Archive for the ‘outdoor adventures’ Category

School has started!  Last week Sam had his first days of kindergarten, which he loved, but today is the first full day.  And, my master plan of getting Sierra to nap while he’s at school (11:20-2:05) worked! I may have over an hour+ of kid-free time at home most weekdays.   Amazing.  Look at me sitting here at my computer writing, even.  Tomorrow, I may pay some bills.  It’s exciting beyond belief.   But what is even MORE exciting is that yesterday we bought a tag-along for Sam that attaches to my bike.  It’s a nice Burley that can also accept paniers to carry groceries and stuff.  Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day which also happened to be the day of Sunday Streets, where they block off roads in a neighborhood and open them up to bikes and pedestrians.  And, it happened to be in our neighborhood this year! There was music, food and lots of people out and about.   The best part was riding up and down Hilyard, normally a busy street, on our bikes with no cars in our way.

I have been pondering how to ride with my two kids for a number of months now, and considered some fancy (and super-fun) options like an electric cargo bike.  Maybe someday, but we don’t have $3000 to put into a vehicle right now.  So I finally decided a tag-along for Sam with the front seat (goes under my handlebars) for Sierra would probably work fine.  And it does!  Though I have not tried getting groceries yet.

As usual, Sam did not want to try the shiny new bike when I petaled home from Arriving by Bike with it.  He wanted to play computer.  It was scary.  We were going too fast.  It took some serious prodding (and threats of lost computer time) but eventually we talked him into taking a short ride with us.  Ben came along, riding his bike by himself.  Well, the sea change in Sam’s attitude from start to finish was hilarious.  Once he got comfortable, he couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was.  “Mom, this is sooooo fun!”  “Mom, can we ride this everywhere now?”  “Mom, are you having fun?”  “Mom, this is terrific!!” “Mom, you want a boost now?”  It was adorable and totally made my day.  I was having fun.  When Sam decides to petal, it really helps.  When he doesn’t I can still get us around fine.  The last hill before my house (which is very steep) I get off and push the bike up but that’s fine.  Sam gets off and walks (or runs ahead to unlock the door.)  Sierra loves biking too so I’m hoping from now on most days my car will rest in the carport while we get fresh air, exercise, and to and from our errands without expelling an ounce of carbon.

Sam was very excited to go to school today once he realized we were riding the bike.  It went so fast we took an extra spin around the block just for fun and to kill time.  Compared to walking, biking to and from school is going to save us a lot of time everyday.  Which is good since kindergarten is only 2.5 hours!  Okay, I’m off to accomplish one more thing before we pop back on the bike to pick him up.  Hopefully I’ll post a picture of us on our bike later today.


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The first basket I made sitting in the shade of a tree in Mission State Park, north of Salem, at a primitive skills workshop called Echoes in Time.  My teacher had a pile of dry pine needles and a pile of raffia, and she showed us one at a time how to continue our projects.  The last time I tried a pine needle basket I had no experience and no internet (or book) and never got past trying to make the middle.  In this technique the middle section is all raffia, which solves the problem of the needles being too brittle for the core.  Raffia is enjoyable to work with because it is strong, very flexible, and a natural fiber.  It can be split up to about four times and still be strong enough to weave with.  Still, it is imported from across the world and I like the idea of building a basket out of materials that can be gathered locally.  I played around with first taking the ends off the needle bundles, then leaving them sticking out, then leaving them on but tucking them in.  One could make all sorts of patterns playing with this feature but I found for a practical basket it’s best not to leave them sticking out too much.

Since finishing this little basket I have been searching for ponderosa pine needles but have been disappointed in how clean it is beneath most city trees.  There is a gigantic ponderosa pine tree in the middle of sweet doe meadow in northern California.  Underneath, it is like walking on a giant springy mattress because of the layers of needles that blanket the floor.  It was the fallen material from that tree that inspired me to try a pine needle basket in the first place.  The past couple weeks I have entertained serious thoughts of driving south for eight hours to collect the bounty of that tree, but so far circumstance has prevented that folly.

