~thankful thursday~ caterpillar care



~30 days of gratitude~ day 12

After I posted, I wondered if speaking of placentas yesterday made anyone uncomfortable. I’m not apologizing, but I would like to say for myself that I’ve never honestly had any squeamishness about such things and sometimes forget other people do. I blame my Dad, who called me out to the barn to help deliver any calf that was stuck (or breach, or twins), and we were a good life-bringing, life-saving team. Placentas have always been a part of my surroundings, familiar and sacred.

Mom called today to tell me Dad is spending the night in the hospital tonight. Everything will be fine, but he passed out and his heart rate dropped a scary amount when they put in his IV for a routine procedure he was supposed to be having. I am feeling very grateful tonight for the quick response of the health care workers who were by his side, and those who rushed in until he was completely surrounded. By the time I talked to Mom, he had eaten dinner and napped and was ready to leave, but they convinced him to wait until after the EKG.

When I was driving today I swerved to avoid a rabbit on the highway, and I am grateful I did not hit it. I was coming home from feeding my fish, which is not that different, in my mind, than the work I grew up doing around the farm. I developed the right muscle groups for hauling buckets of water around, for sure, and caring for animals is in my veins. I am grateful my Dad made me do all those farm chores, so grateful that he is okay, and immensely grateful for the medical team who are making sure of that.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 13

Grateful. (In photos today.)



~30 days of gratitude~ day 14

I am grateful for my farm, and my farm crew. At the end of our veggie day, four women stood in a parking lot and decided that word of our farm stand’s new rainy day location had happily spread “faster than corona.” A remarkably steady trickle of our regular customers came and stocked up on soup ingredients. And they told two friends, and they told two friends… we figured people were ecstatic to have some good news to pass on, so they did. Gratitude is a wonderful ingredient to add to November cooking, and I came home with a good-sized bundle of it.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 15

I am grateful for a little time in person today, hiking with my kid. With the increasing COVID numbers, he stayed even farther away from me than our last few biweekly hikes, but he did agree to come. Our first pandemic hike back in June was the subject of the essay I wrote and ended up submitting for the writing workshop I am attending, in which I observed that, “Wandering in a wilderness area together all day is unlike our hour-long video calls in all ways, but most acutely in that I am positioned beside the waterfall of his imagination like I have not been in months. The story comes spilling forth of a pod of whimsical dragons hatched out of colorful eggs…”

Today the waterfall of imagination poured out a quest in which I was meant to establish a civilization in a landscape he vividly described, then challenged me to decide where and how to build shelter, how to best provision myself with food, how to build tools with the various materials available to be gathered. He came up with a name for these “Talking Games” when he was very small, and still likes to play them now that he is very big. In the game, I set out on a hunting mission like any good Oregon Trail generation kid would do, but the story took a left turn and instead, I ended up finding a rare white deer who healed the deer I had speared, licking its wound until it closed, and then became my companion when I fed it a magical root and vowed to never hunt its kin again.

On our biweekly hike, we are not going for any speed or distance records. Instead, he stops to look at each caterpillar crossing the path. When this occurs on the dirt road before we get to the trailhead, he helps them to the edge. He uses his walking stick to move them, waiting for them to climb onto it, and then moves them to safety.

Today I am grateful for the kids who care about caterpillars.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 16

I’m grateful for gratitude. It’s usually around this time in the month that I feel grateful for gratitude, I think (and I’m not fact-checking that because it’s bedtime). I really did not think it would be the same as other years, because it isn’t like the other years in any other way. I am filled with a multitude of emotions, and nothing at all is simple. But I am warm, (relatively) safe, content, loved. Having retreated into my home, I find it is a place within which I can expand, rather than a place of confinement. I think this snail from October might agree to be my mascot tonight, since I don’t have any photos of my rare white deer. I’m also grateful for the bunches of you nice people bothering to stop scrolling and connect for a moment.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 17

