Friday, July 17, 2020

It's July Now

Here we are into the belly of the heat monster-beast, mid-July.  I wrote a poem about this guy last year. In case you wanted to read it again, let's post it here for you: 


You can try but you shan't defy
The blistering heat monster called mid-July
He sharpens his knives in continuous supply
And waits for you with plans to subdue
His kitchen swells until he's satisfied.
Bakes and sets and wins each time.
Nestled in the crockery tin
His stewy breath blown in your eye.
The fiery glint shows his new fry
He'll serve you soup but it's bone dry
Resigned and brined, no you can't deny
The new cook in town with a plan for pie
The new cook in charge, called mid-July

I have a million ideas I've jotted down for potential blog posts.  I don't know which to choose, which particular vibe I'd like to project, or which would turn into something or which would result in probably a lengthy stream of pointless nothingness.  Or--and what I often end up doing-- I wonder, should I serve the need I have within to record everything in a hodgepodge conglomeration and who cares if it's coherent or cohesive? At least it's all out and I don't have to think about it anymore.  A purging of the thoughts, if you will, that probably serves no one but me.   

I don't ever know. So, in the meantime, all I do is jot. Jot, jot, jot.  Jot this, scribble that, record this, note that.  Funny quotes caught in a moment, interesting quotes to come across, thoughts of my own, etc. Almost everything on a post-it note.  But also in journals, notebooks, whatever is nearby.  Today I listened to a podcast while driving in the car and kept a spiral notebook on my lap so i could jot down notes at red lights that never lasted long enough. But I did get pretty good at writing almost a whole sentence without looking.   What is it all for, though? What will it end up being?  Why do I do it?  What will come of this? I ask myself this all the time. What? Why? What? And why? 

A big part of my process, and by process I mean "life" is to try and make sense of whatever is going on around me.  Day in and day out, I devote myself to it. It's automatic. I can't stop.  I can't escape it. I never take a break.  Maybe it's more prevalent in weightier times such as these, where it greets me at every turn.  And the only thing I know how to do is take it and try to turn it into sense of some kind. So the way I do that is to jot. The first step in discovering meaning in something is to decide it's something "write down-able."  Worth recording.  Taking a second, finding some paper, and throwing it down, all the while recognizing that it probably isn't.  It's maddening.  Why do I do it? I don't know. But I do it still.  And if I don't turn it into something, then I feel like I'm merely taking notes on life, and that feels dumb because what test am I preparing for?   It just feels incomplete and purposeless which can bum me out. 

But let's have some examples. 

I don't know what this moment captured.  I wrote it on a post-it note weeks ago and i've been looking at it every day and with each passing day, it makes less and less sense.  I've forgotten details along the way, including the initial reason I thought it worth recording in the first place.  But I still look at the note and try to extrapolate whatever I can.  But I believe it to be folly.  Because:   

Try as I might, I cannot figure out the significance of this. I think Sean and I were talking about the mid-90's, reminiscing about something, maybe a movie. I don't even know. And then as old people do, we jumped from then until now, unable to account for what happened in-between.  

"Where did our life go?"

"Between 1994 and now?"


"Well, we've spent the majority of that in quarantine."

I think I just thought it was a funny quarantine quote because it felt very, very accurate about the new way time passes these days and our comprehension of it.  But then I had inserted a [scream] that I cannot account for at all.  *shrug*  Thus we see: they're not all diamonds. And maybe that's ok.  

And then I have this one, which needs no explanation at all, other than it's my favorite way to start a Julian day:  

This next one came from a notebook and taps into my frustrations as a writer and speaks very well to the entire theme of this post.  I think about writing all the time but thinking is not the same as doing.  So instead of doing, I just think about it and then write down thoughts about doing it, instead of actually doing it, writing the thing I really want to write about:  

The poetry line is a thought I had to make myself feel better about writing poetry.  To create this idea that maybe poets aren't untouchable literary gods, but just people. And then I say to myself, "well, I'm a person too." And then I think about the difference between poets and people.  And that maybe, just maybe I can count myself one of them. At least, one day. 

The second thought is a thought I will apparently have 40 years from now because, ?? Can't explain that one. But it was written (or will be written, I guess) out of miserable frustration and a moment of motivational despair.  It is very easy for me not to write.  I can do SO many things that aren't writing, throughout the course of my day.  I could list so many things right now you would be amazed at all the things I can do that are not writing.  And every day they fill up the day and every day I continue to JOT AND SCRIBBLE in the silly hopes and futile plans to one day actually write something into something. But it's sooo easy for me not to. 

