toddler potty sometimes containing pee, sometimes not; plastic boxes filled with every kind of small implement; columns of solid flesh filled with tornadic, cyclonic feeling.
  3. On the one hand, garden plans pupating—sorry, so gross a word! Cocooning, then: invisibly finding a form, a secret in my brain, no one knows these small miserly plans over which I cackle like Scrooge. Square foot gardening (TM), I secretly peruse your dating profile! But no! No I can’t!
  4. On the other hand, my plan for writing a Serious Work of Towering Import (TM) simmers on the back burner, Thing (TM) after Thingz (TM) insinuating themselves between me and that solid steel saucepan handle. I will come for you. Will I come for you? Can you come for me?
  5. In summation: I have, at least, decided to buy (and read) the Man Booker Prize winner every year from now on. Since I get to have a library, I should add quality to it. Hardcover! Lord! $35.99! “Wear the old coat, buy the new book”—I’ve taken a break from this advice, and have officially returned.

Ok check it out
I’m so codependent that I think my husband
is killing me by not caring for himself
and I don’t remember at all
how to have time to tend to everything
so I cancel myself since I can wait
and I’m a tough bitch
and I tend as much as I can
to everything else. Stuff I used to love
that I set on the bank of the river
is now half a state behind us
and it turns out I can’t go back
anyway. Conjuring self-love from this thin air
is not working, since I try youtube yoga
and as the cross-legged chick is telling me to open
my heart, my daughter is climbing on me
obscuring my vision & ignoring my pleas, and cries
when I sternly ask for space so I have
to threaten to put her in her room
with the gate up & I snarl as I say it
and the yoga chick is for some reason now
in downward dog with a leg raised
and I’m pausing the video,
looking into my daughter’s face
as she promises to give me some space and
frost glitters on the barberry outside the window.
A jay calls. I hold my girl,
once again I hold someone else and loose
myself like a blue balloon.

 

Forecasting…used to feel completely false, arbitrary, inauthentic. As a rule, I never have made NY resolutions. January first is a day plotted on a circle (or spiral) of days, not a ‘new beginning’ in any sense except an artificial sense.

“And yet.” How many artificial structures do we use every day to help us organize our lives/thoughts? A complete shit-ton. Nowadays, I want to return to lists of goals—both long-term and short-term—and January feels like as good a time as any. Perhaps more so, if only because people around me are talking about goals and trying to take steps back, get some perspective.

I’ve been working on dragging myself out of a past life phase that feels dead and gone, and pushing myself into a new phase. A phase in which I will hit my stride as a parent, in which my marriage starts growing & flourishing again, in which I’ll slough off several layers of depressed AF passivity & despair and find new courage and motivation in health, joy, activity. It’s been a turbulent holiday season, like I’ve been in labor, trying to birth my new self. A few fights my husband and I have had recently have had a bit of the panic and claustrophobia of “transition,” that unmistakeable point in labor when there’s no turning back: it’s just you, too much smoke and white-hot pain to bear, and the cliff at your feet, ready to give you up, and the black unknown ready to receive you, impenetrable and whistling with a cool wind. So I know things are changing, and that something new is ready to get borned. So, damn: let’s born it. I’ve literally never been readier.

So I want joy, I want to detach from my codependent relationships, I want to generously give love & forgiveness to myself, I want to be proud of myself, I want to enjoy motherhood, I want to do less and have more fun, I want to be creating written and textile work again, I want to get my wrists looked at so I can maybe do yoga again, I want to do yoga again regardless of damn wrists, I want to experience exultation, I want to cultivate exultation.

To those ends, here is a list of goals for this year, in no particular order:

  • Establish rituals
    • morning (writing, meditation)
    • Mary-related (phonics or nature walks)
    • night/wind-down (reading and/or yoga)
  • Kitchen renovation
  • Get a woodstove (winter 2018)
  • Garden
  • Attend/become a member of Knox Writer’s Guild meetings (reconnaissance: are there serious writers in Knox who are young parents? if so, how are they proceeding?)
  • Set page number goal for each week
  • Get regular with vitamins, find supplements for immune function support, probiotics
  • Establish regular home yoga practice (Yoga with Adriene?)
  • Research & save $ for silent retreat (Getsemani?)
  • Save $ for anniversary trip

As a perfectionist, my goal-listing could go on for several pages, and it’s an exercise in restraint and self-love to quit making goals. Basically.

