Sunday, July 30, 2006


I ran out of cold bottled lattes. Rather, my husband drank the last of them and didn't mention it. So the last two days I've been rather grumpy and uncaffeinated in the morning, too unorganized and listless to go to the store and restock. It's more fun to be a martyr.

I think the heat wave did more then trigger a few (hourly) hotflashes. I think it completely threw my hormones out of whack. It might be just a coincidence - heat wave and rocky patch of menopause (or perimenopause or pre-menopause or whatever the hell we're calling it these days), but I don't think so. It seems like the one caused the other. I'm trying to just sit tight and see if it doesn't all work itself out in a few weeks or so. In the meantime, I'm doing an excellent job of playing a deranged old cat lady. Yesterday I was tearing up at the dumbest things. No, really, I mean really, really dumb things.

Moving on, synchronicity. Do you know it took two people about five minutes to come up with that word from the ruins of their middle-aged brains?

Me: Honey, what's that word. Not "serendipity". It means things happening at the same time?

Jeff: I don't know. Coincidence?

Me: No.

Jeff: Providence?

Me: Nooooo!

and so on.....

Lately I've had several different messages from the universe, delivered in the form of ongoing sychronicities. The main one having to do with this whole decluttering my life business. Ever since I've been back home, which, if you disregard the time I've been hiding from the heat, hasn't really been that long, I've been feeling completely frustrated with the structure of my life. Not my life, just the structure of it. Or rather, complete lack of structure.

Well, that's not true. Everything has a structure, including my life. Including jellfish. Including a mud puddle. Including a scoop of mashed potatoes. It's just that different structures serve different purposes. Loose structures, like the ones I've just mentioned, including my life, can have advantages. And they can have disadvantages. Hmmm, I think I'm doing a terrible job of trying to explain this..... let's just say that this argument doesn't have a very good structure for what it intends to do - explain my frustration about my life. The bottom line, the structure of my life, recently, has left me feeling unsatisfied. It might have been a useful structure in the past, the flexibility allowed me to be available to my shoe full of children, allowed me to deal with any number of unexpected crises, but it no longer serves my needs, my wants, my desires.

So, I've been trying to figure out how to re-structure it. Imagine if you will, someone dumping an entire house, unassembled, in a field, and telling you to make it into something useful. I mean, an entire house. Picture a jumble in the middle of the field of two by fours, chairs, bags of nails, piles of books, plumbing fixtures, stacks of sheetrock, shoes, cereal boxes, photo albums, coils of wiring, shampoo bottles, magazines, lightbulbs..... You get the idea now? I've spent the last few days circling the damn thing, feeling completely overwhelmed.

I've figured out a few important things. First, I can't really start to build something out of the enormous pile until I figure out what I want the end result to look like when it's finished. But that doesn't mean that the most important thing is to figure that out. I mean, I don't even know what I have to work with yet. Maybe the most important thing is to start organizing the mess into piles of like minded things? Maybe it's most important to move it all over to the side of the property and start grading and laying a foundation so I have someplace to build? Maybe I need to walk away from it all and find a new piece of property without that huge mess in the middle of it? Mainly what I have been doing is walking around it, feeling like I want to burst into tears, or sitting on a small rise where I can see the whole frickin' mess in one glance, eating tortilla chips and ice cream, and trying to imagine what it would be like restructured in a thousand different ways.

I suppose right now some of you are still following me, being used to the fact that I tend to talk in wide sweeping circles, making numerous off road forays that have nothing to do with the original intent of the conversation. Some of you are stuck back at "So what does this have to do with synchronicity?" Well, not much really. Except that the messages I've been receiving all have to do with amplifying the already urgent feeling that it's now-or-never to clean up my act and do something new with my life. Everywhere I turn, everything I read, everything I see seems to be telling me to get my ass moving.

I was cleaning up apples in the backyard earlier. The apple tree set fruit on a bumper crop of apples this spring. Only, the apple tree can't support all those apples. All summer the weaker fruit, the ones that have too much shade or bug damage or less nutrients, have been falling off and littering the patio. I had William do a major clean up about a month ago but recently the apple fall-off has increased dramatically. I knew eventually someone would forget to shuffle through there safely and woosh, it was a slapstick comedy scene just waiting to happen.

So there I was, down on the concrete, gathering up hundreds of little apples and tossing them into buckets. It wasn't fun, my back doesn't like bending over, my knees aren't too fond of it either. It was hot, dusty, boring. And suddenly, it hit me - this is what my life is like a lot of the times. I'm so busy trying to deal with all these unproductive apples, I never get the time to take care of and nuture the ones that are still clinging to the tree, the ones that have a chance to come to maturity and become a crisp autumn snack or aromatic thanksgiving pie. Instead of spending my time pruning, watering, caring for the tree, I'm wasting all my time trying to save all these little rotten apples. It doesn't matter how much time they were still on the tree, how big they almost got - once they've fallen, they're finished. I need to accept that no matter how long I leave them to lay about on the ground, they're never going to become useful. They can't be salvaged. It's time to toss them in the compost pile instead of wasting so much time trying to pick my way around them every time I venture out, for fear of falling.

I spent the afternoon rereading a book I really love. It's called Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. I had pulled this book off the shelf to read months ago and hadn't gotten around to it. It took me almost a half hour of digging around in piles all over my house to even find the book today. These ironies were not lost to me. It's a very small book. I read it almost all the way through in less then two hours.

The first time I read the book, years ago, the thing that stuck in my head the most was the advice not to keep something in your possession unless it can pass one of two criteria. It must either be a) something you use or b) something you truly love. Love. Not just like. Not "think is cute." LOVE. That's helped me a lot in the decluttering I've already accomplished.

The thing that stood out for me on this current read isn't one specific comment. It's more the idea that there's really nothing to it but to do it. It won't get easier at some undefined point in the future. It won't simply go away if I continue to ignore it. And like those apples, it won't ever be anything but a mess. I can't USE most of it. I don't even WANT to use most of it.

I don't know if that realization came from the book, or just that I'm finally reached that level of frustration with it, which is why I was desperate enough to find the book and read it again in the first place. And just for the record, it's not like I live in this frightening home with tiny passageways through stacks of old newspapers and 30 years worth of National Geographics. I don't iron my junk mail and keep it in boxes. It's nothing as bad as all that. It's simply that my life and my home are cluttered with too many hopeful collections of "things I will get around to" or "things that might be useful" or "we might need that some day" or "I'm not sure what's in that stack" or "I don't know where to put that stuff". I wake up every day knowing that I've got all this stuff to deal with and I never make it through the past responsibilities (or perceived responsibilities). I never wake up and think first of the fresh new possibilities I could do that day. I live my life in a continual state of "catching up" so that unless it's not home related, I'm never able to live in the present.

I only hope I can maintain this level of frustration long enough to get through everything that needs getting through. I've set myself a goal of finishing it by the end of this summer. Not every last niggling detail, but the framework, the structure. This means in part, deciding what the end result might look like, so I can make decisions on what to keep in my life and what to pass on to the world at large. I've been stalled at the "I don't know where to start" stage for awhile because I haven't been able to formulate a clear enough picture of what that end result might be. I was heartened by a passage in Kingston's book:

"When you live surrounded by clutter, it is impossible to have clarity about what you are
doing in yur life. When you clear it, you get fewer colds, you can think more clearly, and life
decisions become easier. Being clear of clutter is one of he greatest aids I know to
discovering and manifesting the life you want."

My gut instincts in the past have been that I really can't move on until I clean up my past. Basically, that's what my clutter is, unfinished past - both physical and emotional. Goals or projects I've started but no longer want to complete, yet I haven't felt comfortable letting them go completely. Emotional attachments to times in my life that, for better or worse, I can't go back and re-do, I can't have back or re-live. I've made a lot of progress when I've had time to tackle things, but I often get sidetracked with current life which, I don't begrudge. More frustrating, I would find myself wondering if I was only using the need to organize things first as another form of procrastination to avoid starting the things I really want to be doing in my life now. So I'd try to jump into something new, only to find myself bogged down or fizzling out on it. Again. The idea that cleaning and decluttering will clear the way (and my mind) for new things to happen organically, is something I've always believed. It was nice to have Kingstons's words affirm my sense of priorities.

Okay, I'm gonna be brave and just click "publish post" here without a backward glance. I'm gonna go to the market and get a half dozen four packs of those lattes - that should last me the summer - and then there's nothing to it but to get to work. I'm gonna start "eating that elephant." One bite at a time.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Heatwave Relief!

Is it "heat wave" or "heatwave"? Whichever, the exciting news is that we have some glorious relief from it tonight. Yes, it's cool outside. I might even say, COLD. I would be comfortable in jeans. Not that I'm wearing jeans. I'm wearing a sleeveless dress and relishing the chilly air on my bare limbs. I'm going to get to use a BLANKET tonight!!!!

It was cool enough this evening for me to finally get out in the garden and get those poor, pitiful, abandoned six packs of plants in the ground. Several of them were obviously not gonna make it. If I'm not mistaken, green plants need at least one or two leaves remaining on their stalk in order to photosynthesize. But I planted it all anyway, even if for a few, it could be considered nothing but a decent burial. If the weather stays low enough, I might even go back to the store and find a few more plants to torture tomorrow.... I mean, nurture tomorrow. NUTURE!

