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 am sitting here in disbelief. We had a beautiful Thanksgiving, I was in the middle of up loading pictures when the phone rang. The beauty of the last week has dissipated fleeing to corners of my mind where later I can unpack them. For now this past week has turned to sorrow.
I can't even put my words together right now, my chest feels like I've drank ten espressos. I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that Steve died, thankfully in his sleep. This vibrant man, Doctor, musician, involved with the world he is gone. Everyday, gowning up, I would walk past his office on my way to school. Like all the other characters that are in my life he was so much more...I can't explain we weren't close, I've been gone for ten years and before that I was just a shy kid, but he was always part of the list of people who indirectly made up my family. And lately that list keeps shrinking, lately I'm feeling like my circles are shrinking that I need to hold on tight to the parts of my life that have always been there. Not exclusive of new people but to totally absorb what I have always known; my family.
I had been thinking about how as I get older my family becomes more important to me, earlier as we heaed home this afternoon. We are an intense bunch, but we like each other and we have fun together. I just want to hold onto them tighter now, wishing I was with them still in the big warm house by the fire where we could talk this through, have a few drinks tell stories, and make it okay, if death is ever okay.
Our apartment felt gray and bland after this weekend, now it feels silent and history-less. This place has not become the nest it should be. It needs to be, we are here for a while we need to start writing our story of this home and us in it.
If you read this take a moment and think to yourself who your list of characters that have been around for a long time, family and sort of family and make sure you spend a little more time with each of them, now, not later when you can't.
One Good Thing: Had a wonderful dinner with some of our family last night. The preparation for Thanksgiving starts now, Kevin is filling the wood bin and baking pies today with my aunt. Found an early twentieth century copy of this and read it late into the night.
One Creative Thing: I chose the yarn and pattern for my sweater (yes as in for me to wear). It's yummy Malibrigo Chunky in the Paris Night colorway (thanks Ab for the suggestion). Pictures to follow.
Yesterday was a bit of a rush through everything without much time for creating or absolute goodness. Until the end of the day when I got to cook my favorite comfort food Dirty Pasta.
If you don't like salty don't bother with this recipe.
1 box of noodles 2 cloves of garlic olive oil 1 tin or jar of anchovies Parmesan cheese (better if you grate it right when you want it)
Set a big pot of water to boil for the noodles. Mince garlic, it can be sort of chunky for this. Heat skillet to medium. Add garlic and anchovies, include the oil the anchovies are in. Mix in skillet until the anchovies have disintegrated. Lower heat to low let them heat until noodles are done. When water boils add noodles and cook (read box). Drain pasta and put in bowl, or return to pot. Pour sauce over noodles and mix until all of the noodles look "dirty". Grate cheese (don't skimp). Mix cheese into noodles evenly. Eat. I would suggest serving this with big glasses of water.
We will be out of town off and on for the next week so reporting will be a little spotty.
One Good Thing: I was given a wonderful treat this morning. Kevin had done some acupuncture in trade with one of the massage therapists that he works with and out of the blue he offered the massage to me. Since he had no one schedule for that time slot he took Alder and I got one of the best massages ever.
One Creative Thing: Nothing too special today just Thursday night Knitting at Knit or Dye. I worked on Alders sweater, only two thirds of one sleeve to go!
One Good Thing: Watching the sunrise over breakfast.
One Creative Thing: [Written at the library yesterday]
I have to admit I hate crayons. Even as a child I hated then. their colors are dull and they never stay sharp enough. I clearly remember repeatedly trying to color shapes only to find the crayon drawing on the other side of the line. I know that there were kids in my class who could color perfectly, their lines were never crossed and when they filled in shapes the colors covered evenly with all the strokes going in the same direction.
After crayons we were introduced to colored pencils, 12 color boxes of Prisomcolor to be exact. While I could sharpen the point as much as I wanted the colors were still bland, no matter how hard I pushed. I craved the streaks of vibrant colors as much as I wanted to create the images in my head. But I was still sloppy and would get in trouble for not following the directions (remember this was just lower school). I tried, I really did, but my hands just couldn't move the pencils as delicately as the projects called for.
At home was a different story. Here I had my father's old watercolors that I would spend my Saturday mornings painting with rather than watching cartoons (the TV was in my parents bedroom). I remember years of painting little landscapes on scrap paper. I would create them with repeated lines; obsessing over the exact tone of the ocean, the sand, the clouds above. Each of them would be tiny worlds that I could enter. Around that time I was reading the Secret Garden and was enamored with the Scottish Moors. I drew scene after scene of what I thought those moors would look like.
