Tuesday, August 29, 2006

S is for....

S is a big list for me so let's get started.

Sam - his name came to me suddenly one day as I was driving on a country road in rural Marin County. When I was pregnant with my second child, everyone thought I'd have a girl that time. I was the only one that thought it was a boy. It was. It was Sam.

Sheilah - my very first dog of my very own - part Irish Setter and part Golden Retriever. She was the prettiest, smartest dog on the planet. She was hit by a car sometime around my 21st birthday and my mom had her buried in a valley of sand dunes that she loved to run in.

Shanna - my next dog. She was a real sweetheart, an Australian Shepherd mix. During my divorce she was taken from my home or ran away when I was gone too long one weekend. I've always felt responsible for her disappearance.

soccer - I did my years as a soccer mom

shrines - I'm fascinated with shrines of any kind

Sonoma - one of the towns I consider "mine". Two of my sons were born there. After my divorce, the bottom line was I simply couldn't afford to stay there. The home I used to own there is now worth about three times that of the home we currently own here in the boonies. Of course, ironically, Sonoma was still considered the boonies when I first moved there. I missed the geography, the community, the local culture, for a very long time, but I was also busy dealing with rebuilding my life at the point at which I was "forced" to leave it. Now I doubt I'd move back even if I could afford to because it represents a certain time in my life as much as a place. In that respect, I can't "go back."

Sacramento - another town I've called home although I don't remember it as fondly as other places I've lived. I didn't live in Sacramento proper actually, but in the outskirts of the Sacramento metropolitan area. There are some nice things to say about the area and I collected some happy memories there, but mostly it's a place I associate with the stress and sadness of coping after a divorce and bitter custody battles during the early years of my second marriage. Nowadays I don't usually dig down into the emotional memories but I still don't think of it without thinking about traffic, congestion, valley heat, safety concerns, noise, and light pollution. If I have to pass through or visit, I always feel like I can breathe better whenever I leave the area once more behind me.

Stockton - another California town I've lived in. I liked living near the Delta and it's a town with beautiful sweeping lawns and landscaping and great shopping, but I never ever read the newspaper when I lived there because I couldn't handle reading about all the violence in the area.

Susanville - home sweet home now. It's beautiful here. It's been a great place to raise a family. The isolation of the area is both one of the advantages and the disadvantages of living here. I love having four distinct seasons. I love the friendly people. I love the big starry skies, clear skies and clean water. I love the mountains frosted with snow. It's not a perfect fit, alas. I have issues with the conservative nature of the community and the dry, short growing season.

Subie - my car. Her name is Tink, like Tinkerbell, because she "tinks" at you when she wants your attention. My husband named her as she was originally his car but he abandoned her for a big ol' Bronco. So now she's mine. She's a good girl.

Shakespeare - when we moved here, we discovered we lived close enough to regularly attend Oregon's Ashland Shakespeare Festival. I'd always loved the theater and to that I added a newfound love of the bard. Late into the game, I'm trying to see one or two plays a year. This year we didn't manage to see any Shakespeare, although hubby is still holding out hope that we'll squeeze in an overnight trip there before the season ends in October.

storm - I'm a storm junkie. I love to hear the wind, watch the snow or rain coming down. Obviously I'm not happy about weather so severe that it causes loss of life, limb or property, but it's tough not to be fascinated and awed by it regardless.

Steve - two brother-in-laws, and one of my best friends

Shelly - another dear friend. I suspect she and I would both be impoverished by pychiatric counseling bills if we couldn't get together for our regular girl's night out to bitch, moan, whine about things big and small and to applaud each other's joys and accomplishments.

Spanish - I can only speak a smidgen of Spanish despite years of Spanish language classes in elementary school, high school, and college. But at least I can speak a smidgen. Un poco.

serendipity - just a great word, and a great phenomenon

synchronicity - ditto the comment above. I think a lot of what we call coincidence is really synchronicity at work

San Diego - another of my hometowns. I didn't live in San Diego, I lived in a microscopic community in the mountains of eastern San Diego County. Still, San Diego was our city. I loved the whole area. The only negative for me was the feeling of being boxed in - desert to the east, Mexico to the south, ocean to the west, and L.A. to the north. I'm saddened by the way the once compact cities and towns have grown, continue to grow, and sprawl over the coastal hills. I still enjoy visiting the area whenever I visit Joe and Lisa. Joe will likely be stationed there with his Navy job for the next five or six years.

snakes - SNAKES ON A PLANE!!!!! Okay, I just had to say that. But seriously, I like snakes. When I was a kid I used to catch them, enjoy them, and then release them back into the wild. Fortunately I grew up in the Midwest where there are no poisonous snake species.

sacred - I think it's important to find and honor the sacred in everyday simple things. Sure, there are impressive places and events, both natural and human built, that inspire a sense of sacred awe. Those are great too! But I also try to remember and appreciate the small sacred moments/rituals/places in my life. A prayer of thanks when a loved one walks back in the door each evening. A moment of appreciation before the first sip of tea. Time to talk with my flowers. Time to listen to wind and the stars and clouds. The mantra of typing, washing a dish, stroking my fat Charlie cat's soft golden fur.

salmon, spinach, shrimp, scallops, szechuan, squash, stew - all foods I love

scrappy - I love all things scrappy. Scrappy quilts, scrappy decorating, scrappy kids.

selfish - I have a selfish streak. Sometimes I feel guilty about it but most of the time I'm thankful for it as I suspect it keeps me from going completely insane in my busy family filled life. Yes, I might spend my last $10 on a new book for me instead of buying something for someone else, but it's usually after I've spent all the rest of my money on everyone else. And I'll admit it - if there's only one cookie left - I'll eat it in private instead instead of offering to share it. I guess it's only selfish if I look at it from a mother's perspective. From a bigger angle, it's only taking care of myself as well as I take care of everyone else in my life.

September - an emotional month with both Joshua and William's birthdays falling back to back in the middle of it

shabby - I tend to like things a bit on the shabby side. It's feels more comfortable for me. You don't have to worry about making the first dent, the first scrape or smudge. Too, shabby things are probably shabby because they've been so well loved - they have a story and a history behind them. I can remember discovering the Shabby Chic decorating style and thinking - hey! I've been decorating like that for decades before it ever had a name!

spiral - a wonderful image, full of meaning and beautiful and peaceful to look at. Life is a spiral. Time is a spiral. DNA comes in a spiral. Learning moves in a spiral.

shorthand - I might only speak a smidgen of Spanish but at one time I considered myself fluent in shorthand. I could not only write in shorthand but I could think and dream in shorthand images as well. These days my shorthand skills are rusty, but it gives me confidence that I could learn another language if I ever put my mind to it.

sign language - another language I know a smidgen's worth. My kids know a lot more ASL then I do because they all have deaf friends. Sam and Kyla are fluent. I've always wanted to increase my skill but unfortunately there's no local classes in sign language and like any language, if you don't have a way of practicing it, you can't maintain any fluency.

San Francisco - no, I've never lived there. But I've lived nearby. I've had friends who lived in the city. If I had to live in an American city, San Francisco would definitely be high on my list of favorites. I think for an American city it has a lot of "European" flavor to it.

Sierras - I've spent a lot of time in these mountains. I currently live tucked in between the top of the Sierras and the bottom of Cascades. I don't know if I would call them my favorite mountains, they're dryer then other mountain ranges I've known personally. But they're definitely the mountains with which I am the most familiar.

Sandias - the first mountain range I ever got to know on a personal level, I lived in the shadow of it's crest. Before my mother moved our family from the Midwest to Albuquerque, I'd only seen mountains once, on a summer trip out west with my grandmother and great aunt. The Sandias are a beautiful range. When the sunset paints it's face in shades of pink and red, they indeed look like a giant slice of melon. (I was told Sandia means "watermelon" in Spanish although I can't find a translation for it anywhere oneline.)

