Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Saturday, July 8, 2017

How Soon is Now


Natalie's little face appeared in the studio doorway, her bottom lip pulled straight and tight, a tiny quiver in her chin.  Natalie does cry, and often, when she's being pummeled by Jonah or in protest when she's not being heard above our noisy crowd.  But when she is actually sad, she is very reserved with her tears, and the corners of her mouth, pointed downward in a classic yet unintentional frown, betray her resolve to be stoic and brave.

"What are you doing down here?  You are supposed to be in bed."

"But nobody will snuggle me." she said is a waivery voice, resolutely holding back the tears.

"Honey, mommy is working." I offered a little weakly, and then to defend myself, added, "And I snuggle you almost every night."

"But I want you to snuggle me now." she answered in an almost helpless tone.  Not whiny or annoying.  Almost matter of fact.  Her face melted then, and she bowed her little head and let herself cry.  I suddenly thought of a little 'ponder' I had earlier this week, about how little ones don't really have a concept of time, and of the future.  It doesn't matter when the last time was, or when the next time will be.  They are creatures of Now, and this moment is the only one there really is.  Especially when you are four.

I finished tapping a nail into a loose slat on a small work bench, and then said, "Okay."  Not like, I give in, but more like, You know what?  You're right.

She took my hand as I led her up stairs (and in this Now that we are in, her hand is still so small).  I didn't have to tell her to get in bed.  She laid down and I sat beside her, and leaning over her, I rested my elbows on each side of her shoulders and held her face in my hands.  She still looked worried, and I know it's because of all the nights I have had "things to do", hurrying through the goodnight routine.  She doesn't trust that I'll stay.  I kissed her face; cheeks first, then eyelids, then chin, nose and forehead.  Her tight little mouth finally relaxed and I did the rounds again.

"Close your eyes," I said, thinking she was so tired she might drift into sleep in just moments.  She shut them, but immediately one hand reached up and held my neck, the other grabbing my earlobe.  I watched her strain the way little ones do as they try to keep their eyes closed, eyelashes fluttering and pinching tight.  I stayed.  She rubbed her thumb on my earlobe over and over, even once her eyelids had relaxed and he face slackened a little.  I whispered I love you, and those little eyes popped back open and she held my ear with just a little more fervor.

So I stayed.

Not long.  In another two minutes I whispered, "Goodnight", and she let go of my ear and rolled over, tucking her hands under her chin.  That was that.

I have kind of lost my organizing momentum now, and the studio will wait a few days more.  Not everything needs to be done right Now.

 But some things do.





Monday, July 3, 2017

Me and Will Smith


When folks ask  about what it's like here in the woods, they usually wonder, "Is it just so quiet at night?"

Ummmm.... heh heh heh, nnnnoooo.  No, it's not.

Have you ever seen the movie I Am Legend? That freaky good Will Smith zombie movie? There is that scene after Will Smith locks down the apartment for the night, where he climbs into the tub with his dog as darkness descends (see it here).  Soon, the night sounds of the zombie horde begin to penetrate the metal window shutters which are the only things keeping our hero from becoming a midnight snack.  We cringe as the zombie cries reach a terrifying fever-pitch, while Will and his poor pooch cling to each other, waiting for the blessed relief of daylight.

It's like that!!!  Okay, maybe not a zombie apocalypse, but it was a little, at first, back when I was all worked up about mountain lions.  And fires.  And bears (Lions and fires and bears, OH MY!).  But it can still be a little spooky.

To lend some contrast, understand that from our old house in Rancho, at night we could hear the traffic on Folsom Blvd., mostly the back-up beep-beep-beep of the vendor trucks at the market 2 blocks down, and the hum of cars.  There were the random honks here and there, dogs barking, and the drunk party-ers across the street.  Oh, and guns sometimes (okay, so Rancho is it's own brand of scary).  And amorous cats,  those were my favorites.

But when you hear the same night noises for years, it becomes... quiet (except for the dang cats. You never get used to that.)

Here, the mountain-yin to that city-yang starts soon after dusk (just like in the movie!).  I mean, there is the ever present burble and chatter of the creek, of course.  But I don't usually notice it during the day, so at night it's like someone turned up the volume on it.  Next, as the last rays of daylight fade to grey, the crickets start gettin' all worked up, and then the faint chirp of a frog floats through the air. With the darkness there is another, and then another, until soon it sounds like a touch down at Frog-State University's football game.  Go listen to that in your head for a minute.  I'll wait.

