Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Homefront” Category

What summer looks like around here

Posted on July 20, 2014

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Lots of shirtless boys. Reading fiction. Sipping tea in the morning, still in bed and writing notes for my new book, still a shamble in my head. The arrival of the nanny who’s made our summer mornings so much easier. Paper-mache on remnants on the back porch. Picnics on the front steps in the breeze. Time bookended between the beginning and the ending of each work day. Compression + expansion. Deep focus and then a slow unwind as the golden evening light finds us.

How has your summer been, friends? What are some highlights? Some things you’re doing to revel in these golden days?

To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing

Posted on June 3, 2014

“It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing…. A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time of being alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.”
— Tom Stoppard (from Arcadia)

It’s taken me a while to write because every street, every ritual, every instance of who I am, and who we are as a family has been made new with this move. We arrived one month ago, chasing the sun across this wide country, and settled gradually into a wee bungalow with an arched doorway that’s just up the street from the original Stumptown .

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First impressions:

There are flowers everywhere. Bamboo grows like a weed, but I like it so. Whenever I go running, I find new paths and neighborhoods past enormous, ancient trees, bigger than any I’ve ever seen except for the Sequoias growing up. I run uphill, up an old volcano cone until I have a view of the city from above. On one side, Mount Hood lifts above the blue like a dream. On the other, bridges, so many of them, and a skyline I’m falling in love with.

It’s taken days, many of them, for my internal sense of direction to kick in strongly. I’ve oriented now, and there are more days than not (finally) that I can find my way around without help from my iPhone. Thankfully, someone thought to plan most of the city in a grid, with numbered streets running one way and named streets the other.

Our little home is the littlest yet, but I love it harder every day. The angled archway going into the breakfast nook. The gorgeous morning light in the bedroom, and the evening light that floods the living room when we come home. Upstairs, the boys have the “master bedroom”: a long rectangular room that was once the attic, refinished with lovely cabinets for all their things, and plenty of space to play. It’s made so much sense for them to be up there, where they can sprawl out and leave legos and shells and dress-up things about. And in turn, our bedroom downstairs is dreamy. I’ve always wanted a room just like this–with windows across two walls, and white floaty curtains that lift and flutter in the breeze.

In the backyard the boys spend a great deal of time in the hammock strung between a plum tree and apple tree. They tilt each other out and scream; they have tickle fights; they drag up quilts and snacks; the read books; they argue. They’ve both adjusted to their new school and routine with grace and resilience, but there are still there moments when so much change adds up. When things feel scary and big to them. When they fall apart. When they ball their fists. When they cry.

Bean, especially is growing into himself in new ways, and new moods and wonderments overtake him. Sometimes he is the sweetest, and other times morose. His long legs, coltish as ever, his eyes flashing with a new defiant light. Sprout, full of eagerness, tender-hearted, hot-headed. Last night, when things didn’t go his way, he stomped his feet and wailed, “I wish the world hadn’t been made this way at all.” Oh, to be small.

We live near the ocean now. Near food trucks and book stores and swanky restaurants and cafes. My creative mind is drinking it up, like someone thirsty after a long drought. How I love to be at the edges of things watching; or at the center, unnoticed, curious, smitten with beauty. I love the thousand faces I pass every day. The bikes, the blooming roses, the bumble bees, the baristas. I love the jumping rope that happens every morning, rain or shine outdoors at the boy’s school. I love the tiny studio T built for me, with just enough space for creating, floors made for spilling paint, and walls for thumb tacks.


And… I am still finding the tempo of life here. When writing happens; when work does; and also running, and painting, and kissing and friends and dinner too. One of the things I’ve missed the most, that this blog has always been for me, is a daily record. A few moments pause. A handful of moments of intentional observation. Sometimes the most effective way of reclaiming creative habits is to start with exactly where you are, and with the smallest actions, which build to their own momentum and greatness in time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what that might look like, and I’ve settled on this simple routine for June: 5 photos + 5 minutes.
5 photos documenting moments throughout the day, and a 5 minute writing exercise: simply recording the immediate, the present, the now.

