red: this character covered most of the spectrum this week! he drew me outside yesterday by flashing me the brilliant golden yellow, i hadn’t received that particular treat of the sunlight yet. i wonder if it is some combination of equinox sun angles and trees covered in pink blossoms in the background producing this effect.
and even green! sorry, he didn’t pull off any blues or purples, so you get flowers for the remainder.
blue: forget-me-nots… already. seems like i’ve been saying that a lot this year.
quinn woke up thursday morning, after his first two nights of karate class, and his first words were, “in my dreams, i had 8 tips on my belt! it was because i had two tests, and each test was for four things.” i asked which belt he had gotten the 8 tips on, and he said his white belt. after both classes, he stayed and watched the upper level students practice, as well as absorbing the contents of the dojo. the student creed printed on the wall, the order of the belt colors, which belts have varying degrees, the information about getting tips on your belt as you lead up to the next belt.
the head instructor told him after the second class we had stayed to watch that he noticed him hanging around, and i said, “well, he just started and he’s just so excited to be here, he keeps wanting to stay and watch.” mr. c spoke to quinn again, and said, “oh, so you’re going to be a motivated student, huh?”
quinn asked me later what motivated meant. he agreed that mr. c was right, he is motivated. it is so perfect how this came up, and at just the right time for him. he grins throughout the entire class. he is all in, and taking complete ownership, because goodness knows it has nothing to do with me. it must be like when my family of history loving pro sports fans scratched their heads and sent me off onto a tall ship. this is all quinn, completely of his choosing and desire.
because it means so much to him, he is also maxing out his neurons to incorporate this new activity into his life, which of course has manifested as a few meltdowns. i imagine that will be mighty brief in comparison to the long term satisfaction he stands to gain from this new endeavor.
one of the other teachers at ols asked quinn the day after his first karate class how it had been (because his teachers and classmates all knew, thanks to his “tell” about it during show-and-tell, and were extra supportive) and quinn’s response was, “oh man, it was like, the best thing i’ve ever seen!”
on new year’s day, coyote visited rich in the form of a near miss with his new truck. the next day, i drew a card about this new year, and sure enough, there was coyote, the piece entitled makes you stronger, by pixie campbell.
coyote travels the rough terrain, establishing territories everywhere. he learns his lessons the hard way, keeping a sense of humor about him as he goes. he turns rigid thinking upside down, preferring to keep it light, while adapting in order to survive. he is a humble teacher, a blissed out fool, an accidental genius. his song carries over mountaintops to find his kind. he is persistent, enduring and prolific. there is nothing he can’t do, nowhere he won’t go. he is fearless. coyote outlasts bad weather, yipping contentedly through his long days and many journeys.
haha, universe. keeping our sense of humor, check.
though i don’t think of them as fortune telling tools, this card turned out to be a fairly decent forecast of the trickster of a year we have encountered so far. luckily the strengths of coyote seem to be finding their way to the surface. i think i can say for our family that we remain persistent, enduring and prolific. fearless is another apt description. scrappy. we are definitely outlasting bad weather, and looking ahead to contented long days and abundant journeys ahead.
the weather hasn’t been so bad, in the literal sense, though in the metaphorical sense we have had been weathering some storms. rough terrain, indeed.
we were confronted around new years by our landlord, who said she was kicking us out as of this summer so that she could “get the house back in shape”. (background info: rich has rented our house for 18 years, raised his two kids here, his grandkids know it as “grandpa’s house”, my son has now lived half his life in it, and we have no desire to go anywhere else, ever. nor do our cats. he has also done everything required of him and then some as a tenant, or else we’d have no toilet, kitchen faucet, stairs to front and back doors, clean chimney, etc.) we countered what felt like an out-of-the-blue attack with “what if we offered to buy it from you?” and we have been attempting to negotiate with her ever since.
dealing with her, and learning lots of legal and real estate vocabulary, and feeling the threat of a potential major transition for the whole gang has been less than pleasant. i prefer to focus on the way rich set my heart aglow when he told me he wanted my name next to his on the deed. and of course, visualizing a successful sale and ourselves shaping this place up, with every incentive to do so, once we own it.
