Saturday, June 27, 2015

Camp Thor IV: The Shadow Weeked

Thursday afternoon I dropped Silas off with my brother Max (Ben would meet them there) so they could drive to North Carolina for Camp Thor IV with three other fathers and sons.  As I was leaving, I heard Max tell Silas to put on his pants so they could go tend to the bees, and fifteen minutes later, I got a call saying there had been a little accident.  My first thought was Silas swarmed with bees, but no, he'd sliced his finger with his pocket knife.  Is it bad?  Well, you should probably come.  And I knew Max telling me that, meant I should pull a u-turn right there on the highway.

I walked in to find a slumped, red-cheeked boy with a frown to his knees sitting at the table, finger wrapped in gauze and duct taped held above his head.  We drove to a surgeon's office, and I sat holding Silas's cheeks, holding hand-blinders up to his eyes, and whispering to him while the doctor put several numbing shots into his finger, scrubbed it (was the knife clean, by chance? ... I mean, it was backyard stick clean; he was whittling with it yesterday), and put four stitches into the skin of his knuckle.  Just as she was finishing, I felt a wave of nausea, a little lightheaded, and in less than a minute, I'd turned green, eyes rolling, and passed out cold.  Apparently they yanked Silas off the table and hoisted me up, where I lay for longer than the whole procedure had taken, waiting to be able to sit up. Unprecedented.

Friday was easy.

Today is Saturday and while the boys are away, we girls (cousins and aunts) are making yarn wall hangings, banana bread, and having a sleepover while the rain drives against the house.  At least that is what we were peacefully doing until Eden walked in from the deck with wide-eyes: I think one of the chickens is dead.  No, it's probably just sleeping in the grass -- they do sit in the grass.  But her eyes were big and she shook her head.  We all walked outside.  It turned out not one chicken was dead, but three, sprawled on the grass and partially deafeathered.  Somehow, a fox had dug under the fencing and attacked mid-day during the rain and left the bodies.  The fourth and last chicken pecked happily around the yard, apparently oblivious to the massacre that had just happened.

We stood in the kitchen wondering what to do -- scoop up the chickens' bodies that looked plastered to the ground with trash bags and throw them out?  As Sara went out to survey the scene, I picked up the drumsticks and chicken thighs for the hot grill.  Ella, 10, at my elbow, groaned, I'm not eating THAT!!  Riiiiiiiiight. 

But I had to grill the chicken anyway or it would go bad.  As I squeezed out the door, Toulouse, the dog, shot out past my leg rampant with urgency, and within a minute, the fourth chicken was cornered and attacked.  The house spun into chaos -- I was screaming after the dog and to the heavens, Ella and Eden hysterical laughing-screaming in the kitchen, Sara down NEXT to the chicken coop shrieking at the scene, and the two little girls still in the house watching Daniel Tiger arguing with each other like cartoon babies: yes!  no! YES!  NO! YES!!!  NO!!!  YESSSSS!  NOOOOOOO!

Sara has since gathered the dead chickens, and the wounded one is still making broken warbles from under the deck -- we don't know what to do with her but shoot her, so she's still there.

The chicken legs are cooked and plated on the table where no one will touch them.  Sara is showering off the trauma.  The big girls and I are settled on the couch processing, and the little girls continue to argue. 

Go Camp Thor Shadow Weekend.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

a poem

This poem from poem-a-day ( popped into my inbox the other day.
The tone hooks me -- late June extravagance.


Tess Taylor
How again today our patron star
whose ancient vista is the long view

turns its wide brightness now and here:
Below, we loll outdoors, sing & make fire.

We build no henge
but after our swim, linger

by the pond. Dapples flicker
pine trunks by the water.

Buzz & hum & wing & song combine.
Light builds a monument to its passing.

Frogs content themselves in bullish chirps,
hoopskirt blossoms

on thimbleberries fall, peeper toads
hop, lazy—

             Apex. The throaty world sings ripen.
Our grove slips past the sun’s long kiss.

We dress.
We head home in other starlight. 

Our earthly time is sweetening from this.

Filled and Full

I'm sitting at the kitchen table, and it's 9:30PM.  I've been tuning out the jet lagged tumult upstairs for quite sometime in hopes that, dazed by their own fatigue, each child will finally collapse.  Two now have.  But Maeve, whose chattered and called for the last hour, just started yelling full voice.  I responded several times with go to sleep!  no more!  But she kept on.  At what point will freshly-asleep Silas and Eden wake up to this?   Maeve, it is time for sleep!  I whisper-yelled, always a sign impatience has started to crawl on my skin.    And then, WIPE MY BOTTON!! (bottom)  She'd been sitting on the toilet that whole time.  So sorry, Maeve.

This afternoon we pulled into the driveway after eleven days away: Santa Barbara to celebrate my beautiful sister, the big family all in a house, her 30th and graduation, tacos at sunset; Costa Mesa for hands in sand, more tacos, looking full-faced at women I love; the Virgina countryside for retreat with a church I love, fireflies and frog catching, such good words. 

I am brimming.  Not even brimming, sloshing with overflow.  



Tuesday, June 09, 2015


There were a few things I'd forgotten about May.  In fact, I'd forgotten entirely about May, the lost month between my birthday/Easter and the end of school/Eden's birthday.  

Well, May is wild! -- wild with growth, the month of true spring, each week a new series of blooms erupting from ground or tree; and wild with movement as school kicks up all the fun its withheld all year -- field days and field trips, popsicle parties, presentations, projects.  Suddenly there are more papers to have signed and shoved in folders, more hours to appear at school, to stand places and cheer for kids, to list words they have to spell or check stories that are to be finished and illustrated.  The pace was head-spinning and what I heard myself exhale all month as we coasted into parking places two minutes before was we made it, because by the skin of our teeth we did, over and over.  In May every entrance and exit was a feat of organization -- bags locked and loaded by the door for pool or field or class, uniforms washed or at least shin guards found, and matching socks to cover them.  And all the while, mounting anticipation of June, summer.


The warblers arrived, the trees turned summer green, and June burst over the mountain.  It smelled good, tasted good, and was gentle to the eyes. 
                                -my side of the mountain

The smell of late May into early June is intoxicating, deep pockets of honeysuckle hanging low, mowed grass, rain-stirred earth.  All of May it has felt like this, like June was crouching just on the other side of the mountain waiting to burst.  

It has come! 
The heat is rising from the pavement and mugginess settling into the air. 
Thunderheads pile up in the afternoons.
We all exhale.

Tomorrow is the last day of school for the kids.  We are remembering whom we want to thank, the people who have carried them through this year, sometimes at a wrestle, sometimes with ease.  Silas will bake his pound cake-for-teachers this afternoon, the one he claimed as his own in 1st grade and  always loves to give.  And Eden will draw pictures of girls wearing necklaces winking, and use all sorts of adjectives like humorous and encouraging.  And then, just like that, another school year will end.  

Pound Cake for Teachers (Cream Cheese Pound Cake, from
      makes 2 loaves

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
3 c sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.
Grease two loaf pans (can also line with parchment, easier to remove)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt.  Set aside

In a stand mixer, combine butter and cream cheese; beat til soft and fluffy.
Add sugar and beat 2 more min.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well, and add vanilla.
Reduce to low and add flour mixture in three doses, beating just to combine. 

Bake ~55-60 min, or until golden and knife comes out clean.
Let cool in pan before removing.