The second basket I started shortly after finishing the first.  We were camping 10 feet from Fern Ridge in our friend’s backyard and I had brought a needle and raffia hoping to find useful plant material growing by the lake.  The dominant water plant was long and straight but without any strong fiber.  There were a few cattails, which I had heard could be used, but they were hard to reach.  The other main plant was some type of grass, probably invasive and possibly in the bamboo family.  There is a reasonably long section between the last node and the seed tuft that I cut from several plants.  It was quite pleasant to sit in the shade of our bug shelter, while Sam played with toys on the ground, and process the plants into fiber.  First I cut the seed heads off.  Sam loved this part because he could gather them into piles, strip the material off, and look for tiny seeds.  While he did that,  I cracked each hollow reed twice to get four fibers from each stock.  My fingernail worked perfect for the final split.  After I had converted the grass into flexible strips I made a coil just like with the pine needles.  Every few stitches I would add a couple of fibers to the center of the bundle.  I played with making the sides go in and out a bit, and used every piece of grass to finish the basket.

For the third basket I jumped to an entirely new technique.  A book from the library, written by a lady in England was my guide.  My goal was to make a tiny basket entirely from materials I collected.  I made one of my classic mistakes; starting something before reading all the way through the instructions.  Not only that, but I decided to drastically change the size and the number of rods used.  Not understanding where it was going, I ended up adding more rods for a smaller basket which was quite backwards.  A further mistake of impatience was not waiting for the willow to dry before using it, forgetting how much it shrinks.

Despite realizing the basket was doomed early in the process, I decided to continue for the learning experience.  All the support rods are willow from my garden, and most of the weavers are cattail split into halves or quarters.  I also used another wetland grass that grows up by our little pond.  It was a plant I collected from the bottom of Fern Ridge the year the lake was dry and you could walk all over it.  It turned out to be amazingly strong and easy to process, but very fine.  But the plant in my yard is small, so I didn’t want to harvest too much.  The cattails were pretty strong but some were older looking and broke towards the end.  I found a spot out by LCC where I can cut as much cattail as I like, and from there I gathered fresher-looking material but haven’t tried it yet.  The top few rows on the side are another grass I found swimming by the coast fork of the Willamette one day.  To keep from going insane weaving the sides I cut the support rods way short which meant I couldn’t properly finish the top edge.

I love the gradient made by the different greens and how the light green willow branches turned almost black.  The basket is amazingly strong considering all its flaws.  I can’t wait to try this technique again, now that I know where it’s going.  I have been collecting material everywhere I can, keeping an open mind and taking almost anything that will bend around my wrist without breaking.  For me it’s got all the appeal of a spending spree in the craft store, but it’s free!  Other pluses are it doesn’t come wrapped in plastic and any left-overs or broken pieces can go straight into the compost.  In fact, the whole basket can go into the compost once it is no longer wanted.

What I have written so far says nothing about why I am so excited about making these little baskets.   It is such a strange thing to do in our modern world.  Like spending hours making natural cord when one could buy a whole spool of something synthetic and stronger for way less than one earns in an hour.   But there is something very magical in the process.   The finding, the harvesting, the processing, the drying, the weaving.  Each part is its own meditation.  I am finding that working with natural materials in a rhythmic dance of creation feeds my soul.

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By the calendar it’s still a few days off, but I could smell Lammas in the air yesterday.  It’s hard to describe the scent that marks this season, but once recognized it is unmistakable.  Summer has settled in, the grass is dry and brown, the queen ann’s lace and tomatoes are flowering.    The afternoon heat is scalding, but sunset comes sooner with each passing day.

For me, this year, I get to watch my belly swell as the fruit ripens.  The little creature inside me is kicking and dancing with life and every day I grow more thankful for the abundance.  Such sweet abundance just now, I’m afraid to count my blessings because there are so many and perhaps some spirit will notice I’ve got more than my fair share.  Still, I want to take pause and give thanks.   My heart is as swollen as my belly with the love I have for my friends, family and most of all my children.

