A little blue perfection

Our chickens made these today. I found them on the coop floor--the nesting boxes I so carefully mounted a few weeks ago remain unexplored, the wood shavings I filled them with lofty, pristine and untamped.

The kids were waiting for me in the car this morning, while I ran to open the birds' pen so they can range, and then into the barn to check their water. When I came back cradling these treasures, they were awestruck. So am I. For one thing, I can now be sure we won't starve during the seemingly-unavoidable Writers' Guild strike, that could begin as early as next week. Now if I can only talk the H into the sheep.


Monday, Monday

Oh right. It's Friday. Just feels like Monday, or, more accurately in my personal lexicon, like Tuesday, which, when I was working like a dog in a paying job, I referred to as the "Day of No Hope." Or maybe, today is actually Wednesday, because yesterday definitely felt pretty bleak.

In the last four days, the Lovely Swiss has decided that au pair-ing is not for her, and she's going to leave as soon as we find someone else (or the beginning of December, whichever comes first.) I am frustrated, and trying hard not to be angry, and a little bit--ok, a lot--at the end of my personal rope. The last six months, in truth, the last year, have been incredibly intense, from the decision to move, to getting our old house ready to sell, to juggling two houses, to moving, to fixing up this house to the H's exacting specifications, to dealing with the H being an invalid for a couple of months before and after his back surgery, then having him working seven days a week for pretty much the entire time we have lived here, meaning he was unable (or unwilling, you decide) to pretty much ever give me a break from the kids. Did I mention that the Babe is two with a bullet and completely willful, really f-ing smart, and prone to hysterical, cannot-be-assuaged temper tantrums and occasional sleep boycotts? All this--stress? stuff? pressure?-- led to a whole bunch of conflict between the two of us, between us and other family members and, to be fair to my husband, resulted in him admitting that he doesn't do his share of family stuff and that he needs to do better. I know he wants to, and I hope he will. (Let me just say that I know my problems are not divorce, or cancer, or poverty, or despair. They are, however, my problems, and I feel them, and they f*** up my life. So bear with me, and please don't tell me how lucky I am. I have enough guilt about my good fortune to choke a barn full of horses.)

So with B electing to leave (not, she says, because we're so awful, but just because she doesn't really want to do this, which makes it worse, somehow) I hit the wall. I pinned too many hopes on her helping me get caught up (remember the chaos post of a few weeks ago) and now I'm getting the payback for anticipating that one change would change everything. But today looks somehow brighter. I have found a couple of new au pairs to interview, B is still here (and at the moment wrangling a screaming Babe) and Dido, super big boy that he is, read his first book (Green Eggs and Ham) last night. This week, he also lost his first tooth. Change is afoot, and I just have to get on board.


Life and Time

It has started raining here again, after a long period without. We had our first storm in a while about a week or so ago, and it's raining again tonight, not hard, not too windy, but a steady sound made more pronounced by our house's copper roof. After many weeks of feeling fragile and blue, I feel better. We have pits and peaks and plain bad days, but we're all hanging in there, treating each other (mostly) with care and kindness, and as a very important and very dear friend said, describing what another wise soul told her was truly necessary in life, mostly we are moving forward together.

Meanwhile, I have friends who are lurching forward on rough waters without sound charts.

If you read me, you may read my darling Mieke, too. Mieke is the entire reason I blog. So for those of you who have (a lot of you, lately!) sent me such incredibly nice feedback about my writing, and your enjoyment of this little window into my little life, you are already connected to Miek. It's her fault that I do this, though I did almost stop when, Mieke, on her third glass of wine at our (misbegotten?) John Kerry fundraiser in 2004, outed me and my blog to about a hundred people (including Arianna Huffington, our guest of honor.) I wanted to kill her (Mieke, not Arianna.) Nobody knew I was blogging then, but luckily, most of my friends had also had too much wine, and promptly forgot. A couple, mostly people I didn't know very well, cornered me and asked for the address, and I wanted to drop silently into the ground under the cocktail tables. Since then, I've apparently become much more of a verbal exhibitionist, and I out myself, constantly. I think Mieke gets the credit for that, too. She is one of the freest, warmest and most utterly open human beings you could ever have the pleasure, or the awe, to know. She is a force of nature, and right now, she's having a tough time, and not much will make it easier, except more time. So take a minute, and send a kind thought her way. She deserves it, and right now, she needs it.

