VAMPIRES n shit

“just a bunch of stuff that happened”

Yoga. Tonight on the floor, on my mat, my mind wanders. I think of a cigarette. Then I think how funny it would be if I just calmly lit up in class. There are so many people here on the floor we have to be careful not to touch one another. Heavens no!

Smoky aspirations aside (I’ve been Quit over a year and a half!), my body can go deeper into yin now that I’ve been practicing. The body feels great; but it is unpleasant to have my face on the mat. I feel panic that I can’t breathe. I return to the breath and tell myself, I’m not going to die here. Mental discipline. I suppose.

So: life is busy.

VAMPIRES n shit

I forgot to tell you – I’m watching a vampire movie every day this month. Almost all of them are those I haven’t seen: the above-pictured is one I have, years ago. Had to get a DVD and everything!

Puppy Timez

 Puppy Times. Not our puppy! Oh my gosh. This puppy was built like a cube. It doesn’t even have a job!

Troublez

So this is what I come home to at night. Nels says Herbert Pocket has “intelligent” eyes. What do you think?

Phoenix

Soccer season is about halfway through. I don’t know what I’m going to do about Saturday’s game; I have about four places I’m supposed to be at once.

A Shared Meal

Friends joined us for a movie. And some taco dip. And taco soup. It’s fall, so it’s time for tacos. (It was also time for tacos during spring, summer, and will be in winter too).

SQUATCHIN'

Working on a pretty awesome project! Unveiling in two days.

Just Before A Walk

The kids are rocking it at school – and come home with energy to spare. I miss them

– but it’s liveable.

 

this moment here in space and time is all that we can know

Today I watched my daughter’s last soccer practice of the season – I’m one of the few parents who does watch each practice. Sitting on a blanket with my silly hippie handsewn hat looking like an asshole. I did a little handsewing but mostly I stroked my son who laid in my lap.

My son

Nels’ hair is singularly beautiful and is growing past shoulder-length now.  I have a feeling he may have it all cut off soon. I enjoy it while I can.

Blonde

One of the most wonderful things about our life is the freedom and spontaneity we live in day to day: Wednesday night, why NOT have a huge cardboard fort-building escapade and sleepover with grandma? Of course homemade popcorn and a special recipe for punch were involved, as well as a child-choice movie (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).

Kitty House, With Kitty

Ralph adds his own touches to the fort, which was some kind of “kitty house” (complete with children acting as real cats).

Adding His Own Touch

Grandma and Nels watch his work:

Nels & His Grazdma

My daughter draws the most amazing and expressive creatures, new ones with creative features, sometimes a dozen to two dozen drawings a day that end up, largely, in our recycling! Always the most imaginative details but rarely fleshed out with color – she moves on to another one. I’ve long thought I wanted to get a tattoo from one of the drawings she createsbut it’s hard to pick one. This scorpion, smaller than a dime, certainly caught my eye.

Scorpion

(part of the rest of the desert scene):
Desert Scape

This piece is beautiful and will be hung in my own living room when they are done with it at Grandma’s:
Artifact

Funnily Phoenix seems to have little concept she has a “talent” at all. She draws, literally, from her own imagination which is prodigious and humbling to behold. I figure tattooing something on my body may be a more meaningful appreciation than hanging it on the fridge (which we also do, but still).

I hope to enjoy many more years of her art.

daughter of the late, late rose

Today while on errands with Nels my mother called and invited us to Ocean Shores to deliver a commission she’d finished for the upcoming Irish Music Festival descending this weekend. We met her at her house and rode out with her (and her dog) in her van. It was a beautiful sunny day.

My mom didn’t raise her first kid – at all. She left my half-sister to her ex-husband when they divorced, when J. was a toddler – because (as she told me) she believed he’d fight her for custody and that he’d win (my mom is a “flight”, not a “fight”, type of person). This was, as you might imagine, rather devastating for my sister – and, in it’s way, for our mother. Today the two women have an adult friendship and my mom – at least in my presence – acknowledges her screwup (if not her regrets) while being realistic the past is – now – behind her.

