Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Some f*ck up"



What just happened in my check book? How did it go from $200 off to $938.01 off to several dollar amounts off in between?

I finally balanced the checkbook. A happy bonus is that I magically (and actually) resolved what I had penciled in last month's ledger as "some f*ck up".

It was just a few dollars. I had adjusted the amount, making the account balanced. I then scribbled "ok", which means that this pain in the *ss thing balanced.

Although I heard my parents (Hi, Mom, I know you are reading this) in the background telling me I ought to figure it out, I decided less than $5 did not need to cause me mathematical distress. Therefore, I attributed the unbalanced checkbook to "some f*ck up", which fits in between "an act of God" and "self-imposed calm-the-hell-down".

Anyway, "some f*ck up" was balanced because of another greater "some f*ck up". Sometimes two wrongs correct "some f*ck up".

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The dog ate my writing

Damn it, just wrote something and google or the ipad ate it.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Primitive Shelter, True Shelter, Deep Shelter

"To survive, all you need is shelter, food, and love," my son told me as he sat smiling in the primitive shelter he and his father made.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Jersey GIrl


Everyone else knows you're from Jersey when you say things like

tuh (to)
meeruh (mirror)
owe-weez (always)

There must be more, I'm sure of it because everyone from everywhere else knows I am from New Jersey even though I think I'm really slick.

I have no accent, I think. "Really, you can tell I'm from Jersey?" I ask. "Ooooh, yeah," is the grave reply. Always, I mean, owe-weez. Terrible, but funny. 


When I was a teenager, I planned to leave New Jersey. Maybe California. California would definitely be better than the provincial, boring stretch of New Jersey I grew up in, I thought. It was fine for running around in the woods as a kid (and as a teen, too), but for a sophisticated New Jersey teen who read poetry and listened to punk rock, Hunterdon county was sleepy.

My friends would occasionally take trips to New York, but did not want to explore. Instead, they waited around Washington Square Park until someone offered to sell them a joint. I couldn't be bothered, "We're in New York, and you want to stay in this little park and leave right after you buy a joint?" I thought.

I wanted to roam, look in shop windows, eat unusual food, and watch street performers. I couldn't be sure they wouldn't leave without me, and I didn't have the confidence to roam alone.

I had one friend with the will to drive to New York. He was a friend and neighbor, one year older than me. We had long been friends, sharing musical tastes and talking easily about life and philosophy.

One afternoon, I accompanied him on a search for an apartment in Brooklyn. He borrowed a car from his brother who sold used cars, if I recall correctly. As we merged into the traffic headed into Holland Tunnel, he purposely bumped a passenger bus on my side of the car. The bus driver yielded to us, finally respecting the alternate merge protocol, or perhaps the driver simply respected this madman in a sedan.

Once in the city, we walked through steamy hot, rundown neighborhoods and waited for realtors. Most never showed up. One did. Remember nothing about the realtor, just the apartment. It was a railroad apartment - kitchen/living room and bedroom all in a line. Two windows, brown paneling. Tiny bathroom off the kitchen. "You could have the middle room," he offered, which meant the room with no doors, between his bedroom and the kitchen.

I doubt I replied. I was intimidated. Despite my drive to leave New Jersey, I couldn't quite picture living like this. Years later, I did move to one of the outer boroughs. We had a few more windows. 

My friend settled on the apartment, and we celebrated by getting a lunch special in the Little India neighborhood. Appetizer, entree, and dessert all for a few dollars. This day was much better than my scant hours spent trailing buddies in Washington Square Park.


Friday, June 16, 2017

I love you best

How sweet to see you running through the house 
with berries in the your hand 
Biting your bottom lip
And smiling

The moments when I love someone the most are little moments. Maybe when I see a nice picture in an album or in my mind or from afar. Jared with his scythe down in the meadow. Beren holding a bird egg in the rain. Picturing Jared in the truck driving home towards me. Thinking of him, thinking of me. 

Sometimes I love you best when I am picking up your things, thinking of how you used them. Or, hanging your laundry on the line, knowing that your shirt will smell like our sunny mountainside.

I have composed songs and poems, mostly unformed, mostly without sentences and words, just thoughts, about you in your absence. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Summer Light

Greasy. The light in summer is greasy. The shining foliage of goldenrods reflects the light. The trees, too. Spring foliage is transformed, turned to a glossy armament ready for heat, sun, and wind.


Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) - We're all hip to it, the wild ones taste better than the cultivated. Mentioned it to Jared, not Beren. Didn't have to, Beren goes for the wild ones, too.

They're more warming that the cultivated ones. Solid red and strawberry sweet to the core.



 Purple flowering raspberry (Rubus odoratus)




Friday, June 9, 2017

Cell Phone Master


In very early spring, I lost my cell phone, my second or third flip phone. The first cell phone I owned, I shared with Jared. We were living in Philadelphia and moving to the big sophisticated world of New York City around 2003 or so.

I bought my own flip phone a couple years after we left the city. Jared and I had both become gainfully employed as land stewards. I was working at an especially small land trust, and I was frequently alone in the woods.

I spent my days on and off trails, roaming with a GPS and paper map (no compass, I'm pretty awful with one, but I bet if I had worked in a more remote location, I would have learned), looking for invasive species. I sometimes had a companion, a volunteer named Chris who went to school for forestry, spent many decades in a different industry, but all the while remained an avid hiker. He was good with a GPS. He even helped me find a lost GPS in a sliver of wooods about 150' by 700' and between a road and a meadow. On Fridays, Jared often joined me on my invasive species surveys. We explored Hopewell Township, and I was glad for company, another fellow good with directions.

Without Jared or Chris, I had my GPS and at some point my flip phone. I would not advise anyone to rely on a battery powered device for directions, especially in the wilderness, but for me, I was able to call Jared and tell him, "I'm taking the red trail at Baldpate." Someone would know where I was.

I never met any weirdos. Never got too turned around. Never had an herbicide spill when I was doing invasive species control work. I was stung by a wasp in the *ss and had a bad reaction, but I was with a group of volunteers. That turned out ok - my face and palms remained swollen and itchy only for a few hours.

While at my land steward job, I only used my cell phone once for an "emergency" - I called my whole care provider when a branch of poison ivy smacked me so hard in the nose, the skin broke.

***
Jared, Beren, and I searched for my lost cell phone for about a week. The trail was cold. Somewhere, the phone is likely housing a few sowbugs beneath its plastic shelter.

I replaced the worn flip phone with another flip phone.

A"gangsta" phone, my young twenty-some sister-in-law calls flip phones. She once told me, "I think I want to get one and get rid of this thing." She sighed as she waved her smart phone around.

***
I have heard that human skeletons can reveal much of what occupied the bones before their former owner's skin fell away and bones dried out. Skeletons in the tri-state area will likely show a crooked left arm.

No, they weren't violinists. They were advanced cell phone users, constantly carrying their cell phone in their left hand at chest to waist high in case someone might call. When not carrying their phone and a table is available, the skeleton/person's phone is on the table within fingers reach. That crooked arm hovering over the screen in case someone might call.

I mean, text. No one makes phone calls, except me, apparently. At least two of my girlfriends agree that I am the only one they know who uses a phone for voice communication.

***
I acknowledge that I am part of another generation, or at least I choose to. I hopscotch between one and another generation, really. I still refer to myself as a "young person", thought I clearly look older than others who I refer to as "young people".

Those young people know how to use technology I don't. I read about half of Aziz Ansari's book Modern Love, and while I enjoyed parts and found humor in it, I couldn't relate. I had a very different experience dating.

For now, my gangsta phone serves me well. I am the phone's master, the phone doesn't master me.   My back and arms are crooked for other reasons. We'll see what stories my skeleton tells.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Long Time

 Watching a pileated woodpecker hunt for ants. Quietly and long, we watched.

June 2, 2017

9 A.M.
Words cannot express how much easier life is now that I don't have to pack school lunches or wake up a sleepy, crabby kid.

9 P.M.
I hear sounds of laughter. Jared and Beren playing with a football we rescued from the Delaware River after recent floods. Last I observed they were putting it on the clothesline, pulling the line back and launching the clumsy football. And, laughing in the coming darkness.

***

When Jared and I were wrestling with Beren's school situation, I talked with a friend who had homeschooled her three children. "You have so much more time," she said over the phone. She lingered over the word time, emphasizing it. Time.

