Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Little Things

Life is often about the little things. It's those little kindnesses to one another, the pleasant routines, the cozy comforts. Taking a leisurely evening stroll. Watching a bird at the feeder. The slow, deep inhales of salty ocean air.

However, it is not these little things that I'd like to talk about today. No, it's actual little things. Tiny, wee things. Cutesy pretty (and not so pretty) things. Yes, lately I've developed a fondness for tiny treasures.

I made this owl out of sculpy clay.
I found this female alien figurine in a parking lot. See the bow in her hair? Or, attached to her head, rather.
I don't generally consider myself  a collector of stuff. Actually, strike that, since I do tend to collect fabric. Oh yeah, and maybe yarn, too. But in terms of actual collections? Not so much. Well, until now, that is.

Most of these items came from thrift shops, Goodwill, and yard sales. The exception being the amazing morel mushroom hanging up on the right (a sculpy creation made by my friend Stephanie) and the flower fairy made by my friend Jade.

My friend Anne made this mini painting, which I adore. The frame came from the thrift shop.
I believe it all started when my young friend Lila gave me a tiny wee bear with movable arms and legs. Now, I'm generally not a fan of stuffed bears, or stuffed anything for that matter. But somehow I found this wee bear rather endearing. It wasn't the color of the bear,  its soft fur or sweet face. No. It was its diminutive size that I was drawn to. So, this little bear actually found its way to my kitchen windowsill. And after awhile, surprising even myself, that bear was joined by other small objects. A miniature giraffe, small ceramic figurines like an owl, chicken and hedgehog, a small plastic alien figurine, a tiny plastic human skull, a mushroom, a mini rock that reminds me of a whale. These, and quite a few more small items, just sort of appeared to me, either on the beach (whale rock), in a parking lot (alien), as gifts (ceramic and felted chickens). At the local thrift shop I discovered teeny tiny canvases that had been painted on, most probably by children. I snapped them up, too, along with a set of teeny tiny frames.

The little bear that started it all. Thanks, Lila!
That being said, this new passion for searching for (and sometimes even making) little things has become, well, an actual thing.

Happy rock person with tiny mushroom key holder found at a yard sale (ten cents). I created the black bird using sculpy clay. To the right is a mermaid figurine made by Jade.
The parameters of this self-imposed scavenger hunt are that the items must be found, thrifted, dirt cheap, or free. Other than that, the sky's the limit!

While on a recent thrifting shop to St. Stephen I discovered a red wooden display shelf for teeny tiny tchotchkes. I had been searching for something like this for a long time as my kitchen windowsill was getting a bit crowded. This was a perfect deal at $3 so I snapped it up.

Sweet wee baby booties that are knit on needles barely bigger then a matchstick!
This mustache embroidery hoop wall art is three inches in diameter and is for sale in my Etsy shop.

Now to make a special space in my home specifically for these little objects. The side of a  kitchen cabinet  facing the dining area seemed the perfect spot. It's out of the way but has a high visibility factor. I mean, I want my things to be admired and adored by all,  naturally! (Thank you, Anne and Dana, for sufficiently  oohing and ahhing over my littles collection the other morning, by the way. Great job!) That space is now home to the doodads and miniature artworks that I have collected over the past year or so. The wonderful part is that since I have either scavenged or thrifted most of the items, I feel just fine parting with them whenever I tire of looking at them. 

The Great Wall of Little Things
Someday, I will most undoubtedly tire of my little things collection. But for now, for reasons even I don't completely understand, these little scavenged objects and cast-offs bring me big pleasure. And I'm okay with that.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


My life has felt a little hectic lately.

As you may remember from my last post, I'm sort of in a state of transition. There's a lot of new stuff happening in my life. And for the most part, that's great. But sometimes, I feel a little, well, weird.

Now, this particular weirdness (my husband would tell you I have several!) takes the form of actual physical sensations. I start to feel a little anxious. A little nervous or uneasy. There's other stuff, too, but I won't go into that right now. Suffice it to say that I just feel a little "off." 

Now, this may sound a little wacky to some of you. But believe me when I say that, over the years, I've learned that my body sends me signals when it's time for me to deal with something. And most of the time, that something is grief.

In 2005, our two-year-old son, Evan, died suddenly and unexpectedly. The loss of our child has challenged me in ways I could never have imagined. The grieving process is ongoing, and will continue, I'm quite convinced, until the day I die.

There was a point, a few years after Evan's death, that I was feeling physically ill  much of the time. I was frightened. I thought something was really wrong with me. At times I thought I was going to die. I had not a clue that the grief and pain stored away deep in my body could actually cause me physical harm. But it was. It absolutely was.

