Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Banging Pots in the Early Morning

It has been a hot, dry summer for us and I think everyone, even kids, are ready to head back to school. Football practice starts tomorrow. I'm sure there's an email I need to check with details. Mike is asleep on the couch with a movie on.

Oh, there's another story that I really shouldn't tell you at all. Nick had trouble with a couple of friends who spent the nigh and I really should not tell the story. I'm not willing to take the risk of complaining about people when they might eventually recognize themselves. Even for a kid, it doesn't seem right though they would be least likely to encounter themselves in a middle-aged woman's rantings. Especially for a kid, it isn't right to broadcast mistakes, but I want to complain. I really do.

Okay, you're right. I won't tell all of it. Kids make mistakes and these didn't involve the big three, sex, drugs, or alcohol. So, the whole thing could have been worse. Still, I was so angry that I cried, but not in front of the boys. I'll keep those pesky and most interesting details out of the story.

Here are the basics. Two boys came for a sleepover and did things with food that were revolting. They left gross chunks and splatters of food everywhere, on my carpet, on my futon, on the lamp stand, on the coffee table. Some of it had to have been thrown to get where it was. I could see trajectory.

Who does that in someone else's house?

The funny part of it was that Nick, having tried to keep these boys from doing what they did, didn't get into trouble and was commended for his attempt at doing the right thing. He described how some boys he knows are not disciplined enough and so they behave badly wherever they go and the others are disciplined too much and they act out when their parents aren't around. He told me, yes me, that he was so happy that we were in-the-middle kind of parents. He's also taking quite a bit of interest in our anger. I think he was so relieved not to be in trouble, that we compared his past mistakes as easy compared to what these boys did. It was even better when we said that even what they did wasn't the worst a kid could do. Nick is pleased to know that he's not far down the scale. I've been trying to remind him more often that he's a good kid since it seems as though he needs to hear it. I hadn't noticed that need before, but I did in all of this.

In the meantime, I had to tell the parents of the boys what happened. That was hard to get to. I don't like complaining to people about their kids. Mike's response surprised me. After I discovered it, I stood, furious, in the kitchen and whispered fiercely to Mike that I wish I had his patience. Nick and the offenders slept in the next room. I was tempted to bang pots until they were awake. I was tempted to drive them home at six in the morning. I wasn't sure why I was whispering.

"Well, maybe patience is not what is needed here," he whispered back. It was then that I realized that parents should be involved.

And maybe a little early-morning pot banging too.

Thank you for listening, jb

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Spooky Dog at the Faire

We went to the last Saturday of the Midsummer Renaissance Faire in Bonney Lake today. It was the first time we'd ever been there in cool weather. It was mostly great, eating meat pies and turkey legs, watching people in their exceptional and sometimes half-hearted costumes, watching magic and juggling and jousting and sword-play. It was mostly great, except ...

Teddy got spooked by the sound of distant cannons. Okay, I didn't even hear them at first but his dog ears did and he was constantly reminding me with a hard tug which direction the car was parked. That dog could get me home in a thunderstorm. Most of the time he's light on the leash but tonight, my hands are sore and I wished more than once that I didn't have one of those nylon ribbon leashes. Actually, I wished more than once that I hadn't brought him or that it was actually cool enough to bring him back to the car. I never did see where they were shooting off those cannons, not that I would have gone near them with Teddy on the line.

I didn't know what to do. He slipped his collar twice and tried to crawl under tent flaps until I found a man with a riveter who punched a row of holes in his leather collar. Teddy wasn't happy when I tightened that thing around his neck and wrapped the leash around my waist as ballast against his straining. He calmed himself down when we stopped for a show and he crawled under us in the bleachers. He just needed a tight spot to hang out. After that, we watched a number of shows. We liked the rat show, Cirque du Sewer. She's got the cat trained to play in the rat show! It was a good show. And as we sat on the bales of hay, Teddy crawled under our knees. I spread my skirt out over him to make a tent around him. That did the trick and afterward, Teddy sniffed hello to a few dogs and saw that they weren't shot through with cannon-fire so he relaxed a bit. Then, there was a bakery woman with beautiful tarts and pies and a friendly dog. Teddy found he could be social again. Sometimes I really miss eating junk food. These baked goods were beautiful sugary things, bound to kill me with their sweetness. When I die, I want to die of key lime tarts, if you don't mind.

