Wednesday, October 24, 2012

clarity and wet shoes

my mind is the clearest it has been in a very very long time
I love that I am able to see past the words that come out of people's mouths
I love that I am able to hear deeper

there are many sweet hearts, honest smiles and caring spirits in my work
there are many day-to-day annoyances and selfishness as well
I do not mind it, because anything that seems too perfect would scare me
anything with that veneer I cannot see behind makes me wary

I can accept the realities, because they are REAL; there is no hiding there

I have met a gentle soul there who reminds me of the realities of soul-deep pain, and the bravery it takes to step past that pain to share one's true self in the world. I remind that soul that they are not alone. That though  who they are does not necessarily "match-up" with the society we live in at the moment, the truth is, they are more inspiring, courageous, "better-for-it", when they walk out into the world as they are (excuse me for not sharing even gender here, as I wither at the thought of anyone knowing of whom I am writing). I remind this person that if I met them on the street, I would feel an overwhelming joy. I would be better for even having glimpsed them, as I would say, "Excuse me, can I just tell you how wonderful I think it is that you step out into the world being exactly who you are. You inspire me and fill me with hope for humanity."

I've met these sorts of people.
I'm able to let go of the frivolous notion that I must be perfect to succeed or even to be called "pretty good". 
I'm able to be exactly me, and I feel that in this way, I am more than enough. 
They actually WANT someone who is passionate about teaching children, who is transparent, willing to be REAL, able to let go of inflexibility, walk slower, speak kinder, take more time to resolve, relish the time with these little people...
how, oh how, did I step into this?

Have you ever read Pete the Cat? It is my new favorite thing. Pete LOVES his white shoes, and you sing along, "I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes..." very jazzy and cool, then OH NO! Pete stepped in a large pile of strawberries! Did Pete cry? Goodness no! He just kept walking along, singing his song. Then you sing, "I love my red shoes, I love my red shoes, I love my red shoes..." then OH NO! Pete stepped in a large pile of blueberries! Did Pete cry? Goodness no! He just kept walking along and singing his song. Then you sing, " I love my blue shoes, I love my blue shoes, I love my blue shoes..." (though the artist in me cringes and knows red plus blue is actually purple, I suspend my disbelief for the simplicity of saying blue :)  He steps in mud and then he loves his brown shoes. He steps in water and all the colors wash away and now they are white again, but now they are wet, and he loves his wet shoes!
The end of the picture book actually says that the moral of Pete's story is that no matter what you step in, just keep walking along and singing your song, because it's all good!
I LOVE IT! The kids love it. My own children love it. It makes sense. It is absolutely sensible and right and wonderful and hopeful and healthy. Amazingly simple and beautiful.
And Pete is rather cute, too.

The point, right now, is. I stepped in a few things, that turned into something else than what I'd had. I have cried, but I tried to keep walking along and singing my song. It can be very difficult...can it not?!
I am SO happy that I stepped into this work. I'm so happy that I just kept walking along and singing my song, because some people have heard my song! It turns out our songs are essentially the same, and it sounds rather jazzy and cool, "I love my wet shoes, I love my wet shoes, I love my wet shoes..."

Monday, October 01, 2012

ever light

in that place
of light
where fists are faded
tears, like the tide, can come and go
without desert or hurricane
i am myself

in that place
of light
where eyes are closed
to experiment with sunshine shadows
and soft thoughts
i am myself

in that place
of light
i hear myself before i speak
and think
 of things to say
i am myself

in that place
of ever light
when shine breaks caress shorelines
and sand
 like a lover
mixes with the sea
i am myself

~Katie Estvold~

Sunday, September 23, 2012

what I had to do

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. 
~ Mary Oliver ~

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh my goodness - there is so much to tell you. I almost didn't tell you, but I owe it to myself to write the truth here.
I had a temporary job. I had to reapply this year and did not get the job. I was absolutely sure I would've gotten it. I did not. If that wasn't devastating enough - in that way that makes you question every good thing you did in that job - not one person from that job called me, or emailed, or have tried to contact me to ask how I've been doing, or how sorry they are, or...I don't know, ANYTHING!
 Second devastation - deep dark sadness.
 Like gnashing of teeth and sack cloth and ashes. I wish I were kidding.