Tonight I found a hysterically funny new television show. It's called Psych. It's about these two private detectives, one who pretends to be a psychic. Between Monk and Psych, we laughed all evening. Now I'm watching this really stupid show called What Not to Wear. Jeff was watching another episode of it earlier. I'm watching it with a mixture of fascination and horror. First, I'm really not a reality show type person. And then there's the whole thing of having total strangers tell you that your entire family thinks you look like complete shit. I don't think I could do it. I like my comfortable, eccentric, occasionally shabby clothes. Would you be willing to give up your entire wardrobe for $5,000 and an opportunity to be publicly humiliated on television? Maybe you would. Maybe I'm just weird.

Yawwwwn, time to try out that whole covering-my-body-while-I-sleep idea. Cool blessings to everyone!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Smoke and flames

A photo I took last week during The Creek Fire. I shot this down at the end of the cross street two houses up from our house. If you click on it, you can see the flames along the ridge top.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Heat Wave Whining

The heat wave continues and I'm torn between feeling frustrated and foolish at how utterly flattened I am by it. Years ago my mom used to complain about how she couldn't handle the "heat" and I will admit to thinking she was exaggerating her reaction to it. I mean, I never felt ill, so why would she? Now I've gotten older and in the last few years I've consistently gotten ill from the first high temperatures of the summer but a day or two of heat sickness, then I'd adjust and be fine.

But here I am, still feeling useless and ill two weeks into nonstop heat, two weeks of temperatures over 100 degrees. It doesn't help that the heat is triggering hot flashes. Nor that I've picked up a bit of a stomach bug the last couple of days. I've tried pretending I'm not feeling ill from the heat. That hasn't been particularly helpful. I put a photo of an icy ocean up as wallpaper on my computer. I'm fondly replaying memories of chilly autumn winds and winter snowfalls. I've tried simply waiting out the heat and getting things done at night when the temperatures drop a little, but I'm so exhausted from feeling sick during the day that I don't have much energy to do anything even when it's finally cooler. "Cooler" being a relative term.

It's embarrassing to complain about the heat when folks over in the valley have had temperatures consistently ten degrees hotter then here in the mountains. The national news just did a small spot on the ongoing heatwave and said at least 102 deaths in California have been attributed to it. It's frightening to think of how someone with less mobility or financial means, elderly or isolated, might be at the mercy of this unmerciful weather.

About the only thing that helps is going somewhere air conditioned during the heat of the day. An hour or so in an air conditioned restaurant, my body temperature goes down, I feel well enough to eat (not eating doesn't help, I'm sure) and then I start to feel bored and restless and want to go home and get something done. Of course within minutes of leaving the air conditioning I feel drained by the heat again. So drained it's hard to even think clearly sometimes. William suggested I bring my laptop and write, a brilliant idea, if my brain wasn't feeling so muzzy, boggy, sizzled from the heat. Sigh. I have been able to retreat into novels quite a bit, until today when the headache made my eyes hurt too much to read.

Okay, that's enough whining. The temperature has dropped enough to feel downright cool tonight. A couple of migraine formula tablets and extra water and my headache if finally receding. Now, for some more pleasant ramblings...

The most exciting news, I'm typing this on my laptop, while sitting on the couch watching... well, I was watching the news, then a landscaping challenge show on HGTV, and now a rerun of Monk I've never seen before. I bought a wireless router for our cable service while I was in Reno the other day and my darling son figured out how to make it all work. Isn't he a wonderful boy!? YES!

Rosie has been such a funny girl today. This afternoon I threw one of her toys for her to fetch. It fell behind a box sitting in front of the rocking chair, some bags and baskets, and a standing lamp on the other side of the room. She jumped off the couch, ran across the room, wound her way through the maze of chair legs, a basket, and the lamp base. Finding the toy she came out the other side of the box, which wasn't blocked at all. It was completely clear on that side of the box. She was about to run back across the room when she paused, thought "this isn't the way I came" turned and very carefully made her way back through the more convoluted path, not easy with a big stuffed toy in her mouth. She returned the toy, proud at doing it "right".

Later in the day she was walking across the top of the bed as my husband left the bedroom to go into the bathroom. As he was closing the door he, uhm, well, he farted - loudly. At the sound, Rosie stopped halfway across the bed and looked at her butt as if to say "Was that me!?"

Lastly, a dog barked on the street outside a little while ago. Rosie was on the living room floor. Her ears perked up and she immediately jumped from the floor to the couch, from the couch to the windowsill above the couch. Well, that was the plan anyway. She managed the floor to couch part fine. It was the couch to windowsill that didn't go as planned. She didn't get quite enough lift and ended up bouncing back off the couch back cushions. Without hesitation she took a second jump and made it to the windowsill, too busy barking furiously at the dog on HER street to be embarrassed, but it was funny to see her bounce across the room like a super ball, a little back bounce in the middle of it all.

Okay, maybe those Rosie stories weren't funny enough to be blog material. I can't really say, the heat has made it tough to make simple assessments. Maybe some ice cream will help cool me down. With chocolate. Chocolate lowers body temperature, right? What else..... ghosts? Aren't ghosts supposed to lower the air temperature? The classic "cold spot" in a haunted house? How does one invite ghosts to come for a visit? Okay, now I know I'm not making any sense. I'll go eat that ice cream.

N is for....

I've been absent from the blogging world for the last few days. I could ramble on about that, and perhaps tomorrow (or rather, later today, after I've had a night's sleep) I might. But for now, I'll just see if I can manage a Wordplay post and then head for the cooler ("cooler" being a relative term) bedroom and some more Jamie and Claire.

Noel - my daughter. Actually, my stepdaughter, she came into my life at four years old, a waif-ish wild child with baby fine hair and a stubborn streak as strong as her four brothers put together. A tomboy with Holly Hobby taste in clothing until puberty and Goth style hit her like a tsunami. She was the proverbial black sheep child through her teens, determined to learn everything the hard way, but she's turned into a smart, nurturing, independent young women and a wonderful mother to her own busy brood of special kids, my three grandchildren.

Nut - my silly long haired black kitty - she's only four years old but she's turning gray around the ruff for some reason. Pronounced "newt", she's named after the Egyptian Goddess who helps the dead travel safely to the underworld.

night, nocturnal, night owl - I've always been somewhat more of a night owl than an early bird, but the whole thing has been exacerbated to almost vampiric proportions by a number of factors, not the least of which was the many years my hubby worked the night shift and William's homeschooling not requiring anyone to get out of bed early. It has it's plusses and minuses, but it's rather nice to think of how many more shooting stars I've seen then your average person.

nasturtium - one of my favorite flowers, I love the way it grows almost kudzu-like in the Pacific Northwest. It tastes great too.

Nimbus - my angora rabbit. I had this wild hare (HA!) that I'd have the time and inclination to spin his beautiful dark, gray wool (hence, the name, Nimbus, as he reminded me of a large fuzzy storm cloud). I never did more then try to keep the matting down to a minimum. My cats loved to "attack" the little clouds of his sheared fur. They would never have attacked him personally though, he was twice their size and although he pretty much ignored the cats as not worth his time, I'm sure he could have kicked some feline ass with his huge thumper back feet of his. He was friendly but never cuddly and he died late this spring while I was away.

Northern Exposure - one of my all time favorite television shows. I loved it when it was new, loved it again when it was in re-runs and we were living up in the isolated mountains above San Diego in a small community full of our very own "Northern Exposure" eccentrics. I think the key to the show's appeal is that the characters were so bizarre that it somehow made them far more real and believable then most of the plasticized characters that were the mainstay of television at the time it first aired.

nine - one of my favorite numbers, the other one being eight. I was born on the 9th, Joe was born on the 9th, William was born on the 9th (in the 9th month). Sam had to be different, he was born on the 8th.

New Mexico - when I was a young teen my mom uprooted our family from the midwest and took off cross country to live near her mother who had retired in Albuquerque. I remember my school friends thinking I was moving to another country - sheesh - New Mexico, not Mexico! Quite the culture jump, but I slid right into the land and the people and culture from the moment I arrived and never thought I'd ever want to live anywhere else. There's something about the smell of the air there, the color of the sky, that's unique from anyplace else, even neighboring states. I was pretty much forced to leave as my mother took off once again, following a husband (she ultimately ended up divorcing) to California. I missed New Mexico for a long time, but ultimately California has made me who I am today. And as I've gotten older, I've come to miss the lush greenness of the midwest equally, if not more, then the pinon scented (and yes, I know there's a wavy line over that middle "n" - I can't find the option key to make it!)southwestern state. But there's still a special place in my heart for the "Land of Enchantment".

