Thursday, December 15, 2011

Been away






A half-hour ago I was shoveling snow while snow fell, a futile effort at best but one I was compulsed to complete to restore order after being gone for what feels like weeks. Then, the skies lifted, lightened, a melon-colored sun burst through the grey-blue snow-heavy sky, and the world lit up. I stood in awe, finally feeling at home again.
I do love my little space in the world, but this week, I have been away. On another planet, sort of. An island, anyway, in a world I've never experienced before. This week, I traveled above the Arctic Circle to Kotzebue, one of the places I cover for the paper, to get to know the town a bit, meet some people, take some pictures, etc. I've been stumbling in an attempt to understand what was so impactful about this trip. There's no way I can roll it all into a neat little package - it was a collection of moments and other-worldliness that is hard to describe.
Here's a moment - a writer friend who lives up in Kotzebue took me out on his Skidoo - they call them snow-gos. I sat behind him as we zipped out onto the ice. The wind bit my face, the air felt different, and around me, there was so much space. A sense of joy welled up in me, and I don't really know why. We scrambled up a snow-packed hill, rising to the top of a point from which we could see for miles and miles. Rolling hills of tundra were dazzled with the unexpected appearance of a golden sun. The wind zipped by us, cleaning the ground and everything around it till grasses came through. It felt wild and peaceful all at the same time. It felt otherworldly. I could not stop smiling.
Another moment - a storm blew in, and winds zoomed through the town. I came out of the post office and was smacked by a wall of wind so hard that it nearly knocked me over. I laughed at the silliness of being an ignorant human in a place like this. Everyone around me was doing their normal thing - just dressed a little more warmly. Goggles, for example, were standard wear. They didn't even drive in cars - they took snow machines and four-wheelers everywhere, even in the storm. Their lives were not built around avoiding any experience of their surrounding environment. How novel.
A third - a midnight walk through the town - I would have walked out on the ice if I had had any idea how to keep from getting lost beyond lost. The moon came out against the midnight dark sky, the air stung a bit, but only in a teasing way. I was alone, but not afraid. Somehow, solitude fit here perfectly. I walked, breathed, thought. I could have gone on forever.
A fourth - sitting across from my friend while he sliced narrow strips off a caribou leg as casually as if he was spreading peanut butter on some white bread. Eating muktuk and seal oil and berries in bear fat. Food from the land, whether grown or harvested, feeds my soul. It's my religion. I was so grateful.
It is always enriching to get away from your world, experience another one, but this one seemed to fit for me in a way that was surprising. I expected to be impressed byt the Arctic, but I didn't expect to fall in love with it at first sight. I did.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

