Just bad at home

A few last photos of the Camelot Inn, Amarillo:

IMG_8990

I would purchase this in a heartbeat.

The continental breakfast at the Camelot Inn:

IMG_8992

turned out to be even lamer than the reconstituted eggs at The 5th Season.   That nice long counter had nothing aside from those pastries.  Where’s the waffle-maker in the shape of Texas? The dispenser of dry cereal and plastic bin of eggs?

Pleasing graffiti in Pueblo, Colorado:

IMG_8999

and a blooming cactus:

IMG_9003

you’re so vibrant! You dashing thing.

Isn’t it interesting how this wispy smear of a cloud can be alongside clouds with such highly defined boundaries?

IMG_9005

Look how two different clouds share one sky. So Bob Marley of them.

Unicorn horse rider with sister:

IMG_9010

Unicorn horse rider with sister and brother:

IMG_9011

Splendid skies in Denver:

IMG_9012

They look so solid and palpable. This was on an evening walk with some friends.

Rascal accumulated a bunch of baby pine cone things and leaves on that walk, and then requested paper and glue:

IMG_9015

He had a very definite plan:

IMG_9017

to make baby carrots.

Then we had to figure out how to transport this fragile thing. So we wrapped it in Saran Wrap and put it on the dash board of the minivan.

Meanwhile, from my mom:

60700e76-21c6-4065-9ea7-6dea6e90d445

That is Sonia, my great-grandmother.

Here she is, with my great-grandfather:

a3ef6db3-d049-4dc7-8147-e5e24a690cc3

Sonia and Jerome. They were born in Russia and emigrated around 1915, I think.  Devoted lifelong communists. They wouldn’t celebrate any holidays, not even birthdays.

I usually think that I’m keeping this blog for my children.  That when Rascal graduates high school, or maybe college, I’ll show it to them and let them do whatever they want with it.  But it’s crossed my mind that when they read these stories, they’ll have a separate set of emotions from what I’ve depicted – embarrassment, sadness, anger, happiness, whatever.  It may not be straightforward for them to read all this.

6680674f-e09a-4f6c-a584-6f4546f809cc (1)

It’s possible that I’m really writing this for my grandchildren, that there may be one or two who just adore hearing all about their parent, when that parent was growing up.  This thought occurred to me after I logged all those hours last week, hearing about my mom’s childhood, and how much I devour those stories. It’s so much less complicated when it skips a generation and you’re reading about stories for which you were not present.

My darling pink roads of Wyoming:

IMG_9028

Everything is more green and lush than usual, and everyone keeps marveling over how rainy it’s been.

To wit:

IMG_9031

I prefer kid bubble gum, when I’m driving on a road trip, to stave off drowsiness.  Adult bubblegum is not meant for longevity the way kid bubblegum is, and it becomes rubbery and weird.

In my scientific opinion, the ordering of quality is:

  1.  Hubba Bubba
  2.  Bubblicious
  3. Bubble Yum
  4. All adult-targeted gum

Douglas, Wyoming, or maybe Casper:

IMG_9035

I liked the juxtaposition of the dry wheaty grass under the lush green cottonwood.

Conversation from the minivan

[“Good to be bad” is playing on the radio]

Ace: I want to be bad.

Rascal: why?

Ace: I like digging my nails into things.

Rascal: But then you go to jail!

Pokey: No, she means like just bad at home.

A tiny orange train engine chugging along:

img_9043.jpg

Montana!

IMG_9046

Known for its grandmothers of Jammies:

IMG_9059

and their frozen-in-amber houses.

IMG_9060

Yes, you’ve seen these exact photos before.  Her house is just such a wonderful time warp,

IMG_9064

that I can never resist photographing it. Everything about the honeycomb amber glass and heavy cabinet pulls is spot on.

A spare bedroom:

IMG_9070

with lush shag carpeting

IMG_9072

and honest-to-god sparkly pink popcorn ceilings.

This bathroom:

IMG_9075

with its flocked wallpaper and marbleized lowers.

This untouched mancave:

IMG_9077

since Jammies’ grandma does not go in the basement anymore.

and opposite of the mancave,

IMG_9078

Jammies’ grandfather’s office.

Remember these?

IMG_9082

and these?

IMG_9083

yes, you do.

IMG_9051

Pokey playing soccer with his new cousin:

IMG_9085

which is to say, I have a new nephew! Jammies’ brother got married this past weekend, and so I have a new sister-in-law and nephew. (They also got married in Brazil, back in March, but this was the state-side ceremony.)

IMG_9089

The cousins put on a mini-performance in order to make a grand pronouncement

IMG_9093

that they would be kidnapping various adults over the coming week.

(The kidnappings have not come to pass.)

IMG_9100 (1)

wheee!

Novelty bill pay?

IMG_9108

Like send money via whoopie cushion?  Squirt water in the collection rep’s eyes with your flower boutonniere?

IMG_9104

Rainbow shirt, rainbow art.

Apparently, Ace said something to Jammies that revealed that she thought hot dogs were made out of dogs.

Jammies said, “Ace, you know that hot dogs are made out of beef or pork or turkey? Not actual dogs?”

“Oh,” she said, unbothered either way.

IMG_9117

Hey mom, make a kitty sound!

IMG_9122

Me: Mew, mew!

IMG_9120

Mlyaaaaaah!

(We were pretending I’d eaten a kitten and it kept getting mad.)

….

So, this is huge:

IMG_9138

That is Ace, who until now has only clung in terror to adults in deep water and asked to be taken back to solid ground.  As of Friday, she now loves water.  Some switch has been thrown.

She paddles around for hours, now. Her lifejacket chafes up against her face, leaving her jaw and cheeks raw and scraped each night. She says it’s worth it.

This one:

IMG_9141

logs a lot of hours building legos.

