Friday, November 27, 2015

It's for free to help us work

Beren suggested these edits to our "FREE" sign. He found it in the yard while he and Jared worked on a building project. "But no one's helping!" he exclaimed a few times this afternoon.

"Free" this sign previously said. Very simple. It marked a pile of free stuff at the end of our driveway a couple months ago. The pile included rusty U-posts, deer fencing enmeshed with stiltgrass and poison ivy juices, random nursery pots, and a big red plastic sandbox in the shape of a crab.

Shortly after leaving the fence posts out, the rusty U-posts went in the back of someone's rusty pick up truck. The male driver screeched to a halt and the female passenger hopped out a feverishly tossed them into their truck. Thank you. I'm so glad I don't have to move or pound those things back into the rocky earth.

The black plastic deer fencing was eyed by a few passerbys. I peered from behind the shed and wondered if a friendly offer to help load the fence might actually scare the freebie-seekers away. I remained silent. Finally someone in a little sedan came by and shoved the bulky load into her trunk. Thank you, and sorry about that case of poison ivy you likely got. My husband got it, too. Nearly ruined our vacation to Virginia Beach. The stiltgrass, well, we got to keep the seeds, which certainly shed somewhere between the farm junk pile and the end of our driveway.

The nursery pots were not taken. They were taken back by me. I hauled them back up the driveway and tossed them down next to hoophouse 1. Next time someone tells me they're thinking about "getting into farming," I might ask if they're ready to spend as much time cleaning up after farming as farming itself. Anyway, if there's one task I dislike, it's trying to organize random nursery pots. I do this more than you might suspect.

The big red crab-shaped sandbox that we trash-picked a couple years ago? Still got it. That's what happens when you live on a relatively kid-less road to nowhere. No one wants your kid-related plastic crap.

We thought it would make a good kiddie pool. As it turns out, Beren had never been too excited about kiddie pools, except in a couple cases. One, when we filled the crab pool with water to play in, and then Beren decided to fill the pool with bricks, soil, rotten stumps, etc. Two, when a bunch of kids came over and they found various things to leap off of into the pool. I'm sure there's other times he's had fun (like the time I piled in with my shorts on...and my camera in my pocket), but he angles for muddy puddles, streams (especially raging ones), waterfalls (especially really high ones), waves (especially...).

 Jared assisting Beren with the pool transformation back at the 'red house'.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fresh communications

Fresh for November 2015..."I'm not tired. I'm not going to bed." C'mon, the time change was really working for us.

"I'm tiiiiiiiiiired," seemed like a declaration that we'd hear endlessly, but it's followed mastodons into the ice. It's revived occasionally, much like the inquiry, "Why?"

Despite stubbornness about going to bed, Beren is increasingly communicative with our adult friends, telling them all about his projects. When they don't quite realize he's talking to them, I respond. To this, he shouts, "I'm not talking to you."

Please and thank you are making more sincere appearances in daily speech.

Bottom line, you win some, you lose some. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Photos from Florida

There's just so much going on, inside and out, that I'm just going to share these vacation photos from last spring.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I'm gonna break my rusty cage

 Considering Beren's personality, it all makes sense.

One afternoon last month, Jared belted out, "I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run!" Beren found this very funny, so Jared sang it again and again. And again a few more times at Beren's request.

Jared explained that there is a song called Rusty Cage. We listened to the song, and since then we have listened to Rusty Cage by Soundgarden dozens of times while running through our darkened house.

Other songs have been played during our evening dance parties, some noted by Beren. Last night Beren asked, "Momma, what is Smokestack Lightnin'?"

It's been a blast to blast music and dance. What an oddball song to break it all loose.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Both Jared and I love making art with Beren. Tonight, Beren picked up a soft drawing pencil. Rolling it between his palms, he said, "I'm making a shagbark hickory. Momma, you make the branches and leaves." Beren made the trunk, and I made the lateral branches at top and the green leaves.

