Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ripe fruit

This may look like a giant bowl of peaches. 

But it is really a time machine.

* * * * *

Yesterday I waddled over to my generous neighbor's back yard and picked a full giant bucket full of these blushing beauties. I gathered as much as I could safely pick. There's still bushels left, but still needing a day or two to be ready. That or, they're just out of reach that I'd need a ladder, and I'm a little front heavy these days. 

Today---this morning---I took that bucket outside to the cool morning back patio, grabbed a bowl, and my favorite paring knife, and set to work.

Arianna played in the garden, stomping to "the ants go marching..." and finding treasures. "Look! A stick! Look! Can you guess what it is? A peanut!" Gifts left by the squawking Mexcian Jay birds that frequent the yard.

I sat, rotund, balancing the bucket for the skins and pits on my leg, and set forth on the zen movement.
Grab peach, halve it, pit it, slip the skin, slice into bowl...

Grab peach, halve it, pit it, slip the skin....

Grab peach, halve it, .....

until it became just the movement. The motor, the humming of the time machine.

Because I was suddenly transported into a little kitchen with faint baby blue linoleum, and round orange naugahyde squeaky metal stools.

I was standing at the sink in my great-grandmother's house. I'm 10 years old. I have just brought in the cardboard fruit box of pears I've picked from her front tree. And it's time to start peeling all the peaches and pears, and slice them up to make fruit cocktail.

And she's right there. Grandma Page, in all her softness and light and sweet smile, and clean goodness.

She teaches me how to pull the skin off in one clean strip, using the knife against my thumb.

Just like mom does.
The time machine jumps.

I'm in Maine. It's high summer, and the peaches are ready for canning. But the whole kitchen is filled with all the heavy juicy jewels of the August garden. Zucchini, tomatoes, blueberries, corn all wait in the sink. The basket of peaches has a haze drunken fruit flies dancing over it.

Grab peach, halve it, pit it, slip the skin....

In real-time--the hummingbirds and yellow jackets are buzzing overhead fighting at the feeder. Arianna continues to march with the ants...."and they all go marching the ground..."

Grab peach, halve it, pit it, slip the skin....

Grab peach, halve it, pit it, slip the skin, slice into bowl...

And mama is there, in all her goodness, and strength, and happy laughter,  helping me to feel the edges of the glass jars for imperfections, and showing me how to place those orange cheeks inside so they fit just so.

In real time--I'm slicing and skinning and dripping all the peach elixir down my hands, and it collects on my elbows and seeps into my skirt. Onto my round peachy belly. The cracked veins of the red peaches matching my red and purple stretch marks. I am carrying ripe fruit. Nearly there. Nearly ready to be picked off this heavy branch.
Grab peach, halve it, pit it, slip the skin....

Grab peach, halve it, pit it, slip the skin, slice into bowl...

The time machine jumps.

And I am with mother Eve. She's just there, sitting with her family around her, and her babies. In all her wisdom, and humanity, holding out fruit to all her children. "Eat this. It's good for you."
Grab peach, halve it, pit it, slip the skin....

Grab peach, halve it, pit it, slip the skin, slice into bowl...

Grab for another peach and they're gone.

I've finished this part of the work.

The time machine disappears.

I'm sticky handed, resting and filled with lingering visions.

Fruit, and time, and mothers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Do you ever...

Maybe this doesn't happen to you...

and maybe typing this into the internets is supremely bad juju...

but sometimes my life is so good that I can't breathe.

Do you ever want to hold onto a moment that's so perfect that you can practically feel the cells of your body open up to take in more information---so you can download it internally and breathe it, live off of it forever?

{I realized I'd been talking at Ivan all day....not to him. We hadn't had a chance to really connect, look eachother in the eye. Just parallel schedules/necessities of the day. Work, house, baby tasks all pulling at us, and a few brisk but sincere, "I love you's!" tonight when everything quieted down and I got a chance to look at this amazing creature I married, it made me stop breathing for a minute. And time slowed down, as I scanned his features and tried to burn into my retina the exact curvature of his brow, the slope of his nose. Silly perhaps, but I really tried to put every cell on high alert for how my arms fit into his. So that if necessary I could pull back from muscle memory how it feels to be surrounded by him, and tucked in just so. Because, I have a feeling, I'm going to need that someday.}

The hospital bills, the laundry piles, the broken drywall, forgotten---put on the back burner.

