Sometimes the only place to start is from here. OK, it's the only place to start from, really, and the only place to arrive. But here is a tricky thing. And I’m utterly (let’s not say hopelessly) ill-prepared for it. If I tapped into my zen, I’d see that being where you are requires zero preparation. But oh dear friends, I’m not quite there yet.

{eva by malota}
Yet there’s no escaping; here I am. A long continent away from where I was only three weeks ago. Back “home” so to speak, some may even say back to where I started. But I’ve never been here before. Navigating the state of 37 weeks pregnant with my husband, who’s definitely never been here before either. Refiguring how to live in the States, while suddenly--so it seems to me now--becoming mother.

This week we’ll pack a bag for the hospital and wash some baby clothes. We’ll buy me a robe and an open-fronted nursing shirt or two. We’ll install baby’s car seat, and buy a cute mirror so we can see him in the rearview. We’ll take another birthing class at the birthing center. I’ll get my first-ever acupuncture in hopes that it will calm me: help me to arrive. To tell you the truth, it calms me just to write this down. One of blogging's more peaceful moments, and something I've been missing.

But what wakes me up at odd hours aside from constant peeing? Is what to do about the nest. We've been living with my auntie, convinced that we would have our own place set up before baby belted his first hello. When we left Patagonia, I couldn’t really start thinking about what we would do for housing upon arrival to California. First, we had to vacate our lives there, say our nos vemos, hasta prontos. Planning beyond that was just flying pigs to me. 

Now that we’re here, of course I want to nest. I want to figure out diapers and decorate space, unpack the baby items given us in Patagonia. To start our home together.  At the same time, I just don’t know if I have it in me to get everything we need for the baby and to shop for a bed for us, bookshelves, a dresser. Not to mention choosing an arbitrary location before we have jobs. And physically move the few boxes I have (which I can’t really help with) and decorate (which I might obsess over). And remember to breathe relaxingly for this natural birth thing? Be a mom to another human being, when I’m finding it difficult to even mother myself. 
{photo by dan;o)el}
Um, yeah, I know I can do this. But I could use a pep talk or a funny story. Something about a time when you jumped into the deep end only half able to swim... and survived.

happy holidays.

Right now I feel a little like swinging high till the chain loosens enough for my stomach to enter the heart of my throat before it plops back down again in a tightening creak. It all happens so fast. And then there's that feeling that you can do it over and over again. And if you're older and haven't swung in a while, you may find it's even good exercise.

{torres del paine swinging : by serkan yalin}
We are squaring away newborn insurance for next year and apartment hunting. It makes me squirmy, as I find sitting in some chairs for more than 20 minutes unbearable. Not to mention the actual apartment viewing part and the fact that my decision-making skills are shot. On the other hand, it's remarkable (even if I do say so myself) how many decisions we've made since we arrived. I'm so happy the seats in our new 1999 car are comfortable (and have seat warmers). I'm happy to take those wheels and reunite with long-time friends. To share Christmas with family, to breathe in the pine of my auntie's colorful Christmas tree. To return to little girls so grown up, to our growing family with my growing belly--knees kneading me from the inside and eyelids blinking between sleep.

I miss you, dear blog friends. Sending you light wishes and delight. That your transition into the new year be warm and love-filled, ever.


Not much has progressed since my last entry. Though, as of yesterday, we do have phones. We’ve started taking our (better late than never) birthing classes and found that baby is (still) butt breech. There’s time for him to turn, but he’s been like this for a while. Then there were a few of those days. You know the ones, where the car you just bought doesn’t work exactly as it should, and you’re driving a lot. You’re worried about where you’ll live and how long it will be till there’s income again. Knowing there’s a baby and a new mom soon, who only just changed her first diaper on a dolly on Saturday. And trying to let go and go with the flow. If mom’s stuck on the breech, how is baby supposed to get unstuck? 

{yogi tea wisdom : via fieldy}
Let’s just say the irony’s not lost on me. And all of this non-acceptance and mind wheeling mechanical worry has given me the first hives of my life and a wicked cold. Two days ago I thought the world was about to end—or that it never would. I’d been listening to the “advice” of other pregnant mothers who had weathered colds: It’ll pass. Tea. Soup broth. Tissues. It might take weeks; be patient. I started to imagine trying to labor in that condition, impossibly. I stayed in bed a day, while S cooked and mothered me as best he could. And I already feel better. The worst of it lasted only two days, though no over-rejoicing and jinxing my good fortune here. 

Then the pitter-patter of hiccups, which I swear resonate from the lower part of my womb… Maybe it's progression after all. 

dear friends.

