Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good-bye My Babies

Every time I came out to check on the dog, there were more skeins of yarn out...like he was starting a knitting project. The sign says: Where's my scarf, Howdy?
 Sigh...Big sigh. The Grand Monsters (lovingly said, of course) went home today, back to the land of the giant star. At last my home is quiet. Almost too quiet. Nobody is demanding that I fill up their candy container. There are no calls for cartoons or mass fairy book readings. Nowhere is there a baby climbing up to clutch at things on the table or frazzled moms grabbing them back down. No one scrambles to catch the dog before it escapes out the front door to go sniff everything or eats a W&W off the floor. There are no more horse clopping sounds or shouts of, "Stand and Deliver!" or "Reach for da sky!" (I have BRILLIANT babies.)

It smells of fairy wing glue, and spilled dog food and faintly of dirty diaper and W&W's and the duct tape with which all good knights repair their swords. It no longer reeks of old doll clothes and ancient books and childhood, as they took the bags of dolls and toys we bestowed upon them, some to keep and some to give to others. It smells of Uno cards and defeat at the hands of El Scarifo. And the spicy scents of a large Pasketti dinner still hang about the dish mountain.

I must say that a few tears always escape my eyes when I see the back end of their car pulling into the distance. Such scenes are always accompanied by the echoing strains of the song from Fiddler on the Roof, Far From the Home I Love. There's always that hint of a question, "When will I see them again?"

The simple answer is, "Never." Never at that adorable age will I see them again--that moment caught in magical amber. By the next time they'll have learned to speak in full sentences, perform complex algorithms, tie theirs and other people's shoes (together), and dance the pas de deux from Swan Lake. They'll have learned to speak several different languages and crochet doilies and lop the heads off dragons with one fell swoop. 

Or something.

Will I ever be vanquished again by a sword I just gave the boy? Who knows? Will the Boo ever give such deliciously messy kisses? No clue. Will he ever come to my knee and gently eat all my breakfast? Maybe. Will he still enjoy drinking Ranch dressing straight, no chasers? Doubtful. Will the Ace ever need my help deciphering Presidential facts? Probably not. She'll be running for president soon.

Howdy-the-Dog will be greatly missed as well, even though he killed a sock, a peanut butter lid, two W&W containers, and several skeins of yarn. What will we do for jolting dog-hop exercise now? And how will we ever get our feet licked clean? My son is definitely going to miss his snoring buddy. He wants a dog so much he can taste it.

So. Even though several things lie in more pieces than they did before the Rumbling Herd got here, and even though I got exactly Zero words written, and even though we were up until well after midnight every night trying to corner the market on flax or swipe El Scarifo's rifle, I already miss them.

Ah for Christmas vacation. We shall be armed with more W&W's than even the Glazed Donut Monster can consume in a month, chew toys we don't care about, and a hefty supply of card-game vengeance.

Bring it on, Babies.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Boy in a Boat

This is my nod to Scouting leadership.

A Boy in a Boat

I set a boy adrift in a boat, out on a choppy sea.
The waves were high, 
Crashing over the bow
So I bid him come back to me.

But I gave him no oars nor a brave coxswain
Nor a captain to guide his hand
I expected the boy to save himself
Tho he truly did not understand.

Who, then, should I blame if the boy in the boat
Founders and sinks 'neath the waves?
I stood safely on shore, merely looking on
'Stead of being the one who saves.

Be the brave lighthouse, be the Captain, the rope
Be the person who shows the boy in
Don't let him founder for want of a guide
Be the one he can count on to win.

Give him the oars he can use himself
To pull the boat into the shore
Then light his way o'er the rocks and the shoals
For that's what a leader is for.
© 2014 by H. Linn Murphy

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Swamp Camping

Recently we went camping with another family with lots of little children. Those children are brilliant, as geeky as we in our family are, and hilarious. I just had to get that in there.
Ramming speed, Girl!