***

We have nothing to do but earn our living and feed or bellies and hearts. Now, we (the members of this household) are each the masters of our own destinies, as much as one can be in a web of life with others who need us. I go to bed when I'm tired, mostly. Wake when I'm rested, mostly. And, eat when I'm hungry, mostly. The clock is no longer my boss.

***

Jared will tell you that I don't do well with time or timing. He once said that I was not colonized by the western clock in many ways. "And that's good," he said. Except when it frustrates the hell out of him, and reasonably so.  

"Leaving on time" sends me into a spin. Planning in time-based reality is not easy for me. I guess that's why the "watch your baby, not the clock" feeding approach worked for me.

Earlier this week, I had two actions to accomplish in one day: pick up the truck at the dealership and take Beren to the Crayola Factory (sorry, can't call it the Crayola Experience, just like I can't call a sale at a store an "event"). Simple, I suppose, and yet, my mind was overwhelmed.

As I pondered my options, Jared was packing to head out for consulting work. As he bustled around the kitchen, I said apologetically, "I know this is not really your problem, but can you help me figure out how to arrange my day?"

In fairness, I did have to schedule a shuttle and bring a six year old along during the lunch slot. And then, we be arriving at Crayola long after lunch with two hungry bellies but my six year old wanted to explore before eating, which resulted in only a minor meltdown remedied by the water feature (a replica of a canal in which the kids can float boats) and then lunch.

All in all, not bad, actually quite good. Maybe I should write things down. It doesn't sounds so bad at all.

***

Jared listened to an interview with a man who spent time with a San bushmen. Here's my paraphrase of Jared's paraphrase: the man, Jon, was speaking with a San man. Jon glanced at his watch, and the San man said, "We don't like those things." Jon asked why that was. "Every time one of you looks at one of those things, the next thing you say is rude."


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Travels

 The mirror into which we look and see our fate. Along the Appalachian Trail.


 



 Beren asked me if this spurge was "non-native". Sheesh. Yes, it is. He has not really seen this plant (our distant neighbor has it, but we've not really commented on the plant in the past).

 I often tell people who are learning about plants that they will be able to identify plants at 65 mph, that plant knowledge is deep within each of us and that we just need to wake up. Seems so.

 Viburnum planting along the impoundment.



May is the busiest month for our nursery. May involves more logistics than I can handle. Deliveries, sales, emails, calls, events. My knees ached from how much I used them. I tried to give them a break whenever I could.

I kept it together until two-thirds through the month, just after my birthday. Then, I cracked. I stuffed down the tears, and kept working. Every time I considered losing it over how overwhelmed I felt or the state of the house, I repeated to myself, "You can let this bother you, or you can let it not bother you."

Right now, I sit at a desk overflowing with papers, pot sticks, Legos, kid's drawings, bits of plants for smudge sticks. The closet door, two drawers, and a cabinet all hang open. Someone (me) was too busy to close them. Or, maybe I can blame Jared for one or two of the open maws. Even if I closed the drawers and doors, chaos is all around. To my left are several boxes of business-related things to put away.

There's also a mostly empty shelf that is too big to fit in the attic and too nice to get rid of. I should get rid of it, I don't like it that much. It remained empty for awhile, until the pressure to fill it with unfiled items overwhelmed the desire to keep it clear and ready for the trip to the attic it just could not make.

To compensate for a lack of time, we bought many easy meals and snacks at the market. We ate well. That is new. The past five Mays we ate junk until the strawberries ripened. 

Though this May was hectic, we had many pleasant moments - visits with friends, birthday dance party, an evening out to see The Sword. I thought about canceling a few extracurricular events, but I didn't, for the most part.

Want something done? Ask a busy person. We have many of our systems in place. We've experienced May many times before, and we've been settled in our house for 4 years.

Somehow we finished prepping the bathroom walls and primed them. For weeks (months?), the walls were partially scraped to the drywall. The resulting pattern looked like a robot walking a dog. The robot's mouth was open and I stared at the robot's face every trip to the bathroom. Our bathroom closet was dismantled and spread between two bedrooms and the hallway until weeks later Jared put up a temporary shelf and organized the mess.

At the month's end, we spent a few days in the Catskills in a rustic cabin with no running water, no phone, and no internet. Before leaving, I thought I'd snap again with the logistics of packing. I waffled on staying home or going. The weather was iffy, but Jared declared we should go. I knew he was right because I needed a break from working.

