Monday, July 14, 2008

And on...

Before I read any comments, and see what kinds of things six of you care about (and maybe respond to them in the comments section) I am going to go on. I keep thinking about the things that make my heart soar and bring me such intense satisfaction, to the point that I am deliberate and delerious about making them part of my life:

Singing. Oh! How I love to sing! We do it all-- lovely harmonies, rounds, good old fashioned, loud renditions of twinkle twinkle. We sing in the car, at the dinner table, while we work, and while we play. Aoife sings in her bed, they fight for solos (so-yos) while waiting for snacks. I love music. I actually secretly wish I had some friends who were as dorky as I am in loving singing, because it would be so fun for me to just sit around and pick out harmonies together. Greg humors me at times, and I love that. I shouldn't say humors me. He loves to sing, too, and he's good. We have a new-ish tradition of singing a song before we eat at night, while we're still holding hands from our blessing (praise for the blessing to follow). Tonight we sang a pretty little grace I know, marvelling at the wonders of the earth, and then the kids wanted to sing Twinkle Twinkle. So we sang that, too. All four of us, together, everyone in tune (not that this matters-- because what's actually beautiful to me is just the loving to sing, not the perfect pitch), and everyone feeling so happy.

Being Grateful I know I go on and on about this, because I am just so grateful for what I have. Our tradition is always to light a candle at the dinner table for Charlotte, so we do this, and we say "the blessing", which for Greg and I usually is a little tribute to Charlotte about how much she means to us and how she's changed our life. But the kids have pretty much taken this one over, and so it's usually a hearty, "We miss you, Charlotte, and we love you!" and then we move on to singing. So I've started to say something that I'm grateful for. When we first started this, a few months back, Liam would always just talk about Charlotte. He didn't really get it, because to him the blessing was just about missing Charlotte. But he's moving on. Tonight he said he's grateful for "having a loving family". Yeah. And Aoife? She said, "I'm grateful for princesses", which means that she really gets it too, because right now I think she really is grateful for princesses.

Growing Stuff I love to grow stuff. Garden pictures coming soon. But here I actually don't mean pretty plants, I mean stuff to eat. Our garden is a little slim, since we abandon it for a month in August, but we've been gorging on blueberries, rhubarb, green beans, and herbs from our yard. I love being able to just go and get something that I need. I wanted to make a crisp, and I had the fruit growing in my yard to do it. I went and chopped off the stalks and 20 minutes later I had something delicious to eat.

Composting Stuff This is also great. I just created this new garden space, and I had so much dirt to fill it in with because all the leaves, old grass and dirt clumps, sticks, weeds, etc. from the past five years are nicely sorted into heaps in the forest that has turned into beautiful, black, rich earth. Then, we have our food compost where we switch sides every year, leaving on the other side a nice mooshy pile of black beauty that is so ripe. I can feed my plants for free. I love this.

Baking Bread Now this, I don't do, but I do eat it. Greg bakes bread. Nice, hearty, crusy italian loaves, partially whole wheat, baked in a super hot oven on a stone so they are just restaurant quality and so amazing. And also? We don't have to buy any bread. It probably costs about 75 cents a loaf to make. Beauty.

The kids art table. I love it mostly because I would have loved it when I was their age. Tins of markers, crayons, scissors, tape, glue, trays of paper, scraps, stickers, pipe cleaners, stacks of paint, an easel, two chairs, and licence to create. I love it.

My Sewing Machine Not my sewing machine, actually, because it jams all the time and if I weren't so lazy it would be in the shop right now being tuned. But I love being able to make stuff. Wait till you see (yes, the camera has been fetched from the shop) the picture of her new outfit. Oh, so fun.

My Job and I don't mean the mom one. I keep meaning to remember, when people ask me, So what do you do? That I actually founded a little organization here in the valley, and I work with the hospital, and the doctors, and the PR people, and the wounded families, and I run these groups. This is my work. I LOVE this work. I do have a job, a pretty useful one, to some people. And I don't want to be paid for it.

Living outside I don't know what I would do if I didn't live here, and by here I don't mean this region, I mean this specific house. There is something about our house, the way it's oriented. The house is backwards, with the front facing the backyard, so when you're in the house, the backyard is in front of you. The door is barely a step above the yard, so you're just level with the yard. We're out there all the time. We eat on the porch, we play outside all day. We read our stories for nap on the porch. Okay, we sleep indoors. But we spend all the time outside. I can't imagine it any other way. Our driveway snakes up into the back yard too, which from an adult perspective I dislike, but it means we have a place to ride bikes, draw with chalk, and play when the grass is covered with snow or soaking wet. So this is good.

