Monday, August 24, 2009

headin' campin'

I remember when Jeff and I started hanging out and heading for overnight camping trips. Our camping list consisted of a sleeping bag, a flashlight and a knife. In fact, on one trip out to the lake we had cooked steak over the fire. When it came time to eat it, we laid it on a piece of wood and used his pocket knife to take turns cutting and eating off the end of the blade. Very...rustic. Too rustic.
Tomorrow, we head out camping with my sister, her twins and my mom. I am embarassed at how long my list is. It is ridiculous to have to pack a thermometer, felt pens or diaper wipes. But camping with kids is so astronomically different than camping with fellow adults. I love that at the end of the day everyone's cheeks are pink with fresh air and they fall asleep instantaneously. But, holy sheep shyte, preparation is INSANE! So in the spirit of being prepared and ready for anything, I am going to post my camping list in case anyone needs it (although the school year is almost upon us) and so that next trip, I have it all in ONE place.

Shelter & Bedding
__Sleeping bags
__Ground cloth/tarp
__Air mattress
__Axe or hammer
__Mat for tent entrance
__Dust pan/brush
__Garbage bags for dirty laundry, etc.
__ Potty and toilet paper

__Large water jug
__Pots & frying pan
__Stove & propane
__Cook utensils-spatula, knife, spoon
__Can opener/bottle opener
__Tablecloth/thumb tacks
__Plates & bowls
__Mixing bowl
__Cutting board
__Heavy-duty aluminum foil
__Trash bags
__Dish pan
__Dish soap
__Dish rags/towels
__Clothes pins
__Scrub pad/brillo
__Potato peeler
__Cheese slicer

Clothes & Hygiene
__Shoes & gumboots
__Aquasocks or flip flops
__Socks and undies
__Sweatshirt & jacket
__Rain gear
__Swim suit/towel
__Soap in plastic case/shampoo
__Tooth brush/tooth paste
__ Deodorant
__Feminine products
__Toilet paper
__Personal medications--take extra

__Sunscreen & lipbalm
__Flashlight & batteries
__Lantern with fuel & mantles
__Plastic grocery bags
__Rope/clothes line
__Canteen/water bottle/coffee
__Are you still reading and thinking that I am packing too much?
__Cell phone/charger & 2-way radios/walkie talkies
__Camp chairs
__First aid kit

Very, Very Basic First Aid
__Personal medications
__Band Aides/bandages
__Anti-acids (Tums, Rolaides)
__Antibiotic cream
__Cotton swabs
__Hydrogen Peroxide
__Safety pins
__Sunburn lotion
__Eye drops
__Bug repellent
__Small flashlight
__Nail clippers
__Small mirror
I'll post pictures upon our return (I realize that I have been remiss in the photo department lately and have forced everyone to read more than usual)...Wish me luck setting up the tent again!!

Chandler Chicken Farm

I haven't written much about our oh-so-fabulous chickens lately. I always feel a bit embarassed when I explain to people just how wonderful my chickens have been in helping us to giggle or smile since the death of Jeff. It seems too simple. But really, it's better than cable. Watching the girls strut around, interact with each other, find bugs, eat from your hands and follow you around the yard. I, honestly, have to remind myself to get back inside after my morning visit to 'the girls'. I could hang out all day....

Now that our roosters are 'gone', it's high time I introduced our old and new cast of chickens.

Stella - We got her as a chick from B&P's farm with Rosie. She's a bit stand-offish but a good layer. Stella's more of a chicken than a pet.
One of our new girls, Minerva Louise (or Minnie Lou) - I like this girl alot. She's pretty mellow and has a quirky little head tilt. She always seems to be saying, "And WHAT are you doing NOW???" Minnie Lou's 'twin' (to the untrained eye you can only tell them apart by their leg bands), Freda - She's pretty sweet. Not as mellow as Minerva, but still great.

Sarah, our lovely little girl - Sarah's a bantam Barred Plymouth Rock. We LOVE this chicken. SHE is a pet. The kids cart her around like a doll and she runs on her tiny little feet to the gate when you arrive in the morning for a cuddle. She's suddenly gone 'broody' and now refuses to come out of the hen house. She's so tiny but would insist on sitting on the big girls eggs attempting keep them warm - like sitting on an exercise ball! I took pity on her and bought her some fertile eggs of her own to hatch out....I have a chicken addiction.....

