riptide

a gentle indian summer exhales its smoky spiced cider breath easterly across this season of harvest. meanwhile, i experience the ebb of summer as a riptide so rapid that it threatens to pull me under. tumbled around and pummeled by a tempest of tasks, toppling piles of things, trips to take, transitions to tackle. a rather nontrivial transition in lab jobs upended my thought patterns for months, and then it was time to transition my tween into his new life as a middle schooler. somewhere in the middle of all that, oklahoma! forget self care september, i blinked at the end of august and it was october. i arrive on the threshold of this seasonal shift with additional vitamins in the arsenal, and a st. john’s wort tincture steeping on my counter. a friend posted something to the effect of, “if your own body doesn’t make enough neurotransmitters, store bought is fine.” i like that validation of appropriate use of pharmaceutical antidepressants, because there absolutely is a time and a place, and one wrestles unnecessarily with not wanting to depend on something outside of oneself. at this time and place, i conclude that a little help with inhibiting neurotransmitter reuptake is wise, and i’m going with nature-made, in hopes that some preventive care will help me achieve a better balance.

 

i know i am a step ahead of the game to be able to make this conscious choice. lately reflecting on aging and memory loss, the topic of neural connections has been salient for me; i recognize that if ever the clockwork of memory starts winding backwards, the neural grooves in which i dwell most now could be the ones i revisit. if i pay rapt attention to my family and delight in my daily routine, these are the patterns i reinforce in my neural firings; if i drag myself through a perceived grind with aversion and resentment the emotional backdrop of my days, these could be the negative default mode to which i someday succumb. (which reminds me to see also: surrender)

today i draw a line in the sand (figuratively but also literally, on the beach). i make a choice and state my intention to the universe to move forward placing my attention on healthy thought patterns to the best of my ability. i leave behind on the other side of the line, and release into the ocean, the tangle of thought patterns, resentments, fears, insecurities that hinder my wellbeing; something i have done before, and will need to do again. i let the ocean wash them away, and even the line, leaving behind a wide canvas of clean sand promising of renewal. the spiral begins again.

~rainbow mondays~ every little thing is gonna be ok

this will be less verbose than some, but it is time to reconnect via rainbow…

rainbow: portrait of the artist as a tidepool…

rainbow: dahlias and hydrangeas being the rainbow.

rainbow: anemone and seaweed being the rainbow, too!

rainbow: heck, even a double-trailered coca-cola truck on a highway in idaho is being the rainbow. or at least, reflecting the sunrise.

 

red: oklahoma hummingbird sipping on some texas hummingbird sage.

red: by the way, rich and i just got back from a road trip to oklahoma!

red: some of the 67 quarts of tomatoes i have already mentioned from summer days of yore.

 

orange: dahlia beginnings in an enchanted garden.

orange: an enchanted garden from which some transplants have been shared with my own garden, like these wonderfully prolific helenium.

 

orange: my own garden is becoming increasingly enchanted over time…

 

orange: more flora and fauna, they are ok.

yellow: from the hick-a-rew daisy crop.

yellow: dahlias just beginning…

yellow: dahlias in their full glory, keeping the bees busy.

yellow: this is a special hollyhock, grown from seeds sent to me years ago from my friend in durango, and what a delight to find out they are the most delicate pale yellow imaginable.

yellow: black eyed susans, another delightful surprise that took until year 2 after seed planting to flower.

green: the rainbow terrace garden still reads mostly green, even in the height of summer. something about oregon… don’t mind that husband person with some sort of tool in his hand lurking in the upper right hand corner.

green: home sweet bayou hammock.

green: summer ocean productivity in abundance.

green-blue: heron taking flight on a lovely tidepooling excursion.

blue: whales surfacing in the surf zone during same lovely outing.

blue: one thing that is very definitely ok about oklahoma, is that they have blue butterflies there.

blue: this one perched for me in the amazing “gathering place” in tulsa, a community wonder.

purple: speaking of communities, a large village of sea urchins.

purple: mostly purple, but one red.

purple: glad to see these glads.

purple: swallowtails meet on the butterfly bush. “hey, do you come here often?”

purple: purplicious, to be exact, but also leaning a little bit towards red violet.

red violet: flat bride has been wanting me to grow stargazer lilies since i was very young, and i am happy to say they came back healthy and thriving in their second summer in the rainbow garden.