Sleepless in Seattle - one of my favorite movies. If I'm clicking around on the stations and I stumble upon this movie, no matter how far along in the movie I catch it - whether they're just driving to her parent's house for Christmas or whether she's looking out the window at the Empire State Building and saying "I have to go. It's a sign. I have to go." - I get sucked in and watch until the closing credits.

sleep - I love sleep. I love my bed. I love my pillow. I love my nightstand. I love dreaming. I love my flannel sheets. I love my Witchy Quilt. I love tortilla chip crumbs on my side. Rosie cuddling under the covers. Cats fighting for the corners of the bed. A breeze in the window. The moon peeking in early in the morning. I love drifting off to sleep. I love that half state when my mind is awake and my body is still slumbering. I love making a nice warm nest in the covers. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Ahhhhh. You'd think being a woman who loves sleep I'd go to bed a lot earlier then I ususally do.

snow - snow makes the whole world look fresh and new. It gets rid of all the grime and noise. It's like having a clean canvas on the world, if but for a brief moment.

socks - I love silly socks. I know, I know. If I was on What NOT to Wear (which there's no way in hell I would ever consider it), they'd make me get rid of all my silly socks as completely non fashionable. Well too bad - they can stuff a sock (or two or twenty) in it. HA! I like my socks with otters/cats/pumpkins/chihuahuas/monsters/stripes/polka-dots/roses/coffee cups.... on them.

Solstice - got two of them each year. The longest day and the shortest day of the year. Or you can think of it as the shortest night and the longest night of the year. Two sides to every coin. Two sides to every story. Two sides to everything. The yin/yang of life. The older I get the more I can't see one without the other, can't celebrate or honor one without celebrating and honoring the opposite.

spoilers - I hate them! I know, usually I define myself in my Worldplay lists by things I love, or at least lovingly acknowledge about myself. But my aversion to spoilers is somewhat infamous. I've been known to literally put my hands over my ears and sing "Lalalalalalalala!" in order to avoid the buggers. And when something big comes out - like a new Harry Potter book or a hit movie - I am in fear of the internet or television until I can read or see the story first.

stubborn - there's a song on Tom Petty's album Full Moon Fever called I Won't Back Down. Jeff teasingly says that it's my theme song. Eh. There might be a small kernel of truth in this joke.

suburbs - like spoilers, I'm well known for my aversion for these midway places. They're not country and they're not city and although I'll concede that they do have some advantages unique to themself, mostly I think they incorporate the disadvantages of both without the advantages of either. Give me the country, a small town, or the heart of a city.

stoled - The past tense of steal is stole. This I know. Yet for some reason I always "double" it's past tenseness and say "stoled". This drives my husband slightly nuts and it drives William completely batty. "Stole! It's not stoled, Mom! It's stole! There's no D! GRRRRR!" I get a perverse pleasure in making no effort to correct the habit.

skeletons - I'm fascinated with the Mexican Day of the Dead skeleton art

Whew - that took forever. And for some reason I feel sure that I've forgotten numerous important S words. But it's late and I'm restlessly thinking of getting up, getting a snack, picking out a new book, and heading off to my tangle of quilts so, I'll call it a night.

Bonne nuit.

Quiet but busy

It's one of those days at the end of summer where autumn hasn't arrived and yet you can feel the wave of it's hand through the day. The air temperature is warm but the wind feels like it's just come in from across a deep lake. The garden, grass, trees are all still green but there's the smell of dry grass underneath it. I could go either way - sit in the shade/sit in the sun, wear pants/wear shorts, drink iced tea/drink hot tea - and either would be equally comfortable in this weather. I'm enjoying this bridge between seasons, appreciating all that much more the pleasures of summer and yet already looking forward to the abundance of sensory pleasures of the coming fall.

I'm sorry for having been absent from the blogging community, letting days drift by without posting, without warning that I'd be quiet. In fact, i didn't know myself that I'd be so wordless. In large part it was due to a family crisis. We got one of those phone calls. The kind that come in the wee hours and the voice on the other end isn't someone that generally gives you a call even at a reasonable time of day. The kind that make your heart pound so hard it hurts. It was my stepdad calling to tell me that my mom was in the hospital and that they thought it was a stroke.

Fortunately by mid-weekend it was determined not to be a stroke but instead something called Transient Global Amnesia. My stepdad, being understandably frazzled, originally told me that they thought my mom had Global Positioning Syndrome. I told my mom that was handy because now I could call her whenever I needed directions anywhere. HA! It's one of those odd things that no one mentions until it happens to someone they know and then a quarter of the people you tell say something like "Oh, yeah, my uncle had an episode of that."

The great news is the story ends "and they all lived happily, if a bit emotional and physically wiped out from the whole thing, ever after". Fortunately it's got a very low, 2%, recurrence rate. Along with feeling a bit shaky from all the "what if" thinking I love to indulge in, I am also feeling extremely grateful now that it's all done. First and foremost of course because my mom is well and the odds are she will stay well. (that is, if she takes care of her diet and lifestyle - I know you read this Mom - I'm taking to YOU!)

But I'm also grateful for the wake up call. Not a wake-up call in the sense of tweaking my relationship with my mom. I think as mother/daughter pairs go, we're pretty tight. But in looking at my relationship with my own health and my own relationship with time. It's what a friend of mine likes to call being hit on the head with a big ol' "clue x four".

You know how I've been wanting/working on decluttering and reorganizing my life, tired of feeling as if I'm always behind, more involved in where I've been then where I'm going. This frightening weekend reinforced my efforts in a way that ordinary fears and frustrations could not have done nearly so well. It was a huge reminder that time is relative and our time here on this earth comes with no guarantees. It makes me that much more determined to spend my own time wisely, to structure my life so I concentrate mainly on what I am in the present and who I want to be in the future rather then where I was in the past. I don't want to look back ten years from now, or even a year from now, and think of how much I could have accomplished if I wasn't so busy always "catching up."

On a practical level, I've been busy, sometimes whacking away with a sledgehammer, sometimes chipping more cautiously with an artist's chisel, at the parts of my world that aren't part of what I invision in my life. It's still both frightening and exhilarating, but I'm thrilled to say that it's more often the latter then the former. I find it interesting that in other people's lives around me - in my day-to-day acquaintances, my greater circle of friends, other people's blogs - I'm noticing a lot of people in this same process of redefining themselves not by what they have in their lives, but by what they are do not or choose not to have. I guess that to be deliberately at work lightening ones load, by default that means you've already started to figure out what does define oneself.

It's been a tough weekend to make progress because not only was I distracted and worried about my mom, we also had unexpected company. And by unexpected I mean unexpected by me. My husband knew one of his best and oldest friends was coming for a visit. He just forgot to mention it. Until about an hour and a half before his friend arrived. ARGHHH! It turned out to be a rather pleasant visit all in all, but still took another chunk out of our time. Last but not least, I had to help my husband take off on his grand adventure to go to Burning Man with his brother. This is a story that deserves it's own coverage, so all I'll say right now is that it was a lot of work in which we both discovered that I'm the person who usually does all the organizing for travel.

I did manage to get rid of several more large stacks of both magazines and books, and I've cleaned out another cupboard and shelf that had been basically filled with junk and unusable for years. I didn't put anything new back in the cupboard or shelf - I'm enjoying the somewhat secret thrill of simply walking by it throughout the day knowing that no one but me knows that they are empty.

I've started to put my favorite and/or fragile collections into the new glass cabinet. I hope when everything gets a place on one of the shelves that things won't be stuffed in there so that there's plenty of room for adding holiday decorations throughout the year. I'm particularly excited at the idea of having this space to display my Halloween village this year, something that after too much breakage by maurading felines, I gave up setting up several years ago. I still owe you all a photo, but I'm waiting until I've finished filling the cabinet and rehung the paintings on the wall.

Lastly, as far as reasons I haven't been posting is concerned, I've been too restless to spend much time on the computer. This is a good thing. At least for me. I've spent more time working and less time visiting with or entertaining my blog buddies. But I know how frustrating it is to come for a visit and find nothing offered here but "leftovers." Sorry 'bout that. Please bear with me. Here. Have some grapes for your troubles. They're all ripening and I don't have time to do anything with them except share them. And have some of these neat gardening magazines too. Can I fill a bag for you to take with you when you go? And, hey, do you need a maroon lampshade? How about some foam parrots with real feathers? This one needs his tail feathers reglued, but the others are all in good shape. How about some books on space flight? Or here's one on Star Trek trivia? Okay, maybe not.

