And everything in between.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
August 10, 2014.
(The picture of Andy towering over the little people is just a weird optical illusion — the people are varying distances behind and around him, and I caught him mid-jump [and you can see Amelia starting to "jump"]. I did a double-take at this one myself!)
At the end of a beautiful road lies the ocean. We wind through the fields and the forest while she sleeps. Ryan Adams, cinnamon buns, sunlight flashing through the trees. The road twists through the hills, dipping and bobbing. In the back of the car, quilts and pails, sand and sandals, a striped tent and four bottles of sunscreen. This summer it's been the days in between the days at the water. Our girl grows bigger and braver and more beautiful in each moment, in each summer afternoon, the world opening before her and before me and him through her. It's all new. It's never been seen before, not by me, each moment a marvel to me, this second childhood that is the first childhood I only dreamed of as a child. How blessed we are, how monumentally blessed. She hands me her barrettes, her bunny, her blueberry, her sticks, her stones, her seashell, a coffee stirrer she picks up out of the sand, her eyes as bright and deep blue as the ocean. Thank you, my lovey. Thank you and thank you and thank you, my dear, sweet lovey. For each and every one of these precious and bright and incredibly beautiful little-big things.
Suddenly, a scramble: how to fit everything else you want summer to be into four weeks. It's both long and short — I pine for chilly evenings, and feel panicked that the nights are already shorter, the darkness filling the open windows earlier every evening. I would like it both ways, as usual. The calendar fills up in a mad rush, every week, every weekend taken with something scheduled. Concerts, fairs, visits, visitors, vacations, day-trips, reunions, work. The summer's-end scramble.
(We are, I have been meaning to mention, making a whole new batch of 2013's sold-out ornament kits, Night Before Christmas. No new ornaments this year, but we are bringing these back, and they'll be back until they sell out. We are also preparing kits for a duffel coat, sweater, jeans, boots, and scarf outift for all the little animals in the Little Animal Family. More details on this as we get closer to being finished with everything — but I'm expecting the ornament kit to be available mid-September, and the winter clothing kit (and pattern) to be available later in the fall, though if we finish it earlier we'll release them at the same time. All of the older ornament kits are still available in the shop right now, though there are only thirty Walk in the Woods kits left, so that one will probably go soon. I've noticed that the orders on these kits have had a noticeable increase in the past couple of weeks so I wanted to mention this in case you are putting together your CCP [Christmas Crafting Plan].)
I have so much yarn in my life right now it's kind of nuts. I must be dreaming. I finished the Artichaut — it's very jerry-rigged, but somehow turned into something that looks wearable, if a bit droopier than I wanted. I was surprised it came out at all. I immediately set about knitting it again (go fig), but not the seamless version, which I think was the root of my problems. I paired this mauvey version with Violette by Citronille, in Liberty Elysian yellow. I'd like to try this outfit on my darling but that will have to wait until the temperature drops eighty degrees, since it's still about a hundred and fifty out (isn't it? It must be). My Dogwood Lottie is going great. I really like that pattern. And I'm planning a new, lined winter hoodie, probably this one. And then there's this sweet little wooly hug. Maybe longer nights will be a good thing.
***Yes, adorable puppers is Bebe, a three-month-old (can't remember the breed?) Leonberger (thanks, Ann and others!) being puppysat by our friends. Cutest, fluffiest puppers ever!
Even I, the woman with the highest tolerance in the world for listening to herself complain, got sick of hearing myself complain. I (finally) decided that if I couldn't beat 'em, I'd join 'em. At the river. It was a perfect day. (And, I swear, it was also ten degrees cooler there.)
July 29, 2014
(For those who have asked, her "swimming costume," as I like to call it, is from J. Crew.)