To close, this exchange I have recorded in my phone. A few days ago I left a comment on someone's Instagram or something and I chuckled to myself at what I considered a witty contribution.  I asked Sean,

"Am I funnier in writing than in person? Be honest."


Then I said, "OR, am I not funny either way? *suddenly angry*-- 'be honest.'"

This is often the kind of set up I present to Sean.  He stood there and thought for a few seconds and then said that I may be funnier in writing, which we agreed was a compliment to my writing and an insult to my face.  


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Three Good Things

Here we are, into that magical fairyland season called Sprummer. When the grass fools you into thinking it'll be this nice all summer long, when the daffodils and irises bow out, and roses make their stunning debut, unfurling their fantastic faces. When the mountains open their doors for a cool respite from the heat instead of a menacing dare during the wintertime. When bikes are left unlocked and everything in general lets its guard down. When the days begin to stretch their restricted bodies, and the sun takes center stage for what is sure to be an impressive and in-your-face show.  

These days are glorious and I capture them by heightening every thing that happens within their brief and hallowed duration. For now, I have three things.  They stand out to me and as beacons representing a short period of time that may otherwise go unnoticed, unremembered, let these three things serve, years down the road from now, to highlight a moment and make a memory for myself.  

Like many people, we've decided we're going to make some improvements on the yard and like it.  This is a bit difficult for me but even I have come around because I really like the changes, I like the feeling of having some control in these wildly capricious times, and frankly, it gives us something to do.  I also see the benefits of physical work for the boy.  He's started mowing the lawn, much to my delight. All of my memories come flooding back to me of learning to mow. My dad doing the edges first. Him showing me where to line up the wheels so they overlap with the line I already made. Me being confused about which wheels to overlap (somehow) so sometimes I'd almost completely mow the same line except for a few inches of yet-to-be-cut grass.  Losing the line entirely and wandering into no man's un-mown land.  Forgetting to let go when I wanted to stop. It's all so entertaining to me to watch him and turns out, he's awesome at it.  Little champ.  

1. Projects. In earlier spring, Sean planted some lilacs in the corner of the house. Lilacs are the best and I have fond memories of discovering about a million more species of them whilst living in New York. They created a fragrant fantasy land, albeit so very fleeting, which is also something I love about them and which adds to their magic.  If magic just stayed, would it be magical?   We then took some ancient paver stones I took from my parents' house when they renovated their kitchen last year and took out the old patio wall from 1972.  We turned them into a pathway.  And then we took a look at our cement square, a pathetic excuse for a patio, and decided to get some more pavers and extend that to something a bit more substantial.

The square we were to fill was about 10x10 feet and first we had to dig a big pit.  Dig, dig, dig.  At first, Julian loved it. He looked forward to it every day, when he and Sean would go out in the evening and just dig.  He's a little weird about manual labor.  He can really get into it sometimes.  And then his interest waned because the dirt here is terrible: dry and jam packed with rocks, and it didn't take long before the labor became quite... laborious.  I joined in and we dug a little every day, every day feeling like we hardly made progress.  Sean and I would take turns using the shovel and the pick-ax and, as is natural, it didn't take me long to get my complain on.  And you know, I realized something.  I really enjoy complaining.  And if done right, it can be fun and funny for those around you.  I'm embracing it. 
 I think it is really fun, and frankly, it's the kind of worker I am, especially when the work is ridiculous, as this was. After comments of "prison labor" and singing "Every town..." from Robin Hood, other jokes would spring forth out of the dead, dry, impenetrable dirt, like pick ax jokes.  "I'm gonna pick your ax!"  And wondering how to phrase variations of it-- "pick-axed?"  It was a new experience and entertaining, and will mark my remembrance of this particular time. 

2.  Every day of every new year I grow to love birds more and more.  Ever since that college Appreciation of Nature class where the required textbook was a Bird Field Guide book and we had to go out and identify a million birds as an assignment.  Then I sat at the window in my Bklyn apartment for hours and became intimately aware of different birds in my area which I loved.  And then I moved here where I lived in a bird sanctuary for a year, particularly owls on the first night of my stay in the country, as well as the robins who nested in a nearby tree and let me see the tufts of baby heads whereupon I died of happiness.   When I was young and out weeding, I'd often hear a bird I decided to adopt and at times could mimic pretty well. Hey! I just found out it's the Black-capped Chickadee. Yay.  In my heart, it's still my bird, and when I hear it sing I call back. 

