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waiting and non-waiting

2018 July 10
by Rachel Turiel

Dearie Dearest Dear Ones,

I am trying not to spend this summer waiting, waiting for the morning smoke to clear, waiting for the evening temperature to drop, waiting for the monsoons to come and put the fire out. It’s come to my attention that when we’re waiting, we’re not exactly living. And speaking of living, wearing ice-cold wet socks to bed is the best personal air-conditioning unit I’ve discovered. I hope you never have to try this.

This is smoke (not a cloud) over Hesperus Peak. My Herald column on how the weathering the fire is like raising children.

Besides the oppressive smoke and above average temps, summer has been everything I loved about homeschooling (being with the kids!) without the inherent challenges (the obligation to actually teach them something).

Apparently we’ve neglected to sign our kids up for much in the way of summer activities so they’ve been finding their own way. Col has been drawing WWII airplanes, and I do my best to see and appreciate his work without getting hung up on the images of planes shot down and consumed in a fireball of death.

Thanks Greg and Jo for the amazing colored pencils. Col would like you all to know that his WWII airplane images are available for sale. (Spitfire not pictured). He’s also open to ideas on how to market his images.

Rose has been channeling her inner retiree. I come home from teaching and she’s glued beads to yarn, yarn to jars, and jars to jars to make side by side q-tip and cotton ball dispensers. She’s used a pint of expensive, raw honey to concoct a honey-oat scrub, has added lemon balm to our ice cube trays, and melted every lip balm in the house together so all separate beeswax-based products can unify into a melting pot of diversity. I get a little anxious when I see her rummaging through the medicine cabinet with eager fingers, but keep telling myself that it’s cheaper than camp.

When the kids leave the house, I become air traffic controller, keeping track of my little planes lifting off and landing around town, changing destination and passengers, making emergency landings at garage sales (where craft supplies are legion), and doing my trust-breathing exercises while they are off radar in the river.

Today, during our morning snuggle, in which Col enters a hypnotic state of affectionate goodwill, he sighed and told me “Daddy’s my number one role model,” and then quickly explained, “Because he’s a boy. You’re number two.” The kids are not impressed with my ability to track their daily flight schedule, but are pretty certain that with just a bit of extra practice Dan could join any World Cup team should they need an extra player. Recently Rose assured us that once her three months of acute chiropractic care was over, Daddy could probably study up and take over her maintenance care.

Cherry pitting and World Cup.

I am equally full of hypnotic professions of affection at bedtime and last night I was in Col’s bed telling him how much I appreciated his resiliency, his ability to name feelings and adjust to circumstances out of his control. “You know, when your friend cancelled plans and you just said ‘I’m disappointed but what else…” I must have been beaming some crazy mom adoration from my eyes because Col interrupted me to say, “Mom, this is awkward,” he said. “Can I read now?”

Alpine spring beauty.

Dan and I have taken some lovely trips into the high mountains. Col asked me why I was so eager to go backpacking and all I could think to say was that it was a treat to enter into the culture of wild things.

On one trip, a ptarmigan made a big fuss over us, circling our sleeping bags at dusk and calling (presumably to her young, letting them know who not to trust); coyote sounds bounced around the peaks; we found scorched oak leaves carried on the wind fifteen miles from the fire; and always, the wildflowers spearing up through the rocks, snowmelt, smoke, drought fills me with awe and admiration to be in the presence of their wild culture. One morning we found a group of elk bedded in a meadow. The lead cow gave some deep, warning grunts, alerting her posse to our whereabouts. “Have you heard that sound before?” I asked. “Unfortunately, many times,” Dan replied.

Books! I enjoyed this memoir of an unbelievably challenging childhood under patriarchy and tradition gone wrong; this gorgeously-written post-apocalyptic novel that takes place in Colorado, where beyond the zombie-violence it was oddly tender and touching, and this beautifully-written novel about a summer camp in the Colorado mountains where idealism meets realism. What’s my next book? Seeking recommendations! (p.s. buy from your local, independent bookstore or look for at your library).