High tunnel reaches new heights







This was a major weekend for the great high tunnel adventure. I sent out an APB on Tuesday night to see if some folks would be able to come help wrestle rafters into place and low and behold, we got a bunch of folks interested and more showed up unexpectedly and it wound up being just enough to get through the tough part of figuring it all out and on to the production mode of getting these huge rafters up and into place.
It was hard to figure out what to do at times - there were so many unknowns, and things did not fit in place seamlessly by any means. Lots of muscling steel things that did not want to be muscled into place. The first day, we got five trusses into place, including the two we already had set up with purins. Mike's strategy was that rather than setting the whole thing up based on one perfectly-level truss, we would attach the purlins to two trusses and hoist them both up at the same time. We did that, and it went fairly smoothly except that the posts had become slightly bulged at the top when we hammered them into the ground, which was fine except that the bolts weren't long enough to deal with the bulge. Luckily, my neighbor Craig showed up with his grinder and ground down all the rest of the posts on day 1 and after that, it was much easier to get everything flowing.
So after getting five joists up, we called it a day, and that night, it poured and rained and blew and it was crazy outside. When I got up Sunday I opened the door to find the water tank had rolled through the yard and was perched near my front door. Yikes. That's a storm, right?
Anyway, didn't figure any of the people who had pledged to come back the next day would but I was wrong - they all showed up and by 1:30 we were running at full steam, having figured out how to assembly-line all the little jobs (inserting sleeves into the top pieces of the rafter to keep the chevron from collapsing when it was tightened, putting on the cables on every-other rafter, etc.
On day 2 we also had use of two 12-foot stepladders that were hugely helpful for getting up to the top parts of the structure, which is 14.6 feet high. Tall, brave people climbed up those ladders all day today, and I never did - I'm a chickenshit, I know, but I prefer to think of it as having a healthy respect for gravity.
We put up the bottom row of purlins on each side as we went and, with three people (one on the ladder holding the center, one on each side, we hoisted the truss up and over the lower purlin and then onto the top of the post. An extra person on the first side is helpful to get the bolt in while holding the end of the truss in place.
Then the second side is hoisted onto the post, and the person on the center lifts their piece into place, and bolts go in, and tada - you have another truss up. There are 19 of them, and at first it seemed impossible, but by the end of day 2, it was going pretty smoothly. Our trusses already had cables attached to them to keep the sides from bulging out. Some people did every third one, but we got a screaming deal on some cable, so we did every other truss with turnbuckles. We put each truss on a jig that Mike made that was exactly 30 feet across at the bottom and then fitted the cable on. That worked well in keeping things moving smoothly, but putting up the trusses with cables on them was a little more difficult than the uncabled ones - you have to watch where you put your ladder or the cable gets in the way, and you have to thread the cable through the purlin, but still, not too bad.
The only other complicated part of doing it this way is that you have to put a new purlin in every fourth one, but you can't put it in when there is nothing else to attach to because it will be hanging out there too far, so we put one truss up without the purlins to support it and then backtracked while holding the truss up with boards from below and attached the purlin to the connecting truss and the new truss at the same time. Then we added two more trusses and did the whole thing all over again.
Not sure if that will make any sense to the reader, but I'm writing it all down because I have googled the installation of Farmtek's Pro Solar and found no one who has written about it and by the time I get too far into the week, I'll have forgotten myself.
Other things we found - when you run into a purlin that doesn't seem like it will fit, try loosening the bolt on the connection of the truss to the post, then repositioning, and tightening again. That seems to be easier than trying to persuade it with brute force.
I'm beat from two days of not only putting up a tunnel, but also kid wrangling (the kids did a great job of entertaining themselves for four hours plus each day while I worked outside - applause to them) and feeding the masses. I feel like I've run a race, and I suppose in a way I have, and what a sweet prize this time. Pretty soon, I'll be ready to sit and look through catalogs and plan what I'm going to plant. That will be quite fun, I believe. Quite fun.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aha's all over the place






I was struggling along with a bunch of different issues - changing relationships, personal challenges, the darkness of winter, the fact that it was 2 degrees outside, and trying to get a bunch of writing done last weekend in my quiet house. The writing wasn't going very well - I seemed to find a million reasons to distract myself, which only made me more frustrated that I wasn't completing things that absolutely needed to get completed. Then on the radio came a guy, Richard Moss, and he was talking about all the stuff that I know - I KNOW - I should be focusing more on. Quieting the messages my mind is sending me, the evaluations, the ego-driven ideas. Allowing feelings to have a cared-for place in your life. Being kind to one's self. All these things I know but don't often put into practice. But that night, it sunk in. I listened to the radio program three times that night, trying to internalize it all. Of course that's impossible, but still. I came away with some wonderful insights. I hope to develop them more in coming months. Look out - I may finally be moving into that Homer Deep Breather mode. Sigh. It was inevitable, wasn't it? I may even try meditation. Gack.

Another thing that happened this week is I noticed my eyes were starting to go. Liam held something up for me to read about a foot from my face and I could not read it at all. I didn't authorize this.

