Tuesday, November 15, 2011


there are infinite ways to look at something.  so many ways that you, with your two eyes, will never -not once- see the same thing twice.  blink and the scene has shifted.  don't blink- and still...change.

it is this reality that equally fuels me and deflates me.  because i am bored easily- so easily- i want nothing to be as it is, as it was, as it might be.  and yet, the very idea that something, or someone, i enjoy as is will be different- or merely look differently to me- is distressing.

i think i only like change when it is changing something i don't like much.

boredom haunts me.  as a mom- it is my worst enemy.  and the worst enemy of my children.  not that they are ever bored.  they aren't.  they find inspiration in chicken poop.  however, my boredom causes them harm- they just don't know that's what is doing it.

they know that mom freaks out, her eyes turn red and she suddenly cannot handle small injustices like lost library books, hidden hats, neglected chores.  they don't understand that underneath all that ridiculous rage is a very bored woman madly trying to drum up some excitement amidst the repetitive aspects of motherhood: the cleaning, the cooking, the shopping, the dropping off to sleep at 9 pm because....what the hell is there to do?

honestly- this is not something "they" do a good job of warning would-be mothers about....how boring it can be.  or maybe i just never read that article.  or even that magazine.   maybe i was too busy having fun being spontaneous and fancy-free.  you don't really expect to be bored if you have never been bored.

just when i am almost bored to the point that i forget what it is like not to be bored- a birthday party invitation arrives.  and not a party for my child or for any child.  a party for not children.  children are not invited at all.  while children will not be there, all the necessary ingredients for a good time will be: live music and dance floor.  there are other potential perks mentioned, namely some fun friends, bonfire, desert pot luck.  but really- i'm attending the party in order to dance.

of course, before dancing starts most people have to get drunk.  not me.  i get drunk by dancing, not in order to.  but i understand that some folks need/want to drink before dancing- so i chat it up and wait.  i sample deviled eggs and pumpkin chiffon cake and whiskey.  i'm not bored.  but i'm not dancing either.  i'm not idle, but i'm not airborne yet.  i'm taxi-ing on the runway though.

the band gets going and then going more.  they've got stand up bass,  drum kit, horn, keyboard,  voice.  many songs inspire dirty twist dancing moves.  i comply.  the small dance floor with the throw-rug-foot-grabbers are limiting at first until we roll those bastards up and flail about some so that the neighboring dancers get wary and give room.  some small distracting thoughts pop up in my head- reminiscent of middle school- possibly brought on by small clusters of pretty girls dancing at each other and giggling. 

but honestly, i'm so bored of my thoughts too.

i ignore them by focusing on my feet, in red shoes, and how they feel moving about without tripping over a toddle or a supposedly barn cat yowling at me for more food.  how my knees respond to the message from my tired soles and how my wide hips follow suit, my spine stretching and curving, my chest opening, arms raising up, mouth parted for warm air to escape from and return to.

there are moments then when i am fully in body- so much that my ego finally gives up her relentless cries and jibes- and this soaring sensation takes over.  this feeling of freedom and unlimited possibilities when i am so much larger than "i" am and i feel like i am everywhere and no where at once.

later, much later after i drive home around 3 am and nurse my son back to sleep- i would dream about dancing.  i would dream about dancing with these same friends, complete with top hat and mohawk, and when they tried to convince me to leave the dance, i would crumple and confess to them that i've never in my life danced to the point of exhaustion- that i have never danced so fully and so much that i was ready to stop.  i always wanted more.  even as i dreamed this i felt how beautiful and sad this thought was.  that i had something that would never be extinguished and that i had not ever found the end of it - and that the passion had been largely unexplored.

but it would be hours until i had that dream that still haunts me days later with it's clarity and confusion, so i continued dancing.  until the songs became too slow or the room too hot.  or the wind called me outside to stumble on bumpy grass and swirl in the gusts of rain-splattering wind with my friend's laughter and smile shining in the dark.

at some point in the night, either before, during or after the dancing, i stood next to a fox and looked up into the cloudy sky just as the wind blew away the coverage and exposed the moon.  she was graceful and aloof with a rainbow shining around her like a collar of pearl around a queen.  and the november wind blew the clouds continuously and steady until it looked as if the moon was flying up, ever faster, toward the center of the sky and never reaching it.

it looked as if she was moving swiftly toward something, with her eyes piercing the place she wished to land, fully believing she would land there soon. 

it looked as if she was swimming upstream past salmon, stones and stars to an open ocean and waves ready to wash her clean.

it looked as if she were leading a flock of swans over mountain ranges and over sky scrapers to land in warm muddy puddles of delight.

it looked as if it were all real and possible and completely perfectly right, just as one should expect from the moon.

and she didn't look boring at all.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


this one if for my brother.  about my brother.  possibly in honor, to honor, my brother.

the brother who is older, bigger, taller, a whole lot more wild than i am.  the brother who lived crazy for a long time while i watched, horrified mostly- sometimes amused, and just prayed that he'd live long enough for a child to call him uncle.

the brother who taught me to roller skate on the sidewalk of west one-seventy street, to fight mean and sneaky when you are out-sized (note: he didn't directly teach me this, as he did with roller skating, rather this was a skill i developed to combat his girth and slight tendency to be entertained by annoying me in his bear-like affectionate manner), and who also demonstrated a slew of slightly less useful, more destructive behaviors that i, for the most part, chose to steer clear of as i grew older and was supervised less often.

the brother who tells me stories that pop back up in my mind just as i need them.  like this one.

on a recent morning, after not getting enough sleep, i walked into the backyard to release the chickens.  despite their charm- i was not moved from my place of grump.  i topped the porch stairs and took a moment to smell morning and take stock.  i had no real reason to be in a sour mood.  no doctor diagnosis, no pending repossession, no phone calls i was avoiding.  the small bits of irritation that chaffed under my skin were just that small- and yet- lack of sleep makes my skin thin and sensitive to unwashed dishes and cats that want to sleep on my head.

the view from the back porch is peaceful.  the neighbors old fence dips down gradually with lush land and in that green shallow a few horses often graze.  the sun sparks up the sky, the wind blows clouds ever northward and the small mountains hug the horizon with their solid arms of rock, trees, deep roots.

here i stand- talking myself down, or up, and just waiting for grace.  i do this often.  i get to this place in my mind- always in  my mind- where i simply realize that i need some grace, a blessing, a sign, a anchor, a kite string, a token, an open door that leads me back to where i really am- which is not in my mind.  slowly the elements worked away on my crust, i could feel the wind blowing a bit deeper through me.   a whispering to my soul that i didn't even need to strain to hear.

the chickens began to look charming again.

and then, here comes the squirrel.  we used to have several squirrels about us- but since the hazelnut tree was dug up and mulched up, the furry rodents have found other nuts to steal, other car hoods to hide under, other kids to charm.  this squirrel was simply passing through, nose to  ground she scampered south- no doubt heading to the mecca garden of our neighbors.  her black eyes glance up at the assorted hens pecking away at various plants and bugs, and the squirrel pauses.

whenever i see a squirrel i think of my brother.  he is nothing like a squirrel in his physical stature.  he is all bear.  even his mannerism are not squirrelly.  my association comes from this dream he had and shared with me. 

no, i normally wouldn't share a dream- but this is a good lesson for us all.  and my brother is a firm believer in The Teacher.

in the dream, a squirrel was running all of over his body and he couldn't quite catch it, couldn't quite get it off him.  on arms, legs, head, torso- seemingly everywhere at once.  you've seen squirrels circle around on a tree- their small velcro claws, their twitchy tails- speedy lil bastards.  and imagine if one was determined to be on you.  not attacking you- just wanted to be on you. no matter where you twisted or how fast you grabbed- and even if you managed to fling it off- there it was right back on your back.   

no doubt he didn't sleep well that night- and later mentioned his dream to a co-worker who gave the sage advice: "some believe everything, everyone we dream about is a manifestation of ourselves."  this got my brother to thinking about what this spastic little squirrel represented to him.  after some thought- he settled on the part of his personality that is very impulsive.  the part that sparks him to say mildly offensive comments, drive really fast without the use of a either the right or the left indicator, and jump into various pots of hot water.  that part of him that at times really irritated him, the part he wanted to cast off.

now, if it was only the dream this wouldn't necessarily be anything worth remembering.  it would just be another strange animal dream, another brief glimpse into the psyche.  time to move on, time to watch some tv.

which is what he did later that evening.  i can see my brother on his couch- sprawled out, his eyes slightly unfocused, brow a bit heavy from working all day.  flipping through channels- rather quickly perhaps- and stopping on the news.  local stuff.  small pieces of lives snipped down into thirty second segments: storms, reunions, money found, fires raging. 

a brief clip of a news report of a fire- a building ablaze.  i can imagine him watching this a bit detached until attention was brought to the roof.  the place where so many wind up during a fire- trying to escape the heat, the smoke, the flame.  yet, once you get there you don't have so many options.  the lone inhabitant of the roof was facing that reality.  there was a squirrel, trapped on the roof a burning building.  if my brother has glanced to his left, he would have seen The Teacher next to him.

my brother sat up at this sight- as if the football was steps away from touchdown in a tied game with seconds left on the clock.

as i remember the telling, the squirrel was frantically searching for escape from it's inferno in the sky- but there was only one solution: jump.  maybe he knew he could make it or maybe he thought he wouldn't.  maybe the risk was small or great- most likely he didn't calculate it at all.  he acted on impulse- or maybe it should be called INpulse as in something in our blood that screams "GO!" when we need it to most.  the squirrel ran across the building stretching his body long with each stride, gaining speed and launched himself into the sky like a bullet aimed on the closest target- and landed safely on the roof of the adjoining building. 

