Creating an Urban Homestead

Posts tagged “Marley

You Ought to Be in Pictures


Picture Party – Images by Christine Prichard

We hosted a multiple photo session bonanza at The Okey Dokey Ranch last week. Foul weather forced us into the garage; we had hoped to do an outdoor shoot. But we managed to get some fun and unique images anyway. Flash was a wonderful assistant, right-hand man and post-production whiz. Marley and Avery even got into the spirit by entertaining young and old while we shot, and shot, and shot.

A big thank you to the families, and especially the children we photographed–you were the best!

I’m posting some of my favorites here. Don’t you just love the sepia and hand-colored versions?

Funds raised from this shoot were donated to Alabama Waldorf School.


Family II

Marley: “CC is basically our sister now. A sister we only see occasionally.”

Avery: “No she is not our sister. What does basically mean?”


Morris Avenue shoot with Marley and Avery


Marley and Avery on Morris Avenue – Images by Christine Prichard

Marley, Avery, and I spent about an hour today on Morris Avenue and shot some photos. We had intended to go to Sloss Furnaces to shoot, but discovered at the gate that Sloss is closed on Mondays. After a few tears on Avery’s part, I vetoed Marley’s idea to go to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and headed downtown. (more…)


Slow Food and Fast Food, Love and Pain

Avery eats his first turkey leg. Photo by Flash

Avery eats his first turkey leg. Photo by Flash

Flash, CC, Marley, Avery and I celebrated Thanksgiving early this year—a potluck with friends. Somehow, I ended up cooking my very first turkey for the shindig. After two short years of cooking regular meals and 10 years of vegetarianism only recently ended, it seemed a daunting task. (Mike was such a fantastic cook, I was truly handicapped in the kitchen by the time he died in 2007. I rarely cooked a meal in the 17 years we were together.)

Since returning to my omnivorous roots back in February, I’ve been purchasing local, free range, antibiotic-free meat from a farmer that I met while on a photo assignment years ago. Vegetarian at the time, I made a mental note that if I ever were to purchase meat again, it would be from Charles Ritch of Goose Pond Farm.

And I’ve made good on that promise. (more…)


Second mom

“She’s like my 2nd mom. I mean, if you couldn’t afford to keep us, we’d probably go live with them,” said Marley through tears after Elena, her piano teacher and our former neighbor, departed after a visit this weekend.

Elena has been Marley’s teacher for more than two years. Since moving to Ithica, they have been doing their lessons over the internet. We hope she can keep coming back periodically for visits/lessons.


No whining, Mr. Crabbedy

Call it blending of the minds, the synergy of creative forces, or just plain bad hearing, but Flash and I came up with a nearly perfect way to describe Avery’s less-than-charming side.

In a word: “crabbedy.”

As I was getting breakfast ready under a fog of Benadryl and lack of sleep, Avery asked me one of his standard morning questions: “Am I staying for nap today at school?” Unfortunately for him, the answer was “yes.” So I cringed, waiting for the whining, pleading, and stomping onslaught to begin.

“I HATE NAP!!!!!” Avery screamed, only the preamble to a verbal tirade that I endure on a daily basis. Why he does this, I’m not sure. It is rare, if ever, that I give into this type of behavior.

To be fair, I know nap time is hard for Avery. He rarely falls asleep anymore and is forced to lay on his cot for at least an hour while much of the rest of the class sleeps. This is very difficult for a boy of Avery’s energy level, and I feel for him. I’m amazed that they can even get him to lie down, really. (more…)


Patterns

So much has happened at The Okey Dokey Ranch in the past month, it is hard to know where to begin.

