Friday, June 30, 2006

Did I forget to mention the fire?

Yeah, just a little thing. Sheesh.

On Tuesday, was it Tuesday, I think it was Tuesday, while I was driving across Arizona in the blazing heat, mainly in the middle of nowhere, my cell phone service was sporadic at the very best. For most of the day we were without service, but folks could get through just long enough to leave messages on the phone and in slivers of satellite connection we were able to listen to them. So here's what my husband said, more or less, on a message that I managed to pick up in the early afternoon:

"Hi honey. The cats are fine. Al came over to chat this morning. I'm going to try to work some overtime tonight. Oh, and there's a forest fire over by the hospital, they're evacuating people. Love you. Bye."

I really didn't think much of it, as the hospital is now situated high on a plateau above the town in an area that's almost all chapparral and few trees between it and the town. Exciting, but probably not dangerous to the community.

Several hours later a thought suddenly popped into my head. Did he mean the new hospital or the old hospital? Because the old hospital is only a few blocks from our house and is tucked tightly in between heavily wooded mountainside to the south and west, and heavily built up housing to the north and east.

By this time we were headed towards the California border and more civilization (if you really truly consider Blythe or Quartzsite civilization) and we were getting reception about 70-80% of the time. So I tried to call my husband. No one answered.

I called my friend Shelly who did answer. And who told me that the fire, started by lightning, was in fact behind the old hospital, and it had made it's way down to lick at the fields of the junior high school that sits just kitty corner from our house, was working it's way up the ridge to the east (the one some of you might remember was on fire several years ago when we almost had to evacuate), and had jumped the road and was crawling across the fields to the southwest. Basically, it had us surrounded.

She also said that although it wasn't contained, she thought the dozens of fire trucks and five helicopters were keeping it from any buildings, including her daughter's brand new home which was just around the corner from our house.

That news both reassured me and made me more nervous at the same time.

I still couldn't get hold of my husband a half hour later so I called a friend of William's who lives about a block away and he went down to see if he could find Jeff at home or milling about with all the lookie loos stretched out along the street like a parade crowd. He called back a little while later to say Jeff's car was gone from in front of the house and that the fire was burning fences in the backyards of the houses closest to the starting point of the fire, just across the playing fields of the junior high school but also that he thought the fire was "out". Again, I was left reassured and worried.

Can you imagine driving across the desert, wondering what was going on back home, and being able to do absolutely nothing about it!? Well, it was loads of fun - NOT.

My hubby finally called me back the next morning. He'd been called in for an overtime. And went! Dozens of employees had been sent home to deal with evacuations and my husband, who's home was just twenty feet away across a teensy bit of asphalt, from where the evacuations stopped, went to work. Anyone got a good hammer I can use on his head!? He said he figured someone would call him if things got worse.

Even as late as yesterday, I could still hear the helicopters circling in the background when I talked to him on the phone. It's all out, thanks in part to some rain the other night, but there's still smoking spots and they're watching it carefully, as well as working on containing several other fires still burning in our county. Apparently the smoke is pretty bad but the weather has cooled and is helping.

Well, I'm not sure how I feel about it all. I missed all the excitement. Would it have been better to have been there to worry in person? Was it easier to not know until it was almost all over? It was certainly better not to have to breath all that smoke. (No, we got to breath the wonderful smell of cattle yards in 115 degree heat in Brawley instead - ACK, COUGH, GASP, GAG!)

I guess I'll fall back on the ol' "All's well that ends well."

Lions and Tigers and Fleas, Oh MY!

Okay, maybe no lions and tigers, unless you count my son's orange and black cats. But fleas, sigh, yes. I just figured out my poor teensy weensy dog has a big ol' buttload of fleas - literally. Joe admits she probably got them from her kitty cat cousins (er, I guess that would be kitty cat nephews) and, from the shelf full of flea medicines and shampoos in their bathroom cabinet, I suspect they're right.

But what to do, what to do!?

You'd think with all the animals we have that this sort of problem would be old hat for me but, don't hate me all you pet owners out there, we haven't had to deal with fleas for over a decade. We don't have them in Susanville. Or rather, we don't have them in our house in Susanville. I think it's too cold for them. The point is, I'm not sure how to get rid of them and I do NOT want to bring them home for the summer!

I will wash Rosie in some of the medicated shampoo the kids have here, but since it says not to repeat for two weeks, I'm gonna wait until just before we leave to do it so she won't get reinfested. I hate the idea of putting something that toxic on such a tiny dog even one time. In the meantime, I went out and bought a metal flea comb yesterday and I've been combing the little buggars off her and throwing them to their deaths over the patio railing every couple of hours. Ewwww.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm waiting for a miraculous idea.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

J is for....

Joseph - my firstborn. (well, Joshua was born first, but that's a bit complicated) When I held him in my arms, a tiny baby, my heart literally ached from loving him so much. Now he's 6'1" (he was 6'2" but lost an inch when he broke his back in a parachute jump this year) and in the Navy. Some days it takes my breath away at the thought of how quickly the years in between have flown by.

Joshua - my oldest son. My stepson, but those extra four letters (s-t-e-p) really didn't change how much I love him. All big ears and straight fly away hair and gorgeous eyes with this little mole just to one side, and a humor so dry that it would make your mouth pucker at the same time you were laughing. At 19, like a lot of 19 year olds, he thought he was invincible. He was killed in a motorcycle accident. I miss him every day.

Jeff - my goofy, sentimental, intellectual, directionally impaired, long suffering (to hear his side of things) husband. Our life has been the opposite of most folks - mainly high stress with only occasional moments of calm. It's amazing that we're still together when you think of all we've been through together, but we must be doing something right. Besides, I'm too lazy to break in a new spouse. And he still makes my coffee for me after all these years. Even if he can't remember that I don't, have never, had pierced ears. (smooch, I love you honey - I know you're reading this)

Josephine - two great ladies in my life - my paternal grandmother and my mother-in-law (now ex-MIL, but still a good friend)

Jeopardy - I love to watch this show. Does that make me a nerd?

joy - the older I get, the more I think of this experience as half of a whole. The yin-yang of pain and joy. It's a gift but also a responsibility. What, you say? A responsibility? Yep. It's our responsibility not to waste this life, this particular life, this time around the wheel. I believe that we dive in to the waters of life and it's up to us whether we sink or swim. If we don't do our part, we're a burden on others around us, and we're not very much fun to be around. So, it's our responsibility to be joyful. That doesn't mean, however, that I see it as a burden. Not at all. It's just up to us to express, let it out, create, shine. Joy is something we create for ourselves and share our overflow with others. We can't just sit around waiting for it to show up from the outside, sucking up other people's extra all the time, with no exchange or return.

January - many January birthdays - mine, my aunt, my grandmother and great aunt, several good friends, my sister

Jo - my middle name

jack-o-lanterns - Love Halloween, love everything associated with it!

jeans - I'm not a dress up sort of gal, as I'm sure I've mentioned in the past. I suspect I've spent a good percentage of my life in blue jeans.

jabberwocky - from Alice in Wonderland - the dictionary defines it as "meaningless speech or writing". When I was little my relatives often affectionately called me a jabberwocky.

just - a word I overuse in my blog. But I just can't seem to find another one that fits

Jill-of-all-Trades - the female equivalent of a Jack-of-all-Trades. I think of myself as this frustrating creature. On one hand it's great since I have an interest in everything under the sun - religion, geography, psychology, physics, linguistics..... everything is fascniating to me. (well, maybe not everything. Cars sort of bore me. I'm only interested in whether they run well and get good gas mileage - after that I can only muster up a mild interest. Yawwwn) And I can do most things I set my mind to well, or at least adequately. However I'm like a raven, always distracted by the next shiny idea or interest. So I'm good at everything, master of nothing. Sigh.

jade - I love green, so of course I like jade. I particularly like the California jade one finds in everything from sand to boulders along the coastline. Jasper is a pretty cool stone too, speaking of rocks.

jetsam - Definition: goods thrown overboard to lighten a ship in distress: such goods when washed ashore.

I like this word for several reasons. I think it's a good skill to have, to know when it's time to toss things from our life for our own good. Whether those things are ideas, people, or just plain ol' stuff, sometimes we have to know when it's necessary to let it go. Notice I didn't say it was a good skill I have, only that it's a good skill to have. I'm better at knowing when to let go of people or ideas, not so great at the letting go of stuff part, but I'm working on it.