My mom did far better for me – in that she stuck around, and she loved me fiercely – and better still for my brother, whom she treated quite tenderly and with great understanding (which was not true of her treatment of me). So given all this, when I hear those patently saccharine characterizations of all females as maternal and all mothers as nurturing and intuitive I know: Bullshit. I believe most of us (men and women) have that potential but I also believe many of us are damaged that we do very poorly, really; oftentimes our children are the crucible where we learn a lot about our own character – and sometimes what we learn is disappointing indeed.

That said, it does us no good to cast mothers like my own (who left her first child) as “unnatural”, or some kind of social pariah (we do not employ this judgment on absentee fathers) or (if we’re feeling generous) “free spirits” – labels and stigmas my mother either happily adopted or unhappily felt persecuted by all these years, descriptors that did not honor her as a multifaceted, flawed, three-dimensional person.

Now, my sister and brother have their own journeys with my mother but I can say for me our current loving adult friendship is one built on hard work on both our parts. That said, forgiveness is not easy and sometimes I wonder if it’s not very difficult (for most) – or even possible (for me). In part because my mother has not directly apologized for her wrongs against me (rather she’s explained them now and then, as if that’s what I need) and, in her stead, no one else has either. So to this day she can say something and suddenly my brow clouds and I know she doesn’t have the foggiest as to how she’s hurt me (and she’s not always open to hearing it when I do tell her).

So today in the van – on our way home – my mom was telling my son yes, soon he’d stay the night, but she was so busy right now – he’d stay just as soon as she had her (latest) work done.

“I’ll be so happy when this is over,” she said. “I can have my life back again!”

Ah yes. Any time with my mother is only borrowed from the endless list of Other Things she’s said Yes to, and she will be backing out the door by the end of these stolen engagements; the fact she ends up harried and complaining about these commitments does nothing for the pain of the girl who invited her for dinner in college only to have her leave earlier than she’d committed – pretending we hadn’t talked previously about her commitment – or the time I had surgery and begged my parents (3 hours away) to come be with me and they awkwardly demurred, and how lonely and scared and Dark Night of the Soul I was in those hours before surgery, and how they did in fact show up the day of, in fact a nurse told me as I was being wheeled into the operating room and I thought I might die (which was silly) but at least they were there, and how it seems I am the only family member of four who makes sure to be there for whatever shit goes down, and that doesn’t mean I’m a better person but I can not be someone else either. I always knew she loved us but I hated that she was so flighty and distracted and so scared of everything. I hated her tiny little inner trickle of low self-worth even while I loved – always have – her tenderness, even though as an adult I feel compassion for her and a deep understanding of her Worth and Value, yet still as I’ve said I cannot forgive her for her low self-regard and I have in my way internalized it such, a horrible thing indeed…

But instead, I say: “You always say that,” – a bit tired, grimly mirthful, half-hurt. (Seriously. You cannot count the times I’ve heard her say this.)

“I know, but really, I will be.” (she says, instead of getting instantly peevish.)  “As soon as this is done I’ll have a life again. Until the next thing…” she trails off.

I say, “You know… it always hurt, as a kid, you were always so preoccupied and telling us you’d make time after you did this thing. I never felt you were all the way there. I don’t know if my kids feel that way. Probably not. But I did. It was hard.” Or, I’m thinking, the times she’d make some delicious meal for other people, decorating the top of a cake or loading up a pan of sliced lasagne, dressed for an outing, impressing Strangers or Acquaintances (she never had close friends) for their praise and esteem – and yes, a large part of it, a gift of her generous heart. We – my father, brother and I – would get the dried cake-scraps left over after she’d left with the kitchen a mess. Some time ago I resolved to give my own kids The Best or at least As Good as any fuckers in church or wherever, and that has felt very much like Me, very good Indeed.

And I repeat, “Yeah, I don’t know if my kids feel that way. Probably not.”

“Well, they probably don’t. Because they have you,” my mom says, glancing at me. And her voice – maybe it was my imagination but her voice was just so soft and loving. Like she wasn’t taking offense or coming on defensive at what I’d related about my childhood (as she has responded in the past). She was considering my children. I was considering my children. We were doing better for both of them.

