Posts filed in: August 2018

Wind in the Willows

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Ohhhh, I want to go back. Three days at the river. It was short but felt long, in some ways. You follow the sun, there, moving chairs and blankets to stay in shade or face the river, from morning until dinnertime. The day passes in quiet arc of meals and trips down to the river and trips back up the hill to get out of wet, sandy swimwear and rinse off the sunscreen. Bald eagles circle lazily above. Ducks splash and dive and surface. It's absolutely incredible to be in a place where there are no roads, no cars, no other people. Where there is complete freedom to do whatever you want, for as long as you want, for Amelia to just wander around and find things to do, or not do. For me to be able to hear her wherever she was, even when she was out of my sight, building fairy houses or stacking dominoes or taking a bath. At dusk, the crickets come out and their chirping is the loudest sound around. Each night, after Amelia went to bed, Andy and I sat around eating bowls of cherry ice cream and watching a Christmas movie on Amazon. I don't know why we watched that but it just felt like a vacation thing, and required nothing from us in any way. I read (I did not finish my book, nowhere near) and knit (I ran out of yarn) and none of it bothered me one bit. I spent countless hours just watching the river roll by, and watching the light change, and watching the birds. The air smelled like mud and green things. Amelia saw a snake in the brush — twice — and screamed the house down. Andy pulled her up and down and across the river in her raft, going ashore often to explore, looking for the beaver carcass they found last year, finding a beaver den, finding crayfish claws, gloopy seaweed, snail shells soft as fingernails. Families of ducks flew up and down the river roadway from morning until night, landing with a collective sploosh. We rolled around on quilts on the grass and took long showers. We all slept so late that we missed the mist rising off the river in the mornings. We cooked and ate and let the house get so messy you would've thought ten people were living there instead of just us, just us three. It was just wonderful.

On the way home, we stopped off at Amelia's new school for her first meeting with her new teacher. As the teacher led her around her beautiful new classroom, and introduced her to the class bird, and showed her cursive letters and told her she was going to learn how to write them this year, Andy and I sat off to the side and whispered quietly to each other, talking about the room and the teacher and Amelia and everything, and feeling so full of hope and nervousness and pride and a thousand other emotions I don't know how to name.

Send Rain

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Ahhhhh, August. It's you. You with your parched-out lawns and your afternoon dust-devils, your back-to-school shopping lists and melancholy swimming pools. The air is hot and dry. The light is languid and golden-red from the smoke of faraway forest fires, and my heart has been heavy for California these many weeks. In the afternoon our yard is littered with the detritus of a kid with nothing to do: a baby pool filled with cloudy water and grass and Lego people. Two umbrellas (neither of which are the one pictured here, naturally). Several glasses filled with iced tea from three days ago. A Star Wars bike helmet. Playskool houseboat. "Welcome to Margaritaville" lawn chair. Lawn chairs (sans greetings) that I will sit on, and tired, sun-faded hippie pillows. A dozen desiccated former bouquets, left everywhere you look. Silly Putty (dehydrated). Dozens of colored paper clips that got taken out of the house for some desperate purpose, only to be scattered around and forgotten, minutes later. I wonder what lawn mowers make of paper clips. . . . Not that there's any cause to mow the lawn. It's completely dead, just like everyone else's. I've kept the flower beds alive; the lawn and the parkway garden are fried up and gone. All gone.

