August 31, 2006

August Day

You work with what you are given —
today I am blessed, today I am given luck.

It takes the shape of a dozen ripening fruit trees,
a curtain of pole beans, a thicket of berries.
It takes the shape of a dozen empty hours.

In them is neither love nor love's muster of losses,
in them there is no chance for harm or for good.
Does even my humanness matter?
A bear would be equally happy, this August day,
fat on the simple sweetness plucked between thorns.

There are some who may think, "How pitiful, how lonely."
Other must murmur, "How lazy."
I agree with them all: pitiful, lonely, lazy.
Lost to the earth and to heaven,
thoroughly drunk on its whiskeys, I wander my kingdom.

~ Jane Hirshfield, in Given Sugar, Given Salt

I didn't carry a poem in my pocket this week. Although it's a great idea. Instead, I banged back and forth between the slow slipping away of summer, a steady trickle of water through the unseen cracks in my cupped hands, and the thrill of school starting: new chalk, new clothes, new class lists, recitations of the summer's pleasures.

My son can't understand why the pool down the street has to close. And excitedly spends the morning sounding out words in case "big boy school" has some reading in it.

The end of August.

(See what the rest of the Poetry Thursday folks are up to here.)

August 29, 2006

Morning News Haiku

Where is the true world
with its shared dreams of spring thaw?
Who makes their home there?

(Thanks to One Deep Breath for the inspiration.)

August 27, 2006

Off the Track

(Photo by punkindunkin; thank you!)

There's another train, there always is
Maybe the next one is yours
Get up and climb aboard another train.
~ Gene Morton, in "Another Train," on One Big Joke
(although I like Cindy Kallet's version even better)

I got way off track a few days back. I get like that. I have always been drawn to the order represented by a printed train schedule, and I seem to have trouble remembering that even something that official-looking is just an idea. A plan. A set of hoped-for outcomes. I put together the little train schedules of my life, and get very attached to them. Except that they only truly exist in my head. And sometimes the universe – as embodied by my wife, our son, or the weather, for example – has a different plan.

At night, sitting in my bed with my laptop on my lap, I can hear the train whistle as it warns anyone who might be thinking about doubting the bells and flashing lights at the crossing.

You'd think by now that I would have learned to pay attention to the no-less-obvious signs in my own life. But as a wise friend once said to me, "Lessons will be repeated until learned." Guess this may mean that I'm destined to be sitting in the back of the class taking the same notes again for who knows how long. Sigh.

But life don't clickety clack down a straight line track
It comes together and it comes apart.

~ Ferron, in "Ain't Life A Brook," on Still Riot

Thanks to the good women of Mama Says Om
for whispering "train" in my ear.
Want to see what others heard?

August 24, 2006

Poetry Thursday - ee cummings

the moon looked into my window
it touched me with its small hands
and with curling infantile
fingers it understood my eyes cheeks mouth
its hands(slipping)felt of my necktie wandered
against my shirt and into my body
the sharp things fingered tinily my heart life

the little hands withdrew, jerkily, themselves

quietly they began playing with a button
the moon smiled she
let go my vest and crept
throught the window
she did not fall
she went creeping along the air

over houses

And out of the east toward
her a fragile light bent gatheringly

ee cummings

Cummings was the first poet whose work I remember following. And I mean that more literally than figuratively. We read some of his poems in an anthology (in high school, this was), and for the first time I went to the library in search of more. I remember being shocked at how thick the collected works were. And then equally shocked to realize that cummings had almost lived until I was born. I had missed him, but only just. Poets could be alive. This changed everything.

Twenty some-odd years later, I stood stock-still on Commercial Street in Provincetown, suddenly remembering that there was a cummings poem that started with one of the names on our list of "possibles" for the baby who would be joining our family soon.

I'm looking forward to someday telling our son all the reasons his name is his. Poetry can be alive. And can change everything.

(More musings on time and poetry are here.)
And tips o' the hat to Auntie Nish and SarahJ for setting me to thinking of cummings again.

