Monday, August 18, 2014

Julian is The Best Ever

Julian's five today.  I love this squirt so much. Yesterday we went scooterin' around the neighborhood on my mom's razor and stopped by a friend's house. She told me she could see both Sean and me in him. While I wanted him to look like me, he probably looks more like Sean. But I secretly like to think we have more similarities in personality which I probably not so secretly love and prefer. Not that Sean has a crap personality or anything. But you know.  It's like when my sister was having a friend over for a game the other night. Julian asked if he had any kids, meaning, to bring over..(i'm assuming)  and she told him he had a daughter but she was old. And when Julian replied, "BOOORRRIIIING!"  my immediate reaction was a surge of pride swelling in the very heart of me.  I would never think to teach him something so silly like that. Why would I? But to hear it come from him, it's just what i would say, and I'm just so pleased.   

Let's hear it for him, for all the things he says, for the wonder that kids are, and for this kid, my son, my sometimes little brother, my progeny, my best pal forever and infinity. 

Spinning around on the office chair: 
"I'm ready to spin again because i'm done with my dizz now."

"Mom, what's in the middle of a tornado? is it a big noodle?"  ha ha ha.  This is probably from some show but I'll pretend it's from his wacky and creative brain. 

"Mommy, want to go on a treasure hunt in my toes?"
 "Nope. Nope I don't." 

"Mom, let's think about winter and how BAD it was."

 --child after my own heart. Don't have to ask me twice!  In my defense, what brought it on was me saying something like, "oh man, remember how it's still dark at dinnertime in the winter? So glad it's light out right now. Isn't that great??"  Appreciating the positive.  But YEAH-- let's DO think about that. It was the WORRRRRRST!!


A prayer:  "Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for our incinerators..."  


"I'm trying to un-hot myself."

In the spring we went into the city for a grand adventure. First stop was the Trinity Church in the Financial District. This is the southern tip of Manhattan. Then we got some tacos and walked (and walked and walked) over to the Hudson and walked along that pier for a million blocks. We got lost a lot but that always makes for a great time. When we were sitting in the Trinity cemetery we were enjoying the new flowers and warmth. A dialogue:

JEN: Aww, look at that poor hyacinth, bent to the ground.
JULIAN: Oh Mom, don't tell me that, it's gonna make me cry!

Julian is a sensitive boy. I love this and it makes me laugh all the live long day. Mostly what i love is how he cries at certain songs. He cannot hear them. He refuses to listen. I sometimes tease him and sing half of a line and he starts getting a quivery lip which is suuuper sad and hilarious at the same time. I have touched on this briefly in Titania. I've tried to make a mental list of songs that he refuses to listen to because they're too sad for him but i've probably forgotten some.

1. My Heart Will Go On, from Titanic.
2. You Are My Sunshine
3. Our nighttime song we made up together about when the sun says goodnight, all the stars shine so bright. It's AWESOME, and special, and lovely, and he won't let me sing it unless i jazz it up.
4. Aww dang, i can't remember of any others but i know there are a bunch. Stay tuned for an update...

I just remembered something else though.  One time I had this weird necklace in my drawer and it was bright gold and Julian liked it a lot. Seeming to already know the answer, he sadly asked me if it was going to stay shiny forever and I told him, "well.. it will probably fade over time..." and then I lit up as I remembered-- "...and, you know, nothing gold can stay."   This depressed him mightily but it wasn't until I then got out the poem and read it to him that he began to really weep.

Here it is for you, just because:

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower

But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

My kid cries at poetry.  Actually, it is really beautiful, isn't it. *sniff* Good one, Bobby. Good one.

"Mom, do you know that I sometimes talk to my bank like it's a computer? I say, 'computer. give me some money' and it does and it does all the work."   :D


"Mom, why do I see dentists EVERYWHERE?"

??? Does he already have dentiphobia??


This next one busts me up every. time.
"Aww, I don't know how to snap! Dad doesn't know either. I'm going to be just like DAD!" *crying fearfully*

Julian and I took the Star Trek kite and went kitin' at the park on an overcast day. It was glorious.  It was also half windy so it took real work and luck to keep that kite in the sky. It was so satisfying when we did it and it made me love kite-flying even more.   And you twist and jump and flail like a goon, for love of the kite. "Come on, kite-y.. you can do it.. just believe!"  