i can see my brother's eyes go wide with awe and hear him saying "no way!" in astonishment.  i can hear the "click" of his dream snapping into place, like the sound of a door clicking shut behind The Teacher leaving, confident that you got it this time.   i can see him gaining respect for his own "inner squirrel" and the many, many it has saved his ass through the years.  then i hear him laughing- with his eyes all squinting; his chest erupting with bursts of pure joy.

and each time he told that story, to our dad, co-workers, folks at a meeting,  i wish i had been there to hear it.  to capture that moment when that fortune cookie cliche "everything happens as it should" rings loud and true.

i stood out on my back porch and thought of all of this as i watched my own squirrel.  i noticed that a squirrel is like water in that she sees no obstacles, just alters her course.  this squirrel, deciding not risk chicken confrontation, left the grass behind and went up the play structure instead.  from the cedar beams she jumped onto the red maple branch- and from there to shed roof, fence, and gone from threat of chicken- back to grass, thistle, dandelion jungle.

i recognize this trait in my brother.  the things he has accomplished- it's like he sees no obstacles.  or rather- he does see them- and manages to find an alternative course.  it hasn't always been easy for him, i know.  sometimes maybe he even imagined some obstacles or maybe the course he took ended up far more difficult.  but the point is, the point was- is that he kept going.  he listened to "GO!" and we share some of that dna.

i turned around and walked back into the house of Things-To-Do.  in that few minutes of respite the only thing that changed was my perspective- now a bit lighter, a bit more risky, a bit more interested in overcoming the challenge of an obstacle rather than sitting there starting at it and bitching.

a bit more squirrelly all the way around- another lesson from my brother.  come to think of it- squirrels and bear do kind of look alike.  especially around the ears.

Monday, September 19, 2011

the plan

i am a planner.  well, more of a dreamer.  i come up with schemes and plots and adventures continually.  most likely this is a survival skill i developed at a young age when i fully realized that most real people in my  life were somewhat....inconsistent in their behavior.  that's a nice way to say crazy.  ok, maybe they aren't crazy.   they are probably just as crazy as anyone else- maybe they were even boring- and that's why i started making up stories, plans, escape routes.

in any case, i still do this.

a small gesture- like stirring honey into a cup of tea- blooms into an old woman living her last days in a nursing home, desperate for a cup of tea fixed to her liking, but alas she can no longer talk and no one pays any mind to her grunting until one day a soft-hearted visitors takes notes and....well, it goes on from there.  ending with lots of money being given to this kind person.

i like those kind of endings.  bright red bows on the conclusion.  neat and trim.  no messy crap like real life- where nothing ever really ends...until we do.  and stories that end with lots of money are fun to imagine sometimes.

because i sometimes like to wonder what it would feel like to just do stuff- like buy 4 tickets to a seattle play, kidnap friends or strangers and go.  or to send a thousand bucks to the food bank.  or to go to an art festival and actually be able to spend $39 on a pair of earrings made out of acorns and rock shards.  doesn't that sound fun?

hell.  yes.  it.  does.

so how do i get there?  plans, i got mad plans.

this one starts with garbage.  see, for some unclear reason we don't have the garbage picked up curbside.  once a month or so, we load it into the back of our 1987 Ford F150 and drive it to the dump.  and when i say "we" what i mean is "not me."  i like garbage to disappear- it's part of my american heritage.  i like to put nasty stuff in a big black bin and pretend it had disappeared.  leaving no trace.

except on monday- not long after the mustard on the back porch incident-  as i flipped open the lid and started to haul 13 gallon tall kitchen garbage bag over the lip of the bin into oblivion i see wriggling, white traces of last week's dump excursion.  stop reading now if you are eating chinese food or are squeamish.

maggots.  hundreds of maggot all doing their nasty maggoty dance.  squirming blindly about on the lid, down the insides, at the bottom.  it's like the remains of a serious fly orgy- and it's fucking disgusting.  i do the "maggot repulsion dance"- that ancient move of flapping arms, goose bumps on flesh, shaking head in a quick whip- while i try to figure out what deity i have pissed off to deserve this kind of monday.  and then go right into problem solving mode of how to deal with these maggots.

because it is hard to get rid of maggots.  first, you don't want to touch them.  or look at them.  or think about them.  or write about them (unless you are me- and if have hung in here this long i really do appreciate it- cuz i know you are going to have to shower soon).  but what to do with them?  especially when they are already in the garbage where they are going to hatch into flies and have more orgies in your garbage and create the next 239 generations of larvae!

it's a conundrum. you can't vacuum them up- cuz then they are in there.  you can't flush them down the toilet cuz then there are down there- and oh my- you would never sit there again!  even if you pour some toxic sludge on them you still have to deal with their corpses.  so it's a big problem to contemplate on a monday morning with less than 4 hour of sleep and a toddler who still refuses attempts at cleaning or clothing and a big brother who is supposed to be at a ukulele lesson in less than 2 hours.

and then the dark clouds of my mind were cleared away as the solution appeared- all five of them. cue disney music...

chickens.  my lovely ladies: opal lemondrop, freckles la fluff, speedy cleo, matanewie, and amelia "jesus" one dot.

i flipped the lid shut and wheeled the garbage can into the yard.  the girls gathered round.  i lay it on it's back and opened the lid with a dramatic thud- revealing to the hens the hovering hoards all over- yes, this makes me itch to write- the garbage can.

they twitched their heads sideways and stepped closer- their claws clicking on the black plastic.  they plucked cautiously at the first maggot- and then, holy hannah- it was like the had won the protein lottery!  they couldn't gobble those grubs up fast enough.  peck.  peck.  heck- yes!  peck.

i stood transfixed.  it was disgusting and awesome at the same time.  i didn't want to watch but i couldn't believe it was happening so i needed the visual proof.   maggots truly disappearing right before my eyes!  maggot gone.  over and over.  and happy chickens to boot.  chickens that were giving me eggs as a thank you for letting them eat those lil' wormy bastards. in less than 6 minutes there was not one maggot in sight.

i'll take that over christmas anyday.

and then- that's when the plan hit me.

people rent out their goats to munch blackberries.  and their sheep to chomp pastoral lawns.  and their pigs to root up...whatever pigs root up.  you see where i'm going with this?

maggot patrol chickens.

got maggots?  get chickens.  my chickens.  my girls show up and eat up your maggots like they are powdered sugar from the donuts in heaven.  chickens give me eggs that i use to cook up french toast.  you give me money that i use to buy maple syrup to pour over my french toast.

genius, right?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

monday morn

i don't always sleep as i should.  meaning, i should sleep solidly, for long stretches of time without interruption from any other living thing.  i should sleep until my body eases awake with stretches and yawns.  i should sleep until i am done sleeping.

this stopped happening over 10 years ago now.

i wake up for strange unknown reasons.  i wake up for obvious annoying reasons.  i wake up when children wake up or when i think they wake up.  i wake up to make sure they are sleeping.  i wake up.  i wake up.  i wake up.

but they don't.  they sleep like logs fallen into a mossy green bed of lush fairy dust.  they sleep like a boat on calm waves.  they sleep like the biggest concern they had in the past 12 hours was that their mother didn't let them eat ketchup for dinner.  they sleep like they are sandwiched between the two biggest, strongest hearts they know.  they sleep until they wake up.

most of the time their sleeping and my sleeping are mostly in sync.  sometimes they are a few hours off- i get up at 6 am.  or i go to sleep at 10 pm.  they nap while i blog.  i nap while they....what are they doing while i nap?

and that's the thing.  who knows what they do while i sleep and they do not.  because this does happen sometimes.  sometimes the sleep patterns are so crazy confused because i am up taking care of them and their fevers, their nightmares, their bed wetting, their mindless demands to nurse at 2:48 am....that by the time they are fully awake i am dead asleep.

case in point: monday morn.

papa is leaving town at 5:15 am on monday morn, so the big son decides he must sleep in the bedroom.  two boys in bed with two grown ups has proven to be tortuous- so he pulls in the futon chair cushion- dragging it along the unfinished oak floors- dusting a path through legos, laundry and cat hair- and plops it at the end of the bed.  small son decides immediately this is his bed and refuses to let big son do anything to this bed.  all pillows and blankets are banished.  it's 10 pm and i am repeating my mantra "it's time to go to sleep" as i myself drift toward drooling.

however, small son took an epic nap and all his cells are screaming "disco!"  everyone else is asleep- well, i am as asleep as a mama can be whose 3 year old is not yet asleep, and small son is collecting books on the small bed- as big son rests right where he wants to be, next to departing papa.

several times, the light that i am not allowed to turn off is eclipsed by a large head and a soft voice saying "mama" while he thrusts something toward me.  i mumble.  i turn over.  i try very hard to ignore him.  but even as i begin to dream i hear him commenting on the book he is studying "dat bug gots big claws.  he'll pinch you.  he's eyes are big.  he's scary."

i'm surprised i didn't dream kafka.

at 4 am papa awakes.  and so do i.  i sit on the couch like a mushroom, swollen and slow.  he talks at me- i cannot comprehend.  i have wild fantasies of making muffins to send him to the airport with but i don't even have the energy to imagine this.  and then suddenly big son is awake.  then papa is leaving, whisked away by a co-workers car and it's piercing headlines cutting through our dark kitchen.  then big son is crying- that irrational and untouchable fear we get when parents leave.  then small son awakes on the floor- frightened by the view of eye level rocking chair and the deep, dark, depths of the belly of the bed.  it's not even 7 am yet.

