The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

June Interim June 22, 2013

As usual, there’s too much to do, too much to post about. But the tiny moments are what give our life its shape and color, so whether it’s newsworthy or not, I’m going to post an assortment of photos from the past week. From busking on Broadway in Saratoga to loading up on grain at the feed store and much in between, we keep ourselves busy.

Thursday was the first day of summer, and thankfully, after incredible amounts of rain lately, the weather was classic summer – with a bright blue sky decorated by random wisps of cloud, all at a perfectly comfortable 75 degrees. Elihu and I made the pilgrimage to Arnold’s Feed and Grain in an effort to both cut our costs and use locally grown grain to feed our flock. We had a lovely drive and stopped several times to admire our surroundings. On the way, we also stopped at the nursing home to visit Ace, the sculptor of the beautiful pieces that live in our garden. On the way home we found our road dead-ended at the local airport! This was too good to pass up, so we paid them a little visit too. When we got home we worked some more on our garden, then passed the evening watching the lightening bugs and jumping on the trampoline in the moonlight.

June 2013 end of school 305Elihu absolutely adores Austin.

June 2013 end of school 310Grandma says hello

June 2013 end of school 248A quiet moment with Maximus

June 2013 end of school 245Skin and feathers, all so soft

June 2013 end of school 332Later on Elihu plays recorder for Max

June 2013 end of school 271And then plays a game of tag with Austin. (See where Austin went?)

June 2013 end of school 181The Zen process of dishes. Must spend an hour and a half in dish-related labor each day. !

June 2013 Interim 103The blooming Locust tree branches pretty up our kitchen

June 2013 Summer Begins 030A spent bottle of shampoo? Huh? Well, it’s only after five years here that we’ve finally used it up. (Yes, Elihu does wash his hair regularly.) A few years ago I took some comfort in this bottle having come from…

June 2013 Summer Begins 029Skokie, Illinois!!   I’m over it now.

June 2013 end of school 205Boy’s play – outdoors

June 2013 end of school 237 Boy’s play – indoors

June 2013 Interim 069And boy’s play – on the street

June 2013 Interim 0724:20 somewhere…

June 2013 Interim 004One of those ‘quality of life upgrades’ – a bolt cutter. Everyone should have a pair.

June 2013 end of school 279The garden at first, with landscape fabric (a week away and I’ll lose the place to weeds if I don’t use it)

June 2013 Interim 025And now draped with Remay – a miracle poly cloth that protects against critters. It doesn’t look as romantic as a natural garden, but it works as a fence and is our greatest hope this year. The bolt cutter was used to cut the wire hoop frame underneath.

June 2013 Interim 026Sank up to my knees several times – actually panicked for a moment. Sticky stuff!

June 2013 Interim 059What resort is this?

June 2013 Interim 061It’s the private rooftop club at the Hillhouse! And here’s the rest of the view… garden, trampoline, apple tree to left. Note how our yard descends down the hill; it has three different terraced levels – including more yard below the garden.

June 2013 Summer Begins 020Elihu loves Irik a lot, but we need to find him another home soon… Three roosters is two too many.

June 2013 Summer Begins 035Peek a boo! This guy is part Jersey Giant, and he is the biggest chicken we’ve had yet. And he’s got feathered feet too. Cool.

June 2013 Summer Begins 053Ace’s bird…

June 2013 Summer Begins 068And Ace himself!

June 2013 Summer Begins 065Love that Ace was wearing an ace, too.

June 2013 Summer Begins 071Off to the countryside to the feed store. This is a magnificent view looking west across the mighty Mohawk River valley to the other side. Elihu can’t see well or far, of course, but somehow this vista got him – he really understood the distance it represented. He even saw that tiny puff of a tree on the ridge! Made me SO happy. This is not an average occurrence.

June 2013 Summer Begins 074I got some binocs that work particularly well with one’s glasses on – and BINGO! Now he can see birds and views…

June 2013 Summer Begins 081Mecca!

June 2013 Summer Begins 086A good third less than at the commercial Tractor Supply. Plus it supports a local, family-operated business. Even with the gas, it was a big savings. Now we’re all stocked up.

June 2013 Summer Begins 087Jim’s telling Elihu he thinks with a little leverage he might actually be able to handle a 50 pound bag. ! Mom’s not so sure…

June 2013 Summer Begins 094Thanks, Arnolds! Very pretty place you got.

June 2013 Summer Begins 099The nearest ‘city’ of Amsterdam, and its bustling downtown.

June 2013 Summer Begins 101Loved this sign since I was a kid. It’s the city library.

June 2013 Summer Begins 167It’s the Saratoga County airport! Woo hoo!

June 2013 Summer Begins 112Ok, so my legally blind kid recognized the profile – and correctly identified – this plane as it taxied in on the tarmac. Crazy.

