May is CF awareness month.
You can help. Giving money to support drug research for a cure is great. I do that. In my mind, though, bringing dinner by some night when someone really could use it is. . .better. Coming over to play cards or watch a movie or just hang out with someone who would otherwise be alone, also, better.
My 90-odd year old across the street neighbor, Mr. Z, who generally still mows his own lawn God-bless him, drives out twice a week to deliver meals-on-wheels to seniors. He tells me, otherwise they might not see anyone. He wants to help.
He and I talked about this one day last fall when Liam and I went over to rake leaves for him. Mr. Z protested that he could rake his own leaves, thank you very much. (This is true but it's really, really slow these days.) He protested and protested. Finally I took him aside. John, I said, I'm trying to do something here, I'm trying to teach this kid about neighbors and taking care of people -- he's only going to learn that by doing it and seeing it done. Will you help me? He stopped protesting. Can I give him a dollar he asked? Sure, I said, he'd love that. We raked leaves. In the winter we shoveled snow. Sometimes John gives Liam a dollar. More often not. Sometimes, not as often as I'd like, we bring soup over.
You could help someone with CF, or you might help someone else. Just get out there, be present in your world.
Check this out if you need some CF-related motivation:
Emily's entourage, TEDx talk, about using social media to create a community of support
New medications are making are difference, these make me feel so hopeful.
Okay - thus ends the sermon.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
One nice thing about having really old, really crappy, painted wood floors is that on rainy Fridays afternoons before the pizza is ready you can roller skate in the house. It turns out both small and large boys like to roller skate in the house, although small ones like it more.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Doesn't everyone keep baby chicks in the kitchen this time of year? Ours came to us a week old from a farmer out towards McCleary. ("If one dies or turns out to be a rooster, just bring 'em back; I'll give you another.") They came home from the farm in a shoe box and took up residence on the kitchen table, the regular kitchen light bulb replaced with a heat-lamp for now and my heated seed-starting mat under their container for added warmth.
They peep continuously and make many other chirp-ping noises. They've been named Fluffy and Sunflower and have doubled in size since arrival. They're soft as all get out and sleep like the dead, which can be a little alarming, but when awake they flap their perfect little wings and can hop-fly strongly enough to get over the top of their container if we don't pay attention. They yellow one has perfect chipmunk strips down her back and speckled wings. The black one has a snow white tummy and bottom and likes to peck.
Today we moved them and their heat lamp to a big, tall wooden box in the garage with air holes in the side and a wire top. They'll stay there for another 4-6 weeks until they're big enough to live outside where, what, by the end of summer hopefully, they'll be integrated with our current flock of three and up in the hen house laying green and blue eggs. Unless one's a rooster. Fingers crossed.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
There is sometime at once both grounded and romantic about tree tapping in my mind. It calls up for me the notion of more seasonal work-filled days where when you need something you go outside to get it. My sense of tree tapping lives somewhere among the feelings I get from canning tomatoes, bringing soup to neighbors, what I remember of Little Women or Ann of Green Gables or one of those, and everyone I've ever met from the midwest. Some set of partially formed ideas about people taking care of themselves, sticking to their knitting and just going about their business trying to do the right thing, and not making a big deal of it for pity's sake.
Of course, the idea that we might can make our own maple syrup from something that we get out of a tree is also, well, just on the face of it, totally magic.
So, anyway. In winter, if you're looking, the maples are easy to spot through the woods. They are big, wide, sort of lumpy, heavy limbed, moss and fern covered trees. The moss and ferns are bright, bright green in the sun. The trees stretch their branches up, up; ending in a sort of multi-trunked and substantial thicket in the top. I should have got a picture of that. Not all smooth stem and then twigs and sticks like the smaller alders and seed cherries. They aren't so tall as the firs, but they are way more sprawling. Liam was picking them out from the other trees on his own before any time at all. Our maple is the Big Leaf Maple, Acer macrophyllum.
We've never tapped trees before. I thought it was impossible out here in the NW until last year I read something about it, and then the vegan tapped a test tree and got some sap. Which he drank down and proclaimed just a little sweet. So I went my normal kind of crazy and ordered up a tree tapping set up consisting of taps, food-grade sap collection bags, and tin bag holders. A book of instructions. This year I am determined we are going to collect enough sap to boil down to syrup. Just wait and see. We're going to go about it like it's no big deal, and we'll just get it done because we like maple syrup around here and why shouldn't we make our own? It's out there for the making, apparently. (Or, more precisely, let's hope.)
