We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness. David Orr from "Earth in Mind"
I Have been having garden dreams for weeks now. Since we moved to Denver I have had a plot in one of the urban gardens (except last year). But living in a city that's a desert in drought years it's been always a little difficult to feel completely good about have it. Water gets tight in Denver and I feel bad about watering as often as I have too.
Now that we are moving I am having dreams about temperate climate gardens. Especially tomatoes. When I was a kid we had a garden at our cabin it was really quite big for "weekenders" but it was really for three families not just ours.
The most important part of the garden was the three or four rows of tomatoes. Not only were they great to snack on on hot days but at the end of the summer just before the first frost we would have a giant picking party where we would pick all of them and separate them into bags by color. There would be almost twenty bags.
I would ride back to the city that night dozing against a years worth of brown paper bags filled with tomatoes. The smell of dirt, unripe tomatoes and brown paper still represents the coming of autumn to me. The next week would be filled with friends, who didn't have houses out of the city, stopping by to pick up the bags that lined the front hall of the apartment.
Now that we are moving back to New England (18 weeks!) dreams of communal tomatoes fill my head. But I've expanded my parent's shared bags to a weekend of canning stewed tomatoes and salsa making with old friends to last us through the winter.
Of course the garden with be filled with other plants, as we hope to produce most of our own vegtables, but it is the tomatoes that I dream.
Yesterday we went for a hike in Poudre (pronounced poo-der) Canyon. The geography there is not like anywhere else in Colorado. I decided to try something new and take a picture every ten steps. Here are some of the ones I like best. Click on them to enlarge.
Sometimes things that don't make sense actually do. Like yesterday even though we are living on our savings, student loans and a little bit of money I'm making with my articles we decided to buy a bike trailer. We have been looking since Alder was born for a used one but yesterday we bought a new In-Step trailer. Even though it was new it was cheaper than the used Burley or Chariots we were finding on Craig's list.
Still it was spending a hundred dollars. But when we thought about it I will probably save at least that much on gas and random money spent by having the trailer. Until Alder was born I spent a lot of time wandering around Denver on my bike. The city has a lot of trails which connect parks and neighborhood. Many of these are along streams and rivers. What better way to spend a summer day with Alder than to head out on a trail stopping to get our feet wet?
Of course we need to get Alder used to riding in it.
Recently Kevin and I realized just how little time we have left in Denver. He graduates on the 18th of August and we have two weeks after that to pack and clean up our place. Between now and then there is a lot going on.
May 1-4 My dad is in town. May 9th Amy's group show opening. May 29- June 11 East coast trip: 15th High School reunion Visiting towns June 16th& 17th Estes Park Wool Market July 4th Week Kevin's break. July 13th Alder's 1st birthday. August 2nd Our 4th Anniversary August 9th - 12th Outdoor Retailers Trade Show (Mama's first business trip) August 18th Kevin graduates!!!!!! August 31st Our lease is up.
On top of all of that we have to pack, hang with friends, play in the garden, and spend time in the mountains.
This is my latest knitted project to be finished. It is a felted purse for my mother in law. She is a big fan of south west native american designs and thought that it mirrored them in my choices of colors. I put a webbing strap instead of a felted one since the last felted strap I made stretched out over time. It is all hand sewn so it is debatable how well it will hold up. I offered to resew it if there is any problems, luckily my father-in-law has an industrial sewing machine at the airport hanger.
While I was shaving the excess fuzz of of the bag my mother in law played with Alder. The scene was one that must have happened millions of times over thousands of years. It is important to keep these patterns alive today, we may live in a technological world but as animals we are still back in the agricultural age. Our lives and our internal needs do not mesh, but things like spending time with extended family and knitting fill part of this need.
After Alder was born and the three of us drifted off to sleep in our bed in the early hours of day light. One of the midwives took home my placenta and dried it to make placenta medicine. This grayish powder once was a beautiful organ that fed my son for the months as he grew within me. Kevin saw it while the midwife bagged it up in the kitchen and he said that it looked like a picture of a broad branched tree, an alder tree.
With this challenge I thought that I would show a piece of me that was no longer inside of me. Yet it still has great power as medicine, when I am sick or hurting I take some and it strengthens me. Having Alder has changed my body, I ache more and am stiff but between the enjoyment I have from being active with him I am determined to become strong and energetic again. Between conscious care and the placenta I am starting to feel myself again.
In my article I wrote about yesterday I talk about how it is more important to become aquainted with the wild that is near by than those inspirational trips to the "greats". I talked about the little bits of wild that exist in the city.
