Archive for the ‘children’ Category

A shining. . .

June 2, 2008

There are some evenings that simply glow, and this is one of them.

I have been absent from this space for awhile, and I apologize. I had many things that I thought of writing about, but when I sat down in front of the screen, they didn’t happen.

I don’t know if it was a delayed response to my brother’s death or some other form of malfeasance of the spirit, but I just didn’t want to write.

But tonight I am full of joy. It’s Ben’s birthday, and our daughter Inger has come to visit. She brought with her an electric bass guitar and a 12-string acoustic that she rescued from oblivion. For the last hour or so I’ve ducked out and listened from the sidelines to Ben (one of the finer guitar players I’ve ever known) showing her little tips and tricks.

Ben and I play the guitar. Ben is proficient, I am competent. Inger does not play, has never played, but something caused this leap of faith that she could play. And I suspect she will. I hope she finds the same magic in it that I have.

I worried when she was young because she did not sing. I grew up singing, and I thought everyone did. Now she is seemingly discovering her music, and that makes me very happy.

My daughter has given me so much joy in life. It pleases me immensely to watch her finding her own joy.

Major Burrows is history: RIP

January 19, 2008

Not only the snowdrops but the daffodils are poking their little shoots up through ground very nearly still frozen. Spring will be early this year.

But the really good news is that the pesky giant mole is dead and I can go on to worry about other things in Wii-world. Josh’s advice helped, but I really had to pay attention to when to thump-jump. My brain was somewhat foggy on the matter.

I’m still not totally sure why he finally died, but nonetheless, he did.

It’s hard to come back to real life, but back I am. Tonight’s dinner is my Americanized version of wonton soup. Everything’s done except the last-minute stuff. The last of the crystallized ginger scones from yesterday are sitting on the counter, and I’ll probably reheat them for dessert.

My daughter posted a weird dream on one of her blog sites today.

Our concerns are obviously different, but she’s still one of my favorite folks. As I told her once, if she wasn’t my daughter, I still have to choose her for a friend.

Now to go boil stuff. . .

“Well this,” she said, “just chaps my hide.”

January 2, 2008

Full disclosure: There may be a rant coming here. In fact there may be several. At the very least, what’s going on in my head is what might be called “stream of consciousness.”

That’s a rather innocuous phrase, until we examine the components. I’ll ignore the “of,” a preposition that’s hardly worth its own dissertation. You can’t really appreciate prepositions unless you are old enough to have diagrammed sentences in English class or have read the delightful little book Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog, a history and examination of the diagramming of sentences.

But “stream”: Now there’s a word worth reckoning with, particularly if you live, as I do, with a “stream.” The Big Elk is, at some times of the year, a gentle little trickle that murmurs over mossy rocks and smooth round stones. It gives a home to crawdads (crayfish to you purists out there) and children of all ages interested in the art of skipping stones and wading. At other times of the year, however, it roars along with loud crashing, carrying 2-ton logs, lawn chairs, plastic buckets, and any other detritus that some human was careless enough to leave within its reach. A powerful word, “stream.”

And “consciousness”: A concept that’s getting a lot of play right now, mostly because for all of our scientific advancement, no one really knows what it is. For a long, long time, science argued that only humans are conscious. Now, setting egos aside, it would appear that consciousness exists across the animal world and possibly across the plant world as well. There are days that I would argue that even the stones here are conscious.

But all of this has little to do with my subject line, which is a direct quote from my daughter. She was confronting her freshman-English teacher about the amount of homework assigned in her Catholic high school.

When I heard the story, I was stunned, not because she talked back to a teacher (I would expect no less of any child that grew up in our house) but because of what she said. I’d never heard the phrase before, but it seemed so summarily appropriate to the situation that I was breathless in admiration.

“Chaps my hide”: This is the poetry of the American west, of cowboys and wranglers. It speaks of things so grating that we can only compare them to skin rubbed raw. But where in the world did my 14-year-old city slicker hear this expression? I still don’t know.

But I’ve never forgotten it, even though nearly two decades have passed. And there are, frankly, a lot of things that chap my hide.

First and foremost on my mind this evening is packaging. If is seems like I spend a lot of time worrying about packaging, it’s because I do. Reduce, reuse, recycle. I can reuse. I can recycle. But it feels as if I have very little control over the “reduction” of trash.

I could, of course, refuse to buy anything that’s packaged inappropriately. I’d be a lot richer financially if I did, because it seems as if these days almost everything is packaged inappropriately.

This rant was set off in part by trying to open various packages of things today.

I am a strong person, particularly for someone of the “female persuasion.” I have a lot of upper body strength especially. Some years back, when Ben had a broken foot, I decided to mow the lawns because they were getting rather shaggy. At the time we lived in a house that had only a wealth of parking strips (corner lot) and a postage-stamp back yard. So we had only a couple of the old rotary push mowers. They did a wonderful job, used no fuel except burned calories, and emitted no excess carbon.

But the grass was rather long, because it took me awhile to recognize that Ben probably wasn’t going to mow the lawn right away. So I went out to do it. That afternoon, I stripped the gears on not one but two old rotary mowers by trying to power my way through the long grass.