And I like the second part of the definition too. It's an equally good skill to know how to find treasures washed up on the shore.

jigsaw puzzles - l love doing puzzles. I don't have the time to do them that often because once I start one I am obsessed with finishing it. I ignore everything - food, family, sleep - until that last puzzle piece snaps into place. My mom and daughter also love to do them so when we get together we usually think to put out a puzzle. During a particularly horrible period one summer, I got through about six weeks of deep depression by doing nothing much more then sleeping and doing jigsaw puzzles. Cheaper then drugs.

joie de vivre - I like this phrase. It comes in handy to dscribe so many different moments

jodphurs - one of my few very early memories is of feeling very, very smart looking in my camel colored jodphurs. I think I was less then two years old at the time.

johnny-jump-ups - one of my favorite flowers. It grows wherever it wants in my vegetable gardens but can't seem to keep a foothold in the flower gardens.

joiner - I used to be such a joiner! For some reason, the older I get, the less I feel the need to be a member of something. But I have a lot of wonderful memories from all the things I've done, people I've met, by jumping in and joining groups. Although, a few bad memories as well. Eh, that's just life.

journal - I've kept a journal/diary/blog/whatever, for as long as I could write

journey - I seem to take a lot of these, both the physical sort and the more abstract kind

juggle - I'm a mother of five, so I KNOW how to juggle. I often think of myself as that performer with all those plates spinning atop the tall poles. I think of myself as being as exhausted as that performer as well.

juicy - We should always be on the lookout for juicy things - whether it be a juicy peach or a juicy conversation or a juicy idea

junk - I've got a lot of it. I love it and hate it simultaneously.

Holiday Photos #7

Well, lookie what I found! A bunch of photos I'd uploaded before I left and forgot to post. Since I've been so absent here, and folks have been kind enough to keep clicking in and finding nothing new, I thought I'd finish this post and switch it from draft to publish for your viewing pleasure.

Here's a picture of me in front of St. Michael's Tower on the top of the Glastonbury Tor.

Looking the other way, here's William, graciously agreeing to carry my very heavy back pack down the other side of the Tor, and the beautiful green scenery behind him. Wow, having just driven though the American Southwest, it really look green to me now. Talk about opposite geographies.

This photo comes with a story. These are two English kindergarteners on a field trip. Behind me the rest of their class is clambering noisily, bumpily, joyfully up the hill. But these two were far ahead, holding hands, lost in their own special best friends childhood world. I turned to take this photo of William and the top of the Tor and the girls noticed my camera and without really thinking about it, automatically posed. When I was done, I pointed to William. They turned, saw him, realized i was taking a picture of him, not them, and giggling, ran off the rest of the way up the hill.

When the rest of the class and I finally crossed paths a bit further down, I commented to one of the teachers that the two girls ahead must be the "fast ones". Oh no, she corrected me. The fastest ones are down there. She pointed down to the bottom of the hill where another teacher was standing with three little boys. The teacher waved down the hilll and the other teacher gave a sign and WOOSH, like they'd been let out of the starting gate, the little boys came racing up the hill at full tilt. Ahhhh, what smart teachers!

Here's another photo that William took. The car in the front is called a Smart Car. They're all over England and Paris. Most Americans only know them now from movies like The Da Vinci Code or The Pink Panther, but they'll be available in the USA sometime soon. We knew about them because hubby loves cars and keeps up on things like this. So, William took a lot of photos of cars to show his papa. This photo also shows another of my husband's favorite cars in the background, a Mini. It's sort of strange how much my husband loves small cars when you consider that he's 6'4" tall.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Popping in from vacation

Boy oh boy, summer sure has created gaping holes in my blogging schedule. All this travel. I didn't mention I'd be out of touch when I left for Colorado because I assumed I'd only be away from computer access for a day or two at a time. Whodathunk my sister would be one of those people who can live without internet access at her home. NowI'm here at my mom's house and she has internet, in fact she finally has DSL instead of dial up. It took me years to convince them it was worth it to upgrade. But I digress. Here, we've been very busy with visiting, this is the first opportunity I've had to pop in for a quick hello.

I'm just gonna toss a few family photos your way and then get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight as I have plans quasi - early tomorrow morning and I'm still fighting off this sinus crud stuff, or rather, I'm finally getting past it, and it would be nice to have a decent night's sleep for a change.

Here's my baby sister Lisa and I. I don't suppose she looks like a baby sister to you all. I mean, notice the doctor's coat with her name on it and the ID badge hanging importantly around her neck? She's a big wig vet and university professor to a lot of people who know her. But to me, I still have trouble on occasion remembering she's a grown up. Funny, that, when you notice which one of the sisters is maturely making rabbit ears behind the other sister's head.

We had a great visit. Wish we'd had longer to visit but we had to be off to visit mom before she burned out her cell phone with all the calls to see if we were leaving yet. Sigh. But hey, it's nice to be loved.

We (William is with me although he's not in either of these photos since he was playing photographer) finally made it down to my mom and stepdad's house and very conveniently, my other sister lives only about an hour away. We got together for a few hours this afternoon and hopefully we'll spend another part of a day together before we have to start back towards California.

This is my other sister, Laurie, also younger (was there any doubt that I was the oldest, bossy one?), and our very tiny mom, Barb. Where Lisa and I look more like my dad, Laurie looks more like my mom. Funny though, I see a lot of my sister Laurie in William's features. Genetics is a strange and wonderful thing.

Okay, gotta get myself off to bed. Later, gators.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Holiday Photos #6

Wow, three posts in one day. You guys really scored! Oh, and another one over on Laumes Studio, so make that four. Listen to me - so humble. So unassuming. So let's upload those photos....

Here are some large views of the ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey. I put some closer shots of the ruins up today on my studio blog, as well as discussing the history for a sentence or two. What I didn't take a shot of was the wider sweeping lawns that stretched out beyond the main ruins. It would have been a nice place to simply wander and picnic and enjoy. William was restless (and much happier later in the day when we were doing something active) so we didn't stay as long as I would have liked.

Catch the building with the octagonal roof in the background in the photo below. That was the kitchen, and there's a photo of me further down inside it. The few little figures you can also see in the background were a school group, about William's age, playing football. That is, soccer. It made me wish the kids were 7 instead of 14 so I could have asked if William could join their game. Although they spoke French, so that might have been a problem. Nah, not if they had been 7.

Here I am by a marker that says that this spot is said to be the grave of King Arthur. Gueneviere is also said to be buried somewhere nearby. Since the Arthurian Legends are legends, I found it interesting that they would lay claim to it, mixing history and myth without much concern for which was which in some cases. I liked the historians better for the feeling that they wanted it to be true. And I suspect, there is probably history, the real details lost but the truth of the story remembered, back at the beginning somewhere.

Here I am inside the old kitchen. Sort of a dark image. You can click on it to make it bigger. I was pretending to stir the cauldron. All I managed to do was lose my balance and fall over a few seconds after William snapped this picture. To the left, you can just get the teensiest glimpse of it, there was a large table on which was spread examples of foods that were prepared and eaten in days gone by. Someone had added a candy bar, still in it's bright paper wrapper, to one of the bowls.

In England, there are "walls" everywhere. I snapped this photo to remind me of the three types of walls or fences - the wattle fence, the stone wall, and the hedgerow. Later in our trip we were visiting the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. There was another crown there, the result of a recent contest amongst school children to come up with a new crown that exemplified all that was unique and good about the UK. The young girl who won the contest is shown in a photo of herself wearing a crown of "weeds", to represent the English hedgerow. Under glass was a metal crown sculpted of the various plants found growing there. I'm not English but it was so touching, it brought tears to my eyes.

The ABC's of Me

Since my brain is a bit short circuited, what with being pickled in all those summer cold germs, I don't want to have to think too hard. A good day to tag myself for Deb's latest Meme.

"The ABCs of Me"

Accent - Originally I had a Midwestern accent - "doncha know" - a little bit Prairie Home Companion Minnesotan and a little bit Wisconsin, close to Chic-Aaaa-go. Then my mom dragged us to New Mexico where my new high school sophomore friends took great delight in asking me to say "two" over and over while laughing hysterically at how funny I sounded. In New Mexico lost a lot of the Midwest and picked up a bit of the Spanish accent all my Mexican friends' parents had (but for some odd reason, my friends themselves did not) and a little bit of the Tex Mex cowboy drawl. At eighteen I came out to California where I believe I've mainly morphed into a "California" accent, meaning, the way the folks on the television talk.

Only I know that's not true, everyone has an accent, we just can't hear our own, usually. I found it interesting how many people in the UK couldn't tell the difference between a Canadian, an American, and an Australian accent. I can see the Canadian/American thing, it can be very subtle (although I can pick it up if I listen long enough), but Australian!? How can you NOT hear that!

