Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Papier-mâché, Pumpkins, and Neon Red Hair


My son is Gaara today. Gaara is a Japanese anime character.

It was very important, in that all-consuming, twelve-year-old way, that he be Gaara. And being Gaara requires spiky red hair, a huge gourd carried on his back, black clothing, a red belt, white strips of cloth...

And so the weekend was spent trying to figure out how to make the gourd. We decided early on that papier mâché (which, by the way, is French for "chewed up paper) was the way to go. But how to get the shell? First we tried chicken wire, but couldn't get it to bend the right way. Then we tried balled-up newspapers but couldn't get it to take shape. (Plus I was worried about the liquid soaking through to the middle and never drying.) Eventually we dicided to stuff two garbage bags half full with newspapers, then to stuff one bag in the other for a "gourd" shape, and then to tape newspaper around the bags to give the papier-mâché something to adhere to, and then to do the gunky deed itself. Final size is about 30" x 12", gourd-shaped.

The formation of the shape happened on Sunday -- a joint project. He did the newspaper-and-flour-glue type stuff on Monday night. On Monday morning I realized that the gourd wasn't drying thick and hard enough to keep it from breaking during a night of being carried around, so I added another layer of goo myself, then took the blow-dryer to it to be sure it was dry enough to paint by nighttime.

After school, we went and picked up paint and brushes, then went to Supercuts to get his hair cut short enough to spike. Then to the party store for swords and neon red hairspray. Then to Target for dark shirt and pants and hair gel for the spikes. Then to the fabric store for the fabric to tie around the gourd. (Two hours, total. Just so you know.) Then he spent a fair bit of the rest of the evening painting the gourd, then drawing in the markings, then spraying it with a sealant.

Right before bedtime, he came to me looking panicked. "Mom," he said, "I forgot I need a red strip of cloth to hold the gourd in place." Fortunately his mom is a quilter. I tracked down a yard or reddish-orange hand-dyed fabric, ripped it into strips and sewed them into one strip long enough to wrap around both him and the gourd. (The look of gratitude on his face was payment for the missed sleep.)

This morning he got up and showered and got dressed. We spent the next twenty minutes spiking his hair, then drying it, then spraying it neon red. Add the draped fabric strips and a bit of eyeliner, and voilà, Gaara. (But the gourd has been saved for tonight for logistical reasons.)

His dad took him to school. He got there, looked around... And panicked. Nobody, on first view, had dressed up. He and my husband sat there for awhile, each probably frantically thinking of alternate plans. Then several people in costume showed up, and my son took a deep breath and headed off into the world of junior high.

It's tough being an individual at this age. You desperately want to stand out but don't want any negative consequences. He's a resilient kid, though. He can take what comes. And I hope for the best.

This afternoon our older two are coming home to carve pumpkins. This is always fun, but moreso now that they're not always around. I've waited to mop the flour drippings off the floor until after the pumpkin carving, because there's no sense in doing it twice.

And then my youngest will head out for what may be his last round of trick-or-treating, and the older two will head back for a college Halloween.

And I will stay home and give out candy and try not to spend too much time thinking about knights and princesses and Halloweens past, as Gaara the Outcast makes his way in the world.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Passing the Blogging Torch

My twelve-year-old is a seventh grader in a 7-9 junior high. It's been a bit of a shock for him. In elementary school, everybody accepted everybody. In junior high, not so much. There are cliques and identities and a need to fit in. He's not unathletic, but he's not a jock. He doesn't quite fit the brainiac label either. He's not interested enough in conformity to be part of the "popular" clique. And so the first weeks of school were a bit tough.

He's finding his way, though. He seems to have a girlfriend, a sweet, nice, cute, vivacious, and totally non-cheerleaderesque type who goes to a different school. And he's fallen in love with Anime, Japanese-style animation. And he's sharpening his wit, which, like the rest of the family's, was already pretty well-honed to begin with.

