Book Bag - no. 10

All quiet on the August front. However, last week we did visit our happy place - the Cambridge Public Library, and stocked up far and wide. I had been trying to remember the name of the book, Halibut Jackson for months to no avail. But when I saw an old familiar librarian at the desk, I knew she would be able to help.  I was right. It took her a minute pull up the title, but she immediately remembered the tale of a charming character who is shy and talented and wants nothing more but to blend in. And of course it was on the shelf, right where we left it five years ago. Only good things happen there.

I am determined to slow down these last couple weeks before September hits. Sit on the couch more. Go to the beach more.  Quiet myself, and therefore all of us.  Oh, and some sewing. I am working on this pattern for Fiona to have for school. Ill show you the fabric soon. Hopefully with her in it!


Book Bag - no. 9

Justice is being served to New Englanders this summer. After a brutal winter, we are experiencing summer bliss. Its like San Diego everyday in these parts. We have been full of water and warmth and cool mornings. Too beautiful to sit at a computer, or even pick up a camera to capture the moment.  Just enough time to breathe and soak and make pesto. The cheerful orb shines nearly every day. It is not lost on us.


Happy Sad Summer

Today is our first quiet day at home in a while. A dear friend of mine allowed us an escape to the green mountains of Vermont last week.  We joined her and her daughter for a leisurely week of picking, and cooking, and eating, and swimming.  The kids were occupied for the mornings by pottery camp, (except for Myles who was busy "inventing" 'til three) leaving me to prepare for the fall without interruption, and run for a bit each day up and down scenic rolling hills. It was wonderful. For the grand finale, she showed me this farm out of a fairy tale that stretched as far as the eye could see, to the banks of the Connecticut River.  The farm  also happened to have a wonderful cafe with possibly the most delicious scones we have ever tasted: Brown butter something. If you are ever in the area, treat yourself to a stop at Cedar Circle Farm.

We returned the day before Fiona's birthday, to prepare for a party filled with family from overseas.  The ice cream truck came, everyone ordered sprinkles. Fun was had. But there was something holding me back from full on happy-go-lucky. (There usually is.) First of all, watching my kids turn a year older without my mom is really heart wrenching. More of life keeps going by without her, and I am always caught off guard at our loss on milestone days. Secondly, my youngest child is a little grade schooler now. Six is small, but not quite as small as five, and Im going to miss five. And thirdly, being with family that you see but once a year is a wee sorrowful. Eric's sister and family live in Switzerland and fantastically were in town for our little birthday party. While the visits are wonderful, when they are with us, you realize in a poignant way what you are missing out on throughout the rest of year. Our little niece makes you bubble over with her little squeaky mercis! voilas! and encores! The cuteness is too much to handle.

So today we stumbled into the library and filled our bags semi full. We came home and read and watched Fiona play on her swing. It was nice. The neighbors were over and we walked to the beach. Good to be home with just a little of July left to spare.


Book Bag - no. 8

Well, that was a trying week. Beautiful and free, but exhausting. These titles were definitely some highlights. I wish I could say I was looking forward to the weekend...but you know what? Maybe, I'll just say it for discipline's sake. - " I can't wait for the weekend!" - Here's to hoping. 

 Somehow I completed three of these skirts. I had begun the project months ago, and finally picked them back up this week. They are far from perfect, but finishing the work was a comfort and just in time for a friend's birthday. 


Road Trip and Reality

We drove to Virginia last week. When you start in Massachusetts it is easy to be productive careening through the Northeast. Connecticut then New York, through Pennsylvania to Maryland and West Virginia. Six states in one day causes one to feel triumphal.  A little lake house nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains was our ultimate destination, but on the way down, we had a few things to take care of. It was nearly five years ago when I discovered John Brown: His Fight For Freedom.  As Myles and I sat together reading it for the first time, I was deeply moved by the life of this controversial figure.  Myles was silent as he listened to John Hendrix's artful and compassionate rendering of the tale of a man who was willing to die (and kill) for equality.  I knew then, that I wanted to bring us to this place of history, where the  final, fateful events of John Brown's life took place. Harpers Ferry, WV is a beautiful town overlooking the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. Thomas Jefferson said that the town, "was worth a trip across the Atlantic." I'd have to agree.

We left Harpers Ferry for our campsite at the Shenandoah River State Park in VA. We stayed for two nights, with relative success. A black bear did stumble into our groomed little area of his backyard. But that was no big deal. I actually slept through the sighting, yet made up for my lapse on the second night when I was on a fruitless, self appointed bear watch. We eagerly reported the event to a ranger who also agreed with us, "no big deal." Just what we thought.  We ate well over the fire, with our tradition of sausage gravy and toast for breakfast and camper's stew* for dinner.

And finally a lake, with cousins, and bunk beds, and life jackets. It was a wonderful escape, to be able to swim, and talk, and swap labors for a while.  Seeing my nieces through auntie eyes gives me hope that maybe one day I will be able to receive a similar big picture parental optimism that I try and share with my sister. It is much more difficult to take your own advice.  Myles is the pioneer of his generation in our family, so everything always seems so huge and horrible when he has a misstep.  It is hard for me to take his shortcomings and lapses in stride. For better or worse, on a road trip you are given lots of time to dwell on these types of things. I was dwelling on a particular interaction he had with his sister, and sharing it with Eric as we both shake our heads, saying "WE never did that as children, what is the deal?" when I was overwhelmed with the notion that maybe he needs a bit more love. Less unnecessary criticism, more gentleness for a change.  For some reason, I keep thinking the job of being a human is going to let up. But, it never does.

So thank God for books. We read Shiloh together on our journey, and it was beautiful. The story is set in West Virginia which made the tale even more poignant. There are few things better than reading a story of a boy and his dog among sleeping bags under the stars, with the Shenandoah singing beside.

And now we are home. Tired and mildly content. Slowly chipping away at lost sleep. I need a pair of those blinders that they give horses to keep them calm, as I try and live beyond the duffels in the kitchen full of things that must find their place again. Maybe by August.

 If you are ever driving through Scranton, PA with anyone possessing an affection for trains, don't miss Steamtown USA. We stretched our legs and soaked in some good ole' Americana steam history.

Mail Train.

* Campers stew consists of doctoring up some heavily salted lean ground beef browned with an onion, toss in some some boxed vegetable stew and a can of black beans to stretch it out and you have yourself one tasty fire cooked meal. My apologies if this sounds unappetizing, but in the moment, it really cant be beat.