“Yeah,” I replied.

And it was just that simple.

Ironically or perhaps in a way that makes perfect sense, besides my husband no one has given me as much credit and esteem on my parenting as my own mother, despite my at-times sharp criticisms or denunciations of parts of my own childhood. I think it’s pretty damned awesome that in my journey with my little ones – including some significant departures of lifestyle from my family of origin – my own mother hasn’t made it about her, and I hope I do the same for my kids if they have children of their own. Inviting her along to be a grandmother, and her willingness and joy at being a better grandmother (than she was a mother at least), has been tremendously – I can’t say “healing”, but it’s enabled me to get to know her in a better chapter of our life, one I am deeply grateful for. I can see she finds her grandchildren all the more wonderful now we’ve been living here in Hoquiam. If we were to move away it would flat-out break her heart (and probably our four hearts as well).

But, for now at least, we are together.

Later in the evening I had the honor of watching my daughter’s soccer practice. She has improved so much in the season already; more impressive to me still is her sweetness and positive energy (as opposed to some of the girls who take the game so seriously as to turn on fellow teammates during scrimmage; yelling criticisms or issuing forth with Demon-Voice: “That wasn’t a goal!” and such). She laughs and claps at other people’s accomplishments and their mistakes; she takes joy in her goals and defense but also takes joy when she is defeated soundly.

I’d want her on my team.

Phoenix Takes A Rest

Phoenix Takes A Drink

get it get it get it

Today was incredible! Almost too much to write about so I’ll confine myself to just a couple events. The first part of our day was Phoenix’s most vigorous soccer game yet. After winning the previous four games, today’s challengers tasked them severely.  And I got to see some… whooooooOOOoo… I don’t know what to call it, parental behavior that was just … intense.

S. Grips Her Knee

In fact today I saw pretty much every bit of published parental codes of conduct broken (just on OUR side of the field, the other team’s parents were even more yelling-y and included two screaming pacers). I was left kind of reeling: How do coaches put up with this? Like a mother yelling, “What was THAT?!” repeatedly at her daughter when the girl made mistakes and then bellowing, “GET IN YOUR SPOT SAMANTHA!!” (names changed to protect the identity of dickweeds). Probably my favorite was the father who yelled at every player to “GET THE BALL!!” (really?), repeatedly told his daughter to physically push the opposing team members, kept up a constant mantra of play-specific adjuncts delivered from the sidelines (this is, everywhere I’ve read, a no-no), and did not applaud anything other than a score (this same personage only remembered a few names of the top-scorers. At one point when my daughter had the ball he yelled, “Get it, uh-number… uh-5!” He also mixed up the three Latina girls’ names. Oh and he kept getting off and on a cell phone to chew someone out).

I am not making any of this up!

I’ve had to do some personal education on being a sporting parent. I participated in sports as a kid, but my parents rather didn’t. I’m proud of Ralph and I and our developing strategies – which soccer enthusiasts, coaches, and successful and happy athletes prefer over the pushy/aggressive and “motivating” paradigm. I’m still figuring it out but if I hadn’t started a self-education I would probably be feeling decidedly uncomfortable and confused about what I was seeing (Karen Ridd’s piece in Natural Life Magazine‘s September/October 2008 issue, “Lost in the Parenting Wilderness”, was especially helpful; her sons are high-level performers and so the onus of parental management and her own past experiences as a competitor were especially difficult to navigate). Today it was kind of heartbreaking to observe just how little support comes off the sidelines and how much screaming, criticism, and inappropriate coaching happens instead. A real eye-opener for me.

We have a good coach (inasmuch as I can tell). He has seriously developed the girls to an extent I would have not imagined. Several of them have improved markedly, our daughter included, in the space of two practices a week for a couple weeks. I’m impressed.

More reading from an article called “Parents & Motivation: What’s Your Role?” by Dr. Alan Goldberg, a sports psychologist:

“Pushing, prodding, demeaning and bottom line, emotionally abusing [your] son. Is this motivation? […]

Pushing your child towards certain athletic goals that they may or may not have will backfire in your face! It is not your job to motivate your child-athlete. It is not your job to push or pressure them. Doing this will only kill their love for the sport and cause them to ultimately lose respect for you.

