Sunday, August 29, 2010

perfect lullaby::The Parting Glass

I should really just let this lullaby sing for itself. There's nothing I can add to it through my words. It's perfect all on its own. I am listening to it again and again as it melts away the noise and tension of the day and carries me soothingly, driftily, soul intact, to sleep. May it soothe and enchant you at whatever time of day you chance upon it. (I do wish they had just walked silently offstage at the end and not broken the spell they cast.) 
The full lyrics of this Irish folk tune, "The Parting Glass," are printed for you below. (The Wailin' Jennys omit the last stanza.) Goodnight ... and joy be with you all.

The Parting Glass

O, all the money e'er I had,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm that ever I've done,
alas it was to none but me.
And all I've done for want of wit
to mem'ry now I can't recall;
So fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.
O, all the comrades e'er I had,
They're sorry for my going away.
And all the sweethearts e'er I had,
They'd wished me one more day to stay.
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Goodnight and joy be with you all.
If I had money enough to spend,
And leisure time to sit awhile.
There is a fair maid in this town,
That sorely has my heart beguiled.
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips,
I own, she has my heart in thrall;
Then fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Humboldt Hippies (or Shiny Happy People, Everywhere!)

 I recently traveled to northern California for my brother and sister-in-law's post-wedding bash. They married in impromptu fashion in New Zealand, too far for most friends and family to travel. They've since settled down with their young son and a couple horses in Arcata, which is a small, coastal town five hours north of San Francisco. Arcata boasts Humboldt State University, and more pot, dreads and underarm hair per capita than most places. For my debut visit, I considered wearing a tee shirt that said I BELIEVE IN SHAVING, but I didn't know if the locals would appreciate my humor or understand my goodwill toward woman--shaved or unshaved.

The post-wedding bash took place on an organic farm in Willow Creek, which is 45 minutes over the mountains from the coast. The farm overlooks the Trinity River, so the backdrop for the weekend was river, mountains, Douglas firs, wildflowers and blackberry bushes. The farm even boasts a bear, who was very polite and did not crash the party. The friends camped and the family members stayed in gorgeous cottages nearby. We rafted, feasted, danced, ate fresh farm-grown food (and cardamom ice cream!), and made merry.

My brother and his wife are outdoorsy and nature-loving, and all their friends are too. I spent the weekend with people who truly love and care for the earth and each other. They are herbalists, landscapers, musicians, artists, yoga instructors, teachers. One friend strummed a guitar and sang countless folk tunes by heart under the trees on Sunday morning while we ate blueberry pancakes cooked on an outdoor stove. It was an amazing weekend, some close calls on the river notwithstanding. (I learned that I should never, ever jump out of the raft in the middle of the rapids to try to rescue my mom, who went overboard! She and I both survived the incident, thanks to my raftmates who hauled me back on board, and to Kai, a river god who kayaked against the current to rescue my mom, who was clinging, petrified, to the riverbank!) A flurry of photos follows...
My beautiful sister-in-law, the bride, flippin' blueberry flapjacks
My "little" brother and my mom--river rafting survivor!
The photos that follow are of the amazing artichoke. I was sooooooo excited to stumble upon artichokes growing in the flower garden. I grew up eating them, dipping their leaves in melted lemon butter and running my front teeth along their meat, but I had never seen them before they landed in the bins at the grocery store. They're so beautiful in the garden!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Oh, how I wish I were blogging to say that I've done some summer nightswimming recently, but no. That would be rather too much excitement in my humdrum, utterly ordinary days as a mom and nanny. I've done a hefty dose of dayswimming at the city pool this summer, but that's a topic for another blog post. The city pool is where I ponder economics, poverty, obesity and the summer camp/day care situation. I hope there are teenagers doing some carefree nightswimming in some nearby swimming hole tonight. I would join them if they invited me.

The nightswimming I'm referring to is an R.E.M. song. It's been playing on my mental soundtrack lately. I wonder if the human brain feeds on certain melodies for a purpose. I swear that I've been craving the sound of this song like one might crave a particular food. Do I have a key-of-F deficiency, or are my levels of acoustic sonority dangerously low? It has repetitive melodic phrasing, according to Pandora. I do respond to the repetition. It's soothing. Whatever the reason, I can't get enough of this song right now. I'm playing it on constant repeat as I write. It's relevant to my topic, which is blogging.

