Friday, March 31, 2006

Mapping it out

I like to have a generalized plan of where I'm headed, whether it be for a vacation, the week ahead, or my life as a whole. Unlike some, like my sister (hey, I've seen her idea of a daily to-do list!), I don't have it worked out down to scheduling in morning and afternoon potty breaks. I like to leave room for dawdling or listening to the wind or spontaneous detours. But I feel better planning a few key points. I won't go on and on, this isn't the first time I've talked about this topic, but the reason I'm bringing it up again is because yesterday was one of those days where I was reminded, again, of one of my favorite sayings.

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans" - John Lennon

Yep. So true.

I had this year all planned out. It included 9 major goals. I've spent time on 4, maybe 5, of them, and none of that was serious time or focus. Instead I have....just off the top of my head.... 15 or so major plans, only 4 of which were listed in my original goals, the rest all events, circumstances, projects or trips that originated with other people's needs or influences. My calendar is literally booked solid, and I have no idea how it happened. Again. Last year about this same time I was bemoaning the exact same situation.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rather, not all the added or alternative events are bad things. Far from it! Some of them are very, very good things. Things I wouldn't miss for the world. Some of them, actually, are the world, or more specifically, the seeing of it.

So, since I wouldn't trade the unexpected events, and I don't want to give up on the hope of finding time for my original goals, where does that leave me? Juggling. Trying to fit more activities into a non-changing number of days in a year. Making compromises. Going with the flow. And most importantly, perhaps, is remembering that it's all about attitude. Life will continue to be what it wants to be, with only limited success on my part in controlling it. I can either enjoy it, planned or unplanned, or I can grouch about it.

I'm leaning towards the first option. Does that mean I am wise? Or just lazy? The jury's still out.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Some book talk (don't worry - NO spoilers)

I've assigned William a novel to read. I rarely do this. Although he likes me to make suggestions, his reading choice is usually up to him. Why have I assigned him a book, you ask? The simplified answer is, because I can.

I might have already mentioned this incident before. About seven or eight years ago, a local high school teacher wanted to to have students in an Advanced English class read Barbara Kingsolver's book, The Bean Trees. The proposal went before our town's very conservative school board, and they denied the request. It didn't seem to cause much of a fuss in town, but one very determined journalist kept the story going in the local newspaper over the course of about month. Maybe news was slow or something.

I was curious, bought the book, and read it. I loved it and eventually gobbled up most of Kingsolver's other books. But the thing that stuck with me the most from the experience was how baffled I was at why the book had been considered inappropriate for teenagers. If anything, I thought it was a perfect book for a teenage audience because it was about young people who live under trying circumstances and in my mind, even though they didn't have to, they end up making strong ethical choices. Isn't that exactly what we want to teach our own children?! Sheesh.

It's always annoyed me that the book wasn't allowed in that English class, although for all I know, maybe it just made the book more appealing to the teenagers and ultimately even more people ended up reading it. Who knows. My point here is that about a month ago I realized that as a homeschooling family, I was in charge of what my teenager read, and I enjoyed the silly, defiant feel of assigning the book to my "class".

William was a bit skeptical as first, but seems to be enjoying the book. I thought he might even though he usually reads fantasy, because his favorite books so far have been those that were big on character development and growth. I sweetened the deal by offering to read along with him, so many pages each day. Last night William pointed out to me that that I was falling behind because I had forgotten to read in it yesterday and because he was reading more pages a day then I had asked him to read.

Today Jeff, William and I went out to lunch and we were discussing the book. I commented on how much I was getting out of this second reading. Until recently I wasn't the type of person who generally re-read anything. Once I'd read the last page, I was on to something new. I mean, there are so many books out there that I'm never gonna have time to read everything I'd like to read, why waste time re-reading something?

In the last few years I've accumulated more bibliophile friends and it was a surprise to me how many of them were re-readers. I decided maybe I was missing something, so I gave a few favorites a try. I discovered the joys of re-reading a book. During our lunch today, I was trying to explain those joys to Jeff and William.

The first time I read a book, I'm swept along with the characters, concentrating primarily on the plot. What's gonna happen? How is it gonna end? I've discovered that when I read a book a second time, since I already know the outcome, I slow down, pick up more details, linger a bit longer to savor particularly well worded descriptions, discover poignant foreshadowing and symbolism that I missed on the first read. Too, if enough time goes by between readings, I come at the book as a different person, in a different stage of my life, and I see and understand it from a different perspective. For a long while I've understood the value of watching movies or seeing a play more then once, it's sort of mindboggling that it took me this long to apply the same idea to books.

The last book I re-read before this one was Wicked. I'd read the book years ago and then recently seen the play. I wanted to re-read the book to compare it to the play, see how much was the same, how much was different. Although I hadn't disliked the book the first time I read it, I remember mainly feeling uncertain about how I felt about it. I finally decided that the fact that I spent so much time thinking about it afterwards made it an effective story, if not necessarily a pleasant one. I was surprised to discover on my second read how thoroughly I enjoyed the book AND how I had somehow completely missed two huge themes that ran through the plot. And I do mean HUGE themes. I'd somehow missed the entire commentary on politics and I'd missed that everything that Elphaba did was driven by her need for.... well, I hate spoilers, so read it yourself and find out. I even missed a lot of the "what is Evil, how do we define it, what makes someone evil or good?" Are you all just shaking your head at how I could read a book and somehow MISS all of this depth? (It's almost as embarrassing as my niece, who read the The Da Vinci Code, and somehow missed that the Louvre was a museum in Paris!) I mean, it's not that I missed all those points entirely. It's more that I didn't think about them as deeply, understand them as thoroughly. I just let them sink in without really thinking about it - until I read the book a second time.

Moving on...

Back at lunch this afternoon, the conversation moved into the Harry Potter books and how I have been wanting to re-read them for years now and somehow still haven't done so. William and I were taking turns updating Jeff on the plot because a) he doesn't actually read books, he just skims them, b) he hasn't read past the first two Potter books, and c) he likes to know what happens beforehand (whereas I hate spoilers with a passion!) What can I say, he's an odd fellow. My friend Kathy is like that too. But I digress...

I was going on about where the story was left at the end of the sixth book and suddenly, in a flash, I completely UNDERSTOOD something that Rowling has yet to tell us! Like a camera flash, POOOOOF!, in my head. And then, after I UNDERSTOOD it, I couldn't un-understand it. I just sat there, one arm hanging over the table in the middle of an unfinished gesture, a stunned look on my face.

"What!?" Jeff and William asked. I think they thought I was choking on my food or something.

"I just realized what is going to happen!"

"WHAT! TELL US!" they begged.

I wouldn't tell them. They insisted, I resisted, but ultimately decided it if they really wanted to know.... So I told them. Jeff took it as truth. William and I both were quick to point out that I might be wrong. (I think William suddenly UNDERSTOOD it too, and was a bit bummed that he had asked me to share my theory).

It's not like I figured it all out. I just figured out a piece of the story that I hadn't figured out before but suddenly made all sorts of other parts of the story fall into place and make sense to me. For all I know, millions of other readers have figured this bit out long ago and I'm way behind the story curve. Or, conversely, I could be completely wrong. But y'know, I don't think I am. Now that I "see" it, it feels inevitable to me.

And no, I'm NOT gonna tell you.

I created a new word

Rosie was following me all over the house today, scratching at my leg, jumping on the bed to get closer to me as I walked by it. Finally I stopped, bend down and picked her up.

"You just want to be huggled."

