August Days

comments: 53

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I’m doing this post from my iPad. This is a first so I wonder if these photos will format correctly (ed: they did not, but I fixed them on computer :((( ). Forgive, it seemed better than nothing. These were all on my iPad from the past few weeks. This was August. I’ve had a keen, poignant sense this month of wanting to not “waste” a moment on Amelia's behalf. I try to get us out all day, every single day. I’ve never really done that before, except by accident. This week it’s been morning tennis lessons at the park. The tennis courts are way off in the corner of the park, overlooking the dry hill and the railroad tracks down below. Beyond the tracks is the multi-use path and then the Willamette River that cuts our city in two, east side and west side. We are decidedly east-side people this summer, sticking close to home and, in fact, going to Sellwood, a neighborhood a few miles south. Suddenly everything we do is in Sellwood: Sellwood Park and Sellwood pool and Sellwood tennis lessons, and the rhododendron garden near Sellwood, and my fish-burrito place and Reed College canyon, and my mom’s house and then, I don’t know, back to Sellwood for something again. Too bad we don’t just live in Sellwood. But we've been outside all month nevertheless.

My god, the tennis lessons are terrible. Twenty-five little kids, two teenagers literally on their phones. The “teachers” are sitting on the ground looking at their phones. The kids throw balls across the court for a half an hour. That’s the activity. Just throw balls across the court while the teachers take a break at 10:30 in the morning. Then at 11:00 they do their main activity. That’s stand in line, wait your turn, then go to one side of the court and "serve" a ball over the net. They can barely hit a ball. Amelia throws it up fifteen feet in the air and backwards over her head. If they whiff it, and most of them do, too bad, that’s their turn. Then they go to the other side of the net and “receive” (mostly nothing). Then they go back and wait in line again. They do this for another hour (the teenager, lobbing balls dolefully toward them, gives them no instruction, no advice) and then the lesson is over. There’s only one other mom who stays for the lesson, as I do, knitting at the picnic table up the hill. She, chasing a toddler, is apoplectic (love!), has already emailed and called the director with complaints, and we’ve both spoken to the teenagers — alas, this is all on plan. After the lesson, we compose: Amelia is thrilled, pink-cheeked and delighted that she hit two over the net. She’s with her bright-pink backpack and her racket and her pink water bottle, in shorts, knee socks, and a button-down Peter Pan–collared blouse over a long-sleeved striped t-shirt with her hair in two long, tangled braids, smiling and telling me that tennis is her new hobby, that she’s going to be in the Olympics when she’s a teenager, she will be, in the Olympics, but for gymnastics. All of this breaks my heart in a hundred thousand different ways. I feel pieces of it exploding weakly up into the parched, ancient pine trees above. The air is cool and scented with pine and chlorine. It’s the end of summer and I ache with love and sorrow daily, in every moment. I love her so much and want every good and golden thing for her, every day. She screamed at the park yesterday when the ice-cream man came and she got her Powerpuff Girl ice-cream bar, literally screamed like she'd been bitten; I froze with alarm and turned to look at her but she was just that happy, and we all, even the kids, bubbled with laughter.

I won't tell you about the hellscape of the hospital or what it's like right now, the things that Andy tells me and how tired he is, how hard it is day after day, the beds in the hallways and the skeleton crew, and I burn with a helpless and bewildered fury that it has come to this. Every day, tears in my eyes, trying, trying. We've been instead focused on organizing some of the house a little bit, and had a big shelving unit delivered yesterday to replace Andy's desk, which has become a catch-all for his stuff in general. It's basically become a shelf that really sucks as a shelf. The only time he actually sits at the desk is the day, maybe twice a year, that he cleans off the desk, and that only lasts minutes, at the most. Seems dysfunctional to have a desk that only gets used for fifteen minutes a year. So, once again with the giant wall of cube holes, and storage cubes, and putting things away, and fixing the smallest spaces in a futile effort to assuage the greater chaos and terror of the world at large and all that we cannot control in it.

The weather, hallelujah, I have zero complaints about, and today it will be 75 degrees, max. This makes doing outside things (oh you pretty things!) so doable and delightful, and today, after tennis, we'll go (again and again) to the park.

