aunt margie

in a few short weeks, rich and i will be married, and the timing of my great aunt margie passing away just recently on june 14th feels like it coincides in some way. aunt margie is the matriarch of a great big family; her 2 daughters and 8 grandchildren gave their grammy many great grandchildren (if i use my fingers and toes, i estimate 18), and as of last count, 8 great great grandchildren in her 95 year lifetime.

but beyond that, aunt margie was a second mother to my own mom (pictured above), when my own grandparents were preoccupied with poppy’s health. my mom spent many summers traveling around to national parks with aunt margie and uncle george, attending what all the family fondly refers to as the “george buirkle school of combat camping” and passing on so much wonderful outdoors and camping knowledge to my brothers and me. one of the reasons rich and i have chosen glacier national park for our honeymoon is because my mom always said it was her favorite park that she visited with aunt margie and uncle george. though they always came back to the adirondacks, and hence that is where the whole extended family has always spent some portion of the summer.

among the horde of cousins in this large family, there is a consensus, whether spoken or unspoken, that what you want in life is a marriage like the one between aunt margie and uncle george (or if you’re their direct descendents, grammy and pop). we generation x-ers all attended their 50th wedding anniversary as kids and teens, and i know i am not the only kid in the family who was deeply influenced by the impressive duration of their relationship, the observable affection, and the palpable mutual adoration between the two of them. their connection was what you wanted to strive for in life. not everyone finds it, but they certainly did, and they provided such a wonderful example for us, of how we are meant to treat our significant others in this lifetime. their love for each other overflowed blessings onto each one of us.

aunt margie treated everyone like they mattered deeply to her; it’s just who she was. no matter how many score of cousins were running around, she made me feel like i was the complete center of her attention, for as long as i could stand to tell her about myself and my life. i have a vivid memory of sitting in lawn chairs on the dock, little cousins in life jackets swinging around dripping perch on the ends of fishing lines, and aunt margie focused intently on my high school highs and lows while the rest of the chaos orbited around us. i know this is how it was for each and every one of us kids. you were the focus of her undivided attention, and the act of her caring about the insignificant goings on in your child or teenage life left such a profound impact on me, on all of us. i will never forget the feel of her hands holding mine, the kindness of her eyes, the sound of her sweet voice praying over me and sharing wisdom, feeling filled to the brim after she poured her love into me.

celebrating her life should be the province of not only her family, but all the people who know anyone whose life she touched. while you may never have met her, the person you know who was loved by aunt margie is a better and kinder person for having been near her, and you are benefiting from it whether you know it or not.

the substantial number of her descendants notwithstanding, aunt margie had a far wider circle of influence in her community beyond her relatives. she spent many years volunteering as a pregnancy counselor, and i am sure there is no way to count how many young womens’ and childrens’ lives in which she made a tremendous positive difference, again because of her steadfast presence.

when we were wee little children, and aunt margie and uncle george would visit us on the farm, we received the extra special treat of having bedtime stories told by aunt margie. her bedtime stories always involved leprechauns. she had hungarian roots, but never mind that. her irish accent was impeccable and her stories were magical and always involved each of us children in some manner. patrick begorabegora and maureen mcgroodigoodie, no bigger than our thumbs, captivated our imaginations as they rode around behind our ears, and i remember some of those stories to this day. when i went to kindergarten, my mom sewed lace onto the pocket of my jumper so maureen would have a way to watch what was going on at school, by peeking out through the little eyelets. i will always cherish this one story in aunt margie’s handwriting, which i have saved since i was about 6 years old. while i do believe that her integrity rubbed off on all of us, i will also admit that i would unabashedly lie about having a sore throat so i could stay home and see them off the morning after a visit, if it was a school day. i would not willingly miss one minute of time with her.

 

i will always be able to picture them in the upstairs apartment at camp 815 on pork bay of saranac lake, and then when we got older, at benchmark over on fish creek. i will always remember aunt margie riding up front in uncle george’s boat, with their dog heidi or heidi too. the boat was quite literally labeled “pop’s boat”, and was the site of many of our very first lessons on driving a boat, under his supervision. the george buirkle school of combat camping was still taking recruits when i was a kid, and we were proud to enlist. we learned to canoe on long day trips to follensby clear pond or floodwood pond, with uncle george and aunt margie in the lead of a long train of family members, two or three to a canoe, weaving through the lily pads.

