Tuesday, July 31, 2012


 July 31st is the 1 year anniversary of Susan Liddell's death.

I had been thinking of her more than I usually do, and I think of her pretty often.
This time of year reminds me of when she was still here and  I would visit her in her lovely home and give her Reiki.

I miss her.

This week, I had a labor patient at work who wasn't doing well.  The baby's heart rate was dropping and we were starting to think about an emergency c-section.
The patient's father, an expectant grandpa, was standing sort of uselessly in the hall getting in the way and not seeming to grab the gravity of the situation.  He said cheerfully, "I know everything is going to be OK because I saw a butterfly today."

I was stunned.
Partly because he did not look the type to say such a thing.  I'm not sure what that type would say that; but not this friendly, but a bit bedraggled, toothless, reek-of-cigarette-smoke sort of fellow.

And partly because  I had recently been thinking of Susan and butterflies.
And how her daughter said at the funeral that she had put a tattoo of a butterfly on her leg because her mother, Susan, was going to come back as a butterfly.  And how after Susan's death, we nurses all put butterfly stickers on our badges to remember her.

So, I wondered about this butterfly and the reassurance it had given this man.
And I let it give me some comfort.

And, it turned out he was right.
Everything was fine.
Beautiful baby.  Mom was well.

I said a thank you to Susan.

Her grave is beautiful.
I went and sat there with my girls on the anniversary of her death.
Such a bright sunny day.  Such a peaceful place.

They found an empty bird's nest and tucked it under the black-eyed-Susan.

It has been a long year without you, Susan.

You are missed.  In so many places and in so many ways. 
(I just saw a monarch butterfly on the backporch right after I wrote this!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer Party

Maggie's baby shower with the lovely gals from the birthplace.  I got out of work early on-call and got to go. Such fun!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cookie and Zebra

taking a nap on the porch.

I almost thought they were spooning when I came upon them,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Whale watch

The girls and I went on a whale watch in Newburyport on Saturday.


I used a scopolamine patch, which is a sticker with medication you put behind your ear to prevent nausea and vomiting.  My fellow easily-nauseated  friend advised me getting one because she used one to stomach a cruise.  I gave the girls half a chewable Dramamine, which made them sleepy, but they weren't nauseous either  (I was especially gun-shy after our vomiting welcome-to-Culebra ferry ride)

It was great!  I was able to be inside on the boat, wander around front to back, and even read.  READ!  I have never read while on a boat; usually I am breathing deeply looking for somewhere to vomit discretely.  Now that I have a pharmaceutical to support me I can fulfill some seafaring dreams. Look out ocean!

The girls resting on the 1.5 hour ride out to Jeffrey's Ledge where the whales are usually found this time of year.

Volunteers walked around the ship with Baleen for us to hold and feel and to answer our questions about what types of whales we might see.

A finback whale!!
A spout from its blow hole!  They have a distinctive narrow high spout so they can be identified from far away.  The finback is the second largest whale the world after the blue whale. We saw him come up and down a few times before we had to head back to shore.  We were out at sea from 1:30-5pm.  Thank the good lord I was not vomiting all that time.

This cool chart was hanging on the inside of the ship.


and we found this great interactive website about the blue whale to compare size and weight.


Lily and Georgia at the front of the ship, Lily declared that she wants to be a sailor.

 It was a beautiful bright day.
The feeling that whales were swimming and feeding deep below us in the dark sea was marvelous.

I gave in and bought each of the girls a whale stuffed animal.  They make a nice soft pillow.  Lily wove her blue whale a scarf as soon as we got home.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Crane Beach

Georgia collecting shells for the fairy house she was building at my parent's house.  We went for a weekend of beach and ocean trips.
Spirals in sand and shell.
Link to pleasing exposition on spirals

Rob and me.  I had to take the photo; the girls had no patience for it.
Georgia noticed the beautiful iridescence on the hinge of these clam shells.  They shimmered......I've never noticed it before.
Everyone was drawing in the sand while I lay there resting my back on the flat ground.  I did OK on the long car ride and was just taking a break.
Crane beach was long and undeveloped.  It was fun to see so many people taking off their shoes and walking on the beach, enjoying the waves, bare feet and fresh air.
I was dragged to crane beach every Sunday as a kid and it felt like penance to slog back to the dunes and spend the day watching everyone else in my family sunbathe, but today I realized it was a nice place to have been dragged to, even if I didn't appreciate it at the time.

Back home at my parents, Georgia went right out to add to the fairy house; swings, pools, slides and a clementine box house.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dusk visitors

It took about 7 trips in and out to set up the perfect place to write.
I had my back friendly chair, beverage, notes and charged computer.  Rob was putting the girls to bed and I had an hour to myself.
When I finally sat down, a whirling cloud of mosquitoes emerged from the dusk around me and completely swamped me.
I staggered up and dragged everything inside, using up much of my time and making me foul
But at least I got a photo of what it looked like before the swarm arrived.  It was a nice idea.

Friday, July 20, 2012


How I love Echinachea or Purple Coneflower!

Their orange center, firm like a hairbrush! (Their generic name is Sea Urchin in Greek)
Their bright purple petals!

