Posts filed in: Life

It’s A New Year

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Happy New Year, guys.

Eeeee-yipes, am I ever lazy. That's January. I usually lay around. The other day I stayed in my nap dress and got back into bed and put my computer on my lap to work on my cross-stitch pattern and watched TV all day. It was glorious. Andy busted out laughing when he came upstairs and saw me, a stack of dirty dishes next to me on the nightstand. I'm finally starting to get into lockdown. Nowhere to go, no one coming over, nothing to do, no guilt about that! I did feel vaguely guilty about not even getting dressed. I only get to do things like this when Andy is home, of course. Generally he works four 12-hour days in a row, and yes, I am almost shrieking by the end of Day Four, especially when Amelia decides to throw a wobbly right at bedtime. Why is it only at bedtime?! It only seems to happen on Day Four. It's only Day Two today, so hopefully we're good. . . . I can’t take it.

Last night Agatha Kitten was just attacking me relentlessly for an hour! Biting my hands, stalking then lunging at me, and trying to jump up from the side of the bed to get under the covers and claw my feet. What is her problem! She was possessed. She just wouldn't stop. I put her in the hallway and shut the door and then she howled and banged on the door. I'm not kidding. I got up and let her in and she just started biting me again. She is a very bitey cat. It's been so long since I had a baby cat that I can't remember how long this attack-stage lasts. I remember Violet when she was little attacking my feet under the covers, too. That's very annoying. I'm ready for her to start acting a little more mature instead of like a rabid goblin. (And, BTW, she did very well with the Christmas tree and couldn't have cared less about it, but she was absolutely obsessed with the decorated mantel and went up there almost every day and tried to throw things off of it and knocked everything over regularly.) She has no fear and is utterly indifferent to our displeasure. But then she can be such a little lover! Agatha is like a Garbage Patch Kid. First she's sour, then she's sweet. Currently napping sweetly and adorably on the sofa next to me.

I cleaned the house for several hours yesterday. It was so messy. We put all of the Christmas stuff away and I redid my mantel with nothing but a few fake candles, a fake snowy owl, a little vase of fake eucalyptus, and two baskets. I ordered new curtains to cover the shelves on either side of the fireplace (they hold nothing but all of our photo album and old VHS tapes that we can't part with on one side, and a bunch of toys and junk on the other side). I used to have two matching curtains for those shelves but apparently one is lost. I might get two new lamps for the tops of those shelves. We just really need a change. I have two little Ikea lamps up there right now and I've probably had them for twelve or thirteen years. I don't like Ikea lamps because you can really only use Ikea lampshades with them (unless you want to do a clip-on, on the lightbulb). Ikea lampshades are kind of lame. I enjoy surfing Wayfair and maybe I'll do that later.

Andy got his first vaccine on December 26. He gets the booster in ten days or so, depending on his work schedule; I can't remember. So grateful for this. Beyond words.

I got a plug-and-play hot tub for my birthday! It's absolutely awesome. We go in it almost every day. It's really, really good. We need a cover lifter. I don’t enjoy staggering through the mud trying to heft a giant cover onto the table so we can get in when I’m here alone with Amelia.

Currently obsessed with documentaries and reality shows about polygamous cults and other cults. Naturally. Andy was mildly disapproving every time he came in and saw me watching Escaping Polygamy again, goggle-eyed, munching on my lemon cupcake in my nightgown and pointing at the TV like I can’t believe this! But then he'd sit down for one second and start watching it and couldn't look away! I told him! And have you watched Wild Wild Country? Rajneeshees in Oregon. Andy and I are glued. We have one episode left. Incredible story. Well worth watching this. ***Finished it: WOW. What a film. I highly recommend it.

Good times!

