Thursday, September 29, 2011


love this, absolutely, in every single way

my son tonight when I came in to tuck him into bed - oh my heart

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


 "When we realize our mission is to love and forgive, we realize that every situation is an opportunity to do so. What we might see as a problem is looked at differently when we recognize that every event is part of a divine curriculum,
 set up by God [goddess, spirit, etc] for our growth and healing.
 "Sometimes our challenges in one area provide answers in another. A problem with a nasty neighbor becomes an opportunity to use our 
spiritual power,
 praying for someone as a way to resolve conflict.
 "Dealing with a difficult employee becomes an opportunity to work on
communicating compassionately,
without compromising our truth.
 "Having to make a difficult decision becomes an opportunity to
learning how to ask God [goddess, spirit, etc] for guidance.
"Every situation is a lesson in becoming who we are capable of being."
~Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace

I do not like the idea of surrender. I've done that before to a person that everyone was telling me that "God" was. I didn't like it. In fact, I still balk at the idea of "surrender" - it sounds weak and narrow-minded.
But, I'm coming to understand a certain kind of surrender. The kind of surrender that I can understand. If I surrender to the Divine, I imagine myself coming before a Great Mother with my head held high saying, "Help me understand what I do not understand. Give me strengthened grace and unbreakable kindness. Stand with me today and fill me with your Peace." That I can understand, knowing that every moment there is a lesson I can learn to make me better. 
I can walk into the Goddess like an enveloping mist, letting her tendriled edges wrap themselves around me, supporting, uplifting, smiling, nudging, and ultimately believing I am always trying my best. When someone doesn't understand it, it is THEIR misunderstanding. 
Keep going forward, she whispers.
Keep your head up, she prods.
You are ready for this, she encourages.
You've got this, she smiles.
I surrender to her by listening and believing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

a letter to his teacher

I had the opportunity today to write a letter to my son's teacher. She asked for a letter about our children. Here was mine:

Dear Julie,
I really loved your idea of having parents write letters about their children. What a wonderful way to get to know your kiddos.
Ethan is my first born son. I had no idea how much I could love another person until he was born.
He is deeply thoughtful about life, and really always has been. He asks the big questions. He also asks the little questions. He asks lots of questions. He is interested in quiet, secret places like the barn loft, and how machinery works. He loves to take things apart and put them back together. He plays legos, saves money, rides his bike, takes photographs, loves camping and sleeping with kitty cats. He is fascinated by science, especially prisms and how light works.
My son’s responsibilities at home include taking out the garbage, unloading the dishwasher, keeping his room clean (which he is very good at) and is the sole caretaker of our 8 chickens. He is soft-hearted and hard-headed, which makes for interesting conversation at our house.
He had been saving up his money for months and months and eventually had $30, which he was being so careful with and thinking of the best thing to buy with it, when his dad’s birthday came up. His first thought was to get Dad a $20 gift card to Home Depot. That was all his own thought, and he was deeply excited about giving it to Daddy. Dad was all teared-up. He knew how long Ethan had saved that money and all the things he’d been thinking to buy with it, but to spend it on his Dad…wow. Really it didn’t surprise us that much, because that is EXACTLY the kind of boy he is. He said, “It isn’t THAT much you guys, I still have $10 for myself!” haha…
Ethan is a bossy older brother, and can really be a know-it-all at times. He is learning to keep his opinions to himself, and I’ve seen his inner struggle with it, and feel nothing but compassion, as I struggle with that myself. I tell him, “Honey, people don’t want to hear things like that. Unless you think someone will get hurt, just keep your opinions to yourself!” I fear it will be a life-long affliction for him.
He has always been interested in rocks and fossils, and anything to do with natural sciences. I can see him being a geologist, an archeologist, or a mechanical engineer. When he was little, he would bury things so he could dig them back up. Right this minute, he is wandering around the farm with the camera around his neck, taking thoughtfully angled photos of anything, but especially the cats.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my son! A parent’s dream is to have a captive audience so they can talk and talk and talk about their child. I love my son so much it hurts sometimes, so I appreciate knowing that he is well-cared for at school and that his teacher has a real interest to know who he is. Thank you!!
Katie Estvold 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

my own advice

"be transforming everyday - gentle - powerful - change - let it go - let it be"
"A Brilliance of Being - Kind - Unafraid - Joy - Warmth - Honesty - Non-reactive - Giving - Inner Beauty"

I came across an old journal from a year when I was feeling particularly artsy, and I had the best time just reading everything I'd written. I used much of what I learned that year in my book (my precious little baby book that I know might be hideous, and am well aware of how "freshman" it is, but would just die to hear anyone say an ill word against it) but thought I'd share my pictures with you today.

