Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall, Food,& Family

How does one go about saying hello after such a long time?  Hello. Phew, that's done...  So, Fall. It's my favorite time of year.  Tennessee seems to become even more pretty, more lazed, more cozy... I love it. You know what else I love even more during Fall?  Home. And food! It kind of always comes down to food, doesn't it?

Being able to visit a farm more often has expanded the whole family's food repertoire. Ocra. Who knew?! Wait! Don't stop reading! I'm telling you - Roast it in the oven! {Texture issue cured.} It's amazing. Even Twila loves it. How times change...  Speaking of time and changes, it's been awhile since Twila has made an appearance on the blog and my far-off family is starting to wonder about her.  So, here she is!  She's been taking on some new tasks.  She's helping set the table, prepare dinner, adding her two cents...about everything.  Here she is chopping garlic. Favorite part? The smashing of course.  

She also loves to wash the vegetables.  It's nice.  And now I have my own sous chef to say things like, "Chef!  How thin would you like these sliced?" or "Chef, I don't want to do this anymore.  I need a new task."  It's just like my days back in the kitchen!  Plus, did you know that taking an extra 5 minutes to dance in between tasks makes a meal taste better?  Although I don't have any science to back that up it seems true.  

If I had to tell my aunts and uncles one thing about her now it would be: She makes everything fun. {Usually.} It is great to see everyday things as new things again. New things always feel special, you know?  So now, things like chopping garlic aren't just one of the first steps in prepping a meal.  Chopping garlic becomes a lesson in how to hold a knife, experiencing a new delicious smell for the first time, thinking about the beat of chopping and relating it to a favorite song... Everything with her is. just. better.

Upon looking at some of the images I have been taking at the farm lately I decided to edit and print some out for the house. I have also been trying to use an hour here and there to get back into the Etsy shop. {Have you seen all the changes Etsy has made recently?  It's even more beautiful to look at!} Here are two of my new favorites. 

I think the kicker, the true motivator to hang these images, was this image of corn to the left. This corn is amazing. We were sent home with this heirloom variety of corn.  We were told that the seeds have been part of one family for hundreds of years; That it's a pre-Trail of Tears Cherokee popcorn! Can you believe it?  Not to get all sentimental but every time I prepare this corn I think about history, about Cherokee farmers, about how it was eaten then and how it's eaten now.  History.  It feels like something very special.  And there is another bonus: It's the best tasting popcorn I have ever had the pleasure of eating.  I could go on but won't.  Let's just leave it at I love seeing these ears of corn on the wall.  It feels like more than just corn...  I think it's a good reminder for Twila too - to think about where her food comes from, to know the history and the now, to know that people work hard to bring nourishment into her life, and to understand the journey that food and people have taken's all very interesting.

So, that's it... I brought back the blog {again} to chat about food, family, photos, Fall.  I guess i'm just feeling that same good feeling that October always seems to offer.  Until next time!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

This day

Let us ignore the elephant in the room that is my long absence from this sweet little space of mine.  Instead, let's think of today.  Well, how about we think of today and this day last year, the year before that, and the one before that?  You may remember some of these images from an earlier post.  Ever since Twila has been a wee little baby I have taken her photo... lots of photos actually.  And even though I have a few shots that I intended to take every day, every month, or every year in the same spot...the only one that stuck is the one I never planned on.

I remember the day we took the first image.  It was 2010.  She had turned one two months prior and was filled with firsts.  Her personality was starting to shine.  On this day she was introduced to the smell of roses, the swimming of Koi fish, new bugs, and smells...  We were enjoying a nice stroll when she became very excited about the little pebbles and rocks in the pathway.  She would dig one up, study it, show me, and put it back into the ground.  Occasionally she would find a special one she would hand me for safe keeping.  We frequently visited this spot.  It's a beautiful place for the senses.

