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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Camp Marshfield Weekend Activities

Well, this afternoon pretty much said it all. A friend gave me a ride to the Costco up on Damen and let me use his membership to get stuff for the barbecue I'm having next weekend. We may have a real block party in August, but this is kind of the unofficial one. It's also Medicine Man's goodbye party.

(By the way, if you know me and you live in the neighborhood, you're invited. I've done a bad job of tracking who I invited and who I didn't.)

When we got back, of course the car was full of stuff, and my friend, his friend and I got ready to roll it out and get it into the house as quickly as possible. The minute I got out of the car, half a dozen kids ran over with questions:

"Can I borrow your bike pump?" (The boy who borrowed my bike pump before, and whom I told to pull up his pants a few days ago. His pants were pretty much above his underwear today, I'm happy to report.)

"Can we play Memory?" (Memory Girl, of course.)

"Is that stuff for us?"

"Can we help you?"

I took 30 seconds to say: the stuff is for the party next Saturday, no you can't help because my house is too messy, yes, I'll bring out the bike pump in a minute, but Memory has to wait because we're going in and out of the house.

--a chunk of this post was lost between composition and publishing, sorry--

I wrote about how after all the food got in here and the key stuff got into the freezer and fridge, I went back out with Serpentiles, Memory and a book from Smithsonian Press about spiders. Plus an umbrella, because it was drizzling off and on.

At first, the five of us all sat together and I read the book. I had the book on my lap and the umbrella over our heads in case of drizzle. My next door neighbors: eight-year old aunt and five-year-old niece, sat on one my left, niece on auntie's lap. Memory Girl sat on my right with Jay-Z's little girl cousin in her lap. My eight-year-old next-door neighbor, who is the budding naturalist in the group, has become a good enough friend of mine to warrant a name on the blog. She's now Sarah.

However, the two littlest girls got bored and wanted to play with the games, so we let them. Because Sarah's niece only speaks a little English, Sarah had to work with her when she and Jay-Z's cousin weren't getting along. Jay-Z's little cousin can be a tough cookie to play with, and Sarah's niece was complaining. As a result of all this, Sarah missed the page in the book about how spiders spin silk, which I think she was pretty interested in. We'll go back to that another time. I'd love to just read the book with her since she's the one who is most interested, but Memory Girl was holding her own and getting in some reading practice, too. Sometimes I read aloud solo, sometimes one or the other of the older girls tried while the other was occupied with the younger girls, sometimes all three of us read together. We stopped a lot to talk about things, like how boy spiders are usually smaller than girl spiders and how that is different from humans, what camouflage is, and how spiders are different from insects. They asked questions. Sarah used some schoolspeak--once she raised her hand and said, "I have a connection."

"Tell me your connection," I replied. She explained that one of the younger Brady boys had found a spider that had something in common with whatever the spider on that page was being featured for.

Dorothy stopped by in the midst of this, looking for five dollars to get a bus card for a bunch of trips tomorrow. I asked her if she could wait until we got through with the book, and she said OK. She came up and kept Jay-Z's cousin busy for a little while. Cousin was asking what all the animals on the memory cards were. "Kangaroo. Butterfly. Frog," Dorothy told her. "She's really smart!" she noted to me. Jay-Z's cousin is really smart, but I fear she will be in trouble all the time at school because she is not one to contain herself much.

After the bit about the silk-making, I thought we were at a good stopping place, so I put the book down and talked with Dorothy. Just as we wrapped up the rains began in earnest. All the girls squealed and huddled under my umbrella, leaving the book and the games out in the rain. I started grabbing all the stuff and ordering them to go home now!

They all fled for shelter except Jay-Z's little cousin. "Maritza, I've got something to tell you," she repeated endlessly. "I need an umbrella so I won't get wet." This was on a repeating tape.

I repeated my own tape back at her, "You need to go home right now! This is my only umbrella and I need it so you can play games next time! Go home now!"

We gamely shouted back and forth at each other until she realized I was not kidding and went down the steps. Once she was out on the sidewalk, she called back to me very rationally, "Bye, Maritza--see you later."

"Bye, honey," I said, equally rational. "Go home quick so you don't get wet."

That was today. Yesterday, Sarah and Jay-Z and I went to the Holy Cross/IHM picnic at Davis Square Park. Sarah's dad gave us a ride in his truck. We put Sarah's bike in the back and tied mine to the roof so the two kids could ride bikes in the park. They rode bikes and I hung out with people from church and then they came back and we had free hot dogs, nachos and soda. I watched the Mexican folkloric dancers while they played Frisbee (I got a bunch of Frisbee knock-offs at the dollar-store closeout) and looked for bugs in the grass. Eventually I joined the bug hunt and then we went over to check out the pool. I got the pool hours and have to remember to give them to people, and put them on the fridge for myself and maybe for Camp Marshfield some afternoon. Oh, and the church had a toy giveaway, so Sarah got a white stuffed bear and Jay-Z got a small Tigger. The time went really fast. Sarah's dad came into the park when he returned to pick us up and was telling me he'd been past the park but hadn't really been inside and didn't know much about what they had before. Maybe Sarah will get to go swimming over there now.

The rain has stopped. If it's dry around sunset, I'll haul out my ladder and we'll pick mulberries off the tree in the vacant lot.

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