Thursday, December 01, 2016


It has been so unbearably long since I last wrote, that our entire lives have changed. The kids have grown immeasurably and in enough ways that I can't even begin to list them here.

We no longer farm, or even pretend to, though I often miss that soft clucking and loud quacking that came with having a yard full of birds that would not be retained inside fences or coops. 

The little ones are no longer babies, but big kids with hopes and dreams and ideals, sadnesses and exploding happinesses.  The big ones are wrapping their minds around the adult world with all it's fallacies and pains, joys and love.  Colin and I are navigating the world that seems to have "just happened" in the flurry and flight of the last four years, catching our breath and wondering where the time has gone, and where we want to wake up four years from now. 

Decembers used to be snowy affairs, most years.  The last two, not so much.  Anyone with some science and understanding of natural affairs can see that while climate always contains variations, climate change is no longer a thing of the future, but a cloak wrapped around our everyday.  I'm looking at tall, wet, green grass in the yard, thinking our early October refusal to mow the lawn anymore was silly.  It didn't buy us any time, as we will have to mow back a monstruous green mess on the first dry dry day of spring next year.  We wear sweatshirts and wool socks, wool hats and no mittens, as the damp cool air seeps into our bones, but is never really cold enough for full on winter gear.

I spent the last few weeks before the presidential election in a dreamy state, having just returned from Norway, and being busy with coursework, my coloring book, and window work.  Today, I am in a very different place, with the glow of the fjords far behind me, and the reality of sick kids and crazy schedules meaning I am not flexible in the work world, and the coloring book taking so many edits it is driving me a little crazy. But the upside to all of that is this: I have learned that I must breathe my writing and my art.  It oozes out of me in tears and frustration if I don't.  I am trying to have faith that between Colin and myself the rough patch will close behind us, and my art will find a place in the world that also helps sustain our family.  I've learned that I only learn when things are a struggle, and that I just can't expect to survive in a world where I only have myself to rely on.  While I did look for mentors and help when trying to figure out baby steps in a business, what I realized what that the work itself was still too new to me, and too foreign, for me to do it all.  I admire those who can, but I can't.  I can do the business, and I can do the work.  I can do the art.  I can do the world of insecurity, even, which for me feels like a huge accomplishment because I usually ran at the first sign of discomfort in my life (outside of parenting).  But this time I allowed myself to sustain in discomfort.  But now.... I have to evaluate, and find what is working.  And discard what is not. 

The sky is gray, and the rain falls periodically today.  Despite years of unhappiness in my little valley, I have rather fallen in love with it as of late.  I know what to expect.  I feel the bones of the earth within my skin.  And while I don't adore it the way I had hoped to, I do love my little house and the feeling within my home that wraps itself around me when I walk in the door.  I wear my love of my home inside my shirt, next to my skin, like a warm gold necklace, hidden away under a sweater... it's there for me and my strength of self, not really for anyone else.  As the sun peaked through an hour ago, I ran out and put blankets on the line, the wet earth and green smells permeating the air, even on a December day.  Of course, it promptly rained fifteen minutes later. 

But now the sun is once again peeking through and the rain drops glisten on every twig and branch, every pine needle and cedar scale.  The privet branches are still decked in green and purple-tinged leaves, and the mossy rocks are a brilliant deep woods green.  Magic is too easy a description, awe isn't big enough a feeling. 

I hope to stop by here more often, dance through words a little.  It helps me to keep my head.  And to find a direction in the pattern of these words.  I am so much more whole when I allow myself expression, as if I give birth to each artwork, each chunk of writing, and by giving birth I am ever more myself.  Just like parenting.  Each person that came from my belly is so much themselves, so little me, so little my dream of them, and yet so much an expression of my joy.  I exist in a different plane of reality because they are here.  And my art is the same.  No longer holding it close, but tossing it into the wind to float into the lives of others makes it more real.  Less mine, more me. 

I guess I too have grown immeasurably and yet on a warm December day, I am wholly myself.  Off to wash more blankets and stir the turkey broth simmering on the stove, and to do my homework and some more art.  With gratitude for you all. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013


Entire technological advances have come and gone since the last time I took the time to write.
Manny is a walking-talking-cussing-grabbing-nursing machine that is teetering on young childhood, babyhood behind him like winter is behind us now... it rears its head now and again like this morning's slippery snow, with the two-inch-tall daylilies poking up, reminding us that a new stage is upon us.

Partly, I have been just too busy to organize my thoughts. Since going back to work full time, for the first time (really) since Aidan was born, I'm just moving from moment to moment, trying to be everywhere I need to be, at the time I need to be there.  As a chronically late, obsessively disorganized, hippy momma... the conversion to obsessively detail-oriented, list-making, stair-stepping, crazed driving social worker has been... well, weird.

