Sweeping Leaves

There's a little old lady down on our street who's often out sweeping leaves off of her driveway. She is quite little and quite old, but she seems pretty serious about it, even when there aren't many leaves to sweep. Today she was bending over trying to sweep leaves out from under a car parked by the sidewalk in front of her house. A lady I assume was her daughter was helping her bag a tiny pile of leaves.

I've never taken any part of yardwork that seriously.

But whatever brings you comfort and a sense of control, right? We defend our little plots of sanity and hold back the chaos as well as we can.

Reading Class

Ben's class has a reading call where they talk about different parts of books, and listening in on it gives you some interesting things to think about.

Discussing the difference between characters and settings made me wonder if I could think of a book where the two overlapped. We recently read "The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body" to the kids, and if you asked whether Arnold was a character or a setting, you might have to say both.

They also talked about internal vs. external character traits, and the line between the two is grayer than you think. Like, is "king" an internal or external character trait? I could see a story where it starts off external, but by the end, it's internal too (awww).

And then there's fiction vs. nonfiction. I took issue with a lot of the items in their columns of how to recognize fiction or nonfiction. The first items—fiction is made up and nonfiction isn't—is straightforward enough, but the others...

"Fiction has a beginning, middle and end. Nonfiction can be read in any order." What about biographies? Or historical books? I guess they were thinking about textbooks or something.

"Fiction has characters and a setting. Nonfiction doesn't." See above.

"Fiction is read for fun, nonfiction is read to get information." I'll have you know I read plenty of nonfiction for fun and not necessarily for the information. Because I promptly forget everything I learned from the book within two days anyway.

"Fiction has illustrations. Nonfiction has photographs." That's just false.

* * *

Today they read an inspiring book by a very well-meaning fellow. It was about how everyone is special and it was called "You Matter."

Teacher: "Okay, class. Was 'You Matter' fiction or nonfiction?"

Me: *pained, existential expression*

We Had That Baby!

Baby Owen! We had him like two weeks ago. It went well. He's a good baby.

Having a newborn in Texas in the middle of August during a pandemic is something. It mostly means not leaving the house very much, since the only things you can safely do in a pandemic are outside, and then it turns out that 103˚F is not actually that safe when you're only two weeks old and can't regulate your body temperature. That's okay though, I'm able to get some work and cooking done, and I know those would be the first things people would tell you not to bother doing when you have a newborn, but they are the things that keep me feeling like a real human being.

(Absolutely letting other things slide, though. Like today, I've done a rye bread, a butternut squash soup, and a basil/walnut pesto, but cleaning like, anything?—Oh hey is that the baby? Gotta go feed the baby again! Definitely no time to clean anything ohh wellll.)

"Cheese" "Bread"

Facebook ads really think I want to try "paleo bread" and I have no idea why.

I'm sure there's an audience out there for "Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Cheese Bread," but I am not part of it. You'd make way more headway with them than you will with me.

...Okay though, now I've got a morbid curiosity regarding what Cheese Bread with no grains and no dairy would even look like, much less taste like. Maybe that's what facebook ads figured out. Not that I'm the kind of person who would enjoy this, but I'm the kind of person who would be weirdly fascinated by it and would keep pondering it long after I scrolled past the ad.


Our neighborhood has a few of those little yard signs still up, the ones that congratulate kids who are graduating from high school. And whatever school district we're in, ours say:

Proud Home of a
Class of 2020

And every time, I want to read it as:

Proud Home of a

Which, when I'm old, heck yeah I want a yard sign. I will have made it that far, I'll deserve some congratulations.


Ben was playing a videogame (Splatoon, maybe?), then suddenly he ran out onto the porch and we had this exchange:


To be fair, I never have any idea what is going on in Splatoon either.

(no subject)

(Sad facts: the day after I posted about Trash Monster, it was taken down. Also, after I posted about Dr. Pepper 10, our stores stopped carrying it. Diet Dr. Pepper has been fine since then, but... sigh.)

In the vein of "long overdue sketch scans," I took the opportunity to sketch the kids a couple times when we'd been out over the last however-many months it's been.


Apparently "thoughtful gazes" is a theme with Ben, and "charging forward with arms outstretched" is a theme with Eleanor. This is about right.

The Neighborhood

Since the pandemic started, some people in our neighborhood have taken the opportunity to share a little bit of creativity.

A few blocks down from us, somebody decided to turn their front-yard brushpile into a monster. We call it "Trash Monster," and the kids like it.

Since this photo was taken, Trash Monster has become much scruffier and overgrown, but it's still there.

Eleanor called me a Trash Monster one day. I think she meant it in a sweet way, but considering that I probably hadn't showered in a couple days and was wearing some ratty pajama pants at the time, I sighed and replied that it was a fair assessment.

Then there are other people who write little inspirational messages on most of the sidewalk corners in the neighborhood. Some of them are cheesy—they like the phrase "BLOOM HOPE!" with a flower and lots of peace signs. That's a common one. But others are kinda nice. "You're doing great!" "We're in this together!" That sort of thing. I've never seen them out chalking, but after it rains, a new set of messages always goes up.

I like that someone cares enough to keep it going.