Navy - my son is in the Navy. I can't say that I'm happy about him being in the military in this crazy, political madhouse of a world, but I am proud of him for accomplishing goals he set for himself and I know, although I don't have to like it, that my children will all walk paths that are right for them, not for me.

natural - I tend to go for natural things or a natural look in just about everything: clothing, hairstyle, decorating, hobbies, foods.

nature - big fan of nature, even if it has things like mosquitoes and stinging nettle in it. I really like cities and if I couldn't live in the country or a small town, I'd pick a big city over the spreading sameness of suburban sprawl, but my heart belongs to nature first of all. I think my childhood, where it was safe for me to wander relatively free in the natural world, gave me a deeper understanding and love for this world then anything I could have learned from a book or a few brief nature "field trips." Not an uncommon type of childhood for my generation, I fear how few children in this day and age have as great an opportunity and I sometimes wonder if that will make it more difficult for future generations to care about what happens to the world separate from how it will affect their ability to buy gas or turn on their air conditioner.

nautical - I love the feel of a boat under me. I spent a lot of time in boats, medium and small, when I was younger. I didn't go out on the ocean until I was an adult and folks told me that it was different, and that I might get sea sick. Well, I loved the feel of the ocean underneath me just as much as the smaller waves of a lake or river. Coming back on shore after time on the water, I miss the sway of "sea legs".

near-sighted - since I was in 3rd grade. That would have made me about....eight? Nine? Astigmatism too. And now you can add farsighted on top of those other two, as I get older and have trouble finding the right length in which to view anything and everything. Bifocals have worked for a few years, but now it's gotten to the point where I have three different vision needs - the top of my bifocals, the bottom, and taking them off completely for some close up work or reading.

nickname - I had a few nicknames in my life (Bazooka Joe, Linny, Winnie, and of course later, "Mom!") but I never had what I considered a real nickname, growing up. I felt cheated that my name wasn't something easy to shorten or change. When I was 12 or so, I wanted to call myself Tawni - with a circle, not a dot, over the "i". I spent a lot of time writing it - Tawni - over and over in my school notebooks, but never could get it to stick to my persona - aren't we all incredibly grateful for that now! Tawni sounds like the name of a porn star. But when I was twelve, I thought it sounded sooooo lovely, soooo exotic.

normal - why be it? Normal means average, not unique in any way. Boring. Not very creative. Yawwwwwn. I mean, fine. Be normal if that's who you are, in one way or another. But don't work at being normal just for it's own sake. Nothing there that hasn't already been done. Different drummer and all that.

north - for some reason, directionally, the north always calls me stronger then any other direction. Not so much now as before, but yeah, still, if I was gonna head somewhere, it would probably be north.

novel - love to read them, still haven't written my Great American one yet. Give me another year or two.

nuture - I'm a nuturing person. More so then the average person, or so I've been told. Good thing, seeing as I had all those kids to raise and what not. There's a limit though - I have a button that reads "I just don't feel like nuturing today." And I'll let you in on a dirty little secret - one of the reasons I think I can be so nuturing is that I have a very selfish core. I make sure I meet my own needs whenever it's possible, and I know that makes it easier for me to meet the needs of others, without resentment, when that's what's important.

no - a word I've learned to say more frequently as I've gotten older. Do I want to head that committee? No. Do I want to join this club? No. Do I want to watch that television show? No. Do I want to clean my house today? No. Do I want to go to the store and buy you a six-pack of sodas? No. Do I want to stay up longer to check this post for typos? No. Any more questions?

Sunday, July 23, 2006


In my first decade, I remember summer was:

Making silly jumps off the end of our dock.
Skiing behind my dad's boat.
Going to the marina for gas and getting to buy candy.
Laying on a blanket in the grass while my mom read books to me and my sisters.
Watching shimmering schools of poliwogs and minnows in the shallows.
Walking in the cool, green forests.
Climbing trees.
Getting checked for ticks or leeches.
Being sprayed down with mosquito repellent.
My mother's geraniums and petunias.
Lawn chairs.
The sound of lawn mowers and boat engines.
Walking through the baby trees on my grandmother's farm.
Catching garter snakes and letting them go. Ditto frogs, turtles, salamanders, bugs...
Running around in the dark with sparklers.
My babysitters teaching me how to "do the twist" and other cool new dances.
The peaceful passage of time with a fishing pole in my hand.
Playing with my dog.
The "dog days" of August.
Sidewalk sales.

In my second decade, I remember summer was:

Barbeques with my dad's family - bratwurst, corn on the cob, potato salad....
Camping with my mom and sleeping on the hood of our car.
Watching my dad's softball team lose game after game after game......
Late night thunderstorms.
Running around the neighborhood with my friends.
Playing kickball.
Spending lazy afternoons hiding from my sisters with a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a library book.
Wandering around the neighbor's dairy farm while they picked weeds in their garden or milked the cows.
Drill team practices at the park.
Visiting my dad.
Sleeping on air mattresses in front of a fan in the upstairs window at my grandmother's house.
Going to summer camp.
Riding horses.
Playing tennis with my friend Steve early in the morning before the sun came up.
Picnics in the Sandia Mountains.
A & W Rootbeer.

In my third decade, I remember summer was:

Planting my first garden.
Walking down to Old Uncle Gaylord's Ice Cream Shoppe for a sundae made with banana ice cream.
Going to the ocean on hot days, to find the fog.
Planting more gardens.
Hanging lots and lots of diapers.
Visiting my inlaws on the Stockton Delta.
Watching my toddlers as they wandered around the back yard with the hose set on dribble.
Going downtown to the Sonoma Plaza to feed the ducks hours before the shops even opened up.
The bagel shop.
The local 4th of July parade and friendly traffic jams after the evening's fireworks display.
Sitting on a chamomile lawn listening to Tim and Rosemary at the California School of Herbal Studies.
Women's circles up in Sebastopol, Sunday Circles at the Westerbeke Ranch under ancient oak trees.
Sandboxes and dirtpiles.
Sitting around with women friends, someone always nursing a wee little person.
Writing. Writing. And more Writing.
Writing poems.
Summer dresses.
Camping in Mendocino.
Naked ladies blooming, announcing the end of summer.

In my fourth decade, I remember summer was:

Camping with five kids - redwood forests, sand castles, bow and arrows made of sticks and twine, burnt marshmallows, a car full of kids and equipment with not a square foot of empty space.
Going to the Roseville City Pool in the heat of the afternoon.
Living like vampires (only come out after the sun goes down) in El Centro.
Drive-in movie theatres where the kids always fought.
4th of July firework displays where the kids always fought.
Sitting in the yard with my neighbor Laura, drinking ice tea, and watching our collective eleven children.
Sitting at my friend Sandra's, drinking ice tea, and watching our collective nine children, plus neighborhood kids.
Parks, lots of parks.
Playgrounds, lots of playgrounds.
Kiddie pools filled and refilled.
Water balloon fights.
Squirt gun fights.
Banning water balloons.
Banning squirt guns.
Kool-aid and popsicles.
Singing in the car with the kids - Tom Petty, Raffi, Linda Arnold, Paul McCartney.
Marine World. The kids sitting in the front seat at the whale show and getting soaking wet. Joe getting pooped on by a bird.
Joe always falling in the water wherever we went.
Discovering a real desert oasis.
Sam throwing up a giant red Slushie in the back seat of the car in middle of the desert.
Watching for rattlesnakes.
Buying summer sandals and tennis shoes for the kids.
Jeff's Hawaiian shirts.
Growing more gardens.
Watching fires burn across the border in Mexico.
Coyotes howling at night.
Annual camping trips with our friends Kathy and Mike.

In my fifth decade, I remember summer was:

Trips up and down the Pacific Coast from San Diego to Vancouver.
Fog and sand and filling the car up with shells, stones, driftwood, seaweed.
A few last camping trips with teenagers.
Driving cross country so my kids could finally meet my midwestern relatives.
Spending every day at the county fair.
4-H animals.
Going to the river with the kids.
Letting Jeff take the kids to the river so I didn't have to watch them jump off the bridge.
Sam going off with his fishing pole.
Driving Joe off to college, me crying almost all the way home.
Soccer camp. Football camp. 4-H camp.
More gardening.
Kids climbing the maple tree like long limbed monkeys.
The year Joshua died, spending most of the summer in the hammock, watching the sun move through the sky above the maple leaves, being surprised when it set behind the western ridge.
The smell of smoke and the constant threat of forest fires.
Driving home late at night from Reno.
Halley's comet in the sky.
Watching the Leonid meteor showers with William.
Visits to Washington state friends.
The sound of helicopters.
Redoing the raised bed gardens - buying wine barrels, and more wine barrels, and more wine barrels.
An apple tree filled with sun ojos for Litha.
Making grand barbequed feasts.
Making thousands of gallons of sun tea.
Positioning fans through the house.
Reading late into the night, waiting for a breeze.
Water slides, water guns, water balloons.
Hiding the water guns.
Making the teens pick up all the broken water balloons.
Making the teens pick up all the empty Otter pop wrappers laying sticky all over the house.
Banning Otter pops.
Visiting every skate park Sam could Mapquest.
The screen door opening and shutting and opening and slamming and opening and shutting and opening and.......
Teenage music.
Motel 6's.
Hanging clothes.
Getting a new clothesline.
Jeff's radiation treatments.
Sam moving out, me pouncing on his empty room for my own.
Painting rooms.
Hanging out at my mom's house in the trees, doing jigsaw puzzles late into the night with her.
Game nights with Dave and Debbie in the yard. The boys drinking coffee, the girls drinking margaritas.
Mexican food.
Jeff and Al sitting in the front yard.
Swearing "this is the year" I'll reclaim my gardens from encroaching weeds and grass.
The smell of dry grass and pine pitch in the summer air.
Already planning for Halloween by midAugust.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


That's all you're gonna get today. Pebbles. When I'm walking along the beach and I can't find anything big and interesting to gather, pocket, and drag home, still I never go away empty handed. I will sit down in a gravel bed, nose inches from the wet sand, and find interesting pebbles, some no bigger then large sand granules. It's not the size, it's the fun of finding something. So, that's what you're gonna get from me today in this blog. Little pebbles and bits of sand.

