changed, unchanged

disclaimer: This post was originally written about three weeks ago during a trip to florida. There are no seagulls in Marietta, but there are ferns, with fairies in them.

It’s late afternoon on a Sunday; the shadows are long and cooling, and the breeze coming through the backyard makes you forget how hot it was only an hour or two ago. This moment is the perfect climate for me. The brilliant blue of the sky and the yellow-green of newly sprung leaves, the strange mix of the calls of seagulls and songbirds, the shady mystery of the mass of ferns at the edge the yard all too easily tip towards the ethereal. There are probably fairies in those ferns.

With me here are three boys all devoted to their particular interests: the oldest is engaged in repeatedly pouring sand onto the concrete patio and smoothing it with a steamroller to make a road; the middle son has stripped off all his clothes and is sitting quietly in a wading pool filled with water that is probably too cold even for me to brave; the youngest is sitting next to a container of small toys which he pulls out one at a time, inspects, tastes, then throws aside before moving on the next. As he works, he squeals quietly to himself—it’s his way of carrying on a conversation. He’s the first of the boys to do that.

lensbaby plants

 I’ve devoted a lot of time this year to reading more fairy tales, finding they balance a personality that’s too given to cynicism. I’ve been eschewing music that’s intentionally pessimistic and sardonic. This has been out of sheer necessity. You never really think about the worldview behind a particular lyric until you hear your small child sing it to himself. Then you realize the fire you’re playing with in their lives and yours, and you find suddenly that you just don’t have the stomach for it anymore, even when they’re not around.

I recently rambled on the phone to a good friend that I felt like things in my life were becoming “more green and blue”. This doesn’t really make sense, and I realized it after I said it but then couldn’t really articulate what on Earth I meant by it. I’m not a synesthete (though I probably could be if I tried hard enough; F# major is burgundy.) but the Myers-Briggs says I’m intuitive and I suppose that means I occasionally feel things that can’t really be described in words. My favorite colors are blues and greens and have been all my life (except for a brief obsession with pink) so the association is one of returning to beauty, loveliness, and a sense of innocent wonder. I attribute this partially to the fairy tales and partially to the sublime music of a friend, and partially again to the much-needed arrival of Spring and the climate of perfection I described earlier.

I have a board on Pinterest that is titled, simply, “LOVE”. It’s for things that—wait for it—I love. Like really, really love. I have strict rules of admission: I have to literally gasp or hold my breath (I do that sometimes) when I see the image for it to be included on the board. It’s been interesting to see what has been gathered there. There are more bees that I thought, not as many owls as I thought, and lots and lots of greens and blues. And a little bit of pink. Some things don’t really change, I guess.

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I wrote this poem twelve years ago this month. Isn’t that interesting? I had forgotten about it until I saw a link to it suggested under a recent blog post of mine. It’s quite unpolished–I hadn’t ever tried a pantoum before, and the whole thing feels rather rusty (I also messed with the format). Plus I was eighteen. That accounts for a lot.

I climb a winding stair of green
to reach the dome of brightest blue
of all I see below, I’m queen
although I’m only passing through

I reach the dome of brightest blue
and gaze upon the sight below
although I’m only passing through
a sense of longing in me grows

I gaze upon the sight below
the world’s alive, and all is green
a sense of longing in me grows
a song I feel I need to sing

the world’s alive, and all is green
the winding path, the sunlit lake
a song I feel I need to sing
the sun its leave begins to take

the winding path, the sunlit lake
to them, at last, I say farewell
the sun its leave begins to take
as down the mountain path I steal.

to them, at last, I say farewell
and notice where the green things grew
as down the mountain path I steal
what once was green is now grey-blue.

I notice, where the green things grew
as stars come out, the sun is gone
what once was green is now grey-blue
as twilight’s shroud is coming down.

the stars come out, the sun is gone
I think upon the greyish hue
as twilight’s shroud is coming down
I dwell in realms of green and blue

I think upon the greyish hue
that overtook the stair of green
I dwell in realms of green and blue
and of all I see–I’m queen.

changed, unchanged

ritual

There’s been very little variance in the weather since we’ve returned home; every day has greeted us with the same grey, dismal, rainy, slightly clammy climate. I’ve been gone for the majority of the past six weeks in some sort of never-ending road trip (and I’m sort of wishing I were headed off someplace again.) Sometimes I have to remind myself that the weather here is not always like this.

The lovely part of the dismal days is how the greyness pairs with the newly-sprung-green of the leaves. The dreary weather can’t mute that shade of green. It only augments it.

If the month of April has made a ritual of endless rain (April showers and all) then my answer has been this: to come down the stairs to a darkened room, to light a candle, to turn on Timbre’s Moon disc to the first track (listen to it here), to turn on the water for coffee, and to just dwell on the windowpane-framed view of the backyard, overcast, the deep browns and greys overcome by almost flourescent green.

Maybe there should be more to a post than this. Frequently I err on the side of “no one cares to know” concerning these small moments in the day. They are more felt than factual; they are difficult to describe. But today, I shrugged off the misgivings and took pictures instead. It’s my ritual.

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ritual

the sea and we

Is anyone not fascinated by the ocean? Our oldest boys have both adored the water from infancy. (Anselm is not impressed, but he’ll come around.)