After a while Julian spotted a mud puddle over yonder and I told him to go investigate.  Here's the conversation that followed:

JULIAN (holding out an invisible weapon): Here's a thing to kill robbers if they come. 

JEN:  Ok. Instead of killing them, could I just maim them? 

JULIAN: Sure. Here's a name tag for you to write on so people can know their names.

hahahahaha.  Just made me laaaugh and laugh.  In his defense, maim??  Why should he know that word. But oh man, it is funny. Just picturing doing that and the absurdity.  So ridiculous.  "Ok, robbers. Here you go. You're Steven, you're Richard, you're Barbara..."   ha ha ha.  And how he quickly accepted that as a suitable alternative-- "Sure."  ha ha,  :D  Sooo funny.

Julian was on the pot. I don't care if this is TMI, it's too good not to share. TOO GOOD.  He was on the pot and doing his business and i swear to you, in mid bearing down he grunted, "Mommy.. could you come here and show me a picture of Yo-Yo Ma?"    HAHAHA.  What the hey??  I mean... what?  Granted we had been listening to him moments before but STILL.  I mean.. whatever helps you along? I don't know. Some people like to read in the bathroom.  He just needs a little Yo-Yo Ma...

Happy 5th, you strange beautiful creature you.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Dry Farm

A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days in Idaho at what is known as The Dry Farm, owned by my mother's family.  This may be obvious to everyone but my mom explained this to me as a farm that is dependent on the rains for moisture. No irrigating. We used to visit it when i was young. And I remember the land being very dry, or maybe that was just how I viewed it because of its name. "Yup, sure is dry, this dry farm."  Vast amber fields, tall grass. Hot.

I've been thinking that Idaho is sort of a place where time stands still. And if that's true, then it's even more true about the little white house that rests there. Built by my granddad 60 years ago, it served as a place for the family as he was a farmer by profession and they'd spend a couple of weeks there every summer.  Nearby is another tiny white house, broken down and filled with mice, where the hired hands would stay.  

The drive from my grandparents' house was short and you'd soon find yourself driving up through the hills through farmland until you turn onto a dirt road. After driving on that you'd turn onto an even DIRTIER dirt road-- or at least an even less traversable road, with two tire rivets so deep you had to drive to the side of them in the weeds. This causes some serious bumpage and you'd better hold onto your lunch. After a bit of this it was always exciting to see the tiny white house bump into view. So magical.  Seeing it this time, old feelings came back to me and it was really quite powerful, it having been so many years since i was last there.  It even took some time for the feelings and memories to re-emerge and I delighted in that the whole trip.

Here it is from far away:

getting closer...
(the tiny white speck to the right of the dome barn is the hired hands house)

 And the lady of the farm

While there I wrote a letter to my friend, and it sort of turned into a journal. I have been known to keep a trip/vacation journal and this place was sublime for it. I felt like Thoreau, something I have had on my list of to-dos for quite a while now.  So i've decided to share it with all of you with just a few edits, and some pictures scattered throughout, as you can see.  Umm.. let's see.  The journal/letter will be in regular type and added thoughts in italics. I'm only explaining this because it's hecka-long and you might forget. 

July 29, 2014

Here i am, at the little white house at the dry farm. My mom used to come here for 2 weeks in the summer with her family. 2 parents, 3 sisters. It is a kitchen space (including couch and table), 2 rooms with beds and dressers, and what used to be a shower that worked somehow. I don't know how because there is no running water.  No toilet-- there is a white outhouse. It is outhouse #2 and stands next to the older and more shambley outhouse #1.  it got filled to capacity sometime when i was a kid.  This place is AMAZING.  It's like the BEST playhouse your dad will never build you.  It's furnished with old things from my grandparents' house that is no more. For example, old but gorgeous baby blankets my grandma used for her babies, just piled in the closet.  The floor is blue, cream, and red checkerboard and the stove is a still functional WOOD BURNING stove/oven.  She cooked and baked by throwing wood into it all day long!!! Curtains at the windows, the walls are made of cinderblock and there is an ACTUAL CHAMBER POT in the shower/closet.  No electricity.  There are lanterns in every room.  I told my mom people would pay big money to stay here. I used to visit it as a kid and it was great.  There's a huge rustic barn and a big iron..uh.. what? It's sort of a barn but with a curved roof. I think it held tools and farm equipment and maybe tractors and whatnot. So a huge farm garage?? Anyway, the little white house was old and rickety and we never stayed overnight. But then when i was about 20 we all came up and cleaned it out and painted the outside. Since then it's been this weird oasis and my mom and her sisters have come up a bunch of times and i never have and it's always been a dream to do it with her. I'm finally, finally living it. It's me, Julian, my mom, Ash, and Anna.

