Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Be the change you want to see...

I've been following the path of this inspiring family since my own decision to change the way we live. But I hadn't seen this particular clip. SO inspiring. Thanks, Heather!

Lambs Quarter

One thing we always look forward to this time of year is the lambs quarter being just at the right size for harvesting. We eat it straight out of the garden along with a pea leaf or a bit of fresh dill struggling to grow against the picking fingers... Lambs quarter was a staple in my grannie's kitchen, but most people just think of it as a weed now. It's ready before spinach and tastes very similar. It's like any weed at our place, though, we have too much of it. We eat as much as we can of it while it's small and tender, and then try to get as much of it pulled and onto the compost heap, but we seem to have more each year.
Annika picked a big basket of it last night and I put some in the salad, some in the stir fry and used some in my omelette this morning. Our hens are laying really well just now too, so we're flush with eggs, and a dutch family has just started selling their homemade gouda cheese that they make from their beloved grass-fed cows that they milk every morning. I had a tomato and some mushrooms from a local greenhouse that I chopped up and fried up with some chives and bits of thyme straight from the garden. Lastly I poured a bit of my salmon oil on it (not so local, but delicious for my developing baby's brain just now). SO YUM I ate half before Annika suggested taking a photo! Best omelette ever!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Perfect End to a Perfect Day

One of my favourite memories growing up is having tea, fresh bread and homemade butter for supper on the days when mum made bread (every week). My own kids don't get the homemade butter, but they do get homemade mayonnaise, fresh local gouda cheese, freshly made raspberry jam (from frozen berries) and fresh-picked asparagus. And of course, cinnamon buns for dessert. What's not to love?!

I can't get enough of lilacs this time of year... This photo's for you, Marti!

My Little Dancer

Annika's dance recital was Friday night. She was SO excited to be a forest fairy in the story. I have a feeling this might be her last recital with Andrea so I wanted to make it extra special for her...
We put her hair in hot rollers for the very first time...

and constructed a leaf skirt out of real elephant ear leaves and ferns (sewn onto bias tape and tied around her waste). We made a head wreath out of elephant ear flowers and ivy leaves from the plant we gave to each of our wedding guests 9 years ago. (I wonder if any of the others have lived this long?!)
All of the girls danced so heart felt and beautifully it made me cry.
She was SO nervous to perform but absolutely loved it (I told her to pretend it was just her own family in the audience and she said it worked) and was just shining with joy at the end of it.
Thank you for this, Andrea! What special special memories!

One lovely spring day...

Come for a lovely walk with us through our gardens...

our crabapple tree has never had more blooms on it
fiddlehead ferns (new this year from generous friend) how did we ever live without thee?
little gnomes in the secret garden
little fairies in disguise, hanging like bats to fool us
a primrose from my Grannie's collection, a favourite
red tulips, wet with dew, how sensuous thou art!
tree hugging, a favourite sport
eonymous (?), another new favourite this year, brilliant lemon yellow...
lilacs, all our very most favourite
an upside down wheelbarrow gathering flower petals to adorn itself
grape hyacinths forever remind me of my mum
and lilacs remind me of my dad and my aunt
a rescued (and pronounced dead) rhododenron actually bloomed this year!
and our lovely apple tree which grows with its arms around the treehouse...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mothering Day

I think I need to make a distinction between being honoured for being a mother and being honoured for mothering. Big difference, isn't there? Our culture does a lovely job of loving our mothers on Mother's Day.
Based on consumer purchases of fresh flowers and plants for holidays at all outlets:
Mother's day ranks 2nd, with 24% in dollar volume of all transactions for the year (after Christmas).

So mothers are getting flowers and cards declaring love and everlasting gratitude. Many are getting meals prepared for them and possibly their house cleaned on this special day! I think it's wonderful. Any chance to honour our mums (and dads!) is big in my books.

