Safety First?

Ms. Glory Von Hathor inspired me to write this post.

I actually have very few mommy friends. I wonder if it's my parenting style?

Parenting styles always clash at the playground. It's fun to watch.

One day, I actually witnessed a mother yelling at her daughter for getting up on a swing by herself. "That's much too dangerous! You should wait for me to help you!" she yelled.

Right next to her, on the next swing, was another, smaller little girl, riding the swing very high with no hands, yelling to her father across the playground, "Look at me, Daddy! No hands!"
"That's great!" said Daddy. "That must be hard to do!"

I think the "safety first" lady's head almost exploded at that point.

I was just pushing Z. the whole time, on another swing. "Wee...wee...wee..." said Z.

My husband broke his hip on a swing when he was little, which he always tells Z. about when she's swinging, but still lets her do whatever she wants, within reason.

It's interesting how, in America, so many people are absolutely obsessed with safety in small ways, like the swing, but in big ways, like making sure our planet is still inhabitable when our children our fifty? No so much. I mean, people are better now than they used to be. Our consciousness is much higher. Cars are getting more efficient and all that. But, on the other end, the little kids' safety items border on the bizarre:

Knee pads? For a baby to crawl with? When did babies become old people?

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I could go on and on. The things you see, out there in these here United States. It blows my mind!

(I'm so happy when people put a "baby on board" sign on their cars, because you know I'm completely reckless and out to kill until I see one of these- and then I instantly calm down and drive safely.)

A Little Piece Of Americana

I stopped by a garage sale today- not because I needed or wanted anything they were selling, but just the opposite. I was actually intrigued by the complete and utter uselessness of everything they were selling. I looked at their things: old and incomplete holiday decorations, fishing reels, political pins, a large collection of whistles, and- this was the best- about 400 keys. All of the keys looked to be different, and next to them sat about 20 or so locks. As I was sorting through the whistles (I need a whistle, for teaching gym class, but somehow, I couldn't bring myself to buy one from them. The whistles looked so complete there, as a whole, I didn't want to break them up. And, besides, I couldn't decide, should I get the antique Japanese Policeman whistle? Or the Oscar Meyer Weener whistle? Or the giant dog whistle? Or perhaps just the random bell sitting nearby, looking lonely? Best not to buy any.) Anyway, as I was looking at whistles, a man inquired of the three generations of women sitting in lawn chairs on the driveway,

"Which of these keys goes with the locks?" and the eighty year old woman, who appeared to be in charge, said,

"No one knows. No locks match no keys. Just a jumble of keys. No way of telling."

"I don't know why you're even trying to sell those, Ma," said one of the other women. "No one's going to buy those keys. What would they use them for?"

"Well, they could buy them for the, uh, the nickel or something. The nickel or the brass or whatever they're made of."

The thought going through my mind, which I didn't say because I was completely in my "fly on the wall don't say anything just listen" mode, was HOW IN THE WORLD DO YOU END UP WITH 400 KEYS THAT DON'T GO TO ANYTHING? Dear Reader, if you have an answer to this question, please inform me!

I wanted to take a picture of all of those old keys, but I was afraid it would be disrespectful, so I didn't.

The other patron at the garage sale, having satisfied himself about the keys and locks, then went on to ask about a fishing reel,

"Is this reel for ice fishing?"

"Oh," said the older woman, "you're asking the wrong person."

"Who should I ask?"

"That would be Dad. DAD!"

"I really need to know."

No sooner had he asked, another of the women ran in the house to fetch Dad. Out he came to talk fishing reels.

Dad was wearing shorts.

I wandered around and looked at political pins, finally settling on buying a Nixon pin for the Nixon Bathroom downstairs. (I have a bathroom decorated in Richard Nixon. To the displeasure of my husband. And to my pleasure. But I digress.) When I started paying attention again, the eighty year old lady was talking about "Michael". The way she said his name, with such familiarity, it was as though she spoke of a well-loved grandchild,

"Michael wasn't feeling well, so he called the doctor. The doctor was there, you see, when it happened."

"Did the doctor kill him?" asked one of the other ladies in lawn chairs, jokingly. (At this point, I was sure they were speaking of Michael Jackson.)