Here are some pics of the interior as well as some relics:

chamber pot

Last night we sat out front in old chairs and we saw a moose just mosying (moosying?) by.  It is so, so, so quiet.  Crazy quiet.  Nearby there is an old shambly brown barn.  When we pulled up (from the bumpy dirty road) when we first arrived, there was a large white owl perched at a window in his barn, looking over his kingdom.  Just sitting there like he owned the place, because he does, apparently. I couldn't believe it.  Like this: [drawing]  It's a white owl! What the hey?? Isn't that insane?? I just can't get over it and, I dare say, I shan't.

This morning we went on a drive and visited my grandpa's old pond.  He died when I was...10? 11? my grandmother when I was 9.  At the pond we collected cattails to paint, Julian got stung by some nettle, and we heard THE strangest yipping sound.  Just a completely alien sound.  It sounded sort of like robot-puppies and my mom thought it might be foxes or coyotes.  We both reeeeally wanted to find the den but they stopped yipping and we couldn't spot anything.  I told my mom we were both going to really regret not finding those fox babies. She agreed but what can you do? Our human senses are not so keen.  It was so fun to go out and explore. I have no pics of the pond but I have fond memories of it. We used to fish there and my dad made me gut my own fish when i was like 7. That was a life-changer.

My mom told us everything about the land, what/who used to be there, what happened and how long ago, what smells or colors the wind was carrying at any given moment, etc.


Julian was having a bit of a rough time what with the nettle and also a bee having landed on his knee and all. He wasn't stung but the kid was inconsolable, ha ha.  HAHA it's funny when my kid is sad. but really, it was funny, and cute.

We stopped by to visit with my mom's cousin who also has some property, as well as a super fun party cabin. We played with his swings and toys and stuff.  It was a little unnerving but, we decided, ok, when the poor homeless woman came to push Julian on the cool tire horse swing. It really looks like they're having a lot of fun.

It is pure therapy being here.  Right now my mom is reading to Julian.  I think i'll go try to nap since it was 300 degrees F last night and I was sleeping next to a kicky squirrely Julian. 

July 30, 2014

Time has passed.  It is now the next morning.  I think i'm slowly becoming more pioneer as time goes on.  So after my pioneer rest, i got up and found my mom with the kids out back into the thicket amongst the aspens.  They were busy playing with fallen trees and dead twigs and hidden abandoned farm equipment from the year ____? That became sort of a treasure hunt because they were scattered here and there in the tall grass and you'd be walking along and all of a sudden--whoa, part of a combine!  Julian busied himself with projects of unscrewing rusty screws and hammering in twigs.  I sat on a giant moss-speckled rock and was serenaded by my niece sing in a poppy voice a tragic song about heartbreak and a traitorous ex-boyfriend.  My mom gathered dead branches to use for the classic old timey game Old Sow, where you hit a can or bottle into a hole in the ground. No, i didn't think it was Old Sal up until this very moment. I knew the real name the whole time. What i want to know is, who/what is the sow? Is it the bottle? is it ME?

After this we ate dinner and then set to painting our cattails.  Turns out acrylic paint doesn't work so swimmingly on the weird fuzzy brown exterior, but carving into them with a crayon DOES.  We stuck our finished creations into mouse holes and spent the twilight watching one poke out and in and out again from his hole.  The night was chilly which = awesome for sleeping.  Julian is THE cutest little squirt child in the morning and I wanted to tackle him awake.  

