Thursday, July 25, 2013


a poem by Mary Oliver (thanks, Carrie P):

I Have Decided
I have decided to find myself a home
in the mountains, somewhere high up
where one learns to live peacefully in
the cold and the silence.  It's said that
in such a  place certain revelations may
be discovered.  That what the Spirit
reaches for may be eventually felt, if not
exactly understood.  Slowly, no doubt.  I'm
not talking about a vacation.

Of course at the same time I mean to
stay exactly where I am.

Are you following me?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


 For days I have been readying for a road trip with the Eden and Maeve, an 8 hour drive to the mountains (will that mean 12 for us??).  I have been organizing: a heap of books-on-tape and videos for my car sick girl, bags of food for the week, running packing list on the marker board, extra diapers and babyfood, bug spray etc. 

What I had not prepared for was sickness. Or sleeplessness.  Eden coughed and whimpered all night; Maeve cried with a runny nose; my throat hurt, a storm lit the sky with strobe-like lightning for hours.  At 5 AM (thanks, Maeve) feeling hit by a truck and utterly thrashed, I was ready to bag the whole thing, car packed or not. 

But Eden. 

She has counted down the days and hours, watching the video of the zip line her dad and uncle Max just strung over the pond, imagining her firm little hands gripping rope. She has taken steam showers and drank countless glasses of orange juice to fight her cold. 

There was nothing to do  but to wake the girls and go. Motherhood in all it's glory.

We are now  on 81 south. The early morning sun on the foothills, grey-bottomed clouds, pale blue sky behind them, Queen Anne's lace and chicory, greasy McDonald's breakfast sandwiches, our neighbors at a middle-of-no-where rest stop who offered to hold Maeve, my favorite childhood  movie playing behind me – these are the gifts I'm counting as my head pounds and eyes sting.  

These details are not what Eden will remember, nor how we blew our noses a thousand times, burning through a whole roll of toilet paper. What  I remember about road trips with my mom is the sense of it -- the adventure of getting in the car early, the safety of being with her, the small treats and stops we didn't  usually make, the excitement of finally turning up the mountain.  It must have been the way my mom arranged these days for us, her tone, that have left me remembering the twinge of magic instead of the slow stretching hours. 

When I talked to my sister last night and told her about our trip, she said, "how very mom of you," which made me laugh. But driving down the very same roads this morning, I hope she's right -- those trips were the glue, days we still talk about. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Super Moon: a weekend alone (ish)

Tonight we'll have a Super Moon.  Silas, Eden, and Ben will be driving home from New York and  will watch it appear and waver on the horizon of the highway before it rises high above and follows them home.  I will strain to glimpse it through the trees out back.

This weekend has been a bit of a supermoon for me -- not a honeymoon, not a babymoon, just a supermoon, with Maeve.  Without the weight of the other children, I shuttled between hardware stores, Ikea, and Target, bought supplies and painted the walls I've stared at for nearly a year, shooing Maeve from the paint trays as I went, and luring her to the other side of the room with toys I threw.

Each evening my house fell silent at 6:00 and I sat at the kitchen table and enjoyed summer -- vidalia onions, zucchini, summer squash, and my favorite kale salad.  Tomorrow, all of this will shift back to normal with swim practice and dinners on the fly, but for now, salad:

My Favorite Kale Salad
(is no picture better than an uninspiring one?)

olive oil
shredded Parmesan
candied pecans (or something sweet + nutty)

For this salad, the dressing is simply lemon juice and olive oil.  
Wash kale and tear it into bite-sized pieces.  Discard the ribs.  
Squeeze a quarter or more of lemon all over and drizzle olive oil.  
Be generous with your Parmesan.
I like something sweet to counter the lemon and kale, and candied pecans (from Trader Joe's) are my favorite.  Try nectarines, toasted almonds/walnuts, crasins -- whatever you have on hand

Waiting for the Adult

Several times this summer, I've had a vague sense of waiting for the Adult to show up and handle it -- the basement flooding after extensive "waterproofing" work; the soaking carpets and mud residue downstairs; the decision to take Silas to the ER or not for blood work; hiring the next company to deal with the flooding, the mosquitoes, the poison ivy at this house;  what next to do for Silas's Lyme disease.

