by Carolyn

An afternoon to master swordplay

September 30, 2011 in family, parenting, photos, the Grey by Carolyn

The last few days with the Grey have been incredible. I’m having a hard time believing he’s almost a year old, but even harder to believe is the number of skills he has checked off his to-do list this week. Waving, clapping, standing without support, mimicking, clearly responding to directions… it goes on.

You know how, in movies, the hero will quickly acquire a new skill that would, in reality, take years of practice to achieve? Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote a song about it.

James and I call it “taking an afternoon to master swordplay.” Which is exactly what the Grey is doing, though minus the sword, obviously.

Three days ago, he was bringing his hands together softly.

Two days ago, he started clapping confidently – he grins and claps if an indulgent and addled parent says “YAY!!!” (So all the time, basically.)

One day ago, he decided he wanted to clap while standing, so he quit using his hands to support himself against the couch or a chair and stood on his own two feet, clapping.

Today, he’s realized that standing is a pretty useful skill even if you’re not clapping. It allows the stander to hold two toys instead of one, and even to bang them together, if such an activity is appealing. (It is.)

At the rate he’s going, I expect the Grey will be fluent in French tomorrow.

The Grey has also mastered climbing in and out of the drawer under the stove.

by Carolyn

Here and There

September 25, 2011 in Alaska, family, friends, Homer, lovely, personal, photos by Carolyn

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Autumn sunlight is very different from summer sunlight. I’m not just talking about the fact that it is cooler, or that it shines from a different place in the sky, or that there is less of it, though all of those things are true. Autumn sunlight is somehow more poignant. It brings into focus things like change, fragility, and decay, all of which were until recently hidden or simply unnoticed amid the bright, saturated colors of summer. Autumn sunlight causes two simultaneous feelings to occur:

1. Powerful nostalgia that burns behind your eyes and in your sinuses, and

2. Restless ambition that makes your limbs twitch and gives you the energy to do all of the things you want to do, but only if you do them all at once. (This also manifests as wanderlust.)

There aren’t English words for these feelings. “Nostalgia” and “ambition” don’t describe their urgency. I don’t know if other languages cover this territory.

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Last weekend James and I took the Grey for a walk in precisely that kind of autumn sunlight. It was made even more poignant by the fact that we have had so much rain lately, and the sunlight itself seemed very mortal. We pushed the Grey in his stroller out our door, down the road, and along one of the small trails that connect pedestrians in Homer to important landmarks like the Grog Shop. We were on our way to visit a friend.

Walking down the middle of a side street, I heard sandhill cranes, lots of them. They flew in a huge V above us, a V that was more like several Vs within Vs because there were so many cranes, a hundred at least. They were very high, but their calls carried in the clear air. Their formation moved deliberately, traveling north-east and climbing. Taking the AlCan, I guess. At a certain point they began to circle. Their Vs dissolved and they became a single, flowing entity, stretching and shifting but never separating. It was so mysterious, the way they moved. They circled and circled for minutes while we watched, until they were engulfed in a cloud.

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Sometimes I wish I lived in a city. I wish I lived in a city where it is not winter six months out of the year and I could eat takeout from every country in the world and there are more people than I could ever meet in my lifetime. I would walk and take public transportation and not need a car. I could go to a new place for coffee every day, but I wouldn’t. Instead I would go to one place and get to know it and feel comfortable there, and they would remember me and say hello, and it would be my place. My city.

Watching the cranes, though, I felt so much love for this place where I have grown up and made a family. Here I have had so many opportunities to do the things that make me happy. I have made true, lifelong friends and found my wonderful boyfriend/partner/fellow parent/love-person. It’s so beautiful, and the beauty is right in front of me every day, no searching required.

Here. There. In the autumn sunlight I want both just as badly.

by Carolyn

I can’t look away

September 24, 2011 in Alaska, photos by Carolyn

…from this Anchorage Daily News story about an approximate shit-ton of spiders forming “unusual clusters” in a field next to an Anchorage post office.
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An expert says they were emigrating en masse via spidersilk balloons and the swaths of web were from their failed attempts. I’m not sure I buy it – the photographs show purposeful construction, not slender balloons falling instead of flying. Either way, nature is fucking awesome.

