The Shenandoah

Today was a perfect fall day of a kind I would like to have 10,000 more of.  Goobs and I went to Riverside Park near Great Falls National Park and played all morning in the woods and the visitor center.  Later he took a three hour nap.  Three hours!  Unfortunately the Wiz was out of commission- at home sleeping all morning to get over a bug.  We came home early from the Shenandoah yesterday because he was feverish.  Poor guy.  So much for our camping trip.  We did enjoy a fall festival in Front Royal though.  I’m still a little depressed.  Not sure why.  Lonely and homesick I guess.



We’re here.  In Reston, VA.  In our 1980’s condo near Lake Audubon.  There are lots of trails around.  I love the trees and the squirrels and birds and fungi.  I love that we sometimes go on family bike rides before dinner.  I love some things about our house like the sunroom off the kitchen (especially in the rain).  I love my job and my colleagues too.  Orientation was thrilling.  I felt grateful everyday to be here.  Starting in my office at USGS on the other hand was at first slow and disorienting.  Overall, there have been some crazy highs wherein I’m intoxicated by it all and also some deep lows.

Tonight is a low.  Henry didn’t want me to put him to bed.  Didn’t want me to read to him, to help him at dinner or to hug him.  Wiz was tired and fell asleep with him although we had a plan to hang out after Gooby was asleep.  Instead I spent a long time cleaning.  Wanting the place to feel homey.  But it doesn’t.  I feel lonely and ineffective.  All day I worried about Goobie’s school.  He had a bad week there.  Didn’t sleep well last night because he seemed anxious about going.  He said he hit Max today.  I don’t want him to have bad associations with “school”.  I don’t like the “juice” that they serve which looked a lot like kool aid to me.  I want to be this phenomenal person with a productive routine that includes healthy homemade meals and exercise plus quality time laughing and exploring with my boy and my husband, romance, reading, self-care, breathing, prayer, eco-friendly habits, correspondance, maintaining a blog and other creative endeavors.  I want to have a cozy, quirky, organized home.  I want to take fantastic local trips on the weekends with my family.  I want to spend time with the new friends we’ve made out here, hosting diner parties and waffle brunches and pumpkin carving and apple picking.  I want to pull off something amazing at work that will help protect ecosystems forever.  I hate feeling like there are opportunities everywhere.  All the ingredients.  And yet so much time wasted.  Drawn out FB breaks that leave me sick.  Hurried mornings.  Forgetting to pack a lunch.  Food going bad at home while I’m buying cafeteria meals.  A month going by without this house feeling like a home.  My husband working hard and languishing unsupported.  My boy stressed out about school.

We met another couple here.  They have a small sweet house from the 20s decked out with thrift store finds, books, art, lamps, rugs, cozy slip-covered chairs.  A four-year-old, a two-year-old and another on the way.  She’s younger than me I’m sure.  Probably by at least 5 years.  Even as I’m thrilled to be here as a fellow, I also envy her and question my own decisions.  Wouldn’t it be better in the long run to let your husband have the cool career so that you could have lots of kids and cook and keep and make a cozy home?  Oh sigh.  I want to tell my former self:  “Don’t think for a minute that this won’t be hard.  And don’t think that it will be hard in any way that is familiar or expected.  Don’t think that you will know how you feel, what you want, what the important things are.  Even if it’s never crossed your mind for a minute that those things could be ambiguous.”

Funny to read entries from the spring when this was all hypothetical and I was looking forward to a summer with the boy.  I’m sad that that summer with the boy is gone forever.  I’m sad that orientation is over too.  And I’m grateful for both.


Way back in 1999 or so I served a brief stint as an overpaid SAT tutor.  It was interesting insofar as it gained me entry into some VERY fancy houses.  One day driving around on Mercer Island I came across an Aucuba put out on the street.  It was the first Aucuba I’d ever noticed.  I brought it home and stuck it along the North property line under our big conifer.  It didn’t produce berries so I assumed it was male and bought a female to keep it company for $3.33 at Thriftway.  Now the original is dead and the small female is huge and was getting sunburned because we had the laurel above her cut back last summer.  So today I pruned her and moved her to a spot along the Northern property line.  I think she’ll be much happier in the shade and the space she’d outgrown is already looking much improved although I haven’t cleaned up the cuttings yet.  Two side branches had set roots of their own so I divided them off and also planted them along the Northern property line.  If they all survive and fill in they’ll provide a nice screen from the neighbors.

Lots has happened.  D.C. was scary.  It’s nice to be home.  I accepted a position with USGS.  Things are good.