Today I am thankful for the refuge I find in nature. It can be as simple as the hummingbirds buzzing Rich’s head as he leaves for work, the apricot-lit reflection of a cloud in the water we walk down to every day, a pinecone colonized by tiny mushrooms, or a newt comically toppling off the side of a large spruce root we had just stood watching it laboriously climb. It’s the little things. It’s also the big things; the wind bathing us in fresh air after a year in which breathing has become much more sacred, the eagle dancing above the rainbow-glazed waterfall at the low-tide-without-storm-during-daylight I enjoyed solo the other day, a unicorn of a tide this time of year, with rainbow sprinkles on top.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 18

Elements are often a favorite theme Quinn explores in his Talking Games. He is inspired by games like Pokémon, Magic the Gathering, D&D, and many of the book series he has devoured throughout his childhood. He favors forest/tree/leaf/grass types himself, and we recognize as a family that I am of the water element, while Rich is of fire. I have always loved the phrase that someone is “in their element,” and I love to be around a person in that state, soaking up (see? Water) whatever I can learn from them. The person on my mind today is my father-in-law, whose element is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, Rock. He embodies this element in his steadfast, stable personality, his imperviousness to pain, his unwavering faith, his matter-of-factness when going about chores, and when he is in his element, he can be found tumbling, grinding, polishing, and sawing through rocks. Each of the few visits we have shared have been gems. On our last visit to Oklahoma, he gave me a lapidary lesson, and it was a highlight of our time together. Today I am grateful for Bob.


Postscript for those reading it on the blog…

Both Dads could use prayer. Dad Rew is home and healthy and repairing things, but is awaiting test results and answers so please keep him in your thoughts. Dad Hicks is in the hospital just days after Dad Rew, and we would appreciate all good thoughts/chants/prayers heading towards Oklahoma on his behalf.

~thankful thursday~ seed bank


~30 days of gratitude~ day 5

I have kept a gratitude journal for much of 2020. It helps me in November, and this year I needed help in all the other months. I was also looking ahead with some awareness that this November might not be my finest hour either, and thought of it as an investment, but it’s not really money in the bank I’m picturing. More like a seed bank, like I was putting away seeds from the flowers I grew this summer, knowing I would need to have the memory of past flowers and the hope of future flowers tucked in a safe place in order to get through the flowerless days. In July I recognized this, and was grateful for, “this garden of gratitude I am growing, one which will be able to be visited in November and harvested from when I may not have enough of what is in season.”

A few of the summer seeds I collected in my bank:


Hummingbird having a snack of crocosmia while the sprinkler was watering the terrace garden, and then resting on the flower stem to have a little shower before taking off again.


Pulled over on Otter Crest Loop overlook and took pictures of the beautiful blue ocean, trees, rocks, Queen Anne’s lace. Whales came by to say hello.


The smell of fifty pounds of beautiful peaches ripening in the kitchen.


Egrets wading in the bay as we drove the bay road home for date night pizza night. Their reflections in the blue, blue water (so nice and sunny) were just stunning.


Having enough energy to chop two ziplock bags of peppers for the freezer and can nine pints of fresh chopped heirloom tomatoes in rainbow colors, the urgent care variety I salvaged from the compost bin at market. One green zebra tomato (with one tiny squashed shoulder) the size of my head filled two pints with one more chopped piece leftover… one pink damsel that was about the same size (with one hole poked in it from another stem)! By tomorrow these would have been slumping with mold. Some beautiful vegetables are so vulnerable that it defies all pragmatism to try to bring them home, but I do it anyway, to honor the farming wrought, against all pragmatism, to bring them into being.


Walk on the beach- a fun egg case, a new nudibranch, and the whole place to myself since I arrived at dawn in the fog. Just what I needed.

Date night. Always.

11-5 today:

Speaking of date night, it is date night once again… modified for the times we inhabit, but we still observe this weekly tradition. I am grateful my love didn’t look at my tenderness, my propensity to fall to pieces, and decide I was too vulnerable, grateful that he defied all pragmatism and brought me home anyway. Grateful for the gratitude seed bank today.


