Saturday, May 29, 2010

From the Road :: VI

Rain. Everyone has apologized for the weather. But I know a secret. Sorry, Pacific Northwest...we brought the weather with us.
Day 17

I knew it would be this way from Day 1. It had the feel. We lived in Portland for about a year and at the time the weather was refreshing and a novelty. It might have changed with more time but we moved home. To a land of almost eternal summer, where triple digit weather is a norm from July until (now) November. Where we no longer wear long sleeves on Halloween. So, this, this grey drippy is a loveliness we will likely not see until next January.
Day 17

So we have played in it and dressed for it and hoped for dry when needed and just embraced. It is the Northwest, right? We outfitted the boys in proper weather clothing at the Columbia Outlet, got away with three dry days on Orcas Island and Tim, well, we just told me the last three days have been the ride of his life.
Day 17

In the Southwest we have a lot of clay so when rain comes down so too does the earth. It slides and slips away, smashes up trails and one should not ride until the damp drains out. Here, the earth sucks and sucks it up. Few slips and puddles, few problems on the trails, per Tim. Except bears. Yeah, just hanging out next to trails. He has video. Scary but kinda' enthralling too.

I guess what I am saying is that I love this. I know it is almost June and this is not normal per se. I know it is snowing in Edmonton and blazing hot elsewhere, almost 90 farenheit at home. But here, we are just wrapped up in a cocoon of grey, aware that we will leave it to go South and home to the temperatures that soar.
Day 17
(Tulips in Almost June. What?)

So for me, this just adds another layer. Do I miss the blue sky and sun? Of course. Do I love that we have a fireplace on as I stitch? Yeah, just a little. More than a little.
Day 17

Friday, May 28, 2010

From the Road :: V

In many ways this trip has been about movement. We have constantly been on the move, picking up and packing up every four or five days to seek North. We have now reached the apex of our trip and will head South from here on out.
Day 16

In many ways the time has been about actual movement of my body too. It started with the West African dance class I took with my sister in L.A. Then I took a kick ass step class, my first in over five years while in Arcata. In Portland I had the chance to attend a class at Conduit with Tere, a teacher of my past. My heart filled when she remembered me even though it has been over 7 years since I attended that class. And at the end she graced me with a smile and nod and the positive affirmation that I can still do this.
Day 6
And now here in Whistler, I have discovered a gem. Neoalpine is the first real yoga studio class I have ever taken and it is so good that it makes me want to cry.

We opened class yesterday with a chant, a powerful heart opening mantra and I almost dissolved onto my mat. There is something so amazing about voices singing out, echoing and bouncing to strike you at the core. It is not something yoga class at L.A. Fitness gym would support...too open, too much. But last night, wrung from end to end, muscles screaming from the now tightness and then loosening, we closed in Corpse with a whisper chant. I felt transported in a way I have not since the time I was bed bound and pregnant and would go into deep guided meditation there in my own bed.
Day 16

Day 16

All this movement has brought home an essential fact about myself.....I am a dancer. I have been imprinted in this way since birth almost. I am most happy dancing through life, letting movement flow from core to tip and letting sweat course off my body as my face gets red from the effort. It has sealed the deal for me.

Before we left on this trip, I came to the realization that I need more in my Life that focuses specifically on moving. I have my yoga practice that has deepened in the last year, but I want more. And last night and today in class I realized that I will go on to become a Yoga teacher, go into a program sometime in the next year.

I know the movement and words and principles of yoga well but it was the chanting that gives me the thrill of challenge down my spine. I want to be able to stand in class someday and lead us all through a chant, let the quiet voice in my heart sing out in a strangely foreign fluent sound that calls all to resonate in their Self.

The greatest of compliments last night came to me when the teacher gently touched my arm in class and asked me if I am a yoga teacher. I was a little shocked and a whole lot flattered, but I also heard the message the Universe was sending. I am ready, Universe.

I have two more days of class up here, two more days to revel in the gentle and strenuous, the heart filling and magical. It is the blessing of this trip...the movement. And it makes all well in my slightly askew world.

