"Dude" is such a versatile word. Sure, it's really casual and not particularly respectful, but I love it. It is one of the few words in the English language where you can apply many different intonations and get an equal number of different meanings.
"Dude" even works beautifully without voice intonation, like in texts, as my friend Sarah proved this week. She texted me, "Dude," followed by a photo of her poor son, Benjamin, who was sitting as close as possible to the toilet, resting his head on the seat. "Dude" says it all, including the sarcastic, "Thanks, barfing flu," the frantic, "I know I should really seriously avoid using bleach on everything, but here I go anyway," the weary, "How long will this last?" and the empathetic, "My poor, sick, sad child."
It's December, or The First Month When Everyone Gets Sick, and after hearing from Sarah (they're across the country from us, but that fact matters little to a worrier of my caliber), I've been annoying my family even more than usual by reminding them to really wash their hands, like for at least the entire recommended 20 seconds ("Sing the alphabet, but slowly!" Or, "Sing 'Happy Birthday' twice!"). But some version of the barfing flu squiggled into our home anyway. Wyatt woke upon Sunday yelling for me and saying with a quiver in his voice and chin that his stomach felt "oogie." Of course it did. Sunday was his school's Winter Fair, the one-day, super fun, winter holiday fairyland extravaganza that everyone, including him, looks forward to all year. Woe. It was not to be this year. Marc went to the fair to handle his shift for the little passenger train that would carry children up and down the road, and I stayed home with Wyatt. I texted Sarah, "Dude," followed by a photo of Wyatt in a similar pose to Benjamin on Thursday. She welcomed me to the Galactic Wormhole of Doom and Sh*ttiness ("GWODAS"), and I thanked her for her hospitality.
Over the course of the next several hours, I sat on the bathroom floor and read the rest of Laura Ingalls Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek to Wyatt. The end of Plum Creek really puts the GWODAS of a short-lived barfing flu (he perked-up before noon) in a modern home into perspective. I seriously cannot imagine living the last hundred pages of that book (or really any of it, but especially the end). The endless swarms of noisily munching grasshoppers who blocked out the sun and ate all the crops two years in a row, Pa's having to walk 600 miles round-trip (once in holey boots) so he could earn some money before winter, twice-weekly blizzards that would easily blind you, swallow you up and freeze you and your children to death, fiery fireballs of tumbleweeds that jumped over trenches to burn your house down, and don't forget all the regular work of being a farmer and homesteader. The whole scenario is its own, special kind of uber-GWODAS, and I am a spoiled whiner by comparison.
Comparisons aside, however, the truth remains that community improves whatever GWODAS we find ourselves in. Mr. Nelson helped beat back the fiery fireballs of tumbleweeds to save the the Ingalls' house from burning to the ground; Sarah helped me keep my perspective and sense of humor while I was wedged into the corner on the floor of the bathroom near my inconsolable child on Sunday morning.
Community matters, and friendships across many miles matter, too. This story about the Transcontinental Barfing Twins reminded me that I have not yet shared the most recent installment of our Craft Pals exchange (read about earlier exchanges here and here). It's awfully heartwarming.
At the end of September, our doorbell rang. The mail carrier had a package for Wyatt. It was from Benjamin, and Wyatt was so surprised and pleased he could hardly contain himself. Benjamin had sent Wyatt the most glorious set of homemade, handpainted story stones, all about a fishing adventure. There's a trout, a fishing pole, a mystery trout that got away, a worm on a hook, an island, a dock, a sailboat, a whale, the weather, an umbrella, a buck-toothed shark, assorted bait, another hook that the mystery trout ate the bait from and sneakily escaped, an octopus, and a jellyfish. This set has all the elements of so many epic adventures, and we have enjoyed many excellent stories thanks to these stones.
It took Wyatt and me awhile to figure out what to send Benjamin in return. We were thinking about it, and talking about it, but we were also working on the felted trivets all the time, so the weeks got away from us a little bit. Inspiration struck after our friend, Anne, gave Wyatt a National Parks Journal for writing and sketching. It's a great little book, and Wyatt has been working on drawing plants from our garden and things from his imagination ever since he received it. Wyatt thought Benjamin would enjoy a notebook, but not just any notebook. It needed to be special. I suggested we get an unlined blank notebook and decorate it somehow. Wyatt agreed, and he and I made a trip to SCRAP in San Francisco for inspiration and supplies.
SCRAP is a magical place. The flamingos at the top of this post greeted us outside, and after that, we explored pretty much every corner of the shop. We found everything we needed at SCRAP for the bargain price of $3.15. Everything, that is, except for the notebook (which we were particular about), and the yarn, glue sticks, googly eyes, and thread that I already had.
Wyatt decided he wanted to make a cat notebook. And he sketched this prototype.
We made the notebook by ironing the fabrics, cutting lightweight batting the same size as the cover, covering the batting-covered cover with fabric, and decorating the book like a cat. Sadly, our hot glue-gun didn't work well for sticking the fabrics together (because it's a low-temperature version, maybe?), so I did more stitching than I had anticipated, but that was fine. Wyatt finger-knitted the whiskers, tail, closure, and collar. He also chose the button, applied all the hot glue we could use, and held me to a high standard in terms of his art direction.
The hardest part about sending off this package was parting with the working kick-scooter key chain that Wyatt had found at SCRAP. He searched in endless bins there, but only found one (in contrast to the boxes and boxes of medals; he got himself a medal, too, because he "had always wanted one, and Benjamin probably had, too.")
Once the package had arrived, Sarah sent the best ever thank you video from Benjamin. It brought Wyatt the biggest, goofiest grin and giggle each time he watched it.
I know I've said it before, but I absolutely love this tangible exchange of thoughtfulness, care, and creativity.
I hope everyone reading this post enjoys a healthful December and beyond. But just in case that proves impossible, here's a recipe for pancakes that has proven delicious and easy on recovering stomachs in our house for the last couple of years. The recipe is courtesy of Sweetsmith in Adelaide, South Australia. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined-sugar free, these pancakes would also be good in times of good health.
- 1 cup rice flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2/3 cup rice milk (or nut milk)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 grated apple
Sift flour and baking powder. Mix with all other ingredients. Cook on a griddle (I use coconut oil on the griddle) and flip once they are golden brown on the first side. After both sides are golden brown, eat!