until some light returns

farm cows

the groove, she’s hard to get into.

it’s summer now, or feels like it. we planted sunny plants, the fans are blowing and blowing, the cold drinks are constant. the community pool opens in less than two weeks. cannonball!

i’m finding it hard to come here and write, to say anything more in this place. maybe my days are just taking too much of me, kids in full force and life, always here and there with a burning need to need their mother. maybe i’m tired, so tired, high on coffee speed and then crashing for the short, dark night.

the past year has been hard on me inside, though the last six months have been good ones. the loss of my beautiful, white haired grandma and my full-of-life pup took my breath away, took my words away. it’s hard to share the real and the raw sometimes. i never want to create a false ideal of life here, though i think that sometimes i do. who takes pictures of the corners and full sized rooms of mess and shame and a raging sorrow? i don’t, anyway. you know what i’m talking about, the unedited pictures of messy bathrooms and kids griming up the walls, the photo moms proclaiming a real sort of life that they’re proudly living. i have the bathrooms with bandaid wrappers on the counter and floor, the piles of shoes and peeled off socks, the mildewed toys needing bleaching. i have the grime on walls and fingerprinted windows. i just don’t want to talk about it, you know? it’s enough to have to get the things done in a day than to have to feel like i need to dwell on them.

maybe these are flaws, too much pride to say i’ve been sad and that i’m spent and that my faith is so weak and that church is routine. and it really may be too easy to talk instead about the heat, the cold blue of the swimming pool, the need for light sheets and the beautiful barefeet of a kid coming in for the night. easier to look for the the things that aren’t sad and tired, the things that are more easily fathomable than the speed of life that sends a grandma to Jesus and what that can possibly be or mean. there are easier things to say and write than how bad it feels to explain death to your kids when you don’t know what to do with the idea yourself. i cried every day for weeks over max, but it’s hard for me to say that, to admit that i stopped crying, to admit that i’ve moved on.

maybe it will help to say, “i’ve been having a hard time,” when i come to write. does it help to write it down that i am feeling faithless, worried, overwhelmed by mess and duty? what do i even mean by “help?” i just want to feel like i used to feel about this blog, about writing things down and being glad i saw things the way i saw them. maybe i’ve become old and curmudgeonly and it doesn’t feel authentic to take a long hard look at the beautiful life and write it down when the day feels like it’s been such a loss in every way. the beautiful life, i don’t want to lose it, but, oh, i just can’t keep it from slipping from my fingers into the waves below.

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the song bird calling

lola drives the golf cart at the farm

winter is over, spring almost so, complaints about pollen almost tucked back into the drawer with daintily folded grandmotherly handkerchiefs until the next season. it’s almost been hot.

the baby dottie is tall and smart, starting to talk and tell us things we didn’t know she could know quite yet. slow down, my baby. hush. stay a baby for a little while. you, the last baby, the one that will sleep in my bed the longest, the baby to be given whatever she wants, you should slow down and just be.

rain is coming, the trees already leafy and full, the grass a dark green glowing. a few days of rain, kids going berserk and asking for screens and constant snacks, the pup smelling of wet dog, the sons smelling of wet dog. nightly baths are a thing again, black smudged bare feet and white sheets are not a good pairing. long strokes of a hairbrush through lola’s golden hair, a damp braid, the tucking in, shirtless kids under fans and the softest summer sheets.

34 more days of school in our school year. the neighborhood swimming pool will open first, there might be basil to clip from plants in pots by then time we slam shut the spelling books and shove them in a box in the basement. i’d rather they play the piano, build things in the shop under the fluorescent light, dig, plant, water, grow, pick, delight. but then there are spelling books and math things to do and do and do again.

summer constellations, midsummer night dreams, fans for days, iced coffees, frizzing hair and freckles galore. i left this blog place in february, the worst of the months, but now i’m back, for a little while at least. it’s the end of a carolina april and there are months of green and water and summer fruits and late night coffees in the dark coming soon to take full in my hands, and snap some pictures of, and maybe even write about.

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photo (29)
we took a quick overnight to the farm this weekend, pecan pie in hand, a car jam packed with all of the stuff that you need for one night or 10. we took walks, drove the golf cart, did some dishes, and took some more walks. it’s so quiet there, the night traffic buzzing in the distance, no lights, orion and his belt sparkling clear and cold. aaron taught me some tricks on my leica and i wasn’t stingy with the shots. it felt good, the air was cold, the sun was gold. there was a blue heron on the pond, his broad wings bringing a slow flap up and over into the highest tree. we wanted to stay longer. we always want to stay longer.

today i caught up on laundry, went to stores filled with people stocking up before the winter storm that’s been predicted, played with my sweet baby dot by herself since the big kids were at co-op, made a pretty corn chowder, ate some orange marmelade on biscuits, and spent some time taking pics of springy things for the shop. it was an easy day, so easy that i saved cleaning bathrooms for tomorrow.

right now ace is sitting in my lap, his perfect, soft face resting on my left arm. i am wearing a big sweater and a bandaid on a finger that i peeled while making the pretty corn chowder. the olympics have stolen our nights and will again tonight, husband and kids and dog piled on a couch under blankets, a couple of those falling asleep to speedskaters and alpine skiing. as aaron says to me all the time, “this is the life. isn’t it?”

