Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pieces of Me: Partner

You are my BBFF (Best Boy Friend Forever).

We are a team. We are very different, but also alike. We both value family, friends, cooking good food, doing meaningful work, and a sense of humor. This is the framework. You are a social butterfly, happy in the center of things; I am more of a hermit, happy to be at home. You can still do great work with many interruptions (self-created or imposed by others); I do better in quiet. You were my hardest knitting student ever, because you wanted to know why and how and what would happen if... I encourage you to make gauge swatches, rip it out and start again, have a pattern and plan. You make beautiful work without any of these things. You relate to historical dates and events in a way that is completely beyond me (in that you can retain them), while I am the prolific reader you will never be able to be. You are the one who has an enormous sense of the possible and I am the one who tells you to say no to more meetings and committees and responsibilities. That you give enough. When you burn out (only occasionally), I try not to say "I told you so." You never show these moments to your colleagues or really anyone else, but I help you pick up your pieces and reassemble them. Mostly, I am impressed with all that you are capable of giving and doing.

I am your proof-reader, your walking dictionary, sometimes your secretary, sometimes your assistant at grading papers. I know you like to eat dessert every night, that you are not bothered by greasiness on your utensil handles, and that you prefer floppy sloppy squishy pillows with feathers.
We agree about how to parent our boys. I am your champion and I am your critic. I will always tell you what I think, especially about your clothing choices (striped vest does not ever go with a striped shirt). The parents of your students remark to me that you always look so dapper at assemblies, and yup, that's me. I am the one who tells you when your pants are not school-worthy anymore. It makes me happy when your car pulls up in the driveway. We don't go to bed mad at each other.

Here is what we said to each other almost ten years ago:

Our friendship is the sacred foundation on which we have built our love.
I will always speak to you as a friend.
I promise to make you laugh and help you laugh at yourself.

I honor your individuality and I respect your opinions and needs
that are different from my own.
I take pride in your accomplishments.

I will challenge you to be your best self.

We are two trees, grown together;

we have separate roots and we grow independently.

But we lean on one another
and give each other shade,
twined in an embrace for all time.
With these vows
I take you as my life partner.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pieces of Me: Mama

Also known as Mom, Muvver, and Muvvie.

I am the cheerleader and the anchor. The one who keeps the train on its track, who holds the rhythm of our days. I am the one who reminds you that your violin folder should have a place you always put it, damp towels should be hung up, the sink rinsed out of toothpaste, cleaning up is part of playing (that last is channeled right from the Great Index of Things Mothers Say), the couch cushions do not live on the floor, balls should not be thrown indoors, your lunchbox needs to be emptied out, use words not your body, turn off the nightlight, and I love you.

I am frequently the Finder of All Things. I remember this is a quality my own mom had when I was growing up; my perception was that the reason why I could not find the things I wanted was because she was always moving them. She was also frequently a bit irritable at being asked all the time. Now I say things like: "Use the two eyes God gave you" to my own children. And yes, I move things, especially when they are in random places or on the floor and sometimes small bits are sucked up in the vacuum, usually not on purpose. And yes, sometimes I am irritable myself at being asked.

I move our boots near the door we will exit by.

I am the one who knows where your nice warm socks are. And puts your hat to dry on the garden gnome that was too cute not to keep inside our house year-round, next to the stove with his jaunty pipe.

I intervene when there will be violence. I can tell what kind of distress you are in from your cry (hurt, angry, physically injured, and wanting attention).

I am the one who makes sure that your favorite pants (one of two pairs, only one brand ever, and the only brand that seems to last against your very sharp knees) are clean.

I keep your mittens dry and ready for the next day. Here are four pairs drying (one pair for school, one for skiing after school), with toilet paper tubes inside them to keep them open, facilitating air-flow, and not festering with stink. They are above our doorway in the warmest room in the house.
I am the one who puts the slippers in the same place each time, after retrieving them from under the couch. And also the one who notices the sandals in the background, there in that same spot since they came home before the winter break.
We make things together.
We laugh together, cook together, and call our friends to give them singing telegrams on their answering machines. I serve you healthy things and hope you will eat some of them. I watch your puppet shows, perpetual motion experiments, reenactments of favorite silly parts of books (complete with singing and a well-placed blast of whoopie cushion). I write down the wonderful things you say ("Why is the full moon good luck?") and save them like precious gems.

