Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fourteen!

This picture was taken almost exactly 13 years ago, when M fell madly in love with this golf cart while we were at our friends' wedding in Western Massachusetts. I love the sweet earnestness of his expression, and the possessiveness of his hand on the steering column.


That very same boy turned 14 today. He still wants a golf cart and he still has those arresting blue eyes. But not much else is the same.


We celebrated his birthday in the waiting room of the music school, between Z's drum lesson and his guitar lesson. Poor kid has had his birthday "party" in the lounge of the hospital maternity ward after his brothers were born and in a park with Subway sandwiches before a baseball game (though he did score the only run that whole game, so maybe it was good luck) and all manner of afterthought, squeezed in when we can do it celebrations. He's a pretty easygoing dude, though, and doesn't seem to mind, and he says he doesn't really like parties.

I had a moment in Target earlier today, where I was last minute birthday shopping, when, as I made my way from the desk lamp to the Beastie Boys t-shirt, I walked down a baby clothes aisle and stopped in my tracks. I looked at all the teeny-tiny onesies and t-shirts and stretchy pants and beanie hats and felt downright dizzy as I tried to grasp the fact that 14 years ago we were in the hospital with this little (okay, big--he was 9 lb. 1/2 oz.) baby. And now? Now look at him. I know it's the most cliche thing ever, but truly, where did all those years go? He's such a great, fun, smart, funny, awesome kid, and I wouldn't change one single thing, but sometimes I wish I could just visit that little guy on the golf cart, for maybe an afternoon. Is that so wrong?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Unfolding

Despite birthday celebrations, I was able to spend a fair amount of time playing outside this weekend.

On Saturday, I had my last all-day Master Naturalist class before graduation next week. We spent the first couple hours birding and saw some great stuff, including several firsts-this-year and a few lifetime firsts for me (Virginia rail, sora, scarlet tanager--which I've been dying to see forever!)

On Sunday morning, between making French toast and baking a cake, I wandered around the yard for a bit more bird-watching and flower-gazing.

I feel like I'm really much more in tune with the unfolding of spring now that I know so much more about what's going on--the names of flowers (beyond the basics), the way tree leaves and twigs burst out of their bud scales, tree flowers (other than the showy apples and cherries). All so beautiful and exciting...and somehow easier to see once you know the names of things.

I tried a little hammock-lounging, but the black flies came on strong and I didn't last long. I'm reading Beyond the Aspen Grove by Ann Zwinger. Her writing is so gorgeous and evocative and humorous. She has the most stunning descriptions of the smallest, most-beneath-most-people's-notice things. A whole page on springtails (snow fleas). Whole sections on flies. And wildflowers and trees, too, of course. So much information on every living thing, all written in the most engaging prose.

"When evening comes the mountain air chills rapidly. Herman rolls up the hammock, puts it away for another year. There is a psychological tightening of the mind in preparation for winter. We use each day as if it were the last before the guillotine of winter slices out the warmth. I go out, drawing all day long, trying to catch the last vestige of summer. Herman pulls in the raft and puts up the rowboat. he cuts another load of wood for the stove and the girls protestingly stack and fill the wood boxes. He replaces a broken window and paints the deck. Truly, Herman and I are the ant and the grasshopper." 

That is exactly the kind of life I want to have. C taking care of all the unpleasant details of keeping house and home running smoothly (and warmly) while I wander in the woods and meadows, drawing. I think Ann and I would have been kindred spirits had I known her in life.

Wildflowers from top to bottom:
Red baneberry
Violet (I didn't key out which one, though)
Bluet
Not-so-wild grape hyacinth

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ten!

These two turned ten yesterday.



Like every year around this time, I've gotten caught up in the planning and preparing for three birthdays and all of the other busy-ness that May brings and I haven't really sat and reflected on the idea that my babies are a whole decade old already.



(I always swore I would never bake them one cake to share, but Z wanted this Devil's Food Bundt Cake--he's a fan of Martha Stewart--and that was quite cake enough for both of them. They didn't seem to mind sharing. And the cake? Sinful.)


I guess I just want to remember them as they are now. Silly. Fun. Funny.


Still full of wonder and excitement over simple things, like flowers and birds.


Big-toothed. Crazy-haired.

Wholly themselves, with no concern for what anyone thinks.

The best of friends (even though they would never admit it). 

Oh, yeah, and they took second and fifth in the mile run at school today (they definitely did NOT get that from me!).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mother's Day and May Goings-On

I had a wonderful Mother's Day.
C made a plan that we go for an early hike then out for brunch at our local farm store/gathering place before E and Z's Sunday afternoon baseball practice.

An "early" hike for us meant we hit the trail around 9 a.m.


We went to a place that we visited last fall for the first time in a long time, an old favorite of ours. 

It was a beautiful, sunny day, though we hit it right in the perfect black fly temperature window, so we kept moving at a good clip until we got down to the river, where a breeze kept the bugs at bay.

Despite the bugs, we did manage to do a lot of looking up (for birds) and looking down (for wildflowers*) as we went along.

