Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blast From The Past: What the Hell Happened?

Seven years ago, the kids were sliding down my back when I would stretch out on the floor.

I found this photo after feeling nostalgic about how delightfully unfiltered kids are when they are young.

Back in 2012, I did a series of interviews with the children, asking them about their lives. Even when they were 10 and seven, they knew I would put the results on the blog.

Now the kids just refuse to be in videos, knowing the potential for embarrassment is just too high.
I knew this day would be coming. I suppose another dip into the archives can’t hurt.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Reparative Experience: Return to Dog Mountain

Five years ago the family tried to hike Dog Mountain and reached the end of our endurance before the summit.

This past Memorial Day an energized crew charged up the hill!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Slime Mold Steals Show At Science Fair

I am very proud of the kid for doing a real science project about slime mold.

The experiment didn’t go as planned because a heatwave allowed an invading bacteria or insects to eat the mold when the temperature in the garage reached 80 degrees for one day. Previously the daily high was in the mid-60s, a nice temp for the amoeba-like organisms.

The kid had joined an international slime mold forum, read up on the particular qualities of the mold, and had an excellent experiment. He did a good job getting organized and showed a true inquiring spirit.

The happy scientists had a pizza party later.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Sunday Parkways Rule!

During the warm weather, Portland has five Sundays where a loop of several miles is set up in different neighborhoods for bicycles and other human-powered conveyance. Car traffic is curtailed and all is safe for a universe on wheels.

Step one is getting the gear to the event.

Lots of organizations doing outreach and giving away schwag.

Food carts! We had the delicious barbecue.

The Sunday Parkways allow me to visualize what further Amerstdamization might do for our community.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Yoga Dog

Not actual Yoga Dog, just a yoga dog.

Over ten years ago I began doing yoga after a scary bout with cancer. I went to classes at an athletic club and began my yoga practice with a group of older people who were at various levels of fitness.

At this time I knew I was going to survive and my mood was good. Still, I was weak from chemo, radiation, and a complicated operation that had impacted half my body. I did yoga with the grim resolve that I had to do it, needed to do it, and so did it with little enjoyment or appreciation beyond the sweetness for life felt when I could stop.

One woman who attended the class trained dogs for the seeing impaired. For several weeks she brought a solemn-looking white lab to class, spreading a towel for her to lie on at the back of the room. She explained that the dog needed to adjust to not being part of people activity and if no one objected she would do this regularly. 

For weeks the dog lay there quietly and observed the craziness of yoga as we practiced it.

I continued to struggle with the class but ultimately felt that the poses, effort, pulling and pushing, disappointment and frustration, were good for me.

One day at the end of class when we were all lying on our mats, the dog ambled past two other people, resolutely standing over me and affectionately licking my face. I giggled uncontrollably and couldn’t help but give the dog a hug.

Did the dog know that I needed some empathy at the moment? I like to think so.

I did not go on to become a “dog person,” as I am still allergic to dogs even if I have a greater appreciation for them. But the experience made me aware of the value of animal companionship in a way that I had not previously.

The practice of yoga is full of instructors spouting word salads of cosmic enrichment and tantric wonder. But here indeed was a real surprise, going all but uncommented on. That day Yoga Dog licked my face, the universe spoke.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dad Reclaims Sense Of Purpose With Successful Tech Support

When the cave's electronic fire goes out, the dad is the guy who restarts it. In this case, it was summoning Microsoft's tech support and getting the protocol to reboot the Xbox.

The kids, who lord it over me that they're more tech savvy, had given up.

I, who often appear confused and simpleminded, had given up.

I was contacting tech support to find where to send the broken box.

Then I did the procedure and all was well. I celebrate in the cave tonight!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Parenting Yondu Style

Michael Rooker plays Yondu, the spiritual warrior.

This past weekend the family saw Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a fine film, full of cute dancing tree creatures, special effects of the galactic variety, and...wait for it...parenting advice!

The plot centers around Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), working out the complicated relationships with his biological father, Ego (no, really, that was his name), who wanted to kill him, and his adoptive father, Yondu, who just repeatedly said he wanted to eat him.

What the audience saw was a conflicted Yondu who barred his emotions to his son when the going got tough, even though his motley crew of Ravagers mocked him for his sensitivity.

So what can we learn from Yondu's example? Below are some Yondus and some Yondon'ts:

  • Hug kid often;
  • Talk about feelings;
  • Enjoy the humor of telling the kid you will eat him.

  • Do not let kid have prolonged exposure to firearms;
  • Do not turn kid over to homicidal space dude, even if he is biological father;
  • Do not go into space without a space suit.
Hopefully, this will help others be as spiritual as Yondu.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Pre-computer Art: Dictators Beware

Chiang Kai-shek gets spoofed.
Over the past six months, I've digitalized some scrapbooks and photo albums. When I don't have any good, current material I dip into the archive and see what has stood the test of time.

I've always enjoyed the heroic posturing of strongman leaders as expressed in postage stamps, but only when I haven't had to suffer their imperial edicts. I don't think I'll ever take delight in doing any art with Trump as the subject, some situations are just too nightmarish to begin with.

The above stamps were from the 1960s and show a robust Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek giving a speech.

Dictator Stoke!


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Drama Pix

So proud of the kid to rock drama the way it was meant -- dramatically.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

When Has Grilled Cheese Not Been Popular?

When other parents ask how I do it, I simply answer, "I'm a traditionalist." Not that this has actually happened, but it potentially could.

You see, when I'm fishing around about what to cook for dinner, I know sometimes that what worked for me when I was a kid, can work again in these crazy years.

With that, I'll feed my little ones a fine grilled-cheese sandwich and check to see if our president colluded with Russia to sabotage American democracy.

All before 9:00 pm!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Kid Rocks Absurdist Comedy In School Play

Kid plays the frustrated mother Amanda in a production of Durang, Durang.

The high point of the evening, in my biased view, was the segment of the six one-act plays “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls,” a delicious parody of “The Glass Menagerie.” 

I am thrilled the high school was able to put on an edgy, challenging, and hilarious play. Makes me feel I grew up in the stone age.