Friday, April 28, 2006


A few days ago I was reading my favorite blogs, including this particular post on Mad Organica's blog, about recent family photos she had done. I followed the link to the photographer's site to see the entire album of photos she had taken, along with the photographer's portfolio/gallery pages and two things happened. One, I was blown away by the photographer's style and I was inspired to spend much of the afternoon running around my yard and home trying out new techniques and ideas. Secondly, I got all melty and teary-eyed by the emotions that shone through the photos. In particular, the pictures of MO sitting on a beach with her older daughter wrapped in her arms.

I spent most of yesterday, between bouts of feeling miserable (some sort of 24 hour bug), trying to write a poem about my feelings. I tried several times but couldn't get anything to work. I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn't know how to say it. I even tried reducing it to "haiku" and ended up forgetting the form, writing several lame "reverse haiku" in 7-5-7 meter instead of the standard 5-7-5. How embarrassing. Although my writer's group got quite a laugh out of it.

Size thirteen shoes but his step
hesitates, he could
get lost, no map for this world

I'm not sure why I couldn't "find" the poem. I suspect it will show up on the tip of my pen one of these days. I've decided to blame the germs. In the meantime, I decided to just write about how I feel and move on.

It's that whole "cusp of adolescence" thing. It chokes me up every time. Teenagers in general, to be honest. It's sort of strange. Most people, when they talk about teenagers, or think of them at all, I suspect, would describe them in many ways.

Teenagers are noisy.
The clothes they wear! When I was their age..... (yeah, and I bet you showed just as much skin but you've forgotten. The bottom line, if you were honest with yourself - if you looked as good in as little as the average teen, you'd probably dress that way now!)
Teenagers have no respect.
They're lazy.
Teenagers think they know everything!
Teens party all the time.
They sleep all the time.

And so on. All true to a certain degree, depending on the teenager, depending on the specific age. But most of those comments describe a teenager's surface, what I think of as their armor, their shell, to protect them from the fact that on a deeper level they don't have a clue, and the world is big and they feel so very, very small.

Teenagers act so cool and "Whatever!" and roll-their-eyes. They're obsessed with their peers. They tend to find ways to barricade themselves or hang out in the protection of their own groups and a lot of adults think that means they don't want them in their lives anymore and they back off and stay away, physically and emotionally. The truth is teenagers need you present and available more then perhaps at any other stage of their lives.

Adolescence is a limbo state between the security and responsibility. It's like getting thrown in the deep end of the pool before you're confident about your ability to swim. Or dropped off the bus in some foreign country where you don't speak the language or know the customs. It's like your first week on the job or the first month in a new town, but for four, five, seven years!

Hormones have kicked teens out of childhood, ready or not. They can't go backwards and yet they haven't had anywhere near enough experience to handle the kind of things the average adult deals with on a daily basis. And if that's not enough, at the same time the teen years are a culture and experience in and of themselves, a tumultous and frightening time filled with both no rules and too many rules. There are extreme expectations put on teenagers by adults and by their peers, expectations that the average adult would only put up with for a very short time before throwing up their hands and yelling "Fuck this!" AND those expectations quite frequently clash, adults want you to act one way, your friends expect you to act another. Although my teen years were fairly "successful" and I was "happy" by outside appearances, quite frankly, you couldn't pay me enough to make me repeat them!

So, when I see teenagers, my heart often does that same "ahhhh" thing that most people save for babies, toddlers, and well behaved preschoolers. I see them as young people, worried and unsure of themselves often before they've even left the house each morning, and yet still going out the door and doing brave things each and every day. I see them often doing the right thing and rarely getting the recognition or acknowledgement for the small important acomplishments they manage to figure out even, some of them, without a fraction of the help and support they need. I see a "child" taking their second set of "first steps", this time, not across the livingroom rug, but across the threshold into maturity.

I wish more of them got the same enthusiastic round of applause from adults as they received the first time.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

American Idol - Reading for Fanatic Followers Only

I can't believe how caught up in this season I have become. It's becoming more and more difficult in the last few weeks to watch it as they got rid of the people who weren't any good or who were but irritated me, and now all that's left are people I like. Granted, I like them to varying degrees, but still, it's now sad to see folks go. I did think Ace would leave last week and was glad enough to sacrifice him to protect some of my more beloved contestants, but it was still sad. He's cute, he's likable, he's a good singer. But he's not a great singer, and that's the point. It was time for him to leave. And following the same logic, I hope that tonight Kelly will be the one to whom we bid farewell.

So, let's see:

Kathryn - she looked beautiful as always. She had one of the better performances I thought. I was sort of annoyed at how the judges criticized her. But I agree, it was a big song for her to take on. I usually vote for her but now that it's down to so few, I have to use a strategy more helpful then "Vote for all the people I like" because that is now all of them.

Kelly - she didn't get it last night. First of all, what was with the hair tied back like she was about to go clean out the garage? If she was gonna pick a night to dress classy and sophisticated, last night would have been the night. And I'm sorry, she's just not delivering in her songs. I really hope she goes tonight although I'm afraid being the only country singer left gives her a formidable fan base. My daughter-in-law made a comment about that the other day - "If she wants to sing country, she should be on Nashville Star, not American Idol." Very good point.

Paris - finishing up the girls, I think Paris is the most talented. She just can't seem to win with Simon, who loves when she acts little girlish, hates when she acts mature or sexy. I think he's got a double standard on the sexy thing, but I agree with him about when she tries to sing a song too old for her. Unfortunately it was difficult for me because her song choice last night, Memories, is one of my least favorite songs. I absolutely OD'ed on that song when they used to play it over and over and over.... on the radio. However, I do think she's the most talented of the females and I gave her one vote last night.

Now, for the boys. Ahhh. I really want it to come down to the three boys. I don't know if that's realistic or not, but if I had my way, it would be Chris, Taylor and Elliot as the last three. After that, even I don't know who I would want to win.

Elliot - this kid started out with me thinking he had a beautiful voice but not a lot of star appeal. He's not hunky cute (as if someone in my doddering old age should even care about that sort of thing!) and he wasn't really charismatic in a dramatic way. BUT, then he grew on me. And grew some more. And now I think he's just adorable. He needs to get his teeth fixed. But I now appreciate his less zany sweetness and man, that boy can sing! Our family double voted for him.

Taylor - As someone else commented - What IS it about this guy that just makes us all swoon!? I mean, when I watch him move up on stage, he stage moves remind me frighteningly of husband's dance moves. I say "frighteningly" because I've always thought that my husband's enthusiasm and willingness to dance makes up for his less then smooth dance style. But hey, there must be something endearing about it in both men or I wouldn't be so glued to the set when Taylor is in view. As for his singing, it wasn't his best last night. He seemed to be holding back, trying to be less "Taylor-ish" for the sake of the song, instead of singing it like he should have and letting the song take care of itself. He's got that great smoky, raspy thing going on and it only came through here and there. I've come to the conclusion that he's trying to "tone himself down" on the advice of the judges or perhaps others. He shouldn't. He's best when he's just who he is and damn the experts. Still, our family double voted for him.

Chris - what can I say. The kid is adorable and double appealing to me because he reminds me of my son Joe, so I just want to hug him. I really like his voice and I think it's improved through the weeks. I love his rock song performances but I also love when he surprises us with something soft or romantic. I was struck last night by the fact that even though he's not a country western singer, his voice would actually work really well in that genre. Regardless of whether he wins AI or not, I'm looking forward to buying his first album. His and Taylor's. I was so suprised and worried that he was in the bottom three last week that we gave him double votes then thought on it some more and voted two more times just to make sure he's safe.

