Wednesday, June 27, 2012

going sola

Back to prose, peeps...don't know what's been going on with the poetry.  Embracing a long, lost part of myself, trying to not take it all too seriously, being a spokesperson for creativity from the heart and leaving the revisions and workshops as a part from the past.  We'll see where it goes.  For now, it's just me.  I'm listening to some mean tunes on my headphones, happy to feel my fingers typing with their resonant, jammin' like frenzy.  Jeff's been gone again this week.  He was gone most of last week.  Watching myself do the sola dance is kinda funny.  The dance has so many parts.  There are the long, slow, serious parts where I'm so tired, so annoyed, so spent -- all contemporary, all post-modern, not too fun for your average viewer.  There are the super-fun, hip mama moments, me blasting pop tunes on the radio while going nuts in the living room, Sol banging on his banjo, Eliana looking at me wild-eyed and amazed before she does another cartwheel (almost) on the carpet.  Then there are groovy, flowy moments where I just feel in it, a dance to a world groove, reggae or afro-pop, summery and mellow and fluid.  I like those moments the best. 

And my children have the lines to accompany any of my dances.  They are both off the hook right now with poignant words.  The other night when Sol flew out of his crib for the millionth time, raced out the back door to the deck, booked up to the middle of the picnic table and hopped up and down like a maniac, I kinda lost my shit.  I definitely said his name in a tone that Elie wasn't used to hearing.  Her response:  "Ah, mama.  When things go wrong, just sing a song!"  It was funny enough to take me out of my moment of frustrated exasperation.  "Where the heck did you learn that?"  "It's from The Wiggles, mom.  Just take a deep breath, okay?" 

Okay backatcha!  So, all of the sudden my daughter is administering dimestore self-help (which I clearly need...).  Soli, on the other hand, has moved into full on sentences.  And they sound so funny and foreign coming from his chubby lips that I almost don't get what's going on.  Yesterday we were at Joellen and Bobby's for dinner.  I lost Sol for a moment.  When I called his name, I heard a, "I'm downstairs, mama!" come from....downstairs!  Homeboy can communicate!  Then when I told him to come outside because that's where everyone else was, he said, "I need my shoes, mama."  Well, of course ya do, Sol!  Love that you can be so clear and articulate.  Let's gather your shoes already. 

I love the heck outta those two.  They are tremendous.  And while I love all this time I am getting with them, it wears me out in a totally different way.  I can get so much shit accomplished on a normal work day, before I even get to work.  The summer is like a long, low, summer drawl.  It stretches and oozes and morphs with nary a deadline, nary a plan.  I don't do so well without a plan.  So I make one and then I'm in the middle of executing it and I'm thinking, isn't this supposed to be summer? Why am I driving all over town so that I can have see one tutoring client or teach one hour long yoga class?  Why is is so hard to get everyone where they need to be so I can do what I need to do?  I ran into my girlfriend this morning while I was dropping Elie off at the art museum, for her camp and I said something of the sort (her kids are a few years older).  "Is this what it all turns into?  Driving around like a crazy lady?"  "Yes.  It's insane." Her reply was deadpan and grave.  I gulped, turned up the car radio and peeled away, hauling Soli's little bum to his playdate on the other side of town. 

Jeffy comes home tomorrow.  Our day is pretty mellow.  Then I spend the weekend floating the river with my best girls.  Things are pretty damn good.  The white, puffy clouds of Missoula summer are here to remind me how sweet it really is.  The bright blue sky and not too hot days.  The sweet smell of cottonwood and pine, of clean air. My cozy little home, skinny limbs around my neck.  It's all gonna be fine.

Monday, June 25, 2012

camping at sun river


Rocky Mountain Front 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Rocky Mountain Front is an area extending over 100 miles (160 km) from the central regions of the U.S. state of Montana to southern Alberta, Canada. Here, the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains and Canadian Prairie in an abrupt elevation rise of between 4,000 to 5,000 feet (1,219–1,524 m)....Also referred to as the "Crown of the Continent", the region is characterized by an uncommon ecosystem in which prairie and Northern Rockies flora and fauna overlap. All of the original animal species encountered when the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through the region still exist in their wild state..."