Because, I'm feeling restless and uninspired blogwise. But I know how disappointed I am when I go to someone's blog and find..... nothing new. Bummer. It's like calling on a friend and not finding them home. I could do a meme, but I'm not feeling very meme-ish. I considered doubling up on my Wordplay posts. I even said I was gonna. Maybe tomorrow.

Speaking of sand, sitting on the couch next to me last night, William lifted his elbow suddenly, looked, and found sand in the crook of his elbow. He said "I think it's San Diego sand." He stuck his hand in the pocket of shorts and came back out with a pinch more sand. "Yep" and then added "but I'm not sure how it got inside my elbow." Me neither.

I woke up this morning to find a chihuahua on my head. Pretty much an every day thing, really. Rosie starts out under the covers by my feet each night and in the morning, when I get up to pee, I come back to bed to find her curled up in the middle of my pillow, like a little chocolate mint the maid left for me. (maid - snort - I wish!) She looks so adorable that I can't bring myself to push her off. Instead I lay my head on a corner of the pillow and she slips down around my head like a furry black crown and we go back to sleep for another hour or so.

This morning though, I noticed that Rosie has a swollen neck. Not throat. Her neck. Of course it's Saturday so there are no vets available in town. I called my sister. She's a vet. I figured if it was something that sent red flags up in her brain, I'd be driving to Reno today. I told her Rosie was acting completely normal, just had this swollen neck - maybe a spider bite? Vet Sister ran through a list of possibilities, none of them dangerous, told me what to watch for, sounded reassuringly calm, and I hung up feeling a teensy bit better. But geeze, this is the sort of thing that makes it hard that she's so very tiny. On a bigger dog, I doubt I'd even have noticed something like this. On her, to quote a friend's son, it' "ginormous"! And makes her seem all fragile.

I hate that feeling. Of the world being fragile. Because worrying about one thing spreads, like grease, and gets on all my other thoughts and pretty soon I'm worried about my cats, and then my kids, and my husband, and my siblings, and the country and finally the entire planet. This would be a silly thing, if the frightening truth wasn't that we have reason to be worried about our planet just now.

I went to Safeway yesterday and bought all the fixings for a Citrico margarita. I've been craving one for a week. When evening came though, I just wasn't in the mood. I was too lethargic to make it for myself. And my stomach was a bit upset. Plus, there was no one to drink with - hey William, want a margarita? Uhm, that's not gonna happen. I don't even really feel comfortable having a drink with my adult kids. Triggers too many parental buttons I guess. So, maybe tonight? I need a girlfriend's night out.

I could have asked my hubby, but that would assume I was speaking with him last night. He was in the dog house with me because of a comment he had made earlier in the day. It was a small thing. I won't say what it was. I'll just give you this - The man watches Fox News. I know, it's so embarrassing. I can't stop him. When I come into the room, he flips the channel and pretends he didn't. This comment yesterday - I know it was born out of two strong influences - a) the fact that he was raised and grew up in a very wealthy community (and has long, long, long ago fallen from the white towers of the rich) and b) he works in a prison. Both these things skew his view of the world in strange and terrible ways. It's not who he is in the center of himself, but it's how he reacts to his fears. Sometimes I can ignore the odd things that come slipping out of his mouth. Sometimes I can even laugh. Yesterday, it shocked me in a way that made me unable to speak. So I didn't. All night.

I didn't have a margarita, but I did have cherries last night. We've had a local bumper crop of the shiny, gothic red, sweet, fingerstaining little fruits. Several neighbors have knocked on our door this week to offer us some of their backyard bounty. We have had more cherries then we can handle just from our neighbor across the street. My vegetable bins are filled with bags of cherries. Today I'm going to go in search of a cherry pitter so I can try to freeze some of the harvest for later.

In the meantime, I've been eating cherries every night. I started simply eating them whole. Then I began to slice them, pit them, cover them with ice cream and pour waaaaay too much chocolate over the whole thing. Chocolate covered cherry ice cream. Heaven! But wait, last night I took it up even a notch higher. I discovered I had some cherry mead in the fridge. So I pitted the cherries, soaked them in mead, and then made them into a sundae. I'm sure the creation was an entire day's worth of calories, but who the hell cares!

Another decadence, the family went to the fair the other night so we could have our annual Indian Tacos. This year was particularly good as they offered both vegetarian and regular. We sat inside the building under the bleachers where they had giant swamp coolers going. We sat right at the end of a long table directly in front of the fan. It was blowing so strongly I had to hold my hair back so I could eat without it flying in my mouth with every forkful of taco. It was wonderful. Both the Indian taco and the swamp cooler.

Afterwards, William convinced his father to go on a carnival ride with him. I was completely shocked, Jeff does not do rides. Ever. At all. But hey, it's not for me to remind him of that, nor to stand in the way of father/son bonding. So off they went. I wandered around the fair by myself listening to local bands, people watching, petting goats and rabbits in the animal barns. I bought this hanging crystal from a booth. It's really odd. First, near the top of the string, there's this little Japanese-ish flower made from colored cord. Next, hanging sideways through it's midsection is.... I can only describe it as a crystal hydrocephalic snowman. I know. Lastly, and the reason I wanted it, at the bottom of the string is a cluster of little, red, glass chili peppers. I was going to just take the chili peppers off but now I dunno, the thing as a whole is so bizarre, maybe I'll just leave it the way it is. Eventually Jeff and William found me, and we went home, Jeff complaining that he was gonna throw up. The next day he was still holding his stomach and complaining of vertigo and swearing he'd never ever go on a ride ever again. Well, duh.

I've been drinking cold bottled Starbucks vanilla lattes for breakfast every morning. It's too hot to want anything to eat. You'd think it would make me feel wakeful. It doesn't.

The weather is so frustrating. I spent all winter wishing for the warmth of summer and now that it's here, I'm just sweating it out, listlessly waiting for summer to be over again. Not true. I don't want summer to be over. Just this frickin' heat wave. This area never used to get this hot. No one has air conditioning. Who would need it!? I've/we've taken to hiding out at air conditioned coffee shops midday. I/we sit, munch on a salad, I get all perky and animated and think, whew, I feel much better, let's go home and tackle some project. I walk out the door and WHOOMP, the heat hits me and all my enthusiasm and energy evaporates within seconds.

Last night the storm clouds finally whipped up a cool breeze. I was sitting on the couch with the windows at my back and the wind was gusty enough to blow the curtains back and forth. They'd fling themselves inward, wrap themselves around my head, and then relaxing, slide back into the windowsill. The storm couldn't manage any real rain, but the wind did carry little spatters of raindrops. If you stood outside you'd feel one hit your arm, then a few seconds later another on your face. It wasn't much, but it was still lovely.

This morning the clouds have completely dissappeared. Hot, endless blue skies, punctuated by the whump-whump-whump of the ever present fire fighting helicopters. Yesterday, driving on a road that runs along the edge of town, I noticed a spray painted sign at the entrance to the old mill. As I got closer, I read it - "Creek Hellbase". Sunnydale? We have a Hellmouth now? Not only have one, but we've got a sign for visiting demons and monsters?

The oddest thing wasn't what I thought the sign said, the oddest thing was that upon reading it I wasn't terribly surprised or confused at what it said. At least for a split second. As I got closer I realized it really said "Creek Helibase." The recent fire was named the Creek Fire. So this was where the helicopter base was situated. Well, that makes more sense. I mean, I seriously doubt that they'd put up a sign for a hellbase.

I gouged my fingertip yesterday, reaching into my purse for my checkbook at Walmart. I'd gone for a) the air conditioning and b) to look, for the six hundred and eleventh time, for a pair of shorts that fit. Apparently they only make women's shorts for skinny, buttless teenagers or women with very ample asses. They don't make shorts for anyone in between. I mean, really, they don't. I've been looking for a pair for two years now. It's ridiculous. Again, I didn't find any yesterday, but I did find a cute pair of shorts with a matching t-shirt for my grandson Joshua's upcoming birthday. Paying for them is when I gouged my finger. I looked and rummaged and couldn't figure out what it was that I stabbed myself with in there. There doesn't seem to be anything in my purse that could have done so much damage to me. I've got this really odd, hair-on-the-back-of-my-neck rising sort of feeling that it was a gremlin of some kind. Or a "sign" that I shouldn't be shopping at Walmart. I mean, I already know I shouldn't be shopping at Walmart. But the next nearest place to shop for clothing is over a hundred miles away. So you gotta cut me some slack, -k-?