Jared had set up a consulting job partway to the Catskills, so Beren and I had time to explore the banks of the Wallkill River which we agreed was rather beat up and weedy (in a uninteresting and sad way) and tick-filled. We decided to move on. We walked along wetland impoundments in the Wildlife Management Area admiring red winged blackbirds until we connected with the Appalachian Trail.

Beren was ahead of me. He peered into the forest, and yelled, "Momma, we have to go down here!" We walked a short leg of the trail, mostly on boardwalks. The swampy forest reminded me of the Sourlands - the place I learned my botany chops, the place I learned about stewardship and restoration, the place I honed my use of wild edible plants and medicines.

The walk was sweet for those reasons. We lingered over a just hatched dragonfly, pointing it out to several hikers who so briefly paused to say, "Oh!" or "Awesome" before trundling along. I wished they would have stopped so I could have told them all about this lovely spot, which Beren called Wild Geranium Road. 

When Jared finished up, we continued to the Catskills. Once there, I noticed how I needed to break my addiction to stimulation and activity. I slept well and long. I ate a lot. I sat. I read. I sat. For an evening and then a day.

Our trip was short, so on our second full day, we hiked to the top of Slide Mountain, the highest peak in the Catskills at about 4180'. The Catskills is the second place I honed my botany skills, and so a long walk there is a welcome one.

Above the 3500' mark we saw balsam fir, one of my favorite trees. We saw bethroot and goldthread, too. At the summit, we arrived to a noisy, startling crowd of hikers. The parking lot was full, after all. One of the Summit Stewards introduced herself. The other Steward knew a colleague of ours. Small world, big world. Looking out across the vista, I couldn't tell which. Crowded world.

I could have stayed another week, reading, sitting, sleeping, eating, but we came home. Emails, phone calls, orders. Yet, the time away was a recharge and a reminder to slow down.

And, as always, it was a kick in the ass. More than ever, I am fired up about wild plant restoration. If anyone reading this gives a damn, plant a wild plant.

Wild plants turn the jubilant energy of the sun in to protein. Sun, soil, water, plant, insect, mammal. You see? Food. Wild plants are the basis of our food. Not just because insects pollinate a watermelon or apple somewhere, but because insects eat plants and animals eat insects and most of us eat animals. I will hone this thought and bring it to you again.







 My hiking companions.


 Hermit thrush nest with cowbird eggs. We took the cowbird egg out. I began to explain to Beren why, but quickly decided not to. Instead, we built a nest for the cowbird egg. Beren went out in the rain to warm the egg regularly.

 Snail tracks.


 Starflower.

 "Look it's Joe pye!" said Beren. In this case, Eutrochium maculatum.

 Insects use wild plants.



Sunday, May 7, 2017

Homeschool

I've been wondering why I haven't written for some time. When I do write something it is about how I don't write that much. I have ideas. Things strike he as funny or notable, especially things through my young son's eyes. Yet, I don't write them down. Besides, he's his own person, and a private one at that. He doesn't pose or pause for photographs. He declines them.

Me, my husband, we're just living our lives. It is all notable, or none of it is notable. I feel like I have crossed into an easier place. I'm over my mid-life crisis, my over the hill contemplation. That took about two years, and now I feel pretty solid.

My husband and I are done fighting with our son and ourselves about school. We're done with that. We're homeschooling. A couple months ago, it was one of the scariest things since I chose to move in with the man who would one day be my husband. It was easier to choose to have a child than take him out of school.

Strange. Why would that be? Maybe it is easier to obey some biological request that I happened to hear and agree with. Women have babies, or at least many of them do for many reasons. Many of them don't for many reasons. So, one day I thought, "I'd like to have a baby." My husband agreed with no hesitation.

Well, it wasn't that easy. There were years of sitting across the kitchen table, eating. "Have you thought about having kids?" one of us would ask. I'd sit in silence. I'd think, Jared, such a good man, would be such a good father, pity, he'll never be." Jared would be silent, or maybe he'd say that we weren't really ready, or maybe I'd say that.

It wasn't that simple either. Way back when we were really poor and living in Philadelphia, I thought I might be having a baby, but I wasn't. I got my period at a street festival. No baby, just a late period. Relief.