Your children’s motivation to participate and excel in a sport is something that should come from within them, not you. They should compete because they want to. They should practice because they want to. They should have their own reasons and own goals. They should pursue their own dreams. I don’t mean to be harsh here, but when it comes to your child’s sport, your dreams don’t count.

I’m going to keep this report positive (although I am seriously, Jane Goodall-like, wanting to further report on the intense behaviors I saw today!) because despite almost comic unpleasantness Ralph and I had a great time. It was a wonderful game. The girls worked hard. They were three players short on the team and there was an incredible amount of effort. I felt like I got to know each of the players a little bit better by observing them tasked so hard. After the game ended, we were the only family who let our daughter play on the playground (because remember how these are little girls?). Fortunately there were many other children there waiting for their siblings’ games to end, including two of Phoenix’s teammates. We stayed an extra hour and a half while they played. Ralph and I played with the girls, much to their delight – they especially enjoyed Ralph’s intensely physical and boundlessly playful shenanigans.

In other news I am walking on air as our first indie bookstorein HQX opened. Let me point out we are a combined community of two towns and about 26000 people and before today we did not have a serious bookstore. This one looks decidedly good! It is in a very small space – in fact it is the former anteroom of the diner I worked in as a young woman and, briefly, a handful of hours last year. Despite a small space, selection and pricing look great!

And what should I see when I walked in but, immediately, Scott Clevenger’s book – a book I’ve been wanting (as I’ve recently decided to allow myself book-buying, not just library use)!
Z. O. M. G.

All other potential purchases had to be pushed aside for this one (including $18 worth of groceries) – because you bet I bought a copy (here’s a taste of the authors’ brilliance). I read the introduction in the lobby of the Theatre next door with their live music venture – and laughed out loud! Also who should I see in the modest turnout but my mom’s ex-boyfriend. Likely so stoned that… well, what’s a good stoned reference. Like he could hardly move. I waved in and invited him over. He seemed suspicious but he did drift in and out of the store. I stood talking to new friends and old acquaintances while my kids ran and tumbled about with their friend (another sleepover here tonight). I couldn’t have felt happier than I did this evening – and it was just simple pleasures, really.

An indie bookstore within biking distance from my house here in HQX.

Pinch me.
Halftime Strategy
¡Estas chicas son increíbles!

to quote mr. withers: a lovely day, lovely day, lovely day

Oh good Lord. I can’t stop taking pictures of my children. Probably because they’re Magic. And beautiful.

At Lunch 1

At Lunch 2

At Lunch 3

Smiling

That expression on Nels’ face? That’s how he usually looks. Smiling.

Today at this very lunch we were eating our soup and ceasar salad and cheesy bread when Nels began to fiddle inside of his mouth. I immediately felt nauseated as, sure enough, his hand emerged with a tooth (his second, lost). I just about put my head down on the table. Anything tooth-related makes me want to barf. Oddly this does not translate to dentophobia – I can fall asleep in the chair I’m so relaxed. But you know, tooth loss, I kind of get weirded out at the idea of a bone falling out of our face.

Phoenix, just before soccer:

Before Soccer Practice 3

Before Soccer Practice 2

Before Soccer Practice 1

It was one of those wild days today: pouring down rain, lovely rain, wet rain. The kind of rain they show in movies when trying to make dramatic effect. Then the rain stopped at we had that kind of lovely wet fall day, leaves aren’t falling yet, the pavement smells clean, the world is newly awash and there’s an adventurous electricity in the air.

It was heavenly.

summations

Today:

I sat next to another Soccer Mom and knit while watching my daughter’s first soccer game of the season. I truly feel like an interloper at these sporting events. I could list on and on why: I have the shittiest car in the parking lot, I often am sitting on the grass getting wet instead of packed into North Face and cozy under a big umbrella, I tend in conversation to immediately be espousing controversial ideas instead of trading in niceties, I am not a screamer urging my kids to GO GO GO GET ON IT MOOOOOVE SHOT! SHOT! – et cetera. That said it is a delight to watch my daughter play; as in everything she does, her spirit shines forth. She worked hard today and I took her out afterwards for cheesy bread, tomato soup, and a Sprite.

