Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grey Matters

I like control.
I thrive on a well laid out plan, a high-lighted map with a clearly lined path, and reservations made months in advance (and calling the front desk the day before...just to make sure). Dinner menu's are planned out a week before hand and always shopped for from a very specific list. Clothes for the next day are laid out the night before. Pencils, Pens, they do not belong in the same cubby. You catch the drift.
 Jeremy, is opposite. He's okay with reading the sky instead of the clock, with heading to town and driving in circles, sticking his head out the window to see which restaurant smells good that night, and cramming not the night before, but hours before a test. Mesh the two together and you get grey area. I l-o-v-e grey area. It is where two worlds can collide and hold hands.
Jeremy and I live there. Most of the time. I find we spar when that grey area is stretched to the black or white side, when one of us boldly steps both feet across the boundaries to stand on a color with enough purpose and conviction that it cannot be grey.  There are times when colors must be chosen, but grey is what matters, when we can both lay out our truths and let the best parts of us muddle into a color that is not black or white. A shared space. We are so polar opposite in so many ways, but grey has been good to us. We've been dancing there for the past seventeen years.

Being a photographer is right up my alley. I control the amount of light coming into my camera, the speed at which it comes in, the sensitivity of the sensor receiving that light, the shutter count, where the picture is taken, so many things are about control. I totally dig that.
This weekend we decided to do some family portraits. I can't believe it's taken me so long to set this up, but we finally did it and I realized just how much I dislike being in front of the camera. I really don't like it at all. Not. one. bit.  Lack of control. Ouch.
It sure was a wake up call to what I ask of my clients. It is hard to trust a person and a camera, especially if you're shy. I had no idea what to do with myself in front of the camera, and ended up making dorky faces, wearing the wrong thing, and being totally un-ladylike. I hardly ever wear dresses and now I know why. Being short they make me look stubby, and may make people wonder if I am pregnant.( I am not, by the way).  Ever see the show "What not to wear??" I am the poster child. I have no fashion sense at all, and  am close to being what I swore I'd never be : A" just wear whatever because you don't care" kind of mom. Maybe there is freedom in that?? I'll let you know, since I'm headed down that highway.
Anyways, we got a few pics that are keepers, and one for the Christmas card:

Check out my handsome hubby. meow.

And, my cutie patootie:

It started to rain when it was my turn, so here it is:

So, remember to enjoy your grey area. Some people call it compromise, I call it grey.
 It makes for a great dance floor, or an awesome place to make out, if that's your style.

   ; ) !!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Warm Whispers

Let me tell you a little secret.
Come closer, so you can hear my whisper...
I don't like blackberries very much.

So why am I telling you this? Because I'm setting you up for the most delicious blackberry maple syrup recipe, that's why. : )
 This year was the best berry season ev-ah. The weepy canes, weighted down by precious sugary jewels that practically flung themselves into our baskets, made for the most fantastic of harvests. Even though blackberries are very low on my like list, I felt this urgency to pick as many as I could possible pick because they were free! And I ALWAYS love a deal, and they freeze beautifully.

We made blackberry crisps, blackberry-peach jam, blackberry cobbler, sweet blackberry wine, but I'm hoarding most of the harvest for one of my favorite recipes ever, and by golly, it includes blackberries.
If you have some blackberries hanging out in your freezer, please, make some pancakes asap, so you can indulge in this purple waterfall of summery goodness. It is the best, best best, on a frigid January morning, so save some of those berries to make it then, so you can smell and taste a season that seems like a faint, distant memory. To give credit, I adapted this from a Country Living magazine:

                                             Blackberry Maple Syrup

                          2 cups frozen Blackberries
                          1/2 Cup sugar

                          2 Tbsp. cornstarch

                          3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

                          2/3 Cup pure maple syrup

                          Combine berries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in two Tbsp. of cold water. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the berries. Put the saucepan back over the heat and bring to a boil, and let boil while whisking for two minutes. Add the lemon juice. Strain the syrup through a sieve to remove the seeds, pressing the berries with a spatula to extract all the liquid. Discard the solids and stir in the maple syrup. Serve piping hot for the yummiest breakfast ever. Makes approx: 2 1/2 Cups

I freeze breakfast portions of this to have on hand and just defrost it in the fridge overnight, then warm it up in the morning. If it sits too long in the fridge it will become gelatinous, but that will go away when heated.