then there is our living school. my current livelihood, and the centerpiece of quinn’s current educational experience, will be on sabbatical next year. as of june, i need a different livelihood to manifest, and in september, quinn will embark on a different educational plan.
but hey, there is nothing scrappy coyote can’t do.
finally, i have put a lot of energy into trying to help a friend for whom i have been extremely concerned. this has been a brand new learning curve for me, and has definitely required fearlessness, persistence, and a sense of humor. it has been a mix of every stage of the grieving process, weighing and then stepping up to my convictions of responsibility i feel we have for each other in community, and a delicate act of balancing self care, family care, and friend care.
you know, small potatoes like that. nothing that a long-overdue hour-and-forty-five-minute phone conversation with my bff couldn’t put into perspective.
for our third anniversary in december, i made rich another mix cd to add to his growing stack, and one night i hovered outside the bathroom door to hear quinn singing an old crow medicine show song in the bathtub, “rock me mama like a wagon wheel, rock me mama any way you feel, hey mama rock me, rock me mama like the wind and the rain, rock me mama like a wagon train.” (the actual lyrics are “like a southbound train” instead of “wagon train” but i love his version). how sweet that the lyrics are applicable regardless of what sense of the word mama you’re intending; loving mother mama, or loving hot mama.
without a doubt, quinn had wagon trains on his mind when he picked up that tune, as we spent january at ols studying the oregon trail and pioneer living, which was deeply captivating for him. one of these days i will get the month of unschool posts back-filled so you can see the fun we had heading out west, and then in february, focusing on salmon as we hatched them from eggs in a tank in our classroom.
in quinn’s life lately, dragons are big, thanks in large part to the wings of fire series he has so enjoyed for bedtime stories. he has created a game that kids at school have adopted and adapted, based loosely on the books, where you get to choose if you are a mud, fire, water, or air dragon (i may be forgetting some elements), and then the play consists of using your particular powers, as far as i understand, to conquer evil dragons. of course i chose water, and our ceramics teacher chose mud. quinn is also better than halfway through listening to the lemony snicket audio version of a series of unfortunate events. he picks up the comics page in the newspaper regularly now and will announce, not very long after he picks it up, “i read this whole thing,” as in, “next!” and he is often found reading whatever he finds laying around. i, in turn, have been strewing plenty of library books in his path, as my unschooling roots dictate.
yesterday, quinn realized he had been graduated from the middle reading group, and his teacher told him his reading had opened up so much that he now reads on level with the “olders” group. she said his chest really puffed out when he heard that. the kids who were still in group (which he had walked in on at the end, which was how he had realized he was no longer in it) cheered him on and celebrated his accomplishment, without taking on any sense of inferiority. oh, ols. we will miss you next year.
when he isn’t reading, he is spending large amounts of time with pokemon cards in hand, and it’s fun to see how the kids at school respect and value his poke knowledge (oh wait, that is because it’s all about reading), as several more of the kids have started their own collections recently. he enjoyed more than a few minutes of fame when he added to his collection a mega charizard ex with 300 hp, found in one of the expansion packs rich bought him for his birthday. if you understood even half of that sentence, you’re doing well.
finally, he has become interested in stop motion animation, and i got a clunky but serviceable free app called zoetrope on my laptop to help him in that endeavor. it seems he has a bit of a knack for incrementally moving pieces of a lego set around, frame by frame, in order to tell a story. his first few films are linked here, in order of production date. after the first one, all the rest have been taken using my good camera.
if you have to choose just one to watch, i highly recommend arctic adventure, in which a friendly polar bear helps the valiant arctic explorers capture a crook who steals all their equipment from the research station.
like a coyote, and like a wagon wheel, we’ll be continuing onward across some rugged terrain, and we expect we’ll be yipping contentedly along the way!
more of our magical weekend of celebrating quinn’s 8th birthday…
we invited our chosen family and also actual family (the pancakes!) to a dragon party. we were blessed with gorgeous weather (the breeze was a little chilly, but the sun was magnificent!) so i was up at 6 am popping up the canopy and setting up tables. i did a minimal amount of decorating: i blew up a total of 4 balloons for the entire party. the bunting i spent my thursday evening sewing really added a splash of color, and the flowering trees in the backyard made up for any lack of decor. i laid out a tarp with blankets on top, set up a coat rack with costumes, dragged an old chalkboard and sidewalk chalk out of the playhouse, and strategically placed bubbles.
