Remember Billy from Family Circus? This evening's writing is a little like his tracks.

Beren helps me clean the refrigerator.

If only he could also drive a truckload of garbage to the dump, too.

The rest of these photos are us trackin'.

It seems so long since I consistently wrote anything.

Once Jared takes Beren up to bed, I have about thirty minutes before I might get called to Beren's bedroom for one last visit.  My signal is "The Momma Whistle", which Beren asks Jared to sound.

In that thirty minutes I can write (if I'm inspired, and I usually get about halfway done and am then called up by The Momma Whistle. I delay and sometimes utter a curse, but one day The Momma Whistle will no longer sound, so...). I can wash dishes (though that's only during the 'lights on' part of Jared and Beren's bedtime routine. Lights out 'Cheetah Story' time requires quiet, though the two of them yuk it up with giggles and goofing. Tonight's kitchen task is putting away the groceries, anyway.).

Ok, so back to my list of options for the thirty minute slot. I could read (I've mostly forgotten how to do that, and I lack the discipline and calm mind to actually sit and concentrate, unless it's reading emails which I often do at this hour.). I might practice kung fu (and move all toys and the 'big blue chair' to create narrow alleyway between the couch and woodstove. The corridor allows for about two moves of a long fist sequence I'm learning. My teacher said once, "Look up, your enemy is in front of you, not down on the ground. Your worst enemy is yourself." Looking down is a common fault of a martial arts student. Here in the farmhouse, however, my worst enemy is down on the ground - a sharp-clawed kitten who attacks the Achilles heel.)

On any night, I might get a few runs through long fist, a couple paragraphs typed, or a quick stab at the top strata of dishes in the sink, and then, The Momma Whistle. Beren is endlessly chatty. His pre-slumber monologues are fascinating. I hardly want to leave his bed, fearing I might miss some gem.

"Momma, what is my long name?" he asked last night. He repeats his full name again and again in a dozen different sentences. His pronunciation is perfect. Typically, he can't pronounce "l" or "r". Besides, until the past few days, he's uttered his first name less than five times, and his last name, never, not that I can recall. "Momma, why is your name easier to say than Beren?" More inquiries about this and that. He's satisfied that Beren and Momma have the same number of letters.

OK, it's 9:10pm, and Beren is asking Jared to sound The Momma Whistle.

I didn't even get to tell you that Beren spelled "MOTOROLA" for Jared. Actually, he spelled "MOTOROLP", mistaking the "A" for a "P" as he read out the letters on the modem box earlier this week. A modern life here at the farmhouse.

I just squeezed out six minutes. It took six minutes to write that last paragraph? No wonder I don't get much done some days. But hey, one more paragraph. Maybe I've got a sleeping kid, but that means I've missed a chance for another pre-slumber monologue... Unless I hear the call, "Momma? Momma? I need you?" We'll see. Eight minutes - it's 9:18.

Silence. I'll keep writing.

This morning I washed dishes, and Beren asked, "How can I dry?" He broke only one small cup. He was upset. I look at it as downsizing. No problem.

Then, we scrubbed the bathroom floor, vacuumed the upstairs, and dusted. I should say, Beren dusted. Beren scrubbed everything. He got into a bag of square cotton applicators, and used them to swab furniture, toys, the floor, window sills. We actually accomplished more as a pair than I could have done alone.

Jared who was working from home commented, "All this time spent attachment parenting is really working out." Indeed, I agreed. I had planned to take Beren out and get the truck's tires rotated, but two clean bedrooms and a bathroom bumped that task.

After lunch, our NRCS agent and a wildlife biologist came to our farm to see what practices we could implement. Beren didn't like that his parents' attention was directed elsewhere. The agent and biologist were also parents of young children. We agreed that conversations with children present were rife with interruptions.

When they left at about 4pm, I thought, "Let's go out to eat." I didn't want to cook the lump of venison that Jared had defrosted. The bloody plastic bag of meat sat inside an empty egg carton, in case the meat juices leaked. Blah. Hardly any vegetables. Just a plastic sack of impossibly bright organic green beans.

The house was quiet. Jared was focused on the computer at the dining room table. Beren peacefully played blocks nearby. Considering dinner out is a nice mental escape hatch, but the options in southern Warren county are slim, especially in the direction of Shop Rite, which was our evening's destination. The Mexican-style restaurant is a possibility, but since we're avoiding citrus...

At this point, I'm just writing so I can remember all these things that are going on right now. This is snapshot city. It's unlikely that anyone else is celebrating the fact that eliminating citrus and reducing reliance on the forced air heat has our family's sinus passages, immune systems, and digestive tracts performing superbly.

Back to the story. The fascinating story of me preparing dinner which is somehow related to The Momma Whistle. I sawed open the sack of meat, breaded it with ancient frozen bread crumbs (the mason jar actually popped when I opened it), burned some jasmine rice, and steamed green beans. I was finishing when Beren exclaimed, "But I want to help. What can I cook? I have to cook something!" Sauce, we can make sauce. I had plunked ketchup and tamari sauce on the table between Jared's laptop and his notes. Sauce sounds like better lubrication than ketchup on rice (or green beans or meat. What was I thinking?).

Green bean water was repurposed into a sauce. Beren stirred. I added tamari, maple syrup, and tomato sauce. He added nettles. He showed me how Papa used a hammer to pound the lemon grass for the sauce. I added hazelnut oil. He stirred. We agreed we were done. Everyone enjoyed dinner because of the sauce.

It's 9:40. No more Momma Whistle. The train left for sleep station. I got one blog entry done, put away the groceries, some kitten cuddling, lots of kitten discipline (attacked/chewed - ankles, electrical cords, inside of lamp shade/moth, couch). No kung fu, no reading not even email, no dishes, no pre-slumber monologue.

Good night, computer. It's 10:12. Sixty-two minutes since The Momma Whistle was sounded.