~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ the wau of quinn

(pronounced, “wow.”)

just one month this time. still make tea.

this month in executive functioning…

rich suggested getting quinn a watch, and he wore the one i ordered for him all weekend and gave us frequent reports: “it’s 5:36.” we’ll see if it helps with time awareness in the more applied sense…

quinn spent hours on the computer, making a “build your own droid” game in scratch, and didn’t realize he wasn’t logged into his scratch account. when my computer crashed, he lost the whole thing, many hours of work. i think i was more upset than he was. he learned a lesson about how you have to be logged in to have your work saved. on the plus side, he’s doing really detailed work with drawing things (one pixel at a time) and building skills towards his game designing goals.

emotional intensity is still trending. quinn’s handling of the computer crash, the subsequent interactions between us, and between him and rich, all indicate work he is doing in the emotions department. i can see new levels of capability in his resilience to challenges. in several cases, i’ve received a response from quinn of not wanting to talk about something because he already knows what i’ll say. he’ll then eventually talk with much coaxing and reminding that sometimes i am unpredictable with what i say, and sometimes what i say turns out to be worth hearing after all. in one case in particular, i think he actually enjoyed the latter part of our conversation about how he could handle his friend at school who had stomped on and eaten his paper spring. (he knew i was going to say that “people are more important than things,” but agreed to discuss the details with me anyway.)

i think quinn felt validated that i didn’t think it was okay for someone to eat his spring without his consent. (at ols, we always valued safety of our bodies, feelings, and work. this would fall under the heading of the safety of his work being jeopardized.) he did know my stance on retaliation for such an offense (people>things), and the serious part of the discussion was a reminder of his belt status in karate and how he was approaching a purple belt for which the pledge is not to harm or make afraid. we talked again about how boys of his age group may not all be fully cognizant of the types and nuances of humor, and how the receiving party must find the joke funny for it to truly be a joke, but that 11 year old boys may not know that yet. we also reviewed the grammy wisdom we explored back in third grade, when we were learning about a different boy attempting to be quinn’s friend in the most awkward, doofusy way possible… and i pointed out that this seemed to me another likely example of a doofus attempt at friend-making. i felt that although we didn’t know the boy’s motivations, we could assume the best of him given the facts, and give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he didn’t know you didn’t want your spring eaten… so you should tell him that, but also indicate that he is forgiven (i reminded him that forgiveness is one of the school’s eight essentials and pointed out how this was an opportunity to practice it). once we got to the solution-oriented part and were discussing taking charge of the situation and clearing the air between them in a proactive move to make the next 6 years of school together more friendly, a darning needle dragonfly appeared before quinn.

we walked through some potential dialogue, thought about worst case scenarios (that the boy would not want to talk but remain unfriendly) but realized we predicted he would instead be receptive and likely to respond positively.

i couldn’t see the dragonfly at first so i had him describe it to me. he said it was shiny blue, and i said it must have been there for him specifically. i said he should take dragonfly spirit helper medicine with him the next day, because they are good at maneuvering, and deciding which way to go, and by being brave (dragon) and bringing up a difficult topic, he would be taking charge of the direction he wanted things to go between himself and the friend.

the next day he told me he talked to the friend, asked him to not eat his springs, and the friend said “ok, whatever.” ha!

later that same week, we arrived 15 minutes early for school and quinn climbed on my lap and told me, “life is sucking for me right now” at school because “everyone basically thinks i’m a jerk.” he had resisted doing his homework summary during the drive to school, but that wasn’t the thing bugging him, so this conversation took some coaxing and guessing as well… mainly guessing that there wasn’t actually a major event, just a knot of social anxiety that had taken hold.

i asked questions to try to get to the heart of it, trying to narrow down who “everyone” was, it was not the fellowship; not spring-eater; not any of the girls. finally i named some of the boys he has never really hung out with, and he said, “yeah, i mean if i go up to them on the playground they don’t do anything. they just walk away, or keep doing what they’re doing.”

by the end of my line of questioning it was clear no one had been particularly mean, but he hadn’t felt included warmly when attempting to mingle with other kids he doesn’t mingle with daily. it took me a bit longer to put together why he was trying to do that in the first place.

it turns out aragorn, gimli, and legolas are all currently obsessed with yu-gi-oh cards, playing the game and having pretend battles on the playground, and also naruto (another anime series) and quinn has felt unable to truly participate because he doesn’t know those series or cards or the game.

he was pretty upset about it, saying he liked yu-gi-oh and wanted to know more, but *hates naruto because he knows absolutely nothing about it (yu-gi-oh he at least can look at their cards and familiarize with, but for naruto he has no reference at all). when they make up complicated spells that have intricate hand gestures, he has no idea how to do any of it. i guess he drifted off and tried to play with other kids, who probably already had their own thing going on, and he felt snubbed.

we discussed how it would be okay to appreciate your friends’ excitement about a subject even if you are unfamiliar with it, and the validity of sticking with the friends who are historically warm and welcoming towards you. but also, we covered that if he is interested enough in the subject, we could look up yu-gi-oh at the library and see if we can find books or get online and do some research. the shift was so immediate, it was like flipping a switch. yeah, can we do that tonight?”

with 3 minutes until the bell would ring, he changed the subject, “oh, can you text dada and ask him if he will take me to aragorn’s for a sleepover tomorrow night?”

more educated guessing… i found out that they had been planning a sleepover for a week or so, and aragorn had invited all 3 boys, but since quinn knew it was scheduled for a night he’d be at his dad’s, he thought he wouldn’t be able to go. then (time management/executive function) he forgot to follow up and ask and all week went by. my speculation is that between not wanting to feel let down about not being allowed to go, and not being into the game his friends were into, he used the latter to alleviate the disappointment of the former. he didn’t want to feel too excited if he might not be able to go, so he decided not knowing the game mattered more than it did.

however, once i unlocked the yu-gi-oh problem for him (he has been watching episodes through the library app ever since, and we used his christmas money from grammy and grampy to get him a dinosmasher’s fury yu-gi-oh deck, plus a two-headed king rex card), he realized he truly did want to be at the sleepover.

his dad was somehow on board, and i got the details from aragorn’s folks, since we were missing approximately all of the details.

after we got home that afternoon, quinn and i snuggled and watched first 2 episodes of yu-gi-oh on my phone.

homework that afternoon was still a struggle because, “i just wish i was already at the sleepover.”

we have a new purple belt in the family! he had spent that day at our friends’ house while i worked and then i went and got him and played a little settlers of catan with them.

quinn got changed into his uniform and we drove to the dojo. i had quinn talk to sifu, because he was stressing about the part at the end of the test where sifu kicks you, which is tradition and it’s not quinn’s favorite part. at his last test he flinched, and if you do you have to get kicked a second time. i was explaining it is a trust thing, but he said it has hurt him enough to cry every time… and i told him i thought he should tell sifu that and ask if he has advice on getting through the kick well. “i know what he’ll say and i don’t want to talk to him about it,” but i got him to eventually give sifu the benefit of the doubt that he wants to help q cope with the kick and is an expert and probably has advice. it was around that part of our discussion that i realized that quinn had been thinking all this time that he should not tighten his core muscles but leave his stomach relaxed. i said, “well no wonder it’s hurting you, but sifu has told you to tighten up, right?” he said yeah but that he figured it’s like when you strain to hold your breath you can’t hold it as long, so just relax and you can hold it longer… DIFFERENT CONCEPT, BUDDY. i assured him i had tightened up my stomach for my kicks and not gotten hurt at all, and he should try that instead, but to ask sifu what he thinks. he went out on the mat with sifu and he took quinn to the far corner to discuss and then to practice getting hit in stomach (just with a light punch, but practicing how to get ready for a kick) and then had quinn punch him to feel the difference from the kicker/puncher end, and by the end had him laughing and totally relaxed about the whole thing. it was a much needed and very successfully delivered pep talk.

i made coffee for parents and grandparents, and especially rich and i since we were getting up at 4:15 and rich was working lots of overtime, and the kids started warming up for their test.

the dojo was crowded because there were 4 kids (including quinn) testing for purple, one testing for blue, and 2 testing for half brown/advanced green. 7 kids total, all testing for intermediate/upper ranks, was very cool to witness. the kids were serious right from the start, and the test was dialed in right away.

when there was a break so the kids could have a drink of water (and so sifu could deliberate with mrs. todd about some aspect of the test) quinn came right to his dad and hugged him, then rubbed his shoulders, and then said he was giving backrubs to all the people who came to watch his test. then proceeded to move to me, then rich. rich joked “are you rubbing?” and i told quinn rich would need karate chops and so he did chops to rich’s shoulders and they were both laughing and then quinn had to get back on the mat. it obviously means a lot to quinn to have the men in his life come see him do karate.

so if karate is broken down into techniques (these are short), forms (these are longer), and sparring (this is spontaneous/not choreographed), quinn really shines in techniques and forms.

they had to show short form 1, which most of them had mostly right, but quinn’s was pretty stellar among the purple belt testers. then sifu had just the purple belts do long form 1 together, and quinn executed it perfectly, and was done before anyone else (not rushing… just confident and sure of what to do) and the other 3 all had small or big areas they struggled through before finishing. one kid was obviously nervous and didn’t even finish it that first time. so sifu said he’d watch them do it again, but then he said, actually quinn, i don’t need to see you do it again, because i saw you and that time was solid, but would you like to showcase it? and quinn said yes, and so he had quinn do it all by himself, which he did super well again, and sifu was so pleased he initiated a round of applause for it… i could see how proud quinn was. then sifu asked quinn to do it alongside the others even though he didn’t need to see him do it again, and quinn obliged. so they eeked out that one, then went to short 2 later on, and quinn again did very well, and markedly better than he had done on his previous test (because it’s a new form for him as of this belt and he literally learned it a couple days before the half belt test but still went ahead and tested on it). earlier in the week he had some feedback from sifu about lining up his stances on the proper angles (which was where he had struggled last time around) and quinn had clearly incorporated that new feedback. the other kids had minor or major struggles again.

the test went smoothly, and the kick wasn’t as bad as last time, but there was an added surprise that mrs. todd got to kick them all as well, since she is now a black belt. so quinn still had some trouble with flinching, but he didn’t get hurt, so that moved in a positive direction. also there is a whole rumor going now of “mrs. todd kicks harder than sifu!” which diverted the focus away from fear. she and i were laughing at the way urban legends are born.

all in all it was a great test, very positive and well balanced (the kids were all pretty well matched for sparring in size and ability). it was two hours long but with a fast-paced, good mix of material to keep it interesting, and kids got to show their stuff… he had them all do the activity “point of origin” where instead of going back to the normal starting spot, you do the next technique (several in a row) from where you end up on the previous one. then he had them continue doing that, but with their eyes closed. so in addition to letting them all show their strengths, he took them into uncharted territory and showed them all ways in which they can all still grow a lot in the future.