There are two other birds I've worked on mimicking-- the Mourning Dove and the Eurasian Collared Dove.  They are similar to each other.  If I were to describe their songs and tones using numbers and spaces, the Mourning Dove would look like this:  1 2 1...1...1.   The other one is 1 1...1.  1 1.... 1.   I used to think that Mourning Dove could be a loon but then I figured out I was wrong. And then I looked up what a loon sounds like and played a video on Youtube of a loon in Minnesota (that I happen to know is the official state bird. Thanks, 5th grade state report that I inexplicably chose to do on Minnesota) that was so startlingly beautiful, Sean and I were both significantly shook up. Here's a link.   And to answer your question, yes, I would go to Minnesota just to hear this. And cry.

Whenever I respond to these birds, which I try my very best to do, I always imagine them being super confused and wondering what's wrong with this poor friend.  They keep calling and respond back but they're a little like, ??? "That bird is not ok."  And it makes me laugh.  And then for fun, I imagine the bird I'm responding to actually being another human who also thinks they're talking to birds and we're both just making cupped-hand bird noises to each other, feeling really cool and super connected to nature.  

3. Julian is really smart and knows a lot of things.  So when he doesn't know things and doesn't know it, like mispronounces words or just has false ideas or displays sweet innocence, I pause a moment to relish that a bit before I decide what to do next.   

One example has to do with the digging of the pit.  Sean told me when they were digging, they'd take turns shoveling dirt into the wheelbarrow which would then be driven to the fence and dumped to create what would eventually be a raised flower bed along the whole fence. Every time the wheelbarrow was full, Julian would say "I think it's time to take a dump,"  or "do you need to take a dump?"  And it was just his way of phrasing that, never having heard it before to mean anything else, and it was so hilarious and pure, Sean and I decided to just let it be and adopted it ourselves.  "I think I need to take a dump.  Whoops-pause! Let's take a dump."   One day he may learn for himself what this means and he may not even connect it to this moment but right now, it is golden for me. 

Another example is when he was telling me about some book he was reading.  He gets these weird books from the little free library and it's either like, weird inappropriate teen books or child-rearing books.  "teaching your child to be financially responsible"  No Cry Sleep Solution.  He really wants them. He's so weird.  But I think the one he had been reading was I Know What You Did Last Summer. He was telling me about it and said, "so these kids had been smoking a pot..."   And he said that a few times and it was so adorable how he was probably trying to appear in-the-know, but clearly wasn't, quite.  I think he eventually outright asked me what that was and I told him but when he first said it I just played a long-- "Ooo.. smoking a pot.  Bad kids."  

And these are the three things that have stood out to me lately.  Truth be told, I bet there are plenty more and if I really want to do right by way of remembrance and my life, I'd write them all down and add them to this collection. But for now, I will let these three stand by themselves and I will read about them later and I will smile every time.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Really Good Julian Story

This one is actually a two-for-one, so get excited.  First, it may have been mentioned that Julian has certain tendencies. We love him dearly but as an example of the following funny thing, when he was in first grade, I had to ban "bad guy" talk at breakfast.  It was excessive.

Lately we've had to crack down on him for saying basically every thought that enters his head, to us. It's all conversational. He's not being unkind or intentionally offensive.  Really I think what it is is he needs to learn how to have a filter.  Like, not EVERY thought needs to be said. We all have thoughts, I mean, c'mon.  But do we say every thought? No.  He is still learning this. This could be because he is so comfortable and open with us which is really a positive thing, and also that he has a dearth of kids, perhaps particularly age-appropriate boys in his life to share these interests.  

I have also told him I refuse to be a garbage receptacle in that I won't just listen to whatever thought happens to enter his brain. After a certain length being subjected to a certain style of talk, consisting of an over-abundance of certain subjects, it can bum me out or annoy me to high heaven.  Same goes for Sean.  So, like I said, we're cracking down and have to practice constant vigilance. This may not sound like a big deal to you and it's not really, but he talks about these things on a constant basis.  Bombs, weapons, death, dying, weird, disturbing, gross, etc. 

Sean just came in the room and I told him that this morning Julian started on something and it went like this:
JULIAN:  The way I'd like to die is-- 
JULIAN: [laughter]  Yeah, ok. I guess I'm young and don't need to be thinking about things like that... 
JEN: very good.

And then we laughed and Sean said he had one similar the other day:
JULIAN: I think I'd like to make some grenades--
JULIAN: .. I was going to say, 'with molasses in them!' 

Ha ha ha. 

Ok, that's funny story number one.