Then, one day many years later, that scenario happened again. We were renting a little cottage in the woods, and were much less poor. Again, I discovered I was not going to have a baby. Disappointment.

That was a new feeling. Remembered I always wanted someone to call me "Momma" one day.  Like most things, two or possible three and more truths, all so misaligned were...true. There was the truth that I thought Jared would not be a dad (never pondering too hard what would be instead, what I would be. Just pondering what would not be.) There was the truth that I wanted to be called "Momma".

Not long after the disappointment, I found I would be a Momma. Now, I am. Together, Jared and I make choices all the time. Some of them are difficult. Some of them go by unnoticed.

I recently read Free to Learn by Peter Gray. I turned the pages, recognizing myself, my husband and my son. Me, acquiescent and melancholy, my husband and son, furious and fiery. I acknowledged how my schooling served me and how it crushed me. How I found my way through the challenging social web, how I was bored with my teachers and classmates, how I worked to achieve an imaginary, destructive and potent number - my GPA.

In college when it appeared I'd graduate with a 4.0, which no one gives a damn about now, I chose to take an easy class, Intro to Women's Studies. The teacher was good. I enjoyed the reading, but it was easy. My classmates were young and discussions were far simpler than ones I had in my advanced art classes. Maybe I would've got something more from a tougher class. Maybe it was good to give myself a break after working so hard. I worked and stressed and cried and uselessly memorized my way through school. I was tired.

My husband tells me how angry he was throughout school. Not challenging enough. Didn't want to be told what to do. Had conflicts with authority. He can speak better for himself, so I won't go on and on. He did have teachers he liked, especially one high school teacher that allowed for honest discussions led by anonymous questions that the students submitted to the teacher. He liked several professors at Rutgers, but many of those teachers left the university or were distracted by their need to publish.

***

My son on school in his own words: "Momma, why every day do you take me to a place I hate so much?"

Jared and I sat facing each other at the kitchen table. I couldn't look at either of them. Beren stood next to me and rested his cheek on my arm.

I wish you could have been there, or maybe I don't. You'd see my failure and sadness. You'd see how we're departing from the worn paths, yet again. The weight of his head and my heart were something I could hardly endure. And yet, I brought him to school that day and many months after.

In Free to Learn, Peter Gray talks about his research how homeschool families enjoy their life. The most difficult thing is not teaching their children, spending time with their children, or finding playmates and friends, but is the disapproval of family and friends. When I read this passage, I felt stricken and called a friend who homeschooled her children. I felt better. And, in fact, I enjoy spending time with my son more now than when he was in school.

Let me repeat, I enjoy spending time with my son more now than when we was in school.

Much like choosing to have a child, choosing to homeschool unfolded after many years. "We'll do it when he reaches public school age," Jared and I said. "Could never imagine sending him to public school."  Instead, we sent him to private school, a nice one, but one that Beren said was "a place I hate so much." He said it was boring, stupid. That he hated learning.

After a year and more than a half of that, of dragging my child under my arm to school, of meetings at school, I was done, almost. Done, damn it. Almost, damn it. I think.

In February, Beren was terribly sick for a week. I sent him to school on the following Monday to drop off his Valentines for classmates. The next day we left for California. He was sick on the plane ride home. He'd picked up another illness in just one day at school. He missed another week of school upon our return.

When he felt better, I had no heart to tell him he had to go back, so we kept him out another day. I finally told Beren it was time to go back. Beren has crushed, despondent. There are not words for how he looked. Jared and I sat at the kitchen table. Beren stood nearby. Crushed. "Give Papa and I moment to talk, Beren," I said. We did. "Let's be done with this, Jared," I said. He agreed.

And then, I said to Beren, "You're not going back. You're done. No more school."

It wasn't that easy. For preceding year, Jared and I had sat up nights talking about how to make school work, and also how we planned to homeschool in the future. How we wanted Beren to make friends in this new place we moved to. How we had so much work to do. How could we do it all?

Let me repeat, I enjoy spending time with my son more now than when we was in school.

I assure you that I am a Taurus or an Owl who thinks long, who thinks hard. And then gets very, very pissed. I turned this over and over in my head. Homeschool. My kid? My stubborn kid?


Let me repeat, I enjoy spending time with my son more now than when we was in school. This is not my mantra. This is the truth. 

