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 just heard back from the camera shop that the apple juice is not the culprit to my camera woes. It is in fact the entire front of the camera. Gulp!! They said that even the shutter isn't working. Funny since it still takes pictures. They want $185 to replace the parts, which is almost as much as the camera is worth. I guess I'm going to just use it broken, we can't afford to fix it. This of course means the new camera is closer (relatively speaking) to becoming ours. Sigh...
We spent the weekend in New York, a party (over whleming), connecting with an old friend (haven't seen since tenth grade), lots of food. Alder and I went to the flea market Sunday. When I was a kid I would go almost every week, at that point I was into suit jackets and old maps of Portugal and New York. My taste has changed but being there hasn't. I spent $3 on a little cut paper picture of peaches on the branch (will have to wait for picture) it now hangs happily at the bottom of our stairs.
What I love best at the flea market is taking it all in. Even if I'm not interested I end up looking at each booth. My favorite part is inside the cafeteria, the market takes place at a middle school, where all the old jewelry, coin and ephemera dealers are. As I fingered costume jewelry and dressing table mirrors and young orthodox guy haggled with the coin dealer and a Korean mother and daughter browsed the movie paraphernalia. The room smelt like school food and old paper. In the dim lights I felt like I could be fifteen again.
In the last few weeks Alder has gone through a huge shift. He has left baby-hood behind and is a full fledged toddler. Most of the changes have been beautiful to watch, his playing has become so focused. It used to be that he moved things just to move them but now he has reasons of his own that he does things.
But there are other changes that are bigger shifts for me than him. He no longer is content to sit still for very long in his stroller which means our long walks and trips to museums are over for a while. While there are parts of the day when he is content with just hanging out and exploring a single object there are other longer periods that are all about movement. During those hours he is a buzzing creature constantly on the go. I've tried to adapt, focusing our together time in places where he can freely roam rather than having to redirect him. It's a lot of fun to go to a big field and spread out a blanket and be home base for him, or to tail him around the playground.
When I can I allot three hours for a park visit or hike, that might normally be one hour. This way he can go until he is done and ready to leave. If he has had enough time he is happy to do grownup things with Mama. The catch is I'm not used to all this energy that a toddler expends, I find that by the time we are done with two or three hours playing I'm the one ready for the nap even if he isn't. We were lucky when he was new born, even back then he only got up two or three times a night. I had very few sleepless nights, but now it is catching up with me because I can not keep up with him. It's only 5pm and I'm ready for bed.
I've left my camera to be fixed so for the next few weeks I'm going to use my Pentax to take pictures. We'll just have to see if I still remember anything about shutter speed and focusing. I'll try to get pictures up every few days, or at least some older ones for fun.
I gave Kevin a buzz cut the other day and I am finally getting used to it. When I first met him he had pretty long hair and a goatee. Slowly the hair has gotten shorter and the beard fuller. I'm learning to like it. Kevin a few years back.
What is that?!? Well until late last night that was our pin cushion, a duct taped pile of styrofoam. It was an ugly thing Kevin put together five or six years ago that we used. Then last night as I was cutting squares for Alder's quilt I was inspired to put some together and make this alternative. [Aunt Amanda, if you are reading don't look any further]
Much nicer I think.
But the pin cushion was just the end of the evening. What I spent most of my time last night making (building as Kevin calls it) was this bag for Alder's Aunt Amanda's birthday. It's just pieces of a failed skirt sewed up with handles and I appliquéd the two leaves, which took longer than the rest of the project. [sorry for the crappy pictures]
I have been loving my few hours in my study/studio every night. I have the space and time to work on what ever I want with a dose of public radio in the background. I haven't had my own space for almost six years. That's one of the best part of this place is that we each have our own room rather than trying to work on top of each other.
That was a year ago on a trail near Mt Evans. Today the two of them went off on another hiking trip so I could get some work done [hmm, then why am I blogging?] Of course now Alder hikes a good portion of the time. He's growing and changing so much now. Last night we were having some quiet playing time in his room, I was knitting while he played and I looked up to see that he was making a tower of blocks. Then this morning I offered him another cereal biscuit and he clearly said 'yes'. Of course when I asked him again he went back to his 'gu-a' that means yes or over there.
Since we returned from Hermit's Island he has started to spend bits of time in serious play by himself. Where he will be quietly absorbed in something for up to fifteen minutes without even checking where we are. I wonder if it has helped to get rid of over half the stuff that was in his room giving him more of a peaceful place to play.
He really doesn't need a lot of toys for playing with. We discovered this on our trip, we had only brought a few sand toys and a stuffed elephant and he played with it maybe a total of five minutes. He is much more interested in his environment and the real things of life than toys.