i made playdough in every color of the rainbow, and set out a tray of bits and baubles to adorn sculptures- wiggly eyes, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and feathers, glittery “dragon” eggs to nestle in playdough nests (the easter decorations being out so early at the dollar store really helped my dragon egg schemes!)
i also made a giant bowl of pizza dough that morning, and all party guests got to roll out and top their own pizza. something about dragons as a theme, the possibilities are limitless. beside the pizza station was a sign reading, “top your own dragon-fired pizza!” it was actually so easy to get carried away with the dragon inspiration that i had to cut myself off at some point.
after opening presents (he got some awesome homemade gifts from friends! our favorites, since it’s all we ever have the money to give in return!) there was a mysterious note at the bottom of the pile of presents, and it was intriguing enough to get the kids back outside running around before cupcakes. the note sent them on a treasure hunt all around the yard, to locate clues leading to a treasure a dragon had hidden and disguised as an egg. they had to find “the place where the small orange-bellied dragons, no bigger than your hand, swim and float in the duckweed” (newts, in the pond) and look “beneath where the tiny flying dragons with feathers and flashing red chests come to feed on nectar” (hummingbird feeders). finally, they arrived at the dragon egg pinata i had spent my wednesday evening building. (once again- i would never dream of making a complicated pinata, but an egg? cover a balloon in runny glue and newspaper and tissue paper? anyone can do it.)
then, cupcakes! definitely out of my comfort zone to be using an icing bag, but i gave it a shot to make the dragon look like he had scales. my son once again had plenty of input in the color scheme (red eyes, green scales, black horns…) though i came up with the cupcake train idea thanks to the internet and rolled with it before i asked for his color thoughts. note to self: it was such a good idea to make the cupcakes at the same time as the school cake, and chuck them in the freezer for the week! all i had to do was thaw and frost them…. do this again next year! because i heard a certain boy already ask, “can we have another dragon party when i turn 9?”
quinn had a ton of fun, a few tense moments (he is still easily overwhelmed by crowds and overstimulation, but his moments are much briefer than they used to be!) later that evening, as he was building his mos eisley cantina lego set, i could see him relaxing back into solo play mode. it’s one of those areas where i dance on the edge with him, allowing him exorbitant amounts of unstructured alone time, but pushing him out of his comfort zone now and then socially, having him practice those skills that don’t come as naturally to him as, say, constructing a hinged lego roof while absorbing 4-syllable vocabulary words from lemony snicket audio books.
wait a minute, that’s no eight-year-old!
we got to keep our pancakes overnight, and spend time at the beach with them the next day. i love the friendship q has with the girls, especially b pancake, with whom he is particularly close. she does such a good job pulling him out of his shell and helps him live life a little more out loud.
as we were turning back from the water to head home from the beach, a bald eagle came in to perch above the cliff overlooking the beach. as i got closer with my camera, its mate came in for a landing as well.
then my 8 year old asked if he could climb up on the cliff “just real quick” before we left for home.
oh, twist my arm, son. (can you spot the eagle in the upper right?)
at home in nature, and at home in his own imagination, he climbed up, soared in, perched on some eggs, and took off soaring again.
it’s rainbow tuesday again! we had a magical week celebrating a certain boy turning 8 years old, and an even more magical weekend! more pictures to come, this is just a taste of the rainbow.
red, and friends: after five or more years in storage to become a quilt, i decided to abandon the quilt idea. these colors were so perfect for dragon party decorations anyway!
orange: quinn has been enchanted by the wings of fire series by tui sutherland lately, and the rain wing dragons in that series keep sloths as pets. low budget re-purposed fabric gifts from mama included a pet sloth (his hands are magnetic so he can hang upside down from things) and a hoodie-turned-dragon costume.
yellow: looking lovely today, and every day.
green: party guests got to roll out and top their own personal pizzas.
more green: that way they had something in their bellies before they gobbled up dragon cupcakes (those blueberry nostrils are exuding chokecherry fruit leather fire from durango!).