Looks like I'm going to need more time on the international move front. Who knew it would be so much work? I thought I would have seen more people by now and be back caught up with emails and blogs.  They say the moodiness of the first trimester revisits in the third. And, while it certainly isn't as difficult as my first tri, I certainly burst into tears more than I would like. I thank my lucky stars and clouds for my loving, supportive family, and of course, my dear husband of infinite patience. During the day, autumn's colors do make me smile... if only the days lasted a little bit longer.

The good news is we have pretty much decided on the birth center. We start appointments there tomorrow and pick up the beginning of all the birthing classes we need to take on Thursday. In Natales we were sans classes (and a whole lot else)--an idea I had to get used to, but it's wonderful to have more options and better (+ holistic) care. We also figured out my health insurance. All those people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance now, a little something called Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan. (I'm not going to get all political on you, but I'll just say this totally rocks and relieves many of my worries.) We also bought a car today, which will require lots more errands in the coming days.

So, slowly but surely, we're finding our way. Getting settled. Phones, S's social security card + driver's license, holidays, and maybe a baby shower to follow soon. Not to mention where to live and jobs.  Posting will continue to be sparse this week. In the meantime, thank you so much for your emails, kind words and welcome homes. Please bear with me. :)

two days of summer.

We did it! Packed, cleaned and cleared out the house. It wasn't until after we moved into the waiting area for the plane that I cried. There's something more final about leaving Patagonia. When I left the States, I might have choked up a time or two, but it never felt final. Of course I would return to visit--if not to live.

Puerto Natales is where S + I met, where we started a life together, where we've been living the past few years with the odd support system of other expats and a few locals. Our comfort, our makeshift family. And now another leap into the wide open. (Let's not even think about the part where we become parents.) This next leap we make together. Yeah, we can face anything.

{photo by rishi menon}

We arrived to Santiago last night. It was windy cold when we left Patagonia, so the green spring blooms and magnolia trees outside our window now are a welcome change. We can walk around outside in flip flops and T-shirts. Sunshine's so good for the heart. Never mind the smog; on the way in we could see an outline of the Andes. Today we're off to enjoy the summer before we head back into winter--again.

{photo by pilottage}

For the past few years, we've been smartly following summer, not winter. This works out well, because Patagonian summers are on par with California winters. Sun sets in Santiago nearly two hours before it does in the extreme south of the country, so it's a good transition to moving into dark before five. Dear Nordic friends, I don't know how you manage near total darkness for months at a time! For now, we're off to soak in the sunshine.

creative space.

Between my "creative space" hormones, trying to fit our lives into four (now five) bags, cleaning house and finding homes for what we won't take with us, vacating the house and giving it back to the property owner, and saying farewell to people, I've had my hands full, my mind occupied and my fair share of cries. So, if I haven't responded to emails or popped in for a hi lately, that's why.

{circa 31 weeks}
Visit me over at Lady of the Arts today for her killer Around the World Series. Meet other bloggers from around the world through their interpretations of inside, outside, creative space and a wild card photo of of each blogger's choosing.

thank you.

We've been a little busy around here, so my posts have been intermittent. In honor of (American) Thanksgiving (and love), I thought I'd move my usual spot of Friday gratitude to today. And put it in a simple short list of thankfuls...

{sol : colonia, uruguay : by me}
family and friends and reconnections
the ability to travel and to return (erm, married + with child)
the art of letting go--perhaps impossible to master, but I've grown heaps in this area of letting go of non-material things
sweet mail with tiny lettering
the cheesecake baked and the apple crisp still but a glimmer in my imagination
a gringo thanksgiving at the end of the world
that candle wax accidents can be removed (note to teenage me: do not cut the carpet fringe)
internet (because, really, how was 14-year old me supposed to know how to get the wax out?)
frutillas regionales
to explore "home" for a lifetime, to discover it's everywhere S + I are together
to adapt together
waking up refreshed
the first hug of the morning
baby hiccups, elbows and knees that pop and somersault around my womb

What thanks are you giving today?

me + my backpack + some other stuff.

Yesterday I enjoyed one of my last yoga classes in the dome. It's basically a yurt-style "tent" a few kilometers outside of town, with brilliant views of Última Esperanza Fjord. It's built to withstand the gales and near hurricane-force winds. (And let's just say this full moon kicked up some glass-breaking twisters and house-rattling gusts.) Practicing yoga in the dome--warmed by a wood burning stove and sheltered from the gales beyond it--is noisy. The loudness of lashings never really bothers me when I'm inside, but our yoga maestra kept reminding us to let the wind sweep away what we no longer need. Let go our heavy baggage so to speak.