June 2013 Summer Begins 153Mama loves vintage

June 2013 Summer Begins 156mmm

June 2013 Summer Begins 133Talk about the wind in your hair. !

June 2013 Summer Begins 136Can you imagine??

June 2013 Summer Begins 139Check out the word ‘experimental’ on the side. ?! Yeeps.

June 2013 Summer Begins 118Something’s coming in

June 2013 Summer Begins 124Beautiful in blue

June 2013 Summer Begins 150Not a very glamorous job, but necessary. !

June 2013 Summer Begins 149And a helicopter, too! That’s my dream – one day I have to know that feeling…

June 2013 Summer Begins 178Back at home, Elihu surprises Mama! He himself only weighs 58 pounds, after all!

June 2013 Summer Begins 175Chicken approved.

 

Alice in Waldorf June 19, 2013

I’m a bit behind in documenting our life’s adventures. More tedious tasks like planting the garden and finding chicken sitters have taken up our time lately. But as we worked under the hot sun in the garden today, Elihu stood up and said broadly (with his shirt off and his arms open wide to the sky), “This is the first official day of summer! We don’t have to do anything for anyone but ourselves!” I know just what he means. No more students for a while, no more school, no more commitments. No more nothing… but everything else, of course. Started by cleaning the gutters and weeding the garden and will soon turn to the far more arduous job of cleaning of the coop – but that’s all pure joy, really, because as Elihu said, we do it for ourselves. It feels good to work hard and see one’s progress.

But I digress, as my objective now is to share some of the delightful moments of the past few weeks. The eighth grade, under the direction of their teacher Jessalyn (seen in a previous post of a field trip to her farm) produced a most surreal and wonderful version of Alice in Wonderland for which I played piano. The score was one of the most challenging musical endeavors I’ve faced in quite a while – and it was fun, fun, fun. A great experience all the way round. A great way to send the eighth graders off…

Alice June 2013 109Here we go…

Alice June 2013 135Abigail gets the fourth grade centered as they prepare for their role as the cards…

Alice June 2013 092And then Jessalyn gets her class ready too…

Alice June 2013 089Some last minute directions…

May June 2013 Alice 304It’s been a long week of rehearsals. One lil man is pooped already.

May June 2013 Alice 280The audience in the round assembles…

May June 2013 Alice 266The characters backstage are ready…

Alice June 2013 142The show begins.. this is the famous Tea Party scene

Alice June 2013 141Alice meets the Caterpillar

May June 2013 Alice 262(Jackson as the Caterpillar)

Alice June 2013 154The cards are summoned by the queen. MacKenzie did a simply fabulous “Off with their heads!”

Alice June 2013 171And the trial begins…

May June 2013 Alice 279It’s Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee!

Alice June 2013 157Ruby sang beautifully as the Mock Turtle

Alice June 2013 208Alex was perfect as Humpty Dumpty with his recently broken leg

Alice June 2013 221The White Knight played so marvelously by Adam

Alice June 2013 225He has an audience member hold his horse

Alice June 2013 206The White Queen – Elihu just loved Caroline’s performance. Understated yet hilarious.

Alice June 2013 245The Red Queen, the White Queen and Alice (and Elihu far right)

Alice June 2013 128The fourth grade is relieved now that it’s all over!

Alice June 2013 100My car pool buddy, eight grader Ava, as the White Rabbit (with her gorgeous and proud mom)

May June 2013 Alice 317A fine, fine show. At first I thought it could never be done. The costumes, the props, the eurythmy, all the coaching and assistance in general were nothing less than impressive. Grace did a wonderful job as Alice – and was present in every single scene! Congrats, Jessalyn and your amazing eighth grade – plus a shout out to fourth grade teacher Abigail and her spirited fourth grade class as well. What a show. !!!

 

Eating Bugs June 12, 2013

Jonah and Phoenix are over for the afternoon. It’s been a day full of little surprises, including this interesting snack time adventure. I really don’t think any text is necessary here…

eating bugs june 2013 013

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eating bugs june 2013 018

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eating bugs june 2013 016

June 2013 end of school 571

BUgs 2 June 2013 025

BUgs 2 June 2013 034

BUgs 2 June 2013 011

June 2013 end of school 575

June 2013 end of school 577

June 2013 end of school 579

BUgs 2 June 2013 019

BUgs 2 June 2013 041

BUgs 2 June 2013 046

Life is never dull with these guys around. !

 

Catching Up June 4, 2013

Elihu and I have been running, running, running the past few weeks. This is a busy time for everyone it seems. End of year recitals, plays, projects and papers… Field trips, parties, good weather at last. As I write this, Elihu is in bed deeply asleep. When I went to wake him this morning I made the offer I make only a handful of times a year – “do you want to miss main lesson?” I asked him. Usually, because he loves school so very much, this question will rouse him out of his slumber and he’ll find it in him to get up and out of bed. Today however, he paused, said nothing, but shook his head up and down. Within seconds it seemed he was back asleep. Thankfully, at Waldorf – and at this time of year in particular when things are wrapping up and there’s no real urgency to school now – sleeping in is something we can allow without guilt. Such a relief! His old school would never had permitted such an exception. Thank goodness we’re where we are. Such a supportive place is this Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs!