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I also love the title of the story, “Gathering of city spiders puzzles onlookers.” I know they mean spiders from the anchorage area, but “city spiders” makes me think of spiders who are very cosmopolitan and social, quite different from the country spiders in the rest of Alaska. Very sophisticated.

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All photos are from the Anchorage Daily News.

by Carolyn

A Proud Day

September 22, 2011 in Uncategorized by Carolyn

It has recently been brought to my attention that should you happen to enter the search “Ritz cracker nipples” into the google machine (as you do), you will be referred to THIS BLOG above all others! Yes, thanks to this post, those in search of information about Ritz cracker nipples are led right here to Offend in Every Way to have their Ritz cracker nipples reading needs met, their Ritz cracker nipples fantasies realized, and their Ritz cracker nipples questions answered. I welcome you, members of the Ritz cracker nipples community. I only hope that I can live up to your Ritz cracker nipples expectations.

by Carolyn

On Musicals, Stories, and Taste

September 16, 2011 in art, favorite posts, music, rants, theater by Carolyn

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I saw a friend the other day at Two Sisters Bakery. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so we tried to do a bit of catching up. She told me she had been commercial fishing all summer, and I really had nothing to say about that, since I can count the times I’ve been fishing on one hand. (Besides, fishing is a job, and no one likes to be asked about their job.) Then she asked what I’d been up to. Working, parenting… oh, and I did a play this summer! It was so much fun, the most I’ve had in the theater since before I can remember! Little Shop of Horrors!! (Internal yay!)

“Oh,” she said. She turned back to the case of sandwiches and pastries for a moment. Then she looked at me again. “Isn’t that a musical or something?” I told her it was, and I gibbered a bit, because… a musical or something? A musical or something?? Little Shop of Horrors IS a musical, it’s true, but it’s so much more: comedy, science fiction, horror, schlock extravaganza… I could have gone on until the staff at Two Sisters put the stools up on the counter and cleaned the flour out of their ears on the way out the door, but I was so taken aback by my friend’s dismissive tone that I couldn’t find the words. I finally managed, “It was awesome.”

“I don’t like musicals,” she said, wrinkling her nose.

There was a time when I would have taken it personally. I would have seen it as a message that she didn’t approve of my choice of pursuits, that what I do, what I LOVE, wasn’t cool enough for her. Thank the gods that time has passed and I can respond appropriately to her statement. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU DON’T LIKE MUSICALS.

To me, it’s an inherently ignorant thing to say (unless you are deaf/Deaf or hearing impaired, in which case it makes perfect sense). It’s a bit like saying, “I don’t like oil paintings.” No one would say “I don’t like oil paintings.” Why? Because the MEDIUM is not important. Because the content, experience, and story contained within the oil painting is more important than the fact that it is a painting done with oils. Because the range of possibilities to be created with oil paints is so great that you can’t see one side from the other, and one oil painting might have more in common with an interpretive dance or the Gettysburg address than with another oil painting.

I don’t care if you’re talking oil paints, musicals, or a ball of god-damned twine. Someone, somewhere, is going to be able to say something moving and innovative with the medium.

That said, it’s true that there are a great many awful musicals that might put someone off of the genre. There are also a great many awful oil paintings, some of them hanging on the walls of the Duncan House right now. (If the… artist… who painted those is reading this, I’m not talking about your paintings. I mean the other oil paintings hanging on the walls of the Duncan House. Right now.) But the range of musicals is great. The admittedly somewhat bizarre tradition of getting on stage and telling a story through song and dance can hold just as much truth and beauty as any art form.

Singin’ in the Rain!

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Little Shop of Horrors!

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I understand that some people just don’t like musicals, the way some people just don’t like avocados (even though avocados are extra-delicious). It’s a matter of taste. But I believe that taste is much more influenced by our openness than is commonly believed. People who are ready to try new things, even things that are off-putting at first, are much more likely to enjoy things like monkey brains or macaroni and cheese with hot dogs than people who already know they don’t like those things. And people who already know they don’t like musicals are missing out on a unique way to tell and be told the stories of humanity.

But whatever, more avocado for me.