 

this month, quinn took possession of his phone. it is my former phone with the cracked screen, and it is mainly intended for him to be able to communicate with both his parents directly. he wants to paint the (blue) hard case lime green, and we had a really good discussion of expectations and responsibilities. he immediately used his 4 library app borrows for june, watching yu-gi-oh episodes. we discussed taking plenty of breaks and observing the same limits we’ve always observed with phone/screen time: not before school, not between dinner and bed. he is to keep it in the “parking lot” in the kitchen when not in use, and i was suggesting he use it only in the main house, not his room, but then realized he would be watching yu-gi-oh and he wanted to do that in his room (and i realized i wanted him to, too) and so i think i’ll amend it to “in room is ok with door open.” it charges in the parking lot, and just like my own phone, is not in his bedroom while he sleeps. he has to check with me to put new apps on, he agrees to not get any apps or accounts that require him to lie about his age and say he is 13. which he doesn’t want anyway, he says (he is particularly vocal right now about not wanting to join facebook). he does want to be able to text, not just email, so we talked about the $10 phone plan and he felt the specs of 500 phone minutes, 500 texts, and 500 MB of data would be sufficient… that means he can play pokemon go once in a while, but he can’t consume it endlessly with a modest data plan; and can call and text within reason but not excessively.  i left a fair number of my own contact numbers on his phone who are friends and family i think he might call in a pinch, and whom i trust to be on the receiving end of such a call.

 

we got to take care of our fairy dog. quinn stayed up past his bedtime to greet her. ruby jumped up on quinn’s loft bed to help tuck him in. i had market that saturday and left quinn a note of ruby tasks (feed and walk) and he did a great job being her caretaker. the afternoon following market was lovely, glorious sunshine. i laid on a blanket on the lawn with ruby for quite a while. quinn joined me and drew on graph paper. (a game with army men.)

i played risk outside with quinn and he destroyed me while ruby kept us company. then after dinner  he got out scrabble and i dominated. near bedtime, i was leading by over 100 points, and he said, “let’s just be goofy and do whatever now,” and started making up words. i strung together as many ooooo’s as i could and was singing operatic “ooooh” whenever i’d point to it. he made up “QFAXEXL” and put it on a triple word space for 99 points… i added a Y to it to make QFAXEXLY and he protested, “that’s not even a word” at which point i was rolling on the floor laughing, because i had clearly crossed the line. “mom. you can’t just add y to a word, and make dogly, or boxly.” he was giggling like crazy in between mock-serious statements. i loved pronouncing all the double consonant two letter words created at the intersections with QFAXEXLY, and XJ was my favorite because it’s the sound made by a light-sabre.

 

for their end-of-year science unit, quinn’s class was discussing geology, and i got to help them with several hands-on projects in crystal-growing that, if nothing else, taught them through experience that things don’t always go the way we plan. our rock candy project crystallized in the jar, but not onto the candy sticks (we learned we need to let it cool more, and let the sugar crystals dry onto the cake pop stick before inserting into the not-boiling sugar water mixture. our alum crystals completely failed (we think it was a product issue with the alum quinn’s teacher had ordered). but the borax crystals were wonderful, and it was nice to culminate the year in science with one success under our belts, and a nice souvenir to take home.

on the penultimate day of school, i was very under the weather with a bad head cold, so i did not get to participate in the all-day field trip. luckily many other parents stepped up to help, and i know the kids had an amazing time bowling, playing in the park, swimming, and stopping for frozen yogurt! because his teacher and aragorn’s mom both sent me photographic evidence.

at last, the final day of fifth grade arrived. i picked up all four of the boys from school, and they came strutting out of the building, shoulder to shoulder, chanting, “we’re middle schoolers now!” they immediately wanted to show me their gifts from their wonderful teacher, who had every kid choose several words to describe each of their classmates, then configured them into word art pieces for them to take home. quinn’s classmates said of him that he is helpful, kind, clever, inventive, mysterious, and “follows his own path.” i’m not sure why no one chose, “most likely to get lost in the library,” but they didn’t ask me. the boys got right down to business playing yu-gi-oh and pokemon when we got to our house, snacking on cherries and peanut butter pretzels. they made use of the trampoline for a time before they ventured into world domination (i always try to encourage quinn to find opponents for risk other than myself!) finally, their families joined in the celebration over pizza, ice cream cones, and cupcakes. rich made a campfire and some of the younger siblings indulged in s’mores. it was a nice way to mark the end of their elementary years!

 

the following day, legolas and quinn were both participating in yet another sleepover, this time at the karate dojo. there was a trip to the pool, lots of food, and the movie black panther before they even thought about sleeping. the next morning, they tie dyed a new set of dojo t-shirts before heading home for a nap.

after his nap, quinn woke to find his new quilt (a graduation present from mama in addition to his new old phone). i think he likes it.

he then started in on his math placement test, and went to the movie solo with his dad for father’s day.

his teacher asked me to administer the placement test at home because she had run out of time in school, but trusted me to oversee it. at first quinn resisted the test and “borrowed trouble” (anxiety) about not being capable of working out such hard questions. he told me he should be placed in low math class and would barely look at it. by the time he got going and i needed to drive him to meet his dad for the movie his tune had changed, “aww, but i want to do the graph!”

his score would indicate that he is at least 97% ready to be done with grade 6 math, and that’s considering that the person who created the answer key (presumably the grade 6 math teacher) only scored about 96% on the test. i know that because quinn’s answers that differed from the key, instead of being errors, pointed out to me where there were errors in the key. (i checked and made corrections.)  although he had 100% of the math numerically correct, he had a small number of notation omissions, and that was where i deducted the 3 points.

i don’t think he will have any trouble with the 7th-8th accelerated math class intended for him by his teacher!

[lunch at the picnic table at work:]

quinn: (shoving fava beans in his mouth until green is dripping down his chin)

mama: you’re being embarrassing.

quinn: (giggling at me stealing his line)

~

later, discussing his method of eating fava beans…

quinn: first i like to put a myriad of fava beans in my mouth…

mama: thank you for using words like myriad.

quinn: it’s only normal for a kid my age.

~

mama: do you remember growing fava beans?

quinn: i remember the gardens at the orange house, the community garden, and the dragon house. at the orange house, the fava beans were growing right next to the peas, so that was convenient.

mama: (shaking head in amazement)

later, i did a quick search of the blog for fava beans, and sure enough, peas and favas were growing side by side, as he said.

“look at that captain and crew of peas in there!”

 

still looking closely at veggies; in this case, to determine the fibonacci-ness of romanesco.

quinn’s mathemusician hero, vi hart, has an amazing patreon site (one option is to support her for $3.14/month!) where he can now access ongoing new math videos and content.

and i got this awesome green hexaflexagon shirt for quinn!!!

we had fun with this video about hexaflexaflakes… the logical progression once you’ve conquered both snowflakes and hexalfexagons is naturally to combine the two (and i hope you watch the video i linked to experience her refreshingly layered, dry humor). quinn and i made a hexaflexagon and i was cutting the centers out and folding and testing what it would do. apparently he didn’t think i did a skillful cutting job because he told me, “i’m surprised it functions at all after that lob-oh-TOE-me you just gave it.” there was a whole beat before i understood what word he had just said and i burst out laughing. i asked where he learned the word; calvin and hobbes, of course, and he’s been “saying it to myself that way in my head for years!” waiting for a chance to drop the word “lobotomy” on an unsuspecting mama…..

~~~

one night quinn asked to watch star wars after work. i started dinner prep and then took a bath while rich joined him for the rest of the movie. i could hear them chatting. when i was done with my bath and finishing making dinner, quinn was playing minecraft, still sitting in the living room with rich, and they were chatting about minecraft stuff. rich told me later that he was just saying outlandish things to cause quinn to correct him. then quinn told rich something about a mathematical constant called wau. rich teased him, “you’re making that up,” and made quinn giggle.

me: what were you telling rich last night about wau?

q: if you take euler’s identity, but then you replace all the pi’s from it to be wau instead, you end up with 1 instead of -1.

me: what’s euler’s identity?

q: it’s like e to the i pi is equal to negative one. or something like that.

me: how do you spell euler?

q: e-u-l- something. why?

me: because i was curious

q: everyone knows euler’s identity.

me: …

me: so how much is wau?

q: i don’t know. i don’t even know if it has a value, i just know there are a lot of cool things you can do with wau.