2010 quickly rolled into 2011.  Looking back it feels quite like a blur.  In those moments I remember feeling that life for her was just one big moment.  For me I was feeling like it was constantly evolving.  Constantly.  More so even than now.  Twila had just turned two and we were visiting the UT Gardens often.  Now she was able to play with others, join in a weekly story and dance time.  She loved it.  We loved it.  It's a coincidence that this image was taken on the exact day a year later.  It wasn't until I saw it on my computer that I recognized the image from a year earlier.  I felt really amazed that it was the same day, the same spot, both not posed.  I hoped I would remember to shoot again the following year.

It was nice to see the path change and age along with her.  I remember when I first started to garden I heard or read something about how a plant really starts showing it's true potential, it's true nature {no pun intended} on the third year.  I've witnessed this in all the gardens I have put in since.  It's true!  And now that I have just typed those words it dawns on me that I suppose the comparison could be made for people too.  She has just turned three in this photo.  I didn't ask her to pose... I just thought we would walk down the path and see what happened.  I was shooting, she found a spot and here we are.  I don't remember what she was laughing about here.  I am thinking that she just made a joke or was laughing at something silly one of us did.  This is one of my favorite images of her.  She seems like her own person... maybe this is a special glimpse of who she will become.  This time she picked out the roses, she remembered the names of some of the kitchen herbs by scent, she nicknamed the Koi fish.

I've been thinking a lot about photos lately- in particular, photos of someone when they are little...  About looking back.  When, for example, we saw a detailed ultrasound image of her we could see facial details, expressions, movement.  Back then, staring at those images, I still couldn't imagine what she would look like.  At all.  But I look back on those images now and see her.  It looks just like her.  What's that about??  I was given the pieces but still couldn't put them together.  Now I look back and the puzzle is one.  It was always together.  It's odd to me that it takes some sort of life experience to put very obvious puzzles together sometimes.  So, here she is.  From the other day...FOUR.  We haven't been going to the gardens very much this year.  In fact, I remembered when flipping the calendar for June about this image.  The photos have a nice spot in the Family Room and I am happy that a spark occurred and we still had a couple of days to plan.  I showed Twila the photos and we reminisced about the last four years.  She was looking forward to going back and to taking the next photo.  This day she picked out her own outfit {as she does every day- whole other post...} and we were off.  We looked at the ponds and laughed at the fish.  She pointed out the Roses and mentioned how she loved them because her middle name is Rose.  We talked about the vegetables and herbs, bugs, and landscape design. On our way to the Kitchen Garden we strolled along the path.  I stopped in the only shady spot so my camera wouldn't catch any glare.  Again, I didn't ask her to pose.  She stopped because I stopped and instantly found those same pebbles she's always been keen on.  I have a few photos without smiles but she happened to look up for a second after thinking something funny and I caught it.  I was so happy to once again get a natural photo of her and feel like this spot, these shots, are meant to be.  The story continues.

Oh!  Those rocks...  She hunkered down {as she's done all years prior} to scoop up the rocks.  Now, reading her thoughts before they go into motion I forecast and say, "Hey Twila, do we throw the rocks outside of the path?"  "Nooooooo" She says emphatically.  "Where do they stay?" I question.  "In the path!!" She sings loudly.  I could have read the situation wrong as the next thing she did was build a swamp with a volcano.  Same day, same path, same girl... but very little of it really felt the same.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Sidewalk's End

And here we see the invisible boy
In his lovely invisible house,
Feeding a piece of invisible cheese
To a little invisible mouse.
Oh, what a beautiful picture to see!
Will you draw an invisible picture for me?

-Shel Silverstein

Thursday, March 14, 2013

After all this she still goes to Africa!

I wrote this, didn't want to publish it, then said the hell with it!  Look, I know everything is great now, Twila is her happy self again, the sky is blue and I can notice it.  I know that families deal with much worse and some on a daily basis...that is certainly not lost on me.  But, this post is me catching up with those out-of town friends and family who have been calling and asking how we are, for those friends I love dearly but haven't had the energy to talk about this with, for those new Internet acquaintances who have been so kind to reach out and voice their concern.  You are all very much appreciated and it's been something our family has really taken to heart.  Thank you.

