Wednesday, March 28, 2012


A friend rightly pointed out that the brown husks we see at this time of year are not rightly representative of spring so much as of last fall. Leftovers. There's beauty, even here.
The kids and I found a unique leftover the other day: a discarded bug house. We did a bit of research and found out it was, in fact, a Goldenrod Gall; winter-home to the Goldenrod Gall fly. The hole was a good sign. It meant that the larva was already out and on his way. So when my sons decided to bring some galls home, I wasn't worried about chubby white stowaways.

Monday, March 26, 2012

::PRETTY: "Spring"

This is what spring scraps look like where Geninne is from:

This is what spring looks like around here:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

::Brunch 'n guns::

Now, I'm not naming any names, but a few people I know think guns are cool. They have some. We have some property. We put 'em together. . .
We trudged through mud to the very back of the field, and set up targets on a big stump. The very best targets were shaken pop cans. When they were hit they exploded in a very satisfying way. We did a bit of skeet shooting as well. The gun we used for this had a bit of kick-back, for which I was completely unprepared. (As you can see by my amateur shooting posture above.) I have a nice bruise on my upper arm. . .

We had a few curious neighbours, but no phone calls. Gun shots are a part of the background noise out here. Note: No animals were harmed in the shooting of these photos.
Some cans were though.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

::Starlings: Springtime Santas::

This morning another bird made a claw-scratching descent into the bowels of our wood stove. Our springtime Santas. Usually, the birds rest for awhile on the platform at the bottom of the pipe before squirming into the belly of the stove, but this one never made an appearance. All day long he stayed well out of reach, and when we got home around dinner time it was ominously quiet in there. "It's gonna stink," one of the kids predicted. Yeah. (I'd heard a story of a guy who had dismembered his stove to remove a bird body. I figured Aidan would rather light a match.)

Then scritch. Our friend still had a bit of life in him. But after half an hour of unproductive scritch-scratching, clearly, this bird was no closer to finding the exit sign. I made a bold move, swinging the stove door open wide. Maybe the fresh air would coax him out. It did. Bird-body hit every window in the place before flying into our eating nook where he just pin-ponged back and forth for awhile. I counted on him getting tired. The moment he flopped onto the floor I flung a quilt on top of him and cooped him up. Ha!

My kids took turns shaking his beak good bye. Tiny fingers pinched yellow beak ever so gently and wiggled back and forth. "Bye birdie." Then Elijah had a turn tossing him skyward. (They've got this routine down pat.) I'm sure this won't be our last launching.

Starlings. Always starlings. Which reminds me of this video I saw a few months ago:

::Our Red-Eared friend::

We saw a turtle today. He was swimming ashore of the Mississippi in Carleton Place. A friend of ours scooped him up with a bucket for closer observation. He was about 20 cm long with yellow stripes on his body, and a splash of orange on either side of his neck. He was pronounced a Box Turtle, but after doing a bit of research I'm not so sure. He looked like this:
Which, according to this diagram, makes him a Red-Eared Slider.
Apparently this species does really well in captivity and has a "clownish, playful demeanor." This makes it a great pet. But, as I mentioned, they can grow to be quite big. This means that pet owners sometimes freak out when their tiny turtle grows bigger than the fish bowl they bought him. So they dump them into the nearest body of water which, of course, their sheltered pet is woefully unprepared for. He doesn't stand a chance, really. . .

Judging by the friendliness of this turtle, I wonder if he was formerly a pet. If he was, I hope he's tough enough to make it in the big world.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

::Tomato Peanut Soup::

What?! Peanut Butter in soup?!
Yes. Absolutely yes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

::The things March Breaks are made of::