Huh? I meant to say 'hugged' and I meant to say 'cuddled'. It ended up 'huggled', which isn't a word but it should be. I told the family and Jeff said "Or you could say 'cugged'. 'Cuggled'?" William and I just looked at him patiently.

Then William said "Give Rosie to me. I want to huggle her."

Anyone you know need a huggle?

What kind of sports car are you?

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

I would never had taken this quiz, except... The three of us went out to lunch today and Jeff mentions that he'd sent this quiz to me and would I take it when we got back home. He was curious what what my results would be. He said he was a Corvette. I said that was wrong, he would be a smaller, older sports car - one that was high maintenance. Hahaha! Why didn't he think that was funny!? And then I said I already knew what I was - a Porsche. Probably an old 911. I was classy, round, and expensive. He disagreed. I was very smug about being right. He insisted I hadn't answered honestly. Both he and William answered the questions the way they thought I should have answered them, and still the result was a Porsche. Smug, Smug, SMUG. Then William and I answered for Jeff and sure enough, he was a small high maintenance model. William was a larger more contemporary sports car, can't remember the name since I'm not into cars much, but it seemed a good match.

And don't forget - I'm classy, round, and expensive.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

American Idol

Is anyone else watching this? Our family was a bit slow in getting involved. We missed the first two seasons altogether and lost interest about halfway through last year, for reasons I can't remember now. But this year all three of us are avid watchers.

So far I've mostly agreed with who's been booted out, although I think Gedeon should have made the Top 12 instead of Chicken Little.

I think the judges were right about tonight, what was with most of those song choices!? There really isn't anyone left I dislike, but I was disappointed in almost everyone's performance this week.

Here's how I stand on the remaining ten:

Ace - y'know, he's so adorable, and like everyone else, I like when he does great falsetto. But I just don't think his voice is as strong as it needs for him to be number one. However, I don't mind him sticking around just so I can look at him a little longer.

Elliott - not a hunk, but his looks are growing on me. Mostly, I love his voice. One of the best singers.

Paris - Probably the best of the female singers. I would have said Mandisa, but tonight I decided with her age, Paris is gonna go a lot farther. She's hard not to like, she's unassuming but with a bubbly personality

Katherine - I love her voice, she's beautiful, think she's had a lot of ups and downs in her performances but she's getting better each week.

Bucky - He's fun, likeable, but I just don't think his voice is strong enough.

Chris - in my top three. He's done nothing but impress me, and the judges. Tonight was the first night I wasn't thrilled with his performance. It's not that I didn't like it, I just wasn't wowed with it like I usually am. It doesn't hurt that he looks like my son Joe and Lisa thinks he's hot. Too funny. I'm most impressed actually by the fact that his voice is powerful and he knows his own style

Lisa - she's just too cute for words but I don't think her voice is strong enough.

Kelly - ah yes, as Simon says, "the minx". I do think she's got the "hot" factor going for her, but it's sort of annoying to me as a woman, that I think she works her naive-little-me-ness, although I'm sure none of the men out there could care less if it's authentic or not. Her voice is nice but sometimes she doesn't seem to have the power she needs.

Mandisa - she's been one of my favorites because that woman can sing! Plus, it's nice that she's judged on her voice and star performance and not on her waistline. Still, she lost points with me tonight by picking a song specifically aimed at the Christian music base. I agree with Simon, it was a self-indulgent decision

Taylor - I've saved the best for last. I can't help it, I just can't get enough of this guy. He's just so damn adorable. I keep forgetting that he's half my age. Simon might criticize his goofy dancing, and let's face it, it is goofy, but I still love it. (William says he dances like Papa - yes, frighteningly, it does bear a striking resemblance to my husband's dancing) Even when he has an off night or choice (I wasn't thrilled with last week's performance), I still enjoy his act. And I disagreed with the judges tonight, I thought this week's song was a great choice. But if that wasn't enough, on top of all that, I love his smoky voice and it's strong enough to go all the way.

Okay, who are your favorites?

Self Portrait Tuesday - Week 4

Today is week four of this month's theme - The March of Time. I missed the first week because I was out of town and I struggled to come up with ideas for the the rest of month. This was a really challenging theme for me. I didn't know what I would do for this week's idea until late last night and then I had to wait until daylight today (what there was of it today) to photograph it. Actually, I had William play camera man to my director. I'm very happy with the results. (And just for the record, do you know how hard it was to find a one-way street in our quaint little hamlet!?)

I wanted to capture the idea of linear time. I often prefer to reflect on the circular nature of time. Day turns to night turns to day. Monday moves to Tuesday moves to Wednesday Sunday which then moves to Monday again. The years roll in a neverending wheel of seasons. Life....

Yet time is more then just circling back on itself. Life's patterns may go around and around, but they don't just come back to where they began. The events, the experiences, the time we use, is gone and a new swing around the cycle begins. On a spiritual level, time spirals - all new becomes old becomes new, all birth becomes death becomes birth, all beginnings become endings become beginnings. But they are not the same beginnings.

Which is why, on a day-to-day level, a personal level, we experience time as a linear commodity. One chance at this kiss, that interview, the first hello, the last goodbye. Last summer isn't interchangeable with this summer to come. My son of twenty years ago isn't recognizable as the man of today. Sometimes there's only one chance to make something happen, choose the path, say I love you, or choose to keep silent. You can look back in time. In fact, we seem to place great importance on capturing the past in journals, photographs, stories, blogs. Yet no matter how many words you write, no matter how many photos you keep, you can't GO back in time. You can't rewind it, or redo it or remake it.

Even as it's happening, we are confronted with the directionality of time. Once a series of events are set in emotion, there's a point where we grasp that there is no going back. It might be something as simple as an elbow swinging round a bit too far and a cup is suddenly airborn and then there is no cup, only scattered pieces of what once was a cup all over the floor. You might be able to glue the cup back together, buy a new cup, or if you're incredibly talented, recreate a new cup to look exactly like the first one. But the original cup existed in a piece of time that can no longer be accessed or changed. Sometimes, when it's simply a cup, it's easy to accept the flow. It's more difficult to embrace when we break something more important, like a heart, or a life, or a goal.

For better or worse, time is a one one way street.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A silly music shuffle MeMe

Found this one on Julie's blog.

To play this, you need an Ipod or Mp3 player with a "shuffle" feature that allows random shuffling among all the music stored on it. You can even do this on your computer music library, like iTunes, if it’ll let you shuffle. Answer each question by shuffling to the next song to see what song comes up...and there’s the answer to your question! See? It’s more fun than the Magic 8 Ball!

Give it a try! And comment here with your link if you post yours...I'd love to see what your musical answers are!

How does the world see me?

Loon 2 - it's a track of a CD of sounds of nature. Y'know, the bird, a loon. I guess I am pretty loony!

Will I have a happy life?

Cell Block Tango - from the Chicago Soundtrack. Oh dear! Although, it's sort of appropriate, if you know me well enough to understand the inside joke.

What do my friends really think of me?

Wild and an Untamed Thing - from the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. Well! At least I'm not forgettable!

Do people secretly lust after me?

Do or Die by Papa Roach. I don't really know this song, it's something my kids put on, but heck, it sounds like they'd do anything to be with me. Oh, blush, blush. I mean, obviously. See above. I'm a Wild and an Untamed Thing!

How can I make myself happy?

The Side Step from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Soundtrack. Basically, I'll be happy if I stay out of trouble. Sounds like good advice.

What should I do with my life?

Are We The Waiting from American Idiot by Green Day. So, avoid suburbia, huh? Wear lots of black clothing? Sing out my angst? Stand up against untruths? Sounds good, but how am I suppose to do this while staying out of trouble?