 

~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

~two months in the life of a lifelong learner~ playing games, gaming plays

quinn and i went to the pool several times this month, and he made some progress on learning to swim. the pool was almost empty and we had an hour each time to work on swimming skills. he is motivated to practice and a huge milestone was putting his ears in the water without plugs, a major sensory challenge overcome. he did back floats (he did brief ones with me letting go) and lots of bobs, i had him do bobs without holding his nose a couple times, and some tea parties sitting on the bottom. we also worked on kicks and stuff. it’s a lot to coordinate physically, but he needs this skill; it’s fine if he never rides a bike but i require him to swim for safety reasons living on the coast. he has come a long way just being willing to trust what i’m asking him to do, as not just his mama, but someone whose first summer job after babysitting and farm work was teaching swim lessons. each time he got water up his nose (3 or 4 times) he wasn’t too phased, and i’d use variations on his sifu’s line, “did you die?” “nope.” “see you didn’t even die” etc. he was still smiling each time, and he felt good about it when we were leaving.

venn diagram pancakes, following a viewing of a vi hart venn diagram pizza pie-a-gram video in which “fish make sense!” in quinn’s pancake venn diagram, there is overlap between fresh strawberry topping and maple syrup.

math boy got dropped off at my work one friday, and he chose, of all the sprinkles and frosting donuts in the box of leftover donuts, the “infinity donut” with just glaze, nothing fancy, but mathy. he decided he really liked how cute artemia are, when i showed them to him under a microscope, and wants to establish his own sea monkey colony at home.

he made a batch of thumbprint cookies on his own, and put together a wooden lobster sculpture.

grammy and grampy brought quinn with them when they came to visit the farmer’s market (and i worked just the set-up portion). then quinn and i got dropped off by grampy at the start of the summerfest parade, in which we were marching for karate. he was ambivalent about being in the parade leading up to the day, but afterwards he ran up to me and asked, “can i do the parade again next year?” he got to hold the banner (alternating with another of the bigger boys) and swing his chucks around.

q and i took grammy and grampy to the beach to go tidepooling. we looked at crabs and sea stars, and grampy and quinn had fun racing each other. quinn looked like he was studying the mathematical patterns of the waves coming up the sand.

grampy, quinn and i played parcheesi. quinn did some work on how to win and lose gracefully during the visit, given ample opportunities to practice his gaming social graces with grampy available as such a willing adversary. battleship, uno, war, pokemon, bone wars (the game of paleontology), and risk. i believe he even got grammy to play a round of simpson’s clue with him!

quinn used the typewriter to craft a letter to each of his cousins to send back with grammy and grampy, and included a spirograph design in each one, incorporating the favorite colors of mario, luigi, and schroeder.

quinn read many pages of life of fred to grammy, she of long patience for children reading. life of fred is quinn’s self-inflicted curriculum for the summer, and he has read through three life of fred texts so far: fractions, decimals and percents, and pre-algebra 0 with physics. the next two, pre-algebra 1 with biology and pre-algebra 2 with economics, are on deck. he’s excited to keep going through algebra and advanced algebra after that, because then he gets to do geometry. wau! this kid.

quinn got to ride in the back seat between grammy and grampy for our farm visit. i walked them all around, because i have taken the tour myself enough times now… and the crew was all over frantically harvesting for the next days’ markets, but we got to say hi to several of the people i know. mostly we just enjoyed the growing things and abundance and the beautiful day. and the boysenberry glazed potato donuts from the farm bakery. grammy took a rest in the flower garden gazebo while dad looked at machinery, and quinn followed around the bees looking for “bee butts” sticking out of flowers, especially the huge cardoon flowers. i took pictures of hummingbirds and flowers, and soon it was time for our lunch reservation in the farm restaurant. that place is so beautiful. we could eat grilled cheese in there and it would feel like an amazing meal because it is so beautiful with koi pond/fountain among blooming flowers just outside the big windows with light pouring in. flowers strewn everywhere around the tables made from giant slabs of trees, and over in the corner, a hand built clay oven where you can watch them cooking your pizza…

lunch was yummy. we got sandwiches and salads and quinn got a pizza and also wanted to try half a reuben sandwich… it sounded good to him when grampy ordered one. he didn’t end up loving it, because i think he didn’t care for the sauerkraut, but boy was it worth the price of half a sandwich for the sweetness of him wanting to order what grampy was having. then we all got ice cream for dessert. quinn and rich got blueberry cinnamon in waffle cones (the server said it tasted just like blueberry pie and quinn looked at me like “excuse me, why have i not had blueberry pie???” and we made a plan to make a blueberry pie back at home.) and mom and dad got boysenberry (such a pretty red violet color and so yummy) and i got cardamom rose. a perfect treat. “what’s a cardamom?” quinn wanted to know.

