Monday, August 31, 2009

All things being equal...

...I might never leave home. What ever house I am calling home at a particular place in time, that's where I most want to be. I want to make meals and clean up after them. I want to smooth a fresh tablecloth over the table, and switch the laundry, and sit in a favorite chair. I want to bother the girls to straighten their beds, and ask Tim if he, too, wants another cup of tea. I want to sweep up the floor, and have a glass of wine, and go to bed early, and read a bit of my book. I want to be home.

Tim likes to be home, too. But fortunately, he sees the need for one of us to be a catalyst for movement, and he will most likely be the one to get us out. Get us up, and out, and doing something.

I've made love to this house with my camera since we've been here, taking pictures of our days, and our cups, and our beds, and our walks.

But, today we drove the sixty-five miles to the closest surfing beach, once again. Oh, yes. We can skip down Pink Street to the dock, or shuttle over to the Drift-In beach. These photos are from the lighthouse a stone's throw from where we're calling home.

But for Tim to surf-for the girls to body surf!-we need to drive back down the coast, to the single most spectacular spot we've ever been. Where Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring. Where the waves are big, and the beach a mile long. Where it's just us, and maybe twenty others, on the last day of August.

Today, I

I just wanted to be there. And I was. I said about twenty times, "I can't believe I didn't bring my camera". The light was perfect, the waves were huge. Anna sang and danced on the shore, while Tim caught waves like his teen-aged self, and Lindsey buried Callie so deeply that she couldn't get up. We laughed so hard, we nearly couldn't dig her out.

But not a single picture was taken.
And that's alright with me.

Because I was there.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Into the woods

It's all cold rain and wind today, perfect for staying inside, making cookies and soup, reading, playing games, and napping. It's a chance to live a bit of late-fall up here in Maine, where we've only known summer, before.
into the woods
The last day all of us were together here was hot and sunny and perfect, and we took a long walk to a path through the woods, at the end of which lay the spectacular expanse of the sea.
into the woods
Having reached my limit of near-death experiences for one vacation, I quickly ushered us all away from the cliff and back into the woods, where the kids commenced making fairie houses.
into the woods
into the woods
into the woods
into the woods
It's a hard and fast truth of life that if we had planned to have the kids spend a happy two hours in the woods building structures out of sticks and moss, it probably would have collapsed into a whine-fest. But when they fall into an activity organically, they get into a rhythm of their own making; they laugh more, complain and criticize less, encourage and collaborate with each other.
into the woods
into the woods
into the woods
into the woods
It's a beautiful thing. And when it happens, I'm grateful for every minute of it. I know right then that this is what we'll all remember.

These are the days. Thanks for reading.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Happiness::Pink Street edition

Flowers on Friday

Rocks in the shape of a heart
::waking up to a taste of fall-cool air, tea ready in the kitchen, toast and honey on the table.
::taking a long walk into the woods, finding the sea at the end of the path.
::discovering the "hidden" cabinet filled with all the essential cookware. (Better late than never.)
::Maine blueberries-in ice cream, in pancakes, in pie.
::the kitchen radio on in the background all day-classical music, classic rock, and The Writer's Almanac-Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.
::going to bed early; watching The Godfather movies in installments, like a mini-series.
::reading The Passion of the Hausfrau. It feels like I'm hanging out with a friend who gets it, and can make me laugh about it, too.
::weeds and flowers growing along the side of the road; vases filled every day.
::bookshelves in the dining room; forty years of books on the shelves.
::No plans, no hurry, no trouble.

Enjoy the weekend! Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'll tell you right off the bat that she's ok.

Anna fell off the dock yesterday.

Anna fell off the dock yesterday, without her life vest on.

We'd all been down there for a couple of hours already. Blue skies, warming in the sun, eating crackers, goofing around, jumping off hand-in-hand (not me!), paddling about around the dock. The girls kept coaxing Anna to come in, telling her it's not that cold. Making her laugh by counting to three and then all leaping in. But she wasn't buying it, this day. She stayed on the dock with Tim and me, the whole time.

All good.

We were getting ready to go...collecting towels and flip flops and life vests: even the big girls wear them down there, sometimes. Just for fun: they're all strong swimmers. But Anna, she puts it on in the house and wears it all the way down Pink Street, and all the way back home.

We have it all gathered up, and have even turned to walk towards the ramp.

And then:
Callie shouting "she fell in!", and me, still thinking she had the vest on, not even moving quickly- smiling, even, thinking Anna must have decided to finally go for it.
The sound of Callie jumping in, and the sight of Anna, her head above water now, but with the duckie towel wrapped around her, pulling her down, even as Callie was holding her up. Grabbing on to the dock while gripping underneath that little shoulder. Wrapping her up in dry towels and cradling her like an infant, holding my breath as she coughed out water and started to cry.
Callie collapsing next to me, still in her wetsuit, and looking stunned.