Motherhood is what I always knew I wanted to do and it's unfortunate that sick days are not included in the package (at least in these United States). It's the first job, the best and worst job, bringing out my best and worst; it's the thing that started ten years ago and won't ever be done until I die. It's the thing that has taught me the most, has shown me (with painful regularity) my own short-comings and character flaws. You have kept me humble and conscious of what it is I do and how I do it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Finding my way

I'm hungry for color.
I miss seeing bright saturated colors in the January palette of gray, white, brown, and black. I miss the smells of things that are alive. So I thought I would revisit some images from last May and June throughout this post.
rose petals, ready to be made into rose petal sorbet.

So now I am in a transition, finding a new rhythm as I work to keep my schoolwork, family work, library work, and artistic work in balance. Lately, I admit to being grumpy with my sweet and patient husband. It's because I have been feeling crowded out by all of the things I am trying to figure out and figure in.
above, that's homemade lemon curd.

While I assess the time I spend doing all of the things I do, I am going to take it as a blog assignment: who am I and what do I do in this busy life? How do I do it (all)? What do I not do? I am a mom, wife, artist, librarian and student, as a start---and each of those jobs require a different part of me. This thinking process will help inform my time structuring this spring. So stay tuned for a new theme over the next couple of weeks.

This is a good time to take stock, because on February 11th I will have my one-year blogging anniversary and a few days earlier, my 34th birthday! (Um, it's kind of sad I had to double check my math on that one.)
And oh yeah---the new computer arrived! It is amazing and I am just getting to know her. Every day it's like Christmas.
And another thing: the quilt and I have a date this Sunday. Yay!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One Morning in Maine

...the icicles outside the kitchen window looked like this, as the sun was rising.

I am gathering the contents of a package I am sending over a continent or two (depending on which way the mail goes) and across at least one ocean. It's a fun blogging swap! I am always interested in swapping, and the way we worked it out this time was to think of what could be made in about an hour...since we work in various media. I liked that way of doing it. And if you follow that aforementioned link, make sure you read this post about Nigel the robot who is always the life of the party.

The cute hat is complete! And I do wish I had some small ball or a tiny model head to show it on. I think the 3D effect would be delightful. It's a nice soft alpaca-silk yarn from KnitPicks. And I liked the pattern so much, for ease of completion, for just enough thinking knitting, for sheer cuteness, that I am already beginning a second hat. For some girl baby, with PINK, since I had no reason to knit pink for my own children. Someone will have a girl, somewhere, I hope.
Jonas made the butterfly cord for the ties. I have no idea how to do it myself, but it's something he learned in school.
We have to import our flowers here right now, but oh that color is such a feast for my eyes. (Notice the photo in the upper left corner? The very one that my brother used for his portrait of Jonas and I!) We're the care-takers of the flowers this weekend---they were given to Mr. E's class on Friday after their stellar performances of two marionette puppet shows. They wrote their own scripts inspired by African folklore, wrote musical accompaniment, and made their own silk marionettes! Here's a small taste, from How Monkey Got His Tail:
And I have been meaning to introduce you to a new blog, Totally Smitten Mama, and this amazing post in which she details all of the amazing crafty items she made for Christmas with/in-spite-of her three boys and pregnant wife! Those adorable little wooden peg people just about make me swoon whenever I see them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Catching Up: 2

Breakfast Still Life.
New favorite cup seems to like the company of the small purple teapot.

Apologies for the ick lighting here. This is a stove top created by Sylvan from a dart board (the burner), and the electric cord is one of those therapeutic bands for exercise. You can't see it, but the cord was "plugged" into the wall (behind a basket). Truly avant garde-style portions: 5 pieces of spinach and 1 carrot stick.
I don't want readers to get the mistaken impression that we are all peaceful fabric and adorable teacups here. Sometimes things get really hairy. With yelling. Loudly. Like last night, when two boys were screaming and crying and dad was about to lose it because no one was picking up their toys when he asked and mom was stressed because of trying to figure out school-related somethings.
These are the times when I think to myself...if two parents aren't enough, however do single parents make it work? Because yesterday, after my day of work when all the networks were overloaded and our Internet was spotty, and not even the smallest thing was easy, I really didn't want to show up for the parenting job. I just wanted to come home to an empty house and enjoy some silence and sort out my school stuff. So, if you're a single parent and you're reading this, I know you're in the trenches and I salute you.