Here's the second and best one:

Julian has a certain quality where he is so smart, perhaps is told that he is smart, and therefore thinks he is sooooo smart.  And the way he talks about things can convince you he really knows what he's talking about and that you should believe him.  Sean confesses he shares this same quality.  Therefore, another thing I like to do is shut down Julian and remind him to humble the heck up and that he doesn't know what he's talking about. 

He's so insistent and passionate about these things. One small example is he's been reading Old Yeller and then he found my Zombie Survival Guide book and has been reading that, which i have now banned (banned books in our house) because it's chock-full of--you guessed it-- weapons! It's actually totally entertaining but not what i want for him at this moment in time. 

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living ...

Anyway, the other day he said something so ridiculous and i had to jot it down:
JULIAN: But there are real accounts of being a zombie. 
JEN: No. 
JULIAN: Yes there are!
JEN: No. It is not real.
JULIAN: Yes, it's like with hydrophobia, which is technically being a zombie. 

ha ha ha. a) "hydrophobia"  b) "technically" and c) FALSE. 

I just realized that zombie book was written by the World War Z guy, which I read, and was totes different from the movie. I liked it, but now I'm thinking that Max Brooks may actually agree with Julian.

Ok, I guess this turned out to be sort of a three-for-one.  HERE is the final and best story:

We were in the car, driving to the library, back when that was a thing we did.  He was going on about something he was soooo sure he was an expert on and I was saying words in response, probably trying to shut him down. Dialogue went like this:

JULIAN:  I guess I am kind of a know-it-all.

Jen thinking, ah-ha, hallelujah--

JULIAN:-- but that's because I DO know it ALL! 

JEN: *exasperated eye roll.*

JULIAN, all smarter-than-thou:   Other kids say things like, "funner" and I'm like, go back to first grade and work on your pronunctuation. (read that to yourself a couple times. Like a combo of pronunciation and punctuation)

JEN: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

JULIAN: What? Why? What is it??

JEN: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

JULIAN: What!! What IS IT?? What's the right word??

JEN: ha ha ha ha noooooo! I'm NEVER TELLING! You're soooo smart! ha ha ha ha ha.

JULIAN: What is the right word???

I refused to tell him.  Julian also loves swears but is not allowed to use them. So he's been experimenting with replacement swears, where you alter it slightly to make it ok. So the next thing he said was:

JULIAN:  Tell me! TELL ME. Tell me the gob-dan word!!

Which sent me over the edge on our way into the building.  


Ohhh it's my favorite story. Later on we told Sean this story and I made him promise not to tell him either, which he abode by.  Several weeks later we did tell Julian the correct word but I'll be danned if "pronunctutation" is not my new all-time favorite word.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Joy Bringer

What if your name was Joy Bringer? Joy S. Bringer.

I just discovered there's a song called Joybringer by some band named Manfred Mann's Earth Band, which is a pretty cool band name. Also I just learned it's Earth Day today, so that's serendipitous.  The song is from the 70's and it's not the world's greatest, though there is some pretty excellent digital/laser space sounds.   But here are some simple lyrics:

I bring joy and I can take you through
All those days when people seem to get to you
I bring joy and I come here to you
I bring life and I can take you where
You can see and feel and breathe and touch the air
I bring life and I can take you there
Feelings inside that we keep
Out of sight and out of reach
Brings us to the things we seek
Take your time, remember when you do
There are days when people feel the same as you
I bring time and I can take you through

Today I am focusing on things that are bringing me joy these days.  Yesterday Julian and I went on an epic scooter ride to my parents' house because I ran out of apricot jam.  Listen, we are self-isolating pretty hard and don't see an-y-one, much less my aged parents.  But like I said, i ran out of my mom's apricot jam and desperate times call for desperate measures of putting yourself and your loved ones at risk.  Ok, I am JK-- we did stay outside and I kept inching away if I felt too close-- but my point here is that I've realized that apricot jam brings me a lot of joy these days.

Yesterday I was sitting in the hammock chair reading my new book, one that everyone but me has read, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  I remember a book club reading this one a million years ago when we had first moved to Bklyn and at the time I was like, book clubs- lame (I was young) and I didn't read it. And I'm glad I didn't because it wouldn't have been right to have read it then, being newly transplanted in Brooklyn, not yet knowing the place.

