August 31, 2007


The ring on the left is the new ring. The ring on the right, the old.

My partner and I will be celebrating the start of our umpteenth year together in a few months, and sometime last year we started looking at rings.

We already had rings, a set that we had designed and had custom-made for us by the fabulous Henri David in Philadelphia back in 1990-something.

We loved our rings. Wore them every day. But one of my favorite things about living outside the mainstream is all the opportunities I'm given for intentional re-invention.

Why should I wear one ring forever? If shopping for rings together once was fun, why not shop for a new set?

We grinned and flirted our way through the whole thing; it was worth it just to bask in the remembered glow of that "let's tell the world we mean it" feeling.

So fifteen years on, we're officially domestically partnered. Our son is legally ours. But we've never had a ceremony. We're not married, and we're not civil unionized, because, well for one thing, the whole civil union thing is turning out to not be as good as marriage after all (what a SHOCK!). Most people won't notice our new rings, but for us, it's never been about other people.

The only question now is, what will we do with the first set of rings?

(Thanks to Shari of the glass doorknob
for her elements springboard.)

I Wanna Hold Your Hand...

Blog Day 2007

Oh, hello! It's Blog Day, when the blogosphere reaches out and is surprised to discover who's holding whose hand...

Here are some folks whose virtual hands I'm reaching for (and in this particular case, I'm trying to stretch a bit, going for people I don't know in the physical league):

(fun and fabulous eye)
(great spirit and creativity from down under)
(gentle centered wisdom and gorgeous images from Canada)
(grace in the face of the unimaginable)
(fascinating glimpses into other folks' spiritual journeys)

Happy Blog Day! And hey, if you've got some cash to throw around, think about tossing it here:

More fun blogs to explore over here!

Technorati Tag:

(Thanks to the folks at Blog Day 2007 for this cool day.)

The End

These days are coming to an end.

The carrying days. In a few days – he can tell you, at any given moment, exactly how many – this boy will be six years old. He weighs in at forty-seven pounds, and we now think twice about picking him up, let alone carrying him.

He's pleased to be getting bigger. And yet.

One time, as I carried him up the stairs, I said to him, "You're really getting big, buddy." (So far, so good.) I then continued, "One of these days I won't be able to carry you. (Big mistake.)

He burst into tears. "But," (in that gasping for air through tears way) "But. I. like. it. when. you. carry me! It's. one of my. favorite. things!"

"Oh, sweetie, me too," I said. "I'll try to get stronger so I can keep doing it."

We are enjoying the end of our carrying days, relishing every one, even as we look forward to the reading and bike-riding and standing back-flip days that we hope await us.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
and congratulations to Laini!)


for the last candle,
one needs help

(Thanks to Shari of the glass doorknob
for her elements springboard.
And love to Steve and the little J-man!)

August 30, 2007

Little Haiku

flustered chickadee
tail feathers akimbo
with each gust

not flying but carried
by the storm

(Thanks to the women of One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.
I mis-remembered the prompt,
so wrote about something small and pretty,
rather than tiny and pretty,
but what the heck.)

August 29, 2007


The only thing that had a chance of making this perfect night even better was a road trip to the ocean. Once we got close enough to smell the sea air, we stopped at the famous Circus Drive In for dinner. The lower of the two pole signs says


We got the last spot. Between the ocean breeze and trays full of burgers and fries being carried past, the air was just jam-packed with summer. By the time we finished, it was dark, too dark to bother with the boardwalk. We went anyway.

Beach sand and moonlight... if we got close enough,
we could feel the cool air shushing in with the waves.

(Thanks to Shari of the glass doorknob
for her elements springboard.)


I don't want our son to be one of those kids who thinks earth is "dirty."

For all that our modern society does to discourage, distract, and even prevent us from maintaining our connection to our planet, I want to be part of what pulls him into "right relation" with the Earth.

Today on the way home, we stopped at a farm stand that is run on the honor system. Trays full of summer squash, pint-size containers of cherry tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, luscious eggplants and ear after ear of corn were such a treat for our eyes! After many long moments of comparative weighing (people around me smiled as D asked, "How much is does a pound weigh?"... I hoisted him into the air and said, "This big vegetable boy weighs 47 pounds!"), we selected this acorn squash as our prize. Then we talked a little bit about the gardens this good food had come from, and the trust that is required to run a stand without a cashier. Wanting to see if he understood, I picked up the acorn squash (pictured above at home on our hand-crafted cherry dining room table, thank you Hal Bigelow!).

Squash in one hand, money in the other, I looked at D and said, "I could just leave, and take the squash AND my money with me." He looked appropriately horrified. "Well, why not?" I said. "What's stopping me?"

"Because they trust you?" he said, eyeing me sternly.