The kids are back tonight, the paper is out the door, and my life shifts on its axis once again. It's so wonderful to have them with me, these wonderful little love sponges. Tonight, they outdid themselves with laundry duty. Théa climbs up on the top of the washing machine and pulls the clothes out (a coveted position) and Liam shoves them into the dryer. Then, when Théa can't reach any more, the roles are reversed. They do all this without any help from me, including the part where Liam drags Théa onto the dryer - very funny. It's not a big thing, but it is. There's teamwork. There's kids doing their part. There's kids feeling like part of the whole. I think, but I could be totally wrong, that a large part of what I value about myself comes from the fact that my role in the farm on which I grew up was a real and valued part. We helped. With everything. It was not gratuitous. It was not optional. And all of that is a good thing. Mike's daughter wrote a piece in about what her family tradition was. She wrote about setnetting. Her dad has a setnet on the beach below their house and every day in the late summer, they go down and work the net. Ella grumbles a lot about this. But in the end, it's something she's obviously very proud of. Parenting. So simple yet so tricky.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude






Thanksgiving is really one of my favorite holidays. It's about food - good food - soul food from our harvest. But more importantly, it's about gratitude. If there are two things I take from the journey of the past two years, it is the power of forgiveness and the joy of gratitude.
Tonight, after eating a particularly yummy meal with good people, I drove up to my little house, gathered my mostly-sleeping daughter in my arms, and headed for the front door.
"Ooh Mom, look," a little voice said to me. "I am thankful for the stars."
I looked up and the sky was full of a million lights, crisp against the dark sky, more beautiful than the most amazing holiday light display man could ever muster. I stopped and stood there, and actually shed a tear, to think that somehow I might be doing enough to instill in my children a sense of amazement at this world around us. There are beautiful gifts at every turn - a snow-covered tree full of red berries with a flock of birds gorging themselves - the dazzling sight of sparkling snow that looks almost fake in its perfection - the exquisite scent of a roast and a pie cooking together in the oven. There are days that are frustrating, moments that are scary, and times when I wonder if I can get anything right, but in the end, my wonder at all my good fortune wins over, and I am reminded again how incredibly lucky I am to have all that I have and am aware and present enough to recognize it.
video

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Near and far





I can now say I have traveled above the Arctic Circle. Sadly, I cannot yet say I have actually set foot there. Last weekend, The Arctic Sounder crew flew to Barrow to get the lay of the land, meet some folks, etc. But the runway was snowed in and equipment was broken, so we flew as far as Pruhdoe Bay and turned around. Very disappointing. On the up-side, it bought me an extra day at home, which I squandered with vigor - painting all morning, running seven miles (huge victory since I haven't run much lately) and then joining Mike, Andrew and Judy to almost erect the first rafters of the high tunnel.
That night, we bid a sad adeiu to Judy and Oskar. It was wonderful having them here, and I hope things work out the way they look like they might and she'll be popping back through again soon. Tomorrow would work fine for me. It's so interesting that what used to be unbearably uncomfortable (having people stay with us) has become so natural, even preferred. It just seems to make sense - the whole idea of working together like that, sharing meals together, etc. I should have come of age in the 60s. I would have loved it.
Tonight, the kids came home after four days at Matt's. It seems like it must be more time than that. It's interesting how much more I miss them these days when they are gone. Maybe it's because they have gotten older, more interesting, less demanding. Or maybe it's just because I've grown up a bit and realized that raising my kids is where I belong, most of the time, anyway. At any rate, having them back was such a joy tonight. I got the fire roaring, made spaghetti and meatballs with Thea's assistance, of course, and did baths. Liam worked his way through his first try at twinkle twinkle on the fiddle, and when Thea got out, she danced to Celtic music in nothing but a hoodie towel.
Afterward, Liam asked me if he was part Irish. I think so, I said, a little. Well, he said, it's just that when I listen to Irish music, it's like I've heard it before. Interesting.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Winter has arrived