I have three embroidery kits I am working on. One is a new 6"x8" seasonal cross stitch (to fit an 8"x10" frame), one is another little hooped wreath (for spring), and one is the embroidered jewelry I was making last year. I'm trying to source everything for that now. I've never done this kind of kit. It will include four pendants with jump-rings and chains, and one pin. I think it's going to be really cool. I am happy with my cross stitch design; I was inspired by woodcuts and I think I have pretty good ideas for all of the upcoming seasons, too.

I hope you are all well and cozy. Tell me what January is like for you.

* Meet Agatha *

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We got a new kitten. Her name is Agatha. Isn't she adorable?????

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We love her so much! She is so utterly adorable and sweet! I've never had a kitten like this. You can turn her over onto her back and she'll just lay in your arms and let you rub her tummy. You can pet her anywhere on her body and she loves it. You can pick up each of her paws and play with her little pads with your fingers and she doesn't even flinch. She is so totally relaxed. She wants to sit on one of us all the time and her purring is intense. She is so cute and sweet and adorable and loving, and the most chilled out cat I have ever seen and I can't believe she's ours!

Roll on By

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Just two days. Two days that felt like two years and also two minutes. River time is fairy time. You don't know what hour or even what day it is, unless you can tell time by the sun. And who really cares what time it is. There's nowhere to go, nothing else to do. The sun and the stones and the water are everything. They're all there is, all you need. Three nights and two days. If only we were there for longer! I honestly did not want to come home! I wanted to stay in the sun with the stones and the minnows and the water-skippers, with the eagles and the sparrows and the ducks, with the wind and the water and the people floating by with their radios and their super-loud conversations and their silly, cartoony tubes. I wanted to stay right there, with my book and my basket and my baby catching crayfish, and my husband skipping rocks, and my legs plunged into the cold, clear water, and then go up to the house for tacos for dinner and s'mores at the firepit and Taylor Swift on repeat and checkers before bed and baths together in the giant tub. I wanted to stay on the porch with my loves, drinking coffee by dawn-light, listening to owls hoot in the gloaming, looking for deer and rabbits in the grass, and watching the water roll and roll and roll on by. Time, mystical time, cutting me open then healing me fine. Oh, no, no, I did not want to come home. . . .

High Summer (and a Plan)

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It's truly summer now. It's hotter, drier, dustier, and everything is in bloom. Our weather has been quite pleasant, in my opinion, because it's been a very cool summer here, only heating up this week. All the many troubles of the world aside, I could get used to this kind of summer, even though we rarely go out; every excursion beyond the property-line feels like traveling to a place of unrest. Everything that was so constant and familiar now feels strange, and tilted, and fragile, and fraught.

Thank you very much for all the homeschooling thoughts, and just for generally listening to me and helping me think through things. In truth, the decision was probably made by the time I got to the end of writing the previous post: We will definitely be homeschooling Amelia full-time next year. And we just got an email from our school yesterday that says they are tentatively planning (among various other options) to allow us (not just us — anyone) to 100% home-school with our own curriculum (instead of the school's distance-learning offering) and still stay enrolled and still be in touch with the class online.

It's all just incredible. My heart truly goes out to every single educator, school employee, janitor, parent, and kid right now. This is hard.

I think I literally researched every single suggestion for a curriculum or approach that everyone here and on Instagram made. I like doing stuff like that. You feel so clueless at first but it's always so bizarre — dig in just a little bit and you will quickly know exactly what you do and do not want. At least in theory. I talked to friends and looked at web sites and read Instagram posts and watched YouTube video-reviews and almost immediately settled on purchasing a boxed second-grade curriculum from Oak Meadow. I wanted something boxed, secular, nature-y, and tested. Oak Meadow happens to be Waldorf-inspired and, it was kinda funny, I got unexpectedly excited about that. It's been bringing me a sweet sort of comfort that reminds me of older happy days. When Amelia was four and five she went to a neighborhood Waldorf preschool (Song Garden, for anyone interested) that we absolutely loved, and I have a very soft spot for the traditions. The teachers were a couple of professional musicians who were longtime Waldorf teachers and had been running their little school for many years. The kids did lantern walks for St. Martin's Day and winter spirals at Christmas, played outside in rain or sunshine and planted a garden from seed. They made stuff out of felt and acorns, wore capes and crowns on their birthdays, and helped make stone soup and bake fresh bread for lunch together at the big round table. It was sweet and slow and gentle and thoughtful, and, for Andy and me, it was our very first introduction to being part of a (great) parent community and we could not have had a better experience. Those were happy days indeed.