In the dappled shade Amelia and I walk up and down the streets near our house. We're trying to stay in the shade; it's so hot, but we just have to get outside. She's in her stroller with her bare legs curled up, keeping them in the shade of the stroller hood. She has a gigantic, larger-than-lifesize photographic kitty-pillow that she clutches, faced-out towards passersby. Trippy Kitty's eyes are slightly wild. People look amused as we walk by with the giant, real-looking kitty. Mimi's hair is going in every possible direction. I'm drinking the biggest iced coconut chai you've ever seen. Four p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Bees buzzing the lavender. A guy trimming his spent roses. The baseball game on the radio in a yard. "Mommy?" "Yes, miss?" "Da?" Points at a tattered flag. "Flag!" "Mommy?" "Yes, ma'am." "Da?" Points at a swing in someone's yard. "Swing!" Why are fruit-filled trees so poignant? They almost make me want to cry.
July is dressed up and playing her tune. At the pool, there was no usual whining, no refusal to get further than one centimeter into the water, no running around the pool deck taking other peoples' shoes (while frantically signing "shoes"), no eating soggy popcorn from under the table where someone had a birthday party earlier that day. There was just the three of us, floating dreamily in the middle of the pool near the lane lines. Rare peace at the pool. She pushed her legs out behind her and kicked while Andy pulled her around. I floated on my back, pointing my toes just above the water. It was cold and clear. I tried not to get water in my eyes because it makes my contacts burn like hell. She doesn't mind splashing herself in the face (much), but she doesn't like being splashed by anyone else. What do you do when it's someone's dad dunking his kids and bouncing beach balls off their heads? The teenage lifeguard looked mildly uncomfortable. The kids, naturally, were delighted. All day long she tells them to stop standing on the baby-pool fountain. Now it was their big dad making the thing explode in an enormous plume when he slid his rump off the jet, a (naughty) kid again himself for the day. She didn't have the heart to scold and, in my mind, neither did I. Summer's so short. It's so hot. After an hour of playing with a cup or being carried by her dad through the water visiting the big-kid territories, Amelia came back to the zero-depth area and, by herself, trudged carefully toward the fountain, a frothy stack of water burbling out of the sparkling shallows. Gently, she ran her hands through its spray, soft and aerated, foamy white. She reached further in, held her hands deep in the core of the plume. We resisted the urge to follow her, to show her, to show her something . . . more. It's so hard not to, somehow. So hard to remember just to hang back and watch sometimes. She played there for a long time. I watched her serious face, and tried to memorize the moment. It was the best day we've had at the pool all summer, and when it was time to go I didn't want to go.
Back at home, we're trying to find a rhythm — working, sleeping, cooking, playing. It's been harder than usual lately and I don't know why. I'm often filled with frustration about the weather, wanting to do things outside that it's just been too hot to do (have a picnic on the sunny, scorching flats of Powell Butte, for instance; sit in the dried-up clover above the beach on Sauvie Island and look at the mountain at dusk). Our day ends early because it starts so (incredibly) early, so I often feel that we miss the cooler, quieter evenings. Well, sigh. I'm thinking we should get one of those craft-fair tents and take it everywhere we go. Maybe a portable mister, with a canister I could wear on my back and a misting wand to shoot directly toward my face, or matching umbrella hats. I've got problems.
I saw this vanilla honey iced tea lemonade on Pinterest yesterday and I think I'll make some later.
***Oh, and — her blue dress is Albertine. Have I ever loved a little dress so much? No. I don't think so!!! Sleeves are a bit big — the whole thing's still a little too big — but tooooo cute. Love it!
It is unexpectedly (at least to me) pouring rain as I write this morning, and so dark in the house I can hardly see. Oh, sweet mercies!!! I'm sitting in the studio, looking out into the garden, which, in spite of being sopping wet, still seems parched and yellow with defeat, my potted plants a sallow tangle on the steps. More than any particular date on the calendar, summer seems to turn from waxing to waning when the blossoms are spent and the soil runs just a bit too dry in my container plants, when I've missed one-too-many too-hot days of watering, when things go from lush to lank and I stand dumbly by, too air-conditioned and mommy-fried to make a move to rescue. It's a shame, really, this particular fulcrum up and over which I never quite seem to get, this see-saw that only sits, end planted in the dusty grass, me heavy upon it, praying for rain. Mid-July and me, both, stuck in the inertia of white-hot air. This morning — Hallelujah! — I get my wish, and wake to the sound of silver showers plinking and tapping, a cool breeze teasing my white curtains, Mimi in the bed between us, signing rain and wind. Ah, all my joys, all here, all here.
