So. Here's the thing. I'm not really going to be posting about knitting for awhile, or woolen sweater creations, or pine cone gnome crafts or applesauce canning or winter squash soup.
It's just not life these days for me. And yea, I'm kinda out of my element. Canning applesauce (as bad as past experiences have been, ha!) is way more my thing than trying to figure out how to prune a banana tree.
So I figure, what the heck, I'll just show you what I'm up to and we'll learn together and maybe it will be informative or just amusing, as you guys pile on the sweaters and make apple pie.
So, here's what I did yesterday.
Processed four coconuts.
You can actually go out to a fancy store somewhere and buy a whole coconut so maybe it's not all moot.
In any case. I read somewhere, as I was researching what to do with my four coconuts, that being given the gift of coconuts in their raw state is much like someone handing you yarn and telling you to enjoy the sweater... It's a lot of work.
Nevertheless, we charge ahead! June loves a good challenge! Ha.
So, on campus there are many many coconut trees and yesterday some of the yard crew guys had gathered them up in a giant pile and sat with a machete, handing them out to anyone who wanted a drink of fresh coconut water.
Of course the kids and I were entranced. We drank the water inside (slightly tangy, slightly sweet) and there they were. Four coconuts. What now?
Bring them home, I say. Dada says, I have a machete in the garage! Perfect.
He chips them open while I poke around on the Internet.
Dried coconut flakes and some milk is what I decide on. So here's what I did.
First, pull out the flesh from the inside of the coconut. It needs to be not too green. If you haven't drunk up your water inside yet, save it! (Gouge a hole, dump it into a container, then hack the rest open) We'll use it later to make delish coconut milk!
After scraping it out (we, that is my little miss, my only interested helper at my side, we just used a spoon) rinse all the bits of hull or husk or whatever it's called. Then break up your pieces of meat into a few inch pieces.
Next get out your blender. I used the grind option, it worked great but my blender could only handle small batches at a time.
I left several handfuls in the blender to make milk, the rest I spread on a tray and sprinkled with sugar. To dry them out just toast for 20 minutes at 350. I went too brown with my first effort, toasting them until brown, about 40 minutes.
Store in a baggie or airtight container. I put mine in the fridge. And ate some this morning on yogurt. Holy yum. Tomorrow I'm thinking something with dark chocolate. Mmmmmm.
So, with the other handfuls still in the blender, this is when I wish I had saved some of the liquid we drank up because it needs to be added back in and blended with the chopped handfuls of coconut meat. I just added water instead. Blend on your highest setting until frothy and delicious then strain out the chunks. I used a metal mesh strainer but you're supposed to use cheesecloth to squeeze out every last drop.
Oh my goodness. So good. Totally saving for a tasty smoothie for lunch tomorrow.
So. That's that. I'm hooked. Totally digging around the trees on campus next week again.
HOMEMADE DELICIOUS SMELLING PLAYDOUGH WITH COCONUT OIL AND LAVENDER.
IN MY OWN KITCHEN.
Did you catch that? Playdough. Crunchy hippy homemade playdough. IN MY OWN KITCHEN.
If you have been following the plight of June's kitchenless-state you will know that I havent had a kitchen to call my own in....SIX MONTHS.
Which has been rather HARD FOR JUNE.
But now. We unpack pretty towels. We start rooting mint and basil in a glass on the counter. We pick flowers for the windowsill. AND WE BASK IN THE GLORY OF A KITCHEN. (Who is this royal we? Why, June and I of course! HAHAHAHA)
Um, also, WITH A DISHWASHER. And a fancy fridge with some kind of built in tablet/computer/security camera monitor I cant figure out how to use.
This vision can't be perfect, alas. It seems I am destined to share my kitchen counter and the cupboard above the fridge with a gecko who wont take the hint and leave. They say geckos are good luck. And cute! And they eat bugs! I say. They nibble on food left on the counter and poop on the window sill. And they are stealthy and speedy and are apparently going to be my Hawaiian housekeeping nemesis, much like mice in our last place. I am deadly afraid of mice.
In any case. Geckos aside.
I HAVE A KITCHEN. And, a POOL. And BEDROOMS. A king size bed that feels like heaven. TWO BATHROOMS. And, an AVOCADO TREE! And yes, its been a vacation rental so its dull and needs sprucing up. Nothing some new curtains and throw pillows and pictures and potted orchids cant fix.
Okay, I'll be done with caps now. But, good grief we are so blessed to be in this place. Housing is impossible to come by, especially affordable housing, and FURNISHED affordable housing. Huge.
So I sit on the couch and sip my morning coffee and see the palms blow in the breeze and a giant white bird flaps over the house and the ocean a faint line in the background and yes, yes, this could be home, for awhile.
Also, very June feeling...An OCEAN UNIT STUDY! And an honest to goodness homeschool corner!