Fourth day home with sick kid, who—although she is grouchy and has mood swings—is mostly fun to be with. Unless I’m exhausted, then life is bubbling lava. But this morning she’s up for anything pretty much, and it’s warm enough to bundle up and go to the playground. I know because I’m bundled up and sitting outside while she watches Tumble Leaf inside on the couch.

I would have to expend a lot of calories and brain waves to get her out here with me, since she’s still in pajamas and god knows where her shoes or socks are, plus she likes TV. But I have days (like this one) where I can’t stay inside another minute. And if I have to let her watch TV while I spend a vast, bigger-on-the-inside 20 minutes alone outside, then, that’s awesome. I set that up like I was making some kind of sacrifice, ha. The chill I love; the bright, thin, winter morning sun I love; the absurdly long shadows cast by grass and brown, curled-up leaves, even at noon, I love; the songbirds who seem to feel no cold, no worry, no shame, no inhibition I love; the breaths of wind that stir the tips of the grass I love; the bareness of everything I love, I love, I love.

Lately it feels like I’ll be overcome by growth, by long long summers of fruit and greengrowth and weeds taller than me, taller than anyone. There’s no time to do anything but what must necessarily be done; what is necessary but can’t be gotten to must fall by the wayside and we grieve little losses. What we could have accomplished, but what we have no time for. I’m already 32. My days are so long, working and then picking up the toddler and cleaning messes and feeding everyone and thinking longingly of the eternities I spent outside when I was in college, walking (because no car, because new city, because I knew no one, because I was strong and my curiosity was fields & fields wide). I walked miles everyday, I walked from little city to little city, and thought about every house I passed, every ditch. They all glittered. Time was overabundant, and I swam in it.

How to make a hollow in my family life, without using too much TV, so I can walk away into a well of time? I can’t write, it seems, unless there is a closed door between me and the people who need me…or the people I feel I need to be hanging over with all my brooms and snacks and consolations.

So many growing & fruiting things in my life right now. Too many? But I still feel scarcity.  Probably because I consume, but don’t create. That makes me feel shrunk & shriveled. I think parenthood must just be like this. I think this must be why so many mothers I have known have abandoned extra-familial pursuits in favor of children/family life being their Big Offering to the World. At least for a decade.

Eavan Boland wrote at her desk at home while her children played in the next room. HOW? She’s still alive…I can ask her.