About four years ago, I shouldered a blue backpack and set out to travel around South America. I had a plan (which included returning in two months), but I found it difficult to explain to others what exactly I was doing. Friends wished me farewell, saying: I hope you find what you're looking for. I had no idea what that meant or what I might be looking for.

{on the way to paso oggioni, torres del paine}

My backpack has climbed glaciers and volcanoes peaking 6,000 meters, soaked in the mists of Machu Picchu, weighed down my broken toe traversing the Bolivian altiplano, wobbled on donkeys and boarded canoes in the Amazon. It's froze beneath the snow of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. It's explored Turkey and survived rickety trains throughout Eastern Europe. I heard its sighs of relief when--too heavy for me to daintily swing onto my back--S has picked it up and held it out for me to put on, as if it was anything as light as a coat. It's been nibbled by mice and manhandled by airport conveyors. It's been my home for months at a time and my chair at dinnertime.

{en route to paso marconi + the ice field, from el chaltén}
And most recently heavy blue has been sold. For nearly a decade, that backpack collected shells and stones, non-native pine cones, diary notes scribbled on maps, breathtaking views, and the camaraderie of other backpacks.

{almirante nieto, torres del paine}
I've collected beach glass, bird books and real feather pens, friends, transience, acceptance. I met yoga and meditation and my husband. In that order. Maybe I was looking for something. But when I stopped looking and opened my eyes, I found I already had everything. (But, of course, I still wanted to meet that special someone.) A few blinks later : enter S. Now we're moving to my California homeland, with the backwards backpack of my 7-month pregnant belly. What a long, strange trip it's been.

May the wind carry away some of your excess baggage today. 
What would you send with its next gust?

friday present: pegasus catapult.

This week stormed through the house and swept up all the pretty horses--light like feathers--impeding its path. It makes me think, maybe I really did ride a pegasus last night, dreaming. After this week's hectic, I'm so thankful for now's lull:

to be quiet... 

{photo by khalid almasoud}
Have you ever noticed how hungry just the mere act of thinking makes you? I used to work in a cubicle at a Silicon Valley internet company. I'd eat a bowl of cereal there, and even though my only activity was brain and finger-related, my stomach would start growling in no time. But then on the weekends--even though I physically moved around more--I could go all morning without eating and without feeling too hungry. I don't know if this has something to do with being alone or the amber waves of brain activity calming down. Maybe the extra energy came from not being exposed to florescent lighting's energy sap.

I do know that little things like talking eat up a lot of our energy. A couple years ago, I did a 10-day meditation in silence. We'd have lunch at 11 a.m. and in the afternoon around 5, we'd eat a piece of fruit and drink tea. I never felt ravenous hunger, until the last day when we broke the silence. That day we still meditated, but between meditations, we talked and got to know the people with whom we shared our rooms, the incredible experience. When evening tea time came around, we were famished.

My point: Sometimes simple conversation can wear you out. We've had nearly four despedidas in as many days. Saying farewell takes a lot of talking, or in my case these zombie days, a lot of listening to others talk. Who knew it would be such a drain? So yeah, right now I'm happy to be quiet.

to be reminded...
Permanence is life's comical side dish, like that plate of brussel sprouts at Thanksgiving that nobody really touches. I'm sure the fact that we're leaving and saying goodbye to all our friends here makes moving all the more exhausting. This week we sold the car, we sold our land in Patagonia, we sold the last of our mountaineering equipment, we packed two of our bags and set aside piles of things to give away. I've looked on as beautiful friends take away pieces of my clothing. Part of me lights up to see my wardrobe refreshed on a different body. Part of me misses my body. Agility, lightness, stamina. (I know I'm not supposed to say that, but I'm sure such moments happen to everybody. And this is about acceptance.)

I didn't expect to find myself astride a saddle of attachment. I've moved a lot, sold off all my belongings more times than I care to count. Although it may not sound like it here, I am thankful for this lesson of letting go. We do live a pretty transient, up-in-the-air life, but here that's still easy and more or less stable. Moving back to complicatedville is frightening, so it's good to practice a little let-go right now. The only really ever have control over our thoughts + actions. So I am reminded: Make the thoughts positive, act with compassion.

{photo by colton witt photography}
to find space...
As I get heavier, my life lightens. Every day for the past two weeks, we have gotten rid of some material thing. During this time, baby enjoyed a growth spurt and my belly, lots of oil slathering. I'm creating space.

to be loved...
Yesterday I guess I just needed to cry. During our dinner party. Um, yeah, thanks return of the hormone crazies. It was late, luckily we were at our home, and everybody was entertaining themselves. I snuck into the bedroom, feeling how tired kids must feel when the fussing and crying kicks in. With no real reason other than it's time to be quiet and rest. How many fights have we picked in our lives because we weren't listening to our own exhaustion-o-meter?