815

back at one cabin or another, we’d sit around a table playing games; 99 or uno or chicken foot, and aunt margie would always want to be dealt in. she taught us many of the games, in fact. she was so good at being there in the present moment. she always seemed to be available to painstakingly fry up any child’s proud catch of a 9-inch sunny or perch, and made the best brownies and chocolate chip cookies in all the land.

 

one of my cousins said in her remembrance of aunt margie, “she was the best person i’ve ever known.” this is how i feel, and it’s not an overstatement. nor does it feel like i’m insulting any of the other wonderful people in my life, say, for example, my wonderful mom, because i know that mom pretty much feels the same way. we are all profoundly sad, yet all of us have known for all of our lives that she had her affairs in order and was ready to meet her maker, more ready than anyone i’ve ever really known. we are also all drawing comfort from the idea of aunt margie reuniting with her love, uncle george, 22 years and 2 days after his passing. that number will stick with me, because for rich and i, the 22nd is our day.

 

 

their song was stardust, sung by hoagy carmichael. however, you can’t talk about songs and aunt margie and uncle george in the same breath without mentioning how great thou art. it was always uncle george’s favorite, and it makes sense, given how they lived every moment of their lives glorying in “awesome wonder [at] the world thy hands have made.” nature was their church, every bit as much as a building with four walls. i don’t know that they ever said this to me, it was simply what i observed, watching them marvel at the simple wonders in the natural world; a hummingbird at the feeder, a beaver dam, a great blue heron, sunset on saranac lake. it is one of the many things i fell in love with in rich, because he and i can sit around and do the same thing. he had me at, “i was up early to cut firewood and got to see a beautiful sunrise…”

“when through the woods and forest glades i wander

and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;

when i look down from lofty mountain grandeur

and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze

then sings my soul….”

i also think of them on evenings when i pour him a drink, or he pours one for me, because that was a ritual aunt margie and uncle george practiced as well, always serving each other with gladness and receiving from one another in gratitude. i feel they would love rich and welcome him as their great nephew-in-law. i hope i can be the wife of noble character to him that aunt margie was to uncle george.

from proverbs 31:

10 A wife of noble character who can find?

She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her

    and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm,

    all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax

and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships,

bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still night;

she provides food for her family

and portions for her female servants.

16 She considers a field and buys it;

out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;

her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,

and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff

and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor

    and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;

for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;

    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,

where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,

and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;

    she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom,

    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things,

    but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,

and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

as i’ve spent several sessions trying to articulate these reflections, i’ve also spontaneously burst into tears a number of times, which is why it has taken me quite a few days to get this written. i have to thank my cousins and their facebook posts for some of those spontaneous cries (and for some of these wonderful photos i have borrowed). my brothers and i have predicted out loud to each other that this would be a hard time in our lives, losing her. i’m wondering now if part of it has to do with losing my nana so young (i was only 4) and aunt margie taking on the role in our lives as the repository for all maternal grandmotherly energy. i know that as a 4 year old, i probably did not manage to work through it all at the time, and i suspect there is ungrieved nana grief that is still making its way up and out, as grief will do when the spigot is opened.

nana and aunt margie around 1942

nana as aunt margie’s maid of honor, 1942

i imagine the loss of both of them as a little bit inextricable, and when i cry, the tears are for our whole grandparent generation, of whom she was the last remaining to us. nana was aunt margie’s maid of honor when aunt margie and uncle george were married, and then nana and poppy got married on the the same day (september 14th) several years later. since my own memories of nana were few, aunt margie acted as a storehouse of memories of her. i always felt i was being given back pieces of her as little gifts throughout the years whenever they’d tell me how much i resemble anne, or tell stories about her.

as aunt margie laughs at the days to come and crosses over, her children, grandchildren, great and great great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and mere great nieces arise and call her blessed.

