Here comes the ice, doo de doo doo....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The house is shaking with the ferocity of the thunder as an absolutely amazing arctic front moves into town tonight. This evening after dark, it was still over sixty degrees. It's still pretty warm at 51, but we're supposed to get down to 36 by midnight, and 36 is the high for Thursday, with 18 being the low. I think that means that it will only get colder and colder and colder.

At least 1/4 inch of ice, followed by 2 to 4 inches of snow, they say. I'm not planning to drive, that's for sure.

It's bad form to glory in bad winter weather around here-- Dad's worked for the highway department for 35 years. When the roads are bad, he has to call his employees away from their families and endanger them. He hates it.

So imagine me whispering when I say this:
It is so fun to have snow coming and nothing to do but cozy up with some hot chocolate tomorrow and watch it fall. Yay.

Our first snow in five years. Bird's first snow, ever.
I've been buying Christmas gifts for parts of our families this week online. It's fun. Spending money online is always fun to me. You ever wanna blow some money, just hand me the cash.
I found out that my brother-in-law's six kids (four adopted) rarely get personal gifts from their extended family. People tend to buy them all a few movies to share, or give their parents gift cards to spend on them. We decided, come hell or high water or dwindling bank account, that we were going to make sure those kiddos knew that we love and think of each of them individually this year. I've been shopping amazon and the disney website and ebay for them. I'm finally finished-- and now I know what Hannah Montana is can say that I've bought a Japanese comic book online.
Buying Bird gifts is also fun, although it's challenging to find something that she'll love and play with long-term. She changes so fast. I've gone a bit retro with her this year-- I bought her some beads that remind me of some I had as a baby, a set of cardboard "bricks" that have been fought over in kindergarten classrooms for decades, and about seven hours' worth of 1970s Sesame Street episodes (ie, NO ELMO until she's old enough to request him herself-- let's delay the annoyance as long as possible). I think I'll enjoy them all at least as much as she does.

It took him a while to hit the floor, but he got there.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Toddler tantrums are amazing things to me. As a mom about to enter this phase, I view them with a combination of curiosity, dread, fear, and horror-- not unlike the universal desire to peer at the carnage of a wreck as one drives by. Because in a very literal sense, THAT COULD BE ME. Soon.

But this particular little Halloween tantrum is so well-documented that it mostly just made me grin. Don't you feel just a little sorry for him? After all, he'd been told that there WERE no Stormtrooper costumes. And obviously, once they reached the party, he could see that his momma had told him lies. LIES. Oh, the injustice!

...and his momma snapped pictures the whole time. I love it.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

In either high school or junior high, I adored this poem. Can't remember which.

What a wonderful bird the frog are!
When he stand he sit almost;
When he hop he fly almost.
He ain't got no sense hardly;
He ain't got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sit on what he ain't got almost.


I have not thought about it once in probably fifteen years. Came across it online tonight, and it brought a wide grin to my face. Then it occurred to me that other people may have seen my delight in these kinds of things a little odd.

I've never been one of those people who are wired to modify their behavior based on what other people think. Even in junior high, that most agonizingly self-conscious period, I shrugged if something that intrigued me was considered "uncool."

I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure this poem would have been one of those things. I also wrote long notes to my friends in rhyme, had a pet pink JcPenney's shopping bag (rolled into a poofy ball) named "Durf," and made knotted friendship bracelets from embroidery floss a full year before the craze hit my school (which made me uncool at the time, but cool a year later when I was an expert and could design my own patterns).

I remember losing a friend in eighth grade because I refused to say that her bulimic vomiting and dare-based makeouts with Popular Boys was okay with me. I wouldn't answer questions about my sexual experiences (in seventh grade!) at a slumber party. Uncool. I kept on being a girl scout through high school despite its obvious uncoolness. I never did curl my bangs into an enormous Hairspray Cliff. And I didn't care if the popular people liked me or not, which was perhaps the greatest Uncool of them all.

Other than being smart and a girl.

...but I had a happy adolescence. I enjoyed my friends, had my secret crushes, excelled in band (flute) and academics and attended various gifted enrichment programs in the summer. A few guys liked me, and I generally didn't like them back, with one important exception who's downstairs sleeping in my bed right now. And I emerged from adolescence pretty much unscathed.

And really, I still like that silly poem.

Ah, life with a bambino.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Really, all you can do is shrug and laugh after a while.