blue: wow, sky. starry dogwood fuzzy buds.
blue: humming dragon on a lofty perch.
blue: chronologically out of order, this was quinn’s birthday cake for school on his actual birthday on monday. he requested cake with the texture and color of sand (but not the flavor of sand, i asked) and blue (a little darker than the sky, more like aquamarine) frosting that tasted like blueberries. he also wanted rainbow sprinkles (but only spread outside the circle of candles- yes he even specified the configuration of his 8 candles!) he is a detail man.
purple, and friends: playdough dragon sculpting was a popular party activity. i recently learned that switching my (read: my mom’s) standard playdough recipe to coconut oil instead of “vegetable oil” makes luscious, far superior dough for squishing. i may be late to the coconut oil party, though. in case anyone else doesn’t know, i thought it bore mentioning.
well, it’s really tuesday, but i am going ahead and observing rainbow monday today.
pink: ignoring for a moment that the date stamp on this image says february 8, and all that implies about the world and its climate, i snapped this photo of the ornamental cherry that came back from a serious setback a few marches ago.
red: i think he wore his red hat around valentine’s day last year as well…
orange: salmon eggs ready to hatch on the ols science counter!
orange: backyard peeling bark tree of unknown variety
orange: sneaky newt playing hide and seek under the duckweed
yellow: (orange you glad i didn’t say orange again?) and the daffodils look lovely…. on february 8th….
green: rescued this little guy from kitty curiosity, and then had a nice little photoshoot thanks to my lovely assistant. actually he is tall, dark and handsome, and he fetched me my camera so i wouldn’t lose the moment!
green: decomposing rhododendron leaves being uplifted by the first spears of daffodils rising out of the spring soil.
blue: starry dogwood buds growing fat against a blue sky!
purple: miner’s lettuce poking up all over the yard!
purple: wintery kales and mustards by the armload brought home after a farmer’s market shift one saturday.
i’ve got a fun new app that makes it easy to partially colorize a black and white version of a photo. i played around with the heart bokeh in the last days of having our christmas tree up. rainbow hearts!
red: anna’s hummingbird; apparently the females get a fuschia color around their heads, while the males stay more red-orange. froze my fingertips off to get this photo
orange: quinn is wild about exploring the arctic right now, and thoroughly enjoyed putting together the arctic base camp lego set his grammy and grampy got him for christmas.
rich and i took a visit to middle earth before the final hobbit movie viewing.
lichens i’ve liked
spent an hour or so on the last day of 2014 looking for whales. didn’t see any, but i quite enjoyed the sunny hour on the rocks.
a steller’s jay enjoying the sun at the top of a hemlock tree in our yard.
quinn and i spent a lovely, lazy saturday decorating the beautiful tree rich brought home friday night. quinn’s sense of tradition is blossoming, and he is both inventing new ones, as well as recalling ones that he finds meaningful.
lots of other celebrating going on as well. my parents celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary on saturday, rich’s parents are celebrating their 50th today (!!!) and my brother and sister in law have been together for 10 years now as of today. oh, yeah, and this other couple i know are also celebrating a happy, and that is understating it, 3 years together….
red: so i don’t know how many of you remember way way back when i invoked salmon medicine over a certain guy i had a crush on in my yoga class, but it seems like maybe it’s working for us. can’t help but rub off on us since we live right in their habitat. all i know is i am crazy about the guy, and grow crazier about him all the time.
red: this winter holdover is living in our tree most mornings and feeding at our feeder. a nice bright red flash to start each day.
orange: quinn always loves hearing me tell about my third trimester pregnancy craving for clementines around this time of year.
orange: silly old bear.
yellow: some of the last of the clinging leaves still need convincing to let go into winter. me too.
green: more of our beautiful tree, with laughing boy.
blue: while the lighting generally sucketh at this time of year for photography, i did manage to have a fun time playing around with the tree lights reflecting on the ornaments.
purple: yeah. like that.
brown and black: that’s squeaky and ms. b, quinn’s new guinea pig friends who thankfully live at his dad’s house, out of reach of our predator kitty cats. he is having a wonderful time being a guinea pig caretaker.