This all lends truth to the phrase I disliked hearing while a student and then a professional artist, "This is art? But my kid could make this." Damn, look at that texture and line. Shagbark hickory bark, indeed.

On Sunday, Jared took a day-long class on cordage. He left before Beren was up and returned just before his bedtime. It was a long, but good day for all of us. 

The challenge of parenting in the modern world is that many of us do it on our own. If one parent is away, then the remaining parent is one on one (or one on however many children your family has). On good days, everything rolls. On bad days, I'm checking the clock regularly. When's Papa coming home? On either kind of day, creativity and patience can run thin. That goes both ways. Kids get tired of parents, too.

Toss in a virus or bacterium, and you're sunk. The house, no matter how hard we all try, is a disaster. The entry way looks like an abandoned parking lot - grit, old shoes, tattered leaves. The kitchen looks like a restaurant that lacks running water and a dishwasher. Suddenly, the only easy snacks available are mucus-producing dairy products. Luckily, Beren was beginning to kick his bout with The Croup by this Sunday. Some dishes and sweeping had been done.

Beren slept in a bit, so I had time to plan. I pulled three drawers out of a bureau and set them up outside at Beren's height. Each held an array of art supplies - pastels, pencils, inks, oil paints, acrylics, charcoal, beads, string, brushes, sponges, and many types of paper. My intent was this - get my recuperating child out in the warm sun and to lessen any sickness-related crankiness/malaise by providing three huge drawers of treasures. 

I also hoped the cure-all sun would remove the paper's musty smell that remained from our last house. I set up the clothes horse and pinned my paper collection to it. Christmas paper, handmade paper from high school and college, drawing paper, writing paper, gift bags, and tissue paper. The bonus was I'd be getting this massive task I'd been intending to do since we moved.

Beren finally staggered downstairs for breakfast, and we sat together eating. When his interest in food waned, I said, "There's something unusual outside." "What?" "Look."

Beren saw the billowing paper and sprawling drawers. His boots and jacket went on, and we spent hours with the drawers. We sorted beads and made paper trays for them. 

I guided Beren away from white paper and markers and towards black paper and colored pencils. We watched shadows on the barn and drew the shadows we saw. "See how the color is different in the sun and the shadow? Here, I'll draw the pine tree. I'm just making scribbles and textures to make the tree, no lines." 

Big drawings, little drawings. We found a long sheet of paper, and I traced his body. "That tickles my ear!" he said. 

Lunch came and went, his appetite still low. Just a couple sips of soup. By late afternoon, the wind and sun had chased the mold away, and maybe a bit of Beren's sickness.

We took a break inside, and we decided to make cookies (very therapeutic cookies). While the first batch cooked, Beren slid on the kitchen floor. A sickening smack. His head collided with the tile floor. On sound came from his open, twisted mouth as he wrestled away from me. He came back and screamed, "How can you make me feel better?" over and over and over. Over and over.

I was reeling, too. I watch a big purple lump appear on his temple. My heart pounded. Would I call Jared? My Mom who was just 10 minutes away? Our health care practitioner? After a long, very long seeming time, Beren settled. I checked him for a concussion. I pulled the cookies from the oven. We spent the rest of the day inside, tenderly. Occasionally, he'd cry again, telling me his head hurt.

Beren finally recovered but was then overtired and talking wildly and without pause. He'd been talking and talking and talking for what seemed quite some time. 

"What's this?" he asked as he pulled a lamp off my desk. "Does this bend like this? How does this work?" "Can I have moment Beren? I'm writing a note to a friend," I said and lifted my pen. He continued chattering, and I was unable to continue writing. "Can I just have a moment of quiet? Five minutes and then we'll do something together?" "But Momma, I have something to tell you." "OK."

When Jared walked in, we were all pleased for the change.
Life is so complicated. So complicated. And then it's not and then it is.