Waldorf theory is interesting (I don't get too deep into it, but I'm good with most of what I know for younger kids) and it's also super CRAFTY. And very earthy. And it has a very strong community. And, you know, I just want all that right now. I don't want to be alone. This year is going to be hard for lots of reasons, relentless generalized anxiety notwithstanding, and I want our home (and our home-school) to be a place of joy and peace and comfort and connection. I want songs in the morning and candlelit reading and wildflower studies and fairy stories. I want Beatrix Potter and Elsa Beskow and dandelion play-dough and nature journals. In the second-grade curriculum they study dramatic storytelling and zoology and the histories of ancient China and ancient Mali. They learn to play the recorder, work times-tables up to 12, and use some expensive (holy shit! did you see how much?) art supplies. And I am excited to be part of all of this. Andy is excited, and we make a good team because I like to do the research and make the choices and he is always awesome about not only indulging my each-and-every obsession and whim but also getting totally involved and onboard (like, literally every single time). Amelia is excited because she's Amelia, and she's just got game. My girl is thriving at home and I'm so grateful for that. So, as I said on Instagram, get ready for the beeswax-candle and watercolor-rainbow and moon-phases-made-of-clay posts because we are about to head right down this rabbit hole! Let's see where it takes us! I want to share this experience here.

And very best of luck to every one of you who is also making this choice right now!

Considering

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Oh, hello my dear friends. How are you? We are all home today. Andy is in the garage playing guitar. Amelia is smashing something with the pestle and mortar (I dare not ask). I am cutting linen for the new summer cross-stitch kits. It is slow going and I don't think I've cut literally anything in parallel (I'm sorry). But it's getting cut, and that is something.

Thank you so much for the movie and TV-show recommendations! I am adding everything to the list. Many of them I have seen (because I love the genre) but many are new to me. Last week Andy and I together watched all of Godless, recommended by my friend Jolie, and wow, that was seriously intense. I thought it was amazing. (Very heavy on the sad, violent, and terrifying, though. Be warned.) Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey is in it. I think she is most soulful and lovely. I really like her. This week we're watching A Knight's Tale (which was recommended by many people!) and Ken Burns's The Civil War, and are trying to get into Poldark again. I watched Poldark a few years ago but there was one scene in season one or two that almost killed me and I never watched it afterward. But, so many good things on the list. Thank you again. I really appreciate it!

Today I've been thinking a lot about school next year and I'm moving toward a deeper acceptance of what our reality — everyone's reality — will be when (if) we start leaving the house: I'm considering keeping Amelia home, even if her school does physically open. I have been having this discussion with many of my friends, not just from our school but my friends from Oak Park and River Forest and my friends on Instagram and my best friend in Boston, and just all of us who have small children right now. I was really surprised to hear that many are considering home-schooling, if they have that option (and many people do not have that option). This is such an intensely personal decision, and everyone’s issues are so different. I will admit that I have never, under normal circumstances, considered home-schooling Amelia. But these are not normal circumstances. I suspect that our school's curriculum will include in-classroom teaching and online assignments. Online school absolutely did not work for us. Like, counter-productive disaster. I don't know if there's a way we could stay "virtually" in our class so that she can be connected with her people socially without actually doing the work (but doing other work, from whatever home-school curriculum I follow). I will definitely need a curriculum because I have zero teaching experience and, quite honestly, I will need structure and support and everything that would go with a tested program. I absolutely do not want to reinvent this wheel. I am researching several Montessori home-school programs (there are many!) and another literature-based one that my friend from school will be using with her kids. If we do home-school, we would definitely (hopefully) be returning to public school for third grade. (She's a rising second-grader right now).