Imagine them growing native in the prairies, that must be quite a sight.

Native Americans used them for wound washes and sore throats. 

Wikipedia says "Native Americans learned of E. angustifolia by observing elk seeking out the plants and consuming them when sick or wounded, and identified those plants as elk root."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bare Feet

I herniated a disk two months ago now (I just got the MRI results back and I have a large extrusion of my L5 S1 disk pressing on a nerve root. This is why I have muscle weakness in my left foot.  It was not a huge surprise to finally get an MRI and hear the results, but I was appalled the disk had extruded which means the "jelly donut filling" of the disk had not only splurched out, but had pinched off and was separate from the disk.  That seems extreme and makes me a bit queasy.

But the doctor I saw yesterday cheered me when he said, "In 6-12 months 90% of herniated disks are healed without any intervention."  I really don't want surgery so I am hoping my pain continues to improve and I start to get some strength back in the leg.  It has been quite a healing journey since February when my back started to hurt and then really started to hurt (I figure now that I must have had a bulging disk, but all my work to fix it in the beginning probably aggravated the situation, and I ended up with the extruded disk.)  I've gone to my chiropractor, cranial sacral practitioners, acupuncture, doctors, had a private session with my yoga teacher, gone to weeks of physical therapy and had many visits to the local CVS pharmacy.)

The first couple weeks I spent on the couch taking drugs and sleeping at odd hours while trying to do some parenting off and on.  The combination of pain and meds allowed me to let go and relax and meditate in a way I had not been able to with the busyness of regular life going full force.  Before the injury I had downloaded a series from Derek Rydall, a spiritual teacher who uses guided mediation and exercises to help you open up to become your true self.  http://derekrydall.com/

 Being drugged and awake at 3am really helped me settle into the program and deeply ponder questions about my soul's true desire.

What came up again and again were bare feet.
My own bare feet.
Outside walking on the earth.

That's all.

Nothing about world domination or money making.

Really, just feet.
I had been intimidated about what I would uncover when I went through the 8 step process.

But it turns out there was nothing to be scared of.
Thankfully, after much hard work over the years, I have learned to listen pretty well to my true self, so I love the husband and my children I've got.  The job and the town I'm in now are pretty great.  I love the trees I see outside my window and the birds who sing all day.  My goal, my next step, my yearning - is really to be outside more.  To be myself.  To appreciate what is around me.  I think being in a compromised state of pain and immobility was actually helpful in the process because it stripped away some of my ego and left me with an uncertain future, making it easier to trust the now.  And the bare feet.

There were other things to work on, of course.  And many lists and maps and plans about how to move forward, but the recurrent theme was bare feet.  Outside.

Even though it is simple and easy as far as soul's callings go.  I still keep forgetting.  I put on my flipflops and move through my day as fast as I can.  I forget to go outside.

but the other day I finally took a walk with Cookie into the woods.
And I didn't wear shoes.
I lay down in the patch of partridge berry and looked at the sky.
I walked down the path.
There were rocks.
And there was moss.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lavender harvest

My own lavender plants are growing slowly but when I drove by the NMH farm I saw the purple haze of lavender flowers.  I asked the farmer if I could pick a bag and trade for a tincture of lavender I could give him in a couple months.  He kindly agreed so the girls and I wandered around the lavender patch picking nice plump blossoms.

When we got home I stuffed it into a sterile mason jar.  Our hands smelled strongly of lavender, sweet and medicinal at the same time.

I added vegetable glycerin and will let it steep on the windowsill for a bit.  I'm using it to make a delicious and relaxing tincture. 

They harvest the entire field of lavender and use a steam distiller to make lavender essential oil.  The whole field of harvested flowers yields 1 gallon of potent lavender essential oil.  Only 1 gallon!  No wonder essential oils are so powerful.  That's alot of plant!

Here's the steam distiller.  Just like I'm learning about in my aromatherapy class.

And here is some Bergamont growing near the barn.  It is a relative of bee balm and has a wonderful bright essential oil that I have been using lately.  They don't distill that here, but it was fun to find the blooming plant.  It's the same oil they use to make Earl Grey tea, one of my favorites.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cleaning out!

I am shocked.  Really shocked.  I was able to give away all of my baby supplies.  I never thought this day would come.  I never thought I would feel pleased and free about getting rid of cribs and high chairs, but I do.  Hooray.  What a relief.  I thought I would feel sadness and regret my whole life for not birthing a third child but I don't.  It's OK.

I'm not sure if the kids got old enough that I gradually moved out of baby mode?

Or if Cookie is such a handful, I know I couldn't manage a child, too?

Or if all the EFT tapping I did on the deep compulsion to have another child really released me?

or if it's a combination of all these factors, but I'm free!

It feels like having my beautiful babies was such an intense and all consuming activity, it allowed me to be really focused and present in a way I found deeply satisfying.  I lost sight of the potential for deep satisfaction from other activities; anything else seemed trivial. 

But now, as the girls have gotten older, I feel like I am becoming more myself and enjoying spending time with me.  It also feels like such a privilege to parent the girls I have! (And it takes most of the time and presence I've got.)

