Monday, March 30, 2015

The brown before Spring

The truth is I love cool weather which Spring is finally providing. It is an early Spring and we are likely not out the woods yet but the snow has left the woods of Wisconsin making for a fine weekend. I got a little bit of everything. High winds, warm day, rainy the next with a mix of sleet and snow. A fine mix of weather. There was still mud but not as much as the last time we were at the 4-Acre Wood.

There is this bird that always makes me think that Spring is on the way. I never knew the name of this bird although it is rather common. My daughter informed me that it is a chickadee. On Sunday this bird started singing its song, its call for Spring while there was a still a drizzle falling from the sky. I knew then that the rain would stop soon and that it was time to get the dishes done. I don't mind doing dishes outside even with the long process to get it done (heating water, hauling everything out, lugging the water container to the table, etc).

Aside from the lack of snow, there isn't much else to the signs of Spring. Everything is brown, yellow, dark. Not much is green except the moss that is there year round. I loved that the brown backdrop made all of our man-made colors stand out.

We pass two very different sorts of farms on our way home. One has that cute pink barn. I've always wondered about the people who live there. All the wood trim around their property is pink. Each year I watch their large garden grow and cheer when I see such sturdy, happy stalks of corn and sunflowers. The other farm is a factory farm producing turkey. I've always wonder about the wild turkeys in the area and what they have to say about the operation. We always see the trail of white feathers that lead to the town with the processing plant. Such differing language to describe each farm. Such different sorts of food.

Yes, the season is finally turning. I say "finally" as if this is the usual for Upper Midwest. It is not. Like I said, it is an early Spring. For that I am glad.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

For Boris

It's been over a month since I finished reading the Goldfinch. I'm still thinking about it. I think I have a crush on Boris, his food preferences and his vodka.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

winter hangover

Winter left for a week or so, then returned apparently because She realized She left something behind. That something is my sanity. She's decided to stay a few more days just to make sure she gets all of it - my sanity, my spirit, my good mood. I feel like I can tolerate winter a few more days if only I didn't feel so hungover.

Hungover is exactly how I feel right now. That morning after feeling of did I really do that? Did I really put on those pounds? Did I really hand out business cards with my blog address on it? Did I really let my house go to the dumps? Did I really share all those raw, vulnerable feelings on my blog? Did I really waste away the season with not a word written on my other writing project? Did my baby really turn five-years-old? I blame winter. The way She teased away for a few days tempting me to pull out my warm weather dresses - the ones that don't fit any more. Everything from there went downhill.

Yet the advantage of hitting the bottom of the hill is that I have a better view of how to get back to the top. Truthfully that Spring tease hasn't left me totally deflated. The warm weather is coming soon to this region, for real this time. I do have things to look forward to and I'm seeking out those tiny things that give me momentum which includes a brief look back (in list form) at this last winter.

1. I finally got a dutch oven and I'm wondering why I never did this before. Oh wait. I did buy one for the campfire but hubby dearest busted the lid before I was able to use it. Now I have a pretty blue one. The only tough part is not knowing where to store it in my little kitchen.

2. A double-edged sword: My daughter turned five and now life with her is full of magic.

3. I reconnected with an old friend, a friend that was a friend before I met Dave. Now the three of us go out together every once and a while which totally takes the pressure off of making sure date night is fun. Because she's fun and adding a third makes for good conversation that goes beyond potties and mermaids and kindergartens. (Let's not think right now about the fact the favorite sitter is going away to college this Fall.)

4. I didn't once think about spring planting because the kid took care of all that. Now we have a million different seeds.

5. I developed a closer relationship with the mother of my daughter's friend who is an expert knitter, who also taught me not to shy away from frogging (tinking?) my projects. Something that has transformed into value for virtually every aspect of my life.

6. I finally cleaned my house and soon all the windows will be open.

7. In the last month of winter my little family picked up archery as a hobby. I look forward to no longer losing arrows in the snow.

8. I found my groove chopping wood. I love that! And the fact that my husband bought me an axe for Christmas.

9. I read a bunch of really great books. The most recent one was Donna Tartt's Secret History where I wasn't shocked to read that the twins were having sex. Thanks, Game of Thrones.

10. I am a hardy (and hearty) kind of gal! I really don't mind the cold and snow, unless of course it comes in March.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

the right name

Want to waste some time on the internet? Check out the meaning of your name and see how true it is. I loved how there were names listed from all over the world. The little one's name is Greek and I found it, then while reading I was continuously nodding my head. One of the things that was mentioned was to put an instrument in her hands at an early age. This is her second ukulele and a much better quality. That means both of parents can rock out on it, too!

