21 May 2009

up with dad, down with mom

as i've mentioned, cosmo knows what it looks like when someone's gutters need to be cleared of debris. when it rains, he inspects downspouts, to see that there is adequate flow, and then scans the length of the gutters to see if water is over flowing. one day, ours was, and cosmo kept reminding us to clean them out.

we borrow our neighbor's ladder for the task, and this time, cosmo was invited to go up on the roof with dad. he's climbed the ladder before, (with carl completely encircling him with his arms, all the way), but he's never actually stepped onto the roof. when he got to the top, he said he didn't want to get on the roof. so, carl climbed down with him, and cosmo inspected the down spouts, while carl cleared out all those helicopter maple seeds that had collected, and clogged the gutters. when he was done, cosmo said he wanted to go back up. this time, he went onto the roof. carl held his hand the entire time, and cosmo was nervous and extra cautious, so there seemed to be very little danger. our roof has almost no pitch. he seemed to enjoy the new perspective. it was a little tricky getting down, but i steadied the ladder (while shooting photos, of course), and he did fine.

the next day, he started asking questions about the boarded-up opening near the ground, next to the back porch. it's the entrance to the crawlspace. i've never opened it, because it isn't really secured, and i didn't want him to see how it's done, for fear he'd be trying to go under there all the time. but i realized he's old enough to understand, and respect limits, and that he'd probably benefit from getting a chance to explore under there. we opened the door and took a peek inside. it looked like the biggest danger was scraping his head on a nail or something from the floor joists, or, hurting his knees, since he'd need to crawl. so we got out his hard hat (a child-sized one that we keep in our seldom-used dress-up bin.) and some knee pads that came with his skates. his toy flashlight was practically worthless, with such a low beam, but he seemed to like having it.

once we got under there, he was pretty freaked out by the sound of carl walking around, just over head, and wondered what kinds of animals he might encounter under here. i assured him that a chipmunks were all i'd ever seen slipping through the small hloes in the foundation. we looked around a bit, found an old section of pvc pipe, that we cleaned up and added to the marble maze supplies, plus, an old bike pedal. there wasn't a whole lot to see. he wanted to know what all the duct work was, and where it went, but was never satisfied with my explanations. we both stayed pretty close to the entrance. his greatest fascination turned out to be a hole drilled in the cinder block, probably for a cable, right next to the door. he couldn't understand why, when he stuck a piece of grass in the hole on the outside, that he couldn't find it in the crawl space. i tried to show him how cinder block is hollow, but it was troubling, and confusing. we found sticks and other things that would go all the way through, and that delighted him. i guess his curiosity about that space has been satisfied for a while, i haven't seen him poking around there since.

he's been asking, for probably a year or more, "what's under the floor?" and "what is up above the ceiling?" now, he has at least a little first hand experience to begin to answer those questions. next stop: the attic. none of us have been up there.

17 May 2009

water falls

cosmo's obsession with flowing water goes way back. it has been a consistent theme since he was one year old, or so (along with spheres, tracks, mazes, maps). he loves puddles, down-spouts, gutters, waterfalls, creeks, fountains, washes, bathtubs drains, hoses, storm drains, pipes, sinks, toilets etc. perhaps it is a natural fascination for all small children.

since the warm weather hit, his favorite activity is "playing with the hose." i feel like a real schmuck for allowing him to "waste" so much water, but on the other hand, he learns so much from his extended, solitary, exploration with moving water, that i really hate to cut him off. he will occupy himself for hours, if allowed, moving the hose all over the yard, finding different materials to flow over, and holes to fill up. he digs out little streams in the gravel and the dirt, builds dams, waterfalls, and tiny ponds. he becomes so engaged, and so focused in this free water play, it seems unfair of me to worry about things like global water shortages, or, of lesser importance, our water bill. it is also difficult to feel the scarcity when we are experiencing such excesses in terms of rain fall. a few days ago, we got almost 4 inches of rain in 24 hours. and then, another inch or so a day later (carl reminds me that where he grew up, in denver, they get about 6 inches a YEAR. if they're lucky).

