"She – she will help me – the housewively one. Hi, Betty!"

I’m a member of ten Yahoo groups (three I really need to leave), but this one sends a precious little bit of cargo my way every now and then:

My family has enjoyed the original – The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra – watching it a couple times a year for a few years now.

In other news, I have been given the honor of distributing an excellent publication, The Practical Pedal. It is one of my goals to spread the love of practical cycling (that is, cycling for everyone) in my little nook of Grays Harbor.

out by the ole potato patch

Today we didn’t do much outside the house, at first. I caught up on many emails. At 2 PM we went to the official opening of the HQX Community Garden:

The Proverbial Old Train Track Shot
I love taking my kids to the garden site. Did you know that the very existence of train tracks means kids can entertain themselves – for hours at a time?

Courtesy of Mlle. Fisher
My mom has been painting garden plot signs for anyone who asks. She does something custom according to what the “customer” wants and what she feels like doing. It adds a lot to the congenial atmosphere of the place.

We had coffee and cookies and people fussed over my bike. It is re-invigorating shopper’s lust within me to trick it out further (DLG and Wide-Loaders, anyone?). Yes Laura, I realize I need to get pictures of the damn bike. And my car, come to think of it.

Afterwards I biked to the Silver Pony, an antique store in Hoquiam, with the intention of doing an interview and feature in my next zine. This is a really great shop, and I browse there often and buy there every now and then.

Grays Harbor Miscellany

typing while daughter hangs off me and begs to look at octopus pulp covers

Today I had one of those delightful days – a full schedule, just a skosh shy of being too full. Nels and I were off at 9:55 this morning – hauling two rakes, a hoe, a shovel, three small digging tools and two watering cans on the bike – for our end-of-year picnic and inaugural garden installation for Nels’ preschool. From there we journied to my favorite diner where it was packed and I ended up doing dishes for about an hour and a half. Then to Sophie’s school for my Monday slot of classroom helper. Nels attended and worked all these events; I forget sometimes how well-behaved my children can be. (Relatively; at my last shift at Sophie’s school Nels urinated on the playground in full view of say, five thousand people).

Tomorrow: babysitting in the morning, movie night with the girls in the evening, a secret shipment of strawberries, cream, and pound cake to Sophie’s teachers and who knows – maybe even a minute or two sewing!

one day of spring and then summer?

Today I spent most the day on my bike and on the beach. I know this sounds nice and all, but it was very hot for me (HQX reached 93 and considering last week we still had winter chill I guess I just wasn’t ready). On top of this the bike trip with my mom was harder than I’d thought it would be. In my tube-top dress and bright red face under a bike helmet I wasn’t exactly getting wolf whistles, in fact I’m sure I made a few lads puke in their mouth a little bit.

Our beach trip was lovely. Friends Mikey and John picked Sophie and I up at 3:30 and we hit two separate beaches toting water and sunscreen as backup in the van. On the shore John repeatedly braved the waves while I watched my daughter over and over running into and out of the surf. After dinner and ice cream we journied home and hit the barely-cool house just prior to 9 PM. Quite a day for both Sophie and I and I count it up to my Good Mommy my daughter’s skin remained entirely free from sunburn.

flowers bloom for everyone, rich or poor, great or small

Last night we attended my daughter’s kindergarten concert at the HQX high school’s theater. It was glum and cold-ish at 6 PM when we biked up and then down a huge, steep awful hill to get there. I had to walk the bike both up and down – the “down” was at such an incline I didn’t feel I could safely mount the bike and have Sophie do the same. And in my tippy Danskos at that with middle school students gawking. I don’t think so.

The school concert was like being slammed into my own childhood, only I was a Mommy now. It was a familiar experience in some ways but alien in others. Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, teenagers on chaperoned pseudo-dates filled the seats to overflowing. When the kindergarteners filed onstage parents a sweetness filled the room as parents began rising out of their seats to joyfully signal their own children (whom they’d just dropped off minutes before in the band room). With the hum in the air the rising and falling of parents in their seats reminded me of butterflies lifting and falling out of a swaying meadow. My daughter was in the first group out and the only child to, as she walked, turn and throw her head up to wave with confidence; they were all there to see her.