I've got a few other comments to make on completely different topics, but I'll go ahead and post this now and get back to them, hopefully later today. Then I can pretend that the different posts count for filling in some of those empty blogging days. Don't you like how I can control the laws of logic? I'm cool like that.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Guess who had an anniversary today!? We did. Sixteen years. We almost missed it. I was printing out a poem to share at my writer's group tonight, double checking the date to make sure I had the write night.... er, I mean right night for the meeting....something familiar about the date.....


I blew off the writer's group and we made reservations at a fancy restaurant that just opened up a few months ago about four miles outside of town. It was really nice. It had been a hotel/restaurant ages ago, closed for almost a decade, and recently remodeled and reopened. It reminded me of an old English pub with low ceilings, lots of wood, stone, and stucco, and dark colors. Good food and good service. A friend of William's came in about halfway through our meal, out with his older sister and her buddies. He came over and chatted with us for a bit when the sibling and friends went outside for a cigarette break between ordering and their salads. Maybe we should have just brought William with us for our anniversary dinner, eh?

William took a bunch of photos of us before we left for dinner. They came out quite nice (as in, WE looked nice in the photos) except, ALL the photos came out blurry. ARGH! I'm really unhappy, this camera seems to be getting more and more persnickety the longer I own it. I think I'm gonna have to return it. That means I have to find the box and the receipt. Great, another task to add to my to-do list. Anyway, he tried again when we returned. Twenty shots and only 3 came out unblurred. Of course by then it was dark outside, and we weren't all fresh faced and unrumpled. We were sleepy from a full meal. Notice that someone tiny decided she needed to be included in the picture.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why my keyboard has been silent

I've felt a bit guilty about ignoring everyone for the last four days. It's not that I couldn't have found time to blog. I just didn't. Instead I alternated between being busy and being blah, and couldn't work up enough guilt or enthusiasm to actually sit down at the keyboard and be entertaining. Or thoughtful. Or informative. Or anything else one can do with their fingers and a bunch of letters, numbers, and other symbols.

So, what have I been doing? Friday night we attended William's "Grizz Feed", an annual event to kick off the high school football season. It involved a lot of catching up with friends, eating, and milling about - a few exhibitional scrimmages which no one really watched very carefully because, since the teams were playing themselves, you couldn't tell the offense from the defense.

I couldn't even pick out my own kid, who is usually easy to find in a crowd - #66

Saturday William, Rosie and I went to Redding. We visited with #3 son Sam and I got to hear all about his girlfriend Kyla's trip to Italy. She made it back (with a bottle of absinthe!) just before the no Slakes on a Plane terrorist plot. Ooooh, groan, but I couldn't resist. Here are the two brothers.

In the evening we met up with my daughter-in-law Lisa and her mom, who had flown up from southern California for a bridal shower for Lisa's friend and a baby shower for Lisa herself.

After an uncomfortable night sharing a corner couch unit with William, Sam and William spent the day jet skiing and Kyla and I joined the rest of the "girls" for Lisa's shower. Here are Lisa and Kyla, didn't my boys snag themselves some gorgeous women?!

And they're also funny and smart and sweet and athletic and resourceful and .... well, I'm pretty pleased with their choices. Don't tell them that though. I mean, I would hate for them to get uppity about it. Especially Lisa. She's already got a big belly, she doesn't a big head too. Hehe.

Had to get home Sunday night so William could go to school on Monday. It's so odd, our family has a ....... schedule to follow! Just like normal people. On the way home we stopped to see some property that Sam is hoping to purchase. It's very pretty - just above the pine/snow line, five acres of oak forest.

He's been looking for something worth investing and building on for over a year. It would be really wonderful if this worked out for him. Knock on wood. I kept spying little glimpses of the sunset behind me as we were driving up the western slopes of the Sierras. I finally had to pull over near the entrance to Lassen National Park to take a picture. I missed the western color, this is actually a photo of the last of the eastern skies before dark fell. And up there in the mountains, it falls with a WHOMP! One second I was taking this photo, the next, I could barely see my car two feet away from where I was standing.

Monday I woke up, walked out into my livingroom, and felt completely overwhelmed by my torn apart house. I spent the morning moaning woe is me, complaining to a couple of friends who had the misfortune of being home when I called them on the phone, and hiding on the computer looking for someplace new to go on realtor. com. Then I took the third Harry Potter book out with me to a local Chinese restaurant. I noticed they had a sign up in the window that said "Now serving Thai food" They only have a few dishes, but the curry I ordered was wonderful. After a bit of international cuisine and several chapters of Harry putting up with the Dursleys, I realized my mood had mainly been caused by a combination of hormones and hunger. So I decided to suck it up, go home, and face the mess.

Some of Monday evening was used up with more of William's school and football commitments (William did had his very first ever homework assignment!), but I just started with one small task, then another, and another, and managed to get quite a bit done.

Yesterday, Tuesday, I worked most of the day, only stopping to watch the DVD that was due, The Libertine. I also watched the second disc in the other DVD we'd rented and watched on Thursday night, Frida. Salma Hayek was wonderful in the role. The most exciting accomplishment of the day, it was finally cool enough late last night to burn all the paper trash that had been piling up for weeks. I managed to get rid of four big boxes of cardboard, cereal boxes, scratch paper, junk mail, and so on, that had been blocking the walkway between the living room and dining room. All that's left, mostly newspapers, fits in the basket storage space alloted for.

I woke up this morning and felt like getting right back into the fray. I looked around the house, trying to decide what spot to tackle first, when I realized that I had pretty much finished the furniture rearranging. There's a tall wall shelf that I unsuccessfully tried (twice) to get into the studio. It wouldn't fit around a tight double corner. No matter. I've decided to use it just outside the back door in the breezeway to store practical things out of sight. I do want to move some more furniture at some future point in time, but that will have to wait until I've managed at least one, maybe two go rounds with clutter removal so that I can dismantle another shelf.

In the meantime, I'm now down to cleaning and decluttering and rearranging STUFF. I won't have to wrangle "large things" back and forth or walk around temporarily homeless cabinets or shelf units for a week any longer. When I looked around this morning and saw that I had finished that first level of the project, it was the first time I saw that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Granted, it felt more like a slight lightening of the ambient darkness, but it was still a very exciting moment. Maybe I'll really make that deadline I made for myself! Maybe I'll even take a few pictures soon. Yah me! Pat myself on the back.

Pat, pat, pat.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Holiday photos #11

We're still up on top of the city wall in Conwy, Wales.

I just included this photo to show you how low some of the crenelation pattern is on these walls. See right behind William's legs? And of course he kept leaning over to look down. So did I, of course, but my legs are considerably shorter then his.

Here we are in the top western corner of the wall. We're in a tower that's even higher then the wall. You can see how the houses inside the wall (to the right) are snug up against the wall, where the newer parts of the town are not.

I took this photo standing in the same spot, looking east. You can see the castle at the far sweeping end of the wall.

Again, probably standing at the same spot, here I am facing out of the city into the "mountains." Northern Wales is noted for it's mountainous beauty. All I can say, coming from the western United States is, perhaps those hills out there get a wee bit higher as they head inland. But, it's all relative, yes? Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to go see for ourselves. If you scan that first row of white row houses, about two thirds of the way to the right you see a building set much farther up on the hill, with hedges running down to the street. That was the B&B we stayed at. It's actually two B&B's side by side and we stayed at both of them, one night at each (and a third night down in the village over a pub) because no one had the same room open two nights in a row. It made for a lot of dragging our suitcases about and even though each place was fun to discover, we tried not to move around so much most of the places we went.

We walked a lot this day. Here we are on the way back to the B & B for the evening. I am taking a short rest on the way home. The grass was soft and dry and very inviting. I dropped, like Dorothy in the scene with the poppy fields.

William didn't succumb to the exhaustion of the invisible poppies. Instead he came back and got eye level so he could talk to me. "Come on Mom! We're almost there. You can lay down in our room!"
And here we are, almost there. Just one more hill.....

The photos I took of the little fish in the pond are in this garden. I put them up a few holiday posts back at Laume's Studio. I'll go post a few more pics there now, to finish up the Conwy wall.