But for me right now I am ready to move from the city to someplace where there is more wild near by. I want to be able to go for a morning walk on a dirt road and smell the leaves or spend less time driving than hiking. Denver is great, but after four years I am done being in a city.
Perhaps it has to do with Alder and how he has made me slow down and appreciate my days more. Or the fact that sometimes I feel both lost and confined. What ever is causing this feeling I am ready to move to a smaller city or town. I am ready to know more of my neighbors and to care more what happens around me.
Living here has jaded me. In our last apartment there were some kids living in a basement apartment who were prostitutes and cooking meth. We lived in once of the nice neighborhood, right on a park with a zoo and museum. The houses around us were sell for over three hundred thousand dollars and most blocks have monthly meetings and socials. Yet in our small six apartment building we had these kids, a stripper with a "sugar daddy" and a family that had the police called on them a few times a week because the dad beat the mom.
I know these problems exist in all sizes of communities, but I am ready not to be loaded in with them so many at a time. Apartment living, which I did for the first 18 years of my life, is not for me. If I am going to deal with people who frustrate me, who are either rude or beyond my help, I want more of my own space to retreat.
I have found myself getting snippy on more occasions lately, especially with teenagers. I know it is because I do not have anyplace that is truly away. In our apartment now we are hemmed in. To the west is the other apartment in the building, sound travels through the walls. To the east are some awful neighbors who have late night drunk/ stoned parties on their deck which is fifteen feet from our bedroom window.
When it is nice out we can even sit in our yard since the landlord decided that he would xeri-scape it, without putting either thought or effort in to it. The front yard is small rocks, too large to set a chair on and too thin to keep the black plastic from showing. Out back is just a slab of concrete. There is no respite here. At least the apartment itself is nice, a bit on the dark side, but nice.
But complaining isn't what I meant to do, I just wanted to explain why I am ready to move. There is also one other big reason (not including all the important ones I haven't mentioned) Denver summers are way too hot for me. I would rather have a few weeks below zero that a few weeks over 100. Alder was born on a cool day, it was only 95 but the next week of my recovery it was all over 100. We don't have air conditioning.
Of course I will miss things from Denver. I've made some of the best friends I have ever made here and it really is an easy city to have fun in and get around. But the other things still trump those. Not to mention that there are over 800 acupuncturists in the Denver area (no work for Kevin).
It has been a long beautiful day of bread baking, writing, knitting and hanging out with Alder. I published my first article today at Travels in Paradise. It's too late to write more have a good night.
Yawn... What a wonderfully mellow day. I like when Kevin finishes his exams. I slept in (8:30) then went to the knitting store to get help with a lost pattern and find a new one.
I am finally after ten years of knitting going to make myself a sweater. I figure this my be the only time ever knit one for myself that I spent over an hour choosing a pattern and yarn. I ended up in a wool alpaca mix that is very close to the one in the picture. I can't wait to start it but I have to finish Kevin's sweater first. He's sworn that he is going to keep wearing the same fugly orange acrylic thing his mother got him until his is done (we know what I am doing tonight).
Here is the pattern I chose (from Simply Shetland 2), click on the photo to see it larger.
After lunch we all went for a hike on the Homestead Trail that's up near Eldorado Canyon. This week is the best time to hike there as all the apple trees that are along the trail are in bloom. Even though we had a red air day on the front range the hike was fragrant. We stopped for not great burgers for dinner (not that we could afford it) but had a good time talking about life and watching Alder eat his fish, apple, and anything else we gave him.
Our hope is that once we get the business started we can have more days like this.
I spent the day with my friend Kate I have known since we were five. In fact we moved to Colorado together ten years ago and she is Alder's godmother. There is something about spending time with someone who has known you for so long that is so natural.
She lives up in the mountains so we don't get to see each other too often. Today she had to come to Denver for errands. The sort of errands that are better if someone tags along. So I offered to be that person.
We headed over to Bud's which is the local construction thrift store to find windows for a cold frame she's making for her garden. Bud's is one of those places you can get lost in for hours (which we did) and find all sorts of things you don't need (which we didn't).
After sifting through hundreds of newer double paned windows (no good because they filter UV) we found two old single paned window hiding in a dark corner (literally since they only light the center of the warehouse). This sort of excursion is a classic Kate and I thing to do.
We have been going on adventures together since we were allowed to go outside without an adult. We've climbed mountains together, been chased by crazy cows, found secret books store, and many other things. In the last few years our lives have been busy and our adventures are fewer.
Still it was great to have a few hours to spend with her (we also went for a walk along the river).