I'm not sure why it's called 
The Front.
Jeff sounded so logical
as he explained that
we were at the
front of the mountains,
as close as you can get,
so high the trees look smaller,
until they stop and
wide, dusty plains
rise from the earth.
          is here.
 I always get real
quiet when I see
this sort of emptiness.
Vast wash of green and brown,
soft and curved,
on and on and on.

One antelope 
a proud pulse of horns
sweeps swiftly through
la planera.
Elie prefers her Spanish
in times like these
when beauty is beyond our
known language,
the curves in the road
take our breath
and words
by the time I can say
his name,
he's gone.

 Lying in a green pasture
purple yoga mat
hand propped head
clouds and mountains and trees
birds whiz past.
In an orange tent behind me
Solan reads about monkeys
that jump on beds
to the tree little guys.
Soft, cool wind
dances while the
sky makes her descision towards
rain or
sun or

I'm beginning to understand
some things about me.
There are a few things
that keep me really,
really happy.

Open space and clear air,
a tent home with just essentials
water and pillow and book and pen,
our days nothing but
my best things.
A well thought out meal,
a chair by a fire,
old and easy friends
together, time for words and
topics that stretch and
morph and mold,
children that explore
each game more wild
and creative than the next.
We make pizza with
our bodies,
race like dinos through
the tall grass.

They are so safe here.
So pure.
My anxiety quiet.
No traffic or glasses or bedtimes,
just the patience of clouds,
the surrender to rain.

I step away from it all,
sneak off to be with myself and
I know
all is right with the world
as my options,
hike, journal, book, mat,
are about as perfect as they get,
this list of favorites for decades now.

When did I get so old?
How is it that I am
so the same
out here in
this tremendous world.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Summer Morning

There's a lull from the
living room
They've settled back into
a perfect groove
though at any moment the
excalation will begin with a
whine and a cry and a

So I'll pull myself from
this view of June green,
hot coffee,
soft egg
and ask with calm and
cheer, What's going on?

Something ridiculous, nonsensical
about mine or yours will
come back at me
Elie articulate and authentic,
Solomon wild and tempered
I never get the whole story,
not that I need it.

And the day will press
forward, a continual round of
moments to be mortalized
their eyes when they
first greet the day
the way her hair looks
curls stuck soft,
his pillowy cheeks,
flat feet on hardwood.
The litany of requests...
Eggies?  Oatmeal?  Water...
and my slippers scuff too,
I begin my dish dance,
my egg crack ballet,
breath by breath
in this full, full life.

June Sunday

I know once summer
really arrives,
I'll miss these damp mornings.
When the town goes brown,
my mountain so glorius
right now, wild with
lupine and sheep and the lone horse,
abandon and appreciation
up from the earth.
Remember us?
Everyone shouts
my hands splintered
from pulling weeds,
the dandelions that infiltrate
this loud, busy road,
cars spewing forth
all over my garden
like foul language.

We worked out there,
Elie and I,
on Father's Day.
She'd haul piles of weeds
to the bin until
something caught her
fancy, a make-shift
balance bean or
an old pair of cross-country
skis, pulled from the
garage while I was embedded
in roots and briars,
she shuffles like a
circus performer
up the hot sidewalk.
Bye, Mom!  I'm going skiing now!
And she's off,
scaled bottomw scrape on concrete and
I know I have to tell her
But her moment is so pure, so good with
intention, just a
winter fantasy,
a seasonal remembrance,
while our seasons
again shift.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


My siblings are loving on each other something fierce these days.  Loving on each other until, quite abruptly, they decide to bug the heck out of each other.  All or nothing with these two. 
I remember my friend and favorite birth/mama mentor Jody saying that you never love anything as much as you love your child until you see how much your child loves your next child.  This couldn't be more true.  My kiddos are so connected and so in love with one another, that I hardly know what to do when I'm just with one of them alone.

Sol and I have had some unexpected q.t. this week after I got a call from Caroline yesterday saying that he had a fever of 103.  I ended up staying home half of yesterday and all of today with my boy.  It's so weird for us to have this kind of time together.  It's funny, this year, I've actually had more alone time with Eliana in the hour that we share before we go get Soli.  We have these, "mommy-daughter" dates and go for frozen yogurt or for a bike ride in the park or to the library.  They are super special times and have served us quite well. 

