In the comments of the previous post I was reminiscing about the (quite long-ago now) shift from early text-only blogs to posts spotlighting gorgeous images, and how grumpy I was about that shift at the time. What’s the matter with a nice wall of text? LOL. But I gradually got on board, and then I started growing milkweed and documenting monarch butterfly life cycles…and bit by bit, photos won me over. Also, cute babies.
But my WORRRRRDSSSS MATTTTTERRRRR banner-flying makes it particularly funny that I went all gung-ho Instagram when it took off.
Anyhoo. Here is it a Monday in late June (ye gods, how can it possibly be late June already?) and I’ve done my day’s work, both on the novel and the advocacy gig, and I’m sitting in my favorite pub watching the couple next to me share a cherry custard float I didn’t know was on the menu (it’s a chalkboard special today), and I have about an hour before Scott pings me to say the meatloaf is ready, so here you are, a real live blog post.
(crickets chirping in my brain)
It’s not that I have nothing to say, it’s that I have TOO much to say. But lucky for you, I’ve said it on Facebook. Hey future Lissa, when you dip back into these archives, know that you were advocating hard for compassionate treatment of immigrants today, okay?
What should I blog about?? I need an assignment, y’all. I mean, it’s big doings here in Bonny Glen PDX: Jane graduated from Cal Poly last weekend and is home with us now for a few weeks at least, and Wonderboy (about whom I would write much more if I could just decide on a more age-appropriate blog nickname for the kid) graduated from 8th grade this month. HIGH SCHOOL, my dears. I mean. And lots of antics and adventures swirling around the other four kids too.
And Scott has a big Batman miniseries launching in August, about which I’m very excited. Illustrated by Kelley Jones, who is both brilliantly talented and a total sweetheart. OH YOU GUYS—I wish you could hear the conversations between these two stay-at-home comic-book-creator dads. This project has been years in the making and in our old house Scott used to pace on the patio outside my window during his frequent phone calls with Kelley. Of course I could only hear one side, but it was clear they spent a lot of time chatting about dad stuff and swapping chicken recipes. I mean, total melt-my-heart stuff. I keep telling them they need to do a podcast. Spend five minutes talking about comics, sure, and then get to the recipes and laundry stories!
Last week I went to a community singalong in Southeast Portland called (fabulously) OK Chorale. 70 people crammed into a bar at Revolution Hall singing—get this—a Duran Duran medley. (Duran Duran Medley Medley, said the songsheet. I’m still grinning.) It was my absolute ideal of a social event. Happens twice a month and I freely admit that my resolution to get up early and get my novel-writing done before breakfast was given a tremendous boost by the desire to free up my evenings.
A year ago today I was in the middle of a whirlwind trip to Portland to look at the house we’re now living in, and to meet with Wonderboy’s school principal and special ed administrator, and a suddenly-squeezed-in consult with a breast surgeon about a four-day-old diagnosis. I just looked at my calendar from that week and it’s just bananas. Genetic testing, Ron’s birthday party, flight home, movers’ estimate, MRI. All in the space of a week. And I was teaching a Bravewriter class that started that week, too. Oh plus the kids’ piano recital the day before I got on the plane to come here. BANANAS. How my hair didn’t go fully gray that week is beyond me.
(It’s on the way, though.)
Meatloaf’s ready. Gotta run. How’s that for some old-school Bonny Glen blather, eh? 😉
Sick kids this week, and lots of IEP stuff going on. But golden hour doesn’t begin until 8pm these days, so I’ve managed plenty of long, rhapsodic evening walks. The light is glorious. I’m completely enchanted.
Huck, Rilla, and I are still reading The Penderwicks and lots of poetry. They finished learning the Willow Cabin speech from Twelfth Night and have begun If music be the food of love. play on. We spent a few weeks immersing in the history of Ancient India, and next week we’re starting an exploration of ancient numbering systems. Rilla helped me prep for it and we’re both pretty excited to dive in. And we’re doing watercolors almost every day, because I’m addicted. Strawberry number two was ripe today. We’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of this lovely book: Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. (Amazon influencer link.) I’m in no hurry at all for the tide to go out.
I think this is my favorite photo of the hundreds (thousands? eek) I’ve taken since we moved to Portland. I posted it on Instagram with a riff on the much-beloved William Carlos Williams poem:
so much depends
a red garage
glazed with rain
beside the pink
And while I’ve appreciated “The Red Wheelbarrow” for many years, I feel like I get it in a deeper way now. There’s a feeling I get when I look at gray-blue clouds piled over a blue mountain, or sunlight shining through black tree branches, or the evening sky shot through with light and shadows—a feeling like Emily Starr’s flash, you know?
I started writing this post last week (thus the title) and didn’t have a chance to come back and finish until now. It’s Monday morning, early, kids still in bed, sky like mother-of-pearl. I’ve been awake since before dawn, dunno why. The enthusiastic birds outside my window, probably. I contemplated getting up and taking my walk early—I usually go in the evening, during golden hour if I can possibly manage it—but I opted to lie in bed and watch the walls turn from gray to blue. Got up around six and slipped out to the back yard to smile over our little garden like a proud mother. We have radishes coming up in the garden, and my first strawberry is very-nearly-almost ripe.
