Sunday, March 28, 2010

A day with Théa

On Saturday, I picked Théa up around noon and we came home to hang out solo for 24 hours. I so rarely get that kind of time with her, and every time I do, I am reminded of how special she is. Of course, we all think our kids are special, but really, that's the whole point of this blog. To remember and revel in it.

What I think about Théa is this. When you take her away from the competition factors like her brother or my time, she blooms. She is so funny, dancing around the house like a little pixie, playing with her babies, helping me make bread, talking nonstop, and oh, perhaps my favorite memory of all is her reading to herself book after book - so cool in her own language with tinges of English video

Thursday, March 25, 2010

full circle





Last week was spring break, which essentially didn't mean much, other than a more relaxed morning schedule. Liam went to Nikki's most of the week, which was OK, it seemed, despite the average age of that group being somewhere around 3.

We did get outside a lot as the weather was awesome. Lots of rolling in the snow, built a snow fort and shoveled a lot. I find myself so used to being busy busy busy that sometimes I have to force myself to step back and play with the kids instead of being productive, but I think I managed that last week with beach time and other outdoor fun.

The other cool thing that happened last week was we started getting Full Circle boxes. These are boxes of fresh, organic produce that come weekly with a variety of items. Last week's included an eggplant, which I'd never cooked with before. I made ratatouille, a delightful blend of veggies and spices that I can't seem to get enough of. I would make it again in a heartbeat.

What I was most worried about was that we wouldn't eat all the stuff - the boxes aren't cheap, though since they also have lots of fruit, which we typically spend about $20 a week on, I think it's not much of an increase in cost. But anyway, we ate it all is the amazing thing. Liam got introduced to fresh zuchinni, which he liked, and even ate a mushroom, which he didn't. And they both devoured the pears.

It's funny how important it is to me that my kids eat a healthy, fully-balanced diet, and know what a freakin' zuchini is. It's almost like a crusade for me at this point. And as a side effect, I am also enjoying expanding my cooking knowledge quite a bit and diving into new things. Good all around, and true to its name, I really do feel like I've come full circle from my hippie-flower-child upbringing to my current goals and aspirations for health and self-sufficiency.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

In love





This week, I finished my painting. I started "September, I Remember" over Christmas, working on a 4-foot-by-4-foot piece of plywood. It was inspired by a run I took in Anchorage amid the birch trees as they were changing color. I had just started running, and it was an amazing run - fast, hilly, long. And I ran with all my heart. It was like my legs had a mind of their own. I felt no pain, just deep gulps of crisp fall air with the sunshine glistening from the brilliant yellow leaves as they fluttered to the ground. The sky was dark, a storm approaching, and made the sunshine appear even brighter. I never wanted the trail to end, and as I ran, I processed the huge life decision that I could no longer go forward as I was, that things had to change. I will never forget that run as long as I live. It was an end. It was a beginning. It was a defining moment in my life, and the lives of my children. It was tear-stained, but also relieving.

And this painting, which now hangs in my dining room, captures all that for me. I am so in love with it, I can't stop looking at it. It really wound up being two or even three paintings in one. The sky is its own element, as is the leaf-covered ground. The tree, which I had never intended to leave white, seems to work so well that way that I will leave it as is, at least for now, and see if it continues to work. I think it will. I still have some work to do on the contours of the ground, but I will figure that out easily enough.

I am proud, inspired, thrilled to have this thing hanging in my house that is so much what I love to look at visually.

And I'm not done. I already know what the next painting is. It's light streaming through the snow covered trees, which I saw today during a wonderfully long ski on Crossman Ridge through a pristine 6-inch layer of fine powder with every branch laden with mounds of snow.

I can't wait to get started.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

snow day












Today was a crazy crazy snow day. The snow started falling last Friday, actually, but we finally dug out from that, had one sunny day on Sunday, then back to heavy snow Monday morning and by 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, the snow situation was out of control - blowing winds, heavy snowfall, drifts all over the place.

But this morning, when I opened the door, I saw a wall of snow like I have never seen before here. Easily 4.5 feet tall, it was so high that the dog couldn't even get through it to go pee.

Monday, March 8, 2010

arrrrggg

BLIZZARD WARNING NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM AKST TUESDAY AROUND
KACHEMAK BAY...

THE BLIZZARD WARNING IS NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM AKST TUESDAY
AROUND KACHEMAK BAY.

A POWERFUL STORM WILL TRACK ACROSS THE WESTERN GULF TODAY AND
THEN MOVE INLAND OVER THE EASTERN KENAI PENINSULA TONIGHT. AS IT
APPROACHES THE KENAI PENINSULA EARLY THIS EVENING WINDS WILL
SHIFT TO WEST TO SOUTHWEST 30 TO 45 MPH ALONG KACHEMAK BAY. THESE
WINDS WILL COMBINE WITH SNOW TO PRODUCE VISIBILITIES OF ONE
QUARTER MILE OR LESS AT TIMES. BLIZZARD CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED
TO CONTINUE THROUGH EARLY TUESDAY MORNING WHEN THE SNOW WILL
TAPER OFF.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A BLIZZARD WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. FALLING AND BLOWING SNOW WITH STRONG WINDS
AND POOR VISIBILITIES ARE LIKELY. THIS WILL LEAD TO WHITE-OUT
CONDITIONS...MAKING TRAVEL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. ALL TRAVEL AND
OUTDOOR ACTIVITY IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED.

the crazies



There are weeks when you feel like you could be living anywhere and you ask yourself, "What's the big deal about living in Alaska?"

