Here and There

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snowflake shadows

You can barely see them in the picture on the computer, but at the top on the garage door there are these cool shadows in the late afternoon kitchen from the snowflakes on the window.

Today we made shortbread and chewy bars and Lily played pretend with the ornaments for an hour.  Nothing broke.  The sun is shining through the south facing windows, helping the amaryllis get going.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"There is no try, only do."

So far, during advent I have tried.  And failed.  I feel strung out and harried, exactly the opposite of my intended state for this season.  But it's because I tried so hard. 

I do not want to be the one who misses it, who walks right through the mystery. 

I have looked at Magnolia's eyes countless times and saw them, they are hazely green like Peter's.  Yesterday at the doctor he said, "Magnolia has all colors in her eyes.  Hazely green and blue on the edge."  I said "Yeah, uh huh."  And then when we got home I looked and saw that she has this cool outline of blue on her eyes.  That I had never seen before.  Oh, to have eyes to see and ears to hear!   So I don't waste so much time thinking I see and trying to listen.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


When you find yourself eating too much food, the first advice is to keep track and write down what you eat.  When you find yourself spending too much money, the first advice is to keep track and write down what you spend.

The idea that we eat or spend without realizing it seems terrible.  If we only had just enough (or not enough) to eat or spend we wouldn't eat a bite or spend a dollar without being aware.  I am struggling with the idea that there is a normal, healthy amount of stuff (food/money/possessions/things to do) and somehow being more aware somehow helps you stay in that place.  I know it may have something to do with greed, envy, worry, pride, comfort; there are these reasons and traps for how food and money get out of control in our lives.  But as opposed to reactive measures like the whole "track it and you'll get back on track", I wonder if there is a way of living or a cultural adjustment that would eliminate the problem! 

Are people supposed to live more subsistently?  If so many people have these struggles with weight and spending are these symptoms of living in a way that goes against how we are wired?  Or taps into something negative about the way we're wired?

How do you reconcile having so much, and then "not enough"?  Maybe I am just yearning for something that is yet to be.  The kingdom of heaven does not have diets in it.  I am sure.  But I am also sure that we are never hungry.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

To my Magsie on her birthday

Dear Magnolia,
You are one year old.  You were born in the evening and we came home after lunch the next day.  I had made you a pink cake a week before you were born and froze it.  I told Gram to take it out of the freezer that morning.  Then, when your dad and sister went to get burritos for dinner that night, I frosted it and put sprinkles on it so we could have a little party to celebrate you.  Remembering those early days with you please me.  I was so worried that your whole first year would be a blur.  A blur of caring for two children, a struggle.  But, looking back into the blur, these perfectly clear, sane moments greet me.  Sure, maybe there aren't very many.  But they are representative.  They are real and just yours.
I remember getting up and nursing you in the night, before we had figured out lying down nursing together.  Watching Jimmy Fallon and the National Parks specials on PBS.  I remember getting Lily buckled into her seat in the Target parking lot and feeding you in the front seat of the car.  Lily would be flipping through "Cars-that-Trucks-that-things-that-go!" (as she says) and you would eat, spit up (a lot) and be content.
I remember you in the snow.  Peaceful, watchful girl.
I remember you smiling, laughing, beginning to understand.
I remember you in Grass Valley, wearing you in the sling as it got dark, walking together under the lacy leaved trees, quiet and slow.  When you and me are together by ourselves, it is serene.  I remember so many of those moments over this past year.  You have been a source of delight, of love, of joy.  I thank God for your life.  Your surprise life. Because here is just what our family needs: a little girl with hazel eyes, with an old soul, watching us, laughing.
Love you sweet babes.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Leaning into Autumn

 Now, all three of our new chickens are laying eggs.  (For interested parties: we did not eat the other ones, they just died.)  Lucky's are greenish, Astro II's are tan and Rhoda II's are brown.  (Lucky is an Araucana, Astro II is a Barred Rock and Rhoda II is a Rhode Island Red)  We have a lot of eggs these days, so the girls eat eggs almost every morning and CR and Peter both have been cooking them for lunch lately with beans/tortillas/salsa kind of stuff.  Very tasty. Cristy Rose has been staying with us and it has been so lovely.  I love sharing coffee and chatting in the morning, having another lady in the house, eating homemade tortillas...having an encouraging and loving friend so near is a gift.

