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This week my 4 lower sons showed up, plus 2 wives and 3 grandsons, a couple of spirit sons & a nephew with his finish carpenter buddy. I was nicely buffered by my girlfriend who completely took over in the kitchen, but we’ve been living here like HERMITS for quite a while and it took me about 12 hours to get the hang of this…

The guys set up 4 saw tables all around the house and attacked: now we have almost ALL the trim & siding complete; all ceilings finished with their crown mouldings in place; shelves in the pantry and studio, and the water heater nicely closeted, the door made from a carved wooden screen I’d hauled around for the past 25 years, would you believe, awaiting this application.

PLUS… you gotta remember this is an 18-sided house!! Very few right angles. Slows ANY project ‘way down.

We don’t know how to act!!! The place is gorgeous. It was before, but now I don’t see of that silver insulation with blue letters, how annoying… the crown mouldings (actually cheapoid handrail flat on one side for easy installation, 11 cents/ft. at Mike’s Bargain Lumber Shed) really give the walls a FINISHED look. The pantry shelves replaced a 6’ pile of layers of stuff behind the refrigerator. Can’t go on… so much was done, gonna write my guys long and ecstatic thankyou notes enumerating EVERY SINGLE DETAIL that we’re so grateful for!!

Every hour that this gang worked = 6 hrs. of my husband’s time. What a blessing.

So. About my career change… #5 Son left home to seek his future 10 years ago. Shortly after that, I realized how “Empty Nest Syndrome” manifests itself: chasing after the chicks and trying to stuff them back into the nest. An empty nest is really… EMPTY. One gets into the habit of that mother-child interaction. You lay my kids end to end, that’s a 90-year-long habit… and this from a mom who continually backed away from heavy parenting as the sons got well into their ‘teens. After all, they’d be running the country shortly…

How to relate as mother to grown sons? Well, it became apparent this week: This was the first gathering of the clan without a wedding as motivation. WE LOVED IT!! Daughters-in-law had hours for conversation as their sons played together outside. Sons hung out together as well, despite #3’s early threats to crack the whip… it was a whole lotta fun, and we elected to do this again on a yearly basis, to be followed by a trip down to northern California where they all live when #2 is not in Norway. They even wanted more building projects!!! Buncha maniacs, just like their mom…

Both sides of my family have been on this continent for 350+ years. We even know the names of the boats they came over on! And in all those years NOBODY was fated to marry into the indigenous peoples of this land. You’re looking at one very white European girl here. Although, after 350 years, maybe I could be considered native…

My birth family was insular. I have LONGED for tribe, and tradition, and ritual– the comfort of familiar responses to life events, and connection to cycles of the natural world. Well, Honey, (she says to herself) it just got laid right out: here’s the clan gathering, and suddenly I am Clan Mother! No longer The Mom. What possibilities!!

This year, the trip to No. CA is to South’s wedding, squillions of relatives all in one place. I cannot think of anything more important. And for you, I wish this depth of heart as well. And the hugs of as many arms.

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