This is my first Self Portrait Challenge post. Since the topic is bits and pieces I thought that I would photo my feet. They are my favorite part of my body, not because of their looks but because of what they have done and where they have taken me. The one month that I could not use one (ten years ago) was the longest of my life. Walking is my preferred method of getting places, but my feet have also peddled bikes, climbed rocks, danced with my husband at our wedding, and kept me up right for all of my long labor. It is though walking that I have understood my soul, made friends, discovered small places, seen mountain tops and climbed trees.
I have hit a reading wall and I need help. Lately I have been enamored by poetry and have been reading lots of nonfiction but can't find any fiction that I read all the way through. It's gotten to the point that I am about to pick up the Dark is Rising series or A Wrinkle in Time to fill the gap. Not that anything is wrong with either of those I've just read them so many times since I was a child that I practically can recite them.
I'm looking for something that I can really get entrenched in. I think the last books I read like that was "So Far From God" by Ana Castillo or "The History of Love" by Nichole Krauss.
So please leave me with favorites!
And a poem for the day
from Like Singing Coming Off the Drums by Sonia Sanchez
i ain't yo momma but i am this lil mama who knows how to burn.
Alder is nine months old today. In theory this should be the point when we could say "Oh look he's now been outside of me for as long as he was inside of me." But of course that is not true. This little boy of ours isn't one for rushing things. He likes holding on and being held. So much so that he hung out in my belly baking just a little longer. So while he is nine months old today we have another three weeks almost until his even.
So what did I do to celebrate? I took the day off!
Since Alder has been born I have not spent time alone with another adult. The days that I have had off I usually am writing or doing errands. But today I spent with my friends Trish. She is a sewer extraordinare and has been trying to teach me to sew for about a year.
Todays project was a dress. We spent half the time at the fabric stores and the other cutting and sewing. By five the dress wasn't done so I came home empty handed but we have another date to finish it on Wednesday.
Speaking of projects I seem to be in project mode. I'm finishing the felted bag for my MIL and Kevin's sweater. There is a sweater that I want to knit for myself (the first one I haven't given away), and I have a stack of old paperbacks to transform into wallets by next weekend.
It feels good to be making things!
And a poem for the day
the sky a silver dissonance by the correct fingers of April resolved
into a clutter of trite jewels
now like a moth with stumbling
wings flutterts and flops along the grass collides with trees and houses and finally, butts into the river
So my little job copy editing for Travels in Paradise is growing. Not only is there plan for more content to be edited but now I am getting to write reviews of women's clothing. The publisher has also given me a "soapbox", their version of an editorial where I can put pieces that fit with our mission of "Exposing enlightened products, places and people"
It feels good to know that there are people out there who think what I have to say is worth sharing. I know it is just a small site, but it is still my voice out there helping to make change. Starting out I am going to rewrite some of the stuff I've worked on here. I will link to it any time I have a new article out.
A riot of colors he fills the room or field or heart. Feeling his way through as only he can with smiles and tugs, until everything tumbles onto him. There he will sit among the pieces he has collected tasting everything to learn its essence the stuff behind the shape or use.
Up again going going where is the up that he can reach? To find more parts of his world to taste until he is full of textures and shapes.
With tears he drifts away from some of his collection that has not been stored in memory through the tips of his fingers and the width of his tongue.
I have been reading lately about Sabbaths and days of rest. In the book "To Life" by Harold Kushner he points out that on a Sabbath day one not only should leave work but also the problems and issues that fill your mind. Not only is it out of respect (for the earth, god, goddess, or whatever) but it is a way to be more useful and whole (my word) for the other six days of the week.
Whether or not observing the Sabbath is a religious activity isn't really the point for me. The idea of stopping and putting aside what fills your mind for the other six days to spend it with family or solo is what I find so natural.
While we strive to create a life that is focused on spending time as a family, not rushed, the realities of Kevin's school and having a baby do not work in a Sabbath's favor. Yet the days we do take the time to leave the rest of our worries and books behind are the ones that strengthen us as a family. It isn't a sacrifice for us to spend a day hiking together because afterwards we are all rejuvenated and ready to get on with the important things.
Sabbath II 1983 by Wendell Berry The year relent, and free Of work, I climb again To where the old tree waits, Time out of mind. I hear Traffic down the road, Engines high overhead. And then a quiet comes, A cleft in time, silence Of metal moved by fire; The air holds little voices, Titmice and chickadees, Feeding through the treetops Among the new small leaves, Calling again to mind The grace of circumstance, Sabbath economy In which all thought is song, All labor is a dance. The world is made at rest, In ease of gravity. I hear the ancient theme In low world-shaping song Sung by the falling stream. Here where a rotting log Has slowed the flow: a shelf Of dark soil, level laid Above the tumbled stone. Roots fasten it in place. It will be here a while; What holds it here decays. A richness from above, Brought down, is held, and holds A little while in flow. Stem and leaf grow from it. At cost of death, it has A life, Thus falling founds, Unmaking makes the world.
