we are all squirrels here

Mr. Squirrel likes to have resources stored away. When I was nursing, there was nothing he delighted in more than taking a peek at the freezer stash of milk bags. Sure, he liked to see them all in there because it meant he could feed our boy from a bottle. But the real thrill was knowing that there was a stash saved up. He likes pesto and blueberries in the freezer, he likes wood piles, he likes the physical evidence of our survival for the future.

I mean, it’s great! But not really my kind of thrill.

This Squirrel, by contrast, likes to make things. Yes, sewing skirts again! These are # 8 and #9 Barcelona Skirts by Amy Butler. They are modified, of course. I started making 19″ versions a while back, something shorter and more fun. And also thrifty, because as you can see here you can get two skirts by cutting your fabric yardage down the center crease!
  
They are lined, and with a contrast color zipper in back. Notice this beautiful roundy blue and white print? It was a tea towel given to me by Miss Joanie, way back. And I knew upon sight that I would never use it as a tea towel — the pattern was way too pleasing and it would need to be something to wear or carry. Also because: Miss Joanie Magic.

And more inspiration came from B., who had whipped out her own new skirt of this lightweight denim with an offset contrast band like the one at left. Mind-blowing idea. This is a friend who has an extremely busy life and is unbelievably talented at everything she does (and yet pretty mellow about all of her excellence) and she recently embarked on a new adventure of her own…and I was thinking, wow, I could be sewing too.

But because I’m me, certainly talented in my own right but not very spatial or numerical in my intelligence (unlike B.), I needed a lot of mathematical support from Mr. Squirrel the Math Teacher about how to cut out the contrast fabrics. I COULD have figured it out on my own, but I might have needed to construct a paper model to have it make sense to me.

And after years of feeling really irritated by the strangely shaped, awkwardly sized, spiraling, knotty, or otherwise unusual pieces of wood that do not fit nicely with their straight and narrow compatriots, and generally tossing them behind the pristine woodpile, I have come up with a solution. We now have a Fly Your Freak Flag Woodpile, pictured above, for those punk rockers, those iconoclasts, who are curvaceous, funky, and nonconformist. They seemed to want an organically-shaped woodpile made in their own image and I think they are much happier in their own place of prominence than being tossed away and shamed to the back of the woodpile.

And this, below, is one way that my big boy, out taking the world by storm now, shows his mother that he cares. He created 21 Drive To School Playlists for me; each one is just about the right length to get me to or from school. Who is lucky enough to get a mixtape from their own teenage son?!

This girl is, that’s who.
#4 was pretty great, ending on the perfect Pirates of the Caribbean “pump up” note as I pulled into the parking lot. (“It’s been emotional” is a dialogue clip from the movie Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, a cult fave around here and one of my favorite parts of parenting a teenager…sharing the best cult classics in books and movies.) For me, Alejandro will always be his pump up song, because it was what we were listening to as he tied on his tie in the car on that icy, frigid New Hampshire morning, so that he could go have his interview at the school where he is now attending. It took at least three tries to get the tie right.

And #7 also has its charm, particularly the juxtaposition of the first and second songs, somehow perfectly summing up the boy and teen.

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So much was done.

These two: mostly brothers from way way back. They were two of the quietest small boys in their kindergarten, just sitting near each other, mostly in silence. They had some big plans recently, things to finish up in advance of Jonas’s departure. Such as the above world map, painted on Jonas’s wall. They had traced it out using  a projector earlier this year and then got down to brass tacks and painted it, over the course of 8 hours in one day.

The next day they walked from our house to his house, which are 31 miles apart. The result was a lot of blisters, but they were hardcore (being 16 and 18, respectively), and so they ran the last two miles in the dark (with flourescent shirts and headlamps). There is no limit to what these two can do, obviously, and they also made videos of both adventures which, annoyingly, are not on YouTube so I can’t share them.
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~tiny whales on a bowtie! little Magrittes for a lover of apples!~

SONY DSCThen, there was the preparation to leave, which included the usual packing up and organizing, but also just for fun, finishing up an online AP class right down to the wire, and for extra extra fun, wisdom teeth extraction! I have a whole poem about the waiting room experience, vis a vis listening to classic rock and all the most important news (everything Tom Brady), all. morning.long.

These ties and bowties are from a few of his fans. I sent out a little invitation to participate in a tie/bowtie send-off and they came through! I presented them to him while he was recovering from the teeth surgery— little colorful packages and notes of encouragement. Think of all that love, living in his closet this year.
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This love note was written on our steps on the morning of his departure, a little art from a friend who came in the night for a last goodbye. I got teary then.
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I made his bed in his dorm room. No top sheet, his forever preference. His room overlooks one of the quads, so green and shady.
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~science building~

Leaving him, I felt awestruck. And as the week has progressed, the adjustment is settling in with the just three of us. Mostly the part that is hard is that I can’t read him every moment, to know how he really is. But this is the new life! Moving forward and on his own, the same way it was strange when he went off to kindergarten and there were whole parts of his life that I was suddenly no longer part of. Letting go and trusting, just some of the biggest themes of parenting.

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~library!~
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~a history classroom in the library~

Here’s a poem about our golden boy who still lives at home…


 

Last Summer Sleep

Your arm was extended in repose,

golden wrist and hand limned in that ray of early September sun.

The rumpled nest of quilts

were pooled around your sleeping form,

and I watched you

breathing in and out—

that beautiful line of your elbow and arm rising up to meet your wrist,

like Adam’s casual response to God’s outstretched forefinger.

 

God was making all the effort.

And Adam was like,

“…whatever,”

lounging back in the nude,

a bit laissez faire, if you ask me,

in the face of God’s intensity of *capital-C* Creation.

Like He was on some sort of cosmic merry-go-round

and if He didn’t put out his finger just right in that exact moment,

really quickly,

—and despite that terribly awkward position—

He might have missed the golden ring.

“Dammit, Adam, could you at least sit up? And put out your finger! Come on man, make an effort!”

 

There you were,

enjoying that last delicious sleep of the summer.

Your face was relaxed,

captured so perfectly between

teenage man-boy

and baby,

depending on how I shifted my gaze.

 

Your hair was perfect,

even in sleep.

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