I am wearing no makeup, my hair is in a lake-stained messy bun, I have given up every aim except lake life which is impossibly slow. There is nothing much to do at all except silently pace oneself for the cool-off, and then another hot shower, and padding barefoot into bed together to enter a syncopated rhythm as each family member falls asleep.
I just returned from a short vacation, and it was pretty fabulous.
Actually, in the last couple weeks we’ve been on two sojourns to our family cabin on Mason Lake. Last week we took a day trip to spend time with my mother’s side of the family, as they’d gathered for a reunion. And today we returned from our second trip: just our little foursome. We had a few visitors, strategically scheduled for a certain window. And the rest of the time we just did nothing, to ourselves.
A very modest, very inexpensive vacation as – what with house-buying shenanigans – that’s all we could afford. And that was just fine.
The kids are growing older, and in no way do I lose sight of this for even a day. They still play for hours on end in the water, but their deportments have shifted. My son is ever more serious, less childlike, and more directly argumentative when his needs and ours seem to conflict. He has already grown out of the jeans I purchased him under a year ago – purchased with growing room.
My daughter posts an eloquent – and fierce – Facebook disquisition on her vegetarianism (she was bullied about it at school last year). She and her beau are increasingly more recognizably girlfriend-and-boyfriend, casually draping their arms around one another or leaning together watching a movie. I can act like it’s no big deal but all of this means I’m dying on the inside, a little. I’m so proud of her as she navigates territory that I found baffling, and terrifying. I know I support her better than I was myself supported. I think that’s pretty incredible.
So, things are pretty good. We are buying a house, which seems kind of incredible. It seems to be going well! I don’t worry too much about the future because I have learned if I can care for these little ones, for our life – I can probably manage just about anything.
The next chapter is going to be great – because they all have been so far! It just takes me a while to catch up, sometimes.
We had a pie party, feeding our family and three guests (this recipe – which is streamlined and makes for two amazing pies!). I still have a lot of pie left. It is awesome pie. It has everything you need to grow up big and strong!
The lake (photos by Ralph’s ShabbyPhone):
Last week we left the lake early – staying only three days out of an originally-planned nine, for two reasons. A major one: we ran very low on funds. Yes, even a “free” family cabin stay, costs more than staying at home. This was a blow, not because of the change in plans so much but because after all our years dealing with financial insecurity, Ralph and I still often plan poorly. But you know, once I had that realization – sitting in the car as our clothes dried in a Shelton laundromat – I just had to accept it was the truth. We came home and it was easy from there. One thing about having amazing, grateful, playful children. They roll with shit pretty good, far as I can tell.
Due to circumstances unplanned for, we cut our September vacation from eight days at the lake, to three. But still, I think the kids were fine. I “owe” them another lake and/or swimming trip, as we have a bit of good weather left here in the Northwest.
Nels wasn’t particularly grouchy this morning; but he was, for a bit, pensive. I forgot to ask him what he was thinking of.
The weather at the lake was kind of glorious. It was warm, but rainy. There was a kind of glow in the air and a stormy closeness. Hardly anyone else was at their cabins, which is nice. We’ll be back in September where once again the crowds tend to be missing.
Father’s Day 2013. This year I missed my father acutely, so it did me good to see many of my friends loving up on the daddies in their lives. Ralph got a few lovely gifts from the kids and I, then spent the day on the road with his oldest off to see a MLP movie.
As soon as we got back from our Mason Lake trip, I mean only a few minutes after we unpacked, the kids and I ran out to Ocean City to see the beached fin whale. I figure you might not want to be surprised here by corpsey pictures, but I have a few on Flickr. We ended up walking a few miles to get to and from the whale, and I also ended up hijacking a fellow in his big truck – so the kids, dog and I could pile in and get a ride. It was quite a sojourn but it was a massive, amazing specimen. Oh BY THE WAY my dog ate lots of that whale. And this whale was not fresh. The blubber pieces were reddish black. This is why we can’t have nice things.
We got back from our trip and I was balls-tired for many reasons, including a few miles’ walk on sand after a long day cleaning and driving. Ralph had cooked up this vegetarian feast of grilled vegetables – asparagus, red cabbage, and brussel sprouts – on a bed of basmati rice and drizzled with chile dressing. The kids were unimpressed, but it was very dear to me.
