Archive for the ‘Assorted and Sundry’ Category

january 11: containers

January 11, 2019 @ 3:08 pm | Filed under: ,

I posted an explanation on Facebook today:

A wee reminder. If you are looking for my discussions of books, art, nature, pop culture, homeschooling, and joyful family life, you’ll find that at my blog and on Instagram.

Here on FB, I write (since 2016) almost exclusively about current events and policy. (Occasional book-related announcements, and sometimes quips that later make their way into a real post elsewhere. But 90% policy discussions and political commentary.)

If you prefer my rhapsodies about pine siskins and Betsy-Tacy books, they’re still happening, just not here.

It was HARD to pick just two items for rhapsody examples. 🙂 It’s a long list, my enthusiasms. Fountain pens, Pacific Northwest skies, Cybils books, Lisa Congdon, Cozyblue Stitch Club, sketchbooks, Creativebug, Scott Peterson, poetry, Ritter Sport Bars, Portland adventures, Journey North, Chronologically LOST, the northern flicker at my feeder this very moment, Holly Wren Spalding, Small Meadow Press, raisins raisins all we are is raisins, the Snoopy cast album, the Bravewriter Arrow I’m writing (Harriet the Spy this time), historical fiction, cherry cobbler…you Bonny Glen readers know better than anyone what lights me up. I could link almost every one of those off-the-top-of-my-head items to a post (or many posts) here. I won’t, because that takes too long.

(The WordPress SEO plug-in is constantly yelling about my failure to include internal links. It also berates me for writing long sentences. I laugh and ignore it. I can’t remember the last time I looked at traffic stats for this blog.)

When I was assessing my lapses here last fall, I realized I knew exactly how I wanted to use this space—the way I always have: a chronicle of my enthusiasms and the hilarious or thought-provoking things my kids say. Those are the things I want to remember, and to lavish words upon.

Two years ago, when I became compelled to do some writing about policy and advocacy, I decided Facebook was the best space for that—the place where I seem to connect most directly with the largest number of people. (I have more followers on Twitter, but I seldom tweet anymore. My FB connections are almost always people I actually know, and therefore the chances of a real discussion are higher than in the Twitter flood.)

A while back, I started compiling these little happy lists—the sorts of things I’ve been posting here in the past couple of weeks—in my notebook at first, and now spilling onto the blog. Two years in a row, I had the Flow Magazine “Tiny Pleasures” page-a-day calendar (I miss it!) and it was easy to jot down two or three or ten tiny pleasures of my own on a planner page. But I write to share, and I believe in habits. It’s a habit worth cultivating: recording those little happy lists here where we can talk about them. I mention something, and you mention something back, and next thing you know, Isabella Tree’s Wilding is on my nightstand waiting its turn…that’s what I always loved about blogging, those sparks flying back and forth.

It does feel, sometimes, like half a picture, or an indulgence. Serious and dangerous matters require our urgent attention. I’m doing my best to further discourse (especially around practical policy solutions) and spur compassionate action. I’m…just not doing it here. My kids love to tease me about my passion for containerizing. Show me a jumble and I’ll give you a nice basket. When things heated up after the 2016 election, I realized I needed online containers, too, in order to maintain balance and composure. In order to do the work, but not be consumed by it. In order to keep noticing and celebrating the many riches all around me—those pine siskins, this beautiful book. The way Scott keeps me supplied with specially extra-caffeinated cocoa so I can get up before dawn to write. The way the sunrise begins with deep blue, not the pink or gold you expect. The delight of seeing Bean and Rose walk down the street to have lunch at a favorite café. The broad expanse of crocuses that will bloom in Wilshire Park only a few weeks from now.

The happy jolt I get—still, a year and a half after the move—every time I see Klickitat Street on a sign.

kids in rain slickers under autumn trees

So. Little happy lists here, and serious policy discourse there, and occasional light snark on Twitter, and whatever it is I do on Instagram. (It’s seasonal, I guess? My Stories tend to be a mix of day-in-the-life homeschooling glimpses and Portland adventuring. My grid is 85% swooning over nature. I guess it’s like when I sweep everything off the counter into a pretty box to be sorted later. People who’ve helped me pack for a move know what I’m talking about.)

Do any of you compartmentalize your social media this way? I’d love to hear what balance looks like for you. I know some of you don’t do FB or IG at all, and with Facebook especially I see the wisdom in that.

