Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Brown, yellow, green...the colors of late summer.

Today I learned a new word: Phenology (not to be confused with phrenology). It resonated so deeply with me, and I felt like I had finally found the description for who I am at my core: a phenologist!

It's another absolutely beautiful day, just the right temperature. The pictures above from our morning walk show just how gorgeous and serene this little part of the world is right now, as summer turns slowly into fall. Frilly fungi, fallen leaves, cushiony moss, and glistening puddles.

I'm getting a new camera; a small simple Canon for my daily walks, because this (wonderful) Olympus is pretty heavy and bulky, and I want something light that I can throw in my shoulder bag. I will still use my Olympus for photographs of home and food, but I need something practical for when I'm out and about with two dogs and a baby. I hope it will turn out some great pictures. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

End Of August

The air was cool last night, and the morning fresh. I think we have had our last of scorching August days. Now the weather will be milder, and the leaves will slowly begin to turn. Haying time is here, and there are seedy cloudberries ripening on the vine. I threw a flannel shirt on over my tank top for the evening walk yesterday, and listened to the crickets in the brush. This is the time of year where I am most alert: on the lookout for signs of fall's arrival.

Over the weekend I had bouts of false labor and my hormones got the best of me for the first time this pregnancy. I burst into tears suddenly, and when Ramon asked why, I said I was so sad because it was Sunday and he would have to go back to work the next day. I cried again about nothing in particular a few times after that, feeling overwhelmed and impatient and lost. Woke up in the night from cramps and aches in my lower back, hoping maybe this was the beginning of labor, and then fell back asleep, exhausted, and woke up, realizing it was another false alarm. These final weeks of pregnancy are an emotional and physical roller coaster ride.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Morning at the Creek

There's a pathway that we call the 'Lord of the Rings Way' right across the street from our home; a relatively hidden way cuts up behind the local gas station, leading straight into the cool shade of the woods. One branch of the trail goes to the left, and after a ten minute walk up hill you have a lookout over the town square and church tower. If you take a right, you have countless miles of woods ahead of you. Since I got pregnant, I always take a left, because the way to the right has a steep ravine on one side, and there are also many blind bends where you can't see if there's another dog around the corner.

But on weekends, when Ramon is home, we love taking the Lord of the Rings way, nicknamed after the movie because of how beautiful and fairytale-like it is. It's the perfect place to take the dogs, because there is a creek, glistening and cold, which winds along one side. The trail is beautiful in every season; here are photos of it in fall, winter, and spring.

This morning was very hot with no wind. The cool running water, with leaves and sticks floating on it's calm surface, was a lovely relief. We sat on a fallen tree trunk while the dogs picked around in the water; Boston dug in the mud for stones and Kiki snatched fallen leaves.

It's such a blessing to have all of this right outside our door.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tiny Treasures, August

Every little bit of the natural world is so amazing when you look at it up close, and contemplate it. The tiny acorn that holds the potential for a mighty oak, and nourishes a creature to help it survive the long winter. A snail shell, a feather...so intricate! A heart-shaped hole in a yellow leaf. Beech nut hulls that look like fairy caps.

My awe of nature never ceases....it just grows and grows with each passing season and year.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

When You're Happy

yellow leaves are scattered on the wooded path

who did this feather belong to?

these wild berries are a mystery to me; i hope to find out what they are, and revisit them in winter.

"People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy." -Anton Chekhov

My two dogs are the best companions for nature walks. So enthusiastic, so curious, and bursting with seemingly endless energy. I am so grateful that they are here to get me outdoors and moving every day!

I know I'm the odd man out in this matter, but summer has to be my least favorite season. If I didn't have dogs, I would probably just hide in the shade all day. I can't seem to make friends with heat. Today in the woods, the plants on the forest floor and even the leaves on the trees seemed weary in the heat. Autumn will be a great relief for man, beast, plant, and pregnant women.

I take after my father. When I was little we lived on the coast of northern California, and I remember my dad saying once that he didn't like the beach. I asked him why and he replied, "Too much sand." As funny as it sounds, I could relate. I also preferred wandering the tide pools when the ocean had sunk back into the distance at low tide, and walking along the shore collecting shells and sand dollars, to lying under the hot sun with my feet in the sand.

Ironically I married a man who absolutely worships the sun, and turns nearly black in summer. I turn what we jokingly call "dark white."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Good Cheer

"The man who radiates good cheer, who makes life happier wherever he meets it, is always a man of vision and of faith. He sees the blossoming flower in the tiny seed, the silver lining to every cloud, and a beautiful tomorrow in the darkest today.

Good cheer is something more than faith in the future, it is gratitude for the past and joy in the present. Life for all of us has its hardships and disappointments. It is out of such stuff as this that human character is made. But after all this world is a pretty good place and we at least owe each other the courtesy of a smiling face and the inspiration of a cheery word.

To go about our work with pleasure, to greet others with a word of encouragement, to be happy in the present and confident in the future, this is to have achieved some measure of success in living."

-Edwin Osgood Grover, The Book Of Good Cheer, 1913

I have been hot and grumpy lately, dragging my swollen feet around, feeling every task to be a huge burden. The hair salon colored my hair too dark and I felt like crying when I looked in the mirror. I still get mad when I look in the mirror. Heat radiates from the road and sky and sweat drips down my forehead and back all day long.. Every person who stops me to make small talk about my pregnant belly is secretly despised. I just want to lay under a fan and be left alone.

And then today I had an appointment at the hospital for the final check up before my due date. And there was my baby on the screen, healthy, everything perfect, his head in birthing position, his heart beating strong.

How can I stay grumpy after that?

I came home and napped under the ceiling fan, then woke up refreshed and vacuumed, emptied the dish washer, cooked rice and meat for the dogs, scrubbed and boiled potatoes for dinner, and sat down to write this post. And ate lemon and raspberry ice cream with fresh red currents.