I'm going to go through baby clothes soon.  That might trip me up a bit, but I think I'm going to be OK and that feels great.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Farm to myself

Georgia was running through the corn with her friend and I had the whole farm to myself (Because I was late and barely made it there by the end of pick-up time)

I was glad to just walk through the flowers and pick a perfect bouquet of zinnias.  It feels like now is the the peak of summer and I love it.  I am so thrilled with the green growingness of this time of year.  My injury has made everything go slower this summer which can be really tedious but in some ways has been quite pleasant.

The garlic picked and curing in the dark dry barn; it smelled like spicy dirt so I peeked between the slats

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer evening walk

 I haven't been walking because my back is still sore and I hate to aggravate it, but yesterday Rob talked me into a short walk and it was lovely.  So nice to be outside as the sun set.  The Veery and the Hermit Thrush are two of my favorite mysterious forest birds and both were singing their dusk song.  Cookie was thrilled to be off the leash and romping in the woods.

I can get so caught up in just keeping up with the rush and chaos of life, especially now that I'm moving slower and less efficient, I can forget to go outside, damnit!

That's why I live where I live!  Because I can go outside into the woods in five minutes. 
It is so strange how the most obviously healing things get lost in the everyday.

As Martha Beck says:

"Empty time is a powerful medicine that can make us more joyful and resilient,
but it’s strangely hard to swallow. We yearn for a powerful source of liberation
that is right under our noses, and we’ll do almost anything to avoid it."
--Martha Beck, Making Time for Nothing


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July

We went to a friend's cabin and swam in the lake today.  I love being at the center of summer!  The cabin is in pine woods and the smell of warm pine needles brings back memories growing up under the white pines that surround my childhood home.

The smell also reminds me of an article I loved on Mark's Daily Apple about Forest Bathing.  I will give you a link.

The essential oils of the wood in the forest result in clinically tested health improvements coming from being in nature.  How amazing is that?  But also not surprising, really.  I do love the idea of being prescribed time in the forest by a doctor and the woods are so cool and welcoming in this hot time of the year.

Someone caught this gorgeous rainbow trout and it made me think of this poem I had just received in my inbox from American Life in Poetry.

Welcome to American Life in Poetry. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.
American Life in Poetry: Column 380

Lots of contemporary poems are merely little personal anecdotes set into lines, but I prefer my anecdotes to have an overlay of magic. Here’s just such a poem by Shawn Pittard, who lives in California.

The Silver Fish

I killed a great silver fish,
cut him open with a long

thin knife. The river carried
his heart away. I took his

dead eyes home. His red flesh
sang to me on the fire I built

in my backyard. His taste
was the lost memory of my

wildness. Behind amber clouds
of cedar smoke, Orion

drew his bow. A black moon rose
from the night’s dark waters,

a sliver of its bright face
reflecting back into the universe.

Georgia was fascinated, watching the fish be gutted and cooked on the grill and then getting a taste of the very fresh meat.  Lily was down at the lake trying to break the record for inner tube standing.

When we got home Rob put on the coveralls I bought him for his birthday (He has always wanted a pair.  How cute is that?) and stepped into the center of the prickly raspberry patch in our yard.  He fashioned a sling so he could use both hands.  He was very proud of his efficiency, but we ate the berries as fast as he picked them.

We were tired when we got home but I had promised fireworks.  Rob thought I was crazy but he doesn't really like crowds or loud noise so, of course, fireworks are not his favorite.  Also, last year we got home so late from the Greenfield fireworks that Tessa, our sweet chicken, had been murdered by a weasel so we've all got some firework PTSD.  We girls threw blankets into the car and sped up to Brattleboro.  We've never been to fireworks there and it was quite a rowdy scene, but we settled off in a quiet park and had a great time.  I like events where I can lie down because by back is still quite sore with driving and sitting.  I still have muscle weakness in my left foot so I am heading in for an MRI next week.


I spilled my delicious and greatly anticipated hot jasmine tea all over the sleeping bag so we had to cram together.

Glad we went because I'm working this weekend and while I might see them from the hospital windows; it's not the same as being right under the loud POW that you can feel in your sternum.  Love that.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Archery Class

Free for 6 weeks in Vernon Vermont rec center.  It was hot the first day and buggy (Lily killed 14 deer flies (with her hand; not her bow and arrow!))

But the girls had a great time.  The movie Brave has been quite an inspiration to us all.  We've seen it twice and I'm planning on taking them to the big 3-d theater soon to see it again.  It is so wonderful to watch a movie with the girl as the main character; no romance, no one coming to save her, with the challenge being true to herself and still staying connected to her mother.  Both characters are transformed beautifully by the end of the movie.

It breaks my heart and pisses me off that it has taken this long for such a movie to be made, but HOORAY for it finally making it to the big screen!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Our back porch

is lush and green this year.  The hops are climbing over everything and it is a milestone year for potted plants.

The first year that I have been a mother and had living plants outside for at least part of the summer!

 I love to sit out there, today there were blue and then green dragonflies and a beauty of a female hummingbird at the bee balm.