Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Natural Mommy

Hi, splendid people!

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. I know this has become a lame recurring line. But I've been hiding something from you, something very big and very wild and very exhilarating, something you might not have expected from me:




Got you there, didn't I?

No, no more babies here. Thank the Pope. But actually wild, exhilarating, un-Crabmommyish things have been afoot. People, the shocking news is as follows:


I never thought I'd utter the word "yurt." It's a very un-Crabmommylike word. Like the word "staycation", "yurt" just isn't a word with which I typically associate myself. (Don't know what a yurt is? I forgive you! Go here for a gander.)

But, see, while I don't believe in sacrificing one's mental health and comfort and right to laziness as a parent, I've also got a healthy dose of guiltmommy in me, enough of a dose at least to ensure that we force ourselves into the great outdoors every summer. This is a promise I made myself. Because as a citymom with a minuscule pad, I am attuned to the fact that my tot doesn't get as much outdoorsyness as a mother might like her to have. And aside from enjoying a frolic in nature, our children will turn into mega-wimps if they don't partake of the bracing pleasures of wilderness life.

And that is why I forced Crabhubby to take us camping last year, as some of you will recall. And he actually enjoyed it. And Crabkid adored it. And I still got to boss everyone around, so I adored it too. And so this year, again we have been camping. Subsequently followed by a trip to a yurt. In a state park. This one. And it rocked. And don't you dare book it in August next year. There are only 8 of these particular puppies in this here park, and if one of you books the last one before I get to it, I will find out, and I will hunt you down and beat you senseless with a foam noodle.

The best thing about our yurt? The DVD player.

Oh dear, this nature campaign isn't going very well. Let me start over, because tongue out of cheek for a moment, connecting to the great outdoors does actually mean something to me as a parent. And so when the Forest Service asked me to pass on this cool link I accepted their request with great pleasure. Where The Other You Lives is a US Forest Service and Ad Council Public Service Announcement to get folks off their collective booty and into our splendiferous state parks. And even a crabby mommy like me is all for it.

Did you know U.S. children spend 50% less time outdoors than 20 years ago? That's dang lame, man! Does it mean in another 20 years, American childhood will be a wholly indoor venture? Yeesh!

Clearly we all know the benefits of getting our tots and tweens and teens out into nature, but few of us apparently get out and do it. So if you haven't done a camping/yurting/daytripping activity into a state park near you this year, and you are feeling guilty, go with the guilt! And nip out quickly before school starts! Or play hooky the first week. Seriously, little Champiqua will be just fine if she misses her one-on-one with the teacher and all the nonsense of the first week: she'll be far better off shaking her sillies out in a sand dune or on a river or up a redwood tree.

And did you know that if your teen knows how to use a compass, you will automatically receive a full semester of tuition from the Ivy League college of your choice? Talk about incentive!

Got you again!

Ah, but indeed, nature's bounty will only stimulate young Worthington's neural cortex in all the right ways, making it ever so much easier for him to concentrate on both his chess game and his Advanced Peace Studies curriculum in that seventh grade of prep school. Research has proven this abundantly. Plus being out there is just plain fun. The state parks are ridiculously amazing in this country, and this comes from a skeptical, cynical, meanspirited moaner.

Don't know where to go? DON'T BE SO STUPID. I mean, ahem, The Forest Service's new website has loads of choice info and excellent resources. And you don't have to pussy out of it and stay in a yurt. You can stay in a tent too. We did that earlier in our summer. At this absurdly heavenly state park. It was swell, but rain on day three encouraged us to take advantage of Oregon's hippie side and reserve a night in a yurt for a subsequent foray (two nature sojourns in one summer! As you can see, I am becoming an outdoorswoman). The yurt was bloody excellent. Dora the Explorer is so much more fun to watch when you are actually exploring. Ahem, I mean, the sounds of nature and the bonhomie of family time was a thrill even for this jadedmommy.

So go here and learn more. And props to the Forest Service for putting this together. And props to the Forest Service for having one of my family in its corps: Crabkid's Uncle Dave is a smokejumper with the Forest Service. This is a seriously crazy job involving parachuting into forest fires. Shweesh!

I close this message with 2 pics, not of the yurt, but of a ghostly, spooky landscape in Oregon stumbled upon while we were out in the wild. The gray beach sky meshed with the gray sand. We staggered around as though in a dream. It was creepy and magical and astonishing. Even I was humbled, and as you all know it takes a lot to humble the Crabmommy.

So, go camping, go yurting [did I actually say "go yurting?"], but whatever you do get outside and take the whiny ones with you. They will pipe down when you threaten them with tales of brown bears being drawn to human wailing.

Camp on, dear friends, but here's my personal public service announcement, familiar to those who have heard it before: Please, for the love of Joseph Smith, don't wear a head lamp. I repeat: do not wear a dorky head lamp. It is just going wayyyy too far. And I will never forgive you for it.

Ultimately, here's the thing about camping: even if you don't enjoy camping, you will thank yourself for having camped. And, the little ones—they will thank you for it.

Any camping trips afoot, y'all?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Confusing, Dang It! It Dang Confusing!

Greetings, strangers:

Yes, you be strangers. Strangers be you, yes. Because: Absent Crabmmomy am I. I am Crabmommy, absent.