~30 days of gratitude~ day 6

I am grateful for the tiny bird that visited my window this morning, when the sun came out (grateful for the sun). I did not think I would get any photos but this little guy really wanted to check out what was going on in our living room, and kept lurking long enough for camera retrieval, and even after Lisa kitty wandered over and settled herself down to watch the nature channel. (The bird did decide to depart when Bart panther-pounced up beside Lisa.)

I am no birder, but my Sibley guide said it might be a Ruby-crowned kinglet. They would like our spruce trees, and would be coming down out of the treetops this time of year to migrate, possibly. When I first saw this bird’s head, I thought it could have bashed its head on the window and been bleeding. No, it was a little more red violet than red, so maybe it had smashed one of my last few raspberries on his head (DIY raspberry beret?) and finally I got a good enough look to realize it was the actual color of the feathers. (Parsimony would have helped me here.)

I later discovered that the scientific name of this little bird is Regulus calendula, and, of course this magical creature would be named after a star and a flower. Not just any star… the first schooner bunk I slept in on my first semester at sea was also named Regulus. And not just any flower… calendula, one of the only things still blooming in my flower pots in November, a botanical healer, an edible salad topping, and of which quinn asked me as a toddler, “are you going to put calend-u-willa on that owie to feel it better?”

Basically, this little bird might as well have started singing to me, “you belong among the wildflowers, you belong on a boat out at sea, far away from your trouble and worry…”

So it was an easy choice today, though happy nacho day to those celebrating (we’re out of avocados, such bad form! We all know I will be grateful for nachos other days this month!)


~30 days of gratitude~ day 7

I am grateful that a woman can hold the office of the vice president of this country, and not just in theory anymore, but in reality.

What it’s like for me personally, is I’m just now realizing how much it matters to me. I have been thinking for a while, like since maybe a little over four years ago, of how it matters to little girls everywhere, watching, listening, absorbing, that women be trusted with positions of power, but it hit me tonight that, as Quinn pointed out to me one time, I was once a girl. Tonight, hearing our Vice President-elect say, “I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” was the moment I could no longer hold back tears. The other thing this election outcome is like, for me personally, is like the time when I was leaving an abusive relationship and I was having a panic attack that I had almost forgotten to get some of his tools out of the vehicle we had shared, and my guy friend who was helping me pack my U-haul told me, “MB, someday, someone is going to say nice things to you.”

I’m getting pretty used to the person I’m married to saying nice things to me all the time, I mean it’s pretty relentless, all the nice things he says, and does. Also, when I showed up wildly unprepared for cold rain and gusting wind at farmer’s market today (pretty sure I’m not the only one with some of my ducks not in a row this week), I was so grateful for his XL hooded sweatshirt (and the fishing community who keeps him supplied with F/V swag from all the boats he works so hard to build and repair every day) stowed in the back of the car, which nested nicely atop my size M sweatshirt and kept me warm for the whole day.

I am grateful to be able to look forward to having a president very soon who, when he speaks, will not trigger memories of years of emotional abuse. A nice aside is that the President-elect is the very guy who wrote the legislation that enabled me to get a restraining order when I needed one. America, get ready, because someday soon, someone is going to say nice things to you.


~30 days of gratitude~ day 8

I am grateful for the glorious weather today as my honey and I made our annual honey pilgrimage to obtain our four-gallon bucket of gold. I am grateful for the fully stocked chest freezer and pantry heading into the season of slow cookers and staying in. I am grateful for the way the god light was slanting through the conifers in the fog as we drove east, and for the colorful trees painting our journey into a rainbow road trip.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 9

Today when I was waiting an extra long time for my grocery order, I was grateful I had brought along my book. I am grateful for the ability to order groceries from home and pick them up outside the store, and for the energetic youth who cheerfully hoisted two cubic yards of potting soil into my trunk, saying he does the same to help his grandmother, who also likes to garden. I’m grateful the store gave me a discount I didn’t ask for, just because I had to wait; I basically got paid to read fifty delicious pages. I am so grateful, in case I haven’t said it yet this year, for good books. Sometimes, they take me right out of myself, and sometimes they pour me right back in. I have leaned on them hard this year for both of these essential services.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 10

There are days when writing a gratitude post is like plucking words from the air as easily as picking raspberries off the vines in the vase on my kitchen table. Even though I spent part of my day today studying word-crafting, tonight I am in percolating, not plucking mode.

