Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Music Monday: The Civil Wars

I'm a little late for Monday, since it's now very early Tuesday morning. But I need to share this music with you. So here is a Music Monday post on Tuesday.

"Poison & Wine" by The Civil Wars

This song tears me apart and I love everything about it. Check out their other stuff, too. It's really pretty stunning.

Great website: http://thecivilwars.com/

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Storms, Cookies and Giving

Though it has been largely overshadowed in the news, most of us have still heard about the terrible storms that ripped through parts of the United States last week. We were poised for action here if it was needed, but thankfully the worst avoided us. However not that far away, Tuscaloosa AL was partially leveled by tornadoes. I have family in Tuscaloosa, and though some of them now have serious property damage to contend with I am very happy to say that none of them was seriously injured.

Today I baked up a storm of my own, turning out a small mountain of chocolate chip cookies to ship to friends and relatives in Alabama. If you would like to help out, please consider donating to the Red Cross, to the Tuscaloosa Disaster Relief Fund, or to Epic Church which is providing trailers and supplies for families which have lost everything in the storms. All are worthy organizations that are helping a great deal.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Music Monday: Pogo

Billy introduced me to this artist, who creates wonderful electronic music from samples, often gleaned from popular movies. He edits videos to go along with the music, combining the source of the samples with imagery to set the perfect mood. My favorite songs are created from "real life" samples, like this one of his mother's garden:

"Gardyn" by Pogo

Or this one from his travels in Johannesburg:
"Joburg Jam" by Pogo

And here is one of his movie remixes, from the Pixar movie "Up":
"UPular" by Pogo

Look him up on youtube to see more videos; there are lots of great movie remixes (including "The Lord of the Rings"!). Also, check him out at http://www.pogomix.net/ to read more about him, about his World Remix Project, and to purchase some of his tracks.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Little Boy Projects

I'm afraid I have not been very good at making a note of all the various projects and adventures all our boys have got up to in the last couple weeks. I can't remember them all, but here is a small sample:

- The kids turned the mulch pile at the end of the driveway into "Mulch Mountain", a replica of Stone Mountain complete with buildings and a functioning cable car, all fashioned of gardening tools and assorted paraphernalia gleaned from the garage.

- Many insects have been captured, followed each time by impassioned petitions to be allowed to keep said insects as "pets". If they survive long enough, they are released back into the wild backyard.

- The kids have planted a garden, set out avocado pits to sprout, and planted several flower pots' worth of seeds.

- One kid has learned how to ride his bike. He also lost a tooth. The tooth came out when another boy sat on his face.

- Many forts have been built and deconstructed. One of the forts was a radio station. Sample playlist: Queen, That 1 Guy, Evanescence, Rush. . .

- Three boys decided to play "Robbers", and to that end began building a ladder with which to climb into Mama & Papa Bears' bedroom window. They were wearing helmets and life vests, which apparently somehow made this idea OK. THAT project was halted post-haste.

- One boy created a calendar on the dining room wall out of sticky notes. "ESTR" Sunday is clearly labeled. The month started out with 30 days, but now April has 44 days, divided into 13-day weeks. Nice of them to give us the extra time, don't you think? I could sure use it to get this blog back on track. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Co-Hab Project: Week One


I hardly know where to begin.

Things are humming along in my corner of the world, sometimes with a few more RPMs than I can handle. All in all though, I am feeling most excellent about our days here in our new abode with the Bears.

I will try to get blogging more often, because every day is an adventure around here and there is a lot going on. How could there not be, with no fewer than 6 young, active boys running around all day, 3 (sometimes 4) dogs, 2 cats, 2 vibrant mamas, 1 Dad working (mostly) onsite and 1 Dad in and out at odd hours. Throw in a perpetually evolving full slate of projects and a near-constant stream of visiting friends, and you might begin to form an idea of life in La Casa de los Osos. My dear friend Mo is a blogger too, so you can read about some of our shenanigans over at Five Bears A-Blogging.

Our first week of co-hab went very well indeed. Our families mesh amazingly well, and even the dogs (because I had to bring our Gypsy with us) settled in together with very little fuss. Household rules and schedules, chores and study time are being assimilated pretty well. I only have a couple laundry baskets' worth of stuff left to unpack. The kids are delighting in a greater freedom, which I can afford to allow because there are other responsible eyes helping me keep watch. And I have had to adjust quite a bit to accommodate this newfound sensation of having other adults (and older kids) to help me accomplish everything that needs to get done in a day. It's pretty damn wonderful, actually.

This week has been a week of finding rhythms, of learning our place in a larger system and how best to work together for mutual benefit. It's an exercise that our small nuclear families often never get the opportunity to fully engage, and one that I think is extremely valuable. It's also eminently sensible: I continue to be amazed at how much I can get accomplished with the simple addition of a few more responsible caretakers who can help carry the load. With other folks around to answer questions, take care of Babyman's needs, keep an eye on creative activities, help with chores, help keep kids on task, and stay home if I need to run an errand, my days run SO much more smoothly than before. When I think about all the things that the other adults and the older kids are helping with, and consider that I used to do all those things by myself, I am impressed that I ever accomplished anything at home before.

