Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mountain Kitten

Why is Mountain Kitten pacing the floor? Winter is hard for cats, too. "My ancestors are from the Middle East*," complains Mountain Kitten as he does a circuit around the first floor. Perhaps, he'll attack my foot or the carpet.

He'll go upstairs while Jared tells Beren a bedtime story. He ascends the stairs silently. When he visits them, Jared and Beren laugh. I call him down, and he sounds like this: thunk a thunk a thunk a thunk a thunk. "Mmrrreow," he says to me as he enters the living room.

We discourage Mountain from going upstairs. Two years ago he had fleas. We knew that because my legs were bitten daily. Occasionally, Jared and Beren were bitten. I washed every article of clothing in the house. Then, I recalled that Mountain had tended to sleep in the closet near my pants.


Mountain Kitten listens intently to the sounds of mice in the walls. He likes to play with the mice that emerge from under the stove or the greenhouse. He does not kill them. Instead, he leaves that work to the mouse traps.

Mountain Kitten likes to eat chemical-free, greenhouse-grown native grasses, especially bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix).

Mountain Kitten likes to dig in recently sown seed beds of native woodland wildflowers.

Mountain Kitten needs frequent reminders of where his food bowl resides.

Mountain Kitten ate a rotten mouse in the attic on the day of Beren's birthday party last year. He was bloated and not well.

Mountain Kitten likes to go on walks with us. On summer walks, we carry him back because he overheats and his tongue turns red. We often put him in the basement when we plan to go far.

Mountain Kitten practices kung fu with me. He attacks my legs as I run through forms.

Mountain Kitten sprints after and attacks Beren when Beren runs across the field.

Mountain Kitten does not mess with Jared. Mountain Kitten bothers the h*ll out of Jared for food.


*Read a National Geographic article on the lineage of house cats:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My Old Neighborhood, My New Neighborhood

I continue to get back into writing, so I'm going easy on myself here with a little slice of life:

Last night Jared went out with a friend so I picked an extra evening of bedtime duty. "Clusters" we call them. Jared does two nights, I do two nights. Beren will ask, "Is it Papa's cluster or Momma's cluster?"

Alternating every other night was difficult, a little unsettling for all of us. At some point, we decided two nights in a row worked better for everyone. My evening kung fu class causes leap nights every other week.

Sometimes Beren asks for adjustments in the routine, depending on his desire for dynamic bedtime story (Jared's domain) or perhaps one parent has recently clamped down on him and he'd rather not snuggle with that parent (too bad). Only an absolutely ill parent gets a by on "BT" (bedtime).

Last night we followed the usual routine. I told him a rambling story about fairies. I told him a story about when he was little. Then, we deviated. He asked for a story about when I was little. I told him about the neighborhood where I grew up near the Rahway River.

There seemed to be so many kids on the block. Chris (a little kid who moved in a couple years before we moved. He played sometimes.), Ben (played all the time) and his older brother, Chris (much older, never played), and Carrie, my best friend. My brother was a baby, a baby in the house.

That makes three of us, and four if you count the latecomer, Chris. Back then, I felt like we were a massive band, a wild gang on trikes and bikes. Three of us. I was surprised to realize we were so few.

Our domain felt huge - from my house to Carrie's house on the corner. Six houses between Carrie's house and mine, maybe. Carrie's, the Knott's, Chris and Ben, maybe another white house, Bucky's (then little Chris' once Bucky died and house sold). The lots were small, houses separated by only driveways. It felt like we owned the vast world. I think we did.

I wish that for my son. A wild band of kids to freely roam with. That's not likely to happen. We live in a rural place not far from where my family moved when I was eight.

Families are busy these days. Now, you have to schedule "play dates". Every day was a play day in my old neighborhood. After school, weekends, all play time. Until Ben's dad whistled from him to come home for dinner.

At age eight, my family moved away from what I considered paradise. Looking back, I'm not sure that's true. Nothing lasts anyway. I went from owning the concrete sidewalk that we marked with chalk to owning the woods, all by myself. It was exciting but lonely. Eventually, my brother grew big enough to sometimes build forts with me.