So let me tell you how I became furious and kicked myself out of my dusty rut. Before Beren left school, he and I attended a classmate's birthday party. I stood aside with a couple mothers, chatting. Suddenly, one asked if I still was considering homeschooling. I hemmed. I was awkward. And just like the dogs hunt the weak one, they went in for the kill.

The mothers turned to each other and away from me. "I could never homeschool. I need time away, time for myself." "Yeah, me too. I could never homeschool either." "They need to be with their friends." "Just look at much fun they have together." etc.

I have two distinct poles of personality. The Melancholy and Worried. The Indignant. The latter kicked in. My temperature went up. "It's not for everyone," I said. I thought, "F*ck this!" I even laughed to myself. Sometimes it takes opposition to define my position.

Since I'm still in the early stages of homeschooling I have to take their comments apart -

I, too, need time for myself. I didn't really have that when he was in school because I was working (and I still am working at home). I do need adult time, and that is a challenge. My child is so much happier. I so enjoy his company. Good trade off.

Yes, he needs to be with friends, peers, and children older and younger than him (which doesn't really happen naturally in school). And unfortunately, in school, a child is merely in the presence of peers and friends. They do have fun at birthday parties. In grade and high school, I can hardly recall a time outside of recess or a flashing moment in a class in which I had fun.

This is not about me and my school experience, but it is a reference point for me. This is about my experience now, and my family's experience. If I never have to pack a lunchbox or a sleepy kid into a car, I'll survive. I did have pangs about missing Beren's end of school year performance of songs. Last year, he introduced the event, "Welcome to Our Show", he said.


It seems we have a new show to put on and a new road to explore.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ramps


Flossing


I have a moment to write but I'm distracted by thoughts of flossing. That's pretty bad. Flossing. Not running barefoot across the field getting stabbed by goldenrod stalks. Not pouring myself a shot of run. Not checking out who the name of the quailing songstress who just came on the radio. No, flossing.

***

One sunny day last week, I hung out the laundry and a wave of boredom acme over me. I pondered having another baby. Babies cure some types of boredom.

***

I also made some art yesterday. It was hard to do. It was hard to think of how to express myself. I was inspired after watching The Punk Singer, a film about Kathleen Hanna who was the singer for Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin.

A friend invited me over to her house to watch it. The invitation was charming, so old-fashioned. Like back in the day when a friend got a new 7" and invited you over to listen to it. Or, when friends made elaborate mix tapes for each other. Or, when I used to write letters to my punk rock friends in Saginaw, Atlanta, Long Island.

Letters, long letters! Imagine! Exhortations of love and friendship, complaints about jobs, details about tours and clunky vans. And now, I think about flossing? Alas! Domestication!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Crazy Dreams

I've been having crazy dreams lately. Absolutely crazy. Dreams that Jared and I would jokingly call "man dreams". Violent swirling dreams. Floods. Devastation.

Maybe its because my six year old, and I looked up photographs of the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake on the National Archives website.

Ruins in black and white. Beautiful and gaudy Victorian homes missing their north wall. Pianos and pictures on the wall. Roads heaved and cracked. It only last a minute or so. And then the fires burned.

A single wall standing, and not another for blocks.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Park on a Nice Day Is No Longer Like a Chicago Song

Hello? Today was a nice day, and yet the park was a lonely place. Maybe because today was Sunday not Saturday?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saddleback Butte, California.

Saddleback Butte, California.

Raven tracks, especially around the ant hills.

Rattlesnake. Joshua trees.

Empty campground. The day before the big rains in Santa Barbara and surrounding areas. Only one camper and truck in the lot.












Sunday Morning Thoughts

On my reading list - Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-reliant and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray and Mothers and Others by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy.

On Jared's - The Foraging Spectrum, and grim-looking anthropology book.

On Beren's - Anything samurai- or ninja-related.

What I want on my reading list - some humor, some damn good humor.

***
Spring Herald

I heard the eastern phoebe's call yesterday. Red-shouldered hawk's call today.

The meadow looks drab but as I stare at it, it moves. The foraging juncoes.

Crocuses keep blooming. An outlier appeared in the lawn. Daffodils blooming.

Windy, raw, wet alternating with warm and breezy.