When I had painted the pans empty my father would take me to the neighborhood art store to choose a new set. He was adimant that I use "real" paints not the flashy kids ones (whose flash was in the packaging not the paint). In the end I would usually come home with a yellow enamel box of Pelikan paints, the same sort I used all the way through college. My father never studied art or teaching but he knew what he liked to look at enjoyed reading about art. If he was going to have to hang the pieces that I did up then he wanted to like what he was looking at. In his mind this meant that I should have the supplies that would give me the best chance of taking the idea from my mind to the paper.
It was during these hours alone in his shop that I would play with the brushes, pigments and water, learning how each of them worked. While my princesses stood out as sloopy among the giant crowds of homogenious royalty that hung in the hallways of my school at home, with the watercolors my work was delicate.
The difference was simple; at school I was limited to choosing the colors and perhaps a little pattern while at home I was free to paint as I pleased for as long as I wanted to (or not at all). At school we were each handed a box of scented markers (at least these were vibrant) that no adult would pick up. At home I was given real supplies, pencils and paints that I would still use today. In retrospect there was no question about where my real art making was going on but at the time I sure I must be the worst artist in the world because I couldn't get my flowers to look just like the girl who sat next to me in class (who by the way was always weatring matching Benneton socks and shirts).
I knew. I knew not to stop what I was doing at home, in some ways I couldn't. I felt it when my father would take me for long Saturdays of walking from gallery to gallery in SoHo and I knew it when we would spend entire days in a single wing of the Met. I could see it in the modern paintings and I could see it in the cases of African masks. So I didn't stop. After each of these days out with my dad I would come home and try my hand at what I had seen.
Even now when I return to visit my father and find relics of my childhood art around the house. Its survival over the past three decades is not sentimentality, although that I am his daughteris part of it, they are all pieces that he felt were beyond my age when I created them. He knew it then and despite himself has directed me in this direction. I always find it amusing when I hear about parents who brought their children up to be doctors or lawyers and I respond that I was brought up to be an artist.
At this point it is up to me. If I really want to be this artist that I can be I have to work at it put in the time and space. Otherwise I am jut another person who messes around with paint.
Day 3 One Good Thing: After Kevin and Alder went to sleep I stayed up listening to this and knitting by the fire. One Creative Thing: I spent three hours knitting on a simple scarf, a longways knit alpaca in purple with a diamond pattern (pictures to come when it is finished right now it looks like a caterpillar).
Day 4 One Good Thing: Well really lots of good things. I got to sleep almost to nine. We went out for breakfast to here, and got there just before the crowds. Came home and Alder and I did projects in the wood shop for hours. Made a yummy dinner form things found around the house and ended up with gnocchi with sauce and steamed broccoli. Another night of knitting by the fire until I ran out of yarn. One Creative Thing: While in the wood shop I started working on Alder's holiday gift. So far there has been a lot of sanding and cutting. Alder hammered nails into a board and drew pictures.
I remember spending hours down in the shop building things. Whether it was the tug boat that my father and I made that still stands on my dresser wit the film canister as a smoke stack or the pencil box that I build and stained myself when I was eleven it was always an amazing space to be in. Even yesterday as I worked on my project I found myself remembering exactly where certain nails were by feel rather than reading the labels on the jars.
There was a special joy involved in handing Alder the child's hammer for the first time, it is an identical one to the one adult one just a little smaller and lighter. Then handing him the cup that says "kid nails" on the outside on tape that has been there since I was a child, so old that it fell off and the glue holding it on became a gold dust on the table. Just like my father I set the nails in just deep enough that they would hold and let him hammer away at the board.
Hammering is difficult for little hands and he soon switched to drawing at the card table as I sawed and sanded, public radio in the background. Here I was an adult showing my own child the same things my father did, handing him the same tools and telling him some of the same stories. Next week when we are all at the cabin I hope there might be a few moments that all three of us are down there working on something, three generations touching the same tools bringing all of us joy in the making.
This morning I woke up to the sounds of Alder and Kevin in A's room playing. I joined them for a complex game that Alder had created where his blocks were everything from the kitchen and he would pour us cups of juice milk and tea as well as cook us eggs. I was on his bed and he decided that the bed must be the shower so he would get under the covers with me and tell me that we were showering. This went on for almost an hour with Alder leading us through many different complicated meals where he would cook clean and then fix the house (there we things that needed hammering).