But what about mothering in our culture the other 355 days of the year? Do you think that all is well? We're all one, right? Whatever befalls one of us befalls every one of us? We can make sure we're raising our sons and daughters to honour mothering in our own homes, and that's a good start. Being part of a larger community or tribe that does the same is even better. But is it enough? Do you think that any of us can in any way not be affected by the larger culture around us? And what about when your children choose spouses? Well, accept for mine, I'm not worried as I'm going the arranged-marriage route ;o)

I don't know. I really think that change begins in our own homes, but that we are all mothers to all children everywhere. And personally being with my mil on Sunday was a huge wake-up call for me. It's subtle, isn't it? To me that's what's insidious about it. There was nothing on Sunday that made it rational to jump up and yell out about it. And you know me, so you can be assured I was not silently brooding about it! I was speaking up. In fact I suggested that the husband (who forgets his wife's birthday every year) ask his mother to remind him each year. She's not an accountant! I got strange looks over that one. It's the eager, interested questions about how busy the men are at work, what's happening, what events are upcoming. No questions about what's going on with the mothers and kids, and when someone mentions something there being no interest, no empathy for what's tiring, the suck-it-up message when its mentioned how long the days are with the men working long hours... It's subtle, that's just it: This thing in our culture that values money and status far above parenting. On Sunday I got it on a soul level that I need to make a stronger stand for the honouring of parenting and especially mothering on this planet. Annika has a poster that says "I am in the world to change the world." Maybe it should be in my room instead.

Ani DiFranco is on the cover (and feature article) in Mothering magazine this month. She says the day she gave birth to her daughter she was reborn a feminist. Talking about the work of mothering she says "It's hard to recognize, because men's work has such extravagant evidence -- skyscrapers, for instance -- while much of women's work just makes the world quietly turn."

And as an aside, I'm wondering if there's any different sense about all this depending on whether or not you have a daughter. I got two phonecalls from mothers of daughters on Monday morning, both feeling the same urgency to turn things around in our culture. Along with a couple emails from mothers of sons wondering if I'm okay. I wonder if there's something to that. What do you think?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The State of Motherhood... (rant)

