Posts Tagged With: lemonade

Friday Letter to My Kids: Self-Made, Home Made, Lemonade

Dear J, J, L and L,

Picture an eleven/twelve-year-old girl, dressed for winter weather, a makeshift backpack on her back, trudging down a snow packed street toward an open expanse of hilly snow and frosted over trees. A gray ceiling of clouds make the skies seem ominous, but the air is dry and so cold the nose hairs freeze, eyeballs sting.

The girl knows this kind of weather. She’s lived it every winter of her life.

That girl is me.

I’d decided one day to hike down to the park, three houses away and build myself an igloo and then spend the day inside its peaceful and quiet interior. I’d brought a blanket, a couple of books, some snacks and a small school sized thermos of hot chocolate. I even had a bucket to press the snow into “blocks” to stack on each other.

Turns out the temperatures were colder than anticipated and the dryness of the air also meant a dry crusty snow. That snow wouldn’t stick together. Not even a decent snowball could form from its crystalline structure. It wasn’t the fluffy wet stuff we usually had piling up all winter. I could barely break through the crust of the snow with my bucket to fill it up.

Fifteen minutes into my adventure I was done.

I sat down in the snow, contemplated drinking the hot chocolate and reading for a few minutes out in the open, but it just wasn’t what I’d planned. I trudged back home to the noise of younger siblings, mom teaching piano lessons, chores, warm house and everyday boring life.

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I’ll let you guess which one is me.

I loved adventure as a kid. I especially loved invention and making do with the materials at hand.

  • Tree huts and forts made from found materials.
  • A drawstring bag sewn from leftover fabric and a shoelace.
  • A made up game, a cross between four square and tennis.
  • Pottery made from clayish mud, even if it fell apart when it dried.
  • Climbing out my second story bedroom window early on a Saturday before chores got assigned, so I could have some quiet time to myself.
  • Getting something from the almost nothing of a seed planted.
  • Hiking. The steeper and more challenging, made it all the better.
  • Riding my bike to get where I needed to go, instead of relying on someone else.
Yup.

Yup.

I never dreamed I’d use such “skills” and desires as a mother. And yet, the adventure of raising children utilized those things in ways I wasn’t even really aware of until recently.

  • I’ve lost track of how many times we “remade” home as we moved, and moved, and moved again.
  • Sewing came in handy using scraps to make clothes from a very versatile pattern for J and J when you were little.
  • Finding new ways to entertain and teach and cajole good behavior required invention and creativity.
  • As often as money got tight or nearly nonexistent we made do with what we had in surprising, although not necessarily successful, ways.
  • Rock climbing with you when you were younger turned my daredevil climbing skills into a pastime we loved and shared. Which led to lots of hiking and camping, adventures in their own right.
  • And a few years ago, my bike became my main means of transportation when we got down to only one car and four drivers.
photo by imoni

photo by imoni

I’d still like to live where I don’t need to rely on a car.

And I’d love living a completely self reliant life. Build a small rustic cabin, use solar, have a generator, get our water from a well, plant a massive garden and fruit trees, get around on a motorbike and a jeep or better yet, a mountain bike. Wouldn’t it be something to wake every morning to mountain views and the smell of pine or snow or crunchy leaves? One trip into town once a month for supplies.

I suppose you could say I’ve lived parts of my dream in some convoluted ways. We’ve relied on each other, which made us closer, crazier, and cozier. We own some wonderful memories don’t we? All crafted out of making do, making it up, making our own fun, making the best of things. It’s that whole making lemonade out of life’s lemons thing you’ve heard about.

'nuff said

’nuff said

I often picture the past thirty odd years as a roller coaster ride with all of us in the cars, hands in the air, screaming, eyes popping, certain that the next ninety degree turn or steep drop will do us in. And yet we survived, and had some fun, and learned a ton of stuff. Feels like now that you’re all married that particular roller coaster ride came to a stop. (Did you keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times? I think not! hehehehe)

Now, you’re all off on your own adventures.

My life of adventure so far has surprised me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I’m thinking there’s more adventure ahead, too. I’m just hoping the snow isn’t iced over and that I’m dressed warm enough for whatever happens next.

