Saturday, January 26, 2008

Everyday Life 30 :: 20

Play is such a luxury. Free time and resources, materials, skills, and the patience of everyone dependent on you... I am a lucky woman.

I wonder: Do I make my own designs, because I enjoy designing, or is it because I loathe following directions? And... do I loathe following directions, because
it's loathsome or because I am not very good at it? Furthermore, what if I were patient and applied myself to learning more skills, would patterns and instructions be less loathsome? Just wondering.

James and Deanne's baby is due to be born any day now. Exciting. Sweet and joyful. We are going over to see them tonight, to eat pizzas, play with Sammy, their dog, and check out their iMac. I can't wait to see the mural Holly painted for the baby's nursery, and I hear that James and Deanne have been very busy preparing, organizing and setting up for baby... sounds like serious nesting has been going on!

When I saw the pictures of the tree Holly painted, I knew the fabric I found was going to be perfect for a baby quilt. I love the story book depictions of a mother and son enjoying a day in the woods, fishing by a brook, exploring a meadow. It's full of charming details, like frogs on rocks and curious ducks. And I even found complimentary fabric for the backing. The chocolate, lime and blue stripes were leftover from Geoff's birthday quilt.

Wow, even when I decided to keep it simple... there's quite a bit to piecing, squaring, basting, trimming, sewing and tying a quilt. I must love it, or I wouldn't be dreaming of the next one!

A lot of quilting can really flatten and stiffen a quilt, and I wanted this to be light and lofty, so I thought about tying it. Ties may not be an ideal choice for a baby's quilt, so using my machine, I satin stitched leaves, like tacks, at regular intervals. It came out pretty nice; fast too.

A quilt for baby. For snuggling, and keeping cozy. For comfort and for play. To take on picnics, to play peek-a-boo! To roll in. To roll on. A hug from us, to hold Everyday.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Everyday Life 30 :: 19

Real, live ducks, and plenty of them. This pond isn't too far from the house... I'm sorry: I have seen real ponds, and I know this is a sad, sad excuse for a body of water of any size. After 20 or 30 minutes of happily feeding very eager ducks our assorted stale, whole grain bread pieces, we walked around the pond and were confronted with the very big "Do Not Feed the Wild Life" sign. Good grief.

Living one year in Minnesota instilled in me two new interests that, while rarely put to use in So Cal, I enjoy very much, and they are: Watching weather and watching birds. Pre-1990 I was barely aware that either activity existed. Weather had either been wet or dry, and hot or cold. I never bothered with anticipating either possible outcome, or learning to predict and detect the subtle changes that would indicate a weather change. Now I do. And I think happily of my father-in-law every time I watch a weather forecast.

As for birds, well, I like watching them too, and pulling out their names, recognizing when I am seeing something rare. Cedar Waxwing is not just a pretty bird. It's a fun name to know and say, and it gives me an extra beat to look in branches in hopes of seeing one. I love Red-winged Blackbirds. I especially like seeing them dart from cattail to cattail and then suddenly catching a flash of their red bar of feathers.

I know mallards, and lady mallards, and they are a handsome duck, but it was a treat to see and recognize the slate blue bill of the American Wigeon. I liked knowing the name of these gregarious ducks that we so daringly fed. It was interesting to note that after our feast, they parted from the mallards and went together, grazing in the grass.

Pigeons, crows, seagulls, sparrows, finches, even an occasional parrot... we see any of these around here. We see egrets and heron too. But this duck.

This dapper dude with the slicked-back do, and the bright red eyes... I knew I was privilege to something special when I saw him at the duck pond.

And I knew he was a Wood Duck. A Wood Duck!

So cool.

Knowing that we are, once again, between storms, we made haste and added a little hike to our outing. The impending storm front was coming from a southwesterly direction, so it would not lose momentum crossing the Channel Islands... we could expect it to be a cold storm, since it originated in the Gulf of Alaska, and earlier forecasts had predicted record rainfalls for Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties... I love weather.