I pick up and drop accents as easily and often as I change clothes. I think that's why I didn't pick up a really lasting accent overseas, because we changed accents every few days - folks in southern England don't sound the same as those in Wales and or those in London or those in the north and definitely not like the Scots and duh, people in Paris had a French accent. Well, they spoke French, but when they spoke English, of course it was with an accent. I'd pick up a word or sound or two and then we'd move on and the rules changed. The odd thing is that as easily as I pick up accents, I have a terrible time trying to recreate them when I'm not around them.

Booze - Wine or mead is nice with a heavy meal, Italian always seems to call for a small glass of wine. I love the taste of margaritas, but don't really have a lot of opportunities when I can drink (because I'm so small, if I drink, I can't drive, at all - and if I'm the only parent home, then I need to be able to drive if necessary). So I only have one about 3-4 times a year, if that. I've been known to dribble a bit of creme de menth or kahlua in my coffee or over my ice cream. That's about it. I'm not much of a drinker.

Chore I hate - Anything that's someone else's mess that I end up responsible for. Cleaning up dog poop or cat litter isn't a lot of fun either.

Dog/cat - 2 dogs (one big and old and silly, one teensy and the princess of the world), 13 cats (who I'm enjoying a lot more now that we're letting them be indoor/outdoor cats) and no bunnies (my bunny died while I was on holiday last month)

Essential electronics - from most important to least - digital camera, computer, cell phone, DVD and VHS players. Not on the list at all - alarm clock.

Favorite perfume - I'm with Deb on this one -Freshly-washed bare skin. I like musk, and vanilla. And I have this perfume I bought at Hot Topic years ago that I really love. I even like a scent on a man. But a little dab will do me - only if the scents are really, really, really, really faint. Strong or freshly applied will give me an instant headache.

Gold/silver - Either. Both! Often at the same time! Given the chance, I'll throw some copper on too, whatthehell! AGain, I'm just gonna leave Deb's answer 'cuz, yeah, what she said. Although I'll add that I don't really wear that much jewelry - my wedding ring, which has three colors of metals in it, and a necklace, the one I'm wearing now is hanging on a black cord and has only the teensiest of gold peeking out between the glass beads.

Hometown - I was born in Racine, Wisconsin but spent most of my pre-double digit childhood in Amery, Wisconsin and have always considered that my home town. I also lay claim to Sonoma, California as a "home town" because I lived there longer as an adult then anywhere else I'd ever lived up to that point, started my family there, and had long family ties to the area. Ironically, the two boys born there don't really remember it much at all and if asked, might call Susanville their home town.

Insomnia - Funny you should ask. I'm a night owl, so staying up late isn't a matter of NOT being able to sleep. It's more about WHEN in a 24 hour I sleep. I don't generally have any problems falling asleep when I decide to turn out the lights and I if something wakes me up in the middle of the night, I can go right back to sleep. However, since I've been back from Europe, my body doesn't really know WHAT time it is. It's settling down but I'm waking up and/or feeling sleepy at all hours of the day and night, none of which really have anything to do with any particular time zone at all. Sometimes I get, not insomnia, but restless. Like the last three nights, I've stayed up all night and slept in the morning.

Job title - The Hub at the Center of the Family Wheel

Kid(s)- Yes, many. Starting out with infertility issues, it's amazing how many children I managed to gather along the way. Joshua, Joseph, Noel, Sam, and William. And now I have grandchildren - Joshua, Garret, Anastasia and Joe and Lisa's baby-to-be.

Living arrangements - A ranch style house on a big corner lot at the edge of a small town. It's a standard type of house but I like it because it's not too new and it has character - hardwood oak floors, funky kitchen cabinets, odd shaped windows. Some day we'll move back onto more acreage, but for now, settled here under our two big maple trees, with a pretty good view of the the local mountain ridges, I'm happy.

Most admirable trait - How about optimism - that's admirable I suppose. Or annoying, depending on your point of view. - again - stealing Deb's answer will do nicely. Or, I could go with kind. I think I'm a pretty kind person compared to most.

Number of countries visited - US (although really, we should be allowed to divide that up into regions - Pacific Northwest, Southwest.... I've visited all the regions but the Deep South), Canada, Mexico, UK (can I divide that into Scotland, Wales, and England - THEY think of themselves as separate countries), and France. So, add it up the way you want.

Overnight hospital stays - When I was born, when Joe was born, and when I almost bled to death during one of my miscarriages. So three. I've spent a lot more overnights at the hospital being WITH other family members though.

Phobias - This is so wierd, but here goes - I don't like to walk around in my socks. Shoes or barefeet for me. I also have a fear of heights which developed after my first child was born. I can do heights, but they make me nervous. And since my divorce and rearing up again after Joshua died, anxiety attacks and the rare but occasional panic attack. Fun.

Quote - "No matter where you go, there you are." Don't know the source. AND, "Not all who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien

Religion - raised Roman Catholic. Never really had a serious falling out with them, rather we agreed to disagree and parted as friends. For me the issues centered around absolutes. I don't believe we can have them. Life and death and everything in between is too much of a mystery for any one faith to say "THIS WE KNOW." No you don't. You're guessing as much as anyone else. Having said that, I do think faith, the kind that helps one to form an understanding of the world and gives you community, is a good thing, even if it's not the particular flavor or brand of religion I'd personally choose. And just as long as your faith is freely chosen, not shoved down your throat, or so restrictive that you think it's a good idea to go out and exterminate or absorb those that say otherwise. As for me, I don't think any one religion is big enough to fit it all in. I sorta pick and chose, but I guess you could call me a panthiest since I like to have my spiritual moments when outside with the stars and trees and birds and wind and grass and wiggly earth worms and all the rest of nature. Or you could call me a neo-pagan. I tell folks I chose them because they have the best holidays, and more of them.

Siblings - I grew up with two sisters, both of them younger then me. For a few of those years we had some step-siblings, although that marriage is long over and I don't know what happened to any of the kids. When I was already an adult, my mother remarried and I picked up some permanent step siblings. Unfortunately we're not that close at the moment, emotionally or physically, but I certainly care about them and keep tabs on where they are.

Time you usually wake - I refuse to answer this on the grounds that it may be misconstrued. I will only say this - I wake up every day after having your basic 6-9 hours of sleep.

Unusual talent - I have no idea. I can't wiggle my ears or nose. I can't curl my tongue. I can't juggle. Dang. Oh, I know. When the phone rings, I almost always know who's calling before I pick it up.

Vegetable I refuse to eat - Sardines. They aren't a vegetable? Then I don't know. I've never met a vegetable I didn't like.

Worst habit - Procrastinating

X-rays - I don't think so, unless you want to count dental x-rays. And a sonogram when I was 9 months pregnant with William.

Yummy foods I make - Oh, lots of things. Pies, dumplings, various soups. I'm good at stir fries and pilafs. Ratatoulle, potato salad. I'm an excellent cook. Almost anything I attempt I expect to turn out well. Of course the real question these days is - DO I cook? Uhm, not so much anymore.

Zodiac - Capricorn Sun, Aires Moon, Aquarius Ascendant

I won't tag anyone, but if you'd like to do this meme, just let me know so I can come read it.

Wordplay and What else

I had a summer cold attack me out of nowhere last night. Ugh. Feel like crap. My sinuses are like a leaky faucet with a broken washer, my throat feels like sandpaper. I spent the last several days when I was feeling good putzing around doing nothing and now I don't feel well enough to do anything much and am annoyed that I'm down for repairs. Isn't that the way it always is.

One thing I did yesterday, I spent the evening at Starbucks, writing all my Wordplay entries out in a notebook. I'm sure I'll come up with other ideas along the way, but now it's all ready to go for the rest of the alphabet. That was fun.

Deb let me know that somehow I'd goofed up the html the last time I added someone and the links to other participants weren't working. Oops. Sorry 'bout that. I think it's fixed now, at least it worked for me. So, go check out what folks are doing. I did last night and wow, it's really great the way everyone is making it their own. Tiny Bubbles made each listing just a few words long but her descriptions are like honey in the mind. Another person made her list into a poem. Some are following Deb's lead and adding little montages of images as well. In one of Deirdre's lists she took the time to capitalize and highlight that week's letter each time it showed up anywhere in the post. I bet she was trying hard to avoid doing office work THAT day. It's amazing how unique each list is, and yet how very much we seem to have in common at the same time.

If you haven't yet, please remember to add the Wordplay button to your page so folks who find Wordplay from your blog can find their way back and join in the fun as well.

Oh, and did you know Wordplay is actually a word!? I stumbled across it in the dictionary yesterday. It means "verbal wit". We already all knew we were oh-so-very clever, but it's nice to have Webster officially acknowledge us.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I is for.....

It's been a week, time for another Wordplay.