Hubby just came back home from an errand, baring a soy latte. It's shorthand for "I'm sorry I'm a stupid white man." Unfortunately it's a hot soy latte. But it's the thought that counts. I guess I'll go doctor it up with some sugar and ice. Apology accepted. I don't have the energy to stay annoyed any longer.

Anyone want to fly in tonight for margaritas?

Thursday, July 20, 2006


****I dedicate this post to my dear friend Kristen the Citrico Pusher.****

I don't dedicate it to Kristen because she's a Citrico Pusher, but I just thought I'd mention that she does seem to be rather a lush these days. Hehehe. In case anyone appreciates that in a friend from time to time. I know I do.

But no, I dedicate this post to Kristen because she's the one that kept saying "You don't REREAD!?" in tones of such anguish, shock, and pity (yes, and all this over IM - those emoticons are doing a fantastic job!) that I decided perhaps, truly, I was missing out on something after all.

You see, I'd admitted to her I didn't reread books. As a general rule. Actually, I admitted I usually didn't reread books. There are a few exceptions. I've reread The Color Purple by Alice Walker about three or four times. I've reread In the Land of Winter by Richard Grant almost every December for the last four years. As I child I reread all my A.A. Milne Pooh adventures so many times I could probably recite any section of it from memory.

There are probably less then a half dozen other books I've read twice. I mean, who has the time!? There are so many books out there I haven't had a chance to read the first time, why waste time rereading something I already managed to finish?

But then a couple things happened. My youngest son, who was homeschooled, loved literature but turned out to be a very late reader. Now, at 14, he can, I'm sure, outread most adults. But his late reading ended up to be a blessing in disguise because it meant that I read to him for many, many years. With my other kids, once we were past the picture book stage, I was mainly out of the loop. They all grabbed up their early readers and went off to some cubbyhole in the house to read by themselves. With William, we evolved past picture books, through early readers (which bored us both), and worked our way up through young adult and finally into many adult genres before he was confident enough to read independently. By the time he wanted to stop reading together, it had become such a regular pattern in our days that I was sad to see it end. Not only did I simply enjoy our time together but, along the way, getting back to my original point here, not only did I get to discover a lot of new books, I got to rediscover many, many old favorites. And I was quite surprised at a) how much I'd forgotten most of them and b) how different the stories were when read from a different age perspective.

The other thing that happened was that Kristen, Deb, Suzy and a few other friends, mainly bloggers and e-mail friends who are bibliophiles like myself, kept talking about this practice of reading beloved books a second, third time. Even a dozen times. I was becoming intrigued. And despite the screams and wails from all those other completely unread books on my shelves/tables/floor/desk - I picked up a book I'd already read, and reread it.

The title was Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I had only read it a few years ago, I was sure I would lose interest quickly since I obviously hadn't even had time to forget the plot yet. Not to mention spending those two years obsessively listening to the soundtrack from the Broadway musical of the same name. I was wrong. I had forgotten a lot of the details and a few major turn of events. I also discovered I had somehow missed several important themes that ran through the book. On first read I had only followed one theme, and not even a very interesting one. After finishing the book the first time, I was left with an ambiguous sort of love/hate relationship with it. I was intrigued by it, couldn't stop thinking about it, but I wasn't even sure if I liked it! After I finished rereading the book, I was blown away. I finally "got" it. I loved it.

So, I did it again. This time I assigned a book to William, something I had never done before. But I had a reason. The book was The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. A decade ago, our local conservative high school board refused to allow an English teacher use this title in an Honors English class for seniors. The fight over the book made the local paper. I was curious and decided to read the book myself and see what all the fuss was about. I feel so sorry for that English class for not being allowed to read Kingsolver because the book and the author immediately rocketed to my Top Ten Favorites list. So, when William became high school age this spring, I realized that as his teacher I could make The Bean Trees required reading. I did just because I could, still annoyed at that ban all these years later. (I've told you folks all this before, haven't I....)

I sweetened the pot by offering to read it to him. He declined. So I offered to read it along with him. He liked that idea. I'd read and leave a marker, he'd read up to the marker. The next day I'd read and move the marker, he would read up to the marker. Within a few days we needed two markers and we were fighting over the book. He loved it but again, back to my original point, I loved it. And discovered, again, I'd read the book through completely different eyes the second time around.

That's when I realized with equal parts excitement and dread (dread because that suddenly made my TBR (to-be-read) List miles longer in an instant, that all those already read books were actually still new books - I hadn't read them at this point in time, had I - waiting to be REREAD.

I think I've already mentioned, probably more then once, that what I'd really love to do with the rest of my summer is lay in my hammock under the big shady maples in our yard, drink cold drinks, and read from a never ending stack of books. I haven't bothered with the hammock, but I've done quite a bit of reading in the last week, mainly because it's been too hot to do anything else. What I've been reading, or rather REREADING, are the Harry Potter books. I've been saying I was going to reread them almost since the time I started them the first time. Now that I've finally gotten around to it, it's wonderful.

When I'm not reading lately, I'm compiling a quickly growing, mental list of books I want to reread, hopefully soon. The list is getting too long to actually read them all soon, but lists are fun to have even if one can't possibly manage everything on them.

Now, after an introduction far longer then I'd planned (but not a single one of you are surprised at, am I right?), here's a list of some books I'd like to reread this summer. I know I won't get to more then one or two of them, but they've all jumped in line, so what's a girl to do!

In no particular order:

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

His Dark Materials (a trilogy - The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis - I'd also like to read the rest of the Narnia series, which I have never read before.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Forests of the Heart by Charles DeLint

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (mainly to compare it to the movie)

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Of course along with that list, I have a bunch of not yet read books jostling for the next spot in line. Most vocally:

Nevada Barr's High Country, which is the second to last book in her Anna Pigeon series. Somehow I've fallen behind. I thought I had the book here but after tearing the bookshelves apart all last week, I finally gave up and bought it, perhaps rebought, yesterday.

Micah by Laurell Hamilton. She's also got another new one, Danse Macabre, which is still in hardcover. What's summer without at least one steamy vampire book, eh?

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason - don't know anything about it except a couple people were raving about it and I happened to find a used copy yesterday at the bookstore.

The Eighth by Katherine Neville (yes Kristen, I found it!)

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - picked it up in London and keep forgetting I have it even though the first chapters (which I read while standing in line for theatre tickets in Leicester Square - gawd, I love saying that!) were hard-to-put-down wonderful!

I also want to read the next in Ayelet Waldman's Mommy-Track Mystery series and Yasmine Calenorn's Chintz 'n China Mystery series - both series fast, fun and filled with likable characters.

Oh! And how could I forget! The next Sookie Stackhouse book from Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Series. Oh, dear, this one might be second in line after High Country.

Whew. I guess that's enough for one sitting. As I've been typing, storm clouds have been rumbling dry lightning (not a good thing without rain!). The muggy air is getting decidedly hotter still. Sigh. And most unsettling of all, I can smell smoke again. The big fire I posted about a few days ago has been contained and the ridges and valleys that burned (over 1200 acres) looked like they'd even stopped smoking for the most part yesterday evening (it made them look cool and foggy - if only that was the case) although the helicopters were out there dumping water on them again this morning as soon as the sky was light enough for them. I'm hoping this smoke is simply a patch inside the bulldozer lines flaring up again. We do not need another fire. Knock on wood.

Okay, so what books are on your REREAD or TBR lists? Tell me in the comments section or post about it on your blog and let me know.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

M is for......

Mom - I picked me a good one!

Mothers - What would we do without them. All of them. From that motherly waitress that automatically brings you extra napkins to The Mother Goddess who loves us all. Mother Earth. Friend's mothers. Mothers-in-laws. I've been blessed with a lot of extra mothers in my life.

Minnesota - One of two midwestern states I consider "home" states. The land of 10,000 Lakes. Prairie Home Companion radio show. Doncha know.

margaritas - "Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up...." Practical Magic reference. I like mine with no extra flavors, lots of salt.

moon - I already went over my love affair with the moon under L for "lunar". Have you ever howled at the moon? Well, you SHOULD!

magazines - I don't subscribe to more then a few but somehow I've always got too many magazines around the place. It's partly my mom's fault at the moment, she gifted me with a bunch of too-good-to-pass-up old copies. But even on my own I tend to accumulate them. Right now I'm going through the ones I have stacked everywhere, pulling out an art idea here, a recipe there, and then moving them on, usually to the free box at the library.

Mexican food - love it. Probably go out to our favorite Mexican restaurants 2-3 times a week!

Maybeline - 50% boxer, 50% lab. 100% stubborn and 130% loyal to her family. She died, an old girl, a couple of years ago. I named her Maybeline (called her Maybel) because of the beautiful eyes, ringed with black "eyeliner". I was looking for a small breed puppy, but when I saw her, all big, gangly, already five months old, in the animal pound, I knew she was the one.

Marilyn - my best friends in high school were twins. Marilyn and Carolyn.

Mary - my best friend through the end of elementary school, junior high school, and the start of high school.

