sunday quiet.

Now we’re into November and you know how I feel about her. I’ve been doing things this fall, soccer games and new job and all that. Soccer is so emotionally draining to watch and it is about the last sport I would ever want to play. There’s so much anticipation of goals and then at the last minute… doesn’t happen. Such a tease. The merry-go-round of the week just keeps whirling along and apparently eating dinner every night is *still* a thing.

And you know what that means: going to the grocery store. And thinking about what to make. I don’t need a housecleaner or a chef, I just want a meal planner and personal shopper. And I love everyone and I love my community, I really do, but sometimes I count my blessings in NOT seeing anyone I know at the store. (And in case you’re going to tell me to shop at a different store, that idea is right out because I like the set-up of my store the best). Other times I see lots of friends and it’s like a party, my main way of socializing. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I have discovered a great time to shop is Sunday mornings between 9-10: only the heathens are there and it’s very quiet.
Above, we have the toothpick bridge that Sylvansanity made with his group, Rainbow Bridges (“Cross Water with Color”). Every time a rainbow appears in LA (where they are head-quartered), Rainbow Bridges donates $1000 to cancer research. They also have a non-smoking policy on their job site because the health of their workers and clients, as well as the community, is of the utmost importance. It was a great bridge and it held quite a bit of weight. If you are wondering about the hole in the middle, it was so the bridges could have weight hung on them to test their strength.

Someone gave me flowers for the library and the morning light was just perfect on them.

Being Thirteen and a Boy

Being thirteen and a boy
means your whole body is transforming
before my eyes.
You are visibly taller when you stagger down the stairs each morning,
hair aloft.
In last year’s school picture,
you still had a slight curve of cheek.
Now it’s all chiseled.
Someone said boys go through about five noses
before they arrive at the keeper.

And let’s talk about your brain!
Suddenly you know math facts!
6×9=54 BOOM
Suddenly you retain math processes,
and none of us are feeling tortured by your homework.
You even remember your homework!

Just this week you rediscovered baths
after eschewing them for years:
a warm bath after soccer practice isn’t so bad.
Tableau on the bath mat:
3 matchbox cars

You remembered to hang up your towel.

we are all squirrels here

Mr. Squirrel likes to have resources stored away. When I was nursing, there was nothing he delighted in more than taking a peek at the freezer stash of milk bags. Sure, he liked to see them all in there because it meant he could feed our boy from a bottle. But the real thrill was knowing that there was a stash saved up. He likes pesto and blueberries in the freezer, he likes wood piles, he likes the physical evidence of our survival for the future.

I mean, it’s great! But not really my kind of thrill.

This Squirrel, by contrast, likes to make things. Yes, sewing skirts again! These are # 8 and #9 Barcelona Skirts by Amy Butler. They are modified, of course. I started making 19″ versions a while back, something shorter and more fun. And also thrifty, because as you can see here you can get two skirts by cutting your fabric yardage down the center crease!
They are lined, and with a contrast color zipper in back. Notice this beautiful roundy blue and white print? It was a tea towel given to me by Miss Joanie, way back. And I knew upon sight that I would never use it as a tea towel — the pattern was way too pleasing and it would need to be something to wear or carry. Also because: Miss Joanie Magic.

And more inspiration came from B., who had whipped out her own new skirt of this lightweight denim with an offset contrast band like the one at left. Mind-blowing idea. This is a friend who has an extremely busy life and is unbelievably talented at everything she does (and yet pretty mellow about all of her excellence) and she recently embarked on a new adventure of her own…and I was thinking, wow, I could be sewing too.

But because I’m me, certainly talented in my own right but not very spatial or numerical in my intelligence (unlike B.), I needed a lot of mathematical support from Mr. Squirrel the Math Teacher about how to cut out the contrast fabrics. I COULD have figured it out on my own, but I might have needed to construct a paper model to have it make sense to me.

And after years of feeling really irritated by the strangely shaped, awkwardly sized, spiraling, knotty, or otherwise unusual pieces of wood that do not fit nicely with their straight and narrow compatriots, and generally tossing them behind the pristine woodpile, I have come up with a solution. We now have a Fly Your Freak Flag Woodpile, pictured above, for those punk rockers, those iconoclasts, who are curvaceous, funky, and nonconformist. They seemed to want an organically-shaped woodpile made in their own image and I think they are much happier in their own place of prominence than being tossed away and shamed to the back of the woodpile.

