Thursday, December 20, 2012

Good "Clean" Fun!

Sometimes it's important to get messy.  Life is messy!  Why not get messy in real life?   At least let your kids do it!  I ordered a box of 12 different Tempera paints last week.  They arrived at our doorstep while Serafin had a friend over. I couldn't resist the temptation to open them up and let the girls get creative.  I think next time I might hold off on this one till spring or summer, when I can take the girls outside and HOSE THEM DOWN!  Although admittedly, bath time (all three of them) was very amusing.  Anyway, what was meant to be a painting project (on paper) turned into body painting.  Sigh, . . . apple doesn't fall far from the tree!  And yes, they both got messy.  Really messy.  And yes, we all had fun.  Parents and kids.  

Here we go!  At first I was like, "Ok, don't paint on anything else but your hands," which lasted about a minute.  At some point I just gave in, . . .

(Gave in) And watched!  Hoping that the paint would stay on the shower curtain I had laid out!

"Check me out!"

 "Hmmm, I think I need a little color on my face."

Yes, there was a ring around the bathtub.  Somehow, I don't know how, the mess was relatively contained, . . .

Until Serafin had to use the toilet.  Oh well. 

"Hey!  That was fun!  Let's do it again!"

Kids are seriously the best!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Orcas Dreams 3: Holiday Cheer

Serafin takes us on a hike, the gray is getting to me a bit, but the beauty still makes me pinch myself.  

Well, it's our first holiday season on the island and so far it's all been pretty amusing.  Santa came on his ship with all his pirates and we've seen him around town a number of times.  We've done spiral candle walks, drank our hot chocolate, been to the local craft fair, watched the tree lighting on the "village green" and now things are quieting down a bit for the upcoming holiday.  More quiet walks, going inside myself and contemplating, hibernation.  I'm tired and I feel winter's slowness.

Honestly, it's so much nicer not to deal with the mayhem of the holidays, it was always crazy in Oakland.  So if I can't find what I want in town, I have to order it off of amazon, but you know what, that's ok with me.  I'm less tempted to spend my money and more picky about what I bring into this house.  That's a good thing.

Orcas has amazing holiday spirit.  So I've seen, Orcas has amazing spirit in general.  We aren't lagging either.  What kind of a blogger would I be if I didn't catch you up with the Dorrington holiday cheer, . . . here's what's been going on!

The tree, of course, a 10 footer!  That was Gary who insisted on that!  Hard to believe, I know!  I've never had such a big tree and thought it was a bit over the top (no pun intended), but now that it's in, I can't stop admiring it!  Two thumbs up to my hubby.  Maybe next year we'll get one off of our land??

Serafin's first year decorating (instead of demolishing) the tree with ornaments!  

She has also been her usual crafty self.  

Et, . . . Voila!

I've been crafty too!  I FINALLY finished Silas' x-mas stocking, . . . it only took me a year and a half!  

Never again will I buy a wreath, much more fun to make!  Serafin and I went clipping greens and looking for pine cones.

She entertained Silas while I put it all together, . . .

C'est Magnific!

Happy Holiday's Y'all!  xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Remember, . . . Missing Mama

We got a 10 foot x-mas tree up in our hallway.  It's huge!  The biggest I've ever had, but it sure is beautiful (for a dead tree) and there is something about the lights and decorations that bring out my inner little girl.  My mom would have loved this tree, she always loved Christmas, it was "her" holiday.  This will be my third Christmas without her and my heart is heavy with grief.  The first year was a haze of sadness and chaos, last year Christmas was a juggle between breastfeeding and sleeping (Silas had just been born a few months earlier).  This year, things feel different.  I feel my grief creeping up again,  I miss my mama.  I wish I could hug her, bury my face into her chest and cry.  I wish I could listen to her heartbeat.  