So, lately the questions seem to have gone from, "How is Twila doing?" to, "How are you doing?"  They know.  How did I not know?   Frankly, I have been wanting to write this post at the same time as I have been avoiding it.  I think I was so strong while it happened but now that the dust has settled I feel a bit delicate, pensive, and well, honestly,  I think I just feel different.  Yeah... I feel very different.  I feel thoughts working themselves out without my knowing it.  Does that sound weird?  It feels weird.  I think it kind of hit me the other day when on the phone with my mother she said, "I think it's reasonable for you to feel this way.  Your daughter had a life threatening day."  A "life-threatening day"... she's not even four.  {Sigh}

A week ago today Twila awoke sleepy.  She had been coughing through the night.  The weather here has been so erratic everyone with allergies has been suffering a bit extra.  I woke up to give her some medicine to bring her relief, allow her to sleep.  She didn't.  Our snowy day was a school day and so we continued with our morning as usual.  I did offer her a breathing treatment though because I heard a slight wheeze.  When I left her at school she cried when I left.  It was the first time she had ever done that.  I asked her if she was okay.  She never complains.  I'm just now seeing the down sides to that.  I left for an appointment when ten minutes later I got a call from Twila's school - her lips were blue, her face was pale, her chest was fluttering.  When I arrived back at her school, I found her resting on some pillows while two little girls with worried faces read to her calmly.  She looked dazed.  I'd never seen her so tired.  We calmly rushed {if there is such a thing} to her doctor where everyone was prepared to measure her oxygen levels and care for her.  Her doctor had time to administer oxygen and a few breathing treatments before telling me that her levels were too low. She would have to be transported by ambulance so that she could have oxygen for the ride to the emergency room.  {Be strong, be strong, be strong...}  She would have to stay at least one night in the hospital.  {Be strong, be strong, be strong...}  I later found out that someone as bad off as she was would normally have to spend 3-4 nights in the hospital.

You know, through this whole event, timing has shown itself to be magically perfect.  If I hadn't been late to school that day due to the administration of her breathing treatment {which now I know helped her more than I knew at the time and probably allowed her those extra moments during transport} she wouldn't have been placed on the lap of her teacher; I wouldn't have had a conversation with her letting her know that Twila seemed extra tired that day, off somehow.  Things Twila and I discussed days ago {like what an ambulance was and what happened inside and who paramedics are} were proving to seem less like day to day discussions and more serendipitous.  Many of the experiences we had the following days I could look back and see that preparations for them were days in the making!  So as we entered the ambulance with her baby Emma {her favorite pillow which I just happened to grab while running back in for something I forgot} she wasn't afraid, didn't complain once.  She only spoke a few times to ask the paramedic questions about what things were inside the ambulance, what the procedures were.  We made it fun if that's even possible.  We made it an adventure.  I suppose that my natural reaction in disaster type situations or when someone else needs me to be strong is to pretend to ignore what should be fearful and instead concentrate on other things, hopefully humorous ones... it's to think of that other person, imagine myself in their shoes and wonder what would make them feel better.  I overcompensated by chatting with the paramedics, laughing at anecdotes, asking Twila about the view and what it felt like to drive backwards...  I was distracting myself too I suppose.

They were expecting us at the emergency room.  They were calm, efficient, made Twila smile, were caring and thoughtful to her.  They were sweet to me too.  I can't say enough good things about the Children's Hospital here.  She was given a massive amounts of steroids, extra breathing treatments, inhaled medicine on top of that.  Tests were made, samples were drawn, x-rays were taken.  Hours slipped by and soon it was the evening.  Doug arrived and I could tell he was shaken.  He was being strong for Twila but his eyes were sad, red... nervous. This was the first time I came back to the event as a whole...what was happening to our baby... to all of the unknowns.  I hadn't eaten anything that day... he brought food, games, preparations for the evening.  He's a great dad.