I’d love for you to join, if you’d like! (I’ll be posting more about this little challenge. Keep an eye out.)

A Year In Pictures

Posted on December 13, 2013

A look back at what 2013 looked like for me in pictures.

I’m so glad Elizabeth inspired me to take time for this reflection. Looking back for a few iconic photos from each month made me remember so many forgotten moments; so many bright glimmers and funny circumstances and laughter and adventures.


JANUARY

January_Boys

January_Self January_Cold
FEBRUARY

February_Sweet

February_Sprout_4thBirthday February_Bean_8thBirthday
MARCH

March_Studio

March_Selfi March_Sprout_SnowyGate March_Boys_NYC March_NYC skyline March_NYC
APRIL

April_fields

IMG_6707 April_Bean April_Sprout April_Bean_MakingWaffles April_Selfie
MAY

May_WalkOnTheRoad

May_Him May_RipplesInPond

May_Sprout_Field=

May_99U May_Selfie
JUNE

June_GoodbyeHouse
June_SummerSalad

June_Bean June_Sprout June_selfie
JULY

July_Fourth

July_Family July_FloodedRoad July_floodedField July_Barn July_ShelburneMuseum July_ShelburneMuseum July_backyardPool July_Camping_StoningtonME IMG_9788 July_Stonington_Maine July_StoningtonME July_Family July_selfie July_Maine
AUGUST I

August_EndOfAnEra

August_selfie August_Upperfield August_LostTooth_bean August_Sprout_cat August_makeIncredibleThings August_Fair August_Clover August_Sprout August_Bean August_TheFinalView August_TheGoodbye
AUGUST II

Agusut_HelloRoses

August_IceCreamTruck August_Sprout_IceCream August_NeighborhoodWalks August_BeanIsAReader August_NewHome August_Bookshelves August_FreshPaint 2013-08-30 11.32.16-2 Bean_FirstDayOf3rdGrade August_FirstDayOfPreK
SEPTEMBER

August_Sunset

SeptemberSun September_house September_Bean_GlassBlowing_AOGlass September_Trust September_applePicking September_Selfie September_GracePotter September_NYC September_ThisIsLove September_Waiting September_Relief September_Skyline September_us September_BeanAndFaithfulAligator 2013-09-13 10.31.58-1
OCTOBER I

September_Flight

September_Us September_JamaicaView September_JamaicaWater September_Jamaica September_Selfie September_Him September_JamaicaInn September_Jamaica
OCTOBER II

October_leaves

October_Foliage October_PumpkinPicking 2013-10-24 18.20.02-1 OctoberMantle October_SelfieWithNephew 2013-10-20 00.34.34 2013-10-30 20.15.33-1 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
NOVEMBER

November_Sky

November_Boys November_Fire November_mantel November_Thanksgiving November_Luminaries November_Bean
DECEMBER

December_BanditCat

December_Sweet December_Us December_Him December_Selfie

Upon Arrival: A Slow Arrival

Posted on September 9, 2013

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It takes me longer than I anticipate to arrive. For the first two weeks, I have move-related amnesia. I can’t find anything, even my body in space. One night, I believe I’ve broken my elbow after a coffee table falls on it. I fold in against myself like origami and cry. I have no idea about anything. If it’s broken, or if it isn’t, and so I spend hours in ER with T at my side while a dear friend sits on my couch in my unpacked house. Outside it pours. We get the verdict that it’s just badly bruised, and I come home dejected, exhausted, embarrassed. My friend acts like it’s completely no problem. He’s good like that, even though the cat threw up in our absence. I owe him for certain.