I cried every single day for a month. Most days I could not get out of my bed, or out of my jammies. I did not want to go anywhere, or talk about it to anyone. I had a couple of panic attacks. I hurt my hand punching our cinder block wall. I screamed into my pillow. I mean REALLY REALLY devastated. There is so much you don't know about the other job, and why I would've felt that way. I tried way to hard for people who didn't appreciate, for the most part. I agreed by my silence most of the time. I believe in the education of the whole child. I want to play music in my classroom while we work. I want to be late for library sometimes. I want to keep my kids out 10 more minutes at recess if I  want to. I kissed butt more times than I'd like to admit. I loved the wrong thing. I thought I loved the job, but I just love being with kids.
I am not a Christian, but I say "blessed" and "I'll pray for you". Sadly, that put me into a weird little box that I didn't belong in. 
It is possible you don't understand a word I am saying, or how it all fits in, but you know how hindsight is 20/20? Okay...

Since I knew I didn't have a job there, I had to move my kids to the school in our town, instead. That was one of my husband and I's better decisions. This school looks at our children as whole people. They need consideration, and time and softness. They get that here. 
And can you guess what? I have myself a new job at a place that is just wonderful. I have the chance to be exactly who I am here. To teach according to my beliefs (have you read this? It is also by me). 
I'm having to let go of people I thought were friends. That is hard. I'm still confused about all of that, but I'm doing so much better now. 
The direction of our lives was changed forever, and it seems, for the better.
I play music. I am late to library. I keep kids out longer for recess some days. I have two art periods. i teach real science. I do not live by the fractions on a clock.
I am in a good place for now.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

wisdom and occupation

from my new favorite tv show, Warehouse 13 (season 1 episode 10), when Artie realizes all the people in the diner are the Regents , the group in charge of Warehouse 13 (a top secret government warehouse where all sorts of magical artifacts are stored). Instead of having his piece of pie with his boss in the diner, he realizes he is having a top secret meeting with all the Regents:

Artie: You really expect me to believe that...?
Valda: What exactly were you expecting, Mr. Nielsen? Hooded cloaked figures standing in half-light around a perpetually burning flame?
Regent Archer: He's seen too many movies.
Artie: I... You know, I just would have thought that... this waitress is a Regent?
Valda: John Adams was a farmer. Abraham Lincoln was a small-town lawyer. Plato, Socrates were teachers. Jesus was a carpenter. To equate judgment and wisdom with occupation is at best... insulting

I had to share this, because that last bit that Valda says is an amazing thing for the writers to add in there. "To equate judgment and wisdom with occupation is at best insulting." I do not know or understand why some people only look at the paper trail you've acquired through your career.
 I knew a custodian that was a good friend of mine when I first started teaching. Every day after school, he'd come to my room first, talking as he cleaned and I did my work. Every time I talked to him, he told me about a different experience in his life: "Why when I was a formula one racer..." or "When I owned a paper mill..." or "When I was in charge of a group of women working at a cannery..." "When I lived in Sweden..." Always something different. He always had something wise and insightful, surprising. 
Once I asked him, "Ben? If you've done all of those things in your life, what makes you stay here, cleaning up after middle-schoolers and their messy teachers?" He laughed and said, "Why wouldn't I? I'm in charge of my own little world here. I get to meet people like you. I get to be around kids. I love it. Besides, I only have my high school diploma." 
On the one hand I felt the injustice of it. Couldn't anybody see he had so much more to offer?! Why do we have to place people on pay scales according to very expensive pieces of paper - book learning is one thing, but real experience is another. Then, on the other hand, Ben wasn't upset about it. He knew that the world offers certain things to those who are willing to pay for them, and he also knew that anything he got was going to be well-earned. I do not believe he HAD to be a custodian. I actually believe he liked being one. He was every teacher's decompression tank at the end of the day. His judgement and wisdom was needed.
 I am constantly reminded that there are short-sighted people and institutions in this world, and at the same time I'm reminded that it just makes me work all the harder to be the person I wish other people would be. It makes me want to go to places where real experience is actually trusted and longed for, respected and sought out. College degrees are one thing - they can be wonderful, exciting things. But they are just that, "things", which can actually mean any number of things, not always that someone has the experience to carry out the job they supposedly trained for, well.
 There is so much I want to say about this subject, but the essence of it cannot be summed up in a 15 minute interview where the woman says, "Be succinct. Also, we do not have time to look at your picture portfolio." Because she's already looked at your resume', and of course that says everything she needs to know about you. 
I recently had an interview where the committee members actually had, literally, 20 questions which required loads of talking on my end. They encouraged me to keep going and talked to me like a person. "What sorts of things would you do to help the child who just is not succeeding?" So many avenues, so many answers, so much experience to talk about. They wanted it all. They wanted me to talk them through my pictures. They nodded, they laughed. They understood. That was amazing. 
There are people out there who understand the worth of experience. If I'm not okay being a clerk at a department store, which I could be, then I must look in places where I am appreciated, for just who I am right now. I've worked very hard to understand and hone my skill sets. Nothing, not one thing, should replace experience.
I recently had someone ask me to apply for a job at his school, because, as he said, "I want real people working for me. People who've been there and know kids. You're an amazing teacher, and a good person. I want people like you!" 

