Wednesday, October 1, 2014

popsicles and showers

summertime at auntie kristi's, now gone.

fall is here.

time for showers with goggles.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Meet Maybelle

Lola got a kitten.
After asking for a year, and agreeing to all kinds of responsibilities which I repeated ad nauseam, she still wanted a kitten.
We found her online and went with Ed to a shady part of town where some really sweet college age guys who sounded Romanian had let their Siamese cat get pregnant, and Maybelle was one of two kittens left from that litter. Covered in fleas and shy, we brought her home. Lola bathed her, cuddled her, fed her, and took her to bed, and Maybelle never looked back. I have had animals my whole life, including kittens, and I've never seen a kitten adapt and bond so immediately. Maybelle is actually sleeping on the top of my back as I write this, wedged in between my back and the chair. She loves all of us, and we love her. Even if I did have to put Ever in time out today for twirling her maypole wand around Maybelle's neck for the tenth time. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

This is really important, thought provoking information about what concerns studies are raising over pregnant women getting the flu shot.

After My Sister Died I Became Holey by Jessica Yaeger in Manifest-Station…I really loved this piece, and came back to read it again. The illustrations are very effective with the simple, direct tone of this essay.

Some of Flux's long readers may remember when Chelsea King, my oldest son's classmate, was murdered while jogging near our home. I wrote this about her memorial, which I attended with Dakota and Evan. She was raped and killed by a convicted sex offender, and now years later, her little brother has made a documentary about this loss. 

Carley Moore in Mutha magazine: UNHAPPINESS

Artificial Sweeteners May Disrupt Body's Blood Sugar Controls

One of my best friends and favorite people ever, Taymar, had her second child, a baby boy named Benny. Benny has Down Syndrome, and his older brother Caspian is a little confused about what is going on, because Benny has to have oxygen. Benny has a heart defect that, very soon, will need surgery. So the boys grandmother wrote a letter, ' Why Your Brother Needs Oxygen '. It's pretty freaking awesome.

Mortician, writer, comedian, death activist. Meet Caitlin Doughty  ( anyone else suddenly really want to re-watch Six Feet Under? )

Why We Sleep Together Jon Methven in The Atlantic 

This is gut wrenchingly painful to read ( warning, you may cry ), and beautiful, and stirring. Most importantly, it is a call to live. Live your life, now, right now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Four In the Bed

Our new home. There are two backyards, one the perfect size for a nice large wooden table and chairs- here where the kids stand- and separated by a rickety, white wooden fence at the strange point where the house almost meets the fence, but not quite!, there is on the other side, grass and a sandbox, and a small patio area where I've put our old white, shabby chic coffee table for Ever's drawings and Play-Doh. Both areas are covered from the San Diego sun. I love this.

Dakota came from Long Beach right after we moved in and I snapped this photo. I was so satisfied that Dakota was here for this shot. Taking a 'here are the kids in our new house' photo without him would have been right- he is 20, and lives in Long Beach!- but for me, painful and not right all the same. Taking pictures that mark memories and times in our family life and include the kids but not all the kids is sad for me, every time. No matter how happy, there is a patina to the photo, a bright spot where the flash went off and I think 'that should have been him.' It's always one of the boys, of course, with Dakota being 20 and Ian 17- but already graduated high school- they are the ones missing. And I am the one doing the missing. I miss, all the time, like a low rumbling far inside, the hustle and bustle and noise and life and chaos of having many young kids. I was pretty good at it, I think. I felt alive and inspired and real. I've always had a problem feeling real in the world. I miss Dakota every day. Ian still comes every Friday and we see him at least two days a week, with Friday night still being Family night, so I enjoy the hell out of that, I am there for that all in, because soon…

Ian and I went on a run a few Friday nights ago, and we were talking about what he might do after he gets his associates in college. He mentioned moving to Arizona, at least 'for a while', which wasn't surprising, because he has extended family there and has always visited and loved it. He hunts and the laws there are much easier for hunters. I was telling him that Arizona is a good choice, because inside I was leaping with happiness to think that maybe Arizona would be as far as he'd go, and no more. Dakota always says he thinks he'll move back here to a specific beach community one day, and I like to daydream that all my children will be within reasonable reach when they are grown. Of course, we all know how those plans go, which is why they are daydreams, not plans. Lola has always mused about going to college in New York, and I told this to Ian, who responded ( so sweetly, oh my heart! ) that maybe that wasn't such a good idea, after all, Lola is special, Lola is very sweet and innocent and New York might not be a good idea for her. Just last week, Lola told me that really, Ian was her best friend. Those two are so close these last two years, sealed for life. 