I'm here on Orcas, a magical place, very new to me and very exciting.  It feels "right" to be here.  I do, however, feel as if my vulnerabilities have come up and smacked me right in my face.  Transitions.  Sigh.  Essential in life, but not always easy.   Life is such a trip.  Along with trying to learn a new way of living, assimilate into a new culture and clan of people, I remember that which I have left behind.  Being in a new home, away from the comfort of familiar places and many loved ones, I remember

If my mom hadn't died, I'm not quite sure if we would have made it to Orcas.  We had talked about moving a lot with my parents, but it never went much further than that.  You never know what happens in this life, but I wasn't ready to move at that point.  Mom's death brought about a much needed lesson in me, to live life as fully as possible and, what that means for each person is different.  

Mom was the one parent who held me tight and never wanted me to go.  Once, she actually said those words to me, "don't go", I could see in her eyes the sadness she held at the thought of me moving away.  It made me sad too.   How much I love my parents.  How LUCKY I am to love my parents and to have always felt their love.  Unconditional love.  In regards to moving, Dad always displayed more understanding of our desire for a new adventure, after all, he travelled all the way around the world to be with my mom.  After she passed, everything shifted, our lives had changed in an instant.  Once the grief settled, something lifted inside me and I decided it was time for a life change.  Now, here I am.  And the beauty of it all?  Another level of grief.  Another lesson to learn.  I can feel it, live in it and let it pass along, as it will in its own time.  In the meantime, I can hold my mama close to my heart and remember.

~Miss you Mama.  May your soul be flying high, soaring, arms reached out, wind in your your long beautiful hair.  Your energy moving on to the next incredible adventure.  Thank you for everything.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Aging Is A Privilege

Photo by Gary Dorrington

My kids have helped me understand something important about this life.  That nothing stays the same, everything changes.  We are born, we grow, we live, we die.  We are happy, we are sad, excited, mad, . . . life moves and it never stops, even after we die.  

As I grow older and see people, places and things come and go, I feel the transitory aspect of life more than ever.  We are here one moment, and somewhere else the next.  Moving here, moving there, working, raising our kids, going in and out of places, living life.  If we are lucky, while we grow, along with our hardships, we also laugh and smile.  This life is beautiful.  Aging is beautiful.

I don't know why there is such a stigma about getting older.  I like my gray hair and the lines that I see deepening on my face.  The change I see happening to my body.  It means that I have lived.  Perhaps people are afraid to grow older because they associate one's longevity in life with the idea that they are coming closer to death.  People fear the unknown, people fear death.  I know I have.  

I've always had older friends.  Older people amaze me.  They have so many tales.  Their faces tell me about their life.  We all live and we all die.  There is no difference between a baby and a great-great grandmother accept that one has experienced more life than the other.  Death has no clock, it just happens when it happens.  Aging is not only a part of living, it is a privilege.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Yes, those are my pink gardening gloves.  Another great photo taken by the hubby.

I have a degenerative problem in my right ankle, basically part of the bone has died and, as you can imagine, causes pain and other problems.  I've had it since I was very young and when I was 18 I even had surgery on it.  While it did get better for some time, it has never been pain free.  In retrospect I wonder if the surgery helped or made the condition worse, cutting into the body can cause so much harm even if it's meant to do good.  

Unfortunately, in the last couple of years my ankle has started hurting more intensely again.  About 6 months ago I got an MRI to check things out, low and behold, the problem persists and the doctor says it will most likely only get worse as I get older.   While I believe them to a certain extent, I also believe that healing is possible.  A little TLC can go a very long way.  No more surgery for this gal.  Massage, salves, strength building exercise and bone building teas are my plan of action.   Nettles, plus a few others,  have been at the top of my list for this ailment.  

Recently, I can't remember where, I heard that stinging yourself with nettles helps with joint problems.  I love nettles and we have a lot of them around here.  If you don't already know, nettles have wonderful healing properties in them.  They are rich in iron and calcium.  They are a diuretic so if you drink nettle tea during your moon cycle or pregnancy, you can cut down on some of that water retention.  Ahh, nettles.  You can drink them or throw them in soups.   I've even seen people eat them raw (something I will probably never have the nerve to try), but I do love the way they taste after they have been cooked (and their stingers aren't stinging anymore!).  