F is for.....

Foghorn - I love the sound of a lighthouse foghorn

Firewood - since our only source of heat, firewood takes up an inordinate amount of our thoughts and time. There's nothing more comforting then seeing cords of firewood all stacked and ready for the winter.

Fox - I've always liked foxes but especially since William was born. His "camping name" (we all had camping names) was Baby Fox, and then Little Fox. I think the fox is one of his totem animals.

Florence - my grandmother's twin sister, she was in my life a lot when I was younger

fire - as I already mentioned, we heat with wood. And then there's all the campfires over the years. And living up in the mountains, forest fires are a huge threat. We've had the unsettling experience of having one headed towards our home

flames - the flames of a larger fire, but specifically I am using the word to refer to a candle flame. I sometimes use them for meditation or scrying.

fairies - I collect fairy books and a few fairy figurines. One should always be nice to the fairies, you never know when you might need a favor from them.

Fred - Fred Weasley, Fred is Red, Fred the big black cat, twin brother to George.

football and 49'ers - I was a huge 49'er fan during their wonder years and football has always been and continues to be a big part of my life since I have two sons who play or have played football.

Fiestaware - I used to adore it. At the time I didn't have the money to collect the real thing, but I had bits and pieces and lots of wannabe pieces. I gave up on it as our main dishware about five years ago, but I still tend to buy things that come in sets of rainbow colors instead of a single color.

French - I'm 1/16th French... or maybe it's 1/8th.

fair - I'm an absolute fair junkie!!! County fair, state fair, doesn't matter. I love it all! Also, one of my most commonly quoted sayings (if you don't believe me, ask my kids) is "Nobody said life is fair."

fables - fables, myths, fairy tales.... love'em all

fear of failure, flabby, fatigue - I try to stick to positive words, and avoid negative ones but sometimes a word or two stands out. I just wish these words didn't belong here at all.

Family - family first, I love my family, I am blessed with such a wonderful one. Odd perhaps. Eccentric definitely. Time consuming.... sigh, that too. But I wouldn't trade them for all the money in the world.

Fantasia - No, not the AI contestent, I mean one of my favorite Disney movies as a child. This one and Sleeping Beauty probably tie for first place.

fabric - I'm a quilter. Need I say more!?

farm - always thought I'd marry a farmer and live on a farm. Never did, but I still have fond memories of the assorted farms of my childhood

fate - I'm sort of on the fence on this one, although it's something I'm forced to think of a lot. I do believe in fate but I don't think of it in the sense of an absolute. More like a current, with stronger and weaker pulls. I think of fate and free will not as opposites but more as different forces that work hand in hand.

find - I'm very good at finding things.

4-H - I didn't do it as a child but I had my chance to enjoy 4-H when my children were involved with it for many years

fireflies - these are such magical little creatures. I grew up in the midwest but don't really remember seeing them much. I think they were there, I just think no one thought to point them out to me, which is odd, since my folks were good at pointing out shooting stars, the beauty of an ice storm, the sound of birds. I wish I'd been able to enjoy them more.

firstborn - that would be me.

fishing - I spent a lot of time fishing as a kid, fond memories of the waves lapping softly on the sides of the boat or against the dock, the sun low and velvety in the sky, the mesmorizing concentration on that red and white bobber, the immediate full body alertness when it would suddenly jump.

flash - I hate posing in front of a camera flash. Sometimes it gives me a migraine.

flowers - I love to garden and yet flowers were a later passion. First came vegetables and fruits, then herbs. The first flowers I really planted were either edible or a type of herb. Then I added everlasting flowers, for dried arrangements. I thought what I put in my garden had to have a practical purpose. Eventually I came to understand that gardening is a purpose in and of itself and flowers need no other purpose then the pleasure and beauty they add to our life. Food for the soul. Now I have gardens full of flowers, as many as I can grow.

forget-me-nots and foxglove - two of my favorite old fashioned flowers

flying monkey - Don't make me get my flying monkeys! One of my favorite mottos/bumper stickers. And of course, my little Rosita the Flying Monkey.

focus - something I have a tendency to lose much to easily

forests - I am so thankful I grew up in a time before childhood became just a series of structured activities, a prison of sorts. Perhaps a loving and happy prison, but still, a place where worried parents had good reason to always stand guard. I spend many of my childhood hours wandering unfettered in forests. I am the person I am today to a great degree because of that freedom. And I can't forget my love of redwood forests - something I didn't discover until my adult years, but no less magical because of that.

fun - if it's not fun, why do it!? Well, sometimes you just have to what you have to do. But then, you might as well make it as fun as possible. Right!? Fun, a much neglected aide to good mental, and probably physical, health.

funny - see above. Laugh as much as possible. If it's not funny, look at it from a different perspective. And if it's really not funny, then you have every right to use dark humor.

Funny Girl - my favorite movie as a young teen.

friends - I couldn't survive without them.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday: Week Four

I see Deb beat me to the "look through the archives" idea. But since I have nothing better up my sleeve, I'll just go ahead and share my historical sillies.

There were surprisingly few photos of me doing foolish things over the years. I know I do them, all the time! It's just I'm not in front of a camera when the silly dances, apparel, and poses appear. There were a vast number of photos showing my family doing crazy, wild, foolish things however, because I often have the lens trained on them. If nothing else, this Self Portrait Project has been a good thing for me to participant in because it's made me aware of how few photos there are, relatively speaking, of me.

These first two pictures show my penchant for posing with strange creatures, figures, animals, what have you. Plus, the first one with me and the bear, my gawd, did I really ever have that flat a stomach!? I've also got one with me and Woody at Disneyland, but darn, I couldn't find it.

Here I am at the California School of Herbal Studies. We were doing cosmetics that day, and everyone got a facial mask. I got a real kick looking back at the rest of the photos from this time period - it looks like we're all dressed up for a period piece about the 60's (although it was in fact, the 70's - it was just a counterculture California enclave of the 70's). And check out the size of my glasses!

This next picture has several foolish things going on. First of all - big red yarn in my hair. I mean, really, it's goofy enough when people used to use that stuff for wrapping packages. But for hair ties!? And on both sides of my head? Next, there's something on my lip. Maybe it's just a glare off my lip gloss, who knows. And last but definitely not least, check out the apron. It's got a bird on it. A parrot.... parakeet.... I can't make it out. And ruffles large enough to cover several small girls preparing for their first communion. It was Christmas and this was a gift from my mother, who is taking the photo. Even THEN I remember smiling and thinking "Oh. My. Gawd." (Mom, I'm sorry. If you're reading this - it was...... frilly.)