But if Dante had it right, and hell has creative levels of agony as he described, one level certainly involves having to tend to a grumpy, phlegmy, hoarse one-year-old through an endless night where she cannot go to sleep because of the snot dripping down the back of her throat.

While the caretaker has a bad case of the same cold, no less.

Poor little gal. At least I understand that I have a cold, and know how to blow my nose and clear my throat, and am not terrified beyond all reason of the rubber nosesucker.


Friday, November 17, 2006

I'm sorry, this post-every-day thing has been a total flop. I'm trying, truly. It's not working, but I'm trying and guilting and now I'm posting even though it's past 1am and I really need to sleep.


I got a flu shot today, being a good little worker bee who Believes the Government that these things are good and helpful, particularly when Living in the Same House with a Small Child. My daughter is also being periodically shot full of vaccinations and such, because I in my heart am a good worker bee who wants to believe in doctors and science and the government and society and all that. Every time we go, I wonder if I'm wrong, and how on earth anyone knows who to believe about this and every other parenting decision.

I mean, really. How do you decide? Cribs are Good. Cribs are Bad. Breastfeed for Years. No, Stop At Twelve Months, You Freak. Time Outs. No, Spanks. Juice. No Juice, Ever. Soft Shoes Help Babies Learn to Walk. Soft Shoes Make Their Feet Misshapen.

It never ends. Guess it's good for my sense of control-- ie, I am never in control, I can't make all the best decisions, even though I want to.

So, we get the shots, and hope we're not giving her ADD or asthma or any other widespread childhood abnormality by doing so. She sleeps in a crib, and wears soft shoes, and doesn't drink juice, and is now being weaned, and I hope that all those things, if not the RIGHT decision, will at least not hurt her. I hope God makes allowances for good intentions in these things, and will catch her and sustain her where we let something slip.


My dog looks awesome in her sweater. Kinda lumpy and matronly and silly, but nonethless, awesome. And as expected, she loves it. I'll share a picture once the last cuff is sewn on. I bought floofy yarn for the Bird's first sweater last night. Onward!


Weaning is a sad thing. During the two times a day she's now allowed to suckle, she clings to me fiercely, intent and focused. No more giggles and games and squirming; she values her time there. It breaks my heart a little, because now I'm taking away something she obviously still enjoys. I wish she'd stayed flippant about it.

She has her first runny nose and a fever tonight. Part of me wants to go wake her up and hold her, just out of love and my desire to hear her breathing, but that would be stupid.

Time to go join the sleeping husband. There's a baby monitor down there by the bed; if she needs me, I'll hear her sooner down there than up here, fretting and surfing the internet.


Financial Conundrum.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I really, really hate this.

See, there's a house we've found-- a beautiful 90-year-old house that's almost untouched, has pocket doors and a grand staircase and four bedrooms and a playroom and a mudroom/laundry room all packed into less than 1800 square feet. And a basement. And nearly two acres of land on three lots, much of it planted in old bulbs and shrubs.

I adore it with all the white-hot houselove in my nest-oriented little heart. I want to sit on its front porch in the swing with my coffee. I want to raise my babies there. (I want to conceive more babies there.) I want to shuffle up and down those stairs in my old age. I want to be the person who has its floors refinished and its kitchen modernized and its walls painted, taking care of it so it'll be there in another hundred years.

(Did I mention that it's had two owners in those 90 years? Just TWO?? And that, other than some ugly paint and wallpaper and siding and shag carpet, easily changed, it is basically completely original?)

And, based on what we believe our Florida real estate is worth, we can afford it-- even though it needs its floors refinished, its walls painted, a dishwasher installed, etc etc. But the owner needs to sell it, and we don't have the moolah yet because our property hasn't sold.

We first saw this house last June. It has been for sale by owner since then; no one has bought it. But she is about to list it with a realtor.

And I am so afraid that we will lose it. She offered this week to rent it to us with all the rent going toward the purchase price when we are able to buy it. It's a generous offer, but we still can't afford that along with our other mortgage/utilites/etc in Florida.

Do we take out a home equity loan to do this? Is that a really stupid idea? That's what I'm trying to figure out. And it's so hard to gauge financial risk like this when your heart's all pitter-patter for the 16-pane-over-1 windows and the window seat in the dining room.


Wage Peace.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I had almost forgotten about this poem. I'd been told it was by Mary Oliver, who is amazing, but now (upon Googling to find it) I learn that it's from a poet who lives in New Mexico, Judyth Hill.