It seems of all the species of mammals left living on the earth, modern-day humans are the only ones who do not truly honour motherhood. Wild animals choose their mates based on traits conducive to parenting. And it's not just a trait lost with wildness -- I've been looking into buying sheep, and so of course the sheep-owners are telling me how 'milky' their ewes are, what good mothers they've been, and how protective and gentle the fathers are.
Yesterday was Mother's Day. Quite the event, huh? Parades and medals given out, the front cover of all the papers splashed with mothers who are particularly 'milky' and gentle and patient with their young... Every year it blows me away to see how much the culture I live in honours mothers and mothering. Wow.
Not. Yet I felt honoured. My children cuddled in with me with handmade cards and kisses and professions of deep, true love. They erected a sundial in honour of the day down by the newly dug pond, and I felt honoured. But then we left the property. Big mistake. Dinner at my inlaws was wieners 'because it was easy'. The menfolk stood, beer in hand, watching the highlights of some golf tournament and then some hockey game while the women tended the children and got the food on the table. There was a sweet little "cheers to mums" before we ate, and then the men debated the price of gas and the state of the economy and whether or not real estate prices are going to recover and blah blah blah. I tuned out. I was thinking about the state of motherhood. We ate, we presented gifts to Grandma (mil) who loudly protested that she was not to be given any gifts or cards. And it hit me, that she was the one setting all this up. It was her idea to "keep it simple", her idea to keep the honour out of the day. Because she's never felt much honour in mothering, she can't allow us to either. She's always telling us how important the men's work is, that we shouldn't complain when they come home late, tired, drained, with nothing to offer us as women and mothers. They're working HARD! She's always glorifying what they do as SO important -- and the more money people make, the more she respects and admires them. Not just men. Women too. She's all for equal rights. We were regaled with a story of a young mum we all know whose husband didn't remember her birthday on May 1st. She and this mum's mother both agreed that she should not expect or even hope her husband remembers her birthday because he's an accountant! He's just come through a very important time -- what is her birthday really in the whole scheme of things? I felt sad. Sad for this mum. Sad for my mother-in-law. Sad for my children hearing this story. Sad for the whole world because we are so completely f#@%ed up.
It's not just my mil. Somewhere along the way of gaining equal rights, we threw the baby out with the bathwater. Really. And I know it isn't like this everywhere. I know there are small pockets of human beings who are working hard to change this. I even know some of them and feel grateful to have their hopeful presence in my life. But for the most part, this is what we have come to expect. Mothering is a martyr job. It's hard, it takes everything out of us, it's joyous, it's the most incredible thing we'll ever do. But nobody truly deeply authentically honours the job but our own small children. {Some of us are coming around to it, including me. But we weren't raised that way. We weren't cultured that way. It's a struggle to really LIVE what we KNOW in our heads. To really feel in our hearts the honour that our jobs deserve, isn't it? When you're really honest about it?} As our own little adorers grow up they're cultured to hold it in disdain, to despise their mothers and everything they say and do and wear. A friend received a letter last weekend from her 14 year old daughter, thanking her for being her mum. She said she didn't feel she fit in at school or with any of her friends because they all hate their mothers and she couldn't relate. She thinks she's weird because she adores her mother. How many of you just read that and thought "she'll grow out of that soon enough"? We are cultured to hate our mothers. And we are cultured to think this is "normal".
It's not. It's just our screwed up culture. We are born in total worship of motherhood. Our first few years we think there is no one more important or incredible than mothers. For thousands of years this was our culture. From birth through to death. The birthing mother earth was our goddess, and women were revered. Children were cared for. That was the most important thing we could do.
But then through a series of very messy events, the economy replaced the goddess. So completely that we grow up knowing, now, that if we want to do something really important we'll get a high-flying career in law or accounting or medicine or business. Why? Because you make lots of money. Plain and simple. And the more land you clear and the more houses you build and the more roads you make and the fancier the cars you drive and the more stuff you can buy, well, the more important you obviously are. If you're an entrepreneur you get all sorts of tax breaks. As a mother? Not so much. You can't write off meals, you can't write off trips, you can't write off anything. Because you're not contributing to the economy. And if you're not contributing to the economy, then sorry, hon, but you're just not important in this culture.
And we're just starting to see (some of us, some of us not as was evident at the dinner table last night) that this worship of the economy is what has our planet headed for complete destruction. WHAT IF more people than not (tipping point) woke up this morning and could see that the most important thing we can do is raise our children to be hopeful, caring, happy, compassionate, earth-loving people? What if more people than not refused to work at anything another single day that wasn't supportive of the future of their children? Would more of us stay home with our children and grandchildren and take them for a walk in the woods? Would the malls be empty today? Would the manufacturing plants be too empty to grind out any more useless STUFf today? Would our economy grind to a screeching (GASP!) halt? The world as we know it would END! Wouldn't it?! All the doomsday cults would be RIGHT! The WORLD WOULD END. As we know it.
And then we could begin again. Would we take the time to show our children how to grow their own food and pick up some garbage and teach them how to share this planet with the animals and birds and plants and oceans? We could teach them how we must live in order to survive! And then would we place more priority on actually THRIVING with them? Now? Instead of waiting until we have enough money that we can relax....
Why am I up at 5 this morning writing all this? Because my husband was flopping around in bed like a fish out of water. Why? Because he has an important day today. The BIG boss is coming. The one who actually OWNS everything. That's big stuff, no?
I think about all the women this morning who are getting ready for something important today. Who maybe weren't totally present over the weekend because their minds were still partly engrossed with work. And I don't wonder why more women don't choose to stay home with their small children. Why would they? It's not important in our culture! Oh! Sure! We SAY it is. We say (come on now, say it with me) "mothering is the most important job you could ever do". I hear that over and over when I tell people what I do for a living. We SAY it is, but our culture says it isn't. Mothering can be done in an hour or two a day, can't it? We pay someone to take care of our children. "They're kids! They grow up whether we're there or not. They'll be fine! Look at me! My mother didn't stay home with me and I'm fine!" Don't you read that in our culture all the time? On TV and in movies, and magazines and on the news and just everywhere? Daycare, that's what our Prime Minister talks about whenever we talk about children. We MUST get better funding for daycare. Not to mention that daycare workers are some of the least paid in our society. Nobody talks about changing that -- we just need MORE daycares.
It's not all doom and gloom, I know. My husband is actually really strongly bonded to our children. He rarely works on weekends. He's there to really BE with them most nights before they go to bed. We even have dinner together most evenings. He at least acknowledges that what he's doing right now isn't sustainable. He can't work this many hours, be this drained, be this all-consumed-by-work forever. At some point it will slow down and he will be more present with us. And at least we manage to get him truly grounded and present by the end of most weekends. And there are those holidays (is it 3 weeks a year now? maybe even 4. 4 out of 52, not bad, hey?) where he's so present that we at least all remember what it's like, AND that it really is possible. And hey! He makes lots of money AND his mother is proud of him! So someday we can retire and enjoy our children together. Or grandchildren as it will be.
Will my children grow up any differently? By the time we're all "ready" to be really present with each other and make each other a priority will they be off into the ratrace and have no time for us? Will Annika embrace motherhood and feel it's the most important thing she will ever do? Will Pedar feel that raising his children to be happy, hopeful, caring, compassionate people is the most important thing he could ever do? Will they LIVE that way?
I wish I could answer that with a resounding YES! But I can't. I'm hopeful. I am. But our culture is so strong. And there's just me, their mother, in their lives who sees it all this way...
I remember one of my good friends telling me a story about a father who every Friday night gave a big talk to his children about how important their mother was (was it you J? or Tab? if it was someone reading this, could you type it into the comments? I really need to hear that story again). He'd say that what he had done all week paled in importance to what she'd done. Those kids grew up honouring motherhood. Living it. Not just thinking or say it, but LIVING it. And I'll bet that man had one of the best lives of anyone alive. That mother would've felt validated and really SEEN, filled up and able and willing to pour back into him her gratitude.
What about you? Are you LIVING that motherhood is honourable? Are there any speeches at your table on Friday nights to help put the screwey ideas of our culture into perspective for your children? What is the state of motherhood in your world?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!!