I love duck ponds. I love mild winter hikes and outdoor excursions. I love forecasts and signs of the season and knowing a Wood Duck from a goose.

And I love these children, and sharing everyday with them.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Everyday Life 30 :: 18

Thankful Thursday...

I am going to keep this short and sweet today. I want to immerse myself in domesticity and being with my children. My head also happens to be buzzing with gratitude and revelations about life, the universe and everything, so I will just jot a few things down, before I make lunch.

#1 We received an amazing package from Infinity More Monkeys and wow! I am speechless. Jennifer is going to appreciate this magic timing, because she always recognizes when we are in sync: William has been reading "Phantom Tollbooth" to Max! I love my earrings. My friend, Anne, has told me several times about altered books, and it's something we have been meaning to try together. And Maria loves to put on her vest, "Just like Max's," all by herself. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

#2 We are a home schooling family. We love it. I have been quiet and reserved about the subject, because, believe it or not, I am quiet and reserved. Today I saw a school friend and we talked about the school we left and all that we are (not) missing. Thank God we took action. I could not be happier with our decision to take matters into our own capable hands. Part of me wants to go into great detail about the disappointments and reasons that we felt compelled to make the change... I think it would be therapeutic for me to purge. But for now I will accentuate the positive... We miss friends and teachers and families, and I plan to maintain those relationships, but as for the rest, we are managing very well without, thank you.

#3 It rained last night, very hard and long. It rained with wind, and a chill. We built a fire, ate a delicious dinner, then we cleaned the kitchen and sat together in front of the fire. The fire crackled and popped, and snug together, with pillows and quilts, we listened as William read aloud from the "Phantom Tollbooth." Almost perfect. Soon Geoff will be free to spend evenings at home and life will be even sweeter.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Everyday Life 30 :: 17

Maria was coloring earlier, and now she's dressing herself in a Spring-y singing dress. She loves the princess coloring board James and Deanne gave her. And she loves singing dresses.

Geoff came home. It's been a while. We are letting the birthday boy sleep, before we lavish him with hugs and affection, and a gift that, though slightly wonky, was made with love.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Everyday Life 30 :: 16 When the Tide is Low

Grab a mug of tea, roll up your pant legs and come with us to the beach. The tide was very low yesterday... -1.8.

We arrived before the tide was at its lowest point and one could almost pretend it was going to keep rolling back, until we could step and explore all the way to the pali of the Honoka'a Coast.

It was a bit cold. We were fortunate that we were between storms, so we could walk and enjoy the sights without getting rained on. Alex even brought his sketch book, and of course I brought my camera.

In every direction there was something beautiful, interesting, surprising... The tide will be low today too. If you can, go see the tide pools, because these pictures just can't do it justice. Respectfully, we gently touch and turn things over, always returning creatures to the same spot. Inside this hand sized shell lives a bright orange snail with black striations. Max explained that he has a special hard plate that he covers himself with so that he can close his door when enemies call.

We were careful. Everywhere there were crabs, anemones, mussels, brittle stars, sea stars, sea hares and octopi.

It is fun to find something new, to call everyone over to share your discovery.

Watching our step, encouraging Maria, who is not overly fond of the rocky spots, we kept venturing forth and finding more and more to be in awe of.

Such sights. Everywhere.

Max narrates all of his impressions, finds and enthusiasm, and he eagerly shares it with anyone who's interested. Maria follows him as far as she dares. One brother or her mother was always close by, to hold her hand, encourage her independence, or give her a lift.

I was happy to see sea stars. Their colors are so pretty and their patterns and shape are so magical.

They are slow and deliberate movers, and very strong. They feel crusty, like a hard bread with a sandpapered finish.

An octopus feels like the squishiest jelly, until its suctions attach, then you are confronted with their incredible strength.

It changed colors and patterns as it moved from one hand to another, over rocks... gracefully, sleek and wondrous.