I do have one gratitude I’ve been tucking away for a day when I was otherwise undecided. I have been having a much easier time waking up in the morning this November, having finally bought myself a full-spectrum light near the end of October. I’ve suspected myself to be a SAD puppy for a lot of years now, so I’m not sure why this took me so long. I’m grateful that when I mentioned it, my husband was also wondering why we didn’t already have one, and happily turned it on for me the first few mornings, during his usual wake-up (yes, I’m a grown-ass woman who has trouble waking up before dawn without help). The thing is, just a week or two in, I’m already awake enough to turn it on for myself, and more importantly, I don’t feel like rotten black death inside for the first hour of the day as my body rejects it’s-still-night-time like a mismatched organ. I don’t know what wizardry this is, but I know this little light is better than any supplement has ever done by me. We call it my sun ball.

When I was buying it Rich supportively said he thought it would help us both, though he felt he may not be as affected by shortening daylight as I am because, he said, “I generate light.” Boy does he ever. (He meant welding but I mean how he lights up my life.)



~30 days of gratitude~ day 11

Today I am grateful for and in awe of the connections… the unseen order of things… the cosmic consciousness. This may not make any sense to anyone else, and I’m okay with that. (I’m not taking this class for a grade!) I was told to “just obey it” yesterday when the wrong scene came to my mind during my writing workshop, and I spent ten minutes writing descriptive language about a scene I had no idea was connected to the piece I’m writing. Turns out it was so integrally connected, I spent the next twenty-four hours with wave after wave of profound revelations crashing over me. A significant breakthrough. In the earlier part of the class, when asked to explain why I was the most qualified person to write what I’m writing, I wrote why I’m the expert on mothering my son, including a sentence about the placenta that it still in a ziplock in the back of my freezer. Then today, as I was reading more of my book (my teacher is one of the authors), I came across a passage where she announced to her teen daughter that her placenta is still in the freezer. Shortly afterward, a rainbow came pouring across the page as the low and lazy November sun streamed in through the glass block window.

In other literary news, Rich and I discussed this morning what constitutes a nacho (singular). Grateful for November nacho nights, a pair of placentas, and rainbow connections.

~rainbow mondays~ regulus calendula


~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

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

~thankful thursday~ bedraggled we begin


~30 days of gratitude~ day 1

Squinting into the mid-afternoon sun while I stood six feet apart from a local friend and goddess in the parking lot of the Toledo post office not long ago, I received both a goddess blessing and some good advice. In getting through this year of hardship, she said she has tried to do her best to “put some light on it” each time the heartache, worry, and trauma pile up on her doorstep. I had just shared that my son has been living and isolating with his dad since March, and dumped a little more on her doorstep, and, true to her word, she put some light on me.

She didn’t tell me it would all be okay, or try to talk me out of feeling how I feel. She looked at me and said, “that must be hard.” It is hard. I’m not doing great, and I didn’t have to pretend I was. I could just stand there like a bedraggled flower and absorb some light, nothing required of me.

It is with some trepidation that I embark on my fifth annual November gratitude challenge, as not-great as I feel; the inner critic, she may need to be shoved in a closet for the season. Luckily, I’m now accustomed to feeling iffy and self-critical as November approaches, then wondering why I was ever uncertain by the end of the month. Each November, I relive the mystery of how a very small sparkly thought of mine can come back to me magnified a hundredfold, a many-mirrored lighthouse beam orienting my small craft to shore in the storm. The unprecedented storm we’re experiencing in 2020 may test the limits of this self-care practice, but it is also why I believe sharing light this year might be more vital than ever.

