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
Gumby
Poky

You remembered to hang up your towel.

Birthday Girl

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SONY DSCWell, Alice, my birthday was the one that just happened! This is a reference to Frances the Badger, from the series by Russell Hoban, who told her imaginary friend Alice: “That is how it is, Alice. Your birthday is always the one that is not now.”

I made lemon curd for a crowd: it was 8 full eggs plus 8 yolks and 3 sticks of butter, plus tons of sugar and delicious lemon juice (12 lemons/2 cups).
SONY DSCThere were beautiful tulips and some roses too. Inspired by my reading of the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (mentioned here), I asked each guest to write down a few things: a favorite book title, favorite poem, favorite movie, and a memory of a time we were together. I was even gifted a mixed music CD! Some read their poems aloud and shared their memories—so fun to hear all those good times spoken about, sharing such good company with some of the women I admire and love the most.
SONY DSCI also asked each guest for a skein of yarn. To be turned into somethings or a something… to commemorate the occasion of turning 40, a grand and grown-up birthday.

SONY DSCOne theme of memories emerged: experiences that we shared outside and in the kitchen. Now I have this beautiful collection of cards and poems to read and re-read, new movies to seek out, and books!
SONY DSC SONY DSCBooks, memories, yarn, cards, chatting, and a delicious meal catered by my dear family. I was surrounded by love all weekend. What could be more perfect?

Oh and wait. Here is something incredible: two friends brought two skeins of the exact same yarn, in a different dyelot, but the exact same colorway (luscious purples)—even purchased in two different states! Unbelievable!SONY DSCHere’s a poem from today, while I shoveled:

Andy Goldswothy,
where were you today
when I was shoveling
still more snow ?

Each shovelful
flung airborne,
was a moment for your team
to photograph.

(Just out of curiosity,
did you get any snow down your neck
or sprinkling your face
when it was blown back?)

The dusk was falling
and the quality of light
was soft,
muffled,
grayish-blue.
And because it was so cold,
the snow was tiny,
granular,
crisp.

The sound of the snowflakes
as they sailed off the shovel,
was
hush hush
shush.
Like plunging your hand
into a barrel of cool, dry lentils.
Or barnacles whispering.

When I waded over to the wood pile,
it was too hard to walk
in the drifts.
So I crawled.
And this was better,
but the snow
kept sneaking into my mittens;
the worst feeling besides
taking off a boot
when your sock comes with it.
(Later, this happened too).

Being in the snow is the same
as playing in the water:
a short-cut directly to joy.

Andy, if you come to photograph
me and the shovel,
be sure to bring the sound equipment.

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holiday bliss

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Holidays have come and gone, as well as the waves of various familial configurations. There were quiet moments and louder moments, games played, food shared, lots of reading great books, some very brisk walks, great conversations, and waking up during the daylight! There were a lot of trips to the grocery store, my other home, and visits with friends in the aisles.
SONY DSCWe have continued to tame our office space which has been the staging area for incoming boxes. Unpacking lots of books, deciding which ones can stay and which should move on. We have a lot of very beloved children’s books that are keepers.
SONY DSC One of the books that has inspired me this year has been Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You may have read this review in the NYT. I read the review and felt like it was a book that would be best enjoyed in the company of friends, so I put the call out on Facebook and soon had more than 30 folks near and far who wanted to participate.
SONY DSCI created a closed Facebook virtual book group for us, so those who were far away could keep an eye on how it was going. But what I loved most was the idea that there was space for us all to participate and find support in this work of cleansing our homes, finding the sparks of joy that we wish to cherish, hearing the stories from each other of what is difficult or easy about the process.

I love the way it has rippled out to touch other members of the community: “Oh, I heard about that book group from a friend and I already ordered my own copy!” Or, “I didn’t come to the meeting because I was helping my mom clear out her barn of 38 old tires!”

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These photos of my dishtowels and napkins are a direct result of something a friend posted in the Facebook group. She shared her photo of her own dishtowel drawer and they were all rolled up and so lovely in their colors and patterns and textures. The dishtowels looked delighted with themselves! It was 8 pm and I had just sat down on the couch, ready to put my feet up and knit for a bit, but I saw her photo and it literally made me get up off my bum to bring some beauty into my own drawers. (What a gift that social media can be a vehicle for this type of positive peer inspiration.) It quickly became evident that the napkins were crowding out the dishtowels, so then I had to organize a different drawer to make a new home for the napkins… and in the process had to re-home some other random items. More ripples.

SONY DSC SONY DSC{We can never get enough of this guy, my brother.}
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SONY DSC{Um. What exactly is going on with that knife?}
SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSCHope you and yours enjoyed a wonderful holiday.