I can't quite put into words exactly what school meant to all of us this year. The year before, when we went to a private Montessori pre-K-to-8 school and commuted a half-hour each way (and paid a lot of money), well — that was just actually a horrible year. I couldn't see exactly how miserable we all were (well, me and Andy, mostly) until we were out of it. I think it was also horrible because I had expected it to be so great. The school was great. Don't get me wrong — it is an amazing school (Franciscan Montessori Earth School). But traveling way out of our neighborhood; not having any classmates from our neighborhood; having a really gross, depressing, extremely irritating drive; having ZERO playground culture — all of those things wiped out every positive aspect. We just didn't know it would suck the life out of us like that.

But this school year, when we went to our neighborhood public K-5, was like a dream. Not necessarily academically, because I still prefer the Montessori pedagogy and know it would've been excellent for Amelia. (I will never stop wishing that public school was more like Montessori school.) But everything else about our school — the teachers, the playground, the other parents, the kids, my volunteer hours reading with the kids, the neighborhood, the five-minute drive, feeling a part of our community, having a mom crew, feeling like this thing that I, personally, had waited for for so (soooo) many years was finally happening. Just, the belonging. She felt it and I felt it and I loved it. She loves everything but I do not love everything and I loved this, for all of us. I won't lie. I cried at one point or another in the day almost every day for the first two months of lockdown, when everything just vanished. I just couldn't stop crying. I’ve never cried so much in my life. It was fear, I am sure, but also grief. Grief for worldwide suffering and pain but also grief for our family’s inevitable risks as well as our smallest, most prosaic losses: Everything about our now-big girl’s daily big-girl life had just gotten started — and then it was all just as suddenly gone. She told Andy, quite brightly, that she wished she could drink milk out of a bottle again. She wondered aloud to me whether it was weird that she felt the urge to suck her thumb (something she didn’t even do as a baby). I didn't let Amelia see me crying, except for the one time we did a drive-by birthday party for our friend Jaxen, and when it was our turn to approach and I saw Jaxen and his little brother and his mom out front with her streamers and her signs and her giant smile I just burst into sobs, honked and waved furiously with my big red face about to explode, and drove on. But on a daily basis, when I wasn't crying (privately! I swear! privately! [mostly!]) for what had been lost, I was crying because I was just so moved — every time she'd get on a Zoom call with her teachers (ballet, too) and her classmates,  I was just so moved by the incredible efforts that everyone was making to keep all our kids healthy and happy and safe and emotionally connected during this time. Seeing all these little kids on the screen in their pajamas, eating breakfast, with dogs and baby sisters barging in, and computers not working, and Mrs. B being her calm, loving, insanely patient self, teaching them how to turn their microphones on, telling them how good it was to see them. I mean, I just could not stop crying. Amelia was not crying at all. Not even close. She's been thriving at home, says she loves being at home, says she loves being here with us every day, and she's such a go-with-the-flow person that I believe her and I literally think she's seriously forgotten what she's missing. Like — she lives completely in the moment.

So, yeah. Oregon's numbers are going back up. Part of me is devastated that whatever school will look like, it absolutely can't and won't look like it did. Part of me feels obligated to keep my kid home because I can, and thereby will make more room for the kids and teachers who will have no choice (because their parents don't have a choice) but to physically go to school. Part of me thinks it will be a great adventure for us to home-school, and really dig into something that could be wonderful (but without museums? without the library? will they still be closed? will they close if they reopen?). Part of me just wants to do whatever PPS says we're going to do and trust that they’ll make the right decision about how to proceed. And part of me just feels unsure about everything.