Okay, enough piffly feeble attempts to write what I once called a palindrome. In my previous post, that is. Entitled "Hot Dang It, It Dang Hot!" And I called it a palindrome. And someone corrected me in the comments and pointed out that nay, a palindrome must incorporate not mere words mirrored back and forth in a phrase, but actual letters. Like "Hannah." Or "Lisa Bonet ate no basil."

And so I mea culpa'd. And blamed it all on heat stroke. Which seemed fair enough at the time, it being 106 degrees here in Portland, which is a typically anemic sort of place when it comes to hotness. or heat. Or whatever they call it. See? The woman who once dared called herself Grammarmama has gone mushy in the head. The warmth has penetrated the soggy tissues of my brain and cooked them up.

Thankfully my good friend Fall From Grace corrected my anonymous correcting poster, who corrected my use of "palindrome" and suggested instead that what I did with that dang title was an anagram. Which of course it wasn't. Or isn't.

But the question, my chums, regarding the previous post's title is, IS IT, while not (obviously) an anagram, a palindrome of any sort? At first glance, one would say, NO. Because the back and forth patterning isn't of letters, but of whole words. Which is sort of cheating, innit? But still, fun.

The question of whether I can actually get away with calling this half-baked mirroring a palindrome or not has been peeping away at the back of my mind all through the day, as I set upon my mighty intellectual tasks of packing small people's lunches, frolicking in public swimming pools (which they CLEARED, because of a purported sighting of a TURD, I might add).

Anyhoo. Back to the topic at hand: I went and did what any graduate of literature and language from a top-notch university would do. I went to Wikipedia. And this is what it says:

A palindrome is a word, phrase, number or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction (the adjustment of punctuation and spaces between words is generally permitted). Composing literature in palindromes is an example of constrained writing.
And I deduced from this esteemed Wikipedian writer (and we all know these Wiki-writers need no pedigrees nor lofty graduate degrees, but anyway): my phrase isn't a palindrome...or is it?

Let's take another look. Because there is this nugget lodged in the Wiki entry that makes me feel justified in calling anything I do a palindrome. Check it:
The word "palindrome" was coined from Greek roots palin (πάλιν; "back") and dromos (δρóμος; "way, direction") by English writer Ben Jonson in the 1600s. The actual Greek phrase to describe the phenomenon is karkinikê epigrafê (καρκινική επιγραφή; crab inscription), or simply karkiniêoi (καρκινιήοι; crabs), alluding to the backward movement of crabs, like an inscription which can be read backwards.
In case my bolding was not enough for you, the point of the entry is to state, unequivocally, that the Crabmommy can use the dang word "palindrome" whenever she dang feels like it. Because whatever I do on this blog is, quite literally "the backward movement of crabs," given that everything I write is a reflection on time spent, a rumination, crabby in more ways than one.

And as for the actual back-and-forth of phrases, unless someone comes up with a real figure of speech for it, I will coin one myself: the "Crabmommy Palindrome" is any phrase that reads forwards and backwards in whole word parts, because the writer is too dim to conceive of an actual letter-for-letter palindrome, but wants to show off anyway.

Does that satisfy you all, my discerning literate readership?

Back to the turd in the pool: Seriously, when one has paid one's public pool fare to frolic with one's tot of a hot day, one does not appreciate being kicked out of said pool after only an hour and all because of some purported turd, which they combed the pool for with a net...and even the second pool (our one, the deeper one) was closed on account of this chimeric, supposed, probably-hearsay turd in the shallow pool. Could Americans be more serious? You should have seen the faces of the lifeguards as they shut the pool down! They even had special purple turd-catching gloves. TURD AHOY! Me, I say, meh. A storm in a teacup. Or, more accurately, a drop(ping) in the [heavily chlorinated] ocean, if you will. If it were really out there, it would have floated to the top. Then you catch it, dispense with it, and let the kids back in. Don't you? That's my personal preference. Mind, I am the mom who took her tot swimming in a sewage stream.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hot Dang It, It Dang Hot!

I thought it high time I used a palindrome in my post title.

And hot dang it, we've been sweltering here. Hence my inability to type. Heat, coupled with extreme laziness, has a profound effect on my blogging finger (I never learned to type properly so my pointer digit figures prominently in the formation of words from my keyboard). Poor blogging finger. It does not like 107 degrees in Oregon. I had to bathe it in ice and set in on the A/C for days at a time. As one of few people I know in Portland whose apartment blessedly possesses aircon—central aircon no less—the Crabhome became of late the locus of much neighborly cocktail activity, all and sundry from our street crowding into our pad to cool down. It was quite fun.

In other similarly earthshaking Crabby news, Crabgrandma has been here for two weeks attending to the small one, who at almost 5 is going through one of those stages of insisting on wearing winter clothes in summer, in a heat wave, no less. She digs them out from the basement, saying, "I think these [corduroy] pants are right for today" and "Please can you button this [thick wool sweater]." And Crabgrandma deals with the tedium of challenging and changing and generally engaging the tot in all her contrariness.

Me, I lie on the floor plotting future vacations to Sicily, or sit beneath our one shady tree with a gin and tonic, pondering the plural of gin and tonic. That's gins and tonic.

I'm having a dang good summer. You?