Thankfully, I was able to take steps, seek help, and take care of myself. I'm no longer consumed with feelings of anxiety and fear. But, every once in a while, I feel some of those old feelings poking their way back into my life. Like it did today. This evening. After a pleasant day spent with friends. That niggling feeling that something just wasn't right. And when I got home to my husband, I did just what my body needed. I cried and cried.

After Evan died, we asked that those wishing to honor his memory could send a donation to our local library, one of his favorite places. Well, folks did send donations. Lots of donations. We decided a way to put that money to good use would be to build an outdoor garden space where the library could hold their children's programs.

Peavey Library
Well, this past week, one of the local masons in town set about creating a beautiful outdoor patio space. We ordered a lovely granite bench engraved with Evan's name on it. I went to see the progress being made for the first time today. And somehow, to see the actual physical structure of this thing has thrown me for a loop. It's as if that stone structure, beautiful as it is, takes me right back to that awful time after we lost him. It somehow makes it oh so much more real. Which seems silly. I know Evan is gone. But this wonderful new space would not exist were it not for my son being gone from me. 

And so, my body tells me, that it is time to release. To let go. Again.

This is going to be a really lovely space. Don is doing a wonderful job.
That's Kieran in the red boots!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We Are Now Leaving the Comfort Zone...

Well, the past week or so has been interesting.

The bubble of summer fun that has enveloped me so comfortably these last few months has burst. I have taken a few steps out of this cozy cocoon and found myself a little outside my comfort zone. Between you and me, I think some challenge and change really needed to happen for me. And you know what? It hasn't been so bad!

Here is a list of things that have kind of rocked my world as of late:

  • The real biggie, naturally, has been the decision to put Kieran in school. Yes, it's Montessori school. Yes, it's only three days a week. But still. He's been my shadow for five years. Sharing him with the rest of the world has caused me plenty of anxiety. Letting go ain't easy. But I think I'm doing okay on this front. And he's loving it. If he can do it, so can I!
  • I pledged to abstain from refined white sugar for one week. This, for me, is huge. I adore sugar. I generally have at least one sweet each day, in addition to the sugar I add (often quite liberally) to my coffee. And when Moose Island Bakery came to town, forget it! I was done for! However, my need for sugar began to feel over the top and out of control. It wasn't making me feel good anymore.
I had toyed with the idea of taking a sugar break all summer, but just couldn't get myself there. So one evening, while running (which is a time when most things become crystal clear to me) I knew, just knew it was time for me to give sugar a rest. Immediately. So, as soon as I got home, I told Heron I was goin' on the wagon. Then, I got on Facebook and made myself accountable to 250 other folks. Not only would I be less likely to cheat, but I knew I could count on the support of friends far and near. I wasn't wrong. This social media stuff rocks!

As of today, I've surpassed my one week mark (it's been about 10 days or so). It hasn't been as bad as I'd envisioned. I've become more conscious of the food I'm eating, and I like feeling like I've gained back more control of what I put into my body. I'm even digging the coffee with no sugar. It's sort of a miracle!
  • Another interesting development is that I have taken more of an interest in the food that comes into our house. Now, obviously I love to eat. But my husband does all of the cooking and shopping and most of the decision making about our meals. Heron is the kind of guy who goes to the store each day and creates some of the tastiest dishes I've ever eaten. I'm a lucky girl. But most of the food we eat does not come from the local farms in our area. To get local food, you need to be a bit more organized and shop at the local farmers markets or join up with the local food co-op. This is something that just doesn't work with Heron's schedule. And who can blame him? He's teaching all day and then coming home to shop and cook for his family. Well, you know who does have the time? Me. I decided that since supporting local farms and eating better quality food was important to me, I could actually take initiative and do something about it. Result? For the past couple weeks we've been eating some delicious and healthy foods grown by local farmers and other farms around Maine. And, it helps take the pressure off Heron making all the decisions about what we eat. I feel really great about this. 
  • And, oh yeah. I wanted to look different. So I cut my hair. I cut a lot of hair. Which was actually sort of a big deal for me, but at the same time, when it was gone, it was gone. My long hair was, in a lot of respects, very symbolic for me. Letting go of it has felt both scary and liberating. Again, as with the sugar, the hair hasn't been that hard to live without, even though I do miss it from time to time.
I used to look like this. And actually, until recently my hair was even longer. I'd taken to hacking at it...

