Sunday, June 29, 2008

Duckling

Bath time is still a hit, and the fun has only begun; this week she discovered splashing!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Vernal Equinox

It's that special time of year when I enjoy golden sunlight from when I wake up almost until I fall into bed at night. These long days are a bittersweet pleasure because they form the peak of the year's light, which will soon begin again the long descent toward the dark heart of winter.

Speaking of waking and sleeping, NS, six months old, been gradually waking up less often for night feeding. In the past couple of weeks, the average has been slipping from two to one feeding per night.

One night this week, she woke up to nurse about every two hours (i.e. five times in one night). Then, last night, she slept for 12 hours, waking only once to nurse. Could the long night be due to the fact that yesterday she was awake for 14 hours with only an hour's nap???

On an unrelated note, the baby bathtub has been converted into a boat, since NS now prefers to play while sitting up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coolness

The early heat wave crested and broke in a series of hearty thunder storms over the past couple of weeks, ushering in a coolness I could not have imagined two weeks ago. We did get the AC fixed, but in fact, at our house the windows are open and we're sleeping under covers. Today, the temp got no higher than the 7o's--which prompted me to don pants and a sweatshirt.

CP is officially on summer vacation as of today. The past two days I've spent sorting through closets, boxing things to give away and bagging others to throw away, and organizing still others in a packable manner. I've been dreading this sorting process, and yet as I mark yet another drawer or closet off the list, there's a feeling of satisfaction, lightness, the shedding of a few more layers of stuff.

With this stunning bouquet of rainbow chard from JJ's garden I made Eggs in a Nest with brown rice for supper.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Giggle Fest

video

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Books I’ve Enjoyed Recently, Part III

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: Narrated by none other than death, the opening tone of this young adult novel is rather cryptic and strange. The narrative unfolds into a sobering tale of a foster girl’s passage to adolescence in the morally complex landscape of Nazi Germany. Though ultimately tragic, the story is not void of humor or creativity. The author employs fresh verb usage and surprising metaphors throughout.

The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry: This was my introduction to the author’s fictional works. It’s part of a cluster of novels and short stories that revolve around a rural Kentucky farming town. Jack is not a dog, as one might guess, but a man, a patriarch of sorts among farmers bound by an assortment of kinship and friendship, but primarily by their deep loyalty to the land. Like an old dog, Old Jack’s memory roams about through his own history on the final day of his life. Berry has an almost poetic knack for storytelling, if he does get a bit soap-boxy near the end when Jack is mentally ranting against the de-agriculturalization of America, TV, materialism-driven upward mobility, etc.

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama: Obama describes his varied childhood experiences from a hardscrabble boy’s life with his mother and stepfather in Indonesia to the elite Punahou School in Hawaii where he was one of a small handful of black students. He chronicles his turbulent years of identity confusion as a college student and young community organizer in Chicago. The myth, mystery, and pain surrounding his absent Kenyan father form the story’s thread, culminating in a visit to relatives in Kenya where Obama gains a deeper understanding of his late father’s complexity, along with his own African history.

A recent news story on the anniversary of the landmark case legalizing interracial marriage points to the irony of Obama’s rise to influence in this country.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Playground Organizing

NS and I were finishing up a walk in the city park and getting back in the car to drive home. The parking lot overlooked a playground that had been taken over by a group of energetic school children. During the five minutes it took to pack the jogger in the trunk and situate NS in the car seat, a determined band of kids, led by a little girl with a big voice, sang continuously to the tune of "John Brown's Body":

"I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves
I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves
I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves
And this is how it goes."
(repeat indefinitely)

It was very effective.

Water vs. Heat

This has been the hottest early June weather I can remember, with heat indexes above 100 degrees several days in a row. During a recent visit to Mom and Dad's, CP and I tried beating the heat with a visit to the old creek where my siblings and I used to spend hours on hot days. Sitting in the cool, gentle current, it wasn't long before I had goosebumps. Unfortunately, not long after that, I was back to sweating profusely.

Water turned out to be a theme of our visit: NS enjoyed her first taste of water in a glass, and she was fascinated by Grandma's water garden (see picture).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Honor System Strawberries

NS and I went strawberry picking with my friend P and her 6-month-old girl. She told me about this place about half-an-hour's drive down the highway where the berries sell for $1 per pound. On arrival at W's fruit farm, we situated the girlies in their backpack and stroller with sunscreen and sunbonnets, then picked up a metal bucket apiece from the lean-to along one side of the barn. A spring scale hung next to a price list and instructions. ("Get bucket. Pick berries. Weigh buckets on scale. If nobody is here, put money in blue box by the phone.")

We picked through the field in no particular order, sometimes among patches of shoulder-high weeds. The berries were plentiful, although most were just barely ripe. A couple of hours and several baby-feeding breaks later, we weighed our pails (mine totaled 19 lbs., $19), transferred them to bowls in the car trunk, and stuffed checks in the fishing tackle box, which contained other customers' cash. At an ample, white ceramic sink I washed my hands in cool water and dried them on a towel hung over a crude wooden bar. It was a refreshing consumer experience.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Directions to the Moon

It's strawberry season. This week's slim grocery list included pectin (for making jam) and clear gel (for making pie). I went to the giant supermarket whose big backside I can see and hear from my bedroom window. I hunted for pectin and clear gel in all the logical spots (baking needs, gelatin and pudding, jam and jelly, canned fruit). When I asked a store employee for help finding them, he looked at me out of his one good eye as if I'd asked for directions to the moon. He snagged another employee who was just walking by and turned me over to her. She pointed me to a previously unnoticed touch-screen locater. Clear gel was not listed. The little star on the map for "pectin" directed me to aisles 12 and 13 (Or was it 11 and 12? It was impossible to tell.) I checked all three aisles. They contained cleaning supplies, toilet tissue, and pet food.

I hope that at the slightly smaller grocery chain, where I usually shop, someone can tell me whether or not such scratch-cooking ingredients are stocked. If I'm lucky, they might even tell me where to look.