I almost titled this post "daddy's girl" because I've seen her daddy make that exact same face while capturing an image of that exact same pose. The ukulele was a bit more than what I wanted spend for a 5-year-old but once she got her hands on it she wouldn't let go.

I know: spoiled could be a term used here. But I would much rather have her spend hours on the instrument than on television.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring re-start

The photos of the little one are from a few weeks ago but they represent to me a shift in my perspective. I've been down on my photography lately but then I came to realize that the mood may have been just a symptom of winter. In the days after the snow melted I got a photographic boost.

Spring is a great time to start the year again, isn't it? I'm so glad I didn't try another 365 project beginning January 1st. By the time the snow melted in previous years I was already burned out with taking monotonous winter photos. I avoided all that this year which is what I credit for avoiding winter depression.

I think we're mostly on to the good stuff, the warm weather and all. Bu you wouldn't know it by looking at what dumped on us last night. No worries in my heart because I know it will be gone by this afternoon.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Epic Swing

Taking some random rope, a plank and a tall tree to make a swing is a fine example of jugaad.This innovation kept us at the 4-acre woods for at least two hours longer than planned. You can tell in the photos that she is thoroughly enjoying this flight through the trees.

After returning to the city I was able to appreciate the fun of all of this. But in the moment my heart was thumping through a couple of pounding emotions. Joy because the sound of her hearty belly laughs sparkled in the trees like the finest sound my ears had ever heard. Fear because (come on!) she's a 5-year-old swinging super high on a home-made swing. The only way for me to overcome these conflicting emotions was to pull out my camera and focus on capturing some images. Granted it is not the best way to be in the moment (I constantly struggle with that) but it was sufficient distraction necessary to let her enjoy the swing.

We aren't planning to head out to the woods this weekend because D's Jeep in for some body work, but there is already talk of going up for the day just to enjoy the swing. I considered changing my Saturday plans from going with them to attending a co-op conference with my collegues just so I didn't have to feel the heart-pounding again. But this tears me up, too. I feel I need to be there to prevent major injury, not that I'm much help in these sorts of situations.

Why me? Because he's the "fun parent" and I'm...not.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

epic March weekend

What is this?

The days seem longer, they are certainly warmer on the 14th day of March. Saturday afternoon we arrived at the 4-acre woods. Everything was brown and soggy, smelling of damp leaves and mud, emerging buds and pools of snow melt. It was soupy by the firepit. Arrows were shot onto wood target pieces (14 daddy, 12 moog). The darkest part of dusk didn't leave the skies until 8pm. Slow dancing to Indian Love Song, our boots squishing in the mud, a soft sloshing sound with each step. Glancing up at his face, my eyes are drawn to the bright stars up above, witnesses to our love and my crappy dancing ability.

It was a truly epic March weekend. We found things which had been buried in the snow, weird alien-like pods (see photo #4), and a fox hole. The chalk came out, the swing went up. The only gloves I wore all weekend were work gloves.

She has the right bow now and hopefully she's start to love using it as much as she loves wearing it on her back. We plan to set up little targets all over our woods. Dave and I are feeling like we need our own bows already. I'm looking for a long bow while he's planning on sticking to a recurve. Both of which are surprisingly hard to find in Wisconsin, apparently they are "too old-fashioned" but then we were searching through a region full of bow hunters who need extra power. Last week I  nearly gave myself a black eye, this week my left arm is painfully sore (extra power I do not need). One of the tutorials we found online actually says to build muscles up at the gym.

Everyday there seems to be a sign to go to the gym, everyday I find an excuse not to go to the gym. Today's excuse: I dont wanna!)

The only downside is that our little refrigerator is no longer working. Each week I think it will just magically start again (leveled the trailer, cleaned out the vent, etc) but no. Since we are considering a complete remodel, we've decided to start with the fridge. It terrifies me to think how junky (mouse poopy) it will be behind the fridge. But we need one. Why?

Because the seasons are changing and the region is getting warmer. And something has to cool down my beer!

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Friday, March 13, 2015

good words for what we do in the woods

Have you seen these words?  Shinrin-yoku and friluftsliv

I want to say that what we do out in the woods is genetic. Or could it be our heritage? I'm not sure if either of those apply. Certainly neither of us have the background that drove our hearts to spend time in the woods. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, while the Big D had a more urban childhood.

