Molasses Bear

Evening has fallen.

The once brightly coloured stained glass windows

of the chapel are now dark as molasses.

They are so dark they almost look sticky and sweet.

What if they are, and this is actually a giant gingerbread house?

I ponder breaking off a piece to taste it,

the sugarcane windowpane…

but then the cold night air would come rushing in,

smelling of starlight and snow

and possibly followed by the large nose of a black bear,

snuffling about and eager to lick the molasses windows

with his long, wet tongue.

Even if we all rushed off to bed,

the bear could eat his way in,

then wander about the place,

leaving a trail of muddy paw prints

and crushed leaves and little bits of cedar

and a scent like the memory of late summer blackberries

coming from this large furry living thing

prowling about indoors,

who is not normally meant to be there…

On second thought,

I suppose I won’t try tasting the windows, after all.

(PS Thanks for the great bear pic, Four States News!)

Flu Season Sing-Along

Flu season, here we come,

it’s time to sneeze and sniffle!

We wash our hands,

stand far apart

and yet it is that season,

cause bugs you know,

with their little brains,

know not rhyme nor reason.

Cough, snort and blow your noses,

rub your aching heads—

this nasty flu is making us

all leak like a rubber hoses.

So hop in bed,

ye one and all,

it’s time to be separated by a wall.

As if social distance wasn’t enough for you,

this stupid pandemic’s teamed up

with regular flus.

So here we come, long days alone,

thank goodness for the telephone!

Time to play nurse now,

soothe some heads,

tuck seven kids into their beds,

rub little feet with tiger balm,

dream about a beach with palms.

It’s no wonder tired bears get irate—

smartest thing is to hibernate.

So here’s wishing good health to you,

as for my house, it’s a zoo.

Flu season for one and all,

welcome, welcome, welcome, fall!

Ballad of the Pirate Bard

I am a pirate and I do not sleep!

I thief night jewels for me to keep.

My Lady with her treasures bold

is generous when the wee hours wax old.

The words upon her golden tongue

are by the midnight spirits sung.

I catch the songs in my jolly heart,

then bursting full I do depart,

‘n sail away to the break of day

to spread her tales far and away!

I am a pirate and I do not sleep,

my treasure is the tears you weep,

my prize is the laughter in your eyes,

for Insomnia’s bedfellow is a pirate wise.

🌴This silly song was brought to you care of
sleep deprivation and my pirate pjs! 🌴

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    Misadventures in Housekeeping, Part 2: Magical Hummus Goes “Poof!”

    Lately, I’ve been trying to be resourceful about using up the food at the back of the cupboard, since our grocery delivery service is so busy they can usually only make it once every two weeks, and we are trying to avoid going out as much as possible. If our pretending we live in our little house in the big woods, and making homemade bread instead of running to get some can, help less people get sick, then we are going to do it.

    So, even though we actually live in a big house in the city, with seven kids instead of three, I’ve been trying to find my inner “Ma Ingalls,” because she could make do with almost no stores and make everything from scratch. With varying results–my attempts that is! The most explosive result, so far, came from making homemade hummus.

    If you know my husband at all, you will know he is a hummus connoisseur. Yes, that’s actually a thing. Having been to Israel, and tasted the real deal, he is pretty hard to impress. Not that he won’t eat store-bought or homemade hummus quite cheerfully, but he will often make reference to the truly amazing hummus he had in the Middle East. Probably it’s partly just nostalgia. Doesn’t everything taste better overseas?

    However, like the rebellious obliger that I am, I felt two things:

    1. A challenge to create a really great hummus at home, so it’s not always just “alright.”

    2. The pressure to make it good enough to compete with holiday memory hummus.

    Kinda silly the whole thing. In any case, all we had was dried chick peas, so I soaked them over night. Then, I followed the instructions for “Magical Hummus” from my husband’s Israeli cookbook step by step. Mostly. Ish. After rinsing off the soaked chickpeas, I was supposed to cook them in a pot with baking soda for 40 minutes or so, until super soft and soupy, all the while skimming off the foam bubbles in the top.

    I don’t have time for that; I’ll just do it in my instant pot.

    Famous last words. Normally, I absolutely love my instant pot. It’s so handy! You can whip up dinner all in one pot in less an half an hour, even if things are frozen, and it comes out tender and delicious. It’s the closest thing to having another woman in the kitchen without polygamy.

    But! I shouldn’t have ignored the instructions about scooping off the foam…and when I flicked open the pressure release valve to let the steam out after cooking the chickpeas for 25 minutes, out came sputtering hot and foul smelling yellow scum!! Aaaagggghhh!!

    I had to throw a towel over the pot to close the pressure valve without getting burned by my hissing, volcanic pot. After wiping chick pea scum off the cupboards and floor, and letting the pressure release naturally, which is what I should have done, I opened the lid to see a mass of bubbly, frothy soupy greyish chick peas, and to smell…. awfulness!!

    Mom, what’s that gross smell?! Eeewww!! Are you making fart soup??

    The house did indeed smell like one giant diaper; the kids weren’t even exaggerating. So I went around laughing like an idiot and opening all the windows and doors and putting the fans on. My poor neighbours!!

    That Eastland family, what are they up to now?

    I thought this attempt at homemakerliness was going to be a total fail, but here’s the suprising part: after I partly drained, then blended the chick peas with lots of tahini, some lemon, garlic, and salt, it turned out great! Except quite a bit too salty…as I was worrying about masking the imagined awful taste…but after I added some water, more lemon and olive oil, it was lovely. And it made a great dressing for homemade falafel, the next day, which surprisingly, turned out just fine, and even satisfied my Middle Eastern loving hubby.

