like a wagon wheel

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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