Two weeks ago, gloves were optional, snow formed into soft snowballs and it was pre-winter. Today, the thermometer on the car read 4F at McNeil. Yikes. Two layers of down are better than one and gloves are mandatory. The day we got those posts in the ground for the high-tunnel was truly the last day we could have done it so easily. the snow hasn't left once since.
Not that we've let that slow us down any. As the state dipped into an early pre-freeze, my friend Judy and her son Oskar showed up from Kodiak to help with the high tunnel. Oh my. Judy is one of those awesome Alaska women who can and will do just about anything. I love working with her because to her, what I'm doing makes perfect sense. Of course you are putting up a 2,000-square-foot tunnel. Who wouldn't?
So we bashed away at baseboards, lots of frustration, etc. Mike had found cable on craigslist and bought a whole bunch of it for rafter bracing like many other people have done. We spent one blustery day rolling out cable on the road and then drug it inside to assemble all the bolts and turnbuckles. Judy braved the snow and ice and relentless wind for several days tightening bolts and drilling holes. Things are moving forward, and I am so grateful for all the help. What makes a person show up and do something like that? I sure hope she buys that house so I can come reciprocate - hell, after this thing goes up, I'm essentially an indentured servant to a group of close friends for several months. But isn't that the best way to do things? I couldn't do it without the help - nor would I want to. I guess there is a wonderful feeling in knowing you did something on your own, but really, I'd rather dwell in the wonderful feeling of being part of your self-created community.
Meanwhile, the kids have been having a pretty good time playing. Oskar and Liam are about the same age and have always been good friends. Thea, well, she tries her best to keep up, with varying results. On Sunday, the whole crew came up and hung out at the house while we worked on the tunnel and Mike constructed a jig to properly fit the rafters before we tightened the bolts down.
The kids decided to sled down the road, but on the first run, I heard the tell-tale thud. Not good. They had run into the car parked on the side of the road and Thea was in the front. I knew it was bad right away - ran full tilt up to her, picked her up as her little mouth filled with blood,didn't look close until we got inside and I sat her down. Luckily, it was just her lip, her teeth are fine. But her poor lip - oh my. It swelled up like crazy. So the kids all got to watch a movie and by 3:30 she was ready to roll and we actually went skating for a bit. Strong girl!
Liam's so into the skating - he loves to zoom around. Getting pretty fast - though he still falls a lot. Got to get him on skis soon, too.
Anyway, another fun thing we did this week was dispatch two turkeys. That's how it is when Judy's in town. Things happen. Like two hours after she got there, she had arrived back at my house with two turkeys in the back of the subaru. Big turkeys. Hugomongous, actually. So we had to figure out how exactly to kill them. Ax? Knife? or, even better, a gun. I'm Canadian. We don't do guns. I did shoot a pumpkin once last winter, but that's another story. So Judy decides the best way to do this thing was to straddle the bird, holding its wings between her legs, and shoot it while I held on to the legs. Oh my. We did it, but wow. I dunno. It was something, really. The second one went better - not sure why. But Still bruised the wings. Then we plucked and gutted these hugomongous beasties. And that was the end of that day, by far.
One other thing of note - I've taken up racketball. Played four times, twice by self, twice with Mike, and it's great. Getting way way way better. Hard workout, though. And Mike kicks my ass.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Exhaustion






