"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Filmography Beauty

Two videos to share today that have nothing in common except a link to tragedy (floods and car accidents) but a focus on beauty. Both are sort of dreamy and poignant.

The first film is a flooded May field in Austria which, I stumbled on and was just kind of open-mouthed over. It looks like this European footage was taken during flooding last year in the spring. Because we're having floods here at the moment and lots and lots of rain this spring (I heard it was a record for wettest spring in New York) I have floods on the mind. Mostly floods are scary or at least debilitating but this flood is so pretty. Hope you enjoy. Love the apple tree in bloom and the dandelion, stinging nettles and other meadow plants at the end.

And then this next film is one of the most poignant and beautiful commercials I've ever seen. Regardless of what you think of seatbelts you have to admit there is beauty here and genius of the artistic and yet low budget kind. Love the emotion and symbolism.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Vanity House Hunting List

Back the great house-hunt. Today I hit the roads in earnest and chalked up a lot of addresses viewed. I had been a little procrastinatory about the whole thing before and was taking a while to rev my engine up to full power again on the whole process. Somehow starting over feels like such a big deal, even though we never really got anywhere to speak of on the farmhouse I fell in love with. But, this weekend there was a bunch of new properties listed that fit our criteria on paper and look well worth viewing so I'm off burning gas again, peering down driveways and madly scribbling notes while idling by the side of the road.

Of course the whole business of buying a home is in many ways, deadly serious...gigantic investments of money, huge risks, so much discussion and evaluation and work to line up values with your spouse so that you can both find the perfect nest together. All that aside, there's frippery involved. Of course there is...I'm involved. Today a little window into the silly small things that I'm looking for or hoping for or dreaming of but don't dare expect to find...etc. Just the slightly embarrassing bits that I can only share with you loyal reader types if you promise not to tell. Shhhhh.....

Little Things I Long For In A House (But You Better Not Tell):
  • A romantic street name. I know this doesn't matter but, somehow if I'm really truthful it does make a difference to me. I would be wooed easily but a tiny cottage on Chipmunk Lane but the same house on Center Ave. somehow seems much less sparkly.
  • Old plantings. I am a sucker for grandma's lilacs and old heritage apple trees of unknown variety that still bear but are in need of a good firm trim to dress them up the coming fall. A always says, "You can plant your own plants! That's a silly reason to choose a house." And I know he's right but...but...but..*sigh*
  • Ramshackly garden sheds, old chicken coops or small barns that have fallen into rescue-able disrepair. I love hints of old farms or at least lush old gardens...signs that once this property produced and was dearly loved by somebody long ago, little outbuildings give me that sort of warm and cozy feeling. 
  • Big maple trees with stout branches, just right for hanging a swing off of....bonus points for a charming view of said tree and imaginary swing from the kitchen sink.
  • A greenhouse. I realize this is rather unlikely but...a girl can dream. (just keep it on the down low)

  • A particular shade of whipped butter yellow with white trim. This color just makes me go weak in the knees, I've dreamed of a house in this hue since I was a wee thing.
  • Garden beds rimmed in rocks and/or raised bed vegetable plots all marked out already and neatly positioned in the sunshine. (Pitter pat, pitter pat)
  • A root cellar...I realize this is about as likely as the greenhouse wish but, folks, its in my secret heart...how great would that be? *sigh*
  • A walking distance little corner store, for those nights when I forget to buy milk or you really need a coffee quickly. Its not necessary but, its part of my fantasy. 
  • Moss between the paving stones that make up the walk to the door. I realize that many homeowners, yea even master gardeners are busily scraping moss off their stones and Round-uping any weeds that manage to creep in between the cracks but, I'm weird...I don't care if its a slipping hazard....give me a misting of green moss or some run-away creeping thyme or a little irish moss and I'll be sold.
  • A small woodstove. Nothing enormous, nothing truly productive, just the pretty sort of little stove set on curving legs in the corner of the living room or a distant edge of the kitchen...something that will make me feel a touch more pioneer and will embolden me about future power-outs. Extra points for a bit round hoola-hoop of a firewood ring at the back door that comes with the house.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Drowsy, Rainy Day...