***

I woke up in the darkness and saw the crescent moon rising in the east. Beautiful. Last week.

***

Jared's out exploring. I'm writing. Beren's upstairs, occupied.

***

This morning, Jared rose first. I stayed in bed, thinking. I've been doing that for years now. One day in spring, I will rise far earlier than everyone and go outside. I'll do that for weeks, until summer.

I've been working on training my thoughts. Taming them in the morning. My pattern is to wake with thoughts marching through my head. I'm taming them. I will!

I've also been practicing kung fu in the morning again. I took a break from that. The snow was a challenge. Practicing around chairs, toys, a husband, while trying not to wake a child or rouse a fiesty cat. Business started picking up, too. A bunch of crummy, inconvenient things happened. Skipping my practice didn't work, so I'm back at it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Grackles

Finally, it is here. We are back outside more than we are inside. Shoes are muddy and wet. They come off and socks are sopping and muddy. The crocus bulbs are plugged in thanks to Podd. 

The house is warm without a fire all day thanks to big sunny windows that face south. 

Our lack of inspiration to cook because of lack of fresh foods is now turned to too busy to cook. We are out playing past dinnertime.

The grackles flew over. Momma look at the birds, Beren says. Jared and I after so many years together reach for the door knob simultaneously, then the dead bolt, then the lock on the door knob. Our simultaneous movements are like the grackles, one mind. We don't accomplish anything until I withdraw my hand and let him unlock and open the door. We don't accomplish but we acknowledge our one mind and laugh.

The grackles creak and wheeze. We listen, just like every spring for the past decade. Beren leaps out the door, I don't need shoes he exclaims. We can only watch time by his changes. We are counting our growth rings by adding one more set of lines etched around our eyes. 


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Your Posture Stinks

I like this picture of me. Jared rarely photographs me. I turn into a stiff version of me when a camera lens is pointed my way. I'm not an inspiring subject. Not a photographic subject anyway, and probably not a psychological subject. Just another woman who feels awkward.

I make horizontal photographs. Jared makes vertical ones. I occasionally make vertical compositions because the graphic design for our business often calls for vertical images. I like horizontal, stable, grounded images.

When Jared points the camera at me, he often makes faces, sticks out his tongue. "Relax," he says. "Stop tilting the camera down," I reply. Jared doesn't believe in chopping off feet for the sake of making an image parallel with its background. Instead, he tilts the camera down which means my body looks oddly stretched out and emphasizes my belly, further de-emphasizes my small bust, and accentuates my shitty posture.

I wish he'd get down on one knee and point the camera up, emphasizing my lankiness and my height and de-emphasizing my neck to chin connection. I think my shitty posture would still look shitty.

After seeing a few photographs of me (and Jared) that would have been nice if with good posture, I told Jared that I wanted to have better posture even when a terrible camera was pointed my direction.
Jared and I have taken to encouraging each other by saying, "You look great with good posture." This is much better than, "Stand up straight and stop biting your nails." This makes me (and Jared) pissy. It may be true but it stinks to hear.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Red cabbage for kraut partially chopped. A rubbing of the cabbage on white paper turns from purple to blue, possibly becoming yellow if it doesn't meet the woodstove first. Garden seeds on the table. Valentines on the floor. Silly paper glasses from last night, the glue is finally dry. Tinctures to strain. Sweet damiana for a long night. Lemonbalm for a restless night. Small piles of kitchenwares to give away. The longer they sit, the more sentimental I feel. Or, ambivalent. Seed experiments beyond their prime. The sour cream's plastic seal on the floor, given to the cat as a treat. Needles, just a few, beneath the Christmas tree. The grower was right, concolor spruce does last a long time. The dehumidifier dissembled. Books scattered, for an article, for pleasure reading. A plastic bag of painting supplies unopened. I like lazy days.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Self-employed Sunday blues

Rainy, icy day. Inside mostly. Went out to get a pair of pants and a hooded short and Valentine trinkets. Got Jared a box of message hearts. The box said True Love. Got Beren a couple tiny chocolate cars covered in foil depicting a taxi and some kind of emergency vehicle. Couldn't read the ingredients. Will the joy of opening these sweet little treats cancel out the strange ingredients inside. I think so.

Driving home from Flemington after a concert of Alash, a Tuva band. Clouds had parted. Near full moon. Route 12, quiet and desolate as ever though the development bastards are having their way, here and there.