But I have alllll the time in the world between home visits and meetings, driving from one end of heaven (literally Eden) to the other end of snowswept Hoth, to think about the world.  Those thoughts and ideas and plans build up, and sometimes manifest in heart palpitations.  Sometimes they  manifest in tears, sometimes in wide-eyed panic.

So despite my desire to swear off the trend of belly-button gazing, contemplating our own reflections, I've decided maybe it is time to remember letting words drip from my fingers is a type of release, a deep breath, a breath IN.

And we all know, come the return of the light, the cheerio of the Robin, the chirkchirkchiiiiiirk of the Red Winged Blackbird, I like to wax poetic, and get all wrapped up in dreams and sunrays.

This year is different for me in lots of ways.

I spend everyday wrapped up in my adoptive history.  Most days it is irrelevent... the types of traumas we see in our clients are far beyond anything I could understand as someone given up as an infant by a teen mom.  But it does mean I spend everyday thinking about identity, attachment, place, community, family...

...and it comes back to this:  We don't know.  We know lots.  But we just don't know.  We don't know why one child shows perfect resilience, and the next one doesn't.

At work, we have an entire library full of resources. But they are just a half step up from the parenting manuals that litter big box book stores.  A touch of medical or psychological expertise topped with anecdote after anecdote and "expert" advice on how to parent.  How to parent a child not born to you.

But the real quantitative or qualitative research on relationships hasn't been done.  We do now understand the basics of DNA, and that there may be much of nature we can't control, but epigenetics are little light switches turned on by our environment, nurture deciding which parts of nature get to shine, and which hide in the dark.

I don't have answers.  But I have ideas.  Questions.  What if we decided parenting was a journey of questions, not answers?

Why is it that we want people to verify what we feel in our hearts?  Parents often seem to know the answer they are wanting some expert to "give" them.  But that answer seems somehow to not be what they want to hear.  They need to take stronger action.  They need to give more leeway.  They need to be kinder.  They need to give stronger boundaries.  They need to give up on all of it, and just love that kid.  There are a thousand things they come to the experts for.  Me, too.  I waffle and cry.  I wonder.   I want someone else to give me permission to make decisions about sports, internet, school, dating, whatever it may be.

But like staring in the lake at our reflections, or endlessly navel gazing.... it is just that, an exercise in self-thought.  It isn't self-love... the kind that relieves heart palpitations.... or self-reflection, the kind that leads to change, it is just staring.  Rehashing.  Seeking outside of ourselves for a truth that only exists within.

Easter is a difficult time for me.  As a minister's kid, I loved the week before the resurrection.  The deep darkness of thought, the night time vigil, the depth of rejection, sadness, and betrayal of Maundy Thursday, the mourning and loss and mother and lover's grief of Good Friday.  The total one-eighty from Palm Sunday with its sunny springy happy sunshine and palm waving and weaving.  It resonated with me.  That depth of rejection.  The darkness of waiting for the angel to come and roll the stone away. The vigil.

But now, as more of a buddhist, or humanist, or even animist, than a christian, I find that the truth resides in pushing away the stone of darkness ourselves.  Opening our hearts and minds to the world, to the spring, to the future.  It's true, sometimes we need to reflect and re-examine in order to remember where we started, but gazing too long at our reflections blocks out our understanding of the world.  We're in the cave, alone.

So I'm going to write here.  And try not to make it too reflective, too dark, too navel-opinionated.

C'mon, Sunshine.  Let's do this.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

I love the soft sound of sleeping that greets me at home when I've been out. Gently breathing children, a purr from a cat or two, the groan of the dog as he settles back to sleep after giving me my arrival lick. Kissing foreheads in the moonlight, a grumbled hello and smile in my bedroom. Now, on to tea and a tub... All alone in my own silence.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Moonlight Over My Valley

A bright round light, ghostly white over the vale, ribbon reflecting upward, almost unreal.... A wonder. A painting. A fairytale. Seen from a moonlit nursery window, a taste of Peter Pan. Surrounded by flowered curtains, a taste of Spring in the depth of Winter.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Let there be light!

And she saw that it was good!

A little light on it.

We began our day yesterday tossing firewood.  Seriously.  Wood... from the back end of the truck, trying to put it in the wood pile at the edge of our property.  It was all round maple, so it rolled... and it had snowed over night, so I slipped across the truck bed... tossing the wood to the end of the truck bed, hoping I wouldn't spill over backwards, imagining landing in the pile of trash bags at the inside end of the bed.

As luck would have it, I survived, and we survived th unsanded, unplowed trip up Foster Hill Road toward Hardwick, and enjoyed a warm, delicious, filling breeakfast at the Hardwick Diner.  I know there are other options nowadays in Hardwick, but nothing is ever as satisfying as a plate full of offod made by someone who cares if you come back, and who knows your name.  Well, Colin's name.

