Greenjeans Farm

  (Potter Valley, California)
A free radical farmers journey
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Letting Mom Go

As a farmer, there is nothing I like better than rolling around in the dirt.  My knees are always dirty and I am constantly cleaning my nails.   I have better things to do than remembering to take my shoes off before I come in the house.  I fully expect to mop the floor and turn around to see muddy paw prints within five minutes.  More than one time, I’ve stepped on a slug inside my house that has come in by way of the bottom of the kitchen door in his nocturnal wanderings.  Our dogs jump up on the furniture.  It never fails to rain right after I wash the windows, or our neighbor decides to plow in a windstorm.  Our son Joey has a thing about leaving his nose print on the bathroom mirror just for fun (and because he is 15), and our water is so hard that it turns the sinks yellow.

This is not to say we are slobs, we vacuum, sweep and dust every day.  Dishes are done, counters clean, Zud has become my best friend.  I have just ceased getting angry that dirt happens. 

It took me a long time to get here.  Growing up with my mother for a mother, bless her heart, the quintessential 50’s housewife. Cleanliness and order were the most important things a home could have.  I used to get in trouble if I put my hands on the wood work. In my mothers kitchen there were two huge picture windows that looked out on the neighborhood and Mount Rainer in the background, if you ever drew with your finger on a steamy window in my mother’s kitchen you were grounded for a month. Our dog Tiker was never allowed in the living room.  Naturally I took these values into my adult life.

Four children later and who knows how many dogs and cats we’ve had, I can honestly say I’ve learned to live with dirt.  We live on a farm for Pete’s sake!  There is not a single stainless steel or granite surface in our kitchen and the counters are tile, with grout that has to be cleaned.  To me, giving a whole day over to cleaning is like meditation.  When you clean your windows first, it gives you a totally different outlook.

The other day Jeff and I cleaned house together.  I agreed to wash windows, which of course leads to washing my paperweight collection and everything glass in the house!  Though I just wanted to go out and play in the garden, something drew me to cleaning windows. 

As I cleaned I noticed how many things I knocked over.  Things I brought home from my mothers house after she was dying.  Snuff bottles and carved eggs on little stands that she used to get upset about my children playing with.  Things that reminded me of her.   

We got to the end of the whole house cleaning experience and I noticed that though it was Jeff’s job to clean the rooms while I cleaned windows the dining room had not been cleaned.  I had a fit! 

He stood with me in our dining room and said in a low soft voice, “Toni lets take everything out of this room, clean it and then put it back.”  I looked at him like what are you nuts?  He then said, “ I don’t even like to go in this room, It’s your mothers room, and you are turning into your mother.”  I opened my eyes and I saw the shadow boxes I had taken from Moms house and the shelve.  Propped against the wall since last July when she died.  And all the Chinese goo gaws that she absolutely loved.  Filling up my dining room so there was no room to walk no room to grow.  I don’t love Chinese goo gaws and I have a very small house.

We took the shelves to storage and the goo gaws went into boxes for another generation to find. 


I kept the crystal Madonna, the salt cellar lady, I took back my house!    I loved and still love my mother, but I am her daughter Toni. 
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