Word Winding

attempting to spin cacophony into sanity

It Began

It began with a cup of tea.

Well, I suppose it began with an herb garden long dreamt of and finally constructed that now houses the plants harvested for that cup of tea.

Although really the herb garden dream was a natural offshoot of holding regular circles on that bit of earth.

And of course the circles came to pass once I opened to and claimed my witch-self.

Which unfolded as it did because of Rapunzel.

Whom I met when I birthed a baby and joined a playgroup.

Which happened because Thor and I moved across the country and created life here.

We chose exactly here because Florence offered to rent us her house. We chose this part of the world because my dad moved here years before and we came to visit and loved it.

He chose here after he exhaustively researched ideal places to live.

He did that research in part because he was beginning to live a broader, more wholesome life and wanted a location that would foster that growth and in part because he was tired of Wisconsin winters.

His broader, more wholesome approach to life evolved after the wakeup call of a marriage in ruins.

A marriage in ruins from two people unable to evolve past the disparity between their current disconnect and their earlier happiness.

Their earlier happiness which brought me into the world.

But I digress.

I mean, arguably it began with the dawn of time.

But it is also true to say it began with a cup of tea.

What began?

My morning ritual.

I have long craved a morning ritual. Certainly for my entire adulthood and probably my entire childhood as well. And yet I’ve never managed to form one.

A couple of years ago I felt the tug to begin an evening ritual and it is still with me now, constantly evolving to meet my needs.

This month I felt a similar urge, and instead of either talking myself out of it or beginning with an unsustainable attachment to detail, as I had in the past, I found myself choosing anew each day to harvest a few leaves of hyssop for morning tea.

To leave the house in the morning is pure joy, even just for a short walk through the obstacle course yard and back. It calibrates my day subtly yet completely.

A few days ago, I found morning yoga happening on a daily basis almost without impulse, a natural next step.

Yesterday I began to compose a new piece of music before I’d even finished yoga, and even managed a shower afterward thanks to Thor holding down the kiddo fort.

Bliss.

You Are Invited

This election feels different. The stakes feel very, very high. Turning point in history high. Millions of lives hanging in the balance high.

On behalf of the United States of America, I would like to take a moment to issue an open invitation.

There are no better words for it than those crafted by the renowned Starhawk in her increasingly relevant novel The Fifth Sacred Thing:

“There is a place for you at our table, if you will choose to join us.”


My fellow Berning ones and assorted independents, we belong at the table. We are a sizable percentage of this country and have influenced the creation of the most progressive platform a major party in our nation has ever put forth. Cooperation is what this moment in time requires from all of us. Extend a welcoming hand. We may disagree some but I believe we can sit at this table together and discuss it like friends.

Hillary diehards, you belong at the table. Your passion for Ms. Clinton comes from a good place and we look forward to hearing more of what you see in her so we can catch some of your enthusiasm. Refrain from disparaging remarks. Cooperation is what this moment in time requires from all of us. Extend a welcoming hand. We may disagree some but I believe we can sit at this table together and discuss it like friends.

Moderates and apolitical types, you belong at the table. You have untapped potential to breathe fresh air into a heated room. Share your perspective, mediate, find humor in tense moments, and change the subject when truly required. Cooperation is what this moment in time requires from all of us. Extend a welcoming hand. We may disagree some but I believe we can sit at this table together and discuss it like friends.

Conservatives of all stripes, you belong at the table. So many of your values are ours as well. You want to live in happiness and safety. We do, too. You want to be free to make your own way in life. We do, too. Cooperation is what this moment in time requires from all of us. Extend a welcoming hand. We may disagree some but I believe we can sit at this table together and discuss it like friends.

Whether we realize it or not, at some point we chose to consider one another enemies, chose to exaggerate and vilify and blame. We can choose to consider one another friends. Quirky friends, maybe, somewhat embarrassing friends whose eccentric ways leave us shaking our heads, but still friends.

In our splintered factions, we are not just biased against and bewildered by the opposition. We are also ineffective. If we truly want what we say we want from this life, we will sit at the table together. We will refuse to allow anger and fear and greed to run amok and devastate our imperfect but much treasured home. We will extend a welcoming hand even when it seems, as my friend Pythia says, that our only common ground is that we breathe. We will bite our tongues when necessary and speak our truth when necessary. We will disagree respectfully. We will sit and we will invite others to sit at this table and discuss it like friends even when it is not comfortable or convenient because that is the only path that honors the democracy we strive to be.

A Gift Moment

Owlet has been sick. A fever that hit 105.2 at one point yesterday, to be precise. She’s doing a bit better today… Better enough to be grumpy with her little brother for running into their bedroom to see if she wanted to play outside.

“Go away!” She shouted peevishly. “I’m trying to sleep!”

Thor and I had just asked Platypup not to pull on the curtains while playing “I’m a jertain in the curtain,” jump on the bed where baby Cria was lolling about, or use the windowsill to climb the wall above the bed. His sister yelling at him was the last straw, and he thumped sadly down the hall away from his family, giving what Owlet last year affectionately dubbed his “choo-choo train” sob.