And Anna's next words, and all of us laughing: Callie was wrong. The water is too really cold today.
Everything is ok.


A few years ago, when Lindsey was six or seven, we were on Block Island with my family-brothers and parents and cousins and all. Anna was an infant, and Tim and I strapped her in the Baby Bjorn and spent a few hours walking around the island while the kids were all together with the rest of the family. When we came back up the hill to the house, my niece was waiting in the driveway with the news that Lindsey had been hurt and we had to go to the medical center immediately. She'd been with her older cousins at a make-shift petting zoo, and had been bitten by one of the animals. She'd lost part of one of her fingers.

The horror I felt when I first saw her hand is with me to this day. I didn't let her out of my arms for the next several days, and by the time we'd returned home, I'd blamed myself so completely for this accident, for not being there, that I could barely tell people what happened. Everyone told me not to think that way, that it wasn't my fault. But Tim and I knew: if we'd been there, it wouldn't have happened. We just knew.


We were wrong. As parents we all have a catalog of near misses, tragic events and dangers-real and imagined-that haunt us. And I know that when my kids were little, I, for one, really believed that if only I could be with them all the time, I could keep them from harm.

But now, even as I know I'm doing all I can to keep them safe, I know that there's only so much I can do.
Even as I'm keeping them close, I know its as much my job to let them go.

I just don't know how to balance the terror of what could happen, against the freedom of watching them grow.

Obviously, the thing with Anna yesterday is a different case. We're still not sure why her life vest got taken off-something about wanting to wrap up in her towel, like her sisters. We know that it is our job to keep a four-year old safe around water. We know that Anna can swim well enough, and certainly if not Callie, some one of the seven of us would have gotten to her in time.


Last night, long after everyone had fallen asleep, and before the lobster boats started revving their engines at four thirty or so, I went in and scooped up that little girl, and brought her in to our bed, and lay there just holding on.

At least I can still do that, for now.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pink Street, day five.

Pink Street

The dorm(ant)
Pink Street
Hello. I have a moment here, where the house is quiet, and the computer is beckoning me. That hasn't been the case much, for the past few days. I've been doing all sorts of wild and crazy things, instead.

Like reading. And sitting and staring at the ocean. And taking walks.

I don't want to give you the impression that it's all peace and relaxation. There are six kids here with us, after all.

Listen, I do love it here, and I do love the enthusiasm and joy that the girls bring to being on vacation. And,mostly, I love that something about this house, and the air here, and the water all around us, conspire to make the things that drive me nuts at home easily tolerable.

I'm still doing four loads of (sandy) laundry a day. I'm still patrolling the kitchen like an armed sentry-particularly since one little marauder could take out a key ingredient for a meal, and the closest place for suitable provisions is a forty minute drive away. The kids still quarrel- although to be fair, not very much.

So, why, then, do I feel different here? I feel like I have more space: space around me and space in my head.

There is that fact that the big girls have a whole house to themselves: a barn-like structure attached to the house by a breezeway, with a sleeping loft and couches and music and games. Anna's in the "dorm" room in the house with us. Next week, when we're down to just three girls, the other two will move in with her. I'd feel funny having just two of them all the way out in the studio.

Like everything else in our family, it's a numbers thing. Six is a lot.

There, I said it. It's a lot.

It's a lot of people to keep track of, and to keep happy. It's a lot of personalities to accommodate and a lot of bodies to clean up after. It's a lot of food.

Please understand, I'm not looking for sympathy, and I'm not even complaining. I just want you to know that no matter how many pretty pictures I post, or in how many ways we are the luckiest family on earth, it's a lot.

And maybe the first person who needs to recognize that, and give me a bit of a break, is me.

Being here all together-and we've "made it" to day five beautifully-has made me appreciate both sides of things perhaps more than I have been lately, in the thick of "real life" back home.

Things are wonderful, and things are hard. That's just life. And that's more than fine.

And now, I have to go. Anna just dropped a bucket of beads all over the floor, and I can hear the marauders girls coming back from the dock in search of lunch.

I can hear them coming down Pink Street, and they are laughing.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Greetings from Pink Street.

Things are good. Very good.

There will be more, but this is all for now.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Happiness


I'm still out of the swing of things, both here in this space, and in general. I've got my feet in one place, and my head and heart (and husband) in another, I suppose.

But I thought I'd share these few more pictures from last week in Maine, and say hello and goodbye, and wish you all a cool, breezy end-of-August.

