Posts filed in: Life

Weekend Ways

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Thank you ever so much for all of the kind comments about 'Night, Neighborhood and for all of the orders for the kit and pattern. Thank you, thank you. I am so thrilled that people are excited about this and can't wait to see how everyone gets on with this one. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and I think you will. I have some things to tell you about cross stitch in general and I'm going to work on a post about that soon, one that answers some questions that non-cross-stitchers might have about getting started, and some general information about stitch counts, fabrics, flosses, etc. For now, I believe all of the orders that came in last week have shipped, and we will ship everything that came in between Friday and today on Wednesday. A huge thank-you also to my intrepid assistant, Stacey. She single-handedly pulled all the floss for this kit, and packaged it, and assembled every kit itself, and processed and shipped every single order. I don't have that much time to work these days, so I concentrate solely on design and stitching and pattern writing and printing, and she does all of the hands-on work of managing our floss inventory, pulling all of the floss, all of the assembly of all of the kits, and then all the processing and shipping of orders every day. It's a pretty good system we have going, and I'm so grateful for her careful, diligent, tireless help. She'll be working on the grape harvest at the end of this summer and I won't have her help for about four months during harvest season this year (August through November), but we're hoping to get a Christmas kit happening here soon, hopefully ready by September.

I sewed a bit for Amelia yesterday, a couple of pairs of babydoll pajamas and two little swingy skirts. I will take photos and give details when I can find them all (flung, right now, all over the house). I had wanted to make her a dress for the Midsummer Festival at Oaks Park this year but I found the golden stripey one at the Hanna Andersson outlet for 40% off and it just seemed perfect. We had a nice day there, although it was a bit chilly! I'm not complaining, but it was chilly. So many hard things going on in the world; our hearts are breaking for the city of Orlando, and the LGBT community, and all people who love freedom and pursue the right to gather — and dance — in public everywhere. Have courage, have courage, spread love. My heart feels weary today. I sew and think and pray.

Sweet treats: my homemade vanilla ice cream, and a peach cobbler. I doubled the biscuity topping (for some reason, I had a box of Bisquik and I thought I'd try to use it up), which I don't necessarily recommend. It's also quite clear I have absolutely no idea how to slice fresh peaches — well, get the peach part off the pit, specifically? I truly mangled these babies, and that just wasn't pleasant. I looked at some directions on the internet that said cut it in half and twist one half off of the pit, but there was absolutely no way mine was going to come off the pit. . . . Oh well, it was still pretty delicious! Tonight we will have our new standby — the chili-lime chicken tacos with the Mexican street corn salad (links in this post). This is just too good, and it goes on the table about once a week, now.

Andy's home, and he's planning some fun activities with Meems for the day. It's cold and raining again, and I'm going to enjoy that — ride my bike out to get some lunch, read my new library book (Us by David Nichols) by myself, make some tea and sew. I don't get a lot of days like this, so I am a little excited. I try to soak it all up, and wait for my loves to get home.

Party Girl

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Her third birthday party, filled with all of her beautiful people — birthparents,  grandparents, birthgrandparents, aunties, uncle, birthsiblings, cousins — all of us here together, all family now. In my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined how it could be, and yet it's better than anything I might've hoped for. Anything. It amazes and humbles me daily, and yet on this day every year (though this year her party was not on her actual birth day), when we are all together again, all joined in so much love for our sweet girl, being part of an open-adoptive family overwhelms me with gratitude, amazement, and pure joy. How blessed we all are that she is here! How blessed we are that we are family because of and for her! How blessed we are to have each other, every one! I would not have it any other way.

She said goodbye to her guests outside in the afternoon rain, careening up and down the driveway with the giant umbrella, then zoomed back into the house to race around a bit more. Clover Meadow, who had been on her best behavior all day, went zooming back and forth between the living room and dining room about eight times, doing laps as fast as she could. Small ones were still zooming for quite a while; the rest of us collapsed in various heaps.

Parties are so crazy — there is so much going on and they go so fast and there are so many people and it's so loud and raucous and fun. I don't take many pictures during them, though I always intend to. There was a lot more to the weekend  (I do have more pictures of that; we just got back from dropping Andy's parents off at the airport, in fact). I ran into some of my neighbors at the grocery store last week. We were all waiting in line and we started talking about our earliest childhood memories, which for everyone there started at age three. I hope hers start a few days before, and that she will remember what a magical time this weekend was. I know I'll never forget it. My sweet love. Your party was so, so nice.

