Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hectic and slow

Dear sister, 

The last month has been one that has felt both hectic and slow.  What's that saying about the days being long but the years being short?  Kinda like that.

Baby showers, brunches, books clubs, teaching extra yoga classes and meeting with clients, the Metaphysical Faire, and lots of visits with family have left me feeling busy busy busy while at the same time the rhythm of most days is on the slow side: punctuated by coffee, endless diapers that are first dirty then clean then dirty again, a certain sweet smelling head that nestles against my heart to sleep, bras that smell like sour milk, tiny ever-so-soft inquisitive hands and mad sprints at the loom.  Do you see how I made that all one sentence? Aren't you proud?

I made a thing.  A really pretty thing.  And I sent it far far away for other people to look at and love on, and for esteemed strangers to judge against a rubric.  I was disappointed with my scores, but in absolute love with the thing itself.  It was the first time I dyed yarn, the dye job was the major design element in the piece, and it came out exactly how I had envisioned it.  May all my dye jobs follow in its footsteps.  

Avery has her first tooth.  She is babbling 'dadadadaDAdada' non-stop.  She makes raspberry motorboat sounds with her lips and with her tongue between her lips.  She makes clicking sounds with her tongue against her palate.  She enjoys tearing National Geo magazines into pieces after pretending to read them.  Boxes make her happy.  She enjoys using fine motor skills with her left hand and  rhythmic large motor skills with her right.  She will turn the pages in a board book as you read it to her and likes to close the whole book before opening to the next page.  She turns herself around and slides feet first off the couch to standing with her hands on the cushions; she will then fall and cry and cry if you do not support and stabilize her.  She lights up when Misha comes into the room, and snuggles and pats (and grabs and hits) Mirabelle - who purrs through it all.  Leto will visit and purr, baby smiling at the cat, cat smiling at the baby, but he keeps just out of reach and may be the best incentive to figure out this crawling thing once and for all.  She's so close to crawling.  

I have fallen in love with my latest piece of studio equipment.  Everyone knows that the first time you do something with new equipment is slower than the second, the third, or the twentieth.  My most recent warp was another third to half again as long as the last couple and went on the loom in a third of the time.  Love.  True love.  This thing is amazing.  And it winds skeins too! Winding skeins is a necessary time consuming precursor to some methods of dyeing.  Avery and I spend a lot of time in the studio.  Work is accomplished in interrupted spurts whilst she is awake, and longer stretches when she sleeps.  On me.  Always.  Sometimes, from certain angles, in photographs, I see so much of you in her. 

I'm working to balance inspiration and motivation.  I'll give you three guesses as to which one is winning.  Hint: I'm swimming in ideas for future projects.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

All of the things all of the time, no but for real.

Dear sister,
Sooo..... Doing all of the things this summer was a great and terrible idea. And not unlike the other great and terrible entity inhabiting our public consciousness, there is a whole lot going on behind the curtain. In the interval since I last wrote you (which, yes, has been far to long- sorry!), I jumped from one yellow brick road (at least the trams were yellow) through another tornado, and into a whole new land. And here I'll commend my overly abused metaphor to the depths, and release it from its servitude.
Looking down to the castle, old town and river from the top of the Parque Eduardo VII
(on my way to/from school daily)
Leaving Lisboa (the 20something of June) was hard. It definitely built itself a big home in my heart while I was there. On my last day, I wandered down to the praza do comercio by the river -the port/square that was designed as the welcoming point of entry to the new modern city constructed after the earthquake. On that Saturday, it was full on one side with a giant screen and screaming football fans watching a game of the euro cup (yay Portugal! When they won the other night, I could almost hear the celebrations of Campolide and the rest of the city), and full on the other side with Pride.

I had a bus to catch before things got really going, but still.
It was a pretty perfect way to say goodbye.

Looking down the river from where the praza extends into the water do disembark visitors.
And then there were three days in Seville where I roared through all of the paperwork and bureaucracy that most people who do the teaching year have all of their first month to get through. I couldn't have done it without Elena. But everything magically fell into place, even a great apartment right in the center, so I'll light a candle to serendipity and leave it at that. 

In the office of empadronamiento, making me a resident!
Yes, still that pale after six weeks in Lisbon sun. #spf50always
Seville itself was as enchanting as Elena has been assuring me for the past year, but I'll have plenty of time to regale you with that when the time comes. So, then, to the north! I sometimes think that if I hadn't walked the camino when I was 16, if I hadn't made my way to Santiago de Compostela with mom's old exterior frame 70's (right? 80s?) Jansport, I wouldn't be doing now what I do. I would have followed one of the other life and career paths that have offered themselves to me over the past decade. It's not the only thing, for sure, but... Santiago has been in my heart for so long. And this city, it still feels like she loves me. Or at least, I love her enough to feel a mirrored echo of that emotion returning to me. It's just how I remember, and yet a very different city to an adult than it was to me then. I am glad that it is not my first time here, though, because the whole main fa├žade of the cathedral, as well as the Portico de la Gloria (the main entryway) are undergoing an extensive restoration project, which is a relatively shocking absence-of-presence in the heartbeat of the city. 

