Friday, June 23, 2017

Rad Parenting

A couple of months ago, I had the great good fortune of chatting with Tomas Moniz, creator of Rad Dad the zine, co-editor of Rad Dad the book, and editor of Rad Families. We talked about zine-making, storytelling, family, and what it means to be a rad parent. Transcribing the interview later, I noticed a recurrence of certain words—community, collaborate, conversation—words that I think represent much of what we need to heal our cultural wounds. You can read my interview with Moniz here and then consider picking up his books and reading those, too.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blue Hair!

For a while Z has been asking me to dye his hair blue and I've been resisting, not because I have a problem with a blue-haired kid, but because the whole process seemed like it would be a huge pain in the a**. Finally, though, he convinced me, and last Saturday he went from this:

To this:

I forgot to take in-between shots of his head covered in bleach and his head covered in blue dye with a shower cap. What I really wish I'd captured was the post-bleached/pre-dyed hair, when he was back to his old white-blond toddler self. We went to a cookout that evening, and Z kept his hood on the whole time. Then I was gone all day Sunday and when I came home, I found that this had happened:

It turned out that a kid who prefers to blend into the background was a mite uncomfortable with a mop of blue hair, so he had C buzz it all off.

But he bravely went to school the next day and bravely took his hood off (because hoods aren't allowed at school).

And, of course, other kids said the usual, predictable, a-holey things kids say. In the meantime, Z got used to his blue head and now he kinda likes it. So do I.

Friday, June 16, 2017

New Duckies!

About a month ago, Z came inside after dinner and said, "Has anyone seen Fatsykins?" One of our white layer ducks had gone missing (he and E claim to be able to tell them apart). C and I helped him look high and low, roaming through the woods and down to the river and up the driveway, much farther than any of the ducks has ever traveled before, but we could see no sign of Fatsykins. Which was weird, because I had been home all day and hadn't heard any ruckus and the other ducks were as calm as can be, not acting as if they had all nearly avoided a hawk or fox. Z was pretty upset, and when C asked him if he wanted more ducks he said, "No, because they'll just get killed by something." This was our second duck loss in two years (which isn't bad, compared to our chicken fiasco). I didn't want more ducks, either, because they're messy and gross and a pain in the butt if we want to go away for a night or a weekend or a whole summer. But somehow C prevailed and three new little peepers made it to our house this week (did you know that baby ducks peep?).

They are, clockwise from left to right: Duck Norris (a giant Pekin), Daffodil (a buff Orpington), and Princess Layah (as in "Layer" with a Maine accent; there was some discussion about whether she should instead be Princess Layer, as in "Leia" with a Maine accent. There is a thing here about taking the R off the end of one word and putting it on the end of another. I, for example, am "Andree-er").

Now that they're here, peeping and making a mess and inconveniencing our weekends, even I have to admit they are pretty darn cute.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The World in Their Hands

Our kindling crackles and snaps as it begins to catch fire, and Zephyr and I settle back in low chairs to wait for coals to form. As my gaze drifts over water dotted with bobbing white eider ducks, a dark animal ripples along the rock that edges our bluff. It has the sinuous body and arched back of a weasel, but is as thick and long as my arm. When it reaches the beach side of our campsite, it pauses and turns its triangular head in our direction, fixing us in its deep brown stare. It is a mink, an animal that is supposed to be nocturnal, so seeing it here before us, in the morning mist, is a rare gift.
“Zephyr, look,” I whisper to my son who has been focused on poking the fire with a stick.
He turns his head, leaps up, and runs toward the rocks. The mink pours its body over the lip of stone and vanishes. My boy stands on the fin of rock, where the mink had sat a moment earlier, looking forlornly out over the edge of the world.

While there is immense satisfaction in having a piece of writing published online, with the instant-gratification of being able to share it right away with everyone, there is even greater satisfaction at holding the heft of a thick journal that has your name right there on the table of contents. And yesterday I enjoyed the experience of pulling one such journal out of my mailbox. The essay, "The World in their Hands," is one of those which took a long, circuitous journey to becoming what it was today, beginning as a short little two-pager in my zine and going through many iterations, submissions, rejections, revisions, before The Maine Review accepted and then published it. I'm quite excited and grateful and am looking forward to a little quiet time in which to read all of the other pieces in the issue.