August 22, 2006

And To My Right

When I left my home town (Big Flats, you guess the state, no cheating) to go to college, it was the first time in my life that I'd ever been an unknown. Or at least it felt that way. Growing up in a town of 1400 human souls meant that privacy was something of a thought experiment, and rather than reveling in my newfound frosh anonymity, I was downright crabby about it. I didn't like feeling unmoored, and maybe that's why the idea of becoming a student tour guide was so appealing to me. (That, or the fact that some kind student took pity on us when we visited my not-yet-alma-mater on a Saturday afternoon without calling ahead, and gave us a tour out of the goodness of his heart.)

The rule was that you were supposed to be a tour guide only after you'd been on campus for a year; I talked them into letting me do it my second semester. (This was remarkably similar to my campaign to get the local B. Dalton's to give me a job while I was in high school despite their manager's strict policy against hiring high school students. Apparently, the best way to get me to do something is to tell me I'm not allowed to.)

Anyway, I loved it. LOVED it. I had the time of my life being a tour guide, and got really good at walking backwards. Like poetry and singing, it quickly became something that I felt "bitten" by.

Unlike poetry and singing, though, there are not a lot of opportunities for honing one's tour guide skills once you're an adult. Docent was about the closest I could think of, but I think I'm probably too loud for that gig. Plus the name doesn't sound cool. Docent. There's got to be a better word.

Then I found out that the local historical society does walking tours of our town on weekends. But I had just moved here, and felt manifestly unqualified. Especially because I was still driving down to Philaldelphia every weekend, spiritual foot-dragger that I am. And then there was that whole parenthood thing.

Well, my friends, this past weekend I finally took myself over to the historical society and signed up to join a walking tour. And within about five minutes I was thinking, "I could DO this!" Within half an hour I was thinking about ways I could learn more cool things to add to the spiel. The next day my
extremely cool artist friend K helpfully took this picture to prove that yes, I can still walk backwards! And today I downloaded the volunteer form from the historical society's website.

All of which is to say, I do believe I am finally going to get to scratch that itch again!

(And if you'd like to see
what some other women have to say
about "scratch," head on over to Mama Says Om for some great reading!)

Study Break

I'm working on two posts, so stay tuned, but in the meantime, here are three minutes well-spent:

Click here to listen to Susan Werner's "My Strange Nation"

Or, if you're in a more visual mood, go play around with the stick figure here.

Back later.

August 19, 2006

Four Things

A) Four jobs I've had in my life:
lens blocker at Winchester Optical
clerk at B. Dalton's
dishline at the Rat
associate director of admissions

B) Four movies I could watch over and over:
The Philadelphia Story
Central Station
Desert Hearts
Shakespeare in Love

C) Four places I have lived:
Albion, MI
Big Flats, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Princeton, NJ

D) Four TV shows I love(d) to watch: (well, LOVE is a little strong, but...)
Waltons reruns
West Wing
Sports Night

E) Four places I have been on vacation:
North Truro (twelve times)
New Mexico (eight times)
British Columbia
Nova Scotia

F) Web sites I visit daily:
ze frank (see sidebar)

G) Favorite foods:
my mom's lasagna
apple pie
tom ka gai

H) Four places I'd rather be (although I'm pretty happy here at home, truth be told):
fast asleep
in a bookstore
skinny dipping at Goldstream
watching a Broadway show

(Crossposted here.)

August 17, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Beloved Books

Treasure Island

Comes a little lady, a book in hand,

A light in her eyes that I understand,
And her cheeks aglow from the faery breeze

That sweeps across the uncharted seas.

She gives me the book, and her word of praise

A ton of critical thought outweighs.

"I've finished it, daddie!" – a sigh thereat.

"Are there any more books in the world like that?"

No, little lady. I grieve to say

That of all the books in the world today

There's not another that's quite the same
As this magic book with the magic name.

Volumes there be that are pure delight,

Ancient and yellowed or new and bright;

But – little and thin, or big and fat –

There are no more books in the world like that.

And what, little lady, would I not give

For the wonderful world in which you live!