by 7 am- i am back in bed. small son joins me at some point- his small chilled body curls into mine- and even tho i worry big son is looking up lego wars on youtube, i fall asleep.

strange words filter into my dreams but i push them away.  i dream that i wake up as a big wind blows through the bedroom and presses the boys against the southern wall.  but the wind is cooling and spirited so we all just laugh at her.

from a corner of the my mind comes a repetitive "hey!" it's from the left corner of my mind to be exact.  from the left corner of the house- i realize as i wake more fully.  somewhere near the back porch.  the "hey!" is not hurried or worried, but persistent.  a bit annoyed.

like i was, stumbling out of bed at 7:28.  i walk less than 10 steps from the bed to the sun room- the back room of our home that faces east that is often flooded with morning sun- to find small son on the back porch.  he is wearing a green striped t-shirt and nothing else.  well, there is strange yellow smears on various parts of his chub.  i stumble forward 10 more steps to the sliding glass door that separates him from me to find it locked.

from the inside- because that's the only way this slider can be locked.

i unlatch it clumsily and am greeted by a cheery kid holding a bright yellow bottle of mustard sans lid.  his finger tips are also bright yellow i notice as he says "hi mom!" like it's nothing new to be locked out on the back porch, half naked with a bottle of mustard.

big son is below the deck in the yard, looking up at me sheepishly.

"did you lock him out here?" i croak out in my morning pre-coffee voice.

he replies with his eyes looking up at me "yeah.  he was trying to hit me with a hammer."

and my parting thought as i trudge toward the bathroom, not at all surprised by the morning's sense of humor- although completely still sleep-deprived and mostly numb is "how come i never can find the hammer when i need it?"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


on sunday i wore a long skirt to work.  it fanned out like the flower petals, cloud feathers, whip cream.  whenever i wear skirts or dresses like this i suddenly feel taller, expansive, grounded- despite cloud reference.  i think it's because my feet are mostly hidden and my legs glide underneath folds of fabrics like a mythical animal.  the swooshing of air with each step- like jelly fish i glide.

when i wear skirts like this i feel more connected to other women- women i have never met, from photos 100 years old or from parts of the world where they wear garments like this everyday- but choice or by force.

when i wear skirts like this i feel more protected, but not because i fear attack.  like i am cherishing the trunk of my own tree of life.  this miraculous womb.  because if i can create life- i sometimes fear i can also take it.  like kali- mad and wild.  i hide strength under my skirt.

when i wear skirts like this i can pee standing up with anyone knowing.  ok, eventually i could do this.  with practice.  without underwear.

i can herd children with the fence of fabric stretched from my hip to my hands.

i can smell the scent of the earth stirred up by my own rustlings- the musk of mold, the spice weeds, wet grass, dust, dirt, earth.

i sweep the ground with air created by my own strong legs.

the shade of my skirt tents the ground. 

when i wear skirts like this- long, full skirts made out of fabric made out of plant made of the earth-  i sway in a way that is all me.  and more than me too.

Monday, August 29, 2011


in an unexpected turn of events- i am now driving a 1990 vw jetta.  mostly.  the minivan is still an option.  the white minivan, that seats seven, has a storage bullet on top, automatic windows and locks, adjustable gas peddle, and all the other gizmos Ford thought to put in a minivan made for american families right around y2k.  it is reliable and sensible and totally awesome in so many ways.  and makes me feel like a 37 year old mother of two.

ingrid- the jetta- was new in the year i turned 16.  she is now 21 years old.  her spirit is wild, although her body is showing her age.  she has a sun roof that begs to frame the bright stars at night for anyone interested in tipping back and looking up. 

do you imagine doing this?  what's in your hand while you do this? beer, cigarette, joint...this car begs to be owned by a rebel.  this is why i like her.  ingrid is somewhat of a temptress.  she dares you to drive faster than you should, have music louder than you should and be gone longer than you should. 

also have a roomy trunk for trips to goodwill.

and ingrid has a stick shift.  along with that- a clutch.  i learned to drive a stick shift in my early twenties on basheeba loop-loop.  an elephant disguised as an Isuzu Trooper- circa 87?- she was a lovely beast.  A trip to the store felt like a jungle sarafi adventure, and getting her in gear was not always easy.

same goes for ingrid but the difference is that she is not about safari.  as i mentioned already- she's more about cruising, speed, sharp turns and seeing if you really can go 140 mph- because that's how far the speedometer reads.  with loud music.  and slightly frightened children in the backseat.

i like the business of shifting that requires engagement with the task of driving.  i have to decide when and how.  how loud do i want to rev it?  how quick do i want to pass that motor home?  i am Driver.  i like third gear the best.

actually- i just like shifting in general.

except when typing.  the keyboard i mostly use for typing no longer sports the shift key on the left.  i think cyrus ate it.  well, he probably didn't eat it...but he most certainly flipped it off.  and the little rubber circle is gone too.  as he did to the arrow keys and the comma and the N...and the other key that i don't really know what it is anymore....except that it sends me to the next line when i touch it, but it's not return key.  so i don't touch it often. but all those keys have the little rubber circle which still does what i want when i touch it.  not the shift key on the left- it does nothing when i touch it.  even if i whisper at it first. 

when the shift key went missing i stopped capitalizing the letter i because i type that with my right hand and it's too awkward to hit the shift key with my pinkie and the i key with my pointer.  try it.  not smooth at all.

so "screw it" i thought.  why do i need to be I?  i can just be i, right?  little i is the same as big I.  i.  I.  you get the idea either way.  now and then i started a sentence with "in" or "instead" or "ice berg."  ok- maybe not ice berg, but whatever i-word it was it was not I-word.  it was just i-word.  and i started to like it.  so i started to stop capitalizing completely.

e.e. cummings, for example.  if i ever had a reason to write that name before now i don't remember doing so.  but it looks so much nicer than E. E. Cummings.  doesn't it?

my name: nancylee bouscher has a better form than Nancy Lee Bouscher.  Although that L is looking lean and proud, i notice.  but the second option requires much too much shifting.  nancylee bouscher.  i can type that really, really fast.

not capitalizing wasn't about denying my ego or wanting to look different or anything other than lazy fingers.  and a missing shift key.  it's to the point now that when i type of computers with left shift keys- i completely ignore them.  even if they whisper at me.

and now i get the added benefit or having another way to add Emphasis to a word.  like in winnie-the-pooh, how milne would capitalize very Important Ideas now and then.  ideas that adults really liked mostly, if i remember right- and often i don't.  so feel free to look that claim up.

besides both being called shifting, i'm not sure what these two acts- going from first to second gear and capitalizing letters- has much to do with me, except that i am currently doing and not doing a lot of them.  and i'm in control of doing or not doing them.

and in a world where a small child can come and flip off letters from a mama writer's keyboard- well, hell, it's important to exercise those Shifting Abilities.

Friday, August 19, 2011

junk in the trunk

sometimes it's hard to know where The Teacher is going to pop up.  sometimes i go somewhere thinking The Teacher will be there and She's not.  most of the time this really bothers me.  like a junky, i get irritated and itchy because i was soooo ready to learn, to evolve, to grow, to open, to bloom.  but The Teacher wasn't there.  fuck it, i don't want to learn anyway.

and then She shows up in these moments so subtly that i'm not even sure if it is Her at first.  like, really?  in this drunken scrawl on the metal door of a bathroom stall?  this is where i transcend.  The Teacher picks her classroom.  even after years of experiencing this- i still am caught off guard easily.

She knows how to get my attention though.

this lesson starts with a car.  a 1990, not a 91, jetta that needs to be sold on the fly because people essentially didn't do what they said they would.  the car that was supposed to wind up in tucson sat in anacortes instead.  the owner sits in tucson excited to start a new job- fretful because she's got no wheels to get to the rez school where she'll oversee lost teeth, belly aches and give pills to children for all the reasons adults have for doing such a thing.  the important thing to know here- is that the car is not in "selling" condition.  none the less, we buy it.

we didn't really need a car, exactly.  we have a truck and a van- both with big old straws that suck up a lot of gasoline.  and both with more than 200k miles on 'em.  we have a plan for this jetta and it gives us some cushion if The Teacher decides to mess with that plan too.

first, we got to clean out the trunk.  and when i say "we" i really mean "me."  somehow everyone falls asleep before me one night and the trunk calls to me from the darkness of our driveway.  this trunk is completely packed, by the way.  when you open it you mostly see plastic garbage bags stuffed full with bits of fabric waving at you, rigid corners of forgotten bill envelopes, a seductive curve of a mug handle...and there's smell too.  trunks always have a smell.

i also should add that the owner feels really badly about this.  she offers to pay me to drive to the dump and just throw everything away- a chore i never could do for several reasons.  first, there's the mystery.  i love a good mystery.  ever since my first nancy drew book i've been hoping for this kind of opportunity.  second, there's the fact that i can't throw out anything that has a use.  for good or bad.  (except for legos left on the floor- i have no problem chucking out those feet killers). maybe you've already heard about the king size futon mattress i deconstructed on the back porch to avoid taking it to the dump?  well, it was extreme...far more so than pulling in one of those garbage bags into my living room at about 10 pm one night last week.

which is exactly what i did...

if i had known The Teacher was going to be there, stuffed between old work files, swimsuits and a barbie tin of glitter nail polish- i would have taken notes.  i would have slowed down into a meditative state and really paid attention to every moment.  but as it often is- i just thought i was doing a chore.  so i plodded forward, head down, hands busy.

it became very clear that i need a couple of bags to sort into.  there was the trash- into it went candy wrappers, napkins, and the like.  the paper recycling- the largest of the bags- where all the receipts, science class notes, birthday cards and more were deposited.   then there was the pile of cool stuff that i didn't want...or stuff i had no idea what it actually was- small black t-shirts, a dinner plate with a country apple painted on it, a handmade ceramic jar full of green pennies and 1 small agate, and this large black plastic thingy my son tells me is a paintball gun loader.  and the pile of stuff i thought was cool and wanted to keep- more about this later.

as i sorted through this stuff The Teacher began to circle the room, her eyebrow arched, leather shoes softly touching the ground in a steady rhythm of observation:

"see?" she said, "life gives everyone a lot of stuff to deal with."

