Early-morning chat with our Jane before her flight back to California. But oh, we miss her.
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.”
a clean white sheet, newly ironed;
an empty page;
a field of freshly-fallen snow
waiting to be mapped
by our footsteps.
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.”)
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.
Ron stopping by with a delivery of homemade chocolate chip cookies so delectable they would make a hobbit weep.
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?
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.
Overheard (Rose): “He’s the most boring serial killer, in my opinion.”
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.
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.
File under: prepare to melt. A Shutterfly email just served up these (rather grainy) photos of the time my three youngest kids dressed up as Magenta, Steve, and Blue for Halloween. I’m DYING of cute here. Mah babies!
On Saturday we went to a pop-up sale for one of our favorite artists, Lisa Congdon. You’ve heard me rave about her Creativebug classes and her art, which makes me happy. She was selling items from her Etsy shop at Collage, that store with the giant wall of washi tape. I ventured out in the rain with four of the kids to do some Christmas shopping at Lisa’s sale.
Rilla, who has taken several of Lisa’s Creativebug classes* with me, was so excited to meet her. Wish I’d gotten a better picture! She also made a furry friend. Equal levels of excitement, I would say.
Afterward we did some window shopping on Alberta Ave. and then inhaled some truffle fries at Big Little Burger while we wait for Scott and Huck to pick us up. Rose and Beanie hung around for root beer floats and more window shopping. A birthday present or two may have been acquired. ’Tis that season, too, for us.
As often as not, this is what our Poetry Teatime looks like: circus animal cookies on a Dominoes napkin. Yesterday we didn’t even remember to bother with something to drink. Although it doesn’t take much to elevate the event (plates would be a good start) 😉 — there are days when you know you’ll miss your moment if you don’t jump right in. This was one of those days. We had just enough time left in our morning for a no-frills poetry teatime and a short nature walk, or a frillier tea and no walk at all. The vote was to squeeze in both.
Huck certainly doesn’t care, as long as poetry teatime contains the two essentials: cookies + Shel Silverstein. He had us all howling with “The Nap Taker” (“I did not take a nap— / The nap took me”). Beanie picked the Lewis Carroll collection (more howls) and Rilla chose a family favorite: Jack Prelutsky’s Imagine That! Poems of Never-Was. (When she read “The Multikertwigo” I had such déja vu. I will always hear that poem in wee Jane’s four-year-old voice.)
I, of course, read selections from Favorite Poems Old and New. There would be a mutiny if I reached for anything else.
(I sneak more contemporary poems into other parts of our day. These children mustn’t grow up without some Billy Collins in their lives.)
We live a block and a half from Klickitat Street. I know I don’t have to tell you booklovers what a thrill I get every time I see the sign. Four months in, it hasn’t gotten old. It never will, you know? My childhood copy of Beezus and Ramona is right here on the shelf. To this day, harmonicas sound like oh dear, oh dear to me. To this day, the first bite of an apple is the best. Fig Newtons are filled with worms, and the first one to see a white horse gets to make a wish, and when the room is dim you turn on a dawnzer for some lee light. If you need me, I’ll just be sitting here for the present.
Shortly before maximum eclipse (which was 99% for us in Portland):
And moments after:
I was captivated by these shadows during the whole event. Loved watching them change direction.
We had a magical day. A feast prepared by friends (including homemade pecan sticky buns, oh my!), gorgeous weather, music, laughter.
Then home for a long nap (well, for me, at least) and late in the day, a visit with a longtime online friend—one of the first people I connected with on AOL homeschooling boards back in the day. We had 22 years of conversations to revisit. So good.