Am feeling so foggy suddenly: slow moving, sleepy, sluggish, and a little mentally fuzzy to boot. Didn't do a lot today except stay in and watch the rain mist down on the daffodils, fold a little laundry, wash dishes and read books with the boys. OH yes, and nap. I napped. I never nap but, I couldn't seem to help myself, bed was calling and wow was it hard to get up afterwards.

The baby has settled pretty low, my lung capacity doesn't seem to be so affected and although I need smaller portions than normal at mealtime, I'm not having heartburn or any other symptoms of Baby Bird floating high. I am having quite a lot of practice contractions and feeling like I have to run to the bathroom every few minutes. Just not a lot of room left in the lower quadrant anymore.

The weather is feeling more and more springlike too which makes me think more and more about how close I'm getting to the end. I'm in my 33rd week this week and A plays poking games with Baby Bird in the evening and in the morning I watch the pussywillows floofing out into pale yellow baby chick fuzz on the tree outside our bedroom window. The crocuses are done and faded to ragged bits of grey petal amongst their stripey leaves, on to the daffodils and hyacinths! Just this weekend the forsythia really opened and I expect we'll be seeing the tulips any minute. We're to the part of the year where this quote goes round and round in my mind a lot:
“First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus –
- Lilja Rogers

As I type I can hear the local spring peepers churring up a storm outside just beyond the top of our driveway. I am happy to have it really settling in to spring weather and starting to feel the pressure to get baby plans all squared away, I'd like to have things pretty much figured out before we leave for California in just a couple of weeks.

All is a bit of a foggy muddle in our home at moment, A is all about taxes, I am thinking about Baby and the boys are as focused as possible on getting outdoors every time the door opens.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Small Faults and Foibles

List time! This time a short catalog of some of my smaller, sillier flaws.

