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Godot, schmodot


Waiting for Mama, Berkeley, CA

Mama went on a phenomenally unusual (for her) week-long meditation retreat last week.  Since she gave birth to the first of these kids, she had never taken that much time for just her, and she returned a remade woman.

We all made it through the week intact (a feat made nearly inevitable by my current status as work-at-home, self-employed Baba), but lordy did we miss her, and lordy were we happy for her to return. After a long drive from the Santa Cruz mountains, she texted us to say that she was at the local market picking up provisions. From that point onward, I couldn’t pry the kids off the porch.  And when mama finally arrived, I couldn’t pry them off of her.

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Three portraits


Niece with sparkler, Berkeley, CA.


Nephew with sparkler, Berkeley, CA.


 Daughter with sparkler, Berkeley, CA.


My niece turned 11 the other day. We had a “village” dinner tonight, village meaning all three households in our little cohousing community (four kids and five adults among us, ranging from six to 50). The feast, which the culinarily precocious birthday girl had largely conceived of and executed (with loving sous-cheffery from her dad and mom) concluded with a sparkler-fest in the back yard.

The littlest kid, my son, decided he really didn’t want to hold a quasi-exploding chopstick-sized wand, but everyone else had a blast with them, each very much in their own, unique way.


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Enterprising souls

Pencil seller and shop assistant, Berkeley, CA.


The sign’s small print reads: “PENCILS AND OTHER PENCIL-RELATED STATIONARY SUPPLIES FOR SALE.” Taped on the front bench is some original artwork, for sale at a modest price ($25 per) by the shop assistant at right.

Recently I was talking on the phone to a friend and colleague, while looking out the front window. I told him I may have to jump off abruptly if some untoward person walks by, because my kids were out on the street selling pencils.  And we do get an untoward person or two strolling by pretty much daily, at some point or another. He chortled at what he thought was a quip at our family’s financial straits, at which point I had to say, “No. Really. They’re on the street selling pencils.”

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First day of school

Playground squeeze, first day of school, Berkeley, CA.

He is ready.

He’s been ready for who knows how long, whether he knew it before today or not. He was ready today, from the moment he awoke, to the moment he tied his shoes on the stairs, to the moment he sat with his sister and two cousins out in front of our shared yard for the annual all-cousin first day of school portrait, to his holding hands and skipping up the street to the schoolyard with his sister, through the bumpy patch of the mosh pit crush of parents, caregivers, and schoolkids in the yard, to the transitional minutes in the classroom during which we sat and read with him, all the way up to the moment the teacher asked parents and caregivers to leave the classroom, and we did.  Some more reluctantly than others.

“Bye, Baba,” he mouthed, waving as he sat cross-legged on the colored-grid rug. And that was that.


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Weekend bonus shot, 08.19.12

Our last post-preschool ice cream ever, Albany, CA.

Soon I’ll post an ode to Michelle, Preschool Director from Heaven. Because neither of us is good at good-byes.

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Not ready

Preschool, Berkeley, CA.

Tomorrow will be my boy’s last day at preschool. I am way more unprepared for this than he is.

Four months ago I wrote, of this window, and the changing view it affords:

now, whenever I do drop him off (as I did this morning; a once-weekly gift to myself and him, baby steps toward balance), it’s me who lingers on the sidewalk looking back at the empty window where once, not even six months ago, he would blow kisses, gesture hugs, and bravely wave goodbye.

It was only a heartbeat before that that I was called back to this house by the angel-from-heaven preschool director to fetch my older daughter: she was just too inconsolable, midmorning her first morning there. Of course things changed; she adapted, and grew. Eventually it was her brave face at this window, waving goodbye. Then his. After tomorrow, it will be neither: just this photograph, and when we walk or drive by, other tender faces at the beginning of a journey, peering out at both their past and their future.



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Evening time

[One evening in lesbian family life, as contribution to the 7th Annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day, hosted by Dana at Mombian.]

Dusk, the crepuscular hour, the gloaming. Gentle, delicious. I am laying in the post-day, pre-sleep moments with my son, now five. My daughter is downstairs with her Mama, listening to chapter seven of C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian.

It is balmy out for a late May Berkeley–67 degrees–and a light breeze fingers the curtains open and shut. They’re home-made, these curtains: someone we can’t remember brought a sarape to sit on during one of our family’s back yard puppet shows some years back, and left it. We put the word out, but no one claimed it, and as sometimes can happen with forgotten sarapes, our kids’ grandmother stitched bedroom curtains out of them.


Through the open window float the sounds of folks talking as they walk up the street below; an occasional car swooshes by. A car door slams and by his voice, I hear my brother-in-law has come home; as he talks to his son, he pulls the garbage and recycling cans off the street where I had left them in my haste to make it home to dinner with the kids. We each live in houses on the same large lot in the center of the city; we share a vegetable garden and the abundant outdoor garden and play space, we share childcare and grocery shopping, a mortgage, and garbage can duties.  He takes the cans to the curb, I bring them back. Except that since I began working full-time, I can never bring myself to lose a minute’s evening time with my children still awake, so I usually retrieve the cans long after they’re in bed.

Tonight, as he often does, he has brought them in for me.

A small passenger plane passes overhead; robins, finches, sparrows, and California Towhees sing the sun down, fewer and fewer with each passing minute.

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Weekend bonus shot, 05.26.12


Buddha Cole, Lucy’s room, Sherman Oaks, CA.


Flying Cole, Lucy’s room, Sherman Oaks, CA.

A four-way match made not in heaven, but in an old friendship. The mamas of all these kids met in 1989, as apprentices at The Children’s Theater in Minneapolis.  Then on to New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse, where one of them met the man who’d become half these kids’ papa. Old friends’ kids, friends. Nothing quite like it.

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