North Carolina has been an inferno these past weeks, and everybody's got their own way of beating the heat. I'm all about the Cook Out milkshakes, but the chickens have a different strategy. They scratch the grass away in patches and then roll around in the cool earth below. Batty is an enthusiastic dust-bather.
Tiny Dog suffers a bad haircut in order to get a little relief from the heat.
I have been drooling over Ana White's blog, Knock Off Wood for several months now. The woman is a genius. She looks at these catalogs that come in the mail with overpriced, yet drool-worthy furniture in them and she says, "Hmmm, I can do that." Then she drafts the plans and posts them on her blog for the discounted price of...FREE! As a bonus, she offers lots of encouragement and brightly colored pictures to inspire the newbywordworker. When I first found the blog I could feel the seeds of a serious obsession being sown. I said, "You can build something when you get the storage shed cleaned out." But I kept going back to the blog and I changed my goal, "You can build something when you are caught up on the laundry." And I went back to my browsing and drooling. Finally, last weekend my goal suddenly and urgently became, "You can build something if you can find someone to loan you a vehicle large enough to haul wood." Thanks to David, his generosity, and his ginormous station wagon, my itch to build was going to be scratched.
Measuring and cutting, with Ana onsite via laptop and wireless internet (Also, notice the uncut backyard grass. It's all about priorities, I say.):
I picked a lovely shade between blue and green. I'm rather whimish about paint colors. I like this one a lot. I read the comments attached to Ana's plans and saw that multiple builders highly recommended painting the boards before assembly. Normally I'm an instant gratification kind of DIYer and tend to skip steps that are associated with lengthy preparation. However, in this case I went with pre-painting and have not regretted it.
I found out that building is hot work, so Isaac and I made a run to Cookout, the local fastfood place fully staffed with certified Milkshake Magicians. They have so many flavors of milkshake that listing them all on the drive-thru menu makes the font so small that you can't really read it. It's best to just order your fantasy milkshake without referring to the menu at all. I guarantee they have it. I got a strawberry cheesecake shake.
When working alone, I highly recommend investing in a bunch of extra hands, aka wood clamps:
And here she is! (Also notice now that the yard is mostly-mowed. Thank goodness for that unproductive waiting-for-paint-to-dry period. Otherwise I wouldn't have gotten any chores done this weekend!):
After macaroni cheese, cake, ice cream, a little lego time, Isaac and I sat and talked through the last nine years. The day he was born, coming into the world with a concise little "Meh." His first year of constant grins and giggles. The second year, when he met his best friend Linden. The third year, spent horizontal on the floor scooting trains, trucks, and cars around. Four years old when he started school and met his first teacher, Carrie, who he will love forever. The 5th year party with the Spider Man bounce house -- how we laughed! Six-year-old Isaac with his jokes and gags (I didn't get them but they were always funny). Seven years is when he moved to Lower El and started eating vegetables (finally!). When he was eight he became a chicken whisperer, certifiable.
Then Isaac asked me to sing all of the songs I used to sing. We did If-I-Were-A-Gorilla and A-You're-Adorable and There-Once-Was a-Farmer and Oh-Lord-Won't-You-Buy-Me. It was fun.
But when I tucked Isaac in bed, I noticed the turned down corners of his mouth and the little quivery thing that his cheeks do when he's trying not to cry.
"You sad buddy?" "Well, no." "Really." "I guess." "What made you sad?" "Just talking about oldy days."
That's what he said. Just talking about the oldy days. There were some tears. And we talked about bittersweetness and nostalgia and how we all feel that way some of the time. Especially on birthdays.
My brother Steve had a nickname in high school. He was big and strong and played football. He was the Smasher. He had a theme song. We (his devoted fans) roared it from the bleachers every Friday night and it went a little like this:
Here comes the Smasher.
Seek and Destroyer.
Here comes the Smasher.
Maim and Dismember.
Here comes the Smasher.
Kill and Devour.
I didn't earn it, I promise, but by association some of the other jocks called me Baby Smash. I didn't appreciate it and it definitely didn't help my chances of attracting a boyfriend. To tell the truth, I've held a grudge about all these years. Always hoped I'd get my paybacks. I'm here to tell you that, though it can take a while, all things come full circle eventually. It took 15 years, but finally my brother has gotten all that was coming to him and then some -- in has come in the form of Julian, my brother's baby boy, the Smashingest of all Baby Smashes. He's a menace, I tell you. A twinkling, mischief-making, butterball who specializes in chaos, disorder and mayhem. Don't believe an eight month old is capable? Here's proof. Doesn't he just ooze impishness?
Every time I look at him lately I hear that theme song.
When plotting a demolition: "It's Baby Smasher, Seek and Destroyer."
When tearing apart a bag of tupperware: "It's Baby Smasher, Maim and Dismember."
When leaving teeth marks on his cousin's toys: "It's Baby Smasher, Kill and Devour."
He even growls. I kid you not. Like a little bear cub.
Elias came to visit this morning and brought some belly laughs along with him. He tried on one of my sundresses and danced around the kitchen, taking requests as he went. Isaac asked for an Irish jig and Elias happily delivered, skirts swinging.
Then I sent the two goofballs outside to get their sillies out on the trampoline.
Elias played hat snatcher.
But Isaac, who has a wealth of experience protecting his very snatchable hat, took Elias down before he got too far with it.