 "Tuesday Morning Adventures" may sound like an outing at a retirement facility but it's really our way of making sure that despite school days and some other regularly scheduled programming in our lives, we get some weekday fun.  This past Tuesday we visited Muir Woods.  After seeing "The Gnomemobile" recently, the scenery was just right for hunting gnomes.  We didn't find any, but it was perfectly beautiful and the slight changing leaves and nip in the air felt like the first taste of fall. 
Inside a tree.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Another Birthday, Another Decade

This is one of those big birthdays...and although I am a birthday girl who loves to celebrate, when the time came I was edgy and confused.  I have no idea why turning 30 seemed so hard.  Many reasons, but the biggest one is probably that it feels so unfamiliar, it doesn't seem like me.  I have to live in it for awhile for it to feel comfortable.  My heart feels so young, it's hard to imagine ever being older than 23.  But I am. 

When I was young, learning how to encounter the wider world, Plato's quote "The unexamined life is not worth living." helped me.  Now as I walk in this wider world, I return to it.  I can't help but wonder if I abandoned this idea for a time and that's why I feel strange to turn 30--I haven't looked inside to see who I am at this age, at this turn of the decade.  I've been going through the motions, taking for granted the examining I did in my early twenties. 

So here I am, 30, facing the future and turning inward for a bit, and it's very good.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

I love a good "before and after"!






Saturday, August 07, 2010

Birthday party.

Maybe I am trying to impart my own love of birthday to my child.  I loved her birthday as much as she did.  It's so fun to decorate the house after she goes to bed the night before, set out presents for before breakfast opening, make special food.  I loved having streamers and balloons in the dining room when it was my birthday as a kid, waking up and coming out to see birthday decorations is so wonderful.

Friday, August 06, 2010


and she's three.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mid-summer: don't let anyone tell you it's not.

reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter for book club.  It's very good.  But you knew that, Oprah told everybody a few years ago.

listening "Roller Coaster Ride" as covered by Mates of State.

eating almondina cookies.

watching Breaking Bad.

cleaning and organizing our garage, office, girls' room.  Utilizing craigslist and the ikea as-is dept. for all they can possibly offer to us.

wishing and dreaming of road trips to Alaska, cruises to Mexico, Disneyland, New Mexico.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rainbow Order

Remember when you were supposed to put things in rainbow order? 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grass Valley

We went to Grass Valley last weekend for a wedding--it was very hot.  But very lovely.  I thought a lot about the book: Angle of Repose. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Catching Up

Our camera was lost and we finally got a new one last week...

Crazy Mags and summer time Dad.
Discovery Museum.  It's a pteranadon nest.

Instead of a skirt for Lil, I made a zipper pillow cover.  This way, we can have a bed pillow on the couch and it doesn't just look like someone in our house is sick.

Spider webs everywhere.
Latest project at our house...door on the office.  Also, painting office orange and making it a nice, functional guest room/office/sleeping place for Mags.
Finally saving some energy and drying the diapers on the line.  So glad for sunny days.
Brooding good.  No eggs, just sitting there all day!
At least Sunny hasn't gone that route.  She's still laying one a day.
First Cosmo bloomed.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Monday, May 17, 2010


Switching from Jif to natural peanut butter was SO hard for me.  I love(d) the texture of that Jif.  I knew it had a lot of extra stuff, I knew it was processed beyond the necessary peanut processing, I knew it had those bad oils...but even if the rest of my cupboard looked like home to healthy whole foods, the Jif jar lived there too.

It's gross to stir the natural peanut butter.  But it's better when I realized that I don't have to store it in the fridge like it says.  Anyway, I'm officially a convert to the natural stuff.  It tastes pretty good if you get the salted variety. 

I probably will keep some Jif on hand for peanut butter cookies and peanut butter frosting for that amazing peanut butter chocolate cake, but for our daily PB and J's, it's the natural stuff now.  One more step in the right direction!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Poem on a dreary May morning

The Exhibit
by Lisel Mueller

My uncle in East Germany
points to the unicorn in the painting
and explains that it is now extinct.
We correct him, say such a creature
never existed. He does not argue,
but we know he does not believe us.
He is certain power and gentleness
must have gone hand in hand
once. A prisoner of war
even after the war was over,
my uncle needs to believe in something
that could not be captured except by love,
whose single luminous horn
redeemed the murderous forest
and, dipped into foul water,
would turn it pure. This world,
this terrible world we live in,
is not the only possible one,
his eighty-year-old eyes insist,
dry wells that fill so easily now.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Lillian Austin

The Lillian Austin rose is blooming a lot this year. And I noticed a crazy new rose to rival the now extinct pixar rose. Tenth and Addison. It looks like a Cecille Bruner. I must get a Cecille Bruner rose and plant it! I love the smell and the color and the look.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Mags' huge head in a bonnet.