33 Things I Still Screw Up All The Time

  1. I still can't remember my own brother's birthday. Its either the 22nd of July or the 25th...I think. I remember what year he was born! What can I say.
  2. I can't remember what blood pressure numbers mean without looking them up. My midwife says, "Great! 112 over...something-or-other!" and I look at her blankly. EVERY SINGLE APPOINTMENT. Blast. 
  3. I am interested in government, I care about politics, I vote contentiously and I even enjoy watching West Wing in my spare time but I have no idea who the real-life Secretary of State is or the the current Chief of Staff. *wince*
  4. I am still, almost always perpetually late to appointments...even though I try really hard now, have worn watches, own a cell with reminder system and built in clock, keep lists and carry a personal calendar. A's great bane.
  5. I try to eat well but, wow do I still love KFC's popcorn chicken. Totally addicting.
  6. I don't exercise. I hate exercise. I hate myself for hating exercise but I do. I hate my muscles hurting, I hate that ache in my side, I hate being around ultra-fit gym rats, I hate sweating. I do like yoga.
  7. I can't work combination locks. I carried all of my books all the way through my public high school years rather than ever try to learn how to use my locker combination. I am also a wimp about humiliation.
  8. I have a terrible ear. I have good tone and I really love music but, I have a hard time hearing what "in tune" is and my pitch wobbles all over the place. I'm totally mortified by this and I'm pretty embarrassed actually to sing in front of people because I feel powerless to even know when I'm making a fool out of myself. (and other reasons why I'll never make it on Broadway)
  9. I never change the sheets often enough. I always mean to but, yeah. 
  10. I have very, very low tolerance for road rage. I think its completely intolerable. How's that for slightly absurd?
  11. My husband works in software and honestly, I have a hard time remembering if its Silicone or Silicon Valley. I try to avoid that word. 
  12. I don't really know all of my times tables.
  13. I buy brown rice, ready-made and frozen in boxes at Trader Joe's and almost never make it from scratch. Its so much quicker and easier and so versatile...plus its a convenience food I feel fairly moral about eating.
  14. I can't keep its and it's straight in my head. A hates this one too.
  15. I never remember to lock the door, turn off the thermostat when opening windows or check to make sure all the burners on the stove are off.
  16. I buy magazines newsstand. And I even realize its a humongous waste of money. *wince wince wince*
  17. I want to live organically, I am leaning towards earth mother chic and purposely buy the lowest chemical shampoos and conditioners I can find for my family but, I bleach my hair.
  18. I basically never exfoliate my feet and they're pretty dry and calloused.
  19. I let my sons get dirt under their fingernails and hardly ever comb their hair.
  20. I bathe but once a week myself...if I'm lucky.
  21. I am a genuine college graduate (bachelor's degree anyhow) and I have never made myself a real resume.
  22. I always take out my earrings before bed but sometimes I leave on my make-up.
  23. I hate prioritizing To Do Lists. I just refuse. 
  24. I don't like much in the way of Christian style writing despite being committedly Christian myself.
  25. I think lavender is stinky.
  26. I don't know how to make fudge. I've tried a million times but, it always is horrible. My mother-in-law makes amazing fudge. This is very handy for A.
  27. I can't pull off khakis decently. They make me look frumpy, fat or just dorky.
  28. I don't understand football or baseball beyond the basic, "both teams try to make points by kicking/hitting ball in the appropriate direction."
  29. I never really "got" U2 or The Dave Matthews Band.
  30. I rarely go to bed with a shining sink, empty of all dirty dishes. 
  31. I can't be bothered to learn or even write down my own sisters addresses. I call them from the Post Office a lot ("So, Foxy....here I am with a Sharpie, at the Post Office drop box and I'm wondering if I can get your address.")
  32. I can never remember to air-dry our underwear or bathing suits, yeah they all end up in the dryer tumbling around on high heat just like everything else...every single time.
  33. I have always been a lousy swimmer. I can swim but, I'll never go Olympic, that's for sure.
So, there you have it. I'm just that human.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Geeks Say In Their Sleep

Dear A...sweet, geeky man who is occasionally more machine now than man. Your coding work, I fear, has stolen some piece of your brain that may be irreplaceable. At least your technology riddled inner self is amiable, even in sleep. 

Just had to share this experience I had last night around 3 A.M.

So, its pitch black and I'm sleeping and then I wake up to that oh-so-familiar pit pat pit pat pit pat sound of small feet coming down the hall in the dark. And I hear Ru pad up to A's side of the bed and say quietly but insistently, "Daddy?"
There is no real response and I think about intervening but, I note that he's looking for A and decide not to meddle so I lie there quietly in the dark and listen instead.
*finally, grunt-style acknowledgment from A*
(Good enough...Ru forges ahead) "
Mommy was making a typing noise, typing on her computer in the rocking chair in my room but her is not there now." (hmmm clearly he's been dreaming...there is no way I was up typing at 3, heh) I wait to see what A will say to soothe him back to sleep.
*There is a slight pause from A and the air hangs still for a bit.* Then:
"Well." (Brightly) *another small pause while Ru and I wait for the rest*
(A continuing)
"What you should do is make a draft of the document using your template and then transfer the template over."
*And here I suddenly have to burrow deeply into my pillow to keep from laughing uproariously and ruining the whole serious scene and wait to see what Ru will do with that*
There is a long pause...and I peek over A's shoulder and see Ru's eyes, saucer-wide peeking over the edge of the bed. And then he finally says:
"Daddy? What are those?"

And then...yes, I did intervene. I explained that nobody was typing in his room and that I was right there and he didn't need to worry about templates or drafts tonight and did he want a kiss on his way back to bed? So he scampered off and A never even grunted again, the rest of the night.