John Adams was a farmer. Abraham Lincoln was a small-town lawyer. Plato, Socrates were teachers. Jesus was a carpenter. To equate judgment and wisdom with occupation is at best... insulting

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


This last year, we were asked to read a book called Focus, by Mike Schmoker for work
It had a lot of yadda yadda yadda, BUT it made a very short point that I felt was all I needed to get the idea.
The author pointed out that the hedgehog has avoided extinction because it can do ONE THING really well: it rolls into a ball when predators appear. The little spines on the hedgehog deter other animals from grabbing and eating. A hedgehog snuffles along, picking out slugs, grubs, snails, things like that (look at this ridiculously cute photo of a hedgehog) and then will suddenly roll into a rather intimidating looking ball of pokies to keep from being eaten. It does one thing really well. 
The fox, however, is rarely successful in her outings. The fox is truly wiley, always thinking ahead and trying out too many plans at once. If the fox would only think of one thing, and stick with it, she would be so much more successful in grabbing her dinners.
The lesson, then, was to be a hedgehog, not a fox, when teaching. You don't have to know or use all the different types of teaching there are, just do simple teaching really well. Hone your craft. Be the hedgehog.

that resonated with me
so i bought a little stuffed hedgehog and kept it on my desk at school
BE the hedgehog

and so, keeping this all in mind, will you not look at this wonderful, fantastical piece of art
Hotchiwitchi is AMAZING.
I think I must have for my birthday.

giving and receiving

"You often say, 'I would give, but only to the deserving.'
"The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
"They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

"Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
"And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

"And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
"And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
"See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
"For in truth it is life that gives unto life--while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
"And you receivers--and you are all receivers--assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
"Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
"For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father."

~The Prophet, On Giving - Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

flowers and feathers

 i love that this journal is all about me
i get to be selfish and talk all about me if i want to

i get to put up pictures of myself and say
i am beautiful

 i am a soft chair for my children
i am a warm neck for this sweet kitten who is sleeping right now
i am the kind of woman who puts flowers and feathers in her hair because she accepts the gifts that nature gives her
i have a sensitive heart that leaps at the slightest things - the blue of a rushing river, the narrowness of a footpath, a perfect duck feather laying on an ancient rock
i am a human being with sadnesses and foibles, the need for understanding and sweetness
i expect others to act like human beings, and am profoundly disappointed when they do not

do i have to learn to accept this?
can i accept that much of the world does not operate with kindness and sensitivity?
how do i hide this heart away from hurt?
i need to be a part of things that fly with soft grey wings
i need to be a part of things that grow and blossom in a gentle sun

Friday, August 31, 2012

I can see clearly now...

 my most recent artwork - It is about 5 ft x 5 1/2 ft
 see the flowers in my waistband, the little owl in my arm?
 see Big Mama?
I call this piece "clearly", for so many reasons


 Here is Windsor on the left, and Worcester on the right. Of course, you have to pronounce "Worcester" like this: Woostuh, just like you would if you actually lived in Worcester, Mass.

Here is 'himself', crowing and crowing. He is a wonderful cock-a-doodle-doo-er;
Poor Windsor sounds like he is just trying to clear is throat of an awful croup.

If roosters are raised together, they most likely will get along just fine. Most of the time, one of the roosters gets to be the President, and the other one is just part of the flock. That is how it is with mine.