"notice," she mentioned, "that sometimes things we care about get lost."

"imagine," she whispered, "what it would be like to have stranger's hands on your forgotten things."

and that's what i did.  i imagined what it would be like if suddenly my trunk was open for all to examine.  if my junk, from closets, old suitcases, under the bed, beneath the house was all laid out for someone else to sort through.

what would that feel like?

what would they learn about me?

most of the things i pulled from the trunk confirmed my impressive of the owner of the car- who i had only ever met once before, and had talked to a handful of times on the phone since then.  she's passionate in a way that causes her to forget all else.  she is drawn to bold colors and watery sparkles like a bird from a desert.  she has good taste in music.  she loves her children.  she yearns for something and then goes to it. she reminds me of myself in many ways.

and she likes red shoes.

cuz missing shoes means someone hopping around, i think.  because pairs go together.  but i am so used, after the second hour of sorting, of finding only one shoe of each pair- i am not excited at first when i see the tip of red dansko clog.

i am shocked though.  it is candy apple red- with only a little scuffing on the toe, a wad of old grass clinging to the sole, the black piping bold.  i used to own these shoes.  i bought myself a pair so long ago i don't know when.  i remember the store and ordering them.  i bought them as a birthday present for myself and it was the most money i had spent on shoes in a very long time.  i don't think i have spend that much since.  i wore these shoes raw.  i loved everything about these clogs- and i could the strut my stuff in them like i never had a care in the world- until one day, i was over them.

one day, i pulled them out of my closet and they were too old, too worn, too used.  they flopped on my feet with their skin faded to a dark, dirty brownish red.  rather than seeing everywhere they had been- i just saw everywhere they would never take me.  so i got rid of them.

i do this.  i get rid of things i treasure.  most of the time i completely forget about them until i see a picture of them or stumble into a memory of their importance or until i find an exact replica in an old trunk.

i was excited.  i scrambled through the bag, casting aside fleece gloves, blue tank top, purple binder, searching for the mate.  you know what i was thinking? i hope they fit me.  i wanted a pair of red clogs.  i remember recently when getting dressed i yearned for a pair of red clogs-  my old clogs- and now here was a pair!  yes, a pair!

two red clogs and me.

i put them on and stood.  like cinderella, i so much wanting to be just like cinderella.  they are a size 39, euro.  and while this works good in some brands, in dansko i need a 40.  but i didn't want to believe it.  why would the universe put a beautiful pair of red clogs in the trunk of a car i bought for no damn good reason and then not have them fit me?

i walked around the house trying to calculate how long i could wear them before my left big toe would complain?  a few hours...maybe.  if i went to a movie- sure, of course- no one could see them, but i could do it.  wear them to work- never make it to my first break.  dancing?  nope- never happen.

as excited as i to find these clogs- i was now equally distraught.  because those red clogs reminded me so much about myself- and i wanted to be able to wear that knowledge around a bit longer.

then The Teacher, She smiles, and asks- the best teachers ask the best questions- "well, nancylee, whose clogs are these?"

i picture the gal who sold me this car.  no doubt she misses these clogs and what they remind her about herself.  maybe she doesn't even know they are missing.  maybe she's going to wear her long black skirt today and is hunting around for them as i type.  or maybe they aren't even her clogs at all but a girlfriend's or a lover's or her mother's or her daughter's.

but the point is- these are not my clogs.

and then The Teacher, walks real close to me so that i can smell her fragrance and know that she is so much more than a teacher- and she says with firm love, "you need to get your own clogs."

saturday is payday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

picture this

the thing about a blog without pictures is that you have to create one with words.  i envy picture blogs sometimes- a photo of child with chicken and a catchy caption.  how long does that take exactly?  especially if your phone takes pictures, with cool retro effects, and you just email off to your blog site as you wait at a red light somewhere between here and there.

and i love those blogs.

but this blog has more struggle to it- that's my way, i guess.  like now- i've been up since 3 am and even before that i didn't sleep well.  i went to bed by 9 with a stabbing pain in my back.  woke up at 11:34 because my left was suddenly weepy and stinging- only to find that my eldest was still awake, despite my very clear instruction to all that it was to be an early night.  and then at 2:48 the toddler waddles in the bedroom, determined to nurse me out of any chance of sleep.

whereas years before i would have sipped tea, read a book or written in a journal- i go to check me email, do a few quick errands via this wooden chair and the keyboard, and then decide to write in the blog.  a fairly egocentric affair, i feel at times.  what makes me think i've got anything worth while to say?  at least when you write in a journal you don't need to really say anything.  hell, you don't even ever have to read it again!

but since i'm here- and so are you.  i'm gonna do my bestest to make this worth our while.

when i woke up at 3 am- my brain is not a happy place- that's why i'm awake.  in that fuzzy space my head does this fucked up mind trip where all is wrong.  it's like eeyore, without his tail, his house blown down, on his birthday with no thistles to eat....times five thousand.  the list i start to make could be titled "why everything i have ever done was a clausal mistake."  it is ridiculous.  but at 3 am, laying in bed with sore back and weepy eye ("well, maybe if you took better care of yourself...." says my brain) it's hard to pull myself out of it.  until i just pull myself out of bed.

the bad mood lingers- i critiqued everything i see.  it's grouchy.  if it were a color it would be puke green.  it is were a smell it would be puke green.  but it's in my head- and harder to get rid of than puke- of any color.


there's this tiny laugh somewhere between my ears.  it's kinda like the laugh of yoda or the dalai lama (as if those are two separate entities).  i ignore this giggle at first.  i throw some puke green thoughts at it.  this makes it laugh even harder.  the chuckles turn the green less pukey.  i shrug, roll my eyes- like a teenager determined to be pissed long after i even remember what the hell made me so angry.

this causes more laughing.  i cringe.  more laughing. i smile.  more laughing.  until this laughter says to me: none of that matters.  i try a few more...what about THIS green puke thought?

nope.  doesn't matter. giggle.

how about when this smelly funked out shit happened?

sorry.  irrelevant.  snort.

ummm, ok- well, remember how i still haven't done XYZ?

(wheezing sound of breathless laughter with subtle thuds of fist banging on wooden floor).

and then, my tail is back on, my house is rebuilt, i'm singing happy birthday to myself, and a patch of thistles sprouts at my feet.  because it doesn't really matter that i have no idea where find clean clothes to wear to work tomorrow, or that my son stayed up too late and will be a lumpy mess of complaints when  i wake him up, or that i didn't drink enough water yesterday, or that i forgot to pay the dentist....again, or that i don't know how to properly train a parakeet.

all that matters is that i am here.  whatever "i" means anyway.  all that matters is that i am still on this journey.  that i am awake is a gift a thousand people didn't open this morning.  all that matters is that i can feel puke green or zesty orange or beige.  i can feel beige, damnit.  that's something to celebrate...in a beige sort of way.

all that really matters is that i can hear that laugh.  over all the other noise- i can still hear the giggle of redemption- some call it amazing grace.

and even though there are a lot of great photos in the world, on blogs, tucked inside greeting cards, tattooed over the scars of battles fought and lost or won or never taken on-  there's no way i could have shown you that laugh without these words.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crossing the Road

On the evening of my 37th birthday, after eating grilled salmon in the backyard- not in the least bit worried about the thistles and the morning glory- the family decided to go for a walk.  Well, Seren rode his bike- a light blue, lower rider style- complete with those low swooping gorilla handlebars, and I pushed Cyrus in his stroller.

Our route is predictable- an L shaped street, about 1/4 mile each length and the back again.  This road dissects two much busier county roads and is dotted with homes on large lots along with an organic farm, raspberry and potato fields, and a horse ranch.  The sky stretches huge over the green plants- this big sky- one of the gifts of living in farm land.  When we go to the forest Seren disappears into the fern and moss- and will later express heartfelt desire to live in the trees.  I get that.  But the open sky is hard to leave behind.

We walk westward- into the setting sun.  It is the first hot summer evening of the year- and no one is outside.  Or maybe there are outside elsewhere, but it is uncommonly quite on our walk.  There are no dogs on leashes, moms with strollers, people in pairs- just the four of us, chatting or not, as we settle into that fine feeling of contentment.

Seren is up ahead- and has rounded the corner of the L- now headed south.  There used to be two old horses in that field.  One blind- the other sway back and skiddish, but I haven't seen them in a while.  Maybe they've moved on.  The new horse stables have been built by the mysterious millionaires who buy up land like they are starting a compound.  Maybe they are.  We look at the stables from our living room window- the horses small wild animals dancing about the grass.  They are young and strong- one has a white crescent moon on his forehead and he is not skiddish at all.