Creativity and frugal planning patched together our March Break. The kids managed a few really impressive things without any help from me. One was a bouquet of tissue paper-flowers. They turned out beautifully, and were made just in time to brighten up a lunch we were hosting. Also, Caelah baked, and baked, and baked. I should start her on cookery. Its the open flame that makes me uneasy in that case.
I also happened to spot a program at one of our local libraries called Hug-A-Tree. No, not that kind of tree-hugging. It was about wilderness survival. The kids loved it, and toted home a bag full of life-saving goodies. I spotted something in the kit that totally pressed my inner random button; an orange keep-warm baggy. I kept taking mental snapshots of three little orange hershies kisses with faces, huddled in the woods. "Ooooh, put it on! Put it on!" I begged. Three sober-looking faces looked back at me. "Mom. These are not toys. This is serious." Sheesh. This man, evidently, takes this baggy very seriously:
C'mon. It's funny, no?
Wonderful friends and family have occupied the rest of our time quite nicely.

::Half a Kingdom::

My mom has been asking me to finish what I started for years. I carved her out a Fairy castle, but she wanted a whole kingdom! I made a bit of headway. Finally.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

::New soil::

To my courageous friend who left here:
To live here:
May your roots find purchase in this slightly colder soil, and may your new friends bring you some comfort and warmth.

Friday, March 09, 2012

::But I like pink cupcakes::

Today is International Women’s Day. As far as I know it is a day set aside to fight about Cupcakes. Fight is, in fact, built into the day's mandate: . . . "an opportunity to fight for political freedom, equal pay and working rights."


Sigh. I don't wanna fight about cupcakes. I don't wanna fight red-faced and sign-toting. I don't know if more fight is what I need. God knows it's already there, threatening to escape at every opportunity.

On this day of all days, I wanted to honour a friend who embodied all that will not make the headlines on International Women's Day: humility and quiet kindness.

First, though, some thoughts on jealousy. Is it just me, or does the big 'J' seem to be a lurking presence our lives? I think it is. We really don't admit to it readily because that would be a painfully vulnerable thing to do. Admitting to jealousy is admitting to pride and insecurity, neither of which, any of us would like to associate with ourselves.

I am a jealous woman. I admit it. What's worse, it seems like I haven't made any headway with it. I never expected to beat it entirely, but I had hoped it would crop up less frequently. Instead, it has simply taken on new forms. Where I was once quick to desire someone else's body, now I quite happily steal their character. I look at a woman of serenity and wisdom and I want to swindle her of those qualities. Jealousy is easily detectable by the small part of yourself which, rather than rejoicing over what another woman has, resents her for it instead.

Two days ago, I was reminded that the Christian fight is more often about wrestling your self to the ground and learning to unclench fists, open them and turn them palm-upwards. Jealousy? Defy it and act out against it with extended hands. I saw this when a dear lady I know made an early morning phone call just to tell her friend all about the lovely thing she'd heard said about her the evening before. She explained that she'd felt compelled to do it for several reasons. One of which was that she rightly assumed that these were not the kinds of calls most women recieve. Her next reason for calling was because her first instinct upon hearing her friend praised was to feel jealous.

What an example she is to me! She took a sober look at herself and then defied the inner-responses she sensed were there by acting in complete opposition to them. That there's the way to fight. I love you sister. I do not want to grab all of your outstanding moral fiber and run for the hills. I just want to be more like you.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

::Kid Chronicles::

Snack time around here can sometimes be a scavenger hunt. The ease with which we decide on a snack menu depends on whether or not I have done the groceries in the past two weeks. Today, there was great excitement at the discovery of frozen peas in the freezer! I am baffled. First, because I despise peas. And second, because it is a great mystery we have any to begin with.