We are going to lay our heads down tomorrow night in the place where this here space was born. I looked back at the first posts I wrote, from up there in Pink Street. I'm not sure what to make of this last year...let's NOT call it the "year of blogging"... but none-the-less, it was a very, very good year.

Best wishes, and happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Neighbors with good gardens...Redux

neighbors with good gardens
neighbors with good gardens did anyone notice that the text disappeared from this post?

I've been a little bit scattered today. I must have pushed a wrong button at some point this morning. But what I wrote doesn't seem just right anymore.

I just sent this little girl away with her Daddy and three of her sisters. It took a good bit of work to get them launched. I think some cruise ships set sail with less fanfare.

So, I'm re-writing this post. I'm sure this is a huge blogger no-no. But I'm really just making this up as I go along, as we all are.

So, hi.

So, I'll let you know how things are going.

Because, really, that's what I want to do. To let you know how things are going.

And things are going really well so far. I have two big girls home who have waited a long time to have Mommy to themselves. And Mommy is thrilled to deliver.

We ate bad Chinese food, and then all promised each other we will never do that again.
We bought every.single.item on their back-to-school supplies list. (Whole other post necessary.)
We had ice cream and watched The Office on Netflix. (Do you really need the links?)
We read together until one of us was sleepy.

And I really, truly, don't know how I'm going to fill the next few days. Or how we're even going to wake up tomorrow morning with out Anna bouncing about our pillows and kissing us into the day.

I'll let you know.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Home is where my kids are sleeping.

We are all back here at home together for a while. Not long, mind you. We will go off in separate directions in a matter of days, before finally all settling back in Maine for the remainder of the summer.

I know it's hard to keep track of our schedule this summer, if anyone was game to try. Lucky for my family, I've got it all committed to memory.


I took hundreds of pictures. Hundreds. But alas, not a one of the highlight of my week: meeting my friend for a few hours, which flew right by. I could have sat on a bench with Jen, and talked for hours more. But, she and I are both inevitably drawn towards home. It's one of the things I admire about her.


All this back and forth, and here and there, and all or nothing this summer, has brought on much pondering. About home and friends and self and purpose, and life (yes! Life.) For blogging's sake, I wish I had some fully formed conclusion to present, but I don't.

But talking with Jen, and savoring the connection I feel with her and a few other online friends (and I can only hope you know who you are), I've begun to think of things in new ways. And I think I've started to turn a corner, around which I'm not sure what I'm going to be heading towards, but I know I'm as excited and curious to explore as I've ever been.

I apologize for how obtuse I'm being. It might be the melancholy of repeatedly saying goodbye and hello to my kids and my home during the course of one summer. It might be a mid-life crisis.
It may well be the heat.

But whatever it is, I'm open and ready for it. For finding out what's next. For figuring out a few things. For rounding the bend and moving forward.


I hope you all enjoy these last weeks of August. I was completely shut off from computer use this past week, so I'm thinking things may not be too active around here on a regular basis for a while. We'll see, though.
When I go back to Maine on Saturday, I'm taking my tech support with me. He's very cute and friendly.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Morning

The mother lode.  or is it load?

Hi. It's a good morning.

The weekend was so full, in the best of ways: of friends and family, girls and boys, lots of food and presents and nice, long walks (with enough berries poachedgathered for cobbler). My newly-minted teenager has been sleeping past noon. I figure, that's ok for now. For August. School days will come soon enough.


I am off tomorrow on a little adventure with my girls. My tech-director is trying to fix me up with the proper equipment to stay in touch while I'm away, but it might be a little quiet around here for a while. As excited as I am to get up to Maine and start taking pictures, and as much as I know I'll want to share about being there, meeting friends, spending time with my family in a different place, all the things we'll do and see: I'm also looking for a little space from the screen and keyboard. I've been finding that it looms larger than its fifteen inches when I'm at home, and longing for a distraction from chores.

I don't think I'll be longing for any distraction from the now, this week.


From here on in, we're in the thick of the things that we wait for all year. Our August of being together, somewhere other than home, is literally what I day-dream about all year long. I know- because it is true every year- that it is different up there. That we are different. A little more relaxed, a little slower, simpler. Dare I say (kids?), a little quieter. More connected.

And every year I vow that I will take a little bit of that back home, and make it stick.

I think, that this past year, I did that more than ever. And I'm looking forward to this August, and what comes after, and hoping I keep even more of the state I'm in, when I'm in Maine, when I come back home.

I wish that you all bring a little bit of your vacation-selves home, too, to hold you over until the next time.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.


ps::my tech-guy says that I'll have e-mail up there, for those of you who need to get in touch with me. I might even check it now and then. And I'll be back home for a few days next week. 'Til then!