If you West African in L.A., please check out Mareme's class at Lula Washington.
If you dance in Portland, check out Tere's class on Tuesdays at Conduit.
If you yoga in Whistler, please visit Neoalpine especially the Thursday night Boom Shakti flow.

If you want to move more, then please do so. Open your heart, find a mantra and go. Go, my friends.
Day 1

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

From the Road :: IV

One of my very favorite movies is Harold and Maud. Yes, it is a little odd, the octogenarian and the odd teen getting it on. But the quirks and the Cat Stevens and the pure and simple loveliness of it slays me every time. And that part when Harold throws Maud down the shaft...priceless.

One of my very favorite scenes is the one with Maud and Harold in the field of flowers. I sat in our campsite with the boys yesterday and made myself a chain of daisies to put on my own head. We were waiting for Tim as he took his first shower in days.
Day 12
They sat too, obsessively playing with cars (Mason) and obsessively tracing the campsite numbers over and over with their finger (Owen). And I thought about the quote from the movie...

Maude: I should like to change into a sunflower most of all. They're so tall and simple. What flower would you like to be?
Harold: I don't know. One of these, maybe.
Day 12
Maude: Why do you say that?
Harold: Because they're all alike.
Maude: Oooh, but they're *not*. Look. See, some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals. All *kinds* of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are *this*,
[she points to a daisy]
Day 12
Maude: yet allow themselves be treated as *that*.
[she gestures to a field of daisies]
Day 12
Maude: [cut to a shot of a field of gravestones in a military cemetery]

I didn't cry though a part of me wanted to. Instead I took this picture of a child I have been at war with for a few days...we had just gotten in a fight...can you believe I fight with my three year old? Gawd.
Day 12
But then I found him studying the flowers and he smiled and I realized all I ever need him to know is that he can be any type of flower that he likes. As long as he remembers his Mama loves him. Loves him so very much.

The road with the boys has been beyond my expectations but there have been rough patches. Like the asking to go home. All the time. The waking from impromptu naps with crying and crying and CRYING. The camp sleep...oh, god, my back. But a part of me still thrills to the fact that we are doing it. And they are too.

Check out Harold and Maud if you can. It makes the world a little lovelier.

Monday, May 24, 2010

From the Road : III

On the third day of the third part of our trip with three years olds. It seems to have some kind of magical principle, these threes. Today the sun is shining, the library on Orcas Island is open and I have pink cheeks from the time we spent on the sand building our first successful sand castle.

Most of out trip has been marked by grey and cloudy skies, temperatures to rival late winter and even hail. It made me a bit nervous as we headed North early Saturday in a rush to get to the morning ferry to Orcas Island. All I could see in my mind's eye was soaked miserable boys screaming due to the cold, trapped in a dripping tent with no exit strategy. Not a pretty mental picture.

But someone somewhere loves us a bit. It has been just right here, clouds with a few raindrops, nights cool enough for a fire, but not overly freezing. And the boys are taking to camping as we hoped...embracing their roles as campers and loving the living outdoors. A few bumps here and there, a lot of late nights to sleep as the sun does not depart the sky until well part nine this far North. But still, we have had some late mornings sleeping in snuggled in the tent.

I love this island. Well, I love most islands up here. Lush and quiet and full of little nooks and surprises. There is something in the air that makes the magic of three, well, magical.

When we get home I plan on writing up some posts on travel with kids and places to visit if you ever go that route and things to do and not do. Right now I will just put up some pictures and join the boys for another library book...

Day 11

Day 11

Day 11

Day 11

Day 11

First invaluable travel trip with twins :: Google the library of any town you might be staying in for more than a day. They always have a kid section and free wifi. Not gonna' call it killing two birds with one stone, but you know what I mean.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From the Road :: II

We have arrived at our second destination, the next leg of our trip north. I am starting to see a pattern to the travels :: zoos and family. In the last week or so we have been to two small rescue zoos and seen countless family members, and I think I am liking the pattern so far.

