August 19, 2014

Because When it Rains, it Pours.

Yesterday over dinner David was telling me how he shared with a colleague earlier in the day that he feels like we are in a "book of Job season" with the house –– a season of near constant trial and testing. Friends, it is already past the middle of August and we have had so many other projects unexpectedly pop up demanding our attention, that we haven't set a paintbrush to the exterior of our house since May. To sum it up, it's been absolutely insane. Times a million.

We got the Craunlets off to bed last night, later than we had hoped as we are practicing for our earlier school schedule that we need to start for real on Thursday. So, it's after nine pm and we are tidying up the house. We had a playdate scheduled for this morning, so we decided to get a few things downstairs.

Dave carried a stack of canning jars, in their cardboard trays, down to store them on top of our deep freezer. There were already a few independent jars setting there, so we thought we would consolidate.

And friends, the very next thing that I heard after his footsteps down the stairs was a quick clamoring sound, a loud out-of-character exclamation of shock/frustration, and then what I can only equate to as Niagara Falls. 

One empty ball jar fell over the edge of the deep freezer.

Landing directly on the valve of the hot water heater.

AND I KID YOU NOT –– THAT DAMN JAR DID NOT BREAK. Instead, the valve busted straight off the hot water heater.

Let that soak in for a second. 

Because it did, and that fast. 

The gushing torrent of water sent that Ball jar half way across the room and began flooding the basement while we watched in absolute shock and horror.

And then my amazing husband, who works harder than any one person I know on this planet, turned off the water. He gathered his wits for a few moments upstairs, and then that man spent the better part of his sleep hours drying out the basement and all of its belongings, to next research hot water heater valve replacement.

Then –– after almost no sleep –– he woke up with the sun to be Home Depot's very first customer this morning to buy the replacement parts we needed. He had the entire job done, and the hot water heater back in commission and heating up by the time he left for work shortly after eight am. After he made me espresso. Because he is a Saint.

Look at that beauty:

I'm guessing the next jar that falls will shatter.

365 Days, Week XXX.

A mix of things filled this week, as we slowly inch towards our August vacation, all of us feeling the urgency of needing a break. We planted miniature gardens, and have crossed all of our fingers that we will be able to keep them alive. I fell head-over-heels for the tiny pair of garden flamingos, and absolutely love their punchy bright pop against the lush green. It's the little things.

I carved out more space this week for printing, and spent several afternoons in my home studio polishing a copper plate. The rhythm of restoration is such a lulling one. Several great proofs were pulled in the studio, and I am looking forward to my increased press time in the next few weeks after the Craunlets return to school.

We crafted, caught up on all sorts of indoor household projects, and then wrapped up the week at our friends pool. The Craunlets drove around in a miniature electronic car, and it was fabulous to sit in the sun and catch up with my deer friend. 

Week thirty of 2014 felt like a sweet glimpse of the season ahead, more time for art and friends, and also the solo time that I am so desperately craving again:


Bright and cheeky supplies for a new mini terrarium.


Spent the afternoon polishing a clipper plate, preparing the surface for printing again, and enjoying a studio reflection. 


How Nathaniel spent his rest time; kid loves those peeler melting beads.


Made a mound of fire starters, nice to have a lengthly mindless task today, and the smell of hot wax...


These two. I adore their closeness, and their sweet friendship. I pray they are always good friends. 


Celebrated with friends today, and their sweet two babes with August birthdays. So sweet.


Finally getting to the USA map on the resurfaced chalkboard. Inching along.

August 18, 2014


Yesterday afternoon, on the heels of a fabulous weekend getaway to Pittsburgh, we ventured a couple more hours in the vehicle to drop in on our Awesome Aunt Jan. She's been in the care of hospice since Tuesday, and there was a certain "now's the moment" urgency in both Dave and my spirits. So we picked up the Craunlets from the Grandparents, and were shortly on our way. En route, we dashed quickly into Trader Joe's to grab some fresh flowers. Four bouquets later–every shade of purple available–I was crafting a wildly full floral arrangement into a large glass vase while Dave continued to drive. It's crazy amounts exhilarating to carve out time, and more so even to lavish on the love to our Awesome Aunt Jan.

