Matthew McConaughey is ON VACATION

for your reading pleasure

Here’s a picture of Matthew McConaughey on vacation.
Matthew McConaughey is ON VACATION

Besides the fact that unlike this man I never go shirtless, I pretty much lived this EXACT LIFESTYLE this last week.

I’m still coming off vacation but my brain read some awesome things right before I left and I thought I’d throw them out there. I’m not feeling interested in a journal post right now but if you wonder what I’ve considered good reads this week, this should keep you busy:

“I’m Not Raising Princesses, I Guess” at NaturalPapa
Succinct captions of our animated Disney heroes and heroines

“What Not To Say To Children” at Do Life Right
Most parents you see here or there aren’t doing anything we’d call abusive (in public, at least). But what about those little comments or “teasing” remarks? Is there a place for those?

“Is Unschooling Working?” by Jeff Sabo
I’ve been reading Mr. Sabo’s blog for a few months now and I always look forward to what he writes. There is a good discussion in the comments, as well.

“Department of WIN: Polarn O. Pyret” at Mothers for Women’s Lib
They’re in the UK and off my price point, but after reading a bit I am seriously considering purchasing a garment or two.

“The Third Side” at Humane Connection Blog
My life has benefitted by performing similar strategies.

“No Offense” from Rachel Simmons
Written for teen girls, as an adult I still recognize the “joking” comments (and “LOLs”) behind some female communication.

“The Myth of ‘Social Awkwardness’ Among Homeschoolers & Unschoolers” from Idzie at I am Unschooled. And Yes, I Can Write
A passionate treatise on what we’re really saying when we charge homeschoolers with being socially awkward (dorks), or whatever. Shout-out for my help in writing the article!

“Dear White Lactivists” at Raising my Boychick
Bringing two subjects dear to me together: anti-racism and lactivism. From a comment: “Co-opting is always ugly, dismissive, presumptuous, and most of the time people don’t mean it that way. That doesn’t make it not so.”

“Reverse Racism” at transgriot
I’m of the opinion if you utter the phrase “reverse racism” or hold such concepts in your mind, you’re already demonstrating considerable ignorance on the subject of race in America.

“News Ageism” at the Canadian Journalism Project
Start seeing how our media speaks of anyone older than about 55.

“Defeating Adultism” by Wendy Priesnitz
“Scratch below the surface, and you’ll find that this sort of adult disrespect is inherited. It’s how we were treated as children by our parents and in our schools…and how our parents were treated by the generation before that. And it’s reinforced by other social institutions like churches and medical systems, as well as by laws. The context of the adult-child relationship in our society is power, hierarchy, mistrust, and coercion.”

Unschooling With Boobs, My Two Big Focuses from The Unschooling Happiness Project
I truly enjoy every post from this site, even the brief ones. This was an interesting premise and one I’ve also experienced. After having taken a break from birth- and breastfeeding activist readings for a couple years, since reading and employing unschooling strategies I’ve experienced a renewed interest.

“Shelter Media Watch: Apartment Therapy’s ‘Mammy’ Makeover” at The Studioist
The always level-headed Alexis writes informative pieces and fields comments beautifully.

“Outta My Yard”, a 2009 post from the Bollard on what to do when someone you know loses a loved one
Right before we left someone next door suffered some kind of medical emergency. Ralph and I baked up a couple loves of bread and brought it over (no questions asked). The neighbors seemed to appreciate this very much.

What bread did we make? This: “Bread in Five Minutes” at globalgourmet.

Bonneville Was Awesome!

home again, home again, jiggity-jig (redux)

Ah, Oregon.  A land where petrol pumps you.  Leaving Pendleton on West 84 we see the sign: “Warning: Blowing Dust Area, Next 40 Miles”.  What is so unusual about the area that the DOT needs to put up a sign? Because there is nothing else there.  I’m relieved that soon we’ll be along the Columbia.  Water makes me feel better.

The area of Eastern Washington/Oregon we’re now fleeing is so comparably flat and expansive that it seems when I look about to our next destination I am sure we are close – I’m used to hills and treescapes to tell me where I am. This makes the somewhat epic distances we’re (re-)traveling seem all the longer.  But despite the different countryside, the heat, the fripperies of fancy food and lodging, the visits with his grandparents – my son has, by and large, been obsessed on the acquisition of various nuts from trees (as we drive he repeatedly plays with, drops, and cries over his collection of acorns and hulled buckeyes). Therefore on the stretch home we pass the Pendleton wool mill (which, had we not a long sojourn ahead of us, I would have enjoyed visiting) and wineries and a handful of other attractions but Nels is mostly concerned that we stop at Multnomah Falls for an acorn resupply.  The port of Morrow brings us back alongside the Columbia river, and the resultant trains and boats using it for transport.  The terrain starts, by and large, to resemble my home.  Eastern WA/OR leaves the largest impression on me in plant life I’m not used to: the many black walnut trees, buckeyes, and sycamores, the latter with flesh the same pale yellow-green of the massive amount of butterflies crossing the highway just prior to Hermiston.