After breakfast this morning we boiled a kettle of water and used that (and ancient bowls) to wash up.  l-o-v-e this.  The outhouse was fine and breezy this morning.  I left the door open while I read a bit about Joan London (Lundin? Londen?) in Good Housekeeping.  Get this: She had twins via surrogate at age 50 and then AGAIN at 54! What the hey?? Apparently Joan thinks she can have it all.  It's looking like it might be sunny and hot today. I wonder if we should keep the shades down in the bedroom.  But what about our light? #pioneerproblems.
 More later...

Hey, back again.  It is now 8:45pm.  Ash and Anna are doing a craft and Julian is eating a cup of pears.  The sky is HUGE, like it really feels like you're in a giant half dome.  Or just a dome? And there are a million different kinds of clouds sprawled out.  Today after lunch we drove through Ammon (where my mom grew up) and pointed out all the homes where all her friends or cousins lived.  Man, her family owned this town.  Then we drove to High-C which, turns out, is actually spelled Heise.  It's a pool w/a  fun slide and then 2 hot springs pools-- one hot and one hotter. And since it's natural and comes from the hills, a strong odor of sulfur permeates so that when you're in the pool you feel like you're saturating in a nice hot batch of egg salad.  Since we've been living in the wild we all tried to take real showers there, with shampoo and razors, like a homeless person. This went half well, but that's twice as well as I cared for. Then we had dinner at a pizza place and got a lot so we'd have extra for lunch tomorrow.  All of us were so happy to return to the little white house again.  Four hours away felt too long.

I haven't seen the owl again.  I am convinced that he was an apparition, a ghost.  A ghost owl who USED to live here...100 years ago.  Well, I'm running out of light and Julian told me he's ready for bed.  All is right and quiet in the country...

July 31

Hey, it's the next day.  Well, I woke up early this morning to Julian full-on laughing in his sleep. I woke up inches from his giggly, closed-eye face.  Funniest/cutest thing ever. I asked him later what kind of funny dreams he was having and he said, "oh, I didn't have funny dreams.  Those were just giggles of the night." HAHA! :D


Hello. Time has passed yet again.  After breakfast this morn we went on a hot, dusty, weedy hike.  I got hot, and dusty.  And attacked by the long weeds.  The farmland is vast.  Rolling hills of greens and browns as far as the eye can see, with the shadowy outline of the Tetons in the distance.  Have I already mentioned the Tetons?  They're like a local celebrity. 

[I later found out you can see about a hundred miles out. 100!]

You can see the Tetons in the distance above Ash's head in this pic.

more badminton

I'm sitting outside while writing this, on one of the ancient chairs.  I just looked at the barn.  Still no owl (as expected).  I feel like, since he's a ghost, seeing him perched in the windowway there when we first drove up was some kind of eerie omen. A good eerie omen, since this has been the most perfect trip ever. All i could ever want in the world.

Pics of the dust hike:

Grandma and Julian looking at the biggest anthill--nay--MOUNTAIN ever. It was seriously scary.

After our sweaty dust hike and after lunch, we got in the car and bumpity bumped our way to the main road (or paved anyway).  Whenever we leave and re-enter the dry farm, I feel like we go through a portal to a different time, a la Stargate.  It's given the trip a very pleasant science fiction-y feel. 

Our first stop was at the cemetery to visit the graves of my grandparents.  Bessie Rachael and William Lavern.  Bessie died when I was almost 9, Lavern when i was 11.  oh hey, i already told you this.  Well, each day here feels like 3 so, you know, i forget stuff sometimes.

Anna was caught mid-sneeze. So good


Anyway, then we drove to a place called Bear Country.. no, World? Man, Country is so much better, but I guess the Berenstain Bears have the monopoly on that.  But anyway, BEARS! We stayed in our car driving around looking at REAL BEARS.  And deer and a moose and a white elk(!!)  They say there are 1 in 6,000,000 of the elk. It was all pretty great.  There were also rides and a petting zoo AND julian got a new t-shirt of a glow-in-the-dark wolf howling at a glow-in-the-dark moon that he will grow to love.

Dang, I need to figure out how to get good at these pictures. I never put my head in the right place. 

We drove back, totally beat but enjoying the beautiful farmland.  Oh, one more thing-at the bear place a Chinese couple from Shang-hai visiting relatives in L.A. really took a liking to Julian--snapping pics of him and pics WITH him before you could say "Jack Robinson-whoa, that's super weird." Kinda crazy.