Worcester went through a stage where he'd peck the crap out of your hand if tried to pick him up, now he just sidles around, looking at your warily, but he allows himself to be picked up now. He even will close his eyes and fall asleep if you rub under his beak.
After looking up his breed, he is, of course, a bantam, which means he is little. He is an Old English Bantam.

Windsor has always let you pick him up. He is the tiny little bantam there with the black chest. He is also a kind of Old English. There are many coloring types involved in the Old English. I had hoped for one of them to be a Cochin, as they have the feathers on down their legs, but alas...I'd also hoped for two hens, but alas...No more getting chicks that have a sign over them saying, "non-sexed".

How I LOVE my Chickens.
Off to make some lace curtains for them - they need more windows...

Monday, August 27, 2012

chickens and laces

Big Mama
She is an Australorp
She is an amazingly big hen - and I love her.
I raised her from a chick and had no idea what an Australorp was (she is an Australian breed that is a mix with an Orpington - I also have Buff Orpingtons, which are lovey little birdies, too - read more about her here.)
She is very old, for a chicken...she is 5. Now, chickens CAN live to be 15, even 20 years old, but I imagine that these are chickens who do not have to try and outrun a skunk or a racoon now and again.
As chickens get older, they dramatically stop laying eggs, but I LOVE her, so I don't care if she can give me eggs anymore. She has done her bit. She loves me to pick her up, and will even lean into me with her eyes closed. She is huge...have I mentioned that.
One day, when she was finally "all growed up" and as big as she was gonna get, I saw my daughter carrying something as big as she was. I thought it was a little dog! Then I saw that she had Big Mama in her arms. Big Mama wasn't flapping, she was looking worried, but she just let my little bitty girl carry her around.
I love that chicken.

 I think laces go well with chickens...I am seriously thinking about making lacey curtains for my little chicken family. Have I mentioned my little Banty Rooster yet? I need to get a good photo of him - he has a little brother who tries to be a rooster too, but the two of them love to be held. Worcester (which is OF COURSE himself's name) is an amazing little man. He is full of himself, as any good rooster should be. He did go through a naughty phase where he would peck the crap out of my wrists when I tried to pick him up, but he got over it. 
My daughter picked him up the other day and was rubbing under his beak - they have a little soft skin part under their beaks - and Worcester closed his eyes and put his head down. They are all little chicks at heart.
I told my neighbor about my old chicken and my naughty little rooster and he asked when I was going to put them in the stew pot. I said, "Oh no! I just like the eggs. I don't eat my chickens." He gave me that look like you would if you met a child who hoarded candy but never ate any of it. 

What I am really beginning to realize is that I love chickens for pets, and I want to put lace in their house. It means something about who I am.  
Today I was reminded that I am enough. Exactly who I am, is enough. If I ever try to go somewhere that doesn't accept my "enough", I don't belong there.

This comes back to me over and over again:
"Be who you are and say what you feel
because those who matter don't mind
and those who mind, don't matter.
~Dr. Suess

getting there

I'm waiting for fall to come
is getting there

Sunday, August 26, 2012

willow grief

I've tried to write about it several times
but I just couldn't. I was shaken. The tall structure I'd built for myself, had been knocked down. Not rocked softly with a call up to me, "Be careful, this is coming down!" But with a smile, and then a scary-quick, shattering hit with a sledge-hammer (hidden behind the back), 
as I fell I heard her say, "Well, have a really nice day." 
Have a nice day? 
What did she just say?
Do you know what I said back to her? I said, "Oh..."
All I said was, "Oh..."

What I didn't know, and wasn't ready for was the grief. I sobbed. I sobbed until my eyes hurt so bad, I had to shut them. I kept them shut to keep out the truth of what happened. 
Then I couldn't breath and my husband told me to lay down, but I knew I should put my head between my knees. When my breathing finally slowed, I glanced into my closet and do you know what I thought? I thought to myself, I should really have something to hang all my purses on rather than have them in a pile like that. No one hires someone who keeps their purses in a pile like that. 
have a really nice day...

I was part of a team.
I worked HARD. I did everything I could to do it RIGHT. I flaggelated myself whenever I stepped a toe out of line, even when no one else knew it. I was TWO MINUTES LATE TO RECESS DUTY...why am I so stupid, why can't I get it together. I did it all because I wanted, I needed, I thought I needed "have-a-nice-day" to really and truly LIKE me. What was I thinking?