Isabel - my maternal grandmother's name and a very important role model in my life

intellectual - that's me, only I'm not your stereotypical intellectual, with glasses (well, I wear them but...) and a house full of books (okay, that fits too but.....) who never pops her head out of one (AHA! See, I'm not always reading. Although if I could.....). Okay, but I'm not eccentric or....

Irish - I'm one quarter, from my maternal grandfather. Plunkett.

imagination - there's a quote by Einstein, something about.... wait, I'll go look it up - the miracle of the WWW....okay - "Imagination is more important then knowledge."

Irish Setter - I was totally enamored of this breed of dog when I was a child. Blame the author Jim Kjelgaard and his Big Red series. I managed to talk my mom into letting me get a free puppy, an irish setter/golden retriever mix. She really didn't look like an Irish Setter, but she wasn't stupid as a brick like most of the breed either. In fact she was very smart, and very beautiful. I had the quintessential child and dog love relationship with her that I haven't duplicated until my little Rosie came into my life recently

icon - although I consider myself a spiritual person, I tend to shy away from anything religious. However religious icons, fascinate and move me

idleness - another way of saying lazy, but it sounds more acceptable. To while away an afternoon in sweet idleness, to spend idle hours reading beneath a shady tree..... much nicer way of explaining my ability to spend entire days getting nothing accomplished

images - I'm fascinated with images. Photos, paintings, just the world before my eyes. I see not only what is there physically, but what is not there, the absences, the shadows, the spaces inbetween. And what is implied or symbolically there. The love, anger, irony, unknown, confusion, contentment. The colors or lack of color, the life or lack of life. The world is one big canvas to decipher.

information -If it wasn't enough to want to see everything, i want to know everything as well.

imperfection - We spend much of our life trying to reach a state of perfection even while we understand that everything in life is imperfect. I'm trying to rid myself that impossible goal and instead focus on embracing/loving the imperfection that is real

Impressionism - my favorite art. I spent an evening in Paris at the Musee D' Orsay recently, room after room after room of Degas, Monet, Manet, Cassatt...... I was this close to weeping in awe in the middle of a crowd of people.

informal - pull up a chair, kick off your shoes, grab a piece of pizza, or a mismatched fork. I'm not much into fancy or formal. Etiquette, in my book, isn't about which fork to use as much as it's about making people feel comfortable. Besides, it's more fun to do things in clothing that doesn't pinch or make you suck your stomach in all night.

instantaneous - Process is just as important as the end result. Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, whatever. I know that. But I don't like it. I'd rather have all my results without all that hard, messy work part inbetween. It's having my damn moon in Aires.

identical twins - run in the family, and in my life. My grandmother and great aunt were identical twins. So were my best friends in high school. My first pregnancy was a twin pregnancy, which I lost in the beginning of my second trimester.

idiots - can't abide them. And the older I've become, the less tolerance I have. I'm not talking about the goofy idiot or the lovable nut or the occasional idiotic moment or phase we all go through. I mean the hardcore type of idiot who is too lazy to get a clue and goes through life allowing others to clean up after him/her. GRRRRR. Get a life! Be responsible for yourself! Open up that bag of common sense and start using it!

impeach - we can't impeach him WHY?????????? Oh, yeah, we have a Republican majority in the legislature. Sigh...... (and no, it's not a coincidence that I thought of this word right after the word above it)

impulsive - I tend to be impulsive, which seems odd when you think about how long and deliberately I work out some issues or decisions before I make them. I guess when it comes to big decisions, I'm cautious, sometimes to the point of being immobilized. But when it's something less important - forget my to-do list and go off on an adventure today? Sure! Jump in the fountain? Why not!

independent - One of my middle names. Do not fence me in with.... er, a fence.... or an idea or a rule or a relationship. I've always gotta have a gate open. Not that I'm all that likely to need to use it. I just need it there.

inertia - unfortunately I tend to get caught up in this sticky, wallowy, time-sucking word

infertility - I spent many years dealing with this in one form or another. It's a heartache and lesson that has been influential in what type of person I have become and what type of parent I became, mostly for the better, although it's one of those things where I'd gladly trade the wisdom gained from the experience for the naivete of having missed that particular lesson

infinite - infinite space, time, possibilities - I like to think about the concept of infinity and instead of making me feel tiny and overwhelmed, oddly, it comforts me

innings - I can not count how many innings I have spent sitting on the bleachers watching my children "play ball" - some of them lazy and happy and fun, some of them bored or wet or cold, some of them numb and painful, like the spring Joshua died and William was playing baseball on a team where their pitcher reminded me so much of Joshua at that age that I could barely breath.

inquiring - minds want to know. I'm one of those people that when I come across a word or idea or reference I don't know or understand, I can't just let it pass and move on. Nooooo! I have to research it. Even if I'm happily warm and comfy, reading in bed..... if I find a word I don't know the meaning of.... and I don't have my dictionary..... dang! I'd rather get up in the cold and dark to look it up then lay awake all night wondering. Obviously the internet has been a blessing to people like me.

inspire - Amazing at it may seem, I seem to have been quite an inspiration to many people in my life. And of course there are many people who have inspired me in return. It's that old adage - We teach more by what we do then what we say. I know this to be true.

intuition - I have a high degree of this stuff. Sometimes to the point of being spooky. It often annoys my husband. Mostly, it's quite a useful talent and I try to remember to listen to it, fall back on it, when I have fears or desires that interfer with my ability to make a clear decision.

invisible - I believe that most of what "is" - what makes up the universe, life, consciouness, everything that is important and sacred and everything that is mundane and inconsequential - is invisible. We tend to think we know SO MUCH, we have such an uncountable volume of knowledge. My suspicions, my intuition, is that what we KNOW is but a single drop of rain in the vastness of the ocean, perhaps but a molecule in that drop in that ocean.

Another take on the word invisible - I think that the most important "things" in life are invisible. Or rather, are only visible by how we react to their presence - love, loneliness, fear, curiosity, compassion, creativity.... we can only see them by reflection, by our actions on their behalf.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Dust and decisions

A friend on an e-list has challenged everyone to be productive this weekend, in whatever way they choose. It could be quilting, painting, balancing your checkbook, sorting your summer wardrobe, cleaning the refrigerator. Your choice. We're supposed to e-mail in with an update of our progress every few hours for support and accountability. I chose to work on the black hole that is our garage.

I chose this task for a lot of reasons. It's been on my to-do list for the longest time. Wait, maybe not. I think several of the gardens have been on there longer actually. It's a task that has a lot of permanence to it - once it's done, it won't have to be redone, like vacuuming for example. At least not for a few years again. It's also the task to which all other tasks seem to be in some big or small way connected. It's the heart of the tangled ball of yarn. I can pick away at the smaller tangles at the edges, but I can't really get it all worked out until I tackle the middle.

It's incredibly slow going. There's so much in there that there's really no place to move things to without bumping into other things. So I'm having trouble sorting it all into categories. It's also slow going because it's a big garage and I'm a tiny person. Moving boxes, dragging bikes off the top of a pile of snow tires, those things aren't easy for someone 5'2" working alone. Don't get me wrong, I am getting help with the job. Unfortunately that help is being offered by cats and one very unhappy dog who's not allowed to join me. It's dark in there, another problem. But the biggest reason that it's slow going is that everything is a decision. Keep? Garage sale it? Does a kid want it? Toss?

As soon as I finish my coffee this morning (which seemed to arrive awful late - blush), I'll gather up my courage and go on back in. I feel like I need to take caving and/or mountain climbing equipment with me. Or at least lay down bread crumbs so I can find my way back out. Cats don't eat bread crumbs. I think.

In other news...

Rosie wandered off yesterday for the first time ever. I was hanging laundry in the back yard and the only thing I can figure out is she squeezed out through a broken piece of fence into our neighbor's yard and from there to where I eventually found her after twenty minutes of panicked calling and searching into the alleyway several houses up. If she'd gone much further.... I don't even want to think about it.

So I swooped her up and decided it was time for her to wear her dog tag full time. I bought her a tiny collar the other day, quite cute. Green with little spirals on it. I worked the dog tag off her travel harness and put it on the collar and then put the collar on her. She was less then pleased with her new attire. I wish I could have taken a video of her rolling and tossing herself around, squeaking "WTF!" It was funny and made me feel bad all at the same time. But tough love. I don't want to lose her. I will, however, get her a smaller tag as soon as I can because the tag on there now hangs down almost to her knees. She's truly the smallest dog I've ever seen.

