Bird Watching

Adam made this beautiful ceramic bird feeder, and I have noticed a pretty diverse population of birds using it, so I put the camera by the window today, and I want to catalog them. These guys today were a pretty standard black-capped Chickadee.

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Final Vocabulary

I read this the other night. It is from Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity by Richard Rorty. It sang out to to me. Here, you read it first:

All human beings carry about a set of words which they employ to justify their actions, their beliefs, and their lives. These are the words in which we formulate praise of our friends and contempt for our enemies, our long-term projects, our deepest self-doubts and our highest hopes. They are the words in which we tell, sometimes prospectively and sometimes retrospectively, the story of our lives. I shall call these words a person’s “final vocabulary.”

It is “final” in the sense that if doubt is cast on the worth of these words, their user has no noncircular argumentative recourse. Those words are as far as he can go with language; beyond them there is only helpless passivity or a resort to force. . .

I shall define an “ironist” as someone who fulfills three conditions: (1) She has radical and continuous doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses, because she has been impressed by other vocabularies taken as final by people or books she has encountered; (2) she realizes the argument phrased in her present vocabulary can no neither underwrite nor dissolve these doubts; (3) insofar as she philosophies about her situation, she does not think that her vocabulary is closer to reality than others, that it is in touch with power not herself….

Can I believe that my education so far has amounted to the end all of what I need to know? Can I righteously state that the world I live in is the final way and the language I speak is the all-encompassing way of expressing all I believe? This is such an interesting philosophy. I don’t want to talk myself into circles or be unable to defend myself, especially to my daughters that have yet to form their final vocabulary, and may not adopt mine. I don’t want my daughters to remember things I said repetitively to exhaustion, and wonder what I was even talking about. I want to be able to communicate without solely using Pinterest friendly sayings, and if they rhyme, all the better! I want to discuss thoroughly, communicate visually, and by example. I want to show them more ways of saying, seeing, and understanding.

You know, I think I idolize Clarisse’s family from Fahrenheit 451 more than I am conscience of.

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Set Apart for the Young Ones

 

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I have more plans for the room. I want to hang quilts above the bed and crib; the quilt their grandma made Mae and the quilt I made for Nina. When Nina is potty trained, I am taking out the changing table and moving their toys in here. But there is always something. And they are always growing. They love their room. They sleep so well in it. It is the place they go when they are tired and upset, to calm down. They both crawl into Mae’s bed, under the covers and giggle and bounce around. That white couch has seen years of holding baby girls, nursing them, and singing them to sleep. This is a place to put band-aides on, brush wet hair after a bath, tuck in covers, change poopy bums, and where Mae practices dressing herself. It was really put together the other day, so I took some photos to always remember the special place that helped them from babies to toddlers.

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Mae turned 3 years old on Saturday, and that night we told her that she is all big now, so no more binkies. She has been using a binky at night since we banned them from days when she was 1. About nine months ago, she used her binkies to “buy” a boat for the bath. For four nights she cried so loud and horrible over and over and over again between small sleeping sessions until morning. Like she was in the utmost pain. I would lay in bed with her while she stroked my face, tears coming down her cheeks, begging me to answer the question “why?”. One the fifth night, I looked at the situation omnisciently, and decided she wasn’t ready, and gave her back her binkies. And she fell right to sleep and woke up happy.

So this time, I did a lot of prep. Telling her that only babies use binkies, and she was a big girl. Well, after a day where she was bombarded with positive attention about becoming a big girl, surrounded by all her most loved and favorite people, with a house full of new toys, I told her she was 3 now, and we don’t use binkies anymore. She cried, but only because she was learning to sleep without it. She woke crying, but it was ok. Last night, Adam held her like a baby until she fell asleep, since she is learning how to comfort without the binkie. It was such a surreal and beautiful moment to watch him hold her, wrapped in a blanket, singing all her favorite songs, until she slipped off into dreamland. Sometime after he laid her down, she cried again, only halfheartedly asking for her binkie back once. Then it got bad. She cried, “I can’t do this!” while wailing into a pillow. But it wasn’t like a plea for us to cave in, it was like she also wanted to give it up, it was just hard. So I made sure she had her elephant, flashlight, cup of water, and laid with her, rubbing her back, letting her know she can do it. We will just keep at it, until it doesn’t hurt anymore. And it will be ok. I hoped that moving on from the binkie that she would be with us in it, and that’s the way it is. It is difficult, but we will learn to grow up together. Hand in hand.