IMG_9152

We’re just baby thistles.

IMG_9154

Dapple gray horse.

On Thursday night, Jammies drove over to Helena, to take the certification exam to teach math in Texas on Friday morning.  It’s a five hour test.

He reported that the testing facility felt like a jail. They checked that his glasses were not Google Glasses. They made him take off his necklace. They had Jammies put all his possessions in a locker, and provided scratch paper in the form of wipeable paper with a dry-erase marker.

I really loathe the way this test is set up. There are 100 questions, in 4 hours and 45 minutes.  So you have a little less than three minutes per question.  Jammies could easily pass if he had enough time to work through and reason out each question, but that pace does not permit actually the test-taker to actually conduct mathematical reasoning on a math exam.  It tests your ability to quickly categorize the problem and recall the right trick to solve it.  It’s truly bullshit, and I blame Pearson, who writes and administers on behalf of the state of Texas.

(We will get the test results on Tuesday night.  Why wouldn’t you get your results instantly? I have no idea, but it seems manipulative.)

So, then it was time for the wedding:

IMG_9155

Hawaii’s elaborate hair.

IMG_9162

as a very grown-up looking bridesmaid.

IMG_9165

Ace, bundling up her dress to transition from the business office to social hour.

IMG_9166

Isn’t this a cute birch tree cake?

IMG_9170

Isn’t this a cute star-eyed kid? He colored for about four hours straight, during the reception.

IMG_9174

This one started off flossing:

IMG_9185

but branched out, throughout the night. All three of these kids danced a ton during the reception.

IMG_9189

I was so proud of them. I love dancing at weddings, and want my kids to be able to enjoy themselves dancing. I think you have to develop a taste for it, and find why it’s fun, in order to overcome the self-consciousness.

This is the best part: Ace spent the last 30 minutes of the wedding in the photo booth, by herself. Some highlights from her 7+ rolls:

IMG_9203

and

IMG_9201

and

IMG_9199

and

IMG_9202

They’re all so good. One is just four identical stony-faced Aces in oversized novelty glasses.

IMG_E9204 (1)

Anyway, we’re having a lovely time.

IMG_9194

What’s in that boat?

IMG_9195

Still hard to make out.

IMG_9196

Awwww.

IMG_9208

Good night.

Take walk with Frog

Pokey brought back assorted trash from summer camp:

IMG_8783

Those broken sunglasses aren’t ours.  His backpack was chock full of all this stuff.  A clown car of trash. A Mary Poppins carpetbag of litter.

I became a bit obsessed with how dirty Rascal’s ears are:

IMG_8782

what.

Unfortunately, my fingers were too big to get in there.  I had to break out a q-tip.

IMG_8791

that really is all the shmutz from his ear.  I’m sorry for how gross this is and yet I’m showing it to you.

Hawaii tried on this bathing suit:

IMG_8784

and her belly button cracked us up, peeking through like a eye bonnet.

“Hey mama! This crayon doesn’t work!”  Rascal was talking about that thick maroon-brown crayon in the middle:

IMG_8792

…and it doesn’t work because it’s a dessicated hot dog, not a crayon.  Gah.

IMG_8789

OJ looking romantic:

IMG_8778

yes my love.

Not similac:

IMG_8807

Don’t give to baby.

Rascal had me write out this list:

IMG_8809

He carried it around all day, and crossed out items appropriately. He and Ace made appropriate substitutions, like going outside at daycare counted as taking a walk with Frog.

This list is from here:

IMG_8810

which is from this exceedingly charming book:

IMG_8811

The Frog and Toad series is totally the best.

IMG_8798

Ace wearing a vintage dress that Hawaii used to wear.

Sky-coffin affixed, rear door tethered:

IMG_8816

luggage loaded up:

IMG_8815

and off we go!

I’m having lots of big feelings. We spent this weekend with my Dallas cousins. My other beloved uncle is also nearing the end. His decline has been so vastly different than Uncle Rik’s – Uncle Rik went out like an orchestra. This uncle, Uncle Woody, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2006. For a long time he was a healthy person undergoing periodic treatments, and then he became a fairly ill person dealing with a lot of unpleasant side effects, maybe around 2012. The past several years have been very rough, and in many ways he slipped away when no one was looking.

I miss him so much, and I miss my other uncle so much.

Last week, my mom’s best friend died as well. I was named after her. She was charming and eccentric. She’d had childhood diabetes, and developed Lewy Body dementia, and none of this was sudden or unpredictable. Just very sad.

I’ve spent so long having such anxiety around death and my loved ones dying, and now it is coming to pass, entirely on schedule. It’s probably time for me to do some contemplation on death and how to incorporate it into my understanding of life. Maybe move from anxiety into the kind of sadness that heightens the good parts of life, maybe makes me a nicer person or something. More patient. Like a wise old soccer mom in stretch leggings with her folding chair with its attached umbrella. It seems like an enlightened state to aspire to.

The kids can’t go to my aunt and uncle’s house, because of their germy little ways. So each afternoon I went and sat with my uncle for a few hours. My aunt read from my other uncle’s memoir to his grandchildren, the one he wrote during his illness. My cousins were there, too. We heard all sorts of stories from my mom and uncles’ collective childhood.

IMG_1777

He was glad to have the mists of conversation swirling around him, and I wanted to stay and soak up the time with him.

My grandparents were on the faculty at the University of Kansas. Uncle Woody had all sorts of pets that he came home with – pigeons, a crow, all sorts of turtles and snakes, dogs, rats, and even a weasel. My aunt recounted that at her wedding, the grandmother said, “Anything was allowed at the Tennyson Street House.” My grandmother encouraged all her children’s passions and interests, and these kids were unusually driven by curiosity to learn and discover and basically be wholesome little brainiacs who write their own orchestra songs for a lark, who kept winning the national science fair, who caught possums and rattlesnakes for their beloved high school science teacher. (He was eventually fired in the 70s for continuing to teach evolution in an increasingly conservative state.)