He might have been sleeping deeply last night but his brain was on, full power...at least full power work mode. Heh.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Typical Homebirth Midwife Appointment

Today a photo-journalism style post covering our latest midwife visit. We homebirth, (at least we aim at homebirths) and so these our photos of my regular appointments with our assistant midwife at the office where they see all their clients. The 35 week visit will be in our home to go over supply checklists, make sure the midwives know how to get to our home smoothly and touch base about all the mechanics of how we will lay out the birthing care in our particular home space. But, for now, its simple blood pressure checking, baby feeling and heartbeat listening as well as a lot of chatty conversation about pregnancy, birth, babies and the female body.

Blood pressure...looked just great! (Ru squeezed the bulb for the midwife)

Boys looking on

Pull away shot of the whole lovely "clinic" room where
our practice sees all clients. So pretty and warm and open. 
(small bathroom and waiting room just out of the frame
to the right)

Up the shirt and down the skirt to find the belly under it all

Midwife, feeling the baby...nice size, good reactive movement, and yes, head down!
Listening to that heartbeat, clear and strong

Ru, playing cars at our feet.

This is the sort of thing the boys do during most of the appointment

The midwives have the best toys!

I listen to Baby, very clear and strong.

Ru has a go...
....and Dee too...getting tips from the midwife about what he's supposed to be hearing, "Bum bum bum!"

And finally the Daddy/photographer takes a break to listen to his youngest child drum away.

Good times. So, that's what happens at a typical midwife appointment. Minus the part where we sit at the desk together and chat and laugh which isn't nearly so interesting in photos. Thanks for coming along!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paint on My Fingers

Had a great time at the art group I attend weekly today. Enjoyed blasting my way through another painting and am starting to really feel like I'm beginning to "get it" a little. The ladies there are so extremely encouraging. I have never been part of a group of professional-something-or-other-doers that was so welcoming, flattering and uplifting. I can't wait to go again next week.
 My favorite watercolor I've done so far, last week's creation.
This is the house I grew up in that my Papa built himself.
Our church is going to have an art show full of member's work (submissions in by June 6) and I'm kind of thinking of entering. I've never put anything in an art show before so, this is very exciting and also intimidating. Everything in me wants to wail, "But, I'm not an artist!!! I don't know anything about that kind of stuff, heavens!" but, I'm trying to pretend I am an artist so I'm trying to not listen and working on imagining myself getting a piece ready instead.

The work must be framed (something I've never done) and named, (something I totally stink at) so that will be interesting. One of the genuine artists in my group told me today that she could teach me how to frame something if I bought an appropriate frame at the local art supply shop and brought along a matting. I am hoping to be able to twist her arm into really doing it. It'd be good to learn and I am hopeful that it would be fabulously encouraging to boot, seeing something I painted all glossy and shining under glass.
The same kind woman lent me some watercolor pencils to try alongside my paints. They're basically colored pencils that smear and run like watercolors when you paint over them with water. Some of the colors run better than others and some of them change values when they are wet which makes them very interesting to play with. I had a lot of fun working with them today. I made this painting.
 My lightest colored work yet...still-life of tomatoes on the counter, mostly green.

I might buy a set for myself to play with. I find that I end up quite detail/realism obsessed in my painting which makes the tiny work tricky to pull off well with a brush. The pencils help there quite a bit. I am also considering getting some masking fluid as I have heard that can help with the slightly out of control way that watercolors can run and bleed into other areas. Making "white" parts of the painting is rather difficult otherwise. Am wondering if I should aquire some professional style watercolor paints too while I'm at the art supply store. I am actually painting with my sons paintboxes. I feel a little bad to be using up their paints and also wonder if I might get richer, clearer colors from higher quality paints. Might do some reading about how much benefit you get from going up class with certain supplies.