Let's pretend that you have been training to be on a sports team - any team, any kind of team that requires specific knowledge, training, ability to deliver under pressure, grace, flexibility, endurance, poise - can you imagine that? Imagine that you have wanted to be on T-H-E team for 5 years. 

The first year, they patted your hand, yes we know you've studied and all of that, but we would really just probably use you for a sub, just in case. Okay, okay! I'd love that! I'd do that!

The second year, they let you be an assistant. Terribly, terribly low on the totem pole. You are not really on the team. You sit on the sidelines and bring them water. You aren't supposed to have opinions of your own here, in this capacity. But you work your ass off, making sure they know you are still TEAM material. Some people notice, most really don't. Still, I'm very close to T-H-E team, and that makes me happy.

The third year, you join a new team. You are the only player. You MUST collaborate with T-H-E team. You hope this is your chance to really SHOW them what you can do. You make playbooks and exercise routines all on your own. You ask their advice on your new rule books. You make special dates to show them what you've been doing. They seem impressed. They admire the work you've done.

The fourth year they have an opening on their TEAM! You know you've worked hard at getting ready to be the new player. You KNOW if you could just get in there, they'd believe you had the potential to be MVP!
You do everything to get ready for the interview - you just know you'll get this job, you just know it. You aren't young and cheap, and you do-not-have the right training...expensive I know, but you MUST get it.
devastation, but quick recovery...I'll just...I'll just mope a bit then I'll get on with life, I guess...
but lo! Mary Poppins calls, "You were our second choice, and we have another opening
 won't you come and be on our team?"
JOY! Joy and expectation. My dreams have come true. T-H-E TEAM wants ME. They want ME!
Work work work, work so hard you forget your daughter's 7th birthday, you stay late, you come early, you are on time to EVERY SINGLE THING (except recess duty sometimes, but other people miss it, too, and that seems normal).
Hooray, hooray, we can't wait for you to come play with us next year! We won every single game and now we are the best team in the district, and you KNOW you are excited to come back and be a part of T-H-E team again! 
Calmly, calmly, I prepare for the next interview. They said they loved me. They said I was great. They wrote great recommendation letters; they all led me to believe they'd choose me again. Life is good, life is amazing. I can't wait to do this again!

But lo! 
We've gone with someone else..mmmmkay...
Have a nice day!

Right now, I'm numb. I want to be angry. I want to feeeeeeel angry. But I feel numb.
I've not been eating. I force myself to eat right now, and that makes me kinda upset that they can affect me like this. But I thought I trusted them. I thought they were friends. I thought they believed in me.
I shouldn't have, they aren't, and they don't.
That is a bitter pill to swallow, Mary Poppins, and no amount of sugar is going to help that go down.

What I didn't realize was that this kind of job-loss causes real actual grief. I actually looked it up and felt (as much as you feel when you are numb and your heart feels like a lead weight in your chest) validated.
When you love your chosen career, your job is where the structure of your life lies. It is where your social circle probably is, and where your sense of worth comes from.
That was taken away from me.
It is a terrible, terrible blow.

What I keep trying to remind myself of is that I am always the willow. I bend but do not you know that you really can break a willow branch, but it takes real force. The branch almost doubles over on itself before it snaps a really wet snap. The bark splays out and usually stays intact in places, but it leaves a terrible wound that does not heal. Once viciously abused like that, the branch will hang listless, with its broken and offended part hanging lifeless. It is a sad-looking thing. That branch probably feels numb, wondering Why...maybe it says, "Oh..."

Friday, August 24, 2012

where I'm willing my heart to be

in the hopeful moments before
when things were possible
and the outlook was a calm fog
relaxed and in control

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Katie's Farm

I've decided to open up a little Etsy shop, and thought I'd let you all know about it. 