S came to the rescue, held me, pulled me together, reminded me I'm a space maker. Thank you for your patience, understanding, killer pep talks and strong hugs.

{photo by seyyed mostafa zamani}
to be...
Grateful to just be. That's all.

What are you thankful for today?

date in the afternoon.

Our big plan on Monday was to fix our spare tire and head to Argentina, a mini three-day road trip to be somewhere different, eat good food, bid farewell. Our last hoorah here, so to speak. S is leaving on his last guiding trip in a couple days. When he returns, we'll only have four days to get everything in order for leaving, say our human good-byes to friends here.

{road trip postponed : via}
But on Sunday, I received a call from a friend that somebody wanted to buy our car. We were already pretty much giving up on selling it before we leave. Though this should have been happy news, I really wanted to go on that trip. Yesterday was dedicated to running around with the gringo who wants our car, while he figured out how he could get the money out of his accounts to make the purchase. The morning was warm and windless enough to sunbathe, though we were fully clothed. A friend let S & I into his still-closed cafe, where I could use the bathroom (my new hobby) and we could enjoy the sun in the garden out back, while we waited for the gringo to manage his banking.

In the end, it was a no go, and too late for us to leave. I'll spare you all the silly details. If you've ever done any long-term traveling, you know how difficult it can be to actually get access to your funds when you most need 'em. How often travelers get stuck, cards stolen, new cards sent, the limbo of overseas banking. It's never pretty. Add Chilean bureaucracy and the added difficulties of this remote region to the mix, and you get a days-long process. Which S is working on with the prospective buyer as I write this. We decided I didn't need to go on another 5-hour journey, running around the town this morning.

Since we still had the car yesterday afternoon, I really wanted to do something with it. (You know, something more constructive than whining about how we should be in Calafate, enjoying our road trip together.) Go somewhere we won't be able to without wheels. So we went on an afternoon date to the far end of the sound. To a tiny peninsula that caught the rev of wind. We shot my 30 week belly pics, and sat on dry slate protected from the wind by the sea. We watched a patch of sunlight ray over our perfect view of Torres del Paine. A white gull pair fought with a dark petrel over fishing territory. Terns squawked or screamed. With impeccable timing the seabirds ceased, so we could better listen to the garbage trucks barreling down the dirt road.

{ice cream condolences : photo by josh liba}
Back in Natales we were entered an eerie windlessness again, so we splurged on ice cream cones. There's something so touristy wonderful about walking around town licking ice cream. We sat on a bench beneath a random ventana cultural sign in one of the town's random plazuelas, watching the old ladies in the artesenia shops watch us.

Do you ever walk like a tourist at home?

what a difference 10 weeks makes.

This was me at 20 weeks flaunting my bump and happily feeling baby's wriggling.

{circa 19 weeks in santa teresa, uruguay; we missed our 20 week photo}

This is me now. Hardly anybody says, pero está chicquitita la guata (but your belly's so tiny), anymore.

{circa 30 weeks in puerto natales, chile}

friday present: now.

We have bucket loads of decisions to make every day, the most important ones having to do with our outlook. We can choose to be thankful, appreciative, compassionate. Or we can choose to dwell on what ails us. Right now, for instance, I decide to dodge the darker hollow and head for lighter ground. With one moment's gratitude list. Right now I'm thankful for...

this moment. 
I have pregnancy nose big time. The dry weatherscape here dries me out even more, so it's a pretty bloody mess lately, crescendoing this week. Not being able to breathe through my nose properly is suffocating enough, and if I ride that wave of thought, it'll make me panicky and most certainly grumpy.

So this morning, just as I was rising to panic point, I let the wave pass. Focusing instead on all the good things about right now. Sparrows chirping, sudden flocks of ibis squealing overhead. Sun pouring through my window. A lapse in the neighborhood dogs barking. Warm inside while it's wickedly windy outside, clothes on the line so quick to dry. That if I calm + slow down, I can still drag a decent breath through my nose. That there's always the emergency back up of my mouth. I'm breathing for two. Our baby hiccuping inside. Sparrows.

What are you thankful for?

penguin amor.