Friday, August 18, 2006

crabby and comfy

First, the crabby part. Last night at about 10:15 our neighbor knocks on the door and tells us that at 11 p.m. the county was going to start spraying our neighborhood for mosquitos for the West Nile Virus. He'd just heard it announced on the radio. What!? The only thing I knew was that there was something in this week's paper about a town meeting (that they were reporting HAD happened already so fat chance of anyone GOING to it) to discuss whether or not any legitimate reports of West Nile Virus had occurred in our county. Next thing I know Al's telling me they're gonna spray my organic yard any minute. Apparently they gave everyone 24 hour notice by posting a sign on the main street. Uhm, I didn't see any sign. Al said that he noticed it but it was so tiny the print was too fine to read, so he ignored it as he went driving past. GRRRRRRRR.

We were in the middle of watching a video but, nooooooo, we had to stop, round up all the pets and get all them inside, ditto the laundry hanging on the clothes line, the pet food and water dishes, the outdoor furniture. We had to close all the windows and doors and keep them closed all night.

I was sooooo pissed. We found out only because our neighbor cared enough to remind us to bring in our cats. I'm betting that at least 50-75% of the community didn't have a clue and so they were exposed to much higher levels of pesticide then necessary because they didn't know to shut their windows or take any precaustions. I talked to my friend Shelly today and apparently they sprayed her house out in the county even though she had given them notice to pass it by. All her new lacewings and praying mantis and lady bugs were dead this morning. We didn't even have the option to sign a waiver to have them pass our house because instead of using spray trucks, they used helicopters on our side of town. And that assumes they'd legitimately given us enough notice to give them 24 hour notice not to spray. I am so so so so pissed.

Now the comfy part. I finally got around to purchasing the hardware I needed to hang my new hammock swing. Isn't it pretty?

After I got it hung up yesterday (and then taken back down because of the spraying last night - GRRRR), I was inspired to clean up the back yard so it would be pretty all around the swing too. I did this instead of working on the projects I needed to have done for the baby shower this weekend - oh well. Que sera sera. I cleaned up all the fallen apples, weeds, old broken flower pots... and swept.

And then......

I took a well deserved nap. Doesn't it look comfy!?


Thursday, August 17, 2006

R is for....

Boy, I've been busy. It doesn't seem like a whole week has swished by since my last Wordplay. But that's what the dates on my post say, so it must be true.

Red - red is such a powerful color. The color of blood, the color of life. The color of anger, which isn't always a bad thing if we channel that anger appropriately. The color of flashing lights and stop signs and flowers and fire. Also, anyone read Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard when they were a child? I loved that book so much I talked my mom into letting me get an Irish Setter of my very own.

Rosie - speaking of dogs, my little Rosita the flying monkey, Rosie-girl, Rosie-bean. She's the ball and chain around my foot sometimes but gawd I love that little dog

Robbie - oh, more dog talk. Robbie, aka Robespierre. I have no idea why my parents named him that beyond the fact that he was a french poodle. A miniature black poodle, he was the first dog in my life. My folks say we had another dog when I was really young, I believe a lab, but I don't remember that dog at all. Robbie came into my life when I was about five.

rocks - I love rocks. I'm a rock hound. My maternal grandmother was a rockhound as well, although I think I spontaneously started collecting pretty rocks long before I knew she did. She had a rock polisher and liked to polish them and make little decorations or statues out of them. Me, I just like to enjoy them best in their natural state. I have little bowls of rocks, jars of rocks. Larger rocks on my windowsills and laying about my gardens. If I had the means and money, I'd have some big boulders moved onto my property. My mom and stepdad moved a bunch of big boulders with crystal deposits in them onto one of their properties. Currently they have a modest sized boulder in their new front yard. After my stepdad rolled it into place, partially buried in the ground to look natural, they noticed that centered in the face of it was darker spot the perfect shape of a heart. I thought that was neat. But back to me, I love rocks. Wish I had more time to go rock hunting.

rain - I love rain too. I love to listen to rain on the roof when I'm inside. Of course most buildings are insulated enough, thank goodness, that you can't hear the rain inside very well. So that leaves places like attics, screen porches, or even just open windows. I like rain outside because it makes the plants so happy. It makes the air smell so deliciously clean and pungent.

Rocky - Rocky was one of our best cats ever, ever, ever! He became paralyzed at the end of his life. We don't know why - illness, a car hitting him.... I spent about three weeks caring for him in that condition, hoping against hope that he would recover. Sadly he did not. He had the most unusual coloring - he was a like a long haired Siamese, cream colored with chocolate brown points. But then he had very faint tabby striations that stretched out from his boot and ear colors. Finally, he had pure white mittens and nose, and bib, as if he'd walked through powdered sugar, sticking his face into it for good measure. My husband insisted on naming him Rocky and we all used to sing the Rocky Raccoon song to him. He was such a great cat.

raven - I love ravens. Members of the crow family, they're considered the most intelligent of birds. They're fascinating to watch. I love the symbolism they bear, of life and death, and also one of the pranksters of they world. And of course we share the love of ...... SHINY THINGS.

redwoods - my life would have been far less rich if I hadn't had the fortune to have lived and walked under these giants. If you need magic in your life, go deep into a redwood forest and listen, feel, be.

Roseville, CA - a nice little town, sadly now just a suburb of the greater Sacramento metropolitan area. That's where we lived when the kids were young elementary age. That's where we lived when William was born.

Rowling, J.K. - I'm currently rereading the entire Harry Potter series. I want to have finished all six books again before the seventh and final book comes out. Anyone know when that will be? Next summer maybe? I am anxious for the finale to come out and simultaneously I don't want the story to ever end.

Reynardine - the name comes from an old Irish folk song. In the oldest versions, Reynardine was simply a highway robber, in more recent versions he is a fairy who can bewitch. In either version, he is charming and leads astray any young girl who might wander too far into the forest. The myth, if one can even call it that as it's simply a fragment of a story, has always intrigued me. I first heard the story from a song inspired by the song, Searching for Reynardine by Maria Anthony on a wonderful CD called Foot to the Path by Uncle Dirty Toes. In this version, or rather, in this original song that borrows the story, the girl isn't just lost and innocent but rather wild enough herself to have intentionally gone out into the dangerous unknown. It reminds me of the more ancient versions of the Persephone myth where Persephone isn't tricked into eating the pomegranate seeds, but eats them on purpose, a symbol of her choice to become a woman, breaking free of her dependent state of childhood.

read - I love to read. Read, read, read, read, read, read, read. If I could clone myself for just one purpose, it would be to have another me who could read all the time.

rhubarb - a big, unruly plant with poisonous leaves and red stalks that are both bitter and sweet at the same time. I remember my aunt cutting them up for us kids and handing them over with a cup of sugar for us to dip them into. Nature's Dip'n Stick candies. I love rhubarb strawberry pie. When we moved to this house, I inherited a big patch of the wild plants.

rosemary - another plant I love. Rosemary for remembrance. We passed out branches of rosemary (lovingly donated by the owners of Hearts Ease Herb Shop in Cambria, CA - one of my favorite shops - such a sweet memory in a time of great sorrow) at Joshua's memorial service. Rosemary is a tender perennial, I doubt it grows outside of a pot in the Midwest, and I didn't get to meet this plant until I moved to California as a young adult. I have a hard time keeping it alive up here in the cold winters of the mountain. I believe it is native to the Mediterranean. It is always linked in my mind with the culture and mediterranean climate of the northern California coast where it grows into big lush hedges. Don't make the mistake of hugging it. Bees like to hide in it. It's yummy used in grilling and barbequing as well.

Rosemary Gladstar - the woman who introduced me to my love affair with the world of herbs

rainbow - who doesn't love a rainbow. I was in labor all night with my son Sam, during a huge winter wind and rain storm. Sam was born just about/before (I was a bit busy, I'm not sure which) dawn and when I finally looked up from his beautiful new face, it was to see that it was light outside and a double rainbow arched across the freshly washed sky.

road - "On the road again. Just can't wait to get on the road again...." An old Willie Nelson song, I've been known to sing a few lines of it as I drive off down the highway - sometimes as a happy song, sometimes in resignation, a parody. I admit I used to love road trips. I still do, except that I don't always get to pick the when and where I travel all the time. Regardless of whether the trip is planned or just a responsibility, I always treat it as an adventure with the potential for fun and discovery.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

First Day of School

Most parents take a photo of their child's very first day of school. Most parents are taking a photo of a five, perhaps six year old. Dressed in an adorable new "first day of school" outfit, hair combed neatly, big smile or perhaps a tear on their face. Me? I had to back up several times to get all 6'4" of him in the picture.