The show Parenthood is the dream of my life, along with traveling, changing the world and helping abused or at risk children, publishing a novel and staying healthy. In this show, which many of you probably know, the four adult children of a family are all moved back and living near their parents, most of them- eventually all of them- with kids of their own. Bliss.

Those four faces above, bliss. For as long as I nurse them, sleep with them and keep them home with me, one by one, they keep rolling out of the bed all the same. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Vlog: Everkins Asks To Nurse

Ever nurses once in the morning and once to go to sleep.
That's it, for a long time, it's been like that.
And yet, every day, all day, in a galaxy not far far away but right in my house,
this happens: in a room, with a broom, in the shower, under flowers, in a robe, infected with microbes, by the cat, on the bathmat:
Ever asks to nurse.

NO YOU CAN'T NURSE from Maggie May Ethridge on Vimeo.
Everkins asks to nurse.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a swim and read
Putting Faces To the Youths Sentenced To Life For Murder I hope you will take five minutes to read this, and vote and sign petitions that change our barbaric prison laws.

One of the most compelling new ideas I've come across in a long time: Should We All Take a Bit Of Lithium?  I've marveled at the power of lithium ever since I read Kay Jamison's memoir of her Bipolar 1 journey, where she went from out of her mind to mental health over the long haul, with lithium.

I love Lena Dunham's brain SO HARD. I wish I wish I wish

I really enjoyed this essay in Narrative by Justin Cronin, My Daughter and God

My favorite essay ever on The Huffington Post: Love In the Time of The Toad

Everytime you are told that some new creation by scientists is DEFINITELY ONE HUNDRED PERCENT NOT GOING TO HURT YOU, remember there are stories like this.

The One Conversation That Could Save Your Teens Life on Momastery

Everyone is Totally Just Winging It, All The Time - or, Maggie Could Have Written This

This made me well up with tears of 'yes, exactly' . Knowing My Sons A Little Less

Monday, September 15, 2014

Empire of The Summer Moon: A Response

You should know right away that I'm all in- 100% head over brains and heart in and an avid lover of this book. This book, man. Should have won that Pulitzer.

Look at the cover. Look at the face of Quanah Parker and you know that in the hands of any half respectable historian of this time period, any writer of moderate talents, this is going to be a fascinating story. In the hands of S.C. Gwynne we are transported heart and mind to 1833 and the story of the birth of America- bloody, physical, emotionally heart wrenching and for many, unasked for- and the fight to the death between Indians and white Americans and Mexicans. The outlines of this are familiar to anyone with a basic education, even more so to anyone with an interest in American history, but the total immersion into the heartbeat of the breath to breath, body to blow, life to death moments of this time has been masterfully crafted by S.C. Gwynne. This author- I'd never heard of him, nor read any of his work- has not only built this story for us block by block of valid fact and historical data, but he has also infused the sentences with a deep understanding of human nature, a deep respect for all parties involved in this epic struggle, and an overall devotion to what really happened and not, as with many historical accounts, an noticeable agenda to push, perspective to prove. Here, he might say, is a bold, brilliant and beautiful act from this man, and in the next paragraph he might add, Here is a terrible act of selfish brutism from the same.

In the beginning of our story, there were many tribes of Indians living in the West, and a small but long standing Mexican population. Right away, we understand if we did not already that there were no such thing as 'Indians' so far as one people who lived and fought and socialized and believed in a similar way. The Navajo, for example, wove blankets ( blankets that were eventually worth 10 buffalo hides for every one Navajo blanket ) grazed sheep and feared death. The Comanche, the Indian tribe this book navigates from, killed buffalo, made everything they owned primarily from every part of the buffalo ( raw buffalo liver, squirted with gallbladder bile and eaten, was especially prized ) and were the most feared, skilled and deadly horseback warriors in America.