The lawn-mower repairman said he’d never seen anything like it in 60 years in the business. But it did have one felicitous result: I was forbidden to ever mow the lawn again.

What does this have to do with packaging? Just this: I am sick and tired of “easy open” packages that I cannot open without the assistance of heavy kitchen shears. Either they refuse to tear at all or they suddenly tear and explode ingredients all over my kitchen. Enough.

Especially since then I have to dispose of all that packaging. It made me mad opening it. It’s making me madder throwing it away. It frankly chaps my hide. . .

Wii, Wii, Wii, all the way home

December 18, 2007

I’ve been fighting with a sinus infection and bronchitis for about a week now, and I’m tired of it. But interestingly enough, the only thing that seems to completely distract me from the sinus headache is “Super Mario Galaxy.” So the Wii’s been getting some heavy usage.

 I’m just about to tackle the first enemy base, but unfortunately I squandered all of Princess Peach’s second gift of five 1-ups trying to beat the Rocky Road. The scorching odor you can probably smell from wherever you are is the smell of flesh burning up in a black hole, repeatedly.

I love the wireless controllers. They resolve the only problem I’ve ever had with Nintendo games, which was leaping around and tripping over the controller wires. The movement took little getting used to, although I have to say the game threw me a curve in Surfing 101 and I kept trying to steer with the Nunchuk. I finally had to just put it down.

But I find two separate controllers much more user-friendly and ergonomic than the old “classic” style that always seemed to put your shoulders at a somewhat awkward angle, OK for a short time but not so good for extended play.

But I’m hooked. I understand why Wired magazine said, “If you only buy one video game this year, make it ‘Super Mario Galaxy.'” What Ben said was, “If only NASA could get an astronaut into space that easily. . .”

We bought the game quite a bit before Thanksgiving and are just now getting around to playing it. Watching people scramble to find one for their child or children, I guess I should feel a little guilty about depriving some poor kid of his dearest wish.

But I don’t. Kids come in all ages, shapes and sizes. . .

Random thoughts on a Wednesday evening

November 1, 2007

I hardly know where to start. I won’t as Alice suggested, begin at the beginning and move forward from there, because the truth of the matter is I’m not sure where the beginning is.

“In the beginning. . .”–there have been so many beginnings, and forks in the roads, and restarts, and stalls. So I’ll just take off, and we’ll see where we go from here.

Full disclosure: I’m completely sated from a low-stress evening. It should be a high-stress evening. I’m leaving tomorrow for a four-day trip to a writers’ conference in Bend. I had a long to-do list this morning that included washing my car, washing my hair, getting packed in advance, finding some books I wanted to take along, and so on.

I did get my truck washed. I’ve also packed up enough food and drink to last for three or four days. “Be prepared for whatever you might encounter,” Ben says. That’s good advice, I know. I’m headed out over the mountains on the first of November. The weather is good, but who knows what will happen by Sunday.

I’m picking up my friend Ruth tomorrow morning, and we’ll head out on an adventure. I know we won’t get stuck, and it seems a shame. I’ve packed up mocha frappucinos, cranberry juice, bottled water, leftover Halloween chocolate, cheese popcorm from the cans I bought to get the cans knowing we’d never eat the popcorn (so I’m struggling to find good homes for it), salted mixed nuts, protein-rich Kashi TLC bars, and other assorted stuff. Oh, and three bottles of wine, some assorted teas, my favorite wine glasses (no stems, just heavy bases that are hard to tip over), and my favorite tea cups. If we actually make it to Bend, we can live well there without ever doing anything else, although we have a lot of things planned.

But in the meantime, stuff happens. Maybe it’s the leftover pot-roast soup and fresh baked bread I finished a little while ago, or maybe it’s the position of the stars, or maybe it’s just Wednesday evening.

But I’m mellow. And happy to be that way.

A fellow writer in a writing workshop I’m taking wrote that he had been a “bad” and “nosy” boy and googled me. Then he said some nice things about the poetry he found in various places. I realized how long it had been since I googled myself. I think I’m just not narcissistic enough. So I remedied that, and when I did, I discovered my daughter has a new blog. I am blown away. She writes circles around me.

I’m not surprised to find her writing, although I suppose I am a little bit. She wrote her first short stories in crayon at age 5. I still have them. She would have them, except a couple of times I’ve found them in the garbage and rescued them, so I’m saving them. If I’m surprised it’s because she has so many other things going on. I’m guessing she also has a Facebook page and My Space page (I know she has other blogs), but I’ll probably not go looking for them because I spend too much time at this stupid screen as it is and anyway, I think she’s entitled to some privacy.

But she writes circles around me. If I could wave a magic wand I’d send her off somewhere to be a writer. Maybe she’ll get there on her own, or maybe she’ll get there herself. But whatever she does, I know it will be fine.

As I look back over a rather long life, there’s this: The thing I am proudest of having accomplished is having raised this marvelous young woman. Admittedly I had a little help from her dad, but the truth of the matter is, she’s the one thing I can point to that I have helped create that I know is making the world a better place to be.