nuggets: moonshadow

Andy and I woke at the same moment. 4:17am, the glowing moon washing our room with ghost-blue light. We don’t have curtains and every full moon, it seems our space is washed by celestial illumination. How is it possible that a rock that is 230,100 miles away can light my bedroom from the inside out? It’s magic and I can feel it. I am always sleepless and stirred in a way that is bigger than me, tossing around in lunar dust.

Andy got up, wide awake. I entered into a hazy, in-and-out sleep for a few hours where I thought about the things. How I want to make all my own clothes, I missed soccer sign ups, I need to get my plane ticket to San Francisco, I look forward to next fall’s road trip with my kids, I am frustrated that I had to fire my web designer and start over, I am so pleased that my garden is off to a great start, I ought to read more books.

Lately, when I wake in the middle of the night I have a song in my head. Every single night around 2am I wake up with lyrics on repeat. I started writing them down last week: Beyoncé’s Halo, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, Pearl Jam’s Daughter, Ben Harper’s With My Own Two Hands. On the full moon night: Cat Steven’s Moonshadow.

And if I were to do a mashup and make my own soundtrack perhaps it’d go something like this:

Hit me like a ray of sun
Burning through my darkest night
She holds the hand that holds her down
She will rise above
I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
It’s like I got this music in my body and it’s gonna be alright
Yes, I’m bein’ followed by a moon shadow
Moon shadow
Moon shadow

One of the things on my mind on this morning was wanting to share about our spring break. The one that happened several weeks ago. I’m getting used to this — the documenting things well after the fact. When I first started writing here (nine years ago!) I would feel like it was too late to write about a thing that happened last week. My life doesn’t allow for me to write here as often right now. And the practice of remembering, looking back at my notes (I make notes all the time about what I want to write about) and telling a story is a good one.

I actually wrote quite a bit while in our cabin in the woods. The old fashioned way: by a raging wood stove, raging pen and paper. I managed to spook myself pretty good that night and I hope to get that whole story out one way or another sometime soon. Boo.

Spring Break nuggets. We stayed home mostly, with one little adventure away.

:: Andy has a new painting on exhibit at the Brink Gallery in downtown Missoula. We went to the opening briefly. Although only there for 12 minutes, my kids managed to eat a cupcake and two fistfuls of licorice. I had wine.

:: Last days of skiing, first bare feet in the creek.

:: Long, tiring days in the garden. Planning layout, planting seeds (early April: radish, peas, spinach, arugula, lettuce, onion, beet, carrot). My kids still love to count worms and millipedes, to dig in compost and hang out with me all day in the dirt. And this mama still loves those days so very much.

:: I rented a forest service cabin for a few days but the girls and I ended up only staying one day. Long story short: I had some fear, ignited by neighboring campers and decided that even though my fear was likely way out there and even though I wanted to stay, I realized that the whole reason I get out into the wilderness with my kids is to relax and run free with them and I wasn’t doing that. I was uneasy and having wild, dark thoughts. So we stayed one night, went for a great hike and then left.


:: We then drove to a different forest service cabin our friends’ had rented (that was luckily only 1.5 hours away!) and stayed a night with them instead. It was the perfect elixir to remedy my previous night’s head trip.

:: On the way home we picnicked on the Big Hole River, stopped and swam at Fairmont Hot Springs and hit this giant slide in Anaconda. When we showed up there were two teenage couples making out under the slide. At first they didn’t stop so I gave them a compassionate mama stink eye where I communicated Just ease up a bit, friends. We will be outta here in no time. They understood but acted put out. Goodness I remember being a teenager so well.

:: The kids taught me about the brand new thing the kids are doing at school. When two people say the same thing at the same time they say Jinx! Pinch! Poke! You owe me a coke! Isn’t it amazing that these rites of passage swell up at the exact same times, generation after generation? Same handclaps, same games, same side ponytails and jump rope songs. Anyway, they are REALLY into this Jinx thing and I listen to it approximately 17 times an hour. Lots of hypothetical cokes owed.

:: Ruby made markers for the carrots and beets.

:: One day, I was in the garden while the kids played in the field. They went inside the house and came out with lunch for me. Margot said, “It seems like you are working so hard and that you need to feed your body.” She had made me a sandwich of hummus, pickles, bean spouts and tomato. And a tangelo. It was delicious and heart-melting.

After days of the sisters playing outside at home, I overheard Margot say to Ruby, “Isn’t is so fun to just play just you and me? Like, we really don’t need toys or anything but each other.” I quietly smiled from the hallway, enjoying that moment and those words I happened to hear. And of course knowing that quite soon feelings of boredom or annoyance would surface. They do because that is life: moods and feelings are like the moon’s pull on the ocean. Rising and falling, reactive and strong.

Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light.
Did it take long to find me? And are you gonna stay the night?

*from Cat Stevens, Moonshadow

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nuggets: finally it’s the first day of spring!