I'm planning on selling vintage and antique things - books right now - and also handmade goodies, like crocheted purses, or little handsewn mushrooms...I have a few more ideas as well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yachats, Oregon

 deliciously cold
 the beauty and calm we needed

 wide-washed, mirrored lines where 
water knits with earth
are a continual inhaling
-waiting for a question to form
 and feeling the answer
 at the same time-

the pelagic deep is full of mermaids
sea serpents

their moving magic
-like sugar dissolved-
washes over my brim-standing feet

and my eyes

 are clear

~Katie Estvold~

Saturday, August 18, 2012

wildfire season sunsets

 while I'm sorry about all the work our firefighters have to do to beat these wildfires down, 
 there certainly is a 
"silver" lining

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My "Anxious" Shawl

 This is the shawl I made while I was letting my son be a 4-H-er
It was a good lesson for both of being more hands-off and letting him make his own mistakes
AND letting him take more control of what he was responsible for.
 However it was hard on me, so I had to keep busy. 
I made this BEAUTIFUL, LUSCIOUS shawl for myself. I used one skein of each different color of Lion Brand's "Amazing" yarn that I could get my hand on.
they have names like, "Strawberry Fields", "Constellation", "Glacier Bay", "Wildflowers" and "Violets"

 I made up the pattern as I went along, which was so freeing and fun. I love the lacey edging I gave it, too.
I wore it to the beach this last week, and it proved to do its job, too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the realities

So living on a farm in the country...doesn't that sound so wonderful and serene and restful? Well, that is about 10% of the time. The other 90% is spent fixing things that broke.
We have a home that was built in 1948. The irrigation pipe is at least from 1948 as well. 
It is crooked and leaky and the sprinkler heads pop off at least once a week, sending spray everywhere, but where you want it. 
We share a well with the neighbor and at least once a week, we have to reprime the pump because one or the other of us has "maxed out the pump" by *gasp* doing laundry and dishes and a shower at the E-X-A-C-T same time. 
The chickens will get out of a tiny spot in the back of their run, or the dog will get into the chicken coop and eat eggs, or the pig will break his house again, or the hose will get left on and make "Lake Bacon" in his pen, or the Septic Pump Guy will back over your lawn sprinklers on his way to pumping out your septic because one of those sprinkler heads popped off again in the middle of the night, and it flooded the septic tank and there is "standing water" on top of the septic tank that smells like something from the far side of a parking lot of a rodeo.
The other day, I was trying to put one of those shower/tub splash guards up in our bathroom, and I found out that the wall behind the trim was soft enough I could've taken it out with a spoon, so I kept going until I'd taken out a chunk of wall that was about a 12" x 5" and found a bit of black mold behind there- my husband is fixing that right now - 
We still do not have cold water in the bathroom sink because the plumbing is so old on the cold water side, my husband has to figure out a different way to make the connection to the new sink. The old sink was, literally, from the 1950s, and while it was very vintage, it wasn't good vintage.
We make-do with just about everything around here - just need some baling wire to fix this, or prop that up with this, or hold it closed with that - I love what we do.
Our house (barn, hay shed, chicken coop, bunkhouse, ...) is not square, it is not new or flashy or even a little bit showy...
but it is ours. We own this home. We've lovingly painted its gray brick a creamy white, and planted flowers in front of it. It stands tall and tries oh so hard to be a solid, stable home. I am proud of what we've done, and what we continue to do.
Though it is hard, continuous work (heck we loaded and then stacked our own grass hay this year - by HAND - almost 2 tons!) but it is the most satisfying work I've ever done.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


like a weed with prickly edges
and soft leaves
bump-browsing through a tender carrot patch
I adore my son

I adore his freckles
those long eyelashes
his delicate, purpose-filled fingers
those shoulders that are starting to get a bit wider

the hair he wants styled differently, but doesn't care if it sticks up too much in back
I adore that, too.

I let weeds grow in my garden
because they have something to say
something to contribute

they are unruly, yes
but there is always something
always something
that I will adore:
a bit of delicate, curling vine
a little purple flower
an edible portion
the tallness

he sets himself apart these days
my weed-son

he walks a bit further ahead
or a lags a bit behind
not sure, himself, why he does this
he says yeah when I say nay
nay and yeah

we try to get each other to understand
listen to me, he says
listen to me, I say

we got up early one misty morning
and went on a walk 
on a lonely beach
and he held my hand
he hugged me
he grabbed my arm and looked up at me
like he did until the age of 8, always, ever

I grasped him hard
and kissed his eyes
and just in front of his ears
and the top of his head

we both said how much
how much
how much

we are learning to let each other be
and finding out how he wants to love me now
I, I am ever and always
-how much how much how much-
my weed-son

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


I have let the summer days trip past me again like some unnervingly fast ferris wheel. Crazy carnival music seemed to be playing while the sun beat down so hard it was making its own sound. There have been times when I couldn't stand it any longer and have shouted out, "Slow this thing down! Everybody stop!" then tried to explain my outburst by speaking to the rider under me, which is no great feat, conversationally shouting out to them with a pained smile, "I'm sorry to act so nervous, but I would like to just walk around sometimes...wouldn't you?" 
The rider looks embarrassed that I've mentioned the ride and looks away, seemingly too busy going round and round themselves (perhaps trying to reconcile the music with the time of the rounds the wheel was making or some such busy work), and the operator only acknowledges me with a sniff as I round by him, then he stops the whole gizmo with me at the top. Not, what I was planning, but a stop never-the-less.