Enjoy the yummy purple kisses you will get from your family. Grace has had purple stained fingers and a sweeter than normal kiss for the past month. Savor these last warm whispers of summer. Fall already has it's fingers tangled in her curly locks, ready to give a good yank. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Oh, and I don't like chocolate very much either.....or, watermelon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding.
It's one of my most favorite plants to grow. The cascade of a deep red wave, thicker at the stem, that grows smaller and almost wispy as it trails to a sad end, like a tear slowly finding it's way down a face.
This year, I planted about twenty of them, and on this day, they are fittingly at their peak.
 It was windy out here today, and when I stuck my head out the door this morning, I was bombarded with the collective heartache it carried with it, clutched in it's grip, as if it was wildly dropping by each household to bring with it a sorrow, so no one would have to endure this day alone. As if saying if we all hurt together it may somehow lighten the load for those loves lost. At least that's how my mind likes to think. Can I please, please lighten the load you carry? I would love to help.
 I can try to put myself in the shoes of families that have lost a loved one in the attacks or wonder about the brave souls that rushed in as the rest rushed out, but my heart stops me there, because truly, their stories are beyond us to pretend to know what it feels like, and no matter how much I hurt for them, it will never compare with the hurt those families have to live with every day. We can only pray hard and care deeply for them and wish that September 11th was just another sunny day. But it wasn't.
Before we turned on the news this morning, we chose to tell Grace about it. She is six now, and maybe it wasn't the right decision, but we felt a need to have her learn about it from us, and answer any questions she might have. Censoring the coverage a bit, luckily we hit a station that was more focused on the strength of our nation since the attack, and the stories of courage, rather than replaying the nightmare images that had been permanently etched in our brains in the days that followed the attack. On that day ten years ago, I was five and a half months pregnant with Vanessa, terrified, wondering what kind of world I was bringing my baby into. That day had turned reality upside down, and the ground I walked on became a falsehood, and as the sun set that day in a unnervingly quiet sky, the sunset glowed an ominous color, a warning, that this was a dividing day. There will be a before, and an after, and today was the division.
 A couple days later, we found out Vanessa (in utero) had a cyst in her brain which my OB/GYN casually mentioned to us at our doctors appointment. She promised me up and down that it was nothing to be concerned about and that she was just telling us only because she didn't want us to see it on paperwork later and wonder what it was. If she had done her job properly and had any sense between her ears at all, things may have ended up very differently for our little family, and Vanessa could very well have been alive today. I cried in the car, even though I had no more room for sadness in my heart, as the days that followed the attack, I heavily mourned.  We all remember how that felt. The shock. The disbelief. The "what do we do now?'", the "how can we help?", The pain. It was a lot and it felt more than I could bear that day, and the new news I had just learned was enough to make my heels slip off the cliff and land in a pool of defeated devastation. It was a Friday, three days after the attacks, and as we headed down I-5 there was to be a moment of silence. I will never forget those seconds as dozens and dozens of cars slowed, and pulled off to the shoulder to a standstill. Not one car sped by. Everything stopped as the freeway went silent, only the drone of car radios that told people to quit what they were doing and stop to remember, and the whipping of a large American flag that was being held by a handful of people on the overpass above us was heard . It was a very surreal moment. I was still crying, for the people of September 11th, for my baby who I felt in my heart had something wrong, but no one would listen and told me "no, everything is OK, I promise.." , I cried out of fear, confusion, depression, and just because that was what my body wanted me to do, and do it well, I did. That week ended with our final house inspection failing, which meant we could not move into the new house we had been building over the past year.  It was a rough week, but nothing, nothing compared to the pain and heartache that was being felt, beating limply in the chests of the thousands of devastated people.

Grace was quiet as she watched, and didn't ask any questions except this: "Mom. What would you do to those bad men who were in those planes? What do you wish for them? I would take a sword and cut them in their insides.", she said. I thought long and hard on this one, and didn't dare spew to her what my deep dark inside wanted to do to them. Instead I let the light inside speak and said, " Well...I suppose I would wish for the hate in their hearts to turn into kindness, and that they had never, ever felt the need to hurt anyone....."   She was pleased with this answer, but was still talking about her sword and I quietly smiled.

The sun spilled through the living room and tears started to fall. It was time to get out of the house. Beach. Dog. Kid. Husband. = a good escape for a melancholy day. I checked the tides for KVI and sure enough, we were just going to make it to the spit. I also hurriedly checked facebook, and what? Orcas between the Island and Fauntleroy ferry dock? Wouldn't that be cool...I haven't seen wild Orcas for at least ten years.

We were there but ten minutes, and there they were. It was just us and another Island family I barely know, witnessing a rare beauty on this sunny September 11th.

 Something about seeing majestic animals in their own element, reminding me that once again, simple pleasures, being with the ones you love, loving back with all your being, respecting, being kind, being grateful, being humble, being generous, is key. It is changing yourself for the better that sets into motion a change that can be the biggest asset against the anger and sorrow that can eat away at your soul. I used to hate it when people told me to "Make good out of your sorrow. Turn it into something positive." I wanted to shove a pie in their faces among other things.  Now, nine years later, my brain is starting to let that sentiment saturate instead of flicking it off like an annoying fly. Turn sorrow. Something good. Hmmm...sounds hard... I should do I?...Hmmm...This could quite possibly be going through so many heads right now. It is swishing in my head and I feel closer than ever to an answer. I will let you know when I find it, but until then please, if you can, give me any insight.
 Love those close to you. Hold your family tighter today. Actually, everyday. Remembering heartache may seem like a burden, but somehow it keeps us close to our loved ones. I don't understand it, but sometimes the path to healing is navigating through, and allowing yourself to freely feel the hurt.