And instead you are in. this. moment.

And you're terrified that it could all be taken away, tomorrow.

So you're equal parts worried to live completely present and to also fearful that if you don't turn this into muscle memory that you'll be sorry in the future when you don't have this 'happy place' completely memorized for when you really need it.

{ Arianna just woke up--- it's 10:45 and she's crying with the 'I had a bad nightmare' cry. My one year old is getting so big, and sweet and funny. I sneak into her room, and she crumples against me, as I lift her up. Huffs and snorts and sighs....,' All better. Mom has me now.' She's back to sleep within seconds, and I before I settle her back into her blankets I take one more look in the low lights, her eyelashes are making long stripes across her cheeks, and I kiss her nose. Take it all in brain cells. Remember every detail. }

And sometimes, my life is so supremely good I am paralyzed with fear that it will all come crashing down.

and then I remind myself that there's no guarantee that it won' just live.

Monday, March 24, 2014

On loss.

I'm feeling...what? What is this?

Sad. Achey. Sympathetic. 

A dear lady, a 'dear heart' has passed in my hometown. 

An echo of my father, a fellow ARMY buddy, has succumbed to cancer. 

A sweet friend's sister.

An accident taking two cyclists.

Parents of my friends.

Babies too.

It's hard to know what to say, other than the most unhelpful understatements.

This sucks.

I'm so gut-wrenchingly sorry. 

And to think on some advice I've been given:

Don't be strong if you don't want to be.




Really, ugly cry.

Throw things. 

Or don't.

You might feel resentful of the fact that everyone's life is still churning on.

Or not.

It's surprising, and can be a bit hurtful that the universe doesn't stop when your own personal sphere has been shattered. 

People are going to say stupid things. I'm sorry. 

Remember your loved one in the best way. Keep those memories in the forefront of your mind. Dismiss the way the funeral home puts on the terrible bright pink lipstick. 

This is going to hurt. For a long time.

I'm so sorry. 

Ghosts will pop up, for every anniversary, every birthday. Every wedding. That's not always a bad thing. But it is a hard thing.

And if you need someone to come and sit by you and cry with you, I'm here.

If you need someone to not say anything at all, but fetch you hot tea, I'm here. 

If you want to be alone, that's fine too.

Don't let anyone tell you how you're supposed to be feeling. 

Don't be afraid to laugh too.

You're probably feeling it all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Winds: being a Mom to Arianna

It's 4 AM. And you're turning, twisting, rolling over me in your sleep. I try my hardest to catch you in my arms, and hold you close. You are not a cuddly baby. You have always wanted to move.

In the brief moments of rest, I stare at your long lashes and think about how long, how tall, how big you're getting. Each second your cells are regenerating, and you are growing, and growing away from me.

10 months old, soon to be 11. Everything is new and exciting. This does not help your sleeping.

You move again, turn over and try to get situated in a different crevice of my armpit. I try to encircle you with my arms, to keep you from tumbling off the tall bed.

You are a pink kite, trapped for a moment in the branches of my tree, while the March winds blow on.

You are the insatiable pachyderm, pulling all the laundry out of the basket, finding every dirt spec and plastic tag on the carpet.

You are the bouncy, crazed March hare, wriggling, refusing to be held. You have to go, go, GO!

You dance, one arm on the couch, the crib, or me. Not quite ready to let go, but so so close.

And as your 1st birthday approaches, I think about how much you change, every night. More hair. More sparkle of understanding in your eyes. More teeth!

And I can't stop the clock! My tiny baby is gone. You are inching, quickly towards toddler-hood.

Outside the daffodils are about to burst. The grass is turning greener. The forsythia is out! We are hurdling through space, around the sun. More growing. More change.