He gets it! I let him put the three dollars in the cash box.

Last night we read the story of Anansi the spider and the moon for the zillionth time, and I remarked that I found it especially satisfying to read that story on a night when the moon was full.

Tonight, when asked if he wanted us to read that story again, D said, "No, I think I want to save that and just read it when the moon is really full."

"That sounds like a great idea!" I said, "But you know, the moon is only full once a month." (I haven't explained blue moons to him yet.)

"How long is a month again?"

"About four weeks, sweetie."

"That's okay, Mommy. I can wait," he said, still pleased with his good idea.

Now I'm thinking about maybe doing moon books every full moon! Owl Moon in the winter, Anansi in the fall... what else? Our boy's going to be connected to the Earth and her shadow!

August 27, 2007

Hanging On To Summer

Picture Perfect

D was lucky enough to spend much of the last week with his grandparents. His arrival coincided with the very brief dark plum season, so with Nana providing support and Grandpa providing guidance he jumped right into the work at hand, helping to make a Pflaumen Torte from his great-grandmother Oma's recipe. D eventually tried some, and although he wasn't an instant convert, he did learn that a big boy can have a favorite recipe. He also learned got another little taste of the ways in which our live's cycles can be tied to that of the Earth's.

My parents' only grandson had Grandpa's hot cereal with syrup monster faces every morning, and declared Nana's tilapia to be "the best fish I've ever had," while neatly tucking away an adult-sized portion. D and Grandpa gleefully deconstructed a circular saw and did a ton of work on the trails and garden. When they got tired of working, Grandpa regaled D with true life stories about the Grandbanana's adventures in the British Virgin Isles:

Nana coaxed D into accepting a free cookie at the grocery store, and the trio found so many golf balls for Tama that the washing up operation became a mission unto itself, complete with a borrowed painting shirt from Grandpa:

D spent plenty of time watching the birds and enjoying the garden, and all in all, the trip will go down as a big success. (We can conveniently "forget" a failed rocket launch as well as a few tantrums and choice epithets – all D's – right?)

Thank you, Grandpa and Nana!

August 25, 2007

That Sinking Feeling

"Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into."
-Wendell Barry, naturalist

On my way home to Elmira, NY last night, I listened to a podcast of anti-consumerist guerilla artist Keri Smith, whose Wish Jar Journal is a near-constant source of inspiration to me. She mentioned this quote by Wendell Berry, one of her favorite thinker/writers, and I have been thinking this morning about the instances and uses of dread in my life.

I went to a party earlier this year that included amongst the guests one garrulously drunk person. As soon as I saw this person in the kitchen of my friend, I felt that sinking feeling, but I ignored it, as I really wanted to be at the party. By the end of my stay, the sinking feeling had ripened into a general sense of unease and discomfort, and I left the party thinking, "Should I have done something different in response to that sinking feeling?"

~ ~ ~ ~

Our son's accidental 11-second entrapment in a wooden chest when he was three – bad mommy points; it probably felt like an hour to him – has left him with a lingering distrust of enclosed spaces. The prospect of a long elevator ride gives him "that sinking feeling," even if the ride is one that will take him up!

Dread is a warning, or at least a call for heightened attention, but the Berry quote gives me a different way to think about what happens next. When is pushing past that sinking feeling a kind of victory, and when is it foolhardy? Is there any way of knowing?

August 23, 2007

T minus two weeks

How's this for a quest? Two weeks from today our D will be halfway through his first day of kindergarten.

I think my stomach just did a half-gainer.

The hardest thing at this point, I think, is not having any idea who he'll be hanging out with, either on the kid or teacher side of things. (Our district apparently has a long history of doling out teacher assignments at the last possible second, presumably with an eye towards decreasing opportunities for parental whining and conniving.)

Last year, at our Gentle Little Quaker School, D's early reports about his classmates included a somewhat puzzled reference to "that kid who always seems mad." More curious than alarmed, I did a little digging and discovered that F, the kid in question, had just moved to our town. FROM BELGIUM.

The first week he spoke basically no English. By the second week he had learned enough to quietly say, "I want Mommy." Poor little thing! I talked with D about how hard it would be to suddenly be transported halfway around the world to a country where the people all spoke a language you didn't understand. D seemed to "get" what I was saying, and promptly tucked F under his wing. One day in November D came home almost breathless with excitement.

"Mommy, the greatest thing happened today at school. F said my name, and it was just REGULAR!" They have remained friends, and when I wondered out loud if this year's class at Down the Street Elementary might include a student who had just arrived from another country, D piped up with, "That would be nice!"

As a result of his experience last year, my kid is now prejudiced TOWARDS recently-arrived immigrants. Take some notes, grownups.

