Friday, July 31, 2009

how can i love them already?

"Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here an hour I would die for you. This is the miracle of love." -Maureen Hawkins

What you see above is a little silver duck baby rattle. I bought it many years ago in Frankfurt Germany, and knew the moment I saw it that it would be my way of telling my husband that we are having a baby. I keep it wrapped in tissue paper in my wooden box with the word 'HOPES' written on it, along with a silver keepsake box and a newborn baby bonnet which my mother-in-law gave me; it's been in the family for a long time.

We are going to begin trying to conceive in September, and let me tell you, I am prepared. I ordered pre-seed, a lubricant which supports sperms mobility and lifespan, and a clearblue digital pregnancy test to take with us to Cape Cod; by the time we're there I could already be pregnant. Wouldn't that be a nice place to give Ramon the rattle? 
Some friends have told me not to get my hopes up about conceiving in the first month. They said it usually takes longer and that I should expect to have to try at least a few times. Other friends have said, "Why shouldn't it happen the first time? Enjoy it and by all means, set an intention for it to work the first go!" While I am aware that some couples end up trying for a long time before getting pregnant, I am also aware of couples where *bling!* it worked the first go. 
I have thought about my future children every day for a long, long time. I know that, not only are we making children, but they are making us parents. I am so curious about the journey which lies ahead of us, about how our lives will change, what we will love about it, what will be hard about it. Our lives will never be the same, which is a scary and thrilling concept all at once. It will be something so totally new, and how often does that happen in life? Not often. Where your very being, the very definition of who you are, goes through a transformation. You are someone's mother, someone's father; you are their provider and caretaker. They depend on you with their very life. They are going to soak up everything you say and do in their first years, and that's a big responsibility. 

I already have a few books on pregnancy, childbirth, and children. I like to dip in every once in a while and learn something new about parenting. It gives me a feeling of security and preparedness to read these, and yet...how prepared can you ever really be? 
I think about what kind of mother I want to be. Dedicated. Calm. Affectionate. Dependable. Reassuring. Nurturing. Funny. Organized. Even-tempered. Consistant. Energized. And full of fun ideas.
I do understand that I won't be a perfect mother 100% of the time. I know at times I will be sleep-deprived and stressed, that not every little thing can possibly be clean and organized and perfect when you have children and a dog and a household. But I am hoping for at least 80%. Please God, at least give me the strength for 80%. 

Monday, July 27, 2009

my 10 words


Today I stumbled upon a lovely blog called Elle's New England Kitchen, and she suggested bloggers follow her lead and share their 10 favorite words, along with an explanation as to why they are your favorite. I thought it was a lovely idea, so here are my top ten. I would love to hear yours!

1. Autumn
Growing up in Northern California, I never experienced the four seasons, and once I moved here to Austria I instantly fell in love with nature's dramatic cycles. Especially autumn. There's just something about it. The smell of woodsmoke on the cool, crisp air; vibrant foliage; birds migrating overhead; misty, dewy mornings and cozy evenings; pies and pumpkins and Christmas to look forward to; cute sweaters and scarves; and the beginning of the baking season.

2. Pumpkin
This word is charming, humble, and nourishes the soul as the actual fruit nourishes the tummy.

3. Christmas
I could gush on and on about Christmas. It's the most exciting holiday of the year, and by far the one with the most preparation involved. I pour over old Country Living and Martha Stewart Living issues for ideas and inspiration. It's also the only time where my beloved husband is home for two whole weeks, and we dedicate it to stuffing our faces and curling up on the couch under quilts to watch movies and old Friend's episodes. 

4. Doggy
Because they are the purest, funnest, most loving creatures you can invite into your home. They will love you selflessly every day.

5. Home
This is where it all happens. This is where the most memories are made, where food is cooked and shared, and where I spend simple, beautiful moments with my husband and my dog.

6. Nature
This is my second 'home.' I love nature so much and am in constant awe of her. Her ability to destroy and rebuild. To renew herself and share so tirelessly of herself. She is more beautiful than any building, bridge, or any other man-made object imaginable. I am eternally grateful for nature's bounty and beauty.

7. Country
It's where I live, what I love, and what I cherish.

8. Delicious
I probably use this word once or twice a day. I love food so much, especially the delicious kinds :) There's an episode of King of Queens where Deacon says to Doug, who is eating a donut, "I thought you cut out carbs," to which Doug replies, "I've decided to only eat DELICIOUS carbs." Yes, deliciousness is something so wonderful, and I try to have a little of it every day.

9. Precious
This word reminds me again and again to cherish, nourish, and preserve the things, people, and ideals which are most important and valuable to me.