And this, below, is one way that my big boy, out taking the world by storm now, shows his mother that he cares. He created 21 Drive To School Playlists for me; each one is just about the right length to get me to or from school. Who is lucky enough to get a mixtape from their own teenage son?!

This girl is, that’s who.
#4 was pretty great, ending on the perfect Pirates of the Caribbean “pump up” note as I pulled into the parking lot. (“It’s been emotional” is a dialogue clip from the movie Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, a cult fave around here and one of my favorite parts of parenting a teenager…sharing the best cult classics in books and movies.) For me, Alejandro will always be his pump up song, because it was what we were listening to as he tied on his tie in the car on that icy, frigid New Hampshire morning, so that he could go have his interview at the school where he is now attending. It took at least three tries to get the tie right.

And #7 also has its charm, particularly the juxtaposition of the first and second songs, somehow perfectly summing up the boy and teen.

So much was done.

These two: mostly brothers from way way back. They were two of the quietest small boys in their kindergarten, just sitting near each other, mostly in silence. They had some big plans recently, things to finish up in advance of Jonas’s departure. Such as the above world map, painted on Jonas’s wall. They had traced it out using  a projector earlier this year and then got down to brass tacks and painted it, over the course of 8 hours in one day.

The next day they walked from our house to his house, which are 31 miles apart. The result was a lot of blisters, but they were hardcore (being 16 and 18, respectively), and so they ran the last two miles in the dark (with flourescent shirts and headlamps). There is no limit to what these two can do, obviously, and they also made videos of both adventures which, annoyingly, are not on YouTube so I can’t share them.

~tiny whales on a bowtie! little Magrittes for a lover of apples!~

SONY DSCThen, there was the preparation to leave, which included the usual packing up and organizing, but also just for fun, finishing up an online AP class right down to the wire, and for extra extra fun, wisdom teeth extraction! I have a whole poem about the waiting room experience, vis a vis listening to classic rock and all the most important news (everything Tom Brady), all. morning.long.

These ties and bowties are from a few of his fans. I sent out a little invitation to participate in a tie/bowtie send-off and they came through! I presented them to him while he was recovering from the teeth surgery— little colorful packages and notes of encouragement. Think of all that love, living in his closet this year.
This love note was written on our steps on the morning of his departure, a little art from a friend who came in the night for a last goodbye. I got teary then.
I made his bed in his dorm room. No top sheet, his forever preference. His room overlooks one of the quads, so green and shady.

~science building~

Leaving him, I felt awestruck. And as the week has progressed, the adjustment is settling in with the just three of us. Mostly the part that is hard is that I can’t read him every moment, to know how he really is. But this is the new life! Moving forward and on his own, the same way it was strange when he went off to kindergarten and there were whole parts of his life that I was suddenly no longer part of. Letting go and trusting, just some of the biggest themes of parenting.

~a history classroom in the library~

Here’s a poem about our golden boy who still lives at home…


Last Summer Sleep

Your arm was extended in repose,

golden wrist and hand limned in that ray of early September sun.

The rumpled nest of quilts

were pooled around your sleeping form,

and I watched you

breathing in and out—

that beautiful line of your elbow and arm rising up to meet your wrist,

like Adam’s casual response to God’s outstretched forefinger.


God was making all the effort.

And Adam was like,


lounging back in the nude,

a bit laissez faire, if you ask me,

in the face of God’s intensity of *capital-C* Creation.

Like He was on some sort of cosmic merry-go-round

and if He didn’t put out his finger just right in that exact moment,

really quickly,

—and despite that terribly awkward position—

He might have missed the golden ring.

“Dammit, Adam, could you at least sit up? And put out your finger! Come on man, make an effort!”


There you were,

enjoying that last delicious sleep of the summer.

Your face was relaxed,

captured so perfectly between

teenage man-boy

and baby,

depending on how I shifted my gaze.


Your hair was perfect,

even in sleep.



holding on/letting go

I wonder what Billy Collins would think about the fact that I had to muscle my way around a rack of paperbacks to access the Poetry section in our local bookstore. Like the Poetry section was small to begin with and then they parked this rack of trade paperbacks in front of it, the implication being …

SONY DSCWho buys poetry anyway?

SONY DSCI was there to buy a book of poems for someone who has cancer. The efforts of the bookstore to hide the poetry and to thwart my intent were in vain, and I came away with the right book of poems in my hand.

SONY DSCI don’t really know this person well enough to choose a novel for them, or even nonfiction, but I know that words can be a lifeboat. So I went for poetry by Billy Collins because the first time I read him, it was during the course of one bath and I was surprised to somehow find myself in cold water, in the almost-dark, and turning the last page of the book.