But that vague wise, authoritative Adult doesn't come because I, somehow, am she, right along with my best-guy-friend-from-high-school-turned-lover-and-father-of-my-children, Ben.

It's a strange life stage, these 30's, and stranger now that we are living in the city where we met, moving through the neighborhoods of our childhood.

This week Silas finished his 28-day course of antibiotics.  He feels well but is still missing about 10-15% movement in the left side of his face.  So, wise and knowing Adult, wherever you are, what to do?   Our kid can't scrunch his nose on one side.  The Internet (and neighborhoods, and pool decks and book clubs and coffee shops) are full of frenzied Lyme stories.  Everyone knows someone who's had it, and lots of the stories are bad.  My approach generally (there are exceptions) is to do things pretty well, well enough, so they are all right, completed, cleanish, a little rough around the edges but good and done, but all of the sudden, here we are, dealing with some one's FACE and that approach does not work.

My brother reminded me to pray -- I do believe in healing -- so we've been praying, and reading online about recovery -- go to holistic doctor ($500 for initial visit), fight for 6 weeks of antibiotics, visit a neurologist, begin physical therapy, visit a peds infectious disease doctor, give him cat's claw tea twice a day, move him to a gluten free diet --  and calling doctor's offices, which we may or not be able to get into this month, though his medicine ends in two days.  Having the wellness of some one's sweet face in my hands -- not some one's, but Silas's -- is pushing me (again) into the space of adult and action.  It nixes any stall tactics, any hemming and hawing, any waiting for the Adult -- we are his adult, and so we go.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

List of Likes: April

1. Spring break with Silas and Eden -- no where to go or be

2. Searching for Sugarman

3. cold full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc

4. daffodils daffodils daffodils, and clusters of yellow-centered crocuses cropping up like tiny towns in the dirt

5. recent article in psychotherapy networker about raising anxious kids -- worth the read!   You can find it here. 

6. Maeve.  how she props up like a tripod, holds my hair, smiles broad gummy smiles, grabs her toes, thumps her legs on the floor when lying on her back, squeals.

7. today we have lived in DC one year; the hard edges of transition have softened

8. cadbury milk chocolate candy coated eggs

The List

On the way home from the beach last weekend, after battling mosquitos with citronella candles, swatting horseflies, and making Silas pee on his leg where a jellyfish stung him, Ben made this list:

What makes DC different than California

-basement floods
-mosquito diseases like West Nile
-bee and wasp stings
-ticks and Lyme disease
-camel crickets
-poison ivy
-sea lice
-centipede clusters
-humidity and heat rash
-power failures

He finished it with, "I"m going to pack up my babies and head west."

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Year 20: beach day

This is the 20th year Annemarie and I have taken a summer beach day.  We began as new drivers with a map highlighted by her mother and a warning about couches along the freeway that might have fallen off of trucks (of all things!).  There was the summer we found fields of sunflowers and jumped from the car to take pictures (we have never found them again).  There was the summer we didn't like each other much and met up for an hour or two to take a picture and say we went.  There were college summers and the summer we were engaged; the summer we were both married; the summer Annemarie was pregnant and about to alter everything we knew about life.  There was the summer I was platinum blond; the nine summers one or both of us was pregnant or pumping.  There was the summer I moved to DC, and the summer we both lived here.  

Though some years we don't even touch the sand and some years we swim in the ocean, what we always do on our day is go to the old tired photo booth.  Each year we hold our breaths as we peek into the arcade, and each year the booth's still standing, and we feed our dollars in.  The quality steadily worsens and occasionally a man has swung the front open and is tinkering with the mechanics, but it always manages to spit out our faces and makes us laugh.  This year the our machine was gone.  We pummeled the 15 year old boy working at the desk with questions about why and when and WHY?  And then we walked back outside.  The sad truth is that now we have photo booth apps that can our pictures all day long and mail them to our houses.  But that, of course, is not the same as the wet smelly photo paper that dropped into the slot as the drying fan kicked on, the streaks from the quick developing, and how we were never quite ready for the first shot.  Apps don't have the squeaky stool we spun until our eyes lined up with the little arrows or navy polyester curtains we could pull across for background.  

This is our first non-booth strip, and we are grieving in the first picture.  Try not to enjoy the crispness of our faces nor the dune grass in the background; we are missing the booth.