Sunday, October 4, 2009

October begins

Just a quick post to report this exciting news: this weekend I canned my own baby food for the first time! Not only did I can it, but I made it from start to finish--other than planting the tree. We harvested pears from the tree in the backyard, ripened them, then I cooked and pureed them and canned them so that a few months from now, when Jem is ready, he'll have baby food fresh from our own yard! And it came out DELICIOUS, if I do say so myself: miles away from standard (even organic) baby food.

Hope to post about the Common Ground Fair soon. One thing I'm pleased about was discovering locker hooking, an Australian rug hooking technique that makes really lovely Berber-like rugs from wool roving or fabric strips. I got a kit. I'm also taking a traditional rug hooking workshop in November. I've been in love with folk art, antique hooked rugs for years, but they're expensive, and I thought it'd be fun to learn to make them myself. And now I am. Yay!

We all have colds here and are dealing with the change to chilly, rainy weather after a gorgeous, clear September. Yesterday was the Church Street festival in town, a long-running, grassroots parade put on by the woman who runs the children's playhouse downtown. It's apparently always been a goofy, hippie, magical event--you show up at Mary's house in the morning, get a costume out of her barn, put it on and walk! We were told it was not-to-miss, so we went out for it, even though it was raining and we were sniffling. It's just another one of the many enchanted Belfast traditions. Here's a photo of us. Willa is dressed as Pippi Longstocking--she plans to dress as Eloise for Halloween--and is carrying a sign made by the artist Paul Oberst, my collaborator for the Belfast Poetry Festival coming up later this month. More on that soon, too, I hope--we had a trial run performance of my poem with Paul's work installed all around us and live sound accompaniment by local musician Dan Beckman of Uke of Spaces Corners at Roots & Tendrils gallery on Friday evening as part of the Art Walk. Um, yeah: art walks, bands, sculptors. Belfast is pretty darn cool.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Willa's first day of school, 2009

Sorry not to have posted in awhile! Fall has come to Belfast, and we have all been happily busy getting into the rhythm of the new season. Willa is back in school in the 3-6 Chickadee classroom at Cornerspring Montessori, Rob is at work for various colleges and private high schools on new campaigns (with a little travel coming up), and I'm diving my time between book projects, the sabbatical project (the oral history of the new back-to-the-land movement), office work at Morningstar Midwifery, keeping in touch with Columbia College, volunteering for Citizens for Midwifery, various little poetry gigs (sending out manuscripts, readings upcoming at Bates and the Belfast Poetry Festival, at which I'm collaborating with a visual artist and a musician), and on and on. And Jem is learning to laugh and grab. To keep us all relatively sane, I've devised a household schedule that is timed to within an inch of all of our lives. But it's kind of working.

And part of the schedule (and point of the schedule) is to make sure we have enough time for reading, crafts, open play with the kids, and cooking good food. All of which are also happening, happily!

Tomorrow is the beginning of the Common Ground Fair, put on by the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association and the social event of the season here in Waldo County. We are attending all three days of the fair, volunteering at tables and shopping for Maine-made goods and produce, attending workshops and lectures and joining in the contradancing and kids' vegetable parade. Every single aspect of the fair is so exciting to me, from the sheepdog trials to the spinning demonstrations, from the talks on social justice and permaculture to the workshops on baking bread, not to mention all the FOOD, all of which is organic and grown and made right here in Maine.

Below, some pics from the past month or so, including evidence of Ravit and Gabe's wonderful visit at the end of August, complete with country fair (and my first canning experiment: Ravit and I canned nine jars of blueberry jam made from wild organic local blueberries!); our friend Ava's Labor Day, outdoor wedding; our egg share from our friends at Fail Better Farm; and more.
Kids with the newlyweds Uncle Gabe & Aunt Ravit
Beautiful eggs from Clayton and Kendra at Fail Better Farm

With the Union Fair Blueberry Queen

Jem, also known as WonderchubBlueberry jam I canned with Ravit!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Jem, four months!

With Safta and Sabi.

Contradancing at the VFW.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer at last

Well, we had to wade (literally) through July, but August is now here and it's a doozy. Ocean breezes! Country fairs! Blueberries! Above is Willa on a ride at the Rockland Lobster Fest. Somehow lobster prepared in the middle of a hot day on a fairgrounds doesn't seem so smart to us, but thousands of fair-goers can't be wrong.

Here's Willa at the beach when we went to visit Josh and Rachel and co., who were staying on Cape Elizabeth.
This shot of Willa and Rob at a sheep farm in Union on Open Farm Day in late July gives a sense of our mostly gray, chilly summer. Still beautiful, though.

As is this guy, now 3 1/2 months, smiling and cooing and snuggly...

And then also often quite serious and thoughtful (I would not call him a jolly baby. Certainly calm, but not jolly.).

Family is coming soon to visit (yay, guests! finally!) and I feel very excited to show off our little bit of seaside paradise.

When are you coming?

Monday, July 6, 2009

July thus far

Rob and Willa canoeing on an ultimately stormy July 4th at the Sanborn Pond camp of our dear friends Donna and Ellie.