On other side of the Alder updates is his new need for movement when we are out. We met my parents at a the Williams College of Art this past weekend and Alder only made it for about ten minutes before he and I were doing laps on the stairs. I used to be able to have long walks in galleries with him on my chest but those times are over for now, he does better outside. I'll have to save museums for my rare solo days and focus on being outside with him.
My camera is broken. It still takes pictures but a day in a bag with a leaky bottle of apple juice has taken it's toll and the lens no longer closes when it is off. So I need to get it fixed, except I can't figure out when I'm willing to part with it there are some many things going on this fall that I want to capture not to mention promises of new england autumn for the in-laws. Of course what I would really prefer is a fairy godmother to swoop down and say "Stacey," with that quivery voice that they all have. "Stacey here is a Nikon D40 or a Rebel XTi for you or somesuch camera"
Unfortunately I do not think I am the candidate for a fairy godmother. Instead I guess I need to spend a week or two with my old pentax, or even kidnap my dad's old conteflex to play with. I do like film camera, I've just gotten so used to being able to take tens of pictures a day. I can't afford to develop hundreds of pictures right now, although it might be worth it for just a few weeks. Any ideas?
It seems inevitable that every time we move we end up taking things to the thrift store on both ends of the journey. Our most recent trip included a very large box of toys and board book and a very large box of clothing. Clothing I have absolutely no problem getting rid of. I get most of it at the thrift store to begin with so if it isn't really love I am not loosing sleep over the money issue.
Toys have presented a different problem, I was having a hard time getting rid of presents people had given Alder. Sure if they were broken or missing parts they quickly made it out, but each gift was chosen for him. The thing is we were starting to have lots of toys. Then I went and visited a family with four children last week and their communal toy bin had only a little more than Alders. This got me thinking, first of all he hardly uses most of the toys, some because he isn't old enough for them others because he has too many variations on a theme, others because they just are not things he likes. So we pared down the toys, keeping the loved ones, the ones that he'll grow into and the ones that will grow with him. Now rather than five small buckets of toys there are three. One for soft blocks, one for random toys, and one for wooden toys. As for the book shelf I was liberal with my editing, I got rid of anything I couldn't stand to read. Stuffed animals were the hardest, I grew up with an entire zoo of animals on the shelves, but really at 1 he shouldn't already have a zoo. So we kept the important ones (no aunt Amanda the monkey has not been sent packing) and the simple ones and the ones we just plain liked.
I know in the future when Alder starts to have his own opinions this process will be one of negotiation but for now I'll make my own judgments.
This trend towards simplicity has been a long time in coming. Before Kevin started grad school we had a fairly simply led life. But with lack of time and other constraints we fell into the lazy habits: eating out often, getting things instead of doing things, etc. Now with creating our lives anew with a business and a family it is the right time for us to create a foundation of simplicity in our lives that can become the norm again. Not only because it makes a dollar go further but also because it becomes a life lived more fully and with more balance.
Simplicity for us isn't only about saving money, it's about the freedom not spending a lot of money creates more importantly it is about focusing on doing and experiencing more than having. Making time to create things whether it's bread or a new print is more important than a iPod (which we still do not own) or a jaunt to the mall. While we are living in a rental a large garden is out of the question, but plants in pots and CSA's are not, neither are farm stands. All of these are just little pieces of the picture. The point of living simply is magnified by having Alder around and the values we want him to see us living by. But even deeper and more selfishly the simple life is the more balanced and freer I feel and that is worth a trillion times any money I save.
So as we learn to deprocess ourselves back to a live of action and creation rather than consumption you may hear me struggling here occasionally, it isn't me whining merely working things through.
What a trip! I'm not even sure how to describe it. We arrived a day late due to rain and after five hours of driving. [Note: Hermit's Island in tent and truck camping only no trailers or RVs] We landed in a beautiful camp site with an old old birch tree and only one other couple on the whole loop of sites. The site itself was so nice that we spent hours there. Of course there was one whole day when Alder and I just spent on a beach that we had to ourselves. He got to be the little naked-man he is and didn't wear clothes until the ride back. According to Kevin there were other people on the beach when he joined us but I never saw any.
The third night we walked down to the camp store and bought two pounds of fresh clams. After sitting them to purge in fresh water for an hour we steamed them. They were delicate, everything but the strip melted in your mouth a salty/sweet mix of sun and ocean. Their flavor was delicate and simple a truly one of the greatest mouth sensations I have had.
Saturday morning we woke up early to rain, a good ending to a stay on a mythical island. Quickly packing we drove a misty route 1 to Portland for breakfast. To cheer me as we drove out of the city this crow appeared.
Moving in is a longer process this time than it ever has been. Alder isn't being too independent these days, who can blame him both Kevin and I are distracted with organizing. This means that only one of us can really focus on working on the house at a time. At this point it really is only the stuff on the dinning room table and a few piles in the living room that need working on. Not much at all. My studio is up and I spent a long evening working on projects listening to Mountain Stage and the rain. We are determined to finish up tonight because there is an island in Maine where we want to be camping tomorrow night.