Today I am grateful for the people in my life who hold this kind of space, who experience the full range of human emotion, expect and accept it of others, help normalize it in the world. Thank you for shining your light.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 2

On Halloween, Rich handed me the newspaper so I could read Bobbie’s beat, in which she had shared the day brightener where adults asked little kids to define love, and Rebecca, age 8, says, “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.”

There were seventeen other ones, but I was overcome with cat hair and had trouble reading the rest because my eyes were watering.

After I regained composure, I told him I would probably begin painting my toenails at exactly the age I was no longer able to do so, and we both laughed.

Then we went outside (me, bundled up) to stand near the wedding trees at the head of the trail and observe the full Halloween moon come up over the tree-lined ridge across the slough, and then walked down our trail a little ways, dunking the moon back down into the treeline, and watching it unskewer itself from the trees one more time. As I leaned on him, he had his arms wrapped around me and we heard an owl calling.

Today and every day I am grateful for my husband. This year I have especially felt grateful for the little patch of nature we get to steward; the solace it has provided to be able to just walk outside our door and visit the trees, the birds, the growing things, the sun, moon, and stars, has never felt so profound as it has this year.

After we got back from our moon date, Rich told me he would paint my toenails for me, when the time comes. And that is love.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 3

I’ve been tagged in gratitude posts by no fewer than five of my friends, who are also participating in the gratitude challenge. I am grateful for this safety in numbers, giving me courage.

Once upon a time I changed someone’s mind about something. It’s really so rare, isn’t it? I remember the times my own mind changed about things, and it wasn’t because of a carefully crafted argument or because someone bludgeoned me enough times with their opinion. It was because someone who happened to have a different opinion had built a rapport with me around areas of common ground, and I had time to think about why their opinion differed and weigh it against my own values.

Joel is a customer at the farm stand every Saturday. I don’t think he has missed a single pandemic market, he is there with his face shield, his list, his basket, and he has strived to be among the first customers in line each week. If I had to oversimplify I would say Joel is conservative, Mormon, loves Thomas Jefferson, and preferentially chooses my checkout line. I have the date ready to tell him so he can write it on his check (still writes checks), and we chat while he balances his checkbook right there on the spot. He asks about my son, who he can tell is “very smart” from the stories I’ve told him, and Joel likes that in a kid. I tell him to say hi to his wife Claire for me. I get the feeling Joel does the COVID shopping so she can stay safely at home, and I think that’s sweet.

Joel’s list usually includes the same items: chard, broccoli, carrots (two bunches), green beans, a green bell pepper; melons when they’re in season, delicata squash when it’s their turn. Nothing too crazy, no watermelon radishes or radicchio. He doesn’t branch out, if we don’t have it, he doesn’t substitute. If green beans are out of season, he skips them. Someone on the crew who hasn’t known Joel as long was delivering the bad news that we didn’t have green bell peppers that day, but offered that we did have yellow bell peppers. I knew this was normally a no-go but I wondered if he might hear the suggestion if it was coming from me, and I figured, what the heck. “Joel, try a yellow bell pepper! I bet you’ll like it!”

Joel took a yellow bell pepper home that day. I am grateful for this. He may not have liked the yellow bell pepper, but I hope he did. When you think about it, opting for a yellow bell pepper is maybe not the most radical change of heart. Yellow bell peppers all start out as green bell peppers after all. But maybe we humans also have more things in common than we have that divide us.


~30 days of gratitude~ day 4

I am grateful my husband is looking forward to me posting, which is helping me go ahead and do it.

It’s still raining today and when I saw rain in the forecast the other day I cut myself what flowers I could find. Recently I read about using raspberry foliage in arrangements so I cut the not-yet-ripe ones that would just mold in this weather and it’s a (sing it with me and Prince) raspberry bouquet.

I don’t know much right now. But I know I want every vote counted. And I was grateful to have some ripening raspberries to stare at today when I didn’t know what else to do.

~black and white wednesday~ strand

burning on the inside

Skeins of geese are weaving wavy v’s across the sky as I unravel below.