The time is right, now. And as I sat swinging lazily in the morning sun that is like an intravenous hookup to the only thing that can keep me alive-- as often happens, I started thinking about bread, particularly rye bread.  On the handful of occasions we've been out to the grocery stores, we always look for a good loaf but there are none, of course.  And also of course, we aren't going to be making any any time soon, though we did buy some yeast, which is sitting in the cupboard--what I consider a huge step.  So I got online and actually ordered two loaves of marble rye bread on Etsy-YES. Etsyyyyy.  I can't tell you how happy that made me in that moment.  And then I read a bit more and then sent this text to a friend:

We've decided to tame our wild cat, who loves to go out into the night if he can, getting in all sorts of trouble, and are hoping to stamp out his wild outside cat-ness (ha) and turn him into an inside cat.  He's come back with so many mysterious injuries and as mentioned, hunted and murdered much wildlife.  He also cannot resist rolling around in dirt piles and I'm sick of it.  So we tied a rope to a stake in the back yard, make him wear a harness, and only let him out when we can hook him up. Julian tries to take him on walks which is comical.  


But he's becoming much more docile and I have to be sure to give him lots of attention.  This is him right now. And this cat is me right now, and the cats in general, are taking me through the days.
wherever you can, Kat. Get it

And here was me in the hammock swing yesterday:


I go out back on every nice morning, go walking or biking or scootering in the day, and then sit on the stoop out front every evening.  I've also been known to open the front blinds and park myself on the rug inside, late afternoon sun full in eyes, and just bask. That life-giving sun is taking me through. 

Other things that bring me joy:

- our blender.  We got a blendtec blender for Christmas, after years of foolishly thinking our junky one was sufficient (also: there's a difference between "junky" and "junkie," I have just learned, ha ha).  I make smoothies every day and every time I use the blender I stand there looking at it and think how amazing it is, and with its easy-clean feature.  It brings me joy.

- our vaccuum.  In my moments of stress-cleaning, this one is a big player. We recently acquired a cordless Dyson vacuum and this thing is a literal life-changer.  I wouldn't include it here if it didn't bring actual joy to my life.  It is a pleasure to use and the nightmare of a corded vacuum is and will hopefully ever be a distant and forgotten memory.  

- food.  Food brings me joy.  I plan my days around food. We even meal-plan, something I abhorred up until now.  This is also necessary so that we don't go to the store too often, something we are accustomed to doing.  But food has taken a prominent place in the joy centers of my brain.  I made chocolate lava cakes last night. I had to make some adjustments because our recipe has not enough chocolate and too much sugar and zero salt, so it's a hard balance and guessing game, but I got it.  I got it.  It worked.  Too bad I didn't measure anything out exactly.  But they were so good. I'm still thinking about them, especially that 1/3 stick of butter I consumed.

Once again, it's the simple things, and may you have some of your own that bring you a moment's joy throughout the days. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Quarantine Easter

Does every blog post have to relate to the quarantine? Maybe.  Am I just lazy and keep repeating titles accidentally? Yes, absolutely.

Easter this year was nice and low key.  I spent the week beforehand gathering together pics and links and thoughts about Holy Week and sent them to some people and made myself a nice little way to prep for the Easter Day.  I printed off all this stuff and it will go into my quarantine scrapbook.

This year we hid some eggs in our own yard. Julian felt too old and like he'd rather hide than hunt, a sure sign of the aging out of childhood, alas. Fortunately for him, I've NEVER aged out so I'm happy to still be hunting.  Also Sean, as seen here:

this pic isn't really anything, turns out.

On Sunday, we had an egg-dying blitz, which i love.  We started this tradition maybe last year, maybe the year before (what is time anymore?) and it's kind of my favorite.  We used all of the kits we have which somehow seem to multiply, and then got a new one for this year (ok, i see what's happening there).

Something I learned this year: I really love putting together an Easter basket.  We have one family one and we were sure to order our favorite chocolate from our favorite places, and get a little something for everyone.  Sean and Julian went camping to a secluded spot the day or two before and I got to assemble in solitude and again, rather loved it.  I love Easter candy way more than, say, Halloween or Valentine's Day candy.  I also love everything about Easter-- the religious symbols, the "everything is born again" vibe, like baby animals and springtime.  I didn't take a pic of my finished basket because I'm a dummy because it was nothing short of glorious, but we had:

