Tuesday, August 28, 2012


On Saturday the kids and I went to the Appleton St. Circus presented by neighborhood kids (ages 5-8ish). Publicity was impressive—flyers on every telephone pole in a quarter-square-mile. When we arrived, the ticket taker (also the ring master and the clown) told us, “We’re a little disorganized. We haven’t finished training the dog.” (The dog’s name was Crouton.) The circus acts were accompanied by the house band of little brothers on bongos and ukulele. After the show, the parents of the cast served hot dogs and ice cream. If there is a better way to spend a summer afternoon, I don’t know what it is.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Letter to Pa Ingalls

Oh, Charles, Charles, Charles!  You are so sprightly with your fiddle and bear-greased cowlick, so handy with those wooden nails and well-digging and dragging your poor family across God’s green acre all those years, but you are making my life difficult. I know: compared to your pioneering vision of Hell, my life in suburbia is pretty comfy.

But here’s the thing: you are an arrogant, self-centered bigot and I’ve got my liberal, 21st century knickers in a twist over it.

I remember getting it, sort of, as a kid, that all that talk about Papoose babies and “wild, naked men” was problematic, but now that I’m reading the Little House books to my almost-five-year-old, I find I have to skim over entire paragraphs to get around the stuff.  And your wife was no better; in fact, you had to calm her down when two Native Americans on whose barely-protected government land you had just set up housekeeping had the audacity to come to your home and introduce themselves.  Wildness, indeed! Your daughter didn’t seem to have had a major shift in perspective by the time she penned the books in the 30’s (or, by most accounts, foisted this task on her daughter, a better writer).

You ate up half the prairie yourself just housing and feeding your own family, taking out 3 or 4 prairie hens a day just for supper, yet you were surprised that when 100,000 other white people showed up and did the same thing, it got a bit crowded and timberless out there.  DUH. You may not have realized it, but you were already building the suburbs of today, one wooden peg at a time.

And if I may take you to task for one more thing: you are the unassailable moral hero of all your own stories, which is frankly really annoying. You would have made a better role model and storyteller if you’d leavened it with a little humility.  How about a story in which the bear kills you, sometimes?

All of my efforts to explain this to my daughter and present to her a view of your pioneer life balanced by my own knee-jerk morality of the comfortably middle class, are failing.  Her questions mostly have to do with what it was like for me growing up in this same distant past—as she presumes I must have—in “olden times.”

I don’t know if we’re going to make it all the way to the banks of Plum Creek with you guys or that town where you finally let everyone unpack and stay put for once. I’m just getting too exhausted with the ad-libbing. Maybe I'll just tell Audrey about the olden-days of the mid-seventies when Ma Fikkan picked her own mushrooms, with me (Papoose in tie-dye!) on her back and made yogurt and baked wheat bread and carob cookies.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Orange paint (a little)

This home color kit says "apply liberally to scalp."

No regrets.

On tour, right after his first stage dive.

Yet he's always a respectful young man.

My boy.

Calvin's classroom is an easy going place, thank heavens.  And I guess they have either run out of smocks or have an objection to them.  This paint came out of his hair but not fully out of his clothes. And the impulse to do it in the first place will not come out... ever.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Overheard in Las Veshmegas

Two notables from Calvin:

To our neighbor, just chit-chatting in the driveway, "My daddy gone to a conference in Las Veshmegas." (That'd be where Woody Allen and Al Pacino intersect.)

And to me, in passing, "Mommy, did you lose your REASON? Do you want your reason BACK?"

Yes. Please.


Sending Gramma Jean's birthday card on its way to New Mexico!

Calvin in summer

A wallflower, just like his sister.

The Willow classroom made oatmeal cookies... or is that cement?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Auntie Janna reads the bedtime story

Appropriately enough, the kids picked a book about snow. It is cooking in Boston today! Janna didn't deserve to time her visit from humid, hot North Carolina only to enjoy the stickiest week of our entire summer up here...