For our family, May through July is a parade of birthdays. My friend’s sons whom I call my nephews have their birthdays, my girlfriend has hers, one of my baby cousins, and so on. In June we celebrate four different cousins’ birthdays, and in July some of my close friends, my daughter, and my partner all have birthdays (the latter two are birthday twins, 30 years apart). Between the birthday parties, presents, and social media wishes, we’re busy celebrating summer.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
We finished our herb spiral! After months of doing little bits of work, the herb spiral is fully established (except for a pair of marshmallow plants on their way), with a variety of herbs, most of which are surviving. The mini clay pond at the tail of the spiral is filled with watercress with space for one of our ordered mallows. Play chips surround the whole thing, and we have a bird bath set up. One of our neighbors let us take a huge amount of mint, oregano, and Shasta daisies, and the former two are bordering the play chips ring, making the air fragrant and delightful.
For Fathers’ Day, we followed my partner to Wallace Falls Park, and hiked to the lower falls. It wasn’t easy; my body barely made it to the destination, but we survived it all. We celebrated with tasty treats from the taco truck on Main Street in Monroe. On our hike, we saw a snake, a woodpecker, a beaver dam, several butterflies, and a host of mosquitoes dining on our collective buffet. The drive up, we also enjoyed the horses, cattle, goats, sheep, and a lone raven along the way. While it wasn’t profound, it was a peaceful, enjoyable day for all.
Monday was Litha, or Summer Solstice, and we celebrated with midsummer vegetables, stuffed roast chicken, and peach pie (more like peach soup with crust; I added too much butter to the top). The kids and I had to stay home to await the delivery of my daughter’s new loft bed. We have low ceilings on the top floor, so it had to be a low loft. She wanted space beneath to have a sitting area, but at least she has more storage. Tuesday was all about assembling it (though the mattress has yet to arrive); there’s yet more to finish, and a few screws we’ll have to drill holes for because bad designers, bad.
This week we plan to take an outing to Woodinville Lavender to see fields and fields of purple.
WHAT WE’RE READING
My son and I hit the library’s “rhyme and song” book section hard. At present his three favorites from our temporary collection are The Wheels on the Bus (no surprise, it’s about a bus, and he loves the actions that go along with the song), This Old Van by Kim Norman (a hippie counting book with vehicles sung to the tune “This Old Man”), and The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly (loved for the what the heck factor, and the chance to make gross out noises).
The choice of Yu-Hsuan’s version of The Wheels on the Bus is due entirely to the interactive nature of the book. While the verses are limited, my son adores actually turning the wheel, moving the babies up and down, and so on. If you want one with more verses and amazing art, check out the version by Paul O. Zelinsky, who is a master artist and creator of some of our favorite fairy tale picture books (see: Rapunzel and Rumplestiltskein for examples).
Meanwhile, my daughter finished her essay on On the Road by Jack Kerouac and Howl by Allan Ginsburg, which together we turned into a poem. She completed Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut, and is in the process of writing an essay exploring the use of time travel and non-linear storytelling and how the story would fare if presented in linear time.
This week she begins one of my all-time favorites, Neverness by David Zindell. It’s the first book before a trilogy called The Requiem for Homo Sapiens, and has been compared to Dune by many reviewers. Far in the future, on a planet known as Icefall, a young pilot of The Order of Mystic Mathematicians and Other Seekers of the Ineffable Flame embarks on a journey, falling through the stars, and reciting poetry to a goddess with moons for brains. This book is to the Requiem for Homo Sapiens with the Hobbit is to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Where Neverness focuses on Mallory Ringess, the three books that follow focus on his son, Danlo. Truly epic, marvelous, and highly recommended by me. I’ve bought many copies to give to friends and family. These are books that combine classic space opera science fiction with mysticism mathematics, poetry, myth, and the exploration of what it means to be human. The whole series is a shining work of art that often reads like poetry. It’s the richest food for the soul.
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Ok, how many times have I plugged Crash Course? Well, I’m doing it again. This time, their Economics series. While some of their subjects are dry or presented by people who don’t hold the same delightful presence as John Green, the Economics course is extraordinarily engaging. There are two hosts, one an instructor of economics, and the other an applied economist, and they’re so lively and make this subject so interesting, my daughter can see herself becoming an economist.
That’s right. My daughter who loves art and telling stories and teaching little children, when I made a joke she’d become an economist or investment banker, she turned to me with a serious face, nodded, and said, “Yeah, I just might.” If that isn’t an endorsement for this show, I don’t know what is.
WHAT WE’RE EATING
The Dragon has been baking. A lot. It’s her favorite new hobby, and I’ve been benefiting from tasty, gluten-free desserts. At my insistence she make scones (three weeks of insisting and buying fresh lavender for the purpose), she finally made some. Lavender lemon scones, totally gluten-free (to make vegan, sub coconut cream and Earth Balance for dairy ingredients).
She based her recipe on the Lemon-Lavender Scones by Kira Bussanich, but she made some modifications. First, she said to skip the sand sugar and use this Martha Stewart Lemon Glaze (or any other glaze you like). She ended up using more butter, too. Added another six tablespoons. Also, she used tapioca starch instead of potato flour, and brown rice flour instead of white rice flour. We ended up with six standard sized scones and another dozen smaller scones (the three balls of dough weren’t split evenly from the original batter).
They turned out AMAZING. We had so much fun kneading dough and eating the scones, we forgot to take pictures. The smaller ones got a bit crisp and dark on the bottom, so keep an eye on them! 35 minutes was too long for the small ones. My breath tasted of lavender for days — be prepared!