~~~~~~

all i can say is, wau.

heliotrope

it hasn’t been the easiest summer for me. last thursday evening rich and i watched quinn in his theatre camp performance, and then we drove to the farm to fill boxes with hand-picked dusty tomatoes by twilight. we passed by the sunflowers waving in the coastal breeze we must have brought out of the west with us, and i was reminded of the ten minutes i spent walking beneath their bright heads a few weeks ago while my parents were here visiting.

friday afternoon following the tomato adventure, i was shouting maniacially in my office that ipads had no business having a date setting of 1970 before ipads had even been invented, and the only reason i was assessing ancillary tech problems at that moment was that the cold room where i was supposed to be running pre-trial swim-tunnel tests on larval arctic cod had a pool of sewage surrounding its floor drain.

i’ve been struggling in the job satisfaction department, i’ve had the engine replaced in my car, the visit with my parents went by way too quickly, and it all just seems like too much to do in not enough time.

on the other hand, i keep receiving a paycheck, my mechanic showed up seconds after my husband when i broke down, directly via providence, and we were so lucky to get to enjoy a full two weeks with grammy and grampy!

the night i felt the worst was the night before we took them to the farm for a visit and a meal in the farm’s restaurant. that night was when my husband shared his wise metaphor of windblown flowers. when we got to the farm, the sprinklers were watering the flower garden out front in the parking lot, and quinn called out, “look! a rainbow!” then when mom needed to rest, she and dad were sitting on a parked wagon in the shade, so i walked across the road to a field with a lot of sunflowers growing along the edge to take pictures. while i was spending time with them, i was thinking about how low i was feeling the day before, but enjoying the beauty of the day and being with my people. i didn’t feel great but i was choosing to move on as though i felt ok, hoping the fake it til i make it approach would work. i realized just then that the way sunflowers turn their faces to the sun was an apt metaphor.

when we went inside, i was waiting for quinn outside the bathroom and read the bulletin board, to which this note was pinned:

“advice from a sunflower:

be bright, sunny and positive, stand tall and proud. keep on growing, drink lots of water, spread seeds of happiness. embrace your natural beauty and always face the sunshine.”

in case i needed the message from the sunflowers spelled out for me.

one of the things i must do consistently in order to maintain my ability to orient positively is to record the sunny memories (as well as the shadows, honesty matters) and integrate my storyline (one unbroken line). i come all undone without that. i know not everyone needs to write to remain whole and intact, but by now i know this about myself. i do need to, it’s not about producing a piece that people will want to read (much of what is written is never posted). i’ve been pondering something glennon doyle wrote about this topic, and as a “recovering everything” she is mindful that for her, writing can be another form of addiction/dysfunction if she is so busy gathering material she isn’t living in the present moment. i want to stay mindful of such pitfalls myself, and so i have turned that stone over in my mind these last weeks and i find that for me, writing helps me to be present in the moments, rather than grinding the gears of my overthinking cap. it’s consistently better for my well-being to write than not to write. it is an act of love towards myself, never one of self-sabotage. but i’m glad that i checked.

 

so, in the spirit of orienting sunward, one night i was typing moments-to-become-memories while grampy was playing guitar and singing amazing grace in the kitchen. rich was looking at baseball scores with lisa kitty on his lap, grammy was having hot cocoa on the couch beside me, and quinn was re-organizing his entire pokemon binder in his room. these were some of the bits of this summer i managed to put down on the page:

driving down the coast to spend sunday at country fair with rich, it was like the bay was filled with fog.

while i was at the outer gate waiting to get in, a guy behind me in line was playing his banjo and singing a line that matched perfectly the words i had been reading the night before. “it’s time to reunite your soul, and your mind, and your body…”

like with music and fairies and beauty and nature and sunshine? oh, country fair, how i love you.

rich and i heard the rainbow girls at 11:55 on the main stage. gorgeous three-part harmony, guitars, harmonica, upright bass, other cool obscure instruments. one of the babies dancing in the crowd had on a shirt that said “love is a rainbow.”

a lesson in impermanence. the man who made my ring traded me for a new one of the same design, and asked if it’s okay if he melts the broken one down and makes something new out of it. it wasn’t easy but at the same time it was easy. it’s just a thing, a ring, something impermanent that will pass away… it’s the love that it represents that won’t fade! i like to think it will be part of someone else’s love story, and the yes yes yes energy going out to that other love story from ours… the spiral continuing outward.

at one point i let rich know that i hadn’t brought enough backup items for my period, and i was eyeing the bountiful moss on the trees to make him laugh. then he pointed out that if there is a place for finding alternative items for such a purpose, this would be it (there is at least one actual red tent-inspired zone set aside for women at fair). about 2 seconds later i walked by a booth where a mom was selling off her gently used cloth diaper stash, and i bought one with butterflies on it. definitely another case of providence. (and tmi! but you should know by now that i don’t believe in that.)

rich bought me a new pair of spiral earrings. a little girl named sailor pearl at the spiral jewelry booth bonded with me, because she loves the ocean and is a self-proclaimed mermaid.

looking for a souvenir for quinn, i found “peace in every language” pendants, and got quinn an egyptian hieroglyph green pendant of “peace”. he loves it.

driving back home, the sun was a single smoldering ember touching down in the ocean.

~

country roads… you know how i feel about that song.

my heart threatened to burst multiple times throughout the visit, as quinn would emulate things he’d observe grampy doing. he started sprinkling pepper on his food, presumably because he has come to realize it’s what the men he looks up to in his life do, so he now does it, too.

i introduced quinn to spirograph, one of the childhood treasures lovingly extracted from the attic and delivered from new york by my parents. it is the perfect time in his development. he is into mathy drawing and patterns, and deeply appreciates the awesomeness of creating spirally flowery scallopy mandala shapes. also, he is capable of all the fine motor coordination required, but it is still just hard enough that it’s a good discipline for taming the inner perfectionist. there was a hilarious moment when we discovered my younger handwriting indicating how “dumb” that one really, really difficult spirograph design was that i so desperately wanted to master back in the 1980s when i was working on my own inner spirograph perfectionist.

also in that tote was my great grandma rew’s italics typewriter. the ink was dry but i ordered new ink ribbons. quinn loved pushing the keys and seeing how the mechanism works. once the ribbon came a few days later, we started typing! some old technology is so beautiful, it’s worth holding onto.

dad talked all about his memories of the farm when he was a kid, of how all the farms in the “neighborhood” (which included my great grandpa’s and great uncle’s farms) would get together to make lighter work of the oat threshing. grandma (his mom) would make a big meal for everyone, and then they’d all go to the next farm the next day. dad remembers being 5 and getting introduced to pumpkin pie, which he thought he wouldn’t like because it didn’t look good, but one of the farmers from one of the 10 or so farms said he should just try a taste, and he has liked it ever since.

another topic we discussed was musical talent in the family. i never knew that nana sang in the u.s.o. in new york city (a soloist!) during wwii! we were all laughing because mom would tell nana to shush so she could hear poppy sing his silly songs in his tuneless bronx accent.

friends of all ages hitting it off at a nacho potluckaversary.

tenderness towards a tree indicating the right emotional switches are being flipped in my human child.

i was a bit grumpy about having to go to work and cut fish for two days while grammy and grampy were still here, but my dad was undaunted and made himself an ambitious errands list. i heard later that they almost lost quinn at the library, where they went to do research for dad’s book. he and quinn had gone downstairs to nonfiction, but quinn wandered off and was reading diary of a wimpy kid on the floor behind a couch in the juvenile section. dad only found him because our favorite librarian said, “hi quinn!” just as dad was getting worried he’d have to have him paged. thank goodness for librarians, and for 4 out of 5 librarians being on a first name basis with quinn.

a nice drive along the coast with frequent stops at overlook vistas resulted in my parents getting to see a few whales!

family boating! quinn and i attended this free local port activity with camp boss and it was completely rad and awesome! i had on my schooner hat and so was deemed qualified to sail a 15-footer. quinn and i embarked. he decided he didn’t prefer sailing because you’re never level. he switched to a kayak and paddled around like a boss. it was awe inspiring to watch him maneuver and be so strong and capable. i took photos of everyone from shore and then i took koala out in the little row boat for a while. he wanted to get out at one point “see mama” and swung his foot up onto the gunwale. he did not seem to be concerned about disembarking while we were underway. luckily little kid life jackets are made with a built-in handle to grab the scruff of their neck like an errant kitten and plop them back inboard. genius.

one night i made chili for dinner and dad said it should be renamed hottie, so now i may have to always call it that.

hummingbirds in flower garden.

(that was a pretty note. i’m not sure what it meant other than we must have sat around watching hummingbirds in the flower garden. i took these photos a week or so after their visit.)

the penultimate afternoon of grammy and grampy’s visit was when quinn went back to his dad’s. that night after they went to bed, quinn the eskimo/the mighty quinn played on the radio. i admit i felt a little vashnicken. but mostly happy and full of love.

and now the tomatoes are tucked snugly into their canning jars, just as the memories are now tucked here in their cyber canning jars, the tastes of summer preserved to lend their flavor to a colder month.

~rainbow mondays~ sweet summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

we honor wind

when i was crying on my husband’s shoulder the other night about all the balls i felt like i was dropping, he reminded me of this day a year ago, and drew the metaphor of how there’s the way you picture how things are going to go… releasing flowers gently into the water, saying a quiet goodbye to them the day after your wedding… and the way things really end up going: having the flowers ripped from your hands by a 40 mph gust of wind and laughing your faces off. i told him i was going to shamelessly steal his metaphor and publish it on the internet. what’s his is mine?

my plan was to post about our wedding day on our first anniversary, but that was just the latest plan in a long string of “catch up on the wedding posts” plan modifications, beginning last july. there is what i think it’ll be like, and then there is what it’s really like.

the day after our wedding, we snuck off to the beach (house still full of guests tucked in front of a movie in our living room) with my best woman holding my camera. our intent was to hold a solemn little ritual releasing of my wedding bouquet into the ocean. i was ok with watching the natural decline of the rest of our amazing wedding flowers, but i wanted to remember the bouquet i carried as i walked to meet rich at the wedding trees in their full rainbow vibrancy.

 

it was a blustery day at the beach!

 

 

 

when we walked out across the dunes, the wind increased to the point of taking our breath away, dislodging bobby pins, threatening to steal earrings, and blowing sand in our faces. i don’t know if i have ever laughed so hard! here my husband is rescuing me from blowing away.

 

 

just trying to unwrap the lace from the bouquet was a major project requiring advanced teamwork.

 

it was unbelievably difficult to hold the bouquet upright in the wind! at any moment, i could be whipped by my sash, or have my vision obstructed by the lace, as well. i mean, look at our hair!

this is, hands down, my favorite photo of my bouquet. so thankful my bestie was there to capture these silly, beautiful moments.

 

 

 

 

to quote best woman, “i got the before, and the after, but there is nothing in between!”

as soon as i released my grip on the flowers, they had shot 30 yards down the beach!

we chased after them to grab some photos of them “gently floating away” into the sunset.