Ralph and I sit on the porch at the cabin and watch our children play on the dock. Just lately I feel a twinge of sadness watching the little ones – they are so tall, growing up so fast. Like I told a friend the other day, it’s nice to have more than one child because no matter what milestones the oldest is getting up to you always have your “baby”. But of course one day the baby, too, like reaches up top of the fridge to get down the egg cartons for his “little Mama”. Ouch.
Regardless, if there’s one thing in my life that gives me peace and strength, it’s my children. Just listening to them, watching them, they are an inspiration. Today they help us haul in our groceries and gear, and they take care of the dog and kitty we brought along, and they strip into swim clothes then back into jeans and t-shirts then back in to swim clothes again, and run about and feed some baby ducks pieces of peanut butter cookie, and speak so sweetly to each creature they come across.
My children love this place, the lake cabin. They love it so much more than even seems to make sense. They love it regardless of the weather or if we have visitors or if we don’t. They love whatever food we cook or television we watch (or don’t watch). They don’t get “bored” here even though it is a large one-room cabin and we just have a few boats and things (and okay let’s admit it – sometimes I get bored here!). And on the porch now I’m sipping coffee and thinking – this is the forth family generation of children to play here (the cabin was erected in 1939). Amongst the many framed pictures of family are photographs of my grandmother and great-aunt when just toddlers.
I guess it’s a pretty kid-friendly scene, really.
Clear sunshine, warm rain, silence across the water.
Pho (from Olympia).
More Hamilton (photo by Phoenix).
Nels is angry. He couldn’t engage the boat into gear. He had to paddle back to the dock. Then, only a few minutes after this picture, a group of people in a Party Barge motored over to ask us about this boat (it’s a battery-operated duck-hunting boat I remember from the last 25 years – it’s probably from the 50s). They also admired Nels’ competency navigating the craft. So he was pleased as punch. Then a few minutes after THAT, while he motored around the throttle’s knob snapped while ON and he started jetting across the lake – and screaming for his life (I mean – he was quite terrorized). Before we could mount a rescue, he figured out how to disengage the motor, pulled his shit together, then paddled back. After docking he came inside and grabbed some food. When I asked him if he was shaken up by his equipment malfunction, all cocky-like said he would do the whole thing over again.
Packing up, today.
We had a lovely time. And it’s nice to be home, now.
Swimming. Ralph loses sunglasses in lake, mounts a rescue mission.
Hutch continues to keep his priorities clear (shown with my mom’s dog, Tuck).
A benefit of an unschooling life. You vacation any time. No one else is around. You can hang out in your underwear, like Phoenix here, outdoors in the sunlight. Or perhaps you can be a bit NAUGHTY & choose the practical ensemble of STARKERS NAKED with a dangerously oversize life vest (all photos of my children published with their permission, P.S.).
In other news, I still have SuperShero Hair.
These last couple days I’ve had the pleasure of pattern-testing the Goodship Dress, by my friend Karen of Circus. The dress is a simple middy-style including a box pleat, in-seam pockets, and large bow-tie closure.
Phoenix loves the dress. She says it is very “cool and breezy”, and calls it a “Pilgrim dress”.
The armscye and collar bindings were simple but appealing. Nothing in particular was tricky about construction, although if I made the dress in linen again I’d likely cut everything on the bias. Better yet, I’d make it with a blend that had more drape.
A coda: I had despaired of finishing this dress on vacation, since my 1967 New Home sewing machine started snapping its upper thread and Ralph and I could not figure out how to fix it. In Shelton today I stopped into the Sew Now Studio in dowtown Shelton. What a wonderful shop – it had actual supplies one needs to make garments – tons of wonderful zippers, sturdy ribbing, bottomweights, lining, knits, woolens, all purpose threads in every color, buttons. Wonderful stuff. Imagine that! Yes, I am envious of the Shelton locals. Anyway, I picked up wool, lining, interfacing and buttons for a coat for Nels – and even more fabulously, rented a Kenmore sewing machine so I could finish my work here at the cabin!