I like that she lives there.
I like that her name includes the word Hill.
I'll have to check her out.

This is the kind of person I want to be. Sometimes I hold the rubble and terrorists and confusion in for far too long, dwelling on it, letting it poison me.

I want to be able to release it and instead relish all that's here to be enjoyed. And there is a LOT to savor.


Wage peace with your breath.

Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.

Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.

Play music, memorize the words for thank you in three languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.

Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.

Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:

Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Okay, I gave up on the pumpkin, as the baby's being born Monday and the SOLE source of knitting supplies in town (the wonderful Wal-Mart) had neither an orange yarn soft enough for a baby hat OR the right size OR style of needles.

So I found a spot online where I could put in a few custom measurements for our sweet canine(along with my yarn gauge) and it spits out a customized dog sweater pattern.

How cool is that? All her jackets and such are bured in our storage unit, so she could really use a warm sweater for the winter that's knocking at our door now.

And I've stayed up WAY late twice working on it. It is so simple and rewarding to see it grow. I have the top finished; the rest should follow fairly quickly. It's a pretty multicolored wool in rose and teal and purple and tangerine, and it's set off by Claire's black coat beautifully. I'll come back and post a picture at this spot when it's finished.

Plus, I ordered this and now I'm all jazzed about knitting a sweater for the Bird. I almost bought yarn today but forced myself to wait until I finish this project. I could easily become one of those knitters with six thousand skeins of yarn and unfinished projects. I want to fight that urge.

We're going to be driving for four hours today, and I'm all excited because that means four hours in the car with my dog sweater parts!

One Year Old.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A year ago, she was six hours old, and we thought she had breathing problems and an infection. She laid there, hooked up to all kinds of wires, and I nevertheless thought that she was the most perfect thing that had ever been.

A year later, she's giving me kisses and standing at the window waiting for her daddy to come home from work and dancing to music and loving the Price Is Right because it gives you lots of chances to Clap With All The People.

People told me it would go fast.

I had no idea what that meant.

I'm a little weepy today, thinking of all that this year has meant to me. I must ready the house for a little birthday celebration tonight. I'll try to share more in the next day or two.

What I'm doing online that keeps me from writing in my blog.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Only a few days into the month, and I'm having trouble getting my posts entered on time. I'm going to stick with this-- the point is to get back into the habit, and of course that will take a little work-- but I'll try to be creative with my brief obligatory posts. I'll also quit pointing out that they're obligatory after this paragraph.

There, I'm done metablogging for a while. Yay.

Here are a few of my current fascinations:

Awakened: nature-loving, hill-living mom with a baby boy just Bird's age. Love the simplicity of her life and writing.

Sundry Mourning: working mama of another baby boy just a little older than Bird. Very funny, recovering alcoholic, brutally honest about the frustrations and joys of motherhood.

Knitted Brow: Kim's an old friend (that I've never met) from my Diary-x journaling days. A teacher, a lover of good food and long walks and dogs and spirituality and many other things that I like too. Plus, now she lives in Hawaii, and her scenery fascinates me.

Sara's new preemie Isaac has me checking daily for updates on his progress. I've loved Sara's spunky, honest-yet-irreverent site for years-- anyone who would sell WTFWJD merchandise has my undying devotion-- but Isaac just makes me relive all the joy and terror and love of Bird's Intensive Care days that first month. Plus, she knitted that squee pumpkin hat that I must make.

Harris Chronicles: An old high school friend, now living as a military wife to her high school sweetheart, who's stationed in Iraq. Her posts of moose and snow (she's in Fairbanks, Alaska) entertain me, but I really stop in to watch her baby girl photos and check to make sure Alan's doing fine. He should be back next month, thank God.

Homesteading Bloggers: I've found a whole nest of them at via my friend Beth. You need to be registered to read them, I think, but they speak to all my latent loves of gardening and composting and my desire to raise chickens and grow my own food and (possibly) teach Bird at home when she gets old enough. There's a huge range of philosophies that cause people to choose this lifestyle, and I find that fascinating too.

Mir's Want Not blog. She posts at least twice a day about various fabulous bargains she's found on the Web. She's funny. She makes me want to buy stuff. I have to watch this-- I currently have 16 servings of dehydrated soup that I bought for $2.99 from Canada, no shipping. Do I need dehydrated soup? No. But Mir blogged it, and so I wanted it. Arrgh. But regardless, I love her. So pretty. (I find it weird that I'm all attracted to The Compact and the Brown Dress and the Simple Way while also being a daily visitor at a shopping website. Guess I've yet to work through some of the changes I'm feeling called to make.)