There is nothing “unprecedented” about me unraveling in the fall. In fact, it is so predictable I have had trouble putting words into posts because the inner critic keeps telling me, “nobody wants to hear that again.” I have sparred many rounds against the inner critic this year, pummeled into weeks of silence until I finally place a good kick, then I unleash a flurry of posts as I race to get current with my own process while she’s briefly subdued. I catch my breath but then the critic comes back swinging.

There is no end in sight of my son’s self-imposed isolation. His regard and concern for others I will defend with the teeth and claws of a mother bear’s fierce pride, but that does not assuage my grief at this ongoing separation, and all the uncertainties of its duration. Just before school started, Quinn suggested that he and I go backpacking together and spend the night in the woods – separate tents, each carrying our own food and gear, still with masks and no hugging. It has been a long time since I went backpacking, but I got myself geared up, excited to embark on this new shared activity with my son. I sewed a lightweight tent out of fabric I scavenged from broken-zipper tents discarded after a festival years ago, treated myself to a cheap new pack and inflatable sleeping mat. Then the forests caught fire and by the time the smoke cleared, school had started, and backpacking was backburnered.

The rain has returned, and the soggy soil makes it hard to imagine anything was ever on fire, that our whole state was burning, that some places still are. Talking about the mop-up stage of wildfires, Rich explained, “they have to check all the root systems… some of those old trees, like our spruce tree? They could be burning on the inside and you wouldn’t even know. They can look completely fine on the outside…” There are times when I feel like that. When asked, “how are you?” I sometimes say, “fine,” when it isn’t the truest answer. The inner critic burns from the inside, “nobody wants to hear how you really are. Just be polite and tell them what they want to hear.” Of course, there are a few fellow earthlings who take care to check the root system, and I’m grateful.

There have been mercies this year, and because they’ve emerged amid wrecked fields of disappointments and loss, they shine like singular, luminous wildflowers. The nests of baby birds that made it were rivaled by the nests full of baby birds that did not. The longed-for visits with loved ones were stressful or canceled. The rainbow webs have begun illuminating my garden again, but I watched the other day as a dragonfly met its demise in one of them. The sound caught my attention first – sizzling like a pot of water boiling over on the stove. I couldn’t tear my eyes away as it struggled, but the silk thread held strong, and after a long battle, the dragon was defeated.

On the other hand, I have my husband who climbs up on the roof to clean the chimney and gutters, who lights fires in the woodstove for the kitties and I to worship, who brings me popcorn in my Wonder Woman bucket on Sunday night, who waged an ivy-removal campaign on our bayou trail this summer that has made our trail walks even more magical than before. We still have each other, we still have our jobs, we still have our home, we still have our health… we still have so many reasons to be grateful.

During 2020 I have maintained a solid gratitude practice for more of the year than not (unprecedented!), a survival skill in a year such as this. Just when the geese are about to make off with the unraveling thread of my being, gratitude will help me grab hold of it, tie a knot, hang on for dear life.

~rainbow mondays~ suddenness


by Mary Oliver

Rain, and then
the cool pursed
lips of the wind
draw them
out of the ground –
red and yellow skulls
pummeling upward
through leaves,
through grasses,
through sand; astonishing
in their suddenness,
their quietude,
their wetness, they appear
on fall mornings, some
balancing in the earth
on one hoof
packed with poison,
others billowing
chunkily, and delicious –
those who know
walk out to gather, choosing
the benign from flocks
of glitterers, sorcerers,
panther caps,
shark-white death angels
in their town veils
looking innocent as sugar
but full of paralysis:
to eat
is to stagger down
fast as mushrooms themselves
when they are done being perfect
and overnight
slide back under the shining
fields of rain.

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

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

~a month in the life of a lifelong learner~ character building

~5-23 to 6-23~

I feel like posting this one in journal format, the way I actually typed it into my word document… Each day in the life of a month in the life of a lifelong learner, day by day.