I will try to teach you in the sweet quiet times. And I will try to teach you as you blur past me like a fiery comet.

 I will try to hold on for the ride of my life.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sunset Sail

Unfurl the sails! How amazing to be able to visit Maine this summer, before school started!  We went for a sunset sail around Boothbay Harbor, on the Eastwind

It was positively life-giving to be out on the water again.

We had a steady breeze, and so we were able to boat around with out the motor too much. So lovely.

Grandma Anne and Arianna Jo

My Dad breathing in the peaceful goodness

Doesn't get much 'bettah' than this!

We had the most wonderful time.

You know you're pretty lucky, when you get to snuggle in your Grandma's coat when it gets too windy.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sleeping and Waking: Arianna 3 months old

Baby woke up...

Time to play!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Arianna's Birth Story

Getting Ready for Baby

"Please stay in there..." was the name of the game for a while. 

You see, Ivan still had finals to get through, and Mom wasn't arriving until April 25th.
Ivan and his brother Vladi -- Before the last final of the semester!

I had prepared myself with meditation sequences, putting together my labor music, breathing exercises, lots and lots of reading---and then giving myself permission for this labor to be our own, and not like anything I had previously witnessed. 

But I wasn't prepared to do this without my husband, or my 

Baby needed to stay put. 

And she did! (--even with all the contingency plans --just in case I went into labor while Ivan was in his History final, etc...)

Mom came, and promptly got into awesome project mode. Because, you know, you can't have a baby without a chest freezer! 

And for heaven's sake! You can't have a baby without having your garden boxes made, and planted!

THAT was a lot of good work, ripping up grass and weeds and planning and shopping and doing and chopping and drilling and dumping and planting---Oh my! ( I mostly stood around and being puffy, and brought people water.) 

Ivan and his sister Nelssie admiring one of the amazing garden boxes.

....and so there were projects, and trips to Lowes and Costco, and picnics and I was still feeling great (except for my every expanding ankles, which luckily Mom had packed some excellent compression socks that she let me use.)

And we had to have some carne asada! 

Ivan looking super manly in my favorite apron (we couldn't find his so, last minute substitute...)

It seemed like everyone else was very anxious for baby to come, but I was feeling content! 

Mom said, "You need to get to that place where you're finally ready. You're done being pregnant and the thoughts and feelings of seeing her and having her here on the outside are bigger than what you're feeling now."

I was feeling big, but not uncomfortable. I was certainly in denial...What? Baby? Pushing her out? Nah...too busy. Gotta plant a garden! Too many projects to do! 

But always in the back of my mind, I had the time crunch too... Mom was only going to be here for so long. 

April days were filled with good projects, and pretty soon we knew she was going to be a May baby...


After enjoying 75+ degree weather, we got a rude awakening after a surprise frost killed our tomato/ pepper plants... (How could we be so foolish and plant them before Cinco de Mayo?! I dunno. The weather report said nothing!) 

It was a cold, and extremely windy day. ---and here's where the details get blurry. I know I had been having some contractions here and there...but I don't know when they really "started"


Mom kicked Ivan and I out of the house to go for a walk in the afternoon (it felt like a death march to the gulags at times with the icy wind ripping through my clothes, and my legs cramping so I couldn't move) --But a couple of times around the neighborhood got some good contractions going. --That...and nipple stimulation. 

LABOR (or at least what I remember)

For me, in the beginning it was like...surfing. The surge, or waves of pressure had their peaks and valleys and I just had to focus on where I was, and ride it out to the shore...and then paddle and rest and wait for the next one. 

It was also exciting! We were gonna do this! 

I paced back and forth at home, and rocked out to powerful music, and hummed and moaned through some of them. The vocalizing really helped.

I remember going to bed. I remember being worried about my water breaking all over the place. 

I remember it being dark and late, and trying to rest between the surges. I think I did. 

At some point----we had finally reached the 5-1-1 rule. Contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute long for 1 hour. 

It was time to call the midwives!  "Come on in, we'll check you."