One of the funky things about this place is that the house next door is deserted, no cool story just a divorce. This means that we look out onto a big dark house at night. At first we thought we wouldn't put curtains up since no one is going to look in but after a few nights we realized we need the curtains to keep us from looking out. There is a big brown cat living in the abandoned house that whooped Bancha's butt the first night we were here, and a few times since then. Bancha is so used to being alpha male that now he stays inside most of the time.
This place is so big for us, we have a bedroom and then all three of us have our own room as well, and there is a spare room. The computer even has it's own little nook. We lucked out on furniture, a Goodwill a few towns over gets a lot of salvage from Target and some furniture stores, we picked up a really cool wood desk for Kevin, two book wooden bookcases and one of those over the toilet cabinets for $200. We are trying not to buy or build too much and wait on somethings for what we can find a flea markets and tag sales.
Alder and I went on a play date yesterday with a cool family near by. The mama is a doula and she unschools her four kids. It was really nice to sit down and talk with another woman who has kids, I enjoyed it a lot. On the way home Alder fell asleep so I just loaded Kevin up in the car and we went on a long drive, ending up at the Northshire Bookstore, which is easily as cool at the Tattered Cover with an entire floor of kids books, crafts and toys (the good kind).
It's finally clearing up after two and a half days of rain, I don't care if it's cloudy in Maine I just hope it doesn't rain the entire time, it might be tough with Alder in the tent all day.
I promise pictures of Maine and the house when we get back, everyone have a good week.
I was going to write something different about eggplants and cooking them until they are nothing more than a sweet mass but the eggplants went bad. Then found out that Madelein L'Engle died on Thursday. She has been a writer that I have loved and looked up to for years.
I remember reading Wrinkle in Time on the floor of my summer camp's library. Not the first time but again when I was eighteen and a counselor. It was a rainy day off and there was nothing better to hide away in the library that was only used in the evenings. Over that summer I continued to re-read all of the O'Keefe and Murry family novels (think A Swiftly Tilting Planet or The Arm of a Starfish). It was the summer before college and I fell somewhere between child and adult the books were my escape.
Then a few years later a good friend gave me a copy of And Both Were Young commenting that Flip was me. It was the first time I had read a character that had spoken directly to me as a soul, and one of the few that ever has. I have read this book over and over again lending it out to people who want to understand me better. It probably one of her least known books but it will always be my favorite.
As a writer, and I have been making up stories since I could talk, she has been inspirational because of how she created an entire universe that was so magical and practical at the same time. One that was grounded in our world with a little Einstein, quantum physics, and mythology add to it. Like other loved books I marvel how she was able to write something that felt so personal to me yet was also loved by so many other people who I little in common.
Even now when I am dissuaded on adult fiction I drift back to her books as a respite in good writing. Don't just limit yourself to the children's books her adult ones are also wonderful. If there is a heaven like in the stories I am sure that god has reserved Madeleine's first century or so to discuss the inner workings of her world and the entire creation process.
I realized that when I wrote about words the other day I did not mention the name of the book that I was reading that was so inspiring. It is The Book of Salt by Monique Truong. It is the fictionalized story of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Tolkas' cook. From a first person point of view the story interweaves his current life as their servant as well as the story of how he came to France from Vietnam. It is both sensual and historical. What always amazes me is when authors are able to write a cohesive story without a strait time line. Truong jumps back and forth between three or four different periods in Bihn's life and it doesn't get confusing.
It even inspired me to pick up a copy of the Autobiography of Alice B Tolkas at the library sale I was at last weekend. [I was good... mainly... only two books for me, one for Kevin, and well fourteen for Alder]
Have you ever felt like your tongue is dripping with words? It happens to me occasionally after reading something especially well written that just makes me want to write my own description of the world around me down. Unfortunately when ever I feel this way and I sit down at the computer the words run off. This is part of the reason that we have given the computer it's own little nook and my studio has an art table and a writing table. The key word there is writting, not typing. I find words more easily with blue ink and yellow paper than in personal keys. Of course I can still manage to throw out these little pieces, but they are the exception. So for now I will have to hold words like chrysalis in my mouth enjoying them until my desk is cleared.
A few of the words in my mouth right now:
chrysalis wash (as in down by the wash) newness eggplant consider
Okay the computer is finally on line. I promise to write about the trip and the adventures since the soon but for now I'm just saying hi. As for Bennington all I've seen is the Home Depot, Coffee Shop and the farmer's market. Kevin took Alder hiking today and I am supremely jealous.
We did get a little break this past weekend with family. It was a tumbled mix of Garlic Festival, Dinners, Fireman's Barbecue, and one long evening of wine and conversation. There are pictures to come soon.
There are however no trip pictures, we didn't stop long enough to take any.