Briar's newest chick, Jeesah - Not much to say about 'her' (hopefully). She's white and has hairy feet.
Soleil, Charlotte and Frizz - the other three chicks that Lucy hatched out.
The star of the coop, Lucy - She's lovely, big and warm. Gentle, cute and mothering. I love this girl. Don't tell the other chicks, but if I could only keep two, it would be Lucy and Sarah. I love them to bits!!!!! *Notice Fuckles staring at the chickens through the fence. No fatalities lately but he sure hangs out a lot at the fence licking his lips at the tender morsels of chicken nuggets inside.
Antarina, the dreaded bitch - This is Briar's chick that hatched out in the Spring. She's nasty and mean. She never bites us, but she chases the cat, terrorizes the chicks and causes general discord in the chicken yard. I have mentioned to the kids that Antarina looks mighty appetizing to me, but they are appalled. The only thing that has saved her thus far is that she is 'supposed' to lay blue eggs like the one that she hatched out of. I want blue eggs. But the blue egg thing is wearing thin as I repeatedly have to rescue chicks from the attentions of this meanie.

There already was a picture of this chick above, but I love this chick. Frizz is a 'frizzle'. I am worried that it's a boy, but we'll have to wait and see. He's cuddlier than the rest and is stinkin' cute! He's tiny in comparison to the others and just...needs me. He reminds me of Lola, sweet little Lola.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

if you don't have anything good to say....

This last week I've been shoved backwards to a place that I was just months after Jeff died. I don't know what has caused the backslide. I don't know where it came from. I just know that I feel drowned in grief and loneliness.
Each night, I've been forced to climb into my cold and empty bed before I've finished sewing arms on a dress, or without wiping down the stove, folding the laundry, making phonecalls needing quiter moments. I have no energy, no gusto, no strength.
I am always telling myself "You can do it! You really can. Take one step forward. Keep your head up! Make Jeff proud! Show your kids how strength propels you forward."
But now, I just, again, want to weep. I haven't washed my face before bed or brushed my hair before heading out the door. I just don't care or have the energy. It just seems that no matter how hard I try, I can't get anywhere. I force myself to work a bloody hard as I can. I have felt that I have had to hit the ground running and am hoping to continue my sprint throughout my life so that I can provide my kids with whatever they need and maybe compensate for a small fraction of what they lost.
But suddenly, I've tripped. I don't want to run right now. I can only cry and lick my wounds. I miss him so. I long to feel not so alone. Not so adrift and forgotten. I need something to change. I need to find something to hope for and feel exhilarated. I am too exhausted to even look to find that thing that may make it better - school, exercise, a new way to help our finances, support groups, medications, etc. I just want to lay down and rest. I want to do nothing. I want to sleep. I don't want to measure my words. I want to say just what the fuck I mean.
I ache to have someone hug me. Really hug me. To rub my aching back. To let me rest my head on their shoulder.
I just want it all to go away. I don't want to feel it alone anymore. I'm tired of being driven by fear. I'm tired of having this all swirling around in my head while I go about our day, but never get the chance to feel/deal/think about it.
I want a rest.....a long rest. A rest that no matter how many hours of sleep I get, no matter how often I get time to myself, no matter how many jobs I complete, will ever come. It doesn't exist. There's no hope of respite.

Friday, August 21, 2009

welcome baby Zach!

What is it about the smell of warm creases in baby's necks and the soft wrinkles in tiny hands that makes everyone coo and whisper? When baby stretches and yawns it is as if they are performing some amazing skill that is proof of their excellence and genius.

We seem to instinctively know to hold gently, speak softly and smile often.

Although this admission will make people wonder if I somehow missed some vital part in the formation of my womanhood/motherhood, but BABIES TERRIFY ME. I love how they smell, I adore their noises, I am amazed by them...but I am brutally afraid of them. They cry. They scream. They fuss. If most other women 'instinctively' know what to do when an infant cries, then I am severely lacking in these fundamental skills. The only thing that I could do well as a mommy of such a small child was breastfeed. Cry = breastfeed. Whimper = breastfeed. Fuss = breastfeed. Tired = breastfeed.

I hate even to admit it. I worry that this makes me similar to one of those people that aren't trusted by dogs or small children. You always keep one eye on them and wonder what is 'wrong' with them....Thankfully dogs love me and small children love to root through my purse for various games or play peek-a-boo in a grocery store line-up with me.