"No, no. He called him over when he wasn't feeling well. He was going to go on tour, you know, but he hadn't hired any dancers yet, so he must really have not been feeling well... His girlfriend was there. MMM- Hm."

Dad was done talking fishing reels with the other patron at the garage sale, and ran back into the house in a hurry. I had a strong feeling that he was running in to hear the latest news about Michael Jackson. I purchased my Nixon pin and went my way.

This evening, I had Brian dig out my old Michael Jackson albums and put them on the record player. So I got sentimental, after all. I think it was that old lady calling him "Michael," so sweetly, that did it to me.

The Shocking Truth

If Facebook comments are to be believed, everyone is really shocked that Michael Jackson died today. But why should we be shocked? He didn't look so healthy, after all.

I think the real shock is simply the revelation that Michael Jackson, like the rest of us, was merely mortal. He wasn't either

A. a god,


B. some sort of humanoid/ robot, the successful result of autogenic dance moves involving skin grafts and a sparkling glove.

So, he was mortal, after all. It is shocking.

But what shocks me, actually, is not that Michael Jackson died today, but that Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon all died today. All of the icons of my childhood in one day! Who will give me unreasonable ideals of beauty, now? Who will show up at my door with balloons and a gigantic check? Who will make me wonder... well, a lot of things? I ask you, who?

Rest in peace.

It's Hot

Luckily, we have a small above-ground pool. (And, as you can see, a small car- although the small car does not have air conditioning, alas!)

The Very Sturdy Trunk

1. Little Z.'s latest endeavor is to draw on all surfaces in the house with sidewalk chalk. She's going through her "Jackson Pollock" stage. It washes off easily, so I'm not worried. My favorite of her drawings are the ones on this old trunk, or "treasure chest" as my husband so delightfully calls it.

2. This old trunk has been in my family a very long time. It was probably my great-grandfather's trunk. Grandpa Alvin used to keep it in the garage in Joshua Tree. Once, after driving for two days from Colorado to visit him, we found him getting up off of the garage floor. The Ford was in a bizarre position. It had rammed the trunk into the wall of the house. The trunk was, essentially, half-way in the dining room. It had poked a hole in the drywall. Grandpa thought he had hit his head or blacked out while driving. Going inside, you could see the trunk in the dining room. Going in the garage, you could see the trunk in the garage, too. It was a little disquieting.

3. The old trunk had no visible wear from this endeavor, and later lived on to become a pallet for a creative 1 and 3/4 year-old.

It must be the one tooth on the bottom thing...

This comic from Natalie dee reminds me of Little Z.

She still has that crazy tooth she was born with! It's brown and shorter than the rest. It's awesome.

Real Eggs

We have an "egg share" with our CSA this year. The eggs are beautiful, and surprisingly, not quite white:

If you think a few of them look a little green, you're right! They are also delicious.

The Bear

B. and I used to go hiking a lot when we lived in Colorado. We liked to go for long drives, too, in the desert-like area around Pueblo. We’d drive around and eventually, we would make it to some sort of forested, mountainous place and go hiking. Or, sometimes, we would just feel lazy and drive back home.

This was a day when we were feeling energetic, and actually went hiking. It was a funny kind of trail, because, although the trail itself was public land, there was a fence to our left. Not just a fence, actually, but a steep incline, steep enough that you couldn’t really climb up it comfortably. On the other side, to our right, was another steep incline, this time going down, and then at the bottom, a *creek.

The trail itself was really rocky and required some concentration. I was going first, as usual (because I am the slower of the two of us, and B. doesn’t like leaving me in the dust). As we were walking, my eyes scanned the ground directly in front of us for roots and rocks to avoid. I rarely looked up to see what was in front of me, which is how it happened that I nearly bumped into a bear.

I was just walking along, staring at the ground, and noticed quite suddenly that there were some big, black, furry feet on the trail. Tilting my head upwards, I soon saw that the furry feet were connected to a gigantic (like, three feet wide) furry butt, and a cute little furry tail. The tail was about the same height as my nose. A bear! A big, big bear. Completely blocking the trail. Something in my body released the most amazing amount of adrenaline.

