my mom has a lot of family photos hanging on the stairs in the house where i grew up. we painted that hallway sometime when i was old enough to use a hot glue gun to make these funny puffy fabric-wrapped frames for some of the photos. mom had wanted to have more photos hanging up so we just started framing snapshots, sports pictures, old black and whites of my great grandparents, and ended up with the stairway being wall-to-wall family. i think that must have stuck with me, because i just found myself doing the same thing in this house. first, i was looking for some wall real estate to hang a bunch of framed photos i have of quinn, and strangely, the man living here for the last 15 years hadn’t hung up a single thing on the stairs. (there’s also nary a curtain in the house. for now.) i had hung up a few of the photos of quinn the last time his kids visited, and they all responded that they thought it was cool and a great idea. that was my trial run, and since the response had been positive, i figured i’d go for it, and start framing some of the various photos of them that are tucked in drawers here and there… basketball and track team photos, theater photos, some family snapshots, and a whole set of school pictures for each of them, mostly still in their envelopes.

i got some cheap frames – my thoughts are, it doesn’t matter what kind of frame it is, the things we really want to look at are the photos, and i didn’t have time for puffy calico fabric and hot glue this time. frames are just vessels to keep photos protected, so the best thing to do is get the most frames you can for your buck. better to have 10 cheap frames than one really fancy one. if it wasn’t for wanting the photos protected behind glass, i would simply wallpaper with photos continuously. there is no need for lots of negative space on a stairway, in my opinion. just filling it all in with photos is ever so much more fun.

rich walked up the stairs sometime in the next few days and i heard, “oh, they’ll be so happy!” in a voice that told me he might maybe feel happy about it, too.

it makes the stairs more friendly for quinn, too. he is a big fan of rich’s kids, especially his daughter, whose school picture collage quinn helped me put together.  when we were finished he begged to have it hang in his room rather than on the stairs. quinn has recently been going through a phase of not wanting to go up or down the stairs by himself, and since his bedroom and many of his toys are up, and the living room and kitchen and for the most part, me, are down, this presents a problem for all of us. we haven’t been able to convince him yet that he can do this on his own, but i am hoping that the friendly family staircase will eventually be packed with enough photos that he will forget to be afraid of it anymore.

being five holds so many fears and times that could be called “i will not tolerate being powerless” and then of course, the growing pains. he is now fluent with the term, and will let me know, for example, that this particular owie is actually an owie, not a growing pain, because it’s a scratch. last week, quinn had a headache for several days, and by the tail end of it he declared, “i hate this growing pain in my head! it’s half…  it’s one part a butthead, one part stupid and one part dumb!” (he’s becoming hip to fractions. he realized midstream that if it was going to be divided in three parts, it couldn’t be halves!)

i think i know how he feels. this head/chest cold i’ve had for going on 6 weeks is most decidedly a butthead. i don’t think it’s a growing pain, though. i don’t know whether his headache was growth related either, but i thought it best to let him define it. i have always hated headaches the most. don’t get me wrong, puking makes me want my mommy just as much as the next person, but there is something about having pain in your head that just seems all wrong. as it was his first one, i realized how i like them even less in my child. if i thought i wanted my own headaches to just go away, it’s nothing compared to how i wanted to make his just go away!

i hope this winter storm will just go away in time for rich’s kids to make it here for thanksgiving. the way we do “winter storm” around here is we have not inches but feet of rain fall while wind that can knock over a bus on the bridge gusts up to 80 or 90 miles per hour at the beach. i felt a bit defensive when superstorm sandy was pummeling the east coast, because folks here who are used to routinely experiencing winds over 70 throughout the winter taunted, “there they call it a hurricane, here we call it a winter storm!” and with the warning of ground swell being 15 feet or so, i heard scoffs of, “we surf on that! talk to me when it’s really big.” having spent time at sea on both oceans, i can tell you that the two bodies of water could not be more different. but what is the same, is that you can get torn up on either one. it just happens differently and feels completely different. the quick choppy 15 footer of the atlantic can do as much damage as the long, slow, rolling 30 footer of the pacific. one of the things that got me the most about sandy was the first fatality of the whole thing, a woman named claudene, one of the deckhands of the hms bounty, which sank off the coast of cape hatteras. i was on boats just like bounty, participated in schooner races against bounty, probably drank a beer with some former crew members of the bounty, possibly even stepped aboard the ship at some point, and it was just a reminder of how easily that could have been me or any one of the crazy hooligans i sailed with.

my rib cage is aching from the past few weeks of coughing uncontrollably, and it came to mind that when i came to the realization that i needed to go ashore in 2001, i had aching ribs as well. i had spent several days with my clothes soaking wet, climbing in and out of the headrig of the schooner californian to secure (or loose) the jibs. because we were sailing north in the springtime, which is “the wrong way”, we were pounding into a head sea, and i kept being dunked fully underwater, holding onto the jibboom for dear life and trying to tie something around the soggy canvas in between dousings. a few times, the upward force of the ship conflicted with my desperate need to hang on, and my ribs took a beating as i leaned over the wooden spar. i remember getting back inboard after round four of this punishment and telling my friend dee that i signed up for the job in order to have stories to tell my grandkids, but that in order for that plan to work, i’d need to survive long enough to even have grandkids. it was the beginning of the end of my schooner bum career.

heheh. now i have grandkids! sort of. isn’t life funny. i get to see those pancakes very soon and stuff them full of food. well, the one who is old enough for food, that is. have a happy thanksgiving, everyone!

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