Sunday, April 19, 2009


Today was the day after a huge fundraiser at the Homer Public Library - my freshman effort in the event-planning department, and while everything didn't go perfectly, it went pretty darn well. We had enough people to make it worthwhile, and enough food, and all around, people seemed to have a good time.

But reaching the finish line on this event has been a huge relief. And today, I celebrated that with Thea and Liam by taking them out for a fabulous early-morning hike down Diamond Creek Trail. It was such a beautiful morning and Matt's weather report said it was going to go south later on, so we went straight from pajamas to outdoor gear and headed out the door by 9 a.m.

Diamond Creek Trail is Liam's favorite hike. We start at the top of a hill and follow a rapidly eroding trail down to the beach, where a river (the source of said erosion) rushes over a small waterfall.

Liam is fascinated with water movement - rivers, streams, the waterways made in the road as the snow melts. Right now, he's in his element because we are losing snow faster than I can believe. We've gone from really the middle of winter to full-blown spring in a week, thanks to the ash covering everything from Redoubt's eruption earlier this month. Today, my flower beds emerged, though they are still coated with grey muck and not a crocus bud in sight. This spring has caught everything - even the bulbs - by surprise.

So it was a good thing we went on the hike early, because the mud was substantial along the trail. The first part, however, was clear, and Thea, outfitted with her new rubber boots, went tromping down the road. It was her first real hike - hard to believe since it feels like she's been walking forever, not just a matter of months. And walk she did. She walked all the way down the trail to the muddy part, then got in the kid backpack for the slippy part. Liam is a monkey on the walk - bouncing from spot to spot and back again while I issue a steady stream of warnings and suggestions for ways to not cover himself from head to toe with mud and lose his boots to the big puddles.

On the beach, they both dove into the sand and enjoyed the sunshine while we had a few snacks. Liam chopped down a huge field of pushki (for non-Alaskans, a large-leafed plant that puts up a huge stalk with a flower on top, which often remains all winter, leaving six-foot-high dried "flowers" all over the place.) When the whining reached a certain pitch and the clouds moved in a bit, we packed up camp and headed to look at the waterfall, which was rushing with spring-melt fever. Then Liam and I tried to take a "shortcut" to avoid a slippery ice patch that I wiped out on on my way down. My theory about shortcuts never being shorter was substantiated when we hit the three inches of freshly defrosted mud covering frozen and very slick ground. Add a 60-degree pitch or so, and you've got a fun time, especially with 35 pounds of kid and snacks on your back. But we made it up, and Liam and I were fairly proud of that.

It was amazing how different I felt going back up the hill vs. going down. On the way down, I was stressing out about all these different things - paranoid thoughts about the million ways this trip could be dangerous and damn, why didn't I have my cell with me or something.... On the way up, I was relaxed and rejuvenated. It was the perfect way to cleanse the stress of the week(s) away. And now that the weather is improving, I am ready to get out more often.

Thea surprised me by walking most of the way back up the hill, happily yelling at her brother the whole time in her version of a conversation (I am insanely curious and terrified simultaneously to know what she will say when she does start talking.) She really is an outdoors girl - no one leaves the house without her running over and grabbing her boots in an effort to tag along.

The rest of the day was equally rewarding - each kid got one-on-one time, I made bread and a roast chicken and didn't burn either, and even put away the 4-foot-high pile of clothes on my side of the bed. It is amazing what a little fresh air, sunshine and exercise can do for the head. Bring on spring.

Photos soon, I promise.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter thoughts

It has been forever since I've written, and that's crazy, because so much is happening right now. Not that I can remember it, but I know there have been dozens of times lately where I have said, "Oh, I've got to write that down." And then off it goes, into the whirlwind of crazy days.

But today - I can remember today. Thea is sick - again. Snotty nose, coughing, etc. But she managed to sleep pretty well last night, waking at 6 a.m. I was up till 11:30 making hot cross buns and working on a web site, so that was a little on the early side, but no matter.

Unfortunately, our geezer-dog Breton, who is now 16, needed to make it out the door just a few minutes earlier than she did, so we had some super-special brown eggs to pick up on the floor first thing. But as soon as that was done, the kids were diving into their baskets. Thea got a new baby with long hair that she can carry it around with. Liam got an Indian and a lego car and a few bits and bobbles. And of course, there was the jelly bean hunt.

My parents went with jelly beans over Easter eggs probably because in Nova Scotia, like Homer, there is no way you are going to be hunting for eggs outside. Jelly beans are fun to hide inside, and a crafty Easter bunny can hide them in such a way so we are finding them for weeks after - in fact, it's not uncommon to find a jelly bean months later.

We also filled some eggs with cherrios for Thea, and she figured those out all on her own, and sat eating the profits of her labor in the living room adorned with her beautiful new Easter dress. Click. Click.

Liam was in full manic mode - typical kid faced with prospect of sugar and presents in one setting. Matt set to work balancing all that out with a big breakfast, which we ate, and then settled down to enjoy the beautiful, sunny morning. I looked at the clock. 8 a.m.

It's been a wild couple weeks. In fact, it seems like one of us has been sick since we got home from Hawaii - mostly Thea. But it is getting rather sunny and springy out, so that's good.

Last week was completely consumed by volcanoes. We've been dodging ash clouds for several weeks, but on April 4, Redoubt volcano exploded again and we woke to a huge, dark cloud coming over us. Volcanic ash is dangerous to electronics, not to mention your airways, and it's best to keep it out of you house, computers, mouth, etc. But that's a hard thing to do. So we jiggered the stove to draw air from inside the house rather than out, and closed up the cat door.

The ash cloud really dumped on us that time - and then almost immediately, it started blowing hard, so the ash was flying around all day. We huddled inside all day - except Matt, who went surfing in it. As the sun came out later in the day, the ash did what ash does - started melting the snow like crazy. On Sunday, people emerged from their cocoons and started trying to get to the grocery store, etc. But the ash was everywhere. We did a lot of dog-paw wiping, and floor mopping, but I can still feel it everywhere, and the ground is still coated with a gooey like ash-water mix.

But by Tuesday, we could stay inside no more, so Thea and Liam and I went for a walk down the road. Thea was delighted to get outside, and we were tromping in mud puddles when I turned around to see Thea stuffing a mushy dog turd in her mouth. Gaaaccckkk. I wiped it out of her mouth with my glove, then stuffed a little snow in her mouth and wiped that out. But still. Gaaaacck. Of course she was not happy, but I was surprised she kept complaining and didn't get over it after a bit. After all, we were outside, which is her favorite thing. When we got back in the house, I took off her boots to find two bloody socks - her boots had rubbed two holes on the side of her foot. Not exactly what you would call a stellar day in motherhood.

And no, I would say that dog poop does not agree with her. People asked.