One sunny morning, about a month ago, I hiked down to our nettle patch and picked me some stingers.  Pain was a great motivator for this experiment.  When things hurt, sometimes we'll try the most bizarre things to help ease suffering.  I stung myself in several places on my ankle, wherever it felt like it needed it.  I have a few spots in particular that ache and also get swollen.  I was surprised to notice that it really didn't hurt at all, in fact, when I applied it to certain spots it actually felt good!   I was pain free for a couple of weeks after that.  Did it really do anything or was it a coincidence?    Had I stung myself enough to actually have an affect?  I don't know, but the experience has raised my suspicions enough that I will try it again when my ankle starts aching.  Go on, . . . google it, "stinging yourself with nettles" and you'll see that I'm not the only nut out there.  Oh, and fyi, if you do go picking nettles, remember that the stingers are on the bottom side of the leaf.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Orcas Dreams 2: What about the Garbage?

"The Exchange", . . . one persons trash is another's treasure.

A number of you have asked me what happens to our garbage here on Orcas.  It's really quite interesting and I hadn't thought about it till we got up here.  After two weeks our bins got full up and I thought, "Oh yeah, nobody will come and get this, we have to deal with it ourself."  It's amazing how much more aware one becomes when they don't have people doing their "dirty" work for them.  

Here on the island, there is no dump.   All trash needs to be put in dumpsters and shipped off the island.  There are hardly any public garbages bins in town, people are encouraged to deal with their trash themselves.  You would think that this would mean that there is trash everywhere, along the roads, at the beaches, not so, you might see some, but this place is sparkling compared to what I see driving along country roads on the mainland.  

San Juan County Solid Waste Disposal has recently started a new service for home pick up, but it hasn't caught on yet.  For the most part, people take their own trash and recycling to the waste area.  In fact, a trip to the "dump" is considered a social event, it's only open Thursday-Sunday and you'll see many familiar faces.  

Getting rid of our trash basically works like this, . . . you pay $5 for up to six trash cans/bags of recycling and $10 for up to 2 cans of garbage.  It's not weighed, there is no person there to help you get your trash in and out of your car, you stop at a little shed, pay your money, back your car right up to the edge of the dumpster and dump dump dump.  I was amazed to see that on any given day there are 4 dumpsters available for dumping, 3 of these were for recycling and one was for trash.  The 3 Rs (Re-duce, Re-Use and Re-cycle) are a way of life here, instilled in the brains of the community and culture.  Before we moved here I thought I was fairly thoughtful about the amount of trash I put out there, but here I am forced to be even more sensitive and I'm realizing that I have a lot to learn.  

Now, onto the more interesting aspect of Orcas Island's waste disposal system.  The Exchange.  What an amazing place!  No city should be without one and yet I have never seen a place quite like it!  You bring your "junk", anything from mop heads, old toys, books, art, furniture, sheets, sinks, doors, . . .you name it.  You either donate it or exchange for something else.  How many times have I tried to sell something on craigslist (for like a year) without any takers, but felt too guilty about throwing it in the trash or simply felt that it deserved more than just being tossed away.  Well, The Exchange will most likely take it and hand it off to some other creative sole.  It might be used as is or turned into some fabulous piece of art or functional object.  If you turn up at The Exchange empty handed, but need something, no fear!  Monetary donations are accepted as well and are an important part in keeping this spot up and running.  I almost wept tears of joy when I saw this place, it is awesome!  

Only pictures can describe, . . . 

Need a bike?  You would think that Critical Mass was coming through!

Or how about a door?

Serafin has had a thing about the Yellow Brick Road lately, at The Exchange, we followed the "White Sink Road".

I'll be curious to see what happens to these around Easter.

Speakers, music and other electronics.

Dishware, lamp shades and kitchen appliances

Clothes!  Everything from adult to children's clothing, costumes and shoes.