quinn and grampy played music together a bit (grampy playing guitar and quinn using his frog to play percussion) including renditions of country roads.

the whole family came to extract me from farmer’s market, and we got extra peaches so i could make peach salsa for sunday and grammy could make a peach cobbler. quinn was invited to aragorn’s birthday in the afternoon, so he made a card (a cool spirograph, for which he needed me to text aragorn’s mom and ask his favorite color; red) we stopped at the store to buy some yu-gi-oh and magic cards for aragorn on the way, which quinn wrapped in the back seat, and we took him over. by the time we left, quinn was helping mix up bubble solution, and barely registered us leaving.

we picked up quinn at 10 am. he had a blast. he was carrying a cup full of mini snickers from the pinata, and was eating bacon and cinnamon rolls when we showed up.

a lot of sunday was getting ready for our anniversary potluck. quinn and grammy rolled out pie crust i had made earlier in the morning for blueberry pie. quinn did much of the labor, under grammy’s helpful supervision. we had originally planned to do a campfire, which meant the menu was to have been hot dogs and smores, but two days beforehand, a complete fire ban was in effect, so we decided not to do a campfire, and changed the menu to nachos (kind of a no-brainer. the default food of our household!) the family of camp boss was in attendance, so quinn was absorbed into a pile of bouncing children on the trampoline.

grammy and grampy got to go to karate one night during their visit. this was a class both quinn and i could participate in together, so they got to see us both on the mat. sifu talked to them both while we were practicing stuff, and they really like him. no surprise there!

quinn and i took them on a beach driving tour. we stopped at a few awesome overlooks and drove the little tiny scenic loop along the cliff beside the ocean. at two of the stops we were able to see whales spouting. then we went to the lighthouse because we figured out that we could use grampy’s national park pass to get into any federal protected land, such as the lighthouse. they had made good use of their pass in yellowstone and the tetons, and then also the grand canyon on their trip home. but we didn’t stay long at the lighthouse because it was very crowded and extremely windy and cold!

we then made the required stop at the grocery store (grammy and grampy love going to fred’s), got an oil change for their car, and then we stopped at the toledo farmer’s market.

family boating!!! after he went back to his dad’s he even got his dad to take him, for which i want to award some points to quinn, in advocating for his interests and extra-curricular activities!

grampy remembered a sloth song, and sang it, then we had a fun time teaching him how to “ok google,” and ask things like “who wrote the sloth song” or “what will the weather be in grand canyon on monday?”

more uno was played. a 3 way game with grampy quinn and i. then i took q to his dad at 3. when presented with the idea of staying until grammy and grampy left, quinn said he’d rather not be here when g and g left, and just stick with the routine.

we had a few dinners where grampy would kind of explain some facet of his ideas and research on the electoral college so that was really cool for quinn to absorb, in terms of the discipline and lifelong learning going on.

quinn was away for a week, during which he spent his days at theatre camp, and then back home to the dragon house for week two of it.

we tested out a spell quinn read about in his d and d player’s handbook called “prismatic spray” which has a different effect depending on which color the opponent is exposed to; you roll a d8 to find out…yep, a rainbow spell, which for some reason, he knew i’d love. red for fire, orange for, acid, yellow for lightning etc. prismatic wall is a similarly color-coordinated spell, and depending on your distance from your attackers and so on, you may strategically choose one spell over the other. another morning before theatre camp (he would actually wake up early to make sure we had time to spend together doing this), we ran simulations on prismatic wall as well, while sharing seaweed snacks.

i listened to his story dictation incorporating these new spells. his story was about a pack of orcs being slain by a mage using prismatic magical spells, culminating in a very exciting ending in which the head orc “erupted in a towering column of flame!” language arts.

