Monday, June 29, 2009

morning poem

Dog face at my nose
Sunshine meditation smile
Know that peace is now

(Thanks to Lisa for her own haiku and for Zen Ties and to Tracey who recommended Zen Shorts and of course to Jack, for the dog face.)

daisies in bloom- Eva with Calendula and her bean plant

Sunday, June 28, 2009

crewneck to cardigan

I finished up Eva's sweater- a 30 inch crewneck in acrylic yarn- without the neck ribbing. She wanted a cardigan and I have been planning throughout to knit the sweater in the round and cut it at the end to make a cardigan (ala Elizabeth Zimmerman). After finishing up today, I spent some time looking around and watching some other brave souls cut their knitting. This evening I did the same. Yes! I figured it out and I have to say I am very excited about the results and what this means for the future of cardigans in my life- without sewing up and purling on and on! All that is left is the ribbing around the neck edges and border which I hope to finish up tonight and tomorrow. Finished sweater to be posted soon- complete with golden star and heart buttons Eva picked out herself.

before the cut and after

basting up the center, machine stitching on either side to create steek, cut along center

Link I used on how to make a steek if you didn't knit one in to begin with.

One video on cutting a steek and another one on picking up stitches afterward.

Monday, June 22, 2009

what a little carrot won't fix...

So today Samuel has been on the phone the entire day talking with his good friend Jack. They talk quite a bit on the phone anyway, but today was monumental in the length of the talk. He took a short break in the middle of the day to go to the library and they picked right up where they left off when we got back home. The play video games together and talk about their Mario trading cards, the video game they are making together, things like why Samuel won't ever try the tooth fairy (too creepy having a fairy come into the bedroom when you are asleep), why Jack prefers glazed donuts to cupcakes...Just now I heard "Lego figures- all of them are psychic!" Now they are discussing what they will wish for if they find a genie. That genie is going to have his work cut out for him. They have their bases covered. You get the idea.

I was just reflecting too on how much physical exercise he gets while he talks. He walks around and is in almost constant motion while on the phone, walking at a fairly brisk pace, sometimes running, and spending most of his time outside in the garden, walking among the plants on the various paths we have forged. Turns out this is a really wonderful way to spend time- outside, active, mentally stimulating, connecting with a friend, laughing...

Eva has been busy playing different games. Today she spent a good part of the day with the fin part of her mermaid costume only rather than dressing up with it (she did this earlier and went to the store as a mermaid) she pretended the fin was alive- a creature named Fin who could talk in a language only Eva could understand. Eva and Fin were incredibly helpful together. They folded and hung laundry, helped clean Albert's cage, watched Albert, dug up carrots for Albert, held Albert- I see a theme. Fin is resting now and Eva is off checking on some of her other games.

I was just now going through the photos on the camera because I know I took some pictures of a few scenes Eva has set up right now and I see that Fin and Eva took another bazillion pictures of Albert today as well, because you know you can never have too many of those. Such a cutie, we are all smitten.

This is the last bit of land that there is and everyone has gathered to be on this land together- all except the girl in the bucket (who no one likes {sniff}) who is pushed along by the alligators. It is a little like a flood story going on here I think.

And the beavers have built a dam. Can you believe we actually- well, Eva, really- found the-green-plastic-frog-with-his-mouth-wide-open?!! (And I still don't know where he was!!) Here he is partaking of the lovely mud and goo created by the beaver dam. There were others enjoying the abundance and finery as well.

Squirrels make a home...

Agnes giving some old cat love this morning; knit horses I made over the weekend- the manes are tricky (with summer reading...)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

on sweatpants and sweatshirts and such

There was something that one of the kids said yesterday that was so funny and after I laughed and laughed I thought, I am definitely going to put that on my blog tonight and somewhere inside my brain something prompted me to write it down, at least a crib note, right then because I might forget it and another part of me said, no way, I will never forget that! *That * was so funny it will be imprinted on my brain forever, ready to be retrieved at a moment's notice for the perfect blogging moment. And yet, no. This is clearly not what happened. I have been wracking my brain all day long to remember, gently questioning, even begging. No luck. There is apparently a lot going on around here and while I can recite many things off the cuff these days, a random humorous story from the day before is not one of them.