This was not one of them.

After Matt took the kids on Thursday night, I went up to a friend's house for a visit and a sauna. As the evening progressed, the snowflakes multiplied and the wind began to build. It was pretty obvious I wasn't going anywhere. By morning, the flakes had accumulated to several feet of snow, and the wind picked up.

I worked all morning from Crossman Ridge thanks to a laptop and an internet connection, hoping for a break in the weather. No such luck. The storm intensified, the wind got worse, and resistance was futile. Saturday morning revealed much of the same and more snow fell and made a mockery of the paths I had shoveled in a vain effort to make order out of the now-waist-high drifts between the house and the woodshed.

Saturday afternoon, the snow finally abated enough to chop some wood, but then the wind kicked up again and the temperature dropped. A ski to assess the car situation proved dangerous when my gloves were inadequate for the conditions and I wound up having to ski back in without using my poles so I could keep my frozen fingers in my coat pockets.

Finally, on Sunday morning, the weather broke after 3 days of madness and I made the trek out and freed the car from its tomb of drifts. At home, I was greeted by more crazy drifts, and then, even better, the heating oil in the monitor stove had run out, dropping the temperature in the house down to 40 degrees. I quickly lit a fire in the woodstove and started shoveling. Matt brought the kids up around 1 p.m., and after some lunch and outside time (it was a beautiful bluebird day at this point ) Thea went down for a nap and Liam and I went back to work on the shoveling.

After about an hour, I went back to the house to check on Thea and heard a strange noise when I walked in the mudroom. Was the washing machine on? No, there was a flood coming from the laundry room. A pipe leading to the outside faucet had burst, flooding the house with several inches of water while I shoveled. I quickly turned off the fuse to the water pressure tank, and started to clean up the mess using every towel in the house while plugging the kids into an Elmo movie to keep them happy in the living room for a bit.

After the mess was cleaned up, we headed into town to find parts and pieces that might work as a fix. I got the typical not-so-helpful advice from various hardware store people who had a hard time dealing with my description of the copper-to-pvc-to-cpvc-to-metal set-up. But I got some parts and pieces, and some pipe glue and brought it all home. After dinner, I took a saw to the pipes, then gingerly and with lots of prayers and pipe cement applied a cap to the line.

Then kids to bed, and two hours wait until I could turn the water back on and see if it worked. At 9 p.m., I flipped the switch, and yes! it held. Another successful chapter in singlehood drew to a close.

This morning we woke to another blizzard, and a third (fourth?) on the way this evening. The fuel guys said they might not be able to make it up there today with the storms, so I'll probably go home at lunch to stoke the fire. What an adventure this week is turning out to be.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

quote du jour

"Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow."-Dorothy Thompson

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

boxes, funerals, etc.





On Sunday afternoon, after many letters were written, drawings created, and heartfelt thoughts expressed, Liam, Théa and I finally managed to hold a funeral for Breton. It is amazing to me how important these rituals are to Liam, but you could see he really needed to do it properly. We cut out pictures of her that I had found from over the years and put them in plastic ziplocs with ribbons threaded through them. We hung those from the tree over her grave. We painted pictures on two rocks we got from the beach and varnished them so they wouldn't fade too quickly. Liam placed flowers all around her grave, and then we said a few words about how important she had been in our lives. Liam, I think, may be a natural at writing Halmark cards in his adult life. He certainly is now, anyway. And then I played a song on the fiddle, and we said goodbye to Breton. Both Liam and I choked up as we walked away. Théa ate snow from her mittens. So it goes.



It's been an interesting week - a little winter returned, just enough to remind us where we live, but not enough to really ski on much. We spent some time doing more box deconstruction - the mileage I get out of cereal boxes and tape continues to baffle me. But with temps hovering around 35, I sent both kids outside today before dinner. They went onto the deck and threw snowballs at Hannah, who caught them in the air, much to the delight of both children. Peels of laughter rang from the deck. It was great. I made dinner, played the fiddle a little, and didn't get badgered for at least a half hour and they blew off some steam. Outside=mutually beneficial. I'm really looking forward to spring and spending more time out there this year with two fully mobile and vigorous kids.



Part of my recent trip to Anchorage was to purchase the supplies for the greenhouse I'm constructing this spring. It's a hoop structure, 12x33 feet, modeled after a co-worker's design, which I toured earlier this month. Simple materials, simple construction, and a lot of growing space. Yes! So on Sunday, anticipating being able to plant in this structure on May 1, I planted my tomatoes and peppers, or at least the first batch of them. A little exciting to think that if all goes well, I may actually have the space to grow enough tomatoes to keep us happily in spaghetti through next winter. My, but that sounds vaguely familiar. I guess the apple, or the tomato, doesn't fall far from the tree. I just hope Théa and Liam get to climb this tree, too. It's a sturdy one that makes you feel whole inside.