I have two new fall designs, the next in my seasonal series, coming out soon. I’m still stitching them — well no, I’m still stitching ONE of them. I haven’t even started the hoop-design stitching because the cross stitch is taking forever! It has large areas of solid color. This series has been kind of a departure for me but I have really grown to love it (though I might be the only one — it has not been a bestseller) But did you see the digital on Instagram??? It's adorable. I’m hoping they’ll both be out by early October, at the rate I’m going. I’ll also be reissuing Things of Autumn from last year, as well as The Leaves by Hundreds Came, from 2019, and Andy still has to pull floss for all four of these designs and you can see why things take us a while. . . . But we will get there.

Amelia will stay home this fall and will be enrolled full-time in our school district’s online-learning option. I reorganized her half of the office we share, and got an IKEA pegboard for various supplies and headphones, a computer-monitor riser to raise up the computer (which she doesn't actually use but I use for all my order shipping) and give her room to put her school-issued Chromebook beneath it, and a new filing cabinet for her folders and papers. I spent a few hours over the weekend sharpening every single colored pencil that would fit in the desktop carousel I bought for pens and pencils. I wish that I had done all of this for her last year. I don’t know why I couldn’t figure out that I needed to do this, and I think the disorganization of that desk space — it was all sort of an afterthought, and never didn’t feel like an afterthought, even eighteen months in — did not contribute to her success in any way, though, I mean, she generally succeeded in spite of my failures. I also think that the way we did it (working with her in the mornings on Oak Meadow [the Waldorfy curriculum that we purchased separately] and then having her go to virtual morning meetings with her class and then back to virtual math with them in the afternoon) was actually just hectic and confusing and divided her attention and ours in stressful and unproductive ways. Andy had much more fun with it (and she with him) than I did. But I’m always trying to do my own work in the margins, and that’s hard. Posie is a business and has always needed to be a business, not just a hobby; we rely on the money I make, and not working much these past few years has been really stressful financially, on top of it. We calculate each risk, and make decisions, and worry whether they are “right,” and try to get it all done the very best we can. Like everyone. But wow.

Shows I am OBSESSED with: Clarkson’s Farm and the fourth season of This Farming Life. Oh my gosh I love both of these so much. I love them and every single person in them. I guess I’ve secretly always wanted to live on a small British sheep farm. I didn’t know how much. I love Gardener’s World, too, of course, and there are a gajillion seasons of that, as well as Escape to the Country. But these farming shows. Aghhhh, they really have my heart.

To end, I made the sweet romper (out of luscious Woolfolk Far) for darling Emily’s new baby. And I cross stitched this adorable design by Samantha Purdy for my little sister’s birthday. I can also heartily recommend two Instant Pot recipes that I’ve made that are just awesome. Salsa verde chicken (I might’ve mentioned this one before, but I make it every single week now) and this chicken teriyaki, which Amelia inhaled (no surprise, it’s smothered in honey; you could probably reduce that easily). Also this sumac chicken was great. I like chicken and rice. One good thing about pandemic life is grocery delivery, which has been absolutely wonderful for me and I’m very, very grateful that it exists.

Thank you for the comments on my previous few posts. Your words mean a lot to me and I’m very grateful for your presence here, and for your orders and interest in my designs, at all times. Thank you.

53 comments

Sooooo nice to have a new post!
Thankyou

It's so lovely to hear from you Alicia! I'm looking forward to your autumn stitching releases.

All my best to you all, especially Andy. I have been reading about the overwhelming awfulness of what’s going on in hospitals right now, and it breaks my heart. The best of the best people, like Andy, are suffering. It’s wrong, and it’s unfair. I don’t know if the words of a stranger out on the internet will be helpful or not. I hope they are.

Your posts always make me laugh and make me cry. I feel the things you say so deeply. Thank you.

I always look forward to your news and pictures and wish I could follow you on Instagram but cannot for the life of me find the right account. What name should I be looking for? I no longer blog because my old computer can’t manage to upload photos anymore to usefulorbeautiful.
In spite of myself, I too became hooked on Clarkson’s Farm, having not been terribly impressed by his Top Gear shenanigans. I will look for the other farming programme.

