Friday, February 23, 2007

My First Crochet

Last night I talked to my mum in Australia for seven hours. Seven hours! I called her at 8:30pm and we finally hung up at 3:30am. We hadn't spoken for months, so it was long overdue. During that time the fire burned low and then went out, and children who had been lolling about keeping me company and waiting until I got off (hissing, "You've been on the phone for THREE HOURS") drifted away to bed or fell asleep on the carpet in front of the fire with their backs to the warm coals.

My mum took me on an amazing journey through India and Sri Lanka as she described to me her recent travels, in fact it was such a compelling journey that I got up this morning (late) and went online looking at airfares. It's not so expensive to take four kids to New Delhi. It's pretty reasonable, actually.

But what can you do for seven hours, into the wee hours of the morning, with your hands free and your mind adrift?

You could teach yourself to crochet, like I did, and you could start to crochet a string bag, and you could crochet with your phone tucked under your chin until you start to cramp up and get shooting pains down your shoulders, but you won't care because when you finally hang up and try to straighten your crooked self, you will have done this:

And then won't you feel clever?
Thanks mum, that was great.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I didn't want to get up yesterday, if you want to know the truth. But the kids are on winter break, and I'm the mom, so up I got anyway. I felt grumpy and ill-equipped for being the mother I want to be, and as arguements around who put away more of the cutlery from the dishwasher began to heat up I did pat myself a little on the back for at least being having been able to see that our homeschooling days were done, and that this week is just a blip in our otherwise gratefully scheduled days. I need my space, that has become abundantly clear.

I was dragging, quite resenting the demands I knew the day was going to put on me, but someone had to get the give away bags for Purple Heart out of the basement and onto the front porch. Skaterboy was mad at me because I pulled him up short for laughing when Belle backed into the dishwasher door and fell over it, so I had to do it myself.

And wouldn't you know it, that helped!

I threw myself into my day, which I see D do sometimes on weekends, and it worked.
I started slow. I picked up and neatened three bomb-struck rooms. I made some beds. I patched things up with SB, who is a lovely child, and we played with his ferret together for a while. I said 'No' when I couldn't and 'Yes' when I could, and I didn't feel bad about either. I read some stories, I fixed a snack and a pot of noodles, and I cleaned out the bunny cage and put them back outside now that things have warmed up a bit.

I built a snowman with my girls, fixed a pot of tea for my lovely flyby friend Sho and had tea with her and all the kids. She tuned SB's mandolin and he played her my favorite song. Then I made banana bread with Cakes and the Bean, challenged Belle and SB to a Tetris championship on the computer and flaked out on the sofa with my own book for ten minutes. I read to Cakes and the Bean again, then Belle dragged them off to Daisys party, for which she had made sugar bread and salad and planned games. We all stood at the back door and watched as the rain turned to fist - sized snowflakes.

I made dinner, welcomed D home, put Cakes and the Bean to bed, sang four songs and found a lost bear, and played Cranium until eleven pm with D and the older two, with a lot of laughing and teasing and surprising eachother with our hidden abilities.

And to think I hadn't wanted to even show up.

Now, for today.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


What did I come upon in the kitchen, this peaceful sunny afternoon? A collaboration between two well known local artists. As you can see, it was something to behold. Here's how it went:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Good Things

Just a few things I am currently happy about....
Belle's 9th birthday presents:
A satchel for school made with green corduroy and vintage bunny fabric liner, with my own applique from thrifted fabrics.

Daisy the bunny, inspired by and with all credit due to Molly Chicken.

She is made from a cashmere sweater and other thrifted fabrics. She has her handy-dandy satchel too, just like Belle.
And a hat and scarf, because it is after all, winter in Ohio.

Her dress is reversible...oh, now there, she came over all shy. Well, at least now we get to see her tail.

Other good things:
Earrings from my friend and favorite jewelry maker, Lise Anderson. I owe her a trade for these, but what, and when? All my earrings are her work. We seem to have a mutual admiration society going.

Buttons on a thrift shop sweater. I have been into big woolly cardie's this winter, and have accumulated a few I love. Like this most recent find.