I did it again. I think our little one is such a part of me already (hi big feet and sciatic nerve, hello cute rolling and poking in my belly), that it's like he's already here. This happened once when we stumbled across baby Halloween costumes in Santiago, and I wanted to get one. Then yesterday's conversation between me + S, who is currently in Ushuaia, "southernmost city in the world." They'll even stamp your passport saying so if you ask nicely in the tourist office. 
S: I'm looking for a penguin costume for the baby.
Me: That is going to be SOOO cute! You should get us all penguin garb.
S: Really? Yeah that would be cute too.
[I have to stop here to point out two things. 1.) S was totally going for us dressed up as a family of penguins: hilarious and utterly endearing. His willingness surprised me. 2.) I believe there are some embarrassing pictures of me dressed as a penguin, complete with bow tie, floating around on Facebook.]
Me: Really? OK, yeah, let's all get penguin costumes. Then we can dress up as penguins for Christmas!
S: Ummm, Heather. He's not going to be here for Christmas. 
Has this kind of thing ever happened to you too? 

is that a rock in your pocket?

First, get your mind outta the gutter. This might be what the security guard asks me when I pass through security on our flight to Santiago or Lima or San Francisco. 

Let's just get this out of the way: I ♥ rocks. And pine cones. And shells. And worn beach glass. Messages in bottles. Driftwood.

{this guy loves stones too : by jos van wunnik}
I'm the girl who lugs stones down from the mountain with her. (I can be kinda clumsy--even without a big pack or big belly--so casing the landscape for pretty rocks underfoot while I hike works out well.) When backpacking I try to stick with the smallish stones. I collect and whittle down the collection on the way. When we arrive home, I always find a surprise rock somewhere in my rucksack--along with the yellow rosary given to me by a dear friend, which has been traveling the globe so rigorously for the past three years.

S entertains my addiction to flotsam. One of the best presents ever: a huge piece of driftwood he brought back for me from a kayaking trip. How he balanced that fat birdlike beauty across his kayak on the windy waters is another work of art in itself. Obviously we won't have space or weight (it's about 15 kilos!) left to bring the wood with us; neither the bags of rocks I pulled from the cupboard last night.

It seems I have stones coming out of my ears. Last night I chose a double, mounded handful of my favorites, placing the heavy ones on a windowsill and the tiny not-gonna-part-with-these in a bag with the shells. Shells are light, right? Someday I hope to have a rock garden (along with our herbs, flowers and fruit trees), with swirls of shells in between. A shell mobile for the boy.

{black stone spiral by jos van wunnik}
Living our transient life and moving a few times a year doesn't lend itself to gardening, not even hard gardening. I'm not a hoarder by any stretch, and I know you can't take it with you. But maybe just one more stone. The one with the plant fossil, or the stripey striated ones like tree rings showing centuries of compression, or the ancient stamp of shell from the mountain's peak--reminding us that we were all under water once. That we know how to swim.

Do you collect anything? Do you frequently weed out your collected?


{by tjasa maticic}
May your day be expansive. Like if you were the object of a painting, you'd let your arms and feet and hair would flow out beyond the frame. Rooted, perhaps, by a carrot or a sweet sweet melon into all things.

friday present: randoms.

It's been a couple weeks, since I've written one of these posts. Busy on the home front of moving (obtaining immigration visa, deciding to move + then acting on that whirlwind decision), though that should just be a different post altogether. So let's organize the thoughts, scattered leaves: This week I'm grateful for...

So many sockets. Most houses here have one single-plug socket per room. (At its heart, Puerto Natales is still a poor fishing village, riding the wave of Torres del Paine tourism and trying to learn how to grow.) Most houses are boxes built from scrap wood and tin; the guts of the house an afterthought. The electrical wires run on the outside of the walls, making for eye level sockets--one per room, if you're lucky. (You pay the "electrician" per outlet, and why pay more?) Then comes the extender plug (usually a three-sided danger toy), maybe another extender, then all the appliances plugged in, Frankenstein fashion. Yeah, you can call it a fire hazard. 

Not so where we live now. In a house with forethought: inset ceiling lights, closets, and more sockets than I've ever seen in all of South America. We have, for instance, five sockets in the living room. Three of which have three outlets each. We're only here another three weeks or so, but one of my fondest memories of this place will be the fact that I could plug my computer in anywhere--without unplugging something else, getting tangled up or tripping. 

{the moving night by luis argerich}
Like I said, we won't be here much longer. We leave Puerto Natales on November 29. We're selling everything, so I have a good reason to make spreadsheets. I can sort by whichever column I like and filter the information as I please: Who bought what, who do I owe items to, who owes us pesos? It's overly organized, and I love it! Every day this week, someone has stopped by to take something away. It feels good to physically see less to-do items in our space. 

beach glass.
Even though I'm wringing out our home, I still want it to feel homey, livable. Right now I'm looking at a row of beach-combed glass jars. The amber one holds a duck's plume. I'll let the jars catch light on the windowsill another week or so before rolling them in newspaper and jeans. It's decided; they're coming with us to California's cold Pacific. 