  1. First I have to mention that Roy Moore lost his senate race. I don’t know anything about him, except that he didn’t even go to the trouble to deny all the allegations, that the allegations appear founded on some sort of really problematic issues, and that Republicans who believe that “abortion” is the only reason to vote for or against anyone would have had to turn off the same large parts of their brains to vote for him that they turned off to vote for Trump. And Moore still lost. A tiny win for decency that may turn out to be the beginning of the end for Trump—one can only hope. And I do!! I am feeling hope this morning, after having prepared myself for him to win.
  2. Roughly 97% of black female Alabama voters voted for Doug Jones, and as they made up 18% of the voter turnout, they basically pushed Moore out of office. Black women of Alabama, you turned up, and turned a douchebag out. Get it.
  3. If you’re still reading, welcome to the real beginning of my list. I started this list because—after repeated attempts and failures to go to bed early and then get up early, Marshall and I have decided to MAKE IT HAPPEN. And the only way to make it happen is to go the fuck to bed at night! No more of this watching-New-Girl-and-eating-popcorn till 11:00 and then getting in bed at 11:30 and deciding we feel sexy. This is crazy, and terrible, and—most importantly—over. Last night we got in bed to read our books at 9:30, read till 10:30, and then went to sleep. OK???? Ok. So of course I woke up this morning at 6:00 or 6:30, not sure which, got up, and then Mary got up earlier than usual.
  4. That last sentence—now, this is the REASON I have thrown in the towel on getting up early several times. Somehow……she knows. And as every parent knows, if a kid knows you’re trying to have solitude, s/he will find it personally offensive, file long complaints, win. This morning, instead of trying to read and meditate/pray, I just pulled out my seed catalogs and laptop so I could tippity-type away, regardless of whether she was up stomping around. I’ll get back into the truly solitary morning pursuits……when I figure out how to. For now, seeds!
  5. In the perennial herb garden, I’ll replace calendula (annual) with existing perennial herbs, spacing out the thyme, sage, echinacea, yarrow, and comfrey that got bunched up this year. Calendula will get more space, but in the main (annual) garden. Those flowers are gold.
  6. I want spring and fall beets next year, and a red or orange Swiss chard. Was bamboozled by Care of the Earth’s orange chard this season—and it’s slow-growing enough that I’ll be able to eat it AND the greens we get with our CSA box. And if not, then it’s ornamental! Ha. All plants in the “goosefoot” family I tried to grow last year were eaten by rabbits. So, fence.
  7. Want to nix Greek Sweet Red winter squash (unless it turns out to be amazing, haven’t tried it yet) and add a bumpy Asian moschata winter squash, like Yokohama, Kogigu, or Futsu Kurokawa. The photo in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog of this last one is definitely rusty-tan, but the description calls it both “dusty green” and “almost black”—? Mostly I want a bumpy, old squash next year with non-tan skin. Tan is great and all. But.
  8. This year’s sweet and hot peppers were so successful that I want to expand—I’d love a long red hot pepper for drying, a thick-walled oxheart red pepper for roasting, and more Wenk’s Yellow Hots for pickling. Roasted red peppers is one of my culinary epiphanies from 2017. And grocery store “red bell peppers” paled—PALED—in comparison with my California Wonders.
  9. For Mary: I grew a garden for myself this year, which was wonderful. Next year, though, I want to grow stuff Mary can eat right out of the garden, and at this point that is: peas and carrots. Yeah, she eats raw carrots now. I know. Amazing. Knock on wood! So I want to try peas (not getting hopes up, since East Tennessee springs have gotten sooooo short and hot), and carrots. I would love to try purple, orange, and Dragon-type carrots. If my soil isn’t any lighter than it was last spring, I’ll add some round/stubby carrots in there too. Also, strawberries?
  10. Onions. This is one of the few vegetables that I buy at the store anymore. Our farmers do the literal best that any southeastern organic (EU organic, specifically, so they don’t even use “organic” pesticides or fungicides) (tooting their horn, here, since I’m about to follow it with a sad face), diversified vegetable farm can do with onions, but I need more. :(  I need onions all year round. Onions are “light/day-sensitive” crops, meaning that they will only “bulb” if they receive a certain number of hours of daylight, and that fact plus our hot springs, hot summers, and hot falls means that not a lot of onions will grow well (organically) here. And the ones that grow ok often don’t store that long. Anyways, I’m going to try to baby some onions in 2018. We’ll see how that goes.
  11. I’m going to *think* about growing arugula, because arugula pesto is the best ever, and I can just make it and freeze it, and in the summer (when it’s too hot for arugula and the basil is dying of downy mildew) I can have tasty pesto pizza, which is my fave. Like, omg.
  12. Tennessee Red Cob dent corn produced so well that I can’t not grow it again, and I’m going to give the rare Cherokee White Eagle purple corn (flour) another try since I set it up for failure this year and want to make it work. Since we eat so much popcorn, I’m gonna try that next year for the first time. This will likely be the only hybrid (organic if I can find one, non-organic if not) I grow, since Marshall likes the big, light, crunchy popcorn, and I can respect that. Heirloom popcorns tend to be flavorful but small, and sometimes a little dense. This is a lot of corn for a small garden. :|
  13. Dry beans: I think my dry bean woes this year were largely due to me not trellising them. Maybe. I’m going to try a cranberry bean again, and Tiger Eye, just to see if I can do those better on a second try. I might add another one in lieu of the Whippoorwill pea I grew this year? Maybe?
  14. Tomatoes: Principe Borghese was a delightful triumph. Have so many oven-dried Principe in the freezer right now, pulling them out for arugula pesto pizzas, etc. Matt’s Wild was a similar success, and I think I could freeze a lot more of them than I did. My paste tomatoes were hit-or-miss, mostly miss. I think fertilization could help, but I’ll probably try different varieties regardless. Striped Roman failed to impress, San Marzano impressed for a brief window, and Opalka for a few brief minutes. Maybe time to give more space to Italian Heirloom or a dense oxheart. As far as slicers/beefsteak, I might try to grow some bright colors, so we can try to re-create Marshall’s favorite heirloom tomato salad from The Plaid Apron.
  15. That’s all I got. Happy Wednesday.