Now, this doesn't mean I have turned into Supermom, nor did I accomplish everything I set out to do last week. But there have been many, many times that I completed a task and looked around with a strong sense that I was forgetting something. . . only to realize that I hadn't forgotten it, it had simply been taken care of by someone else. Thus I was free to move on to the next task, whether it be mopping the kitchen, reading out loud to the kids or baking some cookies for bedtime snack.

In addition to my new ability to accomplish things, I am thrilled with the effect this has had on my kids' daily activities. They are engaging in very creative projects, and playing outdoors a lot. It's the sort of thing I couldn't afford to allow before, because there simply wasn't enough of me to keep an eye on things and still keep our days moving forward. I love that every time I give the boys a bath they are filthy. They've been doing things. It's great.

So, I officially declare our first week to be a success. I could definitely get used to this co-hab thing. It may not be for everyone, but if you can hit on the right chemistry of folks it's a divine way of raising families.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I just want to check in with a quick update, since things have been so quiet here on the blog. I have been absent here because I am focusing all my energy on MOVING. Billy and I are putting our house on the market, and to that end we will be moving out so that these 1280 sq ft are not overrun with messy kids and dogs while potential buyers check it out. We are immeasurably blessed to have wonderful friends who are opening their home to us while the house is on the market. It will be an adventure!! I am actually looking forward to this experiment in cooperative communal living. :)

So, to that end I have been completely immersed in sorting, purging and packing. It's really astonishing how much STUFF we have accumulated in 11 years since moving into this house. Of course, we had 3 babies in that time period, and I also have all the paperwork associated with owning our own businesses. It's A LOT. But we are making good progress.

I'm sorry to have to set my blog aside for now, but I can only do so much. :) I am sure I will be checking in next month if I do not find time before then.

Happy Spring!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Music Monday: Marina and the Diamonds

I'm a little obsessed with this song right now. Fresh in pop music, and I LOVE it!

Marina and the Diamonds with "I Am Not A Robot"

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Painting From my Past

Years ago, I was a penniless undergrad (art student) at the University of Georgia. I spent a lot of time in the Athens coffee shops, reading, writing and studying in between classes and work. My beloved Blue Sky Coffee house (OH! The Dancing Goats blend!) is gone now, and so is the downtown Jittery Joe's. But Espresso Royale, a stalwart landmark of downtown Athens, still sits just down the road from the old Lamar Dodd School of Art location. It was there when I first explored UGA as an option for higher education, and it is still in business now.

Sometimes I did not have even enough money to get a cup of coffee. Those days, I would buy a bagel for 75 cents (but not the 50 cent package of cream cheese) and get a cup of hot water to go with it. I'd brew my own tea with a teabag from home, and use the complimentary honey and butter for my bagel. I felt a little guilty, but at least I was buying something in exchange for taking up a table. Funny how fondly I remember these times. (And funny to think a bagel only cost 75 cents!)

Espresso Royale, like all the coffee shops and many other Athens businesses, served as a gallery space for local artists. The walls hosted an ever-changing display of local talent from painters, photographers, fiber artists, illustrators, printmakers. . . I loved to see what would turn up.

One day I looked up to spy this:
Flight of Angela by Terry Rowlett
Well, I spied the painting on the wall, not a blurry reproduction of the painting on a magazine cover. Sadly, this is the best image that my limited internet skillz can reproduce for you here.

I was captivated by this painting. There's just something about it, something inspiring and beautiful, that spoke to me immediately and stuck with me ever after. I have never forgotten it. Many times over the years I've thought about it, and wondered who painted it (I'd checked, but had forgotten the artist's name), and where it was by then.

Yesterday I was making assorted phone calls that needed making, and during frequent hold times I started idly searching the internet for this painting. I had little to go on: girl in a yellow dress, Athens GA artist, surrealist style. But guess what? I found it! I found the artist!

His name is Terry Rowlett, and his portfolio is an inspiring collection of interwoven dreams and realities. You can browse the portfolio here:
And this painting from my past, called "Flight of Angela", is there on page 7. Click on it to view it larger- you can actually see it well.

I love the internet. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Photo Blog: Friends on the Chattahoochee

One lovely day in September, Billy and I took our boys and two friends out for an afternoon of fun on the Chattahoochee River. Here's just a few of the pictures from that day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Music Monday: Fleet Foxes

This song was introduced to me by a couple of the Dads in our awesome homeschool group. I love the tune, and the video is brilliance.

"White Winter Hymnal" by Fleet Foxes

Friday, January 21, 2011


Our ship is tempest-tossed, the gale is raging endlessly on. Every slackening of rainfall is but a brief respite before the next wave crashes down. A year we've been riding this storm. Unlike some storms we've weathered before, there is little about this to quicken the heart and feed our wildest spirits- this tempest beats down relentless, and all the frantic tasks to stay afloat merge into an exhausted dream.