Thor tried to go comfort him but Platypup yelled at him to go away so after a few tries he and I switched places; he flopped down next to a chipper, chubby, rolling baby and tried to keep her from the edges while I followed the howls toward a tear-stained face peeking out from a tightly wadded blanket.

He let me share his blanket and sobbed into my armpit. As we snuggled, I said all the right things for once, about how hard it must be not to be able to play with Owlet and how he must miss her and be worried about her, and that gave him words to then articulate those things back and cry it from his system.

The tears soon tapered off. We sat up and had moved on to an animated discussion on the dietary habits of walruses (as googled for him by Daddy at daybreak) when Owlet came in and joined us in our blanket nest.

After a companionable lull, Platypup mumbled, “I’m sorry I woke you up.”

“That’s ok,” she said with that odd mixture of frustration, chagrin, and deeply abiding love known to parents everywhere. “I wasn’t asleep. I was just trying to fall asleep.”

“I wanted you to come play with me. I miss you,” he added quietly.

She grinned at him. “Want to play now?”

He instantly lit up, and off they scampered.


That is far from the way most of their arguments go, of course. They are four and six, after all. But I was able to just sit there, doing nothing at all, and watch them make up with as much grace and honesty, if not more, than I have ever done.

This is a gift moment, I thought as I sat there, stunned, a glimpse of their future selves. This is one of the most useful skills a person can have, and they have already managed it once. The day will come when they or someone they love has really messed up badly, and this is how they will show up.

We the Privileged

Let us acknowledge today of all days that the democracy we set off fireworks to celebrate is still essentially a pipe dream. We the privileged can in no way inhabit a democracy until we fill in our own moats, open our gates, tear off our armor, drag our trunks of gold out into the courtyard and say “here, this wealth that we call ours has always belonged to you.”

I highly recommend you take a moment today to read the full article from which the excerpt below was taken. Consider it your patriotic duty.
————-

From Letter to my Son (in The Atlantic)

“There is no them without you, and without the right to break you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, lose their divinity, and tumble out of the Dream. And then they would have to determine how to build their suburbs on something other than human bones, how to angle their jails toward something other than a human stockyard, how to erect a democracy independent of cannibalism.”

Rewiring

Our culture hardwires us believe that we are destined to find a soul mate to complete us. A family to complete us. Friends to complete us.

We have a different approach to plant life. Conventional wisdom says that the needs of plants are important but not more so than our own; we take care of them when life is good and forgive ourselves for not tending to them when life is difficult. We applaud their beauty, respect their longevity, and begrudgingly admire their tenacity, considering them “scenery,” a backdrop that might influence our lives but would never be permitted in the director’s chair.

I am inclined to believe we have our wires utterly crossed.

Imagine a culture that absolutely encourages its people to support their partner’s, family’s, friends’ needs — but not forsake their own. That offers ready forgiveness when one is unable to tend to the other in difficult times. That promotes lavish admiring of one another’s traits but ultimately expects each individual to sit in their own director’s chair, influenced by but not relinquishing control to their loved ones.

Appealing?

hubba hubba


Now imagine a culture that believes that animals and plants are destined to complete one another. Where just being together fulfills the primary need of both. A culture that overflows with manuals, mantras, and workshops on forming a more perfect union with one’s garden. That writes poems, songs, and dramedies about the primal dance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The way each nourishes the other — even beyond death itself, the two merging into one. 

How one will die without the other.

That’s the world I choose to live in. Are you with me?

Our summer solstice circle this year

MEAT.

There is a quarter of a cow in our freezer. Squee!


There is a quarter of a cow in our freezer, and I don’t even know what all the parts are (but I’m excited to learn).


There is a quarter of a cow in our freezer and we know right where this cow lived.

The blueberries look terrified!


We know right where this cow lived, and it is a gorgeous place to call home.

Because Love

Tell me why the stars do shine

Tell me why the ivy twines

Tell me why the sky is blue

And I will tell you just why I love you

I sing this song to our kids frequently (it is the first song in Platypup’s “set” — each of our kids has a group of songs I’ve been singing them to sleep with since they were born). I love the melody and the imagery. I hear the usual version has something to do with god in the second verse, but my version is what my mom sang to my sister and I:

Because of our love the stars do shine

Because of our love the ivy twines

Because of our love the sky is blue

And now I’ve told you just why I love you

No song is safe around me, and I thought about writing my own version, with the scientifically accurate answers: “because of fusion the stars do shine; because of friction the ivy twines; because of Rayleigh scattering…” well, there’s where it loses that special something.

Lying in bed one morning last month, it occurred to me how well this song describes, well, love itself. Lasting love, anyway.

First you need that giddy, falling in love spark; aka fusion, the reason stars shine. Fusion, the smashing of two into a new wondrous one, with all the heat and exponential explosion of excess energy that comes with it. The stuff that literally powers life as we know it.

