What I love most about these recent days are the sunrises. In general, these Texas skies have been breathtaking at all times of the day. But, the sunrises, oh my, stop me in my tired and frantic tracks. They are the calm on our busy mornings as we work to rush out the door. Noticing the sunrise quietens my distracted mind, allows me a minute to focus on my breath, to savor the soft pale hues penetrating through the dark and bare limbs of the trees that stand tall along the field across the street. Witnessing the pale pinks, grays, and blues transcend into the horizon, against these bare and naked trees, is my moment ~ my moment to let go of the worries from the day before and of the day to come, to let them go ever so briefly, and to breathe in this short moment of natural beauty. Every day is a new day. Another gift.
Yesterday, Bea and I took a walk to the river. Empty handed. No phone, no wallet, no camera. It was a crisp, breezy January day. The pewter colored trees stood in bright contrast to the perfect blue sky. It felt more like the first of spring days than the middle of winter with the clover and dandelion thick and green at our feet. We held hands along the pathway. She and I. Then she would run ahead of me, getting off the path and into the green grass to admire little purple flowers. Every several strides, she would quickly stop at the sight a single, perfect dandelion. There she would squat, kneel down, and admire these delicate first flowers. And as you can imagine, a few were picked: for myself and daddy, her school friends Jane and Lucy, her Granny, and her Nana and Papa. All of her loves. She looked so little and innocent with the wind blowing through her hair, surrounded by the emerald, damp grasses. I hoped for a second to always remember her this way: with her exuberant joy and happiness at the sight of a dandelion - a dandelion. She was every bit a small precious child in total wonder with the world and so entirely in the moment.
Then we walked some more. We noticed our shadows following right along side of us - mine was tall and hers was short. She and I. She would run a bit to see if her shadow would chase her and she giggled when she realized that it was.
She discovered a low spot in the grass which had some standing water from the rains that came earlier in the week. She pitched a pepple into the small pond. If I would've let her, she would've splashed and splashed, submerging her feet and ankles into the pond, and squooshing her toes into the mud. This time, I had to stop her because it was cold and she wasn't wearing boots.
We continued to walk until we reached the bark park. We met a few sweet dogs and their owners. We got to talking about homeschooling, home day care settings, the local elementary school, and an old neighborhood cemetary which I didn't know existed but I am now looking forward to exploring. Bea didn't want to leave. She could've played with the pups all day. After a little convincing, we were on our way to the river.
A five minute walk can turn into an hour's walk with a preschooler in tow.
The river was flowing and glistening with the light of the sun reflecting into it. The ducks and geese were out and about, swimming about this way and that. We crossed the foot bridge over the river and made our way to a little stone penisula that juts out into the water. We tossed rocks and sat mostly quiet. We noticed birds swooping and some singing. We listened to the Sycamore leaves blow in the breeze.
It was a sweet morning. Quite nice to just "be" with her ~ with nothing in particular to do but to toss some pepples into the river and to stand in amazement of dandelions. I like that. It's my kind of adventure.
Believe it or not, I intended on posting about the funky case of blahs I've had over the last couple of days. You know how it is: feeling tired, uninspired, agitated - just plain ole grumpy. But then I began recalling moment after moment of the last two days that were actually pretty darn good. The weekend wasn't half bad afterall - only my attitude.
What will sustain us through the winter?
Where did last years lessons go?
Walk me out into the rain and snow
I dream a highway back to you.
If I'm lucky, Beatrix dozes off on the drive back home from school each day. Treating me to thirty miles of afternoon silence. Thirty miles of thoughts free to flow. Sometimes those thoughts are only lists created and categorized for the different facets of my days. We all have our own versions of them: the grocery lists, bills to pay, people to call, planning for school, thoughts on specific children at school, or my own little one.
Sometimes it's thirty miles for my mind to wonder. Thirty miles for my dreams to peak through the tangible and immediate. Beyond the mundane.
The highway to home is ordinary and, I dare say, hollow. Big box store after box store, strip mall after strip mall, it's easy to lose oneself in its emptiness. Most of the time the radio is off, with the only sound coming from the hum of fellow commuters, trucks, or travelers heading somewhere.
Instead of the traffic hum, today, I chose music. An old Gillian Welch album. My favorite track is the last one: I Dream A Highway. 14 minutes of a longing, poetic, beauty of a tune.
