dreamy

It was a three-day weekend for my birthday! Surprise snow day on Friday added an element of restful leisure to my life — so grateful for that!

~winter cheering up quilt is coming along~


There was time for weekend chores plus some low-key add-ins: a spontaneous dinner with friends, and a lovely afternoon snow-shoe in all that blue and white sparkle. We wended our way through a wooded path that hugged the ocean’s edge; I was on some of those old classic snow shoes, all wood and cat gut (or whatever… don’t tell me!), with such great fishy-shaped prints!

Here’s what I’m reading: Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier, for book club. And to keep the Russian theme going: City of Thieves by David Benioff about the siege of Leningrad. Good winter reading.


It’s not that I’m feeling old or morbid or anything. I’m 41 years young! It’s just that I read perhaps the most succinct and exquisite eulogy this week, about someone’s pet hedgehog. It was a beautiful piece of writing. After reading it, I truly felt I knew something about who this creature was. 

Eulogy for Myself, After Clare’s Eulogy for her Deceased Hedgehog

February 6, 2016

I don’t know many other people who loved getting into bed so much that you would sometimes shriek with glee.

You hated stepping on Rice Krispies, were indifferent to historical dates, and would rather have had another natural childbirth than vomit, but you loved red shoes, enjoyed hanging laundry on a clothesline, and watching the snow fall.

You always hoped to see an owl sitting in the tree outside your bedroom and, though it happened rarely in your life, swimming and playing in tropical waters was an immediate short-circuit to joy.

One of your special talents was knowing the exact moment when a loved one drifted off to sleep, but you incorrectly estimated the amount of yarn needed to either cast on or off in most knitting projects, almost every time.

You remembered musical tunes, not lyrics, and provided your family with great amusement singing along to the words you thought you heard.

Being a mother was your life’s work: the most difficult and most rewarding thing you ever did. Your work outside of the home called upon some of the same skill sets you learned as a mom: listening with all of your senses, helping people find things, communicate with each other, to love books, to be kind, and to clean up after themselves.

So long, you lover of hedgehogs, chubby baby feet, and pillows of verdant moss. We’ll toss a Rice Krispie on the floor and think of you.

Fondly.

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in which reading my own blog gives me personal insight

Apparently January represents an annual low-point for me. If you’re bored of the same old story because I have written about it before, feel free to give this post a pass.
January 22, 2012
January 21, 2011

Everything is exhausting and nothing is possible was a title I considered for this post. And I don’t know why I get surprised by the same old things every year: such as in August when summer has just run me over with its chaotic festivities, impromptu parties, house guests, and I am really ready for the form and structure of the school year to begin.
So this list was something I came home and wrote out. And the whole top part of the list is things I am not doing (Things To Not Do list), but basically the bottom line is this: I cannot currently do anything that is not in direct support of my home or family. Non-essential things are out. Obligations like I should be writing or meditating every day, or I should feed the birds because I was given a new bird feeder. Giving those up too. And not cleaning any bathrooms, planning meals, or picking up Sylvan every day.

There is not much I can eliminate from my work life, though I have some ideas about how I can  create better form and structure about how I focus my time. There are many important and wonderful things that are part of the work I do and sometimes it is hard for me to say no, and it is also hard for me to say not right now. I usually need Saturday spent entirely at home.
There are plenty of home chores that I will do joyfully like laundry and vacuuming and cooking, not so joyfully shopping, haranguing the 13 year-old, transporting the 13 year-old, etc.

I’m saying yes to a regimen of daily self-care, such as good long sleeps, reading long books about Siberia, exercise, and making things. Also, speaking of Siberia, we have been working on this puzzle of the world, and I have a renewed respect for just how large Russia is! {No wonder Putin thinks he’s so important!} And really there is just a vast expanse of pinkness that is Russia up there, with no words at all on the puzzle pieces which means tiny places too small even to make it to the map.
But it was the “On This Day” that reminded me of the Fabric Therapy post. And I realized: I never even used that fabric! I bought the backing and binding and everything and never used it. It was actually color and fabric and retail therapy, not so much sewing therapy…
So I flipped over my To Not Do  list and started sketching some ideas out. Happy foxes! Little Red Riding Hood! Bows! Tiny toadstools! Pink and blue and gray and white! Cheerful! 
Does this pink and blue parfait of sweetness match anything in my house? Not a bit. Here’s my color scheme for my home: the things that I find beautiful and like to look at. Boom! So simple.
Also: let me heartily recommend the joys of an electric mattress-warmer (Mr. Crafty for the win!). You can buy them with controls for both sides of the bed so that your spouse can have their side at whatever temperature they want. As if you needed an incentive to spend more time in your cozy bed reading.

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.

SummerSpace

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—–

6/19/15

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,

photosynthesis,

acronyms,

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.

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thoroughly despicable

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SONY DSC The Motion Boy turned 11 today. 
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We celebrated with a bunch of really wonderful folks. Conforza shares a birthday with Motion Boy! In fact, at the moment when she and her family were driving back into town from living far away, Sylvan was just being born. At dawn, on their shared birthday. They have celebrated together for several years now.
SONY DSCThey are both creative folks with a love of the Minions from Despicable Me. Sylvan made Conforza a card, at left, and Conforza made him his very own needle-felted minion, Tim.I think they were both delighted.

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SONY DSC ~best jumping shot of the day~SONY DSC~but this is a classy one too~
SONY DSC ~armed. ready.~
SONY DSCThe iCycle Bicycle was there! There will be a future post, solely devoted to Miss E. and her creation: pedal-powered ice cream, stationary or free, so you can exercise and then eat fresh, homemade ice cream. That is my kind of exercise. There was mint, requested by Sylvan, made from freshly-infused mint from Miss E’s garden. And lemon cloud, requested by Conforza.
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A lovely bathing cap, below, was made by Miss E., for Conforza, a la Esther Williams. Conforza totally rocks this look!
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~snuggling with Tim in the hammock~
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SONY DSC SONY DSCTim has his own home now, lovingly created by Sylvan when we got home last night. A little bed, his own night light, and of course a unicorn collage, for his viewing pleasure.
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~Appliqued pillowcase by Miss E. for Motion Boy~

Here was the order of the afternoon: eat, swim, repeat. Laughter can be mixed in whenever.

in our hands

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On the needles: Hitchhiker Shawl

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In Sylvan’s Hands: Hand-dyed, embroidered handwork bag

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On the table: Lola Arts

On my mind: Downton Abbey Season 3, producing regular amounts of academic writing, keeping the house neat(ish) for potential buyers, Skate Club (dusted off my rollerskates and pads), birthday #38, yet another repugnant brown frozen winter.

On my bedside table: The Count of Monte Cristo (1st time read) and Howard’s End (re-read).