in the midst of the day-of-downpour, cosmo and i were out traipsing around the neighborhood, in our goulashes, rain jackets and umbrellas, checking out all the gutters, large puddles, and storm drains. there was a lot to observe. and this time, it was guilt-free for me. we got to divert water that was missing the storm drain, back into the drain, clear debris, and float little "helicopter" maple seeds down rivers of rushing water. we do this often during spring and summer showers, but this year, it seems a bit more serious for cosmo. the rain let up for a while, and we went back indoors. after our outing, an hour or so later, when another storm rolled over, he was back out, on his own this time, investigating all there was to see in our yard. he moved from down spout to down spout with our dryer-vent-turned-all-purpose-toy, trying to hook it up to the spout, watching it flow out the end of the tube. entranced. he noted that our neighbors needed to clean out their gutters, since the water was over-flowing at the top, rather than heading down the water spout (cosmo is very vigilant about the care and upkeep of our own gutters, but that's a story for another blog post). he was out there for a good hour or so, i joined him for some of it, then carl went out, and they went for another walk in the pouring rain.

there was very loud thunder, there was lightening, and last year, this stuff scared him. this year, water obsession trumps thunder fear. he just can't be bothered. he did ask me, once, if lightening ever touched the ground. our dear friend hannah planted that seed when she visited a couple of months ago. i had to admit that it sometimes does, but that he really didn't need to worry about being outside in the rain. that seemed good enough for him.when carl and cosmo came in from their walk, i had towels waiting at the door, and homemade hot chocolate on the stove. he and carl had a little tea party while they got warmed up.

yesterday, we went out to the sculpture trails for the annual aluminum pour. i went last year with lara, and thought cosmo and carl would really enjoy seeing molten metal being poured into carved-out tiles of pressed sand. cosmo, not so much. see, it had just rained, and there were gravel roads and dirt trails with rivlets of water running down them, and a big rushing creek, with a bridge. anything that did not involve water flowing was simply uninteresting to cosmo. i got him to help me carve out my dragonfly tile, for a few minutes, and we did hike a good portion of the sculpture trails, searching for "hidden" sculptures, but when it was time to leave, the sculptures and the foundry were not the areas that we could barely tear cosmo away from. it was the creek. luckily, there were little trickles of water running here and there, on the road leading back to the car. but when we finally got him buckled into the car, he was in tears, crying, "i wanna go back to the creek! i wanna go back to the creeeeeeek! i don't want to leeeeeave...."

he was so devastated, he fell asleep on the way home, something that almost never happens these days. especially after a good night's sleep (12 hours).

oh, and we saw some geese and goslings on the road, this tree,

and i made this tile for the garden (photo of finished, cast tile, coming soon).

one of our neighbors, whom we don't really know, but refer to as "halloween," (due to her awesome october house decor the first year we lived here), has recently installed a pond in her back yard. a pond with a small waterfall, and a trickling stream. it has become the new destination for walks or bike rides, when it is NOT pouring down rain. one time, halloween herself was out there, and showed cosmo the pump that lives under a lightweight, fake, stone next to the pond. cosmo was talking about that pump for days. i have always thought those sorts of landscaping features were kind of hokey. but i tell ya, if we were homeowners, i'd be looking into low-cost ways of setting one of those up at our place. but cosmo and i have already decided, our pump wouldn't be hidden. why would anyone want to hide something so spectacular?

07 May 2009


for mother's day, i'll be participating in a show called artists/mothers, in houston texas. it's a multi media event, including readings, performance, video and visual art, put together by sehba sarwar, at voices breaking boundaries.

i won't be attending in person, but i'll have a virtual presence via skype, and i have sent some water color images of coral polyps (and the algae who love them) that i've been working on for the wonderlab. i'm hoping to encourage connections between motherhood and symbiotic relationships that occur elsewhere in nature.

i know personally, almost all of the women participating in the show, and greatly admire their work. i feel truly honored to be in such company.

if you're one of my houston readers, take my advice and don't miss this show.