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dorkaversary

there’s a lot of life being lived right now, and not a lot of spare time to write about it, but i couldn’t let today go by without marking its significance. as of today, rich and i have spent 5 and a half years together… and in exactly one month, we will be married!

in a recent dream, i was trying to settle into a college dorm (with my actual college roommates) and all of us had classes at different times so i never saw any of them. when it was time for me to eat i went to the cafeteria and the options were burgers or pizza but they stopped serving just before i got to the counter because they had run out of both. the cafeteria guy was sitting right in front of me eating the very last slice. i went back to my room all mad and pretended to be asleep and rich walked in (completely out of context). i said, “who’s there?” and he said, “it’s the pizza lady!” holding a slice in his hand for me. which is a pretty accurate approximation of what he’d probably say in that kind of situation to convey 1) i solved it, and 2) i’m a goofball.

my honey in the honeysuckle

i’ve been doing a pretty terrible job of collecting moments that exemplify our happy life together in the past month or so, so oddball dreams are what we have to work with.

actually we have been going on so many dates, so i’ve had little time to write (wedding planning and overnight field trips factor in as well…) we go on a date at least once a day, but a lot of times it’s many more than one. often, one date can turn into multiple dates, because we might be heading out to dinner, but rich might take the scenic route, so the drive itself is a date, and then maybe stop and look in on a boat yard, which is its own special date, and then maybe we stop and rent a dvd on the way home… you see how dates can snowball. every day when he gets home from work we meet outside and he asks me if i’ll walk to the mailbox with him. i always say yes, because i love going on dates.

a very early morning date during which he made my coffee for me

it’s good we’re fitting them in now, because it’s only one month until i start wearing nightgowns, start making him only sandwiches for lunch, and stop going on dates. (just kidding! not doing any of those. also don’t expect any bouquet throwing, rice throwing, garter wearing, toasting, cake smooshing, or any other wedding tradition i reserve the right to omit! i am having fun embracing the tradition of not letting the groom see my dress, though, because let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater!)

embracing my ring; rejecting nail polish

it’s not all romance, of course. he’s my partner in everything, sprucing up the yard, taking out the garbage, figuring out the logistics, vacuuming the floors, and providing commentary for kitty behaviors. he’s even my partner in sniffling over songs sung in tribute to johnny and june, one of our relationship icons. but that was another date.

 

 carlene carter ~ lonesome valley

just as we were almost dried up from that one, jewel started singing over the rainbow… she got to the line, “there’s a rainbow highway to be found leading from your windowpane to a place behind the sun just a step beyond the rain.” going down the rainbow highway with this guy makes me very happy. don’t mind all the weeping, that’s just me being 39.

 

jewel ~ over the rainbow

after the concert date, we took some back roads home, and we took a bathroom break at a historic covered bridge where people have apparently gotten married, judging by the engraved bricks on the walkway. shortly thereafter, we had one more date at beazell memorial forest, which fred and dolores beazell founded (we read the sign telling about their love story). apparently people get married there, too!

we got home and took a walk to the mailbox.

and now it’s the 22nd, and for my birthday he bought me the 33rd edition of nike air pegasus (the same running shoes i started with in 7th grade), and today we are celebrating 5.5 years. it’s a glamorous celebration involving kitties on our laps and reheated leftovers, and i am feeling lucky and blessed.

i love you, pizza lady. i am thrilled to spend one more month as your fiance, and look forward to many more dorkaversaries together!

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~black and white wednesday~

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~rainbow mondays~ meets ~the adventures of flat bride~ flat bride’s rainbow

hello everyone! mb has been sucked into the vortex of wedding planning, and since it’s been so long since i’ve gotten a chance to post from the perspective of her pink-possessed inner child, i thought i’d handle today’s rainbow so i can share some of my favorite colors, and give mb the day off. she apologizes for the lengthy hiatus, and will endeavor to post again soon!

around the dragon house, we’ve been enjoying several shades of pink rhododendrons in full bloom. the delicate powder puff shade of the rhodie in the foreground contrasts nicely with the magenta blooms in the background.

it’s a beautiful time of year to lounge around in the grass, surrounded in flower petal snow. as a flat bride, it’s one of my favorite pastimes!

also in bloom, the roses which grow so beautifully in our bioregion. i am quite taken with this candy pink variety!

something about candy pink makes me want to mention baby pink. i think this is more of a baby bird pink, and sadly, these babies did not make it, and maybe that is one reason why pink is such an important color… it’s always present in those moments of life that are the most poignant: the births, deaths, and of course, my favorite, the joyous occasion of weddings!

mb was delighted to discover that in one of the pots she had tucked away during the lengthy moving process over the past two years, this beautiful multi-layered columbine survived. this grew from seeds saved from the same variety growing at dragon house 1.0, and we are thinking of calling it dusty rose fairy gown.

the above photos were taken earlier in the bloom process, and the next two were taken after several days, when the dusty rose color had become much more saturated. mb likes green flowers, so she is rather taken with their early look, while i, of course, love pink, the more saturated the better.

