Friday, June 29, 2007

Is This a Happy Moment, or Should We Be Disturbed?

Thursday afternoon it rained.

During this time I was hunched under an umbrella next to a stroller bound Arthur in the middle of one of Eugene's parks. It was an ill planned ventured that ended with me bribing Arthur with the promise of pizza to get him home without too much of a fuss.

On the way home, I noticed Very Large Snails crawling along on our neighbors' lawns.

Arthur demanded that the pizza slices bought be eaten outside in our backyard. By this time the rain was mostly finished and I agreed. Afterwards I noticed hundreds of gastropods on our lawn and in some of our shrubbery. Since Mark chided me for smashing snails to the accompaniment of phrases featuring the words "die" and "death", I grabbed one of Arthur's plastic beach buckets and began gathering the slimey gastropods. They seemed to be concentrated near our compost pile, but they also seemed to be swarming toward our strawberries and sunflowers.

"Snails don't share," I said to Arthur as I went back and forth along the lawn looking for the greedy little (and not so little) beggars.

There were at least twenty five by the time I was done. I had to tap the bucket several times to make the snails trying to climb its plastic walls slide back down to its bottom, which was a slowly writhing mass of mucus. But I had another problem. Arthur had been watching my gathering process, and I didn't exactly want to pour vinegar onto the things in front of him. About this time my Aunt Joanne called and instead of answering the phone with a "hello," I asked her point blank what to do with a beach bucket full of snails.

"Do you even know who this is?" she asked instead of giving her verdict. By this time the snails were threatening to crawl out again and Arthur had followed Mark (who was busy with another project and not supposed to be watching him) into the garage


I scooped Arthur up had him wait on the front porch. I went into the street and whacked the bucket several times against the pavement until all of the snails were out. Most of them were in a big pile. I had a vague hope the local crows and scrub jays would come and eat them. As I walked back to Arthur, a Very Large Truck came down the hill and ran over the mass with a coorosponding squishy-crunch that I tried hard not to think too much about.

Arthur started crying. "Again! Again! More snails!"

"Uh," I said, "We'll have to wait until tomorrow to get more."

"Oh no," said Mark. "I'm sure you can find more."

The sad thing is that he's probably right. We'll see if there are any strawberries or sunflowers left tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Consumer at Two Years

Mark looked at yesterday's posting. "They'll never get it, John," he said. "You can't tell from the second photo that Arthur is shoving a harmonica down Elmo's throat. You need an intermediate photo that shows more harmonica."

To me it's pretty clear from the photos and the text what's going on. Oh well.

Scene: After viewing a garbage truck pick up containers with its claw and dump them into itself, Arthur has grabbed the cloth stroller and is heading up the street.

Arthur (Pushing the stroller in bare feet): "Arthur. Going. Arthur. Going."

John (in bare feet on the sidewalk about ten feet behind): "Arthur, where are you going?"

Arthur (pausing one second then continuing): "Arthur going shopping."

John: "Shopping? What are you going to get?"

Arthur (turning the corner and making the stroller do a wheelie): "P.O.G.!!!*"

John: "Well, we can go shopping; but I need to change your diaper, first."

Arthur: "No!"

* P.O.G. = pomegranite, orange and guava juice mix. At one point I thought it was a healthy drink until I looked at the lable. It's probably better than The Evil Drink, but only because it doesn't have high fructose corn syrup or phosphoric acid.

Play It Again

Arthur likes playing the harmonica.

And he's thinking of starting his own school of music.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

All Over Town

Grampa Harry, John and Arthur on Father's Day (Mark's taking the picture)Sometime last year, we taught Arthur an alternative way to sing "The Wheels on the Bus."  We have a picture book that has animals riding the bus, and for the verse where the bus hits a bump in the road, "The animals on the bus go up and down."  We've added "The animals on the bus go 'ooph!' and 'ack!'" for the last iteration and that's Arthur's cue to shout, "I'll sue!"

So, what does he start shouting for no apparent reason that I can figure out at the reception desk of a doctor's office?

I leaned over him and said, "That's a bad thing to shout in a doctor's office before the appointment."