Gotta get a move on. Upload some travel pics. Wake up the kid. Get out to the garage. If you haven't heard from me by tonight, sent out the search teams.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Guess where we are? Clue - check out the big rocks

Of course Stonehenge. We were really lucky, there were relatively few people there. We were fortunate this way in almost every place we went. Some times of the year the throngs are overwhelming. We had little and sometimes even non-existent throngs. Later in the trip for example, we stumbled upon the one open night of the week at the Louvre and literally had huge hallways of roman sculpture to ourselves. Okay, there were the docents/guards, whatever their titles are. But we had the art about as much to ourselves as you can get, without being Tom Hanks. We walked right up to the Mona Lisa. On our last day in Paris we went back to the Louvre during the day and, by contrast, there were crowds twenty rows deep trying to jostle their way up to get a glimpse of her above all the heads.

Back to the BIG ROCKS. And they were big. Huge. I think on the top photos, if you click on them to make them big, you can see tiny people in the backgrounds. To repeat myself, as I did on the trip for everything we saw - it's one thing to see a picture of something, quite another experience to actually see it in person. Even on a sunny afternoon, with tourists milling about, this was a place to hold you in awe.

You could get fairly close. A short rope barrier held you politely back. It was interesting to me to walk all around and see it from all angles. I think that most photos are taken from a few of the better angles, but you miss so much by not seeing the 3-D-ness of it. I was also enamored of the aliveness of it, after all these thousands of years. There were birds flitting from stone to stone. Moss growing on the monoliths themselves. No sheep. But there were sheep in the surrounding fields, which stretched out and down forever around it. I was surprised at how isolated it was, it stands atop a rise with nothing around it for miles. Of course, who knows what stood around it back when it was originally built. A big city for all we know.

Actually there was a busy highway running not far from it, maybe a quarter mile away to one side. It didn't really bother me, but apparently they are planning to move several nearby roads and the visitor center which sets across the closest access, and bus all visitors in from a distant, in order to return the site to a more untouched state. I'm not sure if I think it's necessary, but then again, I'm not in charge of a world historical site that has millions of visitors. It's amazing how many people find their way there when you consider that there's no train or bus service, only car or tour bus.

I took a lot of photos there, wish I'd taken even more. It was a toss up whether to share the photos here or on my art blog, because the close ups of the stones are interesting for composition purposes alone. I would love to go back during all sorts of lighting situations, night, day, stormy skies, early morning, etc., and take a zillion photos.

I would have waited and shared these pics on the solstice, but we'll be gone again then. Wouldn't it be cool to be at Stonehenge on the solstice?! Of course along with the people who would come to celebrate the holiday, you'd also have all those folks there simply to celebrate the party. But that might be pretty fun too.

These two stones are set up in the visitor center to show you the two types of stone used to construct Stonehenge. One is a bluestone, the other is called a sarsen stone. One of them, can't remember which one now, is always cooler in temperature then the other. One of the stone types came from a far distance, near the sea, and it's still a mystery how the ancient people even got the stones all the way here. If you caught the BBC special showing a bunch of modern academia attempting to recreate the moving of the stones, know that the show left out a lot of information about there attempt, including the fact that they had help from modern equipment at several junctures. And even with that, they, uhm, failed. Makes you wonder.

A couple quick P.S.'s - Yes, those of you who guessed about the cloisters images, those were the hallways of Hogwarts in the first two movies. Interesting sidenote, I thought that using a different setting for Hogwarts in the third movie was a director's decision. It might have been, in part, but it was also because the movie company was invited NOT to come back for another round of filming. Apparently the villagers didn't appreciate the extra people and confusion and/or they didn't behave themselves. Hmmm.

Second quick comment, don't miss the photos I put up on my art blog (snort - like I'm making any art these days!), because I shared one of my favorite pics of the whole trip there t oday.

Ramblings, P.S.

Did anyone catch that for most of last evening there were three copies of my last post on the blog? Did I say Blogger was a pothead? I rest my case.

I took care of my hormonal blues the good ol' fashioned way this evening. Lots of carbs. First there was dinner out, fish and chips. Hubby asked afterwards if I wasn't cooking at home because I still hadn't gone to the market to get any groceries since I'd returned. First, was it impossible for him to go to the market while I was gone, therefore necessitating a trip by me upon my return for there to be food in the house? I clarified, however, that I had indeed been marketing and there was plenty of food in the house which could be prepared, cooked, and eaten by anyone in our home. That is, anyone in our home could have been the person to which any of those last three verbs could have referenced as having done the action. You getting the picture here? I assured him that dinner out had nothing to do with my inability to shop, or cook, and everything to do with my mood. He wisely accepted that as a satisfactory response. Back to my carbs....

Next came a big bowl of popcorn with butter, yeast, and Margarita Lime Popcorn Salt. Look for that last one at World Market - yum! Last but not least came the big bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream with bananas, caramel, chocolate sauce, and milk. Milk? Well, yeah, I like milk on my sundaes. Weird, I know. But they are my sundaes so I can eat them however I like.

You might think the sundae was a bit over the top. I could have stopped with the popcorn. But I had to eat the ice cream because it was the last of the ice cream, the bottom of the tub. I only ate it to do myself a favor because then the ice cream was all gone and I wouldn't be tempted to eat it in the future, say tomorrow night. No sense leaving it there to become extra calories at some unknown time in the future. Better to polish it off, get it over with, and get rid of those calories once and for all. And do NOT tell me that this last bit makes no sense to any of you because I know that you have all used this sort of circumnavigatable logic in order to explain the disappearance of ice cream, cookies, the last piece of frozen tiramisu.... Don't even try to deny it.

William has decided that when we go to Colorado, it will be just a hop, skip, and a jump to go to The Four Corners area. He wants to be in four states at the same time. He was looking at the map as he was planning this little side trip and suddenly realized that if we were gonna go to The Four Corners area we might as well keep on going to The Grand Canyon. I pointed out that he's already been to The Grand Canyon. He reminded me that he was only three at the time and doesn't remember it. I pointed out that it was a lot of extra driving to circle round through Arizona and he just pointed to the map and said it didn't look all that far away to him. Hmmmm. I guess now that he's been 9 time zones across the globe, an extra zig and a bit more zag, give or take five hundred miles or so, doesn't seem like a long trip.

We'll see. Maybe. And if we're gonna be down south, maybe we'll just swing down to San Diego and see the son, daughter-in-law, and developing grandbumpy. Then again, maybe we'll just drive straight back home as planned. A few extra inches on the map translates into more then a few extra hours in the car. And it's a big car, which, I still can't believe we now actually own a gas guzzling Bronco. Oh, and towing a camper. How much of an adventure am I truly up for?

I'm off to bed now but, I really do have to start cooking at home again. At least until I leave again in another week and a half. Anyone remember which cabinet the pots and pans are in?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Completely, utterly disjointed ramblings

I'm a glutton for punishment. That's why I'm back here writing another blog entry for the day even though I know it will involve more arguing with a doped up blog service who may or may not let me publish it. I'm supposed to be a few minutes from arriving at my writer's group. It's a half hour drive. I've been sitting here at the computer for the last half hour in a grumpy mood (which is probably hormonal but which I'm happily blaming on the computer), trying to decide if I want to go to it or not. I'm guessing, with two minutes left to get there on time, that I've decided not to go.

My arguments for where mainly centered around the fact that I should go, that I'd probably be in a better mood if I did go, and that I'll kick myself for not going at some later time, probably as early as the next hour or two. My arguments against going is I didn't have to go if I didn't fucking feel like going, no one could make me go, and I didn't have anything new written to share with them and I'd probably just rant on about my trip which they'd all enjoy but secretly think to themselves was wasting time that could have been spent talking about writing. Helloooo! Writer's group. As you can see, my arguments against are also probably hormonally induced. Too, you might be tempted to point out that I had indeed written something new, that in fact I'm sitting here writing something new at this very moment (or rather, the moment when I was actually writing this). You might be tempted, but I'll warn you straight up, it probably isn't a good idea.

Moving on...

My husband informed me that someone he works with came up to him the other night and said "Hey, my daughter says you live in The Hippy House." Apparently they were discussing my husband (and this doesn't surprise me) and the daughter had mentioned she knew where we lived. And the next time they drove by our house she'd pointed it out and he's said "Oh, they live in The Hippy House. I asked Jeff why he called our house The Hippy House and sure 'nuf, he'd asked the guy, and apparently it qualified because a) we have a peace sign hanging over our garage door, b) we have a lot of flowers, and c) we have bumper stickers on our cars.

In this conservative town I can understand the peace sign even though that's sort of a narrow definition of someone who desires a peaceful world - hey, they must be an old hippy - wha? The bumper sticker part of the argument actually makes some sense. Not that many people our age put bumperstickers on their cars unless it's something like My Child was Student of the Month at BlaBlaBla Elementary. Actually, we're old enough that it would more likely be "My Grandchild was Student...." But, anyway, FLOWERS? If you grow flowers you must be a hippy?

William has recently decided that he is brilliant and I'm just this close to needing to live in a group home and get help doing things like tying my shoe or writing my name. It was amusing for awhile. It's becoming less amusing. This morning I remembered to look up how many time zones there were between California and Hawaii because we'd argued over it while traveling. William looked at the information, which proved I was correct and commented "Gee, Mom was right for a change!" GRRRRRRR! I've gone through this four times already, but it doesn't make it less annoying. It's not fun to go from The Source of All Knowledge in the Universe to Stupid Parent Barely Tolerable Being Seen In Public With. Fortunately I know that in a few years (five, or if I'm lucky, four) I will regain my crown as Goddess of Knowledge. Maybe I'll even get my owl back.

Rosie was sitting on my lap earlier today while I was busy on the computer. Mostly I was concentrating on the monitor, but a little part of my brain noticed that Rosie lifted her head and put her ears forward on alert. Then she started growling. Quietly. The growling got louder. Eventually I shifted my attention and glancing down, realized that she was growling very agressively but looked too frightened to switch to barking. At the same time I realized that although I was alone in the house (except for Rosie and the cats), I could very definitely feel someone creeping up behind me. I could sense it and then, there was something there. Just on the very edge of my peripheral vision. I turned my head slowly.....

It was the Welcome Home balloon Jeff had bought. It was losing helium and was floating about midway between floor and ceiling. A stray current of air had made it move slowing but steadily across the room until it was just behind my left shoulder.

Okay, I'm a little less crabby now. That will change when I try to get this thing to publish, I'm sure. That reminds me, have any of you seen the commercial for the new Prairie Home Companion movie? I liked the bit where Garrison Keillor says "We come from people who brought us up to believe that life is a struggle, and if you should feel really happy, be patient: this will pass."

Talk atcha later. I'm dragging my husband off to eat fish and chips.

Holiday Photos #5

I thought this was sweet. What do you want to bet that in this country they'd worry about lawsuits and such and just tear into the ol' guy with a chain saw and call it a day.

Another very "English" scene. This was in a small village. I liked the combination of the vegetable bin outside (these were all over the place), the bright red post box, and what you can't really see in this small photo (you might be able to read it if you click on the pic to open it up) is the sign on the door that says they've gone off for lunch. Not that places don't close for lunch in small towns in the U.S. on occasion, but it's still rather quaint.

That's it. No photos today with William or I standing in the foreground. Honestly, I'm sort of frustrated with posting at the moment. These photos were all ready and waiting to be uploaded yesterday, but for several days now Blogger has been smoking crack or maybe weed. I was headed out of town yesterday and after ten minutes of arguing with it, I gave up and let it sleep. Yes, definitely weed. It's like arguing with someone who just grins back at you as if the whole damn thing is funny.

It can't be bothered to connect. It takes forever. It keeps failing. Hmmm, maybe I should slip a CD of viagra commericals through and try to upload THAT. And now, today, it can't find pages. It's like a company who ran out of Form 456AB and decided to make up a mock form with ballpoint pen and a ruler and ask you to fill that out instead. It doesn't even have all the regular windows or anything. Sigh. I don't even know if this will publish. If you're reading this, I guess it did. Eventually.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Travel Photos #4

William, trying to figure out how to use our international calling card. I eventually figured it out, but we spent a lot of time in these red boxes until later in the trip when we started having phones available in our room.

Here we are posing in front of a movie set in the village of Castle Combe. Often voted The Prettiest Village in England, it was even more picturesque the day we were there because it had been done over with props, dirt covering any asphalt, resident's cars hidden round back, for a movie they were filming there. Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert DeNiro are in it. Don't know what the name of it will be. Of course if you really looked around, the setting was blemished by the film studio's lighting, cords, vans, etc. But I tried to keep them out of the pictures we took. Now that I think about it, it might have been more interesting to take photos with the odd stuff included.I'm not sure what era the film is supposed to be set in, but it was fun to see the props. They even let us see some of the inside scenes. We had to leave by 10 am, when filming began for the day.

Good sleeping weather

Last night was absolutely perfect sleeping weather. Good sleeping weather is always appreciated, but even more so last night as I've come out of a month of spending a lot more time then I can usually handle in self contained, noisy, ventilation-managed areas. I don't do well with white noise or without fresh air.

Remember too, when I left town it was, for all practical purposes, still winter here. Technically it was spring, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that. It was relatively cold. No leaves on the trees. I came back to leaves, green grass, and roses blooming everywhere. I probably missed all the spring flowers, like lilacs, altogether. We weren't opening the bedroom windows yet.

Last night was cool, and sweet, with the tiniest wisp of a breeze. I had the choice of laying stretched out coverless without feeling cold, or draping the sheet and one blanket over me without feeling too warm. Rosie preferred the latter as without covers to sleep under next to her person she was a sad little puppy. Last night was such a lovely night for sleeping that I went off to bed early and I lingered there this morning hours past the time I needed the rest simply because I could and it was too lovely to disturb the tranquility of the yet unused day.

When tranquil turned to slightly bored, I got up. I'm checking mail, thinking about putting on a pot of tea, and turning over the possibilities for the day. Since I have no tasks jostling to be front and center, I'm going to do what calls to me - putter in the garden.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Holiday Photo Post #3

Recognize this place William is lounging in? No? Well, then....

Try this wider view. Anything? Of course, I knew ahead of time but still, I recognized it immediately when we walked into these cloisters in the Lacock Abbey in the southern Cotswolds.

Here's William in one of the side rooms in the cloisters peering into the biggest cauldron either of us had ever seen! That's sort of a clue, btw. I could just come out now and give you the answer, but I think I'll wait and see if anyone can guess first. Hehe.

Now what?

I'm finally feeling past my jet lag. Actually, yesterday I was pretty much feeling normal, but the day was filled with blog business and some other catching up with life stuff, so I didn't have to think about the next step yet. Today, however, hubby goes back to work, it's a school day for William, and then there's me. What do I do?

In some ways, that's the silliest question I've ever asked. I have a lot to do and no different then before my trip, not a lot of time to do it in. In the next eight weeks I have to drive to Colorado and back - probably fill up more then a week right there, go to San Diego - probably another week, pop over to visit Sam and Noel (and my new Anastasia who can't possibly look like the newborn she was when I first held her!), and I should find time and a way to get up to check on the property in Oregon.

I also have to finish up the school year with William (and in some subjects, like his math,make sure he perseveres even after the school kids are home). My house didn't magically clean and declutter itself while I was gone. And my garden, oh, my poor neglected, ignored, untended garden. If it was up to me, I'd probably wipe all that other stuff off my calendar and spend the entire summer in my garden. At the very least, I need to make an effort to pull it back from the Amazonian jungle it has developed into. Into which it has developed? The first isn't proper English. The second sounds pretentious. Whatever.

But what I'm really asking is, what do I do about my holiday memories? I can blog about them here of course, and I will. I want to talk about them and ponder them most of the day without being interupted by silly things like grocery shopping or returning phone calls. I want to make something out of them, do something with all this ...... this..... wonderfulness. The obvious answers - Writing. And art. Now, refer back to the previous two paragraphs. I haven't found a pause button that works on anything in my life except the VCR. Well, and the DVD player. But that one is sort of tricky and I usually end up screwing it up and have to start the movie all over from the beginning again, so I don't usually use that pause button.

It's a phenomenon, isn't it? A post-holiday phenomenon. Does it have a name? I mean, it is quite a change in menu, a let down, when suddenly all the lovely newness and yet untarnished (I'm realistic enough to know that anything, after a while, becomes the norm) choices are gone and one has to go back to their ordinary, a thousand-times-repeated routines. You mean I can't buy fresh pomme tartes from the boulongerie on the corner? The double decker buses and Smart cars are gone and pick up trucks and SUV's fill the streets? No one wears scarves and their are too many people wearing baggy sweatpants and oversized t-shirts? (and I'm sorry, but it has to be said - Do you know how FAT Americans are compared to people in other countries!?!)

I don't think it would be as bad if my regular life wasn't such an extreme opposite from my holiday. If I had a bookstore or gallery or even a nice restaurant nearby. I've often thought that the backwardness of our town can be summed up by one comment: We have a beautiful, green, not-too-big/not-too-small river that flows through the middle of town and not a single restaurant that bothers to overlook it. How stupid is that!?

Deep breath. In.......... Out......... once more..... breath in...... out......sigh.

I'm just spoiled. Whiny spoiled. Pay no attention to little spoiled me.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Holiday Photo Share #2

A nice couple and their little boy, visiting from Ireland, took this photo of William and I in Avebury. Avebury is a little village that nestles on the edge of the largest stone circle in the world. Many of the stones are now missing as in times past they were cut up and used for building until someone, can't remember the man's name, realized that history was being destroyed and bought the entire village and the surrounding land in order to save what was left of it.