Really, I'm not going to bring Teddy to the fair next year. It's just easier than trying to calm him. I've heard that if you ignore fearful behavior, it'll go away, but my hands hurt and it's not worth retraining him for something we do once a year. It wasn't like bringing him to a Fourth of July celebration, but it was enough.

Plus, Teddy ate junk today. He was too quick for me to see what things were before they went down the hatch. I'm just hoping stuff doesn't come back up in the middle of the night.

By the end of the day, Teddy learned the trick of being in a tent of my skirt and we watched the jousting show in relative peace. We were seated right behind the queen's chair. Teddy tucked under my skirts and looked out from under the queen's chair at the horses and people playing games on the field. Most of it was relaxed play and lots of cheering except that one horse freaked out when his rider pretended to fall off and he was suddenly riderless. Teddy knew just how that horse felt, like the world was coming to an end and cannon-fire was approaching on the horizon.

Thank you for listening, jb

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

One in a Million

I found the perfect pocket rock the other day. Why is that important? I'd really like to know why I saw this unassuming rock lying on a beach full of rocks and I knew in an instant how it would feel in my hand. It was like love at first sight, on a smaller scale of course.

I hate to tell you, but I like the feel of this stone more than the polished worry stone I bought when we went to visit my family. I like it more than the heart-shaped glass a little friend found for me at a garage sale. I like it better than the round white stone a friend brought back for me from a white beach in Ireland. I might even like it more than the rock I've been carrying in my pocket for the past three or four years, the one that's polished smooth from so much worrying, the one that Nick gave me, the one that is black with red veins running through it. I suppose I still love the stone Nick gave me best, but there is so much potential in my new pocket rock. Two or three years will tell the tale. I've been carrying Nick's pocket rock that long.

I tried to hand the perfect pocket rock to my friend on the beach at the moment I found it but it didn't strike her as perfect so I tucked it into my own pocket before she lost it among the multitudes of stones. When I got home, I showed Nick, but he held it in the wrong hand and I knew, though he loves a good pocket rock, that this wasn't his perfect fit. It is decidedly a left-handed pocket rock, being wider on one end for grip and having the perfect spoon for my left thumb. I even tried to get Mike to see it's perfection.


How is it that three perfectly sane people who knew me could not feel the beauty of this stone?

Now, I'm about to admit that I have a problem. It isn't often that I end a walk without a rock in my pocket. My mother sent me a crystal bowl when Mike and I got married and I filled it with my favorite rocks. When my quilt group came for my turn this year, I moved a bunch of my found rocks outside as if they belonged there. 'Cleaning.' I hate cleaning. When I turn out my pockets at the airport, there is always a rock with my keys and my wallet. The dryer often tumbles a rock or two. A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to a Zentangle class and we doodled on found stones. So now, I have two or three piles of stones in the house waiting for me to doodle on them. There are doodled stones in every house plant. There are stones on windowsills.

This habit of doodling on stones is meditative. It does make me happy when I end up liking a pattern I've drawn, usually emphasizing something the stone held to begin with. When I don't like my results, I toss the poor rock back into a pile of rocks by the river or into tall grass where it can recover and grind my insult away against other stones. I've intentionally left other doodled stones, a blessing of sorts, at places I love, at my trails, at the river, on an ocean shore, at my son's schools and dojos and fields and pools.

The stones never stay where I leave them. Sometimes I look for them when I come back through and they always disappear. I like that. Once, I found one of my stones in the home of a friend. What are the odds? Well, since this friend walked the same trail I did on occasion, it wasn't that much of a stretch.

