Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The early bird gets to make the coffee

I'm up early again. This strange phenomenon has been occurring for over two weeks. For anyone who's known me for awhile (which would be anyone who's reading this) this is a telling statement. I don't have to explain what's strange and unusual about it. It's like saying the sun decided to rise in the northern sky today. Or chipmunks starting sprouting feathers. Or George W started using three syllable words and pronouncing them correctly. It's atypical enough to make one wonder if the world as we know it is starting to unravel.

It's all Rosie's fault. I should have thought about the consequences of naming a dog Rosie. Rosie, as in the sky is rosie at the crack of dawn. Obviously it's all my fault that Rosie is a "morning person". Dawn is Rosie's favorite time of day. She wakes up happy. Hours of sleep recharging her tiny body, she's ready to be on the move and she assumes I too want to take advantage of this amazing new day. My alarm clock now pulls on my necklace, crawls back and forth over my face, and licks and bites my ears. One simply can't sleep through that sort of frenzied happiness that the sun has risen again.

So I get up. And stay up. I take Rosie outside to pee. I feed and water her, sitting nearby as she eats, squirt bottle armed, to keep away the bevy of cats that think Rosie's being fed cat cavier compared to the fisherman's chum we toss in their food bowls. Then I sit on the couch, knock the ottaman away so Rosie can't climb up, and pull up my feet so they aren't mistaken for dangerous intruders in need of attack. This is her favorite time to growl and snap at imaginary fiends and teensy floating bits of dust (which are probably not so teensy from her one or two pound point of view). Lacking fiends, floating or otherwise, she happily substitutes fingers, toes, newspapers, cat tails, pink flip flops (which she has now punctured with enough holes to make the soles air conditioned. Thank you Rosie).

Sometimes I fall over sideways against a throw pillow and get another fifteen minutes or so of sleep, while having vague flashbacks of early mornings when my six foot tall sons were still babes. Mostly this leads to me realizing I'm no longer that young and flexible in my habits. Sometimes I open up an eye or two and find some entertainment in her antics. She looks like nothing more then a remote control car driven by the whims of a maniacal toddler. She pops and twirls, boxes the air with her thimble sized paws, runs rings around the cats while growling ferociously. Sometimes I fish the remote control out of the couch cushions and turn on the television. Eventually the cells in my body give up resisting vertical reality and I get up and go make the first pot of coffee.

It's hard to believe, I know this, but I wasn't always a creature of the night. When my children were young, I was always up at the crack of dawn just like I have been forced to be these last few weeks since I was gifted with this chia pet sized child. I can remember mornings when, up for what seemed like hours, I'd bundle up a toddler or two from the morning dew and head out for a bagel and coffee, a walk to the duck pond in the town square, or an errand or two. We'd arrive downtown only to discover that the sidewalks were still roled up, the shops were still sleepy-eyed, "Closed' signs still not flipped to 'Open', traffic only bread trucks and the occasional carpenter off to some job before the day warmed up. The still lingering dew should have been a clue that it was still pre-day. I said I was awake before dawn in those early mothering days, I didn't say I was particularly coherent.

When I lived in the mountains of San Diego nine years ago, we had no town, no television, no internet. After the sun went down, so did most of our activity options (except star gazing, which was "out of this world"). So for most of the year we lived out in the wilds, I took to going to bed early and getting up when the skies lightened just enough to silhouette the rock and agave covered hillsides. I'd slip into jeans and t-shirt and head straight to the gardens,where I'd putter for hours until the sky was bright and the earth started to reflect back the daily desert temperature heat.

And let's not forget that decade plus of early mornings spent waking to the buzz of the alarm clock, dragging reluctant kids from their beds (except Joshua, the aberrant early riser of the bunch), tossing breakfast on the table, searching for lost backpacks and permission slips, before grabbing up a baby and dashing out the door in time to get four elementary aged children to three different schools in two different directions all before the bells rang. Does this seem somewhat rat-in-a-maze Pavlovian to you? Yeah, me too. Okay, let's go ahead and forget those years.

Even in recent years, camping or traveling has me up early, certain there won't be enough hours in the day without an early start to things. I'm the one flipping on hotel lights or banging around the campsite trying to get the campstove lit, while the rest of the family groan and roll deeper into their bedspreads or sleeping bags.

There are some advantages to being up early again. I'm up before the family. Actually I've always been up before the family, just now I'm up practically half a day before them. This gives me time to read my e-mail, take a shower without waiting in line, think through and plan what I want to do for the day. (Of course this doesn't guarantee I'll actually get to follow my plan. Once everyone else is up, all bets are off.) I've discovered there are garden and quilting shows on TV in the morning, which leads me to believe that other people might have actually been getting up early to watch them for years. I've got more hours in the day to do things like hang laundry before the sun sets again and run errands before the stores are about to close. I'm on a "normal" schedule that matches other "normal" people's schedules for eating, phone calls, making appointments. It's like traveling to a new country, seeing new cultural sites and activities, complete with jet lag but without the cost of plane tickets or the trouble of getting a passport.