After a stop at JoAnn's while my mom went in and we all stayed in the car (and thus reverting to our youth--when my mom would leave us to go in a store saying she'd just be "two shakes." For the record, two shakes = anywhere from 20 minutes to FOREVER).  After a stop at Albertson's for a deli dinner we made our way back to the little house, through our time portal to a calmer, happier, simpler place and time where things seem a little more clear, make a little more sense.  I'm sitting here looking out over the land on the cusp of sunset and all of a sudden I can find my thoughts.  I don't know why or really how, but they go far, spread out, all the way to the Tetons.  

The kids and Ash are inside making things out of clay with grandma.  I should probably go in to join them but i cannot seem to move from where I sit. I cannot.  

We cleaned the house the next day using old things and old ways. Here are a couple of pics:

Also THIS: 

A potty chair my mom and sisters used 70 years ago. Amaaazing!

Epilogue, aka the end of the letter:

 It's the next morning, the day we leave. Julian is heartbroken.  I knew he would love it here and i was right.  Anna is excited to get back to electricity and flushing toilets but me, I'm not so sure.  I'm just not so sure. 


driving away

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

It's Always Hard to Say Goodbye

So let's not. Instead, let's look at some pictures. But first, some words:

As mentioned, we are actually finally moving from this great land. Uprooting our bodies and hearts seemed so inconceivable for so long. But slowly, in the past couple of years, I felt a turn of the tide, and like a kite following a different flow of the wind, I feel my heartstrings being pulled up and away. It's been a gradual and methodical sensation, building over time, like the slow oozing of molasses (pause: when's the last time anyone ever handled molasses? I'm this close to not even knowing what it is anymore and rendering this simile obsolete).   But because of the build-up, because of my constant mulling over and contemplation of my feelings on the matter, evaluating and re-evaluating, and sharing it aloud with others, when the moment came--though it was still a jolt of a shock and all of the big life decisions made thereafter tumbled in a million miles a minute--it felt like a very gentle and natural conclusion, for which I am very grateful. I'm pretty sure I was immediately happy. But i am amused at the whole thing. Bewildered. Bemused. The surmising, however, is different from reality and the reality of all this is still very new, not two weeks old. So I'm waiting to see how it all pans out.

The plan: We're moving to Utah, first, near my parents. Then- ???  I don't know. There are no real plans. All i know is the call of the wild-- or family, nature, quiet, change, and newness-- has been loud.  I'm excited for change, to be able to shake off this stagnation we've been sitting in for far too long, excited for not having extended plans, for being within 500 miles of someone related to us, and being able to see them on a regular basis(??)  Unfathomable! It's taken 10 years to build a family here, and not ours but with those around us. Our friends who we've relied on to fill that family need as well.  Those with whom we meet every Sunday for a parknic, aka Sunday Family Dinner.  Man, friendships are the best. And to feel like you really made some solid ones-- it's like when Suzie and I high-fived and congratulated ourselves on "creating a lasting friendship! Yeah!" It doesn't happen every day or with just anyone. It takes time and work and we did it! So we know we're going to be ok.

Less talk, more look:

Since I tried to live in nowstalgia and enjoy what I had while I had it, I didn't feel this great need to do anything one last time, though i couldn't help but get sentimental about all of the little things i know I'll miss painfully.  But I didn't think much of the things we missed out on or never had a chance to do because we did SO much in this city and it's just so big, you could never do it all. So i feel kind of free from that.  I feel pretty satisfied in our life and how we lived it in Bklyn.  So the last week here didn't look too different from other weeks, which if you think about it, could look really magical.  And as it turns out, it was.

One day Julian and I were going to walk to the bookstore to buy every NYC/Brooklyn kids book they had even though we have a fair amount.  The bookstore is about a mile away and a delightful walk but on this day it was hot and 1,000 % humidity. We even had a spray bottle in tow but nothing doing. We made it about 5 blocks before we had to give up.  But first we popped into a toy store with a backyard play space and built a creation.  