Pulling Together

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Oh, where do the days go? They slide away, they slide away. It's been three months since our stay-home order went into effect. It's felt long and also short, since the days are all so similar they really do run together. I've been having a rough time of it lately. We've gotten out to the woods and the river a bit, and that has been wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. I would like to go all the time. I love everything about the river. I love stopping at Jimmy John's [edited: won't be going to Jimmy John's after what you guys have just told me — ugh, thank you, I had no idea] and picking up sandwiches right on the edge of town. I love the drive into the country, past Christmas tree farms and billowing foxglove groves. I love the smell of the woods and stopping the car for a mama deer and three babies. I love watching Amelia play with her toys in the sand. I love watching raptors circle endlessly over the river. I love reading in my chair. I love when Andy and Amelia go on adventures. I love the sound of the water. I want to go all the time. I can't wait to go back. My nerves feel better for it, for sure.

I hope you are all well and hanging in there!

Amelia is currently in the bathtub. I gave her a can of shaving cream and said go for it. She's hooting and hollering in there right now. She just asked me for another can (no). She's spent most of the day in her underpants, watching Inspector Gadget in the office and eating water chestnuts out of a can with a fork. It's over 90 degrees outside and sunny, without a breeze in sight. I watered the garden at about 8:30 a.m. and then shot right back into the AC. Andy is back at work today for the first time in maybe a week. But we'll pay for that now, all that glorious time off; I think he is working seven days out of the next nine days. Twelve-hour shifts. An hour bus commute on either side. That's rough, though he never, ever lets it show. But we miss him when he's not here.

We stopped at the plant nursery yesterday to pick up some shade annuals for the porch and then we went to the library to pick up the book (Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid) I had placed on hold last winter. They are finally doing hold pick-ups at the library. They meet you at the front door; there there's a table blocking the entrance, and they slide the book to you on a tray. Sigh. I can't say I enjoyed being out at all, though I had been excited to go. We were only gone an hour or two. But I was so relieved to be home, back under my tree, watching Andy plant the impatiens and Amelia whack at the lawn with a croquet mallet. I guess I'll stick to the river for a while.

I have started a new Sawtooth Star quilt for myself, but I have not worked on it too much. It will be eight blocks each of ten different star combos, made of my precious calicos and hand-dyed (by me) muslin. It will be a king-size quilt that I will line with an Ikea comforter (turn and burn method [layer batting, top, then bottom; stitch around all sizes leaving an opening to turn, turn then stitch opening closed], then I'll tie it). I like my quilts to be just thin, puffy comforters now. I've decided I really don't like binding and I don't like machine-quilting — it all makes the quilt too stiff, in my opinion. I'm going back to puffballs tied with #5 perle cotton. I made one for my sister's birthday present (see first picture). Stay tuned, we'll see if I get this thing for myself finished. A precision quilter I am not, though I did buy a fancy Flying Geese ruler, and that is helping very much.

Amelia and I baked a blueberry–cream cheese babka, an Earl Grey cake (the recipe I used doesn't seem to be available any more), and a rhubarb custard pie. Today we are going to make Orange Julius popsicles and chicken tacos.

I have finished my design for Things of Summer (digital screen shot is above) and the printed patterns have arrived (though I haven't opened the box yet; fingers crossed that all is well in there), so I will start putting kits together next week, and it will be on sale soon!

What are you favorite historical fiction movies, like big, epic ones? Or series? I am so in the mood for that. I've been watching absolute garbage TV lately. I do love it so!!!

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I took a bike ride again yesterday. This time I went the other way, not down the hill toward the fancy houses but up the flat road toward the high street. It felt like I hadn't been out in days, weeks, years, had I ever been out?