It excites me to see how he interprets our lives through play. At his age fantasy still does not include activities beyond his experience but he synthesizes what he has done into new stories (a new development). Watching him play gives me a good idea as to what activities that we during the day that he really likes. Similarly, I also can see through what he is drawing what interests him (this is great for choosing books from the library). Before I had Alder someone told me that small children are all little scientists, I totally agree but I would go further and say that all parents become (or should be) researchers in their own right as they learn to interpret their children when they are in these pre and early speakers.
One Creative Thing (two for today):
I ironed the fabric for the new member of the Armendariz de Klaasmeyer clan's quilt. As well as finishing one of the sleeves of Alder's sweater (I even remembered to bind off in ribbing!).
Well we're all going out to the cabin for the night to sit by the fire and play in the woodshop (we have so kitchen making to get started on) [Hey Sarah we want to borrow your router during Thanksgiving].
Is anyone else sick of listening to me whine? So in an effort to repair the damage I have done to everyone's ear drums (or eyes as this is a blog) I am going to start posting good things again. I complain about not having time to make things yet I stay up late reading dumb things on line. So to try to change my general mood I am going to try to post one thing every day here about something creative and good that has happened in my day (exclusive to the holiday madness) so for the next 30 days this will be the one good thing one creative thing blog.
Today's one good thing is sending resume and letter for a great sounding job with Voc Rehab as an employment specialist. The one creative thing was basically finishing one sleeve of Alder's sweater (one cuff and one sleeve to go).
If you are feeling overwhelmed by everything right now feel free to join me in this activity.
Take a look at this post by Julie for more thoughts on all the shifts of being in your thirties.
I am procrastinating going to bed, an awful habit I've had since high school. So I sit here eating chocolate chips and reading MDC threads about head-coverings in awe and respect of these women who believe in anything that moves them to act on their beliefs to that extent. But today has been like that, peaking at other's lives to remind me of the goal, the aim.
Alder and I managed to bake bread, well I baked he played with his dough. Seven Grain Bread is an absolute favorite of mine. I am not a whole wheat fan but I love the crunchy chewiness of the Seven Grain Cereal in this bread, I figure I'm getting the healthy benefits of the whole grains with out the bad beer flavor of the whole wheat flour. One loaf is already gone.
Wednesday was a wash, it was one of those days where it's just better to stay in the house and eat chocolate chips and cold cuts strait from the bags. It took until six o'clock for it to occur to me that I needed to listen to this, being really the only place worth getting my news from. Even Alder was laughing.
My reality with you is drifting we live further in the future afraid of all the words and lists of now we drift to separate rooms we look out separate windows lonely not knowing how to connect
but we are trying to find that space in time in place here where we can come together and remember
trying to make solid out of the pieces, the little islands that we have become islands in a sea of feelings and influences not looking for bridges but to change the geography to slide the plates of our life until a new Pangaea is formed.
Some days we just have it. I wake up to his small hands on my face and I know we are in sync. On days like that we float through the morning routine of eating and dressing and happily get out the door for our day's adventure. Perhaps it's a walk to the library (the current favorite) or driving to a close by town for an errand and wandering the streets. On days like this we shift from one activity to the next without trasition. Those days we come home to an afternoon of drawing at the kitchen table or playing "apples and cherries" under the covers as we warm up.
After my last post I had really pursuaded myself that things were so bad, but then the next morning our day went so well and I realized that most of the days do go so well and that the stresses that envelop me are often more in my mind than out in the world. I am trying to hold this idea close to my heart as I approach the mountain of "business" I have to deal with... You know it sort of works.
Now I would like everyone who is reading this to help me send good healthy feelings both to a good friend of mine who is having a tough pregnancy and to my aunt who is having a lung biopsy tomorrow.
I wake myself in the middle of the night, stresses overwhelm me. I roll over and lay there eyes closed but sleep is not near. I toss I repostition before I admit to myself that I am up. That once again my night will be spent trying to fill my mind with fiction and other people's lives until I lull myself into believing that it is okay. I am not alone in my wakefulness Kevin bundles up and heads out to the park for late night meditation. Only Alder sleeps, fitfully in our bed calling out, most often "Sauce!" or "Mama". I leave him be until his calls begin to wake him and then I will crawl back into bed with him. He is the salve that brings sleep.
And then the morning will come, too quickly, with requests for apples (imaginary) and oats (real) and we stumble through the begining of our day until the mud of the sleepless night leaves us and we transition to the next day. All of the stresses of the night before surface early as we discuss our plans. Again Alder soothes me with his immediate needs for play and walks and love. He focuses me on the now, not ignoring the issues to be delt with but not letting me become paralyzed by them, immobility is not possible. So we go for long walks through town or aimless drives.
As we move forward through the thick fog I wonder when it will be easier, when will I be able to just relax and love?