The other night he had me help him start a blog. And what did he call it? "[Name's] Random Musings." How cute is that? And here is his most recent entry. (And yes, he asked me for permission to include the word "sucks." I gave it after some discussion.)

man.... my computer sucks


I tried to log on but as soon as the computer said welcome, it logged me out. NOT what I would call a warm welcome..... then I tried to log on a second time and I got as far as trying to email a friend when it freakin' logged me out again!! This computer has it out to get me. I really mean it. Then when Iwas trying to get onto my blog, it froze and I had to wait for five minutes more or less. I'm finally on my site- but then it won't let me log on! IS THERE NO WAY OUT??!!?? But then I realized that I forgot my 101 on my username...

Like shikamaru says, "it too troublesome"

so here I am writing all of what happened to my computer on my blog.

I have no life


Is this my child or what?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What Are People Looking For?

On one of my soccer blogs, I get semi-frequent hits for search strings like, "Thierry Henry Naked" and "Lilian Thuram Naked." I'm not sure why this is, because I don't offer anything along those lines. Well, yeah, okay, maybe I've posted a shirtless photo or two. But naked? I think not. And yet Google continues to send them my way.

And Christmas is less than two months away, and the Stop the Cavalry hits are beginning anew. Last year I was one of the top destinations worldwide for people looking for lyrics and music to my favorite Christmas son, Stop the Cavalry. Seriously, I was one of the top ten hits for multiple related search strings, including my personal favorite, "Dub-a-dub-a-dum." And I got hits from, literally, all over the world. Made me darn proud. I'll be posting something similar this year, so stay tuned.

I'm also continuing to get many, many hits for search strings like "CCCP Jacket." The majority of them come from South Korea, for some reason, and they're not from the same ISP#. I would love to know the story here, but I probably never will. They come, they read my story, they leave. (If you are one of these people, please stay awhile and tell your story!)

And for some reason I have recently been getting a lot of hits for strings along the lines of "How to Talk to a Teenage Boy." Funny thing here is that they lead to a post about a teenage boy who doesn't talk. At least not to parents. It's not in his nature. And, believe it or not, I've come to accept that about him. Perhaps these people go away reassured? Or maybe not...

I've also recently gotten several hits for "poisonous spider in Washington." My guess would be that this is because it's the season for our humongous European House Spiders to make their appearance, and folks want some reassurance that these things in their houses won't kill them. Fear not, fellow Washingtonians. They're harmless.

And wherever you come from, know that when you stop by, you're welcome here. Come back again!

Monday, October 22, 2007

One Problem We Do Not Have in America


We all know America has problems, right? Corruption, erosion of rights, war profiteering, special interests owning the process that should belong to regular people, leaders unwilling to stand up for what's right...
It's all a bit scary.


I'll tell you what we don't have, though.


We don't have officials being killed by wild bands of marauding monkeys.


I guess we should be thankful for the small things.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Life, and Death, and Blogging

I sat here at the computer yesterday reading old blog posts with tears running down my face. It was a year ago that my father-in-law, who suffered from Alzheimers, had his second heart attack. He passed away ten days later after a roller coaster of events and emotions.

There was nothing I could do to stop or alter the process, so I blogged. And now reading about it again is almost like reliving it -- the difficulty of being an in-law, the mixed emotions involved when you lose someone with Alzheimer's, the wish that all of the rest of life could just stop so that death was all you needed to focus on. It's all there, to be experienced again. And it's somehow healing to read it now.

In going through the old posts I'm also struck by my own need, as this was going on, to occasionally focus on something else entirely unrelated to what was happening in real life. Reading back, watching myself turn my back on unfolding events to write on frivolous topics, it seems insensitive. Cold, even. And yet, having lived through the events themselves, I know how necessary it was, sometimes, to just escape.

(If you'd like to read the series, go to the October posts. Scroll down and start reading at the 16th and work your way up.)

I once read that sex is the natural response to death. It makes sense, doesn't it? To react to the loss of life with the act that can create it? But I wonder if creating -- writing, or painting, or quilting -- is not also a natural response. The need to say, yes, this is me, this is what I can create, this is what I have to offer this world, this is what will remain for awhile, at least, after I am gone.

And so we write, and we paint, and we quilt, in the hopes that somewhere, somehow, after we're gone, someone will say, "This person is dead, but look at what she gave us when she was alive."