Our family weekend started with a foggy drive to see Kevin's parents in Salida Saturday night. The picture above is of our hubcaps when we stopped half way there. For being mud and ice covered hubcaps these were beautiful.
It was a full house when we woke up on Sunday, both Kevin's sister and brother with his family were there, ten of us in total.
Everyone except our smaller family unit went to church for Easter service. Kevin said that he felt weird going to a Seder on Tuesday and then a church on Sunday. So we enjoyed a family cuddle on the couch while they were gone.
The rest of the day was a blur of eating watching movies and more eating. My mother in law made so many different foods for brunch and dinner that I never got to taste everything. Not only was there meals but there was also lots of chocolate to be had.
Our niece and nephew had fun setting up easter egg hunts for the adults. The first one was easy but later in the day they did a second one that had all of us down on our hands and knees searching. It occurred to me as we hunted that since they were still small (5 and 8) that the hunt was only half as difficult as it could have been since they only hid the eggs within their reach and not above.
After dinner Kevin's brother and family left and the rest of us went to the hot springs. It is only the second time that Kevin has been swimming with Alder and he would not share. I got him a few times but he was having too much fun with him that I mainly just watched the two of them.
Kevin gets this look come across his face when he is completely engrossed with Alder that fills me to my toes with love for him. It is the same look he had the first night when he held Alder still covered with vermix.
I fall in love again every time I catch him at it.
BATH TIME Alder came and found me after his nap. He just crawled across the house and announce the end of his nap. When I came over and gave him a hug and put more soy milk in his bottle he happily went off for a while. He is such an independent soul.
Since we are seeing Grandma and Grandpa and other assorted family tomorrow it seemed a good time to bathe him. Water is his place, he was born in the water, loves to be in the water, especially when we join him. Of course the sinks too small so he had to content himself with a soap bottle and the sprayer hose.
Afterwards, he found his favorite spatula. Life is good when you have your favorite kitchen utensil in hand.
I should learn from him to be so easily joyous. To experience each thing completely before going on to the next. I have so much to learn from my son.
Our delicious spring was interrupted with the usual but always unexpected April snow. Alder and I have been cuddling and playing on the couch all day. He's sleeping now. From: 1945-1985: Poem for the Anniversary by Mary Oliver
Sometimes, walking for hours through the wood, I don't know what I'm looking for, maybe for something shy and beautiful to come frisking out of the undergrowth.
Once a fawn did just that. My dog didn't know what dogs usually do. And the fawn didn't know.
For as a doe, she was probably down in Round Pond, swizzling up the sweet marsh grass and dreaming that everything was fine.
The way I'd like to go on living in this world wouldn't hurt anything, I'd just go on walking uphill and downhill, looking around, and so what if half the time I don't know what for-
so what if it doesn't come to a hill of beans-
so what if I voted liberal,
and am Jewish, or Lutheran-
or a game warden-
or a bingo addict-
and smoke a pipe?
In the films of Dachau and Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen the dead rise from the earth and are piled in front of us, the starved stare across forty years, and lush, green musical Germany shows again its iron claw, which won't
ever be forgotten, which won't ever be understood, but which did, slowly, for years, scrape across Europe
while the rest of the world did nothing. This poem stirred my soul yesterday.
I have a recipe for cardamom rice that I have been making for a while. But it wasn't until I found a recipe for a great bread that has cardamom in it that I discovered that the green seeds I was using were not the actual cardamom seeds. The first time I made the bread the recipe called for breaking the pod and removing the seeds. I expected to find a few narrow seeds life fennel or bulkier like sunflower seeds. Instead the seeds that I found were many and ancient looking. The experience of opening the pod was like walking into a store front and finding a medieval cathedral inside, and that is just the visual. When I separated the seeds their aroma spread through out the kitchen.
Cardamom comes from southern India and Sri Lanka. It is grown in monsoon forests and until the 19th century it was not cultivated. It's history is long, the first written mention of it was in the 2nd century BCE where it was mention in an Ayurvedic medical text. Like coffee, tea and other spices cardamom was traded for centuries along the silk road. It is highly valued, only out priced by saffron and vanilla. It's cultivation came during England's colonization of India, part of the immense plantations for coffee and tea of the era.