The Exchange library

We still haven't pulled our x-mas tree stand out of a box yet, if we can't find it at least we know where to come to get one!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When Our Children Know

Photo by G. Dorrington

Today I was reminded of something important.  While desperately trying to get the floor swept and mopped, my son grunted and cried for me to sit down and play with him.  I quickly walked around him trying to finish the work as fast as possible.  I had to clean the floor, right?  I handed him different toys and made funny faces at him in the hopes that he might get distracted and I could get a couple of more minutes to clean.  I even tried turning on music and dancing around the room with broom in hand.

He didn't want a toy, he didn't want funny faces and he most definitely didn't want music.  He wanted me to sit down and focus on him.  To be present with him.  To let him sit in my lap and touch my face.  To smile and look him in the eyes.  As my son begged for me, in his cooing way, I finally stopped and put down the broom.  What was I thinking?  Why had it taken me so long to see that my son needed me in that moment?  Why do I sometimes forget what is important and get caught up in what I think "needs" to be done, or what I "have" to do?  What was most important in that moment--cleaning up dust or interacting with my son who was so bluntly asking for my attention?   

We played with some blocks, handed things back and forth to each other and played a bit of peek-a-boo.  We smiled and laughed with each other, held hands and hugged.  After about 15 minutes, he turned around and scooted to a box of toys where he began playing by himself.  That was it.  I said his name, he looked at me and then smiled and turned back to his toy.  I stood up and continued my work while my son happily played for another 25 minutes.  We were both so much less stressed and once again I was humbly reminded of a valuable lesson.  When our children feel safe and know that they will be taken care of, then they gain the strength and courage they need to venture out on their own.  When our children know they will be heard if they speak up, then they don't need to waste precious time and energy trying to gain our attention over and over.   When our children know that we will be present with them, they can learn to be present with themselves.

Love and light to all the children out there.  Namaste.

Monday, October 22, 2012

O Holy Tree

I love this tree, the leaves are turning now and they are such beautiful colors.  I'm looking forward to raking them up and then jumping into a pile of leaves!
Today I went looking for my "Hug Tree".    Trees need love too, don't we all?   I had a "Hug Tree" back in Oakland.  Every time I walked by it, I would either hug it, or, if I was in a hurry, I would just say "hello" and send it my love.  Admittedly, there were a few times I was "caught" by fellow hikers while hugging my tree, sometimes I got a smile, other times I got strange looks.  It was my goal to not be embarrassed and be firm about my love for the trees.   Yes, I am a tried and true tree hugger.  Trees are wonderful.

What is it about the trees that I love?  I feel calm after hugging a tree.  More grounded.  Sometimes, I put my ear up to the trunk and it seems like I can even hear a heartbeat.  Maybe it's mother nature or a tree spirit, maybe it's the ongoing traffic vibrating through the ground, or maybe I'm going mad!  I don't care, it just feels so damned good to hug a tree.

One of my favorite things to do when I'm hugging a tree is to look up!  It reminds me of the bigger picture and of how small I really am!
When I hug a tree, sometimes I pretend my legs are roots, going deep into the ground, gaining stability.  I feel the solidity of the trunk against my body, so strong and hard.  Trees give me strength.  Trees connect me with the ultimate mother, our earth.  Perhaps that's one of the reasons I was drawn to our Orcas forest, to feel more connected with nature.

I love trees!  There is so much to learn from them!
Trees are also flexible.  Trees sway and bend in the wind, if they didn't they would snap and die, sometimes they do.  There are times when life is tough and I tell myself, "Bend in the wind Jessica!  Bend in the wind!"  Trees are such an inspiration.  

Sigh.  Oh trees.  And another sigh.

I took a reprieve from the bed today.  I've been stuck in bed for the past three days with a injured back and this afternoon I decided it was time to take a gentle walk and get my circulation going a bit.  What a perfect way to help with the healing process, hug a tree.  Serafin joined me, we were off and on our own little  mission to find our "Hug Tree".   As you can imagine, we didn't end up hugging just one tree, we hugged multiple trees!  