Instead of an acorn-hunting trip we stop at the Bonneville Dam, which is pretty amazing. If the sun hadn’t been baking our car like an egg I would have liked to stay longer. We weren’t the only ones enjoying it; the locale has a GPF (GrandParent Factor) that is off the charts. Average age of the scores of people there: four hundred and twelve:

They should have served crab melts there after the tours, they could have made a mint.

They should have served crab melts there after the tours, they could have made a mint.

The kids at the viewing window on the lowest level:

Beautiful &: Beautiful

Beautiful &: Beautiful

Sophie took some great pictures of our trip, and my favorite one is this:

Even her title sounds like a poem.

The best part? She effortlessly knew it was a Snow Goose.

I literally never do the “my kid one day will be such-and-such” but you should have seen the look on Sophie’s face while she watched the massive salmon working their way upstream – she was entranced, and smiling as if at a gamboling kitten. I feel so sure in my bones Sophie will end up working with animals when she’s older. She loves them so very much.

We arrived home at about 7:30 PM to find during our absence my mother had inhabited our little space – the space that’s supposed to be only ours – unasked, leaving a few messes and a stripped bed and taking a tiny bit more of my sanity.

But I guess that’s something to sort out another time. Ugh.

Lake Cabin, Sunday Morning

the summer wind, came blowing in, and blew me down

I did not actually get enough sleep this weekend.

I did not actually get enough sleep this weekend.

This morning after breakfast we said goodbye to our last batch of friends and headed back to my family’s lake cabin where we’d made our home for the weekend. Yesterday’s intense heat had given way last night to a wonderful lightening show, rain and thunder; friends swam in the gloaming with the sun hiding, then emerging; warm rain spattering. It was magical weather.  Good food, delicious beer, long conversation well into the night.

It had been a good birthday weekend in honor of the much-loved Ralph; yet, unfortunately, I had not slept well either night we stayed, so I am feeling oddly muted, depressed Sunday morning.  A trudging sense of ennui as I begin the long and laborious process of cleaning the cabin; washing up dishes, packing clothes, sweeping floors and wiping down counters.  I don’t throw food out, so each bit I’ve prepared is carefully packed for the ride home. Damp towels stuffed into bags to be taken home, washed, dried, and returned to the cabin; gamepieces carefully fetched back to the dogeared copies of Clue and Monopoly that have inhabited the cabin since before I can remember.

There are bright spots through the fog of my exhaustion.  My husband, who not only takes the kids into town so I can have a nap but while there seeks out and purchases the modeling clay I’d been wanting.  At breakfast our friend Mary announces, “Your kids are my favorite kids,” smiling at Nels with a genuine warmth; a success in my estimation given Mary is childfree and during her visit Nels has worn combinations of pine needles, marshmallow and nakedness much of the time. And C., a father to two grown children himself, asks us, “Was their energy level typical yesterday?”  not at all meaning this in a bad way.  Ralph and I are testified to on the nature of our kids:  free spirits, active, social, and engaged.

Back to Hoquiam and out in the evening to dine with our friend J., then to the amusing ice cream parlor in downtown Aberdeen (we lampoon the name of the place, SCOOOOPS!” in a big silly voice; we’ve also taken to calling it “OOPS” or “Scrapes” given that a recent visit culminated in a spectacular fall which included a full-body sprawl as the the “Ocean S’mores” sundae flew out of hand and splattered on the pavement).  Home and the cats are loving, clingy, climbing into our lap and rubbing against us, glad to have us home, please give us more food and love.

Evening comes, a warm summer rain, weather I am used to through to my bones and do love dearly.  Tomorrow is Monday, back to our week; Sophie’s swim team in the morning, cooking long hours in the kitchen, maybe even a bit of sewing, hearing the voices of my children raised joyfully in play outside.

back from the coast

Mittens May Hamper Agility(Big silly bike mittens).

We are back from our illustrious, four night and five day vacation on Cannon Beach. I was kinda busy most the time – cooking for the group, finishing my novel (I’m done!), and doing some special sewing for installment in a local gift shop.

My sister and mother seemed to feel self-conscious – or grateful, or something – for the bit of cooking I did because they repeatedly bought us our lunches and dinners (citing fairness) at many a divine restaurant. Face it, we made money on that trip! I did get lots of sushi. This was awesome.

We took a few beach walks, too:

Jacque "Le Rock" Grande
Sophie’s favorite rock (some size perspective). She took off her skirt, shoes and socks, rolled up her leggings, and ran off into the cold surf. She is a little spirit of nature.

Billy Will Call These "Elf Shoes"
Nels had a tough time – lots of coughing, a bit of fever, and five minutes before we left he whacked his left eyebrow on a sharp, sharp corner.