Jared and I mused about the Sunday blues. He hasn't felt them in awhile, he said. I don't think I have either, though rainy Sundays, the darkened shops I passed earlier today while driving through Alpha. 

The blues, I wonder who thought blue was sad. I considered the greens. Doesn't seem to work as well.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pretending to do a good deed

I blame our picky cat who would not eat expensive, organic, grain-free dry cat food from the health food store for the following sequence of events. The expensive, organic, grain-free dry cat food had no smell. It's true. It contained potatoes or peas or lentils and meat.

Cats eat meat, not potatoes or peas or lentils. Cats do not cultivate gardens, dig up potatoes, boil water, and compress the resulting mash into round or x-shaped pellets with meat. And so, off to Petco.

Summary: Yesterday I got completely bespattered in parking lot slush while pretending to help someone get out of an icy parking lot after a completely unsuccessful trip to the shopping malls.

No one who was paying attention would have driven into that spot. No one driving a sedan should have pulled into that spot, yet two did.

Jared and a couple others helped the first family on our way into the store. It was the second one that got me - the stuck car on the way out of the store.

The scene: a woman (mother) attempts to back her car out of 5 inches of dirty ice. Her young, teen-aged daughter stands in front of the car and calls out instructions. The mother shouts, "I should turn it this way, right?!" as her wheels spin.

Jared and Beren walk over. Jared pushes on the hood of the car. Beren pushes Jared's rear end. I stand nearby with our bag of purchases. The waif-life teen helps.

The wheels turn. Dirty ice water drenches me. The daughter slips and lands on her belly. I shout, "Shit!" The driver's young-teen daughter laughs. Her mother (the driver) said, "It's not funny!"

"I am so sorry! Sorry! You should wipe your face!"

"No, I'm fine."

"No, you should wipe your face! Here I have tissues!" She holds out a brown crinkled napkin.

"No," I say and wipe my face with my scarf.

"I'm sorry! Happy Valentine's day!" 

I laughed about it. Later. I did. I felt gross, a little tainted by parking lot slush. I've been meaning to wash that scarf anyway.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Art


My color pinwheel. Adjustable. On a black background with a black strip on top, so you can choose what color you feel like. I felt cool and blue, Beren adjusted it to reflect his feeling.

I sometimes wonder about making work too complicated, work that he can't emulate, when we make art together. I doubt that hunter gatherer people felt that way about making a too perfect arrowhead in front of their children. So make some art, Momma.

***

I often ponder the various approaches to education, especially in the arts. I studied artmaking at a university and a community college, and in high school as well. 

I had art classes in elementary school though I hardly remember them. It seems we made identical cats made from precut pieces of paper, or copied penguins for a teacher's example. I recall not really liking one art teacher from that era, though I did like the inevitable messiness of the classroom and its paint odors.

High school art classes were generally freer. I especially remember a 3D art class, which was a more advanced class and mixed age. The older students tended to be rowdy, keeping one teacher alternating between irritated and amused. 

We made beads, clay pots, paper, and once an visiting artist taught us how to make molds from cuttlefish and then pour metal, brass I think, casts. I made some badass pedants that mixed well with my gothic style, though I generally preferred silver jewelry, of course.

The freedom of the class likely inspired me to 'study' artmaking in college. I also worked as a creative printmaker after leaving college in Connecticut and prior to enrolling in a community college.

Before reaching the freedom of 3D art in high school, I slogged through drier 2D classes. In a drawing class, the teacher once erased part of my drawing. I was fairly insulted and annoyed, thinking my Sinead O'Connor drawing copied from Rolling Stone was pretty damn good. The other teacher was "out to lunch". 

I now wonder about making art with my six year old. Generally, we make art side by side until he becomes very interested in my work and makes suggestions, alternations, and improvements. I find our spontaneous collaborations endearing but also irritating. This is my work, I think to myself. 

And yet, I have learned through parenting that there is no longer just me. Me and I began to dissolve when I decided to have a longterm partnership with my husband. But perhaps, me and I were just a fiction all along. Because I assume my mother's selfhood dissolved when I was born, and her mother's selfhood... All these selves, always linked, never solitary.

Beren copies or mimics like we all do to learn, but makes it his own.