Unlike Stonehenge, which is roped off to protect it from overly enthusiastic visitors (who literally were chipping it away in order to have a "memento"), the Avebury stones are accessible. You just walk through the sheep proof gates and walk right up to them. The stones I mean. Although you can get pretty close to the sheep as well. Here we are standing on the large berm that was created when the original builders of the circle created a large "moat" around it. You can see a peek of the village in the background.

The large stone directly to William's right in the top picture, and featured in the photo below, is called The Devil's Stone. Apparently, if you have been bad, and you run backwards around the stone one hundred times, the devil is said to appear. I think it's more likely, if you actually attempted to run around it backwards that many times, you'd pass out well before you reached 100 revolutions.

And a bonus pic - in the fallow field in the background you can just make out the remnants of a crop circle! This area is apparently the heart of the crop circle phenomenon.

For more travel pics you can visit my art blog, Laume's Studio.

H is for.....

I was doing my Wordplay on Wednesdays, but hey, Sunday works just as well, and it's time to pick up bits and pieces of my routine and get moving again. Too, I'll try to add everyone who's been waiting patiently this past month, to the Wordplay Participants list.

H is for.....

homesteader - when I was a young adult I was really caught up in the 70's back-to-the-land movement. My ex and I wanted to homestead. He wanted to move out to the wilderness, I just wanted a small farm. Eventually he left me and the boys and it was a moot point, but I've collected a huge amount of self sufficiency skills along the way.

horse - I was one of those horse crazy girls. I never actually owned my own horse, my mom couldn't afford it. But I took lessons and went to horse camp and as a pre-adolescent I had a wonderful Quarter Horse/Arabian mix at my disposal for several summers. I even did a bit of barrel racing.

hiking - I love to hike. It doesn't have to be strenuous or challenging, just beautiful or interesting or away from it all or fun

Harry - my stepdad, who loves my mom and loves us all

Harry Potter - I love J K Rowling's main character. I love him as character. I love him as an unlikely hero. I love him like Mrs. Weasley does, as if he was one of my own kids. I love him as someone who created or re-ignited a love of reading for several of my children.

hardwood floors - I've had hardwood floors more often then not in the homes I've lived in. I can't imagine wanting anything else.

herbs - I really came squeakingly close to being an herbalist by profession. I stumbled upon herbs when I was thick into homesteading and at one point, thinking it would be a good addition to the midwifery skills I was working on. I spent an entire summer at The California School of Herbal Medicine, under the tutelage of one of the matriarchs of the herbal renaissance in this country, Rosemary Gladstar, as well as a number of other amazing herbalists and teachers. I fell so in love with herbs while I was there that I seriously considered dropping the midwifery goal and focusing entirely on herbs. What stopped me? Please, feel free to laugh, or groan. I decided that the idea wasn't financially feasible as a career. Only a handful of people knew about or used herbs at that time, in the late 70's and early 80's. Herbs had not been "discovered". Echinacea? Is that a type of flu? A Russian princess? A type of bird? I figured I couldn't make a living at it.

Halloween - my favorite holiday. My mom was born on Halloween. Her favorite holiday ironically is Christmas. But mine is/was/always has been Halloween. Even as a kid I think I would have given up Santa and gifts if it meant a choice between them and a night of dressing up and wandering the dark streets in the pursuit of frights and candy. Over the years Halloween has continued to be just plain ol' fun, and our family also celebrates the more spiritual aspects of it as well in the form of Samhain and Dia de los Muertos.

Homeschooling - it was around as a growing movement since my kids were too young for school. When the time came, I sent them off to public school with the idea that I was far too selfish a person to homeschool my kids well since I'd want to focus mainly on the topics and subjects that interested me. My kids would be better off, I thought, in a school with a wider variety of people and interests offered to them. I did add a mental caveat however that if any of my kids seemed like they would be better off homeschooled, I would take it on. Long story short, by the time Sam was in 3rd grade, it was clear that circumstances were exactly that, so we took on homeschooling for what we thought would be one kid/one semester. By the time that semester was over I had three kids homeschooling, as well as two of their friends. And a surprising thing happened. We discovered how much we loved the freedom of it both physically and academically. All my kids since then, except Joshua, have homeschooled for at least several years. William has never been to school at all until this upcoming fall, when he will be going to our local high school (it's all about playing football!) Over the years I've become more and more radicalized about the idea of education, my thinking is way outside the lines. It's not that I dislike school in the traditional sense, in fact I was one of those kids that loved it, but frankly I wouldn't be upset if the whole educational institution as we know it came tumbling down. It's far from an educational system anyway. It's more of a free daycare and political scapegoat then anything else. I feel sorry for the dedicated teachers and the hopeful students that have to pick their way through the garbage to gather the few gems it has left to over people.

health food store - I almost bought a health food store three times in my life. Each time I ended up taking another route, but it's one of those "what if I had..." paths in my life

health food - I used to be a health food fanatic. No white flour will cross my threshold! No white sugar will cross my lips! Having a house full of kids cured me of that insanity. But our family still probably eats healthier then the typical American. Or at least knows how to eat healthier.

hairstyle - basically, I've had the same hairstyle my entire life. Sorry, I'm boring when it comes to hair.

hardcover - even though a paperback book is much lighter to hold and easier to read, there's something about the feel of a hardcover book that's magical. It's like holding a new world in your hands.

hayloft - I have very fond memories of haylofts. And NO, not those kind of memories. Sheesh. I mean sitting in the hay playing with new calves or kittens, playing hide and seek, laying back and thinking deep childhood thoughts, swinging from a rope swing into or out of the hay, building little cubby holes with the bales

heartburn - suffered with this during my pregnancies - UGH

hardy - a good word for me

hot flashes - I'm almost 50, so yep, power surges

harm none - The Witches Creed, or at least a nice interpretation of them. "Do what you will, if you harm none." Don't think you can reduce humanitarian or spiritual advice down any more concisely then that.

hedgehog - I've always been fascinated with these little creatures

harvest - there's nothing more satisfying them a pile of pumpkins, a bucket full of fresh corn, a basket of apples, a cabinet filled with jewel tones jars of jam, bottles filled with dried herbs and vinegars

head - I'm a head sort of person, always in my head. I think motherhood was good for me because as a young person it was hard for me to stop thinking and becoming a mother made me slow down and be in the moment a lot more then I was capable of before then

heart - when I'm not in my head, I'm in my heart. Hopefully we check all our thoughts and decisions by running them through the wisest of all organs, our heart, before we act on them

Hermit - although I'm extroverted by nature, I do have strong hermit tendencies as well. I did The Hermit tarot card for a collective art project and it was really the beginning of a new focus on art in my life after several decades hiatus

heal - we need to remember to allow healing in our lives, and to help others heal - sometimes by actively helping them, sometimes by having the courage to let them learn the lessons they need to learn

health - one of our most valuable treasures in life. If you've got it, don't forget to appreciate it. If you don't have it, try to cultivate it in as many ways, big and small, as is possible for you.

hippy - I'm actually not old enough to have, technically, been a hippy. I was only 13 at the end of the hippy era. However, I often get asked or accused of being "an ol' hippy", which I think is sort of odd, but I take it as a compliment. Honestly, I think it's more a misunderstanding of what the hippy movement was really about because in some ways I would have been a hippy and in other ways I totally would have missed the mark

hoarfrost - I love the look of hoarfrost. In this part of the country, they call it pogonip, which is a great word from a local Native American language

hollyhocks - one of my favorite old fashioned flowers

homeopathy - a very useful addendum to anyone's health care. I was very fortunate when my kids were young to have access to a family doctor that practiced both allopathic and homeopathic medicine.

home - the center of my life, regardless of how often I'm away from it

homemaker - when you have to fill in those little boxes on forms, this is what I've put down for my occupation the last two and a half decades. Lately, just ever so lately, I've been thinking of writing something else - writer, or artist

homebirth - All but one of my kids were born at home. It's a nice way, when possible, to welcome someone new into the world

Hogwarts - wouldn't you love to go Hogwarts!? The sorting cap put me in Gryffindor. I thought it might put me in Ravenclaw, since I'm sorta an intellectual, but I feel honored to have been considered worthy of the Gryffindor house.