I am offering a Family Nonviolent Communication Workshop at the end of July. Col helped me make this flyer. He also helps me enter into the depth of scary, messy conflict, scrabbling around for our most useful tools of curiosity and care, and coming out into resilient, thriving, connecting resolution. I want this for all of you.

There are a few spaces left. More info here. If you are local and want to be on my mailing list, let me know.

Washing greens:

Drying greens:

Effing boots.

All the love,


p.s. (whispering, giddily) I don’t think we’re waiting any longer for the monsoons.

15 Responses leave one →
  1. Carly Thomson permalink
    July 10, 2018

    Col’s drawings are incredible! Wow!

  2. Barb P. permalink
    July 10, 2018

    1) thank you for a “snort in my coffee” read (“Mom, this is awkward”), and 2) in the first pic, is the sky really that blue? xoxo to everybody.

    • Pamela Marshall permalink
      July 10, 2018

      Yes, the sky really is that blue!
      Isn’t it gorgeous? The smoke is oddly beautiful, too.

  3. Cheryl Foley permalink
    July 10, 2018

    Col’s drawings are exceptional for his age!

  4. elizabeth permalink
    July 10, 2018

    Oh, that is a good reminder!! I have been waiting for rain and cooler weather, telling myself it’s much worse in other parts of the world. Today, when we had a leeeeetle bit of rain (just enough to wet the dust, my mom would say), I was dancing around in it like I’m from the desert and never get to see rain. It’s creepy though, considering we live in a place that’s supposed to be super wet all the time (Belgium).

    Biting my nails off as we speak, because Belgium is playing in the world cup right now. And if we are out, please let it be Croatia. I would love for an outsider to win. Go underdogs gooo :).

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      July 10, 2018

      Elizabeth, we were JUST cheering for Belgium. I am all about the underdogs as well.

  5. Jan permalink
    July 10, 2018

    I just read a lovely, complicated book called Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. Try that.
    Oh, and love the writing, as always.

  6. Elizabeth Sterling permalink
    July 10, 2018

    I am so impressed by Col’s drawings. I purchased some of his airplane cards a couple of years ago, and I was impressed then! He’s clearly devoted to his art.

    And…I’m totally impressed by your greens. Hope the fires are out soon!

  7. Candace permalink
    July 10, 2018

    Col is an amazing artist! Book recommendations: There, There by Tommy Orange and The Female Persuasion by Meg Worlitzer.

  8. Pamela Marshall permalink
    July 10, 2018

    As always, you educate and entertain, with tales of your family, inside and outside.
    Much love,

  9. Linda permalink
    July 11, 2018

    Hi Rachel,
    I just read The Dog Stars with my book club. It was very enjoyable to be able to picture the locations from memory. It was also nice to read an apocalypse story that focuses more on the effect of loneliness and loss than killing others for survival. I think I’ll put another of Heller’s books on my future reads list.
    Enjoy your summer! Linda

  10. sarahkeith valentine permalink
    July 11, 2018

    I’ve recently read Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng- both really good.
    Also– If you could figure out how to do one of your NVC classes as an online thing…I would totally buy into that!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      July 13, 2018

      Thank you, Sarah. I can see moving toward this evolution in the future.

  11. Carrie permalink
    July 11, 2018

    Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West

    A great Colorado story.

  12. solyssa permalink
    August 14, 2018

    I had left this in my inbox and finally got around to savoring it a month late! Wow-Col’s drawings! It has been so fun to watch his fascination with aircraft evolve over the years. And Rose sounds like she could soon be starting a home apothecary; next she will be begging you to take her hiking so that she can harvest certain wild plants for her concoctions:)

    My summer reads have been Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates
    and currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    Both are great educations about the many things that we take for granted in our lives, but in completely different ways.

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