Camping, Sort Of

This past Wednesday through Friday we had a reservation at a campground near a lake. It had been somewhat of a summer tradition to go there. Last summer we obviously didn’t do it, and I was excited to plan another camping trip when the world got a little safer.

Except our state is in the middle of a drought. And the lake at the campsite was all but dried out. Whatever water remains has developed an algal bloom, so it’s definitely not safe. And Z would still have eyed the lake and asked to go swimming, and she’d be upset that we wouldn’t let her.

It did rain Thursday, but not enough to compensate for all the dryness. The earth was still grateful, though.

So last week I canceled the campsite reservation. And yesterday evening, after the hike, I pitched the tent in the back yard. Z loves the tent.

The three of us and one of the dogs slept in the tent last night. The temperature was neither too hot nor cold, and because Z wore herself out with hiking, she went to sleep relatively quickly.

She woke up and continued to play inside the tent.

I love our back yard.

Oops

I forgot to post yesterday, June 25. It was on my mind to do it. You bet I’m gonna backdate this. (June 25, 2021, 10pm)

We went on a hike to Stewart Falls. It’s an out-and-back hike, totaling four miles. There are some moderately steep parts and some rocky areas, but mostly the trail gently rolls, and it’s shaded with a few sunny parts. I mean, you still have to watch not to trip on roots and tumble down the mountain. All in all, it’s a really pleasant hike with some amazing vistas. One of my favorites.

It’s a little bit steep but relatively short descent past the plungepool, and that’s where we usually go on this hike before turning around.

My brother came along with us, and I think he really liked it, too.

Z especially loves being near the waterfall, and she calls this area, “Good Dinosaur water.”

Have you seen Disney Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur? You should.

Look at this awesome family.

A Park Today

A family of old trees stand together. Their trunks shoot straight up before branches spread out the sky. I love their shade. Their calm presence. Their steadiness.

These trees help obscure an old house adjacent to the park. The house looks scary. Signs along the fence read, “No trespassing.” The trees in that yard are also old. The other foliage is overgrown. Branches gnarl and twist and canopy what might be a lawn.

Large arches signal entryways (NO TRESPASSING), but simple chainlink lines the perimeter. Between long, stamped-down stretches of rusty webbing, it stands somewhat upright.

The family of old trees serve as sentinels. They warn against going past them. They are a much more effective fence than the janky wire barrier. I do not go beyond them.

The straightness of the trees gives me strength. Bestows courage. Grants power.

The will to stay away from that creepy, old house.

Ten Years Since Sénégal

I was emailing a friend whose birthday is today. And I know that only because it’s two days before mine. And I wouldn’t have known this except I became friends with him and his wife while studying abroad in Sénégal.

Ten years ago.

This occurred to me today, and so I texted a different classmate from the study abroad. This classmate remarked that we were babies then. Maybe she was; I wasn’t so much. I was 34 when we started the trip, and I turned 35 while in our fourth week. I think I’m about nine years older than the married couple who befriended me. Not like it’s a contest. But I tried hard not to feel self-conscious about my age at the time.

It was such an eye-opening experience. Although I struggled with the language, I picked up fragments of comprehension about slavery and colonialism. My French did improve over time, but wow, I hadn’t been challenged like that in a very, very long time.

I wasn’t sure if these costumes are just for show or are actually part of the culture.

It was good to walk among people of a different religion, too. There were rules to follow while visiting mosques. We heard the calls for prayer fives times every day. Y’all, America can be wonderful, but it isn’t the best all the time. Or even close to perfect.

What a beautiful country. It’s hard to believe that whole experience was 10 years ago. I’m grateful I went; going made me a more compassionate, open-minded person. I made lifelong friends. This part of the path opened up the way to where I am now. Which is where I want to be.

Privileges and Joys

I work from home: privilege.

We live in a privileged school district: privilege.

We live in a single family home: privilege.

We’ve come to a point where we don’t worry about whether we can make the mortgage payments: privilege.

The house sits on a plot just under 1/4 acre: privilege.

The back property line happens to adjoin a five-acre farm: joy.

We watch baby farm animals grow up: joy.

I wandered my back yard this morning. Watched the horses. Captured some photos of mid-spring. This afternoon I weeded the front yard for a little while. I like yard work quite a bit, but it does my allergies no favors.

These blossoms dropped from the cherry tree above it. Pink sprinkled in green. I sort of wish I could eat it.

Z loves to scatter dandelion fluff around the yard. For this reason roughly 62 trillion dandelions have popped up in the grass. I honestly don’t mind, because they make our kid happy.

I would suppose not worrying about our dandelion-weeds is also a privilege. Watching our girl play with them is a joy.

P.S. We’re fully vaccinated over here. Go get vaxxed or wear a mask and come hang out with us!

Mental Health Awareness Month

Um, I got about three hours’ sleep last night.

Earlier this month or late last month I read somewhere that May, among other issue awarenesses, is also Mental Health Awareness month. According to Wikipedia, this month has been dedicated to spreading awareness since 1949. I definitely wasn’t aware of this. Does that reflect on the effectiveness of the campaign or my negligence? or both? Well, I’m trying to do something about it now. Know better, do better. Right?

Speaking of mental health, I’ve been reading a recently published biography, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath. I’m about a third of the way through and the author discusses Plath’s depression in detail throughout the narrative: history, behavior, effect on her work.

I have many friends and some family members who are very open about their mental health. They will discuss their anxiety, depression, ideations, therapy sessions. I’ve come not to expect immediate responses to my texts or calls or emails. In fact, I’ll receive a text and feel a twinge of anxiety and wait until I can handle writing a proper reply. I’ll fight the urge to stay in bed. I’ll set a reminder to turn on my therapy lamp for a few minutes a day, especially in winter months. Still, this is nothing compared to what my friends and family experience.

