Monday, April 7, 2014

High School

Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo. Limbo.

Imagine a world without the "Control C" command.

I remember typing reports in high school and grammar school on electric typewriters. I suppose they were great inventions at some point, but to me, stressed out sixteen year old me, they were implements of torture.

A whole page typed. The discovery of a missing paragraph a quarter page down. Retype, or scrub away at the "erasable" type with an eraser, or send the typewriter reeling back, hammering away at the correction tape.

It's 8:30 pm. It's the days before Staples and other box stores open until 9:00 pm. Roll the dice, young lady. There's no more typewriter ribbon or correction tape. Just a coarse rubber eraser in the shape of a pencil. The miniature broom attached to the opposite end is ready to brush bits of paper and type onto the kitchen floor. 

Last weekend I went to my twenty year high school reunion. Sparsely attended, but attended by many of the former classmates I wanted to see.

After hors d'oeuvres and mingling, we were called to sit for dinner. I scanned the room with my husband. Where to sit? It was a touch of high school, where will the best conversation be? Where will I be able to spend the next hours?

And honestly, it's a touch of that discomfort now. Twenty years later, I still scan a room at a party. Who to talk to? Where am I comfortable? Hardly anywhere twenty years ago. Today, a few more places, but I'm likely to drift about uneasy and feeling a little off for the first hour.

Twenty years ago, I could have tossed back some beer or a few shots and giggled, fuzzy and then madly depressed and then shaky, crazy the following day. Today, I can't rely on fermented beverages for a magic carpet ride through social situations. As I've aged, alcohol has increasingly disagreed with me, and becoming pregnant with my son three years ago so shifted my body chemistry that I cannot drink at all.

As I took a few steps across the room, a former classmate going back to grammar school said, "We're sitting over there. Join us." I sat. I looked around and saw the girls, now women (and their partners), that I sat with in the cafeteria in senior year of high school. I had a nice time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Early Spring Walk


















No spirit stealing photographs, please


"No photos of me, Momma."

We have hundreds and hundreds of baby pictures, about that many or more early toddler photos. Then, Beren started staring at the camera, grabbing the camera, or making terrible faces. The number of photos of Beren has sharply declined.

Moments after I made this photograph, Beren did encourage me to take a picture of him and show him. I did. I then asked him to photograph me. He did:


I asked what we could then photograph. "A stick. This one. This side.":

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It could snow again


But, I really hope it doesn't. I can feel the cold in my bones. Fever and chills and a cough. Spring, please come!







***


Perhaps the first nice photo I've taken in my kitchen. My old dingy apartments used to have such great light...

***

Selfie…oof, what a bad word. I was doing those back in art school.

***






Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Guys Night

Is this what guys night looks like? A leaping father and a kid in a pillow case?

One evening as I pulled on my hat and gloves at the front door, Beren asked why I had to go to work at night. "A night meeting. Just a short one. I'll be back very soon."

Jared added, "We're having a guys night. Just you and me."

Beren seemed to like the idea, but didn't really want to me go anyway.

He was asleep by the time I returned.

A couple days later, Jared tied his shoes at the front door and kissed Beren and I goodbye. Beren hugged my legs, "We're having a guys day, Momma."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why jeans palacsinta bear?

Downgraded jeans and bear track

Can Jared or I say anything without the inquiry, "Why?"?

 ***

"New" jeans downgraded to old beaters. A bit of spilt castor oil from a warm compress. A couple washings. Then a trip to the muddy garden. They're done. Blue is faded, blue replaced with greyish brown tone of ground in dirt.

Because all my pants now have worn knees, I planned to wear a skirt instead on a recent evening out.

As I pulled on my only pair of stockings, Beren poked my thigh, and asked, "Momma, what's this hole?"

***



Made palacsinta (Hungarian version of crepes) with a bit of slippery elm. Very nice.

***

The bear. A rocky night's sleep. We woke to find the metal can with bird seed tipped and the birdfeeder torn down. Intuition.