dusty rose fairy gown: show of hands?

peonies! mb did not grow these, but she spent her lunch money on them, because we sure do love peonies. this coral pink bloom was especially eye catching, but i do love the red violet old standard variety, like the ones that grew on the farm and mb’s mom placed in a vase by her bed on her high school graduation day.

this vase has held up nicely for several weeks, during the final stages of invitation crafting, and helped create the perfect atmosphere for such wedding preparations.

we mentioned roses… many of the roses pictured here were growing in a rose garden on the willamette university campus, but this one above is right here at dragon house 2.0. i call this one candy stripe pink.

cotton candy pink

sunrise pink

champagne pink

blush or bashful, do you think?

these bunny slipper pink fairy gowns were also growing on the campus, in a lovely botanical garden.

mb is putting some finishing touches and final seed plantings in her rainbow garden, like this fancy lace pink sweet william, and we can hope that means she will be around to write another blog post soon!

~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

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~rainbow mondays~ sunshine daydream

seeing the rainbow even when i’m not looking for it; found lego rainbow during a dragon game.

quickly becoming a new weekend ritual, i refreshed my rainbow dish washing inspiration yesterday.

red: tulip season! these red ones are still in their pot, but will be getting in the ground once they’ve finished blooming.

orange: daydream tulips

yellow: rogue yellow tulip in the orange batch, maybe i shall call it sunshine daydream?

yellow: a happy surprise meadowfoam growing from a random batch of old “butterfly/hummingbird mix” seed packets i dumped into a planter box.

green: glowing boy

green: snowball tree, whose flowers turn white as they get larger, but start out a pleasing shade of green!

green/blue: future dandelions

blue: future robins! at the home of camp boss. (p.s. happy mother’s day!!!)

blue: a dragonfly, also from the home of camp boss

blue/purple: forget me nots, and lilacs that went to work with me last week to brighten my desk in my blue jar… from camp boss. (echo, echo, echo…)

purple: more lilacs for this week, and the first columbine!

~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

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~two months in the life of a lifelong learner~ turrets and portcullises

minecraft fortress building was a frequent occupation these past two months. quinn has also been inspired to build games in scratch, making use of a book fair purchase to familiarize with how to use code within the scratch framework to generate a game.

 

birthday books; on the right, an excellent story called eagle boy that i found at our local book store.

contemplating fortress features (like hidden sky libraries) with kitty ball.

mission control; where the scratch games are made, as well as some of the minecraft work accomplished. the head lamp slays me.

we cleared off a small area of his desktop so his piper can fit there, alongside a story cd. (he was listening to harry potter and the deathly hallows). i asked him if he felt he had figured out how to work in scratch, how to use the various commands.

“the only one i don’t know what it does yet is pen.”

“have you ever just played around with the commands and figured out what they do?” i asked.

“yeah! i figured out how to make someone jump! you go “face in direction zero (which is up) and then say move 5 steps then wait 1 second, then face in direction 180 (which is down) and then move five steps. and you actually JUMP!

“…and i know how to make gravity.”

he made his “first game ever” called whale saver, in which you have to click the space bar quickly enough to get the mama whale across the screen to the baby whale. if you are too slow, the mama whale drifts towards the left, and you lose if she gets all the way to the left and her thought bubble reads “defeat”; if she makes it to the baby, her thought bubble reads, “victory!”

then he made it more difficult by adding a shark that the mama whale has to out swim in order to reach the baby whale before the shark does.

we have an ongoing discussion concerning cool math games, and before he played it one day, we talked about using it to research how parts of a game work together, with his new perspective of game making in scratch, i.e. how you make it look like a penguin is swimming even if he is in the middle of the screen, by making other objects move past the penguin. though in my opinion there is nothing cool and a negligible amount of math embedded in cool math games, a site which i resent the schools promoting because of its blatant ads targeting kids and its ability to require restarting my computer, i am trying to find the middle ground between adamant disapproval of (big air quotes) cool math games and finding some redeeming value since it is obviously something quinn enjoys. reverting back to my principles, i asked how can we use even this despicable platform as a tool for learning?