What have I garnered one-half as true

As the tales Titania whispers you.

Ah, late we learn that the only truth

Was that which we found in the Book of Youth.
Profitless others, and stale, and flat; –

There are no other books in the world like that.

~ Bert Leston Taylor, in Lifelines, Niall MacMonagle, editor

My partner has just started reading a version of Treasure Island to D during evening storytime. His eyes have never seemed quite so wide. I have loved libraries for as long as I remember, and can still re-live the thrill I felt when I got my very first library card. Some of the books I loved as a child were books that everyone loved, and some of them were books that I felt sure no one else had every truly read. And then, when I went back to them, they were sometimes just not the way I remembered.
(E.g. Search for the Crescent Moon, by Eth Clifford. Bet you've never heard of it.) The version I lovingly held in my head was MUCH better than the one written down by Ms. Clifford. Sometimes I went back looking for a book but couldn't find it (my hometown library reorganized their entire children's section once I grew up, with some disastrous effects to my shelf-location-based memories of books I'd loved). In my early thirties, while traveling in Canada on business, I suddenly re-discovered the Enid Blighton Adventure series, and bought the entire set on the spot, heart pounding with joy. The owner of the shop smiled at my sheepishness and said, "This happens about once a week."

I'd love to hear a story about the stories that shaped you...

For more poetry, visit Poetry Thursday!

August 14, 2006

Who Else Can I Still Be?

(Written to this week's prompt at Sunday Scribblings.)

I can still be the aunt my nieces turn to when the going gets tough.

I can still be the mom who always sang "I See the Moon" at bedtime.

I can still be a published essayist and poet.

I can still fly to Reykjavik on a whim someday.

I can still hone my craft as a storyteller.

I can still be an enthralled bystander at a sheepdog trial.

I can still attend the Battle of the Bands at the Georgia Dome.

I can still sing in another choir.

I can still be a tourguide for the Historical Society of Princeton.

I can still dream about time travel.

I can still grown my own corn-on-the-cob some summer.

I can still lose my eyesight, hearing, or mobility.

I can still take my boy to his first Broadway show.

I can still be a season ticket-holder to the theater series at McCarter.

I can still work in a library.

I can still get paid to speak in public.

I can still learn new folksongs.

I can still be a camp counselor.

I can still apprentice myself to a classic car fanatic and rehab some old clunker back to glory.

I can still run for office.

I can still get arrested for civil disobedience.

I can still live my gay life without benefit of legal protection ('cause I don't seem to have much choice in the matter).

I can still live to see a woman successfully run for President (not Hillary, though, I think).

I can still be a grandmother.

I can still watch my son navigate falling in love for the first time.

I can still learn a slew of new recipes.

I can still eat a piece of pizza without burning the roof of my mouth. Someday.

I can still thank my parents.

I can still pray.

I can still skinny-dip.

I can still be the friend who writes letters. The kind you mail. With stamps.

I can still learn to be a better listener.

I can still resist continuous partial attention.

Thank you for yours.

August 11, 2006

Where's My Icepick?

Friends, you may have to speak up a little. I'm having trouble with one of my ears (again).

While I was growing up, my mother would sometimes amuse us by imitating the doctor who told her, while he was trying to examine her ear canal, "Mrs. K, you have very torturous ear canals!"

Now, in the light of retrospect, not so funny.

'Cause apparently I inherited said canal structure, and now one or the other of my ears periodically gets so gunked up that my hearing is actually impaired.

The good news? This time it's not my phone ear. (T heard this and said, "You have a phone ear?" "Ye-eess," I said, thinking, duh. "You mean you use the same ear all the time when you're talking on the phone?" she marveled. "You mean you DON'T?" was the only thing I could say. Takes all kinds.)

Anyway, I've tried all the over-the-counter stuff, and, not surprisingly, none of it seems to do the trick. My primary care physician does a great job of addressing the problem, but she's on vacation and booked solid on Monday, her first day back, which means I'm going to be asking people to repeat themselves and just generally feeling crabby all the way until Tuesday.