I think it was 1 or 2 A.M. at this point?'s a little hazy now.

I sat in the back seat on a towel (just in case) and moaned and moo'd all the way to the birthing center--which only took about 7 minutes.

Once there, I sat on the couch tried to breathe through a couple of contractions, and then got checked...

ONLY A 2?!?!

Drat. I thought for sure we'd made more headway than that. I was discouraged, but okay.

So we got sent home to rest, and see if we could progress there.

My Dad was flying in to Salt Lake airport and my Aunt was able to go pick him up. Baby had waited for her Grandpa to be here!

When we finally went back to the birthing center I had progressed to a 5 (?)

My Aunt Kara came to be my doula, and talk me through the ever intensifying contractions...

The birthing tub was filled and I stripped down to my bra and got in...

Trying to find the perfect temperature was tricky. Kara and my mom took shifts talking me through the contractions, and reminding me to breathe, and pushing on my knees for relief. I pushed on the back of the tub during the painful back labor.

That was something I wasn't prepared for--- I thought the pain would be more localized to where I was feeling my contractions early on---but this labor was all in my hips and back...Pushing and pressure helped a little bit. Mostly to distract me.

I must have labored there for a long time.

Kara kept reminding me to do low sounds, and slow breaths. She reminded me that baby was moving down, and soon I would meet her! She talked me through a great meditation sequence focusing on colors of the rainbow and imagining all the beautiful things in the world of that particular shade---it was excellent.

In the background I could hear my laboring music---and I was happy with my selections---but I could tell that we had repeated several times--and I had about 2 hours of music on there!

The midwife apprentice Lea would come in and quietly and gently make sure the babies heartbeat was doing well...and Arianna was totally happy and healthy. That was a relief to know.

In the back of my mind, I was worried about where my husband was...and my Dad. I was safe and warm, and working with baby to move and open up, but my husband was in the other room getting some rest. (Which was great--because he was gonna need to really work later!)

At some point I realized I really had to pee...and I knew an empty bladder would help--and I didn't want to pee in the tub.

With help I got up and onto the toilet, and realized I felt like I sort of needed to push.

I had heard and read about other births where the feeling to push was overwhelming. I didn't feel like that...

It was more like--"Eh...I kinda feel like I could...maybe? Okay--Yeah. I think that's the right feeling..."

The more overwhelming feeling was I wanted to get my knees up, and squat. I knew I was nearing transition because I didn't know where I wanted to be.

I felt like a momma cat looking around for the perfect box to give birth...clawing around the house...unsure and wild.

I knew I didn't want to be in the tub. I didn't want to be where I was.

We tried walking to the bed, and I thought it would be nice to labor while laying down-- NOPE! One surge and I knew that was NOT going to work.

I sat up, and felt like I needed to puke.

I did.

And the pressure from that, broke my water! YES! I felt so relieved to know we had reached transition. I knew even though I felt gross that we had reached a great milestone.

The birthing stool was brought out and chuck pads laid out, and it was time to check me again to see how far we'd progressed.

8.....we were at 8 cm.


"So, it was a good thing we checked, because pushing at this point isn't going to get you anywhere. We're kind of at a crossroads. We can wait and see if you progress over some more time, or I can help lift the cervix over the babies head. But it will be painful."

I knew I was nearing exhaustion with my labor---and I was worried how I would handle this extra pain. I didn't feel like I was able to control more pain, and so I hesitated. But I also knew that this would be the best course of action.

With every surge, and the midwife's hand inside me, and Mom and Kara pushing on my knees and Ivan squeezing my back I focused on a spot on the wall, and blew away every negative feeling and thought. "I WILL DO THIS! WATCH ME! I CAN DO THIS! I AM POWERFUL!" I'm surprised that there wasn't a laser burn on the wall later, I centered so much energy there.

I'm also pretty sure that I pushed all my guts out onto those chuck pads. I felt bad about that...but oh well. 

Having the midwife's hand inside me, wasn't painful at all. I was so relieved, but too busy trying to manage the pain in my back to 

"Pushing" was hard to get. I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be pushing and I felt like any second, we'd be crowning! ---but no. 