Later, when Twila no longer needed oxygen she was transferred to another room in a different part of the hospital.  She was crazy from all the steroids.  She was now loving the adventure, loving the buttons that made her bed fold and bend, the wheelies in the wheelchair...  We met with more doctors and learned of more possible causes.  Every two hours - more breathing treatments, more medicine.  Another night without sleep.  Too much television.  In the morning she awoke early to blood being drawn.  She cried for the first time since the morning prior when I left her at school.  So brave.  More steroids.  More television.  More treatments, x-rays, visitors.  Then, home.  We came home.  After just one day instead of what could have been 4, we came home.  Thankfully she responded to the medicine like a champ.  Besides an invisible wheeze you wouldn't know she was recovering from anything.  She put on a dress I had just bought her, went upstairs to get a crown, grabbed a bag and went "To Africa".  After playing that afternoon she went to sleep right away.  I sat on the couch, drank wine, stared into space...I crashed hard.  And now, a week later I feel like there are still fears, still concerns, still a lot of unknowns.  But I know that things have to go back to "normal".  I know that if I hadn't let her go back to school, hadn't let her sleep in her own room, hadn't acted like everything is like it was before this, that it would have never gone back to that way.  I would have become that over protective mother.  I could have easily brought worry to a place that would have been detrimental to our family.  I still feel me fighting a natural urge to protect her and keep her safe from something I don't understand how to keep her safe from.  So, life is back to normal.  She goes to school.  We play outside.  I pretend everything is fine when inside everything still feels so un-fine.  I ignore, like I did when I was in disaster mode for Twila, every thought I have that wants to set me down a very sad path.  I pretend that I am not worried about her every second she's away.  I resist the urge to go upstairs and check up on her during the night and then finally go upstairs to make sure she is breathing easily.  So, I tell myself, "Everything is OK.  Everything is as it should be."  I tell people that everything is just fine; everything is normal.  But I think I may still be pretending.  And that's okay...  Fake it 'til you make it.  Be strong, be strong, be strong...


Were you curious about her "going to Africa"?  Here she is on an airplane with her bag packed.  This was that very afternoon.  It was so good to see she was quick with making things "back to normal".  I am taking many lessons from her these days. 

Twila:  Okay.  I need to get ready and pack all my things. {She is quickly grabbing items from around the house and stuffing them into a grocery bag}
Me:  What?  Are you going somewhere?
T:  Yes.  I need to pack my things to get ready for an adventure.
Me: Oh fun!!  Where are you going?
T:  I'm going to Africa.  {She is still packing.}  I don't want to leave anything so I need to go and pack my things.
Me:  Why are you going to Africa?
T:  I'm going to visit my uncle.  Remember my uncle Orc-y?  {She made him up like a year ago and this was the first I have heard of him since.  He was "A man she was married to in a past life.  He's a very nice man.  A tall man.  Kind.  He lives in Africa where there are a lot of bees."}  I'm going to visit my tall uncle!
Me:  Oh, that sounds like fun.  Please tell Orc-y that I said 'hello'.
T:  Okay.  I will.  I have to go now.  Africa is very far so I need to go now.
Me:  Okay.  Safe travels!

I later checked her "suitcase" and inside the Zabar's {yum} grocery bag were the following items:  Two pairs of slippers, a dress, a crown, a cup, half of an egg shell stuffed with a piece of sushi, a cat toy, barrettes, one piece of toast with a spoon from the bath toys, a wand, six unmatched socks waiting for their mate in the laundry room, a pair of socks, one mushroom, and a garlic bulb.  One can never be too prepared.

I love her so much.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Circle of Light

A photograph is usually looked at - seldom looked into.
~ Ansel Adams

Oh how I love combining the new with the old.  Like it?  It's in the shop! Use this secret code for FREE Shipping {in the US only} Code: PASANDO1.  You can use this code for free domestic shipping on any photo in my shop!  {Coupon is good through March 17th.}