I'm trying to think of it as an opportunity to reflect on how temporary our able-bodied status is. But mostly what I want is to jam an ice pick in my ear!

August 10, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Lyrics

Next weekend we'll be treating ourselves to dinner at Serrano followed by a show upstairs at the Tin Angel. Alice Peacock, who sings this song:

I'll Start With Me
Kristen Hall, Alice Peacock, Emily Saliers (!)

"Well, we do okay with the things God gave us,
But, will it be enough when it's time to save us.
One in three can't read, so many mouths to feed,
We just sit and wait like a loaded gun,
We cloak ourselves in the great tradition,
The United States of acquisition.

Every man for himself, it's just me and no one else,
Will we ever learn there's a price to pay.

America the free, wake up from your fantasy,
Is the nation so divided we can't see.
That there's work to be done, somethin' there for everyone,
I know - I'll start with me.

Six o'clock it's another story, gunman down in a blaze of glory,
Only ten years old, makes my blood run cold,
And the press descends like birds of prey.

Politicians stay in office, far too long to vote their conscience,
Lobbied, bought and sold, trading votes for gold,
They've forgotten that they work for us.

America the free, wake up from your fantasy,
Is the nation so divided we can't see.
That there's work to be done, somethin' there for everyone,
I know - I'll start with me.

For the beast to stay alive, it has to feed,
That's why in times of peace, they create an enemy,
What we called the big, red scare is just my neighbor over there,
With hopes and dreams, the same as me.

America the free, wake up from your fantasy,
Is the nation so divided we can't see
That there's work to be done, somethin' there for everyone,
I know - I'll start with me."

I try not to live in the land of anticipation, but then again, sometimes it's just a good place to be.

August 09, 2006

Lamont Win = Cause for Hope?

Can it be that the tide is finally starting to turn? Be still my Quaker heart.

"Time is running out for Republicans. Unless something dramatic happens before Election Day, Democrats will take control of the House. And the chances that they'll seize the Senate are rising toward 50-50." Charlie Cook in the National Journal. Full piece here.

From the DSCC today:

Democratic Leader Harry Reid and DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer issued the following joint statement today on the Connecticut Senate race:

“The Democratic voters of Connecticut have spoken and chosen Ned Lamont as their nominee. Both we and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) fully support Mr. Lamont’s candidacy. Congratulations to Ned on his victory and on a race well run.

“Joe Lieberman has been an effective Democratic Senator for Connecticut and for America. But the perception was that he was too close to George Bush and this election was, in many respects, a referendum on the President more than anything else. The results bode well for Democratic victories in November and our efforts to take the country in a new direction.”

And, of course, DailyKos has something to say.

"What tonight showed is that democracy can work. That even the most powerful, entrenched forces can be dislodged by people-power. That the combined mights of the Democratic and Conservative establishments couldn't hold the gates against the barbarian intruders.

We can make a difference, and we will. We have just seen what we can accomplish if we set our minds to it. Now while we'll work to seal the deal in Connecticut, we'll also take our energy, our passion, and yes, even our dollars and use them to teach the ruling Republican ideologues running our country into the ground that they face repercussions for their incompetence."

Let's hope. And roll our sleeves up.

August 07, 2006

A Day In the Life

To aid us in our endless quest for content, Sheryl of Paper Napkin fame offers us this opportunity to share our day. The beauty of this? You don't need to have an idea, you just have to have a life. The downside? Chances are your life is kind of dull, and that you're not quite as amusing as your kid thinks you are. Nevertheless, here goes!