 

 

then i zipped up my hoodie and we got the heck off the beach! we stopped briefly for a practice run of one of his husbandly duties. husbands must catch their wives when they fall or jump off of high things! like sand dunes!

yes, i was wearing my jeans under my wedding dress the entire time.

 

~~~the prayer from our wedding~~~

God in heaven above please protect the ones we love.

We honor all you created as we pledge our hearts and lives together.

We honor Mother Earth and ask for our marriage to be abundant and grow stronger through the seasons.

We honor fire and ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts.

We honor wind and ask that we sail through life safe and calm as in our father’s arms.

We honor water to clean and soothe our relationship — that it may never thirst for love.

With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony as we grow forever young together.

Amen.

wedding week ~ one year ago today ~ part 2

~friday july 21, 2017 ~wedding eve!~

friday morning found the bride wielding a toilet plunger; nothing like extra house guests flushing extra toilet paper to help prevent excess bridal vanity. so many times during the week, i felt thankfulness for my wedding boss, who had helped me include helpful things such as “water garden” on my list, knowing i would not be able to do so again until after the tent got taken down. so, with the toilet back in working order, i turned on the sprinkler to water my still mostly green rainbow garden.

children in various states from bright eyed and bushy tailed to still a little sleepy lounged on the wood floor in the living room, each communing with their own customized lego pirate ship. quinn filled me in on details later, and told me b and z pancake each had one, luigi had one, and mario and quinn shared the fourth. he also told me about the particular crew and accessories that each kid brought on board, whether they specialized in dwarves or star wars characters, weapons and gear or food and flowers. the girls appreciated having hermione/princess leia parts to construct their captains from, and the only brief dispute i ever heard about was over the lego pizza getting jammed into the scuppers and being difficult to remove.

for a little while, rich and i sat together outside to go over some vows and some music choices, while hummingbirds zoomed around in the honeysuckle nearby. then we headed down to the wedding trees to set up some ropes for draping pretty fabric. since i have nautical experience, i was nominated to head up the ladder to tie knots, and since rich has big muscles, he was nominated to hold the ladder at its base. this also gave him his preferred viewing angle of his bride to be.

 

 

a certain game involving minecraft terminology was played while running around the yard, and the boys (all of whom were fluent in minecraft-speak) began referring to the wedding trees (the other nickname for the site we were decorating) as the “portal to the overworld,” which seemed like a nice way of looking at it.

 

 

 

once the trees were bedecked with fabric and best woman was chopping yellow peppers and purple cabbage and the big tent was set up in the yard, we sat with our parents for a while until my mom mentioned that she had always thought it would be fun to jump on a trampoline, but that she had never done it before. rich’s mom remembered having a small exercise trampoline and rich could remember it from when he was a kid. she said she always enjoyed it. i can’t remember who finally said, “well, here we are right next to a trampoline, no time like the present!” and instigated the moms getting on the trampoline. i got on first, and after my dad’s protective but brief, “absolutely not!” speech, he relented and helped mom up into the enclosure with me. she would have been satisfied just getting to bounce from seated position, but then we tried kneeling, and she felt like with me to hold onto, she could try standing up to bounce. it was great! then she sat back down while i did the same thing with rich’s mom, and by the end all three of us were holding hands in a circle, laughing and bouncing. rich’s mom disembarked (his dad decided not to risk it with his artificial knees) and dad came on with mom and i. after mom got off, dad really let himself jump (he even did a butt bounce! like one of the kids), and again, some of the best memories were made while we took a break from making our final wedding day preparations. grandsons in witness to the event were cheering on grammy and grampy the whole time.

 

(many photo credits in this post to my best woman!)

 

 

 

i also had some fun jumping with my fiance for one more day.

 

 

 

mother-of-wedding-boss (aka grammie e) brought us some blue hydrangeas from her yard, and picked up the money and list and buckets she would need for picking up flowers from the farmer’s market the next morning. again with the amazing crew! rich’s mom would also hit the market on her way in to the wedding (which also turned into chauffeuring one of my photographers from her hotel) to pick up strawberries and salad greens.

sometime that afternoon, a committee meeting was held in the hammock, but otherwise we kept busy with setting up tables and chairs, taking down the clothesline, setting up canopies, sorting out chopped veggies into coolers, brewing iced tea, sewing more prayer flags to a ribbon, staging boxes and totes of wedding gear in the shed ready to set up in the tent, and enjoying one another’s company. throughout the day, i would be handed a sandwich or a glass of water at just the right moment by my best woman, look around to find rich’s son had swept the entire outside of the house without being asked, and find others supporting me in all the possible ways they could. most of all, the man i was going to marry the next day!!!

at the time appointed by the box next to “rehearsal dinner,” my sister in law picked up pizzas,  jeany arrived and went over the script with rich and i to finalize wording, and the family members talked through their order in the procession the next day.

committee meeting in the straw bales

the next box on the list held the words, “evening shower for mb,” and i dutifully obeyed my orders.

that night after dark, my fiance and i spent our final hours as fiances going up the ladder some more, hanging up big paper lanterns in the tent, setting out boxes of tablecloths and jars, hanging up prayer flags, and getting our loveseat in place at our reception table. then we tucked each other in one last time before our wedding day!

wedding week ~ one year ago today ~ part 1

one year ago this week…

in the final weeks before our wedding, when the spirit of flat bride had me flitting around amazon clicking on 10 dollar items such as 25 yards of lace and a bottle of rose water, wedding boss was doing her level best to keep me organized and on task. or should i say, get me organized. we spent several hours together during which i typed things into schedules and shopping lists while she asked pertinent questions and reminded me of key details i mustn’t forget.

“i like it when boxes have words in them.” ~wedding boss

meanwhile back at the ranch, my fiance and i looked around and despaired that our house cleaning routine had fallen by the wayside during the busy spring, and dug in to start clearing the clutter. we called in back up from friends for the really dirty jobs like polishing the silver and scraping the stove top with a razor blade! they know who they are, and may they be blessed for selflessly cleaning up our dirt. many of our favorite wedding presents were gifts of service!

the blue shop towels that migrate out of rich’s work jeans in the dryer and then onto the top of the washing machine found their uses, while the green earplugs sourced from the same pockets and scattered across the same surface grouped themselves into a bowl, and the house became more manageable as out-of-town guests began to arrive.

 

the pancakes were the first to arrive, and set up camp in the front yard. it was at this point that i stopped having to do any dishes, because the dynamic duo was on the scene. just before they left a week later and i had to start emptying my own compost bin again, i tried to explain to them my gratitude for how far above and beyond their help went, but their humility had them praising others’ contributions to the team effort. but i’m getting ahead of myself!

 

the pancakes and quinn fell right into their familiar play routine, upgraded to an “even bigger kids” version, with the new added fun of a 15-foot trampoline in the backyard! quinn was participating in theatre camp during this time frame, but the next morning while getting ready was when we discovered that the reason for his itchy scalp upon his return from his dad’s house was not only the lack of bathing and hairbrushing for the prior two weeks, but actually head lice… so that was a busy morning, 5 days before our wedding with a trip to the airport ahead of me to retrieve the best woman that afternoon! my fiance/soon-to-be-husband continued being his wonderful jedi self and worked all the piles of laundry through the droids while i was gone, since i spent the entire morning at the end of a nit comb and only had time to make the piles, not wash and dry them.

 

by the way, i felt that my handling of head lice, mere days before my wedding, was very positive, compared to how i fell apart over the water being shut off two weeks earlier (which turned out to be due to a rat chewing through wiring in the well pump house), cried in the court administrator office over my name change debacle (that will be its own post), or despaired over the glass refrigerator shelf shattering while i was trying to clean it…

 

all of these turned into opportunities to have still more gratitude for the man i was about to marry, who handled it all with gentleness and humor, and efficient handyman fixes. i had a new plywood fridge shelf installed almost before i had all the glass cleaned up, and in every case, he magically turned my tears into laughter. by the time the head lice came along, i didn’t even cry. progress!

he waved goodbye from over the top of a giant pile of bedding and stuffed animals, and reluctantly let me drive myself to the airport to get my best woman. he didn’t reveal to me until later that he had been a little worried and thought maybe he should have been driving me. he also knew i’d be fine, but those little confessions of concern certainly make the heart feel warm and fuzzy, coming from a man who loves you. he also handled picking up quinn from camp for me that afternoon, and got him to his karate class.

it was somewhere around this time of the evening that rich received a phone call from the bartender at the local dive bar, timbers, telling rich his parents were there and would he please call back! we had a laugh over the set of circumstances leading to their 85 and 87 year old alcohol-free selves venturing into timbers, and soon they were pulling into our driveway, having driven all the way from oklahoma in a rental car.

there were so many little touching moments leading up to our wedding, of generosity from friends. we had a surprise email back from my farm on this day, concerning the veggies we had ordered for the wedding, and the matriarch of the farm didn’t charge us a penny! i had a misty-eyed moment upon reading that, having fully planned on paying for the veggies with my usual 20% discount. it recalled the previous saturday market, when i picked up 4 pounds of our favorite coffee, which i had ordered ground instead of whole beans, and my coffee guy gave it to me for half price.

one of the most frequent comments we received was usually a follow-up on the question of “how many wedding guests will you have?” no matter how many times i answered, “80,” we got responses all across the board from “that’s nice and small and quiet” to “wow a really super big wedding then!” these remarks hit the same nerve endings as having passersby on the street comment on the gender of my baby or ask his name and comment on their opinion of it, like it was somehow their territory to offer commentary on a very personal life choice of mine. probably the second most frequent comment we received from passerby on the street who knew we were entertaining many out of town family members at our house, ran along the lines of, “wow, that’s crazy,” or “you’re brave,” or “oh i would never do that!” we were overjoyed to be able to have all our family and friends in one place for a short time, though, and wouldn’t have had it any other way.

