March 1. Sunshine today! Went for a walk down Klickitat with Scott and then another longer one in the other direction with Huck and Rilla. Violets, grass daisies, daffodils, crocus in abundance. Pussywillows budding over a mossy stone wall. Still plenty of puddles for wading in, which was important because Huck wore his rainboots. Rilla exclaimed over each new patch of moss.
Found our first Portland geocache and stopped in the rock store to admire the thundereggs, geodes, shells, and fossils. Debated the merits of the hypotenuse (a slanting street, thick with cars, the shorter way home) versus the quieter, mossier, puddle-strewn right-angle lanes. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know which we chose.
It is Tuesday, right? I keep getting calls to shift appointments around (IEP, audiology, the usual) and it has me discombobulated.
The Glass Castle just hit my Overdrive account. Is that what I want right now? Can you believe I’ve never read it?
My new hobby is doing dramatic readings of posts from the Nextdoor app. I’m recording them and texting them to my friend Lisa. I feel like I might have found my true calling at last. 😉
These are the podcasts I listen to regularly, ranked from never-miss-an-episode to catch-’em-when-I-can:
Pod Save America
Lovett or Leave It
The West Wing Weekly
Pod Save the People
Pod Save the World
Happier With Gretchen Rubin
Out of Line With Caroline Lee
I also like to save up Bravewriter podcast episodes until I have a bunch, and then binge on them when I have a busy-hands project to do.
The stars of our daily nature walks this week are moss and mushrooms. The puddles keep Huck happy while Rilla and I ooh and ah over the fungi.
P.S. thanks for the book suggestions on yesterday’s post. Keep ’em coming! I’m chairing Cybils YA Fiction this year ***but not reading on the panel*** and it hit me that that’s why I feel book-drifty. I’m using to being buried under stacks of novels this time of year.
I’m up early, enjoying the quiet morning light in my studio. The neighborhood crows woke up about the same time I did and immediately jumped on their social networks, which seem as well populated as Facebook and as heated as Twitter. I haven’t dipped into mine yet. Lately I want to preserve the peace of the morning as long as possible. I’ll catch up with the news over breakfast, in an hour or two.
Today is my radiation planning appointment—a dress rehearsal of sorts. They’ll figure out how best to position me in the machine and give me a tiny dot tattoo to mark the zapping spot, a little blue freckle. Or maybe two. I’m amused by the cliché of it all. Move to Portland, get a tattoo. 🙂
Things we have seen growing in our neighbors’ front yards on our daily walks:
• corn, including a thick stand of it along the road across from our nearest park;
• figs, ripening;
• raspberries, lots;
• blackberries, growing wild at the edge of the schoolyard fence;
• tomatoes in abundance;
• vegetables of all kinds, often in large raised garden beds on the strip of land between sidewalk and street;
• giant Russian thistle, utterly to swoon for;
• countless pollinator plants, thrilling me no end;
• loads of Queen Anne’s lace growing like weeds in the grass and along the verge;
• walnut trees, including two in our next-door neighbor’s yard;
• and all sorts of interesting things.
Yesterday Scott and I had just arrived home from the store when a car pulled over in front of our house and the driver took a picture of it. I got out of our car, and the driver saw me and rolled down her window. “I’m so sorry,” she said, “it’s just that I lived here when I was a little girl!”
Her grandparents were the original owners of the house. She and her mother moved in with them when she was eight years old, 61 years ago, because her mother was dying. After her mother’s death, L. continued living with her grandparents and aunt for another five years. She had lots of stories about her neighbors from that time, including the family who had refused to sell when Fred Meyer bought up a bunch of house lots to build a store on a main road nearby.
We gave her a tour and she told us all about what the house used to look like before some remodeling was done. Turns out my studio was her childhood bedroom. The spot I’m sitting in right now in my comfy gray chair used to be a doorway. “A glass door that led to my grandmother’s bedroom,” she told me. “The closet is exactly the same.”
The big old tree her bedroom used to look out upon is gone, but many of the neighboring trees are the same—the very same treetops serving as a morning gathering-place for the local crows. From my cozy chair I can hear three or four of them gabbing away, probably telling stories they learned from their grandmothers about the little girl who used to live here sixty years ago.
The antlion bit was especially fun. On Tuesday, as I was finishing our Moomintrolls chapter, I noticed that the next chapter was the one with the antlion in it, and I wasn’t sure either Huck or Rilla knew what that was. So without telling them why, I grabbed our Handbook of Nature Study and we read a bit about them. And then of course we needed to see one. We watched a short National Geographic video and then followed the suggested link to this delightful video made by a homesteading dad, accompanied by his four young children. At least, I think I counted four.