Thank you, my healthy little boy, for putting everything into perspective for your Mommy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nursery Details

A while back I shared some photos of Rafael's unfinished nursery, which you can view HERE. Yesterday the sun was shining so brightly in his room and I thought I'd take pictures of some of the little details and vignettes. Most of the things pictured are handmade and vintage items I found on etsy. Instead of sticking to an overall theme (like 'jungle,' 'superheros,' or 'cowboys') I wanted Raffi's nursery to have a sort of classic charm. I was very much inspired by my image of what Christopher Robin's room must have looked like.

 rag doll handmade by quill and ink :: small vintage boat from bedouin :: large vintage boat from nostalgieEurope

baby shoes from gap.eu

alphabet and numbers pillow from looploft

vintage school book pages from beadandbag

vintage metal airplanes from uaoomermaid :: elephant custom made by thiefjamie

vintage red truck from vintagejane :: vintage white tonka van from oldyetnew :: vintage (working!) clock from clockworkuniverse

vintage london bus from butterflymindvintage :: boy blowing bubbles collage from catwalk

antique kitchen bench with opening seat for toy storage

I love the thought that it will evolve with his age. It was a lot of fun picking out little things for this boy's room, and I look forward to adding to the collection of vintage cars and boats, and handmade dolls and pillows. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

36 Weeks

My belly actually looks quite small in this photograph. Much smaller than it feels or looks in reality! It has continued stretching out to an unbelievable size. I'm amazed at my skin's ability to stretch this much, especially without any stretch marks! (Which I really hope continues to be true.)

This picture does show, however, how swollen my fingers are lately. They look like stumpy little breakfast sausages, and are, at times, painful. Sometimes I wonder if pregnancy is preparing women for the aches and pains of old age. I walk around complaining like an old woman much of the time, about my hands, feet, and back! Needless to say I can't wear my wedding and engagement rings anymore.

Finding clothing that fits is progressively more difficult. Tops that I could never have imagined growing out of are too short now and don't fully cover my belly. I've graduated to shirts and dresses that looks more like tents. When my mother-in-law gave me that pink top a few months back, I scoffed and thought, "No way will I ever need to wear this humongous thing." And here I was in the eighth month, digging furiously through my drawer, trying to find something that was airy and comfortable and which covered my entire stomach, and look what I found...the pink top! I was so relieved when I realized that it fit, I actually had a little lump in my throat.

I've been reading and thoroughly enjoying the book Ina May's Guide To Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin. The numerous birth stories within it are so inspiring, and have me very excited and curious about Rafael's journey into this world.

I began weekly acupuncture sessions last week. I had already attended one group session a few months ago to help with my swollen feet, and on that day I was one of six pregnant women there. So naturally I was surprised to be the only one at last week's session! The midwife who holds these sessions said that there were no other pregnant women at the moment. It was very nice to just be with her, we talked the entire time. The acupuncture itself is a very intense sensation. The needles in the top of the head and the pinky toes aren't bad at all, but the ones in my hands and below my knees are very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the midwife said it will just get more and more intense with each session!

Here's this week's update:

How far along? 36 weeks, 1 day

Total weight gain: 21 pounds; lost one pound last week.

How big is baby? According to babycenter.com, almost 6 pounds.

Sleep: I sleep relatively soundly, though I have very strange and sometimes disturbing dreams

Best moment this week: Laying out on the sunny terrace with my husband and the dogs, a soft breeze blowing, the creek trickling by below, Rafael sliding his foot across my tummy. Such a lovely moment. 

Movement: He's pretty still all morning, then starts moving a lot around midday. 

Food cravings: Not much of an appetite in this heat, and I have to eat very small portions or else I feel sick. Fresh (raw) fruit and vegetables also make me feel sick, which is very hard for me to accept. I mostly eat m├╝sli with nuts, fruit and milk; buttered toast; or croissant with turkey ham and gouda. Another small meal I enjoy is a banana, peanut butter, and a cup of raw milk. What I really crave a lot lately is Cranberry juice. I drink it diluted with water and lots of ice cubes. 

Belly button in or out? Flat.

What I miss: Wearing my wedding and engagement rings and, as I've mentioned many times before, being able to move and walk unencumbered. 

What I'm looking forward to: We have a check-up at the hospital on Wednesday that I am looking forward to....always great to be reassured that everything is fine.

Milestone: When this week ends, Rafael will be considered 'full term!' Wow....this amazing journey called pregnancy is almost complete!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

There's A Change In The Air...

...in the woods...

...and in the village.

These next few days are supposed to be hot...but the evenings are cool, and there there are yellow leaves in the canopy of branches overhead and lying on pillows of moss on the ground. The first timid mushrooms rise from the ground and festoon old rotting trees stumps. Grapes ripen in smoky clusters on the vine. Neighbors are stacking wood in neat rows and the black-eyed-susans are rampant in every garden. These are certainly the final days of summer. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sweet Dreams for Raffi

Rafael's crib is built and ready. At night, when I crawl into bed, I run my hand over his mattress and imagine him lying there, bundled up, sleeping peacefully.

For now I am cradling him inside of me while he continues to grow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life is Many Days Filled with Small Things

"Life is not, after all, made up of grand moments, grand gestures, glorious achievements. Life is made up of many days filled with small things. Shopping, going to the post office, using the telephone, keeping house-these make up the chief sum of our days. And to me, it seems infinitely greater to make all the people one sees feel a little happier for it than to paint a masterpiece or be in bright lights on Broadway. After we are all gone down the river of time, the simple kindness of those who fulfill their daily tasks graciously will overbalance any special feat."

-Gladys Taber, The Book of Stillmeadow


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