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some swift and powerful dog

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetoh, rainy winter. you’re not my favorite. kids inside climbing the walls and using too many screens, or kids outside for a little bit and then tromping back inside with a muddy forever. but it’s february, and there are little daffodils and tulips trying to come on up. and there’s coffee, always coffee to sip away the winter drear.

annie and i have been adding new things to our vintage etsy shop, including a few pretty hats like the one above.  it’s really satisfying! we just need to start selling things now because my studio (also known as “the boiler”) is crammed with pretty vintage things that need pretty vintage girls to wear. spread the word, if you’re the word spreading kind.

the kids are eating popcorn now, the pup is eating the popcorn that they drop. dot is handing me shoes that she wants to wear and digging around in a basket full of miscellaneous toys and things. there is some musical distraction. the rain is still coming in a depressing sigh and the house feels cold, but the coffee to my left is hot. i need to turn the washing maching on again, do a fake bed-making, take a boy to a basketball practice, run an errand with the rest of the kids in tow, come home and make dinner and kiss my husband and collapse into my fakely made bed. this is what the mothers do in the winter: simmer soups and take their kids places and run the errands for diapers and coffee and grapefruit in bags.

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and… it’s february. today is my little brother’s birthday. he’s 27. he was the first baby that i loved. i’m going to call him tonight. we have a large family, between my husband and i, and it’s hard to call for all the birthdays. you wouldn’t think it would be, but it is. but i’m going to do my darndest to call all the loves on all the birthdays. you have it in writing.

this weekend escaped us with basketball and working a bit and a sunday of making football food and keeping the baby from destroying everything, escaping from the house, and eating all the things that should never be eaten. a dear teacher that aaron and i had  in college passed away and aaron went to the funeral. he was one of the good ones. i played in his orchestra and learned a lot about loving music from him.

we saw the circus train this morning, whisking the carnies away in the rain. we didn’t go to the circus, to the chagrin of my kids who heard all about it from the neighbor kids. lola doesn’t remember going since the last time we went she was a baby. i have circus qualms and not a lot of money, so i don’t know when we’ll go to a circus again. i love the idea of a circus, the people arriving by train, acrobats, trained pups, and horses that bow, these are things that do, indeed, make me smile. someday we’ll go again. maybe we’ll spring for seats that put you down where you can see the eyeliner of the girl that stands on the back of the white horse. sometime.

this week we’re doing the schoolish things, going to the children’s museum, fighting off the rain with hot chocolate and harry potter readings, organizing my little studio corner, doing our best to keep the daring baby alive, doing scads of laundry, making valentines, and calling my brother, tonight, on his birthday.

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sick day
oh, the people here, they have been sick. the towels have been washed too many times and there are wool things that have to go to the dry cleaner. there have been many netflix, many gingerales, eyelinerless eyes, and days without vacuuming. and poor little ace was neutered and is only half way through his time wearing the cone collar. we are a sorry, tired lot.

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i miss some things about summer

upper pond
upper pond in marshville n.c.

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girls at churchoh, weekend. come on back.

friday: tons of school, because, you know, we’re living the dream. later, some kind of dinner and a quick trip to daniel marinelli’s show, which was perfect, as usual.

saturday: there were basketball games that started at noon, so somehow we lost the morning again, which is possibly my least favorite thing to lose. we made calzones and watched a badly written john wayne movie.

sunday: there was church and there were chicken and mushrooms. then we were cleaning all day and making a pretty good chili so that we could host our community group. a good time was had by all. later, i helped henry finish his paper on florence nightingale, listened to him beat box in my ear while i helped him fix all the errors, watched the end of the golden globes, and fell asleep.

not much else is getting done. these are the days of the regular, maintenance work taking up all of the time. i’m making peace with it, but it’s mighty hard some days to know that the kids and the family things are the things that really matter today, to be glad that i get to be here to do it, and that when i pass out at the end of the day and don’t wake up for my middle-of-the-night second wind normally used for the making-and-doing, that that’s okay.

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the present has no ribbon

fig tree at the farm

five things i like:
spelling tests
washing white things
alexis deal, a friend who made our wedding rings, selling her beauties online
making these garlands
andrea’s year in review

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star splitter

grandpa's queen anne
queen anne at grandpa’s farm, some time last summer
the baby waits on the bed, seeming top heavy like she’ll fall off if she even moves at all. but she doesn’t. she is waiting for me to hold her to sleep while the fan blows white noise and cold in the corner, the glow of my phone in the dark as i thumb a ride on the highway of instagram, pinterest. she is waiting to be held close while she drifts away drunk on milk and dreams.

and when she drops off at last and i bring myself to fold back the wool blanket and pull myself from the bed and tuck her in to go and do the dishes, after this, when i slip on another sweater and sneak down the hall, i decide to make a coffee for tonight.  just a small one, hot and steaming in a white cup with a golden ring around the top. one for me and one for aaron. and sometimes we sit together to drink it and talk late in the night.

and other times, i take a small sip, and instantly feel like i am the one who stared into the stars for a long time, gave a shout, and took a pen and charted the constellations. or like i am the first woman who wore a red dress and threw her head back and, held by the small of her back, danced the first tango. and just after that first long drag of coffee, that electric, star-gazing, accordion accompanied second of sipping, sure enough, that baby will wake up and cry and won’t settle back into sleep. she might even get out of the bed and scurry rosy cheeked down the hall to find me. of course i will sigh, i will sigh the deepest canyon of a sigh. and i will take her back and climb into the bed with a small feeling of dread, as if the bed is the mount of olives and i am a dusty disciple of Jesus squinting skyward as he ascends into the heavens to stay for all the earthly suppers and walks and miracles in my future. but i do it anyway. and i give her myself and she holds onto me with perfect little hands and feels the love of a hundred weary mothers before me. sometimes, oftentimes, i fall asleep myself, my teeth unbrushed, the lamps still lit, the tv murmering on, or one side of the sink full of hot, soapy water. i slip into sleep, my phone lost in the covers, forgetting the shape of orion, the slow promenade, the coffee going cold on the counter.

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