January 27, 2007

Quiet evening at home

It's Saturday night, and I've got a knee injury.

My husband is gone for the weekend. He's at the monastery with his friend GreatLaugh, who just happens to be married to MonkingFriend, the friend who accompanies me when I go on to the monastery. I'm glad he's had this chance for a retreat. He'll come back rested and relaxed, and hopefully, full of patience. He's going to need all the patience he can get because a knee injury does not agree with his wife at all, and she is in a miserable mood.

By the end of the day, my leg hurts, and so I am lying on the couch. Boy in Black, home for the weekend, took sympathy on my knee injury and did some grocery shopping. Shaggy Hair Boy and Blonde Niece are taking groceries out of the bags and putting them away in what seems like a really haphazard fashion. Blonde Niece pauses to ask the crowd: "Do you think jelly is a lipid?" The whole gang has orders to clean the kitchen, but now the counter and floor are filled with bags of food, with frozen cans of juice concentrate rolling about.

Older Neighbor Boy, sitting at the table, begins playing his guitar, a simple chord progression at first. Boy in Black stops unloading the dishwasher and begins drumming on the counter. Blonde Niece, who is pouring noodles into a pot on the stove, swishes her hair to the music.

Boy in Black grabs a pair of drumsticks, and plays them on first the counter, then the table, then the oak chairs, then the bookshelf. Skater Boy, without even looking up at anyone, begins to drums on the table with his hands. Shaggy Hair Boy talks over the music, teasing Blonde Niece about the bindings on her snowboard. With-a-Why goes to the piano and begins playing. By then Boy in Black is leaning over Older Neighbor Boy and is drumming, softly, on the guitar.

They finish the song – or whatever you might call it – and switch immediately into a discussion of Xiaolon Showdown, arguing which monk has the coolest powers. Somehow, cleaning the kitchen gets abandoned in favor of a snack. The boys are eating potato bread dipped in basalmic vinegar. The conversation at the table turns suddenly serious. Blonde Niece talks about the wake she will be going to tomorrow: a sixteen-year-old boy killed in a snowmobiling accident.

With-a-Why climbs onto the couch next to me, cuddling for a moment, and then insists on making me watch the latest YouTube clip that the group has been obessed with: a young man on the piano playing the music from the Mario video. "He's nasty at the end. He plays so fast. It's so sweet." Everyone gathers around me to watch the ending, the pianist's hands just flying across the keys.

Shaggy Hair moves to the piano to start playing "Holding Out for a Hero" from the movie Footloose. With-a-Why, for no apparent reason, decides to throw pencils at him, which results in a mad chase around the house, ending only when Boy in Black tackles With-a-Why. In the midst of the noise and confusion, Blonde Niece and Skater Boy are doing some kind of homework together, muttering stuff about quadriatic equations. They question each other's answers with great tact and politeness: "What? How the fuck did you get that?"

As the night gets later, I remind the kids to gather up everything they need for snowboarding, since they will be leaving early in the morning. With-a-Why comes to snuggle against me and ask, "Can we get the sheet music for those Mario songs?"

15 comments:

ppb said...

ingrate children. They should be bringing you bon bons and rubbing your feet!
But at least they're entertaining.h

saxifraga said...

I grew up in a big family and the way you write about your kids and the life they create in your house makes me remember with such fondness. Hope the knee is getting better soon, though.

diana christine said...

this is beautiful in all its madness, life so rich you can taste it and smell it through your words. the messiness, the bedlam, the restless energies, their seeming unconcern for helping out. you are beautiful in the picture too, snuggling with the kids and sharing in their music video. a lovely, lovely scene. a masterpiece.

Waterfall said...

Ah ... I used to play "Holding Out for a Hero" on the piano when I was a teenager. Nobody threw pencils at me, but they probably wanted to.

KathyR said...

I never thought at the time that I would miss those Mario songs. But I do.

BeachMama said...

Hope your knee gets better soon. Your house always sounds so fun and full of life, it must be wonderful to be surrounded by all those kids.

listmaker said...

That sounds wonderful. But, did they at least bring you some tea?

Norah said...

I've been sick and on the couch for much of this weekend, and I saw some of the Winter X games on ESPN. Do your kids or extras do the flips and turns on their snowboards, Jo(e)? It all looks very exhilirating...even when they're just flying along with both feet on the ground.

Hope the knee feels better soon!

jo(e) said...

Listmaker: No tea, but Boy in Black did buy me some tofutti when he went grocery shopping.

Norah: Boy in Black and Older Neighbor Boy have both been snowboarding for years -- so they do cool moves and hit the jumps in the terrain park. It's fun to watch them.

The local ski places don't allow inverted aerials -- too dangerous.

Snowboarding is really exhilerating -- more so even then skiing.

susan said...

Oh, the conversations and connections in your home make me endlessly envious: I've lived in plenty of homes filled with love, but they have all been quiet places with not so many people. I love the pictures you draw with your words.

And I'm glad you have good company while you're healing.

Jessica said...

Knee injury...oy. Sorry to hear about that but glad you have so much life around you....speedy recovery!

liz said...

I love your family.

Kyla said...

That video WAS sweet. And then ending? It made my jaw drop; his hand was moving so quickly you could barely see it! Now I'm longing for some old school Nintendo time.

Julie VW said...

There is a website with a transcription of the Mario Music - have you son check out http://gprime.net/images/mariopiano/

jo(e) said...

Julie VW: Thanks! I just showed the site to With-a-Why, and he's printing out the music now. He's very excited about it.

I imagine I am going to be hearing that music a lot over the next week ....