Monday, June 25, 2007

State of Confusion

Scene:  Morning at the house.   Arthur is going through his usual list of people he would like to see.

Arthur:  "Mark."

John:  "Mark's at work."

Arthur:  "See him."

John:  "We'll see him when he gets back from work."

Arthur:  "Kristina.  See Kristina."

John:  "She lives in New York."

Arthur:  "Margaret."

John:  "She lives in Minnesota."  

Arthur:  "Arthur.  Soda.  Drink it."

John (looking for an atlas):  "Minnesota isn't a drink; it's a state."

Obviosly, we're going to have to get a big world map for Arthur's room and pin pictures of our friends on it near the places they live. 

Sunday, June 24, 2007

King of the Who?

Thursday night I had a dream about the Matter of Britain.   It started out at Reed College, in the canyon above the lake and to the north of what used to be the Art Building (at least in 1987).  I was walking around (with a bunch of other folks -- I really only remember that they were dressed in poofy clothing).

I was on a slope and some water started spurting out of a spring and onto a plant with philodendron or rhubarb leaves.  A woman (the Lady of the Lake?  Nimue?)  needed the water to wake King Arthur, but there wasn't enough coming out of the spring.  I took a little pick (larger than a garden trowel, but smaller than the real thing) and managed to unclog whatever was blocking the water and it came out in a larger stream.   We managed to collect enough to wake the King.

There was a break or something and we were inside a kind of hotel room.  King Arthur was asleep, with a crown and his clothes, completely submerged in water in a kind of 50's style laundry washer.  It was a big box with a clear glass front where you'd normally see the laundry.  

I turned to Nimue and joked, "Oh, ma'am; I see your problem:  You've got a king in your washer."   There was a moment where we were pondering which vessle to pour the water from the spring out of and into the washer -- we had a clear glass flagon, or a ceramic goblet with a white glaze and a dark green Celtic knot running around the outside.  

We chose the clear glass and started pouring the water over King Arthur.  There was an invocation to Iesu Christi in Latin, and also a pagan spell.  The water in the clear glass turned reddish, and as we poured it into the washer, that water turned red as well.  Then King Arthur woke up.

There was some more about Morgan LeFay, who appeared shortly after King Arthur was awake, but I don't remember much about it other than Morgan was using lawyer-speak to try to intimidate us.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

DVD Heebie Jeebies

I've reached a new milestone in parenting.

Arthur is no longer content to sit in his stroller while I cart him around the Library. He wants to run amok, pulling random books off of the shelves.

After one such little bout, once I (and the stroller filled with baby bags, baby food, baby books, my bag, and a baby blanket) caught up to him, he had come to a halt in the DVD collection of the Kid's Wing. In no time he had found "Thomas and Friends" section. I checked out two Thomas the Trains; one Disney Music (old style) Compilation; and one 1968 era Disney adventure called "The Island at the Top of the World," which I remember reading as a kid, but never saw in movie form.  

Well, we're in trouble.  
I remember enough about the book to know that Arthur wouldn't like the Island movie (the girl sacrifices herself to killer whales to save all the guys).  But I thought he'd like the music one.  Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong.   He sat through Pacos Bill and Roy Rodgers, but as soon as the really psychodelic, surreal pieces came on he had a fit.  I knew there was trouble when a Boogie-woogie bumble bee started to change color as it flew through shadowy plant shapes.  When some piano keys turned into a snake, he started getting antsy; when the black keys started running through each other he lost it. 

In an attempt to find the Disney DVD's program notes, I accidentally picked up the wrong DVD cover with a train on it.  I've never seen Arthur so frantic to change DVDs before.  

It's not that Thomas the Train shows feature trains that speak, but whoes mouths never move (although their eyes do).... it's not that there's hierarchical classism embedded in the stories (the bigger the engine, the more important it is -- and coal freight cars seem to be on the bottom of the rungs).... it's not like the trains are all slaves to the aristocratic human, Sir Topumhat (I'm sure they're paid well)... but I think it's that the engines are all sort of mean to each other in a schoolyard kind of way that bothers me. All the other stuff is creepy in an 80's Duracell Battery commercial kind of way.

But Arthur doesn't care; he just wants to say, "Hi, train!" whenever one rolls by on the screen.

