We’ve just gotten home from having spent a week at the Oregon Coast with my husband’s family. We flew kites, collected sand dollars on the beach, and had a lot of down time on the couch, reading and vegging out in front of the TV. I came to a big realization about our current off-the-grid lifestyle: it has been a much needed break from television. My mother and I used to talk almost every day, and we would both watch the Today Show, she in Montana and I in Hawaii. We’d talk after I’d watched it, three hours after it had ended in Montana. She had been genuinely upset about the Matt Lauer/Ann Curry change up. We’d watch Parenthood and talk the next morning about Sarah’s various complicated love affairs, about how difficult it would be for Victor to assimilate into Julia and Joel’s family (she had been a social worker and had seen similar issues firsthand), and we sadly fretted for Kristina when she battled breast cancer. When my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor last May and my family moved back to Montana to be with her, we moved into our little cabin about an hour and a half away from her house for lack of time to plan anything else. She lost the ability to speak early on, and so we’d quietly sit on her couch and watch the Today Show. After a while, the television was too overstimulating for her, and she couldn’t bear to have it on. I talked, she listened but probably didn’t understand. And when I’d come home to my family in our little cabin in the woods with no electricity or running water, it was blessedly free from any real life interruptions, and I was enveloped by my husband and children until the next day. When she died in September, I returned to our cabin and my family, and we’ve spent the winter healing- away from news, shows, and movies. We get one Canadian radio channel that fills us in on what we need, and I listen to NPR in the car when I take the kids to school.
But I didn’t watch the Today Show again until this weekend. And I found that I couldn’t watch Matt Lauer, I could only think of my mother when Savannah Guthrie spoke (she hadn’t liked her very much- probably leftover resentment from losing Ann Curry). I didn’t last five minutes. I realized what a relief it’s been to not be reminded of our daily conversations. I’ve missed this season of our favorite show, Parenthood, but I don’t know that I can go back and watch it without her.
We’re living in this cabin in the woods until the kids are finished with the school year, I can’t say what the next step is going to be, but I wanted the kids to continue with what was familiar and safe for them after their grandmother’s sickness and death. I hadn’t thought that it was also a safe place for me, or at least to the extent that this cabin has served as a refuge for me.
Thank you for letting me ramble. Another lovely thing that happened over the weekend: I stopped in a beautiful little bookstore in Portland called Annie Bloom’s and found this wonderful wordless book: Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd.
It’s a very simple, fun, wordless book in which each page is either an inside or an outside scene. The inside scenes are cozy and active (a child painting, the dog drinking out of the watering can in the kitchen, wet rain boots forming puddles on the floor), with die-cuts of windows to the outside where we can sneak a peek at what’s happening out there.
The outside pages show the changes of season (snow men, the changing leaves on the trees, the planting and harvesting of a vegetable garden) and from there we can look through the same die-cut windows to see what’s happening inside as well and the pages go back and forth that way throughout the year.
It’s brilliant and sweet and incredibly detailed. My daughter has been flipping through the pages of Inside Outside all morning, noticing different things on each pass through with glee.
What are your favorite wordless books?