So then earlier today Samuel said something that was humorous {maybe again because I can't remember which child was amusing from the day before...although to be honest probably both at some point said something that cracked me up} and while it may not have been quite as humorous as whatever-it-was-someone-said-yesterday, it was funny enough that I actually wrote it down so that I could remember to write it down later.

So just now I sat down at the computer and thought- oh yes! I wrote down something I wanted to write about and I went and got the little notebook (the one with my dream from last night still written on it from around 3:00 am...) and looked at my little notes on Samuel's-humorous-comment and dang it if I couldn't remember what the heck it was all about. Shoot.

Ah! But then it all came back to me and I see it is worthy of a blog post after all. But first some background. Samuel wears predominately sweatpants and sweatshirts (and when I say predominately sweatpants and sweatshirts, I really mean only sweatpants and sweatshirts- except when he wears a t-shirt, but then really only red t-shirts or something with Mario on it, unless those are in the wash and then he might, might! wear this one blue shirt we have just in case everything else is being washed- but this is rare.). He likes the feel of sweats, says they are comfortable and who am I to mess with that. There is enough going on in life and worrying about clothing choices is not high on my list. I say be comfortable and enjoy yourself as much as possible.

So the sweats that he wears get pretty bedraggled looking. I patch them up and mend them as best I can but they are only sweats and to be honest I don't think they were made to be worn all day, everyday. Just cotton sweats. With plenty of holes in them at this point. We buy more and they get holes and so on. Even I was a little taken aback, though, by the sweatshirt he had on today. There were large- as in elbows-fit-through-them- holes in both sleeves and several pen sized holes throughout the body as well. How did this get past me? I pointed them out to Samuel, saying something like, wow check out those holes. I need to sew those up- if I can that is- because to be honest this sweatshirt looked like it was on its last leg and would soon be relegated to the rag pile. (One thing I loved about our rat Charlie was that he liked to sleep in Samuel's leftover sweats.)

Samuel looked down at the holes and at his arms and said "This sweatshirt is fine. People care too much about style and fashion for my taste." I laughed. How true, how true. We do put an awful lot of thought into how we look, for better or worse- or at least some of us do- because Samuel clearly has other things on his mind most of the time. Although even Samuel thinks about it to some extent some of the time.

For instance, later in the day I found the sweatshirt discarded on the floor and noticed Samuel was wearing another one, this one fresh, hole-free, stainless, clean. Ah well, civilization pokes its way into the best of us at some point. Just now I stopped writing for a bit because I wasn't sure where this was going. Words like land-fill and ego started filling my head, things started feeling a little pedantic for my taste. What exactly am I trying to say here with this humorous comment by Samuel? I am definitely not going for lecturing, that is for certain. Something to do with following our hearts? Absolutely. Trusting what is meaningful to us? Definitely! Allowing my children to follow their bliss? A resounding yes! And of course something in there about letting each of us be who we are and loving what is.

Too pedantic after all? I can't tell anymore. I do think I am going to try and sew up that other sweatshirt. Samuel said it was really comfortable and he likes the color. Surely there are a few more days left in it...

Friday, June 19, 2009

So we went to a fountain today and it turns out we were the only people in the greater Portland area who did not know about an impending downpour. We were caught in said downpour, our stuff stuck across two streets without us at the fountain while we wandered around with pizza getting wet in to-go boxes (we had been thinking picnic after all), hiding out from the rain temporarily and later becoming so drenched we no longer ducked our heads or pretended that anything we did could save us from becoming simply sopping, soaking wet.