My son sat in rapt silence, bundled in his coat with his hair falling in his eyes, his gaze fixed on his sister and her big moment. Ralph got there late and snuck out after her performance to meet a friend. And a mere forty five minutes after we took our seats I was biking the kids home in the wet spring evening. We made pizza together in the kitchen and I hung Sophie’s dress back up in her closet. Finis.

making indentured servitude fun & educational

This weekend was a busy one – coming off a dinner party (of sorts) on Thursday we took in the school carnival at Lincoln elementary, the bridge opening celebration at the HQX Farmer’s Market, the Shorebird Festival, and a private rollerskating birthday party (where I discovered I could still skate reasonably well). All traveled to by foot or by bike and on a shoestring grocery budget. Ralph also worked most of Saturday in the yard mowing, weed-eating, and finishing our “greenhouse” (which Nels calls a “pinkhouse” for absolutely no reason – the truth is it’s kind of this DIY recycled materials shanty). I joined him to hang laundry and put out the starts I’d been working up: lettuces, cucumbers, peas, bush beans, cilantro, sunflowers, love in a mist, snapdragons, amaranth, sweet peas, and calendula. Now if only the cats would stop using our lovely large bed as a lovely large litterbox. In fact today I had a very, very sad cat crap experience I won’t elaborate on. Yeah, it was really, really bad. Just know this and be glad it didn’t happen to you. P.S. I’ll be telling Billy every detail.

Yesterday’s daytime activities were a very sweet affair: the kids and I played “homeschool” in part inspired by the old-fashioned child’s desk we found at the Public Market’s associated garage sale (where I also made a new friend, an RN who works up on the Quinault Reservation). The children loved the school play – and I mean loved it. Sophie would call Harris “the school cat” with the most pleased expression of eye and tooth. During the subject of “bath time” I made up report cards in categories Science & Discovery, Art & Creative Play, Exercise & Pet Care, Food Preparation, Personal Hygiene & Clean Up, and Conduct. I wrote things like, “Very good at washing dishes,” and “B- : forgot to flush toilet” and, “Was the catcher during ‘Parachute Toy Science Experiment’.” Smart Mommy and Daddy readers will immediately see this enabled me to also get the entire house clean with their help. Maybe I’ll graduate up to Coffee Making and Foot Rubbing extra credit projects.

Tomorrow finds me back to the “normal” school routine and I already miss our weekend together. We had a lot of sunny, easy hours together.

"we did it and you know it!"

One of the things I like about living “back home” (that is to say, the hometown of my formative years) are the many, many memories I have when I bike, walk, or drive around the neighborhoods. It seems like I’d run out of old memories but I just don’t and they pop up unbidden: I remember going to a party at that house and this guy answered without his shirt on and I felt weirdly uncomfortable; hey, we watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre there and it scared me out of my wits; I was once invited to a pool date at the house of a higher social status peer – only once invited; oh, we smoked pot in that house; I once got sick doing Robitussin in the driveway of that house; I used to climb out of my bedroom window to see a boy there; I was friends briefly with a preacher’s daughter that lived there. Memories all reduced to just that, memory – in most cases not a single tenant remains, the houses have changed or atrophied; nor is there necessarily anyone else who thinks on these things at all.

Last night I helped a young mother during our weekly sewing date (she’s sewing pajamas for her oldest as a learning project) and she told me she always thought of her grandmother when she snipped and threw out threads, because her grandmother saved them all. I asked why, wondering if there was a seamstress’ trick in there and my friend answered, “Oh, she had heard that when you die, if you go to Hell, the Devil ties your wasted threads to you and sets fire to them.”

Yeesh.

and ask our esteemed panel, why are we alive?

We had an outdoorsy day today: from taking a 9 mile roundtrip to get Nels from school straight to the bike shop where Terry and I (mostly Terry, although the kids and I were there for a lot of it and I even helped and learned parts of my bike, yay!) Franken-biked my Giant into an Xtracycle! Since my bike was torn apart before my eyes this involved me finding a way in poor weather to Sophie’s school and back home without wheels – in horizontal rain for part of it. Bitar’s Bike Shop is also slightly colder than the outdoors, and the outdoors were cold. Short story, it’s almost 9 PM and I’m still not warmed up.

The bike conversion is – so far – as lovely as I’d hoped. As in, I might have trouble sleeping tonight. In Bitars as I removed parts from the box I gazed upon them and fondled these parts (Oh, sleek Snap Deck!) as if they were so much excellent and rare porn, finally delivered into my hands after a seeming lifetime of waiting. The Xtracycle was fun; the g-d euro child’s bikeseat (I shall not name specifically and therefore print libel here about the annoying setup instructions) ended up taking us past 6:30 PM and Terry’s departure time so my S.U.B. will not be street-ready until tomorrow (pictures later; I’m kind of exhausted). I’m hoping dearly for a better day than today’s offerings (of which I had to bike, walk, bus with children) but I will test-ride that thing come rain or shine.

