Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ode to the Banana Slug

Frost was at a PACSCI Summer Camp at Mercer Slough all week. This gave Wren and me the chance to go for morning walks along the nature trail. Did we do it? Only once but it was fun because Wren fell in love with slugs. Along the trail fat banana slugs trailed their silver slime across the black bark pathways which squish through the low marshy land adjacent to the slough (pronounced SLEW). Despite ample application of insect repellent mosquitoes followed us and huge leafed skunk cabbages made us wet with dew.

Wren first became interested in the slugs when I moved one off the path. "Save the sluggy" he said then touched one. "That is GROSS" he said, looking at his sticky fingers. "That is GROSS" he repeated, in Frost's exact intonation.

I showed him how to pick up a slug with a leaf and how their eyes (he says horns) retract when you touch them. He liked to touch them.

After a while he wanted to take them home in a bottle.

"I want a pet sluggy. He will slug in my waterjar. Slug, slug, sluggy. Where are you?"

I said we could have a banana slug for a pet but we should find a home for him first. Wren liked that idea.

I have a new camera so I should have pictures of the slug but I don't. Next time. There is a canoe trail through the Slough and I'd love to take my new binoculars on a ride up the river if I can find a canoe to use/rent/borrow. Its at times like these that I start to make a list of things to do with my mother when she visits next. She is a great companion for adventure.

The American Red Thing

"Mummy, where is the American Red Thing?" asked Wren today.
"The American red thing?" I asked, confused.
"YES, The A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N Red T-H-I-N-G" said Wren, frustrated. "We seed in the sky camping!"
"Oh, the sun!" I said, relieved. "That was the sunset we saw at Deception Pass."

As we were leaving Deception Pass we drove across the bridge and saw a splendid red sunset across the water. On seeing it, Wren was overwhelmed by the red ball of light was and shouted to us in alarm:

It is A ANGEL!

I call this Wren's first poem.

Here is the sunset so variously named: the American red thing, the angel, the big red dragon. It was far more splendid in person - to my camera the sun is white and the sky orange but through my eye the sky was a tone of shadow while the sun was a shimmering red ball.

Friday, August 28, 2009

To and Fro

Frost has a summer camp in Bellevue this week and its been keeping me busy driving over to drop and fetch him every day. The full day camp has led to a great improvement in his spirits although he complains at times. He is now much less cantankerous, is nice and engaging, helpful, chatty and generally a more easy going person. Josh says he was bored and over-comfortable at home this summer. He has not been on many formal camps - fewer than last year.

While he was over at camp today (canoeing around the arboretum and navigating with a compass using a map his team drew) I went to the dermatologist to look at my iffy skin blemish. The dermatologist burned it off - saying it was either a skin cancer or pre-cancerous lesion. Lesion is a bad word. If it returns inside a month he is going to biopsy it but he thinks it unlikely.

I have an appointment for a full checkup in September which will afford us another chance to visit Cafe Nouveau in West Seattle which is just around the corner from my dermatologist. I won't go into it. Google it if you have a chance to go out and eat almond croissants or smoked salmon and fennel pizza. Totally.

Wren is well. He has made a friend of a little boy who lives around the corner. His name is Levon and his dad is Garth. Wren shared tomatoes and told Levon about the garage door. Levon tried to take the keys from Wren but Wren pulled them away. They tried to share but Levon likes to grab and Wren likes to possess. They are good buddies who have just met.

The garden is staring to brown down for fall and needs lots of pruning and raking.

I am about to fall down and need some refreshing myself.

More tomorrow and those pictures I promised.

Wren at Deception Pass

Poor Frost being put apon by Wren:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Strange dreams on the school expressway

The vortex has opened and we are all being sucked down, churned and whirled inexorably towards the day school starts again. When I turned on NPR this morning the show was about the early outbreaks of swine flu emerging as East Coast schools return. How Purell is now in many classrooms and school nurses are being vigilant in monitoring kids for fever.

My email has some messages from the PDHeart list. Apparently the concern about swine flu is that the vaccine will not be available until mid October and an outbreak could build before then. We shall have to try and encourage Frost to bring home our usual winter viral cocktail later in the year.

This morning I joined with hordes of parents ticking from lists of Back To School Supplies and, buying only exactly what was on the list, I spent $75.85. That was the Office Depot discount brands too. Nothing fancy except that I bought composition books with orange covers instead of black spots. In her note, Frost's new teacher mentioned that half of the supplies would go to the class store and not into the child's own desk so "if you have bought something special" you may want to leave that at home.

Frost has nothing to leave at home.

Frost was excited to receive a letter from his new teacher. She welcomed him to her class and told him what they would be studying this year. They are going to cover:

  • Ancient Egypt in social studies

  • Rivers, watersheds, formation of mountains and volcanoes in geography

  • Learn cursive (uh oh, Frost is barely fluent in basic letters)

  • Practice writing and telling stories (poems, essays and articles)

  • Master strategies for solving multiplication and division in many ways

  • Learn and use fractions

  • Meet in literature circles to talk about books

  • Create dramatic productions about the lives of famous people

  • Explore rocks, minerals, plants and sound in science, and

  • read, read, read, read, read.

With the exception of cursive writing these are all things that interest Frost so I hope he has a good year. We are going to go in the day before school starts to meet his teacher and find his desk. I think this will help him feel more at home on his first day.

The back to school jitters must be affecting me (infecting me!!) because I have been having strange dreams. Last night I dreamt that a Stellars Jay was sitting in a tree near a field. I walked into the field and the jay flew down from behind and attacked me. I managed to catch it and held it (loosely, as I might hold a chicken to look at its beak). Just then another jay started to fly and peck. I jerked my neck sideways to escape the jay and woke with a sore neck!

The next dream was more ominous. I was touring a glorious cathedral that looked somewhat like notre dame and climbed out onto a roof parapet to look at the view. While there I noticed that the blocks (which looked like pale bricks) from which it was made had no mortar. The mortar had crumbled away and any block could be knocked or removed with ease. I suddenly realized that the cathedral was like one of Wren's teetering block towers which could tumble at any time. I tried to explain this to a monk but he said that it had always been that way and they liked living with uncertainty.

I don't. Not that much.

Weekend Camping at Deception Pass
I have been quiet for a few days because we were camping at Deception Pass. I went up with Frost, Alex and Wren on Friday and we set up in the group camp with KapKa. It was beautiful weather - misty in the mornings but bright sun when the fog burned off. Its an outstandingly lovely park except for the fighter jets doing manoeuvers overhead for hours.

I shall post pictures in another entry.

This week Frost in at Summer Camp near Lake Washington. They are canoeing, building shelters and learning to survive in the wild. I hope he has fun. Its our last formal activity this summer and then he has 9 days before school begins to chill, read and have playdates.

We have redone Frost's room to give him a larger desk to do homework (yes HOMEWORK - he never had it before) and still have space to play. He has a beanbag, a loftbed and will soon have an ipod dock.

I shall post a picture when it is complete.