When we round the curve, Seren's bike is propped on the drunken cedar fence, held together by rusty barbed wire and he is crouched down staring at the asphalt- chasing frogs.  His eyes are lit with wonder- a glow I will never grow tired of seeing.  His sneakers can't carry him fast enough to us where he reveals his delicate treasure in cupped hands- the smallest frog (or maybe a toad), smaller than a nickle with a tiny tail still poking out of his backside. 

As we scan the road- they are everywhere.  Each baby wildly chaotically hoping and hopping in a chorus to cross the road- from one thick of grass to another.  The gray bodies of a few fallen frogs lay and bake in the sun while a murder of crows call from the trees overhead.  So we hunch to pick up frogs and deliver them safely to the over side- some we just shoo a bit.  I laugh at the bliss of being a frog crossing guard- and am thankful no cars come traveling along- for there is no frog-free space to drive through.  In a minute though- they are all safely hidden in tall grass- and you can hear them rustling through the leaves- toward some pond I have never seen.

It's trite to say the best presents don't come with a bow. But I'll say it anyways.  Because when you get to see an exodus like and be the first, and maybe only, human to hold a frog- and to watch your boys give small kisses on their heads before they lay them gently down- something clicks in your heart.  Something clicked in mine- more than just the beauty of nature- it was the reassurance that we all need help, we all can give help, and we all can witness.  Everyday we can witness.


"seems like everywhere i go, the more i see the less i know..." michael franti

Saturday, July 2, 2011


that last deep breath a person takes before they rise out of bed- as they stretch out their belly, backs and pull their minds out of dreams.  i hear this sound through the yellow walls.  i hear this sound atop the scurrying of kitten paws and underneath the bird song.

it is a sound that warns of interaction.

too soon.

too late in life i realize that my mind requires long stretches of silence.  my heart needs deep feeling.  my fingers ache for stormy messes of art projects left on the kitchen table for 3 days.  forget eating.  certainly forget cleaning away the paper scraps for some one's milk cup or coffee mug.   just create without any end in sight.

i adapted and coped my way through life because, well, that's what you do.  expect for folks who don't do this.  the reptile people who amaze and frighten me- how they plan their life, how they know themselves essentially and are able to guard and create a life that serves them.

i suppose these reptile folks were born like this- knowing their scale and knowing that digging into the cool sand at noon was the only way to stand the heat.  but maybe not.  maybe they learned this.  maybe they stayed out in the high sun and watched their body wither to the point of dry cracking twigs- and then they whispered, their throats parched, oh shit.  oh shit- this is me.  i cannot do this again.

so they listened to that.  the went deeply and learned and listened and carved out a life around those needs.  the body needs, the soul needs.  the recognized the parts of them that they could not change- and then changed their behavior, the surroundings to protect- or even to nurture- those strong, stubborn parts.

yeah, so i clearly missed that phase of self-awareness.

i went from classroom to classroom listening to people tell me all kinds of things about the world, the brain, the words, the colors.  my mind was awash in Information.  i mostly stayed safe.  i mostly followed the rules.  i mostly was numb.

(of course, there were moments when i was none of these things- but right now i am fully living in shadow of this memory.  bare with me.)


now i straddle a life of bursting, bustling boys.  they never stop.  they wake up and begin to talk to me.  expect contemplation- or at least eye contact from their mother.  from the homebase.  from me. 

it is a hard, painful place to be.  this place of clinging to a lifeline- the quiet space on the porch where i can sit in the sun and be cat-like where thoughts swim through my mind, inspiring me- and being pulled out of that space by sometime so precious as my own children.

there's a metaphor somewhere here.  something about gardens and hummingbirds and unexpected rain storms.  but i haven't been able to sort it out yet.  my mind doesn't have the depth for metaphors right now.  right now my mind is wondering if i can finish this post before someone wants orange juice or for me to wipe their butt.  but i want to know the metaphor!  i want to to write it down here.  i'm struggling to find it, damn it.

i struggle.  i earn.  i want. i want.

and i need.

i really need to be able to somehow balance this.  to balance the part of me that needs to be fed with the part of me that feeds others.  maybe most curious, is to do this with grace.  clear, rather than the cloudy thoughts coming out as mumbling excuses.  sweet, rather than the....

"hi mom."

time for breakfast...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ms. thorne

i want to tell you about sarah.

of course, the first thing i want to say is also the thing that i know i should wait to tell you until the end for the dramatic effect.  but i can't use her that way.  or the memory of her that way.

sarah died.

i don't even know exactly when she died.  i learned about it from facebook.  sitting right here when suddenly i discovered her gone.  a light i thought was burning up in alaska or maybe in south america somewhere.  a light that every now and then would show up close by and i would be in awe of it.  of her.

i met sarah while i was student teaching.  she was in the 8th grade.  i think i met her parents once- but it was her presence that taught me a lot about parenting.  she talked about her family with deep love.  she described their trips together- she once mailed me a photo of a flower blooming in the desert.  a teen-age girl mailed me a photo of a hot pink flower growing out of dry sand.  that still astounds me.

i spent part of my day with sarah for twenty-weeks.  a small part- in a room with 30 other teens.  we met up a few times.  we wrote letters to each other.  she mailed me a swatch of fabric for the quilt i have still not made for cyrus.  in honesty, i didn't know her very deeply.  i considered her a friend and i knew some facts about her.  but she was one of those folks i also intended to spend more time with "someday."

and then one day she was just gone.

when i heard that she died i went through my box of photos and old letters.  i found that photo of the pink desert flower.  it seemed so impossible for that lusciousness to grow in such a seemingly barren landscape.  that bush maybe only bloomed once every 10 years- when the rain and the wind and the sun was all just right.  the seeds could have sat dormant for longer than i have been breathing.  miracle in the soil.

while i was searching through my memories i also found sarah's graduation announcement from high school.  i went to the ceremony.  her announcement has a picture of her in jeans, sitting near a moss-covered tree.  her smile is shy and confident.  on the front of the card it has a quote from fanny brice: let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be.

i could think and feel on that quote for days.

but it's the inside that really tears at me.  it's from thoreau.

i went to the woods because i wished to live deliberately.  i wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, and see if i could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when i came to die, discover that i had not lived.

i have this card right next to the computer along with photos of my boys, bits of poems, forgotten log-in names and passwords.  i see her everyday.  but most days i don't see her at all.  or i see her photo and forget the message, the moral of her life-story.

sarah died while hiking in alaska.  she was outside, under blue sky, green trees.  i don't have the medical terms for it.  was it an aneurysm or a blood clot?  it doesn't matter. i know i romanticize her death because i want to believe that she didn't suffer, didn't want more, didn't feel cheated.  i want to believe that she knew she was living deeply.  she was sucking the marrow out of life.  i want to believe that she was ok with it so that i can be ok with it.

i miss sarah.  i miss the curiosity i had about her life- wondering what she was up to.  watching her grace spread about like the dawn.  i miss seeing exactly how to suck the marrow of life.  how to live deep. 

dive deep.
so when we come up for air.
we gasp at it with intention
and gratitude.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


here's something i know about writing: usually you need a point.  like, a moral, or at least a punch line.  sometimes it's so easy to have this nice little package of thoughts with the a-ha moment neatly tucked in at the end.  sometimes vignettes just happen to me and all i have to do is record them.  the plot is all lined up complete with climax and resolution.

i guess that's it- the resolution.  the coming together or throwing apart- but when you are the end you are ready for it.

maybe this is why i write- the ability to resolve conflicts, the power to wrap up life into paragraphs.  the need to have things have a beginning, a middle, an end.

because in real life it just all flows together, doesn't it?

the endings of one moments mesh with the beginnings of another and most times the moral is: keep going.  just keep going.

other times there are moments of peace- like that still point between a wave pulling back and rushing forth.  in that moment i try to make sense, to slow it down, to write it down because then it can be absorbed, savored, honored.

i sat down and opened the blog page because i wanted to write- but i had no story.  nothing but a need to construct.  a need to resolve.  part way into it cyrus wanders in and asks for cereal.  since he went to bed at 6 pm he was up at 3, and cereal at 4:40 makes sense.  after i poured in the flakes, sprinkled the raisins, soaked 'em in milk, i turned to leave the kitchen.  through a sliver crack in the curtain the moon, full and glowing, caught my eye, my heart.

"cyrus!" i called as i opened the front door, "look at the moon!  isn't she beautiful?"

he came over to me, cereal in hand, and looked up at her.

"it's bright!" he observed.

"it's the full moon!"

"it will squish you," he cautioned.

"i love her" i said in response.

"i know you love her" he calmly stated as he walked back inside crunching his flakes.

and that's the moment.  that's the resolution.  that my 2 year old son knows that i love the moon. 

it's all wrapped up nicely.
now time for tea.