She's awesome for lots of reasons, but her title was come upon originally by Nathaniel, after we were explaining that she is his Great-Great-Aunt, as she is Dave's Great-Aunt. It was a quick deduction, and he repeated his understanding by asking "so basically she is our Awesome Aunt Jan?" And well, YEAH. She is. 

I know awesome is greatly overused in daily lexicon, and it's lustre and full impact have really worn off for many. But Aunt Jan, she lives Awesome. It's in her DNA. It's in her wide smile, buoyant laugh, and her playful constant energy for life. It's in her listening eyes, and engaged story telling. It's in her always looking to the youngest of generations. At the matriarchal top of the family, she invests her fullest interest always at the newest growths in the family tree. She was endlessly attentive to what the Craunlets were up to, and still when we all four visit, she pays most of her conversation to them. To the future of the family. That's crazy awesome legacy; always sowing down. Dave can remember this same attention growing up...every cousin getting their turn in her limelight as they joined the family. The young always having her fullest attention.

We strolled into her room with our half-a-garden arrangement in the early evening, and she was drifting in sleep. We roused her just slightly with conversation as I held her hand. She barely lifted her eyelids for a moment, but she smiled that contagious smile of hers constant. I told her about the purple flowers at the foot of her bed, and through her smile–with completely closed eyes–she remarked confidently and full of dramatic inflection: "they're gorgeous!" I squeezed her hand, and agreed. They were gorgeous.

But more gorgeous is that life-forward and always-positive muscle memory of her thought-life and  words. Of course they were gorgeous. It was difficult not to cry. Her spirit is so beautiful and full, warm and welcoming. She spoke that they were gorgeous, and they were. She absolutely didn't need to see them. Her heart knew. That's how she lives. 

We conversed among the room with our Aunt and Uncle, and just let her rest in the lulling sound of our conversations. We shared chocolate covered pretzels that we brought and enjoyed an hour of just being near Awesome Aunt Jan. 

When we went to leave, I held her hand again, and we asked her if she had the energy to be awake for a little while, and to say goodbye to us. She opened her eyes, stared directly into mine and held conversation for several minutes through her obvious exhaustion. She saw the flowers, and remarked again: "they're gorgeous!" Her favorite color. She moved her gaze down to Isabella, wearing a purple shirt, and began conversing with her as well. Like she always does. 

We mentioned how we hoped we would get to show her Wii tennis, knowing how much she loved to play in read life, and I was floored by her sudden energy. There she was, swinging her tennis arm, dancing her feet around, and ready to play. 

Because the patterns of her life are so incredibly strong. So energetic and contagious. Her body, her language, her whole life speaks so loud. She is Awesome Aunt Jan, and she is gorgeous.

August 7, 2014

365 Days, Week XXIX.

This week was marked with playground accomplishments of bravery and boldness and some fabulous Craunlet teamwork. I made a delicious local food trade [scoring some impossibly out-of-season blanched and frozen ramps] and we enjoyed some impromptu shopping at the West Side Market. The spice shelf is at last finished and installed in the kitchen, and all of my spices are re-filled and organized. 

At the end of the week, we packed it up and adventured to Toledo to check out another Science Center [have I mentioned how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the reciprocity of our Great Lakes Science Center Membership??!!] and met up with family. We overnighted in a hotel, one of the Craunlets very favorite things to do, and enjoyed a swim in the indoor pool. Sunday, we ventured to the African Wildlife Safari and had a ridiculous amounts frightening + fun time all at once! 

Week twenty-nine of 2014 was full of food, play, and adventure:


Monday morning playground time. I love watching these two work together.


These are the Craunlets on Lego, building their dream homes.
New spice shelf, perfectly made for the space between the range and cupboards by my handy better half. 


Working into his 3rd grade math, Summer school style -- laid back and bare feet. 


A quick food trade in the morning; red currants, pineapple mint, several bags of blanched/frozen ramps and a kombucha mother. I LOVE our local food scene.


We came for leaf lettuce, and detoured to the cannoli stand for a little sweet treat.


All packed up and ready for a weekend getaway to Toledo with family.