Today, as I was lacing up Liam's skates, my hands seized up again, the fingers curling in toward my palms in a spasm that I could not control. As much chaos as I bring into my life, I do like to have some degree of control. After watching my mother's struggle with MS, her hands curled in just like mine today, it was not just my hands that were beyond my control - my emotions went there, too.
It's interesting having your entire livelihood rest on what your fingers can do. People are always commenting on how much I do and how rich my life is. Things like a simple curling of fingers, though, could undo it all. My success is built entirely on my ability to charge through the day with an intensity that exhausts me to my core. If I don't bring my whole self to every single day, it unravels.
This week is a perfect example. There was Monday - the hell day of Halloween X3 - a role in Théa's preschool Halloween party (wizard, of course), an event at the library for myself and 100 of the community's costumed and sugar-crazed kids, followed immediately by trick-or-treating with the Stineff crew - a tradition now the predates Théa's birth.
I love trick-or-treating with that bunch. It's grown each year and now there are dozens of kids swarming through the neighborhood - taking over the streets. This year, Liam was off and gone before I could even catch anything but a blurry image of his royal Luke-ed-ness (during the black period, whenever that was - feel free, Star Wars fans, to egg me for my ignorance.) Théa was princess Leia, though she would not wear the hand-crafted braid buns. She did have a great robe made from one of those crazy fuzzy blankets that I found at pick-n-pay last week. The robe flew out behind her as she ran - fabulous. Very Star Wars esque. Théa marched up to numerous doors and declared, "I can't have chocolate." Attagirl.
The best part by far though, is the fact that the kids take over the town. I remember that feeling as a kid - marching through the night with my team of fellow candy-getters, pillow case in hand, not turning back until every lit doorway was knocked on. For a hippie-spawn who was fed more sprouts and bulgar than anyone should have to endure, Halloween was as good as it got. All the sugar and crap I could get my hands on. Clue the singing angles, please. After the sugar-dash, all the kids returned to Matt and Andrea's house to count their loot, play and perhaps even eat a few non-sugar calories (yeah, right). Then home to try to unwind the unwindable, all the while feeling sorry for elementary school teachers everywhere.
So we survived that fiasco of a day, and then the kids went back to Matt for a night while I stayed up all night putting out another paper. Zoiks. This week was made all the more exciting by a wild wind storm on Tuesday that knocked off power for a couple hours, but luckily, it didn't take me off track at all. But...gotta get a handle on that scene. So much of my prep time gets eaten up by life, the library job, and the high tunnel. On an up-note, I hired a new writer and editorial assistant who is doing a great job - YAY!
Then, on Friday we got our first snow. About four inches of white stuff came down, just enough to remind me what a disaster would be on my hands if I didn't get things covered up. So Saturday morning, when morning finally got around to dawning at about 10:30 a.m., was all about cleaning up projects, pulling all the siding off the roof where it had been drying since, umm, August? and stacking it and covering it. Then off to shovel off the high tunnel parts before tarping them. I was seriously sore at this point. There should be a pre-winter shovel prep strength class offered by a nonprofit somewhere in this state.
But I promised the kids we would go swimming on Saturday. So we did that. It was awesome - Théa cannot stop grinning when she's in the water. She's just so happy and you can tell the sensation just blows her mind. Liam's getting to be a very good swimmer, too. Good thing - I've struggled with being a lousy swimmer all my life and it stinks. Théa got brave enough to jump off the side of the pool and go under water - she wears a floaty vest but it allows her to go under a bit, too. I could see the difference between the time I went in with them and when we got out. Very cool.
So today, Sunday, I woke to another six inches or so of snow. More shoveling. Yay. And I was determined to get some time in building rafters for the high tunnel. I had a goal of doing two before the promised skating afternoon activity. But then Mike and his friend Titus showed up. First Mike pointed out three things that I had done completely wrong because I had not read the instructions all the way through. How hard can it be, I thought. Harder than I thought, obviously. OOps. Note to self -read instructions more carefully in future. But then Mike's friend Titus showed up and the three of us got 15 done before I had to leave for skating. And they finished off the final four after I left. Heros. Total heros. What does one do for someone who's willing to devote oodles of their time to your effort. It makes me crazy - the inequity of it all. I hope he gets his own tunnel so I can reciprocate and if he doesn't, he's going to be swimming in veggies all next summer for his help.
So now it's the end of the day and tomorrow starts the newspaper marathon again... and I feel like I haven't even stopped fro a second. Tuesday, Judy and Oskar arrive, though, so that will help a lot. It's going to be great to see them, and get some help with the tunnel, and perhaps solve the mystery of why my birds are eating but not laying. Harumph. I'm always happiest with a full house, so it will be good.
Forward, MARCH.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Posts up!