Suffice it to say, the long-awaited arrival of Flash has more or less taken place. He keeps saying things like “when I get here,” as if he hasn’t moved in yet.  (I don’t think he considers himself “here” until the house is arranged to his liking; we’re not there quite yet, I am told.) Yet it seems like he’s here to me.  Much of his stuff is here.  And he’s rearranged so much of our living space, I feel disoriented in my own home.  Yet grateful.  Things had gotten pretty chaotic around here.  And this guy has the perfect combination of obsession and organizational skills to tackle things like building shelving and rearranging furniture and CDs until things make more sense.  (more…)


Spontaneous Combustion

I’ve been thinking a lot about spontaneous combustion the last couple hours.

Like at 6:45 pm while standing in line at hideous Wal-Mart where I had to make a last minute run for pullups instead of starting dinner. (Hmmm, pissy bed in the morning or hot dinner the night before? Such are the daily guilt-inducing decisions every parent without a partner makes.)

With pink pull ups in hand (for some reason my oh-so-boy boy LOVES the color pink), Avery asks through tears why I wouldn’t ask anyone that worked there whether they sold Harry Potter glasses, even after we cruised through the toy department and saw nothing Potteresque.

Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, poof! There goes mom, a smoldering pile of ashes on the floor. Somehow that image was extremely satisfying. (more…)


Spirit phones and homegrown tomatoes

Sometimes malaise sneaks up on me, and other times it follows a more predictable path. As cliché as it might sound, today’s bout of blues definitely seems related to the fast-approaching 2nd anniversary of Mike’s death (Sept 13).

I’ve found no good way defend myself against the pain. It comes uninvited.

I am haunted by a past that is gone and a future that no longer exists. It began in the relative quiet of Labor Day after Flash, CC, and her kitten Casey departed from The Okey Dokey Ranch after spending a raucous and rainy but fun Saturday and Sunday here.

This afternoon, Marley went to Tannehill State Park with her friend Bella, which left me alone with Avery. The boy has been quite wild all weekend—a draining surprise after he acted disarmingly docile and charming Friday afternoon after school. By Monday afternoon I was, shall we say, finding it difficult to appreciate Avery being anywhere near me. I really just wanted to be alone with my thoughts. (more…)


Down under The Okey Dokey Ranch

If you want to fail miserably, try raising two children by yourself. It doesn’t take long to realize that no one is capable of succeeding at this endeavor. I somehow allow myself to forget this from time to time. Indeed, it’s probably how I remain sane.

But reality always returns, and it stings. Rediscovering life as a single parent is a trying and lonely affair–especially after a travel-induced period of giddy denial filled with grandparents and cousins who gladly watch your children while you chum with old friends.

But now we are home and it is back to reality again. Manning The Okey Dokey Ranch with the help of only a seven year old (no matter how precocious) and a five year old can get downright depressing in short order.

Although Marley started school two days after our return from Minnesota, Avery did not. So I had to bring him on all of my home renovating errands–a major drag for both of us.

Combine that with absolutely no freedom to exercise or adults to talk to and, voila! You have the perfect ingredients for a mental breakdown. I spend most of a sunny Saturday in bed crying.

But miraculously, Sunday was a glorious day, despite heavy rains.

Marley and I made a batch of muscadine jelly. I made a chicken dinner. And Flash stayed overnight, tipping the household vibe into positive territory.

The boys joust in the man cave.

The boys joust in the man cave.

He set up a “painting zone” in the basement, now under heavy construction (click here to see the vid of Flash doing his thing), which will eventually house his personal space and occasionally his daughter CC and along with them our newly-formed household.

The fabled blended family.

Anyway, Flash thought it would be fun for the kids to paint the floors and walls before he completed the rooms. So fun that he joined them. He started painting words on the walls and saying that he was “channeling,” which made me flash back to a time nearly two years ago when me, my mother and my dear friend Suzanne Kilpatrick painted similar words on the walls of the basement following Mike’s accidental death in the man-cave.

Suzanne felt that writing positive, loving words on the walls would help cleanse the space and help us heal. We did this, and about a month later, I knocked down the walls on which we wrote and painted the remaining walls blue. Suzanne also said she saw the corner of the basement eventually becoming the creative hub of the house.