Here's the finished quilt top:
This weekend I hope to start on the border. And for those of you wondering, that little half inch problem I was having here? As it turned out I had purchased a fat quarter of a fabric from this same family and it was here in my stash! A good thought to save for later: maybe I'll remember to overbuy slightly, just in case.

Catching Up: 1

Catching Air: Extreme Sledding

Sylvan and I had a very brief trip south to see my brother's art show, in which there is a portrait of me and my older boy (when he was small).

There was a lovely fluffy snow storm and Bjorn (my bro) and Sylvan took full advantage. I was their team photographer.

Ready or not...
Here we come!
Some landing shots: wipe-outs are always more impressive the bigger you are.
Here's Bjorn, over the jump, onto the driveway (ow):
Sometimes when you land, your face looks like this:
And sometimes your face looks like this:
I'm so glad to be back. I missed you all. I will be catching up on posts during the next few days. I am taking a deep breath and beginning my classes! New computer is on its way.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Computer Blech

A picture-less post comes very infrequently here. Sigh. Some computer dramas that are related to me coming to the unhappy realization that for my new educational adventure through San Jose State U., for my master's in Library Science, I will require a new computer. Gulp. And did I mention my classes get going in less than two weeks? Yup. The computer that is almost four years old just doesn't have the same capability that my program requires. Oh, and?---It also appears to have a virus. So, it's with the doctor right now. So no blogging, emailing, or even RESEARCHING for a new computer from home!

So instead of the yesterday I thought I would have, full of lots of comparing prices and copying all of my pictures onto CDs, backing up information, and looking at the screen all day, I had my idea of a perfect vacation-at-home day. I alternated working on art and working on fabric, by the woodstove, with many cups of tea.

I wish I could show you my *finished quilt top* or the new ATCs that came out of yesterday. Some for a new trading book at the Rockport Library---yes, a book that you can check out that has ATCs in it that you can replace with some of your own! Check Robinsunne's blog soon, she'll be posting all about it. And some others I am making for a trade with this lovely blogging friend. Oh, and the quilt top came out very nicely I think. I surprised the Mister with it laid upon our comforter last night! On to borders and edgings and all that, next.

So, until it's all sorted out, I'll be out of the virtual world on a universe-imposed technology-free holiday.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Weekend Off

Here's a Sunday morning sweetness.

Sylvan: Mom, what day is it?
Me: Saturday.
Sylvan: No, what's the date?
Me: January 10th.
Sylvan: [gasps!] What? Today's Ducky's birthday!
So he threw her a lovely afternoon party, just like that. Tea, carrots, little cookies, place cards, and a part hat for the birthday girl. Polly (our doll friend from across town) even made the trip over, bearing a gift and card and a bag of wild sequined and colorful fabrics.
You know, there are so many people that I have been telling about Alewives Fabrics who don't know about it already! I am always so happy to spread the good word. The other day I even shyly showed my post about that lovely store to a library patron, when we started chatting about her quilting books.
Here's the quilting update...All of my squares are sewed together and I laid them all out on my bed yesterday to figure out the order of what should go where! It was sometimes hard, my eyes felt like they were doing spirals, making sure there was balance and overall visual appeal and no two fabrics that were the same touched, etc. They're carefully set aside, waiting to be sewn into a quilt top!
And I realized I didn't have the right knitting project on my needles. I have three WIPs (works-in-progress) all of which require my complete and full attention every minute; we don't get that kind of knitting time around here much. So here's a cap for a baby due this month, a lovely Norwegian pattern (translated), and picture a little face peeking out of a pointy peak! Here's a side view:
And here's the Mister, at work on his own Sunday morning knitting:
Hat three in a series of twelve he is aiming to complete by next year.