 These blocks are super cool.  We decided to walk back home to get the car and on the way we had to stop at this cute little cafe shop that we've never ever been to, for a watermelon lemonade.  We sat at the counter for the longest time just sipping our sips when THE hugest rainstorm hit.  Sooo much fun. Trapped, we just sat and kept ordering snacks while we watched the storm.  Julian started giggling and I thought, oh he's just so happy to be alive and soaking up the Brooklyn love! But actually he was thinking about his Mickey Mouse shows (which are, granted, hilarious). Still, pretty cute, and a sort of atypically typical magic Brooklyn moment.



I have also said that if I were to construct my own house I might build a room with the interior exactly matching that of a subway car.  I could even make it so it rocks a little bit.  Get it a little dingy, hire people to mosey in and out and play their music. Maybe a couple crazies. Put up my favorite ads on the walls. I love the subway. It's a universe of its own. I fought against getting too nostalgic in the last week just because I felt like leaving a place shouldn't suddenly make me care about everything more but it kind of does. And as I sat there on the train I sort of wanted to hug everyone on the car with me. I bet if i'd told them i was moving they would have let me do it. Sean and I went out to a concert and so were on the train late which is always a special thing.

Here am I thinking about this possibly being my last subway ride: 

Here we are at the concert. It was Bruno Mars, by the way, opener Pharell Williams. Both were ok.

It wasn't my last ride though because Julian and I went into the city just to see what to do. But before we did he hopped on this bike:


 Next we headed to Bryant Park where they do concerts and fashion shows and play ping pong and juggle on your lunch break. First we got some sandwiches and watched the crowd. Then we rode the carousel:

After that, Julian cried because he wanted to ride again so I hoisted him up onto a stone wall in the park to hug and talk it out. In the midst of this we looked to the side and noticed a small bird perched atop a flowery bush. I love seeing birds up close. We chatted about the bird, who it was, if it had a family. Julian thought maybe it wasn't a mom or dad but a baby, and that maybe "that bird is the mom!" pointing to a pigeon on the ground. Pigeons are everywhere and we would have never noticed this one except when I glanced down i noticed it hobbling along. I took a closer look and saw that it only had one foot, one claw. The other was just a stump. Immediately we were filled with immense sympathy for this bird, aka Rat That Flies, some might say, and it was another subtly magical NY moment. An unknown but special pigeon i wouldn't have noticed had it not been for this small chain of events. This city icon with his one claw, just making his way the best he can, like the rest of us.  Loved it. Loved him.


We sat in the park, listening to the random musicians and looking around at the buildings surrounding us. It all felt very city-y and fun.


The journey home was hot, sticky, and arduous and therefore, typical. We walked and walked and sat and waited and waited and sweated.  Julian checked the subway map, which i love, and i just love watching him be a city boy:


  During that last week, I felt this need to engage in activities that I have come to royally hate about living in the city, but i have a feeling are things i'm going to painfully miss one day.  That weird city yin/yang that is its heartbeat. So many moments of my city life have been in extremes in specific ways. The blasted winter/summer weather, the annoying, suffocating and constant masses of people who you have magical interactions with that make you feel alive.  One thing about it is the physical aspect. How everything is harder than you feel like it ought to be. Getting groceries, running errands. These things take all day. The getting from A to B. How much time it takes.  All of the pains and possible events in-between. How you forget about that until you visit elsewhere and you realize people have cushy nerf lives and you go back and forth debating whether you're a sucker or a warrior.

If I were to write a book about this topic it would be New York: The Agony and the Ecstasy. Chapter One: Parking. The agony of finding a spot and the ecstasy of finding one (because of the agony). But with all of those physical things, I get my exercise. I almost guaranteed sweat, daily, in the summer. Like a complete body sweat. Not just a little perspiration, and ooh i need a fan. More like, graaaghhhh get me home so i can peel off my clothes and drape over the AC.  No matter what i'm doing. I'm hefting and hoisting and holding and carrying and trudging and pulling.  So for that last week I had this weird and almost sick desire to make everything EXTRA hard, so that I would especially remember it when that is my life no more, and also appreciate that change. We took the wagon out almost wherever we went and I knew that soon that way of living would vanish:

Getting some groceries. Yes, we took the wagon in the tiny Met Foods and shopped with it. Love the wagon. 


