Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Completely. Until Monday night. I hope to find lots of juicy news (maybe even about new babies?) when I get back online.

Isn't it hard to believe that we used to go miles (well, in the city, it was long blocks) before finding a phone booth and then be at the mercy of whether or not it was free and whether we had a quarter in our pocket? It was strange, a few weeks ago, not seeing many phone booths anymore in NYC.

I am so grateful, especially at this moment, for the connections and possibilities to be found in this otherworldly cyber space. But it's interesting having to let go of it once in a while. Like a step back in time.

Have a great week! Here, it is finally starting to look and feel like fall.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out of Control

This week, there were the floods in Georgia (the farmer in this NY Times article is a friend and has more damage than he even realized in the interview) and the orange dust storms in Sydney, and probably some other unusual weather elsewhere on the globe that I don't know about, all of which could make a human being feel kind of out of control and vulnerable. It could provoke a need to take control in other ways.

I was thinking about this last night at Gillen's baseball game. As usual at these games (and at our local wally world - at least when I used to go there) there were several parents seriously wielding control over their kids. It sounded like this - "What are you doing out there! Wake up."; "Ah, you're not sick, drink some water."; "Hope you have a good game 'cause this is going to be the last one you get to play!" This is all said with patronizing, screechy voices.

There are other, loving, trusting parents in the stands. And there is the joy and thrill on my kids' faces when they make the hit or cheer on their team mates. I try to focus on that and keep my glaring down to a minimum.

Wouldn't it be cool if these frustrated parents were given control over the refreshment stand at the first sign of needing to control their kids? The more artistic ones could paint murals about global warming or kids rights in the parking lot. Or, there is always toilet patrol.

I have to write about this here so that I won't lose control myself when witnessing this the next game.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The sunny side

Despite another huge storm yesterday, in which Tuki went to even greater lengths to feel safe:I have to say, it hasn't exactly been torturous in here. I think I whinged too much in my last post. There has been loads of game playing:A world was completed:And we had mammoth appreciation this morning for the clear skies.

Gillen decided to make a huge menu with lots of choices, from which he fed us breakfast and lunch today(and insisted on helping to clean up). Here Jesse is enjoying his breakfast from "In the Garden" cafe. Lunch was served on the side porch. Jesse and I give it five stars.After breakfast, struck by the magic of sun rays coming through our sky light, we ran outside with dog and bikes:and I smelled that good camp-memory inducing green mildewy smell - a smell so different from the mildewy smell (slowly dissipating, or we are just getting too used to it) inside.

Huge puddles provided the moistness our new reptilian bodies now crave:
As did a skinny dip in the pool!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rainy cabin-fevered rambling

I am so grateful right now that Gillen is eagerly being Jesse's audience in this, the sixtieth showing of Jesse's new magic trick. The worse the trick goes, the more Gillen laughs and falls down in joy, and then they both end up hysterical, and then it starts all over, again. Gillen has given himself the hick-ups from so much laughing. I have been part of the weather-induced goofiness all day. At the end of last week (and at that point the dark clouds had only been around for a few days) I found myself alone in my car singing Carly Simon's "Coming Around Again" at the top of my lungs, my tears mirroring the lines of rain on the window. Sometimes a big storm is a great excuse for a melt-down.

We are very lucky. Even after a week of mostly on (sometimes off) rain, there has been no big damage at the farm. A slight layer of mildew has started forming over some of our furniture, and over certain badly-situated books (the air conditioner is out - hopefully the rain's attempt to turn everything a whiter shade of pale will be killed with a working air conditioner).

Last Wednesday, Nicolas and I spent our first date-night in months emptying the basement of water. But, again, I do feel grateful that we were only at it for an hour or so. After only fifteen minutes, I imagined that we were Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek in "The River". Unlike them, we had several breaks to go inside where we drank wine and watched "Mad Men" to give us sustenance for the next round of hard bucket lifting.

I feel a bit like this much drenched rose.Cleansed, rusty and ready for some drying out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anticipation of...

:peeling this primeval celery root :eating the soup (the smell was fiercely good):touching the smooth tiles :losing to Gillen; losing my inner idea of what I look like when tired. : < 0

Brand new

- Baby! Benjamin Gabriel Donck, born yesterday. He came easily into the world and was welcomed by Damien (Nicolas' brother) and Stacy Donck. We are so happy for them.