The funny thing about all these adventures is that they involve joy, and sadness, and humor, but never any stress or anxiety. It’s all tra-la-la, won’t this be a lark? or it won’t, but that will be great, as well? Shall I take the weasel to Harvard? Well, perhaps not, but then what to do with it? Why not give it to a zoo? My aunt said that my grandmother always had a supreme confidence that everything would work out just fine, and so stress or anxiety was just plain nonsensical and not even available as a menu option. I suspect that another aspect was my grandmother’s knack for taking her own opinions and making them external truths about the world. Whereas I, as a parent, often feel like I should endure something I don’t enjoy, because it benefits the kids, my grandmother would not endure anything and she’d invent a reason that it was bad for everyone, instead of admitting that she personally didn’t like it.

But then everything did keep relentlessly working out for the best, especially for my uncles. And they never really understood stress nor anxiety (although my mom certainly does.) It all fell apart in various ways when they had their own families – they maintained the joy and magic for themselves as individuals, but somehow I don’t feel like my generation inherited it. And now as they pass on – relatively young, this uncle is 69 – that merry magic is coming to an end. I find it unbearably sad.

They weren’t idiots. They were staunch socialists and activists and scientists, and they knew intellectually that the world was deeply unfair and that there was a moral obligation to fight for justice, and they did so. But they dwelled much more in the world of awe and joy of everyday wonders than in the world of feeling tormented over dark realities. (Again, this describes my uncles more than my mom.) Rik particularly was such a manic extrovert that he just innocently believed it was the normal course of things to have an unending stream of opportunities and invitations. He once told my mom that he was a bit tired, from getting up early to get some writing done, and she asked if he’d been productive, and he said he’d written 60 pages.

They had their bad parts, too, but right now it’s really hard to think of any.

This is my cousin:

IMG_8830

That whole family has a thing about letting the dogs lick their whole faces, even their mouths, on and on, and they just giggle and find so much joy in this repulsive act.  I find joy in expressing how delightfully gross I think it is.

My other cousin has gotten into ping-pong, entering tournaments and such.

IMG_8834

On Thursday, I was better than Pokey at ping-pong. By Saturday, he was better than me. In between, he learned how to smash the ball.

IMG_8820

There was a baby for cuddling:

IMG_8852

and we all enjoyed his many rolls:

IMG_8853

and I really like the side-eye he’s giving Hawaii:

IMG_8858

Did you know that I’m a talented french braider?

IMG_8846

Look at those glossy plaits.

We went to a Legoland.  Not a big amusement park, but a small-scale thing in a mall. This lego model of Dallas was pretty cool:

IMG_8866

Ace and Ninjago:

IMG_8862

All the lego friends:

IMG_8867

The best was taking the kids to their first 3D show.

IMG_8871

They swiped the air in front of them (along with the rest of the audience) at all the right parts.

IMG_8868

It claimed to be 4D, the fourth dimension being Weather.  We were misted, wind blew, and there was even snow flakes at a couple parts. (It was cold.)

IMG_8872

4th of July costume:

IMG_8805

We took the girls to the American Girl Doll store. I couldn’t find my phone, and figured I’d left it back in the minivan.  My purse kept phantom-buzzing, though. Finally I sat down in the middle of the store and completely emptied it out. No phone.

Eventually I rang my phone from my keys, using a nifty gift from Jammies, and my phone started to ring, and I still couldn’t find it.

I full on stuck my head in my purse for echolocation purposes. It turned out that I’d stuck my phone in my sunglasses case, and left my sunglasses on my head.

Thank you for sticking with me through a very commonplace story, of the sort you all have experienced for yourself and didn’t need to read.

IMG_8883

But this 70s bathroom was really something, down to the fuzzy toilet seat cover, macrame planter, three pack of molded soaps shaped like flowers, that hamper, and the mounted wicker shelves.

Four Geebies transfixed:

IMG_8886

watching a lizard puff his throat out, and then hunt down and eat a fly.

Five Geebies a-playing Uno:

IMG_8881

Various dumb signs of capitalism that amused me:

IMG_8884

David McDavid with your graceful looping arrow.

These two shmucks Mark and Julie:

IMG_8889

who are honestly probably nice people, and some photographer kept harping on them that they had to convey Ultimate Power Couple.  Or else the photo is thirty years old and now you’ll be greeted by the retiree version of Mark & Julie, still coasting on their engagement photos to sell the house.

Pokey digging in sand, making bridges and moats:

IMG_8896

Hawaii employing her skills:

IMG_8961

and then we set off today for Amarillo:

IMG_8968

The thing about Amarillo is that is has all these decrepit hotels that were fabulous and swanky maybe in the 1950s.  We’ve frequently enjoyed the 5th Season Hotel, but honestly the continental breakfast is more disgusting than the average cheap hotel continental breakfast. They hand you a plate with reconstituted eggs and disappointing bacon and toast, and I say that as someone with extremely low standards. There isn’t a dry cereal dispenser, or a waffle maker, or an orange juice dispenser, or a plastic bin of hardboiled eggs inside a minifridge with a glass door.  (I myself am not a breakfast eater, but we are many.)

We have also tried the Amarillo Inn, but we drove by the Amarillo Inn today and discovered it has shut down. We could see brown, overgrown and dying palm trees leaning against the windows of the Atrium.

So we decided to try a new place:

img_8986

The Camelot Inn!

Look at this lobby:

img_8978

with its actual velvet paintings and patchwork flowered wooden couches.

It’s on-theme decor:

img_8979

They are to be forgiven for dull carpet like so:

img_8988

when they have actual wall murals in the hallways:

img_8980

I’m smitten.