Blogging is a strange exercise. There are so many blogging moms now. Most of them are also crafting, photographing and unintentionally making you feel like a chump for feeding your kid McNuggets on a once-weekly basis as they post their "In My Kitchen" or "In My Garden" photographs and recipes. They're baking bread and crushing their garden-grown mint and basil with mortar and pestle. They're freezing their cubes of pesto and canning their fresh-picked berries for winter. I drool over the photos of their fresh food while I open the box of Triscuits and a container of applesauce and consider my son fed.

I realized that, like my affinity for the song "Nightswimming," my affinity for blogging involves chords of wistfulness and sadness. I often write when I'm tired. I write when I'm feeling a bit low, or when I want to work through something in my head--something that is bothering me perhaps. This is not the stuff of blogs! But I enjoy this bit of writing. I like that I get to sit down and see what spills out. I like immersing myself in writing and looking up words like "affinity" and "chump" to make sure they mean what I think they mean. I like forming semi-coherent thoughts on a subject. It's completely unlike anything else I do during the day!

This is not the inspirational mom blog with the amazing photographs and the mouthwatering food. And that's not what I'm going for. There are so many wonderful blogs that already do that. (See my blog links for a few examples.) This is just my space to write whatever I feel like writing when I have the time to sit down and do so. I DO happen to have a photo of a baby calf's nursing bottle on a windowsill, taken at a very idyllic farm yesterday, so that makes me feel too legit to quit just yet. ;-) BUT the photo is in the camera of the family I nanny for, so it will be a bit before I get to post it. And that's par for my blogging course.


a completely unrelated photo of some very happy piglets, who might benefit from some nightswimming after a long day of lounging in the dirt at the county fair

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Never (ever)

It's so humorous that ever since I wrote the blog post about Yoga Home & Life, my mind, home and body have been the opposite of balanced, calm and synergized. I have felt physically and emotionally crappy. I've been angry, irritable, frustrated, and yearning for quiet and escape. I've been crabby to children and have felt utterly crushed by the weight of responsibility and Things To Do.

I haven't exercised in weeks. That might account for 80% of the problem. I should stop writing mid-sentence and go do that, but I want to write these thoughts before the feel-good endorphins kick in and alter my entire outlook and energy level. (Why am I still sitting here when I could be altering?!)

Life will never (ever) be the neatly packaged thing I want it to be. I like my towels folded and stacked perfectly. My husband just very helpfully folded a load of towels and they weren't the precise packages I need. I will refold them. I can't let it go. I have a compulsion to have control over at least the towels in my life. I should do something else with the 5 minutes he saved me, but I will be happier with towels that live up to my precision specs.

I will never fit into each day the things I want to, need to or should fit in. I will encounter daily snafus in multiple areas. I will not become as knowledgeable on a wide variety of topics as I want to be. I will not see all the films or read all the books or listen to all the music or travel to all the destinations I want to explore. I will not write all the letters or send all the gifts I want to. I will not have the taut, toned body I dream of. My house will not look like I want it to. I will not suddenly become a prolific writer or quilter or gardener or actress or do-gooder. I will not be the epitome of anything. I will be like every other person on the planet, strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage, or traversing the "vicissitudes of life," as my dad always says.

My husband and child are about to burst in the door with their noise and needs and commotion. I am not ready to receive them. I want hours upon hours of quiet and time alone, but that's not the life I have. I need to accept that life will almost never feel just exactly how I want it to. If I could just get that through to my feeble, wish-deluded brain, then maybe I could really enjoy the messy, imperfect, incomplete thing this life is--it's like trying to sit and enjoy dinner and a sunset over glistening water with a hemorrhoid, mosquitos and severe food allergies.

While writing this post, I burned the dish I was making to bring to our church group tonight. I will now have to go to the store and start over.

And I will feel so infinitely, temporarily better about all of this in 40 minutes after I oxygenate my cells and flood my body with endorphins from exercise!

(My laptop is broken and I'm unable to access my photos just now, so I'm going imageless, except for my mental image of sitting in the perfect spot and trying to enjoy it while dealing with hemorrhoids, mosquitos and an allergic reaction to the meal.)