I distinctly remember thinking “never.”

But now it is becoming just that. And somehow, Flash just knew it. So, on that rainy day, I joined him and the kids and painted a bit, too. And finally, things felt like a nice Sunday at home with my family.

Thanks, Flash. I love you more than you could know.

Marley paints the subfloorMarley paints the subfloor
Avery paints Flash's pants while Flash paints the basement wall.

Avery paints Flash's pants while Flash paints the basement wall.


Wishes upon a star

As we sat on Mike’s dad’s balcony overlooking the St. Croix River in Wisconsin, we saw several  shooting stars blazing across the night sky.  Both kids made wishes. (more…)


The Missing Goodbye

I have a recurring dream, although I am not sure if it really is a dream. It happens in that space just between consciousness and deep sleep and happens most frequently during afternoon naps, but sometimes as I fall asleep at night.

I’ve come to think of this space as my time with Mike, or perhaps something else altogether. It feels as though some energy, some force is working on my heart. As I try to describe this “heart work,” it seems less and less real. A mirage.

All I know is that it has felt healing at times. But this time, the message was different. Loud and clear. “But you didn’t even get to say goodbye.” Again and again. (more…)


New Digs

Averyoffice

Have I talked about how much I love my new office?

I always knew the house at The Okey Dokey Ranch was too small for us from the day we made an offer on it back in 2004. Mike and I always had plans to finish the basement, and later, just before he died, we were about to put an offer on a commercial building to house our businesses in, which would have helped the not-quite-enough-space-in-our-house issue.

So for almost two years after his death, I continued to work in cramped quarters. Marley and Avery shared a bedroom, and things were crowded, but that was the least of my problems.

Enter Flash. He came, assessed, and decided that what I really needed was a new home office. And a slip and slide. (Flash built one at The Asylum last year.) It’s all on video, check it out at:

The Red Mountain Express

Then he announced The Plan: enclose and finish off my screened in back porch and it would become my office. Then Avery could move into my old office and Marley would have her own room.

Instant Nirvana.

“Wow,” I thought, “all this meditating and yoga that I’ve done, and the true secret to happiness is building a new office and giving the kids their own bedrooms. Why have I been wasting my time?”

As soon as the kids and I left for NM, Flash was on it, tearing down the back porch. He spent much of the month of July working long hot days to finish off the space before the kids got home. It took until the final weekend of kid-free living, but he finished construction and I finished painting and we moved everyone’s things to their respective spaces. Between his work ethic and building skills and my color schemes (which I honed trial-and-error from the dozen houses I’ve renovated in the past few years), the room looks downright smashing.

For those who are wondering, my new favorite green paint graces the walls: Independent Gold from Sherwin Williams. I used flat no VOC Harmony Paint. Good stuff. No harmful fumes.

Now the office is a draw for young and old alike. The chaise in the corner next to the three giant picture windows is a magnet for young nappers, wine sippers, and midnight bloggers. I am going to make it my mission to figure out how to make a living sitting in this chair with my laptop.

I told Flash that everyone who comes to visit is drawn to my room. An absolute people magnet. “Just wait until I get my hands on the rest of your house,” he said. But the slip and slide? Alas, I think we’re going to have to wait until next summer to enjoy that. He’s got the basement to tackle now.

Need a project done around your house? Call now and book a few months in advance. This man is in demand.


Deathoughts

Five years ago, a young couple—friends of friends–died in a freak car accident while traveling to their 4th of July vacation spot in Asheville, NC.

Their three-year-old son lived. I remember being blood-curdlingly horrified by the story.

The woman had once been a teacher at The Redmont School, where Marley was attending preschool. That was the extent of our connection–two degrees of separation.

I worried for their son, bargained with fate to undo what had been done, obsessed about the unfairness of it all.