 

he came home pretty psyched about his tag program one afternoon, just absolutely buzzing with inspiration about automata. they are going to build automata. i played dumb and asked what’s an automaton? he regurgitated the definition, understood what it meant, and was able to discuss it critically, such as when i asked “ok, so what makes it different from a robot?” we ended up watching some of the you tube videos he had seen in class, finishing up with the TED talk of theo jansen, which quinn subsequently reenacted, listing each adaptation that was added to each new iteration of strandbeest. his capacity to memorize reminds me of my ten year old self, while my 39 year old self has trouble remembering where i parked.

raspberry storytelling.

becoming entrusted with more dangerous kitchen jobs; serrated knife use, birthday candle transportation, and (the incredibly risky) making of guacamole.

shown above, his finished essay on martin luther king, jr., plus a collection of notes and research on the subject. one worksheet (most of which was empty, classic quinn) contained a space to write one connection made during reading/research on mlk where quinn had written “martin and i both are as non-violent as possible.”

 

we’ve been getting outdoors between bouts of rain. when we trek to the bayou, we sometimes catch imaginary pokemon; other times we observe trilliums, trout lilies, the flora and fauna. he was compelled to do some irl minecraft brick laying. i was intrigued to realize that he understood to alternate the way the bricks are oriented so their seams are offset in each layer. play is never pointless.

his class took a field trip to cape perpetua. we hiked, wrote and drew in nature journals, did a visitor’s center scavenger hunt, and hiked some more. our final hiking destination was the giant spruce, under whose roots the whole class crawled. walking together alongside a stream, quinn and i brainstormed descriptive language; gushing slushing sploshing galoshing giggling clapping hooshing whooshing shhhhhh… were just a few i can recall, describing our impressions of the different character of various sections.

he fell asleep on my lap on the return bus trip to school.

the library hatched a batch of baby salmon, so we stopped and paid them a visit.

baseball! i am surely biased, but i believe that quinn has very good aim, and i adore his pitching style of raising his left arm as though to place his pitch where he wants it. he has been practicing archery since he was quite small, and i noticed that when he began learning to use throwing stars, he aimed well with them, too. we are looking forward to more throwing stars, nunchucks, eskrima sticks, and bo staff classes that are going to be happening soon at our dojo.

quinn worked diligently on a birthday present for the baseball buddy pictured above (aka panda)… his very own pokemon collection. quinn sorted through his own binder to find cards of which he had duplicates, to put together a pretty awesome starter collection. he put them in a binder for panda, colored the front and back covers (raichu and greninja, panda’s faves) and he was very excited about giving him his gift.

earth day! more (slightly unfinished) school artwork.

one day when i was volunteering, quinn’s class discussed and voted on several topics, items that had been submitted to the suggestion box. one was written by quinn about rotating between play porch, gym and classroom when brain break has to happen somewhere other than the playground due to rain. his suggestion was the one voted into effect, after careful consideration of pros and cons of each alternative. their discussions are amazing to behold. (“who can show proof of listening to jasmine, and add to what she said; do you agree or disagree… because…” were some of the prompts the kids are accustomed to receiving.) they also voted on saving spots in the classroom for work (this was sorted out in all its nuances of when it is and is not okay to save spots), as well as whether to do yoga both at the beginning and end of the day (they already do it at the beginning) and they did institute an end of the day yoga session by majority vote.

quinn was pretty elated when his suggestion about brain break won in a landslide.

we also got to do a yoga session while i was there. quinn asked if we could order a set of the yoga cards for home, “so i can teach you yoga.” so we ordered some! we have done quite a few sessions so far. as yoga has been an incredible source of self care, solace, exercise and healing in my own life, i am quite pleased to see quinn embracing this positive practice.

feeding ice cream for mama’s birthday to the family of camp boss. beautiful sunny day to play with friends!

easter egg dying and hunting, and a fun (belated) easter basket when he got back from his dad’s.

one recent wendesday morning wake up (after a late bedtime due to karate then dinner then bath) was not one of my better ones (nag nag nag), so for thursday morning i decided to do a better job. when i went in he was burrowed under his grammy quilt, head and all, and my usual “good morning boo-pa-loo” song turned into more of a david attenborough narration.