My son is likely to roam the woods alone until like me he finds a couple friends to roam with him. Maybe when his legs get long enough to reach the next neighbor kid who likes the woods.

I recently corresponded with my very first and very best childhood friend, Carrie. I'm completed awash in strong feelings for that time.

I moved, she didn't. I wonder if she feels the same nostalgia, or I have clouded vision of over thirty years gone by.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Night Out

Last April, we slept under the stars. It was a school night. No matter, I thought, let's live a little. There's always excuses to stick with the routine or the rut.

I remember Beren was excited. He wiggled. He flopped. Jared and I were ready for sleep.  "Would you like me to bring you inside?" I asked quietly. "No," Beren answered. "OK, let's settle in."

He drifted off quickly. Jared and I lay awake. I did finally fall asleep but woke regularly. The cat visited us. Insect sounds, animal sounds. Wind on my skin. I marked time, watching the arc of the moon across the sky.

I hope to sleep outside more frequently when the weather warms.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Epic Bedtime

Bedtime always epic in our house. The only time bedtime has not been epic was when my son was sick for a week with a fever recently. For about three nights he passed out, on his own, on the couch at about 6:30 p.m. Otherwise, it is epic.

Tonight, we went out for dinner and returned home at about 7:30 which is typically when bedtime begins. Instead of going straight upstairs, we read 3 short books - Jamberry, Dream Snow, and The Snowy Day - beside the wood stove. 

We took an apple and water upstairs. We brushed teeth, etc. Lights out. While Beren munched on an apple, I told an imaginary story about an eclipse (thanks, Debbie, for cluing me in to August 21, 2017).

In the dim light created by our neighbor's Christmas lights, I noticed Beren working at his teeth. "Something stuck in there?" I asked. No answer as he probed his mouth. "Would you like a toothpick?" He got the food out.

Two stories from when Beren was little, back scratching, "favorite cuddle"... I drifted off as Beren breathing deepened. I woke with his arms and legs over my arms and legs. He was asleep.

I made a move to get out of bed. From the depths of the comforter: "Momma, what are you doing?" "Moving a little bit." "Me, too." Then he was out.

Friday, December 16, 2016

We wish a whatever kind of Christmas gets you through this singalong to the cookies for kids and adult time for the parents, at least the parents with older kids

After 10 pm. One piece of firewood on the rack. Damn.

Kid is asleep.

We went to a year end sing along at Beren's school. Many songs about celebrating the solstice, peace, and a couple about the holidays. Enjoyable for me. Grumpy for Beren. 

Last year, we had been crowded into his small schoolroom. After just a few songs, the noise and heat made Beren slump to my feet. He covered his ears with my hands. One spirited boy grabbed the performer's puppet and throttled it as she tried to sing and manuever it. Jared and I hid our laughing and kept that amusing memory for the following 365 days.

 This year, we met at a nearby church where larger school functions are held. Beren was lured from the back of the crowd to the front by the performer's small, quiet set of panpipes. The rest of the show was cheerful, loud, clapping, etc.

 Beren happily performs silent theater and dances at home with background music piped in. However, much music aimed at children is "stupid" in his six year old opinion. He's a rather discerning and vocally critical audience member. This is one reason why I look doubtfully at people who ask if I have considered sending him to a Waldorf school. Hell, maybe he would love Eurhythmy.

Beren grumped around in my lap, telling me to "make faces like this" (he made grimaces) rather than to sing. Nevertheless, I was going to ride this out, because I wanted to socialize with other parents afterwards. A few songs from the end, I began to sing softly into Beren's ear along with the music. I admit that I sang "we wish you a poopy Christmas and a stinky new year." And the like. It worked. Beren's grump subsided and got to sing, though very, very quietly. I wonder if  he will remember to tell his friends about my lyrics. Ah!

Despite my wonderfully poopy parenting, no one brought in more wood. 

Secret Acrobats Festival

seekurt atterbatics festibul

I love to hear these pronunciations.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Market Analysis

"I sell very high quality things at my tractor store but no one is buying anything. I think people don't understand high quality," Beren tells Jared and me.