My watercolor benefactress has also offered to lend me books and videos on watercolor technique so I might be reading about art next! I do love to read so it would be a natural step. We don't have a video player that could play her vhs tapes but I could sneak off from moment to moment to a friend's house or the church to use a borrowed player I imagine. I am finding it hard to stop this painting business. I'm getting all addicted.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Green Thoughts

Was outside again today, rushing to get things in the ground before the rain we're supposed to have for several days began. Ended up getting all the stuff planted that I wanted which felt really good but, I do have to admit that by the end of it all the boys and I were mud from head to toe and being thoroughly misted on which meant that we were also pretty soaked. No real harm done, just the first warm spring rain in our hair. What's good for the crocus is good for the boy.

We peeled off the muddy socks and shucked our shoes and padded in for story-time snuggling under a couch throw before lunch and nap. Now we're all frizzy hair and coziness and I can't get the garden wheels to stop turning. Of course, it doesn't help when such tantalizing packages are arriving on my doorstep.

So, yes, I placed an order for a few more perennials, and started making lists of things to change in my garden this year:

"Do not allow nicotiana to flop all over the sweet william. Support rings or else!" and "This fall be sure to order regale lilies and magic lilies." and also "Make sure to work sunflowers in somewhere." along with such helpful bits as "Underplant the black-eyed susans with heliotrope!" I am making lists of all the things I need to do, ("Move strawberry babies, pull garlic from last year, divide lemon verbena, trim sweetheart rose, add mulch to box bed, and tie fence more securely to stakes")
I am honestly a terribly disorganized gardener. I keep no notes about what I bought from whom which year or what its Latin name is and I never label anything. I buy things willy nilly without mapping out the colors, heights or flow of my garden patch and just plan on moving what doesn't work when it starts to bother me. I don't see myself getting a whole lot more organized, there are too many other things I want to do in life and frankly, I get along alright in spite of my jumbly ways. But, this year for the first time I thought, "You know, I could actually see keeping some sort of a garden journal." Not a terribly particular one mind you but, maybe the sort of place where I could put these lists and then later in June jot down what is putting on a splendid show and what plants I still am hoping to grow before I die (moonflowers, parma violets, sweet alyssum) and what new successes I've had this year (scented sweet peas, angel's trumpet, heliotrope, carrots and pineapple sage). That I could see being quite useful. A very free-form, sort of dirt-smudged place to keep my garden mucking notes, somewhere where the bits would all be bound together with a solid spine and recognizably backed and fronted with a nice botanical cover design of some sort. Wonder where I should start looking? Do any of you keep garden writing year to year?


Friday, March 19, 2010

Picnic Weather!

Was a lovely day today. Took the boys trekking over to A's work for a jolly little picnic on a bench in the sun at lunchtime. One woman stopped and said, "What fun! You know you're going to make lots of people jealous!" nodding towards the continual stream of strolling executive types clicking past down the sidewalk, clippy i.d. tags fluttering in the breeze and black dress shoes gleaming. We did get a lot of waves and hellos and folks, cold asparagus, drizzled with garlic olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a generous dose of sea salt is d.i.v.i.n.e. when eaten sitting cross legged in the sunshine with no utensils, whole spears dripping and gleaming greenly, fingers all an oily, tasty mess and that amazing color of chartreuse/grass green stacked like cordwood in the make-shift tin foil bowl. Yum. Asparagus is one of my favorite foods in the world.

Ahem. Yes. Picnic. The picnic was really grand. First of the year. That's important. Everyone cheerful even though I was about an hour late arriving. Also good. Looks like it was chilly but it was tremendously comfortable and jackets would have been sweaty overkill. We're leafless but, really balmy at the moment.

And if you need real, further proof...look. Just down the street folks were lining up rather substantially for the local Dairy Queen. Note to self: Take the boys to Dairy Queen. Its a childhood institution. I think I may wait until its really good and hot.