And finally, I spent several hours in bed, paralyzed with fear about what could befall my own children, seriously considering never taking my family out into the world in order to protect them. Then I realized that even at home, an airplane could fall from the sky and hit our house, or a meteorite could pulverize us anywhere on earth. The realization that I am not in control hit me hard that weekend. (more…)


Hail to the Queen(s)

queen bee

So we found the queen today. Make that two queens. My friend Julie and I gingerly pulled frames out of our new beehives , looking for we weren’t quite sure what. But we did know enough to look for the queen in each hive.

We purchased the bees last week. At that point I knew nothing about raising bees. But since I try not to let lack of knowledge keep me away from a new adventure, I heartily agreed that we ought to put some hives in the back 40 at The Okey Dokey Ranch, since serendipity was nudging us in that direction anyway.

Julie had met this guy named Paul at Crestwood Coffee a few weeks back who was looking for a home for his bees due to an impending move to Houston. She and I had talked about raising bees in the past, with no real plan. But here they were, practically falling into our laps!

I figured it was time to take the plunge—kind of like getting pregnant. If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never do it. (more…)


Farewell, friends

20090730KIDS

“I never thought this day would come,” said Marley, right. Her best friends Veronika and Yan packed up and moved to New York. Their family and ours along with other friends spent the morning in our kitchen packing food, eating, telling stories, while the kids watched a DVD together. Such a sad ending to a Mayberry-like relationship with our sweet neighbors Anton, Lena, Yan and Veronika. They were there during the worst time in my life and I’ll be forever grateful for their love and friendship over the past two years.

(more…)


Marley lost her first tooth tonight

Another first–a non-holiday milestone that Mike has missed. One of those things that I know he would have loved to celebrate with her. And maybe he is. It’s just not that apparent to me.

Marley is soooo excited. When this happened, I of course was happy for Marley, but my mind also immediately went to “well, here’s another thing that Mike will never get to enjoy.”

(more…)


Spirit in the Sky

sized3spiritinthesky1107.jpg

Have I talked about Marley and how she communicates with Mike on a daily basis? She says he’s with her most of the time and is proud of the fact that she’s playing piano (he likes to dance to her playing), is watching when she helps the younger kids at school, and how he helps her when she falls.

Here is a picture she drew the other day of what “daddy’s spirit looks like in the sky.”


Haunting outing

Went to Art in Avondale Park today. Crisp blue sky, autumn chill in the air. My mom and father-in-law came and helped with the kids, who marched in the parade and did arts and crafts. Ran into many friends and acquaintences. (more…)


The healing power of food

Call me a sucker. The way to my heart is through my stomach. (more…)


Death of a dream

Some friends and I started to inventory Mike’s production gear last night (thanks Julie and Tom). I’m going to sell it. It doesn’t justify itself as rental gear–not enough income. And the rate at which things become obsolete, selling sooner rather than later makes the most sense.

And when I sell, I’ll be able to pay off some of our business debt.

Yipee. (more…)


The floodgates open

Last night, I had a dream that Avery and Marley and I went swimming at Turkey Creek, and the water was extremely high. Avery had jumped in the water, which made me panic, because he cannot swim so well yet, but there he was paddling away, as I know he can, and also, miraculously, breathing too. What a relief. I then turned to Marley who took her turn jumping into the dangerously high water. Lo and behold, she also could swim. Much better than I thought she could. (more…)


Just say no

I hate waking up in the morning as the soft sunlight filters through my newly-installed windows onto the brand new crown moulding in my freshly-painted bedroom (all of which Mike enjoyed for less than one week). (more…)


A letter from family friend Dan Boudreau

I did not have the privilege of knowing Mike Prichard all my life, the way I have with some of my friends. I had known his wife Chris for years, and in fact we had just taken an apartment on Grand Avenue, when she and Mike first met. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about all of that. Chris and I were supposed to be hanging out and having fun, but she was now spending most of her time with Mike, and I was spending most of mine sulking over losing my friend. Over the next couple months, as I got to know him better, I came to realize that I wasn’t losing my friend Chris, but rather gaining another named Mike. (more…)