But the real reason that I'm here isn't actually the whispers of old stones, but Galego Sen Fronteiras –this summer's iteration of the Real Academia Galega's language and culture course. While the course is not more intensive in terms of hours in grammar/conversation classes than Lisboa was, it has enough other (great! but time consuming!) programming to really fill the days: we have classes, lectures, and museum visits or other cultural events –poetry reading! workshops on traditional music and instruments! from 9:30 am to around 8:30 pm. It has definitely made me question my judgement a little bit, in terms of all that I am trying to cram into my brain this summer. When lady luck favored me and both of my finding possibilities came through, I clear-headedly decided that three back to back intensive language programs was an entirely good idea. I wouldn't change it, because we both know that I fling myself into the sea as soon as the water reaches my knees, but really, past self, really?  I worry that no matter how hard i throw myself at it, that these languages are either going to not open themselves to me, or they are going to be one huge clump of mush. And then I'll go to Seville and forget  everything. The rational part of me knows that this is not going to happen, that even though threading the paths between three closely knit languages is going to take continued work, that they will settle into themselves and that if I can still recite the first page of Harry Potter verbatim, I will be able to hold on to at least a good piece of what I have and will have learned. But that doesn't stop me from thinking that mayyybe my mouth size and chewing capacity were a little out of whack.
I haven't taken any outside in Santiago yet -weird, I know- so here's a triple spiral staircase.
Per the museum (Muesu do Pobo Galego), it's the only one in the world!
We've already talked about this, by which I mean I already cried at you, but seeing as this letter has turned into an airing of the vagaries of my consciousness, there's Leko. I've been gone from NC for over two months now (woah.), and it has been very nearly two months since she disappeared from her year-long foster home. There is a hole in my emotions, and I'm both grieving and still filled with an everyday-more-impossible hope. Hope that she's just so good at hiding that two months isn't too long for her to not have shown herself; hope that she will make her way back to a house and people that she barely knew; hope that someone will catch her and take her to the shelter where her foster can find her... Hope that she didn't suffer

It's also hard to live the reality of her not being there, because I'm not there, and in the NC in my brain, she is still there, like I pressed a pause button with her staring out the window watching the leaves, and she will still be there when I get back to resume things. And that, I know, is not how time tends to work in this particular reality. 

To not end on such a downer, I have a visual present for you. In the Museo do Pobo Galego there are some traditional weaving accoutrements. Which of course I took pictures of for you. My comments are limited, as most of what I know of looms comes from you, but here:


Warping frame and warping square? Or the second one might be for winding skeins? Or...(You have yet to gush at me about your warping square, I feel like it's due)

If this reads as somewhat scattered, I both apologize and offer that as a good representation of my mental state. Soon I'll actually make some words happen about the pedagogical part of Lisbon and the structure of the program here, as well as ruins and beaches and beer, but for now, your turn!

Big kisses to the blueberriest summer child in the world. Hugs to all three of you, and all of ours in the great northland.
All my love to you,
your sister

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Adulting is hard

The car went into the shop for some tune up work, and came out with a bill amounting to two grand.  It is ok.  It is almost 7 years old and has upwards of 100,000 miles on it.  It was due for a new timing belt, and all the maintenance that comes with that.  So we listed the old little red toyota truck for sale.  The one I bought partway through college, that saw us through the year without electricity and the year with electricity at the cabin.  That Raif has been using to haul firewood.  That first Griffin, then Misha, and also Sabine, were largely raised in.  Serving as a mobile kennel for husky pups resulted in an absolutely trashed interior.  But it has a buyer!  It is going to a dog-friendly home of friends.

And we listed the dryer for sale.  It may also have a buyer.  I wish we had gone straight to the propane dryer we have now and skipped the fancy electric one that cost us more than a thousand dollars in generator/off grid power system repairs this past winter.  Lessons learned.

Its funny.  The finances of it all stress me out.  Finances always stress me out when they are tight.  But this time, I'm feeling more able to ride it out with equanimity.  After so long with major systems of this house dysfunctional - water, electricity - even though the time of that dysfunction is fading a bit into the past, I'm keenly aware of all that we have.  I'm so grateful every time I take a shower or run a load of laundry.  Even if it has been days since I've showered and even if Avery screams the entire time, wishing mama were not hidden behind the shower curtain.  Even if I feel as though the bathroom is drowning in piles of dirty laundry.  A couple weeks without a second vehicle, a couple weeks of waking myself and my baby at 6 am in order to get to town with Raif so that we can keep an afternoon commitment seems manageable.  The back of the Joy of Cooking that sits on the cookbook shelf in my kitchen has this quote on the back: "Every kitchen should have running water, a stove and a copy of the JOY" - Saveur.  I am amused every time I glance at it.  It speaks to so much privilege.  Running water is a luxury.  One I am so grateful to have.  Avery is too, she LOVES baths.  She splashes and kicks and giggles.

I finished a thing I started many years ago.  I plaited the warp threads and hung it on river driftwood from the Tanana.  I adorned it with bone and stones and beads from jewelry no one wears anymore.  Mounted on the wall, it will bring goddess energy to someone's home.  There is something incredibly satisfying, oh so liberating, to finish things that have been languishing in the back of my mind, at the bottom of my project list, for so long.  There are more languishing projects waiting for me.  I'm looking forward to releasing them into the world.

Avery cries, suddenly and with passion, every time I go out of her line of sight.  She is not a huge fan of mama working - and this weekend is a marathon of weaving work under a tight deadline - so we are learning to negotiate between her needs for closeness and attention and the very real need for me to do the meticulous and time consuming work of weaving that helps to pay the bills.  She's a little monkey, clinging to me, reaching out from the safety that I am to her to touch the world.