The video is embedded below, along with one for The Raggle-Taggle Gypsy—our folk song this week.
Actually, I guess the first couple of photos here are from March. (1) We hadn’t been to Old Town San Diego in a while and made a quick pilgrimage there one day during Wonderboy’s spring break. (2) Rilla’s bunny chain—entirely her own design—is the best Easter decoration I’ve seen in a long time. Those ears!
April for real:
(3) How Huck likes to rock his Math-U-See.
(4) Library day. I want that Eric Carle rug!
(5) Another library-day shot. What I love most about this photo is that the bed they’re on belongs to neither of them. It’s Beanie’s—the bottom bunk, which has long been the favorite place for my girls to sprawl. Beanie, meanwhile, does most of her own sprawling on Rilla’s bed. Go figure.
(6) Monarch caterpillar on our milkweed: always a sight that brings me joy.
(7) Wonderboy raised these sunflowers from a handful of old seeds spilled in the bottom of a bag of mostly-empty seed packets. The color surprised us!
(8) Also a surprise this year: the giant blooms on a neglected rosebush by our patio. Loads of them! It’s like Valancy went at the bush with her clippers.
(9) Playing with a Hobonichi Techo-style layout in my bullet journal. Mary Ann Scheuer and I had a fun Skype session last week to chat about my bujo system. What’s working these days: Separate books for my messy notes and my bullet lists. It’s sort of a left brain/right brain thing: I need a space for scribbly notes of all kinds, an unkempt, all-purpose thinking-on-paper space; but I also need nice, neat(ish) to-do lists with boxes I can fill in as I accomplish tasks. It took me a LOT of years—and the revelation of the multiple-insert traveler’s notebook—to figure this out: that I need the two separate spaces.
• Melted at the artwork and poems created by the three classes of fifth- and sixth-graders who welcomed me to the Greater San Diego Reading Association’s annual Authors Fair.
• Read aloud the last chapter of The Prairie Thief to a roomful of eager fifth-graders. Such a delight. I so seldom get to read the end of the book to a school group—I don’t want to give anything away! Exceedingly fun to discover the teacher had been reading the book to the class and saved the finale for my visit. 🙂
• Had a marvelous time swapping book suggestions with the kids during the Q&A after my readings. Hot tip: they are loving The Unicorn Chronicles at the moment.
• Tried out a new voice for Fox in my Storytime at Carmel Valley Public Library on Saturday. Gotta keep it fresh, you know.
• Wrote my tail off all day yesterday.
• Rejoiced with the gang as our monarch butterfly emerged from its chrysalis this morning. We missed the big entrance but not by much. Later, when it was ready to fly, we took it out to the milkweed patch in the backyard, and it rested there long enough for Rilla and me to sketch it. I had just finished adding watercolor when it soared away to the cape honeysuckle, and from there out into the blue. Bon voyage, little dear.
So much of my role with Rilla is staying out of her way. Giving her vast stretches of time to draw and play, giving her space to get messy in. (Actually, she’s kind of a type A artist—very precise about her materials and workspace.) And of course strewing, strewing, strewing, the good old Sandra Dodd coinage* that captures the essence of my approach to family life: leave neat stuff where the kids can find it—and be around to talk about it when they’re ready.
She spent half the evening working away at this owl. Yesterday it was a pair of goldfinches, because they’ve been delighting us at our feeders.
Here’s the book that has captured her fancy: Drawing Birds with Colored Pencils. Amazon tells me I bought it in August, 2011. It saw a brief period of use then, with Beanie I think, and has mostly lived on the field guide shelf until now. I don’t know if it was chicken or egg—whether Rilla found the book and decided to dive in, or went hunting for help because she wanted to draw birds. I’ll ask her tomorrow, if I remember. All our drawing and nature books are stashed on shelves in our dining area, right behind Beanie’s chair and directly in Rilla’s line of sight.
*Sandra’s strewing page begins with a quote, “I just strew their paths with interesting things,” captioned “long ago, AOL homeschooling boards.” I was there, reading along, nursing infant Jane, when she wrote it! And now, many strewn paths later, Jane’s preparing to head off to college. We made the first big dorm shopping expedition today. I can still see those early AOL conversations scrolling across my screen—I got my first modem and my first baby in the same month—and thinking, Ohhh, this homeschooling thing has possibilities, I’ve gotta talk to Scott. Amazing.