Here I am posing in one of my favorite odd hats. It's a pumpkin hat. They sell them at our local pumpkin patch. They had a ton of them for children and only a couple of adult sized ones. I bought them both. Kept one, sent one to my DIL who wears it to her job a preschool. The kids love it. In fact, everyone seems to love this hat. I wear it all around town from midSeptember on through the first of November and I can't walk through a restaurant or store without someone stopping me to ask "Where did you GET that hat!?" So somehow I managed to combine foolishness and fashion with this little gem. I particularly like this photo of me in it as I seem to be completely unconcerned with the monster ghost amoeba about to engulf me.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Oracle of Starbucks

William and I watched a documentary series last night on..... some channel, whatever..... called American Made. This particular episode was about Starbucks. It was really interesting. So this morning we were looking for a world map of Starbucks locations. Couldn't find one unfortunately. We did find out though that there are about four hundred Starbucks in Great Britain, so that's a relief. Snicker. If we get tired of Earl Grey, we can grab a lovely Latte even in another country. Then we figured out that there are almost two thousand Starbuck stores in California, which we had already figured out, on another day of playing "use the computer to find out interesting trivia", was approximately the same geographic size as Great Britain, so that means we have four times the Starbucks saturation per square mile. I don't know the populations of both regions, so I can't tell you the percentage of Starbucks per person. Maybe you can do the math on that one.

ANYHOO..... We stumbled onto this site.

"Astrology is lame and Myers-Briggs is for losers. The omniscient Oracle of Starbucks can tell you everything about your personality by what you drink at Starbucks."

I typed in both my standard drink offer, and my hubby's, and it came up with silly answers that had enough truth in them to make it hysterically funny. Jeff's drink is a Americano Tall, which classified him as a pretentious asshat. I'm a Grande Vanilla Latte Half Caf Soy. (Yes, that's my standard drink) Here's what it had to say about that:

Behold the Oracle's wisdom:

Personality type: Hippie

In addition to being a hippie, you are a hypochondriac health nut. You secretly think that your insistence on only consuming all-natural products is because you're so intelligent and well-informed; it's actually because you're a sucker. You've dabbled in Wicca or other pseudo-religions that attract morons and have changed your sexual orientation a few times this year. You probably live in California. Everyone who drinks Grande Vanilla Latte Half Caf Soy should be forced to eat a McDonald's bacon cheeseburger.


So, what's your Coffee Personality Type?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Trip Anxiety

Now that the taxes are done, the grandbaby got herself birthed, the Navy son is back on his feet (albeit in a brace), and assorted other tasks and commitments have been tasked and committed, I'm looking down a clear path, knock on wood, towards the BIG TRIP. And I'm starting to get two things. Excited. And Nervous.

Most of you know what BIG TRIP I'm referring to, but for those of you who might have stumbled in here from less Laume focused locations (and if so, then thank you so much for coming to visit. Let me take your coat. It's so nice to meet new friends. Would you like a cuppa tea?), I'm referring to a month long trip William and I are taking to, first, New York for four days with friends and then three and a half weeks in England. And Scotland. And Wales. Maybe Paris. We leave in ten days.

One day about four or five months ago my husband announced that homeschooling William should have a big "experience" before he goes to public high school in the fall and becomes a completely new and alien creature. Honestly, I don't really think he'll become as estranged as all that, it's not like he's our first or anything - teenagers do have redeeming qualities if you have the energy for them! But, whatever. Hubby not only wanted him to have an "experience", but he wanted it to be England. And since he's afraid to fly, he wanted me to take him.

It's not like I've wanted to go to England forever. Yet it's not like I didn't want to go either. Stonehenge, Tower of London, Stratford on Avon, Bath....yeah, sure. Why not! But since that time, I've been so busy with other things that my only relationship with the trip has been a rather frustrating amount of work and time trying to check off everything on a very long Things-To-Do list in order to make the trip happen.

For the last few days I've been feeling incredibly happy and relaxed, even excited, finally, at the prospect of such exotic travel. Yeah, yeah, I know. Exotic? They speak the same language over there. Mostly. It's not like I'm gonna go back pack into some tropical forest to visit a long lost tribe or travel across a continent sized desert to drink mare's milk from something that was formerly an intestine. But, not counting brief excursions north to Canada or south to Mexico, this will be my first trip to another country. I'm going abroad.

This morning I woke up expecting to find that buzz of excitement waiting for me, sitting there next to my toothbrush, ready for me to pick back up and wear for another day. Instead I found a mild panic. Mainly about how to get from one place to another without a vehicle. How to budget our time and money. How to decide where to go and how long to stay and what if you can't get to there from here or if I accidently get lost in the middle of a bad part of London or a field full of sheep with 60 pounds of baggage each and no one to help. Lions and tigers and bears, oh MY!

I know. Silly. Silly, silly me. Especially since I consider myself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "I'd rather stay home" and 10 being "Will go anywhere on the spur of the moment with no clue what will happen or where we're going or how we'll get back", as being somewhere solidly between 5 and 10.

I think it's the same thing as like when I was pregnant with my second child. I was quite good at one child. And I was happily anticipating the birth and arrival of the second one. Until one day, in my ninth month of pregnancy, OUT OF THE BLUE, it suddenly occurred to me that I would have to figure out how to take two children to the grocery store with me. I started to think about how in the world that could possibly be done!?! If you take the older child out of the car first, then he could run off in the parking lot while you got the baby out of the car seat. If you got the baby out first, then what do you do with it when you go back in for the older child? Put the baby in the shopping cart? How? And what if the shopping cart rolled away!!!!? What if someone came up and grabbed it with your beloved baby in it while you had your head back inside the car getting the other child!!!? And how would you go and GET a shopping cart in the first place with your children still in the car!!!!!!!?

I remember feeling absolutely panicked at the thought of accomplishing what most of you know to be, typically, a fairly easy task. I remember thinking that it was too late to not have the baby. That it was too late to find out the solution. (although why I thought this is a mystery as I could have asked a dozen friends who had already given birth to their second child. In my pregnancy induced panic, I could think of nothing to do but wait out those last few weeks until the birth in dread of what would surely be the end of my ability to cope. Eventually I did give birth and not long afterwards I took them both to the market, still unsure how I would manage such a seemingly unsolvable logic problem. And then, in that moment, in the middle of the parking lot, it all just came together and *SNAP!*, just like that, I couldn't understand why I had been so frightened of managing it!

In fact I ended up doing a lot of things that by most people's standards would be an logistic nightmare. Like taking both a two and a half year old and week old baby in a sling to a Christmas Tree Farm by myself, cutting down our tree, and getting it us all home in one piece. (I also fell down a hillside during the adventure, but that's another story). Four children later, by the time William was the newborn, I was up and carpooling when he was three days old. My point here is that after I had tackled and solved that first scary new task, I can't remember ever being really worried about how I would tackle a similar one again. Not that it wasn't sometimes challenging to do so, but after that I never didn't feel up to the job.

I think this trip anxiety is like that. As soon as we are on the road/in the sky/on the train, we'll figure it out and we'll probably have a good time doing it. It's just getting past that first challenge.

The other thing is that although I'm an adventurer, I am most comfortable with the security of my own transportation. Even more then that, I like to be the one driving the transportation. As long as I've got my car, I'm good to go. I've only rarely had to go off on an adventure without my mechanical security blanket and the few times I have I've had to tell myself, in a stern voice, to think of it as challenge to my need to be in such control of everything. Generally, once I was on my way, I was fine with my carless situation, but I know it's one of the main reasons why I'm feeling nervous now.

In fact, I'm feeling much better about things this evening. I went out to run some errands today, tour books and brochures in hand. I stopped at a favorite coffee shop and over soup and salad, sat for several hours and read the tour guide. It's so cool! They have, like, suggestions in those things! And tips! And advice! Whodathunk!!? I came home and told William all about this incredible discovery and he looked at me and smiled, like a parent does when a small child gets excited about something like riding on an elevator or successfully tying their shoelace or learning to open a combination lock. Apparently he'd been reading the tour guide for months. In fact I knew he had been reading it for months. It just hadn't registered that he had understood or retained any of the information in it. Uhm, I think I have to upgrade my age assessment on this "child". Blush.