  • fancy chocolate eggs which i had been looking forward to for weeeeks.
  • mini-eggs, much beloved by Sean, newly beloved by Julian, and now with the dark version, adopted by me as well. 
  • twix for kids who like that
  • a large chocolate egg filled with truffles
  • a collection of other truffles with a variety of white, milk, and dark chocolate, all delicious because it's good quality. I love my Easter snobbery. It's one more reason for the season, for me. A carefully curated basket.  
  • medici almonds-- so pretty and almondy. 
  • chewy tiny tarts, my deep, unabiding guilty pleasure candy. 
  • and the creme de la creme, a paper mache victorian egg i purchased this year, filled with delights and was no match for the delight that filled ME. I looooved this thing. 
  • some peeps, which are gross, but traditional.
I don't know what it is about Easter treats, or Easter in general.  I have such vivid memories of Easters of my youth. Why?  Must be the time of year, when I feel like I can truly open my eyes for the first time. Memories are more in focus, I'm taking those first deep breaths after hibernation.  I remember making Easter crafts with my mother when I was a kid-- those sugar string eggs, where you wrap sugary goo-covered string around balloons, wait until it's hardened, and then pop it and you have this weird egg shell thing.  Or those sugar eggs filled with a little Easter scene made out of candy.  Why do I love this so? I'm not sure I'll ever know.

Here are some pics.  

First, here's Julian after I was like, "hurry up and go find the basket! I WANT IT."  

The basket unpacked:

There's something about digging through the grass to find the candy that keeps the excitement alive. If it were just a basket with goodies, no grass, where's the surprise? Where's the thrill of discovery? It would just be a basket full of stuff. With grass, it's mysteries and possibilities. This is all part of Easter for me.

My Victorian egg!
ohhhh my good heavens, I love it so much
 Here is an egg collage, in case you didn't want to scroll through  all 87 of our very BEST eggs:

Methods used:

1. Melting crayons on hot eggs. This made for a couple cool eggs (A2, B2, and A3) but was quite difficult as it was so flaming HOTTT.  I burned my fingertips which just kept on burning because--hot wax. So, not sure I'd mess with that again. On the other hand, those eggs look awesome. So maybe the pain is worth it. Wait-- C1 is also a wax egg. Sean did this one and I think it's my favorite of them all. How did he get that pale blue?? I have no idea. He did something to it and then wiped it all off and that was the result?  Who knows.  So beautiful. So pure.

2. Eggsperimenting with dyes.  One of my favorite things to do is to pretend I am a chemist and try to make the color I want using the limited colors these kits give me.  Or just something different and unique.  I was most proud of eggs B1, B3, and C3 which is more grass-green than teal, which is what the kit dye made.  I worked hard at this.  I love that brown one of B3.  And B1 took many trials, back and forth, back and forth, until success.  Now I know how Marie Curie felt.

3. New stripy stripe machine which made every egg look awesome.  I saw this on Instagram and, like every purchase I've made from there, i did not regret this one bit.  It was so easy and fun and again, made everything look cool.  In fact, here are some more because you need to see:

When I was a teen, one of my favorite things to do was spin boiled eggs really hard on the table so they'd turn upright and then take a Sharpie marker to it and watch the change occur, like a pottery wheel.  When it stopped spinning, it looked like nothing, unlike these eggs.  So thanks, stripe machine.
Next year I want to do natural dyes again. We did this a few years ago and I'm itching to do it again. Yes, itching.  

More pics.
Easter kitty:

Egg filled with truffles. Favorite, and very difficult to see:

Lastly,  a few mornings before Easter, i opened the back door and saw some feathers on the mat. NO. I knew what this meant.  "Carnage!" I shouted to Julian.  And instructed him to look for the body.  We found it not too far away, lying on the grass:

I love birds.  And this horrified and disgusted me.  Our killer cat struck again.  We somehow got the bird into a garbage bag to throw away but then that didn't feel right so we decided to bury it instead. 
Julian and Sean dug a hole and Julian made a stone for remembrance.  I looked upon our Easter bird and reflected on death and life, how they go hand-in-hand, recited a poem, and said a solemn prayer in my heart for the bird that needlessly died, on what we now call Easter Thursday. The eve of Good Friday. It was a somber moment and good symbol for the proceeding days.

p.s. I've been watercoloring a bit lately. It's calming and I enjoy it.  There's a photographer on Instagram I follow. He is Finnish and, from what I can tell, lives in the forest and takes insane photos of every amazing woodland creature you can imagine as well as other wildlife.  In fact, go follow him. His snaps will brighten your day. I particularly love the birds, and tried to paint them:
i will not rest until i can capture the bird face.  it's so hard.

this one is ok except i broke the bird's beak. :(  Sorry.

