while i talk about this nels is in the bath talking about his foreskin. for a change.

National "Night Out"
My dad, my mom, and I – on a beautiful evening. Robin, one of the most dear and sweet citizens of Hoquiam, took this picture from our August 5th National Night Out. This was back when I could sweetly live in the moment and savor it. It’s been a week since my father died and I haven’t had many sweet moments, although my husband and my children have been creeping into my heart in these ways lately. P.S. I stole some pain pills and take them now and then. Maybe that’s what the “sweet” feeling is.

My friends Shannon and Abi called me today on separate occasions. Just to hear their voices and live a little with them was a little slice of heaven. I miss Abi terribly, terribly. She and I used to spend just about every day together and we could giggle together without tiring.

My brother, mother and I are on these tiny remote islands. We are mostly friendly to one another. I feel some hostilities, though. Not really against each other – I don’t think. But since we’re in the know of how much it hurts we don’t have to pretend we’re having a good time, either. Talk talk talk then, total silence while we miss my father so devastatingly much. Then talk some more I guess, because what else is there to do?

It was horrid and rainy today but we had a good time; I took the kids out on the bike and picked up Sophie’s new bike and hooked it up (her front tire in the Freeloader like this) to take it home. I also had lunch at the Deli. Which always makes me feel better. And I saw Terry, the bike guy. And I met Matt, the cutest bike boy ever. By “cutest bike boy” I don’t mean crush-cute, I mean he’s probably young enough to be my son, and he welds bikes together, and he was shy and sweet a little like my brother. It’s so rainy and lame bike-wise here, so it’s great to meet another enthusiast.

i’m not going to tell you all the gory details, but yeah there was some suckiness

"Do They Like Riding On The Bike?"

This Is How We Do It

Sometimes your day is just kind of lame and difficult, and what’s worse, you are forced to realize how limited you are as a person. And it’s my personal theory that when you become a parent, if you’re a parent who tries your best (as most probably do), this “limited as a person” thing hits you right in the nose far more often than feels comfortable.

I head out at noon with the following bike load: myself and two children, three coats, my purse, a huge batch of library books, and a birthday package for my brother. Downtown after meeting with my parents I’ve relieved myself of books and birthday package but have now picked up an antique globe (yeah, yeah, WTF?, I know!) and some trail mix. On to the bus to the grocery store in Aberdeen to pick up the following: asparagus, carrots, cucumber, half a cantelope, half a red cabbage, 1 pound tofu, one lime, 1/2 gallon organic milk, shampoo, conditioner, tea tree oil, 2 large boxes baking soda, and a large bar of olive oil soap. To the feed store for bulk catnip and chick feeders.

As I suspected, putting the Xtracycle on a bus meant that one of the Transit personnel got in a dither (“Oh, I don’t know if that will work…” yes it will work, I’ve seen it work,), fussing around and generally getting in the way of me practicing lifting the (rather heavy) load up where it needed to be. The bike is extra long so in order to fit it on a bus I have to take off the front wheel and load it on the back in the pannier – I admit it looks a bit suspicious to the narrow-minded.

I love the glimpses of people, neighborhoods, life that bicycling affords. In Hoquiam and Aberdeen we have a lot of semi-dilapidated or sometimes merely “well-worn” houses where people are just concentrating on living. In the hot afternoon I see my neighbors out on their front porches smoking, or two little girls who’ve rigged one of those giant trampolines with a sprinkler. People smile and stare at my bike and the large children dangling off the back. A rough-cut man in multiple trenchcoats shouts out, “Nice socks!” (they’re not socks but makeshift legwarmers out of sleeves of a sweater I got off Freecycle). We see lots of kitties and talk about the names of flowers in full bloom.

In Hindsight
(Later in the day, legwarmers and coats left behind).

Lake Quinault Explorers
Ralph took the kids to Lake Quinault yesterday. I was sort of dis-invited, but it worked out well enough for me to have some time to myself in the house.

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!

of a friday

After a pretty kickass dinner made especially for Ralph and my dad (meatloaf, mashed potatoes, pain de champagne, salad with marinated green beans, olives, and blanched beets), my little family biked / walked a few blocks to our annual Relay for Life. The Relay – or as we OG residents call it, the Cancer Run – is a pretty big deal here in Grays Harbor (yearly we are in the top ten nationally for monies raised per capita). My kids are awesome: they are up for anything, any time of day, and they along with Ralph are the funnest people I know to hang out with (Nels, accompanying Ralph to a portable toilet upon lifting the lid exclaimed suddenly, “You can’t go in that – it’s not a living room – it’s a toilet!” WTF?). We walked the track a few laps, had coffee, caught up with friends and acquaintances. My children hugged nearly everyone they saw that they knew; they inspired Ralph and I to hug a little too.

On our way home just before 11 PM Ralph, pushing the Xtracycle with the kids on the back, abruptly moved the front wheel to allow a car past us and knocked the kids onto the pavement all in the glare of headlights and in front of about a thousand teenage hooligans. I felt bad for both the kids and Ralph but I admit slightly smug that I am pretty used to operating that bike thing. Don’t worry: tomorrow I’ll be punished for my hubris with a big nasty fall or at very least, a snag of my chain and pantleg.