Like a switch, somewhere around his third birthday, Sam changed from a moody and exhausting 2-year-old to the most amazing and enjoyable little person.  He’s out of diapers (during the day) and we talk through most problems without resorting to time-outs.  If I need something he is often happy to fetch it for me, and everyday he’s accomplishing more simple tasks on his own.  We tell each other stories, sing songs together, and put together countless puzzles and lego cars.  This summer has been like a happy dream from childhood.  We sleep in, make pancakes together, water the garden for hours, swim with friends during the day, go camping almost every weekend.  Besides the love and my family, what I am most thankful for right now is time.  I am relishing this freedom I haven’t felt since I was a kid in the summertime; no school, no job to suck my time and energy.  I might feel a little guilt, cuz we are technically quite broke, but I don’t.  This is the only summer I will have where my little boy is three and we spend the long hot days together just the two of us.  I have the rest of my life to trade my time for money.  And soon, there will be one more of us.  As excited as I am to meet this new baby, I’m already missing the calm connectedness of just-Sam-and-me-time.

Being pregnant and spending all of my time with my child means I live by my heart more than my head.  Instinct, intuition, love… much more useful than facts or logic.  And spending so much time in this heart space has made me realize how much more vulnerable I am now than I was a few years ago.  Back then there were many tragic things that could have made me sad, but now, something could happen that would feel worse than having my beating heart ripped out of my chest.  I realize this is the catch of having kids, you suddenly have so much to lose.  And I was wondering, how does this not drive one crazy?  How do parents keep from becoming neurotic and wanting to shelter their children from everything in the world that might cause them harm?  What if they die?  It may seem odd to dwell on death while making a new life, but in the circle of life the two are actually quite close together.  Being pregnant is full of uncertainly.  The key, I’m guessing, is to turn fear into hope and to spend as much time as possible in the here-and-now.   In this moment my toddler is sleeping peacefully in his bed, my unborn child is resting in my womb.  The past is over, the future is unknown, but right now, in this moment, all is well.

Ben started a fire tonight, using a bow and friction.  I made the bowstring from a piece of braintanned elk skin, he cut the bow from our cherry tree.  There are 24 pounds of organic blueberries on my counter waiting to be frozen and bagged.  Today we swam in the McKenzie and the icy water washed away the sweat from picking blues in the hot afternoon sun.  Sam laughed and laughed as he swam between me and Hali until his lips turned blue and we stuck him up on a warm rock in the sun to defrost.  Nothing like getting a little chill late on a hot summer day to help one sleep well that night.

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So it’s Beltane, and look, I’m writing another blog.  I find this mildly amusing since I wrote the last one on the spring equinox.  Anyway I’m not quite as blissed out today as I was then, but, the child is sleeping and I have a few minutes with the house to myself.  Tonight we went to a Ben’s friend’s party, and it made me miss my friends. I wish I was spending this holiday with them.  To each their own.  Some people get drunk and race four wheelers around their property making cookies in the mud, others dance the maypole and sit around the fire singing and drumming.  On some level I get it, either way, on another, one just doesn’t work for me.

I did have a nice time at a native plant sale today, put on by the friends of Buford Park.  I had a long chat with one of the board members who’s lived near the park for about as long as I’ve been alive.  It’s an ecologically diverse 2300 acres of park wedged between the Middle and Coast forks of the Willamette, just a few minutes from my house.   But how amazing would it be to live with that as your backyard?  He said he runs the trails in the park all the time, just outside his back door.  Someday, when I’m ready to leave the conveniences of the city, it might be fun to live out there.  I used to think I’d migrate to the Loraine valley just south of here.  But most of that area is 2-10 acre parcels, all privately owned.  I’d be in the country, but basically confined to my land.   I like the idea of a little land for us next to a BIG public nature area.  But that’s just me dreaming, there’s no moving in the cards for us anytime soon.  The Friends of Buford Park have a beautiful little native plant nursery, where they collect seed to spread around the park.  I’d like to spend more time out there, and maybe help out.