I thought of the empty roads to West Texas and beyond. I thought of the early years of Byron and me. Holding hands while bike riding on humid summer nights, wondering around the streets of Paris, young, exuberant, and all by myself. I dream of Norweigan forest and mountain top views, subways and skyscrappers. My wanderlust soul is always with me.
And then, I hear "Mommy, I want you to sleep with me because I love you." Or something in that vein.
I'm back, here. In this life, in this place, in this time. Playing this role of wife and mother to the best of my ability. Loving this life, cherishing this life, I barely ever imaganined exisisted. Sometimes life really does feel like there is no beginning or end, just a tumbling circle of dreams, of here, of then, of one day.
I consider myself to be a basic sewist. I like to sew, but I don't make anything fancy, thank you very much. So I started piecing what seemed to me to be the simplest of quilts: a stacked coin. It was very easy (and fun) to sew together. I enjoyed picking out the fabrics. I enjoyed the simplicity of the print rectangles bordered by the crisp white. The back side was inspired mostly by Denise Schmidt and her lovely modern designs.
Last fall, after I made both the front and back of the quilt, I began hand quilting it, but I never finished. Instead, it sat in different spots of our tiny home, collecting dust and fur from our cat. He even went as far as shredding up the edges of the wool batting. Naughty kitty - he just couldn't help himself. This awkward sandwich of unfinished quilt sat and sat and weighed heavy on my mind. I knew I needed help with it. I felt defeated in my attempts. I shied away from admiring other quilts on the web or refused to let myself think "quilt" at all because I already had this unfinished project taking up precious space in my closet and my conscience.
Until...this fall, when we moved into our new house, I discovered that I lived just a few blocks away from a wonderful little quilt shop. And so, finally, in December, I mustered up my courage and brought my quilt to the shop so that the owner and quilter, Glenna, could take a look at it. I was sort of embarassed by my incomplete, and imperfect efforts. It was obvious I had a thing or two to learn before successfully completing a quilt on my own. For one, the back side was smaller than the front side, so I needed to add borders to make it the proper dimension. Also, I was quilting it together slightly crooked. Glenna, was also going to have to trim the torn pieces of batting and baste new batting to the trimmed up edges. It seemed like a lot of work to me - much more than I would have realistically been able to do well.
Last week, I recieved the call to let me know that the quilt was DONE. I raced over the very same day to pick it up.
I'm so glad I asked for help in completing this project. It came out so sweet and just perfect for Beatrix. It's truly heirloom quality! This is her quilt. She loves it. I love it. With it having a wool batting, it provides a warm substantial layer to her bed, keeping her cozy on the coldest of nights. I love peeking into her room while she is sleeping to see her nestled up in it. I can only imagine the use this quilt will get over its lifetime. To know, that this is just the beginning of a very long story...
I don't have much to share right now, but I thought I'd pop in just to say hi! Tomorrow is Friday and I'm happy about that. We had a sweet week at school, but I'm looking forward to not rushing Bea and I out the door by 7:15. After three days of that each week, we require a four day break to recharge for the next week's round.
Still, I don't mean to moan about our schedule. The work away from home helps to provide some structure for us, which I need. Without it, I'm afraid way too many days would drift by without my getting out of jammies. And for me, that just doesn't feel healthy. The part-time kick out of the door is a fair compromise.
I've been thinking about the impending gardening season. It will be here before we know it. I'm excited to give it a go in our new space. Byron is getting geared up to build a few beds. I hope, hope, hope that this year is NOTHING like last year (in the way of precipitation and heat). Last summer was dreadfully hot and dry.
We need to install rain barrels stat. But that's easier said than done. First we need gutters or at least partial gutters. Oh...Byron and his never ending list of honey do's. Weekends are never long enough. Right now, our method of harvesting water consists of leaving buckets out in the yard...I have a strong suspicion we might continue to roll like that for quite awhile - at least this first year here.
I'm also thinking about ways in which to organize our outdoor space. A few weeks ago, I made a trip out to my greatest source of gardening inspiration, The Natural Gardener. It never fails to inspire - never! And so, I have lofty dreams of having a wonderful children's outdoor space, different types of trees, (some that produce fruit and nuts, some that offer beautiful spring and fall color, all drought tolerant and native), meandering pathways adorned with herbs, native grasses and wildflowers, garden beds in the front yard, my chickens, of course, in the backyard, berry picking along the fence line, bees...all on 1/4 of an acre....We'll see.
