Okay, okay: “A Tattooed Chicken-Farmer in THE Heat.” That’s what I meant. (Though our teenager, who has learned to approach our door warily if he arrives home unexpectedly, might vote for the original…)
Point is, it’s HOT in high-desert Idaho in the summer. Too hot to think. Too hot to remember all the, um… the little thingy-words that should go in the title. (Too hot to remember what we call the little thingy-words… Oh, articles! Yeah, those.)
It’s just. Damn Hot.
As if to psychically second what I was just typing… Christian is giving his sister instructions for using the iPad’s App Shopper to find new games: ”There you go, yeah. For device you pick ‘iPad,’ for the price you pick ‘Free,’ and for categories you pick ‘Games’.”
I piped up with the motherly suggestion that the “Education” category also includes a lot of games, to which he replied with narrowed eyes, “Mom, it’s Summer! That would be bad form!”
[Who taught this mouthy kid to talk like that, anyway? ...Oh.]
Did I mention that it’s too hot for thinking?
So today, here’s a mishmash jumble of odds-and-ends that haven’t made it into the blog in the last few weeks. Along with thanks to my friend Le Clown for the “tattooed chicken-farmer” moniker, which had the whole family giggling this morning!
The Art of Scrounging
I wrote recently about the much-maligned art of Packrat-ism, but hadn’t put a name to the activity that precedes Packrat-ing—namely, Scrounging.
Scrounge, v. Finding cool shit in unlikely places.
Keoni is a master at this. Particularly if you expand that (highly technical) definition to include creative use of materials-at-hand to meet needs for which they weren’t originally designed… (Witness, for example, my “watering can” above.)
Just for fun, here’s a (partial) list of his scrounging-successes just in the last few weeks:
- A folding cart that’s perfect for rolling our beach-stuff (cooler, portable BBQ, chairs, towels) from the car to the beach. Or, for that matter, from our house to the beach when the car has accompanied Keoni to work. There used to be a roadside vegetable stand near us, and this cart was among the things they abandoned when they closed up…
- A 55-gallon soy-sauce barrel from a restaurant supply company, which is now destined to become our compost barrel. After we finish the chicken-house.
Basaltic boulders (cleared from a construction site) to build our planned backyard fire-pit.
- A metal fence-post for Christian to use in poling his inner-tube around the lake. (He tried a tree-branch walking-stick but punctured his ride almost immediately with one of its branch stubs…)
- A bicycle. When he offered to help our neighbor Chuck, a disabled vet, to assemble the bike-bits leaning against his porch, Chuck said he intended to donate it… Well, we’ve been looking for a bike!
- All the wood for our chicken-house project (including the house-shaped end pieces, from the same abandoned fruit stand). He came home on several occasions with two-by-fours strapped to the side of the car as if the Buick had taken up jousting…
- …And speaking of Bessie Buick, several replacement bits for her dinged front end—and a pair of jumper cables!—from the “Jalopy Jungle” junkyard…
Leftover wooden fence-post pieces from a ranch down the road, now sliced into different heights and standing on end to edge the boardwalk leading up to our house…
- Stackable plastic soda crates (our grocery store let us take them) which have served in turn as craft table, fan stand, outdoor seating, and sawhorse…
- Leftover tar paper from a nearby paving-job, perfect for use as a weed barrier underneath…
- …the starter beds of wildflowers we’ve dug up from various places, and herbs we’ve transplanted.
In my previous life I would have gone straight to the store when I wanted any of these things—even the damn landscaping rocks—but this is WAY more satisfying.
Father-Son Bonding & Glitter Nail Polish
Our teenage son stood in our bedroom doorway the other night and announced that he had to ask us a serious question.
[Parental attention engaged!]
“Do my toes match my outfit?”
As it turns out, his girlfriend had painted his toenails for him. And as it turns out, glitter nail polish is a bitch to remove. My nail polish remover was no match for the stuff… but luckily the stuff was no match for Dad’s pocket knife.
How [not] to Repel a Brother
Christian pointed out to Elena Grace the other day that she might want to re-think how she labeled her diary if she really didn’t want anyone to read it. I noticed the next morning she had done some editing:
I think it’s been about four months since either of the younger kids have actually slept in their beds.
Around Spring Break our daughter and her wife visited from California, and we shuffled around the sleeping arrangements for a few days with the younger kids in “tent-forts” in the living room. Christian’s tent-fort, under a U.S. Marine Corps blanket draped across the corner of the room, has been there ever since. We moved Elena Grace’s tent-fort into her bedroom after the Cali-kids left, draped between her desk and chair. We laugh about the fact that she’s not using her perfectly-good bed… But it did make things easy when my mom visited—Elena Grace was already installed in her tent, with the unused bed waiting for Grandy.
Christian’s tent-occupation is, to some extent, a matter of privacy. That might seem counter-intuitive, since he’s planted right in the middle of the household now, but unlike his sister, he had a shared room—and suffice it to say that the sleep-habits of 11-year-olds and 16-year-olds are not a perfect match. Christian wakes early to read, but didn’t want to disturb his brother by turning on his lamp. Kapena comes home late from work or friends’ homes and was less observant about how his entrances affected Christian’s sleep.
Even at his dad’s house where he has a room to himself, I don’t think he feels it’s HIS room anymore. He has never been a guy who enjoyed surprises, so he was kind of traumatized when he arrived after a weekend with us to find his furniture replaced, his favorite reading-chair sitting in the street with the trash, and some of his favorite things mysteriously missing. (The kids have noted several times how assiduously their stepmother erases traces of ME in that household… And the reading chair had belonged to my grandfather.)
So bit by bit, Christian has been bringing his most Special Things to this household, and setting them up in his tent-fort where they’re safe. Remarking on the fact that we allow him the permanent occupation of a living-room corner, he told me the other day that I’m “not really a traditional kind of Mom.” Um… Thanks?
When it’s TOO HOT…
There’s only one place for a tattooed chicken-farmer and her family to go. We pack up our little scrounged cart and get our scorched butts to the beach.
Living in a climate that ranges from (Fahrenheit) five degrees in the winter to one-hundred-five in the summer, we sometimes think wistfully of the consistently temperate weather back in Hawai’i… But we’ve also learned not to lose out on the joys of Today by living in our heads anticipating something different. Just think what we’d miss!—Today. Hot as it is, still a day with our ‘Ohana.