Since I can't go around nursing other peoples babies (thankfully), I'll just have to wait until they get to the point where they aren't so fear invoking. Until then, I will watch and ogle from afar. I will smile and grin, stroke their soft faces, change a diaper and even hold them...but when they cry, I'm going to get really nervous, sweat a bit and hand them back to mama.

But Baby Zach, I just wanted you to know this so you don't think that I don't love you to pieces. I do. I so do. You're just a bit....scary right now. When you can hold your head up and maybe throw something at me, we'll have a grand time! I'm gonna be your favourite 'auntie', promise. Just don't tell the others!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

new dresses and nightgowns!!

The kids stayed at my mom's last night and again tonight. I've managed to paint Briar's room, stack a load of firewood (with Todd doing the chopping), mow the lawn and list SEVEN dresses and nightgowns!!!
This week, I've been trying to focus on all the things around here that have been left undone and are dangling there annoying me. I am so hopeful that as soon as I have some of these things behind me, I can just fixate on the stuff that comes up....not the stuff that happened a year, four months and nine days ago. I'm sick of dealing with all the paperwork that goes along with a death. There are mountains of it! You'd think that the government would be able to have some program that would announce the death of one of their citizens to ALL their agencies once a death certificate had been issued. Anyhow....Enough of that rant......

miracle of birth

A very dear friend of mine, Jill, had a baby boy on Friday night. The kids were over the moon with love for the little one. Both wanting to hold him as much as possible. Liv gave him little tiny mittens to prevent him from scratching his face and Briar decided that he wanted to give him a lullaby. He held Baby Zach and sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" while rocking him up and down. It was one of those moments that you grin down at your child with tears streaking your cheeks at the little people they are becoming.
The birth has sparked a lot of questions about baby's entrance into the world. I found this video on Youtube that was informative, not overly graphic and about PUPPIES (what kid doesn't LOVE puppies!). I thought I'd share in case anyone elsse needed it!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

i can see you

I see you driving in cars. I watch as you walk down the street. I observe you paying for a coffee before leaving. You're always leaving. Always walking away from me.
Parts of you flicker across stranger's faces, making me look twice and sometimes gasp internally. Often, when I look the second time, you are gone. In the infinitesimal amount of time that it takes to look again you have been whisked away.
You don't ever seem to recognize me. You never take another look. You callously keep driving some other person's car oblivious to the fact that I am begging you to turn around and come back for me. How can you not notice me? How do you not see me?
I am at once both so elated to see that you still exist and crushed that you exist without me. You don't seem to notice that I pine for you with every breath I take and every instance that I see you, I am trying to convey to you my need to have you back.
These strangers, whose bodies you inhabit momentarily, may think I am insane, staring at them with such desire and meaning. They may think they have something stuck in their teeth, an eyelash on their cheek or have unknowingly upset me with a gesture or an overheard conversation.
But it's not them. It's you. You who have broken me. You gave me something so completely wonderful. Something that made life worth living. Something that belonged to me. And then, you took it away.
Now as I become the creepy chick who unblinkingly gawks at the guy who wears your nose on his face, looking for some recognition from you, I sometimes wonder if it was a dream. A wonderful and melancholy dream.
I miss you, my love. Oh, how I miss you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

4am stressfest

I had one of those nights again where I lay awake and analyze every word, gesture, movement, action and dream that I have had over the last few days. Not great material for provoking sleep.
I wonder what it is about the middle of the night or the early morning that is so terrifying and tempts our thoughts to turn cannabalistic. Is it that fact that we are alone? Is it that there are fewer noises and distractions to keep our minds from turning toxic?
Why is that little voice in the back of our minds so very unkind in the wee hours? Are they irritated by the lack of restful sleep?Maybe it is because we can do little to remedy anything the mess we have created during the day - the banks are closed, friends are asleep and not wanting to hear your admissions, doing house work will wake the kids, etc.
I do, however, somehow enjoy some of the abnormal and creative thoughts that employ my grey matter at this time. I come up with improved ways for sewing on dress tags, I discover that the reason I want to paint the closet in my new bedroom is because the dark turqouise/green makes the closet seems menacing and scary, I mentally create a diorama of the lifecycle of a salmon complete with roe and fish sperm and I realize that the cat has been inceasantly swirling around my ankles, not to be annoying, but because his food dish is completely empty (and I worry how long he has gone without food before I have noticed).
Now, if I can just make it through the day, I will have a good sleep tonight knowing that every thought needed for the last week has been completed. Maybe in the meantime I'll paint the scary closet....