but maybe the most important thing for our self care during this hosting of many guests for two people who are usually alone together, was that we carved out frequent brief alone-together moments amidst the chaos. we normally go on a daily date when we walk to the mailbox, but during this time these walks might have been slightly more crucial to sanity than on a regular day, and maybe a teensy bit more meandering. also, whereas we normally give each other lots of solo bathroom space, we spent more bathroom time as a couple, in what we jokingly referred to as committee meetings!

once rich and i got back from settling his parents in at wedding boss’s mom’s house (my oregon family really stepped up in the department of hosting exchange family members in their homes! again with the gifts of service!), i tucked quinn in for the night. then my wedding boss, my best woman, my fiance and i worked on perfecting our wedding cocktails, working especially hard on the boysenberry bourbon smash! soon it was time to tuck in my best woman on her air mattress on the living room floor. all the tuck-ins thus completed, we tucked ourselves in as well.

~wednesday, july 19, 2017~

sometime after we went to sleep, 6 rews were landing on a plane in oregon and tucking each other in at a hotel.

when i woke up next to my fiance, we spent a good several minutes doing some extra good hugging before we got out of bed.

best woman woke up and told me a story about helping a little pancake go back to sleep on the couch in the middle of the night.

i made breakfast – huevos rancheros, and rich’s mom and dad came over to join the rest of us. i took quinn to theatre camp, and mid-day we were joined by 6 more rews, including grammy and grampy, mario and luigi, and their parents, my brother t and sister-in-law n. sometime during this day was when i realized i wouldn’t be leaving the premises to go grocery shopping, and took a break from working on our vows on my laptop to quickly type a shopping list and delegate said task to my best woman and stove-scraping good friend and together they made groceries happen.

 

 

settling mom and dad into their apartment was made all the more wonderful by wedding boss’s family and all the personal touches they went out of their way to make ready for the rews.

 

quinn came home from theatre camp and was enfolded into grammy’s arms and absorbed into the merrymaking.

meanwhile, pa rew played guitar, and rich’s mom and dad shared their rocks with everyone, including some beautiful pendants they gifted to the mother of the bride, best woman, and other key members of the wedding team. and also to the bride! i have been wearing my lime chrysoprase pendant and turquoise “dragon egg” quite frequently ever since then.

the groom was deployed to the liquor store with a list compiled by best woman and wedding boss the night before, and i pulled ziplock bags full of muffins out of the freezer for breakfast the next day.

 

 

 

 

my best woman made dinner that night, at my request, because she makes the best sauce, and spaghetti is a great way to feed a crowd. another friend brought over the sandwich board sign i had delegated to her to paint. the front yard transformed into even more of a gypsy caravan. after dinner the kids jumped on the trampoline and blew bubbles for each other to chase. all 5 kids – z pancake, b pancake, mario, luigi, and quinn – got along great! ages 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that evening after the kids were in beds and sleeping bags, and the grandparents had retired to their getaway locations, we sat around the table chatting about songs with the remaining grown ups.

~thursday, july 20, 2017~

very early the next morning, before anyone else woke up, i saw a naked man streak across the backyard to chase off a deer who was trying to eat the rosebushes and raspberries. luckily everyone else was camped out in the front on the opposite side of the house, so i got this special view all to myself! (not pictured!!!)

this day involved a lot of nuts and bolts, such as the arrival of the porta potty and ordering of pizza and wings we would be having for the rehearsal dinner the following night.

 

my mom and i got to go on a mission to find her a new wristwatch, and ended up discovering that the jeweler in our small town repairs old clocks. i have plans to take my nana’s cuckoo clock in and have him take a look at it to see if he can make it work. when we stopped back at her apartment at wedding boss’s house, she gave me a pre-wedding gift. it was providence that she had forgotten to bring it to our house that morning, and instead gave it to me privately, because that saved me from crying in front of a crowd. even when i showed the beautiful quilt squares (and associated thoughtfully written “placards” on each one, as my dad called them) to my fiance, wedding boss, and best woman, they all complained of cat hair suddenly getting in their eyes.

 

 

because of wedding boss’s foresight and planning assistance, mom and best woman and i also had a brief getaway scheduled at 2 that afternoon in the yard of wedding boss, in order to do our nails. i held a snuggly koala on my lap while i dried, and then i had to go and retrieve my lad from theatre camp. after my return, best woman earned another rock pendant by helping with rich’s mom’s nails as well. father of wedding boss delivered our farm veggies, and provided comic relief during the nail session.

my stove-scraping, grocery-schlepping friend came yet again to my aid, this time with a crockpot full of her amazing potato soup to help me feed a crowd! our parents all kept commenting on what a great crew of friends i was lucky to have, and i couldn’t have agreed more. friends and family both, as the family members made each task happen more easily, and often without the assistance i thought i would be providing. whether making vinaigrettes for the wedding salads in mason jars, or gallons of iced yerba mate, check marks kept appearing beside the words in each box. the groom’s wedding shirt arrived on this day… no sweat, just in the nick of time! check.

 

 

the last two rews joined us later that afternoon, my older brother b and sister in law c. the beautiful day beckoned us to the bayou, and soon it was time to head to wedding boss’s house for a family of origin meets oregon family picnic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wedding boss and her team had the picnic fixings well in hand, while husband of wedding boss tended the grill and children frolicked in the great big yard. we enjoyed the beautiful summer evening, the good food, and great company. a dessert of popsicles was administered to the children, and then a cascade of plasma cars went careening down the driveway. the siblings of my family of origin were soundly beaten by my adopted oregon sister wedding boss, and one of my favorite memories of the whole week was watching the three of them racing downhill on contraptions a bit too small for adults to be riding on.

 

 

but really, there were memories competing for best memory happening one right after another. soon after plasma car races, my mom presented handmade quilts to my best woman and my wedding boss, and more cat hair (or was it pollen?) was detected in the air. we lightened up the mood listing the ways the quilts would be utilized, perhaps for a “cuddle and a cold one” later on, during which the cuddler would be sure to think of my mom and fun wedding memories.

 

 

in the days leading up to our wedding, my fiance and i looked at each other so many times realizing how blessed we are with such a wonderful assortment of friends and family, all of whom contributed in their own unique ways to a wonderful week of memories to share.

 

~tuesday tunes~ in my life

on the two year engage-aversary of my husband asking me to marry him, i thought a stroll down wedding memory lane, accompanied by a tune, would be just the thing.

johnny cash was the second musical artist rich told me he liked on our first date. the first was rusted root, and every other one since then has been met with enthusiastic agreement on my part, but… johnny cash. if there was one moment when i “knew” about rich, it would be hard for me to pin down, but by the time he was telling me about his love for johnny, if i hadn’t already “known,” it would have been a moment of that kind. knowing all the words to so many johnny cash songs was a matter of course for my brothers and i, as his cassette tapes lived in the aerostar minivan we rode around in as kids, as well as the green farm truck’s tape deck. a boy named sue, a burning ring of fire, water 4 feet high and rising, and a 49-50-51-52-53-54-55-56-57-58-59 automobile were integral parts of the soundtrack of my upbringing.

the song in my life appears on cash’s american 4 album, and rich and i had sung along to that, and to desperado together within the first month of our relationship. i think he took to heart the line from desperado, “you better let somebody love you before it’s too late.” he did let me love him, we kept falling in love, and from here on out, we know we are only going to love each other more…

as we were deciding on songs for the wedding, we easily chose our recessional song, and once we found rainbow love, it was a natural for the processional of our parents. the last song chosen took us a while, for my dad and i to walk in on, and maybe it was because it seemed like the most important one. we listened back to the stack of cd mixes i have made for rich over the years, roughly two per year (i often make one for our anniversary and another for when he goes to country fair). we finally got back to the very first one, mixed in june 2012, where among such favorites as neil young’s silver and gold, tom petty’s wildflowers, and the highwaymen singing true love travels on a gravel road, there was johnny cash’s solid baritone voice singing a beatles song. we knew as soon as we heard it again that it was the best way to sum up exactly what was going on here. the two of us, with our advanced age, full lives, children, and pasts; but also with a lot of work we’ve done enabling us to greet each other’s age, quirks, families, and histories with kindness. we are only going to appreciate and love each other more and more, the more of our lives we get to share.

photo credit to wedding boss, yes she really did it all! (the rest of the photos below are by my photographer-in-chief! who is also a good friend and with whom i stand shoulder to shoulder on saturdays selling veggies.)

this is when the song came on… dad helped me steady those emotions by coaching me on walking nice and slowly.

i am pretty sure this is when i was laughing because i realized i didn’t know the exact procedure for how i would unhitch from dad down at the trees, and i was picturing my dad, seasoned farmer that he is, making a wide turn and backing me in like a wagon.

“though i know i’ll never lose affection

for people and things that went before

i know i’ll often stop and think about them

in my life i love you more”

 

pancakes peeking in the distant corner of this photo are the type of thing i only got to see later from the wedding photos (and that also goes for where my own son was sitting in the crowd). i was looking in a very singular direction while i was taking this walk!

johnny and june have been mentioned a time or two on this blog, and an added layer of meaning in choosing this song for us was looking to our role models in the relationship category (not limited to famous people, but including our own parents and certain friends and family as well). this was a big theme we intended to celebrate on our wedding day. looking around us that day, thinking of those who’ve gone, and those who remain, appreciating the love they have given to us and have modeled for us, was a natural part of turning and looking at each other and saying, “there is no one compares with you.”

~two months in the life of a lifelong learner~ enfolded eggs part 2

continued from part 1

watching the moon with quinn one night, we saw a dragon cloud overtake the moon, sliding up its nostril and eventually becoming its eye. though the moon was enfolded in wisps of cloud, the cloud was now illuminated from within. dragons are always on our minds here at the dragon house, but especially for quinn recently as he has been reading eragon and making spinoff dragon cards for a new game. his first two creations of a wind drake and a storm drake are pictured, including an extra-spirally tail on the storm drake!

in his game about barbarians, archerers, giants, and goblins, situated among castles and builder huts, barracks and cannons and archer towers, he developed a defense of a spring coil, to propel enemies back over the wall surrounding the compound when triggered. then he modified it to have them land on yet another weapon, a tesla. he explained this electrical-magnetic device to me, and i asked him where he had learned the word tesla.