The story of the Comanche raid on the Parker clan in Texas is bone chilling and a sobering wake up for anyone who thought this recounting was going to be interesting without breaking your heart. The Comanche- and Kiowa tribe members- killed some of the Parkers ( whose menfolk had left them inexplicably exposed to Indian attack, despite the fact that they were very aware of the Indian raids on American settlements, they had left the barricade doors wide open while the men went out to work ) and took two women and three children captive- one child was the blonde haired blue eyed Cynthia Ann Parker. Gwynne leaves no details unspoken, and so we read- I wept- of the violent raping of the women while the children were forced to watch, the beatings of all the captives, and then the way they slept that night- faced down on the dirt, hog tied. One of the smallest captives was a toddler boy who was beaten so badly his mother did not believe he could survive, though survive he did.

This is how Cynthia Ann Parker was introduced to the Comanche tribe, the tribe that eventually adopted her and married her to Peta Nocona, a powerful chief who gave Cynthia Ann three children, one of them Quanah, the last great Comanche leader. Quanah doesn't seriously show up in this book until half way through or more, but when he does, he is a formidable presence: outrageously courageous, a brilliant horseman, an orphan at a young age left with his brother Peanuts ( named after his mother's favorite snack before her captivity ) until Peanuts died also, then left truly alone and drifting through the tribe until manhood and his obvious warrior skills began his ascent to a great Comanche leader, the last to surrender to the white man, a central figure in the Civil War, and a great leader even after life on the reservation. 

The story of Quanah's mother is fascinating on its own, and I found many short books on Amazon regarding Cynthia Ann Parker. Captured by white soldiers in a battle that killed her husband, the chief Peta Nocona, and wrenched her away from her two young sons and a life of freedom forever, she and her two year old daughter, Prairie Flower, were returned to the vestiges of the Cynthia's white family, where Cynthia wept and cut herself and her hair in a traditional grieving process. She tried to escape back to her tribe many times. Eventually, Prairie Flower ( famously photographed nursing at her mothers bare breast not long after captivity ) died of disease, and not long after, so did Cynthia Ann. 

The detailed, prolonged recounting of torture scenes recorded in historical journals ( such as the famous journal of one of the Parker women who was kidnapped, Rachel- she was 19 and kept a regular journal during her entire captivity until her death ) involving children, especially in the first half of this book, make it very difficult for me to imagine re-reading this important piece of history. I had no idea. I had no idea that women and children were kidnapped and tortured as frequently as they were, homesteaders and pioneers. One of the reasons this book achieves the profound resonance that it does both intellectually and emotionally is that the author does not shy away from questions which he himself has no clear cut answer for, but that the events clearly call for. What is the meaning of morality? What is it to be a human being? How can we understand the Comanches, their brutal torturing of not only whites, but all tribe members they war with- they are a warrior society, with no culture to speak of, no real organization or religion, just a general fear of the spirits they believed lurked in everything, from rock to rabbit- as human beings?  What is civilized

As I mulled this over I spoke to Mr. Curry often about my thoughts, and he responded with ( what I know is ) his signature nonchalant, deep insights into human nature. He talked to me about the nature of war, the nature of groups of humans, the nature of survival, of how our cultural beliefs shape us before we can blink.

Of course, the things that would fall under ' I had no idea ' during my reading of this book are numerous, my ignorance was more than I realized. I had no idea that children about three and under were lanced and shot with arrows during raids or while taking captives, because they were more trouble than they were 'worth', while older children could just as easily be adopted into the tribe and treated with love and respect and end up adoring the very peoples who kidnapped them, as they could end up being regularly beaten and tortured ( having nose, eyes and mouth burnt to almost gone was common ) raped and eventually killed. There are two torture scenes in this book that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I will never forget. The kind of suffering that was inflicted on these groups in each scenario is truly, beyond comprehension. Beyond what my little brain can bear to know. I had a sleepless night as the result of this, that involved silent crying, and if you would like to avoid this, I suggest every time you come across the beginnings of a torture, just skim till the subject changes.