SONY DSCIt was total poetic gluttony. I was a little ashamed that I didn’t show more restraint, and quite wrinkly.

SONY DSCI hope it was the right choice of book.

SONY DSC{oh my goodness, look at him.}


SONY DSCI wrote this poem before I knew for sure he was going away. But I already knew. Holding the poem was like that feeling of knowing you’re pregnant, but when you can’t tell anyone yet.

here’s a portrait of the two of us.


Since this has been my life’s work,

the work that I have strived for the hardest,

loved the best,

the work that has brought me to tears and frustration,

baffled and inspired me,

this work of wonder and miracles

(sometimes all in the same five minutes)

it’s no surprise that I’m terrified.

You were difficult,

pushing every limit,


enamored with power

so early.

You may have had some notion

coming here

that you would be a boy prince.

It’s possible that you faced this disappointment

every morning when you woke,

expecting a room of courtiers and satin slippers,

but getting us regular people instead,

the make-your-own-bowl-of-Cheerios sort.

So you really made me

the parent I have become.

As a small person,

you were the Zen master who

switched the tender backs of my knees

every. minute. of. every. day.

to be sure I was fully present,

paying attention,

alive in each moment,




Sometimes I just wanted to space out,

tune out.

Have a thought.

But you were there to help me elevate my practice:

work to art

work of art

art of work

heartful work.

I don’t take credit for who you are,

because you were yourself

right from the first moment.

Your eyes were wide,

taking in the panoply of adoring grandparents

and one uncle,

all present at your birth.

You arrived into all this love

and have kept your

eyes wide open

ever since.

But I will take some credit

for the short life you have lived

which has been imperfect,

full of mistakes,

hurt feelings,

the wrong things said and made up for,

angry words,




morning Mom Songs,

zesty word play,


“numbers like roads

since there are so many ways to get to each one”

great books shared,




Invisible Poker,

“You never forget your first Miss Hannigan,”

amazing and wonderful adults,


warmth around the dinner table,

and lavender footbaths

when you were at your worst.



You who made my dream job possible.

My best work and my life’s work.

I’m sending you out,

out there into the big world

of salmon pants and tortoiseshell glasses,

the world of big ideas and some very smart people,

your people,

who will expand your mind and feed your heart

(I won’t say soul because I don’t want you to vomit)

and they’ll finish the work I started.

The waves of panic

hit my heart with your old familiar relentlessness,

mostly in the small moments alone in the car

or late at night

when I can’t keep them away.

Because I know you are ready to go.

Postscript 3/9/15 on the Occasion of his Acceptance:

You’ve outgrown us.
–And I thought we had two more years,

but it’s now.

You’re going.

Just this week,

when we had that kerfuffle about your missing boots,

via text message,

I thought:
This is how I know we’re done here.


SONY DSCAs promised, if belatedly, more photos from that idyllic evening on Penobscot Bay…SONY DSCSo I’m waiting tables this summer, a new experience for me. And because I like to keep people happy, it’s immensely stressful work because there are so many factors outside of my control. People have been fabulous and patient (new restaurant), and generally lovely. I’m a service person, through and through; it’s something that is a deep part of who I am. SONY DSCI have the house to myself for a few weeks and am enjoying a quiet life and very rare trips to the grocery store. I’m also building a quilt. Sylvan’s Turning 13 Quilt! It’s been two years since I have sewn anything!!! It’s amazing to be back. And I am exploring a new-to-me sewing machine, a true machine, an old Singer from the 1950s which glides smoothly along and is an absolute pleasure to work with. The part that makes me crazy is the placing each square part: it is always impossible (can’t have two same fabrics touching, need an overall balance, etc) and I spent about five hours getting it right (enough). It’s so nice imagining my cozy boy snuggled up inside it…that’s what carries me through the agony of placement.

SONY DSCSONY DSCBut here it comes with a new sense of reality: we have the date when Jonas will be heading off to school. I was typing it into our digital family calendar: “Take Jonas to School.” And then a tiny and very very  mean voice in my head added: …AND LEAVE HIM THERE. (Then I cried.) This happens to all mothers! This isn’t a unique event, in fact it’s absolutely mundane. Every day, forever, mothers have been sending off their children into the big world, and let’s take a moment give thanks for our extreme good fortune that I am sending him off to boarding school and not to fight in a war or to make a new life in a new country. This is how it was always going to be, it’s a part of the job that I signed up for, and this is one way I know I have done it well. SONY DSCSONY DSC—–


The Last Ride

Sometimes you don’t know when it’s the last time

so the occasion slips by unnoticed.