Friday, June 3, 2011


so- as a mom there are experiences you decide your child should have.  these experiences will "teach children lessons" about life.  lessons we think they should learn.  so we ship them off to camp or make them make their bed each morning.  usually these are lessons are parents forced us into.  most are about Responsibility.

some are about chickens.

see, the cats died two years ago now and they were old and mine- felines from my college days.  the dogs- well, one was old when we picked her up from the pound in new mexico and the puppy- the saddest day when she was hit by a pick up truck and killed in front of seren, who was 4. 

but pets are good for kids, right?  they teach them about poop and fur and death.  of course, they teach about death.

the tetras weren't mourned much.  sad?  yes.  flush and done.  oh, and the hermit crab.  well, she buried herself in the sand and was never heard from again.

then this spring we started talking about chickens.  from all accounts they are the perfect pets.  they live outside, they eat left-overs, their poop is good for the ground and they give you eggs.  we got five chicks and the boys loved on them endlessly.  now the chicks have almost earned their -en.  they live outside.  they go in and out of their coop.  they run from hawks.  good girls.

after dinner we often send the boys outside with the table scraps.  they throw the steamed veggies and such into the run and the girls go to it.  shortly after they are snug in their roost for the night.  sometimes there's a hitch: "no, cyrus chickies (as he calls them) don't actually like to be poked at with sticks."  most evenings it's not a problem.

last night was a big problem.

seren promptly reported that amelia wasn't in the coop.  her full name is amelia one-dot.  she was the first to show off her flying abilities and had one dot on the side of her head.  she is a barred rock- also sometimes called a plymouth rock....maybe the pilgrims brought her over.  in any case, she is peppered black and white with a red comb.  she's an odd bird.  often alone, a few steps away from the flock.  like  me in high school when i was transported from torrance to edmonds.  sometimes the other birds pick on her a bit.

i wasn't surprised to know she was the one who wandered off.

we began the search- chick, chick, chick- we called.  we looked in the fire club, the garage, the basement, under the tractor (so weird that i own a tractor).  no amelia.  then seren asked, horrified, "what's that?!"  at first i thought he was pointing to the black plastic sticking up from under the wood chips  but his gaze extended over the fence into the neighbor's yard where a pile of feathers lay with yellow legs sticking out at unnatural angles.  it was a chicken.  a very dead chicken.

seren has never been one to hold in emotions.  he doesn't "buck up" well.  he immediately went into the "no! no! no!" stage, his eyes rimmed with tears- his hands dug into his wild hair, as his dad went over the fence to retrieve the bird.  her body was still warm despite the gashes on her back and all along her underside.  the neighbor's also have birds: laying and broiler chickens and turkeys, two hens and a tom.  the tom strutted nearby, nervously.

as ben looked at the barred rock, seren fled into the house.  cyrus began his endless chant of " i wanna hold the chickie!" as he followed ben around while i followed seren inside.

let the lesson begin.

poor guy.  a dead chicken, a heavy heart and a real big part of his pain turning into anger, into revenge.  all eyes focused on that tom turkey.  the one who puffed up if you even looked at him, the one that chased the turkey hens around with a determination rarely seen.  the one that just looked damn mean.

seren cried and cired.  he wanted to know if it was amelia but would not go outside to look at the bird, wouldn't go outside to bury it.  yes, we bury all the dead animals.  pets and roadkill.  hawks, dogs, moles, owls, cats, finches, frogs.  first we pry them out of cyrus's hands while he hollers "it's dead!  it's dead!" and then we put it in the soft ground, say some words, pour some water and lay it to rest.

seren refused to be part of it.

meanwhile, cyrus was determined to hold the dead chicken which i had looked at and confirmed it was a barred rock- that it was amelia.  she looked bigger in death.  her feathers puffed up, her head still.  i looked at her eyes quickly, saw the dot and went back to consoling.

ben was focused on the funeral.  all business, gathering this and that.  stashing the box with the bird atop the shed as we debated where to bury her.  cyrus still wanting the chickie- then arguing "she's not dead, she's sleeping."  me in that place again of wondering what death means to a toddler- if it was possible for them to understand such a bizarre concept.  then me going back to the child who did understand it enough to know that it sucked.

this idea that something is and then something is no longer.  who made that rule?  that one minute you have joy in your heart and then the next sticky blackness that pulls at your gut and pushes out tears and tears and tears until your nose is stuffed, your throat is sore and you neck begs for a pillow.

i held seren and agreed with all his rants while trying to inject small bits of "wisdom" that sounded like hallmark meets disney with a new age twist.  "it's like the yin and yang, death is part of life, life is part of death."  i even used the analogy of the robin nest on the deer skull- which barely makes sense to me now that i think back on it.  and i deeply regret pointing out how the birdsongs were using the downy feather to add to their nests.  while i think this is beautiful- well, seren didn't react well.  he kind of gagged in disbelief and disgust that these birds didn't know enough about his love for amelia to know it was not ok to be looting her feathers for their own purposes.

even in his sadness, seren was all about who did this.  and so was ben really.  while seren went into payback mode- convinced without any evidence that it was the turkey- ben went into problem solving about how to protect the remaining chickens even though we still didn't know how the chicken had died.  cyrus pulled the pillows from the couch and wandered around half naked.  blissfully unaware.

ben was processing his own experiences with death- so many- and how as a child he wasn't allowed to cry for them.  how watching his son fragile in grief shifted something inside of him.  something about how sadness sits so close to anger inside of us for many different reasons.

then slowly it seemed like the worst wave has washed over us.  that seren was calmed, reserved, resolved.  he had thrown out his angry solutions and deepest fears and the regrets- and we did our best to talk about them, rub his back, set things right while knowing we couldn't really set them right.  then, seren decided to go outside- rather suddenly.

later he admitted he was going to see "if there was blood on the turkey's beak or talons."  as we walked outside to look over the neighbor's fence he saw a flash of movement and then promptly returned upstairs.  his brown eyes were round and hopefully- his face shown just like in the photo of him holding his newborn baby brother- "i think i just saw amelia!"

i wanted to believe but for a split second i wondered if he had cracked.  like he was going to be the kid who saw his dead chicken following him around- just always out of the line of focused vision.  shadows of her everywhere.

but against all sense- there she was- waiting at the door to the coop.  pacing because she decided she really did want to be part of the group afterall.

i looked down on ben and seren herding her inside and i laughed with such relief and gratitude.  the complete 360 degree turn about of a split second.  the wish of an 8 year old suddenly granted.  he didn't want that dead chicken to be amelia and it wasn't. 

or maybe it had been- maybe we had buried her with love and prayers- and maybe something shifted in what is possible and she became alive again.  miracles happen, right?  it happened for jesus.  maybe it happened for amelia too.  for seren. 

because maybe the lesson that miracles- even when all the facts point to something else- the feeling of a miracle happening to you, the heart-healing miracle- maybe THAT is the "life lesson" we really need to learn.

again and again.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

egg nest

robins love our skagit spot.  and we love the robins.  it's the light yellow eye liner they wear and that sassy deep orange breast.  it's the way they hear worms.  hear worms with their head cocked slightly.  it's the way they hop.  the way they sing.  and the nests they leave in our trees.

the nests of mud, dried grass and strips of our weather-worn tarp all woven together and littered with egg shells bluer than a glacial lake which is so blue you feel it in your nose when you breath.  the nests where the mama robin sits snugly and waits and waits.  the nests where small dinosaur descendants chirp always for more. 

the first nest i noticed was blown out of our poplar tree during a storm.  it landed in the yard like a message from a mysterious world.  like a gift for an altar.  a beauty sculpture never before touched by hands until mine cradled it, cupped it, and felt its weight in my joined palms.

this year i noticed another nest in the poplar, atop a solid branch, nestled near the trunk.  it was on the southwestern side of the tree so it would get good sun and too much wind.  i saw a mama head peak out once or twice but then spring unleashed another tantrum of weather on us and mama bird hit the wind- looking for another spot.

she didn't travel far. 

years back, ben scoped out a bright yellow, wavy plastic slide in a neighbor's field.  being ben he inquired about it.  and gave the folks his card just in case their relative grew tired of letting the cedar play structure decay amidst thistle and rye grass.  a year later they called us and we created a paradise of play.  over the years it has been added to.  doors, a lookout post, the "fire club" wing.  it has been written on with shamefully lame sidewalk chalk, carved into with knives nicked from the kitchen and hosted a thousand fits of laughter.

as you climb the ladder up into the pirate ship, the jail, the jungle, the -whatever-you-make-it- you pass under the empty sockets of a deer skull.  this skull was found in the mountains of new mexico, given to seren as a birth gift, set on an ant hill for a spell and brought with us back to the northwest where a slight sheen of green moss has begun to grow on it.  his six point antlers are dulled, chewed on by hungry rodents.  his crown is crowned by a crown that  hung on our front door five months ago, made by our neighbors out of a red-berry bush.  and in that space now lives the mama robin.

her nest is about five feet off the ground which seems low for a bird who can loop and swoop over our house effortlessly.  just like her old nest it faces south but it is under the canopy of our beloved red maple tree and so she has the shelter that the poplar could not give her.  when you go outside she looks at your with that mama stare, that mix of don't and i-dare-you.  seren discovered it when he climbed up the ladder and the squawking robin got him to thinking and then he looked down to see four bright blue eggs, that nose-hurting-blue, laid out like jewels in a case below him.

his excitement in telling me about them was really, really big.

it looks like an o'keefe painting- these blue orbs peeking out of a neat nest with a halo of twigs, all on the peak of a deer skull.  it speaks the same language of her paintings.

the language of newness on top of oldness.
a circular link of life and death.
this gentle shape of an egg and the jagged edge of bone.
fragile miracle of flight, song, hatching and hope.

and the delight of two boys
one eager to sneek and peek
the other to protect and cherish

both briefly banished from their castle, their cave, their refuge
to give some space to this space
where a robin mama waits.
and waits

Saturday, May 21, 2011


my boys love 'em.  the make stick ones.  buy plastic ones.  shoot nerf ones.  covet real ones.