10. Gratitude
I try every day to be filled with gratitude for the many blessings in my life. Even on hard days, sad days, days where I feel angry and alone and misunderstood, there are so many things to be grateful for! Gratitude is something which, when it is cultivated in your heart, leads you out of self-pity. It picks you up and dusts you off, and reminds you of your worth.

best friends

It amazes me when I watch Kiki and her little friend Ena interacting with one another; the playfulness and the sheer joy they share when out exploring or indoors wrestling with each other. I've never known two dogs to display so much affection for one another. When you see them together, it's clear that they genuinely like each other. And it's not like with people, where there is small talk and superficiality; with dogs, they let another dog know from the get-go whether they like them or not. There's no being polite. 
So when a bond like this takes places, you know it's a pure bond. You know they jump and chase and sniff together because they really do like one another. It's so innocent and real, and just absolutely beautiful to witness.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

goodbye, cherry tree

Something is missing, right? This is the hill I walk up with Kiki every day, the one I used to call 'the hill with the cherry tree.' This beautiful tree, which stood stoic and magestic on the hilltop for almost a century, was uprooted in the most intense and destructive summer storm this little corner of the world has seen.

It was like a friend we greeted each morning, and in every season. It gave us pretty blossoms in spring, shade in summer, golden foliage in fall, and a landmark in winter.

It will be greatly missed.

Below, you'll see some pictures of this beautiful life-form when it was still alive and healthy. I've taken many, many photos of it since moving here. These are a few of my favorites.

a tribute to the cherry tree on the hill




She was beautiful in every season.

Friday, July 24, 2009

doGgy sLUmbeR paRty

The world looks and feels much friendlier today. I am rooted in the belief that all things, even painful things (maybe even especially the painful things) happen for a reason, and am practicing being grateful for the pleasant things in life. Of which I have many.
Kiki's best friend Ena is back! She'll be visiting for a while; exactly how long, no one knows. Could be a week, could be a month. We are always happy to have her. Especially Kiki, who was so happy to see her that she lavished her with kisses and excited yelps. Now, after a small but satisfying meal of sheeps milk, they are dozing in the late afternoon light, probably relieved that the heat is letting up a bit; I know I am. 
We have reserved our room in a lovely bed and breakfast on Cape Cod and are thoroughly looking forward to it. It's going to be a wonderful trip, I just know it. With bike rides, walks on the beach, old white churches, fall foliage, tasty food, and a deep, cozy bed to snuggle up in and stay awake all night in, talking. Believe it or not, after ten years my husband and I still have so many things to tell each other.
For now we've got the We-kend ahead, a time for goofing off and eating all day, taking the dogs for adventures in the forest, and stretching out for mid-day naps under the merciful ceiling fan.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Heaven Has A New Angel


"Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The sweet puppy we were planning on bringing home to live with us in October has died, along with her siblings. Needles to say we are very sad. We are grateful however that she died without much suffering, and we know she has her place in Heaven now. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Leaning Pole and Early Berries

What's this? It's my leaning post! When I get to the top of the hill with the cherry tree on it, I like to lean against this pole and rest, taking in the beautiful views.
Sometimes I lean on my back:

...sometimes I lean on my belly and rest my chin on it, which is my favorite. Putting my whole body weight onto it and just letting go.

So what does Kiki do while I'm busy leaning? She meditates, sniffs flowers, and digs holes. She is always so very patient with me. 

On the way back down the hill, I could hardly believe my eyes: a ripe blackberry! This little guy is waaaay ahead of it's buddies. Well, WAS. Now he's in my belly. Tart and tasty!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Green+Socks=Laundry Day

When you have bright green socks on, you know it's time to do some serious loads of laundry. Why do I even have green socks? Where did they come from? Some things, we'll never know.

While the laundry was spinning in the machine, I visited my garden and picked summer flowers. Can you believe they were all started from seed? Nature is simply amazing.

In the meantime, the question about where to spend our vacation has evolved. Now it's a tie between Cape Cod and Litchfield, Connecticut. Arrrrggggghhhhhhhh!!!!! 

*sigh* I should spend some time today focused on being incredibly grateful that this is my biggest problem right now.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

wild plums


After the admitted disappointment of the blueberry 'harvest,' my husband and I stumbled upon a wonderful find this bright Sunday morning. Wild plums, and lots of them! A relatively small tree tucked into the corner of the Christmas tree farm, heavy with what appeared at first to be jumbo cherries. A closer look and it was clear; these were delicious plums, with a tart peel and velvety sweet golden meat inside. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, but I stuffed my pockets full and couldn't wait to share the photos with you all. Aren't they beautiful? Much smaller than a store-bought plum, and with a cloudy dust to them when still on the bough; this residue rubbed off in my pockets, and now they are glistening. If only I could hand you one through the screen...