{via happy mundane}
deep sleeping. 
Aside from the fact that last night I got to sleep with my guru again after six days, I'm happy that I'm still able to sleep deeply. Of course I wake up a million times in the beginning of the night to pee. Or maybe baby gets all wiggly right when I'm snuggling in and it takes me a bit to fall asleep. But for the most part when I'm there, I'm there. (I know this luxury will slacken soon, so I'll just enjoy it while it lasts!) 

Last night S had his arm draped over my belly, and baby kept swatting at his hand. Baby does this; when he feels pressure, he starts to nudge around in that area. I telepathically told baby to hit harder, but sleeping S still didn't feel a thing. This morning, on the other hand, while S was in full-on play mode with our kicking baby, I didn't even wake up. 

breakfast in bed. 

S is the morning bird, I'm the night owl and baby still gets to be both. Someday they'll share the early morning hours together preparing me great late breakfasts in bed. We'll eat feasts of yogurt and honey, fruit and Turkish toast in bed together, before going for a hike on a sunny, breezy afternoon.

What are you thankful for right now?

encyclopedic post : history meets mail.

{dancer with a bouquet of flowers : edgar degas}
About two years ago, I moved into a room of a hostel. Aside from sharing the kitchen and bathroom with backpackers and all the rampant earwigs brought by autumn, I didn't mind living there. It was a free place for me to be. (Plus I met my husband shortly afterward and spent most nights at his house.) When I moved in, though, during that dead dark of cold winter, the room was still being used as a storage closet. The hostel itself wasn't open yet.

What I remember most about moving junk loads into the room across the hall are the antique encyclopedias, burnt black at the edges and disintegrating. I flipped through their pages, their amazing pictures. Visions of framed word art and collage danced in my head. Alas, the owner of these books--whose previous house burnt down as the paper houses with shoddy electrical work are wont to do here--planned to restore the books. They belonged to her deceased father, who was a doctor on Tierra del Fuego. I handled her heavy heirlooms with care, and didn't nab any of the cool pictures I oh so wanted. I wrote about this ages ago here.

Fast forward... > hostel opens + the books are moved out to the weather, supine to Patagonia's beatings no joke > come end of summer, earwigs hatch; they invade everything, can't lift a sponge or touch a towel without shaking one or five out > the cleaning woman battles them every morning, crushes them underfoot, sweeps out their carcasses, cleans the now overgrown backyard + starts throwing away earwig-infested encyclopedias > I save as many as I can carry and stow them in multiple bags so the tijeretas don't crawl into bed with me at night. They really do that!

{another degas interlude (after the bath, woman drying her nape);
why? because the next package someone receives from me is from the degas page}

Now I use the pages to wrap presents. And every time I send a piece of mail wrapped in encyclopedia, I lament not mentioning (on the card already snug inside the package) where the paper came from. I imagine someone finding the book destruction offensive. Now I realize, the recipient might be scared to touch said package with all my tijereta rantings, but they're clean I promise!

And yet... there's some artful book maiming out there. Take Brian Dettmer's book sculptures for instance. Only a true logophile would create this masterpiece from Webster's Dictionary...

{i say it's synchronicity: webster two point oh}
Not that my ripping out pages and taping them to boxes is artful, but I do like doing it. And playing with the serendipity of the pages as they open themselves up to be torn. 

{anticipate the comfort : the new modern medical counselor : by brian dettmer}
OK, there's a lot of innuendo here, I hadn't anticipated. Not sure if you're catching it; the subconscious is a marvelous poetic thing. I think it's better to just end with some questions...

How do you feel about writing in your books? Or altering them in some way?

get calmer.

Don't get mad or grumpy or frazzled or fed up. Get calm.

S said this to me after I might have said something about him being my guru. I know that may sound funny, but he is the most present, patient and overall calm person I know. The fact that he sometimes has to deal with the flare-ups of this raging fireball phases him little. (Wish I could claim that those flare-ups never actually happen, but what can I say?: I'm a work in progress.)

{because everybody needs to be reminded to breathe sometimes}
The tourist season has started here, finally. It seems to start later and later every year. Not ideal if you work seasonally. But it also means that right now S is on one of his longer trips. This always requires adjustment, a wee transition to being suddenly sola. And after spending all winter almost inseparably together, it's easy to see how much I rely on him. It's bigger things, like sleeping with our baby's soft stuffed monkey instead of my husband. And littler things, like how S always asks if I have water. Or medium-sized things, like suddenly I can't remember how to put air in the tires.

