Monday, June 27, 2011

A Shift

Well, in the past month, much of our life focus has shifted from the daily tasks to the park down the street. It's a long story, many years in the making, actually, but more recently, the change was triggered partly by a book called Irresistible Revolution. It challenged me far beyond what felt comfortable and posed questions like these -- if you ask someone what a Christian believes, most people can dig up an answer, but if you ask someone how a Christina lives, there often is nothing to say; or the problem isn't that we don't help the poor but that we don't know the poor; or, there's a huge difference between "doing charity" and building relationships with people and loving them. (whew).

I finally asked God what to do, what would make sense at this stage of life. And in return I saw a picture of picnicking in the park with the kids and the people who live there.

So we picnicked. And picnicked again and learned names. And again. And again. And met other people who picnic, too, to know these neighbors. And learned more names and more stories. And with some other families began making and sharing dinner regularly. And now the park is one of my favorite places to go.

But most days, I also doubt. Most days I ask God if going there, hanging out with people, trying to show them dignity, and spending time really matters and is possibly enough. Because really, "enough" has lost meaning. A million things are broken. The problems are systemic and run deep. My heart is broken regularly. And lifted up, too.

And so I haven't spent time at the farmers' market or made a good summer pie yet. I haven't snapped many pictures of my favorite bright faces. These things will happen, I am sure, at some point -- a pie will come, some stunning summer salad I will want to eat for days, an afternoon snapping shots as they tumble. But for now, most of what's happening is far inside and very quiet; I am being probed and pushed every day and sit watching this something that is just begun.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Angels in disguise

On Saturday, the kids and I headed down to the beach where Ben was surfing. I'd been on the edge of teetering into mad impatience all day, and as we turned onto 34th, I realized parking would be a nightmare -- one of the first warm Saturdays with no June gloom.

I had planned badly -- we were arriving right at the end of Ben's surf session, so we had to rush to get there before he left. And moving in a hurry with kids, never goes well, especially on an edgy day. So I prayed for a parking spot, an easy one. I knew it wasn't important or urgent, and that it was kind of silly prayer, but I felt a little desperate and sure I'd bite the heads off my kids if we had to dawdle three blocks with all of our stuff.

Ben, I knew, had parked on 34th, and when I turned down 35th, there it was -- a perfect parking place, wide open, one car from the sand. YES.

But, as I tried to parallel myself into it, I couldn't quite do it. To cut the wheel hard enough to angle in would mean hitting the car parked on the other side of the tiny street (maybe illegally), and I did not have the patience to saw back and forth 4o times to wedge my way in. So I just sat there, next to the perfect parking place, defeated.

And then, a man appeared -- late 40's, flip flops, a little beach-slobby. Want some help? YES. He directed me for a minute -- you have a foot, 6 inches, 3 inches -- but must have read my energy, because within a minute he asked if I just wanted him to park it. Without even thinking, I flung my car door open and ushered him in. As soon as he closed the door behind him, I realized I'd just let a stranger into the driver's seat of my car with my two children in the back!! As he started to drive, I clamored in back next to Silas -- at least we'd be together.

It took five solid minutes for a mediocre parking job, but he got us in. And then, as quickly as he'd come, he was gone, and we were walking onto the sand.

One Good Thing About Computer Games

Silas called me into his room the other day to show me this, a block sculpture rigged with a rubber band sling shot and toy cars. It's angry birds, he said, and fired one of the cars into a tower of blocks.

Monday, June 13, 2011

wee fish

Rainbow Boy arrived in March, right around Silas's birthday. He was a gift from Auntie KJ who received a beta fish for her 5th birthday, too. I almost nixed the idea all together. In fact, I did nix it. But after setting my phone down and turning to Ben, I knew I had to reconsider. But really, the idea of keeping something else alive that could not talk or purr or smile, did not appeal. So enter Rainbow Boy, named by Silas.

It so happened that I, really, --ironically-- am the one who bonded with Rainbow Boy. Though Ben shook his head every time I said it, the fish was incredibly responsive. He'd come right to the glass when I talked to him. Follow my voice if I moved to the other side of the tank. He gobbled food (betas aren't supposed to eat much, or move much for that matter) and would swim to the surface and look right into my eyes.

I know -- it sounds ridiculous. But really, he did.

A few weeks ago, I changed his water and instead of using the drops to purify it, I used water I'd set out all night. Half an hour later, he floated perfectly still in his tank. I ran out to Ben feeling surprisingly sad but also a tinge of relief. But Rainbow Boy, we found, was still hanging on. Quickly, I changed the water again, this time with drops, Silas now at my elbow asking questions as I worked:
But what if he does die?
Well, then it was time for him to go.
We fed him too much.
No, we didn't -- we took good care of him.
No, you didn't use the drops.
(OH NO! please don't let him die right now -- there is blame involved!!!)

And Rainbow Boy pulled through. But I noticed he wasn't quite the same. The kids didn't notice, but he hardly moved and ate less each day.

This afternoon, we walked into the house, and Eden stopped at the bowl:
Rainbow Boy! You aren't that color!

And sure enough, he hadn't ever been. He lay at the bottom of the bowl mostly colorless. After I was sure, I we all gathered in the bathroom and Silas howled, which shocked me after his last reaction. He's now snuggled next to me, every few moments offering another theory or asking a question: Where do those pipes go?... Where is Rainbow boy?... I think we gave him too much food... I think the food we got him was the wrong kind. It must have had a chemical in it that made him die... Yes, that's what I think.

We've decided to save his plastic plant.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

more Eden

Three years ago, a black-haired beauty:

Kaia Joye and Eden Joye, June 4th babes:

Saturday, June 04, 2011


three today!