The upstairs rooms have a turret-balcony, but we’re on the ground floor. Our actual room is rather unremarkable, but not as tiny as some rooms we’ve squeezed into.

From here, we’ll drive through the corner of New Mexico, then Colorado, Wyoming, and across Montana, and end up with Jammies’ family for a week or so.

I’ll miss OJ in his booster seat:

IMG_8780

and Fluffy in her perch:

IMG_8813

but it will be lovely to be in Montana all the same.

 

 

On the couch, with the hairbrush

It’s time to say goodbye to our baby vultures:

IMG_8693

they’re all growned up. Since this photo, they’ve flown the nest. Remember when they looked like this?

IMG_8253

So wee! Bye now! Go vultch!

(Mind you, that is my gym, not my house.)

I took a walk with Hawaii and got to hear her drop some wisdom on life:

  1. You know in the movies, how they show someone dancing on a couch and singing into a hairbrush, and it looks like so much fun? I think everyone likes to watch TV and movies because they like to watch someone having fun. But really, you should just dance on your own couch and sing into a hairbrush, because it really is fun. You shouldn’t always just watch the people on TV doing the fun stuff.

She’s not wrong.  And,

2.  It’s better to have a small family, because you can always add people if you want it to be bigger, but you can’t really get rid of them if you have a big family and you want it to be smaller.

Spoken like the eldest of four children.

Hawaii finished the filming and last three shows of her play this past weekend.  She’s so good in it.  One of the best actors in the show. ❤

fca402ac-c130-4398-a677-9a70191ca965

Rascal, at the last performance.  He and Ace have been singing all the songs all day long.

….

We’ve had more big storms:

IMG_8697

and dazzlingly intense skies.

Ace, in standard form:

IMG_8702

Ace, in birdseye, non-standard form:

IMG_8704

Hawaii was telling us that she’d had a nightmare the night before. She wouldn’t tell us the details, only that it started out fine, and then it turned creepy.

“I’ve had that!” exclaimed Ace. “I’ve had a dream that starts out fine and then turns creepy!  My dream turned creepy when I stepped on a clear frog and smushed it.”

Hawaii and I both wrinkled our faces. “That is creepy!” I said.

Ace continued, “And then it turned out to be someone’s pet, and I was like ‘oopsie!’ ”  She ¯\_(ツ)_/¯’ed with an embarrassed grimace.

(Hawaii and I burst out laughing.)

“Then I realized I was at a doctor’s office, and there was a really big, clear frog, just like the little one, and it had a leash. It was holding a leash, and there was a turtle on the other end.  I was trapped at the doctor’s. It’s really creepy.”

I totally agree!

This was Pokey’s favorite shirt when he was Rascal’s age.  ❤

IMG_8708

It’s being played hard in:

IMG_8711

as should be.

Just some bending tendrils, tendrilly bending:

IMG_8725

Ace makes a lot of doll clothes. For example:

IMG_8726

Also tendrilly bending.

There was a fox near my office, at school on Thursday!

Version 2

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fox in person before. Isn’t he pretty?

IMG_8734

He seemed relaxed.  He didn’t care that I was passing by.

IMG_8736

Such nature! Good job, Heebie!

Ace writes a song:

IMG_8739

I wish I could remember the tune.

“Mom! Mom! Take a photo of me!”

IMG_8740

“Look at my face!”

This was deeply upsetting to Rascal:

IMG_8741

Those wet spots.  You’ll never guess what made them:

IMG_8746

Jammies skinned his knees, and they wept through the bandages and onto Rascal’s sheets, while Jammies was saying good night to him.  So gross!

We changed Rascal’s sheets.  (Jammies said to me, “I need you to change them. Everywhere I kneel just gets bloody.”)

A few days later:

IMG_8774

I’d be acting like a much bigger baby if those were my knees.

Jammies’ first summer class is done. For his final project, he made a video of Hawaii teaching Rascal and Ace, demonstrating ten pedagogical things from his class.  I haven’t yet seen it, but how could he not get an A+?

And me? I had a dentist appointment:

IMG_8749

and resisted the charms of these boots at Goodwill:

IMG_8750

because they’re not the right size for me and Jammies didn’t want them.  You should totally go get them, though.

….

Ace, that is gross:

IMG_8753

You are just putting mayonnaise on bacon:

IMG_8754

and looking at it lovingly:

IMG_8755

like an achievement:

IMG_8758

blech.

Pokey spent the week at sleepaway camp:

Miles first CFA letter

Dear Mom, can you tell me when my yu-gi-oh cards get there? Oh, and I got a yellow in the swimming test.

I think he had fun?

Miles second CFA letter

Dear Mom, my favorite friends are Noah & Landon.

He is a boy of few words.

When I went to pick him up, he was immersed in a game of gaga ball. I waited patiently for him to finish.  Then I went to give him a hug, and said, “Hi Pokey! I missed you!” and he said, “Which Yu-gi-oh cards came?”

(I still can’t answer that, and they’ve all arrived.) Despite the preoccupation, I think he had a really good week. His counselor really adored him, and privately told me Pokey was his second favorite camper of all times.

At lunch, on the way back from camp:

IMG_8772

It’s hard to see, but he built a little log cabin on the table.

Adjacent ponds

Rascal, pre-haircut:

IMG_8616

Rascal, during the haircut: apparently just charming the pants off the stylist.

“They keep wanting me to get my haircut,” Rascal said conversationally, “and I keep saying ‘next Sunday! next Sunday!’ ”

and

“How come there’s all these mirrors in these scissor places?”

and so on. They talked about movies and other things. Jammies eavesdropped.

Rascal, post-haircut:

 

Cleans up nice!

Hawaii’s play premiered on Friday! She was wonderful. She’s a terrific dancer, and an excellent actress.