Meanwhile, every day something else moves from the house. I clean out another cupboard. Set aside things to giveaway, find more items to put on the for-sale list. I shift the house around to keep it homey. A couple nights ago I created sound sleeping energy in our new bedroom. We sold our bed yesterday; and it does feel good to find less to get rid every day. While Serkan was still here, I imagined it would be impossible to move from our big bed to the little kid's bed that came with our mostly furnished house. That the room had been used too long for exercise and closet space. But it feels really good in there. It has the comfortable, safe feeling of a nook, because the bed space is pretty nook-like. It's where we slept the first month we moved into this house and where we (S+me or monkey+me) will sleep during this last month too.

In other festivities, some friends painted my belly for Halloween. While Halloween isn't near as festive as it is in California, I still like to try to dress up. We weren't even sure what we would do till the last minute. But it was fun getting ready anyway. I've always had a knack for convincing boys to wear skirts. Halloween night was no exception...

{impromptu dance party}
Eventually I was something akin to mama planet...

{circa 28 weeks}
We made Laura a mime and David was Heather aka me...

David's costume is really only funny if you live in this tiny town and see people wearing the same things all the time (like this puffy jacket + wool hat, sunglasses; the wraparound skirt on top of jeans works like a little extra blanket against the cold). Apparently this genius costume even fooled some people--immediately followed by their utter unnerving.

{scary halloween version of the movie: heathers}
 David's ultra smiley pose every time the camera shot in his direction completed the look.

a giveaway walk in the park.

We're off to what will likely be my last trip to Torres del Paine before we move to California. The weather has been beautiful the last couple of days, so we're taking advantage of still owning a car (which we will hopefully be able to sell before we go!), and driving up for some light hiking day-trip style.

In the meantime if you haven't already, you can enter my giveaway here.

{to win these hippie handmade stunners}
Do you hike or is there anywhere to hike near where you live? What are your favorite places to explore?

sometimes i wish.

I was as small as a bee--bobbing about flowers even smaller than myself + listening to birdsong much bigger than me.
{photo by serkan yalin}
what do you wish?

signs of spring.

Yesterday the Navimag (backpacker-style "cruise" and cargo ship that sails 3 days through Patagonian fjords and connects Puerto Natales with Puerto Montt in the north) arrived with some travelers and lots of food cargo. Suddenly way-too-expensive blueberries, California red grapes, arugula and boxes of fruit + veggie delicacies crowded the aisles of our local market. It's only in the last year or so (and then, only during the impending summer months) some locals have even seen an blueberry. The clerk asked us what they were called: uvas?; no, they are arándanos.

This morning S halved grapes into our cereal bowls. We went for a walk along the coast, covered in litter (as it always is) and in the yellow beginnings of dandelions. In town, red and happy yellow tulips abound and show their black inner bellies. Occasional snapdragons sidle up to the fronts of houses, and leaves of lupine sprout from the brown ground. There are even daffodils, which I've never seen before here. Daffodils. These may be my favorite flower, and, yes, they are even more endearing to me for Wordsworth and having visited Tinturn Abbey way back in the olden golden days of a college semester abroad.

For everybody cruising into spring, I hope it's filled with flowering greens. If you're enjoying the fall foliage or already feeling an early frost, I send you images of daffodils--you know, for your mind's pretty eye.

{daffodils by harold.lloyd}
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

If you haven't already, enter my giveaway here!

{grape photo : unknown : please let me know if it's yours}

fat, happy mailbox: thank you.

Just one little day, and so much joy. Today I received so much goodness in the mail. First, a package from Dani at I'm Just That Way + That's Just Me--part of an exchange from The Claw's Fall Swap. Thoughtful Dani put so much care in putting the package together. There are bits of autumn, goodness from her neck of the woods (delicious cherry preserves and death by chocolate fudge), as well as some sweetness for our upcoming adventures (hello there, pretty San Francisco map, baby booties + h stationery to keep in touch).

{thank you, sweet dani!}
And the booties are in good company with these yellow beauties (and cutiepie baby stickers) I received at the end of last week (just because) from Micaela at Dolce Vita.

{thank you beautiful micaela!!!}
Little did Micaela know that my auntie knitted baby a yellow blanket, with all the joy and happiness that yellow brings. Here's a picture she sent to me a while back, unsure whether to send it to us or hope and wait.

{incidentally, both hope + wait are esperar in Spanish}
While I was away, the mailman came and left a slip on the door. To my surprise, there were two more packages at the post office. I'm enjoying a bit of a lucky streak (a happy counter the fact that I've been dropping or spilling almost everything I touch for the last couple days).