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

This girl...

is really friendly,
and curious,
an excellent student,
and funny.
Really funny. I mean, this girl has a sense of humor.

This girl...
is a great friend,
an excellent babysitter,
and an even better sister.
Even if she can be a little bossy.
Because she knows what's what. She knows.

This girl...
can ride a pony over jumps two and a half feet high,
has a really good eye,
is very organized,
and has an extremely sensitive sense of smell.

This girl...
is a computer whiz,
loves the color green,
and has feet the size of her mother's.
But still likes to cuddle up like when she was a little girl.

This girl...
is really good company,
gets car sick,
is an incredibly talented writer,
and dreams of travelling,
going out into the world,
taking pictures,
but says that she will send little presents back home,
like maybe a scarf she finds in a shop somewhere,
that she knows her mom will like.

This girl is thirteen.

Happy Birthday, Caroline. I love you.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Happiness

On a morning walk
A flower (or two) on Friday
Cooler weather.
The house filling up.
Wanting to cook again.
Birthday presents all wrapped up.
Making plans to meet up with friends, on vacation next week.
Checking things off my list, so I can leave home with a clear head.
Being able to do errands on foot.
A new book so good, I'm reading it slowly.
Farmers' market tomatoes, in everything, on everything: omelets, tacos, sandwiches, pasta, bagels, pizza...and best of all, on their own.

But most of all: one more day, and I've got all the girls back on the ground, in one place, ready to celebrate. And finally, the fun begins.

Enjoy the weekend! Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Me, mom:: 14

On the porch
Our garage
Out front
Callie is still away, so all I have to share today are a few of my pictures from this morning.

And a few that have taken my breath away, lately:
This, from The Blue Hour;
this, from At Upper Pond;
and this, from House on Hill Road.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The View

from eyebuzz. Eleventh in a series.
The View
The View
The View
The View
The View
The View
Summer hours.

Work by Jennifer Judd-Mcgee and Eunju Kang, visible through our (slightly dirty) window.

A postcard retrospective, and signed posters left over from Russell DeYoung's show.

The happiest girl on the block.

Welcome to eyebuzz. Please, come on in.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A completely random set of pictures I'm posting instead of doing all the other things I should be doing.

Desperate times...
Perhaps not very original

Now I should::
Switch the laundry.
Make a doctor's appointment for Anna.
Shower and dress.
Get Anna some more granola.
Find out when our cell phone contract is up.
Order Callie some new low-tops for her birthday.
Write a letter to my niece.
Go to the market.
Clean out the toy closet while the kids are still away.
Call my father.
Take a walk.
Organize the pile of gallery submissions.
Call the orthodontist's office.
Return e-mails.
Have breakfast.

But not in that order.

What should you be doing today?

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Hello, August.

I'm truly not sure how it got to be August. But here we are. A little slow out of the starting gate, with all of the big girls away for this first week, but then...we're off and running.

::So far we've been spending our time with an "only child" in the most unstructured way, which is so different than when you have six kids around and you need some sort of plan. Even if the plan is just to follow their lead and then clean up after.

Anna's a little lonely, I think, but pretty happy. She's been doing some of the most incredible artwork lately. Mostly with watercolors, but also with the markers and pencils we set up at her desk. That desk is the center of her activity. I really can't overstate how great it is for her to have a little spot of her own to go to, either when she's bored, or when she needs to get away from her sisters. It's been so wonderful watching her interest in making pictures develop these last few weeks.

::I've been spending some time "researching" things to do and see in Portland, Maine, in anticipation of my stay next week in a house in Gorham. (Research is such a fancy word for reading blogs.) I dug up some wonderful pieces from last year, most notably Jen's piece for Modish, and this blog, and SouleMama's 50 things, and Design*Sponge's city guide.

There's so much information just in those few pieces, my mind gets a little mushy taking it all in. But, if any of you would share a favorite spot or some insider tip, I'd be really grateful. For now, I'm just looking for ideas of things to do in and around Portland, for me plus three. Later on this month we'll be travelling up the coast, and I'll bug you all again for suggestions in that area.

::If you're wondering what the sangria pictures are all about, well...I thought you'd never ask! My friend Stephanie makes some awesome sangria-it involves green tea, so it's really smooth, and not too sweet, although it does pack a wallop. Ahem.

Anyway, you may remember me going on and on about Stephanie's store, Pretty Funny, in the past here, but now I can send you all to her blog. Go check it out. Lots of eye candy, photographed by yours truly.

::Ok, so I've certainly rambled on enough for this morning. Enjoy your day!

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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