Tuesday, May 25, 2010

They are NOT slow, you know

There are so many things going on right now. So many things I am working on, thinking about, planning. Work is insanely busy because the end of every school year is always busy, and so things are crazy for Dean, too. His soccer season has almost ended (which frees up our time just ahead of having the World Cup take our lives over).

I despise not having the time here that I would like. Photos I want to share, stories I want to tell, ideas I want to spread. I must be content, at the moment, with just this short post to say that I have more I'd like to say. Soon.

Meanwhile, Dean and I suspect that the sudden turtle activity on our street means that females are seeking out sites in which to lay eggs. We need to do a little research to see if this theory holds. We've been ensuring that the ones we find make it off the road and into the woods.

They are VERY fast, we'll have you know. Turn around and in a flash they are gone. Places to go, things to do, and oh so little time.

Friday, May 14, 2010

At the Farm

Dean is just a few days back from his three-day trip to The Farm School. This is an utterly amazing place; a small family farm donated, a number of years ago, to an organization dedicated to introducing children to farm life. School groups go (it's hard to get a slot, since schools like ours return each year -- ours was the first school to send a group 16 years ago and we've been returning ever since!) -- and they run summer camp programs as well.
One of the extraordinary things about the place is that the children aren't simply "helping out" the adults at the farm. Rather, it is the work of the children themselves that keeps the farm going; they have a tiny crew that could never operate the farm alone.

Children get up at 6, stretch, and do an hour of farm work before breakfast (unless you're on breakfast duty that day -- the kids also do all the cooking with the help of one adult). Slopping pigs, gathering eggs, milking cows, letting the sheep and goats out to graze -- those are typical morning chores.
After a big, hot breakfast, they have a morning meeting and then break up into smaller groups for more farm work. Splitting wood, repairing fences, tending/planting crops, spreading manure, stirring compost, and if you are there in the very early spring you might get a chance to work in the sugar house, boiling down the maple sap for syrup.

There's plenty of time for play, and community time, and snacks.

The evening meal is prepared and shared, then you might go on a sunset hike, or a run on the ridge.

Their weather was good, although a little wet and dreary on the last day.

Dean loved all the farm dogs, all the food, all the time with his friends, and all the work.

This was his second year, and he's grown so much in the course of this past year -- so there was none of the worry about how he would do, so far from home. He's an old hand at it now, at being away from home and enjoying himself and taking care of himself. While I am overjoyed at his independence and happiness and growth, and while I don't make myself crazy with worry, I still miss him terribly when he's gone and struggle to imagine a life, someday, when he's gone more, when he's gone from home.

My neighbor said to me that there's a reason you're not just pregnant for one day, just as there's a reason kids don't leave home until they are about 18 or so -- it's so you have time to get used to the idea, to prepare for your new life.

I know it is what I want for him. I'm even so, so thrilled that he's decided to do a back-packing trip this summer with a group from school.

I just have to figure out how to better use my time and make my own life once he's flown the coop.

Glimpses of a life ahead. I'm in no rush for it.

(I took these photos on his last day there, when I arrived to pick him up.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I am thinking this will be a round-up kind of a post -- collecting together some of my recent goings-on and meant-to-post-abouts.

First, this doll bed that we donated to our school's annual auction:

I had purchased the antique bed itself years ago on eBay. It was part of a set of two; the other I gave to my then-sister-in-law with a tiny handmade quilt on it. I'd always meant to do something similar for myself -- make a darling little quilt then use the whole thing for display. But, as it seems so often happens, I was confronted by the distinction between the life I imagine myself living and the life I actually live. This is the kind of thing the dog would find QUITE tasty, and we've got way more than enough *stuff on display* around our house, and what we really need is less stuff and more storage space for Legos. And I'm good with that. So this doll bed went to the school auction.

I did put together the quilt by (gasp) cutting up a very old quilt top and then hand-quilting it. The quilt top was also from eBay, and it also somehow belonged to some category of thing that seemed to make sense at the time.... It was (is) in wretchedly poor condition and so the best thing I could do was take out a useable chunk of it for this project. The end of the story is a good one, since the bed fetched $100 at the auction and made someone else happy.

In other sewing, I found myself making many of the costumes for Dean's school play (an original musical production of Alice in Wonderland). Dean made a trip to Salvation Army with me to thrift as much as we could, and we came away with a staggering number of *exactly* the right things. After a trip to the fabric store and lots of thinking, I created costumes for Dean, for Humpty Dumpty (see, it IS an original production...), the King of Hearts, two soldiers, and made/fixed parts for the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the March Hare, the Queen of Hearts.... I may be forgetting one or two others. Dean hit the nail on the head when, after I explained the help I needed from him, he said, "how is it that I THOUGHT I had volunteered to do one thing but all of a sudden I'm volunteered to do ALL KINDS of things!?!"

(Dean, as The Caterpillar, with his legs as played by a group of classmates....)

It's the nature of volunteering, I told him; you always have to be prepared to asked to do more, once you show a willingness to do anything at all. I also explained my philosophy that we each of us have a responsibility to volunteer, to be willing to take on the things we are capable of doing with the understanding that there will likely be more to do than we initially imagine -- but that's part of being a good person.

I did catch myself up as I worked my way through the sewing: "Oh, I'll have to take photos of the kids in everything I made and send them to mom because she'll...." Oh. Right. Can't do that. Mom's gone. I was able to bring out a smile from this very sad moment when I realized that making costumes for the school play, and fussing over small details to make them just right, is exactly the way both to honor her spirit and to recognize how she lives on in me. She was costume-maker, set-painter extraordinaire. She also regularly took on mountains of volunteer work and had a way of making good things happen, especially for children.

So it's all good.

Dean, meanwhile, was triumphant in collecting $280 for Dog Orphans through his participation in their annual fundraising walk. Can't help but be proud of this boy.

And yesterday, he played in his first piano competition. Here he is in one of the practice rooms beforehand:

He did not place, but he practiced hard in preparation, he worked through his nerves of having to walk through a very large theater and climb the steps to play a grand piano in front of judges, and he's eager to give it a go again next year. This was exactly what we were hoping for and so in our eyes the experience was a huge success. I'll tell you honestly that it is one thing to say to your child, "it's not about winning, it's about participating, so just do your best and everything will be fine -- and we are very proud of you for being willing to try this" -- and another thing all together to really and truly mean it. Meaning it means not hovering over practices, not insisting on longer practices, and not believing that your skill as a parent is somehow on the line. It also means separating your child's experiences from yourself -- it's his piano playing, not mine. I had to keep reminding myself of these things to keep myself honest.

And now, happy mother's day to all those celebrating.