Family, I think we all know how important it is in our lives. Tim's family lives in Portland and it has been years since our last visit and I should not have been surprised to be greeted by two grown boys but I was. I remember my first nephew being born, and then the younger playing with his Mama's oven mitts in the middle of their kitchen on our first visit to Portland. Now, they take themselves off to school on the bus and unearth all their old Matchbox cars and videos for my young boys. Surreal.

It has been a bit blustery and rainy and we are glad for the welcome and shelter and comfort of a home. The boys alternate between "me stay here forever" and "me go to my home?" and we are finding a new rhythm to the day that includes much later bedtimes and earlier wake ups than ever before as I finally abandoned hauling around black out curtains. Note to self :: If you ever have another do not utilize black out curtains. It will make your life easier in the end.

I am keeping up with daily iPhone pictures posted to far on a daily basis. I might get it up here if I visit an Apple store today to resolve some sync issues that my lil' baby is having. For now the set of pictures is here ::

Uber Trip North

And here are a few that I love ::

Day 5
(rescued screech owl (behind glass)

Day 6
Freezing rain on Mt Saint Helens. 30 years since the eruption.

Day 5
Silly Boys.

Friday, May 14, 2010

From the Road :: I

Do you want to know what a family gathered looks like in my definition? It is chaos and noise, three under three running rampant, wreaking havoc as they bend and shape around and with each other. It is trips to Costco (always) because how else can you feed 10 or so healthy grown adults? Costco looks the same in any town, it is like a point of comfort almost.
Day 2

It is a few fights and tears as grown siblings try to learn to bend and shape around each other. It is quick trips out of the house, to play in the gymnastic place for the first time, or see a little zoo. It is laughs and tumbling and the smell of the best food you have ever waited for.
Day 2

If you have a big big family, you know these things. Maybe you do not. But, oh, you my reading friends, how I wish I could suck you into this. The mild drama, the big love, the incessant playing of Disney movies in the background to appease the children. Isn't this how humans initially came to live together in the beginning?

The start of this trip is exactly as it should be, my Dad sleeping snoring on the couch, the kids asleep (thank god, they went to bed at 11 last night....11!!! oh my god) everyone 'home' safe for the time being. Dinner done, a date at the Finnish tubs with the man in a few hours....and it feels good.

Signing off to watch the Princess and the Frog (watch this movie, it is so so good).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

T Minus

And so it almost begins, our trip North. The car is packed, the boys asleep after chanting over and over again that we are going to Kayda's house...

Space bags have saved our lives as we can actually see out of the back of the Subaru despite having a month of things in there.

The Plan ::

A possible meet up with a Superhero.
A graduation of a 'family' member and the opportunity to bring the whole bunch together again (it makes me giddy).
A safari.
A dance class that blows my mind.
A ferry ride to a beautiful island.
A free pass for Tim to ride and ride and ride (while we find various fun things to do around Whistler).
Another meet up with two bloggers I love.
Back to Portland and that class again.
Down to Sac to visit my older brother and his wife and their new home and pup.

And then home. Whew. Feeling a little overwhelmed and a little excited and really hoping tomorrow starts off in the best of ways, which would look like two boys sleeping peacefully through the dawn departure, then munching happily on pre-made french toast sticks while watching video after video while we sail up the 5 freeway. With no barfing. Wish us luck.

I think I will just photoblog most of soon as I figure out how to set up MMS on my iphone. Yeah, the one I have had since Novemeber. Don't laugh too hard at me, please. This trip is gonna' be good for learning a lot of new things. Bon voyage.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yoga and Motherhood

Mother's day

I know Mother's Day is somewhat arbitrarily declared and I do believe we should appreciate and embrace Mamahood on any given day. Having said that, initially I wanted to mark the day with a brunch celebrating the mothers in my life, a gathering at home with good food and good friends. I quickly scratched that idea once I realized that I did not want to be cleaning up the house for company the day before, especially as we have climbed into a state of disarray as we try to pack.