I also 'had no idea' that white soldiers killed so many Indian squaws and children, either, or raped them as frequently as happened. I suppose my mind retained the Little House on the Prairie image of Indian and white war, a Disney portrait. 

At the end of this story is of course, the reservation, and this too will break your heart. The chapter that begins so: ' The reservation was a shattering experience ' captures it rightly. White people shattered the entire life of Indian people, we took not 'just land', we took, it feels here, their spirit. The entire essence of Indian life was murdered. Comanches, people of the buffalo who lived nomadically and experienced life truly savagely, were plucked from their horses trampling down the prairie grass, their whoops filling the air, the enormous endless land rolling before them, the buffalo thundering around them, fires crackling ahead with their families and stories and food, and we gave them disease, alcohol- directly delivered both of these- and killed all the buffalo. 

The writing here also contains many, many glorious escapes into a spirit soaring kind of freedom and connection that left me feeling maudlin about my Little House in the Suburbs. Read here a paragraph from S.C. Gwynne on Cynthia Ann:

' One thinks of Cynthia Ann on the immensity of the plains, a small figure in buckskin bending toward her chores by a diamond-clear stream. It is late autumn, the end of warring and buffalo hunting. Above her looms a single cottonwood tree, gone bright yellow in the season, its leaves and branches framing a deep blue sky. Maybe she lifts her head to see the children and dogs playing in the prairie grass and, beyond them, the coils of smoke rising into the gathering twilight from a hundred lodge fires. And maybe she thinks, just for a moment, that all is right in the world.'

'One' can hear the little boy in S.C. Gwynne here, the absolute thrill and magic of the West and the free life as seen by a heart open toward it. I myself felt this thrill many times reading this glorious book, and was so transported that I often find myself now, jogging along a narrow root strewn dirt path and looking into the enormous dark blue sky of my night run, imagining that I am free, and running toward home in the grass.

Friday, September 12, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

Dylan Landis new novel Rainey Royal was released this week and I am reading it this weekend! Read an interview with her on Rob Mclennan's blog. 

I can't state enough how much I really adore Lena Dunham. I have an enormous, head and heart crush on her for many reasons, including that she is she is an insanely gifted artist through many venues. This feature on her in her NYT is so good and says many things I also believe about Lena, including:

Dunham is an extraordinary talent, and her vision, though so far relatively narrow in focus, is stunningly original. For all the comparisons to Ephron and even to independent female filmmakers like Nicole Holofcener and Miranda July, the artist to whom she’s most analogous is Allen. With her awkward screen presence, her preoccupation with sex, her frank exploration of her own neuroses and, above all, her willingness to play the part of herself almost to the point of caricature, Dunham has ensured that her work be guided by her own persona, which in turn has been shaped by the twin forces of profound anxiety and exhaustive (though, again like Allen, somewhat roving and undisciplined) intellectual engagement. Plus, of course, extensive therapy.

Ethan Hawke on Robin Williams, saying what I also believe, that anyone really looking could see how much Robin was suffering. I always thought of that song 'the tears of the clown' from the 80's when I saw him being zany. 

This love story between two people in their twilight years is so damn life affirming. LOVE LIVES

What a fascinating story: The Strange Tale of the North Pond Hermit which includes this brilliant, beautifully expressed revelation:

"I did examine myself," he said. "Solitude did increase my perception. But here's the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn't even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free."

I am watching documentaries almost every night, and this one on a Civil War shipwreck and modern day gold hunt was so brain good. BRAIN LIKE. BRAIN HAPPY. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

kate mcrae

the little girl whose story i've followed since 2009, whose blonde beaming image is on the side of this blog, has relapsed with brain cancer. now ten years old, her understanding of what is happening is entirely mortal.  she had emergency surgery today after experiencing devastating seizures that led to the diagnosis of her recurrence. if you pray…or light candles…or whisper to an ungod as you fall asleep…or chime bells to tune energy…send Kate McRae and her family some of what you can give.