Well, the hair is washed. The socks are new. The backpack is pretty new too. The outfit was his choice. The Green Day shirt only has a few tiny holes in it. He has plenty of shirts without holes, but I suspect it has the feel of a security blanket to it.

Yesterday, several times, he turned to me and said "Tomorrow I go to school!" with an amazed tone. He did really well, laying out everything he'd need in the morning. Planning his time. Setting his alarm. Going to bed at a reasonable hour (10:30 pm) so he'd get enough sleep.

Me, not so much. I stayed up trying to finish putting back books on one more bookshelf. Putting things back together is going as slowly as taking them apart. It was just one shelf, but it was one shelf about 18-20 feet long because the shelf runs high up along the ceiling across the length of the living room. This meant taking down the books that were up there, taking them all outside to knock all the dust off them, climbing up on furniture or ladders to wipe down the shelf, coming back down to integrate the new books with the ones that were going back up, and climbing back up to shelve the books. Up, down, up, down, dust, cough, cough. Earlier in the evening I also finished putting books on a shelf that are squeezed in behind the entertainment cabinet, which was a matter of climbing, sometimes falling back and forth over the raised fireplace hearth. I have the scraped and bruised shins to show for my effforts.

So, I didn't go to bed until almost 2 am. Then I told myself I'd "just read a few pages" - ended up staying up another 45 minutes trying to finish my book. Gave up about ten pages to the end. Still, I was too nervous to go back to sleep four and a half hours later when I heard William up and getting ready this morning. He'd asked if I'd drive him the first day. Of course. I got up and read mail while he finished his breakfast and I remembered he needed lunch money (lunch money!) and forced him to pose for a photo.

So, my baby (sniff) is off having a new adventure. 8:35 am - he's fifteen minutes into his first period as I type this sentence. He won't be back home until almost 6 pm tonight, after football practice is over. A long day. A very.... yawwwwwn.... long day.

Me? Rosie's waiting for me to come back to bed. That sounds like a good idea.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Holiday Photos #10

So, here we are in Conwy, Wales. I showed a photo of a sign from Conwy in my last holiday post, but now we've left southern England behind permanently.

You are looking down from a bridge to the railroad station. We went to a lot of railroad stations, most of them really old, large, and impressive like Paddington or Waverly or Gard du Nord. A few medium sized. This was the only small one we went stopped at, although there were some that were even smaller, literally simple wooden platforms with a sign. The trains we were on only stopped at one like that a time or two, I think you had to request a stop at the smallest stations. But anyhoo, this was our introduction to Conwy and it was a Keystone Cops scene with us dragging our suitcases up and down and back and forth, trying to find the B&B were we had made reservations. What made matters so complicated was not only the hilliness and the train tracks (which you were no allowed to cross except by bridge) but - take a look at the far end of the rails in the photo. That beautiful archway is part of the ancient wall that surrounds the center of the city, the city having spilled out and beyond the wall in current times. (and just to the left of that, you can see bits of the castle.) So, if you didn't know where you were going, like we didn't (although later we'd walked the small town so many times we were practically locals!) you literally kept running into a stone wall. Ultimately, after a long brisk afternoon walk, we found our B&B, on the tippy top of a very, very steep hill. It was worth it however, very nice place and a gorgeous view.

Here's a view of the castle from standing out at the end of a pier.

The harbor was being renovated but it was still picturesque. I took a lot of photos of the boats and posted some of them on my studio blog about a week ago. Here's the direct link if you missed them. This was the star of the scene, a pirate ship! If you click on the image to enlarge it, you might be able to see the jolly roger flag flying atop the front mast.

Here's another view of the harbor, and William, from atop the city wall. This ancient wall wasn't what I'd call "up to code". Bits of it were crumbled away. Other parts looked like they might make a creaking sound and topple down at any moment. I suppose they weren't really going to, but it looked like they would. You could walk on them almost completely around the entire city (a small section was blocked off for renovation - perhaps that bit really was threatening to collapse!) and we did so despite me suffering a huge attack of vertigo. I would have been fine by myself, it was watching William walk around that made me nervous. You can't really tell in this picture but those lower dips in the stone "railing" (there's a name for it, I can't remember it) were only about as high as his knees. I don't know what I thought, he'd fling himself over suddenly? It wasn't logical, but it was intensely visceral and real to me while we were up there.

Here we were looking down from one of the archways at one of the streets, the castle in the background. See how small the street is? And if you understand that those are all compact sized cars, then you really understand how narrow it is. It wasn't a one way. The cars to the left are driving away from us and the cars on the right are just parked. Unlike the U.S., it seemed to be legal to park your car pointed in either direction on either side of the street.

One of the fun things about the wall was being able to wander around and "spy" on people from above. You could see down into backyards and courtyards. See the chimney pots? I loved the chimney pots. When I'm done with this post, I'm going to head on over to my Laume's Studio and post some more photos of the chimney pots up close, and other more artsy images.

We have a family tradition with these sort of displays. William willingly posed with just about every "mannequin" we passed by.

Of course turn around is fair play. If he was willing to pose with fake people in public, he insisted on dressing me up with this silly helmet and sword. I think the price tag swinging near my glasses gives it a nice Romanesque Minnie Pearl effect, don't you?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What European City Do You Belong In?

I followed Deb's What Mythological Creature are You? quiz today to blogthings. (I'm a Chimera by the way.) There I stumbled upon this other quiz and - AH HA! See! Didn't I say I miss Paris!?

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Lazy, London, lingering

When no other title ideas pop up, go for alliteration I always say.

So, lazy - I'm in a slump. Finally got my wall painted last night, so now I can start to put things back together again in my house. Unfortunately I've hit this lazy spot. Sort of like a cold spot in a lake. I'm chilling here a bit and then I'll paddle on back into the current and get swimming again soon. Grooooan. If that's not a mixed up metaphor I don't know WHAT is. It's just , it's all a bit overwhelming. My livingroom is a jumble of freestanding furniture and stacked boxes, my own household imitation of Stonehenge. This "just move one bookcase" idea has turned into a huge project along the lines of If You Give A Mouse a Cookie. And right now I feel like I'm deep in the middle of the story, nowhere near swinging back from where I started, with an organized domicile. (If this whole paragraph makes no sense to you, go read the book.) As soon as I get this post written however, I'm hoping to pour myself a second cold coffee (I usually only allow myself one per day) and force myself to get back to work.

London - this whole thwarted bomb news, it makes me..... one would expect me to feel frightened. But no. It mainly makes me angry, with a icing of frustration. A cherry of sadness on top. Angry that a bunch of religious fanatics have nothing better to do with their lives then to try to keep everyone else fearful for their own. Angry that because of assholes who think God is on their side, we are all being forced to "take sides". Angry that the world has become a place where people have to be afraid of their neighbors, whether that be the folks who literally live next door ("he was always a quiet guy, whodathunk") or the folks who live just across the "pond". Angry that the solution to this mess under the current administration will undoubtedly be to throw out more threats of retaliation rather then throw open more doors of understanding. Angry that we really haven't evolved spiritually in tens of thousands of years. I mean, here we are still acting like the globe is some giant playground where we can gain territory or friends by lobbing water balloons and sticks at each other. If there was a God, don't you think he or she would have shown up by now, as the teacher or parent in charge, and hauled a bunch of us off to detention until we can learn to play nicely with each other? Lately the world has become far too Lord of the Flies for me. I never liked that book. Let's all read To Kill a Mockingbird instead.

And lingering - Summer is beginning to feel like it's almost over. School will be starting in less then a week. NFL and commercials for the new fall line-up of shows are back on the television. The grass and gardens are starting to feel dry and finished no matter how much water we use on them. And now that the end of the season is near, I'm finally enjoying summer. Isn't that just the way it always seems to go? When summer arrived, I was so busy I can honestly say I "missed it". Oh, was it already summer!? During the peak of summer, particularly this summer, I was hunkered down in survival mode, just waiting for the heat to GO AWAY! Now that the temperatures are less oven-like, and I can imagine the chill of frosty autumn nights soon to arrive, I'm finally starting to appreciate and enjoy each warm day left of the season. Autumn is my favorite season of the year and I'm already happily anticipating it's arrival, and yet now that it seems imminent, I'm finally not in a hurry for summer to be over.

