Thursday, April 29, 2010


It waits
in the basement.
Calling me,
to come
lose myself in the safelight.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

House for all seasons

Wow, everything looks so glistening in these pictures. It doesn't feel like that most days, but I hope we never stop being thankful for this house. We painted the living room yellow because we spend the most time in it in the long drear winter, and wanted the cheeriest color possible for wintertime. As it turns out (we moved in and painted in the summer) the living room gets the most beautiful sunshine in the winter because the sun is so much lower, and the trees which shade the front of the house in summer are bare.
It's odd to me how open-plan houses are all the rage because people supposedly never use their dining rooms, because one of my favorite things about our house is having a nice ample dining room. It is such a joy and privilege to have a big crowd of people over for a meal, and that's just what dining rooms are for! or course that big table is also for drawing, and cutting and pasting, and play dough, and judging by this week, storing mail and newspapers, catalogs and laundry and stacks of library books. Or--this one's new for me--nothing at all except (hopefully, as the garden gets going here) a vase of flowers.

I'm learning about myself that though it used to feel like we couldn't possibly handle having lots of people over, having people over regularly helps our life be more sane. It helps us clean up. It helps us remember what we have. And it helps us remember what's important-- friends and neighbors, not the house.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Greenhouse Christmas and Kilts

This is a photo of a carol singalong at the rollicking rollicking Victorian Christmas party thrown by the house my sister Mary lived in. It was so much fun! The singing was boisterous and spirited, just as carolling should be, in my book.
Gibbie and Ezra wore the kilts I made them for our friend Pat's wedding. Alas, they outgrew them so quickly!

I just thought of these because I was telling a friend about the house's community potlucks, which are open to anyone--Monday nights, I think. It's a pretty neat place, and they have great parties.

Also missing our dear sister and auntie Mary, who is not at the greenhouse anymore, as she is travelling. Ezra made her a special letter this morning, so he's thinking about her too.

Friday, April 23, 2010

On doing dishes

There is a peaceful kind of wrapping up involved in washing dishes. You are putting the kitchen to bed, putting everything back where it goes so it will be ready next time. This can be a pleasant task to do alone, after the hubbub of mealtime. It can also be a pleasant task to share, as the occupation of washing and drying and putting away creates a setting in which companionable conversation can flourish.

Margaret Kim Peterson, from Keeping House; the Litany of Everyday Life.

The above is from a wonderful book, I am reading it through a second time, it was so full of practical good to me.
Above, Gibbie and Ezra, above and beyond companionable conversationalists, engage in mealtime sillyness.

Making Waffles

Gibbie loves to make waffles. And eat them. We really lucked out when my dad gave us this wonderful old waffle maker. It has a tiny round glass window on the top cover with an arrow that points to hot when it's ready for batter. Gibbie has been really coming into his own in being helpful around the house. I'm not sure if he thinks of it as being helpful or having fun or doing work, but I am celebrating his growing competence.

I was making waffles one day for our weekly breakfast with neighbors, and Gibbie was watching, and all excited over our new contraption. A waffle maker is one of those things that would usually have no justification in our kitchen. I don't like single-function gadgets, or most things that plug in, and try to cook without that kind of stuff. Except for waffle makers, which are just a phenomenal thing. Because we mostly eat all homemade food, sometimes there's not enough around our house in the way of snack food. Sure, sometimes I make energy bars, and the kitchen is stocked with yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, bread, and cheeses. But during busy weeks, when we're more likely to need more snacky stuff, I'm less likely to have all that around. Waffles are a super thing for this! We can have fun making a big batch, have a luxurious breakfast with fruit and cream and all, and then freeze the rest for instant toaster fun for ages to come.
So, in my waffle enthusiasm, I was eager to introduce our budding cook to waffliciousness. I had no idea how much of the process he would be able to do. The first morning he tried it, he ladled batter for dozens of waffles, pressed the lid down, watched for the steam to stop leaking out (the waffley sign of doneness), open the lid, and fork out a couple of lattices of golden goodness onto the butcher block. It's really fun for me to cooperate together, rather than just teaching cajoling. I like hanging in the kitchen, working together, a lot. Especially on Saturday mornings, when Paul is home, with BlueGrass Saturday Mornings on the radio (Local public radio jewel Jazz 88's jewel; just the best show for that sunny, relaxing productive kind of Saturday morning I like), and a morning with friends ahead of us.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm not a superhero, I'm just a kid

Can you tell from this photo that this superman outfit gets a lot of action? I've noticed that when we go places, often the kids get a lot of attention they don't really relish. This is totally understandable because often one or both of the kids is wearing something somewhat or completely outlandish: an animal costume, a kilt, a cape, a mask, etc. I bet there are lots of kids who love to get noticed and exclaimed over when they are cute or funny, but not these two. They seem generally surprised and a little confused; "No, I'm not a hero--I'm just a kid."

Also pictured is a treasured ring. It came from a quarter vending machine, at Java Train Coffee in St. Paul, and Oh, did Ezra treasure it. I haven't seen it in a while.