With all that extra energy I have these days.  Ha! I can barely keep up with toddler, house chores, cooking, and volunteering for Nearby Nature and extension.  Oh right, and making this baby.  I think 50% of my energy must go into baby making.   I whine about it a lot, the not having energy thing.  Probably should just let it go and hope for productivity at some other phase of my life.  I have been doing yoga and drinking more water, which helps.  I’m 15 weeks along and I got to hear the heartbeat again the other day.  She’s got a good little pumper!  Okay I don’t really know if it’s a girl, but I feel like it is.  Hopefully we’ll get to find out sometime early June, if I have insurance by then.

The oil spill in the gulf is really bothering me.  I had dreams about it all last night and woke up quite cranky. I don’t actually read the news much these days, but I caught that story early on and have been watching closely.  I was really rooting for those little robots that were going to swim down there and seal it all up.  But that was days ago, and since that failed things have gone from bad to worse.   Just when I think humans couldn’t possibly be more ruthless with our consumption and destruction of this planet, we go and one-up ourselves.  There is an old Indian woman in my soul and she cries and cries at the destruction at hand.  The problem with caring about the Mother is you start to FEEL the Mother, and when you take it all in it isn’t a good feeling these days. Luckally, there are beautiful natural areas nearby to remind me all is not lost.

In my yard today I saw a big snake, a queen bumble bee and a beautiful little butterfly.  As my habitat areas are getting more wild and overgrown I see their potential to attract residents is growing.  It’s amazing how ‘the old log’ starts to become a destination because you know you’ll find something crawling around on it.  Lately I’ve been dreaming about a really big old log rotting slowly up in the corner.   Might have to settle for a few smaller ones and a nice pile of sticks.

Okay well, there will be a drunk husband coming home at some point and it’s probably better I’m asleep before then.  Sorry I don’t have any fabulous stories of dancing naked around the Beltane fires… maybe next year.

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I tried to write a blog the other day.  I had a plan, a title, a topic, etc.   Maybe I’ll finish it, but for now I’m just going to spew random thoughts because I feel like it and it sounds easier.  Did I mention writing gets harder when you stop doing it for a long time?

So we gave away all our furniture and now I’m looking for a new couch.  Okay not all our furniture, just the futon and giant pillow chair that were taking up most of our TV room.  They weren’t comfortable to sit on, so, they went bye bye.  Anyway, I don’t want a NEW couch, I want an old one.  I’m imagining a funky colored one with a wood frame and character.  The new ones are all huge, overstuffed and BORING.  Not to judge, we bought that style of sectional for the living room and I like it fine.  Still, I want something more interesting in the den.  So I’ve been checking craigslist and 2nd hand stores fora couple weeks now, but we’re still watching Battlestar Galactica and Weeds on our office chairs.  Last night, we went to see Avatar 3d at the theatre and yes, it was amazing.  So here’s my question to my stupid unconscious:  why do I dream about couch shopping instead of flying through phosphorescent jungles on magical birds all night?!?!?!?  *sigh*  Life could be so much more exciting if only my dreamscape could reflect the best part of my waking day instead of the most boring.