My husband told us he woke early and while he cuddled my son he watched me sleep for a while. He told us I looked “beautiful… her hair was perfect, and her face looked so beautiful”. I told him thank you, but not before I had to make an amusing crack at the fact I am so much prettier when my beak is shut, right?

Ralph assembled the IKEA furniture J. and I shopped for last night (my first time at IKEA and yes, I had their meatballs; tasty enough but mine are better). When he went off to band practice he left all the packaging out on purpose for Hammy the kitten to totally tear the hell out of the business. I mean she really ripped the lid off of it.

I brought my grandpa hardtack and my mom some hazelnut chocolate I bought from the abovementioned; the two were deep into their nightly wine-drinking and watching Casablanca and totally in the catbird seat.

Haven’t got up to the sexiness with the husband in a while; today watched Antichrist and now I’m not sure I’ll ever want to again. Also Lars von Trier, that was a total piece of uber-misogynistic dogshit, I don’t care how brilliant you’ve convinced yourself you are (the fox part was pretty good tho’).

I am about to collapse with exhaustion. In the last week and a half it seems the days I don’t eat red meat I feel quite fatigued. This is a bit daunting as I don’t know how to prepare red meat (what cut to buy and how to cook it), I don’t really want to eat steak dinners out daily, and pasture-finished cruelty-free beef is hard to come by around here unless you buy half a cow and I never have the money nor the freezer and remember that part about not being good at cooking red meat.

Fin.

something needs to be done he said, as he looked about angrily

Today it’s caught up to me again, this ugly malaise, despite a day where a fair amount got accomplished and the sun shone (which always helps me); I had the honor to host a few extra kids in and out during the day and then watch my daughter play soccer while basting zippers into a particularly lovely sewing creation I’m now almost finished with. My husband had a hard day at work but he had a good time talking to me about it. He leaned against the fence and looked handsome but tired and Nels climbed all over him loving him up. Ralph and I approach our ninth marriage anniversary (one week from today) and are in the thick of our thirteenth year together. Our companionship and sense of humor and sense of purpose and connection and our love for our kids – there is so much goodness between us even though when we fight it is very ugly indeed.

Ralph and I don’t fight today, and the kids and I don’t fight, but something hurts and someting feels off. Little disappointments trickle in: a fabric delivery that will be late; late enough I have to push back a deadline perhaps – to talk to my client or hope for the best? Two packages I sent out got returned and needed to be re-delivered; my fault, I didn’t double-check addresses (Even then though, not all has been glum today as something wonderful arrived via post today which I will be sharing about shortly!). The house seems dirty and I lack the energy to clean (this is very rare). The washing machine still sits broken, half full of water which I need to do something about. My clothes are threadbare and our towels too, and I know I’ll prioritize Ralph’s workpants and towels over my own fare, and that’s fine but I hate it when it seems “everything” is wearing out at once (an illusion, I tell myself).

I deliver pickles about the neighborhood to stave off the gloom, pickles to neighbors and acquaintances, hoping to spread good cheer, I swear food helps people, I was sad last night my slow-cooked lovely fare was not eaten by my rather frail grandfather who is visiting, I remember the panic I felt two years ago when I could no longer cook for my dad because he no longer ate, the pain of not being able to gift this thing. So: pickles. If I can’t find the root of my odd feelings at least I can bestow kindness, something small but colorful and beautiful and zing! flavor.

My mother and I trade phone calls and favors and she takes the little ones out for a burger. Upon their return Phoenix’s soccer-mate I. comes over for a few hours and the girls enjoy the kitties and the chickens; neighborhood boys come and go to get an education on Nels’ impressive PvZ skills. For a boy so intent on and in love with the game he is most lovingly generous at showing other children the works, allowing them use of his netbook and his strategies, exhibiting none of the dull-eyed and single-syllable gruntings one might think would be the result of such saturation.