Will I ever have children?

Typewriter - this isn't a song - it's a sound affect - of a typewriter. Kinda an interesting answer. Perhaps it's saying that since I've already had enough human children, maybe it's time to start giving birth to a few literary ones.

What is some good advice for me?

Without My Lady There by Michael Martin Murphy. Okay. So, always remember family comes first? Or THE Lady, keep my spirituality in focus?

How will I be remembered?

She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5 - Ahhhhh, that's nice!

What is my signature dance song?

Connemara Breakdown done by Steve Earle. Well, it's certainly lively enough. And just plain ol' fun. Plenty of opportunity to be goofy.

What do I think my current theme song is?

Get Ready by Sublime - don't know what the song is about, another one of my kid's contributions, but the title hits the mark. That's what I need to do now. Get Ready for the future! .....okay, I just went and looked at the lyrics. It's more about letting it all hang out - don't hold back.

What song will play at my funeral?

Somebody Told Me by The Killers off the Hot Fuss album - hmph. Sounds sort of angry for a funeral song. "Heaven ain't close in a place like this"??? Well, maybe I'm coming right back for another round at things.

What type of men do I like?

Ventura Highway by America. The dreamy, free spirited type? My hubby is from southern California, maybe that's it?

What is my day going to be like?

Belle from The Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack. Well, that's nice. My day will be filled with friendly neighbors, happy errands, and plenty of books. Sounds like a wonderful day!

Okay, what a silly MeMe, not to mention a good time waster. I had so much music in my iTunes I wasn't familiar with, I had to change the rules a little bit, reshuffling until I came up with a song I was familiar with for each choice. It was fun (and did I mention silly) to do but when all is said and done, I think I'll stick with my Tarot cards.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

B is for........

It's been a little over a week, time for the next Personal Alphabet post. (And apropros of nothing, I finally have something new to see over on my art blog. Not something I made, mind you, but at least a new post.)

- I love babies. I wanted to be a midwife for many years, not to mention having several babies of my own.

breastfeeding - I was a La Leche League Leader, as well as nursed my babies for.... accumulatively, I was probably a nursing mom for a decade

brownies - love 'em. The kind you eat, that is. Although, I'm not really adverse to the other kind if any of them want to come clean my house or mend my shoes. Anyway, the dessert kind. Chocolate. Like the blonde ones too. Don't eat them too much any more but there was a time... when I was in my last trimester pregnant with Sam, had a two year old, and my husband was threatening to leave me, I baked and ate an entire pan of fudge brownies every night for about six weeks. Probably not the best way to deal with stress, but it did help get me through a tough time.

Barbara - my mother's name

brainy - that's me, a real smarty pants

Buck - my big ol' shaggy dog

beach - note the name of this blog. My favorite place to be.

backrubs - love'em

bratwurst - love these too. They remind me of Wisconsin, and my father

buttons - I collect them. Not the kind you keep your shirt closed with, but the kind that has amusing, political, or witty sayings on

butterflies - I was more of a dragonfly kinda gal, until my son died and I had a seriously up close, incredible encounter with a big ol' swallowtail

Buffy - huge Whedon fan. And just for the record, I'm in the Buffy/Spike camp.

bagels - doughnuts, thumbs down. Bagels, thumbs up.

bay laurel - my favorite tree. Love the smell.

bandana - back before it was a gang thing, my two best friends and I spent most of our high school years wearing bandanas. It was an "us" thing and anyone who tried to be cool and imitate us got the "look". Most quickly pulled the bandana off their head and slunk away in embarrassment. After high school I moved to northern California, back-to-the-lander hippy girl, and the bandanas continued. I still have an entire dresser drawer full of them, mostly for use in the car or camping these days.

bed - ties with the beach as my favorite place to be

bifocals - I'm old and bifocaled

bibliophile - so many books, so little time

bookworm - so many books, so little shelf space

books - so many books, so.... see above

birth - I already mentioned wanting to be a midwife. Beyond that, I've been an assistant, photographer, helper, doula, vet, or in some other capacity had the honor of attending many births. Also, I'm one of those odd women who liked giving birth. Not that I'd want to do it every day, mind you! But as an experience, definitely not one to be missed.

bittersweet - I like the word, the emotion, and the colorfully seeded autumn plant

blessings - I have many. I try to remember to always count them.

branches - I have this thing about seeing branches out my bedroom window. Not that I have always had branches out my bedroom window, but usually I have. The different shapes of the branches tend to imprint in my brain so that I recognize them, make them my own, like I do the assorted ridgetops and mountain ranges I have lived beneath as well

Brussel sprouts - a favorite vegetable.

Brigadoon - a favorite old musical

Bazooka Joe - one of the few nicknames I had as a child

bohemian - my lifestyle might not be overtly bohemian, but my brain is definitely wired that way

boys - I like boys. Baby boys with milky smiles that fall asleep in my arms. Toddler boys dressed in overalls that pretend all their toys make a sound that goes "Vroooom". Little boys in muddy shoes and baseball caps. Pre-adolescent boys all gangly arms and legs and puppy dog energy. Teen boys tough and cool on the outside and tenderhearted and easily hurt on the inside.

baba yaga - the old Russian Witch who lives in a chicken legged hut. Don't know why, just like the story.

Brigid - a Celtic Goddess. She has many different associations but the one I am fond of is Brigid who tends the hearth and stirs the cauldron. She embodies both the best of the homebody - keeper of the flame, who looks out over her family and loved ones, and the best of the individual - stirs the cauldron, always creating, manifesting, stirring up life and making things happen

black - one of my three favorite colors to wear

blackberries - for many years I've collected blackberry fabric. Don't know what I'm gonna do with it. It just calls to me.

burritos - this is actually a William "B" word, but since I'm the one that supplies him - William eats bean and cheese burritos every single day of his life

Beanie Babies - another William word. He got us started and the entire family lived and breathed these soft little creatures for many years.

Bliss - I try to follow it as often as I can.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Another one of those crazy converts

It's not enough that I eat whole grains and have things like tofu and miso and nutritional yeast in my house. Not only do I have them in my house, but I eat the stuff joyfully, without making a grimacing expression. Not only do I eat the stuff but I like to eat the stuff. Now, not only do I eat things like brussel sprouts and baba ganouj on purpose, I've added a new addition to my bizarre, sure-to-drive-my-friends-and-mom-nuts diet. I have now gone over to the dark si.... oh, wrong vice. I have now gone over to drinking soy.

I mean, a few like minded souls are thinking "Yeah? And your point is....?" But a lot of you are shaking your head and having sympathy pains for my husband and son. Although, you don't have to worry about William - he manages to get his daily requirements of fried and carbonated fast foods despite his wacky health food mother. I've long ago given up trying to control stuff like that. And Jeff, we'll, he's the cause of this newest radical choice.

It all began....... (can you see the room suddenly start to swirl around you as you step back in time?).......

Jeff had a terrible post nasal drip. For years. And years. He would sniff, even occasionally snort, to keep from actually dripping the post nasal drip drippages. It drove me nuts. I mean, on some occasions, it drove me to distraction. And yelling. I suggested to him that he might have a dairy allergy. And I suggested that to him with the conviction of someone who had once suffered a similar overflowing of allergic symptoms, and a sudden curing of said symptoms by a week long, dairy-free hike into the wilderness. It was an unintentional and unexpected discovery and cure all rolled into one, but I was grateful for the lesson. Since that time I learned that if I kept my use of dairy to a minimum, I was mostly symptom free.