Our weekend was short and sweet (and hot). We got lots and lots of berries, explored a historic farm, stopped at the river, went to the pool, walked downtown. I made more fish, following Molly's lead in making stone-fruit salsa (I used peaches and a mango) and whipped cream for all of the sweetest-ever raspberries (I didn't know they could ever be that sweet actually — the sweetest I've ever had). We've eaten bags of Rainier cherries, boxes of blackberries and blue. This is the wonder of July, for me. The berries are insane. It takes only a minute to whip the cream and there you go, best treat ever.
Our girl glows like a peach, looking more and more like her gorgeous birthmama every day, her expressions and her sly humor and her independence blossoming like a summer flower. Her confidence, her seriousness, her curiosity, her kisses, and, more than anything, her loving sweetness, her gentle touch, patting her dolly's back, kissing her dolly, every toy, in fact, the cars and the books and the cups, patting my back, running the tippy-tips of her fingers lightly on my cheek, looking at me with her sparkling navy-blue eyes and her half-smile. Her burgeoning independence fascinates and delights me. She's quietly mischievous and blatantly (and hilariously) honest, alerting me to the fact that she's standing, belly-out, on the sofa, touching the hanging pendant lamp (no-no), holding the clicker (no-no), eyes always sparkling, daring me to see her though I'm sitting right there, and see her just fine. "Mommy?" Eyes wide. Touch touch, pendant lamp swings. Aw, no-no, baby I say with my "you know this" voice. "No-no," she mimics, signing no twice and raising eyebrows as if it were I who touched the lamp, dumped the mail, turned on the TV. When I got my new glasses she'd come toward me on the bed with such a look of love in her sparkly eyes, getting closer and closer, I'd be smiling hugely back, flattered, thrilled, then whoosh — she'd grab the glasses right off my face in a flash, with a smile. She brings me all the things she's not supposed to have: a rock in the house, a quarter, my wallet, a pencil. "Mommy?" Holding them out to me. Andy and I think she's very tongue-in-cheek in her photos, a little bit dramatic, a little ironic. I scoop her off the sofa and tip her backwards, bury my face in her belly as she laughs. Later, as she starts to nap, I strum the tender inside of her elbow and she answers with a milky chortle, and gently strokes the back of my hand with her fingertips. Our call and response. Every day she is unfolding. I watch and marvel, hardly able to speak, squeezing my lips to the back of her soft arm. This incredible person. This privilege. My stars, my stars. My cup runneth over. My heart overflows.
Mid-July. Our seventeenth wedding anniversary is this weekend. Oh, sweet love! How can it be that it's been so long ago already? It feels like yesterday, and a million years ago at once. I am still, and frequently, gobsmacked that we found each other. All three of us. Oh, I am blessed.
At our wedding I carried a little bouquet of dahlias and zinnas from the farmer's market in Oak Park, and so did all of the bridesmaids. For the reception (which was here — such a pretty place!) the bouquets went into jars on the tables. I've never been that big into formal floral arrangements, and the expense of it just freaks me out. I just like to cut some stuff and plunk it on a table. Better yet, walk around and look at it when the weather is in the mid-70s. Yeah.
It's been kind of a challenging week, and I don't even know why. I feel like I have a million things to say but no time to say them, here or in real life. I'm whirling and scattered, and trying to keep track. To simplify, I apparently started to do the same things over again — same clothes, same dinner, same places. I like that. Eliminate the variables when possible. The heat last week was ravaging. I felt like I was in survival mode. Yesterday it broke with beautiful rain, beautiful thunder, beautiful lightning, more beautiful rain, beautiful gray clouds, beautiful purple clouds, and me, sitting on the back porch sobbing with relief. But today the sun is back, bright and flashing, and I, though rejuvenated, am wary: 99 degrees forecasted for tomorrow. We've been meeting friends in the park in the morning, or heading back down to farmer's market on Saturday mornings to sit in the shade of the big trees, or spending a lot of time at the pool and the fountain (water water water. I love you water).
