Thursday, November 21, 2013

Walk of Life

This evening--more than a few times--tears have welled up in my eyes.  A certain song, a certain time on the clock....  More than once I have noted the time and thought, At this time two years ago I was eating dinner and thinking about taking a bath.  At this time two years ago I was calling my sister-in-law and asking, Is this it?  At this time two years ago, we were flying down a dark November highway to the tune of Walk of Life.  

Has it already been two years?  The same house projects that were left unfinished two years ago remain unfinished.  But our how they've grown.  Could I ever have imagined today, two years ago?  I glanced at the kitchen corner next to the fridge and--like a flash--remembered how I kept Hazel's basket car seat in that corner.  I am verifiably bawling right now, just remembering those little things, those tiny facts--there and then gone--a brief flash in a parent's life.  How transient, fragile, tenuous and miraculous life really is.  I am so damned thankful for every second I have with my kids.      
Happy Birthday my dear sweet Hazel Iris.  Could I ever have imagined, two years ago, how much I would love you today?  Impossible.  I can't wait to write you and your sister a letter.  But tonight, I have gifts to wrap and party favors to make.  I'll see you when you wake up at two or three in the morn, my littlest lady.    

Monday, November 18, 2013

october snaps

So.  I've decided to keep the monthly snaps--a photographic What I Did Last Summer run-down of the month; a string of my favorite moments and images, and not a lot of words.  And hopefully, that will free me up to write more specific, thoughtful posts in between.  (?)  Ahem.    

October.  (Not including our trip back to Appalachia.)  Oh, I know.  October was so last month.  Pshaw.  

(Update: my husband read through this and said, "This isn't snaps!  You wrote all kinds of stuff."  Maybe just a little.)

:: Along with preschool came the return of the after-school tea party.
:: Hazel Iris and her worms.  She says it outside all day long, but once, randomly in the middle of dinner conversation Hazel suddenly announced: "Dig worms!  Find a big one!"  And she opened her mouth wide, showing us her back bottom molars--which is what this girl does anytime she finds something exciting.
:: My favorite photos of autumn 'round here this year:
:: The colors extended to (one of) my last swiss chard harvests.
:: I had to cancel Juniper's birthday party at the eleventh hour as Hazel came down with a stomach bug and started puking the night before the party.  We kept a few cupcakes out of the freezer and had a small celebration at home (then rescheduled the party).
:: Last day of swimming lessons.  Give a girl a pair of goggles and she turns into an otter.
:: Hazel had lessons too.
:: Grandparents came!  My mother-in-law read tirelessly to the girls.  All she asked is they not choose the same book over and over.
:: My father-in-law is not afraid to get down on the floor with the kids.  (But in all fairness, he also had the damned stomach bug!)
:: We ended up having Juniper birthday party fairly close to Halloween, so it sort of became a Halloween dress-rehersal.  I made Juniper's Santa suit just to the point that she could wear it.  I had decorated inside the house, but the day was so gorgeous we never went inside.  
At one point, Juniper laid down on the trampoline and whined and cried, "No more birthday!"  And really, she was right.  By this time, we had celebrated once at preschool, once on her canceled-party day, once on her real birthday in Appalachia, and then now.  (Afterwards she asked, "Next year, just one birthday.")  At cake time, she hid under the picnic table to eat her cupcake.  Hazel joined her because what are sisters for?
:: We lapped at our last days of warmth like a thirsty dog at a clear stream and did almost everything at this sunny picnic table (pictured here close to sunset).  
I love having the kids draw their own faces.  They helped pull guts, I did most of the carving, but Juniper did some stabbing plus gave her pumpkin a teardrop.  Juniper's is on the left, Hazel's on the right.  
:: Good visit from a great friend.  I miss these people.  (Thanks L for the photos!)
:: Season's last soak in the hot springs.  *This* is the most ideal weather for hot-springs soaking.  The kids would get hot, get out, grab snow, step in snow, then get back in.  Over and over and over.  
Juniper has taken to picking Hazel up and moving her places.  Hazel thinks it's funny until she doesn't.  
All told, my mother-in-law stayed with us for over a month.  I could have had her for another month.  Her presence is mellow and nonjudgemental.  She steps-in when needed but doesn't overstep.  Not many people can say that about their mother-in-law.  Also, she loves to soak.
:: For a good month, if you asked Hazel about Halloween she'd say, "Me a puppy!"  And never wavered.  Since spring Juniper has told me she wanted to be "The Little Blue Engine" for Halloween.  Then, as it got closer, she wanted to be "a scary monster."  And then "a unicorn," and then, "a jaguar with a mama scarlet macaw on my arm and a baby scarlet macaw on my head."  When it came to fabric-buying time she suddenly landed on Santa Claus.  Sudden, but not surprising.  Her first pretend doll was "Santa" and during the season, she can practically recite The Night Before Christmas.  Pictured below: preschool field trip around town where the kids give candy to local businesses.   
Halloween night "Trunk or Treat".  While it sounds like a lame, rural version of trick or treat, it's actually more like a town street-party complete with free hot chocolate, coffee and chili.  I have been won over.   

