Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The middlest is 10. The middlest is full of Grace.

When you are the artistic, quiet middle child in a boisterous family your tenth birthday might be an opportunity to take a weekend trip to a favorite bookish getaway at the Oregon Coast. You might take hundreds of pictures on your camera -- architectural details from your four-foot perspective and portraits of your dolls on the beach and funny plants you've never seen and even pictures of your traveling companions to be funny -- and you might pose once or twice for your mom and grandma to take a couple of pictures of you. You might explore the library and the attic of the hotel and eavesdrop on the other guest's conversation and completely dissolve into giggles remembering later what you heard while they thought you were just looking at the ocean.

You might be camera shy but your mom probably took a few pictures of you over your ten completely unique and beautiful years.
Sometimes you might take your mother's breath away.
You are so very brave, my Grace girl. Being in the background, intensely observant and then jumping in with help when your talents or opinions are needed.
 I like the funny stories from when you were "little." I like to remember your finger friends, all ten of them with names and personalities to keep you company on long car rides and while waiting for big sisters' dance and lessons and activities.I like to remember you making your own language with words we'd never heard and I like to remember when you made poetry about rocks. Now you collect rocks and are a bit, um, passionate about geology. Now you concentrate on a puzzle and can't hear a person repeating your name from two feet away, so focused are you.
 You shine.
 On the stage dancing and acting. At the piano. In designing and sewing (remember the ribbon at the fair on your first quilt this past year!) and in perseverance beyond your years.
 You're fun.
 You might have more fun than anyone.
 I like how you can be absolutely silent throughout an entire group activity, for hours. And then when it's over and the crowds are gone you overflow with bubbly observations. I like how you speak up in those groups when someone isn't kind. You are sensitive for others as well as within yourself.
 I like how you redesigned the Tolkein room for the Sylvia Beach Hotel and then painstakingly wrote a letter of suggestion, bordering it with thanks.
 I like how loyal you are to your siblings and your friends.
 I like all these qualities. And I love you.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Over the weekend we hosted a quinceanera for Madeleine. Her great-grandmother and grandparents were there and her teenage friends helped the smaller children break the world's sturdiest pinata. It was full of sweets and the babies raked them up and carried them in their shirt tails and skirts. The renovated theater where we played was lit with twinkle lights and spotlights and Latin music and my daughter wore polka dot Converse with her dress.

Over the weekend Madeleine and many of her friends also danced in the incomparable local Rhythm and Blues Revue. My baby danced the mambo in a flirty purple dress. She tapped to live jazz music and danced to live singing -- one of our favorite playwright's -- a rendition of "It's Not Unusual."

It was full of sweets.

Over the month Madeleine and Sarah have begun evening rehearsals for "Fiddler on the Roof" while Sarah and Grace started rehearsing a children's "Pinocchio." I have been moved to tears by the rehearsals, people. My girls will tell you I cry easily and this is true.

I cried this morning in the grocery store line (I hope it wasn't noticeable) while the young, very young, couple and their infant in front of me bought a peanut butter chocolate cake and a bouquet of flowers for a friend's wedding. I cried (pretty noticeably) when Laura unearthed video of my wedding and we watched babies of 21 years ago scraping up candy from the fluffy pinata at the reception.

It was full of sweets.

Winter is coming to an end at the Suite farm. The daffodils are barely yellow in bud but the violets of one hundred years of homesteading are spread all the way to the creek. It took a while for that proliferation to be sure. I am so grateful after the icy winter we had that it is time to put in the peas. My raised beds are not even properly cleaned as I was taken by surprise by the first hard frost but we are still harvesting leeks and chard.

The tractor transmission, rebuilt last year, encountered a rock it couldn't conquer and so we may hire the tilling of the rows. We moved one horse into the barn with short turn out times but everyone else has grown fuzzy and fat with winter grain. A sure sign of spring is when the fence posts are covered with their shedding and the birds flock to steal tufts for lining nests.

We have a new family member! I can't believe I forgot to mention Charlie the Cocker Spaniel.

He's no stranger to us as we've been his dogsitter for a couple of years. Now he is officially our house dog on the farm. Murphy, our behemoth Bernese Mountain Dog, doesn't like to come inside. He prefers to romp the pastures and plunge in the pond in even frozen weather. He waits for Charlie to come outside and they run, big and little, companion and protector, each with their jobs on the farm.

Still raising kids and vegetables and a ruckus.

Full of sweets.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A romanticized view of winter storms, but it's my view

Did you imagine yourself in The Long Winter with the Ingalls family?
And then when you grew up did you search
(ever so anachronistically, on the interwebs)
for a small coffee grinder, powered by hand,
the kind that Ma and the girls used for wheat --
the seed wheat for next year
 that became, painstakingly, flour
and then bread for the coldest days?
Did you imagine running a rope line to the barn for safety's sake?
In case a whiteout kept Pa from seeing the house?

 Did you read by gas lamp or firelight
and sigh with the thrill of the word:

A snow day or two can bring that out in me.
The Suite family is busy with school this January.
Our last snowstorm is reduced
to these photos and the murky piles of ice
in mall parking lots.
The big yellow bus traverses our road twice a day again.
The horse trough no longer steams in a sigh of relative warmth.
But we still read by candlelight for fun.
Little House Seven Miles from Small Town
...that's us...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry and bright...

 When the light twinkles just so.
 And the performances are all done.
(Nutcracker and It's a Wonderful Life, two icons of Christmas, checked off our list.)

 Time for silly cousins to have some fun.
 Remembering the reason we love, the reason we live.
 It's quiet at the farm.
For two weeks (minus a day or two) we had no drama, no dance, no classes.
Just scrumptious board games and naps and archery practice in our little woods.
Oh! And I read several books that have been on my list including
Morton's "Forgotten Garden" -- lovely; and Smiley's "Barn Blind" -- an author who amazed me again.
 We, like many of you, opened some gifts.
That girl does not like her bear. She loves it.
And her nightgown, sewn with love by her grandma and passed down by her sister.
 It's been a deliciously slow end to another fast-paced wonderful year.
I am not making resolutions but I do like to reflect and redirect at this time of year.
How about you?
I wish you a beautiful 2014.