I realized yesterday as I threw out the term, "Mommy-Soli date" to Sol, that we've never really had one of these.  We drive to Caroline's together in the morning, but I'm usually busting the radio and thinking about the gazillion of things ahead of me in the day.  He kicks it in the back with his paci and Softie and we just cruise.  My one-on-one time with Elie is much more intentional. 

But I think my guy is coming into the age where he will be able to appreciate this kind of special mama time as well.  After he got over the fact that he wasn't going either a. to Caroline's or b. to Eliana's school, he quite enjoyed himself on our little jaunt around the park.  With his fever broken and only some gnarly green snot rockets to remind us of the rough germ-y battle in his little system, he raced through Greenough in his "fast shoes."  He loves nature time, loves to talk about the "big creek", smile at strangers, throw rocks and pick grass and leaves.  He's also so good at articulating himself these days.  It seems that overnight he went from two word phrases to four word phrases.  For example, before if I said, "Wow!  Look at the big creek, Soli!" He'd say, "Big creek!"  Now he says, "Look at big creek!"  It's awesome.  With this illness he was able to say, "Soli need medicine now" and, then, "Now Soli happy!" 

The other cool thing that's happening is that mainly, at least when well-rested, reasonably fed and generally content, Eliana can actually get past her brother-envy enough to be a kind, helpful big sister.  The other night when Sol was feeling bad Eliana said, "Here, Soli, come sit in sissy's lap.  There!  Didn't that make it all better!"  She's way more in tune with his emotions and gets that being a big sister is actually really cool and can make her parents extremely proud and happy.  They move like this little unit these days.  Totally in step, ready for their next adventure. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I've lived in Missoula for almost ten years.  Ten years!  A decade.  It's pretty hard to believe.  Until it's graduation weekend and not only are kids that I've taught graduating from eighth grade, they are graduating from high school.  Pretty wild.  I'm finding that nothing ages me more than seeing the kiddos that I teach grow up.  A few months ago a teenage boy came up to me in Rattlesnake Gardens with a big, cute grin and said, "Hey, Gillian!" in his husky, adolescent way.  I had no idea who he was.  I stared and smiled and fumbled around until he said, "It's Cy!  You taught me how to read!"  A million years ago when he was a wild little, moppy headed boy.  Not this husky voiced, handsome kid.  Crazy stuff. 

This weekend it was graduation parties, birthday parties, general springtime goodness. Eliana has had more forms of sugar than I care to re-count, bounced on the biggest bouncy houses known to man, received more than her share of plastic prizes (all I can see are those tiny, Cambodian hands bleeding in the factories...) -- and enjoyed every last second of it.  Sol's a bouncy house man too, but, luckily, he doesn't really get the whole prize thing yet.  He was happy to sit on a mini-John Deere tractor and make vrooming noises with his big lips.  Love him. 

The best part of my weekend, though, came on a little family walk.  It was so simple.  Just us and the trail, a granola bar in my pocket, a dog on a leash.  The kids get so creative when we're in the wild.  Eliana immediately remembers her obsession with creating the perfect violin, finds the best balance beam to practice her gymnastics. 


Solomon was just a chatterbox today.  A million miles an hour about the moose and bear and deer we'd see.  He'd hear a chatter in the treetops and say, "Birdy!"  He'd bust his new favorite catch phrase whenever the opportune moment arose, "No way!"  He'd reiterate everything his sister said (just with a bit more caveman flair).  "Find violin!"  "Big creek!"  "Fast shoes!" 

And then after an hour or so of run, run, talk, talk, big boy behavior, he asked:  "Mommy hold you?" (my favorite of his phrases).  So I scooped my little caveman up and let him "hold you" all the way back to the car.  I thought about my summer with them and how much of it I want to spend outside.  I thought about how they think of the wilderness as a playground and I felt so, so happy for the choice we made a decade ago.  It seemed so random, so spontaneous at the time.  And here we are.  All settled in.