So the children at least live freely and happily. It would seem the neighborhood gang is attempting to suck the last few days out of their summer (school starts next Tuesday for Hoquiam kids); there is an air of desperation as they get up to malarkey (two older boys were BB-gunning the chickens today – tells me pop-eyed J. when I get home) and run about shouting and ride their bikes in circles long after the customary neighborhood sunset curfew.

Tonight I turn off the sewing machine and close up “shop” and check my salt brine crock (looking good and smelling lovely), wash my hands and sit at the table with my family and the lovely fare my husband has prepared. I’m tired, which makes no sense, but there it is.

Perhaps tomorrow things will be better.

rapscallion kitchen

Tonight was Phoenix’s first soccer practice this season.

The Team

Field

(Here’s our daughter her first year (2008) and then last year. She is looking more like a young lady every day.)

While watching I leaned on my bike and talked to J., a winsome and buxom freckled mother I knew from homeschool circles (our daughters were also in the same public kindergarten class two years ago). I spent even more conversation with new acquaintance N., a small woman with beautiful skin and a soft girlish voice who had much poorer English than my Spanish (a rare event as most native Spanish speakers I meet have better English than I have of their language), and I was pleased to have got along fine with her in conversation although I kicked myself for not knowing some of the verbs crucial to our conversation (juegan, which rang a bell but I couldn’t place it and she couldn’t elaborate; I looked up when I got home). I self-identified as having meager Spanish but she told me she could understand me: “Entiendo tu español”, actually I think she said “se entiende” which was a bit more encouraging even, and I am pleased enough with all this. She asks about uniforms and I tell her I don’t know what’s in store – la año pasado no numeros, pero todos son del mismo color; I introduce her and her daughter to another mother. I’m pleased with myself for (possibly) socially lubricating things to positive effect and not screwing anything up.  I am talkative and social anyway, and I work hard with my little brain to intuit whether someone wants to speak with me or not, which is not something I can always say with confidence I get right.

Nels and I biked back home and left our girl to come home when she was done playing afterward. It wasn’t that much longer I heard the door close and her satisfied voice saying, “I’m home!” tromp tromp tromp, shedding soccer accoutrement on the kitchen floor. “Phoenix, will you please put your soccer stuff away?” “Yes Mama.” Ha!

Tonight Ralph is in Portland at a Neutral Uke Hotel concert with friends and I’m making headway on a wonderful little sewn item, yet another surprise I cannot yet share, and I’m cutting many pieces and measuring carefully with only the smallest bits of yardage that go in the bin, the remainder of the fabric either folded (if large enough) or wrapped for donation to the local senior center which seems to love my donations and indeed I observe they sell. Sewing often means I am so incredibly not-wasteful in my remainder supplies, that I can move through yardage and thread carefully, putting up needles with remaining thread on a strip of cloth tacked to my wall, taking an inventory of fusible interfacing or half-inch elastic or needles (I wish I could buy sewing needles in bulk as I change them so often), leaving the project ready for the next day’s work, very satisfying until I see the kitten Hammy clusterfucking my serger threading which as you know, is such a joy to re-do.

While I am thus employed my son comes in the back room and tells me he’s hungry. I move about the sewing room and suggest dishes I could make for him (since Ralph isn’t here and I wanted to sew sew sew I didn’t prepare a sit-down meal). Nels asks me in the kitchen and I step in our little pantry and say, “How about a sandwich and some peaches?” selecting a can of my mother’s home-canned stuff, delicious they are, but the old lady did not clean the jars and the sugary goodness makes it stick to the shelf, and in freeing it my hand fumbles –

and in the split second before the crash registers my son says, “No peaches,” cheerfully. Then we stand there in ruin and I realize I’ve wasted the food and made a mess besides and of course miscalculated what The Boy wanted anyway! I’m completely pissed (not at anyone, just the Universe) and Nels looks at me with widened eyes and then without removing his gaze slowly reaches to his immediate right and selects the broom off the wall. “No baby, that won’t work, there’s syrup on the floor and we’d gum the broom up.”