If you have 6 inch pans you can make a dozen cupcakes and a two layer 6 inch cake with one recipe of cake batter. I like this.

We went to the Marine Mammal Center. Later, processing the idea of a seal hospital, Lily put band aids all over her souvenir.

Sea glass from Sea Cliff Beach in Santa Cruz.

Very pretty shell that looks like it needs to be turned into a necklace.

Kitchen counter remodel got finished right before Easter and I love it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010


I wrote this about 2 years ago, when Lily had started to wean. I never published it because I thought it was one of those processing sessions that ended when I trailed off. But right now, in a nursing season with Magnolia and having friends who are weaning their children, I revisited this saved post:

"Do you remember the scene from Return of the King with Frodo back in the shire after his adventure/nightmare journey? He walks around, picking up this or that, standing and looking out the window with a cup of tea, drinking with his friends, all the while so melancholy? He asks in an overdub, "How do you pick up the pieces of an old life?" It's this perfect scene for the state of melancholy; the music, the question, the small things you see.

Lillian has begun the weaning process-she's not that interested in breastfeeding anymore. She still nurses once or twice a day, but we're on the path. So I've gone with it, because I truly don't want to push through this disinterested phase and continue to nurse for months longer. But you wouldn't know that to catch me in a Frodo moment. "I don't nurse my baby anymore." Whimper, whimper. "Then, who am I? What am I? What is this place to me if I'm not a nursing mother?" I literally look out the window like Frodo, melancholy as can be. Then a few hours later I'm feeling free as a bird, "Look at me, I don't have to feed my kid with my body anymore! Whoo Hoo!"

I believe these melancholy moments are partly hormonal and partly true sadness, so I'm giving this process the respect it deserves. It's a big change, a big deal to wean. But then again, it's not. In so many ways it's this natural progression that just, happens. Things must change and things must end and I know it's just the beginning of all the letting go I'll be doing as a mother. But I must admit it sort of makes my heart squeeze a little to watch her crawl and point with her small hand, to watch her babble and eat all kinds of food. It's not just me and her anymore. It hasn't been that way for a long while, but with breastfeeding there were these little sections of the day that were reserved for just her and me. It's like a secret or a promise you keep. There was something that bound us in that nursing relationship. Now she plays and loves other people too. She doesn't just turn her head for my smell or my voice, she knows different faces and voices and her world is bigger. That's good. But I feel left here, with feelings about the whole thing that she has no concept of. That's good too.

So when I have my violins soaring, golden light of the Shire, self-examination moments like Frodo, I often find myself being cut short by a little girl pulling on the cat's tail or clamoring for more toast. And that reminds me how natural and normal it all is. Each little baby has a time to wean and my little baby's time is here."

Now, with a little time and distance, all this still feels so true. In a word, or a few: Breastfeeding extends the period of time in which you are bonded physically with your child. When you wean, you find yourself for the first time in many many months, sometimes years, back to just being you. You hadn't been just you since before you conceived. But now, you're not just you. You're a mother. So the old you doesn't fit right and you have to adapt. It's so bizarre. I want to treasure my time nursing Magnolia now, but sometimes I forget how short lived it all is and whine at the suffocating aspect of nursing. Back and forth, back and forth. Girl, remember it is fleeting!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Old Reliable

In our garden, this is the one thing that is always edible, all year round. It's a kale tree. We got it at Spiral Gardens and it bears really tasty kale. You just clip off the leaves and they grow back, fast. I like the texture of cooked kale a lot so I mostly use it as a supper vegetable, sauteed with onion, a little turkey bacon and then simmered with a little apple juice.

The chickens also like kale, so if a branch gets aphids we just toss it to them.

Yesterday I planted a lot of seeds--sweet peas and sunflowers all around the frontyard fence. I hope they all do well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I've been reflecting on the weekend, particularly the time spent on the farm. I love Disneyland and the dear people we traveled there with. It was terrific. But I've been thinking about how restful being at the farm was, how calm. It was so good to see cr! in her element there. So good to be barefoot there.

I was thinking about how much time I spend indoors. I know that it is just now Spring, but I really do spend more and more time inside instead of outside and it grosses me out. I need to be outside more. Lil and Mags need to be outside more. So I am resolving to spend time out on our small farm everyday. Even just a few minutes. So I know what's going on out there. So I feel the vitamin D going in. So I don't become pale and sickly. Outside! It is beckoning! Outside!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fun times

Winnie the Pooh ride at Disneyland.

Picking carrots at The Abundant Table Farm.

Our picks at the farm. So beautiful! Not pictured: avocados and strawberries.