“here we see a rare undescribed burrowing creature in its natural habitat. this animal has a fuzzy head and is very quiet, just before emerging from its sleeping burrow. we are hoping to catch a rare glimpse of this new species, which we shall give the name boo-pa-loo boo-pa-lee-doo, as it rises to consume one of its favorite foods; biscuits. with any luck, the aroma of the biscuits will entice the creature out of its sleeping burrow at any moment.”

for some reason, that worked better. it was easy to then coax each appendage out of the sleeping burrow with further narration, sans nagging. (i say it again: play is never pointless!)

play can be a science experiment. quinn made some spinning tops from legos, and it was a great avenue to discuss experimental design. he was telling me that the one made from the big lego wheel and the taller stick spun for the longest duration because it was the biggest. i asked him if he thought it was the larger diameter of the wheel or the weight of it (which aspect of “bigger”) that helped, and whether he could design an experiment to determine which factor was most important. he hesitated, then told me “you just gave me an idea” and came back having tested the wheel on an even longer stick, having found out that with the same wheel, the longer stick helped the top spin longer (yet another aspect of size). then he was able to verbalize how one could test two different diameters of the same weight on the same length of stick, or two different weights of the same diameter on the same length of stick, to test the diamater vs weight concept.

“concept” is a word he is using quite frequently. his battle/dungeon/castle/mythology/pokemon story language is as lyrical as ever.

in the realm of d and d, he has me on a mission to defeat a dragon, who is guarding a treasure stolen by some orcs/goblins from the elf high council (my character is an elf and she is apparently a member of said council) and right now we are discussing an alternate plan, instead of killing the dragon, to get him on our side. i freed one of the original guards who wasn’t killed when the treasure was stolen but who was taken prisoner, so he informed me that the dragon has one scale missing over his heart and that’s his weakness and the way to kill him if i wanted to, but i suggested making the dragon a shield/artificial scale and offering it to him in trade for the treasure (agreeing to set him free in the process) but then it turned out one of the orcs has the missing scale (made of mithril) and is using it as a shield so before i face the dragon the new plan is to go kill the orc with the missing scale and bring it to the dragon to return it as a peace offering.

and the experience of actually playing d and d is a lot like an incredibly long run-on sentence, so i’m going to leave that exactly how it is.

 

there was more work to be done these past months on the theme of advocating for himself. quinn arrived at the conclusion after one frustrating karate session (frustrating because of a missed week of class, and because he had forgotten the techniques he had learned the previous week) that he was disappointed about not being brought to karate at least once during his dad’s weeks. we had a pretty good conversation about how he, quinn, has a lot more power to change that than i do, and how he would be wise to communicate his wishes to his dad.

karate has provided a plethora of opportunities for self-advocating and initiative practice. our sifu believes in letting the kids have space to learn how to initiate their own advancement through curriculum; this implicitly allows them space to flounder, until they realize they are in charge of their own destiny. i very much appreciate this, and have had numerous discussions with quinn about this dynamic; such as discussing how open mat classes allow an ideal time to “bug sifu” for a new technique, given the smaller class size and therefore increased availability on the instructor’s part. children deal with so much powerlessness, and i want to teach quinn how to use what power he does have, teach him that, “it is what you make of it” and the structure of self-paced learning at karate is helping him see how much control he can have over his learning.

both his classroom this year at school, and his dojo, are achieving some of the educational priorities i hold nearest and dearest, such as connection with his teachers and a sense of belonging.

though my favorite memory this month is not my shoulder injury, one bright spot in that particular evening at the dojo was the way quinn rushed to help me with carrying my bag, and holding doors for me.

one morning we parked at school several minutes early so quinn sat on my lap and snuggled while we finished a deathly hallows chapter. when i turned it off and took the keys out of the ignition, quinn tried to take them back, then got this twinkle in his eye and said, “i’ll roll you for your keys!” and i laughed so hard. our sifu uses that particular choice bit of slang (and other good ones… “you talkin’ mess?” for example… when he’s creating a scenario for using a given self defense technique). sifu had joked the previous night to quinn, about his new day-glow safety green karate hoodie, “i’ll roll you for that hoodie” but having q use it on me (and immediately start giggling uncontrollably) was hilarious.

and i will leave you with one final gem from the school spring concert, during which such rites of passage as 50 nifty united states, found a peanut, and the rattlin’ bog were sung. but this one really says it all!

