But now, with altitude,
The bots are back.
Against all odds, I remembered this morning that today is Picture Day.
I wonder that the School Picture hasn’t gone the way of the Scratch ‘n’ Sniff t-shirt in an age where a teacher can just whip out her cell phone during class and upload, but apparently, there is still a market for generic photos of overdressed children.
They are hard to take seriously.
Even so, I pulled out the bots’ wedding outfits–buttondown shirts and nice pants. We attended a beautiful family wedding this past weekend and I took no pictures, so I figured I’d let Special EFX capture the bots’ Wedding Look.
But everyone knows you do your hair first.
Mbot’s coif was in its usual morning Harry Potter look-alike mode, so I dribbled a little water on it while he was rinsing toothpaste out of his mouth, and plugged in the blow dryer. He was excited about the blow dryer. He wanted to do his hair himself. I set the switch to “cool” and figured it’d be safe to go finish packing lunchboxes.
Silly me. I’d thought “cool” referred to temperature.
Several minutes later, the following conversation ensued over the sound of the blow dryer:
Gbot: “Mbot, are you done yet? Your hair looks completely perfect!”
Mbot: “I’m trying to make a Mohawk. Where’s the water, Gbot?”
Gbot: “I can get the water cup and fill it up!”
Gbot: “Here is the water!”
Mbot: “Okay, pour it on something!”
Gbot: “You mean your hair?”
Mbot: “No, a towel!”
Gbot: “I brought you the towel!”
Mbot: “Now, pour water on it!”
Then it was Gbot’s turn with the blowdryer.
Then, for some reason, perhaps because he likes playing with water, Gbot dampened his hair again.
But he didn’t realize the effect applying water would have.
Gbot: “Oh, my hair is back to curly! My fashion’s wearing off!”
Mbot: “I’m going to try to cool it outside.”
(Rushes out the front door to cool his hair.)
Mbot (rushing back inside): “Oh, I need to see if my fashion’s wearing off!”
(Disappears into bathroom.)
Mbot: “Oh! It’s not!”
They spent the ride to school discussing which world they were going to choose to have their picture taken in. These were their world choices:
I decided that DP140 was the lesser of the cheevils (cheesy evils), because, with the fanciful mushrooms and far-off castle, at least it didn’t look like it was trying to fool us into thinking it might be real. Mbot was very excited by the possibility of going into Mushroom World. Then I had to explain to the bots that they would not, in fact, be going into Mushroom World. The mushrooms would be added on a computer. They took it pretty well. Although, when we get the pictures back, Gbot, who preferred River World, might be disappointed to find that I sent him to Mushroom World instead.
When we hugged goodbye at school, Mbot was concerned that I not mess up his hair.
Mbot: “What if someone else messes it up?”
Me: “Then just say, ‘Hands off the ‘do, Dude!'”
Mbot: “I think I would feel a little bit foolish saying ‘Hands off the ‘do, Dude.'”
Me: “Then just ask them nicely not to touch your hair.”
And off they went, leaving me very glad I live in Bot World, and that it’s not just in my computer.
The 2013 AWP Conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) brought more than eleven thousand warm bodies to Boston this past weekend, and one cold one.
The conference is a gargantuan affair: three days; over five hundred panels, readings, and soirees; three vast exhibition halls in which a persistent attendee with a long attention span could peruse table upon table which, lined up end-to-end, would stretch approximately a mile–stacked with poetry, fiction, nonfiction, everything at the edges and everything in between.
By Day Three, this is how I looked.
Completely spaced out, wandering in the snow in search of anything but printed matter. Fortunately, there was a bowl of steaming clam chowder available in the hotel lobby a hundred yards away.
Boston, inspite or because of the two-day blizzard, was wonderful, from the Boston Baroque Ensemble to the mummies at the Museum of Fine Arts (in those few stolen hours between the five hundred panels, readings, and soirees). I met some very fine people. And I actually got a good idea on the plane flight home. Climbing aboard an airplane–alone– never fails to give me perspective that I don’t seem to be able to get anywhere else. Which is a shame, because driving is cheaper, and the neighborhood wine bar has more leg room.