 Watercolors suit my personality.  They've got a laissez-faire quality I really enjoy. It helps me to just let go, see what happens. It's a form of painting by water where part of your role is to just see what picture will be revealed.  There are a few high stress moments like with the eyes (deep breath) but other than that, I just see where the flow takes me, what colors I can achieve.  I like it.


Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Quotes from Quarantine

Being forced to spend all day every day with my two favorite people has been a really lucky thing. I think about people who struggle with people they live with (whoever they are) or are forced to quarantine with loved ones but in a tiny space which would drive anyone crazy.  Or in general, with all of their family members all of the time which could be exhausting and cause some stress-pressure merely by obtaining the same general space for days on end.  Really, I have it good. Our situation is doable, and let's not even mention those who are struggling with illness or on the front lines in some way or dealing with employment problems--ugh, ugh, ugh.

That said, we all have our limits before tension rises and the steam forms and threatens in what has become a bit of a pressure cooker, you might say. 
Julian is doing alright with it. He misses school and his friends and just being around other kids.  He told me he feels like he's losing his sense of humor because he knows that kind of audience really well--the kid audience, i guess.  I told him maybe he could get a Youtube channel or something.  And we really might need to because taking the place of basically all other humans in his life, I am the sole recipient to all of the chatter/ brain noise that is expelled from within. He talks nonstop, telling me THE weirdest crap and I am either laughing, shaking my head, vehemently rejecting what I'm unfortunately on the receiving end of, or am just left stunned and speechless by the things that come out of this child's mouth.  I cannot run to my stash of post-it notes nor scribble with fumbled pen-in-hand fast enough.  But I have tried. So, in the spirit of record-keeping in this crazy time, here are the latest post-it quotes coming at you from recent days and weeks:

1. Julian and Sean are in the middle of an epic Star Wars marathon. They watch a bit every night before bed. Right now they are smack dab in the middle, which is the middle of Empire Strikes Back, I believe.  A week or so ago they were slogging through episodes 1-3 and I overheard Julian say something really excellent to Sean as they were watching Attack of the Clones or whichever one has Anakin being older and annoying:

March 18, 2020 
"I really hate Anakin Skywalker in this episode.  He's like a super sexy jerk."   
 Hi-larious.  And it's true.  He seems to spend the entire film trying to be sexy which is disturbing and annoying the crap out of everyone.  Nailed it, Julian.

2. These are out of order and I didn't date them all. Here's another one from before then:

March 13, 2020

"I usually build a whole world inside of my head with books."

This is adorable and I believe was during the calm, innocent days, pre-quarantine.  It's cute because that's exactly what reading does but he said it like he had just invented the concept, and I got to see watch him stumble on this idea for the first time.   He went on to tell me how he knows a book isn't good-- when he can't visualize it very well and I thought it was very wise. I struggle with books like that too. 

3.        JEN: You're funny.

JULIAN: Aw, thanks. I love being told I'm funny, even more than being told I'm loved."

ha ha.  I recently heard a statement saying something people love to hear perhaps even more than "i love you" is "I understand you."  Perhaps "you're funny" ranks right up there as well. 

4. These next three were in quick succession, like everything he says.  I congratulate myself enormously for a) listening in the first place because a large percentage of the stuff he says is weird or disturbing or gross. Also for b) getting the stuff done that I was working on at the time amidst his verbal torrent and c) getting to a post-it to write them down.

4a. We were discussing natural rock formations for some reason and Devil's Tower came up (again) and as I was heading upstairs he said,

"Another name for that could be Earth's Wart."  
And I was like, "ew." 
 And he said, "why not? It's formed the same way warts are formed."     


At this point I had successfully made it to my bedroom. Once again scenes of Calvin and Hobbes flash through my head.  I used to think Calvin's mom was kind of lame and boring but I think I understand her better now. 

4b. He was eating scrambled eggs at breakfast and apparently had some trouble chewing/swallowing and said,

"aagh, I half-swallowed that scrambled egg but I was able to bring it back and swallow it again! It's like I got to eat it twice!"  
*Jen making grossed-out face at the sink or wherever.*
He rolls right on through with a contemplative, "I don't know why we can't chew our cud..."

4c. 4c isn't a quote but a point to say that this time also included him telling me all the horrible and graphic details of the book he was reading about Hiroshima that someone wrote when visiting soon after the bombs were dropped. It's some rare book Sean had in the bookcase, probably next to the parenting books Julian always grabs at the free little library book drop.  Note to self: Make Amelia Bedelia books more readily available. ALso +5 points to me for using "readily" in a book context. 

5. He asked me out of the blue the other day (of course),

"What would your bounty hunter hairstyle be?