I rode slowly. It was still quiet, as quiet as it was months ago. My tires were low and it was hard to pedal, which felt right. Everything feels hard. I thought of the tens of thousands of protestors all over the country, out there for hours, hour after hour, day after day. I thought of the struggle of Black people and people of color, and how unbelievably exhausted they must be. I thought of George Floyd and the searing, sickening tragedy of his murder. My legs felt tired, my muscles atrophied and fragile, my bad foot aching and sore. House after house had signs in the window. Black Lives Matter. No Justice No Peace. Say Their Names. Say Their Names. Say Their Names. Sign after sign after sign. Flowers in the gardens, toys scattered in driveways, the smell of mulberries or something like them, sweet and old-fashioned and ripe, in the air. My wheel rubbed against its dented fender, scritch . . . scritch. The tears bubble up so easily these days. There's so little between them and everything, anything else. But there should be the easiest of tears for the evil and cruelty of this senseless, ruthless murder: IT IS WRONG. My heart is breaking for the Floyd family, for the others who have been senselessly murdered, for the pain and suffering of Black people, and for the centuries of systemic racism they have endured. It is all wrong. But . . . so many signs! Thousands and thousands of peaceful protestors in our parks and on our streets! Young people and old people, people of every race and gender, families and children, marching, listening, speaking, begging to be recognized, begging for justice in our country. I have hope. I pray that these days will result in real change. I pray that their voices are heard. Add mine to them.

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Andy Paulson had a birthday last week and he turned 49. Amelia and I made him an Earl Grey cake with honey-buttercream frosting and gave him a Polaroid camera, a frozen hot-dog kit from Portillo's, and several (frozen) Lou Malnotti's pizzas. We watched the SpaceX launch live while talking on walkie-talkies with our neighbors and eating Bomb Pops together. The weather was hot for five minutes and I immediately ordered a gigantic blow-up pool and a side table for my drink and my book (Remain Silent by Susie Steiner, my favorite mystery writer, and the book just came out yesterday). About three weeks ago I suddenly developed some kind of nervous rumble in my torso that never goes away and feels like I'm perpetually about to bungee jump off the side of a cliff. I finished my Things of Summer cross-stitch design and sent the pattern to the printer but I don't remember proofing it and am not sure it would've helped anyway, so let's just keep our fingers crossed on that. I should probably add an errata page to my web site. I made a quilt for my sister's birthday and don't much remember doing that, either. We took sandwiches to the woods and sat under the trees but there were so many people and so many baby mosquitoes that we didn't stay long. Amelia writes in her (school-assigned) journal: "Yesterday I had to take a bath, but I didn't want to. So I did best & soon I'm done." Next day: "Yesterday I had to write in this journal but I did not want to. But I did best & soon I was done." Lord help me. I want to go get a burger and fries at the brew pub more than I can say. I watched Virgin River and New Girl on Netflix and countless episodes of Gardener's World and Escape to the Country. The seeds Amelia and I planted at Mother's Day are coming up. I would give anything for this rumble to be gone from me. . . .

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I hope you are all well and healthy. My neighborhood sent out this list of resources and ways that we can actively work against racism. Parts of it are specific to Portland but it has a lot of other good information. I am listening, and I pledge to continue listening. As we head into summer I am looking forward to parts of the country re-opening and I hope that it goes well. I doubt that things will change too much for our family in regard to reopening, quite frankly, even when Multnomah County does ever start to re-open. I am mostly looking forward to having the playgrounds open for Amelia. I think that has been the very hardest thing for her: no friends and no playgrounds. It's hard to be an only child right now. I promised her we would make New York Cherry ice cream today. I would, if I could, give a scoop and a hand and a hug to all of you.

List of Projects and Not So Much

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Hello, dear friends. I'm so sorry it takes me so long to get back here more often. I don't know where the time goes, honestly.

I am thinking I need to make a list of projects that I would like to do. Firstly, I do have work to do, and am almost finished stitching Things of Summer, the next cross-stitch design in my seasonal series. We already have the fabric for this one on hand, and will be able to make 250 kits again. I had ordered this summer fabric back in February and it came right away, which is good. I also ordered fall and winter fabrics and was a bit worried that they might be cancelled or delayed due to virus stuff, but it looks like they are only a bit delayed. I hope to finish Things of Summer this week and will photograph that and show you. We will probably print patterns and assemble these kits before we sell them (rather than taking pre-orders) because we have the materials on hand. So stay tuned for more on that.