On the way into work this morning I was fantasizing about some other family in our town setting their kid up to be positively disposed towards my two-mom son. "Just think, sweetie, you might have someone in your class with TWO moms!" To which junior would of course respond, "That would be nice!"

We have been very fortunate so far. D has only gotten one overtly negative reaction (that we know of) to his two-mom status, and that was from a young friend who just got it into her head that he MUST have had a dad at one point, and since the dad was clearly nowhere around, said dad must have died. Since D and his little friend S were four years old at the time, this quickly devolved into a shouting match:

S: Your dad is DEAD!
D: He is NOT. I don't even HAVE a dad!
S: Well, you probably did, but now he's DEAD!!
D (shrieking): I DON'T HAVE ONE AND HE'S NOT DEAD!!!

Luckily it didn't come to blows, the parents were totally cool, and the kids were pretty good friends and so had some good will in the bank... it all worked out.

I talked with a friend of mine last night whose 9 yr. old has run into some "push back" from peers about his two-mom status. One time, when a schoolmate said, "Well, one of them HAS to be a step-mom," my friend's son didn't argue, but instead came home and checked in with his completely un-step moms.

At this point, our son is currently more likely to fight for his version of the truth, but who knows? If he continues to hear from people that his family "can't" be the way it actually is, he might start to question. Or at least opt to pick his battles.

When I tell friends my (by now very old) coming out story, I often explain my family's growing acceptance and support this way: "I wore them down with the persistent fact of my happiness."

If the need arises, I hope our son can wear his world down with the persistent fact of his happiness!

(Thanks to the women of Mama Says Om
for their continuing inspiration.)

August 21, 2007

Daybreak Haiku

I grasp my blanket
while the world rolls over

daybreak already?

~ ~ ~

the day's climb up the dunes

birds and their songs

~ ~ ~

Cutting the deck,
sea from sky

the sun's first light

(Thanks to the women of One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.)

August 17, 2007

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

I've got my hand on the spigot.

I am trying not to look at the calendar, but it's not helping. No matter what I do, our "baby" will be heading off to kindergarten in just a few weeks.

He'll be going to public school, in a district that is famously fabulous, and he's absolutely ready. He's been in care since he I went back to work when he was three, is social and funny, knows all his letters and the sounds they make, can do math problems in his head. And yet.

I feel like the biggest part of my job as a parent has been keeping my hand on the spigot of mainstream culture, trying to gauge how much "real world" I want in our boy's life. I find many aspects of mainstream culture problematic from a parent's standpoint, whether it's song lyrics (remind me to tell you about the fun we had explaining "suicidal" to our curious 5 year old, who overheard Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls" on the radio while not in our care), rampant consumerism, violence packaged as entertainment, or the idea that kids should eat "kid food" crammed with sugar. Parenting our son has been a daily exercise in vigilance.

And I know that I'm about to lose control.

Friends with older children have given us the weather report... with long days spent in school alongside children of all sorts of philosophies, D will be coming home with all kinds of new ideas and vocabulary.

I know it's inevitable, and in some ways even desirable. We don't actually want to raise our boy in a bubble.

But there's a part of me that thinks about the folks I know who are home- or un-schooling their kids, and I wonder... how do we decide the appropriate level of parental self-sacrifice? Diary, is it selfish for me to want to keep working at this cool job, which pays me to practice some things that really matter to me: listening, and writing, thinking and telling stories, matchmaking and team building? Am I doing the right thing? Is there any way to really be ready for what comes next?

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)

August 16, 2007

Peach Haiku

(Painting by Maria J. Smith)

that peach,
not ready yesterday,
was ripe today

sweet separation:

flesh from pit,

dripping juice

(Cross-posted at Summer Haiku 2007.)

(They don't call it the Garden State for nothin'!)

August 11, 2007

Taking Advantage

We had pancakes for dinner last night (I was inspired by the suddenly cooler weather and felt emboldened to fire up the stove for a change, but wasn't feeling all that creative).

I cut the first few into bite-sized pieces for D, but then, once I'd sat down to eat mine, declined his request for help cutting up his second stack.

"The cutting up help goes away once you're six, you know," I said, on the verge of pointing to the calendar to remind him just how close that fateful moment is.

He looked up with a smile, quick as a fox, and said, "I know, so don't you think I should take advantage of it? While I still can?"

So.... I cut up a few more pancakes. :-)

August 09, 2007

August 08, 2007

Meaningful Tangles

Interesting piece in the current Wired on the mysterious Incan string bundles known as khipu. I have been fascinated by codes – broken and unbroken – for almost as long as I can remember.

Trying to figure out which movie has had the greatest impact how I see the world. (Our headmaster tossed out a little meme challenge last week.)