Remembering, on this September the 11th. We promise to forever remember you, and the families that hold you so dear. To be reminded of the sacrifices, the strength it takes to move forward, and the courageous men and women of that day. We will never, never forget you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Big Yellow Taxi

Hello, little first grader.

 Here we are, waiting for the bus, on her very first day of school.
 My stomach is full of butterflies, and I am nervous about meeting a room full of new parents that I will be seeing over the next year, but she is cool, calm and collected, excited about being gone for the whole day.
 I have been dreading this moment ever since the first day I held her wriggly little body swaddled in blankets. Once the ball starts rolling, it rolls and rolls, faster and faster until it sprouts wings, words, and gains confidence, then up, up and away it goes. I swear, just yesterday we were giving her puree of butternut squash and singing "open wi-ide".
Today starts twelve years of lonely lunches for me, hearing the hum of the refrigerator in a quiet house, companion-less grocery shopping, and reaching for the remote without punching in the cartoon network. That, I may not mind, but the rest I really, really do. I like having her around. She is my reason for so many things, and her company I will miss very, very much.

The big yellow taxi pulled up, opened it's doors and invited my daughter into the constant motion of the world and spun her instantly into social orbit.

Did she find a seat okay? Is she sitting with someone? who is she sitting with? Is she scared? If she's not sitting with someone, is she lonely? Does she wish she had someone to sit with?  Is she cold?...I always remember being cold on the bus....Did I screw the lid onto her water bottle tight enough? Is it getting her lunch all wet? I hope not. I did put the bagel in her lunch box...right? Can she see us? I can't see her.
 Jeremy, drive faster.

Yes, we did follow the bus to school. : )

Once at school, we hopped out and spotted her pink jacket in the sea of grade school faces. "The bus was cool." she said, which eased my heart a little as we joined the cattle call and the herd moved through the front doors. Moo.

My heart was pounding as the familiar "first day anxiety" set in. Being a shy kid myself, I can recall it well.

Coveted school real estate: your very own hanger for the whole year. Pretty cool.

The other new parents looked just as shy as me and gave tight smiles and small glances at one another. Luckily, Gracie's best buddy who's mom happens to be my best friend was there which made me smile even though I felt like bawling.
 She found her desk, slid into the seat, crossed her fingers together in a studious tight grip and waited quietly until me and Jeremy said our goodbyes for the day. As I kissed her, I saw her little feet swinging back and forth, fast, something she does when she's nervous. Her whole body is still, except for those legs that furiously release that nervous energy under the table where no one but me would notice. Funny girl. I love her little quirks.
As we walked out, holding my tears in, I pulled my heart behind me like a dog on a leash. It's time to let her grow, I know, but I cannot help to want the control that is slipping out of my hands like quick sand. She is on her own, away from the nest for a good chunk of the day, strengthening her wings and I will not be physically there to catch her if she falls. They all have to fall sometime, that's how they learn, but how I wish that I could be there to catch her every time it happens.

Ooooh, I love a good itinerary. I like the teacher already

I haven't been alone yet.
Jeremy took the latter half of the week off of work to ease me through, so I know the brunt of this will hit me soon. I won't be idle though, that's for sure. A couple people have asked me what I'm going to all day now that she's in school. I take a deep breath and say: Edit hundreds of back logged photos that have been patiently waiting for my attention. Repaint the bathroom. Winterize the garden. Clean out the chicken coop. Revamp the business I have opened. Hopefully gain some new photography clients. Clean out the science experiment we have been conducting in our fridge. Deep clean all three bathrooms. Make the dog a Christmas stocking out of felt. Read my camera manual cover to cover. Study it. Help install hardwood floors. Fold Mount Laundry. Paint trim. Stack the firewood for the winter. Plan meals. Make meals. Repaint the living room and possibly the dining room. Read a book that is not related to photography. Train the dog on her new electric dog fence. Clean out the spare room. Volunteer in Gracie's classroom. Go have lunch in the cafeteria with her at least once a week. Organize our bedroom closet. Organize Gracie's bedroom closet. Rearrange the pantry. Clean out the kitchen cabinets and fi-nal-ly get them organized. Clean off the deck. Blog more. and finally, be a good mom.
 I am very lucky to do what I've always wanted to do. Take care of my family and to be a mother.
 My days will have to adjust, but my hope is to always be available, to catch her if she falls.  
Happy first days of school, everyone. : )