So, I suggested to my dear husband that he might cut dairy out of his diet and see if it cured his drip. I suggested he try it. For a week. Just,
try it. It couldn't hurt. And it might possibly save him from being chased by someone, not mentioning any names, moi, with a baseball bat when I heard one sniff too many and suddenly snapped. I mean, Billy Flynn doesn't come cheap, y'know. It would be a lot less messy and expensive if he'd just give the suggestion a try.

Wellll! You would have thought I suggested he give up breathing! He growled and barked and snapped (sounds sort of angry doggish, huh) at me until I jumped back beyond the length of his chain (just kidding). I pointed out that his overreaction to the suggestion was a strong clue that he was, in fact, "addicted" to dairy products. (We often crave something we're allergic too because our body learns to adapt to it and doesn't like going through the adjustment of withdrawing it from the diet.) He assured me that he was NOT addicted to milk and I was obviously insane.

Once or twice I even got him to agree to give up dairy but by the second or third day, when it was like living with a smoker trying to quit, when he'd stomp around the kitchen ranting that I'd left him absofrigginothing to eat, I'd happily give him his milk and cheese back. Finally I gave up. I threw up my hands and said "Fine!" And mumbled under my breath "See if you get any!"

This went on for years. Every few months or so I'd try suggesting a dairy free trial. Every few months he'd snap my head off for suggesting it. And then one morning, completely out of the blue, I woke up, went to my refrigerator, opened it and discovered that overnight someone had filled it full of ........

Soy milk.

Hubby woke up a while later that morning and explained to me cow's milk was evil. No, not evil. Evil. With a capital E. And, he was no longer drinking it. He had discovered this fact by listening to some nutca.... I mean,
expert on The Art Bell Show. You know, Coast to Coast AM. What? You've never heard of it? Although they have really brainy people on their like Michio Kaku, they more often have experts on aliens, crop circles, ghosts, Area 51, and conspiracy theories of all kinds. I'm not saying they're allll crackpots, but it is an interesting and entertaining mix. Let's just say, it's like getting your medical advice from Bozo the Clown, okay? But, y'know, other then the infuriating what-my-wife-says-goes-in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, whereas what ANYONE ELSE-says-must-be-true.... other then that, I was just glad he was finally gonna give it a serious try. Of course I had to explain to him that cow's milk was also hidden in things like yogurt, cheese, and half-n-half. Eventually he had it somewhat sorted out and guess what happened? Yep. His sinus drip went away.

So, for some time now we've been a two carton family. Soy for Jeff and regular milk for William and I. Until, that is, this last round of winter germs, six weeks of miserable coughing and hacking and blowing of noses. I usually swear completely off dairy whenever I have a cold, except for a tiny bit perhaps in my coffee, but this was such a long drawn out illness, and the coughing was so bad, that it was hard to avoid altogether. Yet, every time I did use some milk or cheese, I thought I'd lose a lung I would cough so hard. In desperation one morning I used hubby's soy milk in my coffee and discovered.... hey, that didn't taste bad at all. In fact, it was downright satisfying. Of course, with my sinuses stuffed up, maybe I just couldn't taste anything, but hey, I didn't care as long as it wasn't adding to my suffering.

So I started using a dollop of it in my coffee every cup. Then, I started asking for soy in my Starbuck's latte. By then I was starting to get better and I could taste the difference, but I didn't actually dislike it. After awhile, I even liked it. And best of all, I didn't feel all stuffed up and fuzzy headed after drinking one. Next I used it in my oatmeal. Finally, one brave morning, I used it on my cold cereal, and that was that. When we came back from San Diego recently, we didn't have any cow's milk in the house, and I didn't buy any to replace it. Eventually William asked for some, but it took about a week before he missed it.

The irony is, all those years I was trying to convince my hubby he had an allergy, and I was so smug of how well I handled my own allergy. I really didn't think I used that much dairy. I didn't realize how much I was consuming until I gave it up. Of course, the reason I kept at it wasn't because I found I could "tolerate" the taste. It was because the coughing went away and I felt so much better then I had in a long while. I thought maybe it was simply that I was over the long draining illness and was just generally feeling better. So I've tested that out by having milk or cheese products since then. Each time, I've had unpleasant symptoms or felt crappy afterwards. The reward of feeling better has made me a convert.

Of course, like any true convert, I'm now annoyingly fanatical about it, raving to all my friends (and YOU) about it, assuring everyone it will cure their every ill, reduce their insurance rates, give them thicker, more luxurious hair, and assure them the best parking spaces for the rest of their lives. I'm assuming this enthusiastic stage will eventually wane and I will become sane and balanced once again. In the meantime, you'll just have to put up with the new and improved me.

Friday, March 24, 2006

And a nice silly time was had by all

Just wanted to post a few pics of our trip over to Redding. We didn't go to the Home and Garden Show after all. Hubby reminded me he had to be back today in time to work swing shift. Oh yeah, some people have to go to a job. I forgot. Silly me. I knew there was a reason we could pay our bills.

Here's Sam practicing his wakeboarding moves on his new trampoline.

Hubby, William, and Sam's girlfriend Kyla on the Sundial Bridge. It's a really cool place. Beautiful during the day, but absolutely magical at night. You walk across the Sacramento River on a bridge of light. And here are some even better shots of it then I could manage. And if you want to know more about the architect - Santiago Calatrava

Sam and William being..... sneaky? Magnets? Improvisational dancers?

Here's the bridge from the "other side", once you've walked across it. You can see everything but....

...the fin. Or dial I suppose. It stretches up to a fine tip up there in the darkness. Some nights I think it's lit more dramatically then other nights. We were there on a drizzly Thursday evening in March, not prime tourist time. Still, there were a lot of folks there, taking advantage of the late hours the bridge stays open.

This was a gaggle of teenagers. They had been hanging out on one end when we arrived at the bridge. When we were walking back across, they had begun dancing across it. First they were waving their arms and jumping in a small circle. When I took this photo, they had just begun to march robotically. Like a flock of birds, they seemed to change direction or rhythm simultaneously. It was really fun to watch, listen to their energy. Oh, to be young again! Of course there's also the angst of youth.... hmmm, I'll have to think on that one.

Back at the parking lot, just a cute pic of Sam, Kyla and Rosie. It really started to rain hard a few minutes after this picture was taken. It rained all night and I was really dreading the drive home over the mountains, worried it would be slow, snowy roads. Fortunately, it was mostly rain and the 30 miles of snow didn't accumulate on the road. Whew.

I pulled over on the way home to take a picture of this snag. I've passed it dozens, maybe hundreds of times, every time I take this road and I have always wanted to photograph it. Isn't it a beautiful old thing?! One of the most majestic snags I've ever seen. Even though it is no longer living, it's still such a vital and important part of the forest and landscape. It always reminds me that growing old isn't necessarily a bad thing, that if we honor the stage that we are in instead of bemoaning that which we can no longer be, that we can have an important role to play no matter what our age.

And finally, just a view from the driver's seat. I had mentioned in a previous blog wishing for an opportunity to go down to the valley and get a bit of "green therapy" to help me through early spring. Well, it turned out that the winter has been so wet and cold in the valley that, although it was certainly greener then up in the mountains, it was well behind schedule. I wasn't sure if I was disappointed, or smugly happy in a misery-loves-company sort of way. Silly me.

I just have to keep reminding myself that the snow will melt, that "this too shall pass." Eventually.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Family First

I felt energized this morning. I imagine this would have been my most productive day EVER. (Hey, my fantasy life is rich and fulfilling) However, the family has decided today is a good day to go visit Sam. Sam is sooooo happy. Isn't that just too wonderful - that my son is happy to have his family visit? He's a strange kid, that one. A Sagitarrius who loves to be off on adventures, but every once in a while has acute attacks of "I just needed to hear your voice, Mom." He's a keeper.