Once at the river, the boys did their favorite thing--throwing rocks in the water.


And I pulled out a book a friend had given me recently, but hoping for a few minutes to read without the constant refrain of "Mom!" was a bit much to ask. It was, after all, Mother's Day.


C got me a fitness device, about which I'm ridiculously excited and can't shut up (want to know how many steps I've taken today? No? Okay.). E and Z gave me a field guide to waterfowl (due, I think, to my woeful inability to answer questions about ducks we see) and M gave me a Ramones CD. Pretty awesome.


E and Z also made Mother's Day acrostic Poems. Z's reads:

Healthy
Awesome
Pretty awesome naturlist
Passive
Yummy food you cook

Makes me happy 
On the ball
Tidy
Happy
Enthusiastic
Rais [as in I raise him]
Stupendous 

Dandy
Alternative
Young


E's poem goes:

Handy
Amazing
Positive most of the time
Prettey
Young

Mysterious
On the ball
Tidy
Helps
Essential
Rocks
Stupendous

Dandy
Adventurous
Yucky

I have to admit, these crack me up. I like the combination of generic flattery (Pretty, Awesome, Essential), brutal honesty (Positive most of the time, Yucky), flat-out lies (On the ball, Tidy, Young), and inexplicable (Mysterious, Dandy). They remind me of this poem M wrote for me for Mother's Day a few years ago. What would we do without teachers to encourage our kids to write fabulous poems for their moms?


In other news, we're thick in the craziness that is May--three boys' birthdays coming up in a few days, a camping trip planned for the next weekend, baseball season. My Master Naturalist class is coming to a close this month, and though we have two classes left, I've handed in the last of my homework and presented my final project last night. It was a big push at the end, and I'm relieved to have it done, though I'll miss the class. But now I will have a bit more time to spend in this space again and work on some other big projects I have in mind for the coming year.

Happy (late) Mother's Day to my mom and all of the women our there who respond to the incessant, endless cries of "Mom!" I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!

*wildflowers, in order of appearance:
Canada Mayflower
Wood anemone
Sessile-leaved bellwort
Trailing arbutus
Bluebead lily

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Weekend Things ~ Spring Edition


Spring is unfolding incrementally around here.

I appreciate the slow reveal.

When the seasons move too fast, I get anxious that I am missing something, not appreciating the moment as I worry that it will be over too soon (sound familiar, motherhood?).

That time will come soon enough.

But now the background is stark enough that each bud opening, each catkin unfurling, each flower blossoming makes an impression.

Last week we had rain-tease all week and morning temps still in the 30s.


Z won a bet with M that there would still be snow around on May 1.

It was just a little mound of crystals, pushed by the plow and buried under a blanket of pine needles, but it was still snow.

Yesterday I went to work in a down coat and came home in glorious 82 degree heat.


Sunday I sat by our pond and watched painted turtles sun, warblers flit through the trees, an enormous snapping turtle stumble-crash over the bank and into the water, its grapefruit-sized head snorkeling to the surface every few minutes. I think I could sit like that for the whole month of May, watching spring unfurl one leaf, one petal, one frog, one bird, one turtle at a time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April Knit #2 ~ Fingerless Mitts

I finished my second April knit last weekend: a pair of fun, stripey fingerless mitts.

I started these way back in February, and because I completed a few other projects in the meantime, there was a bit of a gap between finishing the first mitt and starting the second. By the time I cast on mitt number two, I'd forgotten how closely I paid attention to tension on the first one and so the second mitt ended up quite a bit bigger than the first. I ran it through a warm wash load, which shrank it to close to the same size, but gave it a denser, felted texture (and also made the top opening lie nice and flat). I'm thinking about putting them both through the wash again, hoping that the first mitt doesn't shrink too much more than the second. Argh! Tension. When will I ever get it right?


Nevertheless, they are nice and soft and a fun length (though I'm not sure what to wear them with...maybe I need a 3/4 length sleeve jacket) and I adore the colors and the varying stripes.

By the way, I didn't put on that shirt or paint my walls to go with the mitts--I just happen to have a lot of chartreuse stuff, including three rooms in my house.

Pattern info and notes on my Ravelry page.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Weekend Things ~ Spring!

I'm eyeballs deep in a project and I can't concentrate on anything else until I get it done, but I wanted to pop in here to let you know--spring finally came! Like the flip of a switch, the weather went from 20s/40s last week to the high 60s over the weekend. I went for a walk wearing a sweater--no coat!

As you can see, there was still quite a bit of snow in the woods Sunday, but it's been melting fast and furious all week. And the river has opened up (but for the occasional ice flow).

And even the piles of snow in front of the house have shrunk (sort of).

And C finally made his maple syrup--his first boil happened later than his last boil for the last two years, and it only lasted three days (which is fine with me), but yielded five gallons of syrup.

Our gravel pit pond is still frozen over (it doesn't get much snow), but I heard a peeper and a wood frog tonight in the nearby wetlands.

It's official--spring's here!

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