The girls St. Valentines Day cards, made yesterday.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Walk in the woods

Our little family seems to have the hardest time with outings together. I sometimes wish we were like families on car commercials, where the Dad is jolly and fun, and the Mom is patient and kind, and the kids are sweet and say insightful things in high lispy voices as they climb into their lovely, shiny, organized cars, filled with snacks and games to play on road trips.

First, our car is disgusting. Inside and out, with the slush and salt and snacks down beside the seats and dirty socks. The door grinds closed, unless you WD40 it, and then it becomes as slick and dangerous as the guillotine.
The kids fight and whine, and when we reprimand them, turning around to yell that they are bloody well ruining this family outing and next weekend we'll stay home, they sulk and sneer and poke each other when we're not looking.
The twins fill their mouths with so much Hubba Bubba that they cannot speak, and then insist on listening to their poems on tape at high volume on endless rotation.

D sighs and sneers at other makes of vehicles. "They look like cartoon characters with muscles! Those things are factory add-ons, which I hate even more. Cars should be sleek, like birds or fish."
I look out the window and hum. I imagine I am many other places, and look forward to being home again, after this family duty is complete.

Today we went to the woods, to feed the chickadees at the lookout, a mile walk down a snowy trail in temperatures lucky to be in double digits.
I lamented our oversight in not bringing the sled to haul the twins in, especially as a hundred yards down the trail they both stopped like demented little donkeys and refused to budge.
D threw up his hands. "That's it! We're going home!"
The older two, having a fantastic time hurling each other into snowdrifts looked up with rosy cheeks and shining eyes. "Awwwwww..."
"Well, we're supposed to be having a walk, so if people won't walk, we have to go home."
The older two grab the Bean by her feet and hands and begin dragging her down the track, all three laughing uproariously. Despite not feeling quite allowed to carry anyone, I hoist Cakes onto my back and gallop away. The older two tumble into a giggling heap and the Bean dashes down the path ahead of me, her blue coat disappearing over a little rise.

And that's when, somehow, despite the odds, it got good.
We all held sunflower seeds in our hands and chickadees and tufted titmice landed on us with their thin dry little clawy feet and rummaged about until they found the perfect seed. We stood still, and breathed, and leaned over the overlook, stretching to invite those little bundles of feathers onto our hands. Our hands turned red and cold, and D reminded us that the first sign of frostbite was pain. No-one wanted to move. There were dozens of birds of all kinds, the kinds you usually only see one or two of at a time. Woodpeckers, nuthatches and cardinals. Skaterboy counted 60 hits to his hand altogether. The Bean shivered as they landed on her outstretched palm. Belle casually stroked the underside of a chickadee with her thumb, and D chatted to them as they came and went..
"Oh, why thank you.."
"Yes, lovely to see you too.."

When it began to become clear evening was upon us we headed down the trail again. D and Cakes, then SB and Belle and Me and the Bean. We talked and laughed and some of us knocked each other down some more. Then clever SB heard a sound and searching the trees spotted the source - an enormous barred owl, about 10 feet up, watching for her dinner. Hushed, we all gathered on the path to admire her. Amazing to think those animals are out there.

Our last good find for the day was the spoils of a hawks meal - hundreds of beautiful cardinal feathers right there on the trail, just blowing about in the wind. We gathered up a few prime ones, unbloodied of course, and headed home with realitive peace in the car. Well, there was some whining about gum.

But what do you want? My life will never be a car commercial, but at it does have it's decent moments.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The joy of two

It's days like this, when you take to your bed at noon with a pounding head and a nose that's running like a tap, and you don't get up again for four and a half hours, that those five years of raising two babies at once really pays dividends. The Bean and Cakes played non stop while I was drooling into my pillow, with no fights or disagreements at all.
Well, they did come in once complaining that they were hungry, but I sent them down to the kitchen for yoghurt and dry cereal, and when Daddy came home for lunch he fed them properly.

They played happily again for a while and then had the consideration to both go to the bathroom at the same time. And in the upstairs bathroom, too. So I only had to stagger down the hall once to wipe them at the same time, before I went back to sleep and they went back to play.

Who says five year olds are self-centered? Not me, not today.

The house does look like a bomb hit it. Even the Bean commented on it this morning, and you know it's bad when she notices. Nonetheless, it was worth it, and I bless their little hearts.