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Pre-Party Prettying

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Someone's about to have a little shindig this weekend!

Wuthering Heights

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When the rain came, we were at the top of the butte, sitting in the burnt grass. The purple clouds had stacked up and marched across the sky. I'd talked her out of wearing two tutus at the same time and jabbing at things with the enormous umbrella. At the top of the hill, there I feel free. I would rather be on top of the hill than almost anywhere, everywhere. At home, down the hill, our houses pile up on each other, with fences and hedges and trees and houses and wires and houses and trees so close they block half the sky. On the hill, she runs, stretching her legs, twirling her skirts, chasing seed angels. He blows them out of their pods for her, and I wonder what flowers will bloom next year from this moment. My heart swells with joy. It's good to sit down and rest. I look out over the brown flowers, the dry ponds. The meadow is lovely in its withering. The sky is hyperactive, changing by the minute, the clouds moving so fast I hardly dare look away lest I miss something. They're different, too, in every direction: This way, they're lighted cotton balls; that way, they're whooshes; over there, it's a solid curtain of gray. Far off to the west the sage-blue hills are covered in ever-more-opaque veils of gray; you can see that it's already raining there, and raining farther back, as well. I've forgotten this color scheme: violet/lighter violet/more violet. I turn my face to the sky in gratitude and relief. This saturated air is pure nutrition. When the drops finally start falling, my skin absorbs each one in an instant. I hardly feel them at all I'm so deficient. Rain. Real rain. There's a sudden scramble involving crying, shoulder sitting, a too-big umbrella someone insists on holding, and then more rain, so it's into the stroller, legs tucked up under the hood, more crying, some juice, then quiet. Quiet. Walking. The umbrella, closed, hangs from the push-bar. There is just rain and wind and the lovely crunch of wet gravel. I imagine what the rain sounds like from inside the hooded stroller, her rolling personal tent. Andy and I have stupid-big grins. We push and walk, getting soaked, in perfect happiness. Home, and dumplings for dinner. There are some days you wish would last forever. Powell Butte, Saturday, September 5, 2015. That was one.

All of It

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People, Mama went DOWN. Like a felled redwood. I hit the forest floor. Then curled up like a roly-poly bug and moaned. Everything was going well until Saturday night. I thought I was feeling pretty good! We had a great day on Thursday, a wonderful Mother's Day party here with Amelia's birthfamily on Friday, and then Andy worked on Saturday, and Mimi and I had the best time going out to lunch and then shopping for a birthday present for her cousin. We got home around three. Amelia had just fallen asleep on the sofa-bed and I went out on the back porch to read — first quiet moment in days. I was so happy. But no sooner did I get four or five pages in (I'm actually trying to read this, which may have been partially to blame? Not exactly easy reading, what am I thinking) than my ear seemed to spawn an enormous puffball mushroom on the inside. I shook my head like a dog. I stuck my finger in my ear. I tipped my head upside down. I shook my head harder. What in the hell??? I Googled "my ear just filled up like a water balloon and it's gonna blow!" I had no idea what was happening. The next morning, I was at Zoom Care the minute they opened. "Ah yes, you have a little ear infection brewing." My first ever. All my life I've heard people talk about ear infections but I never really knew what they meant.

Sad face! :(((( If you don't know, try to keep it that way, seriously.

Ah, well. No brunch, no rose garden, no new dresses. Instead it was just lots of snuggle time on the sofa yesterday with my sweetest boos, Charlie and Lola episodes on repeat, Andy-made stuffed shells for dinner (my favorite food), sunshine and sitting around in the back yard when we got bored, me endlessly describing my symptoms in great detail. It was actually pretty wonderful, aside from the fact that I couldn't hear anything anyone was saying, and felt like my ear was going to burst, Mt. St. Helens–style, right off the side of my head. I kept looking at my ear in the mirror like, really? But it looks so normal! I just couldn't believe it was skin-colored (and not chartreuse) and regular sized (not gargantuan, like an elephant ear). I thought maybe I was hallucinating the fact that it appeared normal.

In spite of it all, my God, I must be the happiest, luckiest, most-blessed mama on the face of this earth. I kissed my girl a thousand times yesterday, and said my prayers, and I say them for you, too. I wish for all of it, every bit of it, for you. Not the ear infection part. Just everything else. Xo

Thank You

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Whew! Hello!