    All’s well that ends well. Sometimes it just really stinks along the way!

    The peanut gallery strikes again

    It’s been a while since I shared some words from my littles…the first two quotes are from three years ago…but at last, here they are!

    Mind Reader

    One Saturday I was unsuccessfully trying to indulge in a few moments alone to read my book from the library (I actually got one for me–hurrah!). Of course, despite sitting quietly  on the far corner of my bed with the door closed, I was soon detected by the mommy radars and joined by several munchkins.

    5 year old daughter: What are you doing, Mummy?

    Me: Reading my book.

    Her: But you’re being quiet. Do you hear it inside your head?

    Me: Yes.

    Her: Leaning her forehead against mine and staring at me seriously with her giant blue eyes, “If I come really close, can I hear it, too?”

    Self-Knowledge

    One late afternoon I was cuddling my 5 year old and being goofy (by that time of day my few remaining braincells have usually lost any remaining ability to function normally).

    Me: Fancy meeting you here! Do I know you?

    Her: Yes, I’m me.

    Me: Hi, Me…oh, I thought I was me?

    Her: No, you’re you!

    And one more from just the other day…

     Aliens Among Us

    My four year old: Mom, how big does people get? Six?

    Me: Six feet tall, you mean?

    Him: Maaahm, that would be an alien, with six feet!

    Gas Station Saunter

    See the woman walking

    light as air–

    her wings filling up with the wind,

    canvas shopping-bag sails dancing in the sun.

    An easy, breezy escape

    for 10 minutes,

    popping over to the corner gas station

    –alone!–

    to pick up lemonade ice-tea

    for her temporarily bed-bound husband

    who had this special request.

    She walks along in the sun

    smelling the city scent of spice and cement,

    free enough to notice such things

    without the usual tangled parade of double stroller,

    the baby in snuggly

    and other kids marching two by two.

    She wonders what the chances are

    that she’ll get to capture

    the poetry of this ordinary moment

    when she arrives home

    to 80,000 questions

    like “Why is blood red?

    What is the sun made of?

    What do we do before we are born?”

    and “Can I have a ‘peeburrer samich’ nooooooow?”

    An obnoxious car cuts her off to turn through the crosswalk on her light

    –keeping it real–

    lest in her pondering she float off into the brilliant blue sky

    to alight on the snow-covered mountain tops that beckon in the distance

    to this winged creature:

    a woman alone for a walk.

    Christmas Sing-Along

    For all the parents out there getting ready for Christmas despite being sick or having sick kids…know you’re not alone! 🙂

    ‘Tis the season to be slimy

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Pass the Kleenex and quit whining

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Don we now our striped pyjamas

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Blow your nose and snort like llamas

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    See the baby drool before us

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Say it’s bedtime–they’ll ignore us

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Children will not sleep with pleasure

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    But it’s quiet time I treasure

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Fast away, the evening passes

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Mom and dad, find the wine glasses

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Not too late for midnight shopping

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Amazon–there is no stopping

    Fa la la la la, la la la la


    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Fa la la la la, la la la la

    Beautiful Mess!

    A baby is the best decoration for any room…and makes even a pile of clean laundry into a throne from which to beam at the world!

    I’ve been in bed with a sore throat reading Jennifer Fulwiler’s hilarious, inspirational book “One Beautiful Dream: The rollicking tale of family chaos, personal passions, and saying yes to them both.” It’s amazing…I can so relate the struggle and beauty of a writer mom with a large young family trying to be present to her kids while digging deep to pursue her “blue flame”…her passion for writing. I love how she’s integrates them both with such honesty and humour…and leads you along her journey of discovering that perhaps a loud house full of little people is a place of inspiration and growth, rather than just distraction from her craft. If you ever wonder if only your house with kids is a little crazy…I highly recommend it!! I laughed and cried and shouted…you might, too! 😉

    Anyway, she inspired me to share this moment from our own beautiful chaos…

    The Kamakazi Toddler and Other Adventures in Eating Out with Kids

    We went to the Dosa Factory restaurant

    with a very good old friend

    and our seven kids.

    They were very good:

    one napped quietly and the others played card games like “Go Fish”

    and set up their Littlest Pet Shops on the lazy Susan

    to show our sweet friend

    who expressed genuine delight.

    They sat in their seats and were very good indeed…

    except the toddler

    who played musical chairs

    and repeatedly catapulted himself off his high chair,

    grinning delightedly under his cropped golden mop:

    “Wheee! Whahoo! Wheee!”

    Of course the encouraging smiles of the surrounding people

    just added fuel to the fire

    and when he hid under the table

    it wasn’t in shame but in jest…

    he was playing house!

    It was all well and good until he spilled water all over his pants

    and decide to strip down, then and there, in the high chair….

    and then bolt–laughing!–

    as Daddy followed in hot pursuit.

    After being bribed with “Coffey” (sweet milky chai tea)

    he temporarily settled back into his high chair

    (now in his pants again…which were only pjs…but still)

    and sipped his drink off a spoon with relish:

    “It’s yummy, Mama; it tastes GOOD!”

    And while all this went on

    we ate mutter paneer dosa, and chicken korma and naan

    and talked faith and philosophy,

    the importance of being yourself

    and why the little things matter,

    and I nursed the baby

    and bounced her as she cooed and giggled

    those new little laughs

    that are like spring flowers

    meeting with the world for the first time

    to share their loveliness.

    And once the kids escaped their seats

    and scampered about eating fennel seed candy,

    we settled up and walked home in the slight rain

    to the scent of June roses

    perfuming the grey evening with hope

    and splashes of colour.