And to think I was looking forward to not having to watch Tweety and Sylvester for a change; Goddess help us when I have to return Thomas to the Library.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm In Trouble

I was sleeping through most of this, but I imagine it went something like this:

(Scene. 2:50 AM. Mark has gone to Arthur's room to see what it is Arthur wants. Arthur has turned his room's light on.)

Arthur: (Standing in crib): "Up, please."

Mark: (grasping Arthur underneath the arms and lifting him out). "Hey, Buddy; it's time to sleep."

Arthur: "Pizza, please."

Mark (walking into the kitchen): "We already had pizza. I can get you a bottle." (Gives Arthur a bottle.)

Arthur (holding bottle): "Please. Pizza, please. Please!"

Mark (opening empty pizza box): "It's all gone." (Arthur sobs) "John ate some, too." (Arthur flings bottle onto the floor.)

All I can tell you was that later Thursday morning there was Very High Drama when I moved the pizza box to the garage after I prevented Arthur from prying off old dried cheese from the box's inside.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

More Pagan Song Goofiness

I managed to finish up the script for Sunday's Worship Service. Now I'll have to rehearse it a few times to make sure I can sing all the songs I'm making people sing. One of the songs we're singing is "Air I Am," which is one of my favorites. However, while I was puzzling out what songs to sing, I made a discovery; one can sing the words "Sam I Am / Sam I Am / Do you like green eggs and ham?" to the tune of "Air I Am." I was so tempted to make the Unitarian Universalists sing this, but I figured some of the more serious pagans would start talking behind my back. Maybe we can have an April 1 service some time.

I decided to ditch a truncated chorus from "Circles" for this weekend's concluding spiral dance in favor of "We Come from the Water," which I first heard Henry Belafonte sing on "The Muppet Show" (gee, that dates me). When I found the song in a pagan song book, I was horrified to see that the song's title was "We Come from de Water." I'm still not sure if I'm more horrified by the implied racism that Africans can't pronounced the word "the" or (ala Henry Higgins) by the propagation of poor English.

I also managed to submit a story (finally) to Clarksworld.

Happy first full day of Summer -- darkness is rising!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Can't Shop, Scary Giant Might Get Me

I think I'm living in a children's book or something.

When we go to Trader Joe's, Arthur becomes increasingly anxious as we go down the frozen foods isle toward the milk. The reason? There's a blackboard across from the sorbet with a scary looking giant selling stuff on it. It's gotten worse the last few visits, and this time in the frozen food isle -- after imploring me to go pay for the groceries (so the cart would turn around and we would leave the store) -- the blackboard giant reduced Arthur to tears. I tried to ask him why the giant was scary and that didn't help.

It seems to be getting worse and I think the area of the giant's influence is getting larger and larger; going into the adjacent isles provokes anxiety, and I'm wondering if a day will come when I won't be able to take him into the store.

We glided by the manager's desk (at least I think it's the manager's desk) and I had Arthur tell them about the scary giant. Three grown-ups telling him that the giant was friendly and trying to sell him frozen foods wasn't enough to change his opinion of the 2D gargantuan: "Giant. Don't like it. Scary."

Thoughts? Do I get him a golden harp, a chicken, or a sharp axe? I'd bring paper rabbit ears to tape onto the giant's head, except, -- now that I think of it -- Arthur was traumatized by the "scary bunny" at Valley River Center last Easter.

What's This

No, it's not a song from "The Nightmare Before Christmas," it's Arthur's new trick. He'll point to something and then say "What's this?" We'll name the object, and then he'll go on to another next to it. He's especially interested in objects he knows are forbidden.

Arthur (heading toward the electrified barbed wire): "What's this?" (Looks back with a 'Who, lill' ol' me?' expression.)
John (picking him up and setting him down in the next county): "What do you think it is?"

Other current tricks include

  • demanding that we call various relatives long distance so he can speak with them for two seconds.

  • saying "Puppy on!" while turning on the puppy sprinkler so he can run through it for two seconds.

  • saying "Arthur making Library (or roses, or car, or pizza)" while he hammers on a wooden block for two hours.