Quinn mowed their driveway and then said he spent “a long time” outside, picking dandelion greens for his guinea pigs. He said Squeaky will eat anything green, but Ms. B is a little more picky and her absolute favorite is dandelion greens. (Now that I am documenting this, after Ms. B’s passing, it stands out to me how particular his observations are of his guinea pigs’ eating habits and how attentive he is in tending to them.)


Quinn said he did not do any more mowing, but he did build a fire last night in the wood stove! He is also very into the electronics projects they have been doing, and is learning how to solder and connect up lots of detailed circuit board/resistors/connections. We are reading about Sam and Frodo traveling into Mordor, but then turning and passing through Ithilien with Gollum to go “the other way”.

Wednesday 5-27

Q seems rejuvenated somehow, rallying to end the school year strong, and showed up in a button down to our video call and stated a goal of getting all schoolwork done by the end of tomorrow. He is redoing where he needs to show work, etc.

He told me about how his factoring polynomials project (one he was procrastinating) “turned out to be my favorite assignment.” When I asked him to explain it to me (after having heard from his teacher about needing to redo and “show his work”), he said, out loud, without hesitation:

“To convert from x2 + bx + c to a(x+b)(x+c) find two numbers p and q where p+q=b and p times q equals c and those are going to be the b and c of your x2 + bx + c and p and q will be b and c in the a(x+b)(x+c)”

He just rattled that off verbally, that quote you just skimmed over because blah blah math blah, which leads me to believe he is able to grasp the concept and articulate it, whether he has showed his work or not.

But we did revisit the topic of showing one’s work, with the reasoning that the 99% of people who do not just see/know the answer, may appreciate him having the ability to walk them through/teach them the steps they should take (even if you don’t take them, Quinn!) Also, as he gets into more advanced math, he may at some point reach a threshold where he does actually need to put some of the math on paper to keep track, or be able to trade proofs among scholars.

Friday 5-29

Quinn is getting all caught up on school! He did two math assignments today. So proud of how hard he rallied. So grateful he will soon be done. But wow. DONE with seventh grade! He has been sending me photos of the electronics project. I have been hearing words such as “potentiometers, LED, PCB, circuit board, jacks, capacitors, resistors, transistors, diodes, switches….” during our chats.


On hangout with Quinn we began to read The Return of the King today. Our page numbers no longer match (his book 3 is from a different paperback edition) so we tried to do algebra to it, specifically to our page numbers to calculate the other’s page number based on whoever reads, where the reader left off, and where the listener should pick up next time.


We went to the Black Lives Matter protest and stood and marched.

painting by Hayden Sargent who some of my readers will know!

I am reminded of fourth grade Quinn with his peaceful protesting… just after Mrs. Schroeder assigned the MLK essay, and he would peacefully bring his drawing stuff even when I felt he should leave it home.

Lots of people turned out – marine science people, farmer’s market people, goldberry and family (she and Q waved at each other from a safe social distance) and so many young people. There was car honking and it felt good to be there…  I think he was glad to be there. His sign. His awesome sign.


Quinn had to do one more elective credit, and after talking it through with me he realized a really easy one would be the short presentation of “a new skill you’ve learned during quarantine” and he even had pictures of his electronics project ready to put into a presentation for it.


We watched a quetzalcoatlus you tube video Quinn found. Yay for paleontology!


Camp robber (gray jay named “Brad”) landed on Quinn’s hand!


Q set up a google meet to play D&D with Goldberry and Aragorn. Tonight at 5pm! Yesterday in our hangout he answered my question of what plans he had for the rest of Monday with “look forward to tomorrow!”

As we were planning our upcoming hike, I sent him photos of his last trip down to Drift Creek; snowman pants and river rock snowmen!


Hearing about how his D&D session went with friends. The electricity went out on him right in the middle! But it wasn’t out for long, and when he got back into the meet, the other two were there, and filled him in thoroughly on what had happened while he had been gone. There was a nearby town that a bunch of orcs had been attacking and there was “like a whole encampment of them,” so Goldberry’s character “went in and singlehandedly dealt with that, and then I came back in right as the boss orc came out. I was still level one because I missed all the experience points from that, so that only worked semi-well for me. So we defeated that orc, and then we went to the nearby town and hung out for a while, and apparently the blacksmith has a quest for us… that’s next time. Oh and I’m level two… and I also got my arm lopped off by the orc, but it’s growing back.”