Each day this week has gotten progressively colder than the next, causing me no end of fear that I might not get these posts in the ground for the high tunnel soon enough before the ground froze solid. So on Thursday of last week, Andrew, who came to Homer as a Wwoofer and seems now like he is staying, came up and helped me put the first four cornerposts in the ground. The posts go in only two feet, so we got metal fenceposts that are 8 feet long and drove those into the ground about four or five feet with a post pounder. Then the hightunnel post - a very heavy hollow pipe about 2 inches in diameter, goes next to the fencepost. Those posts are driven into the ground by climbing on a stepladder with a sledgehammer or a maul and whamming them on top while someone below attaches a post leveler (another amazing tool that I am forever in love with) and watches for level in two directions.
The four corner posts went in pretty easily - it took us about an hour. On Saturday, Mike and I were going to set up the whizbang laser level and get the whole thing leveled out, but Mike managed to catapult himself into a trailer hitch, doing some pretty nasty damage to his back, so I spent the day keeping him company and advocating for ice and Advil and watching football (gack.) Sunday, my friend Eric had suggested I hold a bit of a pole-pounding gathering, so I called on my foolhardy friends (Marylou, Eric, Mike, Andrew and myself) and got to pounding. The whole process went fairly well - took about 4 hours, despite a couple stubborn posts, the difficulty of finding something to fit over the posts to protect them from being bashed in (we used a small metal weight with a bolt running through it as well as one of those brackets you put in the top of a concrete piling to catch the beam). It was amazing how unfrozen the ground still was despite appearances. A half-inch of crusty, frozen ground covered soft earth.
But, that's not to say it was easy, by any stretch. I found the whole thing very difficult, actually. There are 17 posts on each side - 34 in total. At one point, my hand locked up and I couldn't unfurl my fingers, which freaked me out, for sure. Andrew and Eric zoomed through those posts at about three for every one that Marylou and I did - sigh. At the end of the day, Mike was inspired to set up the first complete truss, though we did not put it up. One down, 17 to go.
At the end of the day, I went on my deck to take a look at the project. It struck me that this structure is going to dominate my land now. It is so huge, and every phase of this process makes it so much more real.
This morning, I woke to an inch of snow on the ground. Not surprising - it's actually quite late for the first snowfall, but I'm so incredibly glad that this phase of the project is done. It can freeze all it wants to now because the posts are in. I had my doubts this week that it was going to happen, but somehow I just seem to keep staying one step ahead of disaster, with a lot of help. I'm filled with gratitude, once again. Not a bad feeling at all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The more you know...





My once-editor Joel Gay used to constantly remind me of a saying ... you know what you know, and you think you know what you don't know, but you don't know what you don't know. In journalism, we are often leaning on statistics to make sense of the world - and the statistics say that Alaska Natives are by-and-large a disadvantaged group. What I found last weekend when I attended the Alaska Federation of Natives Conference in Anchorage was something entirely different. I found thousands of people who were proud, passionate, and poised - beautiful, well-spoken, insightful and incredibly connected to one-and-other. I have never seen so many people hugging each other. Goodness! I was humbled by it all and inspired, too.
Getting to the conference, however, in my post-Olive reality, was another story. Matt's been out of town visiting family for a couple weeks and I've had the kids, so I had to piece together a hodge-podge of people and events to take care of it all. It almost would have been easier to just take them with me, but I'm glad to have had the chance to experience AFN and take it all in without the distraction of motherhood. Plus, I got to visit with Jerzy and Paula in Anchorage, and that was fantastic.
This week also marked the culmination of a month of triple-dipping on the work front - freelance jobs, topped with the library job, topped with the new gig for the Arctic Sounder - zoiks. But somehow, by leaning on a lot of friends and eating a lot of crappy food, and neglecting my children to some extent, I made it through. It feels a lot lighter now, though it's still a lot, and the library job needs some attention, for sure.
It's also been a busy time in high-tunnel world. The tunnel arrived the same day Olive announced she was leaving so I haven't even blogged about it. 5,000 pounds of steel took less than an hour for six of us to unload, and then we had a lovely dinner and celebrated the victory of getting the structure here all the way from Ohio. Now, of course, there's that small matter of assembly. So I have 120 days to get this thing up in the air so I can get reimbursed.
The first step is to lay the whole thing out. It's pretty important that it go up level to maintain stability, and we spent some time working on that. Then searching for fence posts that we can sink into the ground and lash the posts to - we found some in Soldotna for cheap - yay! Then the matter of setting up batter boards and finding the square commenced. Holy crap. That is not an easy process. Mike and I spent two (cold and rainy) days slogging around the perimeter of the high tunnel pad moving strings and finessing it into square. Making matters worse, it is very, very muddy right now - the kind of mud that sucks your boots off and renders you somewhat unsteady at all times. Not bliss by any stretch. I finally put down boards around the perimeter to make a path. Then we marked off where the posts should go meticulously with a plumb bob and a piece of wire. The next step is to sink everything into the ground. That will be very, very interesting. I'm more than a little intimidated. But for now, time to write a paper. Onward!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Adieau Olive