As a postscript I’ll add that lately, my favorite thing about this blog is clicking the ‘related posts’ button at the bottom. It keeps tumbling me into moments I had no memory of, and I’m grateful for the archive.

january 9: things that come in nines

January 9, 2019 @ 8:39 pm | Filed under:

Hawk by Rilla, 2014

1

New-to-us birds to add to our lifetime list: a pair of pine siskins visited the feeder yesterday and obligingly hung around long enough for us to make the ID. And it was a Project Feederwatch bird count day, to boot!

2

When I took down the Christmas tree on New Year’s Day, I filled its corner with the card table we do jigsaw puzzles on: our strategy for the early dark of a winter afternoon. There’s nothing quite so hyggeligt as listening to Scott and the kids giggle at our readaloud (specifically: Alice’s encounter with the White Knight, who is immense fun to voice) while they work on a puzzle.

3

Drove to Salem and back today for the monthly meeting of the Oregon DD Coalition. Counted nine hawks meditating in bare trees alongside the highway on the way home.

4

Speaking of nine—we (here in the Pacific Northwest) are up nine whole minutes of daylight since January 1st!

5

Reading log: Finished two of seven Cybils YASF finalists this week. Mum’s the word about them for now, of course. Also reading Rachel Zucker’s Museum of Accidents (shattering) and continuing to soak up Franz Wright’s Wheeling Motel.

What Scott & I are watching: Westworld Season 2. BOY HOWDY, that’s some good TV.

january 3: “I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it”

January 3, 2019 @ 7:50 pm | Filed under: , ,

toy cars

1

Early-morning chat with our Jane before her flight back to California. But oh, we miss her.

2

Huck in my writing chair, reading me the day’s entry from what has become, these past three months, our favorite poetry anthology: Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year. “Mom, listen! This poem describes exactly how I feel about January.”

January is
a clean white sheet, newly ironed;
an empty page;
a field of freshly-fallen snow
waiting to be mapped
by our footsteps.

—John Foster

The moment this tome came to us last fall—a review copy from Nosy Crow edited by Fiona Waters and gorgeously illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon—Huck claimed it as his own. He has announced his plan to enter his name in the “This book belongs to ______” blank as soon as he can write it in cursive. (This melts me. The tattered copy of Alice in Wonderland I read to Huck and Rilla in December is inscribed, in the handwriting of a young Rose, with: “To Rose from Mommy, July 3rd, 2007, With Love.”)

3

Four frenzied squirrels scrambling across the pergola and flinging themselves into the overhanging magnolia tree. Clearly they don’t have a seasonal poetry anthology because their antics were straight out of spring.

4

Ron stopping by with a delivery of homemade chocolate chip cookies so delectable they would make a hobbit weep.

5

This fun art tutorial by Lisa Bardot: part of her Making Art Everyday series. Rilla perched beside me and taught me how to get around in Procreate. Boy am I glad I’m homeschooled.

(I had a little trouble with the blending. Rilla’s was one thousand times better. But hey, baby steps!)

6

While I worked on my orange (with much merriment and coaching from my daughter), Huck worked on the cursive letters he learned yesterday. How beautiful is that u, I ask you?

7

Appointment with my new primary care doctor today. She was awesome, and her office is all of six minutes from our house. For this I am profoundly grateful.

8

Overheard (Rose): “He’s the most boring serial killer, in my opinion.”

9

These lines from “Planet” by Catherine Pierce, from HERE: Poems for the Planet, a new anthology forthcoming in April from Copper Canyon Press, edited by Elizabeth Coleman:

This planet. All its grooved bark, all its sand of quartz and bones and volcanic glass, all its creeping thistle lacing the yards with spiny purple. I’m trying to come down soft today. I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it.

january 2: small celebrations

January 2, 2019 @ 7:33 pm | Filed under: ,

 

1

The sunrise was bonkers this morning. Huck and I watched its first faint tintings together, and then he went off to do his Huckleberry things and went back to writing—or trying to write—mostly I was watching the streaks of scarlet and coral paint spread across the sky. Just breathtaking. And…a minute earlier than yesterday.

2

Water vapor billowing off our garage roof as the morning sun melted the frost on its mossy shingles. The kids’ delight at our very own cloud machine.

3

Northern flicker at the feeder—hadn’t seen her in a few days.

4

Huck’s beaming satisfaction at his first cursive letters. His three careful lowercase t’s especially—the first looking rather like a capital A, the second nicely formed but floating in mid-air, and the third one darn near perfect. He’s been very critical of his (print) handwriting, so it was lovely to see him feeling proud of the accomplishment.