I would say that the worst thing about getting caught in the downpour today (unexpectedly, but really how else are you caught in a downpour- we certainly don't plan such things- at least not often...) was losing some of Samuel's Mario trading cards. Made of paper, they were our most fragile possession. The stand up ones in particular were susceptible to paper's tendency to bend and twist and rip when wet. And so it goes. Our friend Nicole put them under a tree and I carried them, wrapped in swimsuits and t-shirts. And finally, Samuel secured them in the car to be looked through and cried over later in the afternoon.

The best thing about being caught in the downpour today (again, unexpectedly- can you plan such a day to turn out so brilliantly?- surely you can plant the seeds and allow for goodness to flow but the hows?- they seem to line themselves up) was ending up across the street at the pizza place with good friends and conversation, surprise caffeine and of course pizza while our kids played and entertained in dazzling ways, this way and that, far beyond what I myself could have planned. Imagine saying, "And you shall run and play in this funny building and tap the windows and look at a stuffed moose head and you shall do this for hours, all the while giggling." Or with the other one, "And you shall have your fill of chocolate chip cookies and playing DS battles with your favorite friend and you shall be encouraged to play for hours while we think we are waiting out the rain..." You can't plan these things but you can let them happen.

I am finally winding down from this afternoon's caffeine. I don't drink caffeine- not normally. Let me qualify that I do occasionally drink caffeine to help ward off impending migraines *very occasionally* but rarely if never do I drink caffeine just for the sake of it. My body feels a little out of sorts and is wondering if the calming tea (thanks Kate) will really do the trick. Sleepier than I imagined I would be at this hour, I still have quite a bit of energy, hence this late night (for me) blog post. Oh well, good fun and a little caffeine never really hurt anyone after all.

In the spirit of goodness, here are some amazingly cute picture the kids and I took of Albert tonight-

Thursday, June 18, 2009

dark chocolate coconut bliss

So it turns out the kids did not care for the original Battlestar Galactica- something about it being too challenging to follow the story and the characters looking too much alike. They are now enjoying Knight Rider- again- and it has turned out to be one of the favorite series they have tried, second only to Lost In Space, I think. I mean we haven't tried that many series, but of the ones we have tried, Knight Rider is a hit. They coaxed me (Eva's word...) into trying Netflix.

And then we tried the previously unthinkable today. We super glued Barbie's shoes on. Can you believe it? There is something so liberating and freeing in knowing those tiniest blue heels will never ever come off of those permanently flexed feet. Imagine that. Barbie {in shoes!} climbing trees and no emergency run outside at dusk searching for a lost shoe by candlelight- I mean flashlight. Or even moonlight. No single shoe floating around the house waiting to be found...

Barbie brushes all lined up and ready to go

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

yoga with a guinea pig

how's that for flowing chaos...

Without a doubt a lovely day was had by all at the park- we seem to do best when I hope for the best and expect nothing at all. I {worry} after a good day at the park that the next will bring extra misery from the high expectations we all seem to carry on about. Is the key word there {worry}? Too harsh of a word choice? {Wonder}? How about- I {wonder} after a good day at the park if the next time will bring equal or greater joy? It certainly feels better. Why is it harder to remain detached after a particularly good experience? Something about wanting that good experience again, pushing away the bad? Fearing the bad. Yes. Because let's face it- the bad can be so bad and even worse after the good.

Maybe the pessimists have the secret after all. Samuel- who by the way I would not label as a pessimist so much as a critical thinker- had some wisdom about this the other day in the car (the car and just-before-bed so often being the keepers of wisdom around here). He said it was *so much better* (his words) to expect that something bad would happen and then feel really happy when it didn't than to wish for something good to happen and be disappointed if it didn't.

And what I think- at least lately- after my recent experiments with letting the chaos flow (there are those words again) is that regardless of what happens, it all has a flow and all we need to do is allow it. And it certainly doesn't hurt to hope for the best and expect nothing at all.

