Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Playing catch (up)

How was your summer vacation?

I'm taking it as a sign of a good summer that I am, once again, not ready. Last week at the swimming hole I sat with a friend watching the children splash about picking blackberries from the overhanging vines. Feet in the cool water, with pebbles massaging our toes and the laughter of eight or nine swimmers entertaining our ears, we watched the first of the turning leaves float to the water's surface and skim downstream. Our shady spot will be exposed to the autumn sky in a month or two.

But we'll be inside with books and tablets and schedules to make the gas gauge sigh.
How not to make a two-month catch-up letter a series of "been there, done that?' How to capture the feeling of summer? We took some drives. We splashed in the creek and swam in our "secret" swimming hole. We went to a big family wedding in the redwoods and we went to the movies with friends.
Madeleine stretched her musical theatre skills with singing/dancing/acting camps and Sarah attended a ballet intensive and a melodrama performance camp. The big girls were in our local heritage parade too, on the Storybook Theatre float. Sarah was the blue fairy from Pinocchio, reprising her role from last spring's performance. Maddy was Tiger Lily and Grace was a mermaid, both from Peter Pan. I broke three sewing machine needles on Grace's costume but she glittered like an undersea princess. Salvador and Laura caught a lot of candy and waved at all the floats. I ran after the Storybook float with my camera and Mr. Suite was impressed with my speed in pursuit of the photo.
Then! Grace worked on a new quilt top and on her model horse barn. Mr. Suite bought her a miter saw and she uses it with more confidence than do I. Grace and Laura won ribbons at the fair. Grace exhibited a blue-ribbon bookhouse and her handmade puppet collection, also a blue ribbon winner. Laura showed a Lego coffee delivery boat of her own design (blue!) and her pony collection (red).

The whole family plus some friends hung out at the fair and watched the steam engine demonstrations. We ate caramel corn and drank lemonade and I regretted that but not in the baking hot moment.

Mr. Suite and I had a few date nights. We celebrated our anniversary -- 22 years -- with a Tom Petty concert where almost every song made me feel younger. We hiked the mountain above our house a few times and took photos at the river bar where he grew up and learned to drive. We drove over a floating bridge and visited farm stands and old haunts and longtime friends.
On the pet front, Laura has two guinea pigs. I am informed they are not rodents. Charlie the Spaniel took a brief vacation with another family whose mama works at the self-sustainability workshop on our road. He went camping by the lake and then came home and we were very, very glad. Murphy the Bernese went up the mountain with Maddy and Mr. Suite on a hike and came back down in the Suburban. I understand the hip joint pain.
Maddy and Sam cut new trails in the woods above our pasture. We made hay in record amounts and two teen boys with more energy and bigger appetites than imaginable helped get all eight tons in the loft before it rained. We picked blackberries and visited friends. We hosted a mini craft and swimming day camp for friends. We took some more drives. I am gathering rose hips for wreaths and tea. I am gathering the school books and calendars and my wits for another year of sharp pencils and sharper minds.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

And they danced

The girls finished nine months of six-day-a-week dance classes with this thing called a recital.
I cried through nearly the entire thing.
From the second row the click of the Nikon shutter
punctuated their steps.

Madeleine was in ten different pieces.
Sarah and Maddy both had their first pointe performance.
Hip hop was a surprise favorite.
Tap was a crowd pleaser.
I love this stuff.
And I try not to count the recitals we have left
stretching before us in beauty.

(When classically trained ballet dancers
go hip hop it will surprise you.)

 Grace was a bookish ballerina.
Considering carefully a year of quiet work.
Laura was a ballet diamond in the cutest deck of cards.
And a teddy bear tap dancer.
Grace also got jazzy.
We have a vocal recital before summer starts in earnest.
Then a few dance intensives and a couple of theatre camps
and a lot of backyard camping.
A wedding.
Swimming in the creek.
Playing with the ponies.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

It's a coffee table book

Today I felt that need to look for beauty -- does that happen to you? --
and where better to turn than my photo files of this past month? 
(Well. I could have gone outside, but weeds are lurking there, creeping ever closer to farm domination.)
And one of my other favorite diversions is to drive over that-there bridge on my way to town and back.
Alas it is under construction until September.

So photo journal it is.
 The barnyard is stomped-down packed mud, the hay field is sodden but gloriously tall and green. 
The pond is finally fenced off from horse and/or sheep invasion and just a little prettier already.
Mr. Suite planted some trees.
The skunk cabbage and cattails (such lovely names!) grow unmolested.
A grey heron rests there between fishing trips to the river. 
A pair of Mallard ducks made a nest immediately after the fence went up but are gone now.
I hope they come back.
Frogs and toads of the green and noisy variety make music we can hear all the way to the house.
The flowerbeds and garden beds are overrun with chickweed, crabgrass and clover. 
I'm going with it on the theory that nature knows what to do with itself.
We pick lettuce and peas from the beds and a little grass sneaks its way in the salad.
Most is edible.
 Fiddler on the Roof, a sold-out run. 
Maddy had "Fiddler prom" backstage with friends
while other high school friends rode in a limousine
to dance that was decidedly not Russian nor Jewish.
Sarah sang Matchmaker.
And Anatevka was weepingly beautiful.
 Pinocchio, a sold-out run.
Grace was the prettiest puppet I have ever seen. Or sewn.
Sarah wore blue hair and a beautiful gown to convince Pinocchio
becoming a real boy takes bravery and honesty.
 On top of the hill, a neighbor's barn less used than ours, with a view to Blue Mountain.
I would let you think I hiked up there but it is very, very high. So I drove.
 Salvador got his hair cut after Easter.
The barber was smoking a cigarette so we went to the salon.
I explained the haircut preferences:
scissor cut, whitewall around the ears, side part, 
you know, LEAVE THE CURLS.
And the stylist pulled out her clippers and buzzed his hair right off faster than I could gasp.
"This is better," she declared.
 The forest wants to take over my back yard. See those weeds of which I speak?
When we bought this place I loved the back yard's "shabby" fence
and asked Mr. Suite to leave it a while.
Its time has probably come.
The creek flows through the trees back there
and it is good to have a little barrier
so we don't worry about Charlie swimming away.

 Fencing off the pond was a family affair.
Mr. Suite has been engineering a lot of hours.
The development and building trade is picking back up.
We are catching up.
 Madeleine was given a lovely vintage dotted swiss dress.
Great-grandma remarked "it looks just like a dress from the 1940s."
It is!
The lawnmower was broken. 
Too many trips to the river pulling inner tubes and children in its trailer perhaps.
We replaced it but not before the horses had lawn duty.
 What can a girl say about columbines? They self sow and are a favorite.

 I only took a dozen pictures at Easter and each one is a testament to ...
something about the difficulty of herding cats.
And every time I see one of these posed sillinesses
I hear the Beatles singing "All Together Now"
and that makes me giggle.
If I were not the parent of teens now I'd say
I'm just grateful no one is picking his or her nose.

You can, however, see a bit of Salvador's hair pre-buzz-cut.
So there's that.

I feel better after that chatty update. 
Is it just me or do you too sometimes need to
focus on your beauty to press a reset button on gratitude?

I'm also participating in #100happydays. Don't let the hashtag stop you.
I don't understand hashtags either!
But I do understand happy.

Blessings from farmsuite.
I hope you are surrounded and lifted up by joy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


If ever I thought I'd arrived, I was wrong.
 Did you, ever?
Hike and climb and fix your eyes on that highest point
--sometimes it seemed to move further away--
to flop down on nearest apex boulder
or raise your hands in amazement
of the crisp
clean air
up there.
 The bear went over the mountain
to see what he could see.
The view an enticement, surely, but the promise of rest
that idea of repose kept me moving
eyes on the prize
picnic in sight.
The light is clear enough to see the next mountain.

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.