I did design a cross stitch for boys and I need to finish the pattern for that! It's completely done (I'm not stitching it, just showing you the computer version) and I just have to finish the pattern stuff then I will release that one for free.

I decided to start a new Volo sweater for Amelia, and I splurged and bought very fancy yarn for that (Woolfolk Far). I guess I've come all the way around on my acrylic bender. Acrylic is soft, it's cheap, but it pills so bad. :( Wah. I was warned. And, as everyone says, it's true that it just does not stretch. However, my child still will not wear any wool that isn't crazy soft. You know what she will wear? Woolfolk Far, the world's softest and loveliest wool yarn (at least in my opinion) that is also quite expensive. But I thought, if ever there were a time when I needed some very beautiful, very soft, very comfortable yarn in my hands and on her body, it is now. So that's on my list.

I ordered a really pretty puzzle and I hope it comes soon.

My quilt blocks stalled out. I haven't done anything with them.

Amelia and I planted ALL of those seeds in our raised beds yesterday. Apparently I bought them last summer and never planted them. I didn't even remember! I opened a little drawer in the kitchen recently and there they all were. We put them in a bowl — all of them, all together — and mixed them all with a cup of sugar (just to spread them out a bit) and then sprinkled them all over the raised beds. Keeping fingers crossed that something comes of them. It will be survival of the fittest.

I am still working on the paper mache mobile and I will be finished soon! I will take pictures of everything and show you. And for those who asked, I just used 1 part flour to 1 part water, cooked it for a few minutes and then strained it. It made a nice smooth paste.

I really love paper mache and I will need to think of another project when I'm done with it.

Mostly I am rather aimless and still trying to find a path to get on. The days run together, and even though we are so tired at the end of the day it feels like not very much is getting done. Is anyone else experiencing this?

For instance, it has literally taken me all day to write this award-winning post.

How are you?

Finding Our Way

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Hello my friends. How are you doing? We are all home today, in various parts of the house. I'm sitting upstairs on my bed with the computer on my lap. Andy's downstairs looking for our pasta machine that we haven't used in probably ten or fifteen years. It's not going well, and he just shouted up that he's looked in every place it he thought it could possibly be. We both can picture it perfectly in our minds, in its ripped old yellow cardboard box, but it's just not in any of the places we expected to find it. Mimi was on a call with her teacher and classmates earlier, and her job today is to write a thank-you note to her uncle for the very cool wood-burned sign he made for her secret hideout, then there's ballet on Zoom at 3. The weather is cool and cloudy and wet. The yard is covered in petals and puddles. My heart is sore and full of sorrow for the people who are sick, or who have lost friends and family, or who are otherwise suffering losses of so many kinds. I send up my prayers. We are all finding our ways, I know. I would love to know how you are doing.

I have found some respite for my worried mind in a few projects that have kept me busy. I started drawing one afternoon from this adorable book that I bought several months ago and hadn't taken the time to play with. Mimi and I made paper mache faces of each other and had a good time doing that. I decided to make a mobile for her with little paper mache things that she likes. So far there are: a kitty, a mouse, a book, a rainbow, a bed, an ice cream cone, a sun, a boat, a lemonade, and a house. She still wants Saturn, a teacup, and a mushroom. I sat on the bed where I have my own little TV and binge-watched Doctor Foster (very dark but with one of my favorites, Suranne Jones, who I loved in Scott & Bailey — I really like British lady-cop and detective shows) and taped things together out of cardboard boxes, milk cartons, the protective packaging that came with my printer toner, a toilet paper tube, and various other pieces of garbage I could find around the house. It was delightful. Then I spent a day paper mache-ing them (also while sitting on the bed. Andy was impressed that someone could paper mache eight things while sitting on a bed. I told him that when there is a will I will find a way). Sometimes it is just nice to have some time and a little corner of the house to oneself so you can paper mache ice cream cones and watch scary lady-dramas in peace, you know?