Sunday, August 09, 2009

not me tomorrow

I haven't done one of these for awhile and, oh, how I love to dissect my various idiosyncrasies and then deny that I do them! I love to laugh at myself....maybe, even more than I love to laugh at others. ;)
I've never heard the doorbell ring announcing the arrival of one of the children that I care for, launched my old-ish and stiff body that would prefer to stay horizontal into the hallway and clumsily opened the door while attempting to discreetly hide the fact that my post-breastfeeding boobs are without their harness by crossing my arms and hoping that it does not give the parent the fear that I am either some stiff authoritarian who will whip their children into shape OR a crazed, lazy layabout who doesn't care about her appearance enough to pat down the 'Alfalfa'-like hairdo or rub the sleep out of her eyes before they arrive expecting fun and wholesomeness for their children...I am always bright, chipper and well-groomed before the little 'uns get here. ALWAYS. I am not obsessed with my chickens. I do not check on them almost as many times a day as I check my email and I do NOT have an irrational belief that if we get more than three eggs a day it will be a 'good day'. Five eggs does NOT mean that it will be a fabulous day. That would be crazy....
As a fisherman's wife, there is NO way that I get seasick. The iron stomach that I have had as long as I can remember is still with me and I was not shocked recently when I didn't lose my beef dip off the side of the boat when a good friend took me fishing on his charter boat. And because I didn't ralf over the side and chum the waters for the awesome salmon we caught (although I am told that mine, though totally legal, were very small, I was so stoked!), I was not embarassed in the least. (By the way, Greg doesn't need the waters 'chummed' to catch fish....All he needs is a hook! He's a fabulous fisherman who I wholeheartedly recommend going fishing with!!) I never, ever swear in front of my children. Ever. I am a good, wholesome, oatmeal and buttermilk speaking mama. I never feel guilt about this either and then never wonder if I am to have one vice this is one of the better ones to have? And then I never wonder if I am just justifying my potty mouth.....And my children did not enjoy a few blissful years of a non-swearing mother before their prolifically cursing daddy died.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

whenever I am exhausted and angry

There are moments...or days, if I am really honest, when I am crabby and not very nice to be around. The days where I look back when they are FINALLY asleep and think, "Damn, I did it again! My kids are going to remember today and think I was awful, brutal and angry." I worry at these moments that they won't realize just how much I loved them and that I am so flawed and so tired. I do so try to try my best. I have the very best of intentions and I do have to admit that at times, all that I have learned and read could not be further from how I am behaving as a mother...and that I am behaving more as an overgrown toddler.

At times, I let my self-pity drive the boat; the thing that I have always sworn I would never do...even before losing Jeff. I'll feel overwrought with exhaustion, sadness and all the unfinished things that still need attending to before I get to rest at the end of the day. I'll wonder what life would have been like had we had the chance to realize all of our hopes and potential as the family we had envisioned. I know that this is a futile and ridiculous imagining, as life is what happens. We don't get to choose or make-believe. But I do wonder. I wonder what it would have been like if I were the one who were lost. Would they have been better off? Would Jeff have handled this with more finesse and less impatience?

Although she is so young still, I worry that too much gets placed on those little shoulders. I am always saying to her, "You be the kid! Enjoy it! Let me deal with the other stuff!" When she gets angry so fast, I believe that it is my influence that has taught her to react so fast and furiously.

Oh, I hope that they turn out somewhat well-adjusted. That they will be happy. That they find love, and hope, and joy. That there lives are not only defined by the loss of their daddy and the fall-out that ensued. I hope that I am strong enough to carry them through. That I am patient and nurturing enough to foster these qualities within them for them to be patient and nurturing to themselves when they no longer need me to tie their shoes or tuck them in.

If only I could express to them the depth and breadth of my love for them. During the day, when I am overcome with all the 'need to do's, I fear that my love is not as visible as I wish it were. That somehow they may doubt it, although my heart beats steadily only for them....ONLY for them.