Arthur likes the local park. It has a dangerous play structure on it. The front has a sculpture that looks just like basalt columns for the kids so they can climb about seven feet into the air. There's even a platform (behind Arthur) where the kids can climb even higher and go down a very long slide.

I'm glad it's there, because after about 90 minutes of running around the park, Arthur usually uses up all his extra energy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

George Micheal, Where Are You?

I made a discovery. Well, actually, Mark has been pointing it out for some time now, but I didn't believe him (probably because he was using more generic words like "frumpy") until we had photographic proof. Relaxed fit jeans make my butt disappear.

If I needed camouflage for my rear, I'd be fine. But I'm six feet something and I weigh 170 pounds. On me relaxed fit jeans are horribly frumpy. I never realized it because I've always seen my rear from the side. Mark used our video camera to show how, as the viewing angle changes, my backside becomes a formless extension of my legs. It's like relaxed fit jeans are like like some stereoscopic picture of my butt in reverse -- in other words, monoscopic; 2D; flat; frumpy.

The only reason I bought the jeans in the first place is that I don't like to feel restricted by my clothes.

So for Father's Day, Mark bought me some new clothes to wear to Writers of the Future. The only real mistake he made was the white shorts. I put them on with my purple Neman Markus shirt and as a result I looked like a cheerleader for a Gay Pride Parade. "You're not that gay," he said as they were put onto the "return" pile.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Crater Lake

We spent some time with friends in a "cabin" about an hour away from Crater Lake. I think I spent the most time out of anyone there in the hot tub.

There was still large fields of snow at the lake, mostly on the north side. I was looking at my photos of Wizard Island and you'd hardly believe they were taken on the same day.

We hiked up to an observation point above the Crater Lake Lodge. It's a little steep, but not too long. Arthur slept in a backpack on Mark's back on the way up. As we were sitting at the point looking down into the blue depths of the lake, Arthur wiggled, and said, "Smoke! More please!" We figured he was dreaming about trains.

Probably the most fun I had was photographing some of the flowers along the path with my macro lens. I got some pretty nice shots of indian paintbrush and some butterflies. But the best part was lying on the path to take a picture and having another hiker discover me. She was very relieved when I moved, because she didn't take in my camera when she first found my supine form blocking the path.

Arthur walked most of the way down the path by himself. Mark carried him the rest of the way. When we asked him what color the lake was, he grinned and replied, "Orange!"

After the hike, we stopped at the lodge, where the lackluster wait staff took forever to serve us drinks. The interior was fun, though.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Children & Phillip Pullman

Pictures of Arthur's birthday are coming soon.

In the meantime, I've been working on the songs that I want the UU congregation to sing during the June 24th Worship Service than I'm leading. I was thinking that it might be fun to sing a variation on "Light is Returning," with the re-worked verse for the Summe Solstice:

Dark is returning
Even though this is the brightest hour.
Nobody can hold back the dusk.

I know that I would laugh, but I think most folks would be unfamiliar with the more regular lyrics of the song to get the joke. And in any case, the normal lryics include the worisome phrase "Earth Mother is calling her children home." What the heck does that mean, any way: Are we as pagans supposed to take the role of children? If we're on the planet earth, how can we have left it to be called home? I've settled on part of the song, "Circles," which has the equally worrisome phrase, "We are the children of the Lord and the Lady." I've cut that part out for the service, but still there's that cognative dissonance of being an actuated adult singing about one's relationship between one's self and diety as if it were a chapter on CHILD-PARENT interactions from "I'm OK; You're OK."

I think share Phillip Pullman's attitudes about religion being something that speaks to one as a child and as an adult instead of something that requires that one regress to (or stagnate in) a child's development. Yes, mystery and humor are important elements of religion, and I think one can achieve a pagan state of mystery and humor without confounding one's gods with one's parents or breaking out the fairy deely-bopper antennae.

Now, if I could only find some pagan songs that weren't jejune. I guess I'll have to wait for a pagan Handel or Bach.

Arthur's Birthday

On the 10th we had a birthday party for Arthur.