5

Belly laughs from my youngest two at the White Queen’s backwards antics in our Through the Looking-Glass readaloud. Six impossible things before breakfast!

6

Lunch with Scott and Jane before she (sob) heads back to California tomorrow. I was captivated by the large black-and-white photo of the restaurant (circa 1941) on the wall above our table. Careful pincurls; a fur stole and plush hat (at a diner counter!); the skinniest watch-strap I’ve ever seen.

7

A walk to the library with Scott. Crisp air, pretty clouds, and the best conversation.

8

A 94-point word in a game of Words With Friends (acolyte/as, triple letter on the C, triple word score)

9

These lines from “Day One” by Franz Wright:

…We should really examine
your life, the one you bought,
and what happened when you got home
and attempted to assemble it:

that disfiguring explosion
no one witnessed, no one heard,
and which you yourself cannot recall,
and by whose unimaginable light you seek
to write the name of beauty.

—from Wheeling Motel

Happy New Yawn

December 31, 2018 @ 8:43 pm | Filed under:

How I rang out the year:

* got up at six to write—I dared not break the habit over the holidays for fear I’d never get out of bed early again
* fought with my Kindle, which has decided to shun our wifi
* helped Huck build a spider robot or robot spider–not sure which it is but it’s creepy and awesome, thank you grandparents
* took a walk with Scott. Just to the drugstore, but still.
* paid bills & did medical busywork
* wrote a blog post
* revised two poems and submitted for critique
* got caught up on a major project for the advocacy gig
* am supposed to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark with the gang tonight and stay up to welcome the new year in, but for some unfathomable* reason I’m feeling kinda wiped and wondering if I can get away with celebrating on Central Time

(*Narrator: it was totally fathomable)

Farewell, 2018

December 31, 2018 @ 3:34 pm | Filed under: ,

My Instagram 2018 “best nine” (which just means best liked). Some surprises here! The five non-portrait photos are some of my own favorite captures this past year, so it’s lovely to know others liked them too. And two of the pics in this grid were taken by others: bottom left by Keely Massey; top right pic by my hubby. Amusingly, the crocus shot just below that one is the photo I was taking when I looked up to discover Scott was snapping a pic of me.

Oof, y’all, 2018 was a doozy. Hard in a different way than 2017, which was its own special brand of bananas. I have big hopes for 2019: advocacy, creative work, family adventures, a new book chugging toward launch day. On Saturday I emptied my studio and scrubbed every nook and cranny, Marilla Cuthbert-style. I was exhausted all the next day, but it was worth it. So sparkling and new! And a more functional arrangement of materials, now that I have a better sense of how I work in this room. (Writing: in the gray chair, never the desk, which meant all the things I used to keep in the desk drawer had to migrate to a shelf near the chair. Bills and busywork: desk. Painting: more likely to happen if I keep the round table clear of clutter & paints out and ready to go. Handwork: in baskets within reach of the writing chair for when I need to ponder a bit–this has proven an essential deterrent to the temptation to open new tabs while working. Pens and notebooks: every possible corner.)

Those crocuses began blooming in the last days of January–which means they’re not far ahead now! Unless we have an altogether different sort of winter, which we may. I started to say I “can’t wait” for a return of my springtime walks but the idiom is all wrong. I’m looking forward with happy anticipation to the explosion of Pacific Northwest bloom that dazzled me last spring, but I can wait. I’m happy to wait. I want to hunker in and read to my kids and do all the hygge things and devour some Cybils finalists (the big shortlist announcements are tomorrow!) and make some art and work a few more rows into the blanket I’ll probably still be crocheting on New Year’s Eve, 2028.

Forget best nine—how about best six?

 

december 4—nope, make that the 11th

December 11, 2018 @ 8:10 pm | Filed under:

…Or maybe I’ll blink and another week will have zipped past. I knew mentioning that blog challenge was dangerous. Nothing derails my plans like sharing them here on the blog. 😉

But here, I’ll just employ the time-honored Flylady principle of jumping in where you are and see if I can recap the past week a bit. We had a double birthday this weekend. Would you believe this little guy is now fifteen years old?

(Interjection: Scott just sent me this post from 2007. I don’t know how he happened to come across it tonight. I had totally forgotten this story and I remain staggered by the event, all these years later.)

