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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Oh Canada!

There are way too many photos. Canada is amazing. 

We are living on an island for three days right now, off the coast of British Columbia. The flowers, old growth forests, carvings, wild mushrooms, tide pools and lack of mosquitoes are off the charts! 

We are catching a ferry to the mainland tomorrow and crossing back into the country of our birth. Wish us luck and safe passage! 

I am hoping to buy a styrofoam cooler or a cold bag or something tomorrow so that we can avail ourselves of the salmon fishermen and crab sellers we keep seeing on the sides of the road. 

Also, AirBnB is amazing. Check it out if you haven't. It isn't always cheaper than a hotel but often it is and getting a washer and kitchen space is worth a lot if you are me. Our hostess for the past three days welcomed us with a bowl of blueberries when we arrived, has scented poppies growing along the  front walk and introduced the boys to her extremely peaceful chihuahua while I was trying to pack the car for the day's outing.  

So far, the notable, wild animal count in Canada goes as follows:

•one snake (garter!)

•one lizard 

•many wild, black rabbits 

•one owl (barred, I think)

•four or five whitetail deer

•a sunflower sea star

•many green sea anemones 

•two black bears (EEK!!! So exciting!)

•many purple and orange sea stars

•four sea lions

•two minks

•purple sea urchins 

•a gigantic jellyfish 

•banana slugs

Get ready Washington State, we are coming for you next!


Thursday, July 17, 2014


My tiny nephew Lance has been hospitalized and my auntie heart is distracted to the max. No other post on my mind, so at my sister's permission I am going all out auntie mode and just spending my energy praying for him and thinking of him.

If you are the praying kind, send your ardent words skyward along with mine. He's being tested extensively and so far they don't know what wrong with him.

Love him with me. One enormous group hug, all the way across the country to help him heal and help his mama and I to sleep. xoxoxo

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hummingbird Messages

How strong is the magnetic power of the mind? Strong enough to bring a hummingbird nest to me in the wild?

Research continues to show us that our thoughts are more predictive and prophetic and full of power than the skeptical, modern scientific mind might be willing to believe. (Hello, placebo effect!) I have had a few kind of unexplainable experiences in my life, one of which is kind of "willing" certain things into my life. I'm a praying kind of chick but I can't honestly say that I specifically prayed for these things, just thought fondly and hopefully, maybe even confidently about find them and then they showed up. Its always things. I am thinking of a certain food or movie and then someone else brings it over or suggests it (this happens with A and I fairly frequently which we joke is our private ESP), I am hoping for a particular kind of dishware or a specific item of clothing and lo and behold they show up in my local Goodwill, and then recently....a hummingbird nest came my way. I made a New Year's Resolution to find a hummingbird nest in the wild. I know that sounds kind of loony but as I mentioned, I've had enough of these experiences to feel like its possible and so I just stepped out and wrote it down.

There are the boys and Aunt Sheila right before we walked down the trail and saw the nest.
Then this spring, during a miniature hike at one of our local parks with my Aunt Sheila, we stopped under a scraggly wild apple tree for a minute to admire a woodland pond and I just saw a hummingbird dart above my head and when I looked up, there was the nest, right over me with the mother, snugged down inside it.
There it is! See it?

How about now? Astounding, right?
Life is amazing. Like I said, I have had this kind of thing happen to me before but it isn't daily and its so powerful and special feeling when it happens that I still feel really astonished and elated when it happens. I want to tell everyone and shout, "You won't believe what happened to me!!!" from my sunroom roof.

Just like my previous, mysterious visitation with woodcocks, I'm enough of a mystic to go hunting for meaning in these kinds of experiences. I believe God speaks, I believe lessons are everywhere, I believe that all of nature is the realm of the Spirit and I believe that paying attention matters.
Hummingbird color plate from Ernst Haeckel's ''Kunstformen der Natur'' (1899) via Wikipedia
Hummingbirds beat the symbol for infinity into the air around themselves over and over, "forever" is their lift. I love that idea. May the idea of forever lift me. They are able to pause, midair even in the midst of flight at tremendous speeds, which is a wonderful vision of presence and attention. They built their tiny little nest out of lichen scales and line the inside with spider's silk, which is both incredibly strong and also very flexible and basically means that they create an expandable, elastic home that grows to allow their babies more space as they mature. So fabulous, yes? I aspire. (That gives me shivers, y'all!) May I mama like a hummingbird, in this and every home. They also are connected intimately with flowers and cannot survive without them. I've always been a flower lover and have let my Master Gardener training go but its a good reminder that I belong outside, that I need blooms and buds and petals in my world and that I should keep gardening in my tray of possible pursuits when I pick my career options in my next life stage. They are also amazingly resilient in hard times. Like many birds they have astounding caloric needs and require a very hefty food source. If food is scarce or at night when it gets cold they have to ability to willfully put themselves into a meditative state with drastically slowed heart rate and breathing and they will even appear dead in their survivalist stupor. When conditions are right they will "resurrect" and go about their business. Wonderful, no?

I waited until the mama had finished raising her young ones and abandoned the tiny little nursery and then the boys and I went back to collect it. Its sitting on my window sill now. So wonderful to have these messages sent our way....watch your world, friends, the truth is out there!  


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Choose Your Marinade

Its a quiet day full of small things like egg gathering, working on the laundry, helping people sound out words in comic books and expressing awe every time the thunder booms outside the window. I have been to the mechanic to fix the random piece of plastic hanging down under the front end of the car (Zip ties? Alright!), have been to the bookstore to pick up the book I have been pouting about missing with my book club a couple of months ago, so that I have travel reading (The Orphan Train) and have made one last playdate/mama hang-out session appointment so that we leave town with our social tanks all full.