"Transform - Dream - Vision - Imagine - Create - Begin - Expand"

really love this one
"Sometimes change is TOUGH and it hurts"

this one makes me a bit weepy...what a hard time I'd been going through and I was "on the mend" - how happy I was beginning to feel.
This one is truly truly a breakthrough - I finally figured out who I was, deep down inside, and was ready to live the way I believed. It was like a wind went through me that cleaned me out. All the cobwebs were gone. I was ready to Live Out Who I Was.

the cover of that journal
one of the last pages...still true!
 For my birthday, my sweet friend D gave me this: a new, unlined (my FAVORITE!!!) journal! She remembered from sometime in the middle of summer that I had touched and admired this journal. The red is definitely ME, the leather is ME, the images are ME. LOVE LOVE LOVE this gift. And now I'm inspired to do more drawing in a journal.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

of a saturday

sick today...taking photos from my bed...
luckily picasa is easy to use
I barely had the energy to heat up some tomato soup today...but it was worth it
watched the best movie this morning with my little girl called "A Shine of Rainbows" and it was so sweet and wonderful...we both highly recommend it.
more movies
more hot apple cider

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

fall beauties

"When I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.

And when I come to the garden ground,
the whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words.

A tree beside the wall stands bare,
But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
Comes softly rattling down.

I end not far from my going forth,
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you."

~Robert Frost~

What a melancholy poem by my old pal Bob...even though I'm not feeling this way, I always LOVE that he can evoke these strong emotions in me that I can't explain except to try and have someone understand the poem the way I do...You see, I love the allusions to what is really going on, like:
 "headless aftermath" and "half closes" and "sober birds" and "stands bare" and "disturbed" and "softly rattling" and "last remaining" and "carry again" - I love the is very "Sleepy Hollow" to me...I get it.

Ol' Bob was a great thinker, I believe, and could see the connections between the life of the earth and the life of a person...intricate and yet simple. Once you "hear" his voice in his poems, the words seem to lay bare their meanings...what talent...I would've loved to sit and talk with him about things.

**The evenings are so dear to me these days. I feel as though my eyes are inward and down and I am in the midst of schedule and lists and remembering in Kindergarten...I am eternally thankful for my little piece of earth that wraps me up in a full embrace every single day. It says "Hello!" when we drive in, and seems at rest and happy to have us. Home, Home, Home...the best three words I ever heard.**

And then...two of the five kitties:

 best friend kitties - Seal & Boo


By the way, I LOVE the movie "Practical Magic" and finding this today made me sooo happy...not that I'm going to be doing a blog party, but I love to see the photos and the art that they came up with to promote it...

Friday, September 09, 2011

end of summer garden

artichokes - Eme's favorite ...okay, my favorite, too.

broom corn - to make brooms out of - are actually...err...brooming

 red flax - a plant that is amazing to me in many ways

 sunflower heads drying - so beautiful...we harvested our first four ears of corn was the sweetest corn we've ever had

love these sunflower heads

 sunflowers from Trader Joe's and my owls peeking out...fall is upon us

i love my scrubbed wooden table with sunflowers and primitive owls

favorite thing I've grown this year in my garden...Sweet Annie...nicest smelling herb I've EVER smelled...a chunk of it is hanging on my front door today to dry...

I took a photo of the sweet annie, and would you look at that arrow? there was a preying mantis hiding right in front of me. What a year for those! We've seen more in one summer than I've seen all together in my entire life...
nothing profound, just sharing today

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

deeply happy

my children had their first day of school son's reaction?
"Mom, she is the best teacher ever, and when I say best, I mean BEST!"
My daughter said, "I really love love my teacher and also I have a new best friend!"
For me, there is nothing so deeply satisfying as seeing my children completely happy. I always feel that when things are good for them, I am good.