Too, he's been excited to show us his new "toys" - a new truck at work, a new used truck at home, and most exciting of all, a trampoline. And tomorrow is the city's Home & Garden Show and he will be working it in the afternoon, so we're gonna go see that too. I haven't been to a H&G Show in ages and ages - over a decade at least since I know I haven't been to one since we've lived up here in the sticks. So a good trade, I think. Family and fun instead of cleaning and organizing.

So, today's blog needs to be short and sweet. I've been saving this photo to use for just such an emergency filler. I came across this little beauty while shopping at a discount store with Lisa down in San Diego earlier this month. It was in with the Easter candy, toys and decorations. I think it's supposed to be an Easter Egg on a Stick. Sort of an Easter version of the 4th of July Corndog perhaps. But really, isn't it obvious what it really is!? I mean, I know that the holiday traditions folks celebrate are simply carryovers from the corresponding pagan holiday that honor spring's promise of fertility and new life. Eggs, bunnies, baby chicks, fresh green grass. Still, no matter how fuzzy or sweetly colored, I think it's a bit over the top to give a kid a sperm in their basket.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Miscellaneous March

Driving around town a few days ago, I noticed the piles of dirty snow still hanging in there. At the time we had been having several days of off and on snow showers, nothing that accumulated, but enough to keep the woodstove burning day and night. I saw the snow pile and thought "That is March." Dirty, icy lumps of winter clinging on for as long as they can even though they're as welcomed and beloved as a spring cold germ.

To prove I'm not a complete cynic, I found these crocus in a flower bed yesterday, poking up out of the mulch of last year's leaves. March is trying to renew the world, it really is, it's just that it's the first month making the attempt, so it doesn't really have a chance of getting credit for it. Like the first person to try to open a stuck jar lid who fails, only to have the next person succeed and receive all the praise. March makes the first effort, but we end up applauding April and May for doing all the work.

Monday was the first day of spring. We had snow showers all day. However, I did see a sign of spring. A big, fat robin in the front yard. William noticed him first. We both knelt on the couch and looked out the front window. He was just standing there in the flattened, yellow, winter lawn, letting big wet snowflakes land on his back. Suddenly he dipped down, twice in rapid succession. With the second dip, he pulled a huge worm out of the ground and dropped it wriggling in the grass.

I've never seen a robin actually pull a worm out of the ground before! He pecked at it a few times and then flipped it up like a pancake and swallowed it whole. My first thought was to wonder if it was still alive, down there in a bird's stomach, like Jonah in the whale. Part of me thought it was pretty cool to have such a dramatic harbinger of spring on a snowy vernal equinox. Another part of me felt slightly queasy for rest of the morning.

Yesterday I walked out in the garden and surveyed it's current state of new growth. Even though the soil is still frozen solid a few inches down in the barrels, there are things happening out there.
Here are some new garlic shoots. I remember leaving a few in the ground last year, but not this many. There's also some new beets and red swiss chard popping up. Or maybe that's more chard, not beets. I scattered a lot of chard seeds out there when I was whacking off the old growth last autumn. Now that snow has melted off, I notice there's an old trowel in there as well.

Here's the first crop I usually use each year. Leeks. Leeks don't mind cold weather. In fact, if I could figure out a way to dig out the part below the ground without them breaking off, I could go under the snow and have fresh leeks all winter long. Mrs. Claus must serve a lot of leek soup up there at the North Pole. There was also some arugula and broccoli in other parts of the garden, but I figured two photos of scruffy looking garden dirt was enough for one post.

Some winters I'm able to get peas and onions in the ground by this time. It looks like it will have to wait until April this year. And since I will be gone all of May, the warm weather crops won't get planted until June! Oh well, it's not like I don't have a ton of other garden tasks to get around to in the meantime. Maybe this will be the year I finish the half finished brick pathway.

Other bloggers have been doing posts about what they are grateful for this month, which is what got me thinking about how to define March in the first place. I gave it some thought and have decided that March might actually be my least favorite month. Sorry. It's nothing personal. It's just that for me, geographically, March is a gray and gloomy month. It's the month I finally need GREENNESS, feel it's absence as a physical and emotional ache. It's the month I usually plan at least one getaway to the valley below, to get a bit of green grass and yellow daffodil therapy, but this year the weather hasn't allowed me to go up and over the mountains safely. And if the lack of green isn't enough to complain about, it's also the month I turn my I-have-to-do-the-taxes stressing to High. Yes, I could just DO my taxes and be done with it, but one must maintain long held traditions. Stressing and waiting until April to do my taxes is one of mine.

I do have things to feel grateful for this month, however. Health. I felt like I lost half of January and half of February to feeling puny and wheezy and sick. Even if I'm not completely 100% yet - cough, ache, sniff - at least I'm getting close to the end of cold season. I have renewed hope of being warm and well again. And of course my high flying (or would that be high falling?) son Joe can move all his fingers, toes, and other appendages, for which I am beyond grateful. Last if least, I'm grateful that I've managed, despite the constant germ invasion of the last few months, to use my few scattered bouts of energy recently to get a surprising amount of small but fulfilling tasks accomplished. Yah me.

Speaking of accomplishments, my 14 year old just spontaneously cleaned his room. He even changed the sheets on his bed. Oh dear. This isn't normal behavior. I hope he's not coming down with something!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Funny Boy

William cracks me up. Every day.

We just got back from running errands and I grabbed the mail on the way in and started sorting through it. One of the envelopes I opened up ended up being junk mail, a prayer chain sort of thing from some unknown church. I unfolded something colorful. It was a big "rug" with a picture of Jesus in the middle of it. His eyes were supposed to magically open when you looked at it. Which they did. Sorta.

"Wierd!" I said. William wanted to see it too and so I handed it to him and started reading the spiel on the accompanying request for donations, how your prayers are answered if you use the rug to pray on top of it. William looks at me with a sort of "ewww' look on his face and says

"So, I'm supposed to sit on Jesus' face?"


On St. Patrick's Day we went out to eat corned beef and cabbage. Our waitress, a pagan friend, was wearing bright green for the holiday.

"You do know there were no "snakes" in Ireland, right?" I asked her. (St. Patrick didn't drive the snakes out of Ireland - there WERE no snakes in Ireland. "Snakes" is symbolic for driving out paganism.)

Yeah, she knew, she was just dressing up for the job. And because they had good beer, she joked. She set our drinks on the table and left and William, who's heard the story before asked "So, are there snakes in Ireland now?"

"Hmmm, I don't know" I said. "There might be. Like in Australia, and rabbits. There weren't any rabbits in Australia until people brought them over to use as produce and they escaped into the wild."

"Produce?" William smirked at me.

"I meant to say 'livestock'."

"You plant them in the ground and then pull them up by their ears when..."

"But anyway" I interupted him "then they brought something else over to try to get rid of the rabbits, I think. Only now that's a problem too. Only I can't remember what.... what does Australia have too many of that would kill a rabbit?"

William's face was completely deadpan. "Rocks."

While I snorted ice tea up my nose, he continued. "Rocks would kill a rabbit. Big rocks. If you hit the rabbit hard enough. There are a lot of rocks in Australia."


When I was getting ready to head out the door Saturday to take William and James snowboarding, William, who had been waiting in the car, came crashing back into the house and headed towards his room. "I'm just getting my music."