These loved ones wrestle with themselves constantly. They’re brilliant, creative, deeeeeeply empathic. They care about the world so much.

Along with all the other things to think about this month, remember various communities that we should be supporting also have members whose mental health deserve our concern and attention. If you know them, check in on them. If you don’t know them, don’t be that weird person that interjects and invades and magnifies awkwardness and discomfort. You know how to be resourceful.

Friday, About Damn Time

I just booked a short camping trip in June. Close by. Yearly tradition, though we usually camp around July 4. And we didn’t do it last year because: pandemic. Very excited to be spending some time outdoors. With limited cell phone service. Woo-hoo!

Whenever I’m not thinking about the sheer crappiness of the world or the utter heartlessness of people, I’m actually in a great mood. Like, I’m allowed these moments of joy amidst the morass of …morassness. My family, my friends, my work. My hammock. My back yard. We’re not super rich; we’re pretty regular people. Still: this is privilege.

I’m reading a book, Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall. About halfway through, so far some really powerful points made. A few foods for thought:

Sometimes being a good ally is about opening the door for someone instead of insisting that your voice is the only one that matters.

We also need to stop normalizing hate and stop assuming hate speech is harmless, regardless of who it targets or who says it.

We can’t afford to keep pretending mental health issues stop at the boundaries of whiteness. Instead we have to be ready, willing, and able to embrace those for whom mental health is a struggle and to make sure that we aren’t contributing to their trauma under the guise of being helpful.

Even though I’m not Black, I did spend part of my childhood in poverty, and I observed and experienced systemic oppressions without really knowing what they were. And now I want to help so that others don’t have to live some of the experiences I did. If you can, check out this book.

And now, because it’s Friday, let’s throw back to my dazzling review of Rebecca Black’s hit song, “Friday.” Click this link, and … just prepare yourself for some overt tongue-in-cheekiness. Happy Friday, everyone. I’ll check in tomorrow and for the following 85 days, at least. Practice makes better.

Oh, dang. I just thought about posting while camping in June, limited cell phone service and all. Looks like I’ll have to plan ahead.

Weighing Heavily

Racism, hate, violence. There seems to be no end.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Yesterday I attended a Zoom meeting:

These panelists discussed the conditions of their respective Chinatowns. They shared ideas about how to revive them. They exchanged stories of very recent incidents–stabbings–of Asian hate. Please frequent your AAPI businesses. Let them know you support them. Understand that their sacrifices and hard work are integral to the fabric of our country. Please.

COVID Crisis in India

In last night’s sleepless doom scrolling, I came across this Twitter thread:

What struck me was that this thread came out over a year ago. But it felt like it could have come out last week. We take so much for granted.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

May 5 also happens to be the National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls. This was something that I’ve been aware of but haven’t been keeping foremost in my mind. And it should share space with all the other serious matters in our world. Absolutely heartrending.

Back 2012 I read The Round House, by Louise Erdrich. A harrowing tale, addressing issues of violence and hate within and projected onto indigenous communities. If you haven’t read her work, doing so would be a good start.

Spot the Difference

I hung up the hammock today! Felt symbolic.

Not in an overly deep way. The weather is finally warming and keeping relatively steady. And Z really likes the sensation of lying and swaying at the same time. Very soothing.

Both Z and Reilly get the summer off at the end of the school year, and so much relaxing and playing will happen. These summer months are often pleasant.

Got a text the other day from a friend. She and her husband are both fully vaccinated, and she told us as soon as we say the word, they’re game for hanging out.

We are, too.

When people have come over in the past year, they’ve worn masks, and they didn’t stay very long. How will it feel to loiter for hours with friends again? Maskless, even? Will it feel…wrong?

Speaking of, I’m cooking up a post about masks. Not sure if it’ll be indignant or not. Just kidding, I’m pretty sure my thoughts will be carrying some heat.

Anyway: warm weather, friends, so much time in the back yard. Reading, gardening, snoozing.

That’s the hammock.

It’s back up, everyone.

Seven Zinger Years

Dear Zinger,

The pandemic took over the world last year.

COVID-19 shut your school down the Friday right after your kindergarten IEP, and you didn’t attend school in person again until a year later, just a few weeks ago.

During that isolation period you turned six years old. You were already growing so big. Sorry for skipping your letter last year. Circumstances were a little hectic.

You lost your first tooth just before shutdown, on March 8.

You’ve lost four teeth since then: 10 April, 6 November 2020. 5 February and 13 March 2021. Another one is getting ready to come out. So exciting!

Your hair has grown so long. We last cut your hair just before kindergarten, and over a year-and-a-half later it desperately needs a trim.

You’ve navigated a full school year of online classes: last term of kindergarten and 2 trimesters of first grade. Your teachers accommodated us and took great care to keep everyone safe. At your IEP last month they all said they were impressed with your progress with online school. They were so proud of you.

I am so proud of you.

Seven years. Never have I felt more blessed, so lucky.

Sometimes I wish time would slow down. That I could spend as much time with you as possible. It’s all passing too quickly. We want the world you’re growing up in to be safe, and we want you to be healthy. We’re doing everything we can to prepare you for this world as your eyes widen and your exploring tendencies expand. We desire so much for you to realize your potential. Hopefully the pandemic will get under better control so you can roam more freely.

I’m so grateful you’re in our lives, a part of our family. We love you so much.

Happy birthday, big girl.

Love, Mom