Friday, August 31, 2007

What Season Are You?

Well, I coulda told you this without taking a test. But those Blogthings tests are fun. And addictive. Have you ever gone there after seeing someone elses test - What Goddess Are You? What Color are You? What Sport Are You? - and then end up spending an hour going from test to test to test.... No? Well, I guess you have more self control than me.

I'll add a more personal post later. Or tomorrow. Now I'm off to the first high school football game of the season. Yes, there have been scrimmages. This is the first official game however. At home so it'll be fun. And one of the things I love about fall. Gotta run.

You Belong in Fall

Intelligent, introspective, and quite expressive at times...

You appreciate the changes in color, climate, and mood that fall brings

Whether you're carving wacky pumpkins or taking long drives, autumn is a favorite time of year for you

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Look Ma, No Hand!

William was moving his hand when I took the photograph and the movement "washed" his hand away. Doesn't it look freaky!? But, when you're done being amazed at the dissappearing hand trick, look at what APPEARED!

A new couch! Well, new to me. It's not an antique, but I bought it at the local antique and collectibles shop. Solid wood. Storage underneath. Folds out to make a double bed for company. No fabric for the cats to shred on the edges. In fact, it has little wooden "pockets" on both sides to hold magazines. It sort of reminds me of an oversized church pew. Most exciting of all, it's about 90% closer to the style I'd like than the old dumpy, comfy couch.

I will use the new upholstery fabric I bought for the old couch to make a slipcover for this couch, to save the very nice fabric already on it from wear and tear and cat hair and spilled sodas and so on. It will be much easier to make a cover for the shape of this couch. I'm also going to get a foam wedge (hopefully tomorrow when I'm in Reno) so it doesn't angle so deeply in the back (although it's not uncomfortable now, just think it will be more comfortable if I add a wedge) and I'll add some nice throw pillows.

And you know what this means - I now have a couch in my yard again. In the side yard this time, along the busier road. With a Free sign on it. Actually, three Free signs on it. (Or so hubby says. Why it required three signs, I do not know.) If no one needs it by next week, we'll haul it off to the dump.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

I'm sure there are far clearer photos taken of last night's (or rather, this morning's) lunar eclipse, but there was something satisfying about taking my own pictures of it.

I wouldn't have even known about the eclipse if my friend Kathy hadn't called me from the road, driving that rental truck slowly up the moonlight soaked grades of the Grapevine. She had heard about it on the radio.

I didn't think I could stay up late enough for it, as I had to get up early this morning to take William to an appointment, but then time went by as I puttered with this and that (and yes, I did get some work done on the living room reorganizing - not much, but some) and wondering when it would begin I glanced out the front window and there was the moon, like a big white cookie with a bite taken out of the corner already.

Every ten minutes or so I took another photo, balancing it as still as I could on the back of some metal lawn furniture. Our new neighbors had their porch light on, shining across into our yard, which was a bit of a bummer. They've left it on every night since they've moved in, about a week ago. I think it's going to be a regular thing. Which bums me out. I'm annoyed at them anyway, for not being our friend Al. Eventually I'll meet them I suppose. They haven't made any effort to say hi and we haven't been able to catch them to say hi ourselves - they just dash back and forth to their car. Change is just hard sometimes. It's easier to be mad at our new neighbors for replacing our old and beloved neighbors (and friends), than it is to be sad about our old neighbors absence.

I always find myself wondering what people from different times think of the same experience. How would someone from the 15th century, for example, experience 21st century streets of New York? How would someone from the Bronze Age experience this eclipse? Would someone from this era be able to survive if they were one of the first settlers to the New World?

I couldn't help but see the connection between the eclipse and my post yesterday, about THINGS. Here's a big THING. Up in the sky. And slowly but surely it disappears. It is packed up, swallowed up by the sky herself, into nothingness. But wait....

As the eclipse nears it's zenith, the outline of the full moon returns. She's red, transformed by the process, illuminated not by the sun, but by a thousand small goodbyes, a thousand sunsets, a thousand perspectives.

Even though I didn't stay up to watch her return to full light, her ascent from the journey (I tried, but I fell asleep), I know she will return just as beautiful as ever, shining on us all. huddled together down here in the shadow of night.