Marin - I lived in Marin County as a young adult. It's one of the places with a personality all it's own.

magic - I believe in magic. I also believe that magic is just science that we haven't been able to figure out yet. But for me, that doesn't make it less magical. I also like the fantasy type of magic as portrayed in movies and books. Don't believe in that, but it's fun to pretend. Of course the question then remains, where does real magic end and fantasy magic begin? I haven't figured that part out yet. And every time I think I've found the general boundaries, something happens to expand the realm of possibilities.

Midsummer Night's Dream - one of my favorite stories/plays/movies. I love it as live theatre, but I also really like the Kevin Kline/Michele Pfeiffer movie version.

Mendocino - one of my favorite places. I used to go up there to camp and visit when it was still a relatively undiscovered artist's colony. Alas, it's no longer undiscovered. Jeff and I had our honeymoon there, which was bittersweet for reasons that had nothing to do with the relationship.

Mound - one of my childhood "hometowns". My mom moved us around a lot, but this was a spot we "stuck" for awhile.

Minnetonka - Mound was on Lake Minnetonka

miscarriages - I've had more then my share. I stopped trying to keep count at around thirteen.

math - always liked math. Didn't know women weren't supposed to be good at it, so I was. It's like a puzzle, a challenge, a game.

matriarchal - my family has always been rather matriarchal. This generation of mostly sons that I have created is quite a shift in the gender dynamics of my family line.

Mists of Avalon - a novel that changed the way I thought about the world

meander - I like to meander. I think it's healthy not to have every step of the way planned out. We need time for unexpected travel, whether it be our feet or our thoughts doing the meandering. Plus, it's a fun word, doncha think?

mermaid - I wrote a poem about my daughter once, comparing her to a mermaid. Now I always associate mermaids with her and have come to have a deeper fascination and appreciation for their myths and symbolisms.

morning glories, moss, mullien, mint, mustard, mugwort, maple trees, manzanita, madrone - plants I feel a special affinity towards

moving - I moved around a lot during large chunks of my life. Mostly not by choice. Ironically all I really ever wanted was to be a girl with roots. Yet I wouldn't trade all my places for those long wished for roots, as all those places collectively have helped to make me who I am and have certainly sharpened my ability to appreciate and enjoy differences in people and in the world. The one drawback is that there are a number of places that call to my heart and it's just not possible to be in more then one place at a time. So life is always about chosing one place over another, even when I don't want to choose.

multi-tasking - I would never have survived as a mother of five without this critical skill. As I've gotten older, I seem to have lost some of my ability to multi-task. By that I mean I can now only comfortably do two or three things simultaneously. There was a time when I usually did four, fix, six things at once!

mysteries - one of my favorite reading genres ,especially a good old fashion cozy whodunnit

muse - my relationship with my muse is very complex. I love her, I hate her. She makes me feel guilty a lot of the time. I ignore her too often. She brings me some of my most joyful moments. Sometimes I try to ditch her at a busy place so she'll leave me alone for a bit. She always finds her way home. She's one and the same my best friend and a terribly bossy, gossipy nag. Sometimes she has two left feet, sometimes she sings like an angel. Occasionally I am in charge of her, more often I'm only her humble servant. I can't imagine my life without her.

myth - myth makes the world make sense. Or perhaps that's backwards. The world makes myth make sense? I define myth as a "story that is fictional but true" It might not be historically true, it may be completely made up, but it holds great truth within it. Most religions are based on a great truth and also a great myth. Myths tend to morph, evolve, recreate themselves to fit new places, times, people, and yet still retain their inner truth. An epiphanal moment for me (is epiphanal a word?) was stumbling upon Bill Moyer's PBS interviews with Joseph Campbell, author of The Power of Myth. I sat entranced in front of the television nodding "Yes, yes, yes, yes!" at hearing someone say something about religion and mythology that finally made sense to me.

mangos, minestrone, mushrooms, mousse - Yummy!

Manet, Monet - two of my favorite artists

majority/minority - this concept has always been a tricky one for me. The majority is allowed to vote something into law. Let's say that majority is 52%, or 63% or even 75%. That still means that the voices of a very large number of people, anywhere from half to a quarter of the population, are still being completely disregarded. I like the idea of consensus better. I know, probably completely unrealistic. But that's still the way I feel. Here's a little bit of Green Day for you - sing it loud!

"I want to be the minority!
I don't need your authority!
Down with the moral majority!
'Cause I want to be the minority!"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Here we go again!

It started about 3-4 hours ago. First a few fire trucks went by the house. So I went outside. Hmmmm, that cloud looks a bit different then the others..... it's smoke. Within a half hour, sitting outside in the front yard, we'd watched dozens more trucks and crews respond.

I took this photo about an hour ago from the other end of our street. We actually live much closer, about a block to the right of the large building you can see in this photo on the far right, which is about half the distance to the fire. If you click on the pic to open it larger, you can also see that first ridge of trees are mostly brown, not green - that's part of the ridge that burned a few weeks ago. This fire is the next ridge over but I could tell when I was taking the photo that it had already crested it.

I just looked outside again and now the smoke has spread out over the whole western and southern skies, there's at least two air tankers up there dumping loads of that red fire retardant, and a second wave of trucks just went by with sirens blaring. And the wind is picking up.

Man, we have so much fun up here in the mountains!

Surreal can be interesting

I'm drinking my breakfast iced vanilla latte out of a huge TGIF margarita glass this morning. It's been that kind of day, and that's before the day has even started. Sigh. In part it's carry over from yesterday, which was meltingly hot and sort of surreal.

I figured out that I really only had one or two of the flowers/herbs I'd entered in the fair this year blooming, or even still growing in my garden (I found out several were killed outright by some grass killer my husband used on the garden edges while I was away for a month. He swore it was "organic", but, yeah, it was still a dumb ol' chemical that couldn't tell the difference between grass and several other plants I had wanted to have growing there - GRRRRR.) So that meant I didn't have to get up this morning and take anything into the fair. That's the silver lining. In fact, sleeping in was a really good thing this morning as I had this dream about one of my movie star crushes and.... well, maybe that's all I have to say about that. Too bad one can't tivo dreams.

The heat. I expected everything to be all wavy shimmery heat mirage-y yesterday. I'm sure if I'd walked down to the edge of town and looked out over the fields or chaparral it would indeed have been like that. It's just as hot today. Maybe hotter. The heat feels accumulative.

Then there are all the firefighters in town. Little mobs of them everywhere - at restaurants, the market, walking down main street. All dressed in matching t-shirts, some still dusty and grimy from whatever fire they've come down off of for a break in town. It's certainly not a bad thing, but it makes me feel anxious. At least we've been fortunate, we haven't had a lot of smoke drifting into the valley lately. Well, except from the fire the little kid lit in the neighbor's orchard, just around the corner. Was that yesterday? Maybe the day before. This is a really little kid, I think he's five now. It's the third fire he's started in the last couple of years.

Lastly, but far from leastly, last night our elderly neighbor, Dorothy, passed away. She was 88 and had been in failing health. But her son Al, who has lived with her for many years in order to help care for her, is my husband's good buddy. He and Jeff are always sitting out in our front yard under the shade trees, rocking in the old iron lawn chairs, drinking iced tea, and shooting the breeze.

But Jeff was at work last night, I was the one outside in the front yard when Al came out of his house, telephone to his ear, standing in the middle of the street, looking overwhelmed, sad, confused. Soon the street was filled with assorted official vehicles but I knew that eventually they'd all leave and Al would be by himself. I knew none of his family lived in town, so I kept checking to make sure I could go out and be with him when the fellow from the mortuary eventually left with his mother. Jeff was at work, I figured I should stand in for him, and for his family who all live far away. No one should have to be alone at a time like that. Sure enough, he came over to talk to me while they brought her out. We stood out there for an hour or two while he talked in circles and related family stories. Of course he didn't realize he was telling me the same stories over and over. I recognized the emotional fugue state he was in. Been there, done that. And to top it off, yesterday was also his birthday. Sigh.

This morning it's still hot, still surreal. I thought the fair started today but discovered it opens a day late this year. It's too hot to go plant my new plants for the garden. It's too hot to do anything. So, I'll fill up my margarita glass again, this time with iced tea (maybe tonight I'll stop by the market and get some real margarita fixings) and answer the questions people offered me in yesterday's blog. Thanks!

First, the easiest question:

EasyDiverChris said:

"How do you pronounce your name, Laume?"

Say the word "loud" outloud. (yes, I know, sort of appropriate.) Now, drop the "d" and use an "m" sound. Silent "e". Ignore the "e". That's it. It's a Lithuanian word and I have no idea if that's the correct pronunciation or not. If anyone does know, I'm curious though. But it's the way I pronounce my name, regardless. It's been almost ten years, so it's too late to go changing it.

Deb asked:

"I want to see you answer some of the same questions I answered yesterday - What are you reading right now? What was the last book you tried to read but just couldn't get into? Last book you absolutely loved? Favorite genre?"

"What are you reading right now?"