This wasn't getting anywhere, however. I think we tried this for an hour and still, no progress. Ugggggggggh! Baby was doing great, however, and I really did try to rest in between the surges.

Mom did a great job coaching me where to focus my pushing---but I was getting discouraged with all this effort and no baby.

I remember saying, "There is a baby in there right?! Because I can't do this, if there isn't a baby at the end!"

I was starting to feel a little panic because my Aunt Kara could only stay for a little while longer, and though I hadn't seen a clock since we came in, I could just sense that it was starting to get really close...

Another friend who's a doula recently told me, "I'm a firm believer that whoever needs to be at the birth, will be there." This was true for us.

The midwife suggested we try putting my legs up on the shoulders of the midwife and pushing that way...

Finally pushing made sense! All the women in the room, "ooh'd" and "aah'd"---"That was a great push!"  "She's almost here!"

"Do you want to see her head?"

Another sudden wave, hit..."No!"

Kara said, "Wow, you're doing great! You should have 9 kids!"

I knew she was saying it in a supportive, 'look at you powerful woman!'- way..but I replied, "Uh...can we table this discussion?" 

Pushing,--so much pushing---it felt like holding my breath---- pressure, everyone pushing on me, and me pushing on baby------her head was out! I closed my eyes, and asked, "Please can I keep pushing? Are we almost there?"

Another powerful surge, some gushing, and a groan of relief, and when I opened my eyes---the midwife was handing me a bloody looking alien.


"Ooooooh! You're here!"

 Baby had a loud, healthy cry! I had to rest her on my belly, because the umbilical cord was so short. I couldn't see really her face, but her head was pretty smushed from squeezing through the birth canal.

And then...for some reason, they had me stand up from the birthing stool, and go to the bed, and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing.

Baby kept yelling and peed on me!

 I knew that only one thing would calm her, after that startling transition from cozy warm womb to loud and light outside...

"Do you need your Dad to sing to you?"

Ivan was next to me on the bed, and started singing the same sweet song he had sung to baby in my belly for 9 months...

"Ariannnnnaaa, ariannnnaaa,---here's a song about you."

Arianna stopped crying, and turned her head to the sound of Dad's voice.

I started tearing up. The midwives all sighed and cooed and said, "Look, she knows her name! She knows her daddy's voice!"

The midwives were kneading on my uterus to help the placenta wasn't painful! ( I had been preparing myself for that...) 

Ivan cut the cord, and finally got to hold her.

 and I was helped into the bathroom, to sit on the birthing stool and deliver the placenta. 

"Uh--I just pushed a human through there. I don't want to do any more pushing!"

But it was nice and soft and over with soon.

Back to bed, and skin to skin with my baby---finally could look her over, and see her cone head and adorable hands and feet.

I thought, "I just gave birth to my father in law..." and then two seconds later..."Nope! It's my little brother!"

Born at the right time 
May 2nd, 9:57 am

Everyone who needed to be there, was. Kara was able to stay until a little after 10, and then had to go to a funeral. It was a full circle kind of 24 hours for her. 

My Dad was there. 

My Mom was there.

My husband was there.


 We did it! We all got her here!

 Arianna Jo Flores was 7 lbs. 8 oz, 19.5 inches long

Measuring baby and checking hips, spine, and tongue--then printing her feet for the certificate. 

Dad and Ivan made a trip to Cafe Rio and we all chowed down on some food, and then Mom and Dad went home to rest, and Ivan, baby girl and I stayed at the center for a few more hours to recuperate and doze. 

Around 5 PM that evening, we decided we'd had enough of the plastic sheets, and I was feeling ready to head back to familiar ground. So we loaded up extra chuck pads, and cleaned up a little, tucked baby into her going home outfit from her Great Grandma Barker---and went home, feeling sore, and elated, and nervous and tired.

Practially swimming in it...

 Just for fun--here's a comparison of one month later!

AND NOW! --too many pictures of baby...