The last time you fell asleep in my arms,

cried in front of me,

needed a reminder to take a shower.


It was our last ride to school this morning.

Our playlist was two songs framed around

a biology concept litany,

timed to the length of our commute.

First, “Lilac Wine” by — surprise, I never would have guessed!– Miley Cyrus.

Then cell respiration,



words and vocabulary,

a few

of which I recognized,

like hearing another language.

Your voice, reciting,

next to me in the passenger seat,

and me,

just listening to the sounds of your words.


Sharing the space with you,

our proximity

was fleeting.

Once, you were the listener:

drinking in all those words and stories spoken

by me to you,

and you were the one making sense of a new language.


The final song of our last ride,

“More” by Usher,

is one of your classic pump-up songs.

(More is what you always wanted: more of the world, more time awake, more of everything, stories, time, dessert, information, from your babyhood right to this moment.)

“More” delivered us right to our usual parking space

under the windmill.

Your timing was impeccable.



Summer Report 1

Summer is just rolling right along in typical breakneck fashion. Here are a few images of what we have been up to. 
Photoshoots on the porch with these rockstars. Dang.


This porch sometimes impedes my ability to motivate myself to do anything productive. Because you sit out there, screened from the bugs, enjoying shade and pleasant breezes and the songs of birds like this one that I recorded (hermit thrush).

Remember last summer? No relaxing porches for us!

Three hands were needed to tie this hand-made bowtie.

Oh and our anniversary! Sixteen years together! We celebrated with a beautiful dinner at Salt Water Farm in Rockport. We enjoyed lovely company as we overlooked Rockport Harbor—and I had a delicious piece of halibut, so beautifully cooked and presented (no photo, what on earth was I thinking?) in a broth of sorrel with shaved radish and chive florets. Our well-informed server reminded me of Kevin Kline in French Kiss (except with no mustache)—trailer is here.

Well, but it’s still Maine (this was late June), and here I am waiting outside in the blowing, chilly downpour for a concert to start. Silly me, I thought when I finished this Birthday Knitting project (yarn from Madrona, pattern is the Gaptastic Cowl), that I wouldn’t be able to wear it until the fall. Foolish!
(More on this fabulous summer moment later… It needs its own post.)

My Mother’s Day gift this year was a bouquet CSA from Goldenbrook Farm. I get a beautiful, organic bouquet each week for 24 weeks—especially perfect this year when we don’t have much growing around here. These bouquets last! So usually by second week, I am re-making a smaller bouquet, and enjoying our fresh one too. Our farmer and friend Susan is a talented arranger and I am loving the colors and this gift that keeps arriving each week!

{In other news: I am waitressing—trying something new at 40!—at this awesome new restaurant here in the midcoast.}

~gentlemen’s sport~

SONY DSCYesterday, this:

~finish of the Varsity race~

Today, the victors parade through town:

Well, OK, it was actually the Memorial Day Parade through Camden (then Rockport) with the Maine State High School Boys Crew champs, Megunticook Rowing! Yes, you’re reading the right blog, it’s not a baseball report, Jonas has found his sport: crew.
SONY DSCYesterday our guys team (one boat’s worth) were the victors at the Maine High School championships, hosted graciously by Waynflete in Portland. In the boat were three 8th graders, Jonas, and a post-grad rower. Last week they raced as novices in a regatta in Massachusetts, both boys and girls teams were winners; this week they raced in both the boys JV and Varsity races, and were victorious in both. There was a stiff cross-wind and it looked like really hard work.

When they rounded the corner of the river, it looked like they were far behind. Part of that was our angle, looking upriver, close to the finish; but they actually were behind. But our guys took the corner well and were then able to power forward and overtake the Yarmouth boat! So exciting to watch.

SONY DSC~Jonas coxed the JV race~

SONY DSC ~Tray coxed the V race~

It’s been great to watch Jonas find his sport with such a fine organization and enjoy the sportsmanship of being on a truly team sport. Our team is so fortunate to be coached by Ry Hills — in the words of a rival school’s coach, she is “one of the best coaches in the country.” What an incredible gift to these young people! Jonas noted that coaching this club is not even a blip on Ry’s august coaching career. Learn more about this sport and Megunticook Rowing in Ry’s own words here.


On the more relaxed row back up to the dock. It was a pretty awesome way to spend a sunny May Saturday.