Willa picking strawberries from our own backyard by the bay! I made a strawberry rhubarb crisp for the 4th.

Jem has really been practicing this whole smiling thing and getting it down pretty well now. Here's the first time it was captured on film, sort of mid-grin.

I know I'm biased, but is this kid a looker or what?! Age 10 weeks.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A few things I love about living in Maine

Barely any time to post lately, with the adjustment to two kids and Willa going through some hard older-sister/four-year-old stuff, but I wanted to catch a second to post a few things I've been grateful for in our lives here these days:

1) Small town living. I love that we know people wherever we go, that we always run into a friend at the co-op or library, that everyone is so interconnected. It is profoundly reassuring. Gossipy, and I can imagine it becoming claustrophobic, but it also really feels like people in this area matter to one another in a deep way.

2) My waffle iron. I got a waffle iron, because Willa has been eating a lot of frozen waffles for breakfast lately--at her own request, and the health store kind, but still, too much frozen food! So I got a waffle iron, and today made my own waffles. With local eggs, milk, and flour, of course. And they came out really well, too. I'm very excited to make waffles for our upcoming visits from family!

3) The view. I take it for granted sometimes, but it's pretty incredible to be able to watch sailboats, kayaks and tugboats go by in our "backyard," the harbor.

4) Our CSF (community-supported fishery). We pick up a share of delicious, just-off-the-boat fish every week from a lovely cooperative of friendly fishermen and their families. The price is great, it supports a true Maine economy and sustainable fishing practices, and we eat so well and so healthy.

5) Constantly meeting new, cool, like-minded young families in Waldo County. Where do they all come from?!

6) The fact that a new, hip arts space and music venue selling locally-made crafts and a new independent record store (do we still say "record store"? Well, I guess I do!) just opened up in town! Yay!

There is much more, but I'll stop there for now. And I will quickly say what I do not love, which is the constant rain of late--I was cheerful about it for a long time, but now I'm over it. Luckily, today was partly sunny, and I think we're getting more sunny days this week. Hurray!

And tomorrow, I hope, I will post my new photo of The Boy, who is cuter every day, and now officially smiling.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

summer begins

Our life is a bit too crazy and exhausting right now for me to post much, but I did see something the other day I wanted to blog about: a guy, in his 20s, barefoot, sitting on a picnic table in the park that overlooks the harbor, masterfully flying a kite high above him. Pretty cool.

Last night we had a ritual to turn our friend and doula Ava into Jem's "fairy godmother." We crowned her with a wreath of wildflowers Willa and I picked in the backyard in the rain, presented her a fairy wand we made from a piece of driftwood, and gave her wings (which we bought from a Hollywood costume company online--nothing too idyllic there!). The midwives were there as witnesses.

Here's photos from this and other recent events, including Jem at 8 weeks. (At his six week postpartum visit he weighed almost 12 lbs.--he's huge, and starting to hold his head up really well. But no smiles-on-purpose yet...we're waiting and hoping maybe the first one will come on Father's Day tomorrow.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

more Jem

This is what Jem looks like awake, which he is more and more often lately. Five weeks old!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jem's song

Willa made up a song for Jem, to the tune of Rockaby Baby:
"Jemaby little,
Jemaby cute,
Jem is a train
that goes toot, toot, toot"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

An update

Sorry I haven't posted much lately: we had a baby, so it's been a bit busy!

Here are just a few notes from the Bywater household:
  • At his two-week postpartum visit, Jem weighed in at 8 lbs, 4 oz, which is pretty much the maximum weight gain one could expect in that timeframe. And he is already outgrowing the sweet preemie things we got him since they were the only things that would fit him for those first few weeks. But now he is definitely filling out and fitting into regular newborn clothes. Go, Jemmie!
  • Jem has already used the toilet several times. Rob (who is charge of all things diaper-change) has been encouraging him to pish outdoors, off our balcony, and now into the grown-up toilet, and he's doing it very consistently, immediately, and well. Is he precocious or what?! Go, Jemmie! Go, "Elimination Communication"!
  • Nicknames we have been using for Jem: Jemmie, Jemedy, Jemolo, Little Tiny, Sweet Pie (the last two are Willa's. This morning Willa also called him Gorgeous, as in "Hello, Gorgeous.").
  • Speaking of gorgeous, the weather here was in the 80s and sunny, with a cool ocean breeze. Yesterday we walked to the farmer's market in town, saw our friend Morty juggling to a live performance of 40s standards, and bought Cyprus-style cheese, local greens, and a loaf of rye bread and had a proper ploughman's lunch. Yum!
  • Midcoast Maine is starting to open up for tourist season. Everywhere we pass is getting landscaped and painted for the summer, all the stores and restaurants are getting going, and we're starting to see some out of state license plates (besides ours). It will be interesting to be here as "residents" once it starts to feel like Vacationland.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jem, week three

At Ravit's request: more photos! Hope to post some actual commentary soon...

Friday, May 8, 2009

new photos

From Willa's many birthday celebrations, today's Mother's Day tea at her school, and Jem's second week of life...enjoy!