Tabblo. This review describes its features in detail, so I won't do that. But be assured: It is addictive. It makes me feel like I'm part of this big worldwide community that celebrates the beauty of life via each other's photographs. That sounds completely cheesy, but it makes me happy that some young photographer in Italy thinks that I've taken a really wonderful photo of my daughter, and that I get a chance to see what he saw on his way to work last week. It's also a great way to share baby photos with family and friends-- I make a tabblo, and include the link in an email to them. Flickr is dull by comparison.

Tabblo: 8.5 months old

...and I could keep listing things. But I'll stop there to keep from revealing the embarassing extent of my online habits. It's something I need to curb, but also something that brings me a ton of joy and satisfaction and connection to the outside world.

Hopefully, as I get back into recording my life online, this will become a source of joy and satisfaction as well.

Almost vapid post, saved by Vacations.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Grr. That Ebay order got canceled because the little racer's on backorder. (I thought if they said they had an item, they HAD it, not had access to it via their supplier...? But whatever.)

I canceled and ordered it from the evil Wal-Mart's website in hopes that it might actually arrive before Thursday's birthday events. It's a long shot, but let's hope.

Not that you care. Not that I think you care, or want to record this for posterity. But I promised to post every day.

Yeah, this is pretty weak.


Okay, here's a tidbit that has a bit more substance:

If I could vacation anywhere, I think I'd go back to Ireland, rent a thatched cottage on a cliff by the sea, and get myself an old bike with a wire basket. I'd spend my days pedaling through the mist, nearly killing myself because I'd forget to ride on the correct side of the road. I'd take pictures, eat brown bread and tomato sandwiches with salt, write, read, bike, and hang out in little village pubs. I'd take rubbings off old Celtic gravestones. I'd drop stones down the cliff and listen for them to hit water. I'd climb up to the top of a lighthouse. I'd find my mom's relatives. I'd hope that my coat would grow moss like Frank McCourt said it would. And maybe I'd take a class on Irish lit or the Irish monks during the dark ages (they saved civilization, after all-- or so I've been told).

(This is sounding more like some kind of a sabbatical than a vacation. But whatever. That's my dream.)

If I could vacation anywhere in the US, I'd haul my husband's butt off to New Mexico so that he could experience everything I love about it. We'd attend a festival day at one of the pueblos, buy me lots of lovely silver jewelry, and eat green chili food until it altered our-- um, output. We'd take that amazing drive that took me past desert and snowy fir-covered mountaintops and Indian reservation and cliff dwellings and Los Alamos all in one afternoon. We'd explore that ghost town that the artists have reclaimed as their own out in the middle of nowhere. And we'd eat enchiladas flat while we watched The Milagro Bean War.

Then, so I could do something new for me, we'd rent a car and drive out Route 66 to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We'd stay in either the concrete teepees or the vintage trailer motel. We'd rent llamas and do a little hiking, mostly just so we could rent the llamas. (They would not spit their carrots on us like the ones behind my old house in Florida. Hey, this is MY fantasy, I have the Llama Control here.)

Of course, I could always combine the two, and we could hike with llamas through the Irish hills while looking for concrete teepees, trying to take photos of Native Americans, and downing Guiness and hot tea with our green chili enchiladas.

Eww. It just doesn't sound as nice when you combine 'em.

New hobby?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I have about six books here that I want to read. I'm about six months behind on album-ing our post-Gracie photos (a task I swore I'd keep up with once she was born, as I want us to be able to look at the photos together rather than storing them on a hard drive unseen). I hardly communicate with friends or family (except via email, which not all of them use).

But do I want to work on any of these already-established projects? NO.

I want to create Sara's gaspingly squee newborn pumpkin hat for my friend's new baby boy, who could be born any day now.

No matter that I haven't knitted anything since 1995 or so, and that I've never knitted anything that wasn't rectangular (scarf, blanket).

Am I nuts?

I have this terrible itch to go get yarn and needles. NOW.

After all, if you don't keep learning new things, life gets dull, right? And dull is definitely something to avoid.

Primary-colored plastic = my heart's desire.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I am all atwitter.

Bird's first birthday is next week, and today I ordered her Big Present.