The day before, Mark, Arthur and I made a pound cake. It's pretty scary how much butter and eggs goes into one of those things. We used the Joy of Cooking recipe and it came out much better than the emergency pound cake we bought from the store. The morning of the party I sculpted the cakes into the shape of a train. Arthur was psyched.

We'd been collecting boxes, and Mark got some butcher paper. So when some of the guests arrived we put them to work making a box train for Arthur to jump up and down on. Arthur was psyched. Then he stomped on it and used the coal tender as a step ladder to try to reach things on the Forbidden Shelf.

He got a lot of presents. We decided to follow some advice we'd heard and didn't press him to unwrap every single present in a materialist orgy. He did open a few, but not as many as our guests would have liked. One delayed present was from my Mom; I think she wins an award for sewing a mixer onto the front of a shirt. When Arthur discovered it the next day, he would pat his chest and say, "Mixer!"

He was also fairly impressed when everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to him. My Mom says that as he was eating his cake he was quietly singing the song to himself.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cafe 91101

I think I've found "Cafe John." It's the cafe table and chairs in the cafe area of our local supermarket.

I have to do is ask them where they got theirs.

And speaking of writing, I'm starting a six-month hiatus from Wordos. I've attended the critique table for about six years and chaired the table for about four. It will be refreshing to not have to chair the Wordos critique table for a while. I plan to use the evenings as scheduled time where I absolutely must write.

In slightly different news, Writers of the Future is having their workship in Pasadena.

Now all I have to do is find cafes (and restaurants) in 91101.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Lawncare Adventures

We discovered Arthur's slightly deflated soccer ball with a hole burnt through it. The outside plasticy part was vaporized and the fabric underneath had a charred hole in it.

It had been left outside in a large metal bowl. I think the hole was caused by the curve of the metal bowl focusing the sun's rays onto the soccer ball. When I picked the ball up the motion forced air out of the hole. Time to write a warning to The Fearful Parent.

Grandma Mary and Mark got Arthur a harmonica when they went to the MET last week. So of course I was playing it during a pause in our yard work. As I was picking out Papagino's song on it, Mark said, "It's Handel's Harmonica Hoedown!"

"Actually," I said, "It's Motzart."

Any further reply was drown out by our neighbors across the street and three houses down, who began to share KZEL's rock broadcast with the area.

These are the same folks who mow their lawn in two inch pumps (which I'm in awe of).

Death in the Garden

Today has been gardening day.

Mark chastised me for saying, "And now you will die," to some slugs and snails that formerally had been living on my miniture rose's flowerpot before I stomped up and down on them in front of Arthur.

"Now it will be hard for me to send that e-mail to the president of Continental for showing those movies on our flights," he said.

I think I've spent something like $20 on sunflower seeds two months ago. I planted them in peat pots. I'm not sure what was going on, but only about half (roughly ten) germinated. I placed three in the ground and the damn gastropods ate them. So I placed five in yogurt containers to grow larger (and presumably harder for the mucus-ones to eat). In the process of waiting for the remaining sunflowers to get big enough to transplant, the sun withered them.

I have a feeling that I'm going to need a laser-guided slug denfense system.

Despite his cold symptoms, Arthur has been running around in high-energy mode, and he's discovered how to turn on (and off and on and off) the water spigot.

Mark continues to garden dispite the pollen rash on his arms.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

June Madness Begins






This is harder than it sounds.

When we got back to the Willamette Valley the pollen was really bad -- Mark went on some allergy meds. Arthur spent Tuesday through Thursday in some other time zone and persisted in waking up at 5:30 AM and starting his morning nap at 8:30 AM. I thought I was reacting to the pollen, too; but on Thursday afternoon when it was 80F and I was wearing two shirts to stay warm I knew I had an airlines cold (or else I was having a really interestnig reaction to antihistamines). Friday evening Arthur's nose started running, too, so I'm pretty sure he has my cold. Mark has been wonderful about letting me sleep a lot -- and our friends the Wilds win some sort of award for taking Arthur away Thursday night.

Arthur's birthday signals the start of the crazy season when it seems a major event happens every fourth day. It's Father's Day, Solstice, Gay Pride, the Full Moon, and someone always visits for or from a wedding.

Muriel isn't too much of an irritant, but she continues to be needy.