 

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~ best of farmstand

being out at the farm and hearing discussions of market display strategies a week ago, i realized i have been planning on sorting through to find some of my “best of” market displays, and just haven’t gotten around to it in the 3 years i’ve been working for gathering together. while some display strategies value symmetry and delineation, i tend to accentuate color and abundance. this post starts with one of my favorites from near the beginning of the outdoor market season last year, the season of peas and berries and cherry tomatoes! i always try to be the rainbow whenever the produce in season and other market constraints allow…

the “triple” is one of my favorite racks to build a display on, because i love how you can create a waterfall of abundance cascading down its 3 surfaces. the early bunches of spring veggies are well suited to this.

but mid-summer veggies work on the triple as well. summer squash and green beans help fill out the display when bunches are fewer, and berries can hide on the bottom shelf and help pop out the zucchini varieties when we only have a few berries to sell.

i have put in a request for more blue vegetables, by the way. it’s usually the only color i’m missing!

the “wall” is a favorite display of mine in summer, less so in spring and fall when it is full of greens and nothing else. i love to eat greens, but displaying them is not my strong suit. i really like to paint with peppers, though, and last year we found that they worked well in the wall of boxes, when we had so much other produce (melons and tomatoes) taking up the more horizontal surfaces. last sunday we got to hear the story of the wooden boxes that our farmer obtained from an old russian farmer from whom he was buying some other equipment.

but peppers can sell themselves off of any surface, really. what’s not to love about all that color?

for a change, i decided one day to display the few remaining corn cobs of the season in less of a “pile” format, as it is usually done.

when it comes to winter squash, the rainbow has the required blue, but i’ve also put in requests for red and purple squash varieties (they may not exist, but it never hurts to ask!)

sometimes black and white add a great accent to the colorful peppers. late fall roots are starting to take over for the dwindling summer nightshades in this display.

when it turns into beige veggie season (winter), i try to still find a way to bring some color (cut a watermelon radish in half – bam!). we always have a great leek crop throughout the winter season, and i discovered that the leek fan is a great way to draw the eye, and the customer over to the beige roots section and strike up a conversation about soup.

sometimes it can be tricky to display greens in a pleasing manner, but every now and then i pull it off. i liked this raab/carrot/beet situation from an early spring market last year. i would have been docked points for my tablecloth being out of level, but i did attend to symmetry with the veggies…

late spring rhubarb from this season lent itself well to the leek fan format. it sells itself, truly, but the display work is such great therapy, a great lesson in impermanence, and a great excuse to play with color!

 

other posts you may enjoy:

~black and white wednesday~ looking up

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~ beginnings and endings and all the things in the middle

rainbow wedding research and development makes doing the dishes much more stimulating. this round of flowers includes pear blossoms, quince, that pink flower that grows everywhere which i just learned is a wild geranium called herb robert, a daffodil looking lovely today, a dandy dandelion, fern and lemon balm holding down the greens and making it smell lovely, forget me nots and pulmonaria trying to tell themselves apart, and some purple and white blue bells. (blue bells are like red onions… purple.)

tidepool rainbow gloriousness. on a beautiful friday with no school, quinn and i enjoyed a lovely tidepool excursion together.

i also had my first minecraft lesson. if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. and make a rainbow stained glass greenhouse.

pink: the liberty apples are blossoming.

pink: and our first rhodie has bloomed!

pink: wild bleeding hearts are taking over for the trilliums and trout lilies.

red violet: my cultivar bleeding hearts are blooming right in synch with their wild counterparts. something feels right with my world now that i have bleeding hearts and peonies growing.

red: crusty stuff on a shell, surrounded by other reds and pinks and purples.

red: my ride around the farm on sunday for market training. things also feel right in my world when i’m on a farm.

red: the farmstand restaurant is such a beautiful spot.

red: baby chard

red: more baby greens

orange: madrone driftwood

orange: nudibranch sightings!

orange: and this creepy thing… we thought it was a stringy piece of trash, but its “head” moved…

see? i have video of it moving… um… i’m stumped! i know not what creature is quite this long and safety orange colored and stringy.

orange and yellow: my daffodil variety pack had a few of these lovely orange-centered beauties!

yellow: a buoy we set down on the beach, intending to take it off with us, but it was picked up by another kiddo and taken off by her instead. i will have to tell quinn i did manage to document it while he was holding it.

yellow-green: fucus (seaweed) with mussels, sunshine, and waterfall.

green: this anemone seems to have extra ruffles.

green: so many beautiful anemones… this one was showing off its adornments and its entourage of snails so nicely.

green: and this one seems to have recently gobbled up a tiny crab.

green: landscape with boy

green: “it sounds like we’re walking on ice with lava under it.” -quinn

green: nudibranchs make us smile.

green: endings… the trout lilies have lost their pretty petals.

green: beginnings… alyssum with a rogue pea

and corn starts!

blue: a jellyfish plague was visited upon our coast.

blue: taken one at a time they are cool looking… slipping/wading through them by the thousands… a little overwhelming.

blue: chiton photo by quinn

purple: sea urchins in the sun!

purple: the inside of the crab’s carapace is so gorgeous!

purple: and did i mention endings? we’re all feeling about as soggy as this trillium these days…

brown: owl driftwood

brown: drift nut heart

black/gray: ice/lava substrate.

