Sunday, March 25, 2012

Holding it together

 I like to use colloquialisms when I am at a loss for words.
 Also I turn to random happy pictures in times of stress.
 All of these from last weekend, when we celebrated Grace's eighth birthday with trips to
Sweet Life, Wildlife Safari and...
 Tolly's. The only 1880s ice cream shop I know.
And, really, why would I need to know another?
The trilliums are just opening here.

Some are broken by the ice and snowstorms we've been experiencing.
Spring, not so sprung.
Me, a bit undone.

This weekend we hosted dear friends for a multiple-kid birthday party.
Heavenly coconut cupcakes I resisted (wheat-free. gah.).
But lasagne was too good to leave alone.

We went to a radical 1980s party for another sweet birthday girl.
The kids looked better than I ever remember looking in the 1980s.

We saw The Hunger Games and it really was as good as the book.

We (the royal we) trenched out the entire backyard
and replaced the water line from pump-house to house-house.
We remembered what a shower is, as opposed to a trickle.

I read a lot of Emily Dickinson.
But it didn't improve my outlook as much as did looking through some happy pictures.

Not so long ago I saw a report that said we, internetbeings, are at risk.
At risk of a form of depression that supposedly springs from
reading (incessantly) about the (maybe trumped-up)
happinesses and successes of others.

Like a year-round Christmas brag letter.

But I beg to differ.

I like the happy.
Post all you like.
I'm reading.
And some days it is holding me up, holding my undone together.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mudslingers and muckrakers

Before raising children I was a news junkie who ate out more than she cooked.
Local and fresh meant the corner diner. 
Muckraking meant bringing up some really good dirt that needed to see the light.
Mudslinging was something politicians did and I reported.
 Gee, I'm happy to be a farm girl raising vegetables, flowers and children.
That other life was fun and I'm glad I had it.
It makes me appreciate this one so much more.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Any ideas?

For the past thirteen years or so I've spent my fair share of time dreading, agonizing over, planning for, celebrating (by turns) the increasing independence of my children. Cases in point are too too numerous to sort through but I'll offer the first that comes to mind: When Madeleine (now 13) lost her first tooth she immediately turned to me and said in her most grown-up lisp, "Now, Mom, don't start crying or anything."

I can even get angsty over normal growing up of other peoples' children so you know it's a distinct burden on me that I appear to be raising five spunky, sparky individuals each with her or his own opinions and goals and, you know, votes in the family democracy. Gah.

So last week Madeleine went to her first official job. She had posted color advertisements at our local bookstores and cafes listing her resume and qualifications. Energetic, responsible, oldest of five, seeks mommy's helper position. (And here I thought she already had one? Just kidding. Sort of.)

In the past she had worked for friends and family babysitting. She watches children at church and she is incredibly good with our littles. She keeps her money like a miser and has a specific goal in mind for its eventual release from savings. So in theory this was all fine with me. Until.

This was all fine with me until another family called and wanted her to interview.

I may or may not have paid to run a background check on them. After all, just because it's a small town and their boys (2 and 4) are adorable and their front porch is covered with tasteful planters and the mom and dad are cute as 28-year-old buttons, after all, these are no reasons to trust that they understand this is my BABY they're asking to borrow.

Every Monday from 10 to 1.

You'll find me parked across the street from their house with binoculars.

Friday, March 9, 2012

New lens and more perspective

 We have insulation in the new library/attic just in time for the weather to warm up.
... 'course it did snow twice last week.
 Sal on the temporary floor before insulation.
I have no photos post-insulation because I am deathly afraid of fiberglass.
No joke.
Is it blogger, or me?
Seems random but often my pictures show up sideways and then I just want to scream
Because (big surprise from Ms. Technology 1998) 
I don't know how to fix

The house project will take approximately until all five children are through graduate school.
(Latest: We may move the dining room wall eight feet.
The library remains in boxes.
The kitchen ceiling is still that nastysquare(asbestos?)tile stuff.
My bedroom has "art quilts" on the wall because they double as (sshhh!) insulation.)

I don't eat wheat. As of Monday.
Seems to be okay so far.
Until I see some really good artisan bread; you know, it's impossible to resist.
I don't think I'm gluten intolerant.
I just am messing around with my new psoriatic arthritis diagnosis.
Blah blah blah diet changes blah blah blah stress reduction blah blah blah avoid steroids.
(And can I sew 45 leotards before June 3rd? Of course! 
It might take my mind off the joint pain. Right?)

The peas and spinach are up!
My new garden is huge but never been tilled, apparently,
so we will be starting from scratch with raised beds.
On the plus side there exists an established strawberry bed, 
a good row of raspberries and four blueberry bushes.
And a quince!
Also we planted new dwarf pears, cherries and plums..
I will miss our old grapevine so much but there are baby vines here.
A garden is a challenge and adventure of its own.
Two Spot watches me from his stall as I walk under my new old apple trees.
They are huge and out of control.

We don't have visible neighbors here at the new farmsuite.
But we have met a few folks from our road in these cold months.
They seem nice.
In that cup-of-coffee-on-a-walk way.

It is still sometimes lonely, with limited internet and phone reception.
But loneliness and peace are two different sides of the same coin.

And then there's always the near-daily drive to dance lessons if I'm in my head too long.

I don't know how to fix anything.
But I sure like trying.

Friday, March 2, 2012


 I wish every last one of you could have been with us on our weekend in Portland.
Except... it was kind of nice to just spend time with Mr. Suite. 
 While he indulged my every whim. It was an "as you wish" kind of weekend.
 And even this shopping-averse farmgirl enjoys the city now and then.
Look how thoughtful the fabric store was to make a waiting area for the patient husbands.
 Portland is just so... yummy.
 And quirky and fun.
 Sometimes not my style, but still impressive.
 Oh, Hippo Hardware, how I love you.
You light up my life. (Couldn't resist.)

Between Hawthorne and Sellwood neighborhoods
I took a few dozen inspiration pics for our new old farmhouse. This one has similar lines to ours.

 A teahouse in a caboose! If only the girls could've been there. 
Except, I remember again, it was kind of nice to be alone with my husband.
 Right before we left I had decided to see whether wheat might be contributing to my arthritis symptoms.
But when you're eating at Bread and Ink restaurant, 
Noah's Bagels, Central Bakery, Bijou and Papa Haydn's....
You eat bread.
At least I do.
 No trip to Portland is complete without Powell's.
This time it was so incredibly busy that I didn't get that "home away from home" vibe.
Still I managed to blow the book budget. On both visits to the store.
 We didn't go by train.
Maybe next time. With the children.
 I couldn't resist the house of lolo.
Since we have a lulu of a Lolo of our own.
And this? Just one of many surreptitious shots stolen in Anthropologie.
Also? Planning to hack it.

Thanks for coming along on a bit of a recap of my romantic weekend away. 
Mr. Suite took photos of omelettes and other important subjects.
I just share the good stuff with you.