6:15 Wake up. No need to be awake, but awake anyway. Sigh. Try to go back to sleep. Instead, lie in bed and think about "to do" list... plane tickets for October, rear tires for car, call pharmacy, figure out if raise has kicked in, find second swim suit...
6:38 Give up and get up. Shower. New soap was given as birthday gift to partner. Smells great. Fun to give a gift that I get to use, too. Shoulder muscles a little sore from swimming some laps yesterday. Cool.
6:41 Telltale squeak of bathroom doorknob. "Mommy, can I get up now?" The day begins in earnest.
6:43 Clocks in house (other than bedside one, which is battery powered for just this reason) are all blinking due to some middle-of-the night powergrid event. Try to reset clocks. Spend what feels like forever watching the numbers on clocks whip past the correct time, forward and back, forward and back. Wish they could all be microwave clocks. Arggh. Breathe deeply to regain good humor.
6:46 Get dressed. Whatever's lying around; no one will see me today. One of my favorite aspects of summer. Remember to brush hair before it dries sticking straight up. Bonus points. Sneak peak at email... WAYA likes my "camp" post for Mama Says Om. Yay!
6:47 "Which constrictor is the goodest in our entire universe?" (First of today's endless stream of which is the best, strongest, fastest, most powerful, longest, favorite, etc. etc. of the _____ [fill in category here] questions. The kid is relentless in his pursuit of knowledge.)
6:48 "Who is the king of all the snakes? Probably the king cobra, right, because he has king in his name."
6:50 D successfully lobbies for role-playing games before getting dressed.
6:55 Nice long game of Gorilla (D) and baby (me). Touch and go for a while there, but ultimately a deep friendship is formed. Gorilla snuggles baby. Baby picks bugs out of Gorilla's hair. T still fast asleep.
7:00 It's raining. Did I leave my jacket at the office?
7:20 D agonizes over what to wear. Finally comes up with a combinatio
n he can live with.
7:30 Breakfast. Special K + Go Lean! for me, instant oatmeal (!) for D. Can't listen to NPR in the morning anymore because I don't want our mornings full of war. Paper mysteriously AWOL.
7:43 T awake. Still no NYT. Call NYT and request replacement paper (which will arrive after we've all left the house).
7:50 Goodbye kisses.
8:15 Drop D off at Friends Camp.
8:20 Wait to merge back onto the Pike. A black Hummer hulks by. What are these people thinking?
8:21 Drive to work, now listening to NPR. Worsening situation in Lebanon, Iraq, you name it. Importance of Connecticut primary tomorrow (go, Ned!). BP might have to shut down part of the Alaska pipeline; gas prices likely to go even higher. Landis likely to be stripped of his Tour win. Macintosh possibly going to announce new iPod product.
9:03 Exit car. First time in a week that glasses haven't fogged up getting out at work.
9:05 No voicemail messages (YES!), put lunch in fridge, reset office microwave clock (nice and easy).
9:10 Fill up orange Nalgene bottle w/ water, pee, stop by faculty book exchange to drop off a book and leave with four more... not how that was supposed to go. Snag a few tomatoes from someone's garden that have been left on the "take me" table. Working in this school rocks.
9:15 Create, certify as official, and mail transcript for graduated student applying for grad schools. Document entire process. Paper pusher extraordinaire.
9:33 Email. Delete offers of junk stock, various snake oils, Viagra deals, college degrees within days. Reread last week's unreturned message log. Try to figure out what I meant by "email B kids to figure out plans." What the hell did I mean?
9:50 Receive logo from NJ Council on Humanities in .jpg format. Yay! Save myself half an hour of cursing at decrepit scanner. (I'm working on some PR for one of their grantees in my copious spare time this week.)
9:55 Prep work for new letter of recommendation for graduating senior. Read teacher comments, student autobiography, parent questionnaire. Review transcript. Gather extracurricular information. Start thinking about
angles of approach and "through lines."
10:17 Email from E. Playdate achieved! Great news for me and the kid.
10:50 WaPo email re: AOL giving up on selling internet access. Ya think? I remember trying to explain why trying to sell a gated community within the wild west environment of the internet was a temporary proposition. About 10 years ago. They held on a lot longer than I thought they would.
10:58 Alarm testing dude is here; random test beeps are driving me nuts.
11:05 Fellow administrator in the outer office has his volume knob turned way up... put "gone writing" sign up on door and bail to library, where no one has ever bothered me.