Still, I can marvel at the waves, towering majestics, great kings of water rolling and crashing. I gasp at the explosion of light sparkling briefly from the school of fish below. The lightning is a deadly gift, dangerously beautiful, and the thunder reverberates down into my toes. And there, look! Do you see? A break in the clouds, however brief, to reveal the moon shining ever on, separate and eternal in the velvet night beyond. Do you see it, love? Can you see?

But you feel you've been washed overboard, and you cling desperately to what lifeline you can hold, separate now from our floating haven, mercilessly shoved about by forces beyond your control. You cannot catch your breath, and you cannot see. I am reaching my hand out to you, as waves wash you near. Can you catch my fingers, love? Can you climb back aboard with me, and share this journey again?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Huckleberry Knob Adventure

The next morning of our Robbinsville trip dawned grey and very rainy. We'd expected to hike, so a change of plans was in order. We hunted up a great little bookstore/cafe/wine store (yes, really!) in Andrews, North Carolina, and spent the morning browsing books before enjoying a delicious cafe lunch. By the time we'd finished, the weather had cleared up enough that we decided to go for a hike after all.

We drove up to Huckleberry Knob on the Cherohala Skyway in the Unicoi Mountains. Huckleberry Knob is the highest point in the Cheoah Ranger District, at 5560 ft elevation. It's a nice easy hike with a stunning panorama at the top.

We set out for the first bald, Oak Knob. The views there were already gorgeous, but we noticed some threatening rain clouds moving in. Billy and I decided to press on anyway- we wanted to get to the top!

We hurried to Huckleberry Knob, but prudently decided to skirt the summit and remain closer to the treeline. Lightning can be unpredictable and quite dangerous in that area! We stopped for a quick snack.

Just seconds after this photo was taken, I turned to Billy as we were packing up. "Do you hear that?", I asked. We listened intently for a moment with a dawning realization. "Is that wind in the trees, or is it. . .", and POW! We were slammed with the approaching wall of rain.

We scrambled to get the boys into ponchos and rain jackets as fast as we could. We did pretty well, except we were one jacket short. So I grabbed Billy's BC Australian hat to keep the rain out of my face, and swam through the atmosphere in my jeans and shirt. I was soaked, but it was a blast!

By the time we'd slogged back to Oak Knob, the rain was already leaving us. One horizon sported billowy clouds breaking apart to reveal blue sky behind, and the other revealed a full arch of rainbow, stunning against the retreating grey storm.

We stopped, reluctant to end our outing if the weather was going to dry out.

Soon enough, the rain ended altogether and the afternoon sun transformed the wet grass into a stunning display of scattered diamonds. We dried out for awhile in the sun and mountain breeze, and then decided to try again for Huckleberry Knob's summit.

The view was appropriately stunning. 360 degrees of mountains greeted us, complete with rich cream clouds running over the peaks and puddling into the valleys. Everywhere around we could see the weather changing before our eyes.

We settled in to enjoy ourselves, admiring the views, running and playing, communing with the wind, taking pictures, relaxing and (for Billy and I) making a toast to a fabulous couple of days.

It was absolutely a transformative experience, a time that I will never forget.

Finally, reluctantly, we packed up and hiked out, tired and fulfilled.

* * * * *
The next day would bring a drive home, and a meetup with Billy's Mom and two Aunts for dinner. It was a wonderful little visit. It would be the last time we saw Nora alive. This trip turned out to be an essential repairing and rejuvenating tonic for our souls that helped us to weather the storm ahead.
* * * * *

See more Skywatch photos from all over the world! Visit http://skyley.blogspot.com/

Friday, January 7, 2011

River Rocks, Waterfalls and Joy

Last September, Billy and I took the boys up to Robbinsville, North Carolina for a simple, laid-back little getaway. No camping but nothing fancy, either.

The days were shining like new copper, early autumn sunlight pouring whiskey-golden through leaves still clinging to bright summer green.

We drove to the river, and climbed out on the rocks, draping ourselves over the sunniest places and trailing fingers or toes in the cold mountain water. We delighted in our plain little picnic and the joy of the moment together.

There was wading (that water was cold!), rock hunting, rock skipping and silliness aplenty.

After awhile we drove a little piece further down the road, to Bald River Falls.

It's a stunning spot, and popular with folks who like to stop for pictures.

We goofed off and climbed around. I felt relaxed, present, open and happy. I think everyone did. The sun soaked our tensions out and the water carried it away. Billy and I had especially needed something like this.

(see how great The Pirate's picture of us turned out?)
A renewal, a cleansing, a reconnection. Somehow all the right pieces fell together and that's just what this trip became.

After a long day we piled back into the van. We drove around a little to explore- you never know what interesting places you might find.

In fact, we found the "Hotel California" of campgrounds. Or at least, that was our impression of the place.

". . .Relax, said the night man, We are programmed to receive. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!"
We had a good laugh, but still left in a hurry. ;)

As night came we stopped for dinner and fell into bed, looking forward to some hiking in the morning. It had been a fabulous day.