The knitting project above is my little Artichaut, and she has given me fits, as well. I'm almost finished with her and I'll be glad. I knit her while watching this other cool British show I found on YouTube (I think it was recommended because I liked Restoration Home) called Turn Back Time: The Family. It's one of those shows where they re-create historical environments and the put people in them to "live" within history; this one follows three families through the Edwardian era, the Interwar years, the Second World War, the 1960s, and the 1970s (I haven't seen the last one yet). It was really good. In one of the episodes they mentioned the book Swallows and Amazons, which I realized with a jolt I've still never read (so I promptly got it). And that reminded me of the Summer Reading Booklist for kids that you and I put together four summers ago now. This list was made entirely out of Posie Gets Cozy reader suggestions. Do you remember it?
(Just click on the illustration to download the list.)
I'd completely forgotten about this list. I found it and printed it out the other day and was so delighted that Amelia is the perfect age for me to start keeping it for her. We already read several of the little-kid books on the list together every single night. But I'm going to start collecting and reading all of the older-kid classics on the list, and creating a special shelf to hold all of these for her for when she gets older. I am so excited. I also pulled out my dear friend Jane's book, Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats, and thought I would try to read the list of titles she includes, as well (and of course we'll have to make some treats, too!). I've kind of needed a project like this, honestly. Something to focus me! And maybe I'll be done by the time she starts reading.
I also finished Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath. This book blew me away. I don't even really know how to tell you about it. The last fifty pages or so of this book are some of the best I've ever read in my life. It reminded me of James Joyce's The Dead (though it's completely different, but if anyone's read both of these, do you know what I mean?). My heart was in my throat as I finished this book. It was very intense. I picked up the second book of the trilogy but haven't started it yet. You'd think I had a lot of time to read or something?!? I don't.
Do you like fish tacos? I used the baked fish parcel method from Apples for Jam: Cover some cod filets in panko and a bit of Mexican seasoning (you can slice a few limes and place on top, too), drizzle with a bit of olive oil, then wrap in parchment and bake at 400 degrees (either with indirect heat on the grill or in the oven) for 20 minutes. I added some of my dad's coleslaw, a little bit of sour cream with chipotle sauce stirred in, and some big chunks of avocado, and these were just perfect for a hot summer night. Andy made a really nice Mexican bean salad (but he used fresh corn, and I would definitely recommend that!).
Thank you very, very much for all of your kind comments on my last post. You are so good to me. Thank you. Xoxo
Already the plum leaves are starting to fall. The weather this past week has been hot and dry, and next week promises (threatens) more of the same. At the farmer's market the bounty is overwhelming. There is so much, and it is so big and beautiful. In the early morning, Amelia and I go out and water the front. She eats her breakfast in her high chair in the shade and watches me walk around with the hose, soaking everything well, trying to moisturize my little plants even as the morning sun grows hot and bright. She reaches out to touch the water while I shower the impatiens on the porch. When we move to the back yard, she takes cups of water out of her little pool and waters the pots for me. Later, a couple of cups, more water, and some shade are all we really need to be happy in the afternoon, as long as I know that back across town my little house waits, dim and cool and clean, the air conditioner earnestly humming, plenty of chilled cantaloupe and watermelon and blueberries waiting for us in the fridge. Summer baths after the pool, the fountain, the yard, the park, the layers of sunscreen, the raspberry smears; I cover her in suds while she plays with her toy boats and plastic cups, cries a little when the water washes over her face as I rinse her hair, pats at the bubbles, draws on her own round belly with the bath crayons. In the late afternoon, clean and cool and smelling of honey, she naps and I watch TV, the sound turned low, both of us splayed on the chaise lounge, the light dappling and twisting as the hot wind picks up, dusty and buzzing outside but silent to us, behind our closed windows. I like the late afternoon, 4:00 p.m., when it feels so good to go in. When you feel like you've earned it, somehow. It reminds me of the delicious chill of our grandparents' white ranch house, its perfectly, wonderfully, deliciously temperature-controlled interior so beige and soft and soothing after so much flashing sunlight and swimming and cicadas. Summer afternoon: sitting on the soft beige carpet with sunburned legs, watching General Hospital, eating a coconut cookie before dinner, listening to the soft whistle of cold air come out of the floor.
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
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.