Jul 31 2012

First Harvests


I picked a small bowl of blackberries from our yard today. They were quickly devoured:


For lunch we had spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, parmesan, a fresh tomato, a handful of pine nuts, and some basil from our garden. Imagine me kissing my fingertips here: it was mmmm-mwah!


We also harvested the first zucchini from the garden this week. One of them was normal-sized, and I cooked it in a pot of black beans and rice. But the other was monstrous, bigger than a man’s forearm, and that one I hollowed out last night and stuffed with brown rice, sausage, tomato, and cheese, then roasted in the oven until it was soft and beginning to brown. It was delicious. Even Robin, who is in a strong anti-vegetable phase right now, ate some and said it was good.

There are more mondo zucchini lurking under the leaves. I see them, but they’re still pallid and unripe. It’s possible that they’re actually squash. The squash and zucchini have grown so thickly together that I can’t really tell where one vine ends and the other begins. Meanwhile the tomatoes are still green, but I am casting covetous eyes at them every day.

Jul 27 2012


Another picture from the trip: Davy pulling a silly face on the zoo train.


Jul 27 2012

Rose City

rose city

We drove up to Portland last week for a mini Cochran family reunion—we got to see my sister and brothers as well as Pops and Mo. We drove through a lot of neat little historic towns on the way (we stayed the night in Jacksonville) and spent several days in Portland eating well, enjoying the parks, seeing waterfalls, riding the trains at the zoo, walking through the rose gardens, and generally having a great time.

Here’s a few of my pictures from the trip: I have more up on my Flickr account.






Jul 16 2012



Jul 15 2012

Donut Time


There’s a lot of wonderful vintage signage around our neighborhood, though most of it is faded and cracked and attached to some boarded-up storefront. The neon never lights up any more and the clock has long since stopped. It’s always five minutes to Donut Time.

Jul 14 2012

The Tooth Fairy Cometh

Robin has a loose tooth! He was pretty anxious about it when he first noticed it—came running in to say, on the verge of tears, “Mommy! My tooth is broken!”

And it struck me all at once that this is the purpose of the Tooth Fairy story: to recast something scary (a kid losing their teeth) into something fun and exciting and magical. To show them quite literally (with cash!) that they are gaining, not losing, by the process. I felt like I got the whole Tooth Fairy thing for probably the first time.

So I assured Robin that this is normal, that it’s supposed to happen; I told him all about how his baby teeth are going to fall out and his big boy teeth are going to come in; and then I told him that “some people believe” that if he puts his tooth under his pillow, the Tooth Fairy will come and take it and leave a present behind.

“Other people believe that there is no Tooth Fairy,” I said, scrupulously, “and that somebody else takes the tooth and leaves the present. This is science! You have two hypotheses, the Tooth Fairy hypothesis and the ‘somebody else’ hypothesis. You will have to make observations and decide for yourself what you believe.” This is the same solution I’m using for the Santa Claus dilemma: I don’t want to lie to my kids, but I also want to give them the opportunity to enjoy these stories for as long as they want. And on a more serious note, it’s exactly how I plan to present world religions: some people believe this, other people believe that, it is up to you to decide what you believe.

But as it turns out, Robin was vastly uninterested in the question of where the present would be coming from. He only cared about what sort of present, exactly, he would be getting. “You’ll have to wait and see!” I told him, but this was unacceptable: he started making a series of ever-more-improbable guesses until I finally cracked and told him that the going rate for teeth is one shiny gold coin. (I have a stash of Sacagawea dollars squirreled away for precisely this purpose.)

And this seemed to satisfy him completely. Bribery, it has its uses!

Jul 13 2012

The Kinds of Boys and Girls That There Are

My dear friend shared this gem, a speech from her daughter, on Facebook: and after I fell all over myself loving it, I asked if I could reprint it. The daughter said yes, but she’d rather not be named. So this is a guest post by Groovy Girl, age 7.

There are two kinds of girls, Mommy. The first one’s obvious: girls who like pink and silky and fluffy and sparkles and Barbie, and really pink, ugly, weird princesses, and makeup and lipstick.