Of course, tree tapping is a really big deal if you're five, especially since the trees are at the vegan's house. And the outing included typical vegan's house activities like an impromptu dance party on the shed roof. And then a hunt all through the shed for just the right drill bits and set up. And an up close encounter with polliwog eggs in the pond -- still so small and slimy. And an inspection of the trailer full of scrap car parts (Don't ask.) along with a lesson on how the clutch works. (A note, in the pictures Liam is wearing my coat and one of the vegan's hats; because, amazingly, I managed to leave the house without a coat or hat for him.)
After all that, the tree tapping was sort of an also-ran, so when the sap (which vegan and Liam have taken to calling "maple juice") didn't come rushing out, it was a little bit of a disappointment. Vegan said, you know, it's like the chickens and the eggs and the garden and most everything else, it just takes a little time. There was much peering into holds and trying to detect any hint of sap. Checking and re-checking of the collector closest to the house.
And then it was time to go. The vegan had the tractor to pull into the shed and do something to. We had grocery shopping, dinner making, and pea brush to rig up in the garden at home. We'll get a report about the sap conditions tomorrow, hopefully.
I'm going to pretend it hasn't been over a month away from this space trying to get my camera working and find enough wits to organize a thought. Let's just quietly pick up where we left off, shall we.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Saturday, December 22, 2012
I've been casting around for years now trying to land on a tradition for the solstice and I think we've found one. . .this year we had our own spiral in the yard. It combined the best of everything for me, candle light and homemade lanterns, outdoors at night, fire, neighbors, school families and kids running around, all of it.
We set it up as an open house so people could come and go. We served soup and bread and a few other snacks and people brought sweets to share. The spiral was beautiful and fun. We had a nice fire on the back patio and people sat out and watched the spiral, and watched the fire, and ate soup, and stayed late, and the rain held off. So, now we have it: winter solstice garden spiral and fire. See you next year.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
I am grateful for many, many things about Liam's little Waldorf-inspired school community, but I think most of all I am grateful for how it ties me every day to the wonder and magic of childhood. I tend towards seriousness, and lists, and tasks, and thinking about the next thing. I need these reminders to be joyful in and present to what is all around.
Today was the winter spiral at school. The spiral takes its impulse from labyrinth traditions and representations of growing along a thoughtful or spiritual path or journey. The spiraling represents going inward — during the darkest time of the year — and kindling your own inner light. In Christian faiths spirals are associated with Advent and anticipating the arrival of Christ. The apples remind us of the bounty of the harvest; the candles represent our individual and collective lights along the path.
Each child, one at a time with their teacher's help, takes an apple, walks the spiral, lights their candle, places their light along the path, and goes to sit down again. They sing this verse.
The first light of winter is the light of stone–.A reminder of the beauty of all creation. At the light of the "beasts" they make claw hands and sing the word extra short and loud. They wiggle; they can't help it. They threaten to fall off the benches because they're just not paying attention. They glow in the candle light and reflexively hold hands with one another.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of winter is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of winter is the light of beasts–
All await the birth, from the greatest to the least.
The fourth light of winter is the light of humankind–
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.
These children, these little children are 4, 5, and 6.
We are all knocked over this week; confronted by so much evil, pain, senselessness. I have nothing to say about that. No words. I was driving home from a long meeting far north that day; listened with horror to the hours of news coverage. Looked at the photos on the computer when I got home, and since then I have pretty much stopped. It doesn't get any more understandable in the re-telling; no amount of attention I pay to the details lessens anyone's pain. I'm not saying forget -- as if anyone could. I hope and pray that real gun reform comes from this. But no matter what comes, it won't be worth it. It is not near strong enough to say that the idea that we would measure the price of long-overdue policy reform in the lives of small children and teachers is completely and totally bankrupt.
For those of you struggling, and particularly for those struggling to be with small children in the face of this, I recommend this story. The moral for me is that we cannot understand why; we aren't helped by trying to. We can and must be with the sadness and pain. We can and must offer our solidarity with those who are suffering. And we, we grownups for God's sake, can and must make the world safer.