Posted in Family, Home, Idaho

Summer, Synchronicity, Sewage, Stones, & Super-Powers

My “Radio Silence” over the last week is (I’m happy to say) the result of having been quite thoroughly engrossed in the activities of a first-week-of-summer-holidays with the kids…  I started to write a few times, but never got as far as hitting “Publish,” so here it is, all at once…

Christian's 6th grade graduation
Our freshly-minted Junior High Kid!

Sat, June 2: Summer Holidays, and Synchronicity

On the list of things that make me feel old (for just a moment–and then I go back to just feeling like ME again)… We only have one grade-schooler left in the house, as of yesterday’s sixth-grade “graduation” ceremony for our son Christian. He’s now officially a Junior High Kid. And it’s now officially Summer Vacation!

In typical enthusiastic kid-fashion, the mugwumps have been trying to cram an entire summer’s worth of celebratory summer activities into the first 24 hours of freedom–we’re all having fun!

painting spors
Our front-porch summer craft spot… Painting pots for Keoni’s kitchen herbs

First project: Keoni is starting to grow kitchen herbs to use in his cooking, and he asked everyone in the family to paint one of his pots. Christian helped me carry one of our coffee tables onto the front porch, so we’ve established our summer craft-spot–which is already covered with paints, beads, spills from sand-art, and wood-shavings…

3 whittlers
three story-telling whittlers (our three youngest kids): Christian, Elena Grace, & Kapena

The wood-shavings are due to the fact that we gave each of them a pocket-knife to kick off the summer–both of them hand-me-downs with a history. Elena Grace has the Swiss Army Girl Scout knife, which my mother bought for me when we visited the international Girl Scout/Girl Guide center in Switzerland. And Keoni cleaned and sharpened a knife of his for Christian–rather a fancier model than mine, with more gadgets, and with inlaid polished wood panels along the handle.

first pocket knife
first pocket knife (and a shirt signed by her classmates on the last day of school)

We don’t have the budget to buy them new things very often, so I’m tickled by how much Christian loves this knife. It fits perfectly in his hand, he says, and its dents and scratches from previous use “just go to show that it’s not the kind of knife a person would throw away.” He often refers to himself and Keoni as “peas in a pod,” due to their similarities ranging from shared pack-rat tendencies to shared humor, and Christian’s uncanny ability to finish Keoni’s sentences. Particularly given how often he feels neglected by his own dad (Today’s comment: “Sometimes it feels like a lie when Dad says he loves me”), I’m grateful to see him bonding so strongly with Keoni. When Keoni hugged him goodbye before heading out to work today, Christian wouldn’t let him go! This from the kiddo who tends to be the most reserved of our seven…

Elena Grace is pleased by her knife as well, and has been wearing it clipped to her belt loop (as I used to when we went camping!) since we gave it to her. It’s her first pocket-knife, so she got the full safety-lesson before picking out a stick from our woodpile to try her hand at whittling. The point on that stick is positively scary, and she’s talking about trying her hand at spear-fishing in the lake by our house…

swimming in “our” lake this afternoon

Today’s walk to the lake, however, was for swimming! And some play with Christian’s remote-control boat, which he bought last month with his yardwork-money…  And yet another example of Synchronicity striking in our lives… But for this story I have to back up a bit.

When we owned our Hawai’ian BBQ restaurant, there were four couples from Hawai’i who “discovered” us in the first couple weeks, and who became close friends: Joe & Adele, Tedi & Larry, Wally & Esther, and Jeff & Val.

launching the boat
launching the boat

Joe worked for Honolulu Police Department the same time as Keoni’s dad, so we put him on the phone with Dad the first time we met–they’d worked different divisions, but had a lot of cop-friends in common. Tedi’s maiden name was Ka’anapu, the same as Keoni’s mom, so we put her on the phone with Mom the first time we met, and they puzzled through the family tree until they found the connection–yes, they’re related. Wally is Portuguese-Hawai’ian, and his cousin makes Portuguese sausage from their great-grandpa’s recipe (a Hawai’ian favorite, and the same type Keoni grew up with); we added their sausage to our menu, so Wally & Esther would sometimes show up with sausage in the morning and we’d all have breakfast together before the restaurant opened. Jeff crafts wakeboards, and gave us one (autographed with thanks for the food & Aloha) which took a place of honor on the restaurant wall.  We have stories and memories with each of these couples, but haven’t been seeing them in the year and a half since our restaurant-days. Until the last two weeks.

