Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hammock Haven

This is Mihret cuddling in her Nona and Pappa's hammock with her Nona in Evansville, IN. I learned hammock hunkering (and Mihret cuddling) from the best!

April 21, 2010
Post-Crescent column: Warm weather puts me in the swing of things

You know spring has sprung at the Patterson house when the hammock is in full swing.

I'm not sure when my fascination with the freestanding, woven-rope-on-poles resting place first began. It seems like a hideaway I've always wanted to have.

Although far from an athletic child, I made up for it in imagination, and for that reason, I was always outdoors in good weather. I unfolded my share of picnic blankets and even read books perched on the highest bars of my swing set, but the hammock was a treat that never materialized.

A fan of the "Star Wars films" as a child of the '80s, I was well aware that the Ewoks, the teddy-bear-like helpers of Luke Skywalker and his sister Leia, had hammocks. Their village on the forest moon of Endor was pocketed with them. Perhaps that's what first caught my attention.

In the books and magazines I read, both fiction and nonfiction, adventurers and travelers always carried their trusty hammocks, whether they were National Geographic explorers or the hobbits of the Shire in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth.

I received my first hammock as a gift from my parents a few years ago. When the snow stays away long enough for our first tulips to show their greenery, we haul the hammock out of its garage hibernation and set it up in its place of honor under our lone apple tree.

Suspended between the hustle of the last hour and the bustle of the next, when I'm in the hammock with a good read and an iPod, everything seems to look, well, up.

I savor my chosen solitude and I take the time for myself that's so hard to get when my feet are still on the ground.

Now, if only I could put up a hammock in the basement for the off-seasons.
-By Kara Patterson, Post-Crescent staff writer/

Friday, April 16, 2010


For the last couple of years, Kara and I have talked about writing a book detailing our entire adoption experience. We’ve gone back and forth about writing it together, or writing different chapters, and a few times I’ve talked about writing it myself.

Why just me? A few reasons. There are quite a few adoption books from a female perspective, but none that I’ve been able to find that take a man’s view. There’s also a time factor – Kara has always had the zany, work-all-the-time job, and getting extra writing in doesn’t seem feasible much of the time.

Why write the book at all? Because people have questions, and no matter how much time we spend talking to people, it never seems like we can describe everything.

Today, I went to a memoir workshop that was being held at a local library. We were asked to bring a picture, and then the person running the workshop asked us to write about what was happening in the picture in both the past and present tense.

I ended up with two very different perspectives that way, and since we don’t update nearly often enough here, I thought I’d share them:

Present Tense:

I am a father for the first time. The nannies at the care center have handed my child to me and my wife, and given us a bowl of baby cereal for our daughter. We’re ushered into another room, along with a fellow family, like we’ve been feeding Mihret for months.

Like we understand her.

I awkwardly try to cradle this 12-pound being that I’ve spent two years waiting to meet. My wife attempts to get the adult-sized spoon past her six-month-old lips, but our little one doesn’t seem to be hungry. I take a turn, and prove just as inept.

Wanting to hold onto this moment, we ask our new friend to take a picture of us feeding our daughter, even though we have failed in our first act as parents.

Past Tense:

When we take photos, we try to get everything perfect. We want to look taller, thinner, more competent, more awake, more alert. At our best.

But in this single photo, the only one we have, we are dressed in the same clothes we’ve been wearing for the last three days. I have slept maybe four hours of the last 30, and Kara only a bit more. We are posed awkwardly, our child seems to be half-asleep, and everything about us, even the picture framing itself, is askew.

But it is the only picture we have, so it is perfect.