Thursday, December 18, 2014


Look at our tree! It's packed! My favorite ornaments are still the ones that were handmade...the beaded ones from the cousins, the cross-stitch from my mom, and all of our paper ornaments - the photos, the origami balloons, the string solstice stars...I love finding them in the bottom of the box of Christmas stuff.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ani reading Garfield. The timer's for cookies.
Our family is in the strange twilight zone of having half of the family involved in a play while the other half carries on more or less as normal.  Except there is no normal when half of the family is otherwise occupied.  So our days look a lot like Ani and myself figuring it out, while making sure people who need to sleep and eat get what they need.  It's a little like they're visiting when they're home, as they're only really here to refuel before heading back to make music and story.  

I am writing this to remind myself that Ani and I generally are totally in love with each other.  And occasionally we have rough patches. But mostly there are many pauses for kisses and "Mama, I need to hug on you!" and the sketching out of plans together.  Sunset walks and David Attenborough. Cookies and reading The Number Devil, domino mazes, card games,  and sometimes just lying down on the bed, face to face, talking.  I love that this is a need she expresses to me.  I am grateful for the connection and the clarity she has about needing that connection.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ 

Today, while Eliza and Dan were at tech and dress rehearsals for Appalachian Christmas Carol, Ani and I went to learn how to throw pots on a wheel with Jason and Noah.  I've done this once before, when I was pregnant with Eliza, but had forgotten so much.  I had many aha! moments as my understanding of what the heck I was doing increased.  More! I want more! The wheel as metaphor for life is so strong! Centering. Failing. Centering again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

sleepover, in three acts

I:  Hang out and Pick up at the farm

In which we are introduced to the citrus-y wonder that is the hand of the Buddha. Or the fingers. It looks like a fantastical sea creature made of lemons...

(And we play Amazing Mammoth Hunt and nurse the lambs...)

II:  The Sleep Part

In which Ani is so tired and grouchy that when I say to Ari, "Ari, you are Simply the Best Gramma" indicating her mug of tea, Ani momentarily flips out with "Why does Ari get to be the best gramma???" after which we experience an exchange of WHA--? and burst into laughter, all of us...Some serious gingerbread wrangling before bed, and then, yes, sleep... 

III: Mustaches Rule the Day

In which two children mark the moments of their days by the type of mustaches they are wearing.

Morning fuzz:

Mid-day Hot Chocolate:

And I don't even know quite what to say about these faces, but apparently the mustaches weren't quite cutting the mustard.

We spent the afternoon with Molly and Jason, making art.  This is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon...a kitchen table, friends, art supplies...

Jimi and Jimi
Jason's transformation of an old photograph

Ani and I caught this sunset on our walk back down the hill, once the sleepover had officially ended.  It was only 4:30 and it reminded me of how close we are getting to the darkest turn of the year.  My insides don't feel like that should be happening quite yet; Ani also was explaining how Winter doesn't really feel like it starts until January, and I get that. Somehow it is much bleaker then, maybe because it isn't so new.  I'm looking to cherish this dark time and relish the inward-turning for all its nurturing and inspiration...

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I've been visiting the distant planet of my Drafts folder, and recovered this from 2009.  I'm posting it today in honor of this baby's fifth birthday.  We love you, Helvi!

My thoughts and emotions surrounding the birth of Bubbie's baby last week (a week! already a week! only a week!) are still swirling around in the back of my consciousness, and while it is not my story to tell, I thought I would write a bit around the experience of witnessing the beginning of a family.

Our days leading up to the birth - the days after hitting the Week 40 mark, when people start to greet a pregnant woman with "What? You're still pregnant??" - were so relaxed and time was so elastic that it was somewhat easy to forget why I was there. Bubbie was not uncomfortable in the way some women get - she is by nature serene, and even more so in her beautiful big-bellied state. When I did remember, I cooked a bunch of food, stuck it in the freezer, looked around for something to clean (there wasn't anything, which won't surprise anyone who knows her).   We spent much of our time together driving around Seattle, seeing things I had been missing since our move, eating Cougar Mountain cookies and cranking the tunes (heh heh - we listened to so much Hedwig and the Angry Inch that we joked about her naming the baby Hedwig, boy or girl).

