I boil and peel beets, hopping back and forth over the large cast iron sink that sits in the middle of our kitchen floor so I can rinse my hands so I can help Ruby rethread her needle. Andy hollers from the bathroom babe, I need your help! And I quickly slip two more skins from the bloody roots before hopping back over the sink – noticing it’s ready for another coat of paint, noticing the animals need water – to rinse and help move our vanity in place.
Ben arrives. He’s our dear, old friend just back from Alaska before he heads to Antarctica. He grew up with Andy and was with Andy and me on our first date (you may remember he is also the gem who constructed our secret stairs). Alice is the first to greet him. She loves how he scratches her ears, pulling like milking a cow. The girls and cats leap like popcorn for his attention. I sneak in a beety-palm-up hug.
Where are the apples?! Ruby squeals. Ben leaves and returns with a huge box of perfect macs that he picked off his sister’s tree. Now it is my turn to squeal, aware of the baskets and boxes of beets, corn, squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, grapes, pears and plums next to the sink in the middle of the floor. Ben leaves again and returns again with another huge box. Did I bring too many? he asks. Nope.
For a moment I consider apologizing for the chaos, for our grody floors, for him having to sleep on the couch that is currently covered in three loads of clean laundry that our cats are sleeping upon. But I don’t. He isn’t here five minutes when he grabs a broom and starts sweeping cheerfully declaring he is obsessed with sweeping to which I respond reason number 176 why you should just MOVE IN WITH US.
Another coat of high gloss Tomato Soup on the sink. Apples saucing. I clear a small space on the counter so we can make dinner. Fresh sockeye salmon from Ben, kale, golden beet soup.
The girls are focused on their project. It’s almost done! Ruby says looking at the strand that is half finished. Margot disagrees with her, looking at the strand that is half unfinished. Margot *did* do most of the work.
Because of all the bathroom mention and because I can’t wait to share…We still have several things to finish up (and eventually replace the vinyl floor on the shower wall!) in the bathroom and I will divulge all the glorious thrifty details soon…I do love our new loo:
We have a holiday stick (here, here, here) hanging in front of our picture window from which we hang seasonally appropriate objects. It’s a little holiday bling with a purpose: birds fly into that window if we don’t have something there. This fall we decided to shake it up with garland. I wanted a project that:
1. Encouraged conversation about this season.
2. The girls could do by themselves.
3. Is fun! (and pretty fast)
4. We’d want to keep. (made from beautiful, sustainable materials)
5. Is sturdy. (cannot be broken!)
Materials for 10-foot garland:
* 10 feet o’ yarn
* 1/2 yard assorted wool felt
* large needle
* sharp scissors
For felt colors: we talked about fall and why leaves change color and how our landscape shifts. Together, we chose gold, deep red, moss green, light gray and dark gray. Margot made our list for the fabric store. “It’s like a map, mom. Because I don’t know how to spell all the colors but I can write the numbers and then draw the colors and then you can, like, READ it. But in a different way.”
We liked the gold the best so we bought twice as much of that. For the yarn, we used a beautiful wool that our friend’s mom spun. I cut circles (I have had time to reconstitute my felt circle-cutting reserves since the cocksucker). And the kids strung them up, each working from an end. That’s it.
I really wanted something that would hold my daughters interest for a chunk of time so we could get all up in our food preserving and bathroom remodeling. This worked so well. They loved this project; it held their attention for hours – two days in a row – and I find the result to be quite charming. And they are so proud!
And while my lens was aimed at the garland and fall colors through the window, this was happening next to me, behind me: sisterly go fish, cat relaxation, dog with doll.
I like it all. The curated, crafted, framed image and the unscripted life spilling in from all sides. Honestly, I like the real life spill best. I’m best there, I do believe.