Sunday, May 20, 2012

Well so much for quiet beginnings.  We had an earthquake last night.  I felt the house shake.  Seeing as it is made of solid rock with walls a foot and a half thick, this was mildly unsettling.

It was the middle of the night so I lay there like an idiot with all the  earthquake protocol that I learned in grade school in California running through my head.  Would ducking under a table really be that helpful if several tons of rock and terra cotta tiles fell on my head?   In California all the buildings are stick frame with cheap stucco, and shingle.  . . . Meanwhile my husband has run outside and is yelling at me to bring the baby out while I am laying there comatose.  Apparently we were going to let our other three children asleep in the other bedroom just fend for themselves.  Which shows us why three people died in this earthquake.  Because we like to think that when catastrophe strikes we are all preparedness and resourcefulness, but what about the earthquake that happens in the middle of the night?  . . . or the fire that ignites the doll your four year old is holding before you have had your coffee?  (yes that happened several years ago, too)

I remember watching a show about Pompeii with my dad as a little girl.  They found that by pouring plaster into these holes at the dig sites they could see the pose of the bodies as they were buried in volcanic ash.  I used to fantasize that I would have been clever and fast enough to get out the minute it became obvious that Mount Vesuvius was blowing her top.  Now it is apparent to me I would have been yet another hole awaiting the plaster of some archeologist.

By the way you can see the grisly plaster casts here

But on to more pleasant things, here is a photo, with more to come...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We are all arrived safe on the other side of the Atlantic!  Gravagna is full of peace and beauty both in its people and buildings.  I am hoping to post some of my favorite spots here.  It is still cold here in the mountains and we are still lighting the wood stove in the evenings.

 Little has changed here in the village.   The silence is broken by sheep bells, church bells and the occasional car honking around a corner on the steep mountain road.   People have been bringing us swiss chard by the armful.  Carla, my neighbor had made us a wonderful broth when we got in.   What generosity.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

A day with my girls

Ben recently went on a buisness trip to Chicago.  Normally we call in favors for the ride to the airport but this time I wanted to drop him off and take the metro in with the girls to the city for the day.

Many of my best childhood memories are of my mom waking us up really early, bundling us up because San Francisco is COLD, and taking us to art museums, or the pier, or a ballet at the Opera house.  These were times when my mother, who was normally really strict, would indulge us.  She might buy us an ice cream,  a ride on a merry-go-round,  do something a little extra that was normally "too expensive."

As a homeschooling mother it is easy to feel like you not only have to be the mother but the teacher too.  This makes for being the rule and schoolwork enforcer more often than my sanguine side would like.  So I have really been wanting to take the girls to D.C., just me and my girls for the day.

  The catch 22 is the thought of riding the metro and braving lines alone with four children has always made me wimp out.   What if Zita clings to me like some subtropical vine while Angelica is begging me for some impossible favor, meanwhile the baby wants to nurse and Julia had is melting down over her buttons?   The people would shake their heads and mutter to themselves in a pitying sort of way or worse yet drop the oh-so-obvious "My, you have your hands full! "  which I always feel is a bit like yelling " Wow, you must be busy!" to a group of men moving a grand piano out of midtown manhattan flat.

 But this time, I threw discretion to the wind and  decided to go ahead and go. . . and the girls were fabulous.  The past year has been an awkward sort of shifting changing year.   It was a mini-adolescence for our family.   The birth of our fourth daughter forced us to grow and adapt in ways we did not know we could..  Its not always perfect and sometimes the kids whine and I yell and it doesn't look or sound great but we all make this big (by modern standards) group of people living under one roof work. I  learned a little about time management and planning and most of all that the greatest resource that we have is one another.

Anyway it is hard to see progress sometimes in these matters when you are at home doing my normal juggling routine of schooling, housework, small scale farming, artist aide, etc.  Our day in the city really helped me to see how far the girls have come, how far we all have come this past year.   At one point we went to the sculpture garden I decided to go order a couple eclairs and a cappuccino from the little cafe.  The line was really long and Ronia who had been really patient in the backpack was simply dying to get out and stretch her little walking legs.  I could tell I wasn't going to make it to the end of the line.  I signaled to Angelica to come and asked her if she thought she could order for us.  I gave her the cash and I went out and sat in the shade, just outside.  Zita offered to chase Ronia for me and keep her from falling into the bushes.   Julia jumped on my lap and we cuddled in the afternoon sunshine.

As I sat there I saw a really pregnant British lady with her two year old who was melting down try to go into the cafe and then reconsider and leave.  Now I have been there and I remember those mothers with older kids of large families saying in what I thought was a snarky sort of way.  " Just wait, it gets easier when they are older and you have helpers."

And that day as  I sat there in the beautiful spring sunshine, while my nine year old was ordering a cappucino and my seven year old chased my toddler around for me, while I cuddled with my pre-schooler,  I realized that those mothers were right.

I bought my daughters not only chocolate eclairs but huge servings of ice cream too.

Oh and the fountain by the sculpture gardens is simply stunning and has ducks.

Thumbs up for a great day.