Of course, this might be for less poetic reasons then you think. Flowers, butterflies, warm breezes, iced teas, and that hammock and a good book fantasy aside, it might have more to do with the promise I made myself to have my house "in order" by the end of summer. Uhm, yeah. Probably not enough time for that to happen. Did I specify that it would be in order by the end of any specific summer?

Sigh. I suppose, with enough coffee (maybe FOUR cold lattes a day?) anything is possible. Anyone seen a pig flying by lately?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Q is for....

Trying to catch up to the speedies, two in one week. I mean, this should be a short list. How many Q words can one have, anyway?

quilt, quilter, quilting - big obses.... er, hobby. Healthy hobby. Yes. Love me that purty fabric. Yum, yum, yum. In every color please. Cut it all up. Put it back together again. Lovely waste of time.

quiet - I like quiet. Don't get to have much of it in this household, but it's nice. I don't always need music or television on. Quiet is a good place to think or just "be" in.

quiz - I'm a big fan of tests and quizzes. It's like a game to me.

quantum mechanics - fascinates me. Wish I had a brain that could really understand it. Although I'm not sure if anyone really understands it.

question - everything.

quirky - that's me

Queen of Everything - my family says that's my title

quake - I've felt a few, a couple of moderate ones - a 5.1 and a 4.something. They don't scare me, unless I think about them when I'm going over a bridge in the San Francisco Bay area or something

qualifications - it's always annoyed me how many jobs that I know I'm qualified for and would love and do well, I don't have the proper "qualifications" for. Grrrr.

quandary - I'm often in one, or at least it feels like I am.

queue - I got used to standing in queues instead of lines in England and the word somehow stuck. I find myself still using it. (Also, I have always had a tendency to spell a lot of English words the British instead of American way - maybe I was a Brit in a past life?)

quince - we have a big flowering quince right next to our front door

quintessential - a useful word I use a lot

quotation marks - a useful punctuation tool. I use the "written" kind as well as the "air" variety.

quit - I don't like to quit things I start. Sure, I procrastinate. It may take me a zillion years to complete something. But I rarely just up and quit. Although I consider this generally a positive attribute, I've had to learn to allow myself to quit things when there's really no need, short of my stubborn refusal to "be a quitter", to follow through. I've learned to question my perseverance instead of just plowing ahead even if circumstances may have changed the original intent.

quail - we have a lot of the funny little birds in our neighborhood

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

You know you're a mother if...

William came up to me a little while ago and stuck something between me and the keyboard.

"Do you want this?"

It's a plastic tray with a half eaten t.v. dinner in it. There's some gnawed up chicken in the main section of the tray, one scrape of mashed potatoes in the top left hand corner pocket, a dozen soggy green beans in the right hand pocket, and an untouched chocolate brownie in between. I take it from him and he walks away.

If there's anything that looks less appealing then a t.v. dinner, it's a half eaten t.v. dinner. Despite this, I take a cautious bite of the chicken. Hmmm, not as bad as all that. It's got rosemary sauce on it. Not what I'd planned on having for breakfast but... waste not want not.

Proof, that I'm a mother. When push comes to shove (meaning, Jeff isn't up and awake yet to push the task onto him) I'm still willing to eating my children's leftovers.

P is for.....

Plugging away at Wordplay (get it - plugging - for P).....

Pennies - "Find a penny, pick it up, all day long, you'll have good luck." If it's heads up. If it's tails, turn it over and leave it for someone else to find.

Peter - my ex-husband. Also my ex-father-in-law and a really gentle, sweet man.

Paul - my father. I didn't actually know his name was Paul until I was five or six. Everyone called him Zeke. I thought that was his first name - it was really just a derivative of his last name. He passed away when I was in my mid30's and yet I often feel he's still near by me.

Pratchett, Pullman - two of my favorite authors.

Practical Magic - one of my favorite movies. It's about witches, which is always fun. But more so because it's about the power of love. Plus, there's that house. I want that house. And lastly, gotta love the midnight tequilas scene. "Put the lime in the coconut...."

Pizza - not that I love pizza so much. I like it. Sure. I'll have a veggie supreme please. It's more about the fact that with five children participating in team sports from the age of five on up through forever, I've been to more pizza parties then any one person can bear.

pentacle - earth, air, fire, water, spirit - everything is bound together - everything affects everything else

pagan - that's me. A fairly general term to describe my spiritual belief system. The gist of it comes pretty parallel with the theories of quantum mechanics. I believe at the deepest levels that there really is no difference between the physical world and the spiritual world, the known nd the unknown, the manifest and the possibility. It's both scientific and sacred together and at the same time and yes, that makes perfect sense to me. I throw an anthropomorphic skin or two over it for the fun of it, to make it more understandable and accessible, but I believe the real "God" is not a "person" or an "entity". It's just "EVERYTHING." Throw in a little residual Catholicism and a good handful of Zen Buddhism and there you have me.

peaches - millions of peaches, peaches for me, millions of peaches, peaches for free..... peaches come in a can, they were put their by a man in a factory downtown........gonna move to the country, eat a lot of peaches, move to the country, eat a lot of peaches....... several "peachy" songs are special to me. Remind me of Joshua and Sam. Fond memories of sweet boys on the cusp of adolescence. Memories of being elbow deep in peaches. Sticky, sticky peaches.

Plunkett - my grandmother, a family name on my mother's side. We're actually related to a Catholic saint- Saint Plunkett.

Peedee - the little town where we bought property in Oregon

pasta - there's a old stand up comedy bit about women needing good friends, sex, and pasta. But not necessarily in that order. And if you don't agree, then you've never had good..... pasta. True, so true. Forget diamonds. Pasta is a girl's best friend.

people watching - I love to people watch. I can sit at a restaurant or park, in the bleachers, walk down a street.... and watch the world of humanity be tender, silly, stupid, bizarre. The best show on the planet, and cheap too.

pancakes, peaches (already said that), parsnips, peppers (hot or mild), potatoes (white or sweet), pasta (said that too), pilaf, polenta - yummy foods

paradox - the older I get, the more I can live with the idea that two opposing points can both be correct. In fact, if this weren't true, perhaps the world would seem two-dimensional and boring

password - does anyone else live in fear of forgetting all the damn passwords they've been forced to create online, at their bank, for their cell phone...... ahhhhh!

peace - Yes, please. Namaste.

persnickety - so, I'm a bit high maintenance. I'm worth it.

phoenix - it might be trite symbolism, but it's still a powerful symbol of rising out of the ashes of misfortune and pain. Rebirth is always good for the developing soul.

photography - I've got a Niiiiiikon camera, love to take my phoooooo-tographs! I bet I'm not the first one to use this line for Wordplay, eh?

piecrust - I could make a mean pie crust in my youth. I was inordinately proud of that skill. In later years I sort of "forgot" how. Now I can make a decent crust again, but I don't make one often as I don't need all that extra butter.

pinon - how do you make that little squiggly line over the middle n? Grrrrr! I could get the squiggly line, or the n, but not both together. Anyhoo, imagine the squiggly line there - I love the smell of pinon pine burning in the air - harkens back to my years living in New Mexico. Love the pine nuts too - crunch, crunch, yum

pirates - ARGHHHH! Shiver me timbers! Yo ho ho! Of course there's the whole Pirates of the Carribbean pirate frenzy. But I'm also a member of a group of textile artists who use the pirate moniker with great silliness and flare.

pockets - what child doesn't love pockets - lots and lots of pockets. Secret pockets are even better. Well, I never outgrew the love of a handy pocket. When I went to England, I brought a lightweight raincoat with a zillion pockets and I used each and every one of them.

poetry - I write it. I read it. It feeds the soul in a way that's more direct then prose.