A pre-shopping ribbon dance:

Since people are always leaving this town, there are often goodbye parties and farewells and whatnot. Not quite my style, I tried to say goodbye in my own way.  First, by not telling anyone and then having a Science in the Park gathering.  I like to have my secrets for a little while. And with this particular secret, it made me free to love everyone just a little bit more, with them being none the wiser. 

This project was elephant toothpaste, a total hit.  Love it.

For two friends sharing close birthdays, we had a softball game in the park. This was the best idea ever. We had been talking about it for the LONGEST time and finally put it together. The birthday kids had t-shirts, we had ice cream cakes, hot dogs, popsicles, and every good thing.  I was assigned to play first base and since the last time i had played was probably during  this time of my life, I also got extremely nervous in a silly, giddy, competitive sport way. Fortunately I didn't have to throw much but I did make one sweet catch.  Julian was brambling* around me, oblivious to the dangers of the game, and someone got a hit. The third baseman got it and threw it to me. With my right hand to the side blocking the boy, i swooped and made the catch with my left and it was awesome! I wanted to leave right then-- you know, to end on a high note, but it was too much fun so I stuck around.

Me and Suvi:

*not a word

                                                        Happy birthday, Paul and Suzie.

Apparently Sean was hating it. J/k, but what with the face, man? 

You know how kids have phases of camera smiles? I feel like they do.  And these days I am laughing at Julian's totally fake smile. It's sincere but man it's funny since i only see it when the camera's out. 

Sunday, two days before Julian and I were to leave, we had our last parknic.  Suvi and Paul got us a book on Prospect Park for Christmas and i have been reading it since then. Now, I am cherishing it. What a treasure. The park is the heart of the Brooklyn and we have just spent so much time there.  This parknic was great.  Another family was moving to Utah so we celebrated that AND Suzie's actual birthday, all of us taking turns stealing each other's thunder.  

On the way home we took pictures of a few things in the 'hood that have been around since we arrived in the fall of 2003.  Not many shops are still around but a few.    

The library


A view of Grand Army Plaza


Note to self: Take pictures at this time of night, always.

Aforementioned Met Foods, neighborhood grocer


Ample Hills, the #1 ice cream place in the city. It's new'ish but a neighborhood jewel.


Wilkinson Mailbox, a mail place that we never visit anymore but it's just been around since the dawn. Sean and I went for a walk up our street a couple of years ago counting all the shops that had changed since we arrived almost 11 years ago and counted somewhere around 40, some of them multiple times. FORTY.  And that was two years ago. 


Evelyn Limo, the car service place we used many, many times. 


Lastly, to round off the week and our Brooklyn life, the perfect send-off.  I'll show you the video first and explain after. Wishing Suzie the happiest of birthdays:

Long ago, and long forgotten about, I had pie-in-face dreams.  It's just something everyone wants to do, right? Throw a pie in someone's face? Even get pied? Suzie and I discussed this at length and she shared the same feelings.  I had no idea, NO IDEA what was coming to me. It was everything I'd dreamed it would be. As i said, the perfect send-off, and perfect birthday present. Notice how i completely forgot about the baby i was holding, given to me as a prop so as to prevent my arms from automatically flying up to shield my face. He was a tiny casualty and I'm sorry Alvar. He was ok in the end, thankfully.  Poor Quincy couldn't grapple with why anyone would waste a perfectly good dessert which was a homemade pudding pie and delicious. 

It takes a special kind of friend to throw a pie in your face.  <3 nbsp="" p="">

So here we are, back to where we started from.  11 years ago in late August, Sean and I got engaged and the next day I went to Lake Powell while he flew to NYC. We spent our 6-week engagement apart, me here doing wedding-y things and he starting school and putting our life together. I shipped him boxes, he found an apartment. He furnished it. I wrote to him.  Now, at the end of all NY things, we're doing it all again but this time in reverse, except now we have a Julian who will be the one starting school soon. We are here, and Sean is still there for 6 weeks total, finishing up work and slowly taking down all that he put up. Because he is a champion.  Selling, giving, cleaning, packing it up and driving west to join us. We realized he's departing just about on THE day marking the 11th anniversary since he flew east. This funny realization is so meaningful to us.  And we are here waiting, biding our time, for him to arrive and our new real life can begin.