~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

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~rainbow mondays~ a crack in everything

being the rainbow around the dragon house… rotating flowers through the rainbow jars and dying/hiding/finding rainbow eggs in stolen weekday moments before my son left for his dad’s on good friday.

this is bart, being the rainbow kitty healer. he has a special sense to know which body part upon which to drape his 19 pounds and purr in order to perform his best healing magic. he hones in on a uterus with cramps or a knee with a twinge, he drapes himself across one’s neck if one has a sore throat, and across one’s face if one is congested. so this one time (thursday) when i dislocated my left shoulder, he could be found attending to things in his usual manner. p.s. is this shirt candy pink or baby pink, do you think?

red: another fire child celebrated a birthday, and since we’re growing old together, the universe figured we could practice more “in sickness and in health.” i’m pleased to report that rich still knows how to make nachos and washed all the heavy dishes for me over the weekend. he said i don’t need to hurt myself in order to get him to help in the kitchen. not being able to use one arm for a day made me appreciate allllll of the things i do while taking for granted my two capable hands. “sweetie, would you please open my underwear drawer?” i was back to french braiding yesterday, but for friday rich got to practice his ponytail skills.

red: on saturday i was back in action for farm work, i just didn’t throw any 80 pound totes of veggies around, and restricted myself instead to emptying them out into their displays, arranging rhubarb into bright red rainbows, without holding any of it up over my head.

orange: i’ve been reflecting lately on trying to be open to what is next for me in terms of career path. now, when i said open, i didn’t mean i wanted to be broken open. i meant in the sense of brainstorming and thinking outside the box. but, as the late l. cohen sang, “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” if nothing else, my injury was effective at enforcing that i work on my wedding invitations… i couldn’t exactly haul buckets or push the wheelbarrow around this weekend.

for fun i looked up shoulder injury in louise hay’s you can heal your life, which i’ve found to be startlingly accurate every time i’ve referred to its hippie dippy master list. it did not disappoint this time either: joint injuries represent changing directions in life and the ease with which we make those transitions.

orange: i guess cracking is how we get to the yummy part of the egg, too.

yellow: my legs were still working fine, so i took a few bayou walks with rich. we are in skunk season.

yellow: we are also still enjoying the trout lily patch immensely. in a rare moment of sun, i laid sideways on my good shoulder and took pictures of this spider’s fancy gypsy tent.

yellow: pollen!

and sun!

green: a few bayou walks with this lad were taken as well. trilliums were observed.

owls were impersonated.

trees were hugged.

green: rich and i went to a lady rizo concert last night. she is an expert weaver of metaphor during her performances. she sang the leonard cohen song i quoted above (title: anthem), and had me in tears with her recitation of the statue of liberty poem during the song’s bridge. as a new york city resident, she saw that lady liberty, mother of exiles, went dark the day the second executive order immigration ban went into effect. she wasn’t sure whether the credit was due to some crafty park rangers, or mere coincidence, but the metaphor couldn’t be denied. sometimes imprisoned lightning is more visible when it is suddenly absent. sometimes it’s the silences between the notes that sing the loudest. sometimes we can see the shaft of sunlight better when a trail of smoke goes across it, and like a light bulb to lemon juice, reveals a secret message we’ve been needing to read.

 

green: a wind storm blew a bunch of the flowers off the maple tree onto our driveway, and i find them to be quite captivating filling the green jar on my windowsill. maple is a family favorite (i’m thinking of all my pancakes and also of my great grandfather’s maple syrup/sugar business), and as i am a special fan of green flowers, these first green flowers of the spring are a new favorite.

blue: don’t forget!

purple: the garden will still be there when i get back. in the meantime, the hyacinths are holding down the bottom level of the terraces, and i’ve pulled all the ivy all the way to the cedar tree where cardboard is now laid down. i’ll be inside the house under a cat. contemplating the cracks in everything… they’re how the rainbows get 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

other posts you may enjoy: