Sunday, February 20, 2011


i have things in my life, in my children's lives, that i wish were not so much there.  i wouldn't mind these things if there was less of them, but by their very nature they are invasive.  and i ain't typing about morning glory here.

glowing screens are one of the culprits.  the television.  the computer.  the little hand held "educational" toy.  the cell phone.  they all probably contain magnets and maybe that is why we are all drawn to them.  during the cold days of winter there is always that warm blue light to curl up next to rather than painting or break dancing or a thousand other possibilities.

sometimes i have ugly thoughts about all of the glowing screens going away.  far away.  but the thing is- i like them.  i just don't like them to be so much.  i want them to be less.  a side-margin, not the main topic.

i wonder if we are drawn to glowing screens for more than their internal magnets.  my ancestors- and yours- sat under stars and listened to stories.  or stared into a dancing fire and listen to songs.  now we are spoon-fed stories- most nasty, depressing, life sucks so quickly we don't even know what we are taking in most of the time. 

nothing like having a child to highlight this for you.  when your kid starts telling you jokes from bad cartoons- ones that you watched with him- that you do not remember, well, then you really start to wonder about our spongy brains and what are we filling them up with?  not stories of the seven sisters or the belt of orion.

and the glowing screen lust just blossoms.  wii, dx, ipod...the want list just pushes me over the top at times.  and those ugly thoughts creep in....a quick snip on a power cord, nice dip into the toilet.  it wouldn't take much before all the screens would dim.  burn out.  fade away.  aah.


i like them, i do.  recently i easily convinced the family that another glowing screen would be nice- a gps geocache thing.  it looks like a cell phone and talks to satellites to give you hints to find some little treasures, of sorts.  i heard about them- well, saw and heard, on a tv show- of course!  i immediately imagined all kinds of outdoor adventures.  i thought this glowing screen could pull us away from other glowing screens.

except the gps doesn't speak mac- and there were some bills to pay- so it went back to it's home.  i mourned my fantasy a bit.  i wanted a stamp to put in those little log books and i wanted to take a photo at every cache we found.  alas, it was not meant to be.

guess we'd have to pull ourselves away on our own accord- which we did today- now that the sun is out and the rain is mostly gone.  off we went to fort ebey.  ben and i had been there years ago.  i remembered the distinct sound of the waves rolling the rocks up and back.  up and back.  and the eerie cold cement hide outs where soldiers watched the waves for japanese ships, subs, planes in the post- pearl harbor age.

when we pulled up the wind was blowing the evergreen like a swing dance partner.  the sun was bright though- and the waves sent up flashes of mirrored sky and frothy white.  the crispness of the air was enough to make you move, a bit quick at first.  we walked on the bluff trail.  we fed cyrus pistachios while dodging pine cones from seren.

the water was right there- big like all of your fears and dreams and hopes- and it seemed that every view got better.  it felt remote.  i didn't see any toilets- not eve honeybuckets. there weren't many people out- so finding a secluded place to pee shouldn't have been too hard, but i can be picky.

finally there was a chain link fence- razor topped- around a shoreline sign.  i know that makes no sense.  i don't know what it's called.  not a lighthouse- but the same "here's the land" purpose. there were three concrete narrow stairs down to a platform with a railing to keep you out of mid-air and the rocks below.  we peered over the edge, and i noticed it was quite secluded.   i looked over the side walls of the concrete platform- about three feet high.  one side sloped up, holly bushes- ouch.  the other side sloped down- i looked over the wall to see if there was room for me to snuggle up and squat.  but instead of bare ground, twigs, leaves, cigarette butts there was a rusty metal an old ammunition box.

i pulled up the box and saw the neon green sticker on the "official geocache."  the guys gathered around as i opened up the box.  inside was a stash of cheap plastic toys made in china and other odd things. a broken flashlight, a crumbled dollar bill, a tiger mask, one lego minifigure helmet.  and of course, the log book.  the entries started several years ago and the most recent was ten days before us.

we wrote in our name "tree frog tribe" and left three decking screws- they only thing of interest we had in our pockets collectively.  then we packed it all back up (minus the lego helmet) and got back to the trees, the calling eagle, the bump and rise of the trail, dodging pine cones, and the creepy concrete bunkers.

i don't need a glowing screen to find adventure in the world.  i'll just follow my bladder.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


i just got home from a women's group where we asked each other questions from a deck of cards.  one of the questions was something to the effect of "what is one of your favorite memories from your childhood?"  i thought about laughing first off.  the way you laugh when you are a kid- how you are so deeply tickled by what happened or said that you couldn't come out of it if you wanted.  i thought of times when i laughed hard and i thought about the memories that make me laugh now.

here's one for you.

but first some background info.

i am one of the first "latch key kids" which means my parents divorced when i was 2, the year was 1976, and my mom was a working single mom.  i have one older brother- almost 4 years older than me.  we saw our dad everyother weekend and on holidays which was not enough.  we usually came home to an empty house because our mom was at work until the early evening.

i still remember the excitment and anxiety of waiting for mom to come home.  exciting news to share with her or another disagreement for her to settle- our worlds revolved around her presence.  she wore heels and nylons and sensible skirts with brilliant scarves.  shoulder pads like chunks of cheesecake and exotic earrings. 

as i write this i am struck all at once with the enormity of my presence in my children's lives.  not the responsibilty of mothering or the chore of mothering or the exhausation of mothering...but the reality that the way i felt about my mom coming home is what my sons feel for me.  they are my sons and i am their sun.  they orbit me.  if i cease to exist they believe they will also.

here comes the sun, little darling.  it's all right. 

so my brother and i wait for mom to come home.  we don't have babysitters but we do have mildly concerned/nosey neighbors.  we don't have cell phones but we do have metal identification bracelets which we do not wear.  we make ourselves food like cinnamon toast and eat it on the couch.  we don't argue about what to watch on tv because there are only four channels and only one has cartoons on it.  then we hear the rumble of the mustang's engine in the driveway and then the ka-chunk of the heavy door crunching together followed by solid heeled steps up the porch.

the door swings open wide.

my mom stands there, sun light streaming in behind her, purse hanging from one arm, both hands clutched to her sides like she's got her hands on pistols in leather holsters.

"alright" she says in a western slur, "which one of you bastards painted the balls of my horse blue with green polka dots?"  then she looks at my brother and says "was it you, bart?"

my brother, standing near the rocking chair, cooly replies, "i did it.  and i'd do it again."

she aims her imaginary gun at his freckled face and takes aim as he dives for cover.  while i grab a hairbrush as defense and scream out "i helped him!"  mad pistol fight ensues, littered with creative insults.  eventually she takes us both down.  when i am hit with that whispering dreamt-up bullet, i slowly die.  really slowly die.  it takes me a full three minutes.  mostly because i have to make sure i land on the couch, with a pillow nearby.  there's lots of "you got me" and heart-clutching movements along with raspy breaths and then the final sigh. then leg twitching.

my mom did that just because she knew it would make us happy.  i'm sure there are a hundred-thousand other things she did too, but this one stands out as something she thought up just for us- knowing we'd buy into it right away and would be giddy with how silly she was being.

i do a lot of things for my kids.  but i want to do more of that kind of stuff.  the stuff that years from now they'll be thinking about and just start to laugh until their heart feels warm like they just got hit with the first sun ray of spring.  that feeling that for a few moments the sun stopped, noticed their upturned faces, and started orbiting around them.