Elijah came home yesterday with a delightful Play-Doh creation. It was promptly demolished by his little sister, but we reconstructed it as best we could. Below the large snowman he had inscribed his name. And below the tiny snowman he had written his friend’s name. He said that his friend needed to be represented in his art because; "He's a magician too." (?) While I refrained from asking for clarification regarding the 'magician' bit, I did wonder aloud about the size difference between the two magic-wielding snowmen. Ego-much? "I just ran outta white Play-Doh." K.
Isaiah turned four on Saturday. He got a Lego firetruck to add to our growing collection of Lego.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

::Multiple Transitions::

When we first heard this piece it was read by a tiny little voice and it tore me up. Especially when the small voice asked; "Are you willing to feel as powerless as I do?" Am I? The world is broken. I know it in my head, but I've never held it in my arms. Not closely. A man named Micheal Trout has. He's a professional in the field of infant mental health. He wrote this piece to help the "Big People" get it. I don't know that I ever will get it. But I will try.
I want to talk to you about what it feels like getting ready to be adopted, when you are a little kid who has already had about a hundred mothers. When you can barely remember what your first mother smelled like.

When everyone spoke a different language in the place where you were born than in the place you are now.

When some of the people who took care of you were called "foster parents" and you didn't know what that meant except something about they weren't going to stick around.

When, in the process of being moved all over the place, you lost some of your brothers and your sisters and a particular pair of shoes that felt just right and your absolutely most favorite cuddly, and a certain place on the inside of your last crib where you used to scratch with your fingernail to help yourself go to sleep.

Kids like me, see, don't have families of our own.

Because there's something wrong about us. (I guess) Or because there aren't enough to go around. Or something.

And I probably won't get one, either.

Or if I do, will it be too late for me to believe that they love me, and are going to stay with me?

So I want to talk to you, Big People, about these things, even though I am not sure you are real interested.

Are you the same Big People who keep doing these things to me in the first place? (Please don't get offended if I talk to all of you at once: caseworkers, foster parents, judges, adoptive parents. I just need to say how it all feels to me, and sometimes I can't get the cast of characters straight.)

Some people say that my first parents shook me until my eyeballs got loosened up, or they left me alone, or they gave me away, or they just ran away.

I guess you think, because of that, I am supposed to not miss them? (Because if I did it would sure make me lots more cooperative with all the plans you keep making for me.)

Should I just say, "They did the best they could" so I am not so ticked off and lonely and worried all the time about what the Big People are going to do next?

The truth is, I can't do any of these things: I can't forget. (Even when my brain does, my body won't.) I can't stop myself from yearning (even though later I will get quite good at playing games about this).

I'm not saying I was some cherished treasure or anything in my family. But what were you thinking when you sent big men in uniforms to grab me out of my screaming father's arms at eleven o'clock at night, scaring me to death? Or when you sent me to a foster home without telling them about the special ways I needed to be handled because I had never stayed anywhere long enough to get attached to anybody?

Or when you then took me from those people who were so disappointed in me after a few weeks that they said I would have to be "disrupted" (whatever that means). So you sent me to a family with an older foster child who was mean to little kids because they were weak and small. And so he punched me a lot in secret. . .

And when that family got rid of me, and the next, and the next, did you think I was going to take it all lying down? Did you think I was supposed to just be sweet and adorable and ready to connect to yet another family who were going to throw me away? (Could you have done that?)

After a while, I had just lost too many people that I might have cared about. I had been with too many "parents" who really weren't, because they couldn't hold me tightly in their hearts at all.

None of you got how I was being changed by all these losses, (in my heart and in my behavior).

After a while, I began to get some pretty bad ideas about how things work. And mostly those ideas said that I was, by that time, in deep doo-doo.

I wasn't going to let anybody like me. Not even me.

And so, now, I won't let you imagine even for a minute that I like you. That I need you, desperately. That I might ever grow to trust you. I am not, after all, a complete moron.

Are you ready to have me not believe you?

Are you ready for me to fight you for control?

Are you ready to hold me, and then hold me some more (when all the time I act like I don't want you to at all?)

Are you ready to really stay with me, through a battle that might last almost my whole growing up? Are you willing to feel as powerless as I do?

What will you think when I say I don't care a bit whether you go on vacation and leave me with Aunt Harriet, who I hardly know at all? Then, when you come back, are you ready to deal with me taking a dump in front of your bedroom door every single day for three whole weeks?

You see, it is like this, Big People: I'm not stupid. I was not blind. I do pay attention, because it matters lots to me.