Here are some pics of a recent field trip to a classmate’s farm and a few assorted shots from here and there….

May June 2013 Alice 018Elihu and Nora admire the phlox. The Hudson River is just past the field in the middle of the scene, and we live somewhere in the hills you see in the distance

May June 2013 Alice 024This is Jonah’s place – so he knows his way around

May June 2013 Alice 044This is Phoenix, Jonah’s twin brother, their stepmom Jessalyn, and their goats

May June 2013 Alice 040Jessalyn is also the eighth grade teacher at Waldorf

May June 2013 Alice 055Lunchtime!

May June 2013 Alice 065Tobias and Andrew, always together. It would be an understatement to say they’re into sports. !

May June 2013 Alice 060The whole gang at lunch. Fourth grade teacher Abigail Reid is in the middle.

May June 2013 Alice 114The fourth grade!

May June 2013 Alice 120Back on our own little farm…

May June 2013 Alice 125Elihu just loves our old rooster, Bald Mountain

May June 2013 Alice 156He loves Maximus, too

May June 2013 Alice 159We love that gorgeous wingspan!

May June 2013 Alice 183At grandma’s retirement party

May June 2013 Alice 244with grandma…

May June 2013 Alice 245and just a little later that night, busking in Saratoga

May June 2013 Alice 247The contents of a boy’s pockets: a toy car from when his dad was little, and his lucky turkey. !

May June 2013 Alice 173

Zonked! We all need to catch up a little sometimes…

 

Silly Poem April 16, 2013

Silly Poem

a poem by Elihu, written today during a rainy recess period…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m going on a trip to the center of the universe

What do you think I should pack?

A sack and some shoes and a cow that moos, and a plate and some milk and a snack

A yak for good measure, a couch for the pleasure of sitting right down to a rest

A lunch box, a brick, some balls and a stick and some chocolate that tastes just the best.

And maybe if you’re lucky I’ll take you along…

What do you think you will pack?

 

Ballet Boy December 15, 2012

“That was transforming.” Elihu’s exact words immediately after the applause died down. We both sat in our seats, rather dazed and unmoving as the crowd around us rose, chattered and made ready to leave. We had just seen the Saratoga City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker from the most intimate seating possible. Elevated enough, close enough. And for Elihu’s eyes, a situation like this doesn’t come often. He sat riveted throughout the whole performance – and why not? top-notch dancing, gorgeous costumes and all the production details of the real deal. Hell, this really was the real deal. I had even been moved to tears while watching the perfect and joy-infused performance of the only young boy in the company. He wasn’t even my child, yet I wept like a proud mother. An inspiring production all the way ’round.

Although I’ve been trying to get my son to see The Nutcracker for years now (we live in a town in which the New York City Ballet spends part of its summer) it was only just tonite that we finally went. His delight and amazement – and new desire to take dance lessons (?!) seemed to confirm that our timing was right. At intermission the floor was full of small girls playing at pirouettes and pretending to dance en pointe, and my son was flustered and frustrated. He was burning to dance around, to practice his own freshly inspired moves, but he simply couldn’t be the only boy. Yeah, he’s probably right. Nine is probably a bit past that window. But to be honest, I’m not sure there would ever have been a window for a boy to naturally join a cluster of pink-bowed girls in their dance-play. He sees how challenging actual dancing is, and he gets what a star that one boy in the company is, but it’s still not enough. I tell him he’d kinda be a rock star if he went down and joined the girls, but he angrily protests. So instead he goes to a corner and twirls a time or two, and makes a great leap, legs out and straight… oh the hope and promise of a young one. My mother’s heart smiles at his pure joy and possibility, yet I’m slightly misty too; uncensored, childlike moments like this happen much less often these days, and it seems we may be nearing the end of them altogether. Just in case, I savor it all with extra attention.

I’m not naive enough to expect this interest in ballet to last, as I am not expecting this week’s request to play the transverse flute will last (bass and tuba are still holding in strong though), but I see him feeling the inspiration rise within, and I’m witnessing his vision of possibility grow, and that in of itself is enough for now. I also know we’ll have to pick something soon and stick with it – but I’m not worried. He is musical – he’s got a great ear –  has better time than me, and he’s playing violin at school now. I’ll let him be. I’ll also listen quietly from the front seat, a smile on my face, as Elihu tells me all the way home about the moves he noticed, the questions he has about them, and how much he wants to start ballet lessons next week.

Elihu’s world has expanded once again. A ballet boy, maybe not, but a better boy? Definitely.