This is a weird time for us financially. So far, we've been able to make the payments on the Florida house, but they're not small, and our income's not as big as it was when we were there. We're living with the knowledge that things are Okay Now, but may be Not Okay Soon if the house doesn't sell.

It makes me feel unsteady about my spending decisions. I recently passed up on a $6 clearanced Halloween costume for Gracie at Old Navy, feeling thrifty. (Old Navy is a good 45 minutes away from here.) Then I spent a week and a half regretting the decision. Was it right to not spend the money, or did I miss a chance at a wonderful memory (for us, for her via pictures) by deciding that she'd never remember it anyway? Don't answer that; it's done, and I don't want to know.

Part of my indecision comes from living with my parents and wanting their approval of my spending practices. Nobody, I mean NOBODY, I know is more careful with money than my parents. I respect that, but it is a hard act to follow. Dad reuses paper plates if they're not too dirty, for pete's sake.

Anyway, thinking of the Halloween regret, I decided this week that I really wanted to get Gracie a nice present-- not just a 99 cent book and a new (practical, needed) outfit or two from the consignment shop.

I had money sitting in my PayPal account from selling my grand old 1950s spaceship bike before we moved. Money that was mine, not the household's. Money that, so far, we haven't had to dig into to make our ends meet. I decided to spend some of it on Bird.

I'm realizing that I'm defending and justifying this minor purchase, to myself, by writing this. Amazing.

(I will try to keep this blog from being a wearisome list of purchases and near-purchases and fretting about money and houses. That is a large part of my subconscious these days, though; you've been warned. And I do intend on writing about The House sometime soon. But I'll try to keep it in check.)

Let me refocus. Here's what I want to say:

She is going to LOVE this little vehicle. I can't wait to see her toddling around the house, holding onto its back handle. There is so much joy in buying her little things that she will need or use or learn from or enjoy.

There's fun in bargain hunting, too, which is why visits to the consignment shop and Ebay and even an occasional thrift store have become one of my few active hobbies these days.

But mostly, I wanted to record a new experience for me: I'm getting my thrills off of buying a Little Tikes plastic toy on Ebay.

(It's true. Everything changes when you have a baby.)


Thursday, November 02, 2006

I can't believe I had to stumble upon this man's images in Flickr to learn about him.

Why, with my interest in the Ozarks, in history, in photography, in rural culture, has no one ever told me about his pictures?

There are worlds written on the wrinkled faces in his photograhs.

Fall has fallen.

It passes so quickly.

detail, leaves at Maplewood, 2003

Last week, the hills were on fire with reds and golds and oranges. The cemetery filled with maples took my breath away. I gaped at the beautiful four-color maples (my favorite is that brief time when they're all colors- red, orange, yellow, and green-- swirled together as the tree just begins changing colors). I wanted to go hiking (which is pretty impossible with a baby), take forest photos, see the Elk down in Boxley Valley in the midst of all this color.

But this week, the scenery's already shifted to the coppery colors of late fall. The leaves are falling off the trees in earnest, and many of them have bare tops already. The temperature will be in the twenties tonight (lower than I've experienced in the last four years).

It's shocking how quickly autumn passes.


My dad turns 61 this week. Next January, he and mom will have been married 40 years. Life expectancy is-- what? 75 years or so?

I have maybe 15 years left with my dad. Who knows-- maybe 5, maybe 30. A friend's dad had heart surgery this week, and it reminds me how fragile our parents' lives are, how possible it is to lose them even at this stage when they still seem healthy and relatively young.

It's shocking how quickly life passes.


Last week, we had our ninth anniversary. We knew each other for nine years before we married, so now I've known my husband for eighteen of my thirty two years. More than half my life.

In some ways, it feels like we have always been married. In others, I can't believe it's been this long already. If we live long enough to be married for 50 years (and many don't), we've already experienced 18% of our marriage.

My husband went to and determined his approximate age of death, which he has placed on his Google calendar as a reminder of his mortality. I stare at it when he leaves his Google homepage up on the computer.

How quickly it's going to pass.

Is it weird that all of these numbers and statistics freak me out?

It's not as if I don't have an expectation of life continuing beyond death. I do, and I believe it will make this corrupted, aching place look like misery by comparison. But already have this fear that I'll not use my time well somehow, that somehow I won't quite be ready when my or my family's time comes.

I want to relish the blazing of the leaves. I want to relish the last of my parents' time with us. I want to relish my marriage.

The brown-copper of the hills brings all this to mind today.