don’t you know, he read about tesla in the t section of the dictionary back in fourth grade. when he was reading the dictionary one day. as one does.

i had him browse the wikipedia article about nikola tesla and his eidetic memory and amazing mind. i thought maybe he could relate to the guy.

he still pronounces archer “archerer.” the holdouts are few and far between now, and he will reminisce with me about certain ones like “last day” for yesterday and “next day” for tomorrow, which were his staple reference points in time as a toddler. this is the type of thing i wasn’t able to anticipate about being a parent; as i’m headed up my spiral staircase, he is also wandering up his, and we’re both reaching vantage points along the way from which we are both looking back downward and outward together… it’s impossible to articulate what a trip it is.

quinn’s tag pull-out class was re-established to close out the school year. they took a field trip to an escape room, full of different locks and puzzles and codes they had to put together. he had fun, and though he said his group went over the time limit, they got to the end of all of the clues anyway. he described it all in intricate detail (such as tables with checkerboards painted on them) and was pleased to bring home a souvenir key. the kids are planning to build their own escape room to put their peers through back at school, so this was good research!

other forms of entertainment besides watching math videos this month have included a may the fourth! star wars movie night at home with (the best ever, made by rich) popcorn.

he and i played his new strategy game (from his easter basket) called odin’s ravens.

we also attended the dance performance of the wizard in oz in which several of our young friends danced.

one sunday after a women’s self defense seminar, i asked quinn to go for a jog with me. i started teaching him about which side of the road to run on, pointing out exceptions and how to make a judgement call when you’re on winding back roads with various amounts of shoulder. he is a good little runner, very uncoordinated but has endurance and is cheerful about it. i need to get him some better shoes to run in than his vans. we decided we’ll run to karate sometimes so we can be in good shape for fall cross country season.

one week quinn was sent to the library during the time his classmates did each state test session, to work on his “elo” or extra learning opportunity. he made a google slide presentation comparing mythologies from 4 different cultures (greek, roman, norse, and egyptian), as he had planned ahead to do. he missed both thursday and friday of the school week (at his dad’s house) and i learned later that he had not been collected from the library after each test session in a reliable enough manner, and that he had missed lunch period both tuesday and wednesday as a result.

i asked quinn more details about what had happened, and whereas his dad had framed the oversight as something more sinister (shame/disapproval/punishment by staff of those opting out of testing), i found out from quinn that he had been sitting in an area behind some book fair shelves on a low cushion, causing no trouble for the librarian who had her regular library classes coming and going, in addition to book fair. i explained to quinn that he has a choice of how he looks at what other people say and do, and it’s possible that his dad might interpret something in a very negative way without having all the information. we can choose just as easily to interpret what happened as an unfortunate oversight, and if we give people the benefit of the doubt that they are in a jumbled up routine and the dots didn’t connect how they were supposed to, it makes it easier to adapt. equally importantly, i also encouraged him that he can speak up for himself, and say “hey, i didn’t get lunch” to a teacher (this he did not do), who might be able to open up a box of granola bars for him at the very least. spending our energy on developing strategies to make it in the system instead of judging the system. that’s a lot of baggage i don’t want him to carry around.

as it turns out, this story has a silver lining… his friends, to whom we’ll refer as aragorn, gimli, and legolas, had grabbed him a bag of carrots and a fruit cup (the portable lunch items) and brought them to recess for him after lunch on the second day of him missing lunch, because they had his back and were worried about him missing it again. i asked him if he had been okay missing school the following two days, or if he would rather have gone, so he could be with his friends, and he said he had agreed to stay home, but that he had also wanted to go. i let him know i felt it was okay for him to insist on going, even if his dad was leaning towards having him stay home. self-advocating still a hot topic, and looks like it will be for a while yet.

quinn helped me come up with pseudonyms for his three friends, and though we explored pokemon, star wars, or naruto characters, we agreed the reference to the fellowship made perfect sense. encouraged by the friendships forming and bonds building among these four throughout fifth grade, i have been thinking of ways to try and nurture their bond over the coming summer, and into the start of sixth grade. i don’t want to necessarily hyper manage his social calendar, but i also hear a lot from the poppy moms about how hard a time so many of them have with finding and keeping friends… so being able to foster it a little bit into these middle school years feels like a good investment. they’re his friends, he made them himself, i just feel like i could nudge things in the right direction to keep the friendships going over the summer and into next year… when it may feel like it matters more to have some dependable friends.

he presented his comparative mythology research, result of the three days he spent in the library, and i was so glad i got to be there for it – because he advocated for doing it during my thursday afternoon volunteer time. i took video… it’s 14 minutes long. the sound is poor, but it’s possible to hear his voice over the bouncing yoga balls if you play it in a completely quiet room.

 

 

 

we had a delightful visit from our pancakes in april! lots of minecraft and dragon playing went on in between basketball games!

we attended a karate seminar with our sifu’s sifu. he’s a fun older guy with a 7th degree black belt, we like him, and he’s a good teacher. he loves quinn and i, always remembers our names. our mrs. todd was testing for her black belt (the big reason for his visit from california) and quinn was very excited to congratulate her on her promotion!

 

one saturday i took quinn with me to farmer’s market because rich was also working, and he was a big help again. we got to leave early, and attempted to go visit the tall ships for deck tours. however, there was a super long line and even though we stood in it for over an hour, they had to close before we could get on. quinn was very bummed, actually shed a few tears even though we had been talking about how it might happen, but he bounced back really well. i took his picture with the ships, and then we decided to try and watch their “battle sail” from the shore. we sat on the bay beach and ate our lunch and bundled up in a blanket and watched them. it worked out well, but they didn’t do much battling; gotta love when it’s too windy for sailing. by the end of our adventure, he was content. this was timely, because i really needed to use the bathroom, and i said, “i could just go over behind those bushes,” but quinn wouldn’t have it, “no! do not besmirch nature like that!” i was laughing so hard at his word choice that he wondered if he had pronounced it correctly, and i knew then for sure that it was another case of a word learned from literature. he was grinning at his correct usage and pronunciation, when i assured him he had it right. (i did not besmirch nature, i went inside the visitor’s center.)

in other vocabulary news, i have been getting called out on exaggerating things, with a quick retort of, “that’s hyperbole, mom.”

at our spring parent-teacher conference, his teacher told us what a long way quinn has come in his writing, saying he is most certainly ready for middle school in that area… “he is using appositives correctly, he’s ready for semi-colons.” (quinn chimed in, “i already do use semi-colons!”) moving right along to the next topic…

the pythagorean theorem, of course. his star test results are saying he’s ready for that type of math, and she went over again how she wants him to continue his khan academy math over the summer. she feels he is doing great, going at a good pace, and as long as he plans to continue over summer, will be in good shape to skip ahead to the 7/8 accelerated math for which she recommended him; where they learn the pythagorean theorem and then in 8th grade he’ll be walking down to the high school for geometry.

she said he’s ready for things in middle school, and recognizes that he needs a lot more challenges put in front of him than what she has been able to do in her limited way, and we get to start to expand on that in middle school. she recommended we visit with the teachers (at least for math and language arts) at the very beginning of the year to let them know that sometimes quinn needs cueing on certain executive function things, but to let them know about his test results and that he is ready for the challenges, and make sure they are putting those in front of him- there is no accelerated language arts, but she made a good point in that the students tend to get sorted a bit more by level in middle school, and i remember that… i was in enriched english and accelerated math with the same set of kids, who therefore kept showing up in my other class periods for p.e., french, science, social studies… because we had the same constraints on our schedule. this ends up meaning for quinn that his particular class for english may tend to be able to handle more advanced stuff as well.

on needing more coaching or cueing on things non-academic… he has made lots of gains in these executive function areas, but has room to grow. my job as i see it is to empower him to solve these things, and if that means an extra one hundred conversations about not avoiding bathroom use, that’s what i’ll do. i feel the same way about self advocating (about bathrooms, math classes, or parental duties to drive him to his activities,) and plan to keep the whole conversation going. the latest addition to the time management tool box is a watch, and he has been wearing it consistently and reporting on the time at regular intervals. rich and i are hoping it serves to increase his awareness of how much time various tasks require, and maybe clue him in on where he loses track of time.

on conference days, he went to work with me, set up a schedule for the day, and stuck to it while i was stuck in a freezer for 3 hours! he even did some khan academy math, a homework summary, and spent lots of time on khan computer programming (he has completed over 90 lessons as of this writing! essential items such as how to code a rainbow!). he also played a little minecraft and read some of eragon.  then he wrote music note letters into his sheet music for hedwig’s theme. over the course of these two months, he has become proficient at playing the song, and i think he is very proud of this accomplishment.

he participated in open house and the spring concert at school (they played recorders, which was priceless). all he wanted to do was go make slime in one of the classrooms, as they had a “fair” atmosphere with activities. his hands were too warm, so he got all gooey and messy.

at the nexus between quinn’s math and music concentrations, he found himself once again engrossed in vi hart’s imaginitive and fun video on “folding space-time” which turns out to be centered around a tiny hand-crank music box that will play notes punched in strips of paper. even mobius strips! vi explains how music is a great medium in which to play with the dimensions of both space and time, and my hat is off to her for enfolding so much wonder and delight into her videos, whose nerd metaphors are now permanently embedded into my son’s psyche. i couldn’t resist obtaining a music box for quinn so he, too, can fold space-time.

