Three things: School, chocolate crackles, and poetry

Jul1986 1st day schoolruth 1983 washing up

That was me on my very first day of school (That hair! Those cheeks!). Five-year-old L. begins next week, and although I am not ready for this big shift, he seems to be. He says he’s looking forward to wearing his new school slippers, playing with the toys he’s not seen before, and spending time with his teacher and chums. I am looking forward to having another person in his life to nurture his endless curiosity. So many questions. And now I can answer fewer of them.

And that was me a little older than my 16-month-old S. (That cardi! Those shoes!). S. has worn a similar expression on his face a lot recently. If I am reading it correctly, it says something like, “yep, I am awesome. I can do stuff. By myself. But I am playing it cool. So you don’t make a big deal about it.” Like in the event of him walking into our carpeted living room casually destroying a chocolate crackle he found in the fridge. And then doing it again two days later. (Do we have chocolate crackles in the UK? I think of them as a Kiwi thing. This is the recipe I used to make mine, although they are not the chocolate crackles of my youth, which had a much more satisfying crunch to them).

This essay about poetry is fantastic. It reminds me a lot of this poem.

Just BE there, y’know?

From Oxfam recently, I picked up a copy of The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. His novel, Cloud Atlas, is the closest I have got to reading sci-fi, and is the only historical fiction I haven’t forced myself to read. The Bone Clocks is following suit. It is a weird and fun read, one that is hard to put down after the sun has gone down. It is full of really snappy writing like: “Shit, meet Fan. Fan, this is Shit.” Or truths like: “When a parent dies, a filing cabinet full of all the fascinating stuff also ceases to exist.” Or cautionary insights like: “Beware of asking people to question what’s real and what isn’t. They may reach conclusions you didn’t see coming.” This little kernal of wisdom about travel struck me, perhaps because the theme has been on my mind for the last wee while:

“Look around. Walk. Find a cheap bed. Eat what the locals eat. Find a cheap beer. Try not to get fleeced. Talk. Pick up a few words in the local lingo. Just BE there, y’know? Sometimes,” Brubeck bites into an apple, “Sometimes I want to be everywhere, all at once, so badly I could just…Do you ever get that feeling?” 

Three things: Mancala, bumble bees, and bunk beds

(argh. My phone is dying… dead? And to its grave it will take many pictures. Unless I can resurrect it. I live in hope. Anyway, all this is by way of an apology for the lack of picture prettiness).

Today I taught my 5-year-old how to play Mancala. Do you know this game? It is ancient–originating in Africa–and is played with stones and “indents”. When we were last in New Zealand, I found a board on the side of the road, and just knew that one day it would be worth the few items of clothing I tossed to make room for it. L. kicked my ass in all three games, so I guess I was right in thinking he was ready to learn how to play (just giving credit where it’s due). To rejig my memory of the rules, I watched this short video.

We did a wee workshop with the Aberdeen Countryside Rangers a couple of weeks ago and learned about bumblebees. Since then we have been catching bees in our garden and trying to identify them. Do you know how to tell the difference between a male and a female? The female has a black face while male has a gold one–the gold is called a moustache. We are in the process of making a couple of bee houses for the leaf cutter bees in our garden–I saw their tell-tale circle munches out of my rose leaves in the Spring and I’d really like them to make our garden their home. I promise to show you a picture when they are finished.

We got a set of bunks, y’all! The motto at our place is “however we get the most sleep, that is how we sleep”. This means I often find myself waking up on the living room floor. We all used to sleep close to the floor (on futon mattresses atop cleaned-up pallets), if not on the floor. I liked that arrangement a lot because it made the rooms feel brighter with more of the walls free of furniture, it offered extra safe play space for my kids, and it also required more of our bodies to get into and out of bed (exercise for which I don’t have to pay or make time). We still have one double bed on the floor (theoretically for the adults), but I wasn’t quite convinced I had made the right decision about allowing this piece of furniture into our home… that is until I saw my 16-month-old climbing up the ladder, and my 5-year-old swinging like a monkey over the edge of the top one. As long as the bed has more than one purpose, that’s all I ask. And that maybe, one day, it will be both kids sleeping in those bunks while I share a bed with my life-partner.