Friday, July 3, 2009

Vashon, chocolate milk, free pizza

We arrived home last night and had a pizza delivery. I had chocolate milk in my morning coffee because there was no milk-milk in the fridge. Clearly, we need to do some grocery shopping really soon. The Pizza was a fun - I ordered from Pagliacci because we arrived home at dinner time and I felt like a treat. When I got out my check book to pay the deliverer said it was a FREE PIZZA. Its something about rewarding frequent pie-ers and "your number came up." Just to be clear, we are not frequent pie-ers from Pagliacci because they don't give us coupons and we are pizza cheapskates but now I feel a lot of goodwill towards them.

Move to Vashon?
Anyway, the 5 days on Vashon were lovely. I feel I know the island a little bit better which is good since the discussion on whether to move to the island continues. Despite his protestations, Josh's idea of planning is to look at online postings for 2+ acres and go "oh, what about that one." By contrast, I am a plodder. These are my questions:

If we bought 4 acres on Vashon:
1) Would the schools on the island be good enough for the kids?
2) How could I work and maintain the gardens / chickens / goats / vegetables / house / kids / lawns (ride-on-mowers) / community building?
3) With low vaccination rates on Vashon and significant body of water between us and SCH is it SAFE for Wren to live there?
4) Would I find sufficiently stimulating community and diversions on the Island?
5) Would I feel isolated?
6) If a bomb hit Seattle while we were visiting family abroad (so we survived) but all our money was in real estate, we would have no assets. Is it wise not to plan for this contingency?
7) Can we afford to own two properties and how much hassle is it to rent your home to strangers?
8) Do I want a goat I can't milk and my family won't let me eat and/or can I handle the breeding of goats for milk? If not, why have a goat? This seems effete. Just generally, why have livestock if the family won't eat our animals?
9) Would this kind of life lead to any change in habits for the kids and Josh or would they just sit inside our Vashon house and absorb their screentime and leave me with 10 extra chickens, a new goat and 4 extra acres of housework?
10) What would happen to our little menagerie while we went away on vacation?
11) Would our friends from Seattle visit or would we be starting from scratch?
12) What region of Vashon is the most amenable to my way of life?
13) How much would a place like this (on Vashon) cost? We have seen less developed ones for under 500K.
14) If the ferry was bombed or broke or something else occured to it, could I paddle a canoe across to the mainland in an emergency?

These are big questions. I do not have the answers but Josh continues to find lovely looking properties with tempting gardens. Further, I recall the happiness I felt in the Blue Mountains visiting friends yurts and cabins in the woods there.

So much of our lives is about sensible choices and doing things for the long haul but that can leave you defering life until you are too old to dig a ditch. Something about doing a thing because it is exciting and lovely and fun is good enough. We don't have to be utterly safe to make a thing worthwhile.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pirate Camp Day 2 & Domestic Complaint

Frost and Eve were 'miners' yesterday. The team mined from a shaft and found small treasures and odd items like bones (from a chicken). They shared all the treasures and then could pick a few to take home in their gold treasure bags. Frost described the camp as "not really pirate camp but like an adventure playground for kids. Like you would build it just for kids. It has a lookout and its really tall and a mine and a fire." He explained they are not starving and eating bad ship food because the pirates are on shore at the moment so they get to eat better. He is loving wearing the same clothes every day and again checked that he could come to pirate camp EVERY YEAR. The only down side is that Frost says that kids come from all over so there is no point in learning their names because he will not be friends and never see them again. Hrmm. He is hanging out with Eve.

Meanwhile, back at our rental house things are comfortable but run down. The cabin is very clean and pretty with shiny pots and a well-stocked, brightly lit kitchen but still has has an air of vague neglect. We have a family of small brown mice who skid across the floor from the fireplace to the couch and kitchen and another couple heard and sighted in the bathroom upstairs. The house creaks and groans when you walk. At night you can hear its bones rearranging as you climb the spiral staircase up to the bedrooms and single bathroom. During the night the baseboard heaters make irregular clicking noises as if they are about to erupt with heat even though the thermostat is turned off. Outside, the umbrella is broken, the hammock is missing (but the rack remains to hang it in a big tangle with an old TV aerial) and we found a sensory table pictured on the deck out in the second paddock. Wren loved washing it down and playing with his cars in it. The path is overgrown with a large leafed prickly flower and Wren has learned the word "sticker bush" to remind himself to avoid the thistles guarding the drive. We are unable to collect chicken eggs because the new hens are not laying. The flyer in the cabin apologizes for this saying it is due to "raccoons" and the new chickens should be laying by late 2009. I fear this may be an annual thing since I found a flyer dated a year ago and giving the same message with another date. Perhaps they have stopped having chickens and didn't want to update the website?