Today a man is coming to look at the cherry tree in our backyard and tell me how much he wants to, uh… cut it down!  It’s some kind of invasive pie cherry that we don’t eat and the animals don’t seem to care for either.  Also, its shading the ‘meadow.’   This is all part of my plan to turn my backyard into both a highly productive vegetable farm AND a strong and diverse wildlife habitat.  I know I have a good imagination, but the amazing thing about nature is how much can happen is a small space.  Anyway, I am feeling bad about planning to kill a tree, even if it isn’t native or useful to humans or animals.  Ben of course pointed out that it’s still a carbon sink, and by cutting it down I am contributing more co2 in the atmosphere.  Fair enough.   My dream is an oak tree will grow up in its place.  There’s already a tiny one planted by a squirrel last year.   Apparently oak trees are one of the most productive tree as far as supporting critters.  Plus, they are magical and amazing.   Anyway, my plan is to kill the cherry tree and have the guy cut up most of it, but leave a 8-10ft snag in place.  Snags (standing dead trees) are excellent wildlife habitat.  Plus, I’m kinda excited about watching it slowly break down and eventually tip over.  I dunno if we’ll be in the house that long, but maybe.  It must be short enough so that when it falls, it doesn’t hit the house.   Ohhh a snag!  Gives me shudders of excitement!   My only fear is a bird tires to build a nest in it and the neighbor cat makes a quick meal out of her.  But I think most birds are too smart for that.   My hope is the snag will be home to insects and that birds can come eat the bugs.

The other project I’m super excited about (actually super-duper excited!!) is my war with the Armenian blackberries.  It’s been a good year for removing invasive weeds.  I got most of the English Ivy out of the front by the end of the summer, cleared the St. John’s Wort from under the native bushes in the back in the fall, and this winter I finally got up the courage to start tackling the blackberries.  They grow on the road easement at the base of our driveway and many of them are well over 8ft tall.  I’ve often stood under them and wondered how one would ever get rid of the tangled mass of giant thorny vines growing over piles of its dead kin.  It’s also on a steep slope, of course.   Anyway, after a highly productive Stream Team work party where I cleared 60+ ft of blackberries along Amazon creek with a gas-powered hedge trimmer, I had my taste for blood.  I don’t own a hedge trimmer, but one day I just headed out there and started chopping away with my hand clippers.  The first day I cleared a trail along the top.  The next day I started working my way down the hill.  After a couple 1-2hour sessions the progress I’d made was impressive.

One issue that held me back from getting started was: what the hell do I do with the debris once I chop the suckers down?  I finally decided I would just leave them in place, chopping them up into small pieces as I go.  It makes for a lot more work, but the mat that is forming over the bare soil (NOTHING grows in the shade of an ancient blackberry) is working out well.  On the slope, it keeps the soil from eroding while new vegetation becomes established, or at least that’s my hope.  Anyway, it’s become quite an exciting treasure hunt.  Who knew what the ground looked like under all those brambles?  Turns out there’s a steep slope, followed by a semi-level area near the base of the driveway.   Let me tell you, any land even sort of level is like a gold mine around here.

Yesterday was the most surprising unveiling yet.   I almost don’t want to tell you about it because it’s so exciting.   Okay okay, now that I think about it, it’s probably not that exciting to anyone except me, and hopefully Sam.   Still, I think I’ve save it for another blog.

Thanks Meg, for getting me writing again!  I’ll try to write something a little more focused next time. 🙂

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I’m forcing myself to write a blog today because it’s 9-9-09 and that’s just cool. Also it seems I didn’t write a single entry last month and probably I’ve forgotten how to form complete sentences. (Status updates on FB don’t count.) Anyway, there’s been a lot going on which would be interesting to write about but who has time to write when life is busy? We just got back from Burning Man on Sunday and after many hours of rinsing and blowing we are almost playa-free. It isn’t like regular camping where as long as you put your tent away dry you’re good to go. No, after camping on a dry lake bed for a week in super-fine alkaline dust and heavy wind storms EVERYTHING that was brought has to be taken apart and cleaned. It’s a tedious task, but, it also feels pretty good. We camped at least six times this summer and feeling saturated and satisfied with that activity it’s fitting to thoroughly clean the gear and pack it away for the winter.

When we left Oregon it was still hot and dry, but the rains came while we were away and we returned to cool mornings and damp soil. It smells wonderful, as if fall has appeared overnight. Today I noticed some leaves starting to turn. School starts today, and Sam started Eowyn’s house yesterday. After a summer with every weekend and most week days filled with fun adventures, I’m ready to settle in and embrace the fall. It’s time to get back into a routine, start potty training for real, and for me to develop a focus outside taking care of my family and having fun.

