Thursday, October 28, 2010

Death of a Dyson Box

I have been thinking about writing again for awhile, and so I am setting myself up to start from here. Let's just pretend that almost 2 years have not passed and that we are headed in a whole new direction. More on that soon.

Last year, during this time, I was mad at my vacuum. The bristle suction thingy was playing tug of war with me and my long curly red hair, and the hair won. We needed a replacement. I somehow convinced my husband that if he plunked down the 400 bucks or so for the new Dyson, that not only would our house be freshly vacuumed on a daily basis, but he would be investing in the wave of the future. The best technology in Vacuums. What I didn't plan for was the affect it would have on my children.

Now, if you are thinking that they wanted to do the vacuuming, you are wrong. If you think that they are scared of the loud and roaring sounds that said vacuum produced, wrong again. If you own a Dyson, you know that besides being an obnoxious yellow, they come in a sleek black box with detailed instructions in multiple languages. If you are a Troutman kid, the box is always the hit. Any box. Tiny jewelry box, cereal box, refrigerator box, moving box. My kids dig boxes. Maybe they don't have enough toys. Maybe they have great imaginations. Probably both.

Child number three, male, red haired like mama, and also known as "Charles Wallace" by a select few, is kind of macabre. Upon opening the new Vacuum and after the oohs and ahhhs subsided, we carefully placed the black box in the garage near the trash cans to go out the following day. The following day came and went and the black box was nowhere to be found. Not thinking much of it, and assuming the trash collectors had taken the box, we went about our lives eating, drinking, sleeping, vacuuming as normal. Child number three, age 4 at the time, began inquiring about the dead, mummification, embalming methods, etc. While we were slightly alarmed, we realized that Halloween was upon us and perhaps the Spiderman costume was played out. When he asked me to roll him in toilet paper before bed that night, I was skeptical, but I humored him, and lightly "mummified" my son.

The following night when he asked me again to mummify him, I decided to try and figure out what was going on in the noggin. I followed him into his room and everything looked normal. I sat on his bed and talked to him about ancient Egypt, and looked through a book about it. I turned off the light and walked out of the room. A couple of hours later, I went in to check on him and lo and behold, the black vacuum box had reappeared looking like a long sleek coffin, and lying on my sons bunk bed. When I peered inside, I found my little boy, sleeping in a stiff straight position. What is a mom to do? Do I freak out and wake him up and seek counseling for all of us? Do I cast out weird Vacuum box demons, and return the beloved Dyson? Do I wait until morning and sneak into the room and discard the box?

I opted to wait until the "stage" had passed and then quietly remove the cardboard coffin from my son's room. The way I see it, my children want to learn, know, become wise, and experience what they are hearing. When you read about fast sports cars, don't you want to drive one? When I read about a delicious chocolate cake recipe, you can bet that I will be making it. When we learned about the majesty of the Grand Canyon...we had to see it for ourselves. When little boys read about Ancient Egypt, they may see a "mummy box" in your vacuum packaging. I am proud of my little guy for using his resources to experience something new, and although I was mildly disturbed by his obsession with the dead for a few weeks, I came to realize that imagination is the mark of all the greatest authors, inventors, painters, and thinkers. Even the macabre ones.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Getting out of town

We are almost off again! Today Christo and I will take the boys on a camping and hiking trip in Georgia for a few days. Memories to be made. Songs to be sung. Pictures to be taken. Secret handshakes to be invented. Yes...I love these times.
Since my last post I have read a bunch of books, started lifting weights 3 times a week and running every other day. Fitness is just another one of my crazy quarterly obsessions. I never know what will be next. I lose interest in things after about 3 months and pick up a whole new hobby. Keeps things exciting around here. Stay tuned in for my Body For Life results which I will post someday...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gray sweatshirt

We had the most wonderful Honeymoon. It was a three week road trip up the east coast from Florida to Maine and back. We stayed in every state along the way accept Vermont where we only ate lunch and enjoyed the greenness.

We drove our green Pathfinder loaded up with camping gear and suitcases, but we left plenty of room for what we might find as we scavenged the coast for treasures. In the end we did come home with a bench made from reclaimed wood and old theatre seats, a handful of skeleton keys which I had to have b/c they were old and elegant, 3 maple syrup catching tins from an antique barn in rural Maine, chocolate covered cranberries from a haunted Bed and Breakfast we stayed in for a few days, a corner cupboard (that doesn't actually fit in a corner b/c it has a strange angle) from an art/funky furniture store in Asheville, NC., and many more random things, but one of my best memories is conjured up each time I wear my touristy gray sweatshirt that says: "Nantucket" across the front.