Potty training continues on apace. Only two misses today...small progress is laudable! Still no initiating on his part which is slightly off-putting but really, I'd be asking a bit too much if I said that I truly expect him to have it all down in two days flat. I am not insane.

 Hope your weekend is fabulous. We're grilling steaks, visiting the midwife, and jogging off for a date alone together. Much sunshiney bliss awaits. May some of it come your way too!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

He's A Big Boy Now...

Demonstrating his new skillz

We're back to potty training again! Today was the first day on the "New Plan" with Dee. This meant that I didn't put a diaper on him once today and I spent a lot of time reminding him to go to the bathroom and taking him to the bathroom and reminding myself to remind him to go to the bathroom. Good times. Thankfully, he's more easy going about this whole enforced toilet use business than his brother and I am a more sedate and easy-going mommy than I was with his brother.

We have had some protesting when I tell him that its time to go but, no real meltdowns or genuine tears. And he caves fast and pees pretty much every time. We had about four misses today and many more hits, I never bothered to count. He's a real pro actually. Pretty much all of those misses were when I slacked off on reminding and taking him and once he even had to go and knew it and wanted to tell me but, suddenly panicked and didn't have the words to explain and just stood in the hall with legs apart, crying.

I notice I'm a little slow on the draw. I didn't catch on to that one for a good while. Poor kid. By the time I had it figured out and had him on the potty chair he needed new underwear again. Speaking of new underwear...I have to put in a load of laundry before I go to bed to make sure there is a constant supply.
 All muddy from playing outdoors in the amazing weather

But, yeah...its been long enough since I waded through this with Ru that I'm surprised what I had forgotten. I forgot that you don't start out with pants on...you just do it with underwear and then work up to pants when they become reliable. Right. I remembered that after the second complete lower outfit change of the day. Tomorrow is a new day.

But, I do have to say, I'm super proud of him for using the toilet so frequently today and I'm super proud of myself for never turning into grouch mommy. So far so good. I think the thing I'd really like to see him catch onto next is self initiating. He sometimes will take himself but, mostly he's just hanging out being passive, waiting for me to tell him to "Go now!" Anyone have any tips for that part? I forget completely how I got Ru to grasp that concept...if at all I really did anything specific.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Life is Back to Jolly!

                          Amorous couple frogs, who are singing                       
like crazy in our local waterways as of today!

My new earrings for golden sunshine days, glowing bee hives with 
one tiny bee on top
This morning when we came back to our house to check things out, the living room light was brightly blazing. What a fabulously welcome sight! I don't think I've ever gone through a power out that was that long before. I realize that lots of people in the world go through life without these modern conveniences but, it sure feels relieving to have it all worked out for us again. Home feels extra cozy, the sunshine feels extra warm and even my own piles of laundry, dishes and rotten food in the refrigerator feel kind of happy in some strange way. I am a person who loves her own little space.

Sap buckets are out at the local farms!
Happy boy!
So, we were back in our own home together for a traditional Irish dinner: corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. I meant to make Irish soda bread but, it didn't happen...but, really, it doesn't matter...we had our own meal, at our own table and the stove works and the washer runs and the computer is humming away in a friendly way. So, we all forgot to wear green and there wasn't a shamrock in sight but, A read us all the Wikipedia entry on St. Patrick and we told Ru very seriously that he was a genuine Irish boy and we celebrated with clear and thankful hearts in the warm glow of the lamp over the dining room table.

Wonderful boxes, stashed in a local greenhouse. 
Not to go on in an overly excessive way but, the weather could also not be more excellent: sunshine, blazing blue skies and 64, 65, 67 degrees depending on who's thermometer you're using or what patch of sunshine you're standing in. So lovely. We're thinking about a picnic dinner tomorrow night...spring is really here. Time to take the paper snowflakes off our windows and watch for our crocus to bloom (they're budding out now!).

So tally-ho everyone! I'm off and humming in my regular groove and I'll see you all in the morning!