Okay, looking at my planner, I see why I got derailed from daily blogging last week after a whopping three-day streak. On the 4th, which is when I began this draft, I did a reading at an assisted living facility which happens to have a preschool on the premises. The seniors had a holiday gathering for a group of about 30 two- and three-year-olds, and I was invited to come read Inch and Roly books to them. Really fun morning.

And from there the rest of the week cartwheeled along. On Saturday Beanie and I went to Crafty Wonderland, Portland’s awesome art sale at the convention center. We could easily have spent a million dollars on prints and bags and paper goods. Finding ourselves short of that sum by several zeroes, we contented ourselves with a lot of window shopping and bought each other small gifts. We’re going to wrap them up and pretend we weren’t standing next to each other when they were purchased. 😉

In homeschooling land, Huck, Rilla, and I finished our readaloud of Alice in Wonderland and rolled right into Through the Looking-Glass, as one must!

P.S. Thanks, Kathryn, for suggesting Wilding by Isabella Tree. It’s en route!

december 1: new leaf

December 1, 2018 @ 12:07 pm | Filed under:

Ahhhh. Here it is, the day I’ve been working toward. There was no nice clean line between buried under work and wooo I’m free!—it’s been a gradual digging-out process, like shoveling snow. But my walks are clear now and I can at least emerge from the cave.

I’m blinking a bit. It’s ironic that this hemisphere is heading toward its darkest, coldest season, and here I am feeling like spring is on the way. The icicles haven’t even formed yet and I’m already hearing them drip. Sometimes the seasons of our personal lives don’t sync up with what’s happening in nature.

I’m glad, though, that the chilly weather, the rain, the early dark, will keep me physically cloistered a bit longer. I need some time to regroup, to restore balance. And of course there’s the holidays to consider…I’ve just barely begun the shopping and the house is still wearing autumn clothes.

This time last year I started a practice of writing Morning Pages a la Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Three pages longhand immediately upon waking, before opening any tabs or apps. I kept it up for a couple of months, then fizzled out. Resumed the practice in June and shifted my work routine so that right after finishing my morning pages, I worked on the novel for a couple of hours before breakfast. That was a wonderfully productive schedule for two or three months, and then summer ended and the family’s morning rhythm changed, and I had less solo time before breakfast. I dropped the morning pages and kept plugging away at the novel.

I’m shifting back now to my summertime rhythm, with tweaks. Up early, twenty minutes of quiet writing time, then Huck joins me in the studio for an early morning snuggle and chat. We watch the black sky fade to navy blue, steel blue, sky blue streaked with cream-colored clouds. The birds wake up, crows winging past the window, goldfinches arriving at the feeder, juncoes perching on the rain dome. Steven wakes for school and comes in to tear off the page on my ‘year of tiny pleasures‘ calendar. Then both boys scoot out to get their breakfast and I try to work for another hour or two. The temptation to climb back in bed next to Scott for a few minutes is strong, and some mornings I succumb. Never for long, because he gets up to make Steve’s lunch, and then the bus comes, and the girls begin arriving in the kitchen, and the busy day has begun.

For the next few weeks, instead of morning pages I’m going to do the lessons in Holly Wren Spaulding‘s 21 Day Poetry Challenge. I’m excited: I don’t think I’d be enthusiastic about getting up in the early dark on these cold December mornings just to write my morning pages. (I find the pages to be a valuable practice, but I don’t enjoy writing them. I’ve never been a journaler.) The theme for Holly’s course is “interior,” which is just right for this change-of-season I’m in. I also plan to choose a corresponding art practice for these twenty-one days, something simple—a daily sketch of some kind, perhaps sparked by a Creativebug* lesson, perhaps just something on my desk. My sketchbook practice has been a bit sporadic of late, although I did manage some good work this fall.

I recently read Austin Kleon‘s Show Your Work, a book that felt like a fresh pair of batteries for my blog. It made me realize that “showing my work” was exactly what I did here from 2005-2015: I was thinking out loud, learning in public, about homeschooling and parenting. Tidal Homeschooling grew out of that pondering. My sketchbook habit great out of it. A lot of things grew out of it! And I realized that’s what I want to return to. I don’t yet know where in the day a regular blog practice will fit but I plan to spend December playing with rhythm to see if something clicks.

What does your December look like?

*That’s an affiliate link because there’s a sweet deal on right now: three months of Creativebug for $1. I consider our CB subscription to be the best five dollars I spend every month.