Anyone remember my big long strawberry-rhapsody post from a million years ago?
Eighteen dollars: less than four times the amount we paid for last night’s gone-in-a-flash berry feast. And now I get a steady stream of berries from June to September. Like the wantons they are, the plants have multiplied with abandon: we must have hundreds of individual strawberry plants now, each fertile and heavy with fruit in its season. I am a neglectful gardener (just ask my neighbors) and I do nothing to baby these plants. I ignore them. I don’t do chemicals and I can’t be bothered with fertilizer or compost. We have terrible soil: thick red Virginia clay that is not at all disposed to encourage root growth. The kids’ caterpillar farm (fennel and rue) springs up right from the middle of the strawberry bed. The strawberries don’t care. They thrive on adversity. They scoff at the miserable growing conditions; they sneer at the crabgrass; they launch themselves over the retaining wall and bloom in mid-air. They send exploratory runners into the lawn, and Scott mows right over them. For this callous treatment, they reward us with a riotous, bountiful harvest. You can’t beat us down, they proclaim. You only encourage us to flaunt our fertility. We will, we must, reproduce! We will fill the world! Let those fat, bland, expensive greenhouse-grown excuses for berries beware! We are sun-warmed and sweet. We will make you weep for joy.
There is no modesty in strawberries.
And there was no brevity in 2005 me, apparently. 😉 Oh for the days of big long text-heavy posts!
“You are doing TREE-mendous work!”
That’s what a neighbor said to us today when he and his dog passed us in the park where Huck, Rilla, and I were using printouts of the Portland Tree Map to identify the blossom-laden trees we’ve been swooning over these past couple of weeks. Does your area have one of these?
I mean, this is just heaven on a web page as far as I’m concerned. Whenever I move to a new part of the country I have a burning need to learn the names of All The Things as soon as possible. I’m a little slow out of the gate this time around, but then again I wasn’t exactly up for long leisurely walks last summer or fall. I was scrolling back through my Instagram the other day and came across a caption from October in which I talked about how happy I was to finally be able to take a walk around the block again. These days I’m averaging almost four miles a day—because spring.
“Children should be made early intimate with the trees, too; should pick out half a dozen trees, oak, elm, ash, beech, in their winter nakedness, and take these to be their year-long friends” (Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 52).
Happy First Day of Spring, my friends!
I’m heading to Virginia later this week for the VaHomeschoolers Conference. Excited! Swamped! Wondering if my tulips will bloom while I’m gone!
Good morning! On my list today:
* a long walk
* Journey North Mystery Class
* Moomins and other readalouds
* poetry teatime
* German lesson
* painting lesson
* writing the next chunk of a BraveWriter Arrow
* ordering books to be sold at the VaHomeschoolers Conference I’ll be speaking at in a couple of weeks
* taxes, mutter mutter
* A bit of work on the current novel and oh dear there are about fifteen other things I should add to this list but let’s be reasonable. There are clouds to watch sail by.
Re my Portland pics on Instagram: Sometimes I worry they could be annoying to my dear San Diego friends but then I remember I did the same thing (only it was here on the blog, back then) in 2006 when we moved to California and I worried I was bumming out my Virginia friends with all the PACIFIC OCEAN-PALM TREES-NO MORE WRESTLING WITH CARSEAT BUCKLES OVER SNOWSUITS rhapsodizing…
…and before that I worried about my NYC friends when I moved to Virginia and went crazy over the Blue Ridge Mountains and redbud trees and monarch butterflies and fields of chicory like patches of sky in a meadow.
Then I remember that Anne Shirley loved Four Winds every bit as fervently as Avonlea. Hearts are big, with many rooms.
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.
On Saturday we went to a pop-up sale for one of our favorite artists, Lisa Congdon. You’ve heard me rave about her Creativebug classes and her art, which makes me happy. She was selling items from her Etsy shop at Collage, that store with the giant wall of washi tape. I ventured out in the rain with four of the kids to do some Christmas shopping at Lisa’s sale.
Rilla, who has taken several of Lisa’s Creativebug classes* with me, was so excited to meet her. Wish I’d gotten a better picture! She also made a furry friend. Equal levels of excitement, I would say.
Afterward we did some window shopping on Alberta Ave. and then inhaled some truffle fries at Big Little Burger while we wait for Scott and Huck to pick us up. Rose and Beanie hung around for root beer floats and more window shopping. A birthday present or two may have been acquired. ’Tis that season, too, for us.
We live a block and a half from Klickitat Street. I know I don’t have to tell you booklovers what a thrill I get every time I see the sign. Four months in, it hasn’t gotten old. It never will, you know? My childhood copy of Beezus and Ramona is right here on the shelf. To this day, harmonicas sound like oh dear, oh dear to me. To this day, the first bite of an apple is the best. Fig Newtons are filled with worms, and the first one to see a white horse gets to make a wish, and when the room is dim you turn on a dawnzer for some lee light. If you need me, I’ll just be sitting here for the present.