A week later I slit my wrist trying to catch a falling glass picture frame. The cut makes a perfect red line. Gapes just enough to make me quaver. It happens ten minutes before we need to leave to bring Sprout to his first day of school, and so I apply pressure and wrap my wrist in a dozen bandaids and just go, carrying it vertically, like a fragile totem. I kiss his rosy cheeks, watch his hesitation and the decision to follow after his teacher to feed the chickens, and then I go. I call my doctor, then head to urgent care. Hours later I have three stitches. After the first day I wear the zebra bandaids Sprout offers me. I try to slow down.

Still, I walk into door frames. Trip over shoes in the entryway. Everything is a perpetual, “Where did you put the…?” conversation. Everything displaced, misplaced. There are socks along with mail. A hammer in the silverware drawer. We take two trips to Ikea, the first to get bunkbeds that aren’t in stock, the second too, to get the beds. We come back with other things, naturally. Lights we want to return the minute we’ve brought them in the door. A cabinet to house the audio equipment that in the last house had been wired into in-wall speakers. We drive up and back passing miles of genetically modified corn that rustles with perfect stalks in flat fields as the sun arcs across the sky. We become impatient experts at assembling flat pack furniture.


And then we’re here. Here in the best little neighborhood that is so close to everything. One night we go to the lake after dinner for ice cream cones, and are back in time for bed. Other nights we walk Clover, the boys riding out ahead on their bikes, making a game of stopping (and sometimes not stopping) where I tell them to. The sun slants long and golden and low across the pavement, and makes our cheeks light up.

Somehow we make it through T’s birthday (my love, my hero, my co pilot) and the first week of school, and finally the house feels functional. Every room has it’s utility and gradual grace. Many still need paint or pictures or hooks or nooks to be created. But it’s close now, and we all feel like we’re here now instead of in limbo with our minds tracking back to the familiar habit of the floor plan we left behind.

Also, out of nowhere, amidst all the turbulence of moving, the title for my next book arrives like a gift. Like a thin silver lasso cast out among a stampede of thoughts that occur as I do other mindless tasks (turns out building flat pack furniture is good for something). And it makes me giddy to have it now, this whisper, this inkling of what the book will be, tucked into the pocket of my heart even as I celebrate the 1-year anniversary of my first book. Whoosh. There went the year.

Now we eat on the back picnic table in the last light of evening. We light candles after dark. Apples are sweetening in the orchards and the air is crisp. And slowly, slowly I am arriving. Here. In this new life.


Now, upon arrival, as I begin new rituals, blocking time into my calendar for new projects, and mapping new runs,I find myself circling back to the things that ground me: poetry, morning pages, baking bread, making soup.

I’m curious:

What grounds you as you move towards this new season? What makes home home to you?

Glimpses: The making a new *home*

Posted on August 22, 2013

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There are many words that will come, but for now, here are a few glimpses as we unpack boxes and think about the way our habits and lives will shift here.

The tree fogs sing loudly here at night, and it is quiet, save for the occasional cars. In the morning the sounds of traffic rise with the sun. During the day there are parrots somewhere in the neighborhood. They remind me of my childhood: where my neighbors had parrots of all kinds up on the hill above our house. I love their exotic calling during the day.

There are trees here, wider than my arms can hold, and a creek where Bean already caught a crawfish longer than my palm. He’s fearless and slight of hand, that boy of mine. Both of them, such natives in nature. Sure footed and confident in the woods where they go now to explore.

They’ve also got a shed attached to the house off the back deck that they call their ‘clubhouse.’ It’s the perfect home for their workbench–stocked with hammers and nails and small saws and bits of wood, and for all of Bean’s “inventions” and collections: snake skins, pebbles, circuit boards, locks.

The house is small. Humbly small. It’s good for us, and it requires an adjustment (we have a lot of stuff it seems!) We’ll likely be storing some things, to keep the space open and easy. There is good light in the living room though, with windows perfect for basking beside, especially come winter when the sun is scarce.

We brought the boys back to the old house to say goodbye, but all they really wanted was to be here, playing with their bikes on the sidewalk and then running to the ice cream truck when it came by–such a novelty still, for these country boys of mine.