I have been learning in the past few months how important it is to accept your negative emotions but to not live in them. Learning to step outside of how I feel and observe it objectively is a really astoundingly life-giving skill. I'm still not super good at it but its in my toolbox. I love knowing that nothing I feel defines me, that emotions are real and important and yet they pass, that the weight we give to things is the weight they carry, and that I am mistress of my own ship. I can choose how I feel and what I focus on, and I can also solve the problems I feel badly about. Validation + Empowerment + Optimism. 

Any little small-time, rainy day can feel gloomy, closed-in, overwhelming or lacking in life, like a place where problems and hard feelings stew until they are your own private marinade, a flavor you own. Instead, I'm living deep, being brave, feeling peace, slowing down, looking my boys in their twinkling eyes, reading stories, dreaming up some new painting ideas and flipping through travel guides for The West Coast. 

My beehive swarmed which, basically means that the whole flock up and flew away because the queen said to. There's no telling why exactly, maybe they felt cramped, maybe they hatched a new queen and she was a rolling stone, maybe the girls didn't like the new plastic, comb frames I put in before I left for Michigan. This is disappointing, but its also a good reminder that we only give shelter to bees, we don't really "keep" them. They are wild animals and not really controllable in the sense that we normally reserve for livestock. 

The six chickens in the backyard are giving my five eggs a day, and just to keep themselves all in the running, they are rotating which lady hen is taking a rest that day. I feel slightly annoyed but if I step out of entitled ego, I realize that rest is good for bodies, even chicken bodies and I can chuckle imagining a chicken council with the elected madame being given her daily pass in rotation. Maybe they are holding out until I buy the larger coop I am saving towards!

May your day be full of quiet empowerment. May you know the power of validating your own feelings and the strength of stepping outside of them to see gratitude. May your marinade be peace and may humor cover it all. 

I'm off to start packing! 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Prep Week

This is the last week before we head off to the Pacific Northwest for some vacation, some work, some exploring, some reuniting with family and lots of memory making. The last week before travel always means lots to do but I also realize that minimalism has a spot in the world of packing and prepping. Laundry needs doing for instance but organizing all our clothes this week as I pack does not need to happen. Packing need to happen but we'll only be bringing a week of clothes. Washers exist. We should make sure that all out hotel reservations are made and written into the schedule but we don't need to freak out about making sure each day is planned to the lapels.  I need to get a couple of basic snacks planned and purchased and prepped for the flight but I don't need to worry about ordering groceries for when we return home yet...that can wait and happen some slow morning in Seattle. 

Trimming the list minimizes the overwhelm of liftoff but it also means there is a little more margin, a little bit of space, a tiny breathing corner. That space is open. It might be when we meet with friends for impromptu play sessions at the park, it might be when I write and paint extra and the boys soak in library books or it might just be time we spend at home not having anywhere to do and not having anything to do. Lolling in the garden, taking naps when we are overtired and fixing things here at home which need our attention all should be allowed to make the list if they clamor.

Been thinking lately about my own philosophy of pushing the edge, living deep and striving that holds hands with my anathema for stress and defeatist talk about being over-busy and living in a time drought. I think its crucial to stay alive, fed, directed, energized and inspired. I also think its important to reject the doctrine of negativity about living a full life. (the belief that we are behind before we even get up in the morning and that there are not enough hours in the day and that we don't have time for the things we wish we could do) I also think its really important to trim the fat in our lives and have boundaries. No, is a good word, we should be masters and mistresses of our own agendas and not live subject to manipulation or guilt in our To Do Lists, we also should learn to strict with ourselves about cutting out things we know we shouldn't be doing. Life is too rich and full to waste on things that are bland and soul killing. As Dr. Suess, The Wise said in one of his books,
"You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street."

So, I'm planning a trip and I'm whipping up the last few things to get done here before we go, and I may feel pushed but I refuse to live in that space, and if you feel like calling, ring me up.

Oregon hasn't seen nothin' yet!  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Matryoshka Family

Within large families (I still can't quite believe this, but culturally our four child plan counts as large) there are mini-worlds. Usually there are groupings within the siblings, little hidden alliances and societies, like so many little Matryoshkas, those Russian nesting dolls that everyone brings home as souvenirs.

This week is Vacation Bible School here and the bigger two boys are shipping off every night after an early dinner to spend a drop-off evening playing games and singing songs. It's really interesting watching Pom and Nib with no big brothers and A and I all to themselves. They are buddies, which you sometimes might not notice since Nib tries to ally himself with the big boys and they all call Pom "The Baby" even now that he talks and is two years old.

I remember, that my six siblings divided into "The Big Girls" and "The Little Kids" and how it infuriated the younger set. My sister Lockbox, who lives with us, never really got over the alienation and otherness of those labels.

I think it's really lucky to be able to have the chance to spend time with my kids in more objective, removed experience. The lovely thing about family is the way they create a knowing sense of belonging. The downer is the way they can box us in. We assume positions, alliances, identities and they are almost impossible to shake.

It's pretty special to be able to know this, to think about it consciously as I look at each of my kids and as I will they to be dynamic, growing, changing beings for all their lives. Moments like sleepovers and drop offs and Mommy/son dates are good chances to wipe the lens and shake the Polaroid and see what's developing. What's in these little people and what only shows up when the siblings step away.

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