She lost two teeth during two consecutive days of rehearsal:

IMG_8655

The play itself turns out to be about 20+ scenes from famous musicals. A few of them seem to be written for this show, by the director.

Hawaii stars in three scenes, and in each of them she plays a boy-crazy middle school girl.  Most of the scenes take place inside a Fame-style acting school.  She’s also in the chorus and dance corp for a bunch of other songs. It’s a pretty high-energy production.

IMG_8665

(The fragmented scenes gimmick is a bit odd, though.  There’s no plot or continuity.  It feels vaguely like the by-product of copyright laws that let you sample up to a certain amount without paying royalties.  The effect is like sitting with someone who is compulsively channel surfing. After a while, you just want them to stop and stick with a show, already.)

Version 2

I have two more significant grievances.

Several of the scenes are attempting to be edgy-transgressive: racist, sexist, and using the r-word to describe someone as an insult. In the first two cases, the racist-and-sexist person is supposed to be the butt of the joke, and the audience is presumably supposed to understand that the play itself is not condoning the statements.  But when the cast is full of kids, it looks an awfully lot like a 13-year-old being egregiously racist and sexist.

Version 2

The camp itself is a bit pricey, and I am sympathetic that it costs a lot of money to run a camp.

Here is the second grievance: tickets are $18!  And there are six performances spread over two weekends. (For contrast, tickets to the dance recital are usually $6, and there is only one performance.)  So when we took the whole family to opening night, we dropped $100. And since we’ll have a parent at each show, there’s another $100.  (And Ace and Rascal both attended twice, and Ace wants to go again…another $60.)

This is not actual professional theater. The kids are talented, but this is not an actual  night out for local adults. This is shaking down the parents and grandparents, over and over again.

Version 2

But at the same time, I’m so proud of Hawaii. I wish I weren’t so conflicted about the whole enterprise.

(I feel bad for griping. I hope it’s clear to Future Hawaii how unconflicted and good we feel about her role in this production.)

Our favorite daycare teacher got married on Saturday, and invited us. It was a wedding where we barely knew anyone, but feel so fond of the two brides that we felt the whole place brimming with love and community.  Jammies left early to take Hawaii to her show, and I stayed for the reception.

IMG_8630

During the reception, the parents of one of the brides (our friend) collapsed on the dance floor. The dad collapsed, and the mom fell. An ambulance was called. The lights came on, and it was quiet, just choked with emotion and sobriety.

He was lucid by the time the ambulance came, and told everyone to please keep the party going, and got some stitches that night. There was some group prayers for him, and then the reception resumed. The bride took some time away from the reception, and then returned.  It heightened the emotion and intensity of the evening.

IMG_8621

Whenever I think back to my wedding day, there’s an asterisk attached to it, in my mind. My mom made it out to the wedding, but she had just finished chemo, and she was basically absentee. She was literally present, but not much else.  It leaves a mark on the day, for sure.

Whenever our friend thinks back to her wedding day, it’ll have an asterisk by it, of the fear and awfulness of her father collapsing.  (The perfect-day-with-an-asterisk is probably more common than we all admit. Missing parents, siblings, whoever.  The dark backing that allows the mirror to reflect, or however that quote goes.)

Also it was the first Hispanic wedding I’ve been to. I danced to Tejano music and felt the right amount of self-conscious. Bidi bidi bom bom.

I took Pokey to summer camp today. We listened to this Science vs… podcast there.

IMG_8684

At the nurse’s station, I dropped off Pokey’s meds and gave instructions – one after breakfast, one before bed. She said, “After breakfast is easy – we make an announcement. For the bedtime one, he should be sure to ask his counselor for it.”

I stared at her for a few beats, and then said, “I don’t think that’s going to work, to count on an 8 year old to be in charge of his own medicine.” I may have spoken patronizingly – I was kind of shocked to be having this conversation.   She came up with more sentences and eventually the conversation seemed over.

The whole thing must surely work out, because this is a standard mainstream YMCA camp where kids have allergies and disabilities and chronic illnesses, so maybe she’s just new?

IMG_8686

The counselor instilled much more trust, however.  He said that he is also ADHD, and is on meds, and just generally made me think he’d be understanding and kind.

Pokey said something interesting. I was telling the counselor that the main things to watch out for are Pokey getting hungry and getting too worked up during competitions.  Pokey chimed in, “I don’t like competitions.”

I would have expected him to say something to the effect of, “I like competitions, but I get angry/intense and have to take a break.”  Now I wonder if it’s not closer to, “I can’t not care about winning, but I don’t like how intense and worked up I feel.”

Discreet little Fluffy:

IMG_8676

You are but an invisible wisp, Lady Fluffikins.

Text messages that no one wants from their kid’s summer camp:

IMG_E8659

don’t worry, our nit patrol game is strong.

For example, not a nit:

IMG_8658

just a little fella that Rascal built.

Do you recall, back in April, this goose egg?

IMG_7374

It was enormous.  At her check up a month later, the doctor said Ace would have a calcium deposit in the spot for a while.

One morning this week, right in the middle of the scar,  Ace woke up with a dent:

IMG_8648

It was the weirdest thing. It had faded by the end of the day.

I like this view of the fish hatchery, because of the different altitudes of adjacent ponds:

IMG_8645

It looks a bit surreal to me to have water at multiple heights, even though it’s not mysterious.

Just a letter I found in a parking lot:

IMG_8641

Ace, being regal:

IMG_8640

Rascal, giving a cheer:

img_8690

“Now show me the whole thing!”

“I can’t, I didn’t take a video. Just a photo.”

“Take a video!”

“I can’t, my phone is out of memory.”

Every day.  I really need to offload stuff off my phone.

 

Rest Stroom

Canonical image in our house:

IMG_8325

Pokey immersed in his Yu-gi-oh cards, Rascal watching intently.