Saw Hairspray last night (the movie, not the play), and really enjoyed it. Worth the price of admission just to see Allison Janney's pratfall and to hear Queen Latifah say, "We get any more white people in here, it's gonna be a suburb!" Afterwards, though, I was left with the same sense of lingering unease that often accompanies my viewing of a movie that depicts our American "awakening" to racial injustice in the 1960's. I end up feeling like the subtext of the film is something like, That was then, this is now, thank goodness we've come so far. Pass the rose colored glasses; I'll have another helping of denial, please.

I am pleased that D's after-school program in this coming year will be coordinated by the YWCA; I like giving some of my money to an organization that deliberately seeks to engage issues of racial injustice on a continuing basis.

August 07, 2007

Evening Haiku

Early August –
dusk lags back
to check on bedtime

(Thanks to the women of One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.)

August 05, 2007

Special Day

The first thing C said as the brightly colored plastic of Great Adventure's Hurricane Harbor came into view was, "I've really been wanting to go to a water park!" Then she said, "I don't really like slides that are TOO big, though." Uh oh, I thought. This could be a short visit. How big is too big?
By the end of our 3.5 hour visit, C had considerably expanded her definition of "small enough," and we had lots of slides to choose from, including the long ones picture above, one of which includes a section that is "pitch dark!" (C's description).

When we needed a break, we headed over to the Lazy Creek, snagged a tube, and drifted downriver. (We wanted to get a double tube, but there weren't enough to go around. We then decided we were perfectly happy to share one big single tube.) (Please be very impressed by my ability to take a picture with a non-waterproof camera while floating on a tube with a seven year old. I know I am.)

Then it was sliding and more sliding...

With the occasional bungee jump tossed in there.

C and I truly enjoyed each other's company,
which is what Special Days are all about.

August 04, 2007


Our little town is full of working professionals and has a ton of summer camp options, but there's nothing quite like the camp at the Friends School. The kids spend a significant time every day in a forest "village" of their own making, and each group's space becomes a testimony to their imagination. On the last day of camp, I followed D and his cousin C (imported from Maryland for the week) into the woods for a tour.

My memory of childhood trips is full of my sister's discoveries of "treasures." These were usually items that someone else had discarded, or never even noticed in the first place, but which took on the luster of spun gold when looked at in just the right way. C takes after her mother in her ability to find magic where others see dirt and rocks; the next two pictures are hers:

C's homemade firepit

C's special rock

C herself, demonstrating the specialness of her rock

Here's to time in the woods and treasures everywhere.


Some of the fun of this week has been introducing C to the outstanding attractions of Mercer County. On Thursday, we told the kids that we'd be going to Stewarts for dinner. "Wahooo! Yesssssss!" yelled D as he jumped and danced around. "What's Stewarts? A restaurant?" asked C. She was clearly having trouble imagining how a restaurant could be fabulous enough to elicit such a response.

"Yes!" exclaimed the dancing D. "It's this restaurant, but you get to stay in your car, and they bring you the food and hang it on your car window, and then you get to just do whatever you want in the car!"

We opened the sunroof:

"Hey, look! We're sitting on the TOP of the car!!!!"

We cleaned out the trunk and let the kids experiment with moving their car seats around (!), pulling the seat-release buttons, and just generally wreaking havoc:

And we stayed until we were the very last car:

C will definitely be doing a little dance of joy the next time we mention the possibility of a run to Stewarts. As we were leaving, a newly-converted and blissed-out C said, "And this wasn't even my special day!"

Mission accomplished. :-)

August 03, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

In my working life, I am a matchmaker. Of sorts. I mean, I'm not a yente. I deal not with young adults in search of marriage, but with college-bound students who are caught between the stories they've been raised on – "you can do anything you want" – and the reality of their cumulative gpa's.

I am just now starting to get back in touch with some of "my" rising seniors, and the two emotions that color our conversations are excitement and fear.

The excitement is all about finally getting to test their wings a bit... new town, new space, new friends, new challenges. And the fear? The fear is about being unwanted.

Some of my students are keeping it all in perspective. But the ones who are anxious are turning their anxiety like a laser beam on the decisions that await them.

Not their decisions. But those of the colleges to which they'll be applying.

And what I'll be saying to them, over and over again in the coming months, is that it is THEIR decisions that count. Where to visit. What questions to ask. Whose advice to accept. Whose to ignore. How far is too far? How close is too close? How many application essays is too many to do a great job on?

You need to decide, I'll say to them, how comfortable you are with risk. How ready you are for change. How willing you are to let go. How prepared you are to stand up for what you want. How able you are to turn criticism into fuel.

Sure, the colleges will be making decisions. But that's months away yet. Right now, my seventeen year-olds are in the driver's seat. If I can just get them to grab that wheel.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)