Covered in glitter and crumbs. Waking up to maracas and fairy wings. Pockets full of rubber bands and dandelions. Buried under book piles. Dirty hands with homemade kombucha. Coffee in the rain. Waiting for that sacred scrap of silence.
We are returned from our five days at North Pacific Yearly Meeting. It's a gathering of Quakers from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. This year it was in Forest Grove, Oregon for the second time.
It's always a chance to meet and remeet good people, to hear stories of what life is like in many different places. To overhear snatches of conversations about the death penalty and the authorization of military force, about cycling across states and being arrested for peace.
The kids run around in little packs, doing crafts and singing songs. The last night that we are together there is a Community Night with skits and songs. Brixton's group dressed up like suns and sang "You are my Sunshine." Unity's group made their own flags and did a dance to the anthem for the World Cup.
It's a whole separate world, with a different rhythm, long conversations and shared community. I lose track of time there, forget the day and am barely aware of time. It's another kind of time altogether.
Some odds and ends from the last few days. Lots of beach trips, and sharing snacks with friends. Playing school with dad and siblings. Both kids are into geography right now and they each have a country they are interesting in studying. Unity is interested in Uganda, because of a woman named Phiona Mutesi who came to speak at her school last year. She has a really amazing story, you should read about it here.
Brixton is interested in China, because they have a Mandarin teacher one afternoon a week at his preschool.
So we've been reading books about those countries and looking them up on maps and talking about how things there might be different. Oh my future world travelers.
Chris went to a friends house last weekend to return a drill he'd borrowed. He came home with a bag full of broken electronics. I raised my eyebrows but his plan was that he and Unity can take them apart together and look at all the stuff inside and maybe try to fix them. Ok then.
While I don't share this fascination, I do love that Chris shares it with her. Partly because he wants her to feel comfortable tinkering, since sometimes boys are more encouraged in that pursuit than girls. And partly just cause he does enjoy it and it's a way that they can spend time together, working on a project.
Yep, we did it. Brixton had his first haircut. Honestly I didn't mind the long hair and I would have let him grow it out for as long as he wanted, but he kept chewing on it. It was gross and we'd talk about it and he would promise not to do it anymore and then I find him chewing it again. I don't think he even realized he was doing it half the time. So, we decided together it was time for a big kid almost 5 haircut. He is happy with it and so am I, although it is a BIG change for sure.
Just as a warning, this picture doesn't quite match up with the text. Some of the books I read I've already returned to the library and some of my library books I haven't read yet. So it goes.
I've decided that summer and classic mystery novels go hand in hand like buckets at the beach. Last summer I read the complete Sherlock Holmes and it was so fantastic. This summer I decided to read the novels of Dashiell Hammet and they have not disappointed. I'm not a big fan of contemporary mysteries, they are often too gorey for me, but I do enjoy the classics- especially by the pool. So far I've read his Red Harvest and Dain Curse and I'm working on the Maltese Falcon.
Other recent reads include:
City of Heavenly Fire- by Cassandra Clare. This is an urban fantasy YA series. It can be goofy at times, like all involved fantasy series but I like the characters and the world. These books to me, are like a fun escapist TV show.
All Joy and No Fun- by Jennifer Senior. This is a great parenting book, in that it is about the stages and development of the parents, not the kids. Each few chapters focus on a different stage of child-rearing and the ways that it emotionally and sociologically changes parents. I really related to this book and it helped me realize that our family is really at the turning point, moving from the chaotic and isolating early years into the different challenges of the scheduling and car-pooling elementary school years.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home- by Carol Rifka Brunt. I loved this novel that a friend gave me recently. It's a lovely and haunting coming-of-age story, set in the 1980s. A lonely bookish girl has always been close to her uncle, a painter. After his death from AIDS, she discovers that he had a partner, whom her parents blame. In their grief, they form a friendship that will eventually bring many hidden family dynamics to the surface.
Rules of Civility- by Amor Towles. Set in the late 1930s in New York, this novel follows a young woman from a working class immigrant background as she expands her world professionally and socially. It's filled with art deco style and martinis in smoky jazz joints and mysterious loves. Great beach read.
Listen to the Squawking Chicken- by Elaine Lui. A fun and quick memoir written by a Chinese-Canadian woman about her immigrant mother. Lui talks about her mother's difficult upbringing and how it transformed her into a a squawking chicken- loud, confident and the most important person in her daughter's life. I found it interesting to read about the differences between Lui's upbringing and the typical Western parenting. (Lui's mom didn't believe in telling her fairy tales, because you don't need to prepare for being happy, it's the hard times that need preparation.) It was also interesting to read about her mother's brand of feng shui/ Chinese zodiac luck since a lot of that was also new to me. Some of the chapters are a little thin but overall it's an interesting story of a lively lady.
An Altar in the World: a Geography of Faith- by Barbara Brown Taylor
This lovely little book came highly recommended by a friend. I've been reading it slowly, savoring. Each chapter is an exploration of a different spiritual practice that helps the author connect the sacred with the everyday. By exploring the profound mysteries in everyday moments, this is one of those books that helps you feel grateful and blessed to be right where you are.
We celebrated today by going for a great hike in the Mt Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest. It's a lovely hike that switchbacks through the forest and ends up next to a clear luminous lake. Our friends Jane and Ian and their dad came too. Our neighborhood can be kind of loud on the 4th, with people setting off fireworks in their yards all day long, so it was nice to escape to the trees. Now wish us luck for the rest of the night.