Jack has had to claim the office nook with a folding screen as his room. As long as we keep him supplied with the Ipad or the next Rick Riordan book on his kindle he doesn't seem to mind.
The girls room is a work in progress...UGH.
The view off of the kitchen patio.
My own little computer table. YAY. Past the palms? Ocean.
Boring brown rental living room that needs decorating. Badly.
But this is the other side of the room. AHHHH....
Growing in the plumeria tree in the front yard.
Aloe grows like weeds.
The backyard. With wild turkeys. It needs a lot of work but holy camoly you should see my pinterest board for this yard. Big plans. Big plans.
Um. Can you go away guys? Last night we watched wild pigs root around the yard for fallen avocados
Pool area. And no, we didnt buy this place. We are renting. But also managing it as a vacation property for the owner. (It has several suites on the lower floor to rent out). So pool. Yard. We even got a car in the deal. Of course, this means managing people. Like the ones who texted dada at 11pm asking why there wasnt a remote for the TV and would he please go buy one. He is doing this part. Not me. HAHA. (He is a good guy)
Hibiscus! I love these.
I found mint growing near the pool. YAY! I plan on putting in an herb garden here. And there are abandoned planter pots everywhere that are begging for gorgeous exotic plans that do not grow in places like the frozen north land.
Dada took this one. Laughing to himself. "Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Just how I like her." HAHAHAHAHA
It's been a long few weeks. Living on a university campus, in a tiny room, in the midst of a heat wave, is hard, whether you are in paradise or not.
But the other day it kinda hit me. As the kids were squabbling in the car, sweat dripping down our faces, trying - and failing - to make it to Costco before it closed. We drove away, requiring silence even as newly minted four year old tried to sing away her blues, loudly, and little miss jammed her fingers in her ears, crying for silence, and little man buried his head in his ever present Kindle, disengaging. And I look up, as the forced silence finally fell upon the car, to see a beautiful pink-y purple sky, the ocean a deep mauve below, stretching both ways as far as you could see, the beach before it a faint grey in the fading light, bedecked with the fringes of palms off in the distance.
And I felt gratitude sinking in. We had accomplished this seemingly impossible feat, of moving so far from everything, and we were really here. In all our squabbling glory.
And I see one of those facebook things floating around. Somewhere, its says, someone on this planet is happy with much less than what you have.
And its true. I have a roof. Hot and tiny though it feels on this sweltering afternoon as I type. A room that is clean and safe, Beds for all of us. A fridge stocked with juice and fruit and bread and milk.
And the bubbling feeling of a new life is inside of me. Movements now that are so evident as I lay in bed at night, trying to sleep. A tumble here. A flutter there. I'm nearly halfway (19 weeks) and its starting to feel so real. Another life. Another head of curls. Another sturdy body. Another soft smile.
And a friend of mine from college posts online, her cancer is back. She is my age. With a child and husband and career she loves. And it seems so damn unfair, even as this new life flutters inside my healthy body.
And I see reports of college shootings and fleeing refugees, the bombing of a hospital full of aid workers in Afghanistan.
And suddenly the heat of my little room isn't so oppressive, looking at refugees living in tent cities in the desert. My three children, fighting over who's iPad turn is first - they are whole, they aren't lying traumatized on a mattress on the floor, unable to speak because of the unspeakable horrors they have seen, horrors no one should see, let alone a child.
And I find myself crying more. Softening. Feeling the gratitude creeping in, taking hold of me.
And I look at my kids, complaining over what was served in the cafeteria, realizing, why shouldn't they complain, I have been too. And I realize, for the forty millionth time, how their gratitude starts with mine. How my eyes need to see the good, in them, in our circumstances, even as things feel hard.
Because things are not hard. Things might be inconvenient - the heat, the small space, living on the side of a volcano walking up and down the pathways of campus with a swiftly growing body inside of me - but things are not hard.
We let, so often, the inconvenient become the hard. We confuse the two. The merely nuisances become the stressful. And then they overpower the joys. The kids fight over who plays Minecraft first - but they ACTUALLY LOVE DOING THE SAME THING (miracle of miracles!) Little green whines about riding her scooter all day - but she has strong active legs and a strong body that loves moving. My body feels slower and more cumbersome with each week that passes - BUT I'M GROWING ANOTHER KID TO LOVE. The heat feels like being trapped in a car without the AC on, some days - but in the evening the ocean breezes blow in and the waves ripple on the mauve sea under a pink sky and the beauty overwhelms everything.
The hard becomes a blessing.
So, those are my notes on gratitude. A reminder to myself. And one week from now we get to set up house in our new rental and the days are cooling as we move into fall and the kids are meeting friends and I AM MEETING FRIENDS (amazing!) and this is good. And this is where we should be. Even if pumpkins cost $9 at Walmart. (HA HA HA, can you believe that???)