All our Play Spaces This is another essay to follow. I love the nooks and crannies of our yard, all the places to play. The tree house (completed! yay greg) and the swingset and the climbing structure and the climbing tree and the sandbox and the laurel grove behind the guest house which is called "the movie theater", even though my kids don't really know what a movie theater is. They hang blossoms from trees and make them lights, and make seats out of sticks, and generally move organic matter around in a game of creating something that they know nothing about. It's so fun.

I've got to stop for tonight. But I'll say this, before I go.

Do you know what this is, this going on, and on, and on? It's called optimism. I'm counting my blessings, right here, and reminding myself in a public way how good things are. Just how good they are. And they are. They're good.


Sara said...

This post got my day off to a good start. I read yesterday's post and comments and thought about responding and walked around all day with my personal rants about attitudes toward c-sections and breastfeeding (I hate feeling judged for having a c-section and for not breastfeeding. Neither was my choice, but the way things worked for me.) I just felt irritable. That despite there being many things in your list I agree with.

But today's post put me in a good mood. I love singing. Growing up, I would sing as soon as I got in the car and not stop until we got out (drove my poor dad crazy). For a while, I had an sing-along group with friends from work. We'd get together every so often and sing, whatever songs everyone knew or we could learn easily.

I love reading and being read to. My mom read to me long, long after I was reading myself. I still remember many of the books that we read together. I love libraries and bookstores. I hate shopping, but but me in a bookstore and I can get lost for hours.

I love this time of year when dinner begins with a walk outside to see what is ready. I love the daily surprise of a tomato that turned red overnight or the zucchini that was the size of my thumb one day now being more than ready to eat. I love our compost too (my husband jokes that it is one of the reasons I married him.)

I love--and miss--the ocean. I love its rhythm and many moods, its vastness, the smell, the cool breeze off the water most every afternoon. I love the beach, especially at the end of the day and in the fall. The ocean grounds me, recenters me. It took me a while to understand this, but it's a good thing to know when life starts to feel like too much; I go soak up the ocean.

I feel lucky to live in a real neighborhood, where people know and care about each other, where my neighbor tied up my tomatoes for me the year I had surgery in June, where another neighbor canned our tomatoes for us last year when Henry was in the hospital, where people would take care of our dog when we went away for the weekend (even when was in a wheelchair), where people gathered to meet us with signs and balloons and flowers when Henry came home for the first time, where people volunteered their showers for a month while we waited for ours to be fixed, where I felt like I belonged even before I moved in (I was here a lot visiting Brian who had been living here for a while) . . .

I love being self-employed (even when things are REALLY slow, like now, and things get a bit scary and stressful). It gives me such flexibility, for the most part, make work fit around my life rather than the other way around.

I appreciate your reminder to be grateful, because I am for many things, and I have found time and again that it is good and helpful to notice the good. Years ago, a friend gave me a blank journal and told me it was a gratitude book, a place to write five things I was grateful for each day. It felt a bit forced, but I tried it for a little while. Some days were easy, others I had to stretch and struggle to find something, but there was always something. Then when Henry was in the hospital, I'd pray each night for him to get better, to be okay, but I found myself beginning by offering thanks. Again there were days it was easy--he got extubated, I got to hold him! But there were many days where it was was something more subtle, I saw him move, we took one tiny step toward getting him off the ventilator, I got an email, however brief or simple, that kept me from tipping over the edge into despair. There was always something. Then over the past winter and spring, when life seemed particularly bleak to me, I clung to the little things: the flash of a red bird that seemed to be Henry's smile, the carrots that we found wintered over in the garden . . . sometimes perhaps I was not aware that I was grateful for these things, I just clung to them desperately, but I was indeed grateful to have some shred of brightness to hold onto in the dark.

Hmm . . . I guess I can go on and on and on too.

Birdies Mama said...

Oh Carol, how i too love to sing! Only my voice is never really in pitch, so I sing quietly and to myself only. Though, after Birdie died I used to sing out loud to her when I would walk Macy in the wilderness at Mt. Tom. I just love to read your blog, even though I know you in person....when I haven't been able to see you in a long time, reading about your days with your beauties and your Greg make me so happy. You make me smile Carol and I love ya!

Sara said...

Birdie's Mama, thank you for sharing that you would sing to Birdie after she died. I still sing to Henry sometimes, in bed, in our rocker, at his grave. Most of the time I sing in my head; sometimes I do it aloud, though I sometimes wonder if I am crazy.