Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Just a typical day

I have a head cold. It is my first of the season, so I actually feel pretty lucky that I got this far before coming down with something. My day (and yesterday, and possibly most of the week) will therefore be on the dull side. Instead of posting any of my nyquil-addled dreams or wobbly ramblings 'round the yard, I am posting what may someday become the first chapter of my memoirs of urban homesteading.

On the morning of November 2 I woke up at 5:00 a.m., not because I needed to, but because my husband had to get on a plane at 6:30. He works as a business consultant for IBM, so he goes wherever the work is, stays the week (if that place is more than a few hours’ drive from our house), then comes back home on the weekend. He tries to be quiet in these early hours, but sometimes my brain just starts up, regardless of my body’s complaints, and I can’t settle back down. He brought my 7-year-old daughter to our bed before he kissed us both and drove to the airport. My girl just can’t function without her morning cuddle time, and I love it, too. I stayed in bed reading until 6:00, then rolled my daughter onto her daddy’s pillow and got up. It was light, and I wanted to get in a hive inspection before making whole wheat waffles for breakfast.

I let out the chickens and fed the rabbit on my way to the hive. My yard is about 100 feet deep, so animal husbandry is a fairly efficient process; walk 50 feet from the back door to the greenhouse, scoop up rabbit feed, walk around greenhouse, feed and water rabbit, turn around, unlatch chicken coop, walk 12 feet, feed chickens, walk 10 feet, open beehive. The little ladies were still cranky when I opened the hive. They had been cranky for some time. They were trying to raise a new queen, and apparently had not yet succeeded. If there were a viable queen in the hive, they would have settled down by now. I messed around just enough to see that there were still sealed queen cells. Maybe my math was off and they weren’t dead, just not done yet. No need to get stung over it. I closed back up and went into the kitchen.

I mixed batter and put away clean dishes from the dishwasher while the waffle iron heated. As the first batch cooked, I put my hair back in a barrette and woke the kids. My nephews weren’t coming for babysitting until after school that day, so the morning would be relatively unhurried. I let the kids watch PBS television while they ate breakfast and made their lunches. I refilled the dishwasher (the kids had been practicing baking the day before and left a huge mess), and took the full compost bucket and stack of broken eggshells out to the compost bin. I put out the mail – a ballot voting in new bylaws for the Los Cerritos Wetlands Stewards – then washed up and stopped at my laptop to check email and my Facebook friends’ Halloween pictures of their children. When the kids were finished eating, I scarfed down all the leftovers.

After riding the kids to school (I hauled the younger two in my pedicab, a.k.a. “the exercise machine,” while my oldest rode his own bike to another school), I sat down to rest in a soft chair and, lulled by the dull sloshing sound of the dishwasher, fell asleep. Cardio really takes it out of me. When I awoke half an hour later, I changed into grubby clothes and mixed up a 5-pound batch of color coat stucco in my KitchenAid stand mixer. When they say “heavy duty,” they mean it. I smeared it onto hose-dampened patched spots on the rear exterior walls of my house with a sponge trowel. We had had insulation blown into the back half of the house last year and I hadn’t gotten around to tidying up the stucco yet. The chickens watched, with little interest, then ran to the composter hoping I would give them something disgusting to eat. I tossed them a few hot dogs left over from a church Halloween party, which they decimated while I washed out my dirty bowl and trowel on the back lawn. Although the fruit trees were losing their leaves and most of the county was well into autumn, we were expecting an 80-degree day, and some of the grass was in need of some second-hand moisture.

Heading back toward the kitchen through the side door, I saw that my sister-in-law had done her usual Monday morning laundry, so I started running the barrel full of greywater onto the front garden. I squashed a few bugs and grasshoppers (if only I could let the chickens forage out here!) and grabbed a broken leaf from an artichoke (for the rabbit) before heading back in. The dishwasher was finished again. I cleaned up while listening to NPR. I started a small load of laundry (bleached whites), then wandered out to the swimming pool and nudged the “automatic” sweeper to get it started. I threw a few pieces of squashy fruit from the kids’ leftover lunches to the chickens and watered the vegetable garden, now mostly peas and a few stubborn cherry tomato vines that were producing scores of little green tomatoes. Maybe the heat would ripen a few. I pulled some weeds, gave the tastier ones to the rabbit, and checked for eggs. There were three, still warm and in varying shades of brown. Back inside I put them in the fridge, and then took down the last of the laundry from Saturday – jeans and other thick things that needed extra time to dry- from the line over my bathtub. We have too many allergies in our family to line dry outside.

I temporarily had nothing to do, so I sat down to read blogs. That reminded me I needed to make some phone calls. Two appointments and several web pages later, the washer beeped that it was finished. I hung the laundry to dry and brought in the mail. I made a mental note that after I ate some lunch I needed to clean out under the chicken coop and, if it wasn’t too hot this afternoon, work on digging out a fruitless spiny natal plum shrub out front so I could put it in the next day’s trash pick-up. I checked the clock.

It was five minutes to Noon.

Ahh, the life of a Greenmommy in the suburbs.


  1. It sounds both exhausting and idyllic.

  2. You might accomplish more in half a day than many others do in a week. I think I'm getting some kind of sinus thing too. All the girls have coughs, must be the change in weather.

  3. welcome, welcome to the blogging world!!!! you sound like me--a little miss ants in the pants.