After four months, Wwoofer extraordinaire and a member of our family forever Olive is leaving tomorrow. Liam and I both shed a tear or two tonight (Théa surely would, too, if she understood, as she still asks for Olive's friend Isa.) It's tough because these people become such parts of your lives, and of course you know at some point they have to go on with their lives, but you'd really rather if that happened later not sooner.
I was describing to someone the whole situation with Wwoofers and how wonderful it was the other day, and they said they would feel like they needed to be a hostess. It's funny because I know I used to feel that way but somehow that shifted. Maybe it's because I am so grateful for another adult around to have conversations with and share a cup of tea. Maybe it's because it's so wonderful to watch your kids having great experiences with wonderfully inspiring young people. I don't know, but never in the time Olive has been here has it once felt uncomfortable or an inconvenience to share my home with her. That's pretty amazing. And I am so grateful for all the help she has given me - she has pickled and jammed, weeded and squashed slugs, cooked, cleaned and cared for my children, run to daycare when I suddenly realized I was late picking my child up while on deadline, done grocery runs and made me countless cups of tea. Olive has a huge and generous heart and a strong spirit, and I hope more than anything that she stays in touch and maybe someday comes back.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Liam turns 8





Eight years ago, I was arriving home with my newborn son right about now. Of course, I am incredibly proud of my son, his unique way of moving through the world, his sweet, generous nature, and the way he deeply feels everything from a piece of dramatic classical music to the value of a snuggle. He is an intense human being. I am in awe.
His birthday always makes me a bit reflective. Eight years ago, I had little idea what a journey motherhood would be. I thought it was going to be one way. I was wrong. Being Liam's mother scrambled my entire way of thinking. My very purpose in life shifted dramatically - maybe too dramatically in some regards - to Liam and his needs. At first, they were constant. Now, less so. If left to his own devices, Liam could survive on his own at this point pretty well. But he still crawls into my arms every morning and asks for a morning snuggle. I'm grateful for that. I know at some point here, he is going to grow past those tender moments. But as long as I can, I'm going to keep filling his cup with the very finest brew of love I can conjure up. And I don't regret a single second of the last eight years - they have been the best of my life. Here's to motherhood, and the amazing little infant who took me there eight years ago.

In other news - the great high tunnel adventure is moving along. Jeff Middleton came and flattened my land this week. It's huge. Awesome. As in gape-your-mouth-and-wonder-what-you-are-doing awesome. And almost the same day, Farmtek called and said my tunnel had been shipped. Zoiks. It's on its way, for real. Now I'm finding myself falling asleep with a 69-page book on hightunnel construction on my chest. What have I done.

Jobs are nuts. Life is crazy. Getting crazier all the time. Hanging on by fingertips at times. But hey, it's not boring. That is for sure.