How are you?

It's a cold, rainy morning, so dark in the house I need all my little lamps on to see. Andy has the day off and is at the park with Clover Meadow and Miss Amelia. I'm sitting in the studio, eating breakfast and drinking orange juice. The rain is plinking on the skylights. I feel, I am quite sure, quite, quite ready for spring. It seems far off today!

Thank you again for your Miss Maggie orders! It always emotional for me to go through all of the orders and see everyone's names and addresses, and read all of the sweet notes people leave, and think about where all of these kits that we've worked on for months and which have become part of all of our lives here are going. Around the world. It's amazing to me. It brings me so much happiness. More than I probably remember to say. Thank you for that, and for being here all of these years, through many things. Today is actually the fifteenth anniversary of my accident. Posie was just my dream then. I had a lot of dreams then. I cried because I didn't think many of them would come true. Andy always believed that they would. He sees where I am trying to go before I ever do, and is already helping me get there before I even know I'm standing. He's pulled me to my feet more times that I can possibly count, and probably many more times than I've even realized. And then I go forward.

A most amazing man. My love. Greatest partner in life, and the greatest father. Most beautiful, fun, creative, kind, generous person I've ever known. Andy.

Then, Amelia.

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My heart is so full it's hard to speak. We have adopted a baby girl. We were honored and privileged to be asked by her luminous birthmother and her gentle birthfather to attend her birth. That moment, and the four days we spent in a hospital room with them and their family and friends were the most incredible, and humbling, of my entire life. This baby was born into the most beautiful circle of people I can possibly imagine, and both Andy and I are in continuous awe of their tremendous strength, courage, and incredible love. Our gratitude is boundless. Her birthgrandfather took this picture of Mt. Hood at sunrise on the morning of her birth. It made me cry when I saw it on his camera, and it makes me cry now to look at it again. It is a symbol of an auspicious beginning.

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Amelia Jolene Beatrix Paulson
October 14, 2012, at 5:42 p.m.
8 pounds, 3 ounces; 20 inches

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Welcome, welcome, welcome dear, sweet, precious, exquisite, wonderful, wonder-full Amelia. I love you more than I can say.

Cloudy Fall Morning

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Cloudy, and I can almost feel water in the air for the first time in ever so long. Hallelujah. Happy dance. Suddenly, under the flat gray light, I can see the fall colors. More dancing. I harvested the onions, a couple of eggplants, my precious butternut squash, another smattering of candy-sweet tomatoes this morning. I still can't get over what those tomatoes taste like. The vegetable beds are quite worn out. I thought about watering and decided, again, to let it go. I'm not sure how much is left to take out. Sweet potatoes — I don't think they did much. Carrots — the one I pulled was about the size of one of those little yellow Ikea pencils. This garden was a great experience for me.

Out there, the sound of acorns falling from the great oaks onto the pavement and the tops of cars. It's the sound of my childhood Septembers. The constant pinging of falling acorns on Forest Avenue. We had so many ancient oak trees there, and that sound of acorns falling, and bouncing, like other sounds from that place — freight trains coming then going, the cooing of an unseen mourning dove in the morning, cicadas, another freight train — is something I feel like I never hear enough. It's a sound you don't remember you've forgotten until you hear it. And it sounds like it's all yours.

I've decided to become a frozen-food person, and this morning put frozen pizza dough and two little frozen chicken pot pies from the bakery (where I go almost every morning to get a chai — kind of a little luxury I allow myself) in the freezer. It felt kind of like the year that my friend Allyson and I decided that we were French and wore stripes and scarves and spoke only Franglais, or the time I decided that I was a ballerina, and stood, whenever still, in fifth position. Or sometimes first position. Usually fifth, so there would be no mistake. This morning I decided that I would be one of those people who cooks things like soups and stocks and chilis and curries in big batches and freezes them in clearly labeled containers, and who then, when she is hungry, takes them out and cooks them for dinner. Eureka! This actually seems do-able. I have very low expectations for myself with meal planning. But this seems do-able. I have a freezer, and electricity. I want to believe.

September mornings forever remind me of traveling around Europe when I was a lass. I pulled out my scrapbook from that trip this morning. I haven't looked at it in ages. Photo taken in September of 1990, in Berlin, when I was twenty-one.

