Soft light covers

I didn’t sow any snow peas this year… odd.

They didn’t mind their light blanket so much as their bean neighbors did. A small final harvest, but I marvel at any bean harvest in December.

The volunteer cherry tomato plant weathered the frost, so those will not be the last winter bites of tang.

And skeptical of the forecast, my love harvested the limes. Twenty two in all and when he unwrapped Bill the next day, he was no worse for the wear…including a few incognito limes left hanging.

I do hope the butterflies will return to the lantana. There was a true kaleidoscope of them alight upon the blossoms some days.

As was then, as it is again.

We were watching Iron Giant, for the 40th time. And I’d realized I hadn’t actually ever watched it. Not all of it, anyway. 
We’re at the end. The army is attacking the Iron Giant. He’s fighting back. “He’s bad, mama. The Iron Giant’s eyes turn red and he’s very bad.”

Me: Oh, honey. He’s not bad. He’s doing bad things right now, but he’s not bad. 

C: Why’s he doing bad things?

M: He’s programmed to do bad things when people try to hurt him. The Iron Giant’s programmed to fight back if people hurt him.

C: Why are they hurting him, mama?

M: They don’t understand him, honey. And sometimes, when people don’t understand things, they get scared. And sometimes when people get scared, they fight. 

C: I’m not scared.

M: I know, honey. You’re brave and strong and smart. And someday, when you don’t understand something, you will know you don’t need to be scared just because it’s different. You can ask questions or say hi or just watch. 

C: Why are they being so mean, mama? They’re scared?

M: Yes, love. They’re scared because they don’t understand. And they’re fighting because they are scared. But we don’t fight when we don’t understand or when we’re scared.

C: I’m not scared, mama. They don’t need to be scared or fight or not understand. They can say hi. 

M: I know, love, I know. 

Star light.

I hadn’t seen the stars in untold time.

My screen painted in peanut butter. I can’t tell. Is that in focus?

“That’s pokey, mama. Don’t touch it. You’ll get hurt.” 

Ah, no, bug. It only looks pokey. Touch it. It’s ok. 

“That’s a weed, mama?” 

No, honey. That’s corn.

“That’s not corn, mama. That’s grass.”

“I planted beads, mama! Patios and I planted lots of beads for you for them to grow.”

“Those aren’t my ‘matoes, mama. My ‘ ‘matoes are at school.”

“I want to take pictures, mama.”

The ants have bloomed.

I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Deluge after deluge and then a pause. I could escape! The tomatoes need to come out as they stopped earning their keep weeks and weeks ago. 

I stepped into the garden and the ground was moving. My skin was on edge. There were multi lane freeways and block parties of ants in every bed, in every path, on every post. 

My husband had read about a new bait he’d been wanting to try: peanut butter and borax. He whipped up a batch and I set about with a spoon.

This was two weeks ago now. They nearly disappeared for a week. Today was round two. 

I think I’ll stick to a three day cycle to try and truly banish them for at least a little while. Between the ants, mosquitos, and poison oak, outside is a little more vicious this year than most.

But then there’s this …

My storm drain has never looked so nice.

Feel the feels, y’all. 

“Sometimes I think the urgency to continue on to the next mundanity is a calculated distraction designed to prevent one from feeling all of the depth, breath, and heft of each moment. Each moment is wrapped in layer after layer and rare is the painless peeling.”

– me, soaking up every iota of input from the moments spent swaying, holding my son, who will be even older tomorrow, until enough tomorrows have passed that he no longer fits in the cradle of my arms, his head too large someday for the crook of my neck. Me, soaking up so much that I overflow and tears slip between my lashes and I breathe into the cramp growing in my back to stand and sway a little longer. 

Sparks fly.

I had two half days to myself. Daycare started unexpectedly early, work a few days off yet. I thought to build. 

I gathered my list, loaded in the car, and drove the quick five minutes to the lumber yard.

The cables corraling the lengthy planks made extraction nearly a circus act. I attempted a quiet extrication and – success. Twelve foot board after twelve foot board. Up up up, balance…swipe the cable restraint away, lower lower lower, hand over hand and…on the cart. Repeat. 

It was slow going and I was on a milk timer. Assessing my speed I realized it would be a lot faster if I wasn’t trying to be quiet. Why was I trying to be quiet? I was in a hardware store, in the lumber section, no one else was being quiet. No one else was female either. 

I let the plank drop. Onto the cart. 


Still concerned about the time I thought again: I need to move faster. 

I had set my cart up on the side of the aisle so as to not take up too much space. I moved my cart so that…

BANG. Swing. BANG. Swing. 

That was the pace I needed. My cart was loaded in no time. 

I pushed my way to the front of the store and got in line. A man came over from the tool rental area to do a remote checkout of my items. I asked him if he would check if there were any trucks left in the lot to rent. I mentioned he’d miscounted my boards and was about to under charge me. 

There was a truck. I left my lumber and set up the truck rental at the service desk. The lumber checkout had gotten more popular in the meantime. The looks I got pulling the truck into the loading bay. The looks I got retrieving so much lumber. 

“I’ll call someone up to help you load up,” the man who had rung me up declared kindly. 

“Oh. Ok, thanks.”

Wait. I don’t need help. Why am I getting help? Why did I say ok? 

Hey. I’m going to start loading up. If they get here before I’m done, great.”

I went outside. The drop gate wouldn’t drop. Oh, well. Up. Swing. Slide. Up. Swing. Slide. A man approached with headphones on. He saw me and deflated. Picking up the end of one board he waited for me to pick up the other end. Up. Drop. I picked up the ends of three boards. He didn’t notice. He slipped. He noticed. He picked up three ends of three boards. Up. Drop. Up. Drop. The lumber loaded, he walked off. Never a word or a smile. 

I drove home. I enjoyed driving a truck again. I felt how I’d felt in the summers in the country growing up. Farmers and fields everywhere. I unloaded the lumber into my garage, pumped, and headed back to return the truck. 

Truck returned. Walking back to my car, I got whistled at. Doing nothing other than walking empty handed through the parking lot on a Wednesday afternoon. 

I’m not a terribly quiet person. Shy in new social situations. Outspoken and opinionated at work and with friends. I actively work against the institutionalization of gender expectations within myself. And yet I tried to be quiet in a lumber yard. I tried to not take up too much space. I accepted help I didn’t need because someone thought I did. 

Having become the mother of a daughter, I’ve become ever more mindful of gendered life. She regularly wears shirts with lizards on them, a pink tutu, plays with dump trucks, and wants her nails painted. Having recently had a son, new pieces of indoctrination come to light. He smiles. Baby boys that do so are called flirts. Baby girls aren’t. Because from infancy boys’ sexuality is acceptable, girls mustn’t be promiscuous. Older boy children get to be charmers, girls are boy crazy. 

It took me this long to realize I was even trying to be small and quiet in a situation as mundane as the lumber yard. What else am I missing? What am I unconsciously indoctrinating? 


I purchased seeds years ago and sowed them. Flop.

I sowed them again.


I gave up and moved onto something else.

And then…


They grew and grew and grew. Four years they grew until it came time to move. I packed up the fallen seeds and went on my bittersweet way.

I brought seeds years ago and waited. I waited until their cousins bloomed and waited. I waited until their cousins grew older and dried up and let their spent petals fall.

I sowed my traveling seeds and waited.