But the most important part is choosing the stones. I would swear that they choose me. One minute, I'm having a perfectly sane walk on a rocky trail and the next, there's a sweet stone, just aching for me to pick it up. Right now, I'm collecting flat round stones. I used to collect red ones or green ones. Then, I went through a long stretch of finding wounded stones that had healed. I may not be the only crazy person in this world because I recently learned that the healed stones, the ones with lines all the way through them, are called wishing stones.

I never made a wish on my wishing stones, but I have meditated over them. I have carried them miles with me before depositing them somewhere new. Geologists be damned.

Usually, my found stones lie among thousands of other stones, but something makes me single them out. I've given up prying a stone out of a tight spot. If a place is going to look weird when I walk away, I don't want to disturb it. Some of my trails are nearly paved with stones embedded in mud. I leave these alone. It's a stone that's been uprooted, that has hung alone at the edge of a trail or been kicked loose by someone on the trail ahead of me that captures my eye. My stones have a hopeful sense about them, one of art and traveling and love and wondering where a soul might end up.

These stones find me.

My perfect pocket rock found me too. It is safely ensconced in my left pocket. I can reach in when I need tangible reassurance and it is there.

Strange, right? I told you I had a problem.

Thank you for listening, jb

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Zip Thrills

Well, I'm here to tell you that the ziplines are about exciting as I expected. I love safe adrenaline surges. I love jumping out of trees. What I didn't manage was to simply leap. Every time, I sat down into the harness first, felt the safety of it, and then pushed off from the edge. I never managed to leap, that leap of faith, that sense of letting go, losing control. I consider my way to be the recliner method, not the young hip adrenaline junkie method.

I'm not sure I could make myself jump out of a perfectly good airplane, not even with a parachute on my back, not even in tandem. I want to try some day, but I'm not sure I can do it.

I did zip though and I didn't scream too much. The best zip at Canopy Tours NW is the one at the smaller tree, the tree that swayed. It was a tall tree too.

The funny thing, the thing I didn't realize whenever it was my turn, was that I had a death-grip on the locking carabiner that clipped me in and the backup line with my other hand. I am a true fan of redundant systems, especially when my life is connected to them.

So, each time I finished zipping, as the guy settled me back onto the platform and began to unhook my lines, he gently reminded me to loosen my death-grip and take hold of the cable on the tree.

I had to laugh every time. I hadn't realized that my grip was that tight. It was so tight my hands ached the next day. They even ached two days later. As an old woman, I want to keep working to maintain my grip. I don't want to be the old lady who has to wait for four days until somebody comes to visit to ask them to open a jar of pickles. Ziplining was very good for that future jar of pickles.

There was another benefit too. See, I've been more and more dizzy since my pregnancy. I can get dizzy in a swing, looking at an optical illusion, and standing at any edge. Roller coasters are a riot but so was the ziplining. I don't fall or lose my balance, but I'm much more dizzy than I ever was before.

The cool thing was that I got an additional zippy feeling in the backs of my knees when I stood on the step after I had zipped. I stood watching everyone and looking down below and there it was, not quite as strong as actually zipping, but jangling my knees and belly anyway. It was there when I leaned over the rail to spit into the abyss. It was there whenever I moved away from the rail toward the edge of the platform even a little bit. It was there whenever I put my back toward that edge, even if the rail was in my hand. Free adrenaline spikes, little ones, but it helped make the whole thing more exciting.

The strongest adrenaline surge was when the guy sent Nick on his way and right after he leaped, the guys yelled, "No, wait ..."

It was a joke. I realized it the second time he did it. I told him that he'd just given me the biggest jolt he could have given me. It told him that the mom jolt of adrenaline isn't as much fun as the others, but I was still laughing so he kept laughing too. He didn't do it to Nick again though. Good thing. I think my heart might have stopped.

Now, I just need to go to the fairs and ride some roller coasters. Eventually, just standing on the ramp to the roller coaster will be a thrill.

Cheap date, but I still know how to have fun.

Thank you for listening, jb