This was our first real hug tree, Serafin calls it "The Leaning Tree".  I didn't want to tromp through the uneven field with my bad back, but Serafin talked me into it.  She really wanted to hug this tree!

See!  There she is, . . . my little tree hugger!  Imagine how the world would be if we all just chilled the fuck out and hugged some trees!  (Can you tell I'm a passionate tree hugging advocate!)
Another beauty.
Tromping back through the field towards our house, but I wasn't ready to go home yet, . . .

. . . there were more trees to hug!

Pippin followed along too!  She's lost weight since we got here, all the fresh air and land to run on!

We headed off down our driveway and over to the road.  In order to get home, we must drive 5 minutes up this gravel road.  Part of the road goes through our property and up to the neighbors house.  It's dreamy being surrounded by all this green.

All trees have spirits, some have faces too!

This one's my favorite.  These were here when we moved in, we've found three so far, I'm on the lookout for others though.

Serafin had enough tree hugging and decided to go back home.  "Bye Mom!"

And off into the woods I go!  There are loads of deer trails around here, I keep trying to remember to bring my garden clippers to make the path a little cleaner and wider as I go.  I find myself meandering through the forest quite a bit.  The dogs go a bit crazy too, there are rabbits all over this land.

This tree was definitely ripe for hugging!  

Trees get scars, just like us!  I wonder what happened here.

And now it's time to head back home!

Maybe tomorrow I'll go and explore the backyard!  I can see some good trees for hugging!

Go hug a tree!  You won't regret it!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Orcas Dreams Part 1: Getting Our Feet Dirty

Our first morning here!  Silas gets his feet dirty as we enjoy the view and a danish!  Yummo!

Well, my computer has finally arrived, and now I am at a loss for words.  Obviously that's not totally true, I can always find something to say.  I had plans to sit down and account for all that has happened in the month since we arrived here, but now it feels like all too much to go back into my head and try and remember.  Below I'll post some pictures of the move and a few of our early island adventures, but I think that will be the best I can do.

The first three weeks after we arrived on Orcas we came into an Indian summer.  It was really nice to move up North and be greeted by gorgeous sunny and long days.  I think the memory of those days will keep me going through the darkness of winter.  I am nervous about winter.  We have moved into fall now.  The leaves are turning, there are splotches of red, orange and yellow dotted all over the island, their backdrop is the amazing emerald green trees of the Pacific North West.  Yes, it is beautiful here.

Our cat Henry got a chance to enjoy the sunshine as well.  We lost him just before the rains started.  He was a true example of a cat having nine lives.  He had been close to passing a number of times since he came into our lives, his will to live was incredibly strong and inspiring.  In conclusion, I believe that Henry wanted to see what all the ruckus was about, boxes everywhere, all the movement, Gary going back and forth.  Henry wanted to see Orcas, and he did.  Henry made it through a 24 hour car ride and enjoyed the fresh air for three full weeks.  We decided to help him along when he stopped eating his food, was having difficulty breathing and began having seizures.  He died with me holding him when a local vet came to our house to administer the shot.  All of his family was around him and he passed as the sun was setting.  It was really quite beautiful and I am again reminded of the beauty of life, and death.  When I see a passing like this, it moves me and I gain more courage for the future when it will be my time to move along.  Alas, we all die.  Thank you sweet Henry, I miss you.

Gary took some photos of Henry while  he hung out in the Garden.  He always seemed to really enjoy feeling the sun and breathing the fesh air.  He would hold his head up and close his eyes.  The true meaning of presence.

"Operation Orcas" is now null and void, since we are now living here, I will entitle my new series of lifestyle writings, "Orcas Dreams".  Gary and I had dreamt of doing this for ourselves and our children for quite some time and it only seems appropriate to honor that.  Also, this island certainly is dreamy, I keep having to pinch myself and reminding myself that I actually live here now.  We are blessed.