The wheel of the year just keeps turning; The sun shines, the grass grows, leaves unfurl and turn bright. 

 I am pecking along like a hen with her head down, oblivious to the hands that are catching her from the backside. I've MADE myself stop in the midst - looking around like a good, cautious hen - climbing out of my seat and monkeying my way down and off the ferris wheel. 
I've sat outside with my morning coffee, listening to my roosters learning to crow and Tommy the hog snorting in the back. I've lazily watered a drought-stricken flower pot, praising the clover and dandelions...all of this before the "Busy" sets in for the day.

 I've been sitting in the midday sun, awaiting my 4-H orders at fair, crocheting a hot wool shawl on my lap, thinking to myself, "This is for winter. I am making this shawl for myself for winter. Why is this yarn called "Glacier Bay"? Oh, yes, I see. I do love the richness of color. Was that 5 or 6 chains? Did I already increase on this corner?" And there I went, not thinking about anything but what I was doing...however, I was still DOING.
Apparently, there are some people who can just sit and think of nothing...I think they call it meditating. That sounds like a super-power to me. Even when I sit, I think I need something to keep my hands busy; this is why I love hand-sewing or crocheting. I can watch movies, listen to my kids, and make mental lists for later while I create something.
There was once in early winter that my husband and I went to a place called "Summer Lake", which was not a lake at all at the time, but was only a lake during summer...curious. They had a "curative hot springs" there that we tried out, but mostly, I was taken aback by the "curative quiet". I went for a 2-hour walk out by the "lake-that-recently-was-and-would-be-again" where there was NOTHING. No houses, no hills, no plants but sagebrush, and no sound. It was cold enough not to have bugs at this time of year, so I didn't hear flies or anything. I just sat down, looking out at the nothingness and let my mind melt into it. I was in awe. I had this giddy feeling like I've only felt before when I was playing hide-and-seek as a child and no one found me for an hour. I had brought a journal with me, but nothing would come. The quiet wouldn't allow me to write anything. I just sat, hearing myself breathe. Now and again, a visiting wind. Now and again I'd notice a coyote track, or rabbit droppings. But I only noticed it. I didn't soak it in, or wonder aloud at it, or try to track it down. 
Why do I operate by extremes? I'd love to be one of those people (are there really any?) who can be balanced and calm and "just busy enough" and "just rested enough"...
Hmmmm...Summer Lake in Winter, or Ferris Wheels in Summer?

Monday, July 02, 2012

what I want

(image is from the Fairy Tale Tarot by Lisa Hunt - I love it and want to own it because she tells stories in one illustration)

I almost wrote that this is what I WANTED to be like right now, and the more I reflected, the more I realized that I AM this right now. The Sorceress is floating over the water/inner-life or is made from the water/inner-life and seems to be in either morning or evening. I can't tell if it is Spring or Winter. She is gathering or all leads me to believe that she is in a state of possibility. A Sorceress has the power to make things happen - she is one of the cunning folk who can make things happen, or make things not happen. I am in this state of  possibility as well. 
I am again between jobs - which is a sad place to be in, if I let it. I am grateful for many things, but I do not like the feeling of the unknown too much. There is so much we cannot plan for. So much that may or may not be.
Because I know this, I have decided to narrow down my future. I am  not leaving everything to the winds this year. It is kind of like that saying about "you-know-what-ing" or getting off the pot. I have to make some decisions for myself. However, I know that when I've finally made decisions for myself, the strangest opportunities come up. 
So, it comes down to this: I have this basket of wonderful potential and I can choose to gather it up, or strew it out. I can choose when, I can choose how. I CAN CHOOSE. How empowering is that?
I choose, even when I'm in an interview. If I want the job, I'll be choosing to get that job the whole time. If I do not, I think they'll know it, too. 
We have a field that is full of buttercups that didn't get swathed today...because the swather wouldn't fit through the strange and wonderful all at once. I was open to the possibility of it getting bailed up, but didn't particularly want it to. Did I choose that? In a way, I did. I didn't even measure the gate to see if the swather could get in. I could've measure it, but didn't. I could've taken down a few more posts, but chose not to. Aww well, I said to myself. He'll probably fit. Nope. I think I chose that. I'm happy I have my meadow of buttercups today. The other field is all cut and will be ready to bail for our animals in the winter, which  makes me exceedingly happy. One for the animals and one for me. One for the body and one for the soul. 
We choose, even when we aren't totally aware we've made a choice.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