Of course the main disadvantage is that I'm not on the same schedule as the rest of my family. Hubby still works nights. The kids are still teenagers, which means they are still allergic to early morning air not not filtered through their bedcovers. In the mornings I can't use my sewing machine, which is in Kim's room. I can't grab a passing family member and ask for help with a chore. I can't listen to loud music or start a project that would make too much noise. And I don't get to sleep in bed with my husband for more then an hour or two each night, er, morning. And just because now I'm ready to climb into bed before the evening news shows begin their nightly soundbites, it doesn't mean the rest of the household is ready to retire then. Even though I'm now up with the birdies, I'm still required to keep up with the night owls. Lack of sleep is what is making this whole sudden schedule shift less then fun.

Hopefully this is a temporary situation. In a month, hubby is going to be able to bid for a day or swing shift position after a decade of working nights. I'm not even gonna attempt to get two teenagers to go to bed early through a summer, but next year William will be forced to assume a normal life when he tries public school for the very first time. So it's only a matter of time before my life would have turned topsy turvy anyhow. (or would that be turvy topsy?) I'm trying not to begrudge having to get a jumpstart on those changes before the rest of the family is forced to join me. Except Rosie, who like any young child, now that she's got me up, dressed, and awake, has crawled back to bed for a nap.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Getting my feet wet

For someone who usually can't stop talking (or typing), I've been very hesitant to write this first blog entry. There's too much pressure to make it impressive, witty, insightful, worth someone's time to stop and read. I'm used to e-lists where I'm just blabbing and expect half the people to delete me anyway. But I guess, to keep with with the analogy of my blog's name, sometimes you just gotta jump in water.

Which segues nicely into, why does a person who lives a six hour drive from the ocean name her blog Beach Treasure? Well, for one, because beachcombing and beachcomber were both taken. But no matter, I think I like Beach Treasure better, because that's really the heart of the matter, that's what beachcombers are out there looking for, treasure. Not necessarily pirate's treasure worth a fortune (although wouldn't that be fun to find!), but small personal treasures. Each person wandering along the surf's edge marks a trail of footsteps slightly different from any other trail, each person finding different treasures. Even if paths overlap, a rock that the first hunter didn't even notice might cause the second ambler to pause, pick it up, turn it around in his hands, and slip it quietly into his pocket. Not everyone is even hunting for the same thing - rocks, seaweed, driftwood, sea glass, patterns in the sand, the solace of being alone under a big sky, or the contented happiness of watching a young child make a sand castle.

I go to the ocean as often as I can manage it and it always replenishes my spirit, calms my thoughts, rejuvenates my body (even if I do have sore leg muscles from all that sand walking for a few days). I am an avid beach comber and have to wear jackets with numerous and roomy pockets in order to carry back all the booty I manage to collect over the course of one walk. My favorite thing to look for are agates. I love the the way there seems to be more agate on the inside, compacted between the many layers and swirls, hidden beneath the sometimes quasi-opaque shell, then there is agate on the outside. It's like a tiny piece of an alternative universe accidentally washed ashore in our world. But I also gather up other, less exotic treasures: more rocks of all colors and types, driftwood big and small, glass, shells, the rare unbroken sand dollar, kelp, rope. Once I found a piece of a broken glass art ball that communities miles north of that beach put out for the tourists. I also collect photographs of the moods and colors of the ocean.

I bring it all home and decorate my house like my own sandcastle. Driftwood sleeps along the top of the retaining wall, large stones of dull jade nestle amongst the bright greens of the garden. Baskets become home to shells. Glass jars fill a bit more after my return from each trip, with tiny pebbles of red or green or white. Feathers pop up from my pencil jar. Heart shaped rocks go on the altar that holds a photo of Joshua's smiling face. It sustains me during the usual busyness of my daily life, to see, feel, even smell these small treasures, and be transported, if only for the length of a breath or two, to the elemental matrix that is the mother ocean.

So, there I was, driving along a mountain highway one afternoon a few weeks ago, determined to use the two hour drive to come up with a good name for the blog I wanted to create. I was having a problem because I had thought it over and decided I didn't really want to limit my blog to one interest or aspect of my life. Some people have blogs about their families, some about their jobs or creative endeavors, others focus on a favorite hobby whether that be dog breeding or drooling over their favorite movie star. I knew I couldn't do that, even if I tried. I'd end up branching off here into a side topic, and looping around over there to comment on another topic and before you know it, my blog would reflect who I truly am, probably the world's biggest walking eclectic. I wanted a name that reflected the multiversity of my world.

And so I was driving and mulling. Cars are the best place for thinking as far as I'm concerned. (Unless you're in heavy traffic, then I'd appreciate if you kept your mind on your driving if you don't mind.) And I decided that beachcombing was a damn good analogy for my life as a whole. I don't have a lot of big treasures in my life. No fancy house. No expensive car. I think the most expensive thing I even own is my computer and my new puppy. But I have more small treasures then one person could possible ever count, and high amongst those treasures are those that I hold only in my head. Those small happinesses, sillinesses, memories, fascinating paradoxes, compelling unknowns, that make it worth getting out of bed and making the coffee again every morning. That's what I want to share in this blog. Nothing special. Just a bunch of wet rocks, sandy shoes, and the sound of crashing waves.