My first day with Kindergarteners is next Monday! Everything is coming together, and now I just need those little guys. This week is our "evaluation" week where we do some little tests and things with the kinders and then we can more easily make groupings for the three classrooms.

It is pretty hard to explain how happy I am. Probably "content" is a better word. I've been working so hard, and isn't always fun (really it is a widely held myth that just because it is your heart's work, somehow it should always be "fun" or you should always be smiling), but it is deeply satisfying. 

There have been times in the past few weeks where I look at my husband (SCORE!) and my children (DOUBLE SCORE!) and my farm (OH BLISS!) and then I realize that I'm friggin' teaching Kindergarten with other professionals and I just shake my head...there are no words - try to pretend that all of the words I've written down to try and express my feelings over everything lately are just not adequate enough and then you'll see that there truly are "no words"
These photos are of a Sunday night sky on a walk around our little farm. The sky was so wonderful looking because of forest fires (the forest fires are NOT so wonderful, but if there is a "golden" lining, it is in the sunsets)

Friday, September 02, 2011

post 9/11

It was crisp and smoky in Oregon that morning. I was reading to my sixth grade class from our small-town newspaper about how the local Key Club had bought new playground equipment for the Village Green, when Lora, the principal came to my classroom door. She stood quietly for a minute while I finished reading. I set the children on a journal concerning the article we'd just read then I turned to her, smiling, brows upraised.

Lora was grey and trembling as she pulled me by the elbow to join her in the hallway. She closed the door when we were outside the room, which was strange to do in a "responsible-monitoring-of-children" sort of way. She was so intense and terrible-looking that I was suddenly sure that she'd come to tell me that someone in my family was hurt. I took her by one shoulder, saying, "What's going on, for god's sake?" Suddenly, tears were spilling from her eyes, in long quiet rivulets. My chest clenched, my neck went stiff, "What...," I breathed as I pulled my hand away.
"Katie...Katie...soo many people just were killed...some people flew an airplane through a building...I don't know why...but they did it on purpose...soo many people are dead."
"What? Where?!"
"In New York City...just flew an airplane through it and it all...went down with people in it."
"Oh my god. what...why?"
"I just don't know...but they think it was terrorists...I don't know...the most terrible thing..."
Shock, confusion, stumbling through the rest of the day until I saw the newspaper on the break-room table: "Twin Tower Terrorist Attack" and a single, terrible blood-orange explosion in glossy smoothness. I remember now that my eyes went blurry, not from tears, but from shock. The number dead was staggering...a sudden strange thought occurred to me: "Does the Earth actually weigh less now? How would they measure that?" I almost eerie. I hear that happens to people when they are in shock; the sudden urge to giggle when faced with the unthinkable.
As the days went on, the depression of my country was smothering me every day; it was on my chest like some sort of dark thing, perching. That day, that week, that month, the months after were dark.  Each day, was like a sun slowly rising into a deep fog. I remember feeling numb, then disbelieving, then angry, scared and numb again. My husband and I would come home from work and just sit under blankets watching reruns of "I Love Lucy" (which just about every major network was showing in-between updates because the nation was in shock and needed something familiar and light).
We had been talking about getting pregnant at the time, and I was seriously worried about what kind of world I would be bringing a child into. My nation was not safe, and I had seen it in devastatingly slow playbacks and exploded diagrams, the science of it covering the reality of the loss.
When I began to think about the New Yorkers and the terrible visceral pain and terror if it, it made me glad to live in a small town until I heard rumors that the terrorists cells would just as likely bomb small-towns as major cities. I saw a Muslim man once at a restaurant and all I could think about was if he were a terrorist or not, later I felt scared for him because he was being judged as I was: he wasn't the man who flew the airplane, he was eating dinner and smiling with his friends. I wasn't the one who "decided to head on in and get em back" either. I was just teaching school before and having babies afterwards.

