Sunday, August 18, 2013

Oh Those Wildi Girls!

I prattle on in here a lot about family, Curtiss family, Millbank family, and some of the Wildi family, but I haven't shared stories about becoming "one of The Girls"

Karin and Mom


It's a story of mothers and their daughters, of cousins who are like sisters.  These Wildi Girls are the sweetest, silliest, most fun gals to pal around with.  Ann, Karin, and my mother, Emily are all cousins who (more or less) grew up together.  They live in three different states and see each other not nearly enough.  Last summer around this time, I was back in Illinois with these gals helping finalise saying good-bye to the house in Morrison.  (Posts here, here, and here)  It was not only very special to spend so much time with my mom, but to spend time with the women of the Wildi family.  I grew up very close to my dad's side of the family and have been steeped in all of it's lore.  I have cousins that I consider sisters and we've grown up together as well.  To sit on the porch in the August heat and listen to the ladies talking about family was priceless.  They tell stories not only of their girlhood, but also of growing up in Morrison, growing up together, and the adventures they had and have.  
Karin came out to Seattle several weeks ago to visit and surprise Ann on her birthday.  
Needless to say, it was a blast!  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Golden Slumbers

As I walked home tonight I realised just how much I missed a real summer.  Not in the sense that the weather has been a let down, but in the things I used to do as a kid.  I stopped for a moment, the street light shaded by an overgrown laurel, and looked up at the stars.  For the first time in years I could make out Orion's Belt and the Dipper.  And childhood came rushing back to me...
...Summer was waking up in the morning and pulling something on, carelessly -as children do- because all I wanted to do was be outside.  The sweet smelling damp from the night clinging to the soft blades of green grass, tickling my bare feet.  When afternoon came the water hose came out, filling up the long outgrown stiff plastic kiddy pool my parents had purchased from the drug store just up the block.  Sunlight dappled our faces as it streamed into the teal pool, glimmering turquoise in the shadows.
I miss the taste of water drunk right out of the hose, cold against my cheek, metallic against my tongue. I miss the smell of water drying on my skin, bits of grass and pine needles stuck to my feet and legs, musty and comforting all at the same time.  I miss the sound of the wind dancing in the towering pines that flanked the little outbuilding of a garage.
Summer changed and became lounging in the house shaped canvas tent that smelled faintly of tar and gunpowder.  Lying on camp cots, reading while the breeze whispered through the tent flap, just cool enough to read a book.  Summer became dozing under the apple trees, listening to cherries fall to the ground - "plop" - and setting traps for moles.  Stab a cherry on the end of a thin branch, bury it in a tamped down mole hill, and lie on the grass - still as statues - trying not to breathe, waiting for the branch to wiggle.  Holding our breath as the tiniest and pinkest of noses snuffled away the cool brown earth to wriggle at the sun.  Summer was running around in our Vietnam-era army fatigues after dark, with Storm trooper rifles that glowed red.  Hiding between the shadows of the fence and the neighbor's floodlight.  Sneaking up to the back deck where my father stood sentinel with a huge flashlight, sweeping the back yard like a guard tower in a war movie.
Summer was the scent of citronella candles burning on the back deck, late into the night as we played round after round of 21 or Gin Rummy, moths bumbling into the large deck lamp like drunkards.  Summer was turning off all the lights and lying on the deck watching the International Space Station pass over head, a tiny bright star that moved too rapidly to be a satellite, growing brighter and then dimming as it moved across the heavens.
Summer was endless glasses of homemade lemonade.  Syrup made from boiling lemon rinds and sugar water.  Eating strawberries dipped into sour cream and then into brown sugar, the red skins bursting inside my mouth, juice running down my chin.  Melons, honey dew, cantaloupe, watermelon, chilled in the refrigerator and eaten with greedy enthusiasm.
Summer was endless play time, staying up late because it was often too hot to sleep.  Reading books until the sun warmed you into slumber.  Slathering skin with sunscreen from a bottle with a little girl on the front, getting her panties pulled off by an overly enthusiastic puppy.  Soaking endlessly in kiddie pools, mud, utterly sodden grass and loving absolutely every second.
When I say I miss summer, this is what I miss.  The unencumbered summers of my youth.  The entire days dedicated to splashing at the beach.  The fading golden light that made pure magic of each day.
I do not smell the pine trees any more.  I smell cigarettes and fumes from endless cars.  I do not splash in a yard, despite being too big for the kiddie pool.  I take a shower at the end of a long sweaty day to wash the stink of the city off my skin.  I squint at the stars, so faded and dim against the light from the street, apartments, and bars, trying to see the velvet indigo of the sky above.  I miss how it was almost always cool at night and the frogs came out to sing me to sleep.  Now there are only sirens and raucous college students to lull me into slumber.  My hobbit heart misses the Shire.