I went to the park without a camera- again- and thought about all of the shots I would have taken if...
Eva spinning with my grandma's pink table cloth I took as a park blanket
and using the same cloth as hair to fall down the sides of the play structure as she played Rapunzel
and Samuel playing his first game of kick ball
and practicing getting on and off the merry-go-round (which he learned to do 2 weeks ago for the first time ever at another park day and which, when I saw it happen that first time, brought tears to my eyes over my boy reaching out, continuing to reach out, no matter what, when given the time and support to do so...)
and Samuel laughing and laughing at silly boy talk
and Eva laying down on her belly with another girl while I spun them around and around on the merry-go-round with their hair touching the ground and noticing all that was under the merry-go-round
and just now both kids checking the freezer every five minutes to see if the otter pops had frozen yet? what price for corn syrup and food dyes to become flavored ice? in the freezer...
smiles and pink faces and smooth talk and connection between brothers and sisters. Or bickering and more checking and frustration. And anger with the otter pops for taking so long...
and resisting the urge to lecture over being happy for having the otter pops in the first place (oh but that's me).

and this is more about gratitude now
with cats sitting and purring on laps
while I write this
and guinea pigs jumping around eyeing lettuces
and children playing now that bedtime feels nearer
and testing more otter pops
wondering when they will stop
and finishing up these thoughts to go read more Alice
which as it turns out is much better to read than to watch.

And noticing now, again, that the flow comes when you allow it...

I love this quote from Nine Kinds of Naked by Tony Vigorito-
"You are a molecule of water, but you are drenched in the ocean. Realize this and you become the ocean"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

as close as I could get...

Monday, June 15, 2009

and on

We did more strawberry picking today and I am hoping to go for just a bit tomorrow. If I keep it short I seem to be able to get a little more picking in.

On another note, I made this cilantro salsa today (from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison). I am thrilled that I remembered to buy the cilantro to go with the mint that is currently so prolific in my yard!

Blend everything up in the food processor-
1 large bunch cilantro (stems removed)
1/2 cup mint leaves
2 garlic cloves (of course I used 4 garlic scapes...)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil (or to desired consistency)
juice of 1 lime (lemon works well although I see now the lime would really make it)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 jalapeno chile, seeded (this is optional to me but in the original recipe)

OK and she says use it as a dip, in pita sandwiches, with hard cooked eggs, or spooned over grilled vegetables. I ate it on sprouted grain toast with melted raw cheddar!

The first daisy started to bloom today-

One of Eva's floral creations- this one for the pandas?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

watch it!

creativity- the process of having original ideas that have value- Sir Ken Robinson

to bee

I went around to the side of the house today ostensibly to bring back the yard debris bin but probably more accurately to check out the daisies growing over there because the ones near the garden are on the verge of blooming. I was blown away when I heard so many bees buzzing around and I actually looked around for a hive hidden somewhere. There were dozens and dozens of bees- I counted at least 5 or 6 different kinds- on the tiniest white flowers on a usually very nondescript bush near the daisies by the side of the house. I had no idea what a bustling bee haven it was over there, clearly the place to bee...

seriously, click on the photos- the bees are fun up close!

getting comfortable

I am finishing up my second batch of strawberry jam. What started out as a mildly melancholy sort of day turned into a wildly productive one. The lawn is taken care of, three areas in the yard were cleaned up, the tomatoes were given more room, the kitchen was cleaned, the refrigerator was cleaned out (OK- not all of the refrigerator was cleaned out. Not the um bottom produce drawer, for instance. But the rest of it. Nearly.) Jam was made!

I realized again this morning that while I understand when my kids are going through periods of disequilibrium (although sometimes I admit to being pulled to this realization rather abruptly) I am less likely to take note of this tendency in myself. This morning I bumped into the realization that perhaps this was what was currently happening- a period of disequilibrium. Chaos, if you will. One of those times that takes you by surprise after a long and engaging flow has slowly or quickly come to an end.