Our phone numbers have changed (my cell used to be the restaurant’s number) but Joe decided to track us down a couple weeks ago, used his cop-connections to find our new phone number and gave us a call to see how things are going. He stopped by the house  and we shared Tahitian Lanai banana bread and hugs and “talked story.” The very same day that we got Joe’s call, we ran into Tedi & Larry, shopping for the materials to make leis for graduating grandchildren. A couple days later Jeff pinged Keoni on Facebook to ask if he could cook for Val’s graduation-celebration. Her party was today, so Keoni was up at four this morning, cooking. By the time I woke up (thanks to kids climbing into bed with me, followed by Keoni with a very welcome cup of coffee) the house smelled amazing. It smelled like our restaurant.

trampolineWe took all three kids to help with set-up (though when they discovered their services weren’t needed, the younger two accepted Val’s invitation to use the backyard trampoline), and Keoni sang a traditional Hawai’ian song for Val before we had to head out so he could get to work.

The kids and I packed our beach bags and ambled down the short stretch of country road toward the State Park and the lake, when Wally and Esther pulled up alongside us, waving like crazy.  Turns out–as if to complete the quatrifecta (is that a word?) of reconnecting with these friends–they too had decided this week to track us down, tried our old numbers (they’re not Facebookers), driven around our neighborhood (they knew we lived right by the Park, but Keoni had already left with the KANAGRL license plates that would usually mark out our home), and decided as a last resort to inquire at the Park if I were still working there. They were pulling away from the Park-entrance, deciding they might be out of luck finding us, when Wally realized he’d just passed red hair and a dragon tattoo walking along the roadside, and turned the car around…

To put this timing into perspective, I haven’t walked to the Park since my last day of work there in September, and it only takes us about four minutes to walk that stretch of road–so the fact that we were ON that stretch of road while they were there specifically seeking us is nothing short of Pure Synchronicity. My favorite kind of story. :) I’ve had a warm glow all day–all these reconnections with old friends!

Mon, June 4: Super-Powers

swimming at the lake
Goofing Around–a family specialty

With Keoni off work today and the weather hot and sunny, the family (minus 16-year-old Kapena, at his first day of Football Camp) spent the day at the beach! Though it’s easily within walking distance, we also have the gift (from my parents) of an unlimited State-Parks-pass stuck to our windshield, so we happily loaded folding chairs, snacks and picnic, inflatable inner-tube (bought on sale after last summer) and other “beachables” into the car.  We stopped momentarily to chat with Lareen (with whom I worked last summer) in the entrance booth–noting that this was the third consecutive day she’d seen us, she wondered if this would be a daily meeting. “That’s the plan,” we all grinned–Family Time is precisely why I’m not in that entrance-booth this summer, as voted unanimously by the three kids…

Pushing Keoni to the island–Marooned!

Here’s a moment that any parent will recognize… When a pair of siblings, usually squabbly purely out of habit, have a moment of instantaneous and wordless communication with one another and they’re suddenly “in league”… You’ve seen it, right? It was one of those moments today, when Keoni decided to try out the inner-tube…  Christian and Elena Grace had one of those connecting-moments, and with matching shrieks of maniacal laughter, the pair of them started to tow him across the small lake to “maroon” him on its island. (Pirates of the Caribbean has thoroughly pervaded their consciousness, as evidenced by Christian barking at someone on the beach, “Oy! No littering, you Scabrous Dog!” I swear I’m not making that up.)

Over Keoni’s own laughing objections that they couldn’t maroon him without at least a pistol and a single shot, I heard Elena Grace taunting him teasingly, “Where’s your kitchen NOW?”–which only goes to show that she has correctly identified the source of his Super-Powers… The Kitchen!

swimming at the lake
looking forward to a whole summer of this!