 

i encouraged quinn to write down his amazing prismatic attack scene into a blog post on the blog we have been establishing for him. (he has it set to private right now, so no link yet, but i’m very excited about the design of his blog and the initial writing he ended up doing! it was brief, but he appears to have a whole novel taking shape in his mind in which the prismatic attack on orcs scene is just one chapter. the book seems to begin with a very dramatic opening!

another activity we squeezed in during this week was to play with anagrams at the breakfast table. words we anagrammed included, canteloupe, prismatic wall, peppercorns (scorn, copper, person), spirograph (pi, gosh, hippos!), pancakes (snack, pen cap, ack!), and clipper ship (peril, perish, relish, pipers!).

in spite of having read 3 (and counting) math textbooks this summer, i still wanted to honor his teacher’s request that he continue working in khan academy to complete the 6th grade curriculum therein. based on his learning style, however, we decided he did not need as much repetition as khan automatically supplies. instead, we made an analog version of the progress chart in khan and filled in stoplight colors for him to color in as he familiarized with each concept in the  curriculum (with green signifiying confidence that he understands the concept), rather than striving to achieve the virtual percentage points by repeating questions where he already grasped the concept.

gratuitous photos of playing with the family of camp boss whenever we could squeeze in some time!

theater camp flew right on by. on the final thursday, i went and saw his 2:00 performance and rich and i went together to the 6:00 performance. the theme this year was board games, and his group did the game of life. he was a blue peg! he had a distinctively stiff walk and monotone speech, and did a great job of staying in character.

a peg only has a few simple purposes in life. repopulation, occupation, education, and dedication… as a peg, quinn had to repeat these four purposes after his peg teacher. the plot involved action surrounding pegs obtaining living assignments,  job assignments, and the “start a family” task. they were told that, “compliance is key. your job as a peg is to adhere to the rules, and the giant fleshy creatures that often come down from above to sculpt and shape our malleable space-time.”

the female protagonist is told one morning, “you’ve landed on the marriage square. please report to the marriage office sometime today.”

she makes a decision to go ahead and accept her task, and approaches quinn’s character to marry her. he replies, “oh! i would like that very much! i hope we are lucky enough to land on the children square! i heard if you’re lucky they’ll send you triplets. right through the mail, three pink and blue little pegs. i once saw a peg with 50 peg children.”

as soon as she requests that he meet her at a certain time at the marriage office, he launches into the exact same “i hope we are lucky enough…” monologue once more.

some of the clever turns of phrase by the student writers (these plays are all written by camp participants and their counselors) remind me to have hope for the future. these young people are wide awake and paying attention!

that goes for the camp leaders, two dedicated people who were once campers and counselors themselves. their improvisational fill-in segments between each of the 5 kids’ group plays also made me smile at their wit. each time they’d pull a game box out of the drawer, there was discussion of the merits of the game and whether or not to play it. of risk one of them said, “it’s just trying to make imperialism look cool.” and of the pink and blue pegs of life, they both agreed such a color scheme was outdated, that game pieces should be gender non-specific.

it was fun to congratulate my young thespian with a bouquet of dahlias from the garden, and watch him interacting with his camp friends after the show.

q brought his life of fred book along as we drove out to the farm for tomatoes, then once it was too dark to read, fell asleep in the jump seat of the truck.

after his last day of theatre camp (a half day), he spent a few hours at work with me: “i’m going to make a painting app,” he decided, and worked on that in the khan academy javascript module. it’s only a matter of time before he is creating programs that are truly useful to humanity.

he spent the following two weeks at his dad’s house, mysteriously building “something that gets wet” in their back yard (stay tuned next month!). i went to the middle school on his behalf to get him registered for school, and looked forward to having one more week of summer to spend together before the school year begins!

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

(pronounced, “wow.”)

just one month this time. still make tea.

this month in executive functioning…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

[lunch at the picnic table at work:]

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

mama: you’re being embarrassing.

quinn: (giggling at me stealing his line)

~

later, discussing his method of eating fava beans…

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

mama: thank you for using words like myriad.

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

~

mama: do you remember growing fava beans?

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

mama: (shaking head in amazement)

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

~~~

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

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

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

me: what’s euler’s identity?

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

me: how do you spell euler?

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

me: because i was curious

q: everyone knows euler’s identity.

me: …

me: so how much is wau?

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

~~~~~~

all i can say is, wau.

heliotrope

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

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

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

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

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

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

“advice from a sunflower:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hummingbirds in flower garden.

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

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

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

~rainbow mondays~ sweet summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

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

we honor wind

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

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

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

 

it was a blustery day at the beach!

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

~~~the prayer from our wedding~~~

God in heaven above please protect the ones we love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

wedding week ~ one year ago today ~ part 2

~friday july 21, 2017 ~wedding eve!~

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

committee meeting in the straw bales

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

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

wedding week ~ one year ago today ~ part 1

one year ago this week…

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~wednesday, july 19, 2017~

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

~thursday, july 20, 2017~

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

~tuesday tunes~ in my life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“though i know i’ll never lose affection

for people and things that went before

i know i’ll often stop and think about them

in my life i love you more”

 

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

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