So, I'm gonna keep reading the tour book, a little bit here, a little bit there, for the next ten days. And I'm gonna break in my new tennis shoes. And my new sandals. And my new capris. And reserve a B & B for our first night on the other side of the pond. And make lists. And.....

Oooooh! I think I'm getting excited again!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Called on account of rain

Well, my planting and weeding plans will have to wait for another day. In the middle of the night I could hear the rain on the roof and it's been a steady drizzle ever since. Not that I'm complaining. It's rain and not snow. (although the clouds opened up a bit about an hour ago and I think it is snow just a few hundred feet up the "hill"). And I noticed that the leaves on the rose bushes are now visible from across the yard. It's amazing how fast things can grow once they get started. If it wasn't for this head cold, I might have even gone out in the rain to plant anyway. But it's not quite that warm and I'm not quite that well. So, maybe tomorrow.

Instead hubby and I went out for a late breakfast. We found a window seat looking out onto Main Street and watched the rain coming down, the clouds play magician with the mountains (now you see them, now you don't), the cars and people sloshing by. It was warm and cozy in the restaurant and the waitress said she'd missed us this last couple of weeks and she kept hubby's coffee cup filled to the brim, which always makes him happy.

Now he's off to work and I need to find something to do inside. I'm thinking maybe I'll make a start on sorting out my bookshelves. I've been finding it increasingly difficult lately to select a new book to read whenever I finish one. In part I think it's because I've fallen so behind on sorting out new additions that I no longer quite know what my choices are.

It used to be that I had one shelf that was the "new book arrival shelf" - I'd pile books there and then sort them into the existing shelves as time permitted. They would be separated into mystery, fantasy, urban fantasy, literature, "women's lit" (think Oprah books), and non-fiction and then the fiction was further organized within their categories alphabetically. But the shelves got full and I got lazy or distracted, it became overwhelming, and I stopped sorting things some time last fall. Instead of a little project it was suddenly a BIG project.

So, I might do that.

Or, I might sort, categorize, and burn CD's in my iTune files. I've uploaded a bunch of music, from my CD collection, from new downloads, from the kids' collections. I've mixed a bunch of them up into assorted compilations. But now my iTunes is full and it won't let me add anything new until I get rid of some of what's already in there. The problem is I don't remember what I've already burned and what's waiting for that step. Plus I don't know what William wants to do with the stuff he's got in there. Too, some of the CD's I've been using are now scratched and I probably should burn new copies before I dump the files in the trash. So, another project that needs an afternoon.

Of course there's always the option of simply making a pot of tea and curling up on the couch with a good book. I haven't done that in...... I can't remember the last time I allowed myself the luxury. I have started to read during the day again though, which is nice.

I used to read two books at a time. One with William, mostly during the day, and then another one just for me which was my bedtime read. There might be a nonfiction and/or some magazines sitting around that I'd occasionally pick up as well, but there was always those two reading books going on simultaneously. Then William started reading on his own and I dropped the daytime book and only read one novel at a time.

About a month ago I decided to "assign" William a reading book (he usually picks his own reading material) and to sweeten the pot I offered to reread it along with him. Not together, but at the same time. We both read it during the day, our two separate bookmarks bumping along next to each other first one ahead, then the other, like those mechanical racing horse games at the fair's midway carnival.

We finished it, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, a few days ago. It was so lovely to have an excuse to read during the day that now I think I'd like to continue. Maybe we'll work our way through a few more classics before it's time to finally hand him over to the public school system this fall. I think William enjoyed being forced out his usual genre as well, as he chose another atypical pick for himself as his currrent read - Jack London's Call of the Wild. It's lovely, by the way, to hear him comment "This is considered a classic? It's an awfully short and easy book!" This from the kid who didn't really read on his own until he was 12, his usual selections now are usually long epics with lots of "big" words.

A few weeks ago I got it in my head to read the Jane Austen novel that is now a movie with Keira Knightley. I like to read the book before the movie, always, and besides my friend Deb went on and on about how much she loved Austen, so I figured I'd give her a shot. I was excited when I found the book at the thrift store. It's been hard to find time to read with all the excitement and travel this last week or so, but I did get started on it. I was a bit confused at the story line, it wasn't what I had expected. Shortly after that was when I took a second look at the little label across the top righthand corner of the cover and realized it read "Now a major motion picture staring Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant". Uhm, what? I wasn't reading Pride and Prejudice, I was reading Sense and Sensibility! Right author, wrong book. Oops.

But here's the reason I brought the whole thing up (other then the fun of showing everyone how dumb I can be at times) - although I'm enjoying the book, I don't want to give up on it, I'm finding it a bit too wordy (it was written over 200 years ago!) to read through the stuffy head and the late night mind fog present at my usual reading time, which is about one o'clock in the morning. So, I made a decision. I pulled a cozy mystery out of the pile and started on that last night. Much easier read. And I'm planning on saving Jane Austen's more elaborate wording for day time reading when my brain is working at a much higher power level.

Now that I've rambled on about rain and books and things I might do today, perhaps I'll go do one of them. After I take Rosie outside, that is. She's whining at the door. Of course, she's forgotten that it's rainy outside and when her little chihuahua paws hit the wet grass she's gonna decide she doen't have to pee that bad after all. But she won't decide that until I take her out there first.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Daffodilly Daze

Yesterday we mowed the lawn. "We" in the sense that I said "We need to mow the lawn" and my husband got the mower out of the garage and mowed.

Today I wandered around and took pictures of all the different daffodils and narcissis that have bloomed. Between the daffodils, forsythia, and dandelions, the entire yard looks like it's got splashes of yellow paint dropped on it.

I don't remember planting all these different varieties, nor do I recall there ever being as many daffodils as there are this year. Not that I'm complaining, mind you! There's also a small cluster of three early orange tulips, grape hyacinth hiding under the still mostly branchy shrubs, violets in the shade of the house.

Everything from the roses to the maple tree has teensy, tiny leaves appearing!!! You have to get your nose right up there almost in the plant to see them, but that's okay - it's enough just to know they've returned and soon I'll look up and see dappled greens of filtered sun above my head. Happy sigh.

The perennials are coming back - green clumps and shoots erupting out of the middle of the old straw colored remnants of last year's growth. Between travel and sickness and cold, snowy weather, I'm way way behind on cutting back the old garden to make way for the new. Usually I'd be stressed about the extra work it would take to work around the new shoots and leaves, but this year I am just so happy to see it finally arrive, whether I'm ready for it or not, that I don't care.

I went out to the shed, gathered up all the old packets of seeds, and sorted them out to see what I had and what I need to buy. I'm out of most everything for the first early spring planting - carrots, radishes, peas. I've got plenty lettuces and greens though.

I think I'll run out to the store tonight and get what I need so I'll be ready tomorrow to go out in the garden and start the magic of weeding and planting.

Spring is always welcome, but this year in particular, it's an extra balm for my soul.

Here's my poetry contribution for the week. I found it on a website for pre-school teachers. I thought it was delightful.

Last night a fairy strayed our way
And played upon the lawn.
She danced and skipped from end to end-
Then suddenly was gone.
What frightened her, I do not know,
She dropped her purse and ran,
Leaving a wealth of golden coins
To shine when day began!
Hazel Cedarborg

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday - Week Three

This month's theme is April's Fool. What could be more perfect but to be The Fool. I might not be young, or inexperienced, but I try to keep myself open enough to experience and possibilities so that I am ready for the fool's journey again and again.

