on naming the capital cities of all fifty states before the school bus arrives (and unwittingly sending some elderly chileans on a wild goose chase)

Adam and I have endeavored recent mornings whereupon arrival at the school bus stop (under the rare Seattle oak) we must name the capital cities of all fifty states of America in the span of a few minutes or the earth will explode, the breathless rush afterward is what I imagine it must be like to skydive out of an airplane. It’s either this or I must listen in silent agony as Adam defends his PhD dissertation on Minecraft and what’s more reminds me I have yet to complete my assigned reading (going on several weeks, now) from The Visual Guide to Minecraft he has obnoxiously distinguished with the most labyrinth system of paperclips you could possibly imagine. Unfortunately, yesterday while trying to save the planet before the bus arrived we forgot Arkansas and Iowa. And since I’m in confessional mode, this morning we left out a small section of the eastern seaboard (it’s a little tricky keeping track of fifty things on your hands and fingers). I stuttered on Montpelier and Adam snuck Concord in but then we both panicked as the axle of the hulking International school bus groaned around the traffic circle one block away and our brains completely locked up…..naarrghh!!!! There’s this brown-haired, brainy-looking girl who rides her bicycle every morning in the direction of the university and I can tell she’s mystified up the wall trying to figure out what we’re about, she smiles or laughs at us a little every day and I’m sure she’s imagining something far, far funnier.

Speaking of bicycles, last week I retrieved the big bike from the little shop in Greenwood. New brakes to replace the old new brakes but there’s still that horrible burning-metal smell from riding all the way down Aloha. The only way the mechanics can recreate the phenomenon is apparently by piling three hippopotamuses on the bike and pedaling over to Madison Valley for themselves so I’ve been advised for the time being to try to use my front brakes a bit more and not be so fat. At any rate, the ride home was relaxing and uneventful such that as time passed more and more I braced myself for something bad to happen but nothing did. I don’t plan on doing a lot of nighttime riding but nevertheless in Green Lake I outfitted myself with a brand-new headlight and taillight (and also a trip computer). It was a big deal to add lights to my repertoire: No more panicking when it gets close to dusk. I’ve got a little tail-light that downwardly projects red laser beams on either side of my bike to delineate my position in the dark, I had no idea such technology existed because although I live in Seattle, mostly I hang out under a rock with my kids. Adam was beside himself with excitement when I showed him the laser pathway in the dark of the dining-room.

Yesterday, Oliver and I went down to the Arboretum for a couple hours. We were leaf bandits, in search of the biggest and prettiest leaves we could find to bring home. I put on my 50 mm lens, I wasn’t anticipating doing particular serious shooting but you know this time of year there are such lovely and very interesting things to find with the wind blowing without cadence and leaves floating like the fattest snowflakes right before a bad storm. Oliver was trying to kick leaves at me, jazzed about life as he was after peeing in the bushes for the second time that morning, so I had to hurry. It pleased me when even he noticed the rainbow leaf sitting delicately atop these fronds.

We made the acquaintance of a trio of elderly, dapper Chileans in the Arboretum and supplied them with desperately-needed directions to the Japanese Garden. We saw them again, later, near Washington Park Playfield and we talked with them for a spell. Alas, they recounted with disappointment and suspicion the Japanese Garden is closed on Mondays. As often as I’ve spent time there over the years I shouldn’t have forgotten this detail so I felt simply awful sending their party (especially the guy with the cane) on a wild goose chase. I told them about the Pacific Connections Garden in the south end of the Arboretum featuring among other things, specimens native to Chile, so it’s possible I redeemed myself but probably not. I established an effortless rapport with the ringleader of the group and he was clinging to me buoy-like as we chatted about the Monkey Puzzle Trees but Oliver was starting to lose his marbles due to tiredness (stuffing dusty pine needles into his pants pockets) so very regrettably I had to skiddadle.

This morning I was still feeling torn about that darn leaf which Oliver and I spotted yesterday. I had the feeling it might end up representing one of my signature autumn moments of this season and so I wanted to try something a bit more serious. I returned to the Arboretum as soon as I had Adam on the bus and this time I came equipped with a tripod, but more importantly- a circular polarizer and Oliver not kicking leaves at me and tackling my legs or lingering in my peripheral vision as he drops his drawers to take a whiz. I redeemed myself with some more thoughtful shooting although it just didn’t feel the same without sweet Oliver Fern pestering me, hahaha!

Unlike yesterday, I had a gentle morning breeze to contend with and was forced to mostly shoot wide open. To tell you the truth, that’s how I prefer it, anyway. I love seeing where the soft edges and sharp planes come in and out. I hope you like this picture, it was made at 24 mm on a Nikon D700 with a circular polarizer.

On my way home, I stuffed more large and unusual leaves in my paper grocery sack for quilting favorite plants at home: And I stopped a block and a half from the house for some vibrant yellow maple leaves (filler) and was spotted by a neighbor, I try to not let that happen when I’m doing weirdo things like stuffing leaves in paper sacks.  Speaking of Oliver Fern and ferns, he came home at lunchtime after contracting a dreaded case of green eggs and pink-eye. Therefore, all projects were immediately suspended for the obsessive-compulsive disinfection of household surfaces that can withstand the handiwork of the Dow Chemical Company. The rest of us are a potential ticking time bomb of festering, blinding eye gunk so tonight I figured I’d better diary for the week before I’m crusted shut for a day or two.

7 thoughts on “on naming the capital cities of all fifty states before the school bus arrives (and unwittingly sending some elderly chileans on a wild goose chase)

  1. LOL Oh Jason, how do I love thy blog? Let me count the ways… they must number in a million! I have been SO busy I’ve barely had time to catch my breath, but we have a solid rainy day today and it was such a treat, yet again, to sit down snuggled under a blanket and savor your accounting of your antics. I snarfed on Oliver’s “dropping his drawers to take a whiz.” 🙂 What a delightful journey of words you always share. I can smell dusty pine needles and see so clearly your conversations with others. The image of a brainy brown haired girl and a father and son in a mad dash of breathlessness just makes me grin. Visiting you is always like ordering my favorite meal at a restaurant, and extra special today because I’ve tried three times to enjoy this and had to get up and be mom, wife, friend, phone answerer, framer, artist, web designer, driver… only today, I simply got to be the consumer. I hope you don’t stop writing for a really really long time. Beautiful leaf… you will forever be the keeper of this memory.:) (Shooting wide open is a wonderful metaphor for fatherhood too!)

    • If “festering, blinding eye gunk” is your idea of a delightful journey then I’ve got a ticket for a train ride to paradise, for you. Thanks for stopping by, it’s good to hear from you, Roni. Your little space on my reader has been quiet, i started wondering what you’ve been up to. A solid rainy day way up here in no man’s land, too.

      • When you’re blinded by gunk, sometimes… just sometimes, you see better with your heart.:) (Confucius said that, I think.. or maybe I just made it up.) Delightful journeys sometimes start out gunky and end up grand. It’s all in one’s perspective. (please don’t throw a shoe at me. It’s totally true!)

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