11:54 Well into work of rec letter now. Turn off email reader so as to better resist temptation. Writing letters of recommendation is a little bit like falling in serial platonic crush with each of "my" kids in turn. When I get it right, I get to the end of the letter thinking, "I love this kid!" Warty kids aren't that hard, actually... as a former high school goat, I can empathize. Shiny kids are easy because they've helped themselves at every turn. The hardest ones – for me, anyway – are the super-quiet, ghost-like kids. Tough to figure them out.
12:03 Hunger clock kicks in. Try to resist in order to finish first draft of letter.
12:41 Done with first draft! Good, but will still need some work. Kid is a bit of a grade-grubber, which is hard to know what to do with... don't want to gild the lily, also don't want to completely torpedo the kid's chances. Always a balancing act. A little like cutting a diamond. The trick is to proceed knowing that every kid is a diamond.
12:45 Confirm membership in Church of Obsessive Backup by backing up newest letter to network folder.
12:53 Back to office. Transferred into the void twice while trying to call about tires. Sigh.
1:02 Put leftovers in wimpy office microwave and go pee.
1:04 2 voicemail messages. Business office w/ a question re: an invoice, and a hang-up. (Yay!)
1:10 Inhale lunch while surfing the internet
1:35 Discover Wikimapia and have some fun with it.
1:52 In flash of inspiration, figure out cryptic note to self re: "B kids"
2:00 20 minute head-clearing walk along Delaware-Raritan towpath. Realize (belatedly) how much better this all would have been with pictures.
2:22 That shirt will need a wash.
2:23 More surfing; eyes starting to protest "screen only" diet.
2:45 Return emails and phonecalls... use the word "connect" twice in a voicemail message and wish in vain for "do overs." Fail to reach mom who is wondering what to do about the fact that her son got a "D" in Chemistry during the year but then got earned a 4 on the AP exam. Gotta be a story there, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow.
3:20 Pee one last time and pack up.
3:30 Leave. NPR's Fresh Air is interviewing actor John C. Reilly. Pretty interesting, especially his discovery that con artists are sort of like actors, but gone to the Dark Side.
3:50 Raining. So much for the pool.
3:54 Sunny. Weird. But cool.
3:58 Back into driveway without hitting ANY of the four recycling cans we set out on Sunday night. Damn I'm good. Look excitedly around. No witnesses.
4:00 Key in lock, realize still haven't met new next door neighbors. (Trucks came over the weekend.) Oh well, all in good time. It's nice not to be the newcomer.
4:05 One voicemail message, super-annoying nagacious from someone I don't know all that well, and who clearly doesn't know me. Need to inform everyone I know that if you hassle me about doing something, thereby implying a lack of faith in my trustworthiness, the odds are good that I'll dig my heels in and start slow pulling. (Think Amtrack on a day when every train seems to inexplicably creep along.)
4:06 Conked on couch.
4:35 Pack pool bag, drive to camp.
4:45 D's full speed running "Mommy!" hug almost knocks me down. I could live on these.
5:08 Pool. No noodle in sight. But we don't care anymore.
5:15 Arrival of D's beloved friend I, who can't swim. I assure I's parents that they can go to dinner; I won't let him drown.
5:18 D tries to show I how to use a kickboard.
5:20 I fish an all-but-drowning I out of the shallow end and recommend the kiddie pool for a while. Yikes.
5:21 Complete vegetation by the side of the pool while the boys invent endless games. Ahhhhh.
5:55 Everybody out of the pool. Neither boy has underwear packed. Oh well. Gentlemen, welcome to the wonderful world of freeballing.
6:01 See T walking down the street and offer to scoop her up for one block of air conditioning. She accepts and we continue home.
6:05 T on couch reading NYT at long last. Boys upstairs in search of Superman undies. Me in kitchen working on halal dinner. (I is Muslim.)
6:15 Boys go from not wanting to help with dinner prep to arguing over who gets to husk the most ears of corn. A total Tom Sawyer moment.
7:07 Everyone has eaten. I's folks come to peel him away. Both boys disappointed that the playdate is over, but happy to have spent time together.
7:26 Moms enjoying some quiet time and dessert while D plays for a few more minutes.
7:27 "Mommy, I have a poop, could you come check my bucket?" Never fails. Maybe it's just as well that I didn't turn this into a photolog.
7:30 A little more playtime.
7:40 Upstairs for books (Click Clack Moo, Nabulela), nail trimming ("Tama, that's TOO close!"), jammies, songs (Stay Awake & I See the Moon), and a true life story (The Day Tracy Bit Shelley's Finger).
8:20 Boy is conked.
8:30 Clean kitchen, exchange stories of day, fend off marketing calls.
9:00 Brush teeth, ignore laundry, neglect to make lunches, read to each other in bed. Show T the superfun OK Go video, which she actually kind of likes. Usually she just puts up with my You Tube offerings. But I do a good job of feigning interest in golf techniques, so we're good.
9:22 Type this up
Sometime later: crash (too tired even for Gear Taker!)