I came to a sudden hault.

B., who had been walking much as I had, looking at the ground, ran into me and said, “hey!”

“Abearabearthere’sabeartherethere’sabear!” I whispered in a most intense voice.

As I whispered, the bear, who was busily (and quite cutely, in retrospect) eating some berries on the side of the trail, lifted its head up and sniffed the air. His furry black ears tilted back. He was so big, so very much alive, so very much in his element, and so, well, bear-like. He was wild. As wild can be. He knew we were there. He smelled us. He heard us. His head tilted, slightly. He looked ponderous.

I think B. and I both turned around at the same moment. You don’t wait for a bear to decide whether or not it wants to attack. There was only one way out. B. first, me second. Everyone knows you aren’t supposed to run from a bear. So, we walked. We walked 45 miles per hour, all the way back to the car. I dared look back once. The bear was still standing on the trail, hanging out, eating berries.

Back at the car, we both finally breathed. And laughed, a little.

“Holy **fuck!”

“I’m glad we met it on the way in, and not the way out! We’d be stuck there.”

This was true. There would have been no way out of the wilderness until the bear left, if we had met it coming home.

Here’s the thing: there were cars in the parking lot. Other people had gone in before us. I’ll never know how they made it out- although I never read any stories of people being eaten or stranded on that trail, either, so I think it all turned out all right. I mean, I think so... right?

* I lived in Western Pennsylvania for one year, when I was ten. They have a really weird dialect there, but the only thing that stuck to me is that I can never say the word “creek” correctly. I say, “crick”.

** Near-death experiences are an exception to my usual policy of no cursing.

6. An account your last golf game.

When Brian and I lived in a little trailer in the country in Hermosa ("World's Most Beautiful Trailer Park," I always called it) we had a set of secondhand golf clubs. I think Brian took a golf class for his P.E. credit in college. One day, we decided to drive up to the mountains and practice golfing. We wound up in the insanely picturesque area behind what used to be called "Purgatory," a ski resort north of Durango.

We soon figured out that, once you shoot your ball (or whatever you call hitting it in golf) it is absolutely impossible to ever find it again. We only had four balls, so the practice was short. Then we were searching for the lost balls. As we were searching, a Black Bear walked by.

I don't know how to describe that feeling, the feeling you have when you are in a majestic wilderness, basically minding your own business, and a giant creature that could easily eat you at the drop of a hat walks by, minding its own business. It's a bit humbling. We saw it from far away, coming down an opposite mountain, and it walked closer to us and then kept on its way, completely uninterested in us or our golf game.

We had golf clubs. We were both ready to re-purpose our golf clubs as weapons. As it turned out, though, at its closest to us, it still had to be thirty feet away.

It was quite beautiful, too.

That was the first time, but not the last time I stumbled upon a bear in the wild. The next time it would be much, much closer.

7. The plot of a movie, play, or movie—in particular, the funny parts.

A surprisingly funny movie I saw recently is, "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," which is basically a parody of "Walk the Line: The Johnny Cash Story." The whole thing pretty much is funny, just completely over the top, from the moment he accidentally saws his brother in half until the moment when... well, I'll let you watch most of it, but my favorite part is when he goes to meditate in India with The Beatles. They're all sitting around. The Maharishi looks like the Maharishi. George looks like George. Ringo looks like Ringo. John looks like John. And Paul McCartney looks like- Jack Black?

For comparison, Jack Black:

Sir Paul McCartney:

Jack Black wears no make-up to make him look like Sir Paul. Everyone just calls him, "Paul McCartney," and that's how we know it's him. Then John and Paul get in an argument.
George says,
"I'm just sitting here while my guitar cries, gently,"
Ringo says,
"I've got a song about an Octopus!" John says,
"You're lucky we still let you play drums!" Paul says,
"I'm the band leader!"
And somewhere in there, John jumps on Paul and starts beating the crap out of him.

That's the funniest part.

Yeah, maybe it is really boring to recount the funny parts of movies, after all!

5. The latest additions to your wine cellar.

Dandelion wine. Homemade by Brian. Mmmmm... There's something very classy about men who pick flowers and make wine out of them, don't you think?