Rascal made his own set of Yu-gi-oh cards:

IMG_8326

Pokey says that it is actually possible to play some version of Yu-gi-oh with Rascal’s construction paper version.  Rascal plays with them endlessly.

The tree being hacked to pieces:

IMG_8327

the casualty of last week’s storm.

You were a good tree. But you leaned at a dramatic angle towards then end of your life, even before the storm.

Doesn’t this look like some kind of sea arachnid, washed ashore?

IMG_8330

(pubic sea arachnid?)

Bookend children:

IMG_8332

and then Rascal escalated things:

IMG_8334 (1)

…and we have a full recovery:

IMG_8335

Tubing:

IMG_8345 (2)

Yo le gusta toobing mucho porque se refrescarse y le puedo a van abajo la cascada de agua. Cuando se van abajo de la cascada de agua es muy divertido y cuando y se van abajo yo aveces le faltar. Cuando les van toobing, se puedo a nadar.

I am so dazzled by their foreign language skills!  I am not 100% sure whether I cleaned up spelling errors or introduced new ones.

Pokey had a bad day at soccer camp, and we forced him to apologize. This was his preferred methodology:

IMG_8346 (1)

There were a bunch of leftovers, and Jammies and I fantasized about keeping a stack in our pockets, to hand out when applicable.

At the end of the week, though, Pokey was recognized:

IMG_8348

which took the sting out of the earlier bad day and highly unpleasant apology process.

A few years ago, I took Pokey on a special trip to Atlanta.  Later that year, I took Hawaii on a special trip to Madison.

Ace picking out her clothes:

IMG_8342

because her special trip was this past weekend. We went to Pittsburgh.

She even specified how she wanted me to fold them in her suitcase:

IMG_8344

she was very excited.

The plan was to go to Pittsburgh, and meet up with my best friend from college, and her five year old daughter, for a long weekend.

IMG_8350

“We need a selfie of us starting our trip!” Ace requested. “And also we need an entrance dance, for when we get to the house!”

(Ten minutes later:

IMG_8352

That is Georgie, her favorite snuggle.)

The Austin airport was such a colossal clusterfuck that I’m not sure I’ll be able to tell the story in an engaging way.  I think I’ll postpone it until we get to zoo animal photos, and then intersperse the saga, to alleviate the slog of endless tiring details.

The Pittsburgh airport has earned my all-time highest esteemed designation, for these amazing carpets:

IMG_8357

Just perfect, hands down:

IMG_8359

I would put this in my house, in a heartbeat:

IMG_8360

Or this variation:

IMG_8361 (1)

We AirBnB’d on the top floor of this charming house:

IMG_8363

(To my online friends in Pittsburgh: this trip was not compatible with reaching out, so I didn’t. But I truly enjoyed your fair city.)

IMG_8364 (1)

Here we are at the zoo pictures, so let’s dive in to the terrible airport story.  We left our house almost T – 3 hours to departure.  Due to an accident and highway lane closures, we arrived at T – 2 hours to departure.  That seems eminently reasonable!

IMG_8375

(skunks!)

We parked in longterm parking and walked to the shuttle stop.  I have never seen more than five people at a shuttle stop at the airport, and there must have been around forty people.

It was very hot.

The shuttles were running so slowly that forty people could accumulate, and then furthermore, it would take several shuttles before we could get on one. (There are many shuttle stops, so you’re not getting an empty shuttle when one arrives.)

IMG_8380

People were peeling off now and then to walk to the airport. After ten minutes with no shuttle, I decided that Ace and I should walk.

We set off.

IMG_8390

There is no path for walking from the longterm parking. At the end of our lot was a road with a barricade. We went around the barricade, and found a parking garage to cross. The entrance before us said “restricted personnel”.

We entered it. A woman from the shuttle stop, who had also decided to walk, caught up to us, which was reassuring.

IMG_8395

We entered the parking garage and found our path blocked on all sides by a tension-wire fence. We hauled  our luggage up and over it, and climbed ourselves up and over it, as well.  Spirits were good! This is an adventure!

Eventually we made our way over to the shortterm parking side of the parking garage, which had actual paths for pedestrians to walk to the airport.

It was very hot out. We entered the airport at T – 1.5 hours to departure.

IMG_8396

I looked around for Allegiant Air, and finally asked someone, who didn’t know, but asked someone else, and then we were pointed to a shuttle stop, back outside.

We walked back out, and boarded a shuttle.

IMG_8403

The shuttle just sat there. I began to feel panicky.  The driver explained that the shuttle was scheduled to leave in 5 minutes, and that it would arrive at the other airport at T – 1 hour to departure.

The other people on the shuttle, a family, told us that there’s a new terminal, 15 minutes away. It’s only been open for a few months. They reassured us that it was very small and easy to navigate.

IMG_8404

As the crow flies, the South Terminal is close to the regular terminal, but the shuttle busses exit the airport, go out onto the highway and drive through the country side to get there, and it takes a full fifteen minutes.

(It has its own parking lot – they might have told us to park there when we bought our tickets.)

This is why there were 40 people at the shuttle stop back at longterm parking: the airport is not running enough shuttles to get people back and forth to the South Terminal and also cover its prior existing routes.

IMG_8405

The South Terminal was packed with people.  It was a disaster.  Nobody could get through security by their flight time. They were not announcing whether flights were being delayed, or if they were just leaving half their passengers behind.

IMG_8414

Here was the worst part: I forgot to take Ace’s water bottle out of my backpack and empty it, before we went through security.

The agent flagged my backpack and found the water bottle. “Do you want to go back through security? Or should I throw it out?” the agent said.

I interpreted his question to mean “back through the whole line”, and not “merely back through the x-ray machine” – but maybe I was wrong.