Life on the island is interesting.  There is definitely an island feel, fresh fish, water and beaches at the end of roads, the sound of the waves, high prices for food and gas, 2 or 3 markets, everybody knows each other, buoys and other beach items everywhere you look, . . .  you get the picture.  I am reminded of my sweet greek grandmother who lived on a small island all her life.  I wish I could talk to her and tell her about my adventures here.  In my dreams I suppose!

We are meeting some people, but I haven't connected with anybody yet, you know, that real connection where you are like, "hey, you're cool, let's hang out!".  It will take some time.  I miss my friends and family back at home and feel a bit lonely at times when I can't reach them.  I have been making an effort to get out though and Serafin also starts going to her new pre-school next week.  I have a feeling I will get to know some parents through there.

Her school is amazing!  I want to go there!  There are chickens and a huge play yard with impressive structures to climb on and explore.  The classroom is in a small building and has a loft with a blackboard for doodles, all the toys are wooden and there were a couple of instruments there that I even had trouble recognizing.   The school put on a "Fall Festival" of sorts with a pot luck lunch, a cider press for making fresh apple cider and there were even donkeys for riding.  Serafin had a blast, I did too.

The next couple of weeks there will be a lot of activity for us.  Aside from Serafin starting school, Gary has his birthday and then Silas his (I can't believe he's turning one!), after that it's Halloween, one of my favorite holidays! We've made ghosts for hanging in the trees and even made a Serafin and Silas scarecrow that greet any guests at the driveway entrance.
Another photo of Gary's, Serafin had fun making the scarecrows, she even wanted to put one in the bucket swing and watch it go!  
We won't be getting any trick-or-treaters on our 24 acre lot that's 5 minutes up a gravel road on Sunset Mountain.  Nope, not here, but we didn't in our last house either, so that's nothing new!  The stores in town, however, open their doors to kids on the island for trick-or-treating, they also do pumpkin carving, story telling, and hay rides.  The local stores are also participating in a scare-crow festival, so I look forward to see what Eastsound turns itself into this Halloween.

As for me, a lot of what I do depends on how I will be feeling next week.  I've been a bit bogged down this week with a hurt lower back.  I had Silas in his carrier and Serafin gave me the "Oh my god I've got to pee right now" cue, so we rushed to a public toilet and when I lifted her on to the seat I heard my back crunch.  I thought it was getting better and then over did it yesterday when I was eager to mop and clean the bathrooms (can't believe I said that).  Anyway, I have ended up stuck in bed all day today, good thing my computer arrived!  So that's all for now my friends.  It feels good to be back on the internet super highway!  BIG LOVE and talk soon!  Enjoy the pics!

Serafin crashes out in the car seat on the way to Orcas.  After being up since 3:30, I was surprised she made it as long as she did!  I had a quiet ride all the way to the ferry, a blessing for this tired mama!
"What a relief!  We made it!"

This was our moving truck!  We filled the entire thing up apparently!  See what I mean about having a lot of stuff.  How did that happen??

Thank goodness it wasn't raining when the movers arrived, it would have been a lot messier.  We have white carpets in this house (the only major flaw in my opinion) and muddy shoes on movers would not have been a nice welcome.  They had a good strategy though, take everything off the truck and put it in the driveway, then bring it into the house.

I have connected with my mom on this land already.  When we arrived, the echinacea was in full bloom!  I snipped the flowers for drying to make medicine.  I have also found Lavender, Yellow Dock,  Parsley, Nettles,  Thyme, Yerba Buena and Blackberry.  My mamma would be proud!

You all have seen this one before, this is a picture of the view from our deck, off of the dining room.  We've had some amazing sunsets, hence the name of where we live, Sunset Mountain.  Pinch.  Pinch.  See what I mean?  Do I really live here?

My beautiful six burner stovetop!  "I LOVE YOU"!  It's so much nicer to cook on this than my previous electric radiant stovetop.

Serafin playing at the beach!  I love that fresh clean water to play in is just 10 minutes away from our home and the big question of the day is "which beach are we going to go to?"

Serafin rides a donkey at her new school!