Catching Up on Summer: Part II

WHAT WE DID

In the last post, I focused on Dragon’s birthday party, but after mid-July, I somehow managed to keep us busy every weekend. Most notably, we took the kids to their first Renaissance Faire for their fairy/mythical beasts weekend. I’d purchased a family day pass back at the start of January, which proved a wonderful way to avoid huge fees. The kids dressed as winged fairies, I put on my satyr horns, and my partner wore the new silver vest we’d bought him for his birthday.

We ate messy foods, drank copious amounts of birch and root beer, watched Scaramouch buffoonery, tried our hand at archery (the Little Fox hit his target on the second try!), and purchased a soprano ukulele for the family to learn to play together (and we’ve been learning a little each week). While the children rode a enormous wooden rocking unicorn, I danced with death in the square on screaming feet.

Before this though, the kids and I went to the U-District for a special reading of Space Opera by Catherynne Valente, followed by falafel and fries at a favorite dive on the Ave. Having read more than two-thirds of the book, we dressed up for the occasion. Little Fox donned a dramatic coat and a disco ball necklace, I braved a pair of striped pants I’d yet to wear in public, and the Dragon dressed like the curator of an art gallery.

The weekend after the double birthday, my father was in town, and we spent the afternoon with him at the park, followed by sushi for dinner. The next day was my aunt’s annual summer bbq, where we engaged in polite conversation (safe topics) with our family until the conservatives left, and then we entered a debate between the old school Democrats and the progressive Democratic Socialists. It was wonderful hearing my youngest first cousin not let down on topics like universal healthcare and basic income. His partner was equally willing to take on the discussion about the environment and farming.

The weekend after, we enjoyed watching a local teen production of Footloose in which one of my students was a chorus member, and her acting debut. I had the privilege of holding her weeks-old baby brother at the end of the show. The Ren Faire came the following weekend. Summer really felt over and done when the rains returned and the nights turned cold.

 

WHAT WE READ

A curious change has come to our evening routine. My partner still reads a picture book or part of a comic book to the Little Fox, but instead of my usual singing, I’ve started in on novels. Though I’d said in June I wanted to read Neverending Story to the Little Fox, we instead finished Space Opera, and read Bunnicula. When complete, he asked me to purchase his own copy so he could read it again and again. We’re about to complete Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I’m blown away by the pacing of this particular book, as I grew up watching the film. There’s no magic in this book, it’s rather practical, and there’s so much more to the backstory for the rats, I love that I get to discover this with my son. He wants to rewatch the movie after we finish the book; we can discuss the differences and how he feels about them when we do.

 

On the side, I’ve read the first few volumes of Princess Jellyfish (see below), Djinn by Sang Kromah, and am nearly finished with a sensory feast in a slim book called The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark. They’re different flavors, and each one a delight. Princess Jellyfish appeals to my geeky and queer sides, I love the sweet innocent undercurrent of the story. Djinn is a young adult novel focusing on Liberian myths to which I’ve had little exposure, and they brought a refreshing, unpredictable change to the genre that left me hopeful for the next book. Then there’s the smooth, tight writing of The Black God’s Drums that takes us to an alternate nineteenth century New Orleans where sky pirates and orisha gods are at the heart of a young girl’s story.

 

 

WHAT WE WATCHED

I can’t recall exactly when we started rewatching Xena: Warrior Princess, but we’re nearing the end of the second season. Though we’ve also watched the new MLP episodes and occasionally a Samurai Jack or two, we’ve been running through the show fairly consistently each evening. Both Dragon and my partner have seen some of these episodes, but neither have seen the whole series. Even I missed the last season or two. Little Fox wasn’t keen on them at first, but now he’s telegraphing Xena’s battle moves in his pretend play, so she’s growing on him.

The kids and I binged watched the short series Princess Jellyfish, based on the manga of the same name. It’s a charming, usually silly show about a group of otaku (geeky) women who live together in a large, aging building targeted for redevelopment. They’re each obsessed with varying hobbies, the M.C.’s is jellyfish in large part because of a memory with her mother who died soon after. She runs into a “stylish,” a woman who dresses in high fashion and make-up, and engages in social activities that are difficult for the introverted group. The “stylish” in question turns out to be a young man with a penchant for forthrightness, fashion, and avoiding a career in politics like his father and brother. Some of it’s a bit over the top, but it’s wholly charming, and Little Fox’s favorite character is the young man in frilly dresses who, coincidentally, bears some similarities in appearance with him.

Just recently, Pandora stopped working consistently on our home computers. Songs would stutter, the computer wouldn’t let the audio play at all, and sometimes the page simply wouldn’t load at all. So I canceled our paid subscriptions, and put a little of that money into PBS Passport shows.

 

We’ve finally started watching The Great British Bake Off (a.k.a. The Great British Baking Show) after years of hearing from our friends how amazing it is. Folks, I’m always in awe of the food they make, but better yet, I’m touched by the way they treat the bakers–I’ve cried at the end of each episode thus far because when they let someone go, there’s so much support and love around said person, it challenges the notion that competitions need to be vicious and cruel. The way the hosts treat their guests flies in the face of American shows like Hell’s Kitchen where verbal abuse is not only the standard for communication, it’s what brings in the ratings. I prefer watching a show where talent and hard earned skill is acknowledged, and mistakes are seen as something to be improved upon, not shamed. Little Fox is rooting for 17 year old Martha in the first season.

 

WHAT WE ATE

At the Arcade Birthday: hummus, chips, veggies, gluten free cakey chocolate doughnut holes (“bonbons” from Flying Apron), orange doughnuts, and other sundry nibbles.

At Dinner with Papa: salmon and hamachi rolls and sashimi, edamame, miso soup.

At the BBQ: green salad, burnt steaks, my father’s baked salmon (soy sauce, olive oil, and lime juice), ice cream with sprinkles and chocolate syrup.

At the Renaissance Faire: sausages and caramelized onions, giant pickles, fries, root beer, birch beer, and lemonade.

 

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