Disequilibrium can have a flow of its own, if only we allow it. Accept it. Suggest to ourselves that nothing is wrong. It could be argued that it is during these times that the growing is done. What we have learned, who we are becoming blends into who we were until we can no longer tell the difference. We expand. In fact it is these periods of disequilibrium that ready us for the flow of equilibrium. For all that we become. Making peace with this allows us to embrace these times and accept the changes, the breakthroughs, the revelations that they bring. And the chaos. Especially the chaos.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
-Romeo and Juliet

I am really enjoying the bounty of the garden and the smell of the season. Today I made tea with borage, mint, lemon balm, red clover, chamomile and nettle (the nettle isn't from my garden- I picked it on Sauvie Island).

berries this morning...

Yesterday we went to the zoo. If I had taken my camera I would definitely have taken a picture of Eva standing in one of those pools with a small waterfall, the ones that people throw coins into and make a wish? Or maybe some people just throw coins? Some just make a wish? She stood with her pants pulled up and her sleeves dripping wet gathering coins from the bottom of the pool. Samuel sent her back in a second time to gather coins for him. I told her that the zoo had posted a sign saying they did not want people to swim or wade in the water and that if the zoo security people saw her in there they would most likely tell her to get out of the water. She was not deterred. She said "I am not wading or swimming in this water. I am standing." I smiled. Somehow I thought this fact would be lost on the zoo security person and that his focus would be on getting me to get her out of the water. We left soon after.

Eva and her friend spent quite a bit of time looking at the naked mole rats and pining for them afterward, imagining them to be such perfectly cuddly lovable pets. Oddly, I learned they are actually more closely related to guinea pigs (hey we have one of those!) than to either moles or rats. I think of all the animals we saw at the zoo the naked mole rats appealed to the girls' sense of but-this-could-fit-not-only-in-my-home-but-also-in-my-pocket sensibility- something that neither the giraffe nor the elephant nor the mountain lion could do. They do seem to be just the little creature to dress up and push around in the little red wagon. Except of course that they are not. But the guinea pig? Now he enjoys a little ride around in the wagon, provided you give him a purple carrot or two.

Monday, June 8, 2009

peas please

I found more beets bolting yesterday- the last of those first beets I planted. The second planting is still doing well. I juiced the ones who were starting to bolt and was surprised to find some pretty good sized beets on a few of them. We are loving the purple carrots I planted- especially the guinea pig who now calls out to me to bring him snacks when he is hungry (wheek wheek wheek!). I guess we have crossed over just a little bit. He pauses before scurrying into this cave when we walk by and definitely knows he is going to get something good when we get him out- today fresh carrots, lettuce and strawberries- all from the garden.

There are peas and more peas and then some peas. Wow! I planted them all together with sweet peas and they are quite a sight out there with the poppies and borage. The tomatoes are growing and the scarlet runner beans are about 8 inches high now. It seems to me the fennel is growing more quickly this year. I am tempted to actually eat it this year after trying some raw at a friend's house. Normally I grow it for the bees because the cooked fennel I had a couple years ago was not what I was looking for.

The onions and garlic are all flowering and tonight I used some of the garlic stalks and flowers in the chard fritters I made. Wow! The garlic flowers and stems are incredibly flavorful. Apparently I am not out of garlic. I am looking forward to digging up the garlic to see how much is down there. The last time I did this I found something like forty heads of garlic- so much garlic. I tried braiding the stalks and was somewhat pleased with my results. This year I may skip that step.

That brings me to our strawberries which are some of the best berries I have ever tasted. I planted some borage near them and that is taking off as well. Apparently the borage keeps the strawberries healthier and resistant to little buggies eating them (although we have plenty...) and more flavorful. I do believe it is working! Now if only I had remembered to plant the carrots near the tomatoes. I also need to clear out an area for the watermelon to expand into. I have high hopes that this year I can grow a melon!

Looking forward to freezing more strawberries tomorrow after upicking and thinking up things to do with all of the peas!


Check out the peas at the farmers market and in the garden- wow they're pea-licious!

"something potentially more dangerous than a Cylon outpost..."