“So when you say next time do you already have an idea when it will be?”



Drift creek hike!

We had one conversation during our hike where Quinn shared some of his early memories. So much fun to hear what he remembers!

Draconis story details…

Our first egg, found in a rose bush, was glowing turquoise-green and looked like a seed, and we placed it in a nest of moss and hatched a Photosynthesim draconis we named Douglas Fircone. Doug for short. His power was absorbing sunlight and transmitting (through breathing green gas onto things) plant nutrition.

After we got to the river’s edge and started seeing crayfish, we found our next egg, a blue one that seemed like a fish egg, in a water erosion hole. This was an Aquarius draconis egg and it nested in river silt until hatching. We named this dragon Crayfish Ripple (Cray for short.)

Next, we found a bright red Volcanis draconis egg in a sinkhole, but the egg, which looked like it was made of obsidian, was not sinking. In a nest of oasis mud, we hatched Lavaspark Flameflow (nickname Lava).

Finally, we explosively hatched a never encountered dragon that could only be seen as a shadow or sometimes a bend in the light… We named the new species Lumenergescens draconis, and its name was Shimmer Shade.

Binary hand counting on the trail.


Reading Return of the King, he stopped me mid-paragraph to do the math on “a month of Mondays” and we realized a month of weeks is the same as a week of months, or 210 days, given that there are 30 days per month in the Shire calendar.

We stayed on our call for an extra half hour. I was a bit tearful, discussing how it’s the first day after a nice long day with him, and not knowing when it will happen again, it feels long. And I miss him.

But we also talked about how this time is shaping us and changing us, but that doesn’t have to be bad, in fact in our case, having to think about heavy things and having to make difficult choices is character building (Quinn laughed and referenced Calvin and Hobbes; “character building is painful”).

Which reminded me that I should add some Calvin to his next care package, as it is such comfort reading for him. I think we have two copies of one of the books anyway…

We ended our call on that note; holding onto the thought of using the energy of this time to become better humans. More strength, more empathy.


On Thursday I sent a 2-bag care package home with quinn including lots of food (white chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, chocolate covered acai snacks aka “deer poops”, popcorn made by his stepdad aka best popcorn ever, seaweed snacks, almonds, pasta, goldfish), a hexaflexagon I decorated for him with fractals and mathy art, some books (calvin, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and Stamped by Ibram X. Kendi, as well as his D and D player’s handbook and a book of Oregon Fossils, and with my version of “Sam’s gardening box” that has so enamored him as we have read about it, and his set of rubik’s cubes and instruction book for solving. He got the 4 by 4 solved today for the first time and also found instructions in the book he hadn’t seen before about how to solve the orientation of the emblem, which had caused him much consternation with his 3 by 3 cube.


Sam’s gardening box is unleashed and brings renewal and abundance to the Shire during our reading and Quinn is content with this outcome.


The gardening box has been planted in a pot!

We realized Q is 13.333 repeating today when we signed off an evening call (we had not been able to do a noon call because his electricity was being worked on, but it was back on and he CALLED me on the phone and we had a bonus half hour to read and have some time together.

~rainbow mondays~ soak



~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

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

tidepool immersion ~ disco doris

I have been thinking about posting some longer photo-heavy posts of some of my personal nature walks to share so that others can vicariously go along for the hike. These photos are from a tidepool walk on one of the last morning negative low tides of the season (y’all remember how I made my own college course on how the tides work back in January, right?) and I was having trouble choosing which photos would go into a rainbow monday post… so I decided to make them their very own post… virtual nature walk #1 tidepool immersion!

new nudi! ring-spotted doris whose scientific name Discodoris, beats the common name hands down. Disco Doris!

I am not sure what species this egg case belongs to… I’m thinking some kind of mollusk/snail?