With this weekly self portrait project, William is regularly called to act as my personal photographer and I think he is fast becoming a very competent one. He studied the card and worked to get the angle just right, plus trying to keep Rosie from straying out of the image. I think he did a great job! He took a bunch of photos. Alas, unfortunately we didn't discover until we came back home that there was, once again, a smudge on the lens. I think I'll have to make a point of always checking a close up of my images before I shoot an afternoon of pictures. Some of the better shots he took were too blurred to use and this is the second time this month I've been thwarted by THE EVIL SMUDGE MONSTER!


Since we had to go up in the mountains to take the fool photos, we decided to make a day of it and drive around Lake Almanor and have lunch. This is the second day, finally, of spring temperatures and so we wanted to be out in the warm weather. The snow is disappearing fast.
We stopped in the park at Clear Creek to play and walk out over the water.

"Mom, come play with me."

Clear Creek originates in a natural spring, which wells up and makes a beautiful and crystal clear pond before burbling off to join Lake Almanor just a half mile or so down the slope. The community itself is one of those "blink and you miss it" sized villages, and because it was so small, a few years ago state representatives down in southern California decided it was only fair to pipe up this wonderful source of clean water and send it down to them. Since there was so many more of them (southern Californians) then of us (northern Calfornians). Uhm, yeah, I don't think so!!! Why don't they get a clue and, DUH, stop building in an area that can't support that large of a population! And no, it's not just sitting around up here unused. Along with a few hundred human people who live on or near this spring, there's also a whole slew of ducks, birds, fish, geese, pelicans, otters, beavers, deer, fish, frogs, turtles, dragonflies....... and hundreds of other type of animal peoples depending on this water source.

Here's William using the opportunity to do something "dangerous". The only real risk is that he would have had to go to lunch sopping wet.

There's only one bird in this photo (can you find it?), but it was a birder's paradise. There were a half dozen mating pairs of some very odd duck I've never seen up here before - the males was black and white, like they were dressed up for a fancy summer luncheon at the golf club, the females were a more practical camouflage brown. There were several very noisy pairs of Canadian geese. Dozens of smaller birds fluttering in and out of the water hugging bushes, singing and flitting from branch to branch. Best of all was the pelican that kept flying overhead with long strands of dried plant material, landing in the top of a tall fir where she was building a nest. Bird love was definitely in the air.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A few things that fly

Remember those geese I was waxing on about about a week ago? The ones that filled the sky, but when I tried to show you a photo of them, well, it looked as dramatic as if I'd dropped a bit of black pepper in the image for all you could see them. Now that I've shared the baby photos, and I'm coming down out of the birth bliss and just plain ol' exhaustion from that event, I want to tell you about the geese again. On my way out of town to the birth last Thursday, I was driving by Honey Lake, the sun about to set, just skimming the top of the mountains behind me, when I glanced over at the lake and saw this (click to enlarge the picture):

Well, this and MORE. The geese I had heard honking high in the sky the week before had all settled down between the highway and the water's edge in some fields. Many fields. I tried to take a panoramic shot to show you just how far the geese stretched - it took five photos put end to end to get them all in one image. Alas, it's too long to fit on the blog without the geese being reduced into a long white line with no geese-ness left to it. But just imagine five of the above pics stretched end to end. These photos still don't capture the experience, but at least it's an improvement over my first pictures of invisible geese. Here's another pic towards the other end of the.... flock? I'd call it more a Woodstock of birds:

I don't know what kind of geese they are. They weren't Canadian Geese. I'm guessing they're a type of Snow Geese. Almost all white, with varying bits of black or gray on the edge of their wings. And one more photo, of what it looked like across the highway, the sun setting behind the mountains. I just thought it was pretty.

The next flying thing I want to share is a gift from my friend Kathy. She's probably my oldest friend - not old. Well, she is old. Older then me at least. But I mean I've known her forever. We both have 23 year old children and we met just as were both considering the idea of a getting pregnant. She said she went into this store, saw it, and knew she had to buy it for me. She knows I collect witch figurines. Isn't it exactly wondrously perfect!?! I think I'll slip the photo I have of her and I standing in front of the Orpheum Theatre when we went to San Francisco to see Wicked.

This last flying this well, it's not a flying thing. Although it is shaped vaguely like an aboriginal boomerang, doncha think? If you squinch your eyes up, cross them, and use your imagination? Okay, well, if I threw it at you, it would be flying, right!?

I found it at a local antique/junk shop while checking in, which I do periodically, for a nice old breakfront. This is a piece of funky, kitschy hand painted driftwood that I'm sure was originally a gift from one friend to another. I just liked it. It had a $1 sticker on it, marked down to 50 cents that day. I have no idea what I'm gonna do with it. I don't really want to put it on a shelf because then you won't see the cute saying painted on the bottom. Maybe I can attach it to the wall with a plate holder or something?

E is for....... and E is for Et cetera

Breaking with tradition, let's do the et ceteras first.

I promised uploaded pics of the baby. Click here for the birth (no "coming out" pics), the beautiful Miss AnaBanana, adorable grandsons playing, and assorted relatives and friends, most of whom you will have no idea who they are. But if you need a little extra sweetness in your day, grap a cuppa and enjoy.

I missed Self Portrait Tuesday. Spent some of the day trying to find a new washing machine, the rest of it feeling crappy. I caught a cold, courtesy of either my hubby or my grandsons. Wherever it came from, it's making me want to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and vegetate. Hopefully I'll come up with something foolish to contribute before the week is through.

And speaking of curling up on the couch, I did just that to watch American Idol. This week was WOW! AWESOME! DA BOMB! An entire hour of being distracted enough to feel 90% less crappy. I could review the whole crowd again, but there's really not anyone left that I don't like. Still, Ace's performance was different, eh? I liked it even though I expected him to suddenly sound like "family" with that black suit and slicked back hair. But mainly I just want to say - I HEART Taylor. I had to rewind and watch his performance three times.

Okay, running out of energy here. So let's move on to this week's WordPlay.

E is for.........

- my father's sister, my aunt, a fellow quilter, the family member everyone always said I looked most like when I was little

Eugene - Eleanor's husband (my uncle) and my father's middle name

England - fifteen more days until we leave for our trip to this ancient isle

education - my views on education are decidedly off center. I think one should never confuse the idea of schooling with the idea of education. They might be the same thing, but not necessarily. One can have a lot of schooling and very little education or conversely, very little schooling and a very broad education. I've got a lot of both, but I treasure my education far more then my schooling. I've homeschooled for four of my five kids (and a few other children along the way as well) for some or all of their school years. I've given all five of my children a good education. I believe it's more important to instill a love of life long learning in a child then it is to teach a child specific dates or numbers by certain ages.

earthquake - I live in California, I've felt a few.