Then you need to make like ivy. See, ivy twines the way it does because it turns toward the direction of any friction it feels. Pull your mind out of the gutter, friend; that’s not where I’m headed with this one (though THAT kind of friction is also important). When obstacles get in the way of ivy, does it give up? Does it relinquish its hold on its entwining partner vine? It does not. Ivy always makes it through, with sheer persnick. Or at least it tries as hard as only an invasive vine can.

Equally important is your outlook. Why is the sky blue? Because gas molecules absorb and then release more blue hues than other colors, which are allowed to pass through the atmosphere mostly undetained. Nothing poisons a promising relationship faster than picking on the daily annoyances with which all of us plague our loved ones. Don’t turn the sky red over mislaid socks and refrigerator transgressions. Absorb the many minute moments of magnificence and then allow them to paint your beloved as the ever-changing, mysterious bright skyscape of a soul that they are.

Two years ago Thor and I hit the mud and nearly lost one another, due to mundane things like parenting and work schedules and non-mundane things like identity and spirituality. We would have, had that initial fusion not been refueled. Had we not clung like ivy. Had we not chosen to see blue.

Happy birthday, Thor! Thanks for making like stars, ivy, and the sky. I love you more than I can say, sing, write, or photograph, but these lines and pictures are trying their best anyway.


“Maturity is” (Announcing Kid-Friendly Quote of the Month!)

The kids and I are embarking upon a quote of the month venture. Feel free to join us! Each month we plan to choose a quote, discuss it, and hang it on the fridge for further pondering in the coming weeks.

This month’s quote is a handy definition from Dear Abby.

Maturity is:

  • The ability to stick with a job until it’s finished.
  • The ability to do a job without being supervised.
  • The ability to carry money without spending it.
  • The ability to bear an injustice without wanting to get even.

The kids and I talked about what all of those words mean, why those four things are difficult, why they are important, how by this definition some preteens are more mature than some octogenarians , and how this differs from the official 18 years old = adult. I mentioned how it might not be a complete list so we brainstormed for other points to add to it but haven’t come up with any definite ones yet.

The Making of a Family

Thor and I are done creating new life. I knew this from the moment Cria arrived with exactly the same certainty I felt after Platypup was born and I was instantly, intensely aware that we had another babe waiting in the wings. Infant pajamas still render me weepy, newborn eyes hold me breathless, but our family is complete.

There are many rational reasons to be done: limited space in our house, limited zeros on our self-employed paychecks, limited sanity in our heads.

None of those are true reasons. You could squeeze six children into our three bedroom house if you really wanted to without anyone calling CPS. We are blessed with funds from deceased relatives to draw upon in tough times. And our missing marbles rolled away before our firstborn rolled over; additional kids just rattle the half-empty drawstring pouch some.

The truth is one does not simply add a child to a family as one might take a fifth towel and plop it onto a stack of four. Pregnancy in and of itself is a tax before any new person emerges, not just on the one bearing the child but also on the partner providing scaffolding and on any existing children whose still-wet clay forms bear the marks of every one of our choices. And every addition — no matter how beloved — every new addition cracks the familial structure wide open. Fractures its foundation, shatters its windows, and requires intense work rebuilding.

We may prefer not to recognize that our bundle of joy is a wrecking ball. But failing to acknowledge a fact never does seem to wither it one iota.

My solitude delighted in and was forever altered by my love for Thor. Our quirky twosome had a gorgeous miraculous iceburg crash headlong into it when our baby was born. The harmony of our family trio and the pea pod coziness of the parent-child duo groaned and stretched and made space for a sparkling quartet. The sturdy balance of our quadrilateral: two grown and two growing, two male and two female, two dependable and two incorrigible, as well as the comforting triangle of two small hands in my two big ones lay in ruins before reforming into the five pointed star we cherish today.

Every prior family unit must be cradled and mourned before the new larger family unit can properly set.

I am lucky. We are lucky. Each newcomer has been welcome, uncomplicated. We’ve only had to deal with increasing in size. All the cracks have been and continue to be painstakingly and willingly filled with copper and gems by loving hands. The choices I made were the ones my heart craved: to wed a person of heart, depth, and wit with whom to bear impish humans. 

I am not naive enough to believe the years ahead do not include their fair share of labor, but I’m no longer willing to intentionally launch the cycle of breaking and mourning and reforming the treasure that is our family. And so we have arrived at one of those moments when it is easy to see how the present alters past and future alike. Now we were always heading towards being a family of five. Now we will be remembered as a family of five even after we are all gone.

Co-Sleeping Haiku

Baby in the bed
An island, cozy and warm
In sheltering cove

Each night, like clockwork
Ere I’ve fully awakened
My breath restarts yours

Lungs, sensing a gap
Sharply inhale when you pause
And yours follow suit

You lie between us
Caramel robed in chocolate
All gooey sweetness

Night begins to fade
Two older fledglings fly home
One roosts beside me

Cramped, beloved nest
Our world for a few short years
A harbor of love

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