I took this picture only moments ago and it makes me sigh with a grin at my sweet, little princess thinking in her sleep. It also makes me sigh with sadness at all the 'would haves' and 'could haves'. I know tomorrow's another day and I can try to perfect my parenting skills again. But for tonight, I just sit here wishing I could wake them from their sleep and say, "I'm sorry, my little loves. I'll do better. I promise." And if I knew I could keep that promise indefinitely, I would go to bed with a lighter conscience and a glad heart.

I love you, my little sweets. Never, ever, ever doubt that I love you.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

five year plan

I've never had a five year plan. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I have scoffed at the idea and decided that this was the stuff of accountants, economists and other dry conversationalists (sorry for the prejudice if you are any of the above ;) ).
Now, as I am adrift without anyone else to hold my hand, I find myself needing to have something to anchor me. I need a plan.
Oh, how I abhor to be pinned down. To have a concrete idea of what 'should' or 'must' be done makes me want to rebel and run away while plugging my ears and singing 'Mary had a Little Lamb' at the top of my lungs. Juvenile, I know, but I hate being 'told' what to do. But I am wondering if the development of such a plan would help me to feel secure again and not so lost?
So over the next little while, I am going to be doing some soul searching. I am going to attempt to find a path that fits us and will help us to be in a place of more comfort and security in five years.
At the conference, I went to a workshop by another widow who had changed her life and is now helping to change the lives of others in this situation. I have to say that that one hour helped me immensely, but I have yet to actually sit down and use some of the tools that she taught. I will honestly say that fear is the major hindrance to my facing all of these unexamined facets of my life. Ah, fear! What would life be like without you, you bitch?!
First on my five year agenda will be a pathway to achieving better financially security. Isn't that on every accountant's list of 'to-do's? (I'm going to take this chance to remind any of you non-widows to MAKE SURE that you have life insurance 'cause that's the soap box I stand on regularly).
Do you have a five year plan? Am I just way behind the times along with all the other pimply-faced, greasy-haired teenagers???

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

my favourite

I have an addiction. It's a fabric addiction. Oh! The amount of time I spend sitting in front of my computer drooling and thinking of all the things I would make with said fabric is criminal. The house and children are neglected by my affliction. Often when I buy the fabric, I'll covet it so much that I am unable to make anything with it for fear of 'wrecking' it.

I bought the fabric for this most recent dress and had imagined myself wearing a peasant blouse or carrying a new bag fashioned from the breathtakingly patterned fabric...Well, I forced myself to share the love rather than hordeing it in my sewing area.

The resulting dress is one of my favourites. I only wish it fit me....

bag o' egg

I found this strange little oddity in the hen house yesterday. I believe it is Antarina's (Briar's Auracana chicken) first egg. We'll see! She's supposed to have pale blue eggs just as the one she hatched out of. But this egg has NO shell. Just a sack! Sack of egg. Equal parts revolting and amazing.
I had remembered when I was living with my boyfriend's parents as a teenager finding this same phenomenon in their coop one day. Over the years I had wondered if I had imagined it...or dreampt it. Guess not! Bag of egg is real!!!!!

The 'shell' looked like a deflated balloon after we had emptied it. *After a Google search, I found that it can be a symptom of an immature 'shell gland' (what the hell is that??) or a host of more serious problems....We'll go with immaturity! (I seriously doubt it is deficiency of any kind. Everyone else is fine and I have taken measures to ensure that everyone is nutritionally 'satisfied' previously.....
Also, I found a site that give instructions to MAKE a naked egg! I think we'll be trying that out next!

Monday, August 03, 2009

fill in the gaps

We spent the weekend back up that beloved little town. It has been too hot at home to function, so we escaped to the cool foggy and magical weather that I adore. Everything seems to be clothed in a pearlescent sheen and contain some sort of mystery.
We find such comfort in being with our closest friends. Connected. Supported. Comforted.
We go on fabulous boat trips with fabulous people.
And find wonder everywhere.
Although things have changed and we return without Jeff and their are WAY more people (tourists) on the beach and in town....
we still manage to find joy.

Newfound relationships with old connections.
Magic (a 'mermaid's jewel' found in the ocean).
Wholesome play.
Still there are so very many reminders of what we've lost...but in this town, we feel clothed with a collective feeling of loss rather than feeling solitary in our sorrow.