My mom bought me a really awesome lasagna pan today; mere minutes later I am sitting here wishing I had a banneton instead. Satisfying both my minor fetishes for bread and basketry.

missions accomplished

Today heading back on Cherry against fierce headwinds I would have given up and turned the corner for the nearest bus stop if I could have – that is, if I’d practiced popping off the front wheel to load the bike on the bus.* It wasn’t just the run-of-the-mill tiredness after working a school shift and biking with Nels against the wind, it was that I’d been running late this morning and Nels and I got absolutely dumped on (rain the likes I’ve never experienced before) which led to the compromise of even our winter-prepared gear and ultimately Nels spent his birthday – the last day in his 3 /4 preschool class – wearing tight Barbie jeans and a babydoll fluffy sweater (spare clothes of the preschool’s – and don’t think the wardrobe wasn’t his dream come true) and I never felt I got dry before I had to head back home.

Even worse for me was a pesky creepy Ju-on rattle emanating from the back of the bike: somehow the child’s seat is sitting lower than the 1/4″ clearance off the snap deck. Not only does this unsettle me (a potential safety concern), I also am not interested in my seat or snap deck being marred. It’s hard for me when something just eats away at me and I can’t fix it anytime soon.

I finally got home after dropping Nels off at my mother’s. I cleaned and sorted and emailed and filled out acres of paperwork for tomorrow’s pediatric dentist appointments, then picked up Sophie for some one on one time. My mother ended up taking Nels on a birthday shopping trip: a soccer ball, dump truck (for hauling dirt in the garden), socks, shoes, underwear, shorts, shirt, and hat. At four PM he swaggered out of her van all decked out and directing her to carry his parcels (reminded of: “Big mistake,” Julia Roberts sasses while toting huge shopping bags in Pretty Woman).

Tonight we dragged ourselves to Casa Mia (my foursome, my parents, and friend Jasmine) for our dinner and Nels managed to stay awake, although looking very sleepy (his second wind set in: he’s awake behind me as I type this). We had a magical moment as another table serenaded a sixty-something member with a happy birthday, erupting in operatic vocalizations and ending in a round of hearty applause. My husband took Nels over to introduce himself as another birthday and after making acquaintance the group sang even louder to Nels, the entire restaurant joining in as one – it was like listening to a choir performance. I wish I would have asked them who they were or how they came to sing so well. I was trying not to collapse into my dinner with some kind of exhaustion, but that didn’t prevent me from smiling like a fool and feeling the sting of tears.

The evening eventually wound to a close at my parents’ after birthday cake and gifts. Nels received four presents, two of them additional Lego sets which he has not stopped fixating on since two and a half hours ago. He tells me, “I’m happy on my birthday.”

Yes indeedy.

* Last week the children and I rode out to the bus barn on the Aberdeen / Hoquiam border to practice my hand at quick loading of the bike on the front of a transit bus. After a few minutes waiting in the lobby a supervisor came out and told me she was sorry but due to insurance concerns the public were not allowed in the bus yard. She went on to tell me it was easy to put a bike on the front of the bus. I stopped her then and explained that no, it wasn’t – I had a special, extra-long bike I needed to take the front wheel off of to proceed. When it started to dawn on her I’d ridden my two children out the barn for the sole purpose of this practice run, she flushed and, from the looks of it, felt rather taken aback at her legalistic refusal. However, I’m not usually in the mood to ask someone to bend the rules. The handful of employees craned their necks out at the bike as I whisked us out and away. Nothing like leaving someone with that, boy do I feel like a douche feeling.

so I had a new baby…

3/28/08 2:15 PM: date and time that my precious, precious X joined the family. I feel superstitious and odd about it though because, A. it isn’t fully paid off (but will be soon!); B. heck, even when it’s paid off it was a lot of money!; C. I haven’t put it on the front of the bus yet (have to try that out at the bus barn and hopefully while it’s not snowing); and D. I’m still getting used to the very different handling of this new vehicle.

Sophie was still at school when I loaded Nels up and went off on the inaugural run to get groceries. It was literally hailing, I was in the lowest gear (I didn’t realize this at first) and wobbling, and I could hear Terry (Bike Shop Guy) behind me making nervous, doubtful sounds as I rounded the corner. Once I sorted the gears things went better. The bike felt long and strange – even though I’m used to a much longer tail (vis-a-vis trailer – but obviously there is a “bend” in the trailer set-up). Nels up behind me instead of on two wheels on the ground felt odd but he seemed to really enjoy it. We hit Swansons and I kind of wondered around the place getting groceries, still excited about the bike (we bought Ralph some Jones Soda and the rest of tonight’s repast).

From there we headed home, briefly warmed up inside and went off to get Sophie. The hail had subsided but the wind and cold were fierce. Adding another kid to the bike felt very wobbly and odd but the little monkey mounted, dismounted, and held on perfectly. The little kiddos will need gloves for sure as the elements were very, very rough.

This morning Nels took a tomato start to his teacher (actually his substitute teacher who was filling in during maternity leave; today was her last day) and I sent two to a couple AmeriCorp students Ralph knows at GHC.

The weather may not have tuned into this fact – but Spring is indeed here!

Tomato Starts