So we trundled out to the area, not in the mountains as once I had hoped, but in a valley. Here in the desert that means normally it would be hotter than a smoker in the Marianas Trench (pretty toasty for those of you who don't keep up with marine biology or watch Blue Planet). To add to that, the campsite was located on a road between two weed-filled ponds. I envisioned hoards of goat-sized mosquitoes plunging from the clouds to siphon up gallons of our blood. I also envisioned one or more of the tots flinging themselves (or accidentally falling) into any of three large ponds.

What I did not envision was that directly after dinner the first salad plate-sized drops of an all-night deluge would begin. Luckily we'd already set up our tents...on the road in a line. I quickly questioned the parents of aforesaid tots about whether there was any history of sleepwalking in their family, as our own is rife with it. Luckily none of their children had sleepwalked while camping. A felicitous thought.

Normally I make three or four trips to the facilities each night. I was dreading the thought. I made one trek out to the outhouses down a muck-glazed road. Before I'd gotten ten feet I looked as if I'd fallen in the pond. I found that what had been touted as a rain poncho on the cover, was actually a windbreaker sans hat. So much for being prepared for every eventuality. To add to that and the knee-deep mud, the hand washing hose pump was solar-powered. Hence no water. Which wasn't a problem right then. I could simply hold my hands in the air and they'd be washed clean in under thirty seconds.
Hunting the great carp

Upon getting back to the tents after nearly slipping to my drowning death in the pond nearby, I found that not only was I covered in mud, but I really had no wish to sit outside in the rain and chat, as my Hubs was. So I went to bed. Which would have been pleasant, except that the rain was making it inside in about eight different ways. I tried unsuccessfully to make my bed an island. It was warm enough that I slept on top of the sleeping bag in a blanket sack I'd made as a liner for cold weather camps. Unfortunately that sack made a fabulous wick. The tip of it dipped into the burgeoning puddle and as the night wore on, wicked up further and further. Finally I sat up and yelled, "OK! TAKE THE REST OF IT!" at the puddle and donated the sack to the cause of sopping up the water so that it wouldn't soak my clothes. Which didn't work.

So everything was soaking wet. I could deal with that for a night. No problem. I wasn't even chilly. What I had a rougher time hacking was the chorus of bullfrog mating honks. All night. LOUD. Right next to us. I wanted to yell, "GET A ROOM!!!" until I realized we were sitting in their room. Around two pm we heard something that seemed to be trying to get into our food coolers. Anticipating a coon or a ring-tailed cat or coatimundi, the Hubs shone his flashlight out there and the rustles retreated to the tree. We continued to chat and suddenly heard a Ca-RACKKKK and a SPLOOSH. The Hubs and I doubled over in laughter thinking that that coon had fallen into the pond. But we didn't hear any splashing of a struggle. So apparently it either didn't fall in and was still lurking in the tree somewhere, or was immediately consumed by the cow-sized carp that lurk in the ponds. At any rate, it left the coolers alone. I got maybe an hour of light dozing that night.

The next day dawned watery but sunny. We aired things out clear up until we left, not wanting to haul home exceeding amounts of muck. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and sausage, we packed up most of it and went canoing.
We can beat 'em on the turn

The ponds could be called tiny lakes. I believe those things were mostly under five feet deep. I reached my paddle down to the bottom several times to check. Also, they were infested with lake weed which rose above the surface in many places. So for the giant carp to navigate, much of their bodies were above the surface. They left wakes like a motorboat. The Hubs was in front and saw several of the monsters. We chased them all over the pond. I wanted to see them up close too, but the bounders were too fast. Later when I went back out with my friend Lisa, we could find none of them. We found out that they had made their way to an underground culvert, which they used to escape to another of the ponds for safety.

After much pirate talk and plans to "ram the beggars" which we nixed after we saw how easy it would be to hole a canoe, we packed up the cars and wended our way home. That afternoon the house looked as if it was infested with mud monsters from the Black Lagoon. I still have several loads of tent and sleeping bags to wash and dry and put back together. And I hope none of those coolers contain anything other than bullrushes and air.

That 'squint-into-the-sun selfie
And of course there was the dialogue about what we'd do differently as we drove home. For one thing, I'm bringing my REAL poncho, not that stupid windbreaker. And for another, there's got to be a better way to keep the water out of our tent. And earplugs for the bullfrogs.