At any rate, I said, “Throw it out! Ace, bye bye to water bottle!”  and pulled her towards the gate.

IMG_8417

Ace’s face crumpled, and she cried for the next hour. She was just so shocked that I’d cavalierly throw something of hers away like that. “Would you throw away Georgie?” she sobbed earnestly, clutching Georgie.

“Of course not!” I exclaimed. But she was devastated. Too much walking and waiting in the heat, for too long, and then this. I also felt terrible.

IMG_8432

It was now T – 20 minutes till departure. We got to the gate. It was immediately clear that they were nowhere close to boarding.  WHICH THEY COULD HAVE ANNOUNCED, NO?

We found and reordered the exact same water bottle from Target.  Ace still sobbed and sobbed and then fell asleep on the plane.

IMG_8433

That’s the whole story. The Pittsburgh airport was perfectly easy. We arrived around midnight.

IMG_8443

The other daughter woke up when we came in, around 1 am, and we let them have a midnight playdate for the next hour or so, while we talked and talked and talked, and began to catch up.

IMG_8445

After that, we had the best weekend.  Ace is a delightful travel companion. She played easily with the other daughter.

Rebecca and I balanced talking endlessly with each other, and being a foursome, and splitting off with our own kids sometimes. It just felt like there was plenty of energy and attention for everyone.

IMG_E8454

Ace’s favorites are gorillas, due to this baby nickname.  She asked me to put that on this photo, under the gorilla in the distance.

IMG_8455

Zoos are a mixed bag, of course, from the point of view of the animals.

IMG_8458

Hopefully a big one, like this, tends more towards being a sanctuary and rescue.

IMG_8463

but who knows.

….

This playground is clearly from the same vendor as our old playground, the one they tore down and replaced in 2018:

IMG_8464

We have also come across one of these same, distinctive playgrounds in Wyoming. Same wood, same turrets, same paths. Same alligator mouth and slides.

IMG_8467

Ours had this pyramid, but not the balance board at the bottom:

IMG_8469

That was the problem with ours: they kept removing more and more of it, instead of repairing it.  It became this depressing shell of former activities. “Here’s where the swings used to be! This might have been a climbing wall, but now it’s just a vertical drop!” Etc.

Our new playground is also from a national vendor – we’ve seen this prototype in Amarillo and elsewhere.  That is how I knew that the spongey material would be miserably heat absorbent in the summer, despite the reassurances from the decision-makers.  And I was right.

We took a boat ride:

IMG_8483

Submarine!

Version 2

Vertical train chutes! I’m sure there’s a more Pittsburgh term for them, but I can’t recall it.

IMG_8492

Clever tire patterns! Is there a Pittsburgh word for this, too?

IMG_8499

The next day, we went to Idylwild, an amusement park targeting younger children:

IMG_8503 (1)

We were charmed.

IMG_8508 (1)

Peter! You can’t keep Ace very well!

IMG_8514

That’s Ace, making the tremendous jump from the far side of the ball pit.

IMG_8527 (3)

Ace, reading the sign on the bathrooms: “It sounds like ‘rest room‘, but it’s actually ‘rest stroom‘.”  She said this in all seriousness.

I may look perturbed, but I felt deeply serene at the top of the carousel.

IMG_8535

The lap belt contributed mightily to my serenity.

Ace and E were the only children that figured out how to make their plane rise up during this ride. All the parents were yelling at their kids to pull up on the throttle.

IMG_8546

Afterwards, several kids were in tears.

“Mom! Mom! We’re food! I’m a cupcake, and she’s a biscuit!”

IMG_8552

Get it? Because it looks like a little to-go container?

This hand-crank ride is hilarious to me:

IMG_5069

but fun.

Pittsburgh loves its Mr. Rogers paraphenalia.

IMG_8558

There’s a whole Daniel Tiger part of the park.

IMG_8560

When we rounded this bend, I had a weird recovered memory of these multicolored pillars:

IMG_8561

On Sunday, we went to the children’s museum:

IMG_8568

It had a big Eric Carle exhibit:

IMG_8575

Apparently this was an earlier version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar:

IMG_8579

By Saturday, Willi had enough fruits and ate his way through…

img_8578

Ace loves her monkeys:

IMG_8580

Pittsburgh loves it’s Mr. Rogers:

IMG_8592

I had more surreal moments upon seeing the original puppets, as I have become accustomed to the modern Daniel Tiger versions.

IMG_8594

Ace gave these puppets a shudder, and a very wide berth, crossing to the far side of the room to get past them.

IMG_8595

I’m sure I wasn’t creepy back then, meow-meow, right?

I love this so much:

IMG_8596

it might have been a contender for a tattoo, had I seen it at the right time. (But I am very happy with my own kittens, and also I don’t think this kitten has similar siblings.)

because I checked out the artist:

img_8597

and didn’t see anything else that was in a series with this cat.

Ace learns new skills!

IMG_8601

Those eyes are officially crossed!

On the way home, a security guard at the Pittsburgh airport asked us if we knew about secret security, and pointed us towards this utterly empty alternative security path:

IMG_8603

Absolutely nobody using any of these five lines:

IMG_8604

It was as if Pittsburgh wanted to atone for Austin.

IMG_8608

Pittsburgh! You overachiever. You’ve done more than enough already, just with these carpets!

IMG_8610

Back in Austin, it took 1.5 hours to get back to our car, due to waiting for those blasted shuttles.

Where I discovered this:

IMG_8618

that I’d left the truck window rolled down for the past four days.  Sheesh, Heebie.

(I can’t park Jammies’ truck.  A worker directing traffic helped me park. I’d had the window down to talk to her.)

Finally, on Monday:

IMG_8629

After carrying residual sadness all weekend long, Ace gracefully accepted this replica as if it were the same one.  I think I really shocked her system with that episode.