i hate guns.

my boys have no real experience with guns other than some commercials, photos in magazines, hunting stories from their dad and endless hours of wild fun running about playing with them.

i have bad memories.

the first time i was ever near a fired gun was when i was 13.   i was at a party- standing in the line at the keg- when i noticed the crowd moving toward the front of the house.  the house belonged to one of my classmates, maybe he was 14.  his parents were out of town, he had an older sister, they had a party.  lots of my friends were there.  my older brother was also there and that's what got me worried.

my older brother was, and is, a force.  until about 9 years ago being around him always made me slightly on edge.  this story explains that too.

i migrated toward the front gate and peered over the wooden fence.  there was a crowd and some shouting and the thuds of punches.  i can feel them in my gut, under my heart.

and in that same place is where i felt the dread form a metal burning ball.  i remember frantically asking people around me what was happening.  i remember feeling like the blank stares were meant to keep me from knowing something.

then i heard the "snap" of a small pistol.  maybe i smelled the shot too.  it doesn't seem like a loud sound to me when i think back.  it could be that i was already racing through the house, toward the front door when the gun was fired.

when i opened the front the door there was a break in the fight.  well, a fight implies fairness and four-on-one is not a fight.  it's a beating.  it's a group of drunk football players spawned on by jealousy and songs like "the boys in the hood" taking swings at a large guy who is also drunk who has been pushed into the shrubs with his shirt pulled over his head.  someone watching this beating saw it as such too, took out his pocket pistol and fired it into the lawn to stop the fight.

the hammer hitting powder created a loud noise and a small space opened- into that crevice part of me erupted.  this fierce lioness that knows nothing about size or the odds of winning or anything else except defending through blind rage broke out of my shy-self into that warm night.  i have seen her since then.  the kali in us all that rips heads off of monsters and pours their blood on her purple tongue as her hair rises up in smoke and ash.

since i couldn't actually rip off their heads, not yet getting that super power, i used what i knew: swearing.   i unleashed that on the group.  i think the sight of this slight teen with too much eyeliner and poofy  bangs caught everyone off guard.  no doubt it seemed surreal that the younger sister would be defending her older brother when some of his best friends hung near by.  i wonder if they would have stepped up if the linebacker hit me?  i remember being pushed, the force of real hands on me- them sending me back even as i lunged forward, screaming more.  i think i probably egged them on even as the reality sunk in that these guys didn't play fair, probably were ok with beating up girls.

* * *

as i write this story more than twenty years later i still feel the anxiety, rage and fear in me.  i realize now that my brother was probably not the innocent victim i imagined him to be.  he would go on to become more violent, more out of control until every phone ringing after 10 pm caused me to flinch in fear that he would be dead.  that he has become the man he is today is proof of grace, pure and simple.  the memories i have of those years are drenched in emotion and exhaust me- yet i go back to them over and over.  i try to write about them.  i try to learn from them.  i try to exorcise them.  to comfort and to confront them.

now that i have boys who love guns i do this more.  their guns are reminders.  to them they are toys.  tools of make-believe and props in stories.  i can see the guns as they do.  sometimes i even play with them.  there is a strange satisfaction in being able to hit a ceiling fan with a suction bullet.  i get it.

but then in the shadow is this fear.  maybe the fear of my own kali- because if she is unleashed for the sake of my boys- how could i ever contain her rage?  fear of seeing my children being hurt- every mother's stinging heart place where that small spark of love could easily ignite to burn down a whole forest before we felt the heat through our own mama bear instincts of protect-at-all-costs to show us the damage we had inflicted on those aimed at hurting our brood. 

* * *

back to that night in torrance- eventually we did get home without me or my brother being hurt anymore.  i remember clinging to the door to keep my brother from leaving again, seeking revenge.  finding another gun to try to regain his standing, his pride.  he left.  me sobbing in the doorway.  he left.

this would be the first time he would be beaten by cops and then arrested.

the first time i learned how fear chases away friendship, trust...anything golden.  

the first time i hid in my dark house completely terrified.

the first time i saw the ugliness of alcohol.

the first time i hated a person.

the first time i hated a gun.

                                                                 sadly, not the last time for any of these.

Monday, May 16, 2011


there are things we try to protect our children from- and while these dangers can be categories into several different types: physical pain, rejection, mean dentists....the most dangerous dangers are the ones that we ourselves have experienced as children.

i see this over and over.  sometimes it feels like i don't even need to actively express our concerns- somehow our kids just pick up on our worst fears and either avoid those scary places or dive in head first- depending on the age and demeanor of the kid.

for example, seren called electric outlets "no-nos" for the first several years of his life because whenever he got near them that is what he heard.  i have no memory of shoving a fork into an outlet but i know what it feels like to have an electrical shock.  it happened in college.

my first apartment was in the basement of a rumored old time hospital.  no doubt my pad was where they kept the corpses.  it had two windows in the living room and one in the bedroom.  the bathroom was smaller than a closet but it could fit about six people  if we squished really tight- which meant actually touching the molding shower walls (need less to say- this event only happened once).  as a basement apartment i had the joys of hearing all that happened above me from the artistic projects that included smashing the beer bottles on to the kitchen floor to hot-sex.  or at least it sounded hot.

i also had the pleasure of the flooding, mildew and mushrooms growing out of the carpet.  can you say slum lord? and blown fuses.  this lovely old pink building did not have a fuse box with nice little switches that you flipped on and off.  it had ancient looking glass tubes that you had to replace.  well first you had to find a place that sold them.  which i did after several days of no lights in half of the place- which considering the size of the place it was maybe three outlets.

i remember going into the cold damp area right next to the apartment where forgotten bikes of past renters were stored.  there was a door from the bedroom into this area.  which was so damn creepy i stapled a blanket over it- which sounded like a good idea except when the firemen chopped in to the door i didn't realize the door was open for several days- more creepy.  different story though.

so i venture into the basement area with new tube fuse and flashlight.  no need to wait until boyfriend gets home- carry on brave maiden!  i pulled out an old tube, put in the new.  nothing.  hmmm.  i reached to pull out another tube and an invisible fiery red snake shot up my arm.  the flashlight flew out of my other hand and hit the cement wall.  my head flew off and then bounced back on- leaving half of my body jittery, twitching and electrocuted- albeit mildly.

i was thankful my bed was only ten steps away.  i lay there- my face throbbing wondering how i got so damn stupid.  i guess that big metal switch was the off lever- and i should have thrown that one first.  i looked down at my hand and saw that all of my nails were charred black.  i wondered if they would stop tingling soon.

so yes, be careful of outlets seren. call them no nos and don't touch them.

cyrus, on the other hands, laughs when he nears them and i start twitching.  well, just the right side of me.

Friday, April 29, 2011

bee it

now and then i get to rep the skagit valley food co-op at local events.  i go to fairs of all sorts and sit and stand and chat and laugh.  i hand out brochures about functional foods and maps of walking trails.  sometimes i have free samples of strawberry/banana flax swirl or packets of tea.  now and then there's a raffle basket stuffed with random items like protein powder and gluten-free crackers.  i talk to strangers.

i try to tailor the information to the event.  my boss-lady, wow- i suddenly love that title and will do my best to call jodie this from now one, is real good at helping me out with this.  she packs up the info, prints out the parking passes and stocks the rolling basket with extra copies of anything i might need.  so for the women's health fair there was lots of nutrition information and at the farm-food-fair there was lots of local farm conversations and informations.  and last night, for the mount vernon high school, there were bees.

last weekend i missed the opportunity to watch the documentary "Vanishing of the Bees" which my co-op showed as part of Earth Day- the one day in the last 157 that was sunny- and i could not go inside for anything more than water.  i thought about the movie and thought about the bees several times though.  bees are a theme for me.  let me explain further.

first- i remember my mom having a bee hive in our suburban backyard of torrance, california.  i remember watching her put on her white, webbed hood and tend to them.  i was in the garage- terrified of the bees- staring out through the dusty window- sitting atop the coarse worktable littered with screws and wires.  it seems we only had bees for a short while, but there was a mystery to it all that still pulls at me.

then- i find a free book in the staff lounge on goddesses and ceramics.  two of my favorite things.  maybe it was more than that- but those are the two things that stand out.  i still have this book.  as i was flipping through it i stopped at a tile of a bee goddess.  her head and torso are human.  she has wings instead of arms.  her hips are wide and stripped and come to a point, a stinger.  and when you see the bee goddess once- you see her everywhere.  she's there in the museum of pueblo art in albuquerque painted on a pot by a hand long since gone that used a thin strip of yucca as a paintbrush and dirt as paint.  she's there in my random sketches, in the slim margins of space in my brain left over after a day of mothering, and she's outside right now- in my neighbor's yard, in the beehive that sits under the plum tree.

this knowledge of bee as goddess is deep and true.  and like much deep and true knowledge we have lost touch with it in our daily life.  most know that bees are good.  we like honey.  we like flowers.  we like fruit and veggies.  oddly enough, it may be that our interest in honey and flowers actually harms bees.  some bees are fed sugar-water so the honey can be harvested for us.  some flowers and fruits and veggies are sprayed with pesticides to keep them "healthy" only to reek havoc on the bees.  worst still, some pesticides are "systemic" which means it becomes part of the dna of the bees, and maybe, anything- anyone else who also eats that plant.  maybe their dna shifts too.

