flying from our seats

We have reached the summit of Spring.  

Every window in this house frames a solid green picture.  We are more tired than ever.  But there are flowers.  Rejuvenation abounds.  This is hopeful.  

Our life now is full, messy, sweet, busy, mundane, and wild. But somehow, cakes still get made.  Really good cakes.  Thankful for really good recipes.  I love baking because it’s so straight forward.  If the directions are good all you have to do is follow the steps and something delicious will probably happen.  This cake stabbed me straight in the heart.  I was ready for it.  With foggy eyes and achy shoulders, this cake gave me lift. Next time I will top it with a thin layer of chocolate buttercream.  I enjoyed it most as cold, thin slices, straight out of the fridge.  I think when life feels chaotic and nothing feels definitive is when I should remember to bake a cake.  My best cakes happen when everything else is blurry and scattered.  At 9pm, in the midst of a late dinner, and putting a baby to sleep.  

Picnics still happen.  With salad rolls and a single beer to split.  My new perfect beer quantity.  Why can’t they make little 4 oz beers? It’s also nice to share one, though. We sat down by the water among the Madrone trees. A childhood favorite spot.  We call it the “Red House Beach” even though the house is long gone.  All that remains is a secret path thru wild roses, tall grass, and giant Madrones, down to the water.  

These are the good old days.  I must remember that through my bleary heavy lids. Find light where you can.

These days I make a lot of plans.  That’s about as far I get.  It’s become comical between me and whoever is on the other end; “Let’s go for a walk later this week”,  ”Come over for lunch on Wednesday?”,  ”Let’s have some tea”.  The whole time we both know probably won’t happen.  The babies napping non-schedule makes it hard to commit. And if I’ve only had 3 hours of sleep, forget it.  I’m useless to do much else besides feed myself and baby.  Hopefully get a walk in for Hank.  
In a recent interview with Lena Dunham by Marc Maron they talk about anxiety and making plans.  About phones these days and being so connected, with email and texting and social media.  How anxious it can make you and how sometimes just making a plan is good enough.  Hey! We made a plan! That’s great. Good enough for me!
I dread the lead up to the actual event. and then almost always love the actual hang out. Knowing that I really do need to spend time with people in order to feel fulfilled and happy. But these days, it can just feel good to know that someone wants to hang out.  Even if it never happens.

These days I make a lot of plans.  That’s about as far I get.  It’s become comical between me and whoever is on the other end; “Let’s go for a walk later this week”,  ”Come over for lunch on Wednesday?”,  ”Let’s have some tea”.  The whole time we both know probably won’t happen.  The babies napping non-schedule makes it hard to commit. And if I’ve only had 3 hours of sleep, forget it.  I’m useless to do much else besides feed myself and baby.  Hopefully get a walk in for Hank.  

In a recent interview with Lena Dunham by Marc Maron they talk about anxiety and making plans.  About phones these days and being so connected, with email and texting and social media.  How anxious it can make you and how sometimes just making a plan is good enough.  Hey! We made a plan! That’s great. Good enough for me!

I dread the lead up to the actual event. and then almost always love the actual hang out. Knowing that I really do need to spend time with people in order to feel fulfilled and happy. But these days, it can just feel good to know that someone wants to hang out.  Even if it never happens.

Top photo:  I’ve been looking everywhere for these wild violets and then they were growing right outside our front door.  

Middle photo:  from the first two weeks after Sawyer’s birth, when we lived downstairs in a warm glow.

Bottom photo:  my loves.

The baby is napping right now.  When he sleeps, there is so much that I’d like to do I end up stuck, like a broken record.  Like that spinning wheel of death on the computer screen.  I want to finish knitting a baby hat, finish an embroidery project, clean the kitchen, clean our bedroom, read The New Yorker, take out the trash, do laundry,  organize our stuff, plant seeds in the garden, clean out our car, finish sewing this shirt I am making, make some tea, drink some water, draw a picture, respond to emails I haven’t gotten to in weeks, mail thank you letters, call people back, sweep, wash the window above the sink, clean the mirror in the bathroom, clean the shower, take a shower, on and on and on. At the moment our house is a mess.  I have a new thing of trying to keep at least one room clean. I feel like I can’t clear my head unless the house is put together.  Not perfect, just picked up and decluttered.  But I don’t want to spend all my free moments cleaning; it’s not that important.  

So, here I am.  I decided I should just write about it all. At least I can do that and can just think about everything. Even if I end up doing nothing. 

