Tag Archives: swimming

in which the nearly-finished bedroom is gorgeous and we do some final swimming

Long time readers will recall that our “house” is really more of a compound of small buildings, clustered around the yurt.  It’s bizarre, really, a strange way to build a house, but what are you going to do.  We’ve bootstrapped this thing and our mortgage is tiny, so there is that.  Unfortunately, this method of building is also long and drawn out and our primary builder has had to slow down over the years due to such setbacks as gradschool, old-freaking-age, and just being sick to death of building preferring to “sit in my leather club chair and watch tv for godsakes.” (He’s not that old, I jest.)(He is old-er, though. Forties is definitely not early thirties.)

Nevertheless, Supercoolhusband had a break from grad school a few weeks ago and got some work in on the bedroom.  Yay!  And I’ve got to say, it is looking so good!  It’s very close, now completely closed in, waiting only on the closet, the heater getting finished up, and a tiny bit of trim.  But look at that beautiful picture up there!  The front door is in!

And it’s a seriously amazing door, five feet across, stained glass, pretty damn cool.  He got it for nothing—he can’t remember, guesses $20 bucks—used, of course, and so cheap on account of a couple of cracks we can fix with freaking duct tape if necessary, because dude!  Door!  Someone threw it out rather than fix it!  He’s a master of the salvaged treasure, if you ask me.

He’s also a master of beautiful trim work.  Look what he did around the casement windows (also used, for cheap):
bedroom 2I suggested bead board for that section below the window, he went with a similar effect with cedar wood.  So pretty.

And look at this beautiful piece he did over the door.  Another used leaded glass window (with cute diamonds!) that was given to us when a friend was cleaning out his basement:

bedroom 3Here’s what it’s like when the door is closed:bedroom 4It’s still a construction site, as you can see in this corner where the rocket mass heater isn’t quite done.

bedroom heater areaBut it won’t be long now.  Something on the floor, rugs, sisal mats, something like that.  I’d love wood, but we can’t afford it right now.  Maybe later (which probably means never, haha, once the bed gets moved in, it’s all over).  It’s been a long time coming (first post where I mentioned it in 2012 in post on rocket heaters, but he had already been working on it for a year or two by then).  I’m kind of nervous about moving in.  What if I can’t sleep in it?  I’ve gotten used to the yurt!

Just kidding.

But look, here’s a couple of shots of one of sthe last swim of the season (probably, unless there’s a heat wave) just because they are awesome and because I am total denial that summer is actually over.  Where the heck did August go?? I mean, what the heck?!

luc jumping sophie jumpingThey’re such a couple of goof balls.

sophie says byeBye!


deep in the heart of summer

We’re cooking now, boy.  Daily swimming, lying around in the air conditioning reading fat books while waiting for it to get cool enough to move, tomato sandwiches, being night owls because the heat isn’t so bad in the dark.  Eating peaches over the sink.  Cicadas.

In contrast to the pleasures of summer, though, I struggle with stomach-dropping fear about climate change.  You know that feeling?  About which I generally feel quite helpless?  I try to give myself breaks, think about other things.  But all this hot weather (we had the hottest June ever on record and July has been crazy, too, 98 degrees, 98% humidity most days) keeps it in my mind, in the back somewhere, simmering away.  It wrecks my full summery-enjoyment.  Which sucks.

[Whoa, hang on, isn’t this a light, up-beat blog???  Yeah, I thought so, too!]

Here, have a Yotsuba, just about my favorite manga series, ever.  I just read this one to the kids, who are not too old to enjoy, thank goodness.  LAUGH OUT LOUD for reelz.  yotsuba 11

Ahhh. Yotsuba calls it Glow Ball warming, which is adorable.

In other news, we’re still running (can you believe it? Nor can I), 2-3 miles, 3x a week.  Sophie and Paul chat as they lope along while I pant and moan behind them, flailing weakly in their direction, “…go on…save yourselves….”  Sometimes Luc comes, too, although he is, shall we say, less committed.  “I want running to be my hobby, not my religion.”  He really said that!  He’s NINE.  Freaking smart-ass, hilarious kid….

Unfortunately, every time we see something cool (a double rainbow! Llamas! A cool black and yellow snake!) I don’t have my camera, while, if I lug it along, it’s guaranteed there will be nada but asphalt and sweat.  So, no photo for you.

Ooo, but this is fun: I start drafting on the new novel in ONE WEEK.  I’m halfway through my scene cards.  We’ll see how well they work this time.  Last book’s scene cards were pretty much a failure.  First feelings can be deceptive.

scene cards for precog book

See how the top 8 are super cramped with itty-bitty writing going up the sides? And how the bottom 8 float in a sea of white space?  Yeah, I’m still working on the bottom 8.  Trying for a shorter book this time, 16 scenes instead of the 30 (I think it was?) in the last one. Two pov characters instead of three.  A more streamlined plot.  We’ll see how that all works out.

Planning is fun!  Planning is when I haven’t fucked anything up yet!