I started composing this on the first day of spring, adding thoughts and photos over the last few weeks. And then adding thoughts and photos just before spring and it’s quickly grown to monstrous size but I’m rolling with it. Welcome to the giant nugget post.

(I was reading this to my kids and Ruby has asked if I could change her name to Bob for a while)

Bob emerged from her bedroom, a halo of yellow bed-headed hair. I was on the couch, drinking coffee and reading. She fell into me with her toothless smile. “Finally it’s the first day of spring!” she yawned as she fell onto my lap completely unaware of the coffee.

Question to those with older children: do they ever notice the cup of coffee in your hand before diving into a morning snuggle? I’ve become incredibly skilled at keeping the hot, caffeinated liquid inside the mug with a wiggling child on lap.

Indeed it’s spring. Finally! I think we always feel a bit that way with every season. We love winter. We ski and sled and ice skate. We eat oats my the fire and resist getting out of our warm beds in the morning. And we look forward to spring. We dream of that day when will be able to stand in a non-breezy spot and, if the sun is directly on us, it actually feels warm.

Springish nuggets.

:: The girls designed and made little creatures mostly all by themselves. Margot has decided that even if she doesn’t make enough money she wants to work with owl research and rescue. Specifically she’d like to “study them and cure them when they are injured.” Bob wants to BE a kitty when she grows up.

:: Moody spring hikes with friends have taken us up mountains. Our kids used to be on our backs and shoulders and now they run ahead of us begging us to hurry up.

:: I shared this on instagram but want to share here too because it’s my new favorite trick: you can place the white roots of spent green onions in water and continue to harvest the greens for weeks and weeks! They just keep growing.

:: Andy has been planning to build a bench to sit on Alice’s gardenside grave. Continue reading

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Let’s go swimming.

Andy’s alarm goes off for a full minute. It takes him a while to reach his phone to turn off the chirping because he threw his back out. He moves slowly, forcing inhales through the pain. I offer to help and he declines. The rain taps the metal roof just above our dry heads as we lay under down and linen in the dark. The furnace kicks on.

He gets up first, he always does. I hear the click of our espresso machine button. I feel around the floor for the hoodie I took off last night. I walk gently down the hall, avoiding the three floorboards that creak. Andy feverishly tunes the radio to NPR. Another terrorist attack. In Brussels, he says.

The familiar words reach our ears. I hate that they are familiar. Isis. Extremist. Suicide bomber. 26 dead. 30 dead. Retaliation. War. Terror. Terrorist. Terrorism.

The rain lets up. I feel the wetness in my bones. The heaviness of rain sinking into soil. Washing the streets clean, adding volume to rivers, feeding gardens. Relentlessly nourishing. Pure love. Steadfast. The cool, clear, generous liquid that gives everything life. Water is the antonym to Terror. Continue reading

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The Artful Homestead: Digging Into Daily Ritual

I am excited to invite you to The Artful Homestead: Digging Into Daily Ritual.

I began imagining this a few years ago: a weekend focused on creativity and earthly awareness – with attention given to the whimsy and practicality of everyday acts. I envisioned working with the people who are passionate about things like baking bread, writing, yoga, gardening, poetry, deep breaths, art, music, canning jam, learning, doing, being. Together, camping and getting groovy with our homesteady selves, identifying our values and rituals.

It’s manifesting this spring, collaboratively with my dear, old friend and exquisite photographer Paige Green. You’ve heard me mention Paige many times before; she’s my best friend of 20 years. Our first-ever Artful Homestead gathering is happening over Memorial Day weekend. Will you join us? Continue reading

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Day trip: Quinn’s Hot Springs

Spontaneous adventures are my jam. The kind that are casually planned over a post-ski beer and then happen the following day. I am enlivened when I’m “unprepared” — when I get to dance about in the early morning hours fashioning road snacks out of back-of-the-pantry bits, feverishly gathering the pieces we will need and then leaving. As ready as I’ll ever need to be.

I let the kids sleep, aiming to get the car all packed up and then scoop them straight from bed into their seats. Part of this plan is practical: I have to get a lot done to meet our 8am departure and if it’s just me, hip hop and the to-dos it’ll be lightening fast. And part of this plan is magical: I remember being 6 and 8 years old and I decide it would feel thrilling and cozy to climb from bed to carseat where my blanket, doll, bagel and open road await. Mom at the wheel.

photo by Ruby

We meet our friends and begin the caravan north along the fierce, alive Mission Mountains, through the Salish & Kootenai Reservation and then west along the turquoise blue Flathead River. We drive to Quinn’s Hot Springs.

Ruby: How much longer?
Me: Ten minutes.
Ruby: How long is that?!
Margot: Not too long! Just count to 60, ten times.
Ruby: one two three four five six seven eight…

There are several hot springs around here and I’ve been to most more than once. Each has their own unique vibe and lore. Continue reading

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