Two days into my stay, she had a conversation with her doula (and the doula from Eliza's birth, my Birthing From Within mentor and all-around incredible woman), who had just finished a four-day birth. Carrie jokingly asked her to please not go into labor until Monday at the earliest - she was just so beat, and needed sleep and good food. Bubbie is very accomodating, and, knowing that I was leaving on Tuesday, she waited until exactly 1:10 in the morning on Monday for the contractions to begin. Amazing. By 11:00 a.m. Helvi had been born. What happened in-between is a bit of a blur, but here are a few of the highlights...early labor was practically non-existent and took place during a power outage. Minutes before hearing Bubbie up and walking around I had experienced what felt like a mini earthquake, which is not unusual out there, and I was lying awake trying to quell the uneasiness that that feeling gives you. I am still not certain whether or not I was dreaming, but the sensation was enough to wake me fully, and that is the way the day began for me! Bubbie and Nils were thoughtfully waiting until closer to daylight to call Carrie, wanting her to get as much sleep as possible, and when they did call she listened to B talk for a while, through contractions, and then asked Nils and myself for the final piece of the equation, to determine whether or not it was time to go to the birthing center. She asked, "Is she still present and lucid? Or has she gone to Laborland?"  It was this piece of the puzzle that almost had us waiting too long to get to the car.  This woman does not do anything but lucid. She was lucid enough to keep asking me, "Can this really be early labor???"  She was lucid enough to help me help her find her clothing and get dressed.  Our only challenge in the transfer was actually getting to the car, and it would have seemed comical if the birth didn't seem suddenly so imminent.  Every time she'd finish a contraction we'd start a dart towards the door - Nils was already in the car - and another contraction would start and she'd beeline back to the bed! She was lucid enough to remind us, in the car, deep into active labor, which rooms we should head to in the birth center, lucid enough to bark at the labor and delivery nurse who reminded us that the current visitor limit is 2, due to the H1N1 virus, "We're breaking the rules. She's staying." (Being the diplomat she is, she later apologized...)

There are a few moments that really stand out for me from that day. The strongest one is having my friend come out of her inward, eyes-closed rocking to turn her big brown eyes to me to say simply, and unbelievingly, "Debbie."

I knew what she was saying, what she was asking - Why didn't you tell me it would be like this? How is this ever going to happen? I felt utterly helpless. Bubbie was at the birth of both of my babies, much more prepared for birth in that sense than I was, so she had seen how it goes, how hard you work, how much goes into birthing that baby, but it feels like that one word was her moment of transition.

The other moment was when Nils was on one side of her, I was on the other and he was channeling his inner coach.  "ADD IT ON! ADD IT ON! YOU CAN DO IT!" 

And before we knew it, Bubbie had a baby in her arms.  Helvi looked as though she had found the place she was supposed to be.  I can't imagine a birth story that doesn't have a good dose of corn, but as I heard a young person wisely comment just the other day, we call it corn, but really, it just seems to be the tender truth.  I looked at my friend's hands, holding her baby, and they were transformed. Those small hands with the long graceful fingers were meant to hold that baby. It was profound, watching the pieces of what I knew about this person fall gently into place around this new person, as if this is exactly what her hands were for.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

reading the fridge

I love reading peoples' fridges.  I have to say that I have never understood a clean, empty refrigerator door.  I won't judge you, but it might take me longer to get you... I would really love to have you come over to my kitchen and peruse the fridge while I make you something warm and tasty, but this will have to do.  Right now ours is a collection of drawings our house sitter made while we were gone this summer; lists of food I want to make for my family when they come after Christmas (juuuuust thinkin' ahead...); and old photos of some of the friends we got to see in Seattle...

Rica and the girls
one of the first photos taken of us, circa 1993

oh, so fuzzy...but we saw these two with their *own* babies this summer!!
I can't look at this photo of Maire and Finny without doubling over, laughing.
And there's one of Ani's famous portraits of me, which I treasure.
Oh, there is more. So much more. But that will have to do for now.  I have sprinkles to clean off the floor, frosting to chip off my kitchen table - gingerbread houses, you know - and two munchkins covered with face paints to usher to an art hang-out up the hill...