Yet on a regular basis we habitually practice jugaad along with experiencing shinrin-yoku and friluftsliv. I was born in India and Dave's family came from Norway and Sweden a few generations ago. Maybe those three cultural concepts are woven somehow into our cells, our memories, our instincts.

Whatever it is I know that retreating to the woods is good for our spirit, our sanity, our relationship with each other and the natural environment. It is friluftsliv at it's finest, at least that is how I see it.

It is definitely good preventative medicine just like the concept of shinrin-yoku. The air sloughs off the stress of city-life, of impending commitments, of most everything that needs to be discarded.

We measure time from one cup of cocoa to the next. We get distracted by the migration of various birds and it is a place where these easy distractions are welcome. We count the stars and marvel at the patches of sunlight. We practice archery and write poems with sticks on the snow. We smell the earth as it thaws. We live for the the sky at day and the moon at night. We express gratitude with each and every breath.

Yes, I feel sappy today but I look to lofty thoughts that will float the ache out of my head. And it also helps me avoid the laundry.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

mind-blowing realization

I had lunch with the friends I made from the e-course Cultivating Courage. I met them a couple of years ago through the bravery of one of them asking to meet for breakfast (the other quickly got in on the fun and courage to meet and make new friends). We've been meeting once a month since then to gently push each other into courageous actions.

I hesitated but eventually shared my experience with the grandparents back in February. At the end of it my friend says something that totally blew my mind: parents don't make their adult children cry, parents do not make their children cry. Such simple truth and something I knew from my own mothering journey yet something I did not realize also applied to me.

It also applies to me! Yah!

Goodness gracious. I can't even begin to relate the immense relief that simple statement gave me. Relief in that I know I don't deserve to experience that pain. And relief in knowing that simple truth is an easy-to-follow guide to parenting. I can do that. I do that, I mean I don't make my daughter cry.

Sure she gets annoyed with me when I aim my camera at her gorgeous face. Sure she cries when I won't let her do something that might harm her. But it is never my goal to do something that in intended to make her cry just for sake of breaking her spirit.

My camera is meant to capture lovely images of her spirit but I also know she resents it.

Too bad, baby. I have a camera and I'm not afraid to use it. Bwahahahaha.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

the beginning of the end (of winter)

don't see this every day

Yes, that's one of mine

warm 40s!

so  yummy I had to show them twice

compliments of Dave, none of the rest of us like these much

sparklers, on the other hand....

....we love

The little one got a bow for her birthday and it is way too big for her. It is just right for me! With my first shot, I hit the box. He said it was a fluke. So I hit it four more times. Just to show him. And just to show off. I always knew I would love the bow but I had no idea how much fun it would be and, how good I could be with it. Let's not talk too much about the one arrow I lost in the snow and the other two that I ripped up. Three arrows were all we had. Time to get more.

He called me Merida and I'm still grinning from that compliment!

Other stuff happened, I'm sure.

I feel like I'm doing all the work at the retreat now that I'm chopping wood. I chop wood, I do the dishes, I spend hours vacuuming up the small, fuzzy balls that arrived (invaded and infested) our space since washing her new blanket, I search online for ways to repair our little trailer fridge, I start the fire. All the while, the other two are sledding around the property, building little snowmen, lighting sparklers (and other stuff only legal in Wisconsin), drinking hot cocoa, walking down the magic path, etc, etc, etc. I wouldn't have it any other way (I think). I don't "play" much with the little one, mostly because my camera gets in the way of serious play. So I'm glad that she gets daddy distractions while we are in the woods for the weekend.

I met the stars like old friends. The little one wished very much to be a princess and something else I can't remember now, on every star she saw and there were many so there were a lot of wishes. I don't even know where she got that from, wishing on stars I mean. I don't know where it comes from but I will encourage it. I tried to teach her about constellations but whether or not we were looking at the same star groupings is yet to be determined. The moon was full and shining bright. The wind died completely away leaving an eerie stillness to the woods.

The mice population seems to have dwindled to zero. It's been over a month since we've been to our little retreat. Mouse poop over the counters is to be expected, disposing of a few corpses in the traps are all part of clean-up but we had neither of those issues when we arrived. Dave thinks we might have a fox move in near the property.

Now if only we could rid ourselves of those pesky mosquitoes and those horrible, demon-marked ticks.

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