what I know

I get mad when people tell me what I should do. 

I got made the other day when an older woman said she thought the world was going to hell in a hand basket BECAUSE people don't sit down at a table to eat. Really?! IF the world were going to hell (and I see much evidence every single day to restore my faith that we are NOT going to "hell in a hand basket"), would it really be because there are many families who do not sit at a table to eat? I would say that a family falls apart when the father hits his family, or the mother is addicted to meth, or the child is in a street gang...NOT because they don't sit down at a table to eat. 
When the woman said this, I could feel the ire rising in me, and I knew I could decide to just keep it in, or I could say I said something. I said, "My family rarely sits at the table anymore to eat." She actually gasped and grabbed at her throat...what?! I kind of chuckled and said, "I make real breakfast for my kids, but I will often put it in a cup with a lid so they can eat in the car. We have quite a ways to drive to get to school and work." She shook her head and pursed her lips, so I continued, "We get home so late that the kids will get home, take care of the farm animals, do their homework and then it is dinner, bath and bed, so we often eat on the couch and cuddle together and watch something." 
What I didn't say, and should have, was that my family is constantly talking, laughing, cuddling and working together. We do EVERYTHING together. I do not care that we don't sit at a table and eat with the proper fork; I truly don't. I do not think that sitting properly at a table to eat is an indicator that the world has great things coming to it. 
What I do believe is worth my time is to teach my children to be kind: to themselves, to other human beings, to animals, to the earth. We have practical lessons all day long at our fingertips, and I take every long suffering moment to do it. If there is anything I worry about with children these days (and as an educator, I see it constantly), it is that there are many of them that seem to believe that they "deserve" and "should get" everything they want. They don't seem to understand that hard work is what they need to do to get what they want. They should learn to ask with politeness. They should learn to respect where things come from, and where they are going. I believe that I am teaching my children those values.
Maybe when I am old(er), I'll be nagging at some young mother about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket because of such and thus, and they won't give a snit because their values will be different again, and just as worthy and full of hope for the future as well. Then again, maybe I'll learn to keep my big mouth shut and look and listen a little more as I get older before I judge an entire generation.

As proof that what I do with my children is amazingly worthwhile, look at the photo I snapped of them standing together in the pasture. They were ACTUALLY looking at the alpacas next door, testing who liked butter best with the buttercups, looking at bugs on the tall ends of grass, and laughing, laughing, laughing...ending in this sweet embrace. My heart was swelling, and I was really happy to have my phone to snap a picture of them together like this. I see them like this often, but not always in such a wonderful setting as this...yes, for today I can feel pretty good about what I do with my children.

Beautiful Things

 18th century hand work --- I'm so inspired by the colors and textures

 a lake in New Hampshire --- it was actually a very warm, torrentially rainy day, that had a soft ending

 the simple designs of the 18th century from Old Sturbridge Village, CT

~~I'm going to scrub "the shiny" off of my farmhouse table and bring it down to the real wood. I've just hung my old washboards on my kitchen wall, and am very please about it...ahhhh, the simple things~~

 Old Sturbridge Village --- pottery --- be still my heart
~~I'm always on the lookout for good pottery~~

 a lovely rooster --- what a handsome fellow
~~two of our little banties we got in Spring turned out to be ROOSTERS! I love it. I've named one of them Worcster...but I need a very DICKENS sort of name for the other one...they are the tiniest little things...I love hearing them learn to crow~~


On my list this summer:

painting the house on the outside
paint the barn
get my application ready for another job next fall
caring for my roses
getting rid of anything we didn't put in the house from the move last year
resurrecting the old fireplace
QUALITY time with my children