El Centro - lived there for, thankfully, a very short time. Temperatures that rarely dip below triple digits, humidity at 80% or higher, winds off the Sonoran desert that felt like being blasted from an open furnace, white flies to breath in with every breath, less charm then many third world countries and only slightly more amenities. I know why we had to live there temporarily, but I truly question why anyone would live there on purpose.

eccentric - I've been called this. When I was younger I used to protest the label but now that I'm older, I take it as a high compliment indeed.

ecology - I've been a "tree hugger" from way back when. In fact I remember in the 1980's when being environmentally aware was out of fashion. I sometimes felt like the only one I knew who still cared about things like organic gardening, recycling, air quality, etc. I'm glad it finally came back into the general consciousness but it sometimes annoys me when people act like it's all new information.

editor - I'm very good at editing

eggplant - one of my favorite veggies. Eggplant parmesan on a crusty sourdough bun. YUM!

eight - for some reason this was my favorite number growing up. If you asked me my favorite number nowadays, I'd say "Nine", but eight would be a close second.

elderberry - I love MOnty PytHoN!

eldest- that's me. The oldest daughter. Responsible. Bossy. Little Miss Know-it-all.

enough - I don't want a lot, I just want enough

elements - I think you can probably learn anything you seek to know by using earth, air, fire, and water as your teachers.

enthusiasm - If you're gonna do something, why not do it with ENTHUSIAM!!!!

elves - I love magical creatures, archetypes for all those things we can only understand by first catching sight of them out of the corner of our eye. And I would soooo love to visit Rivendell or Lothlorien. (Please don't spoil it and tell me those places don't truly exist. If so, I don't want to know.)

ephemeral - morning dew, spiderwebs, smiles, falling stars, moments of bliss, rainbows, sandcastles - some of the most beautiful things in the world are the most fleeting.

empress - when I was first learning Tarot, I always wanted The Empress to show up in my readings. I loved her card, I thought she was lush and fertile and I wanted to be just like her. No matter how much I wished it though, she only made a few rare appearances. Now that I'm older, I totally understand why she wasn't around much when I was younger. She finally did show up in my life in a big and unexpected way about ten years ago. We visited the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Later, looking at photos we had taken, one shot was of me standing in front of a beautiful old building, The Empress Hotel. The photo showed me standing there with the words "The Empress" directly above my head. Even then, I looked at the photo a dozen times before one day I suddenly saw the picture for what it was - the card.

earth mother - when I was a young mother, I always wished I could be one. My idea of an earth mother was someone sort of voluptuous, peaceful, organic. Someone who wore hippy clothing and listened to Joan Baez and did macrame. Someone with a half dozen kids, even more pets, and able to keep houseplants not only alive but thriving. Someone who lived in a yurt and was named Laurel or Merle or Sunshine. I was none of those things. Okay, maybe the hippy clothes and the organic, but I wasn't pure about it or anything so it didn't count. Ironically in my 30's and 40's I was often referred to by others as an "earth mother type", which always made me laugh and wonder at their interpretation of the title.

enlightenment - I'm trying!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Here's what a proud Grammy looks like.

And with no further ado, here's what a wee little Anastasia looks like! (I spelled her name wrong in my first announcement.) Here she's in Grampa's arms. He insisted on unwrapping her. She liked being a burrito baby, but put up with the finger and toe inspection for a few minutes. She has huge feet (the little feet images didn't fit in the space for them on the hospital certificate!) and really long delicate fingers.

Here's her brother Joshua saying hello for the first time.

And here's brother Garret meeting her.

Although, if the truth be told, the boys were far more interested in the fact that Grampa, Grammy, and Uncle William were in the room. And balloons. Or, as Joshua calls them - "balalaloos". Or as Garret calls them - "foo-bah!" (William gave him a little, soft football as a gift and now anything round or oval shaped - balls, balloons, Easter Eggs - is a "foo-bah")

Here's the happy (mostly, Garret was unhappy we wouldn't let him down off the bed) family.

One more picture of the birthday girl. See, she's dressed in pink - she's a girl. See! She has eyeballs!

Later, at home...... Noel laid Anastasia on the quilt I made for her for a photo op. Then she wrapped her up in it. Joshua ran to his room and got his Grammy Quilt, spread it out on the floor and laid on it so we could take his picture too. Of course, guess who else wanted to be wrapped up. So, we made Joshua and Anastasia burritos. And the quilt they're both laying on is one I made too, for Noel for her high school graduation.

I'll put more pictures up in an online photo album, just in case you need need more "ahhhs" and "ohhhhhs". I'll give you a heads up when I get around to it. But first things first. I have to go buy a new washing machine now. After twenty eight long years, my old one finally gave up the ghost.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Grammy checks in

Last night I wanted to post a quick announcement of my granddaughter's happy arrival, but exhaustion made me stare at the computer and wonder "How does the keyboard work again?" So I went to sleep instead. A wise choice.

This morning I'm rested, showered, and on my way to run some errands and back to the hospital. Jeff and William are coming down to see baby Anastacia this afternoon. I want to write all about it but my brain is still running on a sub-literate level. It's just humming and twitching my face into smiles at the memory of that sweet (and clearly expressive) little face.

Think caveman thoughts:

"Baby - cute. Heart, Heart, Heart."

"Drive. Coffee good. Turn right."

"Pink little face. Frown so cute. Heart. Heart."

"Parking space."

"Laume happy."

So, I'll be down here for a few more days and perhaps you'll get a more truly informative and entertaining post out of me when I get back home.

And photos. LOTS of photos.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Life, death, and Poetry Thursday

I've never gotten around to officially joining Poetry Thursday, but every Thursday I read the poems on other people's blogs and think of one I'd like to share.

Today I'm finishing up necessary tasks. The taxes (blech!), which I just this very moment finished (whew!). I can't do laundry because the machine is broken. Repairman has been called and is due tomorrow morning. I'm cleaning house a bit and uploading some photos for blog drafts, on the unlikely chance that I'll have an opportunity to get online while I'm gone. And soon I'll be making a list of things-to-bring and packing (for the umpteenth time this year) in order to go down to Sacramento to be with Noel for the birth of her daughter. Doctors are planning on inducing her early tomorrow morning to avoid issues with pregnancy induced hypertension, a nasty complication that has been creeping up on her all this last week.

So, yes, that's what I've been doing. On a mundane level. On an emotional level I'm working on much more challenging tasks. My dreams last night were complex. I can't remember them well except that something frightening happened that made me scream and wake myself up this morning. I've been so busy these last few months (more like last few years!) that I've put off thinking about the idea of a new person coming into my life, but that's exactly what is about to happen. Someone who is tiny and new and who will be intensely loved and important to me is about to be born. And I will have the honor of being one of the first people there to welcome her upon her arrival.

I've also been trying to put off thinking of the people I love who were once in my life and have now physically left, but I've been less successful at keeping these thoughts away. The fourth anniversary of Joshua's death is coming up next week and it had occurred to me a few weeks back that this new baby could even be born on that date, something that we'd all deal with if we had to, but obviously something we'd rather avoid. For this reason and others, I'll admit to being relieved that Mother Nature is going to be helped in the "scheduling" of this birth.

Now that the birth is eminent, both trains of thought are weaving themselves around each other in my mind. Birth and death, blessings and loss. How they are two sides of the same coin. How they hold each other in check. Added to that, spending last weekend at the ocean tickled the many memories our family share of walking the shore, building sand castles, contemplating our lives and our connections within it. All jumbled together I feel joy, awe, sadness, confusion, wonder - one after another or in an unexplainable blend.

