I took a master gardening class years ago. I took it after I was fired from a housesitting gig for killing all the plants and before I started my gardening business. I still consult my Master Gardening Manual regularly, its pages soft with dirt and turned corners.
Gardening is meant for writers. From the poetic words like meristem and apical and brassica to the generous metaphors in tending, troubleshooting, growth, harvest and nourishment.
I saw David Sedaris read this week. I went with my friend after we were offered tickets one hour before he was to take stage. We sat high in the balcony and listened to his familiar cadence deliver hilarious and shocking words. I noticed two things. First, when a person is funny, it gives their audience permission to laugh at anything, even the serious and sad stuff. And it isn't inappropriate to laugh at serious and sad stuff. It's a legitimate reaction to the discomfort of big feelings. Two, I need to read more books and look at more art. When another shares their genius, an energy field is cast. It's contagious in the most inspiring way.
I ordered a new computer yesterday. Mine is slowly croaking, keyboard and track pad kaput and the function straining at the smallest requests. Ruby says it sounds like it is sighing all the time. Yesterday afternoon I was on the mac help chat thing with Claire, trying to decide between a new or refurbished computer. I think those chat windows were made for moms. If I'd had to make a phone call, my kids would have immediately been starving, in great need of a glue stick from the top shelf and writhing from some ailment that required lavender oil and a bandaid. The chat allows me to get some questions answered while Ruby summits my body and Margot choreographs a jumprope routine to Frosty The Snowman in the kitchen.
October and September were bright and warm. Continue reading →
I wrote this piece two weeks ago. I have written and rewritten it several times, each time unhappy with the lack of direction and the rambling nature. I have felt doubtful and afraid of being misunderstood. Then I heard this:
The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. - Elizabeth Cady Stanton
And I realized that sometimes the truest way from point A to point B is a big ol' meandering zig zag.
:: :: ::
Sometimes I feel like I am letting feminism down. I am aware of the juxtaposition of my pre-kid ambitions and my current ambitions. I hear the roar of the Lean In Movement. I choose to lean differently and that can feel so isolating. I feel the criticism - whether legitimate or of my own imagination (I suspect it is a bit of both) - from colleagues; I wonder if I am a person they think of throwing away potential when they ask me what's new or if I am making art these days.
While I feel inspired by and sure of my choices and my lifestyle in the giant, oceanic sense, I indeed have waves of doubt and insecurity. It's remarkable that I can feel lost, when moving in right direction with a functioning compass.
I remain driven, although it feels so different from my ambitions, before child. For me, everything regarding my goals and perspective changed when my first daughter was born. Everything. I didn't want to admit it for over a year. I was still invested in my work but it was no longer what defined my success.
At a dinner party last summer, I talked with a group of friends about how remarkable it is that in this town - where nobody moves for a career opportunity - we have all found meaningful work. A filmmaker, communications director in local government, reporter, nonprofit executive director, artist, nurse and me. My friend asked if I'd go back into my old work (development director at an art museum), someday. Really, you peaked before your time, she said. She said it lightly, as a nod toward how young I was in that job. But I cringed. You can peak more than once. I am peaking now, I defended. I do believe that. And I do feel defensive about it. Continue reading →
hump day nuggets: bits of the season in photos and words
At the dinner table last week, Ruby leaned back and the entire top half of the chair crashed to the floor. She - with her bendy, snappy reflexes - was unscathed. The chair remained that way for a few days, the top and rungs in a sad heap on the floor. On Friday, I armed myself with wood glue and a drill and fixed that chair and the other three thrifted chairs that were also all wobbly and crooked. We now have four stable seats around our table.
After months of playing outside and several weekends away, it felt so good to button up, mend, fix and make our home this last week. I love ignoring homestead tasks in favor of adventuring and I equally love turning my attention to the details of our homestead. The seasonal change always lures my organizational muse in for a visit.
:: This old grapevine is nearly two stories tall and produces a ton of grapes every year. We've had two botched batches of jelly. This year, I'm hoping for success with the grapes we have left - Ruby has been training the chickens to catch grapes.
:: Our mild fall finally delivered a decent frost two days ago, officially turning all those bright blooms into carbon bits for next year's crops. Continue reading →
Last night I lay in bed with my kids and a sea of stuffed animals, talking about a new piece of art that hung in our kitchen.
Me: Are there things I always say?
Ruby: Maaaaamaaaa. You ALWAYS say 'I love you.' And we totally already know you love us!
Margot: When we are crazy you say, 'Sisters. Take it down a notch.'
Ruby: And you always say Oh! Look at the beautiful mountains! Or look at the beautiful dirt! And we already know what it all looks like!
Margot: You are always yelling for us to shut the door so the chickens don't come and poop in the living room. Continue reading →
We camp every fall in a valley southeast of where we live.
Cold, goldenrod trees against bruised sky.
No cell service, continually stoked campfire.
Everywhere to explore.
Brown trout dancing up river, fat bodies leaping up high to help shake eggs into the frigid water. All day, all night: plop, thunk, splash as their bodies reenter the current. Continue reading →