at quinn’s school, students are voted for by their classmates throughout the year for exemplifying each of their “eight essentials.” (the full list of eight: respect,    kindness,    patience,  selflessness,  honesty,  forgiveness,  humility  and  commitment.) quinn was nominated for the commitment award! he was very proud that his peers felt him to be a committed person. i affirmed that i observe him to be very committed: when he sets a goal, he doesn’t give up, and goes on to achieve it with focus and determination, or as our karate principles describe it, perseverance, and indomitable spirit. but also, in the sense of commitment to people he loves, or causes he believes in, i see evidence of a very caring, principled, and loyal guy!

tour of sixth grade science classroom; at his table, from left: gimli, quinn, aragorn, and legolas

something that was a pretty big deal in may was the field trip to visit the middle school! i was asked to go along as a chaperone, which was an insightful peek at how nurturing these fifth grade teachers must be. there was high intensity that day, spanning the full range of human emotion. this is a huge transition for a kid, as i well recall. i think quinn is mostly taking it in stride, is excited about the new opportunities he’ll be met with, and ready to take on this new set of challenges. he had one minor freak out about a lost raffle ticket, but his peers were all over the board with elation and trepidation.

along with the explosion in learning/absorbing, there has also been a period of emotional intensity. as a result of forgetting to take care of his basic needs for food, water, bathroom, throughout the day (executive function skills), he has had a few music lessons where he was not at his best. processing those times after the fact is also intense, requiring quite a bit of finesse to extract what is going on internally for him, and involve him in finding solutions. i have been working on finding a good balance of stern firmness (holding the line of politeness to his music teacher) and compassionate sounding board (patiently waiting for the “it” that is really bothering him to be revealed, nodding understandingly that the piece of paper he didn’t want cut that morning and the disagreement over the game with his friend caused his “really bad day”), then revisiting lessons from earlier in life about mindfulness of staying on top of processing our emotions in real time so that we don’t take them out later in the day on our unsuspecting music teacher.

by lights out the night of one such discussion, he was telling me “i love you as big as the sky, as big as the ocean all the way to the moon… no… do you know the name of any galaxies besides ours, the milky way?”

“no.”

“well then, all the way past the milky way and back again eleven quintillion times.”

enfolded in the layers of all those surly emotions, there it is.

p.s. in the spirit of lifelong learning, i looked up some other galaxies. and quinn, i love you all the way to gn-z11 and back again, eleven quintillion times. (that’s 32 billion light years away, folks! it’s found in the constellation ursa major, aka the big dipper. there are also a sunflower galaxy, a whirlpool galaxy and a tadpole galaxy, all very cool looking, but they’re not as distant!)

 

~two months in the life of a lifelong learner~ enfolded eggs part 1

camp boss informed me that comments were inadvertently closed on the previous lifelong learner post. i have updated it so commenting is back on, and can only assume wordpress is punishing me for my 5770-word verbosity. i have not reformed myself, in fact this post is split into parts because it got out of hand again. (another cup of tea is in order if you actually plan to read this one.)

the past few months have felt like a surge in quinn’s intellectual life, in the same way that the fall and winter months felt like a time of extreme vertical growth.

now he is flexing his mind muscles… hexaflexing them, that is.

if i had to point to a day when the current intellectual surge began to sweep us along in its current, i would say it was after seeing the movie a wrinkle in time. it was spring break, and since i was working, quinn was with me at work most of the week. on wednesday, we left work early and went to the afternoon matinee. his class had seen the movie the week before, but he had been at home with his dad nursing a cold, so he had missed the field trip. they had read the book in class and we had both re-read the book at home (it sat beside the bathtub for when either of us was soaking) in preparation for seeing the film. after the movie, it was incredibly fun to share our points of view on how the movie triumphed in ways that only movies can, and ways in which it failed to honor the book we hold very dear. we agreed point for point.

near the beginning of the movie (this would only constitute a mild spoiler, but just in case: spoiler warning), there is something not from the book, but which quinn and i both felt was a good visual representation of the feelings between meg and her parents. she holds a paper hexagon that folds into itself, and one of her parents says, “my love is there, even if you can’t feel it.” meg folds the paper, and a new design appears, having flipped inside-out, and one final fold surprisingly reveals yet a third image of a brightly colored rainbow heart galaxy (quinn’s description). meg murmurs, “not gone, just enfolded.”

when we got home from the movie, i wanted to show quinn what that paper hexagon was all about, so i looked on khan academy for a tutorial on hexaflexagons, and was not disappointed.

   

vi hart, the author of this, and 49 other awesome videos under the heading “math for fun and glory: doodling in math,” is now a hero to quinn. and between that day and this, he has watched all 50, most of them multiple times. our hexaflexagon journey began that very day, including both trihexaflexagons like meg’s, and hexahexaflexagons which can flip to 6 different faces. i highly encourage you to watch some of vi’s math for fun and glory videos, as they are both educational and witty. some of our favorites from the hexaflex section included her warnings in the safety video concerning possible ways in which hexaflexing can go awry, warning us against, amongst other things, the danger of hexaflexaperfectionism. we started asking each other to please pass the “interdimensional void” when we wanted the black marker. probably the most quoted line by quinn has been, “perfectly healthy snakes may turn into snake loops; or worse, become decapitated. either state is fatal for the snake, as having no head can lead to starvation.”

another favorite safety concern: “a change in chirality could be a sign that your flexagon has been flipped through four-dimensional space and is possibly a highly dangerous multi-dimensional portal.”

we made our own version of meg’s hexaflexagon, as well as a pile of others with rainbow colors, snakes, celtic knots, and mandalas, each enfolded with love, of course. enfolded isn’t just a collapsing of geometric shapes upon themselves… it’s a swaddling blanket surrounding a babe in a mama’s arms, a protective cocoon around the transformation of a youngling, a container underneath the overflowing emotions of a pre-teen whose gangly limbs can relax against the sides after that which needs to spill out has receded and what is left is love.

on quinn’s next foray into math for fun and glory, he tackled spirals, fibonacci, and being a plant, in which pinecones, and other things that begin with pine-, are examined to find that their spirals are arranged according to numbers in the fibonacci sequence. i’m kind of into spirals, but this is all new and magical math to me, so it’s been inspiring to learn about it alongside my kiddo.

i wore a spiral necklace for the last month of pregnancy, and on through quinn’s babyhood. i have a pair of silver spiral earrings i wear pretty much every day. i had a fancier pair of silver spirals made for my wedding day. my wedding ring is also a spiral of sorts, and i’ve explained the meaning behind that. i resonated with midwife ina may gaskin’s descriptive writing about how babies spiral into the world head first, facing down, then turning and facing up. each time i think of spirals, i think of birth and of beginning again, always having an opportunity to return to myself, return to a grounded place. the spirals quinn started drawing when he was barely 2 years old jumped off the page at me, but then having a child is a great way to rediscover everything you know and love about the world as they hand it back to you again and again. this verbose quote from one of the parenting books i read years ago with an emotional intelligence angle uses spiral imagery to describe the normal course of human development.

from: giving the love that heals a guide for parents

by harville hendrix and helen hunt

(quoting edward edinger ego and archetype): “the process of alternation between union and separation seems to occur repeatedly throughout the life of the individual, both in childhood and in maturity. indeed, this cycle (or better, spiral) formula seems to express the basic process of the psychological development from birth to death.”

hh and hh:

“there are two rhythms that move through the developing child at the same time: oscillation from the center that expands and then returns, and progression through stages of growth as the child moves through his preordained evolution toward adulthood. the interplay of these rhythms shapes the spiral pattern of healthy growth.

oscillation begins with attachment, expands into exploration and differentiation and then subsides back into attachment again. the baby internalizes this rhythm during the first years of his life and repeats it naturally as he progresses through the stages of growth. he is born emotionally connected to his mother, and as he feels that this connection is becoming secure, he cautiously moves out (still attached) to explore and connect with his nonmaternal environment, regularly returning to his mother’s presence for reassurance.

if this first and most basic rhythm is supported and allowed to follow its natural course without impediment, it will be repeated successfully later when the child falls in love with a romantic partner- or a job, a cause, an idea, or his own child, when he becomes a parent- and then learns to express his unique self within the context of a romantic relationship or other important life experience.

in fact, all of the primary tasks of childhood recur in coordinated rhythms throughout the individual’s life. the newborn child has within him all the impulses that will later flower at their appointed time. he falls in love with someone or something. he explores it and crafts a new aspect of his identity with it; he develops new skills; he manifests caring for others. he comes to know the rhythm very well and will repeat this cycle over and over again. the degree of his success depends on how well he has completed his basic evolution during the first eighteen to twenty years of his life.

perhaps you are aware of this rhythm in your own life. think for a moment about how it shows up in your experience as a parent. when your child was born, you fell in love with him. with this marvelous and mysterious creature in your life, you began to explore the world of parenting. that may be why you are reading this book. as you cared for your newborn and got used to your new role, you acquired a new layer of identity as a “parent.” with increasing experience, you learned to handle yourself more confidently as you expanded your competence. perhaps you also sought the support and guidance of others who shared your experience, your peers in parenting. and recognizing your participation in the preservation of the race, you became interested in the welfare of others and the quality of life in society. this expansion outward is a natural cycle in our lives.

the child’s growth depends also on the other rhythm that propels him forward, even as he comes back around to revisit previous tasks. this rhythm is not just an oscillation but also a progression through distinct developmental impulses. the seeds of them all are present at birth, but each blossoms in its own time in response to an inner impulse and the readiness of the environment. if his parents have nourished the first flower appropriately, the next bud will open. each time he responds to another developmental impulse that pushes him forward through the developmental stages, he returns to his primary connection with his caretaker for the emotional security to move to the next stage. each impulse solidifies and then dissolves, one into the other. it is as if the child were being blown unerringly toward the gates of maturity by the wise breath of nature. his life flows from one transformation into another and continues to do so even after he arrives at adulthood.”