Yesterday after I dropped Sam at daycare my stomach was churning the way it does before I have to speak in public or tell someone I broke their favorite toy. Part of it was the mother in me not being ready to walk away and leave my child. But the owner of the daycare is one of my close friends who I admire and trust, and I love her child care philosophy. Sam and I spent several days hanging out there together over the last couple years. I have planned for him to go there practically since he was born, not because I have a job and need to get away from him, but because I really do believe it will be good for him. So it was at the store on my way home, after dropping him off, that I realized the real reason for my churning stomach. If I am not taking care of Sam, what should I do? Because daycare is not cheap and really we can barely afford it the obvious answer is: get a job! But in this case I don’t think that is the right answer.

I know what I do NOT want to do while Sam is in daycare: laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, hanging out with friends, facebooking, surfing. I have decided it is not time for me to do house chores, nor is it time for me to play and relax. For now I have decided to divide my time between two things: reading and studying and volunteering. I am still tracking down the volunteer work so tomorrow I plan to spend most of the day at the library.

Ohhhh the library, without the little guy! We went today for HIM and even picking out picture books with him around is hard enough, forget about heading upstairs to the adult literature. But tomorrow I will head there with my backpack full of books: Fundamentals of Hydrology, What the River Reveals and the Oregon Water handbook and my fresh spiral notebook for note taking. Nothing like the smell of books and crisp new school supplies. I think what I am doing is once again going back to school, but this time I’m going to try to learn on my own. Lisa had a good idea to come up with a research topic and actually write a paper. I’m also interested in grant writing. We’ll see where it takes me.

But despite our suffering finances I feel good about not scrambling to make a buck right now. I need to find a path that will enable to me do good work for the natural world, and I think learning and volunteering is a great way to start. Maybe someday I will get an actual paying job is the field, but hopefully by then I’ll have found my focus and the job will be a good fit. I know if I follow the money right now, it will not take me where I need to go. Plus, who wants to look for a job with the market like this?

Before I go scrub the toilets, I should make a comment or two about Burning Man this year. It’s hard to write about an experience that was so rich and full. It was my third time spending a week in Black Rock City and once again the elements caught me off guard. Again, I didn’t bring the right stuff. The wind and the dust bothered me less, but set-up day was stressful in the wind and setting sun and Ben and I were fighting before it was done. We had regrets about how we laid out our camp, though it actually worked out fine. Opening up the tent to find everything from your clothes to your pillow covered in a couple millimeters of dust would be enough to drive some people crazy. But I just took a deep breath, brushed off what I could, and snugged up surrounded by playa. We had three marvelous days where the wind stayed away. Friday night we stayed up almost all night and rode around on our bikes under the full moon. That night was amazing and I felt sorry for everyone who wasn’t there. At one point I was on my own and I rode my bike out to the edge of the city. On a quiet road without many lights or people I traveled, until I reached the corner. And there, with the city on one side and the open playa on the other was a DJ spinning the most delicious tunes. I dropped my bike and danced with my moon shadow as I watched the lights of art cars and fiery explosions of propane sculptures off in the distance. Back on my bike riding on the open playa, I felt like I was floating along on water carried by the wind and surrounded by the sweetest eye candy you can imagine.

It isn’t for everyone, burning man. If you need a shower every day and can’t stand being dirty, you’d probably hate it. If you need quiet to sleep or air conditioning to relax, you probably wouldn’t last the week. If you are offended my nudity or blatant sexual humor, you’d probably get quite irritated. But me I don’t mind the hot or the dirt and deep in my soul is a longing for wide open spaces. I love trees and mountains but there is something powerful and elemental about the desert. And anything that takes freedom and radical self-expression to the next level is definitely my cup of tea! When we arrived at the gate the greater said to me, “Welcome home.” It’d been a few years and I said “thanks” but didn’t really feel it. By the end however, I knew what he meant. I don’t know if I’ll be back next year, or even the year after that, but I will be back. And when I arrive and someone tells me “Welcome home” I’ll jump into the playa and make snow angels in the dust and howl and laugh at the top of my lungs.