Tomorrow: waking up in the dark again.

winterish

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SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCAndy Goldsworthy: Stop playing in our forest. Or wait, actually don’t stop at all.
SONY DSCThis is a painting in progress of Venice by Sylvan, as part of his report on Italy. So far, so beautiful.
SONY DSC SONY DSCI love these dreads and this girl: Now your twinkles come with a halo.
SONY DSCSquash side dish for Thanksgiving: pureed butternut squash with a little bit of butter and cinnamon, with roasted pumpkin seeds. I also sautéed apples and onions with curry and cardamom and boiled cider.
SONY DSCAnd we got all this snow! Cold and crisp and sparkling! We are so grateful to be in our new house this holiday season.

Here’s a poem, an ode to my favorite month:

November

She is the most elegant of months,
sixty-something,

though she’d never say exactly,
with her dark eyes

that are a little sad.
She used to smoke
Gauloises in her youth,
when she was in Paris
and it was trés cool.
You can see tiny lines
around her mouth.

She’s not taken in
by fashion fads:
she knows quality when she sees it,
she knows how to shop the sales.
Her colors are woodsmoke grey,
the black of wet bark,
inky shadows under the moonlight,
the russet of oak leaves
against the white sky.

Her coats are her signature,
long, heavy,
made of fur or wool
with classic lines;
she swishes by
and there’s that hint of her perfume
that you can never quite place.

Of course she’s taken lovers,
but never a husband.
She doesn’t need October’s abundance
or December’s frivolity:
they’re really just too much.
She’s better off alone,
walking silently
along the edge of the lake.

~thanks~

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Wordpress
:

What on earth is this center-everything nonsense? The way my photos came in was in this interesting collage approach, which was also a surprise. But I can live with it.
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This 3 seed porridge, above, is absolutely lovely, from the good folks at Nourished Kitchen.

I know that everybody thinks we should all be eating protein for breakfast, but I am much happier with a delicious bowl of cozy, nutty, delicious wintery porridge. (Sorry, but I am just that sort of temperament.)

With sautéed ginger and frozen berries, almond milk, splash of maple syrup, and pecans.
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I had an occasion to vist a hospital recently and it was the most fascinating 40 minutes of people watching

that I felt the only way to really process what I had seen and heard

was with a poem.

This is the second of four.

II. Waiting
New waiting room.
The receptionist had a tattoo on her neck
and a smoker’s mouth.
Mostly old people were waiting.
And three young
loud-spoken
men,
some kind of marine contractors,
who were talking across the waiting room
to another guy.
They were big and muscled,
waiting for lab work.
One of them had a cough
he wanted to have someone look at.
All of them had some kind of military background.
They talked about Kuwait, KMB,
and someone’s cousin who took a test,
then got fast-tracked to be a warrant officer,
and now flies Apaches,
at only 19.
“Is that a real thing?”
Their boots were big;
that plus their outsized voices,
made the room feel small.
Did they think we all wanted to listen?
Were their ears ruined by loud machinery?
Being yelled at in basic training?
I wanted to read my book
about a French woman,
disappointed by life,
about to win the lottery.
I looked over at the old man
two seats over,
his old man sneakers
were like anchors,
and I noticed his ball cap.
Something military,
maybe USMC.
Was he able to hear the jackasses and their loud conversation?
Nothing on his face gave an indication.
Would he have wanted to join them?

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These guys, above, are not that kind of jackass at all.

They were the two quietest in nursery school. Two quiet, shy boys who watched everything. One day they spoke a few words to each other.

Thank goodness they found each other.

Now, as then, they don’t have to say much to have a conversation. They recently ventured into the big city together: taking public transport, contra-dancing, thrifting, sitting in Cafes, even getting a little lost. Perfect!

Here, they were willing to help me stage a photo, for a work thing I was making.

every day, progress

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SONY DSCMr. Crafty made a beautiful stained glass geometric lamp for our new home. The term for this form is… wait, hold on while I ask him again…

…”a great dodecahedron compound.

Per his correction, below… “a dodecahedron, great-dodecahedron compound.” Because he is a math geek and artistic like that. It is so beautiful that I will probably flood this blog with many pictures of it and its amazing shadows.
SONY DSC The lamp will hang over our dining room table. Above, you can see our wood stove, a Rais, which was a score on Craigslist. It has a little bun oven up top, with soapstone inserts, and a cute place to store some wood below. The stove is slowly making its lumbering way towards its final resting place in our home. It’s pretty close now.
SONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSCThe mudroom is “porpoise” gray, a California color in a Ben Moore Natura eggshell base, if you are a paint geek. The white in our main living space is Ben Moore Simply White.
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SONY DSCLook at this amazing bed and desk combo designed and created by my dad, Jake and Sylvan, for Sylvan’s room! So beautiful and functional, for the boy who always has lots of projects going. Lots of details and a lovely finished product.
SONY DSC SONY DSCThese two photos, above, are of our downstairs, Garden/Grandparent Level (GL) bathroom. Currently it’s our only full bath, with shower, sink, and toilet. And now this very nice hand towel holder.
SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCToday we had a fantastic sojourn away from our all-consuming house project. Like getting a day away from the very demanding but wonderful baby! It was the annual lakeside celebration of two birthday buddies whom you may remember from previous years. It was the usual mix of hammock snuggling, gorgeous and talented (NICE, too)  young people, delicious food and company, and this year: waterskiing! Sylvan, on his very first time out, got up on the skis! (Perfectly imaginable if you are familiar with Motion Boy, the Natural Athlete.) I got a great video of him on his first run, but I was enjoying the moment when he got up on the skis and not looking at my camera display, so for the first few seconds you get a really fantastic view of the wake of the boat.