Here’s praying that your adventures turn out better than you can imagine.

Mine have, so far.

 

All my love,

Mom

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      “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” ~G. K. Chesterton

 

 

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Categories: Family, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

When Life Gives You Oranges

Oranges!!!

Oranges!!!

Who hasn’t heard the “When Life gives you Lemons make Lemonade” speech? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Okay, yes we’ve all heard it.

You make lemonade.

How about oranges? What if life hands you oranges? Then what do  you do?

Let’s line up the two side by side and see what we get, shall we?

We should.

Have you ever actually made lemonade? From a bowl of lemons sitting sweetly on your counter? Or from the tree in your backyard? That’s an important distinction.

Those pretty orange globes hanging on the tree make for a cheerful sight.

Those pretty orange globes hanging on the tree make for a cheerful sight.

Citrus trees have fierce hidden thorns and grow thick and tangly. So picking the dang things is like having life hand you lemons. Scratches on your arms, neck and face can definitely happen. I suggest you wear long, heavy-duty sleeves to pick lemons or oranges.

That bucket, box or bin you pick from that “small” tree fills up fast and gets heavy even faster. Hope you brought your muscles along, or at least some helpers. Our “little” orange tree we picked from yesterday filled up a large laundry hamper, a small laundry hamper and two five gallon buckets. It sure didn’t look like that much hanging on the tree.

Between rain and dust and birds the rinds of those fruits need some washing up. We had a two-year old on that job. She found it funner than bathtime. “I get to play in the sink with these hundreds of orange balls and this cool scrubby brush thing?” Oh yeah, she had a great time.

MSH invested in a juicing attachment that fits on my big mixer. That sure speeds up the process of getting the juice from the little round orange balls. Cut in half, press and the squeezing practically does itself. Sort of.  MSH has slightly sore muscles on his arms today.  A strategically placed bowl fills almost magically with copious amounts of juice. Personally I like to strain off most of the pulp and all the seeds. That’s a bit of a process too. MSH loves chunks in his juice. Me, not so much.

Here’s where things kind of split out between oranges and lemons.

Mmmmm. Makes you want to pour yourself a glass. Try squeezing a glass, it's better.

Mmmmm. Makes you want to pour yourself a glass. Try squeezing a glass, it’s better.

To get a useful amount of juice from either lemons or oranges requires more fruit than you’d expect. An eight ounce glass of orange juice takes roughly five or six medium oranges. Granted, ours aren’t specifically juicing oranges, but still, that’s a bunch of oranges for one glass to drink.

After yesterday’s long process, I can tell you I’m not going to chug a freshly squeezed glass of juice like I do a store-bought carton of the stuff. Personal time and effort give that juice a rarified, vintage wine expensive kind of flavor.

Juicer than oranges, lemons might yield eight ounces from four lemons. But you certainly aren’t going to drink that much lemon juice.  Oh no. That’d pucker you up for a week or more, right there. For lemon juice drinkability you’re going to want to add about an equal amount of sugar, maybe a little less, to two quarts of water and ice then stir well. Eight people can enjoy that sweetened lemon juice.

That’s a bunch of sugar right there. About a tablespoon and a half of sugar per eight ounce glass of water and lemon. That whole adage about life/lemons means you gotta add a ton of sweet to the sour stuff life hands you. Is it even possible to balance life that way? Some sour events life dishes out would require a sugaring of, oh I don’t know, a super sweet six month cruise to the Bahamas every half a year to achieve any kind of juice, water, sweetener balance.

Oranges, however, juice out ready to drink. No sugar required. A bit of ice is nice, but not necessary. It does take a hefty bunch of oranges and work to get that glass full enough to drink. Is the work worth it? When’s the last time you had a glass of orange juice, freshly squeezed? It’s a different experience than a processed glass.

Given the choice, we’d all pick oranges over lemons in the grocery store of life, wouldn’t we. Or would we? Some of us like a bit of tang and pucker. Some of us just need the easier route.

Either way, we make the best of what we’re given. And that, my friend, is the sweet and low of it.

Categories: Food, Gardening, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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