On an entirely different note, we are in somewhat of a dilemma. We are planning on taking a ten-day vacation this September, and are now torn between two very different destinations. One is a spa here in Austria where we spent a lovely Honeymoon. The other is Cape Cod. 
I have no idea how we are going to decide this, and I am worried about making the 'wrong' decision; meaning, I am afraid we'll end up at one location wishing we had chosen the other option instead. Both are trips would be pricey, so it isn't about the money, however both have pros and cons. To get to Cape Cod, we'll have to do quite a bit of travelling to get there and back. But it's a place I have been wanting to visit for as long as I can remember. At the spa, we know what we're getting, and it's very relaxing, but on the other hand, it's nothing new or exciting. Another point we are taking into consideration is that we are hoping to conceive this year. Travelling to Cape Cod from Austria with a baby is unrealistic, but we can go to the spa anytime with an infant. So you can see that I am wondering if I should grab this (possibly) last chance to see New England before being tied down to Europe for the next few years.
How do you go about making this kind of deicision? Maybe you can help me. I would really appreciate any advice you may have!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Blueberry Hill




"The blueberries are ripe," my friend Gerit said over the phone yesterday. "Let's pack containers and go gathering tomorrow. Meet me at 9:30 so we can go before it gets too hot."
We've been having the hottest days of the summer this past week, and the thought of trudging up the steep hills to get to where there's a rocky ledge covered in wild blueberry plants sounded like alot of work and sweat; but hey, the reward would be sweet, right?
Well, what you see in my hand above is about half of what we found. Apparantly someone got there before us! We did find a few mushrooms, but I am too sissy to eat them, so Gerit went home with the most loot. At least I got a good work out; kind of like hot yoga, but without the stretching. 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

up, up, up the hill!






What a hot day! Luckily there was a bit of wind going, but still, making it up the small hill to the cherry tree was one sweaty, huffing-puffing job! 
But every drop of sticky perspiration was worth the glorious experience of the wheat fields on one side, flowers on the other, blue sky overhead, green grass and clover underfoot.

where's kiki?



Kiki was playing hide and seek today! Can you spot her?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

trip to the danube river!







What a day! Dogs, river, heat, mosquitos (ouch!), woods, little riverside houses, lots and lots of bottled water, and my dear friend Tini; that's her with the sunglasses on her head. The adventure ended at her pool where we floated on our backs under the enormous blue sky, and then ate little bowls of caprese salad. These kinds of days leave you feeling pleasantly wiped out and drowsy. Summer!

tiny riverside cottages






I found the small houses lined along the river adorable. I took a few photos to share with you, which one is your favorite?

late afternon sun




Kiki and I took our late afternoon walk on the path that winds between the river and the grassy hillside with the one cherry tree on top. Everything was glowing in the light of the setting sun, golden and still. We stopped at the vegetable garden where I have a plot, and gazed at the rays of sunlight soaking the rows of plants, and delicately seeping through the leaves of the tall jerusalem artichoke stalks which will soon sprout pale blossoms. Kiki sat quietly beside me, feeling the peace of the moment. The only sounds were of birds, the river, and the metalic hum of insects. The perfect Summer afternoon.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer Birthday Celebration


"Old age is not so bad when you consider the alternatives." -Maurice Chevalier

It's my Mother-in-law's birthday, and every year I make her favorite, my cheesecake with fresh berries and lemon sauce. This is the best cheesecake recipe in the world, especially combined with my sweet & tart lemon sauce. It's the birthday gift I am most asked to bring for friends and family.
We are giving her a colorful leather wallet (she's a colorful individual), wrapped with a fancy-shmancy rosette I made by folding strips of wrapping paper into little fans and then taping the pieces together. Cute and simple! 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Those Winged Beauties



I don't know anyone who doesn't feel some small spark of delight when a butterfly flutters accross their path. Usually they exclaim "Aaaah look," and watch it until it has flown out of sight. It's something universal; butterflies bring joy and wonder. 
Sometimes I find a dead butterfly or moth on the ground, a bit flattened and with tattered wings, and each time, I think about those people who collect them. I can understand wanting to capture their beauty and keeping it there behind glass to admire every time they fancy. But I won't ever be one of those people. I would much rather enjoy them when they are alive; to observe their arial ballet, their dance from blossom to blossom, their sipping of sweet nectar. Right now the fields are full of them. When they dip and shiver over the golden wheat and pea vines, it's hard to tell whether they are loose petals on the wind or living creatures. 
They will always be something special, something which signifies the good, the peaceful, and the delicate. The closest to fairies we will probably ever get.
p.s. if you want to see something really trippy, click on the top photo to enlarge, and you will see that this blue speckled beauty has a passenger aboard!

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