Monday, November 11, 2013

spin-drifting to god

Today was magical.  It was the kind of day where you roll out of bed and straight-away step into the glass slippers.  This was our third day in a row of fifty degrees and sunshine.  The snow has melted everywhere but northern shadows and mountain peaks.
(Juniper on the trampoline: "I like the way my hair bounces on my head.")

There was nothing particularly extraordinary about today--Juniper awoke early with a runny nose and Hazel was clingy (a sure sign that she wasn't feeling up to par), but still.  I was glowing.  The tiniest gifts--gifts of the world--lit my day and my soul.
(I really love that my zone 3 garden can still grow vegetables in November, with no other help than an old sleeping bag on the coldest nights.)

My husband had the day off from work.  First thing, after a quick breakfast of granola and yogurt, we clipped the chickens' wings, let them loose in the yard and it felt so homey just to have them pecking about our feet, catching the last hoppers of the season and finally exploring this space they'd been eyeing for so long.  Later on, I opened the nest box to discover our first sage-green egg (we've been getting two brown eggs a day since the beginning of the month).  Juniper!  Juniper!  Hazel!  Girls!  Come look!  You won't believe it!  There's a big surprise in the nest box!  
(This is Banana ^.  The runt who is now our largest chicken.)  

I felt like this plethora of mid-autumn warmth was more than my body could bear and I was overflowing with exuberant sunshine.  A green egg!  Every tiny thing felt like a miracle and further proof that this was the best day ever.
(What I awoke to this morning ^, after sleeping-in for a few minutes: Commando-girl.)

My man worked on a play structure he's been building for the girls; I puttered around the garden tucking-in plants and making up beds for the winter.  In all reality, it was just a lovely, perfectly ordinary day.
(The slide is fast; Hazel launches out the bottom.)

Juniper wanted to "nap" (she doesn't any more) in the playhouse with a sleeping bag and I couldn't bring myself to go inside for naptime--not even for twenty minutes to get Hazel down.  So papa stayed with Juniper while I tucked Hazel into the old single-seater B.O.B stroller and the whole time I was saying, "Wow.  This brings back memories.  Juniper, did you know that when you were younger I tucked you into this stroller every afternoon and walked while you napped?  You loved it.  So did I."  
 I walked.  Hazel slept.  Hawthorn berries glowed red in the low-slung afternoon sun.  I walked along a residential road that runs through the middle of a huge, open field and I saw the tiniest spider dangling mid-air, as though its web-line ran all the way up to god.  I was so astonished I plucked it out of the air, just to be sure.  I'd heard about that, of course.  But I'd never actually seen it.  When I got home and told my husband about the spider he said, Oh yeah.  Kiting.  So today I saw a tiny spider kiting, spin-drifting, eye-level in the middle of a field.  Or maybe it was me: floating, drifting, spinning, high on this ordinary life.