The thing is, I could have closed the door to the pantry and left the whole mess for Ralph, and he wouldn’t have begrudged me one bit, because if there’s one person who understands how much work housework really is, it’s that man, and he would have been happy to clean it for me, to do his part. But I’m thinking of him and how hard he’s working and I clean it myself, a total mess best done carefully with wet rags, the hefty weight of syrup and laden beaches having caused the jar to break into many rough pea-sized components, many I’m leaning on with my bare palm as I assiduously wipe the mess (later as a total coincidence my Maytag washer will choke, smoke, and die while rinsing out the mircoscopic glass shards from these very rags), and eventually the job is done.

There were a half-dozen other little things, and doing the dishes and getting the new batch of pickling business ready and sewing a button on Ralph’s shirt and washing the kids’ hair and my son cleaned up the bath toys and said with a sweep of his hand and his little gap-toothed smile, “Voila!”

Oh yeah because Nels lost his first tooth last night, I forgot to mention, while entertaining a group of kids and while houseguests and my mom were over, and he was a little celebrity for a minute (today he told me while eating the cookie last night at first he thought, “There’s an almond in here!” yet it was his tooth) and there was enough chaos I could put my head against his chest and shed quick tears. First haircut, first tooth loss: these milestones change the look of a child, makes you realize how fast it all goes, makes you realize how little you really are needed for things to progress as they do.

Grass & Co.

Self-titled by Slowreader

Perfect at most social gatherings of no more than ten
Perfectly groomed people keeping tabs on what they spend
Dear, I looked and looked for days
Only arrows pointing straight between my ears
And I could almost say a sound
But I’d rather sit and stare with you my dear

some representations of things that are more or less real

This is Ralph and I (and way in the background, the kidlets) one year ago.

***

Mama
This is me looking happy. I’m happy because I was contacted to sew a few things for someone. I hope it works out. I seriously am already thinking over the projects in my mind. I also ordered fabric and I got wonderful stuff for good prices and at this moment I am happily ruminating on this soft goodness. I’m also about to go on a sunny walk with my son. This latter makes me incredibly happy.

On the walk I enjoyed hearing the very loud AC/DC blaring down the street. I was the beneficiary for several blocks. I was indeed “shook all night long”. And yet I am not sure how this rocker’s next-door neighbors felt about the music selection coupled with the volume.

We stopped at my mom’s and interrupted her work (canning peaches) for a lunch date. It was lovely talking with her and Nels was a little angel in Los Arcos, his favorite repast being the bean dip and their fresh chips. He gave her a sweet hug and a kiss when we parted ways. They love one another quite deeply.

Bike Ride
This is Phoenix looking upset because Ralph got the wrong date for her soccer practice (so we’re biking back home); this is Ralph feeling a bit bad about this but mostly wanting to help his daughter feel better. Look at their twin-frowns.

Fried Rice But Artsy
This is fried rice, tonight’s dinner. I couldn’t get a good picture. It is delicious. It is also fun because you can make up all the fresh and fabulous ingredients ahead of time and then whip the whole thing together in only twenty minutes and everyone is soooooo hungry and loves it. I’ve been listening to the family compliment the meal all night, especially Nels. I heard him speaking in wonderment at how Mama can make such good food. He and Phoenix and the neighbor boy are out in a tent in the front yard (supposedly staying all night) and he keeps running inside (impersonating a “zombie walk” of course) to grab more bites.

“Water is the best of all things” – Pindar

Today my kids came up with a pretty awesome plan for our time together: we rode bikes across town, swam in the pool – for hours! – and then shared some delicious Mexican food at our westside HQX restaurant.* By 5:15 PM when it was time to take Sophie to her soccer game, I was as sleepy and lethargic as if I’d actually ordered the Cadillac Margarita at Los Arcos (which alas, I’d denied myself). It was a good day, and one that I’d already retreated from by 8 PM: face washed, PJs donned, and my mind and body feeling wonderfully stretched.

Nels’ love of and play in water is amazing to me. He cannot swim yet – and I’ve previously detailed the antipathy for swimming that YMCA lessons and my mother’s swim-agenda seem to have helped create. But whatever Nels experiences with anyone else while in the pool, when he and I are together his love of the pool rivals that of his sister’s – a girl who has a huge smile on her face every time she pops up from the water.