That's pretty easy too. Right now - I just finished rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and jumped into the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I want to reread the whole series before the seventh and final book comes out. I'm also reading the fourth in Diana Gabaldon's historical romance series about the time traveling lovers Jamie and Claire - The Drums of Autumn. I really like this series but the books are so long and so dense that I only tackle one every other year or so.

"What was the last book you tried to read but just couldn't get into?"

Hmmmm. Something a friend sent me - the title was "bored housewives eating bon bons" or something like that. It seemed like it was trying to be like "Ya Ya's". But I kept the book. Maybe it was just timing. One of my favorite books of all, a trilogy actually - His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman - I just couldn't get into the first two times I attempted the first book (The Golden Compass). But one day I pulled it out to read to William and we were entranced from the first word. So, I think a lot of it is timing. I also tried to read The Hummingbird's Daughter" recently, liked it but was too restless and put it aside to read later.

"Last book you absolutely loved?"

Easy peasy! Joshilyn Jackson's new novel - Between, Georgia. She is the master of wonderful characters!!!

"Favorite genre?"

I sort of circle around through classics, fantasy, mystery, urban fantasy, thriller/horror, women's literature..... I guess if forced to pick it, I'd say urban fantasy.

Moving on, my mom asked me a question. She couldn't figure out how to ask it in my comments, so she sent it to me directly.

"HOW MUCH ARE YOU LIKE YOUR MOM/DAD AND IN WHAT WAYS ARE YOU you like these traits or wish to avoid the sameness?"

The caps are hers. Geeze, no PRESSURE or ANYTHING!!!

It's a good thing she didn't ask me this question twenty years ago, or even ten. Then, if someone had said "You're just like your mother" or "You look a lot like your mom" or "You and your mom are so much alike"..... I would have been quick to respond with an overreactive "NO I'M NOT!" I think we all spend our teen and early twenties trying to put some distance between us and our relatives. We're not the same. See! We dress differently! We think differently! We have different values!

Of course we don't. In fact, I think it's rather amusing the fashion styles of the youth these days recreate our youth almost exactly. So the kids these days are looking different from the adults these days by looking just like the adults these days did when they were kids. Right?

But the truth is, and I've grown into feeling fine with it, I'm a lot like my parents. And that's a good thing. I'm not exactly like them of course. We're all unique human beings. If I look in the other direction, out to my own children, sometimes even in their fledgling adult years I can see how they have embraced similar quirks/values/choices in their lives, and sometimes I shake my head in wonderment that these odd creatures were raised by me! Or, how could four such completely different children be raised in the same household!? I'm delighted by the traits that tie us together, even the ones that seem more like family curses then blessings (hey, at least they're OUR curses!) and I'm equally delighted (well, most of the time) by the things that make each of us individuals and stretch the boundaries of how we see our family. All that new stuff just gives us more geneological treasures! Which aren't the same thing as "family jewels" - HA!

I'm not trying to avoid answering in more detail then this, mom, in case you're thinking that. It's just too damn hot to think that hard. Oh, see, there's something I'm like my mother in - the older I get, the more I cuss like a sailor. Hehe. Let's see....

I like that I'm not afraid to be myself. I get that from my mom, who was not afraid to be a little bit eccentric when I was growing up. We thought we'd die of embarrassment from it when we (my sisters and I) were young, but now I've come to appreciate her lesson in how to listen to yourself and not the shoulds and musts people of the world. I could, if I wanted, also blame my mom for two traits in myself I'm not as thrilled with inheriting - my clutterbug tendencies and my ability to procrastinate.

As for my dad, I inherited his love of books, travel, science, theatre, and sports. It's funny because I grew up thinking it was my mom's side of the family who were intellectuals, and they are, and I get some of it from them too (my maternal grandmother and great aunt in particular), but when I was older I realized my father always had a book at his side and the game on the radio. I also think I inherited most of my physical features from my dad's side of the family, which I'm generally happy with, although I could do without my father's square chin I suppose. My dad passed away before I could really start to see him as an adult in his own right, not just as my father. I've thought about him from that bigger perspective in the years since his death, but it's not the same as having an ongoing relationship with him as I've grown older myself, like I do with my mom. My dad had a tendency, within his relationships, to say he was gonna do something, and then not do it. I haven't inherited that trait so much as been careful NOT to follow in his footsteps. I always understood that he meant well by promising things, but as an adult I've been careful not to promise what I couldn't (usually) follow through on.

Okay, that will have to do. I've been offered the chance at sitting out the midday heat someplace air conditioned. I'm definitely gonna jump at that opportunity. If anyone else has any questions, don't hesitate to add them in the comments below. This was fun. And I still don't know what to write about. Heat plus brain equals.... not much, but visions of cold drinks.

Oh, speaking of the heat - AGAIN - did you see the new me doll in my sidebar? My old doll was dressed far too warmly for this summer heatwave. And yeah, I really look like that. I swear! Just ask my mom. Tell her to take off her glasses first. And squint.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hot and dry

Like a lot of bloggers lately, I seem to be all dried up when it comes to blogging ideas. Well, that's not entirely true. I have a few ideas I haven't gotten around to using yet, mainly because they all demand more work to put up then I can manage just now. Too, I've got limited photo capabilities right now, which cuts into the fun stuff I can show you guys. Maybe I can blame this lack of inspiration on the weather, which is hot. I tried to talk to my friend Deirdre on the phone this morning and found my brain (and mouth) was as sluggish to respond as my manic depressive computer is at the moment. After listening to me stop and start midsentence for a few minutes, she wanted to know if I was medicated.

Deb solved her blogger's block by throwing it open to her readers, asking if any of her adoring fans had any questions they wanted to ask her about life, philosophy, art, books, shoes, etc. That sounds like a good idea, in theory, only I'm afraid I only have a tenth the adoring fans as Deb does, so what if I ask and no one wants to know anything about me? Huh? What if I've babbled on so thoroughly there's nothing left to ask? Gulp. Oh, what the heck - the worst case scenario - no one asks me anything and I'll have to go drown my self pity in a tall margarita. So, anyone? Leave your deep (or shallow) questions below in the comments.

In the meantime, I'll fall back on a really lame topic - Pirate fever. The new Pirates of the Carribbean movie to be exact. If you don't like spoilers, don't worry, I won't through out any details. Although if you're like me and can't stand to even hear anyone say something like "I liked the ending best.", then clap your hands over your ears, close your eyes, yell "LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU! while using your big toe on your right foot (left foot if you're goofy footed) to scroll down past this next paragraph. But honestly, I won't say anything you won't hear out in public, especially if you were sitting in the booth on either side of my friend Shelly and I last night at Young Sing's Restaurant.

Okay, here goes. Eh. I was so excited to finally see Johnny, Orlando, and Keira again and...... eh. I was disappointed. For two reasons. First of all - When are they gonna learn that big names and great special effects, as nifty as those two things are, can NOT carry a movie. A plot would have been nice. Really. Even a rough draft of one. Secondly, and perhaps I would have even forgiven them that last point if they'd managed this one - How about giving us an ENDING!? If you're doing the Lord of the Rings, you're allowed to end in the middle of the story. If you're doing a fun, summer no brainer, use a little bit of your collective hollywood/writer/media/geek brain to come up with an ending. ARGH! And I don't mean that in the pirate way! That's it. Well, no, there's more. But that would involve true spoilers, and I hate those. Embarrassingly, I'll probably end up going to see it again, or just buy the dang thing when it comes out on DVD, because it did have great special effects and maybe if I watch it a half dozen times, I'll find a plot buried deep down underneath all that prancing and splashing about.

Oh! Look at the time. Gotta get William to his sports physical. Ack! Don't forget folks - here's your chance - ask me a question!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

It is what it is

Life, that is. Or, one of my favorite quotes - "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon.

It's not all that dramatic. I've just been busy. With life.

There's the computer, which is still acting just a few megabytes short of a full deck. Does that work as an analogy? Or would that be simile? One uses "like" or "as", the other doesn't. Well, dang, I'm sure you get the idea. So I've been trying to salvage what I can before having to do something drastic. Of course it's my own damn fault for putting off regular computer housekeeping and filing tasks. But let's not point fingers, shall we. I went through over five reams of copy paper yesterday and finally printed out all my journal and writing files. And yes, I know, there's this trick where you can just burn a file to CD and then you'll have it all neat and tidy on a small silver circle instead of a stack of paper the size of a small microwave. Of course this assumes you're computer will burn the files IN the file holder instead of burning a file with just all the file names inside it. Or randomly selecting a dozen files to include. It also assumes your CD Burner is willing to work.

Sigh. I still have a lot more to do. Save. Salvage. Whatever. And then I'm gonna go for the drastic "clean system reinstall." It had to be done eventually. Now's the time. Just wish I didn't have to do years worth of tasks first. Fortunately I already burned most of the photo files to CD. There's still some music that needs rescuing. And a few more things. Several days of work left at least.

In the meantime, guess what snuck up on me while I wasn't looking? The date that my fair entries were due to be turned in for judging. Yesterday. Our county fair opens on Tuesday morning and runs all next week through the following weekend. I hadn't realized it was coming up on us so fast, until I noticed the painted windows announcing the fair in all the local store windows. Even so, I still felt pretty organized, even if I did wait until the last minute. And it's not like I waited until the last minute completely because of my natural procrastination skills. It's more like there wasn't any time available before the last minute, what with gallivanting all over the known universe and having family visiting.