Hoffman, Alice - one of my favorite authors

Hamilton, Laurell - another favorite author

hobbies - it's sort of a good/bad thing. I love having so many interests. I'm never bored. It would take me a dozen lives to simply do, make, learn, create, experience, see all the things that capture my interest. On the other hand, I'm always overwhelmed, and - OOoooh! Shiny! - easily distracted. It's hard to focus when you have too many things to focus on. Bottom line, I've got too many of them.

happiness - My personal take on this is - a person is only as happy as they choose to be. One can be happy about things or events or opportunities, but those are temporary, if enjoyable happinesses - like fireworks - they're impressive but the feeling dissappears before you can really finish enjoying it and if you aren't careful sometimes even leaves a person feeling less happy in the long run. Deep happiness, the kind you can call upon anywhere and anytime, comes from nothing and everything and is something someone chooses to have and cultivate in their life.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Thursday was another long, long day of planes and airports. JFK, either Dallas or Houston (for some reason we're not sure which), and Reno. Jeff was waiting in the airport for us holding a huge "Welcome Home" sign. Behind the sign was Rosie. Behind both Jeff and Rosie was a fairly large crowd of people, mostly women, who thought the whole thing was so adorably sweet that they had stuck around to watch the reunion. Uhm, this is my husband we're talking about - did I really expect anything less embarrassing!? But yes, it was also adorably sweet. Rosie didn't see us until Jeff whipped the sign away and then it was pure puppy bliss to a chorus of "Ahhhhh's" from Jeff's fan club. Jeff got a kiss or two as well when Rosie was finished with us.

On the way to England, our trip was broken in half by a long stay in New York and the travel itself was a lot less stressful. In contrast, the return trip consisted of two back-to-back days of stress and exhaustion. When we finally got home I fell asleep before I was even horizontal in my own bed.

Woke up in the wee hours of Friday morning in the dark. I could see a bit of dim square shaped light, I was being held down by something, couldn't really move, and I was laying down. Beyond that minimal information I had no clue what was happening. It seemed to me that the light I could make out was far above me and my first thought was that I must be in a cathedral. But that didn't make sense, why would I be laying down in a cathedral? I must be in a train station then. But I didn't think I'd be horizontal in a train station either. Did I faint? Why couldn't I move? Was I in a hotel room? Where was I? For starters, what country was I even in?

It took what seemed like a minute, maybe longer, to realize I was laying in my own bed under a layer of heavy blankets and quilts. Even when I figured that out, sitting up and walking the few steps to the bathroom nearby was a frightening experience. I shuffled my feet and walked with my arms stretched out before me with the contrary ideas that because the room seemed so large, that I might get out of bed and fall into a deep hole or, conversely, immediately walk into something solid. I slowly managed the ten foot round trip from bed to bathroom to bed again and woke up a few hours later feeling a lot less confused, if not a lot more rested.

Today was filled with breakfast and dinner out (I was too tired to start cooking again, even if I was sure I remembered how, plus eating out at our Mexican restaurant is a grounding get-back-to-normal tradition for us whenever we've been out of town), uploading photos, unpacking and sorting out the trinkets and gifts we'd bought, and presenting Jeff with his goodies. All this set to a constant conversation about what we did and where we went, William and I alternating as main speaker. Between little bursts of story inspired enthusiasms, both of us dipped yawningly close to needing a nap every few hours. We stuck it out though until tonight. In fact, ultimately Jeff and I stayed up rather late so I could watch (fast forwarding through the boring bits and commercials) the last three weeks of American Idol that I had missed before I could accidentally find out who had won. Yah Taylor!!!! Whoooooooo! Even wanting to fall asleep very, very badly, I couldn't close my eyes when he was on the television screen. William tried to watch with us, but fell asleep face first on the livingroom rug before the first elimination.

Tomorrow, still exhausted or no, it's back to as much routine as I can manage. I've got phone calls to make, Wordplay participants to add, even cooking and cleaning to attempt. Sigh.

Jeff asked if I was going to go back, now that I had photos to share, and add some of them to the matching past blog entries I've written. I said no, that no one goes back and checks old entries, it's hard enough keeping up with all the new ones one wants to find time to read. So, I've decided that I'll add a Holiday Photo section to each blog entry for a while. In fact, I'll share two photos a day, a touristy "Here's me/us/William standing in front/besides/under ___(insert famous city/building/statue)." I'll put those kind of photos here on Beach Treasure.

Photos that do not include us, but instead that are of art or beautiful scenery, or perhaps I took in or for artistic purposes, I'll post over on my art blog, Laume's Studio. That will give me something to blog about over there until I can get back into the swing of things creatively here at home and it will reduce the number of years I'll need to share all the photos I took! Yes, I took a lot of photos.

I'll keep it up until either I run out of images, get bored with it all, or folks scream for me to stop, please stop, for the love of god please move on or just pack up, have another holiday, and leave us alone!!! Or maybe I'll keep adding them even then. After all this is my blog and I can do whatever I want. Phbbt. But I will be nice and clearly label them as Holiday Photos so you can quickly avert your eyes or scroll fast to avoid them if you want.

With no further ado.....

Holiday Photo Share #1

Here's William standing inside the ruins of the roman baths in Bath, England.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Almost home

We're back on American soil. I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I'm glad to be back on the ground in any country. The plane flight back was...... horrible. In a lot of ways. I don't even want to talk about it, really, I'm just glad it's over. We did meet a very sweet college student from South Carolina who had been living in France for four months. That was the nice bit. I'll try to remember that and move on.

When we finally, after hours and hours and hours and hours and..... you get the idea.... of breathing airplane and airport air..... poor Deirdre had to wait beyond Customs for over three hours!....walked through the automatic doors and hit the outside air, William and I both breathed it in and looked at each other and laughed - it smelled like America again. Okay, so it smelled like car fumes and for some inexplicable reason like a fish market, but there was also something more, some combination of scents, that was immediately familiar as American, even if we are still 3,000 miles away from home.

But actually being back in the "good ol' US of A"....uhm, not as exciting as I thought it would be. It's one thing to intellectually know that America is not the center of the universe, quite another to actually experience it. Now that I'm back, I assume I'll pick back up the little accessories and attitudes that marks me distinctively an American, and slide seamlessly back into my own culture. No. Wait. I guess I never was very seamlessly assimilated even before going overseas, was I? Whew. But you know what I mean. We'll just start doing things on automaton again because it's human nature to adapt, mold to one's surroundings. Hopefully though the memories of "different" will stick around and add wisdom and understanding to my actions, whether they be big ones, like politics, or little actions, something as simple as flushing a toilet or walking across the street.

We did miss a few things about America though. On the top of William's list: drink refills (which Deirdre finds highly amusing since they don't give automatic refills here on the East Coast either), unlimited supplies of catsup (what is Brown Sauce and what do you use it on? We never really figured that out), and Taco Bell.

For me...... hmmmm........ prices I guess. But it's all relative, isn't it. It's because I was exchanging dollars to pounds (or euros) that the cost was so high over there. Would it be as expensive if I was making a living in those currencies to begin with? I'm not really sure. So...... uhm..... Dang, there has to be other things I missed. Right? Only I can't think of anything at the moment. Maybe when I get back to my normal routines I'll think of more. Oh, I know, no damn commercials at the cinema... er, theater... I'm back in the US, gotta start speaking the language again, don't I. And no, it's not the same language. There's English English. And then there's American English.

Mainly the things I've missed this last month haven't been cultural, they've been personal things. My husband, my pets, my friends. Talking to my kids. My own bed, my own garden, my own internet settings, my own washing machine. But those things were all missing by circumstances, travel, not country location.

I can think of things I'll miss about the UK and/or Paris. Sidewalk cafes or the open doors of a pub on every corner. Being able to order tea and automatically getting the whole set up of tea pot, water, and milk. Hedgerows. Statues and history so thick you can't take ten steps without bumping into it. Multi-national populations. Mind the gap. Mass transportation that is actually usable. Theatre (live) in every city, town, or village. Cobblestones and bricks.

There are lots of little adjustments, neither good nor bad but simply different. At the airport we were trying to find a way out. We looked for a sign. We didn't see anything that said "Way Out" or even "Sortie". Finally I spied a small black and white sign. Four letters. E-X-I-T. It took a nano-second for my brain to translate it. I pointed at it and we moved towards the corrider underneath it. We hadn't seen an "Exit" sign in a month.

We went to bed last night, according to the beautiful big wall clock in Deirdre's livingroom, at 10:30 pm. Our bodies though, knew differently. It was actually 3:30 am, possibly even 4:30 am, as we'd just returned from Paris a few days before we flew back. I woke this morning to see the clock read 6:30 am. I stared at it and pondered sleepily if I had slept for eight hours, or only three? And we still have three more time zones to travel backwards through before we're back home.

Very confusing. I'll just sign off with a quote from The Truman Show that will cover all my bases - "Good morning! And in case I don't see you: good afternoon, good evening and good night!"