What I’ve been thinking about in no particular order:

I love morning sounds:  building a fire, breakfast making, coffee brewing, clanking around.

Listening to the frogs at dusk.  It is a deep nostalgia trigger for me.  I hope we end up living at a place where Sawyer experiences that.  Falling asleep to that sound is so calming and reassuring.  Although I’m sure he will end up having his own sound associations, it’s just such a good one.

Last night we went for a walk after dinner, as we often do.  Our good friends, Ann and Andy, were visiting and my Ma and Thom joined us.  A walk around the block turned into a walk down to the beach.  I was so tired I was dragging my feet but the sunset was pulling us to the water. I was glad we went.  When we returned home it was perfect timing to catch the moon rising over the horizon.  It was full.  We’d worked in the garden for the past two days and we stood on the porch to get a better view of the rising moon.  It was also a better view of all our hard work turning the dirt and making new beds.  Gardening is so good for me.  The more I’m out there,the less stuff I find myself wanting. Also caring less about my appearances.  Sometimes I think I want to fill a hole I have with stuff.  Get these shoes, buy that shirt, get that stuff, more more more.  Then I fill it with gardening and harvesting nettles and cottonwood buds and walking on the beach and talking to neighbors.  That’s one benefit from leaving Portland, I find myself wanting less.  There are so many temptations in the city; so many options and hats to try on.  

I came up with a thing called “Watering Wednesdays” to help me remember to water the plants.  Often I still forget and it turns into “Thirsty Thursdays” and “Fuck, it’s Friday” then “Shit it’s Saturday” and ultimately “Save the plants Sunday”.  

Dean suggested I listen to a Ted Talks by Malcolm Gladwell on David and Goliath.  To help me remember I set a reminder on my phone and computer. So now a window keeps popping up “David and Goliath” and it’s funny.  I still haven’t listened to it.

My mom went to Seattle this morning and brought me back my favorite Phad Thai from Little Uncle.  It was the best surprise and it comes wrapped in paper with a green onion sticking out the top and 3 little paper bags.  Sugar, hot peppers and roasted peanuts.  They know the way to my heart.

I realize it’s a good day when I find myself never checking any social media. 

I just sneezed and Hank barked and it woke up the baby.  I actually whisper screamed “Fuck you” to Hank.  I think I’m kind of losing it today. Sorry, Hank. I love you, buddy.

Baby fell back asleep.  

The blooms have been painting the landscape with splashes of bright color and blinding whites, lifting weights from our shoulders.  The grey gets so heavy that when you see a flower in the spring it is like a injecting happiness straight into our souls.  At least, that’s what it feels like for me.  Life here in the winter can feel like wading in mud. Then you get a sunny, almost a warm day, and it feels like you are wearing moon shoes. That’s what keeps me here. (And the salty air, the people, the temperate climate and tame wild animals. Plus dozens of other reasons)

Collecting budding branches around the yard (and the yards of others) and putting them in vessels of water around the house is on my top 10 favorite everyday life activities.  It brings me so much pleasure.  It was so easy when we lived in Portland because the yards were wild and overflowing.  It’s harder here because the plants are behind fences, tucked neatly beside houses.  But I’m surprised with all the treasures I end up finding in the woods and around this property.  A dull branch may seem unsuspecting out in its natural habitat but then bring inside and bam.  It’s full of life.

Lately, on my list of favorite everyday life activities is meal planning. To be honest, I love it. Call me crazy. Every week I look through cookbooks and find recipes that deal with the things we have at hand.  I make a grocery list and we try hard to cut our bill down from the week before.  (That part has not been easy.)  Also drinking a cup of coffee in the morning.  That has got to be on the top of the list.  I’ve been into the Ethiopian blend from Olympia Coffee Roasters.  Maybe I’ve never had a better cup of coffee.  I drink that and eat steel cut oats over the course of an hour.  That’s my jam.  Also, nettle tea.  Every day.  Three cups.  I read it cleanses your blood.  I have no idea what that means or if it’s true but I am very susceptible.

Olivia and Joshua visited.  They are salt of the earth people.  Living in the moment and living hard and true.  It was really good to have them here.

The babe is hard not to squeeze really hard.  He smiles and coos.   He kicks his legs and flails his arms as hard as he can. His cheeks rest on his chest.  I keep asking him what he keeps in there.  I think gold coins.