It was a Halloween miracle, or several: Gbot’s brown turtleneck arrived via UPS at 3:45 p.m. Having forgotten to load up their pumpkin buckets, I bought the last $1.99 cauldron at the corner drugstore at 4:10 p.m. There was a $1.99 bat bag hanging above it. In spite of a still-coldy, sore-nosed Gbot (and after the application to the nostrils of Vaseline, which ingited a bout of wailing that only a piece of pizza could stop), we were all outfitted in time to take pictures. And Gbot wore his costume. All evening. The Great Pumpkin surely was watching over us.
I hope The Great Pumpkin was watching over you, too!
I just walked out the door holding two of Husbot’s shirts, folded. I am not on the way to the dry cleaner, nor does Husbot own shirts that require poisons to cleanse them; if they reach that state, they get thrown out.
I was headed to the coffee bar, which in addition to coffee, happens to serve a bracing New Zealand sauvignon blanc by the glass. Getting into the car with an armful of shirts by mistake just illustrates how dire my quest was: I am in a state that requires poison to cleanse me.
Yes, it is only 3:29. This is my first and will probably be my last drink of the day, if you’re not counting an oversized homemade iced decaf mocha and not enough water.
It hasn’t been a bad day. In fact, it’s been a good day. It just feels like it’s been about three days, since 6 a.m. Probably because I’m trying to steer us all to a successful Halloween.
I should have gone to bed earlier last night; instead, I sat up practicing face painting. Which I scheduled myself to do for two hours tomorrow morning at Mbot’s preschool. Not only did I offer to repeat last year’s effort, which was valiant if not entirely successful (read about it here!), but to paint a panel of sample designs so that the woman who will take over for me during the afternoon Spookfest will avoid the embarrassment of instantaneously forgetting what a frog looks like when called upon to conjure one onto a four-year-old’s cheek.
Facepainting is kind of like regular painting, except really fast on a moving target. So even Picasso might have messed it up. Of course, chances are, you wouldn’t be able to tell if he did.
I find, while I sit here with my glass of Infamous Goose, I need to list the day’s triumphs:
Harry Potter gown hemmed (with black duct tape) and ironed.
Harry Potter broom padded at the dangerous end with black fleece. Extra glue added between handle and bristles to preempt mid-trick-or-treat meltdown due to falling-apart broom.
Chipless Dale costume examined and sighed over. Projected chance that Gbot will actually wear it without a fuss: 60%.
Chances that I’ll mess up the face painting required to produce a smile and two buck teeth on Gbot’s lower face tomorrow: an even 50%.
Garbage taken out.
Car washed. (Really. Needed. To Be. Done.)
Doggie poop cleaned up off living room floor.
Gbot’s nose wiped (twenty times. Tail end of cold.)
Hands washed between doggie poop pick-up and nose-wiping.
A still-coldy Gbot cuddled extra and listened to while wailing over 1. missing his chance to count down for Mbot before he launched out the door to the playground. 2. missing his chance to strap himself into car because he was wailing about missing his chance to count down for Mbot.
Husbot pissed off at wife’s attitude when he came home from work at 2:45 to spell me ’til 5. Excuse wife for not breaking out her first date smile when he threatens to lull them to sleep at 4 pm, which means she’ll be up ’til 9 p.m. putting them to sleep again.
The good news: I am almost ready for Halloween! And my friends and relatives on the Eastern seaboard are safe.
Last but not least, about the photo: I took this two weeks ago in Idaho’s Wood River Valley. Every year, my parents’ neighbor, architect and spare-time-hilarious-actor-in-local-productions, Steve Pruitt, put this witch up at the corner. Steve passed last fall, having lost a long battle with a rare kind of cancer. I never actually met him in person, but many years ago, I saw him in Don Quixote, and I still remember how hard I laughed. Other neighbors have taken up the Halloween witch-in-trouble ritual. And one morning in mid-October, we found her at the end of the rainbow.