I ask not as a person who's life is done to her but as one who's life keeps escaping her. I never loose my keys, but somedays it seems as if I have misplaced my life somewhere along the way.
(I promise that these posts will get cheerier, a little more Alder and a little less stress, this is after all a blog for him)
Part of me is tempted to edit my last post...I may sometime this week. I was just reading it and was amused to see just how badly written a lot of it was, especially the sections where I was talking about writing. I'm a little distracted lately (see previous post) so I haven't always been rereading my writing before I post it.
I hope everyone is having a nice Saturday, it's wet and warm here and Grandma and Grandpa are coming for dinner, so life is good.
"House!" he said as he dumped the bin of blocks onto the floor.
For a long time now I have had goals for what I want my life to be like. I want to have the ability to choose for Alder the best educational setting that I can, and that I want to raise him consciously and full of creativity and passion. Ideal I would love to stay home with him a lot and work some as a writer. Of course that isn't our reality right now. The economy is effecting how many clients Kevin is seeing and it just isn't enough. Since we moved I have been working part time doing high end retail at a natural parenting store (read cloth diapers organic clothing, baby slings breast pumps and the like). It is a job I have a hard time with, I love helping new parents to choose the right diaper set up or baby sling but I have a hard time with the need for $60 children's hat or $18 a pair underwear. But it was a job that I got quickly and I love all the people I work with.
But our bills (which are not very much to begin with) are out of our reach still. A few nights ago I couldn't sleep and I went looking on-line for a new job when I found one that looks like I would be a good match for, it pays better and it is still only twent hours a week. But the best thing about the job is that it is one where I would be helping people reenter the work force. Teaching them to write resumes, do interviews, help them with employment skills. It would be making a difference in a real way. So once again I am rewriting my resume and fiddling with words to make me seem like the right person for this job.
I haven't even gotten the job and I feel bad. I am not ready to send Alder off for childcare yet, not as much as this job would require. I am guilty of being a dreamer about how our life should be but don't want to go through the in between stage of working other jobs while working towards becoming a better paid writer and while Kevin builds a consistant client base but we have to.
I'll admit I have a lot of envy for the lives of many of the women whose blogs I read, I want the house, the calm life, the ability to choose what I do with my time. But this envy isn't a negative it has helped me to clarify my goals and makes me realize that to end up living this life I aspire to I must be active in creating it. So I start slowly, I write article topics, I design cards, I look for work, I build toys for my son, I take him to to the woods alone and with friends, and I find joy with the new and deep connections that I am making with my family. But it doesn't mean that I don't stare longinly at the crisp photos taken with better cameras or wonder what it would be like to live in a space wholly our own.
These are only examples the reality is much more complex because there is an outside world impossing itself on me and there is a husband who doesn't always agree with me and there are days where I much rather look at blogs of other people's life than live my own.
I have tears in my eyes, tears of joys and disbelief. I was so afraid to hope, although hope was the theme. As I sit here waiting to hear Obama's speech I am starting to put together what it means to me that he has won. We are free of the Bush regime (well 70 days from now). We have a hope that this country will not be forever racist or sexist or homophobic. I have so many hopes for our new president. Shall we now sit back and watch this all unfold, helping where we can?
anecdote: a friend working at a phone bank in Colorado was talking to another worker who commented that he had really been enjoying volunteering and that after the election he was going to find another organization to volunteer with. I hope that there are many more people do the same. If that was to be the case the benefit of this election will be much greater than just electing Obama as president.
It has seemed a little more like election week than election day here. I voted on Friday and 25% of the state had voted already by last night. But then here in Vermont it is the governor's race that makes adifference this year (in terms of our votes). Still it is the Presidential election that is everyone's focus. At work we have music playing all the time so the computer is set for NPR where they have constantly updated articles today. For all the polls that I hear I am still afraid that the election will slip through our fingers again. In fear that I will be the deciding bit of fate I have no Obama pins or t-shirts or stickers and I have stayed quiet. But honestly I am dedicated to this election as my friend who has spent every night for the last month trying to swing Colorado blue. It is just that I am so afraid to speak.
O-ne day until we know B-eing consious of the difference this day will make M-y heart races A-stonishing how far we've come since I was a child M-y heart races A- man who speaks to me in a language I understand.
I'm all sorts of inspired right now. I think it's the coming dark which I thrive in that has me settling into creativity again. Shifting from action to reflection. As the winter comes closer I slow down and I see this in my drawing, my images are calmer and simpler. I'm falling in love with simple black and white.
A lot of my inspiration is coming from the changing environment around me but I have also reaching into my past to find new light.