The kids are watching the original Battlestar Galactica series and loving it. I have to chuckle at how familiar it all is- the characters, the song, the voices...

Eva asked me the other day if when she died she could come back as a worm? She said she likes worms so much. Not as much as earwigs, though. Earwigs are her favorites.

I made the first jam of the season tonight- strawberry. Going to the upick tomorrow to pick more strawberries. Hooray for upicking!

Samuel let me take some pictures of him in his new Mario shirt!

Friday, June 5, 2009

driving down the road samuel asked me why mario has an M on his hat commencing a conversation about {ha!} monogramming and whether or not i know of anyone who monograms their clothing? do i? i could not for the life of me remember and all that came to mind were land's end adds and monogramming towels and beach bags and i giggled and then i remembered laverne and shirley! and the L on laverne's sweaters and drove down the road laughing laughing laughing about those sweaters and that show. the kids joined me when i described lenny and squiggy- hello!- opening up the door whenever something the slightest bit unsavory was mentioned- hello! and then what would they do? samuel asked and i went on to explain the basic gist of the show and sang just what makes that little ole' ant...much to the delight of eva who laughed and laughed and forgot she was carsick all at the same time. i have to say i did love happy days but laverne and shirley has a special place in my heart. we're gonna do it our way, yes our way, make all our dreams come true, me and you.

jumping spider who jumped at me when my photographing became too much- i still couldn't get quite close enough. i would like a spider lens.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

morning meditation {again}

Eva using the incense burner...
We're all set- the place is all picked up and ready for our cleaning person to come clean our house tomorrow. I'm clean, the dog's clean, the guinea pig's cage is clean, the kids are clean- well, the kids are cute- I mean really, how cleaned up do kids really need to be? As I as saying, we are all set. I did all the things that she doesn't do (washed the sheets, made the bed, picked up toys, took out recycling. I cleaned the patio and the rain watered the plants.) . A pathway is cleared so that she can do what she does do- namely clean and shine and sparkle and scrub. It is a luxury that I really appreciate. She cleans every two weeks but this time it has been a month because of the chicken pox (although goodness knows I could have used the help during that time as well) so I am at the least doubly excited and appreciative this time.

Yesterday before we met friends at a park I picked up some amazing sandwiches for me and the kids for lunch. I for one was very hungry and had been waiting to sit down and eat my sandwich, some chips, a smoothie...I settled for a few bites of sandwich and some water and was off to the tire swing with a few wistful backward glances at my sandwich, all wrapped up again and awaiting my return in my bag.

When we came back to the table I was surprised to find that two ravens had opened up my bag (apparently they had been watching us the whole time), taken out the sandwich, unwrapped! and taken apart! the sandwich and flown away (just as we approached) with two pieces of the bread. I was doubly surprised because Samuel and his friend had been sitting at the table next to my bag with the sandwich the whole time. Later when I was telling Samuel about it in the car on the way home he was incredulous- no way. Ravens took your sandwich? I said he and his friend had been playing their DS while the ravens took off with the bread. His reply? "I could see that. I get very focused when I am playing the DS." Yep. Very focused.

When I got home I was hoping to salvage some of the sandwich but there were bird prints all over the cheese. You get the idea. Jack had a lovely turkey sandwich- or at least the turkey part. The ravens got the bread.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Today, driving down the road, a flash of awe for this life, for my life, for all that it has been, for all that it is. Understanding. What we call epiphany. For who I am- now. For who I have been. The flow of it all. Step back from your life. Look closely. Look clearly. Nothing is wrong. Nothing should have been. Nothing to regret. Nothing to take back. All is well. All that you have become. All that you have done. Who you choose to be. Now.

an ode to what is good-
Parmesan cheese
why not say flowers?
soft shirts
guinea pigs
and for them carrots
and for me watermelon
and for Samuel red
and for Eva hearts
and for each of us joy in our lives
did I forget cats? of course not!

pterodactyl's nest of rose petals and peony blossoms

Monday, June 1, 2009