In case you are wondering, there are actually two copies of The Time Traveler’s Wife in the picture in the hammock, and yes, someone is reading aloud from it. It is one of my favorite things, to see some of my most favorite books make the rounds between these beloved young people.

~not doing everything~

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It’s true we are doing a lot right now (BUILDING A HOUSE). It’s true that I sometimes freak out and am overwhelmed easily. I don’t feel like we are chronically over scheduled like some families, but there are four people here with interests and needs to be honored and pursued.

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SONY DSC~yes, media consumption happens more now~

I keep trying to do the math, like figure out the big equation with all of the variables to see what could be subtracted:

  • One husband, works full-time, managing tons of house-related details as GC for the site work phase. Takes one class (algebra II) one evening per week. Likes to take bike rides when he can and do martial arts (once per week). Deals with the garbage/dump and bills. Shares cooking, shopping, etc. Likes being social.
  • One wife, works full-time, easily overwhelmed. Takes either a yoga class or an exercise class per week. Gets up at 5:10 to do pilates exercises at home. Family scheduler, manager of home details. Shares meal planning, preparation. Throws away tired out bouquets. Makes lunches. Good thing her friends understand that she is no good on Friday nights and don’t take it personally that she has little time for socializing in person.
  • One older son, blessedly self-motivated in school, likes to play video games in his spare time, socializes with friends, sometimes contradances under duress. Likes to discuss big ideas of history and government, ethics, ideas for papers, brainstorming search terms. Sometimes paints with watercolors in his spare time.
  • One younger son, sporty and active and in need of daily exercise. Plays one sport per season (baseball now). Needs help and support with homework nightly. Is an excellent writer and speller. Would prefer to have constant attention from father and would probably really have been happy to live in a neighborhood of playmates. Practices violin under duress.

But there really isn’t a lot to be shaved out of this equation when I consider the variables.

Most weeks I barely make it through Friday by holding on with my fingernails to my little scrap of sanity.

SONY DSCI have a lot of stress related to leaving the house in the mornings, particularly when we have to bring Sylvan to the sweet people who bring him to school 3 days a week, since we have to be at school and our day starts before you can even drop a child off at Sylvan’s school. Some days we leave the house before Sylvan when he gets a ride from a passing carpool.
SONY DSCAnd I actually got a little angry this week at Sylvan’s school. Like, is Waldorf education actually meant for two parents who work full-time jobs and have no nanny or grandparent or doula to help with the other necessary details of life? (And my god, we are two teachers—on a similar daily schedule with Sylvan, it’s not like we work until 5 or 6!) I have a lot of guilt for not being able to be a participant in the life of the school like I used to.

And so, racing home one afternoon, I needed to pick up white eggs for a Pysanky egg-dyeing field trip, and Sylvan was getting over a cold, and I took a stupid chance that Rite Aid would have white eggs (you know, Easter, seasonal eggs???), and then there were no white eggs at Rite Aid. And no way was I returning to the madness of the grocery store at peak shopping hours (THE ONLY CHANCE I EVER GET TO SHOP NOW THAT I WORK FULL TIME), between 3-6. So I bought a crappy candy bar and ate it, didn’t even really enjoy it, just ate it out of stress and pure frustration. 
SONY DSCAnd there was also a parent meeting for Sylvan’s class that night. (Also, did I have to blow out the eggs, once procured?) And make dinner? And be nice to my family, maybe even fun?! Isn’t it enough that we make healthy family meals during which we converse about interesting topics? And that one parent is there to oversee S. doing homework every night? Harangue said child to practice his instrument with some regularity? And even sometimes get to read together and cuddle and joke? Jake literally got home from banging the 300 iron spikes off of our foundation with Jonas, had a brief dinner and turned around to get the white eggs and make an appearance at the meeting. He has such a greater sense of the possible than I do.

Is this our life now? Feeling guilty and bad about what I can’t give to our kids? I want to remember that I only have a few more years with them and get myself back into perspective. But I think it comes down to this: I will always choose family time over a meeting, having a relaxed meal together rather than a hurried one, to choose to do less so I can be with these sweet people more. Particularly now that I work outside the home.