Then the loveliest of things came my way. I received an email from my yoga instructor about a planned gathering on Sunday...a classmate wanted to bring the yoga people together and sent out an open invite. My first reactions was, Huh? Who is this guy? I have been practicing for at least three years with the same folks but do not know many by name, just by sight... But then I took a moment to think about it and I realized I wanted to know these people more. Not to mention the Indian theme dinner would allow for me to make my favorite (not really) Indian dish of Tikki Masala (do not follow the salt measures, waaay too much). So, I said yes.

Yesterday rolled around and I had a lovely brekky of coffee and breakfast burritos from Bravo Burgers (killer good), then went to a long yoga class, met Andrew the host by name (turns out he is from Perth, a place not many have been, but that I actually have) and returned home to two raging three year olds and a dutch oven to fill with tikki goodness. We set out to the neighboring town a little after 3 and were welcomed into a home that borders the canyon and had a hugely sprawling backyard FULL of animals. Andrew has a little farm in the back of his regular looking suburban home :: goats and mini horses, big horses and chickens, rabbits, desert turtles, ducks and geese and alpaca.
Mother's day
Mother's day
Mother's day
(They do not look all that thrilled here but they were warming up).

The boys were in heaven as we wandered about the property finding animals to meet. And I finally MET the people that I regularly practice with.

They were all really lovely people and we talked and ate and did yoga on the lawn with kids rolling around our feet. I met the grandchildren of my yoga instructor, two rowdy but awesome boys named Jake and Dirk (8 and 6) and they turned into total twin boy monitors, guiding my boys up and down the steep inclines (right through the manure pile EVERYTIME) and teaching them how to gently catch chickens. Everyone was so gracious and made me realize how much we know each other just by the intimacy of regular practice, but the filling in of the gaps was wonderful.

It turned out to be just what I have needed, a reconnection to the concrete world, an opening to what is already there in front of me. A possibility for more kinship and deeper practice. I have felt so engaged in Life lately and that feels really really good.

Yesterday was a reminder to take that chance, accept that invite, extend that invite, embrace that not so strange stranger.

But don't think I missed out on Mama's day. I saw a tweet from Andrea at Superhero Journal about select necklaces for sale and the boys helped me pick (finally) and it came just in time. I find it hard to take off.
Mother's day

And then I received the most wonderful of packages from my friend Kat (also Australian, how about them Aussies?) chcck full of goodness including choc choc.
Mother's day

I do hope you found your day special whether you are the Mama or honouring the Mama. Much love and namaste. I'll leave you with one of my favorite moments in my Mama world...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Moving Forward

Yesterday was a little odd. I woke to my breasts aching as if they were going to let down milk. I have not felt that since the first year with the boys and it was terribly disconcerting. I was feeling the pull of ovulation and I kept trying to figure out what it is that wants to be born...

Another baby?
A new Me?
A changed Life?

This week, this month, this year have been a roller coaster ride. High high high. Low low low. All tied into my cycle and a body that seems to be in revolt. I have felt alternately breathless and short tempered and then wonderful and free. But above it all I have felt unsettled.

This week was spent with one of my lovely sisters and my 2 year old niece. Amanda has not had the opportunity to come and stay in our home for many years and this week was a focused effort to find that place of reconnection. We spent the week laughing and dancing and discussing growth and speculating that the huge Chile earthquake actually threw the earth one degree off axis which is totally fucking with our energy and making us crazier than usual.

I can trace the 'let down' feeling directly to the night before when I spent an hour with my niece sleeping soundly tucked into my chest. She is teething molars and I wanted to give my sister a little break and K needed cuddling so there I was. K is an amazing little girl, so different from her boy cousins and sleeps like a little smushy log, no insane moving around like my children. It was heavenly and the likely trigger for the boob insanity that followed.

Yesterday I thought a lot about another little one, another job, another way of being. It all came to a head this week when a golden opportunity presented itself. Last Friday I received an email informing me that the volunteer PT position in Bhutan was unexpectedly open for September to January of this year. They had a cancellation and I was first on the waiting list. I had inquired about the position in 2009 when it called me with a vision. And now here it was. I read the email astonished as I had literally just been thinking about reconnecting with the network that places volunteers in Bhutan. And now here it was.