Monday, August 27, 2007


Depths of garage

I'm sitting in my living room, laptop perched rather lopsidedly on one thigh, the last inch of coffee in the bottom of a thrift store tea cup sitting in the middle of a thrift store saucer, perched precariously on the not-quite-large-enough space still left between the lamp and a stack of papers and magazines on the end table beside me. As soon as I finish typing this post, in theory, I'm going to get up and start opening boxes of books and knicknacks that are currently stacked all over the room in front of me. I'm going to sort through them deciding what will be passed on and what will stay in this new environment I've created. Am creating.

I love THINGS. I love feathering my nest. In fact, one of the reasons I think I've been in a slump lately is because all my things are boxed up, out of sight and out of place. When ever I've moved, which hasn't been in a long while, but I've still done my share of moving in my lifetime, I never feel at home until two things happen - my books are shelved and my paintings are on the wall. Although I haven't moved location, this summer qualifies as an emotional move for me and right now I feel about where one is when the truck has unloaded but you can't find your box of silverware and you just figured out your washer/dryer don't fit where you thought they'd fit.

Someone down the street is moving out of a big house. This morning I drove by and saw people, like a line of ants, moving boxes and bulky belongings down the front steps, through the front gate, and into the back of the truck where someone was attempting somewhat unsuccessfully to fit a few more things on the very top of the back layer.

One of my dearest friends spent the weekend helping her adult daughter pack up her life so she can go to graduate school two long states away. They rented a trailer to be pulled behind the car but eventually had to give in and replace it with a 12 foot rental truck. Apparently everything but the boyfriend fit in the truck and tonight they start out on the long drive.

I'm lost in thought at the idea of all my belongings fitting into one small 12 foot truck. There was a time, long ago, when they did. Before I owned furniture. Before I had children. When it was just my first husband and I, in a series of moves our belongings grew, each U-Haul needed to be a few feet longer. Eventually, when it was me and the two kids moving after the divorce, I barely fit everything into a 26 foot truck, the largest size you can rent. For the last twenty years, my husband, five kids, dogs, cats..... our moves have been either local circuses with both a rental truck and numerous back and forth loads in extra vehicles, or long distance events paid for by husband's employee and handled by a moving company with a big rig.

We're less people again now, down to two adults and one teen. Shouldn't what we own be less too? But there's a difference in what we own now from in the past. Long ago most of what I cherished were a few books and mementos - not enough to fill the back of my old Pinto. (yes, I drove a Pinto - hatchback, puke yellow color.) I didn't own much beyond that - some clothing and a stereo, a few records. Our belongings grew for decades not because we owned more cherished items but because we owned more things needed for each stage of life - furniture and toys and sports equipment for kids. Camping gear, tricycles, bicycles, extra cars for teens. Lawn mowers and bookshelves and kitchen appliances and, when we moved here to the mountains, winter wardrobes and snow shovels and boots and storage supplies. None of those things were of much sentimental value. They were useful. They've come and they've gone. Some of it we still have because we still use it. But it's not personal.

It's only been in the last ten years or so that the amount of things I want to hold onto for sentimental purposes have grown into a bulky burden. We can finally afford things worth keeping. Furniture or pots and pans in my youth were always hand-me-downs or it-will-do's. Now I finally have furniture I want to keep, pots that cost a pretty penny because they aren't dinged and scratched. I have art work, handmade quilts, art supplies, family heirlooms, music, collections, books - let's not even talk about books! A hundred things I wished for, I envied, when I was younger and now have the luxury of owning. And the responsibility of owning.

Maybe it would be easier if we really physically moving. Everything looks different in the light of a new location. Nothing has a place and so each decision is free, or at least more free, of past expectations of where things go and what you use and what is just sitting around gathering dust. I might have new paint on the wall, new bookcases, but I'm stuck with the same expectations rolling around in the shadows of the room, like dust bunnies that escaped the general clean out by hiding under the furniture when I rolled it back and forth.

I want my THINGS back in place, but I also want less THINGS. I want to feather my nest but I also want to be able to walk across the room without stepping on them or having them fly up in my face.