It pays to sit still and observe, even seemingly quiet pools, because there are life forms that are quite surprising in their appearance. The sea hare looks very much like a piece of kelp. This strange animal unfolds and undulates, shows vivid shocks of blue patterns, and feels like soft gelatin. I don't know why, but I always attribute the sea hare with a kind heart and qualities of charm and humility. I like sea hares.

And I like all of the colors and the reflections in the water, from the sky, from the plants and shells. Every surface has something to gaze at and admire.

My thoughts bounce between science and whimsy when confronted with the sights of the tide pools. I worry about what's missing from the tide pools. How there seems to be far, far less quantity and variety of sea life than I remember finding as a child. And then I can imagine I see the remains of an undersea white wedding, or snowflakes in a pool. I hear the "The Jabberwocky:"

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

We saw every color. Well, almost every color. Like orange and red, black, brown, white, purple, blue, pink, magenta, aquamarine. Green.

And it would seem I was not the only one enjoying flights of fancy... this crab was seen scuttling across the sand and scurrying between the sandstone formations.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Everyday Life 30 :: 15

Two evenings in a row, we turned around to find Maria like this:

And, just as Missy has witnessed, it happens at 5 o'clock. Click! A light goes on and I think: Put her to bed at 5:00 o'clock. Highly unlikely + these late naps are dangerous, because she does not wake-up until 10, and then she thinks it's time to begin a new day. I love that she can play and chatter merrily and work at all she does, until she cannot do more.

It's nearly Geoff's birthday. I asked, and "No," he does not want a surprise party. He means it too. He might not even know when it's his birthday. He will be working. It's stay over-night crunch mode time. Our surprise gift is very near completion.

Here is an Everyday occurrence: Everyday I have to make decisions. And it gets to the point where I dread it. "A point in every direction is like no point at all," "The Point." Decisions, decisions. And children tend to really add to the decision making load... they ask a lot of questions. And then there are responsibility kind of choices and duties. Anyway, sometimes I do nothing. I freeze, like a rabbit in the road, staring at headlights, crinkling my nose.

So, which picture should I post? This one?

Or, this one?

How about this pensive version?

He looks intent here. Should I have settled for this one?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Everyday Life 30 :: 14

William entertains Maria, making clever Lego creations from the pieces she hands to him.

Have you ever suddenly noticed things around your house that you see everyday, and yet never see? I get that a lot. Maybe because we have a lot of stuff, which one might expect considering there are 6 creative and curious residents here. Perhaps I don't notice some things, because my mind is so preoccupied with managing this full house, listening to 5 voices and my own, looking for the lost cat, trying to keep life in balance.

So this was a fun variation on the Everyday theme... looking at objects illuminated, separated from their mantles, bookshelves, dusty corners. I like how funny I feel realizing that I have seen this little pumpkin everyday since October, and yet I hadn't seriously reflected on what it meant, what it signifies... suddenly, in late January, a pumpkin seems strangely out of context, and yet recalling the happy way I felt bringing it home is good. I remember anticipating Thanksgiving, hoping to conjure up the warmth and connectedness of an imagined harvest.

Three tiny chairs sit on a shelf by our front door, so I definitely see these everyday. And what do they recall? My childhood, keeping tiny things, pottery and dolls, things from Mexico, Olvera Street, Guatemala. Tiny things that I could easily pack and carry away. And I am reminded, by the sight of these chairs, that someday I want to make a house... maybe only a doll house, one that I fill with sentimental objects and pretty things.

Legos. I certainly see a lot of Legos. These clever little bricks and gears are the tools and media that foster creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, industry, cooperation, diligence, planning, design, engineering and pleasure in our children. This is the 4th prototype of a dragon that Alex has been working on, off and on, for about 3 years. It walks. Its mouth opens and closes, with a flicking tongue. The motor is in the tail. This is not from a kit, or a tutorial, and he did not consult NASA or M.I.T. It is one of the most remarkable things I have ever seen.

My new angle on Everyday Life, is thanks in part to "Sallad Says..." and the lightbox I made.

I am seeing things in a whole new light.