Have you ever had a time where it was so ridiculously comfortable in that moment that the only thing messing up the moment was that you knew it couldn't last and that realization made it kind of painful? Nantucket was like that for me. It was like a time warp. Perfect weather in July, beach, town, art, great food. Wonderful. Christo and I rented bikes (which is hell on a cobblestone road) and we went into the town for ice cream. We sat on a bench and I just laughed at how everything was so wonderful right then. I could eat strawberry ice cream on a warm and sunny day, on a bench , in Nantucket , with the love of my life, every single day for the rest of my life and that to me would be Heaven.

The comfort of the moment did pass and we have not been able to get back there again, but I am painting this piece of my heart now. My canvas is sketched and needs paint and other junk on it, but it will get done and hang over that bench from Maine one day, right next to the wall with the key ring hanger, where the skeleton keys will be, and I will have my little honeymoon shrine and we will sit on that bench and eat ice cream from Publix and it won't feel the same, but it will still be sweet because what made Nantucket and that day so wonderful wasn't any of that was him.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wally Lamb

I have never really given a book review on here, but I must do it now. Over the last year I read 2 of the most fabulous, real, raw, true, funny, honest, strange and beautiful books. Wally Lamb somehow captures both genders in amazing and painfully honest ways. The first book I read is She's Come Undone, about an obese girl coming of age and growing through adulthood with a multitude of problems and interesting circumstances, and unlike current trends in comtemporary fiction, the ending is comfortable and happy, not post-modern and strange. Loved It! The next is probably the best book I have ever read- I mean ever...including everything I read in college pusuing a literature degree. It is called I Know This Much Is True. This book is about twin brothers, one has a mental illness, and the other is "normal" which means nothing as you will see in the book. It is a beautiful weaving of 4 generations from Italy to America and the strange truths and lies that grow us into who we are. His new book The Hour I First Believed, came out in November and I have just started it and already I find myself relating to each character and experiencing the master painter at work. Lamb paints people with words. Wonderful and inspiring fiction- check it out!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Inspiration /wooden spoons /Motherhood

I took a break from blogging for awhile because if there is one thing that I am, it is inconsistent. I am constantly switching my passions- that is why I began to blog in the first place. I wanted to have a space to relay my dreams and desires with others and give myself a platform to write about my ideas. So since my last post in late October I have begun writing a book, making jewelry, painted some canvases, taken a fabulous trip with my kids and husband and started a hunt for the perfect vanagon. Yes- I am a little busy. Today is my first day back at home since the trip to Virginia with dear friends and I have washed the curtains, started post-vacation laundry, done quite a bit of Christmas decorating, made roll out Christmas cookies with the kids and iced them, did a decoupage project with 3 of the 4 kids, and it is only 2:30- at this rate maybe I will actually complete a project for myself.

I am mostly not very excited about domestic tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and child rearing. I prefer to work alone painting, writing, day dreaming etc...but hey, God gave me 4 children and a desire to homeschool that currently outweighs the desire to put them in school, so here I am fighting against the clock and trying desperately to carve out time to do what I want to do instead of what I HAVE to do. It is a losing battle. I love my kids and love to have them home with me, but I do get frustrated with the constant messes and the endless wants and needs and whining. I love Teddy Roosevelt's quote: "speak softly and carry a big stick" but I find myself often yelling loudly and carrying a big wooden spoon. Just being honest here...

I do most of my day dreaming at night now when I can hear myself think. I dream of spotless houses with large organized art studios and shiny new supplies for creating incredible works of art. But then I consider that my inspiration will have had to have flown the coop if those dreams were a reality. No children could live at this dream house and thus my art would be somewhat less fulfilling to me. Empty. And who knows if I could hope to be more inspired when I could day dream during the day- perhaps the silence would then be deafening and I could no longer hear the pure ring of inspiration in my ears.

So for now I must steal away to an art room with a few laundry baskets filled with folded size 4 star wars underpants, a rubber ducky that somehow made it from the tub and onto my sewing machine, a board book with tiny baby teeth marks where love for a story has made them want to literally consume it, and pages of journals of fabulous ideas just wait for the day to be created...

Someday when I actually hear myself think, I can start working on these things, but for now I will embrace the inspiration, all four of them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trees and Textiles

photo by charlybarley
Sometimes I am surprised by the metaphors that pop into my head. Typically they are general such as: My husband"s eyes are as blue as the ocean/sky etc... Rather boring actually. But every once in awhile, My eyes clamp down on something and an entirely different image springs to mind. Once that happens, I cannot let it go.