I am, for those who don't know me, one of the least "new age"-y people I know, in spite of my penchant for yoga, meditation, and images of Buddha. (I'm not a Buddhist, I practice a vaguely Hindu form of meditation but without any basis in faith, and I pretty much reject all organized religion, though I do love the ritual and the music, and being in church at Christmas time. Call me what you will.) In any case, I don't so much know what the power is of those good thoughts sent spiraling off into the ether. But I do know she deserves them, and she needs to know that she is surrounded by hundreds of people who all feel some thread of attachment to her, some kinship with her and her struggle to survive and eventually transcend a very painful path.



A couple of mornings a week, I work out at a small gym across the street from Dido's school. Today, sweaty and rank (as I am after every workout--but that's a good thing, right?) I decided to pop across the street to a cool outlet store (in the same complex as the school) to get some new sheets for our guest room-to-be (B took the real guest room, but we have a spare room on the floor with our family bedrooms that is now going to be for guests. They now have to share a bathroom with our kids, but I'm not feeling sorry for us or them, because, let's face it, we're all living very comfortably. I digress....)

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I had to drive by the front of school. Today is Picture Day. In its honor, Dido pulled out all the stops this morning: collared shirt, beautiful green crew neck sweater (hey, folks, it's chilly here now!) and even let me comb and glue down with gel his (two) cowlicks. He couldn't have looked more handsome. So as I drove through the parking lot, I glanced to my right towards the school. Picture Day was in full swing, and who was perched on the stool in front of the gorgeous, still blooming zinnias, but my boy, grinning ear to ear, looking so big and happy and proud. He didn't notice me as I drove by; he was laughing about something with the photographer, totally engaged in his own joyful world.

Last night, I was beating myself up for not being as good as I'd like to be at all these tasks I've taken on--especially the parenting ones. Seeing him like that, unexpectedly, gave me so much joy, and made me think about what I want him to be and to have in his life. And here's what I came up with (and thanks to my old friend Gretchen over at The Happiness Project for helping me clarify these....since finding the site, I've been thinking a lot about what she calls the Commandments for being happy...)

1. Be yourself.
2. Be kind.
3. Keep learning.
4 (Hopefully as a result of the above) Be happy.

The trick for me is to not let my frustration, aggravation, insecurity and fear get in the way of my kids achieving the above. Today was a great reminder that the most important thing I need to do every minute I am with my kids is to allow myself to really, really feel and express all the love I have for them, which, as I tell them constantly, is bigger than the sky and the stars and all the planets.


Status report

The H is in L.A., holed up in a fancy hotel (thanks to his potential next job,) trying to finish the current job. He left on Monday morning, flies home tomorrow. B was away in NYC Sunday and Monday, taking the train back up here Tuesday night. While it hasn't exactly been the Fortress of Solitude here on the farm, it has been different.

I felt funky from Monday morning on--agitated, stressed, craving (and enjoying) chocolate, and any other sweet-y, starch-y comestible comfort I could lay my hands on. Yesterday was more of the same, culminating today in an agitated, spacey morning where I missed a yoga class and ran aimless, not entirely necessary errands just to fill time while the Babe and B went on a playdate with another au pair'd child. Driving through Pittsfield (which is not as bad as the name suggests--thanks, Cupcake, for allowing me to rip that snappy thought right off from your blog), I had the Homer Simpson-esque "DOH" moment. In a flash of insight, I knew what was wrong. I was lonely. Lonely is not something I have much allowed my self to feel. I am an only child; I crave solitude; I am good at entertaining myself. I like it when my husband is away: I treasure the rare moments I have alone in my house. These are closely guarded rules of how I think about myself. But there was no need and no desire to try to walk (or drive, or munch) away from this reality. It was simply there, solid, calmly filling every bit of me. And as soon as I recognized who, or what, was lurking in the corner of my head, the anxiety drifted off.

It was too early to call any friends in L.A. Sending emails wouldn't guarantee contact. I felt weird calling the few people I know well enough here yet to call about, well, feeling lonely. So instead, I sent a text to a friend (I text now; this is what happens when you live with a 24 year old.) A new friend. One who lives here. We're having coffee tomorrow. I feel much better.