“No big house, no big hill. Little rooms, no big thrill. Summer hot, winter chill. I love you, I always will. I think I know what you’re dreaming of: that kind of love.” –Cliff Eberhardt (Album: The Long Road)
It’s a bit after 11 pm and I’m still up. Typical of me. Tonight I’m siting in Erik’s mother and step-father’s new home in Rogue River, Oregon. We’ve had the fire going all day. Olga has cheerfully brought in log after log from the soggy woodpile next to the carport. She can carry two small logs at a time, each no more than six inches in diameter. Madrone and pine. Most of the wood is still green; it sizzles as the sap boils out of it. Sometimes it takes a long while to catch, but the fire place is huge, so it’s not a problem. If you throw enough wood on the pile, the heat from the fire dries the newer logs enough that eventually they’ll burn. It’s not efficient at all, but it’s beautiful.
We came down yesterday. We live just about three and a half hours north of here, which is how we measure distance in Oregon. I don’t know how many miles that is. That’s just the way we do it out here. Three and a half hours is just the right amount of time to watch two movies in the car, drain an iPad battery, and ruin a perfectly good toddler nap time. It is also enough time to decompress after deadline. This issue was hard, but I got smart at the end and asked for help. I can be a little too proud, sometimes. I don’t think it is a bad trait, but sometimes I come close to burning out.
But this weekend we’re burning wet wood to keep warm. There’s no work to be done, aside from keeping the children fed and entertained. I spent a bit of the afternoon helping to arrange furniture and unpack until I was shooed into a rocking chair near the fire to knit. I finished a pair of fingerless mittens, then started a hat. They’re both for me. That has sort of been my theme lately. Me. Not a narcissistic “me” theme. Just some self-preservation. An I-have-got-to-do-something-before-I-forget-how-much-fun-my-life-used-to-be theme. Before I stop being interesting.
So knitting. It isn’t most people’s first choice in rekindling the spark of youthful vigor, but I’ve always been a little odd, so there you go. Before I married Erik, when we were both still in high school, I used to knit in the halls between classes. Back then I did what pleased me and ignored what didn’t, which explains why I was able to knit socks toe-up or top-down with three different types of heel, but not pass many of my algebra exams. Those uninteresting parts of life crept up on me so stealthily that I hadn’t realized they had taken over. Erik saw them years before I could. I stopped writing because I had nothing to write about. But recently I started knitting again. On Wednesday nights I take Olga with me to Stitch Night at the yarn shop. I joined a women’s choir. (I sang all through high school, and was good. An alto.) I’ve spent some time with the parents of Olga and Gavin’s friends. We had a dinner party. (I’ve always wanted to have dinner parties.)
And then there’s this fire, and all the old dreams it rekindles in me. The memories of little-girl-me in a cabin in the woods with a fire and a cat and a hot brick in the foot of my sleeping bag. And I think I’m going to be okay after all.
Shortly after starting to read the American Girl books, Olga began to beg for a dress “just like the one Felicity’s mama made her.” Apparently, Olga remembered that I sew, even though I hadn’t had the machine out since we moved to Corvallis. For inspiration, we shamelessly violated somebody’s rights and photocopied the illustration in the book. Olga was very concerned with this illegal behavior.
We really struggled to find the right lace. We dawdled at the fabric store for close to an hour but still left empty-handed. I finally got courageous and dug through boxes in the garage to find my lace collection, which I knew contained the perfect piece — a “too good to use” length of white double edged flat lace that had been my Baba’s (Olga’s namesake). It was so perfect I cried. I stitched in little snippets of stolen time — while waiting for dance lessons to end, while watching Gavin work with his therapist.
Just like Felicity’s mother in the book, I finished Olga’s dress just in time for a major event. And there you have it.
Olga started the American Girl series this week. She’s reading Felicity first, which is set in 1774. Of course tea plays an important part in the series; Felicity loves learning to serve tea, then the tea party occurs and her father bans it. Olga wanted to serve fancy tea, too, so today we went to the thrift store and bought a fancy English tea pot and two tea cups and saucers so she could serve tea to her friend.
Several years ago my mom gave me this quilt frame kit. It was around the time Gavin was born, I guess, because it never even came out of the box. I thought it would be just lovely to hand quilt all my quilts, so I kept the kit tucked away for a day when a small dose of sanity and abundant free time returned to my life.
Free time. Right.
Now that I am older and wiser, and now that I have realized that there will never be enough time for me to “get around to” doing a lot of the things I’ve been putting off, I’ve just started doing them, free time be damned. And you know what? I’ve made time. I’ve stayed off the computer. I’ve stayed off the phone. I’ve gone fewer places. I’ve wasted less time.
I was worried that it would take me months to finish hand quilting a big quilt (I am notorious for stalling out on big projects), so I decided the first project to go on the frame would be a baby-sized quilt top that I pieced several years ago. There’s nothing like a little instant gratification to make you feel good about a new endeavor.
The pattern is Lady of the Lake from this book, and it’s for a just born little lady who was lucky enough to get born to one of my most favorite people in the world.
Thanks for teaching me a lesson, Marley.
On Saturday Olga asked me to take the training wheels off her bike, because she thought it was time she learned to ride like a big girl. I think she was a little nervous about it. She decided to wash her bike instead, and didn’t ask to ride it again until today. I think she’ll have it down by the end of the week.
Red ink, a full calendar, a bit too much coffee, cold weather, a messy desk. My house is in disarray due to construction (I’m finally getting my studio! Yay! But the mess! Boo!), and deadline is upon me again. My fabric is all packed away in the barn, not to return until after the drywall dust settles and the new paint (color yet to be determined) is on the walls.
I don’t know how this tiny baby…
… turned into this car-loving, curly-head.
Gavin turned five last week, and although his actual birthday day was full of boring stuff like a meeting with his speech-language pathologist and the autism specialist, the after-party totally rocked!
There were cars. (The red Lightning McQueen is from a supermarket in Utah from our last trip out to see my mom a couple years ago. The green dude is Chick Hicks, whom Gavin has been asking for relentlessly for weeks. Daddy gets the credit for finding the same type of awesome toy.)
There were brownies. (“My brown chocolate! My five!”)
And there were more cars. Nana scored the vintage Hot Wheels City at a yard sale a while back. This little driver is certainly going to keep this town hoppin’.
Gavin had so much fun on his big day. It was fun for us to watch him move from one thing to another, too. So often he has trouble with transitions, too many people, and too much activity, but he did great and got through the entire afternoon with nary a tear. I’m very proud of this big boy.
Love you Gav.