"Don't bother. I'm listening to my music." (It's only a twenty minute drive.)

"No, I'm listening to my music" he insisted, coming out of his room with CD cases in hand.

"No, I'm listening to MY music. If I have to drive you up there, I get to listen to what I want."

"We'll vote." he said smugly, figuring this would work in his favor as there were two teens vs. one mother.

"No, we won't. This isn't a democracy. I'm an evil dictator."

"Fine then" he said, flying back out the front door. "But in the morning, your statue is coming down!"


Driving down I-5, past mile after mile of agricultural fields, I occasionally pointed out one of the more interesting products.

"Look, kiwi!" or "Oranges."

William pointed to a field with row upon row of white markers with blue labels on each tip, sticking about 6 to 8 inches out of the soil. "Look - sign posts. Those are just seedlings."


Self Portrait Tuesday

Blogger was busy cleaning house today, just like me, and so I had trouble getting this post up on time, but whew, finally, which is ironic, since the post is about time. I'm still not officially a contributor of Self Portrait Tuesday, I don't think, but I'm plugging away anyway. This month's theme is to try and capture the "March" of Time. Very punny. I decided to chronolog (not an actual word, but I think it works nicely anyway) the unfolding of the morning.

"Waking up"

Stumbling out to answer the damn phone.

Now that I'm out of bed, mys'well stay up. Pull back the curtains.

Turn on the computer.

Still not very awake. Squinting at my toothbrush (yes, it's a Bratz doll toothbrush - I got tired of my husband mistaking my toothbrush for his - ewwww).

A little privacy please, for the shower.

Ahhh, starting to feel human.

Last step of getting dressed - red Acorns on my feet.

Oh, William is up. He gets a kiss.

Forgot to photograph making the coffee, but here's the last step, adding vanilla soy milk. (Okay, that last was a lie. I just didn't want to photograph the messy counter.)

Yum - Coffee is my friend.

Another kiss for Rosie.

Checking my e-mail for awhile.

Jeff finally comes out and he gets a kiss too. Now the household is all awake to start the morning.... er, afternoon?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Low Fuel Day - A Poem

I can't quilt today
all the cotton batting is
packed in my head

Not "one of those days"
Not as bad as all that
Just a little

My car isn't running on all spark plugs lately
The mechanic is waiting on some parts
Perhaps I'm having sympathy pains

The brain says - Do something
So I sit on the couch with
a blanket, a teen, a dog, a cat
Watching Green Day shout out
what I don't have the energy
to shout

Guilt flutters up pompously.
whispers sarcastically - I meant,
something useful

Pulling the blanket over my head
muffles my answer -

bite me

March 19, 2006

A is for......

This morning I stumbled upon a blogger that was using "W is for..." as a subject title. It was clever, and it stuck in my brain. A light bulb flashed above my head and I decided to create (or snatch out of the collective unconscious if it already exists and I just don't know about it) a new Alphabet MeMe. This one is really easy because you can make it as easy or as complicated as you want. List 3 words or 30. It's up to you. I simply kept going until words stopped welling up from inside. This week is A. Next week (or whenever I get around to it), I'll do B. The week after I'll... well, you get the idea.

My personal A List:

A.M./P.M. - Time is a complex factor in my life. Those of you who know me well need no more explanation.

Amery - a little town in northwestern Wisconsin. I wasn't born there, but I lived there for most of my single digit childhood and think of it as my "home town".

Albuquerque - another hometown. This town witnessed my teen years and left me with a love of adobe (another "A" word), the smell of pinyon wood smoke, and jalepenos on my pizza.

Abracadabra - It's important to believe in magic

Ashes - Since our only source of heat is wood, ashes are a big part of my life. At least from about October through April, give or take a month or two

Agates - I love rock huntings. Agates are my favorite rock.

Anastacia - if the sonogram is right, next month this will be my first granddaughter.

Artichokes and Asparagus - these were the first two "exotic" vegetables I ever tasted. After an early childhood filled with mostly peas, corn, carrots - standard stuff - these two veggies made a big impression on me and led to a joy in trying new foods

Argue - I can't say I like to argue, but if I have to, I'm damned good at it.

A+'s - I was a very grade oriented school child. Had a 4.0 in college.

Astronomy - when I was ten or so, I fell in love with astronomy. I knew more about astronomy, learned all on my own, then I did all the other science facts I learned in school from K-12. I even had my own telescope.

Art - Always been a big part of my life. I've always drawn, sketched, painted, sewn, sculpted, designed or done something artful - always.

Arugula - springs up every spring (ha!) and sometimes in the fall, in my garden. It's the quintessential garden green to me and I like to nibble on it whenever I'm outside

Amber - I love the smell of amber resin. I love amber beads/rocks/whatever you call them. Amber comes from the Baltic area, which appeals to the 50% of me that is Lithuanian

Antique - there are only a few things I'd rather have new rather then old - cars, seafood, coffee - most things, the older the better as far as I'm concerned. I like things that already have some story in them.

Archetype - The book Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen was a seminal, pivotal read for me.

Astigmatism - yep. And nearsighted. And now farsighted too. Love me, love my glasses.

Author - what I want to be when I grow up some day.

Agriculture - I always imagined I'd grow up and marry a farmer. (Nope)

Autumn - my favorite season

Arrrrrgh - Every pirate's favorite word!

Okay, you're turn. And let me know if you play so I can read your A List.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Segue-free Post of Random Comments

My cats were happily playing keepaway with a half eaten mouse this morning. What a lovely thing to wake up to.

More snow in the forecast. I. Am. So. Ready. For. Spring.

I gave the boys' (aka Jeff and William) haircuts today. Jeff was fuzzy at the collar. Being in a quasi-military type job, fuzzy necks are frowned upon. I like long hair on men but, sigh, it's just easier to buzz him and then he's happy because he looks like all the other boys at work. William, my lone long-haired child, wanted "just a little" cut off his shoulder length hair. This meant he had to allow me to comb his hair first, something that only happens... well, once or twice a season I guess. Here's a pic - isn't it beautiful in this rare condition?

It looks about the same now, cut, just an inch or so shorter. And no longer combed.

I got new glasses. Do you like them? (pay no attention to the hulking teen in the background)...
You really have to click on the image and make it bigger to see the glasses. I had a hard time getting a nice photo of them (me, but shut up). Do I like them? I mean, I picked them out. Eh....they're okay. I'm not thrilled with them but I guess I like them better then my old ones. I really wanted some cool Lisa Loeb, intellectual girl glasses, but it was hard because I'm limited in my choice of lens. My ancient, worn out, bi-focal needing eyes need a bigger lens from top to bottom. I was going to go with a plastic frame this time, but at the last minute picked a metal frame similar to the glasses I already had (playing it safe I guess) but with a stronger frame so they wouldn't be so wobbly. I do like the new prescription. I can see much better. I was due for an adjustment but I didn't realize how badly.

I also got new prescription sunglasses and because I don't need them to be bifocals, I had more leeway in what I picked out. I selected a dark green tortoiseshell plastic frame, definitely more Lisa Loeb-ish, and I love them. I like how I can actually read the highway signs now. I like how they cut the glare but aren't too dark if I forget to switch glasses before I stop and run into Starbucks or wherever. I like how I look in them. I particularly like how when I glance sideways in them, the light shining through the frame makes a thin lime green line at the corner of my vision. It's an odd thing to like since one could argue that it would be a distraction, but it's so bright and happy it's like getting an unexpected smile from the world every so often. Unfortunately when they cut the lens, they were a smidgen too big for the frame and someone thought "I can make it fit" and cracked the glass in the corner of both lens. So, I can't show them to you because they're "in the shop" being replaced.