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Humanity of Woman

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke is only 80 pages, and yet I am still in it, and its been weeks. I keep picking it up, reading a letter, then needing time to live in it for a while. Last night I read Letter Seven, written in 1904, Rilke’s advice and direction is what everyone wants in a master. Who else would love to send a sonnet to a famous, talented writer, and have him say that he keeps a copy with him? I would.

I love when men of education, who live great theories, write about women. I am raising two women in this world, and I have ears tuned to pick up on opportunities to teach them how to be. I seek to hear or read truths that will help them navigate this world I brought them into.

The girl and the woman, in their new, individual unfolding, will only in passing be imitators of male behavior and misbehavior and repeaters of male professions. After the uncertainty of such transitions, it will become obvious that women were going through the abundance and variation of those (often ridiculous) disguises just so that they could purify their own essential nature and wash out the deforming influences of the other sex. Women, in whom life lingers and dwells more immediately, more fruitfully, and more confidently, must surely have become riper and more human in their depths than light, easygoing man, who is not pulled down beneath the surface of life by the weight of any bodily fruit and who, arrogant and hasty, undervalues what he thinks he loves. This humanity of woman, carried in her womb through all her suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she has stripped off the conventions of mere femaleness in the transformations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching will be astonished by it. Someday (and even now, especially in the countries of northern Europe, trustworthy signs are already speaking and shining), someday there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only of life and reality: the female human being.

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Family Portrait

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I know this is a dark thought, but it comes to me more times than it should. Life is so good right now. We are so happy. Everyday is magic and it feels like we can live forever. There are more moments than I could possibly store in my long term memory of everyday beauty and sublimity. And yet, this part of Annabel Lee recites itself to me, making me afraid.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

If ever the angels were jealous of something, it’d be my family. Am I the only one that fears happiness? I will hold tight to it while I have it, that is for sure. I will record it in my journal every night, as I do, and I will hope that these times last long. You know, despite sitting under the clouds with my two daughters in a field of long wavy grass, watching the dragon flies swarm between us and the setting sun, feeling complete and happy, I know things could get better if we keep at it. I know they can be worse, but I know there is even more happiness to be experienced.

Beautiful Anxiety About Life

I have been reading, with all the care and intent I have in me, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I cried on the first page of the first letter. Cried, like I read what was written for me one hundred years ago, and time and space merged for this to happen. I read Letter Four last night. “… I am touched by your beautiful anxiety about life… here I feel that there is no one anywhere who can answer for you those questions and feelings…” We don’t get to read what Kappas questions, anxieties, or feelings are. All I get to read is Rilke’s reply. And I am certain they are not too far from my own beautiful anxiety about life. He goes on, “But even so, I think that you will not have to remain without a solution if you trust in Things that are like the ones my eyes are now resting upon. If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have the love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in you innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge.” 

My solution has been just that. I have digressed further and further into what is natural. I try to cook naturally, feed my family naturally and traditionally. I live in ways that others might seem what someone “poor” might do. I don’t wear makeup anymore. Maybe some mascara for an art show or powder for pictures, but that is about it. I work with my hands and by the sweat of my brow I bring forth good works into my home. I walk places more. To see my body naturally arrive at a destination, allowing my spirit to come with me. As I have come to know, my spirit travels at a walking pace, and if I go any faster than that, the anxiety, the loss, the loneliness, and the despair of being separate from my spirit, is evident in my life. 

My whole life I have had a memorized list of answers to life’s most important questions, and I can recite them on queue, in my sleep. Adam has told me that he is sick of answers, and I am not too far off on this idea. Rilke goes on in the letter to advice, “And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” In the end of letter he says, “.. be happy with your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend…”

My greatest resolve as of late is to be a great mother and wife. To refrain from selfish acts, and just get these things done. Before I took classes this summer I was reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, and I was in awe of this fantasy. I am going to finish reading it once I am finished with Rilke. I am young, changeable, passionate, and I am going to live without answers for a little while longer. 

 

The Play Garden

Mae loves nursery during church. She talks about it all week. She is not super happy when I have to collect her after the two hours. She spends the next few days telling me all about the blue ball, snacks, and friends from church then drawing the thank you thumb and please pinkies on my fingers. So even though she is only two, we knew it was time to look for a preschool. The one we picked is special. I can ride the trailer on my bike to it in just a few minutes. The toys are incredible. It is moderately priced. The amount of students is pretty small. Today was her first day, though we have been a few times already to look through it and talk with the ladies who work there. She was thrilled beyond all compare. 

I knew I would have trouble collecting her just three hours later.

She is still asking if she can go back. Poor girl has to wait until Thursday. 

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