I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Paul's latest reminds me of my Uncle Earl, who, in our house, is always referred to as Crazy Uncle Earl. CUE, like my father, was left behind in Jamaica with their grandma while their mom, my grandma, made their way in America. They look alike, and so in my father's stories, probably due to an older brother's bias, CUE sort of comes off as the trickster monkey to my father's obedient schoolboy. CUE is Anansi spider, except always getting the worst of it in the end (And who would have guessed that the boiling oil down his ear canal would cure his deafness...)

These stories, having survived two generations of their telling, now probably qualify as legend. My kids will say, "Don't run with your hands in your pockets. You know what happened to Uncle Earl."

CUE lives in Seabec, Washington, which was a continent away when we were growing up, making visits infrequent. A forester by training, he lived in a genuine, no kidding log cabin in the woods with his wife and rough-and-tumble sons. Their having only sons made him especially exotic to my girlie sister and me. Gifts from CUE -- a model airplane or an "I survived Mt. St. Helen's" tee -- were like dispatches from a strange rustic masculine world.

One time we went to visit CUE and when we had unpacked it became clear that we were sorely unprepared for the activities he had in mind. He took us to buy blue jeans. I was maybe in 5th grade and had never worn jeans one day in my life. He set me atop a log in a beaver pond, said he was teaching me log rolling. And I was doing it there for a minute, 'til I fell in. I walked around the rest of the day in those wet heavy jeans. But they fit like a glove after that and I pretty much wore them every day to school.

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