More glimpses to come. We’re still knee-deep in boxes… and I’ve got some health issues going on that are slowing me down (a positive Lyme test being one of them. Ugh.)

Toward the closeness of friends { Just One Paragraph 24/30 }

Posted on August 18, 2013

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We pack all day, and then a few dear friends come, bearing dessert to sit around the bonfire with wine while the kids run wild in the woods. The moon climbs up over the peak of the roof against a violet sky. Then the crickets come, and the katydids, thrumming. Woodsmoke, laughter. A good final fire to mark the end of hundreds, all of us gathered on the uneven ground on dinner table chairs, dodging the wood spoke. After a while the kids light sparklers and twirl across the lawn, and when everyone there is only contentment. To be here, and to be moving toward the closeness of friends.

Nearly beginning {More than Just One Paragraph 24/30}

Posted on August 17, 2013

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There is mist when we wake up. We lie in bed, close, breathing, watching the soft world through the wooden slats of the blinds. Three days left.

I think about the ways we cannot know. The ways before and after are utterly discrete, the barrier between them absolute. It was the same, waiting for the arrival of my sons. Or waking up the day after college. Or the moment after I said “Yes.” It is always this way.

We move with measured intention or whirling chaos towards the unknown, and then we are there at the brink. We can’t know, and yet we leap. Wings made of faith, of certainty, of calculable odds, of foolishness, of hope, of daring.

I walk out into the meadow with bare feet, just to feel the dew. To pay homage to the way the grass has always been there, lush, tangled, season after season to harbor field mice and Queen Anne’s lace and milkweed and monarchs. I go, because for so long this field has claimed me, and claims me still. Not just this field really, but all fields. The wild, my home.

We’ll see where new begins; what shape beginning makes.


Beginning

The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
Now.
There they are, the moon’s young, trying
Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
Or move.
I listen.
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.

BY JAMES WRIGHT

The day as it was {More than Just One Paragraph 23/30}

Posted on August 16, 2013

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I didn’t write last night because I came home and completely crashed: chills, swollen glands, headache. T wondered, “What about Lyme?” and so today I went and got blood drawn. I have nearly all the symptoms. But who knows? It could be anything, everything, my body on a collision course with the reality of moving, which we are in just four short days.

Bean came into bed this morning, his hair a shock of alarming curls, his grin sleepy and sweet. “How are you feeling, Mama?” he asked, spooning perfectly into my arms. And then he lay with me and we dozed and talked about things and imagined what the future will hold. He seemed to get it, my little aquarian kindred. That this is big, what we’re about to do. “It’s our last weekend here,” he said softly, nestling in.

Then came Sprout who has the heartiest of laughs. His dimples cause an uproar of delight in my heart. He bounces instead of snuggles. His sturdy little body burrowing for a second before he springs back up, and kisses my cheeks and nose and forehead and then dives off the bed to go play with matchbox cars.

photo 2 (8) boy and dog

T leaves for work. It’s my day with the boys. Bean and I linger in bed, imagining where we’ll explore downtown, what colors we’ll paint their room, how we’ll have friends nearby. Then, slowly we get up and while I’m untangling my hair and finding jeans he goes downstairs in underpants and a sweatshirt and starts making french toast. He’s got the first round frying by the time I head downstairs, and is perched on the stool by the espresso machine, teaching Sprout the steps. He pulls a perfect shot. “Iced or hot, Mama?” he asks.

We eat mounds of french toast and it’s perfect: eggy, with just a hint of vanilla and cream. Then, after unloading and loading the dishwasher and packing all the cookbooks that seem to have mounded themselves on the kitchen table, we head to the car with a lab slip for blood work.

Sprout watches the practitioner closely as she cinches my arm and draws blood. Unlike Bean who wants to know how everything works, Sprout wants to know if I’m okay. If it hurts. If I flinch. (I don’t, just for him.)

They took such good care of me all day.