Your post came at the perfect time. This morning I had read the news, etc. and was looking for something else. As always, your blog post and accompanying photos reminded me of calm, happiness, wonder, coziness, kindness, delicious food and beauty. Thank you for once again reminding us of the normality of everyday life; and the large and mostly small pieces of life that are so very important to keep us all mentally and physically happy. Take care of yourself, while caring for your lovely family.

Dear Alicia. I feel I could comment on every single part of this, but won't :) Thank you to Andy for the work he does and the work of his hospital. It must be heart breaking and I truly hope there are good uplifting moments. I was horrified and then smiled at your account of the tennis lessons. I took a granddaughter to gymnastics 'lessons' and wondered what the (chatting to each other) young 'leaders' got paid for. But the kids had a fabulous, slightly chaotic, time and burnt up energy and they left happy. Oh and lego on the floor! Ouch! When my older son was 5 I bought a feet-saving large 1 or maybe 1.5 metre diameter circular denim mat/bag. It had rings round the circumference and bright red cord to tie it up. Ok there were still lego constructions and lego knights battling on every shelf and surface but the sharp pointy extra bits more or less stayed on the mat and were easily picked up by pulling in the draw string. Thank you for the photos that remind me of the hot dusty summers of my childhood. And thanks even more for all the honest reflections here. Arohanui from NZ

Hi! I have TED as well - and just got done with Tepezza. Have you heard about it? Its a new FDA drug that is approved to help with your eyes. Its VERY expensive but most insurance will cover it. There are 8 infusions spread out every 3 weeks. I would recommend you make sure you are seeing a really good eye doctor that knows about Tepezza. I found one in Idaho and also got a 2nd opinion in California. The California doctor that knows so much about Tepezza is Dr. Raymond Douglas. I did a consult with him virtually and he helped me so much. I'm sure Oregon has really good eye doctors. They have to be a Oculoplastic Surgeon and board certified. My Endo actually was the one that prescribed the Tepezza. But I also see a really good expert eye doc that also knows about Tepezza. So both can help you on that. If you want more info on my Tepezza experience (side effects, how the process worked etc.) please reach out. I had mild TED but my family says it has helped my overall appearance. Both doctors are tracking my progress on my eyes as I just got done in July.

For the people that have major TED it really does help. Its way better than radiation apparently. Also there is a Facebook Group that is private that just deals with TED. The name of the group is Thyroid Eye Disease Support Group. You just search for it and answer a couple questions and you can ask questions etc. Lots of good info on there. Although many have it really bad :( So it can be hard to see sometimes. But they have lots of tips like this one... Are you eating 3 brazil nuts a day? Apparently they have selenium in there and very good for our TED eyes. You need to soak the nuts overnight because they have a wax on it.

I'm sorry you have Graves. I was in a depression for awhile after I was diagnosed. It seemed to come out of nowhere. But it has gotten better!

Thanks for your blog! YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!!

Jennifer

Oh Amelia's kitty-cat drawing is fabulous!

Patti Smith says: August 26, 2021 at 04:41 PM

My gratitude and thanks to Andy for his hard work during these awful, strange times. My Mother-in-law was an ER nurse for 40 years. They are all my heroes. Bless you Andy, for your dedication. Thank you, Alicia, for your posts. They make me feel good thru all this insanity. Lovely Mimi. She is getting so big and turning into a beautiful young lady. You are all special and I wish all good things for you and your beautiful family. Stay safe everyone!

Loved Clarkson's Farm, but could the guy do anything right?!! It was hilarious and that young farmer who helped him was so funny, too. I wish it would have gone on and on. How wonderful to get to spend all this time with your daughter. And it always surprises mothers when their children absolutely love something that they don't think means a thing. I hope Mimi will grow up and be a great tennis player, if not an Olympian.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful post in the midst of such trying circumstances. It was a wind of courage to me this morning. Blessings to you, Andy, and Amelia.

