Last night we enjoyed our traditional Family Night, this time in the backyard. The boys volunteered to clear our workstation/picnic table, so we could eat our grilled turkey burgers al fresco. As the sun slipped away, we lit some candles, and then I started a little fire in our fire ring. Alex and Maria came out with pillows and a sleeping bag. We lingered over our dinners, and laughed about funny things like Alex's French guy drawings. We rejoiced in the fact that only 5 days of school remain before vacation. We decided that Alex's history/English report and presentation were, objectively speaking, the best. He had mastery of the material, which was the rise and fall of the Samurai, and he deftly handled all questions directed at him.
After a while we stretched out on the sleeping bag, where Maria invited everyone to come under her blanket tent. Say, "tent" once and my boys want to camp. Alex likes to challenge himself and this time he took it upon himself to build a tent from materials on hand, like a thrift shop sheet, packing tape and some, rather thin, dowels. It took a lot of tape, and a couple of redesigns, before we could get it to stand. It wiggled and danced like a Jello mold, and it's sheltering abilities were called into question.
At one point the whole thing came crashing down. A sight so disappointing and devastating that Maria cried, dropping her face into her hands, saying, "Oh. Oh, no." Do not despair little one. Everyone contributed to the final design and construction. It stood all night, passing the test Alex put it to.
Max and Alex slept under it and the stars.
It is a typical overcast June morning and I feel good. I went out at 6 and came home with fresh, hot bagels. Geoff and I sat together on the porch swing, eating a bagel and watching the campers wake up. Max was up first and he sat with us and reflected, once again, on the joy of impending summer goodness. Maria and William slept inside. They are still asleep. It feels good to have no plan, no sense of urgency. We have plans for all of next week, and we are breathing an extended sigh of relief to be through all the hoops and obstacles of last week. Right now, this quiet moment, is ours.
Upstairs, William has been updating an old friend, his Lego brick pirate. Scroll down on this link to see his original design. Does he have a name? I don't recall.
He had two bad falls this week. He was rebuilt once, then was mercilessly knocked over by B. Thunder Cat, so he's back on the Lego worktable.
William's methods are getting more sophisticated. He has blueprints, of his own design, where he has labeled and counted the different bricks. He has sketches and he takes photographs of the evolving phases of the pirate.
Geoff will be leaving to play some tennis. Alex and I are going to address birthday party details, like cooking and organizing. Max is teaching himself to Rollerblade. Maria wants to Rollerblade. Last night she imagined she was wearing the heavy, wheeled boots. She teetered and slid and reached to hold onto the chairs and tables. She held her arms out and said, "Whoa, whoa!" She looked longingly at Max's real Rollerblades and pleaded, "Try it? Try it? Pease."
Oh, and the berries? Surprise to us. They are growing on the south wall along our side yard. While Max practiced blading, Maria and I were keeping him company and nosing around. It smells (reeks) of garlic... crushed society garlic that Max has repeatedly crashed into. Anyway, Maria discovered a solitary eggplant colored gem. It was peering out from among the lantana. Easy to miss, but we seized it.
I think we found 7 berries all together. Some dark and tender, and most raspberry red. Max and Maria were not particular and ate all of them.
There were not enough. Are there ever enough berries? OKay, the answer is "yes," if you live in Oregon, Washington and other blessed states. Berries in Southern California, in a tropically landscaped suburban, rental house yard? These are gems in every sense: Rare, beautiful, coveted, precious, tantalizing. Maria is still asking for more.
There are more. About 7 more, maybe 10. They are green, and spread out beneath the palm trees and eucalyptus. They are not too easy to find, because they are growing among a massive lantana, with similar leaves.
Above the yard, in the retaining wall planter, a blackberry vine, is surviving and spreading through the lantana, mondo grass, pygmy date palms, bougainvillea, asparagus fern and the dropped leaves of the eucalyptus tree.