It's the little things that have me bursting with joy at this whole motherhood thing...
Cuddling in bed for an hour together every morning telling our dreams and planning our day,
The handmade cards and pictures and fistfuls of dandelions brought to me with glowing faces,
The way they run into my arms full of joy when we've been separated for less than an hour,
The sparkle in their eye and the joy in their voices when they're excited about something,
The sound of their contagious giggles,
The feel of their soft skin,
The way they reach up and take my hand in theirs,
The way they still crumple into my arms without thought or invitation for no reason at all,
The way they inspect my rough gardener's hands, tracing the outline of my fingers with theirs,
Our long laughter-filled candlelit baths together,
The smell of their sweat and the taste of their tears,
That my kisses and cuddles still cure cuts and bruises and hard falls,
That tears spring to my eyes from the bursting of my heart from so much love and joy at the priviledge of motherhood...

And I can still feel my own mother's hands in mine. They were rough and old looking, just like mine. I can still hear her contagious laughter, see the tears in her eyes from her bursting with love and joy for me...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Letter to my brother...

Hello you two,
I was going to call you all day, starting from last night! I've been thinking about you so much, but just wasn't sure what I'd say... Every year I call, and every year I cry, and every year I wonder if my calls were harder on you. I didn't mean to let the day pass without picking up the phone, but I know you're in bed now, so I will resort to this method. I hope you don't mind.
Eight years now. What a different day it would have been for you, celebrating your sweet girl's 18th birthday. I can hardly imagine. But I feel like I can just get a glimpse of what she would've been like -- blonde and beautiful and gracious with her easy laugh and way of making everyone feel special... what a vision.
I make May 6th my sort of New Year in mothering every year. I think about it a lot on Tyler's birthday too, but somehow it comes home more on May 6th -- I reassess what I'm doing with my kids. I try to imagine what I'd do differently if I knew my kids wouldn't live past 10 and 12. And it helps me slow down just a little more and enjoy them more, take more breaks cuddling in the hammock, it gives me just a little more patience letting them tie their own shoes and comb their own hair and buckle their own seatbelts even when we're running late...
You couldn't have known you'd have such a short time with your gorgeous kids. But I can let their lives be an inspiration to me with mine. I can allow their sweet lives to be shining stars in my journey with my children, lighting the path to embracing every moment, finding a way to live with no regrets no matter what the future holds...
I'm grateful for Silka and Tyler's lives and I'm SO grateful for your presence in mine. I hope all the rose bushes I've given you in the last 8 years bloom in profusion this year. I wish you happy memories and sweet joys and hearts filled with gratitude for each other.
I love you,

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Morning Treasures

Every morning we get to have the most beautiful egg hunt! Aren't these lovely? The green ones come from our Ameracauna hens, as do the pink ones. The large dark brown ones come from our old Red Sussex hens, and these tiny dark ones we have no idea where they're coming from. Two in one day and these are the first we're seeing of them. Now it's a mystery to sort out whose eggs they are. They're the size and weight of a quail egg! But not the right colour. Any ideas out there?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Yellow Spring

Our garden is going through a "yellow phase" just now. I can't think of a colour that's more cheery, and we need it with the cold spring we've been enduring! Here are a few of our yellow specimens...
Lovely violas,
oodles of daff's (you can see the red stage about ready to pop)
forsythia bushes just loaded this year
and he's not yellow, but isn't he a jolly good looking rooster?

that's Edgar (part Raven, part Ameracauna ;o)

Happy Happy Spring!