Monday, March 18, 2013
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
This is a quote from a book I'm reading--The Lost Summer of Loisa May Alcott. The author quotes Alcott at the beginning of each chapter. This quote dug into me like a sliver. I've been thinking along these lines for several years now. There is such a sadness that comes with adulthood. Friendships dissipate. Magic disappears. An awareness of the awfulness of some people rises, but at the same time, so does an empathetic realization that awful people had awful things done to them, that they are complex, hurting, problematic, confused people. So I can't even hate the subjects of my disgust. People fight. Love fades. Spouses cheat and justify and defend themselves. Children suffer and learn and incorporate the imperfections of their elders.
There was a time when I played in a willow patch. We hewed out hallways and rooms with machetes. Our ceiling was the sky, and leafy stalks were our walls.
Now that willow patch is mostly dead and dry. The stalks seem so finite, and not at all encompassing.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Amaya turned a year old in mid-July. Right around that time, I was putting her to bed and she was lying, belly-down, on my chest. As she relaxed there, drifting away from wakefulness, I noticed with some sadness that she no longer fit in that space between the bottom of my chin--where she had nuzzled her head--and the top of my leg. Previously, her whole body had fit on my trunk. I could cradle her whole self there in a warm, protective embrace. Now she's too big. Her legs dangle down. She doesn't fit right. What made me sad was the realization that she'll only get older. She'll only keep growing. Last night, I took over the nighttime routine with Amaya. We're night weaning her, and this is the easiest way. A couple of times when I tried comforting her in the night by rubbing her belly and back, she pushed away my hands, swatted at them as if they were mere annoyances. In some ways, she's already beginning to separate from us.
Sonora has become an avid reader. In a few months, a she threw a switch and went from sounding out words laboriously to reading book after book with relative fluency. It had a lot to do with Elizabeth doing sight-word drills with Sonora, but still the transformation has been stunning and fun. Sonora has read most every children's book in our house at least once (we have quite a few, perhaps 50) and she is plowing through the local library collection.
In the same vein, Rowyn has become a puzzle maniac. She'll do two to seven puzzles per day. Luckily, she hasn't bored of doing the same puzzles over and over. We only have about fifteen puzzles in her ability level (20-50 piecers), but she just takes them out each day and goes to it. It's cute how she sits splayed-legged on the floor and ponders each piece before placing it. Sometimes she'll get out several puzzles and sort of roam from one to the other throughout the day. This is annoying because it litters the limited floorspace with puzzle pieces and her obstacle of a body, but mostly I'm excited by this new development.
A brief sketch of the happenings of the summer: We went to Utah and spent time with Elizabeth's family. It was fun. The kids hung out with cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncles. Elizabeth and I talked and connected with her siblings and their spouses and kids. I went mountain biking (thanks, Bryant), running (thanks Howard), rock climbing (thanks Kaleb) and hiking (thanks Brad). On our way back home, the trusty white Eagle Summit Corey and Vanessa gave us eight years ago finally mostly died. It limped home and is still limping, but it's only being employed on on an as-needed basis. We don't really have the money to buy anything else or to fix the Eagle, so on the days I don't bike, I think I'll use the Eagle as a commuter car for work until it fully dies.
After Utah, I went to a conference in Philadelphia, which was the first time I had ever been back East. I enjoyed the city and liked exploring and familiarizing myself with the many vital historical sites. I went jogging several times after midnight because it was rather hot there and because the local time was three hours ahead of Pacific Time, to which I'm now adjusted. Shortly after returning from Philly, as part of a team of nine men, I attempted to climb Mt. Rainier, the most heavily glaciated mountain in the lower 48. We made it to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet, but the weather soured. We camped and hoped, but ended up coming back down the next day rather than risk a dangerous ascent. The views were beautiful, however, and the experience was worthwhile. The hike to Muir was a long, exhausting climb up seemingly endless snow and glacial fields. The men I went with, including my brother-in-law Corey and my friend from the mid-90's Harwood, were pleasant, supportive of each other, well-prepared, and enjoyable to be around.
Then I spent a week revising this young adult novel I've been working on for two years. I wanted to change a few things, but a few turned into many. I put at least 30 hours that week into revisions. I'm waiting to hear back from a handful of query letters I sent out. I hope hope hope a decent-sized publishing house buys this book, that many people read it, enjoy it, think about it, and discuss it. I've greatly enjoyed my journey with Lahora (the novel's protagonist).
While I'm going through that process (querying, waiting to hear back, tweaking my query, sending it out again, sending out the manuscript and waiting to hear back, etc.), I think I'll be turning back to nonfiction and writing a memoir. The house I grew up in, the one that most feels like "home" to me, blew up a few weeks ago. A gas leak. And I've been sort of melancholy since then. A place can hold memories. It can be a bank of experiences and just knowing that these places are around can be comforting. A major one for me was this home. And it's gone. I think I'll write as a way of holding on to the memories that flew out into the world in a flaming ball. Plus that will help keep me occupied while I pursue publication of Kissing the Lion, the YA fantasy I mentioned above.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Today, Sonora was listening to the audiobook version of Because of Winn-Dixie. The woman reading the book employs an exaggerated southern accent, such that a word like "spell" is pronounced "spay-uhl." When Sonora got to the point in the book that describes how 14-year-old Litmus volunteered to fight for the South in the Civil war and then discovered that war isn't a romantic adventure, but is an awful hell, she ran in to tell Elizabeth she had discovered another homonym.
"Mom," she said, "there are two types of hail. There's the hail that falls from the sky, and then there's war. It's also hail."
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Sunday, August 01, 2010
When we were gearing up for Rowyn's birth at home, I was nervous. It was to be our maiden voyage into dangerous new territory, and it took me several months (and one movie) to adjust to the idea. Things went really well, dreamily even, so I had no objections to having our third baby at home; in fact, I have become a quiet advocate of at-home child birth, so good was our experience with Rowyn.
She wouldn't have been all that anxious except that her parents, sister, and sister's three kids were coming, and, while she was very glad for them to come visit us, she didn't want to have the baby while they were here. Our house is very small and a home birth would have been rather uncomfortable for her with everyone there. If she didn't have the baby until after they were gone, it would have made the momentous visit sort of anti-climactic for them.
Her family left from Utah the morning of July 15th to come visit us. It is about a twelve hour drive. Elizabeth's contractions also started early that morning, but this time they didn't stop. At around nine in the morning, we loaded the kids into the stroller and walked around town, being sure to go up the steepest, longest hills we could find, starting with the one right next to our house. By the time we got near the top of that hill, Elizabeth's contractions were intense enough for her to have to stop and breathe through them before continuing. "I think it's working," she said. We kept walking for about an hour, going up that hill three more times, and then Elizabeth could tell labor was starting and it wasn't going to stop until she had the baby.