Phew! This post is much later than I’d planned. September, while it contained a nice birthday outing to Golden Gardens in celebration of my thirty-eighth, wasn’t exactly a pleasant month on the whole. It had major ups and downs for our family, and some of those downs are leaking into October.
My car required repairs. First an oil change, then a timing belt, then calipers and brakes, and there’s still another problem yet to be fixed, so I’m only driving in town for the time being. My partner’s car needs new brakes, too! We haven’t been able to turn on our heat yet because of duct and furnace problems, so we’re walking around the house in sweaters and socks and dragging blankets behind us. We’re also preparing the house for an appraiser, because my partner wishes to refinance, and it’s going to take a lot of work.
Meanwhile, my daughter has officially completed a week and a half of college, and has already made several new friends. She’s gone out with another friend the past couple of weekends (one of my other students), and is planning on attending her first dance soon! Because of all of the issues with the house and the cars, my son and I are struggling to establish a new routine, but at least I finally got him to participate with me when singing “head, shoulders, knees, and toes,” and even the “Hokey Pokey.” It’s a huge improvement, and it seems for now, while things are rather off-balance, half of our home preschool involves cuddling, and a good quarter is dancing, story time, and taking a long time with meals.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daughter is learning Japanese, College Success, Psychology, and the Magic of Friendship. She’s also learning how to balance school work, friend time, family time, chores, fitness, and personal time in ways she didn’t grasp while homeschooling. Overall, I’m proud of how she’s been adjusting to this major shift in her routine.
Son is learning about the Human Body, though I put so many materials on hold at the library, we’ll probably be studying it for a couple of weeks. Of course, we had a couple of field trips to both Urgent Care and two Emergency Rooms we’d not planned for: first he stuffed his fingers into the hinge of the front passenger door of my car at the library, right before I shut it to put him in his car seat. Yowch! Thankfully, nothing broke in that cramped space, and despite some ugly bruising, he’ll be ok in the long-term. Then a couple of days later, we ended up at the ER because he was in pain and acting unusual, and the nurse hotline said to bring him in. After an IV and ultrasound, we were transferred by ambulance (that was exciting for him) to Children’s where they did another ultrasound and though the experience was more painful for him, they were on the whole, far more gentle with him than the prior hospital. And they had kids’ movies he could dial in from his bed. We were sent home at 3am. Not appendicitis, but rather a virus that was causing his distress, possibly contracted at the Urgent Care a few days before. Which is great, because none of his symptoms suggested his appendix was inflamed, but his blood tests might have.
For my birthday, we went to Golden Gardens to commune with the water and the sand and the ducks and turtles, too. Friends met us there an hour after I texted. It was spontaneous and perfect. Two days before that, the kids and I went to see the 30th anniversary showing of Labyrinth, which is dear to my heart. I saw it at eight years old for my birthday then, and a year later, David Bowie sang to me when I was falling asleep at his Glass Spider Tour concert. Getting to take my kids to see it on the big screen was a wonderful experience.
WHAT WE’RE READING
As Mabon passed and the hint of October approached, we stumbled across a number of good books dealing with death and magic. The highlights among them include:
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris van Allsburg features exquisite illustrations in ink, and follows a boy and his unruly dog into the garden of a magician — a garden where dogs are not allowed. Subtle, magical, beautiful.
Cry, Heart, but Never Break by Glen Ringtved focuses on four children raised by a grandmother who lays dying upstairs In her bed. Death appears at the door and sits with them at the kitchen table. As they play him with coffee, hoping to dissuade him from taking their beloved grandmother, Death tells them a tale about four children named Sorrow, Grief, Joy, and Delight. It’s an excellent, gentle, humbling tale for young ones dealing with grief and loss.
The Dead Bird by Margaret Brown Wise unsettled me, but my son liked it. It’s a simple tale like her other books, with art ahead of its time. A handful of children find a dead bird and bury it. Not much to it, but in the telling of the story, I found some absence in the words, that perhaps might be found instead within.
Skeletons for Dinner by Margery Cuyler is a silly romp with a cute skeleton who misunderstands and invitation by a coven of witches for dinner. There’s a lesson here in making assumptions. Excellent for both our human body unit AND in preparation for Samhain.
Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente is this great author’s latest novel. Like much of her work it’s luscious and complex and the opposite of condescending. Valente expects that those who choose her work are intelligent and willing to follow along unknown paths on fantastical journeys, and allow the details to unfold in their own time. Her work always reads as poetry, and Radiance is no exception. I’m still in the middle of it, not yet having come to understand the full film at play on the screen in my mind, but wanting to plunge further. Not your standard space drama. Not your standard anything. If you want to read something outside tired tropes, and engage your mind in a feast of delights, pick this — or any of her work* — up as soon as you can.
*[Recommend: Deathless for adults who want a linear fairy tale, The Orphan’s Tales for those who enjoy stories within stories, and The Girl Who Navigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making for children and the young at heart.]
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
In September, we finished the miniseries Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I checked out the book at the library, and it might just have War & Peace beat for largest novel. We also watched the first two seasons of Dharma & Greg before daughter started college, didn’t quite finish Crash Course: Economics, and watched all of Over the Garden Wall, which I thought would be too creepy for my son, but he loved it.
WHAT WE’RE EATING
Since my new, amazing, informative goddess of a naturopath has suggested I go four to six weeks without dairy, I’ve been reinventing some of my standard recipes to accommodate the change. Our salmon tacos, for instance, currently don’t feature my usual crema recipe, so to get a multidimensional flavor from my tacos, I roasted some green peppers (about 2 stars worth of heat) in the toaster oven, pan fried my salmon in my homemade chili powder blend plus garlic and lime, and warmed up the tortillas. When I filled them, I added avocado, greens sprouts, roasted peppers (for adults, not for our kids who don’t like them), tomatillo salsa, and Cholula. Served in thick corn tortillas, with purple roasted potatoes, sauteed pepper greens (cook them like spinach with garlic and olive oil), and roasted red cabbage on the side.
Yes, I missed my crema, and yes a proscription against dairy meant I was dreaming of warming cheese between two tortillas and using THAT for the tacos (mulitas style), but I enjoyed the flavor nevertheless. If I had thin tortillas, it wouldn’t have worked; the heat would have overwhelmed the rest, but I was quite happy with the results. No pictures — they were gobbled down too quickly!