This isn't going to end with some sort of ephiphany or wise summing up on the yin/yang of life. I haven't reached any conclusions. The thoughts are all just rolling in, rising up to the surface of awareness like a wave rises up when it reaches the shore, and then finally spills over against the sand, perhaps leaving some new thoughts above the water's reach, perhaps pulling some older thoughts back down. The only thing I can safely say I understand is that all I'm seeing and feeling are the small edges of the thing, the glimmers and clues that wash up against my consciousness, while the bulk of the mystery is down there beneath the waves, deep and unlimited, both frightening and compelling at the same time.

I don't know if it - the nature of life, the duality of experience - is really knowable. Nor do I think I really need or want to know. I guess what I really want is simply to touch it now and then. I've always felt comforted at the ocean. I feel a presence there of something, someone, so much greater than myself that my life and it's problems seem both inconsequential and compassionately understood in the same breath. I feel the aliveness of not just my body, the birds, the plant, but also the water and the cliffs and the air. I hear the breath and the blood of the planet at it's most elemental level. I feel Gaia.

At the beach I don't feel the need to be in charge. I can simply exist and know that is enough. I like to bundle up against the wind and walk along the shore and feel part of it, from the most ethereal, unprovable thought in my mind to the salt water that flows back and forth through the membranes of the cells in my body. In moments like these I experience oneness with the greater Mother in a way similar to the way a child feels in the womb of his or her mother. In the way my granddaughter now feels held in the sway and rhythm of my daughter's body for just the briefest moment longer.

So, back to poetry, which is, after all, at least for me, more useful as an emotional experience then an intellectual one. It seems the most effective poems make you feel something even if you don't, on first read, understand why.

The year we lost custody of Joshua and Noel, we drove back up the Pacific Coast on our way to drop them off twelve hours away for the school year with their mother. (Noel is my technically my stepdaughter) It was a difficult trip for all of us. I remember Noel cried nonstop for the first two plus hours of the drive. I didn't say much. It felt like if I had tried, the words would have stuck in my throat and suffocated me. Later in the afternoon we stopped for the kids to play on a beach. As we drove off again, me at the wheel, this poem came to me suddenly, complete, and desperate to be written. I pulled over to the side of the highway and asked Jeff to drive so I could write it down.

A Daughter

A moment ago
she was a girl

chasing brothers along the sand
In a blink of tomorrows
a woman will appear.

But just now

she has vanished.
All that is left,

scattered boys

bent in search of
the perfect
I hear a call - Mom!
Looking up,
a mermaid sits

on the rocks above.
Her hair wraps round

a small face,

golden seaweed

afloat on the wind.

She waves at me and smiles.

It is
Persephone’s smile.

Mom October 15, 1994

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

D is for......

After last week's C List, aka The Neverending List, D is a far more reasonable length. Thank goodness! With no further ado, the D List:

Demeter - the mother archetype, one of the first Goddesses I came to understand and identify with

dreaming - I've always been fascinated with it. For many years I even kept a dream journal

diary - I've kept a diary since I could first write, later of course I called it a journal, nowadays I call it a blog. Since my birthday is in the beginning of January, as a child I often got a new diary as a gift. The first diary I have is a Barbie diary with a shiny "patent leather" (really it was plastic) black cover. My entries were the same almost every day "Went to school. Came home. Got mad at parents." Sometimes I just got mad at one parent. On one occasion I wrote about a car accident I was in. It got equal billing that day with "Got mad at parents." As a teenager I wrote long, incredibly angst filled posts about my life that would embarrass me now if they weren't so boring that I can't read them for more then five minutes without nodding off. I find I'm much more interesting when I'm talking to an audience bigger then myself.

dimes - I won't explain this one except to say, thank you Joshua

dust bunny - I was once attacked by one. In my defense, it was a rather large dust bunny.

driftwood - love to find interesting pieces on the beach and drag them home

Denver, John - oh, I was such a huge fan. Went to see him in concert three times. I was angry at him for divorcing his wife (or her divorcing him) and really didn't enjoy him for a long time after that. I finally forgave him, and missed him when the culture no longer found they neededd his folk wisdom and he tried unsuccessfully to adapt to changing times. His music captured a generation and I can go back to those times with just one of his heartfelt songs.

drill team - I was on it in high school. We were really good. We won the Western United States Drill Team Championship.

Dove Lane - I lived on this street for a large part of my childhood. At least as long as I lived anywhere as a kid. We moved around a lot after my parent's divorce.

divorce - speaking of my parent's divorce..... it's something I wish hadn't happened, it saddens me to think of all the time I lost with my father as a result of it, it caused my mother a lot of hardship and detours in her life, but still in a deep way, I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't experienced it.

ducks - really more of a Joseph word then my word, but as my firstborn - he was me and I was him when he was a wee thing - and he loved ducks.

Deirdre - my friend and my personal shopper

Deb - writes my favorite blog

domestic - you wouldn't know it to look at my life now, but I've always been somewhat of a Suzy Homemaker type. Granted, tweaked to be a bit unique, but domestic nontheless

dance - took ballet and tap as a child, but mostly I included this word because dancing, just plain ol' boogeying, feels sooooo damn good. Shake out the sillies, swing out the stress, stomp out the storm

Dogma - love the movie, dislike it in it's uncapitalized, general form

diversity - gotta have it, whether it be in food, friends, or experiences

dentist - I love my dentist now but for twenty five years I had a dental phobia. Still feel like hyperventilating at the thought of a trip to the dentist, but at least now I'm okay when I finally get in the chair

desert - I'm more of a green landscape type, but every once in a while the desert calls to me. I've spent a considerable amount of time in them and appreciate their secrets.

deaf - I have some hearing loss, can't hear at all at certain high pitches.

dairy - spent most of my free time one childhood year wandering around a dairy farm near my home.

DeGrazia - one of the first artists who's work I recognized and loved. My grandmother had an original DeGrazia....hmmm, I wonder what ever happened to it?

dragonfly - always been fascinated by the bright colored, buzzing little creatures racing above the water or through the garden

DeLint - a favorite author, he is probably the "father" of my favorite genre, urban fantasy

death - I have a mild obsession with it - as an spiritual experience, as a cultural fear, the archetype of transition. I don't dwell on it and I'm certainly in no hurry to experience it personally, but I'm more aware of it then most folks I suppose, more comfortable with it - watching how others treat it, avoid discussing it, pretend it doesn't exist. Not just their own personal death, or the death of loved ones, but simply the beginning and endings of anything, whether it be the "death" of a garden, a season, an idea, a dream.... if something ends, "dies", then what takes it's place? There is no vacuum in life. Therefore a death also is the birth of something new, a beginning of something else.

decaf - I'm not a total decaf drinker. I take the black stuff with the buzz as well, but I usually keep it to one or two shots of caffeine a day, then switch back to decaf. It keeps me from twitching

deadlines - I'll just use that old joke about them. "I love deadlines. I love the wooshing sound they make as they go zipping by."

dawdling - I'm rather fond of this sort of escapism. Probably explains how I can so often miss the D word listed just above this one.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Down by the Bay, where the watermelons grow.....

Well, I don't know about watermelons, but around Santa Cruz and Monterey they sure do grow a lot of artichokes and other delicious foods.

I had such a great time on my extended weekend getaway. The first day, Thursday, didn't quite go as planned, I got off to a late start and made it worse by stopping and shopping on the way over the mountains, but it was a good thing because I found a couple baby slings for Noel and some great gently used clothes for the family, as well as a bunch of cool old upholstery fabrics and some pillows. I stopped to see my very pregnant and very exhausted daughter and only had a little time to visit. I spent the entire time on the floor playing with my grandsons and letting the very grateful daughter sit for a while. I didn't have time or extra hands to take photo this visit.