I had three categories of entries due on Saturday. Quilts - I'd entered two, didn't finish either of them. Didn't even consider trying. What I was trying to finish was the second category of entries - photographs. I'd entered a lot of different photographs. Like the quilts, they weren't exactly finished. But all I needed to do was print them out, frame them, label them, and they'd ready to go. Uhm, yeah.

I wasn't going to kill myself trying to do them all, just a few of my favorite that I had intended to blow up to 8 X 10 anyway. I went out Friday morning and bought $50 worth of new printer ink, photo paper, and some screws and wire for hanging the frames (a new fair requirement). Came home and settled in to work.

Several hours later, I gave up. The printer was determined to start the photographs a third of the way into the images. Despite the new ink catridges, the images weren't coming out well. How much expensive photo paper did I want to waste before admitting defeat? Even though I was still an hour or so away from doing any serious screaming or throwing of heaving objects, I decided to give up. Apparently it wasn't meant to be this year.

The last category I had entered was one called "collections" where you display, duh, a collection. At this point I was feeling so frustrated with the situation I decided not to enter that either because on top of my entry issues, I also had issues with the fair itself.

For years, ten if anyone's counting, I've been one of the main volunteers that puts together the main exhibit hall for our county fair. At one point, many years ago, I was offered the job officially, but I turned it down. Our fair, as much as I love it, is fraught with small town politics, oversized egos, and we've-always-dunnit-this-way traditions and anyone involved in an official capacity seemed to be simply putting themselves up on the target board like one of those sitting ducks in the midway carnival. I didn't want to be involved in all that, so I stayed unofficial and happily involved through dozens of changes of fair managers, building managers, fair board members, and so on.

Until last year. Last year there were so many changes made that there wasn't anyone left that really knew who the old workhorses were and a number of us were completely left out of the loop. Thanks for the offer to help. Don't call us, we'll call you. And when I finally went down to the building at the last minute to find out why we hadn't been called, I was met with a bunch of stressed, completely confused newcomers who demanded to know why we hadn't shown up to help!

I thought about calling up this year to see what was going on with the building, it wouldn't be a big surprise if the reins had been passed to someone else completely again. But last year left a really bad taste in my mouth. So I decided that perhaps it was time to move on and do something else. All good things must end and all that crap. Sigh. I think I made the right decision, but it's still bumming me out.

On a positive note, I can still enter all my floral and agricultural entries. They're not due until Tuesday morning. And if I wanted, there are other buildings to help in. Not this year. But the fine arts building and the floral/ag building have been run by the same organizations for decades. And either of them would jump at the chance to have me join and help. In fact the floral ladies try to drag me into the fold on a regular basis.

So, maybe. Or maybe I'll just put my energies back into the local quilt group, which is tattered and in need of rejuvenation right now. That's another group that's been full of infighting and sniping lately - I've been staying clear of it for about a year. Not hard to do when I haven't been home much anyway. We (I say we, although I didn't have much to do with it) put on a kick ass first quilt show last year. Maybe I'll spearhead the plans for next years show. Maybe. Or maybe not. I'm thinking of taking the Master Gardener and/or Master Quilters certification classes with our state county extension offices and then joining the circuit of fair judging. I've always wanted to do that, maybe it's time.

Enough about the fair. So let's see - computer, fair.....

Sam was here for the weekend. That was nice. But exhausting. Whodathunk I'd be as tuckered out having one adult son home as I was having three teensy grandchildren last weekend? You see, add another "kid" into the mixture and what I end up with is THREE crazy men. Sam and William chasing each other through the house with the air soft pellet guns. And no, they are NOT soft. Me yelling, yes, total cliche coming - "STOP IT BEFORE SOMEONE LOSES AN EYE!" Hubby gets all too silly as well. Testosterone splashing about all over the place. Sigh. MEN.

But on the positive side - I do enjoy spending time with my kids. Sam's a good guy. And a bonus, I got him to go through two boxes of old mementos he had stored in the garage, plus take home his table saw and a few other tools, which means I have a BIG OPEN SPACE in my garage from which to make further inroads into the mess. HURRAY!!!!!! Also, Sam barbequed for us last night. YUM. And while he was barbequeing in the back yard, I kept him company by attacking the weeds in the gardens. I got a lot of weeds pulled.

When I came back after being gone all spring, the back gardens looked lush and green. Jeff had been watering them for me. Wasn't that sweet. Only problem, there wasn't anything much planted out there, I hadn't had time before I left. After this third major weed pulling, 90% of the lush and green is gone. It was almost completely weeds. I left a few volunteer sunflowers, leeks, and morning glories, plus some permanent herbs. But I'm okay with that. It's time to add a bunch of topsoil and start over again anyway.

In fact, I think that's what I'll do today. Head off to the garden department at Walmart and get a bunch of bags of topsoil to top off the wine barrels. Buy a bunch of herb and flower plants. By the time the afternoon heat starts to fade, I can spent the evening transforming the gardens into something restful and beautiful. Or, remember the quote I started out with - at least that's the plan. I'll let you know what really happens.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Brand New Dead Things

Remember I told you how I saw this store in Yarnell, AZ, called Brand New Dead Things? Well, look at the photo I found of the store. See, I'm not hallucinating. Isn't it the oddest name for a store you've ever seen?

I googled and found a band with the same name. Hmmm. Is this a reference to something and I'm not in the know?

Grandkid fillers

What to post today.....hmmmm..... what to post.... There's this Poetry Thursday Challenge that folks keep encouraging me to join. I have posted poems before, but not specifically for this project. Maybe I'll have time later tonight to do something for the current theme - laughter. Or is it humor?

Oh, speaking of humor..... Rosie followed me into the bathroom this afternoon, snuffled around and "oh, what's this!" She tried to pick it up in her mouth. It was a small piece of soap. She dropped it quickly but, oh my, I'm still chuckling. It must have taken her 500 licks trying to get the taste out of her mouth!

Anyway, in the meantime, I finally got some new photos to upload onto my computer, and adorable grandkid photos are always a winner. Enjoy!

Here are the boys in "the cage" - it's Rosie's fence area. They wanted out.

Here's Garret. How could you NOT pick up a sad face like that!

Joshua went for the silly "Look how cute I am!" reach for Grammy. Hmmm. Or maybe it's more of an evil "Pick me up or else" look.

When that didn't work, he tried the He-man approach, sure he could lift it up with his superhuman strength!

Here's a much cuter photo of Anastasia then the one I posted the other day. Look at those big ol' eyes, button nose, kissable tu-lips.

And notice how much she looks like her Grammy! You don't see it? We both have the family trait - double chins!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Look what a bear did to my sister's garage door!

Odd bits of this and that

That's my life recently. And why I haven't posted for a couple of days. I've mainly been knee deep - er, that should probably be elbow deep, in paperwork. That and computer woes, including no internet access most of yesterday. But in an attempt to fix said computer, I've had to try "different things" and then wait to see if they worked. And while I was trying "different things", I was also trying to print out as many important files as possible in case "you know what" (knock on wood) happened. And so, since those two tasks took up large amounts of time, most of it ticking away uselessly while waiting in between things, I became bored enough to be willing to tackle all the piles,boxes and shelves full of books and old paperwork that surround the family desk. (It used to be my desk. Sigh.)


When she was a wee puppy, Rosie found a dried corn cob that had rolled out of the compost pile and she loved that thing, one of her favorite toys, she chewed on it for months until it was finally lost. So I figured she'd like another one and gave her the fresh one off my plate last night. She was happily chewing on it and I went off to the kitchen. When I next noticed her, two thirds of the corn cob was GONE! Oh dear, I guess a fresh cob isn't as hard as a dried one, and baby teeth aren't as effective as her adult ones.


Running out to the car the other day, I paused to notice two doves sitting on the telephone lines across the street. They were perched on the bottom of five lines that stretched like a musical staff across the blue sky. The moon, up early and almost full, was wedged in the second space, directly above the two birds' heads, and the evening star, Venus, was winking in the third space just slightly to the right like a upbeat eighth note. The female was sitting quietly, pretending to stare off to her left but taking occasional coy peeks at her partner. The male, on her right, was prancing from foot to foot, puffing his chest, and straining his neck in an effort to draw the female's gaze back towards him. He seemed awkward and nervous, whereas she seemed shy but confident. Ahhh, the music of love was in the air.


There's another pair of love birds around, two quail. I've seen them running back and forth at the turn down at the far end our street. There are houses lining the two inside edges of the corner, the outside edges are rimmed by grassy fields. Usually an entire covey of birds scurry back and forth in the general area, but this is most definitely just the two of them. I assume that they too, are courting, although I hope that their love is not so blind to the rest of the world as to get one or both of them run over by a car.


William and I went out late last night, for ice cream. The sky was awash with clouds that rippled, like wind across sand, or waves across water. Behind the cloud layer, the full moon looked as if she had fallen into the depths and was slowly swimming across a vast black sea. Driving along, our truck became a boat sailing quietly through the night.