Minimal gardening

A bee stung my finger today.  It was hiding in a clump of weeds and grass that I tried to pull out of the front yard during a bout of half-ass impromptu gardening.  We went to another doctor today.  She confirmed that Goobs has just a cold and wrote us a prescription for something to numb his ears on the plane.  I made 20 copies of my resume, picked up my suit, bought some white tank tops and packets of baby food.  I guess we’re going.  And the government’s not shut down.  Rats!  Tomorrow: hair and nails.  I should have been wearing gloves today.

Sick baby

I’m going a little crazy with a sick baby at home.  Snot, other messes, cheek rash, fun plans cancelled, nutritious foods spurned,  lots of crying.  Just take one look at him and there’s no question he has a bad mom.  I’m really worried about our trip to DC on Sunday.  In fact, I’m sort of mess about this whole DC thing and praying the government shuts down.  It that wrong?  Would there be disastrous consequences?  The way I see it it would be a win for Obama, a blow for the Republicans and I could relax, tend to my baby and scope out D.C. at my leisure to try to strategize our move.

I read more about Placement Week last night and found myself dizzy with anxiety over lots of things including the specific instructions to bring a suit or a jacket with pants or skirt.  “Crap!”  I thought.  “I don’t have a suit.  Or a jacket.”  and then I remembered an olive green suit that I picked up at Goodwill about a year ago for $25.  The pants fit me well and I wore them with a blouse to my interview for the USFWS spotted owl job.  The jacket was a little too boxy.  In my memory it smacked a little of polyester, but when I dug it out of the closet I was pleasantly surprised.  It’s a prettier green than I remembered, definitely wool and seemingly well-made.  I looked up the brand online, determined it’s from Nordstoms, consulted my style guide and decided it was worth trying to arrange a rush alteration.

I found a really great old world tailor on Consumer’s Checkbook and plopped poor Goobs on the floor in his little chair with a handful of raisins while I was fitted.  Tomorrow when I pick up the suit I’ll try to sneak a photo of the place which is fantastic.

P.S.  Do you like my green California shirt?  It was in one of my bags o’ crap from the Goodwill Outlet store.

White shirts

Fell off the wagon with blogging the last few days.  Weekend trip to Portland to visit with my parents.  Goobs got sick again and has been needy- wanting to be carried constantly even while napping.  I did wear him over to the mall today.  It’s a short walk but I generally avoid it.  I had a dress that I’d gotten for $5 at Goodwill with the Macy’s tags still on and a “no receipt return” barcode.  I figured that trying to return it was worth a shot, particularly since I decided I’d need two new white shirts to get me through Placement Week.  It worked!  Goodbye size twelve bamboo print dress.  Hello $96 store credit.  Total scam.  I don’t feel bad about it though.  Someone bought that dress.  They never wore it and had the right to return it.  A right they donated to Goodwill and I bought for $5.  So instead of supporting sweat shops and the rest of it when I bought my two new shirts, I was supported jobs for the handicapped and a philosophy of reusing.  Right?  Scams are fun though.  The only problem is I’m not quite sure I love the shirts.  They don’t fit quite perfectly and I’ve been thinking lately that I should only invest in well-made, well-planned things that I will have for years and love.  I picked up this cheesy style book at the thrift store and am worried my shirts don’t fit all these criteria.  I’m thinking of exchanging the less tailored one for new underwear and investing in one of these instead.  They are made in the U.S.A.  What do you think?

I do spend less time thinking about this stuff than is implied by the fact that I’m posting about it here but the whole dressing well thing is new and elusive to me.

radio flyer tricycle

Goobs got a tricycle!  I found it on Craigslist and met a tall, classy woman at the Queen Anne Safeway at the top to pick it up.  It’s shiny and red and perfect in every way except that I wish it had streamers.  I may have to buy those separate.  No rush though.  Just so we have them for the forth of July parade in Gearhart.

Yesterday I neglected to mention my inspiration for the hippy quilt.  My blog de jour.  Stay at home mommies get all my attention these days.  Just an observation.  Last night I had trouble falling asleep hearing Henry’s voice saying the names of his friends: Neko, Mia, Alasdair, Nam, Nona.  I HATE the idea of uprooting him.  Once when we leave and then again to come back.  Meanwhile the Wiz is happy at work, and I am very happy as a stay at home mom.  Plus I would love to have another.


I need some guidance.  Do you hear that higher power?  I humbly beseech your guidance.

Oh, BTW, Sam and I were on the radio.  Only listen if you are struggling with insomnia.  And then feel free to laugh- particularly at my first contribution which was a nervous, confused noise of agreement elicited when Sam asked me to confirm some small fact at a point where I was not listening to a word he said (worried about Tina actually who I heard trying to sooth a crying Goobs just up from his nap in the other room).  Also at the trippy sound effects that enhance my last goodbye.  I’ve always wanted to be interviewed on NPR.