We spent the weekend talking about it, Tim and my sister and my family and I. They needed an answer this week as the visa process takes three months. And it was a hard decision but we had to let it pass this time. The decision to wait felt right, I felt something click into place. There was a second person that responded after me and she/he is able to go right now and wants to go right now. And I was offered the 2012 position which I immediately accepted. It gives us the wiggle room we need to find the money for tickets and a renter for our home, etc. Because I know this is going to happen...I had a vision, people.

But now, well, now is now. Instead of Bhutan, we are heading to points north for a month. It started with a trip to Arcata for a graduation, we tacked on Portland OR to reacquaint with Tim's side and decided the islands and Canada are so close that we cannot pass them up. As of Wednesday next week, we are off; packing the Subaru with a tent and some other stuff. And then we will see how the boys take to the road, if they have the same lust we have for controlled movement and chaos.

One of my favorite books is a Dr. Suess, Oh the places you'll go...

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Tent view

Lately life is getting in the way of blogging, but I am finding I am okay with that. We will see how it goes from the road, I think I might do a month of iPhone photos just to track it all...but for now, back to the last minute planning, packing and paperwork.

Wish us godspeed, eh? And less weird boob action. It just freaks me out.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day :: Stitch Stitch

I risk sounding like a broken record, but I would risk anything to continue to talk about Alabama Chanin. There is something about it that is just so good.

I 'almost' finished my skirt this weekend. I had hoped to have it together for the party last weekend but it was not meant to be. Instead I wore my first piece, the Bloomers swing skirt. I remember last year at this time I was immersed in the stitching and that is when this love affair began.
Swing skirt :: Alabama

It is a little difficult to describe it, but my friend Jennie and I liken it to crack. Good crack. The projects initially seem daunting...there is the stencil making and the painting and the cutting and the stitching. But it is something you can fall into and as with anything beautiful, the deeper the practice, the more the reward.
Swing skirt :: Alabama

I wore my skirt today 'almost' finished because it is a thing of beauty. I love this piece as much as any of the others and with the making, I feel as if I have learned new lessons. Patience to let each stitch come when I have a few minutes, strength as my fingers become increasingly skilled, process as I try new methods of stencil cutting and painting...and the fact that a thimble is a very good thing when working with felled seams.
felled seam

Meeting Natalie a few weeks ago and having the opportunity to thumb through sample books and witness the seemingly perfect stitching created by the hands of craftswomen, it shifted something in me. I realized just how generous this woman is to share her method of making with us. She created something from the impetus to change fashion, consciously left behind an industry that called her work excellent and returned home to support her community and her artistic self and then turned around and opened the doors to the knowledge, opened then wide, and invited us in to try it.

I felt terribly shy when I went into the trunk show, wearing my Bloomers skirt. All of a sudden doubt about my ability to make this stuff descended and I almost turned around and left. I get a little weird around people I really really admire. I did go in and almost immediately Natalie commented on the skirt, acknowledging that I had made it from the ground up. I stopped feeling shy and just decided to feel amazed. Standing in a room full of racks of couture Alabama Chanin pieces will do that to you. Right then I decided a few things ::

} I renewed my vow to live in jersey as often as possible.
} I want to always have a piece of stitching in progress to turn to when I need to make.
} We are going to the Doo Nanny next year in Alabama to share in a community of like minded artists. And apparently, the land it is held on has snakes and swamps and lots of good things the boys will like (this according to Natalie).
} I am making a version of this quilt that was hanging up at the trunk show.
Quilt inspiration

} Someday I will make it to a workshop so that I can sit with others stitchers for a weekend and practice this most satisfying work with women (and men?) just like me.

And I want to share with you too. I know a lot of you reading are makers and I want to encourage you to try your hand at this making. It is powerfully beautiful stuff and once you get started, you may never stop. Thank Natalie for that...

And for the super great news that a third book is coming out next March. Just in time for me to bring it to Alabama for her to sign. Now, go here to get her books or go here to see some awesome gifts for Mama Day. I am getting the Mom shirt for says it all.