The following evening, at twilight, I went to he porch to bring in everyone's boots. Jared was shaving, and Beren was in the tub.

The bear, big, dark, beautiful and in the yard checking out Beren's trash picked ride-in pick up truck. I stood on the porch gaping.

The bear ambled towards the road, and I began to shout, "JARED! JARED! COME HERE!" No reply. "JARED COME HERE NOW!" After a few more shouts, my underdressed husband arrived at the door. "Look at the bear! Get Beren!"

Soon the two males of my household stood by my side, dripping, underdressed. The bear padded to a snowbank and draped its body across it. The bear didn't care about our noisy chatter from the porch. A woodcock peented from across the meadow, and continued until the bear sauntered its way.

The bear assessed the electric fence around the beehives. Our quiet observation ended when the bear barked twice and ran, after being shocked by the fence. I would have been curious to watch the bear dismantle the hive, as it had probably done to our birdfeeder.

Two nights later the bear was seen resting in the white oak. The lowest branch on the oak is about 10' from the ground.

What an amazing sighting.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Boys and Girls

My boy in the kitchen

"Girls' toys teach empathy," an acquaintance said. "There's role playing and theater, in girls' toys."  I can't recall what she said boys' taught, but I can make that up on my own. Building, problem solving, engineering. This is a serious generalization, but I later looked at my son's favorite toys. I saw trains and track, vehicles of all kids, blocks, puzzles, crayons (which are often called on as building materials), and small animal figurines that graced all constructions. And last, of all things, Beren loves bungee cords. They can connect nearly anything.

The set of dolls, representing a family, and stuffed animals were largely left alone. A doll from my childhood, 'Jenny', was dragged about by her hair. Again, not to generalize or parody our life of play, we play with ribbons, buttons, and fabric scraps. We play with the kitchen set and go "shopping" in the pantry. Beren is a fantastic help in the kitchen. He likes to participate and learn, and there's a bit of engineering to do in the kitchen, not to mention Jared spends a lot of time in the kitchen, too.

When I animated the dolls and stuffed animals, they became interesting. No, Beren did not put his animals to sleep, gently covering them as my friends' daughters did. Not on his own. So, I began to play act situations with stuffed animals and dolls. It's something that I did before - animals eating, animals going for a ride. But, a friend reminded me to use this theater play to reenact difficult situations, real life experiences. Panda bear scraped his knee and is nervous to climb high again. Monkey didn't like when Momma Monkey and Papa Monkey were upset and angry. 

And then, suddenly, not because of my theater play, but because Beren was ready, he began to play with his stuffed animals. He's not putting them to bed, but they do have adventures. He's builds them nests. Momma Monkey and the baby monkeys are always together.

I must admit that I like building with blocks and making bamboo forts, too. I loved playing with the boys on our school's playground, an expanse of blacktop. Just blacktop with a couple hopscotch sets painted on it.

Gabriel and Shawn, fellow second graders at Franklin Elementary School in Rahway, were my companions. We roved the expanse, hemmed just by chainlink fence and brick school halls The blacktop expanse was endless. We collected clear and blue plastic beads that had burst from someone's necklace. Our treasures.

Sometimes they seemed so much more adventurous than the girls. I also loved my dolls, loved my hours and hours with my dolls, especially my Barbies.

And then, we moved to Hunterdon. Relations were tougher. Boys were not interested in girls, not for playground treasure hunting. Third graders are not second graders. Just as a two year old shifts to three, and is no longer a baby, second to third graders are shaking loose some bits of childhood. My companions became girls. We roamed the woods, hemmed by nothing but our occasional fears.

I still played with dolls, but they found their home in a large storage room. They'd been ousted from my bedroom as I shifted from seven to eight and nine years old. But still, I spent hours playing dolls, alone, now enacting ever confusing bits of information that found their way to my ears and heart, from television, books, and careful observation.