Summer is hard for me. It's been HOT most of the time, like literally too-hot-to-go-outside hot, at least for me. I'm a mushroom who looks like a roasted ear of corn, in spite of everything, everything. I try to go to the parks, playgrounds, run errands, all that stuff, before lunch. At lunch I drag Amelia around on my never-ending quest not for the best food but for the most-air-conditioned Thai restaurant in Portland. My questions, when considering what to eat: How far do we have to walk from the car to the door? Will they let me sit next to the AC vent? And do they consider 80-degrees an acceptable indoor temperature (I don't)? I can't believe I am this type of person. Amelia eats Pra Ram with tofu and I have my fried rice or green curry. She draws with ballpoint pens on napkins or on printer paper that the waitresses bring her because I never seem to have these things, or she stabs anything she can with toothpicks, or she makes pictures with toothpicks, or she snaps chopsticks apart. Sometimes I read my book (right now, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and I can't put it down) and she finds tiny plastic animals in a basket and makes them talk to each other. We frequently bring stuff home for dinner because it's just too hot to cook. We still have a month until school starts. Almost every single kid we know is in day camp, so it's been hard to make plans. Consequently, she tends to play with an ever-rotating cast of unfamiliar kids at an ever-rotating series of playgrounds. She's good at this, and will walk up to any kid anywhere and introduce herself (occasionally to be met by the other kid's sheer terror at being approached, or their indifference, or their outright rejection, which always makes my mama-heart secretly shatter into a hundred million pieces). But, in general, as Only Children need to do, she makes friends quickly and easily, and always, eventually, finds at least one little kid to pair off and run around with. Nevertheless, I think we both dearly miss the consistency of seeing our school friends (the same friends) every day, day after day, and having a routine, and staying more scheduled in our daily lives. Ironically, when we have gotten together with our old friends, the same kids who used to spend hours and hours every day together at preschool playing their various made-up games with unknown-to-anyone-but-them kinds of rules, they can barely manage to give each other the time of day. I've seen this happen almost every time! And now it makes sense — as easily as they make friends, they easily forget them. Because they live in the moment. And that moment, the old moment, has passed. I, however, am looking forward to being part of something again, and having that sort of regular interaction with people. I know I've said this before but one of the most shocking things about parenthood to me is how many people you get to know and then leave behind, never to be seen again. Moms (mostly moms, some dads) at school, moms at ballet, moms at swimming lessons, moms at the park (to a lesser extent, because you rarely see the same people twice, but sometimes you do). I honestly had no idea that so many mom-relationships are so temporary. I mean, I have mom friends in the neighborhood and in my life that don't change, etc., and that's good. But I'm talking about the people that you get to know a little bit through the various activities that you're there doing temporarily, and then when those things are over, it just goes poof! I think that's so weird! I mean, I'm not saying I really want to change it — I'm as pathetic at staying in touch with people as they come, and anyway, these aren't really those kinds of relationships (the staying-in-touch-kinds) yet, honestly. They're the pool-deck kind, and the park-bench kind. But I just have never had this kind of experience so often with anything or anyone else in the history of my life. It must be a bit like being a camp counselor, or traveling a lot for work, or running a bed-and-breakfast — you're constantly saying hello and then, very quickly (in the scheme of things), saying goodbye. And I'm just saying that I am ready for some consistency and stability myself, and more hanging around and less departure.

Back to the book I am reading (points above). I want you to know that I found the link to that for you all without really looking at the computer screen because I do not want to know what ratings this book got or read a single spoiler about it or anything like that. Nothing. I barely read the flap. I'm on page 200ish of an 800-page book and I believe it's going to get me all the way through our vacation at the end of the month without me wandering away. And that's more than I can say for the probably twenty other library books I have checked out and returned, unfinished, this summer. I know it's me, not them (probably), but what can I say. Nothing's been sticking. Until now. Fingers crossed. I do live in constant fear that I'll get really into a really big, fat book like I did with The Goldfinch only to get to the end and have the world's biggest hissy-fit, which is what I did — I hated the way that book ended so much. I was furious. My roaring anger at it (and I mean, I really was shouting when I finished it) was in equal and direct proportion to how much I had loved it while reading it, and the whole experience was just waaaaaay too radical and insane, even for me, and I'm not looking to repeat that right now. So, you Luminaries, CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED. . . . Don't you let me down or things will get ugly. It’s hot here.