Now I look like this!
      Looking back on the these changes, I've learned:
      1. I can make myself accountable for the things I care about. So I might also have to make myself accountable to 250 Facebook friends. But hey, if it works, why not? Figuring out what works best for me is more then half the battle.
      2. With very little effort, I can make lots of change.
      3. Life circumstances have made letting go very difficult for me, but I'm learning (healing?) and getting better at it. It's feeling safer for me to just open myself up to the universe and all the possibilities that exist. I want my world to be big, not small.
      4. I'm getting braver with age, I think!
      Conclusion? Stepping out of the comfortable bubble of summer hasn't been so bad after all. I think I needed to be challenged a little bit. Kicking sugar, eating healthier and more consciously, my kid is happy, and I have a cute new haircut. Hey, if this is what the the world looks like outside my comfort zone, it's not a very bad place to be.

      Monday, September 19, 2011

      A Slow and Lovely Day

      As I sat on the beach this afternoon, knitting in hand, Kieran chattering away between his water games, I felt that I would be completely content if all my days were just like this one.

      So here's how the day goes (an abbreviated version, but not by much!):

      Wake up around 8:30. Kieran has informed me that he's eaten most of the blueberries I picked yesterday and which I had intended to turn into some sort of spectacular cake. Oh well. That will teach me to sleep in!

      Breakfast cereal and coffee on the deck. I putter. A little chore here, a little chore there. Dishes done and kitchen counters clean. I don't want to overdo...

      Anne calls and we make a plan to hike at Shackford Head State Park, which we do. We have a lovely hike. The weather is perfect. As Kieran is fond of saying, it's not too hot, not too cold. The sun is nice and warm on our heads.

      We followed the Schooner Trail, Kieran acting as hike leader. Patrick and I bring up the rear, all of us chatting and appreciating our gorgeous surroundings and the beautiful fall day.

      Cecelia is becoming quite a hiker! She's changing so much.
      Will you just look at that face? How I love this little guy! At this point he had just eaten some blackberries he discovered on the forest floor!
      Our hike lasted an hour or so, after which we parted ways. Kieran and I had a quick lunch. I finished up an Etsy order. Then we packed a bag full of snacks, I grabbed my knitting, and we headed down to Reggie's Beach where we spent the whole afternoon. What a way to live! These days are even more precious since Kieran is in school three days a week.

      Kieran likes to carry our supplies in his backpack.
      This second hand, yard sale, one dollar boogie board has provided Kieran no end of fun!
      The Ada Lore passes between us and Deer Island.
      Always with the knitting...

      I just never seem to tire of days like these. I doubt I ever will.

      Friday, September 16, 2011

      A Perfect September Day

      Today was pretty much perfect. A day spent with some of the most beautiful women and children I know. A day spent mostly outside, we visited two different beaches (both within walking distance). I spent a lot of time with these women and children this summer at those same beaches. Today, however, felt much different. For one thing, it was chilly with that wind coming in off the water. Despite the fact that most of the children frolicked in the water (brrrr!) many of us wore hats, cozy sweaters, and jackets. And since many of the children are in school now, I miss seeing everyone on a more regular basis. So this day felt like a special treat. I sort of didn't want it to end. Yes, I do think summer is pretty much at its end. But fall is feeling pretty good, too.

      Sunday, September 11, 2011

      Weekending with the Pirates

      There's a lot of celebrating to be done in Eastport during the month of September. Last weekend our community celebrated the salmon. This weekend, it was pirates. That's right. Pirates.

      My favorite pirate had his own pet crow. He/she was a beauty.

      For six years running, a whole week or so is devoted to the pirate. Eastport pirates invade Lubec. Lubec pirates invade Eastport. It is not uncommon to run into pirates on your way for your morning coffee and muffin. Pirate flags, skeletons, swords and more adorn the shops downtown. It's big doins' for this small community. People flock from all over in their best pirate finery to participate in the festivities, including a costume ball, parade, bed races, music, pirate reenactments, and boat races. There's lots more, but we don't participate in a lot of the festivities. Kieran's not completely sold on the whole pirate theme. That being said, he did spend an awful lot of time sporting a hook and eye patch this weekend!

      Pirates could not have picked a better weekend to invade our town. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we spent plenty of time outside celebrating the sun. Here are some of the highlights:

      When I asked Patrick what his take was on this whole pirate festival frivolity, he responded rather rudely...

      Kieran helps his dad replace a bike tube. I love watching them work on projects together.

      While they worked on their tire, I knit, read, drank coffee, and enjoyed just sitting in the sun.
      The boat parade and races drew a surprising amount of boats from Eastport and the surrounding areas, including Cutler and Jonesport Beals.

      Uncle Damon

      Folks gathered on the breakwater to watch the boat races.

      Family portrait!

      The weekend ended with an afternoon at the beach. I picked up a boogie board for Kieran at a yard sale, and it was a dollar well spent!

      I'm hoping you all had a lovely weekend, too!