an aside:
I love America. No matter how dysfunctional, it is my home. I feel sad when I hear the U.S. being lumped as one whole entity with one kind of personality or just isn't true. America has activists and politicians effectively espousing every kind of ideology, pedagogy, philosophy and agenda that you can think of. We truly are a melting pot of ideas and cultures - which makes us very much like some kind of "Knights of the Round Table meets The Lord of the Flies. America makes many mistakes - so many it makes me sad. But, countries are only run by human beings, not faultless gods. The fact really is, is that many times those who've run my country are bullies. They bluster up like a Prize Rooster, busting in where it isn't any of their business, stirring up hornet's nests.
The office of  President doesn't really hold that much power. While he seems to be completely in charge and responsible for all the decisions, he really is not. It is unfair to blame the president for everything...just as it is unfair to just "blame Americans". There are millions of us here who all believe different things, some of us are to blame, and some of us are not.
:end of aside.

At the time of the attack, many of you will NOT believe this but with all my heart I profess it is true, our little town's population sign said "911." It was quickly re-tabulated and a new sign was made. Whenever I saw that the clock said "9:11", I would literally wait to continue doing whatever I was doing until that minute was off the clock. It was as if that entire minute was somehow tainted. I still feel that way when I notice the time or the license on a car, or a telephone number; Now I just look away. The number feels like it is mocking me.

I never wanted to watch the remake-movies (what a terrible, terrible idea), or the in-depth documentaries about "how the towers fell". {I was so sorrowful over the very first pilot episode of CSI New York, when you find out that the main character's wife died in the attack and he'd kept a balloon that she had blown-up - her last breath, that I couldn't watch it anymore.}
I didn't look it up on the internet to hear the stories or see the pictures...I did NOT want to become desensitized to it. I didn't want it to be a flat picture, or a diagram. I wanted to remember that it was terrible, that it was tragic, that it was scary. It is the same reason why I cannot stand to watch movies about the Holocaust. I feel tense with a painful choke in my throat anytime I've tried to watch a movie like that. The feelings are too intense for me, and in my opinion, it should be. Those terrible things SHOULD feel terrible, because if they did not, we'd just eventually go about doing them all the time. The hope of History is that it informs our future.

Einstein said a wonderful, truthful thing, " The world we have made, as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them." We will have to always be evolving and becoming better to solve the problems that were created because of 9-11, and because of the Holocaust, and because of Global Warming and because of a hundred other things. We must get older and gain wisdom before we can fix the bad things we've done in our youth. Yes. It is a true thing. 

My world is no safer now that we ran into that fight, both fists blazing in revenge. In fact, I do not know a family that wasn't affected by the death of a friend or a father, or a wife, or a son (so so so young) in this terrible war. There are many stories like this, but my brother's childhood friend went to war and was killed at the age of 20 - beheaded. Unthinkable.
Why it is not over yet, I do not know. I do not forget what happened in New York, and when I dwell on it for any length, I feel my throat tighten for all the terrible things that have come after it as well. I feel sorrow about it, and yet - yes "and yet" -  I keep living.

 I found out I was pregnant a month after 9-11. My sweet baby was born the next July and I was euphoric and entranced and all those good things. 

And my brother's friend who was killed...his little town made a bronze memorial in his honor showing his gun laid down and his hand outstretched to a little child. His older sister went on with her life with her husband and babies and I've seen her smile since then. It is a piercing pain and loss and an abyss in their hearts, but it is also grabbing life and laying aside the fresh wounded-ness of it so that they CAN keep on going.

We cannot forget the terrible things,  but living with the terribleness consuming us is a drowning death. The only way to really make our world a better place is by filling it up with the good things: having babies and following dreams and learning to crochet and eating freshly steamed clams and letting a kitty sleep on your chest at night and putting together little surprises for your class of Kindergarteners, and making Irish breakfast tea and praying and being grateful and keeping caterpillars and eating ice cream late at night and making love and the end, it really is the mundane world which will save a broken terror-stricken people, and I pray that we all open our eyes to see it.
I do not normally write about such serious things, but for years I've wanted to. I just needed to write down my thoughts I realized it was 10 years later, and I am still in the habit of being fearful of the entire minute of "9:11", and I feel like an elephant is in the room on the whole day of September 11th, wondering who else is thinking about it, but not wanting to discuss it. 10 years is a long time, but then again broken hearts take a long time to heal.