On to another topic all together different from urban homesteading: I don't watch alot of television but every now and then I fall in love with a series. I've been enjoying this PBS series so very much. What fun it is to get lost in an on-going story line. I must admit, it's been a very long dry spell over here ever since Mad Men vanished and never returned.
Nothing triggers my nostalgia for sweet Bea's days of being little more than fondling through her clothes.
It seems sort of shallow, but it's the absolute truth.
A few days ago while Bea was napping and the house was quiet, I decided to organize in a box that contains clothes she's outgrown and clothes that she does not yet fit into.
I can remember my finding or making little dresses here and there for her to one day wear. The days come. She wears and outgrows. She lives and laughs. She crawls and walks. She babbles and toddles. She runs and sings. She laughs and converses. She throws a tantrum and gives hugs and kisses. All this living and all this growing happening beneath the little clothes drapped upon her ever-growing body. I'm reminded again at how fast it all happens. Within a moment, a day, a season there is a new person unfolding. Always unfolding.
She's in and out of these little garments before she ever really wears them out. And I'm left holding onto them questioning the smallness of their sizes. "Were you really that little just a few months ago?"
The future always feels so far away. The past feels like yesterday.
Well, it was a doozy of a week. First, Byron, then Bea, came down with a nasty stomach bug. I've been sanitizing and washing and sanitizing and washing all while hoping that I wouldn't go down with them. So far, so good.
The weather this weekend is suppose to be spring-like, happy and warm. I'll be throwing the windows up for sure.
That's January in the south for you...
I can't recall (and I'm too lazy to dig through archives) just how much I've shared with you all about the special relationship between Beatrix and Dolly. Dolly is the doll in our house. In fact, the little floppy and well loved stuffed toy plopped in a wagon that you see in my banner right now is Dolly.
Beatrix and Dolly go way back. When we brought Beatrix home, Dolly came to us through the mail from Byron's Aunt Lynne. For the first six months of Beatrix's life, little Dolly sat on a low shelf in her room, serving mostly as a really cute decoration.
When Beatrix began sleeping on her floor bed and creeping, we found her and Dolly asleep together on her floor mattress. She evidently crept to Dolly and dragged her back to her bed. The rest is history. Dolly has been with Beatrix ever since.
Dolly is her number one. She goes nearly everywhere we go. Beatrix sees to this. She sings to her, takes her for stroller, wagon, and wheelbarrow rides, has lengthy conversations with her, feeds her, nurses her, dances and plays with her. Dolly is forever loyal and always smiling. We can't help but love Dolly. In fact, I get all misty eyed at the thought of the day that Beatrix grows beyond her adoration for Dolly...(Can I forbid my child to grow that BIG?)
Magic happens at Christmas though. And for some unexplainable reason, on the morning of our departure to visit family for the holidays, Dolly was forgotten. Yep. She was the only toy we intended to take with us. We didn't realize it until it was too late. How could we forget Dolly of all things? It was meant to be, perhaps.
My heart broke for Bea. How would she cope a whole week without her companion? Naptime? Bedtime? She holds onto Dolly's arm as she drifts to sleep. Would she think about Dolly alone in our house? I contemplated returning home solo the next day to bring Dolly back to Beatrix. Byron thought that was a crazy idea.
So we came up with the next best solution. Dolly is a Bla Bla doll. Lucky for us, we located a store that sold this particular brand near my in-law's house and arranged for Saint Nicholas to deliver Dolly's sister, Lolly, to Beatrix a few days before Christams. In fact, he came right into our bedroom and left a sweet little letter for Beatrix with Lolly on our nightstand.
Beatrix swooped Lolly up and carried her everywhere the entire week we were away from home. Byron and I were both stunned by how much she accepted Lolly.
Still, as skeptics will do, we wondered how the reunification of Dolly and Beatrix would play out. Would she forget about Dolly or Lolly and choose one over the other? Could she love two? Is there enough love and playtime to go around?
Well, friends, she's taught us that, in fact, there is enough love to go around. Dolly, Lolly, and Beatrix are inseparable. It is as if Lolly were always with us. Dolly is adjusting beautifully as an older sister. All is well. All three are snoozing peacefully in Beatrix's bed as I type. The heart has no limits...Though I think Dolly will always hold a special spot in Beatrix's heart as her first.