Thursday evening was spent at my friend Kathy's for the night, playing dress up and relaxing in her hot tub. I already posted pictures of our fun in my last post.

Friday morning I picked my friends Deirdre and Timi up at the airport and took them, at their request, to The Winchester Mystery House. Yes. They've never been to the Pacific Northwest and when I asked them what they wanted to do, this was the only thing on their list. Forget the redwoods, San Francisco, or ocean views. In 30 plus years of living in California, I've never managed to go to it myself. I'd heard opinions from "boring" to "great", so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was actually fun.

Apparently Mrs. Winchester was enamored of spider web designs. I really liked this window.

You can't tell in the photo but, by the time we got to this part of the tour it was pouring rain. Deirdre and I were the only ones to brave the elements and go out on this balcony to take a couple quick shots. This photo looks out over only about a quarter of the house.

It would have been even more fun if I hadn't gotten a frantic call from my daughter just after they'd locked the door behind us for the tour and right before we were asked to turn off our phones. Her doctor had called her worried about her blood pressure readings and wanted her to go to the hospital immediately for some stress tests. She was in the middle of a huge panic attack. Since I couldn't very well wander off and and leave my friends stranded in a spooky house in San Jose thousands of miles away from home with no car, I told her to do what the doctor said and I'd call her back in a couple of hours. I did a good but not perfect job of tuning out the mommy worries, and enjoyed the tour as much as possible. By the time I called her again she had calmed down, had everything under control and had been told to go home and put herself on bedrest. With her husband working out of town and two children under two, she told them that was NOT gonna happen. They told her to sit on the couch and be as inactive as womanly possible.

That evening we drove down to Santa Cruz and were met by another quilting friend, Julie, and her son, the five of us went to yet another friend's opening night for a play for which he was the set director. The set design was really neat, the play was enjoyable, although by this time Deirdre and Timi had not slept for about 36 hours. Time to go to the hotel and get some shut eye.

Next morning our friend Cindy met us and we went to a nearby state park to walk in a redwood forest. It was a first for the two East Coasters.

From L to R: Laume, Cindy, Timi, Deirdre

This pose was pretty much how Deirdre spent 80% of her time. She's the first person I've ever met who takes as many photos as me.

In the gift shop after our walk I spied some banana slug magnets. "Oh!" I exclaimed to Cindy. "We didn't get to see any banana slugs! Too bad." Deirdre and Timi came over to see what we were talking about, asking if they were really that color, really that big, etc. Deirdre said it it was a good thing we hadn't seen any! I suspect she's not a nature girl.

The weather was supposed to be cloudy and rainy all weekend, but we ended up having a lovely sunny break all Saturday afternoon and a bunch of us all met for a long lunch out on the deck of a restaurant overlooking the Monterey Bay in Capitola. It was so warm and sunny I got sunburned, unfortunately just on one arm and one side of my face.

Clockwise from the redhead: Timi, Deirdre, Red Deer, Owen, Julie, Jay, Cindy

Here is Cindy and I sharing a little umbrella hat. Don't we look lovely?

After wandering around the shops for a bit, Deirdre, Timi, and I drove down to Monterey and checked into our next hotel before going to Cannery Row to wander, shop some more, walk along the harbor, and eat out at another nice restaurant overlooking the water and lights of Monterey Bay. I ordered cioppino (something I love but never make at home because it's too expensive to make when I'm the only one who will eat it) and happily cracked crab legs and scooped mussels and dipped sourdough in the delicious tomato fennel broth until I couldn't take another bite.

Sunday, Cindy drove down with her two very sweet (and tiny - I forgot how tiny kids can be!) children and we all went to The Monterey Bay Aquarium. This was the only place in the area I had actually gone to before and upon reflection I realized that had been about 16 years ago and William hadn't even been born yet. It was as amazing as I remembered it to be, even more so as it's grown and has a lot more exhibits now. I'm determined to go back this summer, probably on the way down or back from San Diego to visit Joe and Lisa, so William can see it. My favorites were the otters and the kelp beds, a very close third being all the amazing jelly fish. If I say anything else about it, it will double the size of this post, so just suffice it to say if you ever get the chance - GO!

The otters had lots of toys. This little guy kept banging this colorful "starfish" on the side of the tank, like a toddler banging a spoon on his high chair tray. It's a natural behavior for them, as they bang their hard shelled food in order to eat the soft insides.

I could have sat for hours and watched the two-story high, kelp forest aquarium swaying back and forth.

There were dozens of different kinds of jelly fish, as well as an accompanying "jelly fish inspired" art show, including some Chihuly glass pieces and a wall of lava lamps (Groovy, man!).

Deirdre and Timi had flown in early to spend time visiting, but their primary reason for coming to California was to go to an art quilt retreat at Asilomar, and check-in was Sunday afternoon. By the time we got out of the aquarium, I could tell they were anxious to get there, get their rooms, and start the next phase of their vacation. The short trip down the coast to the retreat center was stunningly beautiful and after I dropped them off safely (in the rain), I spent an hour or so stopping on the beaches (in the rain) and taking photos. I didn't find out until I got home that at some point about midway through the trip I had some sort of oil on part of my camera lens, so my photos, although not entirely ruined, came out a big "smudged".

Here's just a sample of the beach, lazy sea lions on the rocks above the salt water. Sounds sort of like a recipe for an alcoholic beverage. It turns out they don't have sea lions on the east coast either. Nor do they have kelp. I did not know that!

That evening I drove back as far as Kathy's house and since she was on vacation, we stayed up gabbing late into the night. In the morning we relaxed some more over an IHOP breakfast and then I got on my way as the weather started to turn wet again. I drove with a storm at my heels east across the valley only to catch up with another storm already dumping rain and snow all over the mountains. Fortunately it wasn't sticking and so I still made decent time although it's never fun to worry about chain control. Once I made it safely over the mountains, I stopped in Reno at a warehouse textile place and bought pillow inserts and upholstery fabric to make cushions for my new red rocking chair, as well as some adorable flannels to make receiving blanket for grandchild #4, who is due at the end of this year.

Last but not least, I managed to get home before dark. While driving past Honey Lake about 35 minutes from home, I heard an odd noise and glanced out over the water. What I saw made me pull off the road, grab my camera, and jump out of the car. Hundreds of V's of Canadian Geese were flying out over the lake. I counted a few of the groupings and extrapolating how many V's I thought there were, decided there were over a thousand, maybe over fifteen hundred birds circling above. I took some pictures, but you can't really see the birds well. Try clicking to open up the picture and look really close at the clouds. They were visible in person but... oh well...

Still, I stood and watched until, after circling the lake three times, they flew off towards the distant shore and the sound of their honking faded away. It was......incredible.

This morning, happy to be home, I thought I'd settle in for a day of catching up on e-mail and laundry, only to spend much of the day with line men who came to repair our dead phone lines, mopping up a lake in my kitchen (twice, I'm a slow learner) before realizing my washing machine is leaking, and playing phone catch up with numerous family members. Last but not least, Noel called to say that they are so worried about her blood pressure that they have decided to induce her early Friday morning. Well, at least I can now plan! So I'll be home tomorrow and I'm off again on Thursday night to be there for the birth and immediate post partum.

I'm beginning to think I should take on a new nickname - Speedy Gonzalez? The Roadrunner? Anyone have a good suggestion?