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    Entries in outdoors (2)


    like rain on your (neighbors') wedding day

    Spring around here is a funny thing. It rains; it pours; your carport floods. And then, for one day, it is 62 degrees, bright and warm from the time the sun shows his unfamiliar face until he lays it down in the Sound. And those twelve hours are enough to make you optimistic about the possibility of enjoying outdoor life again, in a sincere way, not a ha-ha, good thing I'm wearing galoshes kind of way.  

    We actually had, like, THREE of those in a row, a week or two ago. And then my poor neighbors who had waited TWENTY FIVE YEARS to get legally married found themselves putting up clear flashing around their gorgeous deck in preparation for a torrential downpour that waterlogged their wedding day. PNW, we can't quit you, but you sure are a jerk sometimes. 

    To console ourselves after we put some measly starts into the garden only to have it frost overnight at 37 degrees and kill our broccoli, George and I decided our raised beds could use some flags to jazz them up a little. Zelda had never potato printed, so we got out some muslin, cookie cutters, a potato, some paint and a paring knife.

    If you don't know how to print with potatoes, there is no shortage of tutorials online that probably give all the details you need, but all I do is press a cookie cutter deep into the freshly-cut side of a potato, then slice into the side of the potato with my paring knife and cut away the excess potato. Not exactly rocket science.

    George and Zelda chose an arrow, a heart, a star and a leaf. One arrow attempt failed, and turned into a bunny. Zelda kind of just tried to eat the potatoes, but George had a good time stamping the strips of muslin I had torn. Speaking of which, I didn't bother hemming these; I just snipped the selvedge edge of the muslin and tore it along the entire width of the fabric, leaving me with strips. 


    I gave George dishes of the paint that came with a paint-your-own wooden car kit. I have no idea what kind of paint it is, but it's labeled non-toxic, and it hasn't yet run. Do I need to tell you how many times it's rained? When the kids were satisfied that they'd eaten enough raw potato and sufficiently stamped the soon-to-be flags, we cleaned up, and let everything dry while we ate lunch.

    While George napped that afternoon, I cut the strips into smaller pieces and sewed a ribbon across the top, bunting-style. We stuck bamboo poles into the ground on each end of the garden and tied on the flags. I love that it helps give the kids some ownership of our garden in these early, boring days of germination and perseverence. 





    Our back yard is a major work in progress. We don't own our house, but I've always been a fixer-upper of my living spaces, regardless of whether or not they are technically mine. What matters, as far as I'm concerned, is that we enjoy and really inhabit our home; the walls can return to white when we're ready to leave. 

    This summer will be George's first as an appreciator of the outdoors. Last summer he was pretty little and we spent some time outside but the hats' chinstraps were annoying and he'd grown so adept at shoving things into his mouth in a single motion that, when surrounded by grass and pebbles and mulch, Mama and Papa didn't stand a chance in the battle against mouthfuls of nature. This time around, he's more trustworthy on his own and I'm looking forward to watching his sandy hair turn yellower in the sun while we play with the chickens and spray each other instead of watering the garden. I decided he needed some backyard activities, and the obvious choices were a given: sand box, water table. But somewhere I saw a photo of kids playing with an oversized chalkboard and it looked like just the creative outlet to complete our backyard kid oasis. 

    It was simple and the materials cheaply bought: $8 for the paint and $6 for the board, plus a bucket and a package of sidewalk chalk from the dollar store, bringing the total to $16. We had the rope and screws, but I suppose if you didn't, it would be another dollar or so. I wanted it to be steady, as our yard isn't the most level surface, so we drilled it into the fence and nailed the rope into the fence behind the chalkboard. 

    George is big into putting things away, so half the fun seems to be in choosing a chalk, then putting it back in the bucket and choosing another. He took to it with no direction, which is, to me, the hallmark of a good play space, one that will actually get use. 

    Hanging out with the whole family outside this evening was so fun, and made the coming warm months even more exciting. I can't wait until our garden is in full effect, when we can pick dinner from the ground while the baby colors in chalk and the chickens cluck around our feet, pecking for bugs. 

    Feel free to stop by; we'll just be chillaxin' out back.