P.S. Issue 3.2 is not up on the Maine Review's website at the time of this writing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wild Wednesday ~ Small Wonders

There is so much going on in the natural world this time of year it's hard to take it all in. Birds! Flowers! Frogs! Bugs! I don't even know where to begin. Here's a smattering of small phenomena I came across the other morning. I stepped out on the front step and saw the dismembered remains of a June bug. Who perched on my porch and snacked on this beetle? My extensive research (googling "what eats june bugs?") turned up a lot of critters that dine on the grubs, but no mention of beetle-eaters. Any ideas?

The bluets (Houstonia caerulea) are still flowering here and there on the lawn. These are one of the first wildflowers to come out in spring and it's nice to see them still going strong (reigns in that "summer's going by too fast" sensation a bit).

E left his flip-flops in the driveway after we got home from camping and this nursery web spider (Pisaurina mira) thought the bottom of one was a dandy place to sun itself.

I've seen a few dragonflies here and there (more every day), but I've been stuck in bird mode—not yet in odonata mode. Time to dig out the net and the field guides and refresh my id skills. A few very cooperative specimens stopped to pose for a picture. This one I think is a stream cruiser (Didymops transversa).

I'm thinking this one is a lancet clubtail (Gomphus exilis).

And this one I'm pretty sure is delta-spotted spiketail (Cordulegaster diastatops).

And finally, Z discovered a robin's nest tucked in the kiwi vine that grows over our deck rail. Mama robin wasn't home when I poked my camera in to snap a shot, and I hope she returned soon after. It will be fun to witness little robins grow up right outside our back door.

What small wonders have you been noticing lately?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Weekend Things ~ Camping With Grownups

Over the weekend, I joined some bird club friends for an overnight bird trip in north-ish Maine.

The weather was hot and windy, so not ideal for seeing a lot of birds, but we did have a few great sightings, including a few new-to-me species. But honestly, it would have been a great weekend even without those sightings—one completely free of responsibilities (for me). I didn't have to plan. I didn't have to cook. I barely had to pack. I didn't even have to drive. Before we left, E asked me where I was going and I said, "I'm going camping. With all grownups. Do you think I should ask them to say, 'Hey Mom,' every few minutes so I don't get lonely for you guys?" And he said, "Yeah. And have them ask you to do stuff for them." So I had everyone say, "Hey Mom, do you think you could give me a haircut tonight?" "Hey Mom, what's for dinner?" "Hey Mom, where's my [ipod, headphones, backpack, permission slip, etc., etc., etc.]?" Just kidding. No one asked me for anything at all and were all super nice and let me ride in their cars and sleep in their tents (despite my noisy sleeping mat and restless sleeping style). It was, in short, a respite, and long overdue.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Weekend Things ~ Hermit Island Camping

We made our annual Hermit Island pilgrimage for, I'm gonna say, the twelfth year in a row.

We had put it off from the usual weekend, for reasons of a certain 16-year-old having his birthday.

And we put it off from Memorial Weekend for reasons of the weather forecast looking cold and gloomy.

But we finally made it this past weekend, the latest in the season we've ever gone (not counting that first time, which was in September).

It might also have been the coldest weekend we've ever had, despite it being June.

But it only rained a very little bit Friday night while we ate dinner (after having kindly held off long enough to set up camp and cook).

In past years, we've brought along various configurations of friends and family.

But having barely gotten our acts together enough to get ourselves there, we didn't manage to bring anyone along.

So we had a quiet, low-key weekend.

I tried to spend most of the time reading, but with interruptions of "Hey, Mom…" every few seconds, ever sentence got read two or three times.

The boys rode their bikes to the store two or three times every day.

Having a source of junk food that close at their disposal was something of a novelty.

And they found a huge chunk of styrofoam on the beach,

which provided hours of entertainment, first as a physics experiment in balance and then as a surfboard.

And, once again, I thought about how this place that never changes, which we visit exactly once each year (usually during Birthday Season) provides a fitting measurement device for boys that change constantly.

A kind of living growth chart.

It was, as always, a fitting segue to summer, a pause and placeholder in the ever-revolving years.

And a good reminder to not let traditions fall by the wayside, just because we're tired or cold or it might rain.

P.S. You can access my new newsletter here. The sign-up field on my blog didn't seem to work—something about it conflicting with the blog subscription button—but if you go to my newsletter page and click on the June newsletter, there's a subscribe tab in the top corner. Hopefully that works! And if you think you were subscribed and didn't get a newsletter, check your "promotions" tab in gmail. Thanks and thank you for reading my words!
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