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It is below 80 degrees in my house for the first time since Monday and I can feel my brain starting to work again. It’s like I’m coming out of a heat induced stupor. It wasn’t all unpleasant, but it’s nice to get a break. It’s been over 100 degrees the last three days and I think yesterday it got as high as 109. Our house, with its bank of west-facing windows, gets hot. I have been closely watching the indoor/outdoor thermometer and closing up all the doors, windows and black-out blinds as soon as it reaches the crossover point. Still, by late evening if it’s 95 outside it’s 88 inside. The fans help, but I’ve been disappointed that even if I open every window and most doors all night it’s still 10 degrees warmer inside then out in the morning.

In the heat, Sam hasn’t been able to take his afternoon nap. At first we tried and I could tell he wanted to sleep, but it was just too hot up there. I have also been unwilling to cook dinner in my hot, stuffy kitchen. (One night we went swimming until 8pm, the next we went out to dinner at Turtles, and last night we enjoyed our friend’s air-conditioned lake house.) But since it’s just as hot at 9pm as 3pm he’s also been staying up to 10 or 11 with us. He’s a trooper though, and since our days have been filled with swimming and adventures he’s kept in good spirits. Me, I miss my afternoon down-time but have enjoyed spending extra time with him. One hot night after getting back from dinner we lounged on the deck while waiting for the house to cool. Sam pushed his truck around until it was too dark to see, then climbed in the hammock with me. He fell sleep on my tummy while Ben rocked us and I watched the moon slowly disappear behind the hills.

He’s a little computer kid these days, it cracks me up. We were trying to play Wii at the lake house and he was eager to learn how. When we got to the screen where it tells you to put the strap around your wrist he did it himself while I read the instructions. Unfortunately he figured out quickly that my controller was the one that actually worked. At home he now plays the Purble Place on my computer, switching between the cake-making and the memory games. He can make the mouse go where he wants and click it and he knows what some stuff does. He doesn’t really get the overall concept of the games, but if I talk him through it he can click where I point on the screen.

In the water he is a big bundle of wildly kicking glee. We can be in the water for over an hour and he will still be smiling and laughing with delight. It’s actually been kind of a problem as far as teaching him to close his mouth when he goes underwater. He’ll dunk himself with that wide open mouth grin and then come up sputtering and coughing. Then, he’d start laughing again as soon as he stopped coughing. Crazy kid! Holding him is quite tricky. He’s strong and he wants with all his might to be able to swim away. He can’t do it, but that does stop him from trying. Sometimes I become the underwater play structure and rest my arms while he grabs on and climbs around. He knows if he lets go he’ll go under, but he also knows once he’s under I’ll pull him back up. I’ve been trying to find a floaty for him that will keep him above water, but just barely so he can swim. Life vests don’t work because they float you too high. I’ve bought a couple toddler learn-to-swim devices but so far one didn’t fit him and the other one had a leak.

The filberts are ripening and the canopy over our driveway has turned into a bird and squirrel mecca. KA-BAM! They throw the shells down on our tin roof and it’s as loud as a gunshot. Okay maybe not quite, but it is startling until it becomes a steady stream and driving down the driveway crackles and crunches like broken bones. We’ve picked several ripe blackberries. And yesterday we ate our first artichoke! Also two baby red potatoes, and I harvested my lavender which is now drying in the kitchen. I love this time of year. Even with the suffering of the heat and the ground that burns your feet. Mornings in the garden are delightful.

Speaking of which, I should get out there. We are going back to the lake house today. Although I am thankful for the cool air-conditioned house, in a way I don’t want to go. Inside yesterday I could almost forget the rest of the world was melting and baking. When you’ve suffered though the heat, jumping in the lake feels that much better.





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