My final complaint is that I have three bruises on my head from bashing into things in the kitchen obstacle course - the pot rack is mysteriously placed above the coffee-pot and toaster and the breakfast table is under the stairs so I often stand up to smash into a heavy metal object. Got to love vacations :) Still, this morning it is quiet and blue and I am happy at the small pine table looking out over the morning sun on the tussocked paddocks.

Last night we asked for some food to feed the livestock and then Steaky (the horned highland bullock) started following us around and nuzzling Wren's leg (much to his anxiety). We also visited some turkey's and walked down the lane to young heifers on a neighboring farm. The kids went swimming at the Vashon Pool and Wren jumped in as many times as he could in half an hour. Josh was very patient about being splashed in the face each time he caught him.

Wren is in an aggressive drawing and iPodding phase. He loves a game of animal match on my iPod - the animals make their noises as you turn over their card. He has become remarkably adept at remembering where the animals are to pair them. Frost and Wren fight over the iPod which barely feels like my toy at the moment. Whoever does not have it has a deep sense of injustice and expects some high reward for their suffering. I am fed up with it and threatening to withdraw all iPod priviliges from the U10 crowd.

Right now Wren is drawing. I shall scan some of the recent drawings because they deserve their own post. I have told friends (jokingly) that Wren is an artistic genius but I secretly think he is a bit of one. He draws and then writes "numbers" to say "WREN DREW THIS IT IS A DIGGER WITH BIG SNOW" or some similar title. He is now writing "big dump truck, little digger, man driving a digger, 'struction site cones, so many cones BY WREN" as the title of his latest artwork. The 'writing' looks like morse code. His art looks like abstract surrealism.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dragonfire Pirate Camp Day 1

Frost says Pirate Camp is awesome. He was in the "cookies" group today - which is pirate lingo for a cook. He helped prepare lunch salads and had a three course meal for lunch - pirate finger mini baguettes, cream of tomato soup and salad. He was very excited to explain how they earn loot - poker chips of different colors and values which can be used to shop at the camp store on Thursday. Tomorrow Frost will be in the miners team - digging in a 'mine' for treasures.

He says that the camp leaders are Cap'n Jim Sir, Cap'n Jackie M'am and another Cap'n and there are lots of camp counselors and Captain's kids. He is having a great time and wants to come every year.

He is also terribly excited about July 4th and wants to have a big party of his friends over in the evening to shoot fireworks.

I think we may have an afternoon potluck at our house with some of the more tame fireworks and then send off an expedition to the park to set off the larger ones.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Greenlake Open Water Swim

We're over on Vashon this week while Frost goes to Pirate Camp. He's very excited and Wren is too. After a week of cooler weather we have a lovely hot day with cool breezes stirring the flowering blackberry canes lining the road. After Seattle, its very still. Slow. Comfortable. This is good because Joshua and I are both tired.

I got Josh up at 7.30am this morning to accompany me to Greenlake for the 1/2 mile open water swim. We swam from the boathouse theatre to the main Evans Pool beach. I didn't find myself out of breath - its only 32 laps and I routinely swim 50 at the pool - but its much more strenuous on your body because you can't see where you are going with your head down. The water is just a dark deep green with occasional shadows and bubbles across your goggles. Even when you pause to look up the horizon is a distant blur and you have to set your sights on something large and distinct. Swimming into darkness and blur made me feel a bit ill. Its also hard because you are swimming in a pack that kicks up legs and waves so you have to rotate further than you would in a pool to take a clean breath. This made my neck feel a bit stiff afterwards. Another difficulty is running out of the water. I felt really wobbly as I came up the steps. Not from being tired but kind of switching my muscles into another mode made me feel quite unsteady. I didn't have my balance right.

I definitely need more practice in Open Water swimming.

Anyway, I did well for my first attempt. I can't recall my time but I came in 22nd in the field which included men and women. Frost was very impressed and kept saying "you did REALLY WELL for the amount of experience you have. REALLY WELL"

The only downside was that I developed a migraine like eye-disturbance an hour afterwards. It seemed very like the visual disturbance Mum has complained of - almost like having stared into a bright like and having a shiny hole in your vision. It was unusual in that it was like a bright burning thread which moved from the left of my vision, across the center and out the left side in a period of about half an hour. I lay down and it improved. I didn't feel sick or have a headache but had a sense of spacial dislocation or vertigo.

I wonder what caused it? I was dehydrated (I had forgotten to drink water). Anyway, we are going to Vashon Thriftway and everyone is waiting.