I'm right there with you on all things. Thank Andy for me, he just can't be thanked enough. Let him know we are out in the world thinking of him. Just everything...I laughed out loud at the burning building trampoline comic. It's laugh or cry at this point, it is just so much with the world.

On a lighter note, I LOVE the people in season 4 Farming Life, love that show so much. I dream of a British farm but I know I would last maybe half a day as a sheep farmer.

Oh- and the tennis lessons, it reminds me of my son's soccer coach when he was six years old. She was maybe 16 and always on her phone and she would have to help ref the games while trying to deal with her phone in one hand and her coffee in the other. Half the time she would set down the cup and leave it on the field in the middle of a game. My husband and I, whenever we deal with challenging sports stuff with our son now always say "well at least there isn't a coffee cup in the middle of the field".

Thanks as always for the lovely words and photos. Thank you Andy!

Hi Alicia. I can totally relate to Andy's desk situation. I have been thinking the same thing about mine, and just procrastinating. We can't have people in our homes at the moment, so how do I sell it? Anyway, we'll get there one day. Also loved Clarkson's Farm. The description of the tennis lessons made my daughter groan. Something for everyone!

I love everything in this post! Your tennis lessons descriptions were gold. I just finished Clarkson Farm too and loved it so much- I was happy to hear they're filming the next season right now. I'm definitely going to try that chicken teriyaki recipe, thanks!

Hi Alicia, I love everything in this post! As always, your blog post and accompanying photos reminded me of calm, happiness, wonder, coziness, kindness, delicious food and beauty. Thank you for once again reminding us of the normality of everyday life; and the large and mostly small pieces of life that are so very important to keep us all mentally and physically happy.
Mimi is growing up to be such a lovely young lady; love her tiny freckles!
You have a lovely home, and I love the picture of the room, with Mini working at the table, quilts on the chair, kitty cat looking on, it's just a sweet homely image! Would you mind letting me/us know about the large picture you have hanging above the brown side table? Who is it by? From what I can see, I LOVE it.....

Take care of yourself, while caring for your lovely family.
Lots of love from Holland,
Nicoline

My daughter is a nurse so I know you feel. I don't know how they do it week after week. The way the world is right now has us all on edge and wondering where it will go from here. I, myself, have not been able to watch the news for months now. I just can't. So happy to see you posting!

Lovely to read your news as always. If you've a thing for British Farms, then do look our for Our Yorkshire Farm - maybe three of four series? Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess has written a couple of books too (and writes very well) about her life on a remote Yorkshire hill farm and raising her nine children (!!!) I am sure you will fall in love with the family as we have done.
https://www.yorkshireshepherdess.com/

Kate Bates says: August 27, 2021 at 04:44 AM

Sweetheart, you are tired to the bone. Hold on, better times are coming xxx

I could say that you accomplish great things with a simple photo but I would not be fair or right. Your photos have a "je ne sais quoi" that make them wonders and delights for our sight. Have a nice weekend.

I love your posts so much (even though I never comment)-- they always feel like a letter from a friend. I saw the Sophie Mouse books, which are so great- and thought I'd give a shameless plug for my Mouse Scout series www.mousescouts.com. Maybe she'll like them!

Ohh...that one pic of the legos everywhere. That chaos represents motherhood doesn't it. lol I too have been looking inward, towards the home, to ease the stress of the world around us. Gives me such peace. Hang in there...I have to believe we are getting close. BTW, keep up the stories about Andy's hospital - still too many people out there who aren't in touch with reality. :)

Jude Walker says: August 27, 2021 at 11:34 AM

Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful photographs and your honest thoughts and reflections.
So lovely to hear you're enjoying my favourite shows too...
From over the water in the Shropshire countryside, England,
Jude X

I will just echo everyone else's comments and say THANK YOU for sharing your life with us, and also that we hope you remember that we are all here with you.

Such great photos, as always. And I also loved the memes/quotes that you snuck in this time. <3

I picture your daughter going through a Harriet the Spy phase with her little notebooks.

I also am dying to know what the white stuff is, on top of the fruit cobbler. I can't figure it out.

Take good care, all of you. I love this loving and special part of the internet.

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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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Photography

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.