Last summer, we did a crazy thing and took our 4 little kids (4,3,2, and 5 months) on a 3 week road trip to Colorado and a list of other exciting places. We covered 7 National Parks. We camped out. We stayed at a bed and breakfast that allowed no kids. Sage slept in the suitcase. We stayed at an almost dilapidated dude ranch. We saw a fair amount of wildlife, made snowballs, hiked, rode horses, lost stuff, found stuff etc. Perfect family adventure. My greatest discovery, besides a fabulous necklace made of petrified wood and gathered by Native American women in New Mexico, was my sighting of my very first Aspen Trees!

To say they are beautiful is an understatement. When they stand there, so long and thin, they are delicate and yet so strong. I fell in love with them at once. Every time a mountainside was covered in Aspen trees, I would take a deep breath and stare until they were beyond my line of vision. The fast car that we drove and the bundle of kids that we have, kept me in check or else we may have stopped for too long at the lookout points.

My favorite thing about the Aspens are the leaves, although the trunks do resemble slender silver strands that glisten in the cool mountain air. The leaves are somewhat circular and soft green. They are very light weight and each lets the others have its own space. They did not have to fight for a place on the branches. They all turn the same direction and slightly droop. When a great wind comes, they do not fall off the tree, but rather, they dance in unison and sway together very gently. If you listen closely, you can hear the music that the swishing leaves make for the rest of the mountain. There is something seductive about these dainty trees.

And now the word picture that I embraced and cannot forget. As we came upon those trees for the first time, I felt like I had arrived uninvited at some kind of celebration of foliage. Textiles immediately littered my mind. I thought about those evening gowns that are made up of shiny slick circles that are held together with a mesh under layer. When the long and lean lady moves, the circles swish and sway with her. They do not compete with one another, each has been carefully stitched to that under layer and will be seen. So here I am at the forest foliage extravaganza and I am dressed in jeans. So I stayed in the car of course. I did not feel like I had the right to approach the frail but intimidating ladies.

I know it is both strange to feel unworthy next to a tree, and also to compare leaves to evening gowns, but I sew and I am just a regular girl after all. So there it is.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Memories of my Earth Mama

One of my earliest memories of my Mother is also one of my favorite memories. She has always been the kind of girl that stops to smell the flowers, literally. She loves to garden and look at birds and squirrels and turtles, knowing each by their proper classification name. I never really took to her intense love of the animal and plant kingdom, but have always cherished this in my Mother.

Some may think that traveling around town with two little girls and a large pair of garden shears in the backseat, could be a dangerous situation. Not my mom. If we were to squeal, "look mom- all those beautiful wildflowers!" the car would come to a halt on the side of a road and she would be out in the field, armed with her shears, gathering a bouquet for our table. My sister and I would watch cautiously from the station wagon windows, hoping simultaneously that she would not get hit by a car, and that she had clipped enough. When she returned to the car, she would take a napkin dipped in water and wrap the cut stems up in them and put the flowers in a plastic bag to keep them fresh and hydrated. We thought she was amazing.

She loved this pair of cut off jeans that were rather holey. They were very short, but due to her Arabic heritage, she has a great year round tan and trim legs so they looked great on her. She always lent a helping hand to those who needed her most and this was one of those days. I remember the car screeching to a stop and the next thing I knew, she was out in the road, in her tiny shorts, carrying a massive turtle out of harms way. Nose pressed to the glass, I looked at her as if she were a heroine. My mom, friend of turtles.

More recently, Christo and I brought home a plant from a sale at someones farm. On our way home, we heard squeaking sounds coming from the car. Were we going to break down? Were the kids choking? We moved the plant around in the backseat and the squeaks ceased. It was definitely the plant. When we got home, I was thoroughly afraid of what was lurking under the green leaves. Could it be a mouse? Was it a snake? Do snakes squeak?

I was frantic and Christo began to try to jimmy the plant out of the pot. As he worked on it, it became evident that it was a bird's nest and there were several baby birds inside. The pot broke because we felt compelled to save the birds and not the plant. So what do we do now? I was not ready to be a mom to baby birds. I did not need a case of "Are You My Mother?" with 3 little humans to care for as well. So I call mom. She rushes over, gives them the appropriate mixture of sugar water in a dropper she brought from home. Then she established the kind of birds that they were. She created a makeshift habitat with the right kind of newsprint and remnants from the destroyed nest. Once again I stared with awe. She is my Mom, Saviour of baby birds. She took them to the bird rescue: Mission Accomplished!

It turns out my Mother is not only looking out for me- She is a true Earth Mother for all.