I chose to bring my Lensbaby Composer (which permanently has the star aperture disc in it) knowing it would make beautiful use of the sun glinting off the water. I truly believe that lens (and aperture disc) was created expressly for the purpose of photographing children; everything is magical for them, and nothing so magical as the ocean. The stars are extremely appropriate. It’s like getting a little photographic glimpse into their worldview.

I’ve been having lots of thoughts about the ocean lately–ones that deserve a whole (lengthy, wordy) post of their own–and so watching my children interact with the sea has been a very reflective exercise for me. It’s also why I am always compelled to photograph them there.

But back to the Lensbaby: the lens really frustrated me when I first got it, because getting things truly in focus is just difficult. This perplexed and irritated my perfectionist side (which is always hyper-aware of critiques from the types I like to call the Photography Elite, whose habits I don’t have to go into detail about.) It took me a while to get over that and realize that its imperfection (if you can call it that) is kind of the point. I love it now for the dreamy, unfocused quality it brings. There is such thing as too much realism.

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the sea and we

thirteen months

Anselm Ioan turned thirteen months yesterday, and I did something I have never done before in my entire career as a mother…

forgot.

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I mean I actually just remembered. He’s thirteen months! It happened yesterday. Fortunately I did take pictures of him yesterday–and except for my compulsive desire to be honest, I could have completely pretended that they were intentionally his thirteen-month-pictures. But now you know the truth.

Knowledge is power.

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Our Mr. Mo is thirteen months. He’s getting around pretty well by army crawling, which means all of his clothes bear the tell-tale signs of a scooter: great long smears of grime across his belly and his forearms. It’s been a difficult transition for me; having late movers lulls you into this false state of confidence at being able to sit your baby down and come back several minutes later to find them in exactly the same spot. It’s as if you convince yourself that you have trained them that way. It is most unsettling, therefore, to have to wonder to yourself where on earth that baby is that you just set down next to an inviting pile of toys. Add to that the fact that’s very, very quiet…! The fact is that he’s gone from being an oversized paperweight to a baby ninja.  He is very pleased with himself for being able to covertly clamber across a room and disappear before you know he’s gone.

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He is pleased with himself for a great many things, actually. Being charming is certainly high on the list. He seems to be hyper-aware of the fact and uses it to his great advantage, like disarming grown-ups who are irritated at him for throwing his milk cup off the high chair again. I can’t quite get it across to him that that does not work. Much.

He also takes great pride in his conversational squealy-sounds that he makes in lieu of babbling. Oh, he does babble–and says a few words, when he wants to–but most of the time he resorts to just making those loopy, noodle-y, wheeling squeals that don’t seem to serve much purpose except to express a sort of delirious pleasure at whatever is capturing his attention.

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He is unfortunately following Ephraim’s habits in regards to eating, which meant he loved to eat anything and everything until the one day that he didn’t like anything anymore. He does, however, like to suck the milk out of mini-wheats and is a pretty big fan of ham and beans (!?!) but I seem to have managed to birth a child that doesn’t like fruit AT ALL, and if not for the fact that he had those unmistakeable stork bites as a baby I might be concerned that the hospital switched babies on us.

anselm 13 months-10Just kidding. Sort of.

We’re coming to the end of the adorable one-tooth-wonder era. (Well, one tooth on the top.) Three more top teeth are poking through as we speak. Er, read?

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Happy Thirteen Months, Mr. Mo.

thirteen months

sun and song

I don’t always make split-second decisions, but when I do, I pack suitcases for myself and my three boys and plan a road trip for the next day.

A couple of weeks ago I learned a friend of mine would be filming a music video in the run-down, sad old house across the street from the house I grew up in. I expressed a sadness that I could not be there (I had no good reason to be there, besides just being nosy and wanting to see how everything turned out). Jeremy asked me why I couldn’t just go. So after double-checking with my parents, packing, and trying to clean up the house a little, I left as planned the following morning for Kentucky. It’s a drive that should be about 5.5 hours, though when you have three littles four-and-under in tow, it ends up being more like 7.5.

It occurred to me only the morning of the shoot to offer to take some pictures (and thus transform my presence from Nosy Onlooker to Official Photographer.)

Beyond just being Actually Useful, it was a really beautiful day. I had heard the song the video would be for for the first time in the car a couple of days previously. It made me cry. And it made me speed. And when it was done, Clive quietly asked, “I hear it again, Mama?’ Timbre really has a gift for making incredibly beautiful music. If you haven’t heard her yet, you are really, really missing out.

It was a joy to be practicing my craft in an environment with so many very, very artistic and talented people doing what they do best. After a difficult few weeks, that was a breath of fresh air.

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sun and song

anselm turns one

We celebrated Anselm’s first birthday during a trip to Florida earlier last month. I headed down while Jeremy was busy chaperoning a school trip since the trip would mean he would be out of down for this milestone birthday. I wanted to be able to celebrate his day with family.

On his birthday proper we had a picnic in a park, but a few days later (after Jeremy was able to join us) we had a real party with all the good stuff, like cake and frisbees and cake and playgrounds and cake and family. And cake.

anselm party

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Happy Birthday, Sweet Son.

anselm turns one