Drafting set to begin August 1.  One more week to finish up the scene planning, where the chant is: protag with a need, in conflict with an antag with a need, in a setting, leading to a unique TURN that upends expectations.  One turn per scene, every scene must have a conflict and an antag, no exceptions, plus note down any funny beats or Points of Interest along the way.  Inciting incident, set-up, three trial-cycles, mid-point, final ramp up after failure of third, big confrontation tying up both inner and outer arcs, conclusion, denouement, yada yada yada.  Gotta love CRAFT.  I mean, I fucking got this, right?

I’m always so full of hubris before the novel breaks me into little pieces.

Happy mid-summer everyone!  (Try not to think about glow ball warming too much…).

summer, and swimming, have returned

Okay, I know it isn’t really here until June for most peeps, but:

1) the kids finished their year-end fill-in-the-stupid-bubble test and that’s the end of the “school year” for these homeschooled maniacs.

2) we went for our first swim of the season, woot!

And 3) it’s 90 freaking degrees today.

If that all doesn’t add up to summer, I don’t know what does.

Into the pond!  First Luc….

first swim 2014 1

Then, Sophie:

first swim 2014 2

I love my pond.  Although a friend recently terrified me with stories of the “brain eating amoeba“.  Jesus, like I didn’t have enough to worry about. Thanks a lot, friend-you-know-who-you-are.  Thanks a fucking lot.

Back into the Denial Tower(tm) I go!  I love my pond!

first swim 2014 3

In case you can’t see it, Sophie is giving you a peace sign.

first swim 2014 4

And that’s Luc, floating on his back behind her.  Oh man, there is no way to deal with 90+ degree North Carolina Summer day better than a brain eating amoeba breeding pit spring fed pond.  Farmer’s Almanac says this summer, after that super cold winter, is going to be a killer.  Yikes.  I need to get the air-conditioner set up, stat.

flinging one’s body into space

Here’s what the kids love to do, every day, over and over and over and over.


Jump into the pond. They sometimes say the goal is to make the next jump before the ripples from the previous jump have cleared.


Luc has shed all need for floaties this summer and now runs screaming down the dock to fling himself into the water, fearlessly. He likes the big splash.


Sophie is working on her triple axle. She likes the tricky jumps.


They tease me mercilessly about how I ease into the water, inch by inch, squeaking and freaking about how cold it is. “Why don’t you just jump in? Get it over with!” To which I answer, “It’s just my way.”


I used to be like them. My cousin and I used to do exactly this, running and jumping into the water over and over and over. I remember the adults were just as bemused by our frenzy of repetitive jumping as I am now about my little guys. Now I’m the one that likes to chill in the inner tube. My life is passing before my eyes.



all swimming, all the time

Not a day goes by that I don’t thank the Lords and Ladies Above that Paul and I had brains enough to buy property with a pond.  Because every summer, almost every day, you’ll find us out in our pond’s lovely waters, laughing, hanging out, and staying cool.  Swimming is a big deal for us.  What would we do if we didn’t have our pond?  Horror!

Come on in, the water’s fine!

As you can see, Luc likes a LOT of floaties.  He sometimes has ALL the floaties.  But this summer has been extra fun for him because, for the first time, he’s getting the hang of swimming without floaties, too.

That’s him in the goggles, doing his adorable little frog/puppy swim technique.  He’s so cute!  And proud!

Sophie, on the other hand, is an old pro.

She is total confidence in the water.

Of course, she has nothing against using a floatie or two when she feels like it.  Me neither.

You can tell they spend a LOT of time jumping off the dock.  Up the ladder, running jump, WOO HOO, swim around, up the ladder, running jump, WOO HOO, swim around—!  Etc. If you could attach wires to it, you could power a small city.

I used to do the same when I was a kid, so I totally get it.  The thrill!  The subtly changing technique!  The splash!  Now I’m more of a hang out in the inner-tube kind of gal.

But, oh!  Listen to this!  I got bit by a turtle last week!  My first time.  Drew blood even!  That was exciting.  Big turtle, too, at least a foot long.  It took us a couple of days after that to get our nerve up again to get in the water, I’ll tell you what.  You never saw me swim so fast as right after that turtle got me.  I was probably levitating.

I’m pretty sure it happened because we had some friends over swimming with us, and the girl, 10 years old, said nervously, “Are there any turtles or snakes in this pond?” Wanting to put her at ease, I said, in my most confident voice, “We’ve been swimming in this pond for seven years and we’ve never had a turtle or snake interaction.”  I realize now that the turtles probably heard this and became a bit offended.  Sorry turtles!  I quickly let them know I appreciated how generous they are to let us use their pond, and thanked them profusely, apologizing for any hubris on my part.  Don’t want to go around ruffling any, um, shells.

One nip in seven summers, I figure that’s pretty good.  Not even turtle nips are going to keep us out of the pond.

So we’re pretty much back to full-on swimming.  Sometimes the pond is so nice, its hard to leave.

The sun starts going down and we’re still out there, tempting the turtles with our delicious flesh.

But, our swimming days are numbered.  You can sort feel fall in the air, just a hint, but its there.  Only a few weeks left.

All the more reason to go early, and stay late.

summertime guilt

Man, I’m in the summer drifting time vortex thingy, where days go by and I hardly notice their passing.