Prose - not that I knock the longer, more formal form of writing. In fact, I'm pretty longwinded by nature, so prose comes in real handy for the likes of me.

pregnant - I've been pregnant many times in my life. It's been an multi-faceted experience for me - full of every emotion known to womankind - fear, pain, wonder, awe, curiosity, love, awkwardness, anger, tenderness. Pregnancy can make you feel as elemental as an earthworm and as sacred as an angel, both at the same time.

Puff the Magic Dragon - I've always loved this song, but it became special to me when William insisted on falling asleep to Peter, Paul and Mary's sad tale for over a year of his childhood

Paris - my new heart/home town.

play - don't forget to have fun. "The goal of all civilization, all religious thought, and all that sort of thing is simply to have a Good Time. But man gets so solemn over the process that he forgets the end." - Don Marquis (1878-1937)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Holiday Photos #9

It's been awhile since I've offered any pictures from our trip. In part because my computer ate the photo program that I had them stored in, which makes it more difficult to access the images. But I don't want to abandon you before we've even made it out of our first home base of Bath. Heck we've barely gotten started. We're only three days into the trip!

This set of photos are all about signs and storefronts. The first six are all from Glastonbury. If you recall, I mentioned that Glastonbury is an entire town of New Age shops. After visiting the Abbey, Tor, and Well, we didn't have much time to wander.. Too bad. Next trip (think abundantly), I'm gonna make the extra effort to stay directly in town.

This was a fountain in front of a shop. There was lighting behind the inset crystals so that they were backlit.

Don't you love the green and the red? You can't read it well without clicking to make it larger, but what I was taking a photo of was the name - The Goddess and the Green Man. So cool. The red storefront has a cool name too. Have no idea how to pronounce it.

I thought on first glance that this must be Artemis - because of the dog - but of course not, she's Celtic. The sign said she was supposed to be some sort of Greenwoman. I didn't realize until I looked at the photo later, there's a Visa card sticker in the window. Ah, spirituality is for sale like everything else.

A store like this in America? Well, yeah, maybe Santa Cruz. Or the Haight.

This wasn't a store front, it was a window in someone's private home. We walked by it on the way back to town from the well. I'd love to do something like this, 'specially since I live on a street busy enough that it would have a real audience. Does anyone else remember the giant golden Buddha in the Marina in San Francisco? I wonder if he's still there? But alas, if I tried to do something like this, my cats would destroy it in two shakes of a cat's tail.

This is William standing in front of the King William sign. This was our third day in England. Later we were to realize that the name "William" is sort of like "Smith" or "Jones" or in the southwest of the U.S. like "Garcia". There are hundreds of signs that say "William" this and "William" that. Very popular first name and surname over there.

Now we're in Conwy, Walves. Don't you love this shop!? There were a lot of signs that were a bit edgy. I can't imagine someone being allowed to use a store name like this in the U.S. We say the English are stuffy but geeze, I think we're the prudish ones compared to Europe.

In Wales all the signs are in both English and Welsh. The Welsh language loves to stick extra "L's" and "F's" in a word. And they really take seriously the use of "Y" as a vowel, yet don't bother with ordinary vowels in other spots that seem to need one.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Work and Play

I've had a lovely weekend. It's been both productive and fun -

On the productive side, I've managed to keep up the decluttering process. I tell myself to do something every day, even if it's just a small amount. Most days, once I get started, I do a little bit, and then a bit more, and a bit more, until I have decluttered a satisfying amount each day. The more I let things go, the easier it becomes to let go of more. I spent all Saturday evening sorting and tossing magazines. There were a few that I've browsed and chosen to keep in the past, some of them for a decade or longer. I almost didn't peruse these particular magazines because I simply assumed that since I'd kept them before, I must have had a good reason. Curious about why I was keeping them (yeah, right, I couldn't even remember), I did look through them and was suprised to discover that there wasn't a single thing in any of them that I could imagine I needed to look at or read again. It was very exciting - it made me wonder how many other things I have tucked away that I am only keeping out of habit. Sort of like the story of the woman who cut the end of her holiday ham before baking it. She didn't know why she did it, she only knew that her mother had done it. When a friend challenged her need to cut the end, the woman called her mom to ask the reason. Her mom said she did it because HER mother had done it. So the woman called her grandmother and asked her why she cut the end of the ham. Her grandmother explained that the reason she cut it was because the only baking dish she owned was too small for the whole ham. So, how many things do I hang onto because I haven't really thought to ask myself why or if I need them. Speaking of letting go, I drive by this sign every day. Today I stopped to take a photo:

I was surprised to find this smaller message underneath the larger letters. I had always thought the wording was just accidental:

On Friday I went to a couple of thrift stores and found some great stuff for my grandbaby-to-be. I also scored a Buffy the Vampire Slayer board game, never played, for free! I also found something I've been searching for for almost two years. It's going to be delivered tomorrow. When I get it set up, I'll take a photo and show you what it is.

The play part of the last few days - Saturday I went to our local Art in the Garden Show. Today I went up to Lake Almanor and managed to squeeze in both an Arts and Crafts Show and a Quilt Show. Lots of beauty and art to inspire and please the senses. Lots of bumping into friends and chatting with friendly strangers. I hope to upload some quilt photos and talk more about it on my studio blog. I won't manage it tonight because I was sidetracked one too many times and I finally got a chance to try out the Citrico tequila in a margarita and so I'm starting to feel verrrrry sleeeeepieeee. Check back tomorrow.

On the way home from the quilt show, I stopped to take some photos. I loved how saturated the blues and greens were in our normally dusty and dry mountains.

I will show you a couple of things though, before I go off to bed. I'd recently noticed that my family had lost or broken almost all our kitchen glasses. I was down to two glass glasses, the rest all plastic. I'm not a big fan of plastic. I found these at the craft show today. Aren't they too bizarre and funny!? So next time you come and visit me, you can pick your own poison. Hehehee.

This saucer and tea cup yelled at me from about twenty feet away. It feels perfect cradled in my fingers. I picked up a dozen other cups and none of them felt right in my hand. Just this one. Isn't it purty!?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

fotos and football

Yesterday's decluttering task was a lot more daunting them I thought it would be. Organizing the family photos. While everyone else is putting their photos into fancy schmancy scrapbooks, I've been taking them out of photo albums and putting them, loosely stacked, into boxes. I've discovered albums don't work for our family. If we're looking at them, it's usually several of us together and we want to pass them around. Or I'm rummaging through them for a certain picture or theme, pull them out, never to return them to their proper place. Plus, the albums are all dusty, falling apart, a few even, ewwwww, smell like a cat might have peed on them.

I'd already taken the most damaged albums apart about a year ago, put them into plastic boxes. I was going to go out yesterday and buy some more of them when I remembered that I had bought a bunch of tin gift boxes and stored them in the garage. They were a holiday item, marked down to something ridiculous like ten cents each, so I'd bought several dozen of them and then forgot I had them. I dragged them out and they were just perfect to stack two piles of 3X5 photos side by side.

SIX HOURS LATER.... fingertips shredded and cut..... legs cramped..... shoulders aching..... I finished taking the last of the photos out of albums. All that's left are miscellaneous oversized photos and all those school pics and sports photos. They'll need a larger storage box. Oh, and a couple old albums of Jeff and the kids from his first marriage - I wanted to ask him if he was okay with it before I took those apart. This morning he said that was fine.

They're not terribly organized yet. I'll save that task for some time in the years to come. I was more concerned with condensing the amount of space they took up than I was worried about putting them in order. I seriously doubt that's possible anyway. It was hard to put them in chronological order. I depended a lot on "where we lived at the time" - so the photos are mainly divided into categories of: before kids (that's only one box), Sonoma, Roseville, San Diego, and then Susanville (the last being ten years all jumbled together in no order whatsoever). But I'm happy. The tins take up less then half the space on the shelves that the albums did, and they're easier to browse (the plastic boxes are see-thru and the tins have a spot see-thru spot on the lid to insert a photo into it). And they're protected from dust and grime.

It's truly astounding how many photos we have and yet how few moments in time I seemed to have captured. I guess another way of looking at it - it goes to show how full and blessed my life has been. And I'm sure I only remember a fraction of the past events, laughs, pratfalls, and tender moments. Heck, I have trouble sometimes remembering what happened yesterday.