- GT's Turkeys, Gillen's new blog.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Life and death

Last Sunday, the last day of our vacation, we spent half the day at the beach in Virginia. A few hours after getting there, the guys all still in the water, I lay on a towel in the sand reading The Unknown She, an inspiring book by my talented elementary school friend, Hilary Hart. I read these words, by Jackie Crovetto, a woman that Hilary interviewed in the book -

"Look," she says emphatically, "if I were told I had three months to live I would spend all that time with the ones I love. So why shouldn't I live that way right now? If you really bring in the reality of death, would you treat other people and yourself the same way you do now? Would you have made the same choices and decisions that you made today or that you are planning for tomorrow? When I listen to the news and hear about the rise of some dictator or the power struggles and atrocities we all at some time get embroiled in, I always seem to be left with the one thought - Why have we forgotten that we are mortal? Why have we forgotten that on the day we die all that we have grasped after, all that we have sought to control and have power over will be as sand flowing through our fingers? Many cultures have understood that one has to face death, know death and include death...As a society we are failing to provide for this primal need of our young men...[Women] have a deep instinctual understanding of death and how life and death exist in the same moment. We experience it in how we give birth, which is to stand on the very threshold where we cross into life and death, and through the cycles of our bodies, and the cycles within our daily lives. We know that life includes death, and we can live from this place of oneness! In tribal cultures people used to be so aware of death that they knew when their life was drawing to an end."

While reading this, I thought of another inspiring book about living fully - Patti Digh's book, Life is a Verb - essays provoked by having lived with her stepfather during his last 37 days of life. I put down Hilary's book and closed my eyes, burrowing my body into my few feet of Virginia Beach sand. The sun seemed to dance with the breeze against my skin. I was lulled by the sound of the waves and the families around me. I felt as if I floated above my body and pulled back into space, leaving my tiny frame back on the spot of beach where it lived for that moment. But then, in the next moment, I felt the deepness of earth's thick layers below me.

A few voices from behind me rose above the regular rhythm of the other beach sounds. They sounded panicked. I opened my eyes and turned towards them. There was something happening on the boardwalk next to the beach. I saw an upturned bike and a few people gathered round it. I imagined that someone had been hit by a bike while crossing the bike path. How awful. A few more people approached the scene. A girl who had gone there earlier to rinse off at the outdoor shower came running back to her mother next to me saying, "he is really hurt mom, come quickly." I resisted the urge to join those adding to the confusion around the accident and waited for Nicolas and the boys.

Twenty minutes later, the boys out of the water and ready to get in the car for our long trip to GA, the boardwalk crowd was even bigger. We rinsed off in the outdoor shower that was a few feet from the scene and looked over. There on the cement was a man surrounded by three EMTs, all working together to bring him back to life. His skin was chalk white. A guy standing near him turned back to someone he knew in the crowd. He held up three fingers on one hand and then held up six right after. This man had only inhabited this body for thirty six years. He wasn't especially big. He had been riding a bike. I suppose he may have had a heart attack. We quickly left the scene. We could still see that the ambulance hadn't moved once we had walked to our car, a few block away. At that point they had been doing cpr for over half an hour. I fear he never came back to life.

The kids were not disturbed by this scene, which surprised me. Gillen pointed out that he had seen a kind of grin on the man's face. Maybe they don't live in fear of death, as I did around their age. A few days earlier, while watching Billy Elliot on Broadway, Gillen had cried into my shoulder during a scene when Billy talks to his dead mother. Their awareness of death is less about fear than about grief. For now. I feel glad about that.

In about a week, my mother will have been dead for twenty years. She was 46. I do think she knew that she was going to die. I wonder if she felt like she had lived fully. She was such a vital woman, we all felt more passionate about life when we were with her. But there must have been much more choreography that she needed to give and she had only just begun sharing moments with Wilson, the love of her life.

I hope the 36 year old man on a bicycle had more moments of peace and joy than not. I hope he'd expressed much of what he most deeply needed to say.