Packages were from two giveaways. This vintage floral clutch from Yellow Birdd Vintage, from a giveaway hosted by Lynzy at From Skirts to Skillets.

{thank you lynzy + yellow birdd!}
And these (beautifully packaged) plum blossom earrings from Sunny + Delilah, from a giveaway hosted by Laura of Bright, Bold + Beautiful.

{thank you laura + sunny + delilah}
Deepest heartfelt thank you to all the lovely people in my life!

You have until Friday, 10/29, to enter my giveaway here.

a quiet conversation.

Our snaky U-turn of plans has kept my mind pretty active, so I've been a little absent. All the posts I plan to write slip a little deeper into the void. Who will shine their light on them there?

{just imagine : "imagination is more important than knowledge"}

Yesterday I delivered six kilos of jam to a friend in distress. A worried mother handed me the too-heavy bag, pleaing with her eyes. One jar broke in our bags on the trip. Tomorrow, a worried mother travels here from Santiago to help daughter get back on her feet. In the quiet of an upturned apartment, she looked for something to give me. We flipped through a photocopied book of ayurvedic remedies in English. She prepared me a small jar of coconut oil to ward off stretch marks. Finally settling on a pen (pluma) she created out of feather quills (plumas) during our difficult winter, where she hardly slept. Of course I should give you a pen; you're a writer, she says, of course! No one ever really knows the distress of another, until the worst is over or until it blankets us with its hot chill weight.

Over breakfast, S laughs at how I fill our cereal bowls. Brimming. I say the bowls are so small, and I like to see the milk rim the fruit. He points out that I pour everything that way: water, juice, beer, coffee, tea, the ice cube tray. No wonder I spill a little constantly. We've found another way to define humanity: those who pour full and those who leave a little space. Still, the tambourines play for everybody.

{peaceful understanding : "peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding"}
When one of my best friends here calls and S answers, the first thing she might say to me on the phone is how difficult he is to understand. When he tells me she's called, he too mentions how difficult she is to understand. One of my jobs teaching English classes (and--it seems--as a human being) is to help people feel understood. Now to remember to include myself in that little equation.

{photos by J. P. McAdie from her awesome set according to einstein; quoted thoughts are einstein's}

getting ready to move.

{untitled by picassoswoman}
We had our first taste of boredom yesterday. Even though I was pretty busy running about, every time I returned to our house, an uneasy wave of boring bore into me. This is coming from someone, who generally scolds people for saying they're bored. I mean, there are SO many things to do! I'm in the middle of about three "projects" now, not to mention the mail I mean to post, books to read, desserts to bake. But yesterday kissed us with a spell of... what was it exactly?... a combination of not wanting to do anything, restlessness, boredom. Are we that ready to leave?

As I write this, S is looking up what our internet speed will be in California. Currently we pay more than $80/month for a snaily 0.4 Mb, which cuts out intermittently (aka regularly). We just got back from our typically sad market of wilted greens and rotting fruits--for which we also pay too much. So S also searches how much groceries cost at Trader Joe's. It's a little crazy how much we love grocery shopping together. TJ's, among other markets, is me being a happy kid in a candy shop.

I thought I would be more nostalgic thinking of our last six weeks here. And I do feel so. When I talk to certain people, I know I will miss parts of being here. Some people. The mountains. My yoga teacher. The lazy relaxed lifestyle. (You can't live here if you want to get something done, fast--it'd drive you batty!) Living off the grid in our own little way + checking out of the bigger world... (I'm not political here, sometimes I barely know what's even happening in the world out there. And--here--I don't feel the slightest tinge of guilt about having checked out so thoroughly. I guess the things that concern me most these days have to do with third world recycling aka lack thereof and decrepit street dogs.)

{wondering what i was in for in 2007}
But I won't miss the horrid customer service, the hurricane winds + and inhospitable weather, the garbage the filth, the barking street dogs + poor diseased puppies (enough to make the hardest-hearted sniffle--so many of my foreign friends have taken in crazy numbers of strays), the propineros in the market who assault you with their plastic bags despite your protestations (and then you give them coins for this), the food and lack of food choices. I find myself saying way too many times a day: in California this... or in the States that... And yes, all this does make me shake my head at myself!

Don't get me wrong, there have been so many amazing moments and life changes that occurred here, living "at the end of the world." (Most notably we found each other. A beginning--not so much the end.)

{our happy beginning : torres del paine}
I'm sure our last days here will compel me to dive in and write about some of the heart's serpentine journey. For now, knowing that we are almost finished enduring everything we've chose to endure by living here... whew, it's incredibly freeing!

Do you have an ambiguous relationship with where you live?


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