Our typical routine: sleep late, milk the goats, yoga, dogwalk in the woods, lunch, moan about how hot it is, remember to go swimming, eat snacks, distract kids for one hour while I write, Paul gets home, dinner, goats again, movie, bed.  I’ve found I can slip along this trajectory with near zero-friction—maybe there is some summertime-lube we’re using?—but the result is I look up and find whole weeks are gone.  It’s kind of disturbing if I think about it too much.

As in: I should be working more, should be getting more writing done, should clean the yurt, should take the kids somewhere educational, should cross old items off the endless to-do list, should be __!!!!!!__.

Why, oh why, would I let some vestigial type-a personality affliction interfere with a perfectly good summer day week?

Well, obviously I struggle with it.  In theory, I do believe there should be times in everyone’s life where a pleasurable blur is the norm (and I’m not talking recreational drug use).  But it can be hard to just let go.

A smarter (maybe?) part of me, however, suspects that this, this hanging with the kids in the pond, eating blueberries by the pound, reading a few pages of something and then just watching the clouds as they drift by, this is probably what all the striving is for.

As in, destination reached.  Achievement unlocked.

Especially the part about the kids.  Because you know that in a few years they probably won’t want to spending their summer days hanging out with the likes of me.  I’ve got to store this stuff up, get in as much as I can now while the getting is good.

Conclusion: I should just shut up and enjoy it.  Right?

Well, actually—erp, gack!

*stuffs the mouth of “should” voice with blueberries*

(I did finally hit 50,000 words on the work-in-progress.  That’s over halfway.  So there is that.  If anyone’s counting.)


Sophie’s first jump-off-the-dock, summer 2011

It’s freaking hot, 95 degrees and up all week.  I’m working on a strategy that lets me get my 1000 words while the kids careen off the dock in non-stop, splashy motion. The plan includes a supah-glam hat with a ridiculously large brim, gigantic sunglasses, and a legal tablet.  I haven’t quite got the nerve to bring the laptop to the dock, although I’ve considered the ipad, sealed in a ziplock bag.  We’ll see.

Basically, I’m terribly behind him my self-imposed deadlines for this novel.  I must get some progress made or I will have to punish myself with guilt and removal of privileges.  It won’t be pretty.

So, with this in mind, I have amassed a flotilla of floaties, and plan to either be in the water, or writing on the dock, as much as possible, until more humane temperatures return.  The kids have signed off on this plan.  We’re good to go.  If you want us, we’ll be at the pond.  Bring drinks if you come by.  I like the ones with the little umbrellas.

the last of the summer’s swimming

Although it is still hitting 90 degrees most days, the tulip poplars are turning yellow, the sky is still dark when I get up to write, and our pond’s waters are getting chilly.  Fall is coming.

Which is not to say that we aren’t still swimming every day.  But we can feel it’s near the end.

Look at that beautiful sky reflected in the water!  I adore swimming in our pond.  It’s always beautiful, relaxing, fun…and now that it’s getting cooler, it’s exhilarating, too. As in, lots of toe dipping with the accompanying squealing.

What do we do in the winter without our daily swim?  Heading home after a swim we’re always relaxed, a little tired, happy…we go back to the yurt and hang out quietly doing our own things for a while before dinner.  It’s the perfect time for a little guitar playing, or a Spongebob episode, or some drawing.  How do we get that state when it’s too cold for swimming? I can’t remember.  There must have been something.  Playing in the woods maybe?

But while I ponder these crucial questions, we’re still getting in.  Shorter swims, and we’re bringing towels now, instead of just walking home wet and steaming in the sun.  It’s hard to give up.

Sophie learned to swim with no floaties this summer.  Luc lost his fear of getting in, and even does flying jumps off the ladder now.  It’s been a big swimming summer for us!

We’re not done yet.  A few more weeks, at least, I think.  But, as I type this, I’m wearing a sweater and a scarf.  I can’t stay in denial much longer….

swimming: pond-loads better than therapy

Second to ice cream, this is Sophie’s favorite thing.


Taking a flying leap into the water is new for Sophie, but quickly becoming the best part of the pond for her.  She leaps in, swims a bit, climbs out, leaps in again.  I remember being about her age when I got into leaping in off the dock into the sound-side waters at the family beach cottage.  Leap in, float down to the next dock, climb out, run around, leap in, float down… my cousin and I used to do this for hours.  Or as long as the adults would let us.  Why is it adults always want to stop swimming before the kids?

Heading back to the ladder….

Ready for another go!

Swimming gets you halfway to happy, just from its innate awesomeness.  We can be stumping down the path to the pond, grumbling, hot, snipping at each other, whining—but five seconds in the water and we’re laughing and having a grand time. Swimming, fooling around in the pond, it seems to wipe the emotional slate clear, resetting it to friendship and joking fun.  As far as I can tell, having an hour or two of playful fun together, every day, is a magic ingredient in creating a happy family.

Woo hoo!

I can’t tell you how much we were laughing, trying to get these photos!

Catching a speeding girl, mid-leap, is not easy.