August 06, 2006

We have a swimmer!

Two weeks ago, we had a kid who would sometimes duck his head underwater for a split second, but who mostly was deeply and firmly attached to his "noodle."

We didn't sign him up for lessons during camp, because at the time we were making those decisions (February or some such), it was impossible to imagine where he might be once July rolled around.

Then our friend and personal swim coach Jenny recommended at least a few one-on-one lessons from someone really good, and we called one of the lifeguards at our pool who has also been giving lessons on the side (literally and figuratively) for the past three summers.

D was extremely excited about his lesson, especially when he learned that his teacher would be a lifeguard (!).

And last Tuesday, he and E worked together for about a half hour. We hung back, out of earshot (in fact I swam laps for a good chunk of the time), but he seemed very happy throughout.

Still loved his noodle.

Then yesterday, seemingly out of the blue, D decided to try to swim back to the steps from where we'd been playing, without his noodle.

"Sure, buddy," I said, "and I can give you a belly boost," because that's what we'd been doing.

"No, I'm fine," he said in a studiedly casual tone. And then he swam.

It pretty much felt like a miracle. And it still does. You should see him go! The best part, I think, is that he really understands how all those little steps he took added up to this unbelievably cool thing. Playing in the ocean w/ JT, in Rainbow Lake with Aunt Chelle, and in Broadmead Pool with us set the stage. Half an hour of confidence-building encouragement from a trained professional was all he needed to make that final leap. I think his smile muscles are probably almost as tired as his arms and legs.

Goodbye, noodle.

August 02, 2006

News of the Incredibly Obvious

Here's the big newsflash from central New Jersey: it's hot. To quote our fearless newsfolk: "It's really hot out there, people. We've got temperatures climbing into the triple digits, and with the heat index it could feel more like 115." Right now, whoever invented the "heat index" had better stay the hell out of my way.

Earlier today, hearing the phrase "triple digits" for approximately the quadruple digit-th time, I wondered idly if our car's external temperature display even HAS a third digit.

It does.

PS: Remember my talking about thinking about forgiveness and the abilty to be quiet as if they were muscles? Check out this article about willpower as a muscle... the metaphor goes on and on!

PPS: Okay, next time we have a heatwave, I'm gonna try this!

August 01, 2006

Cape Camping Report & Recipe

We're STILL unpacking from our two-week vacation. Everything has slowed to a crawl because of the heat. But we did have a fabulous time, and here, as much a reminder to myself as anything else, is this year's photolog of the ever-evolving recipe for camping success:

Bring a friend.

Rent some bikes.

Relax the rules.

Get wet every day.

Face paint!

Wear 'em out.

Bring poetry & games, but "forget" earrings so you'll have to shop.

and finally, shake out the tents BEFORE you roll 'em up!

We had a great time. It's our twelfth summer at North of Highlands Camping Area (we took a few years off after D's arrival until he was old enough to camp happily). With any luck, we've still got some good camping years left in us. (Let's hear it for air mattresses !)

(I'm really hoping that some of the other Mamas of
Mama Says Om fame do an alternative take on "camp"..
you know, with feather boas and stuff! Please go check 'em out!)