Town and Country

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We've been here and there. Ramblers and loungers. A nice mix for me. A little bit of home and a little bit of away for a day. Then home by dinner. Late-summer sunlight. Fields and furrows. Gray layers of light over fuzzy blue hills. Cold mornings and cold water. Regiments of geese fly low over the river, right above our heads. They thread their ways upstream, stopping to rest just beyond the rapids. Four eagles circle high in the clear, sharp light, talking to each other. Yellow leaves flashed silver as they fell. My body warmed the shallow pool of river water in my chair. I dared not move lest I chill it again. He examined stones and skipped rocks the size of salad plates. A river crayfish tried to git me. I insisted it was lobster. But Andy saved me. I have certain fears: going into banks, vinegar, wet cat food (disgusting beyond belief), crustaceans. He does his best, as always. Helping me always. My dear love.

Thank you thank you — for all of your orders, and your kindest words about the new ornaments and the new shop, and all of your gentle kindnesses, and constant generosity, and sweetness here all summer, and always. I feel raggedly sensitive lately, in good ways and difficult ways. I'm disheveled and flushed, a purple and smudgy September plum, ready to bust and ooze at a light touch, taking things personally, and I'll take your kind words personally, too. I'm grateful for them, more than you'll know.

Monday. He picked lavender for me while I sat in an old metal lawn chair with a poufy cushion and ate a chocolate ice-cream cone. Bees and butterflies rushed the blossoms, so many it felt like a fairy meadow. Harvest ball. There was a box where you put your five dollars for a bouquet. A broken-down shed. An ancient apple tree. Across the field, a wooden house. Once I was in the chair I felt like the field felt: tired, wilted, relieved. Four o'clock. Nothing else needed, then, beyond his quiet company and the holy, golden sunlight. How grateful I am for all these things.

In Early Evening

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Sometimes I miss Montana, miss living deep in the mountains, miss the rolling Clark-Fork River being right there at the end of our street. You could ride your bike in the evening along path at the edge of the river, with the cottonwood puffs floating and the mountains rising and the sound of the water rushing by. Fairy-tale thoroughfare. We once saw an otter on his back, floating under the bridge, right through downtown. We lived there for three years. Everything smelled like pine and smoke, sharp and dry. I miss how small the town was, how bored I could get with it, how much I wished it would rain, how I would wander, lonely, around Butterfly Herbs half the afternoon, drinking smoothies and hoping to run into someone I knew. I was haughty and fragile. Intimidated. I tried to learn to knit and practically had a nervous breakdown. The leaves crunched dry in the Rattlesnake. I liked the path along the creek in Greenough Park, the little bridge there, the weeds and wildflowers that grew in the front yards of houses near the railroad tracks on the north side of town. Everything was glinting and strange, the light different, clearer and more harsh than it had been in Illinois. I didn't own a car. I taught tried to teach college freshmen how to write argumentative essays. After the first semester I prohibited all argumentative essays about legalizing pot (this was a favorite freshman topic; there are only so many why-marijuana-should-be-legal thesis statements you can read without wanting to clonk stoner freshmen heads together, which I assume is also illegal). We had no money. On the last morning of the month I scoured every pocket and looked through every book bag in the house, trying to find enough change to get a cup of coffee on my way to school; no luck. Found a dollar in the snow, right in the middle of the street in front of Food for Thought, and could hardly believe it. We babysat for a lady with two little boys, one of whom couldn't speak. I still remember his name, and how sweet he was, how she cuddled him, how he liked to watch the movie Fantasia over and over again. I worked at Penney's in the home dec department, and folded fluffy new towels into thirds (strangely satisfying). Andy worked in a rock quarry. He would drive out and pick me up in the truck after work. We went everywhere, so happy to finally be living together, giddy with this. It would stay light so late in the summertime. I remember one night when we were walking home late from the bar and this guy on a bicycle suddenly flew past us and nailed the curb head-on, knocking the chain off his bike and himself flat. He jumped right up and, totally hammered, tried for several minutes to nonchalantly ride the bike with the chain clanging and hanging like a necklace around the pedals (pedaling furiously, going nowhere). Then he crashed straight on through the underbrush of the embankment and disappeared. Andy and I stared at each other in amazement — what in the heck? — and fell over laughing. I remember the hollyhocks that bloomed all down the alley between our apartment and the Orange Street Food Farm, the teetering platform of wooden boards Andy built for Violet so she could jump into our window from the dark green tangle of our side yard, the way that the sun set pink behind the purple mountains, so pretty it could make you cry.

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.