I’ve taken enough photos of Sawyer on my phone to fill the ocean. It’s amazing how many photos one can take of a baby sleeping.  It’s amazing how a sleeping baby becomes the most entertaining thing you’ve ever stared at for four consecutive weeks.  Four weeks and five days, to be exact.  But I felt like posting this photo.  It is a peony that my friend from school gave me last year after I told her I was pregnant.  We were in a flowering plant identification class together and she stole this from our campus.  I haven’t talked to her in months but we were cut from the same cloth.  
I am giving myself a break from thinking about work. ’Work’ meaning to make money and also ‘work’ as in creative endeavors.  Ideally the two would join forces though. I suppose giving myself a break is obvious, since I have a newborn.  (Also, since I didn’t have a job before he was born! Ha.) But I can’t help but think about mother’s who have to go back to work soon after their babies are born.  I feel so grateful to have this time.  But I also feel a tinge of guilt.  I know I shouldn’t, but we can’t help feeling what we feel, right?  Pushing that aside,  I wouldn’t give this up for any job.  This is the best job there is.  
Oddly enough, I feel more creative than ever.  I’m not really making anything but I am dreaming of making things.  I feel more ambitious about creating and more driven than ever.  Maybe it’s because once you give birth to a baby you feel you can do anything.  Maybe also it is that I’ve just created a little life and I want to show this little life how full one can live. Or maybe he is showing me? I want to show him that we can’t be afraid to be who we are and simply move forward with our dreams. I think there is a certain amount of holding back that I have been shedding during this transitional time.  What’s to hide anymore?  I feel the same about breastfeeding. I used to wonder how I’d feel about nursing in front of other people. If I’d try to conceal myself or quietly step into another room.  I quickly realized that it is pretty elemental.  This is how I keep the little guy alive and it feels like too much effort to try to hide that.  Plus, there should be no shame.  It is every bit short of a shameful act. 
So here I go.  Chin’s up.  

I’ve taken enough photos of Sawyer on my phone to fill the ocean. It’s amazing how many photos one can take of a baby sleeping.  It’s amazing how a sleeping baby becomes the most entertaining thing you’ve ever stared at for four consecutive weeks.  Four weeks and five days, to be exact.  But I felt like posting this photo.  It is a peony that my friend from school gave me last year after I told her I was pregnant.  We were in a flowering plant identification class together and she stole this from our campus.  I haven’t talked to her in months but we were cut from the same cloth.  

I am giving myself a break from thinking about work. ’Work’ meaning to make money and also ‘work’ as in creative endeavors.  Ideally the two would join forces though. I suppose giving myself a break is obvious, since I have a newborn.  (Also, since I didn’t have a job before he was born! Ha.) But I can’t help but think about mother’s who have to go back to work soon after their babies are born.  I feel so grateful to have this time.  But I also feel a tinge of guilt.  I know I shouldn’t, but we can’t help feeling what we feel, right?  Pushing that aside,  I wouldn’t give this up for any job.  This is the best job there is.  

Oddly enough, I feel more creative than ever.  I’m not really making anything but I am dreaming of making things.  I feel more ambitious about creating and more driven than ever.  Maybe it’s because once you give birth to a baby you feel you can do anything.  Maybe also it is that I’ve just created a little life and I want to show this little life how full one can live. Or maybe he is showing me? I want to show him that we can’t be afraid to be who we are and simply move forward with our dreams. I think there is a certain amount of holding back that I have been shedding during this transitional time.  What’s to hide anymore?  I feel the same about breastfeeding. I used to wonder how I’d feel about nursing in front of other people. If I’d try to conceal myself or quietly step into another room.  I quickly realized that it is pretty elemental.  This is how I keep the little guy alive and it feels like too much effort to try to hide that.  Plus, there should be no shame.  It is every bit short of a shameful act. 

So here I go.  Chin’s up.  

Weeks Gone By

Weeks Gone By

The days are bright and short.  I’ve wanted to write this for a week now but when I finally sit down to do it, the weather has shifted to grey.  Old grey.  Old reliable grey.  I don’t mind.  It’s an old friend.  

The cold has been biting but it allows us to stay extra tucked in. We are lucky to have a wood stove and I am lucky to be with a person that is a woodman. Dean is a woodman.  I’m not sure he’s always known it but it is becoming very apparent.