Oh, and Monday I was interviewed on by a college student (with his ladyfriend taking photos) for some coursework that involves Sure Nail & Fire. My zine is being featured as a small-town effort extolling the virtues of Harbor life; I listened to my interview today. I was really impressed with the editing job, especially after the NPR experience and how much coaching that entailed for just a short blurb; and considering Monday’s relatively low-fi recording device. For the record both interviewer E. and his girlfriend (photographer) K. were the most charming, sweet visitors we’ve had in a while. Smart and easy to talk to as well as cute as if kittens could be made into people (I bite my tongue to not refer wistfully to their youth).

It's ALIVE!!

the daring adventures of

The HQX bike shop isn’t somewhere you’d want to be in the case of an earthquake. Or maybe even someone closing the door ungently. I can see pieces of lath and rafter through many holes in the ceiling. Funnily enough even though the business in the rest of the building – one that’s been here for 96 years – is closing shop, the bike shop owner is hoping to not move. I guess he’s more confident in century-old, rain-soaked and barely-maintained Harbor structural integrity than I am.

After an hour and a half slot – about what I budget for this bike shop for even the most simple repair – I leave with my new bike hooked up to my old trailer, a setup I had heretofore not managed due to the old hitch on the trailer and the new disc brakes being incompatible. I’ve also learned a bit about bike pieces and a bit more about T., the shop owner. Putting my kids in the trailer I see they are almost bursting the seams – leggy Sophie looks like she’s in a frank breech. I am also dismayed to discover just how much drag the little pot-lickers put on the bike, even on a flat thoroughfare in sunny, clear riding conditions. Also: I’ve spent a total of $59 (gift money) on two new hitches (my bike and Ralph’s) and a cable lock (when the bike costs money I tell myself: one car family, one car family…). The ride is nice, despite the new drag factor.

Our internet was not-so-mysteriously connected and the library remains my spot to scavenge time on gmail. I say adieu!

of goatsbusters and lo-fi

Today I sustained my first new bike injury. While attempting to strap a cardboard box on my rack (taking a moment to giggle immaturely) the bungee I was using, too short, snapped back and whacked my left index fingernail. I was kind of impressed with how badly this hurt. I now have a nasty bruise under the fingernail and I hope something gross and infected doesn’t result. Meanwhile I have Ralph put to work with a Stud Finder (another giggle) to put a hook inside the house for bike storage. Because yes, my bike will be living inside with me.

The local bike shop, I could see myself hanging out there – if I was someone who knew anything about bikes or had more money to spend on them. I have a hard time describing the shop owner T. Firstly, he is a very knowledgeable bike technician and a total pleasure to talk bikes with. Secondly, he is a little bit… different. Personally, I think he’s kind of cute but maybe that’s because I get inexplicable crushes on focussed mechanical savants who look like they don’t have girlfriends. At my parents’ last night while I talked about my new bike my husband asked why all bike shop owners are a little odd (he said “weirdo”, okay) and I said, “No wait, what about…” and then stopped. Because, well. He was right. I guess there was one bike shop owner in PT that wasn’t so much weird as arrogant. But the other two shop owners – woooo! And I had a crush on one of them, too.

Tonight we continued our pleasant weekend experience by a babysitting gift from our friend A. When Ralph and I arrived to pick our children up – after a lovely, lovely dinner at home including uninterrupted conversation – the children were in various states of costumery / undress and watching Ghostbusters (only one of the best family movies ever). On our way out with our two reluctantly-departing children we travelled out the back way to visit A.’s baby goats but the little creatures were apparently sleeping. I didn’t know goats took time off like that especially when there was the off chance we were delivering late-night alfalfa.

Then while home Ralph bathes the children and I start come chocolate rye coffee cake (for tomorrow’s breakfast – I’d love to make this a Saturday night / Sunday morning tradition) and mix up a batch of laundry soap. Sophie mistakes my grating Fels Naptha soap as a cheese operation and asks for a taste, which I oblige and we laugh at her nose-scrunching reaction.

I love weekends. We sleep in, I make Ralph do stuff, I clean the house, I cook for my family and we cuddle late into the night. Good times.