Now. I have finally gotten my Summer Storm PDF up in my web shop. I need to finish the pattern for my autumn cross stitch — I finished all of the stitching and the floss and fabric have been ordered, but I need to finalize the actual chart. Then, just as I woke up one morning thinking, "Hey! I should do some kind of hand-dyed-yarn advent calendar!" someone wrote to me and asked me if I was going to do some kind of hand-dyed yarn advent calendar. And then all hell broke loose in my brain and I started hammering ideas at Andy Paulson while he was trying to wrangle a small child and a small dog (paybacks). So all day today I've been sketching out ideas for what this would look like from me. In case you've never heard of this concept (it's pretty trendy in the hand-dyed-yarn community, but until I started dyeing yarn I'd never heard of it before, to be honest) you would basically pre-order this special box of goodies that I would ship to you sometime in November, so that you were ready to start opening on December 1. In the box would be twenty-five separate little packages, all wrapped up and labeled with numbers 1 through 25, and, just like a regular advent calendar, you would get to open one package each day. Among the packages would be mini-skeins of yarn, along with a full-size (100g) skein of yarn (for Christmas morning, of course), plus a special full-size lotion bar, plus various other luxurious little winter- or knitting-related presents for you, picked or designed or made by me. I don't even want to tell you what the things are yet because I'm too excited and my ideas aren't fully baked yet. But all day I've been thinking of ideas and running numbers and looking at clip-art and researching prices and sourcing packaging and calculating shipping costs, etc. Nanny Katie will be leaving the Posie studio to return to her full-time teaching position in the fall, but one of her friends may take over for her here, if everything works out. I know I can't do this alone, but if everything does work out, I seeeeeeriously want to do this, because it would be so much fun. I would do a very limited run, probably fifty max, just to see how it all goes. These can get kind of expensive because I can already see that they are a lot of work to put together, but people seem to like to buy them. What do you think? Have you gotten one before? How did it go? Tell me everything.

August

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I'm having a lazy day. Andy and Amelia are at the zoo with friends and the house here is quiet and calm. The sky is overcast, the air cool. All of this, every single thing, is so different from how it's been around here lately, how it's been around here usually (hot, loud, chaotic, bright, messy, frantic). I'm looking outside and there's not even a breeze to ruffle the leaves. That's how quiet it is, and how still.

We finished swimming lessons for the summer yesterday. I get very, very nostalgic as each thing finishes lately. Last year swimming lessons seemed to go on forever. This year, July flew. Is that how everything's going to be now? Fraught with flight? Swimming lessons, by their nature, go too fast. There's so much preparation: getting the kid to stop doing whatever she's doing to go potty/put on bathing suit/put on sunscreen/fill up water bottle, then hustling out to car with swim basket in tow (clothes, underpants, towels, goggles, sunscreen, etc.), then driving twenty minutes up to the lesson. Then going to the half-hour lesson. Sitting on the lawn chair, watching, I remark to anyone within earshot that I wish the lesson lasted three hours. I would like to sit there on the lawn chair with my feet up in the shade, listening to the pool sounds, watching people play in the water, watching people play with my child, for three full hours. That would be a good start. But before I know it, it's over. Amelia, dripping, beaming, comes toward me. I hold the towel open and gather her into it and she climbs on top of me and lays her wet head on my chest. We lay like that for as long as I can get her to stay, just resting. But then she wants to take her shower so it's up and to the locker room where the girls stand there, trance-like under the running water. We try to get them to share the space, to rinse off, to wash their hair, to rinse out the shampoo, but they're zombified by the warmth and the spray. We moms fuss, wringing out wet suits, collecting goggles, looking for brushes in bags, encouraging our daughters to make room for incomers, and perhaps even move along. The girls stand and stare into space. Finally, one of us: "Okey dokey, let's go, ladies." Reluctantly they come, shuffling out. Again, towels. Peeling off suits, dropping dry clothes onto the sopping floor, picking them up, stuffing damp arms into dry sleeves, all in slow motion. Getting dressed literally takes a forty-five minutes. The half-hour swim lesson, which goes by at lightning-speed, winds up actually taking half a day, when all is said and done.

Nevertheless, I will miss it all. But it's August, already and finally August, and now we get to be lazy. There's nowhere to be every morning at 10:40 a.m. anymore. I couldn't care less what time it is. I let Amelia take an entire bag of tortillas into the studio and eat four of them along with half a bag of frozen blueberries in front of the computer, watching Tumble Leaf for three hours. The weather last week was so relentlessly scorching hot that I literally felt cooked. Deep fried. One night the air conditioner stop working and I bleated in panic, and thought about dumping a glass of freshly poured ice water straight over my head. July was just so busy, and so hot. I feel like I'm in recovery from it, somehow, and just want to lay in front of the open windows, drinking iced tea straight from the pitcher while surfing pictures of unicorn cakes on Pinterest. That feels like plenty to do now. A good day's work. 

About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.