The house becomes more of a home in the winter. Outside, the non hardy evergreen shrubs and deciduous plants are spent and the garden has seen its days for 2013. The sky is crystal clear and the grass crunches under foot. The ground is solid.  Like, it’s not going anywhere. Usually the ground is a soggy mess this time of year. To have solid footing feels like a treat. And to come home feels like a relief. 

The other day I wrote 2012 on a form.  How can I still be writing 2012 when it’s almost 2014?  I don’t want to fall into the hole of saying “time is going so fast! Can you believe it?  Where did all the years go? Just wait kids,  before you know it you’ll be ancient!”  Yesterday I overheard a conversation between some folks in their 70s and 80s.  An 84 year old said “I’m so much older than you (to the 70 year old)” The 70 year old replied “So what? Not really that much older. Besides, I don’t like to say I’m old, I just like to say I’m older.  I’m happy every year to be older.”  

I’m not sure of the year or the day or what I’ve even been doing. Photos help.  So, it looks like I’ve been knitting a blanket, making kimchi, gingerbread and mobiles.  I love winter.  Maybe I love all the seasons at first.  Then they wear on and get old.  And a new one comes and it’s like, oh yeah, Spring! I love Spring.  But for now, I’ll take winter.

Spoon butter.
My new favorite thing.  Three ounces coconut oil plus one ounce beeswax combined into a half pint mason jar.  Place jar in a small pan filled with one inch of water.  Simmer until melted.  Cool until solid. Gather all wooden utensils, cutting boards, anything made of wood.  Rub oil into wood with bare hands.  Prepare to fall under a spoon butter spell.  The wooden objects will come to life.  Your soul will feel nourished.  I have not done anything so satisfying in some time. I could do this all day.  I am left wanting more wooden objects.  I can’t wait for this unborn child to experience spoon butter.  It is delicious.

Spoon butter.

My new favorite thing.  Three ounces coconut oil plus one ounce beeswax combined into a half pint mason jar.  Place jar in a small pan filled with one inch of water.  Simmer until melted.  Cool until solid. Gather all wooden utensils, cutting boards, anything made of wood.  Rub oil into wood with bare hands.  Prepare to fall under a spoon butter spell.  The wooden objects will come to life.  Your soul will feel nourished.  I have not done anything so satisfying in some time. I could do this all day.  I am left wanting more wooden objects.  I can’t wait for this unborn child to experience spoon butter.  It is delicious.

Last night was the coldest it’s been around here.  I woke up at 5:30, freezing, came downstairs and pulled up a chair two feet from the fire, sitting on our new sheepskin for the baby, and started up some backseat fire making: “Less paper, less kindling, less wood” Dean built a hell of a fire, as usual, and really didn’t need my input.  What was I thinking? He was a good sport despite it.  Thankfully, he ignored my backwards minimalist fire building advice.  

Last night, I made the gingerbread pictured above.  I remembered how I was making this recipe a couple winters ago a lot.  And last winter not at all.  Why not?  Don’t know.  But I’m going to make up for it.  So, last night suddenly I needed it immediately. I made it promptly.  We were headed over to a friends for dinner in an hour.  The bake time is 50 minutes. Also a beer run was necessary for a Guinness.  The recipe calls for a stout beer. Dean rushed to Walt’s and I stormed the kitchen. We made it. We were late to dinner but it was worth it. Anyway,  it’s a real good bread.  Like, insanely good. I cut out half of the white sugar. It calls for a cup each of brown sugar, molasses and white sugar. Seemed a little overboard. It’s really more like a cake but you can go ahead and call it bread and then help yourself to a few extra slices.  It tastes especially good on a crispy, late fall morning.  Or evening.  Or afternoon snack.  Maybe with a cup of tea.  Or a glass of water.

Also we made potato leek soup recently.  I harvested the leeks in the rain. It reminded me of my years farming and how thankful I am not to be doing that this year.  And how much I miss it.  And how grateful I am for the farmers who still go out and harvest leeks in the rain. The ones who didn’t give up. In the cold, biting, rain.  As long as I am being thankful, I am also thankful for salt and pepper.  Things are pretty great around here, to say the least.

Hank and I went for a walk this morning. Nothing new. But it was the crispest it’s been. My cheeks felt so cold you could chip them with an icepick. We went down to the beach on this little trail built by the boy scouts (thanks scouts) and there was a flock of doves.  Is it a flock?  A fleet?  A gang?  They put on quite a performance and it was pretty spectacular.  Not sure where they’ve come from or why they are there. It was surreal.