Wednesday, June 6: Symphony and Stones

This evening’s thunder-and-wind storm didn’t arrive in time to break our consecutive string of days-with-lake-visits, at least for Christian and myself. While Keoni took Elena Grace to Karate class (where she did not, at least today, cause any boys to cry), and while Kapena was finishing up Day Three of Football Camp, Christian and I walked once again to the lake. Too chilly today to tempt Mom into the water, but I sat with my writing-notebook and iPod and watched him–or his feet, rather, given his apparent interest in the lake-bottom today…

he’d intended to pole himself across the lake–but after an accidental puncture (of the tube, not the child) he turned to surveying the lake bottom instead…

I’ve been corresponding this week with a Boise composer who is working up a program with the Idaho Dance Theater, and looking for poetry by Idaho women (preferably about Idaho and its rivers) for use with a vocalist as part of the current project. He had come across my earlier mention in this blog of an anthology of Idaho women poets and contacted me to see if I knew where it could be found. Sadly, the only place I’ve seen it in recent years is on my own shelf, so I offered him the loan, and listed some other anthologies and Idaho writers that might bear looking into. I used to teach an “Idaho Writers” lit course–so in my enthusiasm, it grew into rather an extensive list… He also kindly stated that he’d be interested to look at some of my work if I turned up anything that might fit the theme.

So I was watching my swimmer in this Idaho lake, and musing on my children’s Idaho roots (I was the first in my family to be born in Idaho, but they’re sixth-generation Idahoans through their paternal grandmother) and I ended up with pages’ worth of poetry… I’m still letting it simmer in my beach-bag (I usually find it’s a good idea to leave new poetry alone for a few days after it first hits the page) but I’m still mulling over an odd bit of synchronicity. Maybe it’s because I’d just finished Mrs. Dalloway and still had Virginia Woolf on my mind, but whatever the reason, my mind kept wanting to add a pocketful of stones to my son as I wrote about him. Not in the same morbid fashion as Mrs. Woolf, and I couldn’t figure out why the thought was so persistent, but it worked into what I was writing and I let it stay… An hour later when I beckoned his blue-lipped form out of the lake, he emerged, emptied his swim-trunks of a whole pile of rocks, and announced happily, “I’m collecting stones!” Hm.

The wind-storm began to kick up as he and I walked home, so we arrived (rather breathlessly) at our front porch–he with his swim-goggles donned against the wind, and his beach towel streaming behind like a Superhero’s cape.

Fri, June 8: Sewage Moat

Our go-to Rainy Day activity…

Rain and wind continued through yesterday and necessitated a break from the lake… But I’ve always enjoyed a stormy day when I can stay cozily curled up with a book–AND a couple cuddly other readers…

We woke this morning to find ourselves possessed of a landscaping feature that’s not common in this neck of the woods…  A Moat.  Unfortunately, it has a strong smell of sewage, and appears to be connected with our septic system.  (This is one of those days when I say a prayer of thanks that we’re renting!) Of course, sometimes the difficulty with renting is getting any action from a landlord, especially in our case where the actual landlord lives in Arizona, the delegated manager lives a couple towns away, and the on-site fix-it-guy (our favorite neighbor Bill, with whom we’re collaborating on a vegetable garden) isn’t empowered to make any decisions that involve spending money.

chairback reader
this Monkey will drape herself anywhere with a book…

We’ve already run into trouble with this septic–as the weather warmed up in late April and the potty-smell around our place went from occasionally-noticeable to overwhelming, we called the manager to say the septic probably needed to be pumped. (A side note for those of you across the Big Water: “potty” here in the States means toilet, rather than crazy–I have to mention this after the hilarity of a British buddy some years back when I expressed delight that my newly-trained toddler was “going potty”…)

Four (smelly!) weeks later, a guy finally came to pump out the tank. Said he used to do the rounds here twice a year, but hadn’t been called in for almost three. Three years, that is. Come to find out, the pump was broken, water was flowing into the tank even though nothing was running in our house, and the grass around the tank, he told us, was “saturated” with…  Ew.

Well, the pump got replaced, the tank got emptied, and here we are two weeks later with a full tank again, and a suspiciously smelly moat.  We won’t be hosting any badminton tournaments till this gets sorted out!