My grandmother never sat down without some kind of craft project in her hands. Embroidery and crochet were the most common, but she also quilted. She's been dead thirteen years now, but I still have a couple of crocheted potholders, and an embroidered dishtowel, and some quilt blocks that she made.

I'm not sure she created for posterity. I think she created simply because she was not capable of not creating.

I write for the same reason. But if, someday, a great-great-grandchild should stumble on something I've written, and should understand, for a moment, a facet of my life?

Final score: Laurie 1, Death 0

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Small World of Blogging


My L@ s0ccer bl0g got an e-mail the other day that for some reason really touches me. There is a sweet trust and faith to sending off something you've created to someone you don't know.

Hi,

My name's "F" and I am from Poland. I read on theoffside.com that every user can write an articule, so I decided to write mine and I am sending it with hope that you would like it. As a person from non-English country, my English is not perfect yet but I am learning for 9 years. Of course there is a possibility that I've made some mistakes.
My text is about Abel Xavier, interesting footballer from Portugal. He's L@ G@l@xy player so I sent it to this e-mail.

I look forward to your opinion or reply about it. I have only written articules for Polish websites so far but I want to improve my 'skills' and try in theoffside.com

Greetings
,


The article he attaches is about Abel Xavier, the guy in the photo, who was bought by the G@laxy this summer to strengthen the back line. He's become one of my favorites.

And yes, I'm going to use what he wrote, as soon as I get a couple of clarifications of words I don't understand. (And provided he understands that all of us who write for the site write for love, not money.) I'll only make a couple of spelling and grammar corrections, and otherwise I'll leave it as it. The syntax and word choices make it real.

It's win-win. I get a blog post I don't have to write, and he gets to say he's written for an American site.

Sometimes it's a good thing to take a chance.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Not French, but European (with Eight Legs)


This little gentleman is a European House Spider. I tend to think of him more as a "Seattle House Spider," though, because I never saw one till I moved here.

And where do Seattle House Spiders live?

Why, in Seattle houses, of course. These are indoor spiders, not outdoor spiders, and they love basements and garages and dark closets.

For some reason I don't remember any close encounters with these guys in the two apartments I lived in after I moved here, but we made our acquaintance once my husband and I bought our first house.

I remember it clearly. I had watched "Arachnophobia" the night before. I got up that morning, took a shower, climbed out, grabbed the towel off the towel rack, and felt movement on my chest. My spider friend had apparently been sleeping inside my towel.

The word "scream" does not even begin.

Since then we have more or less made our peace. I have accepted the fact that they play a role in our ecosystem, and that these humogo guys are largely responsible for the fact that we have ver few poisonous spiders in western Washington. (Our Euro friends consider their venomous cousins to be delightful dining companions.) These spiders like to crawl around rooms at ceiling level in our basement, and as long as they stay there, I'm generally happy to let them be.

All bets are off when they decide to take a water break, though.

I shower in the basement bathroom. And I am incredibly nearsighted. Without my contacts or glasses, everything is fuzzy colors. And when one of these spiders gets wet, its legs kind of wrap up around itself and it shrinks. And my myopic eyes can't really tell the differenct between a spider, floating, and a clump of my older son's long, dark hair that he perhaps didn't clean from the drain. (And yes, I do usually clear the drains before getting into the shower, but occasionally I forget.)

So last week I saw a huge dark lump in the water on the side of the tub as I was getting in. And I'm thinking, "Must be just hair." I jumped out, got my glasses...and saw one of the hugest spiders I'd ever seen. I grabbed the vacuum cleaner, sucked him up, got undressed again, took off my glasses, turned on the water, climbed in, and...EEK! Another dark thing swirling around my feet. But surely this one...

It was another spider. This is the first time I've ever gotten a shower two-fer. And this one was too soggy to vacuum, so I had to grab it with toilet paper and flush it. And as I was about to drop it in the toilet, it started to wiggle again...

Shudder. And it's not even Halloween.

I will never, ever again get into the shower without shaking out the shower curtain. Twice.