I know there will a yard someday.  I know there will be another house.  I know I will have a place where I am the grown up who slices up the watermelon and makes lemonade.  Who walks up the little hill to the drug store to lug back the stiff plastic kiddie pool to splash around in.  Who slathers tender baby skin with sunscreen and splashes shrieking children with the hose.  Until then I hold the memories of childhood close, remembering their textures and sounds and smells.  Looking forward to the future.

Friday, August 2, 2013

On Being a Geek

So, Shaming.  Let's take a moment and talk about that.

There are so many kinds of shaming out there I can't even begin to count them.  Let's focus on geek shaming.  Not just girl shaming (which is really sad) but geek shaming, because I've been thinking a lot about it this week.

Because I am a woman, I am more aware of the girl shaming that goes on.  Fat shaming, skinny shaming, the list is endless because women can be vicious.  Geeky guys who think that girls can't also be geeks?  What. The. Heck?!  (The Doubleclicks have a brilliant response to that)  But we're not opening that can of worms right now.  That is for another, much longer, post.

I want to talk about geek shaming.

Recently my hubby was talking about getting a tattoo.  Of course, he wanted something that is incredibly geeky and this is why I love him.  So we chatted about tattoo shops and I mentioned one that I really enjoy over in Greenwood.  He pulled up their website and was looking through artist profiles when he came across one woman (it's an all girl shop) who "enjoys "vikings in loin cloth", Dune and an array of hobbit-nerdiness. Not in a multisided dice weirdo way, but more like an alternate universe way"  His response to this was to close the browser and yell at the screen.  I was very confused because I didn't take it personally.  So I asked him why he was taking her (seemingly innocent) comment so personally.  Of course the moment I asked that question, the answer stared blankly at me.  Because my sweet husband is one of those "weirdos".  My husband plays table top games, Magic The Gathering, D & D, Warhammer, the list goes on.  What right does this woman have to laud her particular brand of geekery over other geeks?

What right does ANY geek (or nerd) have to tout their brand of geek as more geeky than others?  To call other geeks "weirdos".  Have you forgotten what it was like in school?  We were ALL called weirdos.  We were the underdogs who got beat up because we LOVE weird things that the other kids didn't.  It was an amazing moment of revelation to realise that I too, had on occasion, held my geekery over others.  Shame on me.  Shame on you.  Shame on us all.  

We are geeks because we don't want to be like other people.  Because we want to be different.  Because we like different things.  Even if we can't understand why some people geek out over sports, fashion, etc doesn't give us the right to treat them as they treat us.  In fact, it should make us close our ranks and support our fellow geeks even more, regardless of what we all geek out over.  

I happen to be a knitting, costume history, fabric, sewing, LOTR, Dr. Who, Star Wars, TNG, Miyazaki, book geek.  My husband is a D&D, Magic, XBox, Video Game, science, reading geek.  Our kids, will be AMAZING.  They will be (hopefully) geeks like their (future) Mommy and Daddy.  We will raise them not to shame others, but to accept the differences.  After all, if we all liked the same thing, that would really get boring after a while.  

Darlings, don't shame others.  Listen to their passion for something you don't know about.  Watch their eyes light up and sparkle as they talk about what they love.  Understand that your eyes do the exact same thing when you talk about things you love.  Be a loving, accepting, open geek/nerd.