I got some pressies!
On the right is a art postcard from Deb's new Spiral Dance series, this one is labled "Mini #3". Here are more postcards. I won it in her "Name this Art Series" contest. I am soooo jazzed. I wanted my very own DebO-riginal for a long time now. Somehow I never quite "got" that postcards go into the mail un-enveloped. Unfortunately, this postcard looked like it had flipped out a mail cart and been dragged by the wheel for a few feet before someone noticed it. Fortunately, the tread marks are on the back, not the front. Whew. At first glance I thought, awwww dang! But now I'm starting to think it only adds to the story of the piece. It's art that's been on a journey, had adventures. I kinda like that.

On the left is an otter. My hubby bought it for me while I was down in San Diego. I have several other otter stuffed animals, as well as a small shelf full of the water critters in my ocean-y themed bathroom. Otters, sea or land, are one of my totem animals. Isn't he cute? It's from the US Post Office and that thing on the side of him is an image of an otter stamp. But don't worry, I'm not gonna mail him anywhere.

The desk decluttering is continuing to move forward. Slowing me down is that the desk cleaning has expanded into an entire "office" cleaning, "office" being defined as the desk, the two adjoining floor-to-ceiling shelves, and a small shelf and small filing cabinet nearby. Yesterday found me sorting old files I didn't even know I still had - phone lists from the kids old baseball teams or Girl Scout troup. Since Noel was in Girl Scouts in elementary school, and the older boys haven't played baseball in over a decade, these are very old files. I also sorted through a two foot tall stack of computer CD's and whittled it down to about four or five inches. I also managed to lose half of the school books I'd been keeping for William to grow into.... oops, too young for him. Gotta love those learning leaps. I'm still not ready to show you a before and after picture yet, but I'm pleased with my hard fought progress.

When I'm too tired to work at the office any longer at night (oops, that was kinda a segue, wasn't it), I've been switching over to sorting and tossing magazines while watching television. This getting rid of stuff, it starts to become addictive. I roam around the house looking for things I don't want/need. Every time I've gone into the back bathroom the last couple of days, I've come out with an item or two to put in the box designated for a garage sale.

That's probably enough rambling, eh? Gotta go anyway. It's St. Patrick's Day. The perfect excuse to go out for a dinner of Corned Beef and Cabbage. Only, I better change into something green before I do. I'm no poser. Not me. Got me one quarter authentic Irish genes. Plunkett. Like the football player. And the saint. (I have no idea if I'm related to the football player, but I am honest-to-god related to the saint.) And that's no blarney. Smooch.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Poetry Thursday

I've seen others posting something called Poetry Thursday. I haven't tracked down the blogging source for the idea, but as I pondered the possibilities for today's blog post, this seemed an easy and appropriate possibility. I've been decluttering and recently got rid of an old book, but before I did, I copied this poem out of it. What with the circumstances surrounding my recent trip down to San Diego, it seemed even more poignant.



These tall sons
whose names I cannot distinguish-
to call one, I rattle them all off:

Tom, Charles, Nick, Will, George-

What my mind sees:
is little boys-to break your heart
with the growing they have to do-

not these men. No wonder
I don't know their names-
lounging about bent-kneed
and hairy; making love to their wives
or the girls that they live with,
acting out cruelties
on these women who threaten
to control them.

No wonder I cannot call out
the names of these men!
My sons were boys.
I number them over:

George, Will, Nick, Charles, Tom

sensitive, gentle, understanding.
Needing shelter and protection.
These giants, gone over
to the other side-I do not remember
which is which-the one with the mustache
laughing, the tall dark one, they are all
strangers to me-their own small sons seem closer.

And yet:
seeing one snubbed and hurt
one defeated, my blood shouts
he is mine! go easy!
be gentle with him. Remember
how he was afraid of the dark
and he, of thunder, of how the blood
gushed out of his foot,
and of how that tall one used
to bring home bullfrogs
to sing under his window.

-Margery Cavanagh

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Personal DNA

I found this test through Julie's blog, High Fiber Content. Here are my results:

Move your cursor over the different colors to see what each represent. Go here to take the test yourself.

Self-Portrait Tuesday - a day late

Just couldn't quite squeeze it in since I've been back, and of course being out of town I missed last week's self portrait altogether, but here's my first attempt at this month's theme - "Time". I was inspired by my daughter's baby shower this month to dig out a series of photos of me over the years with my babies. Alas, I don't have photos of me with all my babies - Joshua and Noel, although they are my babies, came into my life after they were a wee bit bigger. And since I'm usually the one behind the camera instead of in front of it, it was hard to find photos of just me and a baby. Surprisingly hard. I couldn't find any of me and my most recent grandson Garret, for example. I have dozens of him being held by other people, but I'm the one that took the photograph. So, this is the best I could do.

Me and...... my baby sister Lisa - 1963 (I cut my sister Laurie out of this photo - sorry sis!), son Joseph - 1983 (I really wanted to put the colorful nursing hippie mama in here, but figured that might be a bit much for the internet), son Sam - 1986 (although he was born in Dec. 85, the photo is probably January 86), son William - 1991 (there were other shots to chose from but this one just sooo captured that time period), grandson Joshua - 2004 (right after the birth, I hadn't slept in several days when this photo was snapped, my current baby Rosie - 2005 (yeah, she's my baby - no rolling your eyes at old ladies and their little dogs!)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life Lag

If you travel from time zone to time zone, you get jet leg. If you travel from situation to situation, I think you get Life Lag. And even though I traveled within the same time zone, I traveled from snow boots and fir trees to flip flops and palm trees, and back again. I went from this:

(Click on this photo so you can see William's face better, and check out how thrilled he was to be at this botanical garden.) this:

So it felt like I was in another world altogether. I also went from one focus to another, from my life to my kids' lives, from my schedule to their schedules. I was gone for ten days, but it felt more like a month.

And the trip there and back were adventures in and of themselves. Especially the trip back where we managed to hit almost blizzard snow on the grapevine, hail so thick in Modesto they had to plow the roads, and slushy muddy snow in slow bumper to bumper traffic over the Sierras. Check out what it did to my car!

And if you want to see more photos, lots more photos, you can go here. Click on the album titled San Diego Trip. Grab a cup of coffee first - there's 87 pictures, and that was only slightly over half of what I took on the trip. Everything from the baby shower, Hollywood, beach, Balboa Park... to family and pets. A little bit of everything from the last week and a half. I had to put them all up there because Deirdre was whining so loudly for photos. This should keep her busy for awhile.

Now I'm back and everything looks weird to me. I was gone long enough to acclimate to different geography, different houses, different everything. Last night I couldn't remember how my computer worked, how my television worked, where I kept things. Of course, I was pretty tired, so I don't really think my brain was working at more then about 10%, so that accounts for some of that. I'm already adapting again but it was weird to see my own life from a different perspective. One can't really see oneself from the outside looking in, but it felt a teensy bit like that.

Mainly, I can see my CLUTTER. I came home, looked around, and immediately wanted to clean. Honestly, I immediately wanted to walk back out and drive to a nice clean motel. But since that would have only been putting off the inevitable, my next thought was that I wanted to clean. When I was in San Diego, all I wanted to do was come home and CREATE. I had a real art buzz going. Now I just want to toss, scrub, box up, give away, and otherwise organize my life. It's not like I didn't want to do those things before I left, I just want to do them more urgently now. Unfortunately I came home and all I could do the rest of yesterday was lay on the couch and try not to fall asleep before my husband made it home from work.