Some friends generously sent us home from a playdate with a sample from their backyard watermelon patch. Mbot promptly dropped it, which is the best way to find out if it’s ready to eat. The dinosaur thought so, but was a bit outsized.
The antique cat was less impressed:
In the end, we gutted and ate it. No pictures of that. We were all too sticky. It was kind of sad to slay the little guy. Gave a new dimension to the old saying, “I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me.”
Today we’ll just add some fresh basil leaves and crumbled feta, and finish him off. We have no remorse.
There has been more rain this summer than any summer in the last five years. Which means that here in West Phoenix, we’ve been rained on maybe eight times since March, and all in the last three weeks. As the heat builds over the desert, clouds begin building over the Bradshaw Mountains, twenty miles to the north. Some years, they build for a month of afternoons, hovering like a promise on the horizon and vanishing by morning into a dense humidity that dissipates in the baking oven of midmorning.
But this year, the rain has been falling. The timing coincided with my lugging the livingroom rug outside and draping it over the patio railing to hose off after the latest bouts of canine incontinence. My plan was that it would dry in twelve hours, at which point I’d bring it back in and call the rug cleaner. But then it rained, so I left it out to dry. And then it rained again. And again.
But while the rug was languishing in the storms and the eucalyptus on the front lawn came down one night, the bots reveled in the puddles appeared and reappeared miraculously overnight. One of Mbot’s fashion-foward friends asked her mother if she could buy a “mud suit” especially for playing in puddles. The bots are not so concerned about specific mud duds. For them, anything will do, from diapers to school clothes.
But while my patience for tomatoes smashed on a door is limited, my patience for mud-soaked weebots is about infinite. I grew up in Juneau, Alaska, on the edge of a coastal rainforest. It was a world of reflections. Although I found the near-constant overcast oppressive, the reflections–on the bay, on the wet macadam, in the puddles on the playground–were like live scraps of energy, rippling with their own life–maybe I liked them so much because like liquid mirrors, they added light to world of blues and grays.
I have come to crave the rain here like I craved the sun there. And so when the puddles appear, we sit in them. And we pay the extra fee for having the backing on the rug replaced because, it turns out, saturation is not nearly as good for rugs as it is for children.
Aside from last night, when Gbot shook an enormous red thigh until a lone, leftover Tootsie Pop fell out, life P.I. (Post Ironman) has returned to normal. It’s a heavy, pre-monsoon 106 degrees outside our air-conditioned box, and so we went to the zoo early. The fun of visiting the zoo often and at different times of day is that it offers the opportunity to see all of the animals active some of the time. Yesterday, one of the normally sedate Colobus monkeys was zooming back and forth across forty feet of tree branch, long white fringes flying, making him look like a throwback from the seventies; any minute I expected him to hop on a mechanical bull.
Mbot wanted to ride the merry-go-round, but the zoo was in sleepy summer weekday mode and it wasn’t open. As we walked past the silent carousel, Mbot asked thoughtfully, “Do you think the guy who works there has to stay home and listen to his mother?”
A little further on, Gbot broke free, raced past the monkeys and the birds, and disappeared around the eucalyptus trees. I knew where he was heading: to the reptile house. The bots are in thrall to reptiles these days, as long as they are alive and not just a reconstructed set of ancient bones. I found him using his whole small body to angle open the glass door. It was all his thirty-seven pounds could do to keep it open long enough for me to slip through, too. He looked up, his rump and shoulders still pressed hard against the glass, and said from beneath sweaty curls, “I opened the door with my AMAZING POWERS!”
It occurred to me that he had never opened that door before. Had never been allowed to; had never been able to. And now he could. It wouldn’t have been any more amazing if I had suddenly shot a web out of my index finger and pinkie and swung on it into the top of the eucalyptus.
My single-minded pursuit of the perfect Ironman last week removed me from the daily reminders of how amazing the weebots’ world is, and mine. The most amazing power, I think, is the power to be amazed.
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He was one by the village clock….
He was two by the village clock.
And hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that baby without hair.*
*With a nod to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote that long poem.