~~~

“these two rhythms of oscillation and progression move together in a pattern that is both circular and progressive, suggesting, as edinger says, a spiral. think of a spiral staircase: each step is a progression upward in space and is also a revisiting of a particular point around the circumference of a circle. we spend our lives walking up our own spiral staircases. at each turn, we get the same view we had before at the same spot, but because we are higher up, the view is broader.

~~~

the beauty of the spiral is that we will always get another chance. encountering the step again at the same place on a higher level, we can learn to do it better the next time. we can become more surefooted as we get older.

so, having fibonacci spirals delight my eleven-year-old is not so out of left field, and serves to bring me back to myself yet again.

one of the delightful revelations of the fibonacci videos was that music notes also correspond to fibonacci numbers, and it is beyond me whether this is mere magical coincidence or something more tied to the rules of nature or mathematics. what was magical coincidence, was that quinn and i were exploring the piano keyboard at nearly the same time, as it relates to his percussion and musical training. while we watched rich’s son play his alumni basketball games, i taught quinn how to draw piano keys and he kept busy for many octaves. recalling the miles of piano key doodles of my own youth, i was yet again returned to myself, this time to the sound of basketballs dribbling down the court, sneakers squeaking on the polished floor, and the scratch of a pencil across a piece of graph paper.

when making math doodles, it’s hard to avoid sometimes making a don’t-dle, but i’m excited for quinn to be launching back into drawing, a form of creativity he has always ebbed and flowed with a bit, due in part to perfectionism. the math doodle genre seems to have really struck a chord with him, and he bounced from pascal’s triangle to sierpenski’s triangle and soon he was inventing quinn’s triangle.

the compass and protractor set he got for his birthday from his aunt and uncle have been handy during this math drawing phase. one of our new favorite math shapes is a cardioid. as vi explains, a cardioid is the inverse of a parabola. but i just learned from wikipedia that a cardioid is also an envelope of a pencil of circles (enfolding them!) and, get this, a cardioid is also part of a family of curves known as sinusoidal spirals!

starting to embrace nerd metaphors: parabola, because i cardioid you. (translation: smile, because i love you.)

after watching vi hart’s story about wind and mr ug, a tale woven along a mobius strip, quinn began to ponder the interesting form of a mobius strip in a more abstract sense – he postulated that the shape of the universe might be a mobius strip, and that there is always an alternate reality for every reality we experience.

another most-frequently-watched candidate was how-to-snakes! (one greeted him in his car seat at pick up time, cradling a fibonacci pinecone… more were hiding in his room when he got home. that way he could make an oroborus; snake knuckles; baby snakelets, supersnake; borromian ring snakes; snake spirals; and a many-headed hydra snake! of course, all of this led to graph paper drawings of many different configurations of snakes.

if you peruse the list of videos, it is easy to see how a guy like quinn got sucked in, given such titles as “doodling in math: dragon dungeons” and “infinity elephants” and “are shakespeare’s plays encoded within pi?” i was finding phi angle-a-trons tucked into his homework folder that he had ostensibly constructed during class time, and he spent the duration of his parent teacher conference drawing this:

quinn even watched every episode of thanksgiving math multiple times, learning about such culinary wonders as green bean matherole, borromian onion rings, apple pi and pumpkin tau, and turduckenen-duckenen.

     

speaking of food, quinn has helped me immensely in the kitchen recently, cheerfully offering help or asking if he can be involved in meal preparation on a pretty regular basis… some things he has been up to: prepping and making pancakes; making broccoli soup (operating the blender); meatball/sauce prep (can opener, garlic press). he became a certified muffin baking technician, because after he got past being “not good at eggs,” he decided, “i’m going to do all of the steps in the process myself,” right down to putting in and taking out of the oven. the filling of cups with batter got frustrating, and he was getting increasingly agitated, but i made jokes. he said you could smell the frustration in the air, and i said, no, that’s just the fish frying you smell – our neighbor had given us a lingcod fillet, and we were having fish and chips for dinner. i said, “it’s confusing because they sound alike. fish frying, frustrating…” and then i’d purposely use the wrong word in every sentence thereafter. he giggled, worked through the fish fry, got a cup of water to put the rubber spatula in after each cup was filled so the batter wouldn’t be sticking to the spatula so much. problem-solving in action.

vi warned us about hexaflex-mexican-food-cravings…

quinn had bought a goose egg for $1 at farmer’s market, and he had requested that we use it for something very special involving lemon (that was after i broke the news that he could not incubate this egg and hope for it to hatch, that these were for eating.) on a saturday morning i told him my idea was to use it to make lemon filling, which we would roll up into crepes and top with whipped cream.

“ooh, can i help?”

this was after his muffin adventure of the previous evening, so i was pleasantly surprised that he was ready so soon for another kitchen marathon.

he got to work, beginning with zesting an entire lemon, about which he was extremely thorough (the recipe only called for half, but we like it zesty). then he measured all of the lemon filling ingredients into the saucepan. while he stirred, i whipped up the heavy cream, and by then the filling was simmering. i took over stirring it while it thickened, and quinn measured crepe ingredients into the blender. he sliced strawberries and then arranged them on our plates while i sliced oranges and flipped crepes. then we worked together to enfold lemon filling into each crepe, top them with whipped cream (and a sprinkle of sugar, he settled on as a final touch) and he arranged everything on plates to serve.

later that afternoon, quinn’s 5’1” frame was enfolded into my lap, curled into a ball. he pulled the fuzzy owl blanket up over his head, and said, “you find an egg.” i laughed… and said how surprised i was to have found an egg, i had only ever found one billion other eggs since giving birth to quinn. “you find an egg” is the beginning of one of the most-frequently-played pretend scenario games of the boy named quinn, a boy who has played a higher than average number of pretend scenarios in his time on earth. i never know what creature may hatch out of the egg i find, and the main narrative arc of the game revolves around my suspense and anticipation of the secret that awaits me curled inside the egg. it could be a puffin, a penguin, or an owl. it could be a dragon or a dinosaur. it could even be a pokemon character, as it was today, once we finally got back on track after my teasing about always finding eggs i’m not even looking for. that day he was spheal, and i hope my teasing did nothing to discourage him from going on having me find an egg one billion more times, even though he can’t sit on my lap curled in a ball anymore without inflicting some small amount of pain.

the following day was sunday, so i made pancakes, which we topped with strawberry rhubarb sauce and maple syrup. quinn’s weekend consisted of studying math for fun and glory and computer programming on khan academy, adding turrets and reinforced walls to his minecraft fortress (i love finding the page in the book open to portcullises), making math doodles, dabbling with his robotics kit, planning out how he is going to make a bb-8 and a lin-v8k droid after i showed him a make magazine video of a homemade bb-8 using many cheap hacks (like old speaker magnets and cut off tops of roll-on deoderants for parts of the mechanisms; making the body out of paper mache using a dollar store beach ball). he couldn’t fall asleep by bedtime. he is just in one of those spongey phases, absorbing absolutely everything and asking for more and blowing me away with how much he already knows.

quinn: tau is bigger than pi! it’s 2 pi! it’s approximately 6.28!

me: um, ok, if you say so…

quinn: mo-ommmm, you didn’t know that?!?!

continued in part 2

~rainbow mondays~ may wei

there is a whooshing sound that always seems to accompany the passage of the month of may.

i spend my weekdays pouring large volumes of water from one vessel into another, and while that is an oversimplification of what i do for my paycheck, it is how i choose to look at it when i am in good spirits about my employment. somewhere between the zen wisdom of “chop wood, carry water” (read: rich, me), and the taoist concept of wu wei or purposeful non-doing, i am most in the flow when i am doing the least amount of overthinking and pouring the largest volumes of water back and forth.

now that it is june, a photo recap seems in order; a pause to reflect on the poetic beauty of a month heralding the coming of summer. so take off your overthinking caps, and put on your heart-shaped lenses.

white: in may i sprinkled lots of flower seeds (and leftover wedding favor seed bombs) all over the yard like an overgrown fairy. dried poppy seed heads are particularly satisfying magic wands for seed dispersal.

 

white: snowballs!

pink: speaking of fairies, my dusty rose fairy gown columbine survived a deer eating all but one of its flower buds this spring (exposed as myth: deer don’t like columbine) and put out new buds and flowered beautifully.

pink: i’m not the only one who thinks so. i’ve caught sightings of hummingbirds enjoying the fairy gown flavor, but this is (so far) the only photo i’ve been able to capture.

pink: right after that image was captured, i discovered that hummingbirds also drink from bleeding hearts! i had no idea, and it was so captivating to watch her reach into each of the hearts and drink in the sweetness.

red: the red native columbines have been feeding sweetness to the hummingbirds lately, too, as well as providing a fun snack for the local deer pests.

 

orange: caledula, its vibrant color a balm for the eyes as much as its medicine heals the body.

 

yellow: western tanager eyeing up our cherry crop from the top of a locust.

yellow: the blooming of yellow roses reminds me that at this time last year i was trying on my wedding dress that was just arriving in the mail…

…and doing selfie photo shoots for the benefit of bffs and mom while my fiance wasn’t home.

yellow: symbolizing friendship, something i’ve been feeling particularly grateful for lately.

green: following up on her fairy gown/bleeding heart feast, my hummingbird friend sipped from the comfrey flowers for a while. the bees are also quite fond of the comfrey, which have grown up a nice weed barrier zone around two of our apple trees.

green: maple suncatcher kaleidoscope.

green: trout lily seed heads bobbing in the bayou.

green: i brought home a stray strand of shepherd’s purse in my bunch of beets last week from farmer’s market. i have a special place in my heart for this little plant with its heart-shaped seed pods. it aligns perfectly that i was buying beets to juice in order to combat anemia, when a tincture from this little stowaway played a key role in stopping my post-partum hemorrhage. i replanted this one in my garden after snapping this photo. such a trusty botanical friend could never be a weed in my book.

green-blue: violet-green swallows have taken up residence once again in our nesting box.

green-blue: i love their masks. “it’s just that they’re terribly comfortable. i think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”

blue: a house finch has been visiting the forget-me-not patches as they go to seed.

blue: i bet 0% of my readers will be surprised that a “magic fountain” delphinium found me just after my previous rainbow post entitled delphinious.

blue: it has found a home in the blue level of the rainbow terrace garden.

blue: these blue pansy seeds i planted last spring have become a thriving patch of vibrant blue flowers.

blue: this knapweed volunteered in a corner of our yard where my husband has been diligently reclaiming space from overgrown shrubs, ivy, and blackberry. last year it produced one flower, and this year it has several blooms so far.

purple: the resident fairy has been known to wave a columbine wand or two around each fall, and i think my efforts are starting to pay off in the purple columbine patch in our front yard. there is a single (not pictured) and a double ruffled variety whose areas have expanded substantially.

purple: my husband got me a new spray nozzle, and when faced with color choices, he knew just what to choose.

purple: comfrey flower spirals, love.

red violet: the honeysuckle dragons have bloomed this past week! they foretell of a whole season’s worth of sweetness to drink in.

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed