road trip, part 2: even little things can make great big giant shadows

>> click here to read part 1 <<

I am ready to write about all the things I haven’t made time to write about this summer. Growth of tomatillos and children, renovations of home and mental space, plans for this month and in ten years.

I haven’t been here on dig as much because I’ve been there — in the other important places in my life. I do feel nostalgic about this space as it once was, where I holed up late at night to write whatever stories flew out my fingertips every few days. And I do so thoroughly believe in the practice of making time to create without need of it becoming something. I tell my kids all the time to let go of making art that needs to be hung up. JUST MAKE. For this big need to have more unstructured, undeadlined writing, I plan to get back in here more regularly. I lost my time to contribute here for a few reasons:

  1. At my 36 years, I need more sleep. Two hours more per night. This has been a hard adjustment for me! But, oh, it’s very necessary.
  2. The impermanence of it all fills my brain with things to write about and forbids me from leaving the story I’m living so that I can write a story about it. That sounds convoluted but I think you get it.
  3. GEO is growing and requiring more of my attention.
  4. See next paragraph.

School started last week. Margot at public school, Ruby at home. At home! We, me particularly, have long been interested in homeschooling and am so eager for this adventure. Everyone is comfortable and enthused. It all feels great, which is a relief. I was so torn up about school last year at this time, spinning out over school options, wondering which was best for us. It took me a long period of fretting before it felt right.

Ruby and I biked to get Margot at school a few days ago and she captured Life’s Big Idea with this simple question:

Mama, did you notice that even little things can make great big giant shadows?

I feel hopeful and excited. I feel nervous and invested. I feel as capable as a parent who has never done any of this before can feel.

Before I move into news on the home front, the Blogger in me must finish up our family road trip! In the spirit of brevity (ha!) and simplicity, I deleted all my text and will let photos tell the story of the last five days of our adventure.

trip details:

Day 8:
Radke’s Blueberry Farm, Corvallis, OR: sweet family, sweetest blueberries, screamin’ deal affordable, recommended by my friend Camille.
Alsea Falls Campground: we stayed in site #5. Vault toilets, potable water, private sites.
Hike to Alsea Falls: easy, gorgeous
Trails up mountain over Alsea river: one of the best runs I’ve had in a while

Day 9:
Driftwood Beach, Waldport, OR
Lost Creek Beach, Newport, OR
South Beach State Park Campground: Like most seaside campgrounds, it was huge and packed in. We managed to score one of the last campsites available and it was one of the best! Site H20.
Local Ocean Seafoods, Newport, OR: fantastic. The service, the food. The laughing sea lions on the dock. I ordered the Halibut over soba noodles and chard.

Day 10:
Take out from Cha’ba Thai in Portland. Holy smokes the Pad Thai, Pad Sa Ewe and Masseman Curry were amazing.
Stumptown Coffee, of course

Day 11:
Lunch at Pfriem Brewing, Hood River, OR: wonderful veggie burgers and the IPA is out of this world
The Incredibles: the last day of driving was hard. Kids watched a movie in the car and this is a favorite of ours!
GuestHouse Hotel in Kellogg, Idaho: Unable to find camping, we grabbed a hotel. It was your average place (clean, comfy, basic) made pretty great by the lovely Jayne at the front desk.

Day 12:

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road trip, part 1: but where do people come from?

The air turned while we were away. Today, I am wearing jeans and yanking beets the size of my fist, leeks the length of Margot’s leg, cabbage the circumference of Ruby’s head. I have equal love for every season and because of this, I mourn walking away from summer (my baby-faced kindergartner, my quiet mama’s girl) while feeling just right walking toward fall (my freckle-faced first grader, my loud mama’s girl).

We packed for our trip backpacking-style, meaning the bare essentials, meticulously placed for ultimate space-saving. We each had only a few items of clothing, everything folded and tucked into camping bowls and stuff sacks. And then we cut it all in half. Miraculously, it all fit — camping gear, our personal stuff, big dog, four humans, food, water, bikes. Our rocket box was like Mary Poppin’s satchel, sometimes like those jokester cans that look like beans but open to exploding paper snakes in your face.

The day before our trip I diagnosed verticillium wilt on our 31 tomato plants. So, while Andy jengaed items into the car, I cooked sauce from the tomatoes I picked from the plants I pulled and threw away. It seems no matter how organized I am, no matter how hard I work and plan to leave at a certain time, I have an urgent homestead something to mix in with packing toiletries. This time, it was a heaping basket of ripe tomatoes.

On the first day we traveled southwest along the Lochsa River to Lewiston, Idaho. Through wildfire smoke so thick it mixed with our words. Based on a suggestion from an instagram friend, we found a campsite. We promptly hopped in the tent where we rocked with the wind and exclaimed at lightening’s strobe that sporadically illuminated our faces. The storm was fierce and strong and quickly turned into a regular ol’ downpour. The girls held some fear that was easily distracted by mama snuggles in the down sleeping bags with headlamps and books.

Margot began journaling on this day, using the new blank book and pen I’d surprised her with. What should I write? she asked. Write what you see, write what you know and don’t know. Right what you wonder about, I said. Continue reading

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Somewhere between Elsa and Katy Perry

My daughters watch themselves dance in the window reflection.

Margot tucks her shirt in, untucks it. Sways her hips from side to side. Tucks it in again. Spins on one foot, her bejeweled plastic heels stomping the turn to a stop.

Mama, when I am 12 I want to fly all the way across the country all by myself with no mom or dad!

Ruby thinks she invented the side ponytail. She spends at least 10 minutes smoothing every hair into this intention every morning. The hairstyle changes in one hour. By the end of the day it’s always down, a tangled mess of blond.

Mama, I feel so beautiful.

They visit my sewing studio in search of fabric for the day’s cape. They play kittens, babies, school, family, princesses and vacation. They carry purses full of treasures on their shoulders at all times. Rocks, coins, lip balm, carousel tokens, tiny stuffed sheep, tinkerbell, drawings.

Margot is 6 1/2. I remember wearing a 6x, remember my cat peachy folder, Mrs. Ryding, my mom’s soft brown locks. My girl is promising swirl of thoughtfulness, rebellion, confidence and gumption.

Ruby studies her sister, often torn by wanting to do what Margot does and wanting to do what she wants. She usually does what she wants. Ruby is a promising swirl of tenderness, earnestness, resilience and courage.

I really want my own room but I can’t even handle not sleeping with my sister. Ever.

Our entire family knows every word to every song on the disney pandora station. The girls feel like they win at life, many times a day, Continue reading

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There’s Nothing To Be Afraid Of Sister

Who hosts a big ol’ summer sale in her shop during the busiest season of the year the week before going out of town? This girl! (pictured with her children)

Getting out the door is my nemesis but also my gift. Meaning, it takes me hours longer than I ever think it will and I am a crazed, unorganized, last-minute packer. But! I always succeed at getting out the door. Just like I can always carry one more thing, I can always squeeze one more task in an hour. I can always accommodate one more dinner guest. I can always get shit done when prize of Leaving Town glistens on the horizon.

The day we left I woke at 5am. I went for a run, did all of our laundry, worked for a few hours, packed everything for a week of camping, planned meals and went grocery shopping and, by 3pm, my daughters and I were on the highway getting outta town. The house was unbelievably messy but I assured myself Andy would be bored and in need something to do while we were away. Or at the very least, proud of us for leaving at a reasonable hour and not forgetting anything.

We usually go to Lake Mary Ronan for a week with my family but this year my parents couldn’t make it and my husband couldn’t make it so I changed things up a bit. Margot, Ruby and I camped for a few days on our way. We chose Rainy Lake. I think this will be a new tradition every year before Lake Mary Ronan because oh, we loved this lake and campground.

On the first night, I prepared tofu curry and rice on our little cook stove. Something smelled funny, sounded funny. Continue reading

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joy full

I stood in my plot last night, the sun down but the sky still bright with lavender and honey. A doe walked by with her two freckled fawns. We saw her pregnant and then saw the babies brand new. We see them every day, marking the passing of summer with the fading of those white dots.

GIRLS. I whisper yelled to my daughters and they took giant tip toe steps to my side. The fawns nursed, violently pulling and biting at the doe. She steadied herself against the feast, swaying between her two babies, just on the other side of the garden fence. She then jumped straight up and over the fawns. They stumbled and followed after her. She kicked at them. They stopped and waited. She locked eyes with the fawns. She said something with her eyes. She walked, they followed, right at her side up the hill into the night. Good night.

I run in the mornings, usually pushing Ruby while Margot bikes by my side. Sometimes they don’t want to go. Usually, they really don’t want to go. They protest and hold grumpy stares as I tie my shoes and begin. I tell them I need this and we are in it together. I tell myself that they will remember riding creekside as the sun greets the day, they will remember our conversations about the difference between diamonds and crystals, they will remember a strong mama who gives all day and asks for this from them. I hold my tongue when the run is over. I want to say See! Look how awesome we all feel! Look how fun that was! Look at your smiles! I don’t. They know. I believe joy eclipses annoyance, especially when we make it so.

Ruby: Margot, is the end of the world coming? Continue reading

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