Jenny! Stop saying "Silflay" every chance you get
Bunny contemplation.

are you warm, are you real

If anything bolstered me a few days ago during my trips to hospitals and invasive tests it was my husband’s devotion and a sort of, well, chivalry. He accompanied me to the emergency room and did not wait in the waiting are but brought our son along with us which comforted me greatly. He played with Nels on his lap, explaining this or that procedure or instrument, blowing up green latex gloves, tying them off, and drawing features on them. They named two of these balloon-creatures: “Slen” and “Flar” (their respective names, backwards). Ralph held my hand when they inserted a wire in my arm; he took our son out the the vending machines and let him choose his snack and drink. He gave me privacy for changing clothes but stood by me in the hours of waiting. I remember appreciating the gift of this intimacy along with his impeccable respectful behavior.

I was barely back and prescriptioned before heading up for a two-day, one-night spiritual retreat with a girlfriend. I won’t lie: being in the presence of Catholicism was both new and a bit intimidating. In large part because I was new to the priory, though, my retreat stayed an internally secular one. My friend and I enjoyed fellowship, talks, knitting projects, uninterrupted meals together, walks in the woods and restful time apart in our rooms (her room was named Hrotsvit and mine Scholastica, both after Benedictine personages). The priory was comfortable but not at all ostentatious – plenty of thick, but well-worn towels for showers and my mattress had a memory foam top! – the food home-cooked and comforting, the environs peaceful and quiet. The sisters themselves were quite terrifying to me (not according to their behavior: they were perfectly friendly and entirely “normal”-seeming); I remained in awe of their way of life and thought about it a great deal during my time there.

While resting last night before dinner I turned the lights off, lay down in my room, and listened to Nat King Cole on my iPod, which was just about as nice an experience as I could conjure for myself. I missed my husband and children, but knew I’d be back to them soon. I had time to reflect on my friend and her nature, a good nature; I appreciated her getting me tea and coffee and offering companionship. I enjoyed having freedom from outside schedules, if only for a bit of time.

Of course, when I got home I was immediately thrown into: phone calls, minor-“emergencies” (my husband had absconded with all keys), dishes, laundry, misbehaving children.

Still. I’d had some time away.

too little too late?

I would have loved to blog my vacation trip to Port Townsend – from Wednesday through Friday – with the kids. However my cottage rental had internet fits and I wouldn’t be bothered. I do have a Flickr photoset available.

My living room is in the process of being painted: a deep orange and deep pink. Yeah, you heard right! It looks great (methinks), reminds me of a cantina, and I’ve had “Mexican Hat Dance” stuck in my head each time I walk through.

it was saturday night, i guess that makes it alright

I went back to fulltime engineering work when my first child was about two and a half months old. I remember speeding off in the still-dark in our “family car” – the little Civic hatchback – with my heart thumping and my stomach feeling dreadfully wrong. I put a Prince CD in the car’s goofy stereo Ralph had found for so cheap and installed himself (‘BLAUPUNKT’) and blasted “Little Red Corvette”. It helped. At work I think I made it a couple hours before I found a reason to phone my two at home. Again, my heart racing: I wanted to be with them so very much. I remember Roger – what was his last name? I can’t seem to remember! – the pulp mill assistant super stopping me by the tool room and asking with a big wide smile: how many times had I called home already?

For the record, as far as I know, my husband never once didn’t have a lovely, lovely and safe, safe day with our infant daughter. I remember he’d take a picture of her and I’d put it in a tiny waterproof sleeve on my hardhat. She was a badge of pride for me.

I remember walking past that same tool room a year later again with a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach: I knew I was going upstairs to tell my boss I was leaving. It was a different “horrible”. It was the feeling of not knowing what was to come and knowing I was doing something so many were telling me NOT to, something the women in my family didn’t do. Still, it didn’t feel “wrong”. It felt like something to get over and move on from, if I could let myself.

If I could I’d take up all those months I was away from my baby. If I could I’d give those months with our second child to my husband, who had to go back to work after two weeks off.

See, I’ve never been able to escape that feeling of dread, of “wrong”ness when I leave my family. Yes, this includes Ralph, not just the kids. I suppose that’s OK; it means I love them deeply, inexorably, completely. What’s important is the feeling of “wrong” wears off and I find I can be myself again.* – and of course, catch up on that time of privacy and self-soothing. It turns out they may so deep down in my bones feel like a part of me, but in another way they’re not.

Their removal does not diminish me; it just hurts a little bit, every time.

* Flash forward six hours from now when I’m wearing a beer garland on my head, shaking my ass on a stained table at the 101 and the other patrons are staring in belligerent disbelief.

what we’ve been up to, abbreviated

1. We got two rats – Strawberry and Maude. Maude is very sick, probably for lack of care of previous owner? Please pray for my rat.

2. Nels gave Harris a whisker-trim. He did an OK job, actually.

3. I’ve been working super hard on the Community Garden and learning a lot about the local politics of extending community outside the status quo. ¡QUÉ LÁSTIMA!

4. I finished the g-d Harris costume for Nels. He loves it. It hurt my ego to sew it.

5. My children and husband are minutes away from leaving for the weekend on a little trip.