And so when my first parents knocked me around or acted like I was invisible, or gave me to someone else to raise, or stood there screaming while you took me away from them, I noticed.

And when no one came to take their place, I noticed that too.

And when the orphanage didn't last, and the first half-dozen foster families didn't last, something started happening to me.

A little bit of my spirit started to die.

For some reason, then, I started pulling out my eyebrows. (I'm not sure what that has to do with my spirit dying.) I agree that it doesn't make much sense for me to join in with all the other people that have hurt me, by hurting myself. But I do it anyway.

So I bite on my hand, or dig at my face, or make a real bad sore on the top of my head from scratching myself.

I pull out clumps of my hair, and so the kids at preschool laugh, and Big People have an odd look on their faces when they see me. . .

Sometimes I run into the arms of strangers, like I have known them forever, and like I don't actually care anymore who I am safe with or not.

(Am I safe with anybody? Does it matter any more?)

Did I mention how much I am growing to hate smallness, and weakness and defenselessness? It's getting so the only thing I know how to do is to just be as tough as I can, and to try to rub out smallness and weakness wherever I see them:

In the kittens that get hung by the clothesline in the backyard and squished with a tennis racquet.

In the babies in my recent foster homes who turned up scratched.

In my own Self, which I attack, particularly when I am feeling small or scared, and I need to beat myself into more toughness.

And as little parts of my spirit keep dying, will it surprise you that I'm not exactly going to be overjoyed when you finally say you have permanent parents for me? Do you honestly think I am going to say, "Oh, I get it. You were just kidding all those other times, but this time you really mean it"?

And, so, do you want to hear something funny? Just about the time I am ready to get what everybody thought I needed (parents who are actually never going to leave me) I'm going to get just a tad weird. I'm going to start banging my head more than I did before. I might start acting like a baby again and, even if I had gotten a little bit comfortable with my latest "parents" I'm going to go back to stiffening my body, and screaming at night, and doing everything I can to tell you that I don't want you to love me.

I can't stand all this talk about "permanence" and "adoption".

I will make you sorry you ever thought about trying to get close to me. I will make you feel almost as helpless and small as I have usually felt.

So are you wondering what I need? Are you wondering what I would do about all of this if I had the power?

You may be able to get away with treating me as if I am invisible for a while (perhaps long enough to "disrupt" me or move yourself to a different casework job). I was there, watching, I was having deep feelings about what was happening to me and I needed someone to act as if it mattered, hugely.

Second, don't imagine that I will ever stop yearning for my birth family (even though, as in other things, I will pretend otherwise). Help me find some way to keep a connection with them, even if I never see them again. Bring out pictures. . . and hold me while I rage or sob or stare, or all of these at once. And understand that none of this is a reflection on you.

Don't be surprised when I come back from a visit with them peeing my pants or throwing tantrums in the bath that night.

I told you: things matter to me. So I am going to have feelings about things that matter to me.

Third, it would help a lot if you would make the decisions that you need to make and stick with them.

Some days I think my mind is going to explode because I know something is going on in my life but I can't tell what it is; later I'll learn that there was a court hearing that day and everybody in my life was wrought up and then it was "continued" (whatever that means - except mostly that nothing is getting decided, and I still don't have a family).

I don't get to make the decisions. You do. So have the courage to make them. So that I can get a life.

Fourth, it would mean a lot to me if you would take good care of my foster family. They have their hands full. Sometimes they don't know what to do with me. So make sure someone is there to answer their questions, to encourage them, to help them understand me better. You won't like what will happen if I keep getting disrupted, and the only way I can think of to prevent that is to take extra good care of the people that are taking care of me.

So have I told you anything that you wanted to know? Have I helped you to understand how we feel - all of us kids who fell into the world of foster care and adoption?

I know it is a burden for you to think so carefully about me, and I know you might get a little nervous to realize that I am watching, and affected by all that you do.

But you won't be sorry if you take me seriously. Someday, see, I will be Big People.