But today is a new day and a good day to get started. Unfortunately the first layer of work will be the unpacking and laundry the trip itself generated. I want to work fast though, so I can get back to that CREATE mood before it completely dissipates. I'm gonna go put on another pot of coffee and GET TO WORK!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Goodbye to San Diego

And to Lisa and to Joe. Pout pout pout pout pout pout pout pout.

But, it's time to get on the road. And early enough so perhaps William and I can have a fun stop or two along the way. Nothing long, a beach stop here, a nice lunch there. We'll see. If the weather holds. It's sunny out today, at least out the window of Joe and lisa's apartment. I was expecting more of yesterday's snarly storm, so it's a nice treat not to have to drive in the rain this morning. Of course there's no guarantee I won't have to deal with precipitation before the trip is over. Apparently there's been nothing but snow, snow, and more snow up in the northern Sierras. Monday is supposed to be a window between storms. We're aiming for that window to get over the mountains.

I wrote on Laume's Studio about Lisa and my adventures quilt shop hopping yesterday. Well, it was just one hop, but it was a big one. So go there if you want to hear all about it.

Other then that, I'm off. As soon as I can drag the blanket off William, force him to eat a bowl of cereal, while probably packing the car up myself. Hmph.

For all you mommy/grammy types, yes, I promise, we'll drive carefully. I always do. See you in a few days.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Still in San Diego

I checked the weather in preparation of returning home. Guess what the weatherman predicts for the northern Sierra's every day in the ten day forecast (except Monday)? Yep. Snow. So we're gonna leave tomorrow morning in hopes of making that hole in the storms even if it slides a bit forward or backwards on the calendar.

Speaking of storms, we had a doozy of one yesterday and into last night. Snow even, but up in the mountains east of us, where I am not, but I can relate to it because I used to live up there. Here by the ocean it was rain - mostly off and on in heavy bursts. Last night I woke up to a terrible crashing sound. Thunder. So close I was sure something nearby had been hit. It rumbled on for what seemed forever. I thought it was loud enough to wake the dead. It didn't even wake up the rest of the family. After that I lay semi-awake and enjoyed the sound of the wind, and the flash and rumble of the storm, until I realized that there was the potential for one of those tall waving eucalyptus trees to come crashing down on the roof. Then I went under the covers and feel back asleep.

The initial doctor visits are over for Joe and Lisa has the weekend off work. So whew, no freeways today unless we want to use them. Some cast people are gonna come to the house - they make house calls!? - and make a new cast for Joe's back that he can actually use. He can't sit in the one he has now, so he doesn't use it. Joe was mad at me (not really mad. Mad as in "Thanks a LOT mom, now I can't use the computer. You just did that so you could have it to yourself!") because I asked the doctor yesterday all sorts of specific questions about what he should do and shouldn't do. And he shouldn't be up and about like he was.

Today will be more of a visiting day than a helping day. A nice way to end the trip. I offered to take Lisa anywhere she wanted to go today, as a treat for the caregiver. Shopping? Lunch? Summer's Past? (an herb farm we both love) Art Museum? (she grimaced at this one as if I'd offered her canned spinach) She just wanted to relax at home. But she didn't want to relax at hom with the boys watching car shows all morning, which is what they had planned. Then I suggested Rosie's, a local quilt shop she wanted to visit. She grinned and nodded yes. So later we'll go off and do a girl thing for a little bit.

Oh, can't forget to mention. Guess what I did last night? I went to a Country Western Music Concert. Lisa had tickets and of course Joe couldn't go. I overheard Joe and Lisa whispering - "I'm just not gonna go" - "she doesn't like that kind of music" - "just ask her" So although I had been up since 5 am (Yes, Five O'Clock in the Morning - ME - Morning - Same sentence), we went to downtown San Diego and rocked out.... er, C&W'ed out?.... all night long. It was a fund raiser for St. Jude's Hospital, four musicians. I liked three of the four. Actually I liked all four but one was so loud it hurt my ears and I couldn't really enjoy him. Two of them I even recognized a few of their songs. So I guess they're big names, if I've heard them on the radio even though I don't even listen to C&W these days. Don't get me wrong, I like it. Some. I used to listen to it all the time, but since 9-11 there's been so much "I love my country right or wrong - these colors don't run - weepy mom, country, and apple pie - cra...choices, I can't handle it. I've switched over to the alternative rock station. Give me my good ol' rebel music to keep my sanity. "Don't wanna be an American Idiot!" Ahhh, soothe my frazzled political nerves with some good ol fashioned war protest rock and roll. But heck, I'm very good at "When in Rome....", so it was fun. Wish I hadn't been so tired, I woulda danced. Everyone else was drinking, and it was dark, so no one would have noticed me.

It's been quite an experience being in and about all the military these last few days. It's like visiting a different culture, a different country. All that structure and rules and uniforms. It's so far the other end of the spectrum from how I live my life. I guess that's why there's no Artist First Class or Major Quilter in the military. And uniforms. I've always hated uniforms. Even uniforms that aren't uniforms - like when everyone else started to wear cowboy stuff in the 80's (remember Urban Cowboy? John Travolta? Hey small Laume trivia, the woman who played "the other woman"? I graduated high school with her) I had to wear a uniform in one year of Catholic school. Hated it. I always feel sorry for waiters and waitresses who have to wear those silly polyester uniforms. Ugh. Strangely, my kids loved their uniforms - Girl Scout uniforms, football uniforms, 4-H uniforms. I guess we're all doomed to have our children distinguish themselves from their parents by doing something different. Damn, maybe I should have been a Republican all these years.

At the Navy Hospital yesterday morning, suddenly there was this music. Everyone turned to the ..... I think it was the southwest, musta been where the flag was going up..... and stopped. Uniformed and non-uniformed. Like something out of a scene in The Truman Show or a surreal stage number. Spooky. Joe explained, it was "Colors". Happens twice a day, raising the flag, lowering it. They went through some bugle thing, then the National Anthem, then several military theme songs - I recognized Anchors Away and I think one was the Marine one. Then more bugling and everyone just went on their way. It was odd. But y'know, I bet we all have odd things we do every day and to someone from another culture, they'd see the oddness, where we take it so much for granted that we don't even notice it.

Last night at the concert we all stood up and sang God Bless America. Which was fun. That might surprise some, that I'd find that fun. Since I'm against that sort of thing at school, don't approve of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. (I think we should change it to "under Canada") But that's because I strongly believe in the separation of church and state. But at a private concert, one no is required to go to unless they choose to? Yeah, bring it on. It was fun. Sad too, in that I bet most young people don't even KNOW how to sing the old patriotic songs anymore.

One thing I really like about this military culture. I have to tell you, I really really like it. Everyone is Polite. With a capital P. Doors are opened. People step aside. Address me as "Ma'am." Ask me if I wanted to go first, walk this way, use that machine, stand in this line? Sad really, that it's so atypical in the general culture that I would notice it in the military culture. That the general public has forgotten how to be polite. That we have to have it drilled or trained into us. Because I sure don't see it as a regular part of our culture - do you? Not that it's disappeared completely. There are people who are kind and polite every day in one way or another - letting one into traffic, opening a door. I have trained my boys to do that sort of thing. And I do it myself for others. But for everyone who DOES have manners, there are far more people who just sail through a door and let it slam in your face behind them. Or cut you off in traffic completely oblivious to the fact that anyone else even exists! Yep, we could learn something from the military on that one. Courtesy makes the world a better place. There's a hefty dose of irony in that combination, eh?