Loud, isn't it?

Time for a public service announcement...

If a pond full of frogs is screaming their slimy little lungs out, and you are over it, if you yell 
"Shut Up!"... they will!  (Yes, I yell at frogs.  Don't judge).

Please explain to me... if frogs chirp to find a mate, and there are, like, 26 of them in a 5 foot pond, are they all deaf, blind, and possibly brain dead?  Honestly.  Sign up for a dating site, already.  The pond thing ain't workin'.  You're going to be single forever.

Something sets off the two chihuahuas up the hill at our nearest neighbor's.  They go on for a while till a man's voice barks back a few colorful phrases.  They scare the frogs into silence, a door slam echos through the woods, and in about 6 seconds, as though cued by an amphibious conductor's tiny wand, the frogs start up again in earnest.

Now, as I've mentioned, it's been quite warm here.  The house heats up nicely during the day, so we fling wide the windows in the evening to welcome the breezes, and climb into bed under the window as the cool evening floats in.  Guy is asleep before I'm done flossing (to be fair, I floss for days).  I finally settle into my pillow.

CRUNCH. Step, step, crackle, TWIG SNAP, drag-scrape!

I bolt up in bed and grab my phone, tip-toe running to the bathroom where I can look out the window without waking Guy.  The window is open, but the dim glow of the Little's night-light bounces off the screen and I can't see out.  I rip the light out of the outlet and am plunged into the blackest black. No stars, no moon, certainly no street lights or headlights.  I aim my phone's flashlight out the window.  Something glowing moves among the trees on the steep-but close hill across from the window, and then freezes.  Just eyes.  Daaarknesssssss and eeeeeeyes.  Darn phone doesn't shine brightly enough to reveal the owner!  I mean, could be raccoon, could be land shark, right?

I put the light down, and in a moment the crunching resumes.  We do the dance, Land Shark and I, me with my flashlight, him with his creepy-green glowing eyes.  Eventually, deciding that the Land Shark can only possibly bore me to death, I get tired and go to bed.  Step, crunch, scrape, scrape.  I put my arm over my ear aaaaaand... fall asleep.

Tap.     

TapTapTapTap.    Tap.  Tap. Tap.

There is what would appear-by-ear to be a leprechaun out in the woods making itty-bitty shoes with a teeny, tiny hammer.  I huff and shut the window, then listen to the only slightly muffled shoe making.  Nocturnal wood pecker, perhaps?  Is that even a thing?!

At about 4 am my bladder wakes me up. That's not part of the moon-lit cacophony, that's just the nightly drill, but it's super convenient, 'cuz it gets me all ready for BIRD-A-PALOOZA!!!

You may have heard some nonsense about early birds getting up with the morning light. Yah, what a load of crap.  Birds don't get up early.  They get up BEFOOOOORE early.  WAY. All of them.
ALL.
THE.
BIRDS.
It sounds like someone took 412 parrots, stuffed them into a box, threw in a few cats, and shook it really hard.

Oh, and I'm in the box, too.

I bury my head and drift off to slee... a pterodactyl flies by cawing frantically.  The pterodactyl and several of his friends circle the house 47 times. The chihuahuas protest.  I fade off again at around lap 34, but I can hear them caw in my dreams.

Just about 20 minutes later, number-one son gets up for work, and the very strangely placed vent in our upstairs bedroom that leads directly to the family room below, allows me to enjoy all of his happy, nay, spunky! getting-ready-for-work sounds.  As the garage door slams, rattling the house like a 6.2 quake, and Son's truck roars to life and then crunches up the gravel driveway too fast, I hear Guy begin to stir for work.  But he's a ninja.  I sleep right through, and then snooze a little longer after our prayer and kiss goodbye.  The birds begin to settle.  The chihuahuas are at rest. The frogs ate all the crickets, I guess, because I hear neither (may they all get heartburn). There are no more monsters in the forest.  It's finally quiet enough to sleep-
when my alarm goes off.

Yep.  Me and Will Smith, and the blessed (?) relief of daylight.

*****

But, alas, as I write this, it's

time

to

go

to

bed...

(!)