The calm before the storm, wherein a bison fits his entire head through my window and fills the front seat area of the car.

Before our super up-close wildlife encounters that caused the backseat contingent to fall to tears and regroup.

Full disclosure, and photo credit: the two car shots above were taken by Tessa Gilfillan-Jones. I included them in the photo-a-day round up this week as the best visual representation of the day. I captured several shots, my favorites being these three from the quiet morning in the hotel, before the Wildlife Safari:

August 4, 2014

365 Days, Week XXVIII.

The sun shone all week, and we packed in the Summer fun. On Sunday we proposed a quick day trip to Pittsburgh with friends, and we took off on Tuesday morning. The girl contingent got their hairs done together at the end of the week, and enjoyed an afternoon without little brother. I got in a great day at the studio midweek where I pushed along a series of prints that I've been working on in the home studio. The farmer's market was teeming with Summer berries and excitement over Lebron's return to Cleveland.

It was a happy week, and one that was played hard outside. The best kind. Week twenty-eight of 2014:


A pretty wacky triangle of catch practice in the back yard.


Driving off to Pittsburgh for the day with friends on a whim was a fun idea. Summer should hold more of that.


Adding three double-digit numbers, with the help of his fingers; waiting room Wednesday's while big sister takes piano lessons.


Mountains and molehills prints in progress. Up on the wall in the home studio to consider next steps.


The girls got their hairs did, then blasted girls just wanna have fun on the stereo all the way home, because obviously.


King James pints at the market this morning, clever and delicious both.


And those pints quickly became a pie. Raspberry custard with crumb topping, the girl child's favorite.

An outtake from Sunday:

My two boys, making music together.

July 15, 2014

Our window to the world.

We have hugely tall windows in the front room of our house.  They are the almost floor-to-ceiling kind, and look out on our front gardens, beyond to our street, and adjacent to our driveway. The view is wide and far. 

This room functions as my studio, and has a beautifully drawing light that fills and bounces throughout the space during all of our awake hours. The Craunlets often join me in here when I am on task, or wrapping someting up. Two small-backed chairs stand in front of the window.

I've seen this view a hundred times or more:

I've watched them perched upon those chairs together watching the rubbish and recycle trucks roll by for their weekly collections. They've watched the road be repaired for broken water mains, gas leaks, and recently a fresh resurfacing. Any time we are expecting guests, I can count on finding them here, in ready position to spy out our expected visitors.

So imagine my delight, when my visiting niece captured this shot as she arrived with her husband for a family dinner. 

Photo credit: Jacki Folk.

So this is what the other side sees? These two completely slay me.

365 Days, Week XXVII.

We are wringing out the long days of Summer and trying to savor the slower pace that it affords. This week, Nathaniel took his turn in the kitchen, and baked up a pair of fabulous zucchini orange loaves. We had a glorious week of sunny weather, and exhausted ourselves on many a swings and slides on various playgrounds. The Craunlets are making some serious headway in their swimming lessons, and Summer feels like it's washing over us in the most delightful way.

We packed up and trekked down to Blossom Music Center for the 4th of July, as posted here, and took in the Cleveland Orchestra outside, enjoyed a picnic on the lawn, and were delighted by the fireworks display.

Through the generosity of a dear market friend, we enjoyed our first ears of fresh sweet corn this week as well. We are eating like absolute kings, and are enjoying the robust variety that our local farmers bring to the market -- so much is in season right now!

Changing the calendar from June to July, I give you week 27 of 2014:


Nathaniel put his intense focus towards his baking endeavor, and treated us with two delicious loaves.


I love the way they relate to one another, and when I catch a little picture of their relationship. Even if we are stuck waiting at the muffler repair shop for more than two hours.


Swinging sideways, because sometimes silly is more fun.


New West Side Market bag. LOVE both it's look and function.


Enjoying dusk together as we listened to the orchestra and waited for the night to close with fireworks.


The season's first sweet corn. Absolutely delicious on the grill. We are so blessed in this life.


At last we made it into Brewnuts -- Cleveland's newest donut shop, which features a mighty tasty offering of craft beer donuts.


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