Posted in Family, Today's File

What to Wear When Getting a Traffic Ticket

I know what you’re thinking: some cleavage and batted eyes might get a girl out of that ticket.  And they might.  Experience has shown me another option, though…

Grandma in G.S. uniform in the '70s

I’m a fourth-generation Girl Scout; my great-grandma joined as an adult in the 1930s when she signed up my grandma, hoping to curb Grandma’s tomboyish tendencies.  Great-Grandma Florence was a very proper lady with a college education who wore white gloves to the supermarket.  Grandma Joan took advantage of the Girl Scout opportunity to camp and ride horses–probably not what her ladylike mother had in mind.

my mom in the '60s (when the uniform still included a girdle!) packed for a G.S. trip to England

My grandpa owned a taxi-cab company when my mother was a teen, and (determined that his daughter should be able to drive any vehicle) used to have her take out the different cars from the fleet. It was in one of these cabs, when she was dressed in uniform for a troop meeting, that she rear-ended a car in front of her.  The other driver bailed out of his car in a fury, primed to berate the cabbie who’d just dinged his bumper…  and found himself instead face-to-face with a Girl Scout in pigtails who climbed down from the car and burst into tears. His bluster gave way to fluster, and he never filed a complaint against the cab company.

I also grew up in uniform–my early school pictures mostly featured gap-toothed grins and Brownie beanies.   Dressed for a Girl Scout award ceremony one evening in high school, I tried to park my over-long Oldsmobile, and learned too late that I didn’t yet fully understand the physics of the Y-turn in adjusting the vehicle’s approach to a tight parking spot.  I somehow managed to get my wheel-well hung up on the bumper of a pickup truck in the spot adjacent to the one I was attempting.  After some back-and-forth maneuvering I managed to get myself unstuck and climbed out–in tears!–to see what damage I’d done.  To my utter dismay and mortification, I discovered the pickup’s driver sitting in his cab, from which he’d been watching the whole spectacle.  For a second time in family history, tears and a badge sash evoked enough sympathy to avoid a ticket.

Three of five G.S. generations: sporting G.S. "tattoos" with my daughter & mom, 2004

The last time I was pulled over, it was (ironically) because my A.A. license-plate frame was “obscuring my registration tags.”  I’ve thought that maybe I should Be Prepared by keeping my old badge sash in the car for such occasions, but probably I’d do better just to drive well.  And I’ll remove that offensive A.A. frame, Officer–Girl Scout’s honor!

Posted in Today's File, writing

Junior-High Journal: an UN-Literary Analysis

"Dear Teddy..."

I’ve been taking a browse through some of the dozens of old journals lining our bedroom-shelves, and these ones from junior high are…  well, embarrassing is what they are! (What, you thought I was going to say cute?)  All I can say is that I’m glad the internet hadn’t yet been invented, or these might have been spewed into a public venue at a time when I took myself too seriously to have a sense of humor about them.  Now, though–well, I’m not averse to holding myself up for some ridicule, so here are a few of the items that made me chortle and snort…

I picked this one for fun, just because of the date–I can faithfully report that exactly twenty-five years ago today, in seventh grade, I…  wrote a script for a puppet show, turned in a paper titled “Why I don’t like T.V.,” got a goldfish drunk in science class (it died), and satisfied the requirements of dress-up-as-what-you-want-to-be day by bringing my doll and “being a mother.” Oh, and Ryan Sasser sat near me at lunch (giggle).

Later in the month at a church youth-retreat, I had nothing to report about what we  were studying, but recorded in detail where Ryan Sasser sat for every session.  At the end of the weekend: “Pastor Braun left early, and he had the keys to drive the van.  Mr. Sasser, who had driven kids up and stayed overnight like Daddy, hot-wired the van and it went just fine.” What interests me now is how UNremarkable I found that bit of information.  Why did Mr. Sasser know how to hot-wire a van??

When my friend Stephanie got a new baby sister, I revealed my imperfect knowledge of biology and medicine: “About seven years ago her mother was ‘fixed,’ but the doctor gave her the wrong stuff.”
7th grade yearbook photo... Now WHO would want to beat up the nerd with the braids wrapped around her head?

