September 13, 2012

my pieces

Motherhood, someone said, is having your heart walk around outside your body, a piece in each of your children.

I watched my pieces tonight.

One of them, we won't say who (winkwink), got his hair cut, and squirmed such exquisitely-timed squirms that you would almost think he tried it.  And then, when it was over, and his parents had reconciled, and the helpers (one to hold a bowl for the hair and one to provide commentary for the laptop tractor video that his father couldn't see because the haircutter's arm was blocking his view) had dispersed, and his mother was sprawled in a lawnchair to recover, then he came over with his charmingest smile, put his head in my lap, and said "more haircut?" so winsomely that I almost thought he meant it.  But then I saw the twinkle.

That boy is solid twinkle.  (Although sometimes the twinkle is temporarily obscured by certain other traits!)

Another of my pieces followed her biking sisters on her trike, down the grass, down past the house, down the treacherous-to-tricycles hill, but got distracted by the possibility of ripening red raspberries and never made it to the end of the lawn.  She found three that were red enough, and promptly ran back to the porch to give one each to my Farmer and me.

Generous to the core, that piece.

The oldest piece taught the twinkly-trouble piece how to go "wheeeeeeeee!!" down the little hill on a mini Big Wheel.  He laughed his head off and repeated it over and over, stopping only to offer his teacher a turn.

And where, we wondered suddenly, was the middle piece?  Off riding bike by herself, it turned out, and I remembered how, as a crawling baby, she would bore of the toys (or was it the company?) in the room we occupied, and strike out on her own for new territory.  I'm glad that her current explorations are still limited to what's within sight of the house, mostly, and that she still cherishes my company, at least when I'm tucking her into bed at night.

We took some pictures of the newly-shorn one, and tucked him giggling into his crib.  Sat dumbfounded on the porch a bit, dazed still by the speed with which life rushes past, and finally called the others in as dusk fell, to popsicles and prayers and praise.

Having my heart in pieces means more heartache, it's true, but there is more fullness, too.  We used to have that now-illusive "peace & quiet", true, but not nearly so much laughter.

It's a good trade.

September 12, 2012


Just looking closer, these last few days, I see an abundance to spur gratitude in me:

a rock vase, from a friend ...

... recipe dividers made with new markers ...

... a pot of chili to eat by the campfire ...

... one of Lil' Snip's favorite corners ...

... a towel I find eye-pleasing ...

... creamy homemade body butter ...

... the wonder of metamorphosis, every time ...

There is much.  I am grateful.

September 10, 2012


I am staring again at the chrysalis.

So dry.  So lifeless it hangs there.

No movement for days, weeks.  The first slick green fades, browns, withers a bit.  To all appearances:  dead.

You don't know, you just can't tell, until one morning, the blackest of them - the one we were sure wouldn't hatch anything but a wasp, if that - cracks open to show off velvety wings, brilliant with color, and a perfect black swallowtail flies away.

You just don't know, until that morning.

It all looks dead, hopeless, until that morning.

"...we are nothing, have nothing, can do nothing but sin." writes John Newton.

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."  Philippians 1:6

Sometimes the work is being continued silently, in hidden ways and in hidden places.  Sometimes it all looks dead and lifeless.  And only He knows ...

...until the day when Christ Jesus returns ...   

... that's a long time to wait.

"Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,"  Hebrews 12:12

"Moses' arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset."  Exodus 17:12

September 7, 2012


Last night as I was brushing my teeth, I realized with a start that I have become a hippy.  Unaware of the gradual transformation, I've neglected to let my hair grow long and accumulate a wardrobe of long swirly skirts, so I don't look like a hippy yet, but give me time . . .

I guess it all started back when I first met my Farmer, in 1993.

He had some earthy interests – in-ground houses being one of the more literal (and novel) ones. Academic pursuits aside, most of what he liked to do would have been well-suited to a commune. In fact, after he graduated college, we spent a summer on one in northern Georgia. We read the Moosewood cookbook and made falafel and lentils. He taught me to chop wood. We double-dug garden beds and made paper (fun) and mead (yum) and banana wine (yuck). I learned to manage a woodlot (sort of) and fish and gather eggs. For a very yucky couple of weeks, I copied some of the crunchier folk around me and let my leg hair grow. **shudder**  Not for me, that one.

Time passed. We went our separate ways, him to Japan to teach at a junior college, me to finish my last two years at college, then to get my own job teaching English in Japan, 20 train hours south of him. Some of the other ex-pats near me tended toward hippy-dom, but I didn't know any of them well enough for it to rub off much.

A few years later found my Farmer and me, married, visiting “our” commune again after a road trip 'round the country. We planted figs and elderberries and reminisced, and went home to garden and dream of a round house built on a meadow.

But so far the hippy influence had been pretty mild.  It cranked up another notch when, visiting a friend home from the mission field, we were introduced to “missionary medicine” - a wicked-tasting concoction of garlic, onion, jalepeno, ginger, horseradish & vinegar, reputed to cure anything.  The idea of curing garden-variety illnesses with, well, garden ingredients, appealed to us, and we made some.  We tried it out on our sore throats shortly afterward and were impressed at the results.  Then, as our babies began to arrive, we started learning about and using food-based remedies  rather than bottles from the pharmacy shelves:  ginger for nausea, garlic oil for earaches, elderberry for colds and flu, herbs for allergies, honey-lemon for coughs.

A few years further down the road, a friend who made her own laundry detergent inspired the DIY streak in me to give it a try (three tries, actually, till I found a recipe that works in our hard water). An article connecting breast cancer (which has shown up in my family tree more than once) with the use of anti-perspirant and a certain feminine undergarment prompted me to search out deodorant alternatives and go (discreetly) without either, for a time.

And then a year or two ago, tooth problems and the potential bill for a root canal had us searching out other possible solutions to dental assumptions, and ended with an infection healed, and me (& eventually the rest of us) trading toothpaste for baking soda.

But the real clincher, the straw that broke the yuppie's back so to speak, was the “no-shampoo” movement, as championed by my sister. She posted teasers on facebook and soon had me looking up links where people raved about how gorgeous their hair became (after a greasy month or so) using only baking soda to wash it and vinegar to condition.

I was dubious. My hair, surely, was the exception. Oily at the roots, notoriously dry at the tips, and too short to put up in the proverbial ponytail – no way would this work.

But … baking soda & vinegar instead of xeno-hormone- and chemical-laden shampoo … ? I had just spent a month reading up on perimenopause and its exacerbators (xeno-hormones is one of them), and I was too intrigued to not try it.

And so the last frontier has been crossed.

It has been just over five weeks since I last used shampoo: I am officially a “dirty hippy.”

But you know what?  It's fun!  I am happy. Making my own “shampoo” and “deodorant” and laundry “detergent” gives me a sort of mudpie-making, thumbing-your-nose-at-the-rules pleasure.  It feels good to use products whose ingredients I understand on myself and my family.  I won't go back.

You should try it!

: : :

You might like it.

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