Me:  Meet Smudge, The Confused Cat From The "Woman Yelling At Cat" Meme ...  
"uhh..don't they all wear masks? or helmets?"
(why am i even attempting to answer this??
He replied, "That's a bounty hunter stereotype because of Boba Fett."  

Like I was admonished. Like all of a sudden I find myself in this surreal situation where I feel ashamed because I was stereotyping bounty hunters?? What is happening? What world do I live in?  Who am I? Is this real life?  I was dying at this. This kid is the weirdest.    I then pathetically tried to give him an honest answer but now, upon reflection, it feels like the weirdest word-trap or weirdo mind game or something and I feel foolish to try to participate. 

6.   "What if we all had to share one sheet of paper? That thing would be so thick and weighed down with white-out, it would be unrecognizable."  

 Fortunately he often doesn't really require a response. He's just like a short, loud, kind of scatterbrained philosopher with poor short-term memory, because sometimes i will give a delayed response and he'll have forgotten he even said anything, making me look like the crazy one.

"That would be gross and sad..."

"Huh? What would?" 

7. "I wish I could buy a valley."  

     "What would you do with your valley?"

     "I'd build all of my ideas and have them in one place, like my cup car."

Oh, the cup car. He has told me at length, on multiple occasions, about his invention of a cup car. It's essentially a teacup vehicle--like the teacup ride at Disneyland.  It's powered by up to four people pedaling and can go up to 60mph.  Being no engineer, I pointed out what seemed to be a problem in his person-propelled engine and that kind of speed.  Also, how do brakes work? Does only one person have access to brakes? How do they brake and let the others know to stop pedaling? Does he/she signal in some way? Does he/she shout, "BRAKE!"?  Does using the brake automatically lock the pedals? Actually, that last one is a pretty good idea. I should suggest it to him.  He heard all of this and after considering my questions, declared he might need to rethink this invention.  But here's his drawing because I happen to have it right here next to me: 

Also that looks NOTHING like a cup car, Julian.  By his description, I told him it sounded more like this:

Our Handcars

but he was like, noooo it's totally different. 


But hey, he's not an artist, he's an idea guy.   Also, the steering wheel in the center (like it is in the teacups ride) is making me el-oh-el right now. 

8.  "I can put a bookmark in my memory."   Sometimes he says things weirdly profound and lovely. See, this is why i have to keep listening.  

9. "Have you ever juggled in Oregon?"  

He asked me this twenty times because it took me that long to even register this and get on board with the question.

I think I said, "what? No." 

"Really? Never?"

"No! What??"

Finally he got to his point-- "because it's illegal. You have to have a license."   So I guess I'm glad there was a point. 

10. Speaking of profound/poignant, I said the other day,  

"I just want to lose myself in a good book."

He replied, "I think I've been lost in a book my whole life and have never been found. I don't think anyone knows the real me. I'm not sure I even know myself."  

Me:  We Finally Know What Cats' Facial Expressions Mean | IFLScience

After which he grabs a fistful of Werther's Originals and casually strolls away. 

11. "Everybody has a beat that they're born with, and it stays with them for the rest of their skipping lives."

This was while we were high-skipping down the road (which is really fun if you haven't done it in a while) and I loved it so much but didn't have my phone or anything with which to record, so i made him help me remember it. I had to recite it again and again and thankfully, it worked. 

12. "If I have four or five cats when i grow up I'm going to name them big long German names." 

I approve of this.

13. "I've been doing a lot of scrapbooking." 

Sometimes, when we ignore him, he does really funny things-- like he got this catalog (since when was the "catalogue" spelling not ok?) of weird office/packaging supplies and cut out pictures of stuff and wrote his own captions in a binder of loose paper.  The quote alone made me laugh, but his actual scrapbooking is hi-larious.  I told him we should probably get him his own Instagram account.  

i love him so much.

"Maybe in the afterlife I could come back and be a crash test dummy.  I could ride roller coasters and not feel the tension and stuff because I'm just a crash test dummy."  

Double-you, tee, eff.   It's funny, but also disturbing and just plain weird.

I need to figure out way to relieve the apparently pent-up and frustrated brain energy.  I keep telling him to write down all of this but he won't listen to me.  Tell it to the paper, Julian!  That i can read later when I choose to, like Stephen King's mom I would imagine, and not necessarily be a forced party to the play-by-play.   I'll keep trying.  In the meantime, I guess he can refer to my post-its notes that I am, for some unknown reason, so dutifully and carefully keeping for him.