The second kind is the kind of girls that are more, like, groovy and stuff. For instance, normally they like peace signs and fluorescent colors, and kind of like zebra stripes, and shirts that are on the shoulder and one sleeve off, and they like teal and light blue, and purple, and heart peace signs, and fluorescent yellow, and really bright orange—bright colors.

And there are not as many kinds of boys. There’s, like, one and a half.

One of the most popular boys that you see a lot of times these days is boys that like action-y kinds of stuff, and plastic, and Star Wars, and blue and green and orange and red. Why do people think that orange is a boy color?

There are actually two more kinds of boys:

Boys who really like animals—turtles, and little mouses, and little lizards—more reasonable things.

The third kind of boy is all fancy and stuff—you know, top hats, mustaches, bow ties, ties, tuxedoes. Fancy things—you know, fancy kinda boy.

Then there’s the “train and vehicle” kind of boy. And the littler boys, the ones that for some reason like trucks and dump trucks—the most ridiculous things you ever heard of.

What I love about this—beyond the effortlessly and endlessly charming “voice” of it—is that Groovy Girl (age 7) already deeply understands something that actually took feminists decades to hammer out. Some of them are still hammering, but modern or “third wave” feminism depends on this insight: that there are multiple ways to construct or perform gender. What’s more, although her own tastes and values shine through pretty clearly, Groovy Girl doesn’t for an instant imply that the “fancy kinda boy” is any less of a boy than a “train and vehicle” kind of boy, or that either type of girl is more or less essentially feminine.

I’m an ugly weird princesses girl myself—initially I thought, wistfully, that maybe I could be the fancy kinda boy, but you know what, it’s ugly weird princesses all the way for me. I would join the Ugly Weird Princesses fan club. I would subscribe to the newsletter. My heart belongs to the ugly weird princesses forever. I’m not that big on makeup or Barbie, but pink and silk and sparkles are a-OK in my book too.

The second thing I love is that Groovy Girl sets off to enumerate one “and a half” different kinds of boys, and she ends up with four, or possibly five depending on how you read it. So the categories are proliferating as she thinks about them. Now obviously, there’s actually well more than two different kinds of girls: there’s probably an infinite number of ways to construct/perform/inhabit femininity. It’s in observing and thinking about this proliferation that we’re able to circle back and invest “femininity” with meaning: some grouping of overlapping segments in the set of Venn diagrams, some collection of commonly shared experiences. No one thing that’s true for every woman or girl, but a lot of things that are, separately, true for many. And the same goes for masculinity. Groovy Girl has basically got this, or at least she’s very, very close.

The last thing I love about this speech is how even the things she assigns to the masculine sphere are not confined there. Turtles and little mouses and little lizards are judged “reasonable”: the strong implication is that a girl such as herself can like those things too. I doubt Groovy Girl would object the proposition that it might go both ways: that a truck-loving boy, say, might also enjoy neon colors. There’s a fluidity to these categories that I love.

Anyway, I’m so glad she allowed me to share. I hope you all are as delighted as I was.

(The title of this post is a nod to Lindy West’s classic The Different Kinds of People That There Are. Warning: because we are talking about a seven-year-old’s off-the-cuff philosophy, critical comments will be ruthlessly moderated unless they are couched in the nicest possible terms.)

Jul 10 2012


Choo choo!


Jul 9 2012

New Camera

I got a fancy new camera (well, a fancy new-to-me camera: I bought it used) so this afternoon I went around snapping a lot of pictures of random things. Like knick-knacks on a bookshelf:


and chickens:


and flowers:


and my little garden, which is now bursting over its boundaries:


I’ve learned an important lesson about squash and zucchini, by the way. Squash and zucchini don’t play nice in an intensive gardening set-up. They’ve already swallowed up the eggplant and the artichoke and are muscling in on the thyme and the chives. The mint is fighting back, though, and the tomato plants are holding their own and protecting the basil and parsley as well. Next year the squash and zucchini get their own bed.


Jul 6 2012

Two Years Old!

two years old!

I can’t believe that Davy is already two. Robin can’t believe it either. “NO!” he yelled, when directed to wish his brother a happy birthday. “The birthday cake has an X on it!”


Davy also denies that it’s his birthday. We told him he’s two now, and he said, “No! Baby!” So I told him that he’ll always be my baby.

But he’s getting so big!