We made kites: trash bags on strings. We ran, slipped, the knees of our dungarees all grass stained, we got up, ran, choked ourselves half to death with laughter, but we found speed, and our trash kites soared. We flew for an hour or so, until daylight fully buried itself into night and all the light sank back, except for the stars and a toenail clipping of moon, and the kites disappeared, black on blackness. That’s when we let go, and our trash kites really soared—up and away, heavenward, like prayers, our hearts chasing after.
~ from We the Animals, Justin Torres
What is it with 11-year-old boys? This 11-year-old boy can’t remember what I told him 60 seconds after I say it. He constantly forgets or just ignores basic picking up after himself and has to be reminded to do everything. He acts like he’s listening, but he just says yes to shut me up, I think. And when he forgets to do something and I ask him to do it again, or why he didn’t do what I asked him to do, he gives me THAT BLANK LOOK. I honestly don’t think he does remember most of what I’ve said. It’s like 90% of his brain is in outer space. He’s driving me crazy! All three step-kids are like that to some extent, but he’s been the worst, especially over the last month. Also, apparently I have been spared a hideous ordeal because I don’t have a very good sense of smell, but it seems according to the rest of the family that his feet stink to high heaven, no matter what pair of shoes he wears or how often he bathes.
Yet, this 11-year-old-boy is thoughtful enough to notice that somebody he met once (an adult) is sitting by themselves at a public dinner and then take his plate over to sit with them. He can’t tell a joke to save his life (and he’s been trying since he learned to talk), but he often has a bright and insightful comment about the oddest things. And he does math in his head quicker than me. He drives me nuts, but I wouldn’t trade him in.
I guess we’ve hit that point in the summer—only a few more weeks, we’re all tired of each other, and we just have to get through. I’ll breathe a big sigh of relief when they’re gone. And then immediately miss them.
My red-headed step-child set up a “spa” in the girls room tonight. She gave any family member who signed up pedicures, manicures, hair styling, massages, and chocolate. So cute. We had to write an evaluation when we were done—that’s it. Nice family night. This is the kind of thing there just isn’t generally time for on short weekend visits during the year.
Always room for nic nacs
A marathon writing spree and I have finished NaNoWriMo today: 50,234 words written during the month of November. To be fair, I wouldn’t exactly call it a “novel,” but a possible memoir and/or fantasy story was born, and a habit was resurrected, which is good enough for me. Now I will go collapse.
But first, I leave you with this followup. I have found a picture of the actual console radio on my Weird Things list. It’s not identical to the one on eBay, but pretty darn close: notice the horizontal paneling on the eBay one, and the vertical paneling on my childhood one. Also, I remembered incorrectly about not being able to set anything on top. There are plenty of lovely items on top of the console radio in this picture.
By the way, I don’t know what possessed me to do both NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo in the same month, especially after failing at both last year, but I would not suggest that to anyone. Ever.
Weird things from my childhood:
Ma Deeter’s Art Deco Log Hotel
Is this how cousin Billy met his demise?
Who needs a treadmill?
I used to try to tune in Alien frequencies on this
- A defunct antique console radio, much like the one pictured. I wonder what happened to that? It was an absolutely useless piece of furniture because you couldn’t set anything on its curved top, and it didn’t work. But it was pretty, had strange dials and knobs, and made mysterious crackling noises.
- Lots of Woodsy Owl and Smokey the Bear paraphernalia. (Dad was in the Forest Service.)
- A vibrating exercise belt machine.
- Powdered milk
- Speaking of weird fitness equipment, my aunt and uncle had one of these.
- And a player piano. In the same room. And they would let kids play on both, unsupervised. So they would win the cool award, except for that they ran a dairy farm in Michigan, which made for quite a potent bed and breakfast, and once, when we were visiting from Oregon, my aunt cooked us breakfast in her very sensible bra and underwear, which was *shocking* to my 5 yo self. I couldn’t believe she was running around like it was perfectly normal. But I digress.
- A huge blue custom-made aluminum “ricing” canoe that weighed a zillion pounds, that my parents originally used for “wild ricing” in Minnesota. Sounds like a lot of work to eat a bunch of strong tasting grass, but whatever floats your canoe. Great for ricing, not so good if you have to get out and carry the canoe during low water on the Little Deschutes.
- Rock Tumbler. We also went to a lot of rock shows (and flea markets).
- Antique barrister’s bookcase full of hardback Reader’s Digest condensed books that had arrived serially as part of a book club. Oh, the irony.
- Complete set of the “classics” in paperback. By the time I came along, all of the pages were yellowing and falling out of faulty bindings. But this definitely contributed to my love of literature—I had access to everything and even though I grew up in a religiously conservative household, books were never censored. Classics, Reader’s Digest versions, they were all there indiscriminately along with a complete set of Encyclopædia Britannia, circa 1970. Raise your hand if you’re seeing a certain gullibility here for sales pitches, “bargains,” and travelling salesmen. (But also a desire for learning opportunities for their kids.)
- A two-keyboard electric organ. While most normal homes had pianos or guitars, mine had an organ. Before my time, there was a piano, and a guitar, and my oldest brother got lessons on them both. I got organ lessons. Now do you see why my musical talent never matured? I bet you that I could still play When The Saints Go Marching In with pizzazz, though. (To be fair, my parents probably offered me music lessons in whatever I was interested in, that was reasonably affordable. They supported my flute playing for 8 years, because I wanted to stay in Band, even though I have no innate musical talent and never picked up the thing once I graduated high school).
- Funeral home and hotel promotional thermometers.
- Gallon jar of dried morel mushrooms, which we had picked ourselves, and which Mom would use in everything. I had enough morel mushrooms and wild rice as a kid to last me a lifetime.