It’s funny how my twelve-year-old self danced back and forth across the line between kid-hood and preteen-ness.  In one entry I detailed the episode of getting beaten up in the girls’ bathroom by a ninth-grader (probably my first-ever use of the “F-word” in recording that dialogue), and reported after a dance that my mother “was embarrassed because we were dressed in mini-skirts, but I didn’t care.”  Barely a week later I flip-flopped back to KID with this entry: “When I got home I found on my bed six pairs of nylons!  I still like knee socks and tights, but how can I tell Mommy that?  I feel stuck.  It was considerate of her, after noticing that all my friends wear nylons, but…  Next thing, she’ll give me a razor!”  Oh dear me.  (This leaves me wondering, of course, how that mini-skirt looked with my knee-socks…)

There’s a page covered with stickers, followed by a page titled “Here is a rough sketch of my lifetime as I’ve planned it so far.”  Snort!  I actually mapped out as far as the distant and mystical year 2000, when I was scheduled to “run for president.”  I didn’t specify president of what, but I’m pretty sure “president of my Rehab Class” wasn’t what I had in mind.  (Maybe the drunken goldfish was an Omen…)

December 3, ’86: “Today was Daddy’s 40th birthday.  Mommy came in during the class he was teaching and gave him a bottle of medicine for old age [Geritol] and a boquet [sic] of balloons that said things like, ‘tease me about my age, and I’ll beat you with my cane.'” Man, he was OLD that day.  (Wait, was that my 37th birthday that just whizzed by?)

In early December I featured a numbered-and-ordered list of the boys I Liked, followed by this commentary: “I wonder now if I like Luke or Ryan more. Maybe I like them the same, and whoever likes me I’ll start liking more.”  (Okay, pragmatic so far.  But then I veered into the heady realm of fantasy with this:) “After all, what’s the use of running after one if the other is at your feet?”  Ahem, cough! Let me now say for the record that neither Luke nor Ryan ever ended up “at my feet,” unless you count later in that same month when I played Mary while Ryan played The Donkey in our church’s Christmas play…  On which day I may–or may not–have “heard Ryan say to the sheep that he likes me.”  After which I went home and played with my Legos.

I’ll close with this episode, which I find very revealing about my personality in general: I finally declared my crush on Luke by the clever means of passing him a note in which (are you ready for this?) I avowed my intention of kicking his butt at science grades.  Did I know how to win a boy’s heart or what? What followed was a pretty heated competition, culminating with the annual science fair. We’d each been keeping our topic under wraps as tight as National Security, until the Big Day when we EACH unveiled a project titled “The Effects of Acid Rain on Seed Germination.” No joke, same exact project. For which I won the blue ribbon, thereby forever ending my hopes of an amicable (let alone romantic) friendship. Oh, the drama!

That’s my seventh-grade year in a (cracked) nutshell–hope you had a laugh at me.  Related to nothing above (except maybe the “MEANGRL” centerpiece, thinking of my beat-up-in-the-bathroom episode), here’s this week’s “collection” of personalized plates:

"Soup" belongs to a family named Campbell. "Islands" belongs to a man who intends to buy one--probably in Nova Scotia. We never did get to see who's the "meangrl"...
Posted in Today's File, writing

I pledge not to blog about NaNoWriMo. (oops. Dammit.)

Well, just for a minute, then. I did take the step yesterday of adding my name to the rolls of the Certifiably Insane, also known as NaNoWriMo Participants–and even went so far as to publicly admit to my foolishness with a participant-badge on the side of my blog. [def. NaNoWriMo Participant: (n.) crazy-ass writer who thinks she can finish a 55,000-word novel during November.] That said, I sense there will be plenty of NaNoWriMo buzz in Blogland without me adding my own manure-pile of it, so I’m resolved to stay mum on the topic till it’s over. Tune in after Nov 30 for a recap if I’m still capable of coherent thought. (Or maybe by then I will have stabbed myself in the eye with a pencil. Wait, I don’t OWN a pencil. Damn the inconveniences of iPad-dependency!)

Today’s REAL topic? “Vanity plates.” (Hmm, there may be a subtle subliminal segue somewhere in there…) We’ve been having fun “collecting” personalized license plates this week, so I’ll share the favorites. I’ve mostly ignored the plates of people’s names–personalized, yes, but not so entertaining. (I plead guilty on this one; our plates say KANAGRL. Of course, the back of my husband’s neck also says “Kana Girl”–evidently I have a compulsion for labeling things that belong to me…)