Yesterday it was beautiful and sunny and we covered the new back-porch table in paper and painted out there all day. Like all day. I must say, it's pretty wonderful, in spite of everything, to have all day to do something so silly and sweet and fun. I think it was the first time that I had been able to relax in the past two months, quite frankly, and even before the virus started there would've been no way that I ever would've spent a whole day just doing something like this. I have spent entire days sewing or embroidering before, but that always ultimately, even if I'm just making something personal, feels a little bit like work for me. Doing new things, things I never usually do, feels helpful and I'm finding joy in the doing.

I made this magic custard cake and more cinnamon rolls. And I highly recommend both. Now let's hope we can find that pasta machine. I really want some ravioli.

Working on the Yard

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Good Saturday morning to you, dear friends. It's a rainy morning here. We've been working on our backyard a lot this week. We started at the back door and have been working our way out. It was a total mess. Our yard has been neglected for the past few years. I'm not sure why. It used to be pretty. It's time to reclaim it. We ripped out all the dead plants, cleaned the millions upon millions of tiny Mimi-toys from every planter and pot, replaced dead dirt with fresh potting soil, and cleaned slug streaks from every surface. I trimmed hundreds of old dead hydrangea flowers and have more to do. We ordered some plants from a local nursery that was doing deliveries. I got eight English lavenders for our deck planters and an assortment of fifteen other 4" annuals for various pots. We dumped out piles of old leaves and scrubbed the pots with brushes. Andy planted everything for me and it is beautiful and helpful.

We cleaned up the back corner where Amelia likes to play and are planning to help her make a mud kitchen back there. I didn't realize this was such a trendy thing and had a huge laugh when I saw the fancy pictures of them on Pinterest. How awesome. I think Ginny's is the ultimate. The headscarf Mimi is wearing is a present from my dear Ginny, too. I'm channeling Ginny. Mimi's uncle is going to make a sign that says "Mimi's Secret Hideout" for her (her choice of name :) and Mimi is going to help me trace and cut triangles so we can make a bunting. It's pretty cute. She likes to dink around with little things — pots and pans and leaves and rocks and tiny dolls and furniture — so I am excited to make this a good spot for her. She's excited, too. We are going to get some sand and fill up the planter back there for her to use as a sandbox. It's shady in that corner under a huge lilac tree and the dogwood tree. A giant pile of pea gravel got dumped back there at some point last summer so there's no actual mud, which is nice. There's mud close by, but not right there. I think I am going to give her my lemonade dispenser so she has a water source. This will all be a good way to get her to stop watching so much Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures.

Working on the yard has given me a sense of control and accomplishment and hope. The weather has been absolutely glorious and that's such a gift. I think it's literally the best weather I've ever seen in my life. Andy put up two shade sails over the back deck and oh, wow. What a difference they make. I love them I love them I love them. I mean, duh. The place was as hot as a diner grill back there. Faces south and gets blasted by sun all day long. Now it's all filtered white shade-sail light. You can sit at the table and not get fried. You can sit at the table and drink your blueberry iced tea and think a whole thought in the filtered light. I don't know why it takes us so long to solve these problems, and for next to no money, too. Sigh. We are slow.

My sister-in-law Jen lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and she sent me a few videos of the birds coming to her birdbath and bird feeder. It was so inspiring. I am getting a few more bird feeders for the backyard now. I noticed there were a ton of birds flying across our yard, really low, practically buzzing us. It's kind of a superhighway from one place to another, apparently. It is thrilling. Our apple tree is in full bloom right now, and it's such a lovely, lovely tree. Little chickadees come and sit in it and it literally looks just like a vintage postcard. Now I sit on my shady deck and watch them. It's really nice.

Thank you for all of your kind comments on my last post. I am thinking of you and wishing you strength, peace, and hope. And lots of love.

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.