Jammies launders money accidentally:

IMG_8612

but not criminally.

There was a baseball tournament this past weekend, which occupied most of his time. On Sunday, he kept score for four hours out of a seven hour Under-10 allstar baseball game. What the everloving fuck. This happened because the decision-makers were too pure to cap games according to time or runs.  So they played seven innings, and the final score was 42-41.

(I still couldn’t understand. Jammies explained that the pitching is so crappy, that every play is a walk. Then the player steals the next three bases and scores. Walk, steal, steal, steal. For seven hours in the heat.)

Pumpkins on pumpkins:

IMG_8616

on my pumpkin.

Hawaii has started theater camp. It’s intense: no weekends, 8-6 every day, for ten days.  This is also a crash course in hanging out with older kids, since the group is 9-18 years old. I get the impression that Hawaii is absorbing as much as she possibly can.

IMG_8613

She mastered high ponytails and high buns, and sent me this photo to appreciate. Which I do!

Well! This entry was certainly a long time coming! But here we are, at the end!

not that you all are waiting with baited breath, but tonight the internet is being so slow that I can’t upload the photos. Punting again! Till Tuesday! like the band!

Crabby Man

I took a giant nap last Tuesday.  It was bright and sunny, and I crawled into bed to read a book, and felt it was utterly one of the finest ideas I’ve ever had in my life.  The mattress is just the right softness. The cat was just right.  I was so tired.

Version 2

I wish I could take so many more naps in my life.

My mom takes naps every day, but she takes the wrong kind – short, highly disciplined naps, where you wake up feeling wrenched from slumber and just grit your teeth and get up. I want the housecat, patch of sunlight kind.

Sometimes there is a spiderweb across the back up camera on my car, the aftermarket one that Jammies installed for me last year:

IMG_8236

it reminds me a little of an endoscopy camera. Going new places.

This is the textbook for Jammies’ June class. Notice that there is no binding. It is just a stack of papers.  This stack of paper cost $95 to buy, or $70 to rent.

IMG_8237

We rented it. Textbook publishers can all go eat a bag of dicks.

Pokey did end up writing a letter to Ms. E:

IMG_8243

The whole thing makes me teary.  I also love her so much.

I went to a hot yoga class on Thursday. I feel conflicted.

IMG_8244

Last fall, I started seeing clips of my exercise class on Instagram Stories.  I move like a robot sawhorse, I realized.  Other people’s torsos seem to twist. My shoulders and hips always face the same way.

IMG_E8245

I thought it might be time for some hot yoga.  I waited for summer to go to a class with a friend.

IMG_8247

The good parts: I basically enjoyed myself. It was intensely hot and dippy in a meditative California way, but I didn’t feel bored or detached.  I let myself get carried along by the contemplative drivel and liked it.

The other good part: I think it will loosen me up, if I stick with it. Is once a week enough?

IMG_8248

The bad parts:  it takes time and money, and I feel chronically short on both time and money.

IMG_8250

The other bad part is the large mirror across the broad wall of the studio.  There’s no mirror at my gym.  I have gained a bit of weight lately, and I’m not zen about it, and it also turns out that I’ve been kidding myself that I look the same as always.

So the mirror was kind of a double-shock: 1. this is what I look like? 2. and this is what everyone else looks like when they do these same moves?  It is bothering me.

IMG_E8256

Maybe I shouldn’t go to a place that takes off my rosy-colored glasses, throws them on the ground, and stomps on them. Or maybe I should get so zen that I don’t need rosy-colored glasses, and stomp on the patriarchy instead. And if a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his butt when he hopped.

My baby gym vultures, last Wednesday!

IMG_8253

And last Friday:

IMG_8265 (1)

And today!  Mama Vulture is always there while it’s still dark out:

IMG_8318 (1)

and then she gets up and hops around, and I can admire her beaky babies:

IMG_8320 (1)

Rascal loves his mommy:

IMG_8258

Fingers! Shoelaces! Angry eyebrows!

IMG_8275 (1)

Socks!

IMG_8276

Crabby Man Rascal.

….

Fluffy, rubenesque:

IMG_8260

Still Life With OJ:

IMG_8266

Rascal pointed out this face-in-paneling to me:

IMG_8282

You know I can’t resist a hidden face. Rascal explained to me that his other eye was hidden on the other side, as was the other side of his mouth.

The face was hidden at Schlitterbahn, where we made our yearly sojourn on Sunday.

I really thought this might be the year when we all went on the rides together.

IMG_8286 (1)

Rascal went on a real tube ride, but Ace quaked and refused at the last minute.

IMG_8287

Ace went on a super tall slide ride, but Rascal would not. He sat down in the water at the top of the slide, and then turned scrambled out, and then gingerly sat down again and scrambled out again. He walked all the way back down again, and then all the way back up again, and hemmed and hawed some more.  He was really conflicted. (Ace was not conflicted about inner tube rides. I couldn’t even get her to sit on one in the pool.)

I suppose since they both have a ball in the kiddie area, it’s not really a problem.

IMG_8290

I myself mostly just like the mature trees and the pretty river.

IMG_8301 (1)

For the first time, we let Hawaii and Pokey go off by themselves to ride rides together.  (A little bit.)

IMG_8300

I think they may get along better, without us.

IMG_8299 (2)

At least when they’re fresh, at the beginning of the day.

IMG_8310

So long, Schlitty. See you next year.

Action shot from last night’s storm:

IMG_8312 (1)

Our power eventually came back on around 3 or 4 am.

One tree down:

IMG_8322 (1)

and a bunch more, all over town. It was a gawk-at-the-damage kind of morning.

My baby ducks!

Version 2

My baby ducks, all in my nest:

IMG_8277 (1)

So sweet, but I did go sleep on the couch instead of piling in.