Today his body is strong and full of delighted energy. He is attracted to the rapids, the spraying showers; delighted when out of the blue some forty middle schoolers from Olympia descend on the pool during a time of day that usually only holds us and a few mommies and their babies. He is determined to learn how to submerge his head underwater and experiments with this for a while before I notice this is something new. Sophie and I offer instructions on blowing out with the nose, and he willingly attempts this – setting challenges for himself. In the river rapids he sees me a few feet away, wrinkles his nose and seals his lips in preparation, and deliberately ducks underwater to travel to me. My laughter upon holding his strong, wiggling body in my arms is long, loud, and genuine. His body and face are open and smiling.

When they open the larger pool’s diving board up he asks me to take him to that side of the pool. It’s much colder there, and too deep for him to touch bottom, but nevertheless he is excited and completely fearless. His body and voice and expressions are Joy. “I’m becoming interested in this!” he shouts, as we tread water back and forth and watch his sister – who is also, influenced by the older children, taking more daring dives into the deep end.

Moving on from the pool, his next interest is the waterslide. Over and over he climbs the many steps and comes down the slide – shouting, squealing, smiling, the smallest Little Guy in the sea of middle schoolers. He goes down the slide so many times I retrieve a towel to wrap around me so I can wait at the slide’s base, sitting on the edge of the hot tub. And finally, I decide I have to take a turn too – something I haven’t yet tried, nothing like it since I was sixteen. I tell my son I want to try, and he smiles and takes my hand and leads me.  We climb the steps up and up and up –  stairs and stairs and stairs. I am far more nervous than it seems an adult should be, and I feel foolish for this – but it just Is.  Up at the top, finally, and a lifeguard sits next to the relatively nonthreatening liquid maw.  I watch my son fly down the first bend, flopping over like a fish and laughing in the depths. I sit and wait an (interminably long-seeming) ten seconds, the sun on my legs. I think I have pretty legs. It’s peaceful up here in this little tower, looking down at water rushing away from me. The lifeguard says “Go,” and flying through the sun-dappled tube, the warm water, I experience a freedom, a letting-go. I shout at the bend, at a dip, at the speed picking up. A freedom, a joy, a ride – something I wouldn’t have had exactly this way if it weren’t for my babies.

When I get to the bottom of the waterslide I find I was the last person allowed through before it was closed – a rope stretches across the doorway. I also discover my son immediately ran through and ducked under the rope and ran upstairs to ride – one more time. And the lifeguard apparently allowed it, because a few seconds later here was my Boy again, splashing and smiling.

The three of us shower together after over two hours in the water. I wash the kids’ hair and they hide in lockers while I pack up the towels. I buy the kids some fruit snacks and we eventually get back outside to the bikes – it is a beautiful fall day, sunny with a slight chill, my favorite autumn weather.

After our dinner at Los Arcos we rest – briefly – before Sophie’s soccer game. Upon arrival on the field we find the girls need to reverse their jerseys; Sophie pops hers off (she’s not wearing an undershirt underneath), which prompts a few other parents to laugh and comment (half-naked little girl, oops!). With a sort of mild surprise I notice the other girls are not encouraged to be barechested for the few seconds it takes to flip the shirts: one girl’s father wraps a blanket around his daughter so she can “change” in privacy (attempting to deter the desires of the many, many pedophiles lurking in Gable Field’s bushes). I feel a little depressed at this display; I’ve never understood why social pressure requires us to cover up the chests of pre-pre-pre-pre-preadolescent girls. “You’re going to eventually grow some Dirty Pillows in this whole area here, about seven years from now, and even though today your beautiful bodies look almost exactly like your male peers, let’s just make sure you know something unspeakable is going to happen we should keep from other people At All Costs.”

Twatever.

* By the way, I’m thinking of the hard time I often give myself vis-a-vis parenting, and I realize I should give myself 99% of the Awesome Points available because I let my kids play all day, expect them to do chores, and feed them well. How much better can you ask for? Well, Nels specifically asks for more time playing with open flames, and I think Sophie wishes she could eat candy and ice cream for every meal, but so far I haven’t yet acquiesced to either of my children’s desires.