We had a family trip to the hardware store.  (Well, four of the six of us, as it is the weekend).  We picked the stain color for the porch woodwork, the wood putty, a few more boards for a few last pieces of trim, and looked at doors.  Doors?  Yes, doors!  Eventually, maybe, we will replace the horrifying, tortured, remains of doors on the bedrooms in this house.  We've had a few changes of mind and heart about the subject, but yesterday's musings didn't bring us any closer to a decision.  Someone will have to just bring home a buttload of matching doors someday.  (Buttload being a technical term, of course).

But the amazing and satisfying piece of the day was... dun dun duhhhhh.... LIGHTS!  LIGHT LIGHTLIGHT!  Each bedroom that houses children NOW has on its ceiling a really and truly covered light fixture.  No more dangling lightbulbs. No more wires.  No more bases without glass.  No more rusty bases.  Just honest to goodness light fixtures.  AND we replaced that hideous lantern thing that greeted us as we came home every day.  Now... a simple black steel jar light.  Which, by the way, is bright enough (light bulb pointing down and all) to actually light the deck and door way. One little light!!  LET THERE BE LIGHT, Momma said, AND THERE WAS!

"That's good!  That's Reeeeeeal good," Big Momma said (Paraphrased from my favorite version of the creation story... Big Momma Makes the World, by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.  If you don't own it, you should, even if you're grown. Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Mass, 2002, my friends).

*disclaimer... I am inordinately attracted to light.  Although Colin was pleased by our work, he was not moved to tears as I was.  No huge life-vision changes resulted for Col as we turned on the power and saw the light... me... I am a whole NEW person.  But then, my first word was (wait for it...).... "LIGHT!"*

We also bought huge roles of coil for phone lines, and phone jacks, because we are indeed in the process of removing cordless phones.  As the research has amassed... DECT phones are out for us, but retro phones are in.  So, scour ye yardsales while ye may, and buy me some phones!  I have one all picked out on Amazon, but I keep hoping I will find the phone of my dreams in a thrift store.  *Mommy!  Hit up them estate sales!  Pushbutton corded phones!  In interesting colors, or not!  Princess phones, wall phones, desk phones... 60s, 80s, 50s... well... okay, probably post-rotary!*  Aidan has patiently horded his thrift store find of a Bart Simpson phone, awaiting a phone line in his room.  I am actually thinking we'll go for it.  We're running one to our current room and one to the Living room.  I'd also like one in each bedroom.  Buuuut, I also want ethernet jacks everywhere.  Because why, you ask?  Because as soon as we have ethernet cables running everywhere, NO ONE will use wifi in the house anymore.  Well... maybe.  But it turns out you can turn your wifi boxes down, and the research is far less damning for wifi than it is for digital phones.

We also made one major life decision.  OK, so it's not really major, but it is a question we have been living with for quite some time.  Wedding related?? No.... Last name decisions??... No... College? Career?? Life fulfillment?? Nope!! (Milo's new favorite word).

We.... picked a color for the kitchen!!!! YIPPEE.  And the hall!  And the trim!!  And the entry way! (well, okay... I made that choice, and I am just gonna do it one day in the spring). The kitchen and hall will be.... uh... I can't find the color strip.  However, it is the same color as the light wall in the living room.  WE decided to go for using that color as a continuous "neutral" throughout the whole house.  I found a kitchen on Pinterest that had the same celery-ish, pale chartreus-y color on it, and I realized This is it.  This has always been it! So, we have committed.  Colin must've taken the paint strips with him to work today.  And we are really really happy.  (And that color will mean you have to be happy!! Really!!)  And I will post my inspiration picture to FB, since I seem unable to do it here.

On more personal, less trite, news, Mr M is talking up a storm.  We heard a word with "ing" attached to it!  Flying!! Flying!! Butterflies flying, and cars flying... Indeed.  New words all the time, and often two words in a row.  And now he is patiently repeating himself, with a stronger and stronger voice, until we understand, especially when it is a new word.  Signs seem to work better than visuals or slow speech for him, and it is really satisfying to watch his brain speed ahead.

Ms. N has a new obsession with records (supplemented by Mommy's buying sprees at thrift stores.  Who can be 10cent vinyl??) and she is listening to a hippy dippy "players" version of Wizard of Oz, and an old library discard of Little House in the Big Woods over and over.  Next up?  I'm looking for filmstrips!  Keep your eyes peeled at library sales for records and filmstrips.  I will take them all!  We're going retro 'round here!

Miss S is trying out for a play called Who Killed Elvis, and is very excited about it.  But nervous, too, and sometimes her nerves get the better of her.  We'll be practicing a lot before this week's rehearsal.  In Burlington, she is playing basketball, and doing really really well.

Aidan blew them away as Grumio in his Language Arts cover of Taming of the Shrew.  HILARIOUS!  I'll post a video of that, too.

And now, alas and alack, I must be but a vision.  A fire, good Curtis, tis but a block of ice out there.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Cold night

You know those cheesy Christmas scenes all covered in glitter? Well, tonight that is what the world looks like here. Cold. And all the trees look dusted in glitter.