It's interesting how photos I've glanced over a million times without a second thought when they were in an album, take on a whole new life of their own when viewed individually. It was a lot of work, but it was fascinating taking such a detailed walk down memory lane. It wasn't a real emotional walk, it was more like a run actually as I was trying to work fast, but it was fun.

I had pulled out a bunch of randon photos I wanted to share with you'all, but after scanning a few of them this morning I decided it was too much work. So I settled on a couple of photos of William, age three, playing football. It seemed apropros with "hell week" looming after this weekend. Although they've been having weight training and once-a-week football practices all summer, next Monday is the official start of high school football practice. Yes, my baby is finally going to public school.

I don't have any photos of William yet for this year, but for two years now he's played in the youth football league. Here's a photo of him after one of last year's games. He's the tallest sweaty head sticking out of the huddle. Last year he was the tallest kid on the team, including the coaches. This year I think there's one coach taller then him, and the quarterback is almost the same height.

He's been quite an asset to his team. He usually sacks the quarterback at least once in every game. He even played once with a broken finger, taped it up and finished the game. Of course we didn't know at the time it was broken. Yet, it would have been hard to predict his love of the game from the less-then-enthusiastic beginnings shown in the photos below.

The family was camping and his four older siblings were playing with a football. He wanted to be included in a bad way, but was really too young for the rough and tumble. Still, he gave it a shot.

This first picture is of him "blocking" his older brother.

This one is my favorite. Here he is "catching" the ball.

Maybe later in the season I should take these incriminating shots to a game and share them with his teammate and coaches. Hehe.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A year ago today

On a whim, I decided to look back in my blog posts and see what was happening in my life a year ago at this time:
  • We had just bought our property in Oregon.
  • I was in the midst of a great battle against moths. Cleaning, painting, new shelving, and completely reclaiming my pantry ensued.
  • William was just starting football camp and was coming home tired and crabby each day.
  • Our family trip to San Francisco to see Wicked was looming on the horizon.
That all sounds pretty good. So, this year:
  • We still haven't managed to go up to check on the property yet this year.
  • I am in the midst of a great battle against clutter. Hopefully all that other stuff - cleaning, painting, and so on, will ensue.
  • William has been doing football weight training and one day a week practices for a month now and is older and better able to pace himself. All this may change when "Hell Week" starts next week. Stay tuned.
  • No plays this year. My efforts to see Wicked again were all thwarted. We didn't have the time or money (but mostly not the time) to go to Ashland. Oh, wait. I saw Chicago in London in May. Uhm, never mind. You can stop feeling sorry for me. HA! - that's funny!
Not all that different last year to this, eh? It's interesting to see how much our activities revolve around. It's a seasonal thing. If I was a good little pagan, all organized and celebratory, I would have acknowledged that this is the time of Lammas. (It was yesterday, or today, something like that - I think the ancient Celts would have just picked the day with the best weather for travel or the full moon or something, not being particularly attached to the use of the Roman calendar system.) I should have baked a cake or thumped a drum or woven a corn dolly or something. But I'm more of a practical pagan. Not to mention that whole disorganized bit. I tend to think of holidays about a week in advance, have great intentions to do something holiday-ish and then stumble upon a calendar later and exclaim "Oh, is today the solstice!?"

Let's just say, it wouldn't be a good idea to put me in charge of anything like church or a temple. I'd never get anything organized. Because of this, I tend to honor the seasons in a more general way, not on one day, but by moving through the changing chores of each part of the year with as much awareness and thanks as I can manage. Spring is honored by planting a garden. Summer by having a good ol' barbeque. Autumn by chopping wood and putting up food. Winter by trying to appreciate the quiet, fallow time and working on "inside" things both physically and psychologically.

Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, is a somewhat forgotten, second cousin type of holiday. In the Celtic Wheel of the Year, it's the first of three harvest festivals, focusing on the harvest of grains. It was the first inkling for them whether it would be an easy winter or a sparse one. The second harvest festival, Mabon, falls on the atumnal equinox. That's when late grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, anything and everything else is put up for the coming cold part of the year. Last but not least, Samhain, or as most folks refer to it, Halloween, is when the productive season comes to an definitive end, frost is imminent, the livestock that can not be supported over the winter are slaughtered, the past is honored, and the new year won't begin until the sun returns on the winter solstice.

It's always sort of confused me, why three harvest festivals? What's the point - other then spacing out a holiday every six weeks or so for the fun of it. I mean, in the olden days you couldn't really break the boredom with a trip to the movie theatre. And you were probably too busy getting ready for the coming winter to go anywhere anyway. You worked hard. You deserved a few extra holidays. But, I digress.

What I meant to say is that it's always been sort of confusing, until this year, when the symbolism, on a contemporary level, all fell into place for me. If you think of the word "harvest" from a wider perspective, in modern times what we harvest is rarely limited to bushels of peaches, cans of green beans, hanging hams, or bags of wheat. Instead we harvest events, goals, plans, relationships. Most people think of this as something to assess in the form of New Year's Resolutions, where they mainly focus on the planting of new goals, instead of the harvesting of those things already planted in our lives in the years past.

Which brings me back around to my need, at this time of year, and in a particularly powerful way this year, to deal with harvest issues. You can't plant a new garden in the spring if you don't harvest and clean up the old one in the fall. I can't do new things in my life if I don't harvest and clean up the old things. And here's why the three harvest days suddenly make more sense to me. Read along and think of the things you might have planted this year, the things you might need to harvest or complete in your life.

Lammas is the first harvest day. It's telling me that summer doesn't last forever. The garden is still growing, the nights are still warm, but I can smell it, a golden scent of dry grass underneath the green. It's reminding me that time is running out for this year's garden. Now's the time to finish tasks I really care about before it's too late. Plan ahead for the harvest of those things which have grown well, so I don't waste bountiful "fruit and vegetables". Assess what isn't going to come to fruition and make plans to accept it and tear it out of the garden. Summer isn't over, but this holiday is a heads up, telling me to plan ahead for the inevitable end of this year's growing season. It's time to acknowledge this year's blessings and a time to start the process of gathering in.

By Mabon, I should be busy, busy, busy. Can it, freeze it, dry it, eat it, share it with friends. Clean up the garden beds, thank them for providing for me, and get everything that doesn't have a purpose into the compost pile before it's too late and it just sits around all winter frozen and in the way, or mucky and composting in the wrong places. In other words - clean it, paint it, chuck it, burn it, decide where it goes - get it finished or get rid of it. Physically, this is when the bulk of the hard work should be wrapped up and it's time for a celebration. (Canadians have this one right - it's always confused me to have Thanksgiving so late, at the end of November, so long after the harvest is put up.)

Samhain is when the year has finished. And it's time to make the really tough decisions, the ones that require more emotional work, the ones I've been putting off until last. I need to be honest about what I can support in my life over the coming fallow season and what I want to be responsible for,what I want to plant, come the new year. If it's not done by now, it's not gonna get done. It's a time to honor my dead and by this I mean not only my ancestors and beloved dead, but the death of the year past, the death of any goals, wishes, desires, hopes that it's time to lay to rest.

Someone on an e-list I'm on posted a story about a tree in today's mail. The gist of the story was - what if the tree decided not to let go of it's beautiful foliage in the fall? What if it hung onto it's golden autumn glory, so attached to it that it didn't let the leaves fall? What if it was afraid of what it would do once it had lost all it's leaves and was left bare and without purpose? Well, it would be an ugly sight, come spring. All brown and soggy. Nowhere safe for the new buds to set forth new green leaves. No leaves on the ground would have sheltered the roots from the winter's cold, or fed the tree with new nutrients when the sun warmed the earth once more. The old leaves would no longer be a blessing, they would be a burden. They might even be the beginning of the demise of the once healthy tree.

All this online philosophizing is mainly for my own benefit. To cheer myself on, convince myself of the need to persevere, keep my enthusiasm up for the hard work. But I suspect that many of you can identify with a sense of harvest at this time of year, and with the difficulty of letting go of things that belong to the season past. I've been working the last few days on my own organizing. Not as quickly as I'd like, but each time I force myself to get back to it, it gets easier, and less difficult. It helps to remind myself of the bigger picture, that I'm clearing my life for new growth and new blooms in the year to come.

If any of you are also working your way through your "garden chores", let me know. I need the encouragement, and I bet you do too.