Having a few reminders lately, again, of our common fate, has made being alive with those I love around me that much more vibrant, and sweet. Life is indeed about living.

Friday, September 11, 2009

10 Confessions

I am reading a book called The Encyclopedia of Ordinary Life, a unique memoir by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. As one of her "B" entries she writes her thoughts on "Busy". She points out that when we are asked what we are doing as a child we always say "nothing" and then (I would say when we discover the false emotion of guilt) when asked, we suddenly switch to saying how busy we are. We are all so busy. yep. we truly are. But always? So. And why is it not ok to say that we are not?

It made me realize that I had done that here, on my blog, where I am usually so transparent. I implied in my last post that I was so busy that I didn't have the time to write in depth about all that happened on our two week road trip. Not so true. I was busy getting over a sore throat. I did a bunch of laundry (not exactly time-consuming now that we have machines). I was busy watching a movie, a really sad one - Incendiary- in the middle of the day, by myself (not something I ever do) one day this week when I was feeling blue.

I have also been busy making lists of things I want to be busy doing - buying a canner and canning, freezing, painting more walls, building a studio in our back yard and then dancing in it, adding more light to my kitchen, revisiting the book I wrote. I will do all of these things(probably not the studio). But not right now.

I am doing those things that are asked and needed of me by my children - taking them to baseball games and practice, playing all kinds of games with them, researching the Geo-Bee and Hindi (Jesse's newest interests). But, really, I'm not so busy.

SO, when I read about this confessional tag on Julie's blog - I was primed for it.

I am afraid that those long paragraphs you just read were not my ten confessions, just the intro. I haven't blogged in a while and am not feeling brief.

1. I think my children hung the moon and stars. This doesn't mean I don't think yours did too.
2. I bought myself a very cool shirt in NY, silky and off the shoulders and with skulls on it. A few days later, I left it in the hotel room in Virginia Beach. My confession is that I have rationalized this bozo move on my part by imagining that the cleaning lady who found my perfect shirt will wear it to a party and, because of its allure, will then meet the man of her dreams - a good man. That's the only way I can live with having done this. sigh.
3. When the hair dresser asked the kids yesterday if they may want short hair, I wished upon all that is holy to me that they would say yes. (They did. They love it.)
4. In my mind's eye, when I dance in my kitchen (or bathroom or hallway) I still have it. I have the legs and brilliance of Natalia Makarova (my favorite Russian dancer back in the day).
5. Some days, I ache that I can't find the perfect words to express a feeling. Other days, I'm happy if I can remember the name of everyone and everything I see.
6. I am not a great home maker. I cook. I clean. But I am not overly impressive in these areas. I admire those that are.
7. There is a certain mildewy smell that makes me happy. It brings me back to Camp Merrie-Wood overnight camp. I smelled it last night while leaning against a fence and I look forward to being there again.
8. I have a mail thing. I buy the gift and wrap the gift and make the card (and sometimes even make the gift) but I have a block about getting it into a mailer or box and then a bigger block about getting it the post office. It's ridiculous. I'm giving this up, right now! My niece Zoe turn two today and her gift is sitting on my dining room table. She lives in Australia. She'll be 2 1/2 by the time it gets there.
9. I have a phone thing. I won't pick up the phone to call you unless your house is burning down and I know that no one else sees this. But that won't be you as those neighbors whom I can see would not be reading my blog. They may be sitting on their porches staring our way (shudder) but not reading here - I hope. I do love talking to you when you call me. But I am better with e-mail.
10. I hate when I am long-winded. If you choose to do this tag, and I hope you do and tell me so, I hope that you are long-winded as well.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Road trip north

Here is a slideshow of a few snapshots from our two week trip. They are from the Northeast Unschooling Conference, from our visit to Danielle and her family in Maryland, our visit to Hadley, Mass. to see Wilson and Anita, and our visits to NY and NJ. I didn't take any pictures of our time in Virginia Beach, nor many of the rest. I was too busy reconnecting with so many wonderful northern friends and family to take my camera out enough. There is too much to say and many too many things to do now that we are home. Mostly, there is baseball. Lots of baseball practice and games. I'll be reliving moments from this trip for a long time. I'll definitely share some here.