so as science night got closer i wanted to share knowledge about bees, and as a first step i watched the movie.  i thought my kids could watch it with me, but twenty minutes into it seren deemed it too sad to watch and went outside to play.  he would wander back in and yell at the television "why can't they stop using pesticides?!"  at one point, both boys gone outside, i just broke down crying.  was it the knowledge that 2 billion bees disappeared one day from the rolling hills of california? or the way the french beekeepers protested outside of Bayer corporation?  or maybe just a simple shot of a bee flicking through a sunflower?  i don't know what set me off- that's not unusual really- but suddenly this simple bee, which is not so simple really, she was me.  she is me.

what we do to nature we do to ourselves, because we are nature.  we forget it.  we hide it.  we deny it.  but there is nothing that impacts a bee, a frog, a field, a fire that does not impact us.  all the elements that are within us are from this earth.  when the immune system of bees are weakened by the systemic pesticides making them more susceptible to parasites, fungus and virus- our immune systems are weakened.  when the nervous system of bees are impacted to the point that young bees forget the dance- or maybe never were able to learn it-  and cannot find their way back home- then our youth also have trouble learning how to dance, how to find home.

i went to this fair with this movie and handwritten signs tacked onto a burlap-covered foam board.  i sat across from taylor's shellfish farm where i watched mollusks clean-up murky water and next to paccar who make peterbuilt trucks near the skagit county dump- and everytime a person stopped at my table i would ask "have you heard about colony collapse disorder?"

that's what it is called- the vanishing of the bees.  because when the bees don't come home- the colony collapses.  in truth, the science isn't there to even tell us for certain what is happening to the bees- but i told each one of those people about systemic pesticides because it is no doubt part of the problem.  and getting them out of our food, our air, our water, our bees, our heads, our beds, our lives- well, i think that's part of the solution.

and you should listen to me.  because i am a bee goddess.  good news- so are you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

over the wire

one reason why i wanted chickens is because i am kind of afraid of them.  i have unrealistic expectations about them too.  like when i want to pick one up i want them to act like a dog or a cat, a friendly one, and at least stop running so i can pick them up.

but they don't do that.  especially if they aren't your chicken.

we came home last night to discover the neighbor's chicken in our yard- one of them, they have several.  all the other gals were locked up tight in the coop.  this poor ameraucana was pacing at the fence line trying to get back to her peeps. 

seren and i set to it.  whenever we got close to it she's try to climb through the fence, squawk and flap her wings.  it was loud and big and i retreated.  seren did too.  i laughed at us and kept remarking how silly it was to be scared of her even though i still could not get a hold of her.  if i was a coyote i would go hungry.

i gave up.  walked inside to call the neighbor- she said she'd send someone over.  but then seren was  able to get the chicken and toss her over the fence.  he cornered her and then with his thin arms stretched out in front, his face scrunched and turned he grabbed hold of her and lifted her rump up over the hogwire to the familiar grass of her yard.  the neighbor gals were there to open the coop.

i did it! he yelled. seren bounded toward me with pride springing out of him like a water from a sprinkler.

i overcame my fear!  i have courage!

just like that.  he did it.  then this morning the chicken was back.  and again he tossed it right over the fence.  now that fear that was there is replaced by knowledge.  unknown has been conquered.  from chicken to courage.  courage from chicken.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


as a kid we didn't often have sweets in our house.  i think this was either because we didn't have a lot of money for that stuff or because no doubt it caused a fight to erupt- maybe both.  i do remember that if someone showed up with a sweet thing sharing was required- and one kid cut the thing into "equal" shares and the non-cutter got to pick first.  ingenious plan my mother came up with.

which meant that being sneaky with sweets was really important.

it also meant that my brother and i got acquainted with all sorts of ways to get a sweet fix with what was on hand.  peanut butter and honey was a common concoction because baker's chocolate is not that sweet and we did not yet know how to melt it in a double-boiler, sweeten it up and pour into candy molds.  actually- i just did that the first time about a year ago.

peanut butter and honey is rich and thick like nougat.  this was adam's peanut butter- jiff was something that lived at my dad's house.  peter pan peanut butter was something only seen on the commercials.  and the smucker's jelly and peanut butter combo jar was just too far out of reality to even consider.

for many years i could not taste peanut butter and honey- or even smell it- without feeling smaller and slightly ill.  because when you are deprived you tend to take it too far.

recently i found a ceramic honey pot, complete with the strange wooden utensil, for $1 at the thrift store.  It is hand-thrown, glazed indigo blue and makes me feel cozy.  i imagined it perched next to me as i drizzled fireweed honey into my oatmeal or tea.  so i bought it to complete this fantasy. 

we live in a small home so it's easy to sneak up on folks without really meaning to.  i walked into the kitchen to find my older son leaning over the honey pot with a surprised look on his face.

he said he was eating the honey.  duh.

he said he was using a spoon.  liar.

the strange wooden utensil was licked clean.  it being so much like a lollipop, i guess it was fated to be sucked on by a candy-deprived child in need of a sugar fix.

i heard a faint "pop" sound as memory and fantasy collided right above my head leaving me with a tainted honey jar and buzzing child.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a little bit more

some things i have too much of.  others not enough.  still others none at all.  but for the day-to-dayness i usually have just enough.  i have pulled together meals when the cupboards were as bare as old mother hubbard's.  i have managed to pay bills with found change.  i have marveled at the timeliness of a friend handing down clothes just as i started to worry about buying new ones.  i have laughed at the brilliance of unexpected gifts of shoes showing up for my own feet.

as i attempt to build this chicken coop, an european ark style, with the help of my boys from the pile of lumber in our yard i am enjoying this "just enough" experience.  we measure out the old bones of lumber, trimming off the ends rotting with rusty nails.  i remember when ben deconstructed this shed and brought all of this wood here, i wasn't entirely sold on the concept at times. 

now i am thankful i don't have to go to the store to by two by fours or screws.  i am thankful that i have enough math skills to piece together a sketch to work from.  i am thankful for the eagle perched on the telephone pole in front of the house, swiveling her keen eyes to watch me move across the lawn.

all i need now is a little bit more patience.

because the drill is missing.  the one i did find doesn't work.  the restless chickens may soon turn reckless and the spring can be picking with how much sun she gives.  april- she likes showers- and without a garage we are destined to build in the elements.  i'd like pleasant elements, please.

the elements are pleasant NOW but the drill is not here.  the drill is in the back of the truck, no doubt.  i have no idea why a drill needs to be there other than it seems cool to be able to say to someone, anyone- "hey, i've got a drill right here!"

it is so much more cooler to actually have a drill when you need it to build something at home.

i have been forced back inside, thwarted by my lack of patience and lack of drill.  my stubbornness wants to hold onto this because my determination wants to go forward on the project.  so i've come here to do one of the things i know could help me calm-the-hell-down: write about it.

it seems so silly too.  like with all of what i could be ranting about- it's about a power tool.  i am tempted to go buy a pink drill so it will be left alone (this is how i have solved the problem of my missing atlas gloves- buy 'em pink).  but buying a pink power tool is silly and out of the financial reality i am living in right now.

plan B. find someone to borrow a drill from....howdy neighbor.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


the chicks are here.  four of them.  if i have seen you in the last 48 hours i have told you this in person.  no doubt, you were polite.  maybe excited if you have had good chicken experiences.  they are peeping right now in an organic apple box duplex we put together with aid of a box cutter and packing tape.  i can hear two other noises besides the peeping: scratch and peck.

this is what chicks do.  why? because this is what chickens do.  chicks are little chickens but already completely aware of what they are supposed to do.  they don't even have role models- and yet, they are scratching at the pine shavings looking for bugs they have never, ever seen before.

this is called instinct.

human babies have this too.  there's the rooting instinct- the one that screams "suck on it!" anytime something soft comes near they fuzzy heads.  they also have the "grab the fur" instinct that tells them to cling on to mama even if mama has sluffed off fur many, many years back.  i think our children have many more instincts.  i think they actually know what they need to learn and when they need to learn it. case in point: reading.

i love to read.  i remember wanting to read so badly and when i finally got it i felt like i had unlocked a magical door to worlds i knew existed, but up until that point had no real proof.  yes, toys came alive.  yes, girls survived on islands.  yes, being smart was a good thing.  yes, yes, yes.

my oldest son- who is like a sponge soaking up all information available- is totally luke warm about learning to read.  he spends hours with his nose in books- maybe reading some words- if he knows them.  and skipping the ones he doesn't.  decoding does not interest him.  life interests him.

this bothers me a little.  it sends off my special-education-red-flag-alert which then triggers my bad mama switch and the spiral begins.  i start to see elrs and checklists.  i berate myself about being too this and not enough that.  i hear my parents saying things like "can't he read YET?"  true confession- i have sat him down and forced him to read- making him miserable- just so i could feel better about my mom-ness.  that's like double bad mama.

no, he is not in school. we home school our boys with an approach that is something like "life will teach you want you need to know."  a lesson ponyboy taught me my first day working at the lummi tribal school years ago.

thirteen year olds can be wise- listen to them.

so, this morning seren wanders in with a book i picked up for twelve cents at a thrift store.  it's a "phonic comic" book and he is on the last page laughing.  i say, hopeful, "wow- you read that whole book already?!"

"no.  i just skipped ahead when i came to a word i didn't know."


"don't you want to know what is happening in the story?  you can read the words- it just takes a bit."



"do you want to learn to read better?"

he perches on the couch next to me, slides the book onto the shelf and says, "i've got until i'm 18 years old to learn to read.  right now i just want to be a kid."

scratch.  peck.  peep.