I think there's a happy medium. I'm just at the overwhelmed point where the environment has so little order that I can't find it. I look at all these boxes and the thought of opening them up makes me think of the scene in Harry Potter when Gilderoy Lockhart thinks it's a good idea to open up the cage of Cornish Pixies, letting them loose to run amuck in what had been a peaceful classroom. If I open up my boxes, take everything out and set it about in categories and piles, I have to figure out what to do with it all when it all seems as unruly and unwilling to be tamed as Harry's pixies.

I swore I'd get up and get started on it all yesterday, whether I felt like I was prepared to deal with it all or not. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you're wanting to avoid the inevitable, the day filled up with more immediate concerns like helping with school work and taxi service for the family, and laundry and cooking, and a thirsty garden. It took all day to catch up to a reasonable level of clean clothes, available food, pumpkin plants that didn't wilt in the sun. Sadly, today I have run out of legitimate excuses and it's time to face my cardboard foes or admit (to you all, since now I'm telling you all this) another day of defeat.

I'll let you know tomorrow how it works out.

Maybe I need to go to the supermarket.....

Shoe Tree

I took some photos of our local shoe tree the other day and couldn't decide where to post about it. Shoe tree as art? Shoe tree as family trip? The former won out in the end and you can see the pics and read about it over on Laume's Studio.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Good Walls and Bad Walls

Lately I've been feeling up against a wall. A physical wall. A time wall. An emotional wall. It's all interwoven, blocks my way, and keep me going in circles which makes part of me unhappy and frustrated but still circling because another part of me doesn't have the energy to break through into uncharted territory. I could go on about but it's sad and personal and would probably come across whiny. I assume eventually even I will get bored with my story, and climb over, around, or perhaps find a door through the wall, but for now I'm stuck. Eating chocolate. Surfing the internet. Sighing. Stepping around my mess.

Speaking of uncharted territory, I have it in my head to read through a stack of books I've gathered about the psychology of place, the psychology of travel. I picked one to start with at random, A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit.

I am deeply satisfied with the read but it started out a bit rocky. It wasn't exactly what I had been expecting it to be and I read the first chapter or two silently chastising it to "get to the point" or even to HAVE a point. Eventually, like any good journey, I let go of worrying about direction and destination and just settled in to enjoy the trip. I haven't been interested in reading nonfiction en masse for years. It intrigues me that I feel compelled to do so now and I'm curious about where this particular reading "trip" will take me.

Speaking of trips, I can't decide. Hubby wants to go somewhere that requires a passport next spring. I get to decide. Mostly. He's nixed a few of my ideas (Greece, Angkor Wat, Montreal) but is excited about others. At this point it's narrowed down to two weeks divided between Paris and "other French locations" or two weeks divided between Ireland and southwestern England (southern Wales, Cornwall). I can't decide. I've been telling friends, starting with "My life is sooooo difficult!" and then explaining my dilemma in a dramatic whine while feigning a look both confused and forlorn. My hope is it will discourage people from slapping me for being a spoiled brat.

Originally I had my heart set on Paris. I want to go back there sooooo badly! But the thought of going some place new appeals too. I can't decide!!!! See! My life really IS difficult! (Paris is winning at the moment. Anyone know a good way to learn to speak French without access to a class?) Or maybe I'll try to talk hubby into staying home (not hubby staying home, I mean BOTH of us staying home) and remodeling the kitchen instead. Not that I'd prefer to remodel my kitchen, blech, but it seems like a responsible thing to do.

Yesterday was our 17th wedding anniversary. We "celebrated" by driving four hours to a football scrimmage event, sitting on the side of a hot, muggy, weedy, inhospitable dirt berm to watch football played in practice jerseys so you couldn't figure out which kid was which. I spent most of the day reminding my husband why I was such a good catch by refusing to be pleasant, casting him the evil eye when I'd look at him at all, and generally being The Bitch Queen. He reminded me why I married him by being incredible patient and long suffering and NOT leaving me in Truckee to walk the 130 miles home. (And no, none of my bad mood had anything to do with hubby or my marriage - both which I appreciate even if I don't act like it some times).

Things did perk up in the evening when we managed to get home in time for dinner and a movie. We ate too much food inside a deliciously cool. air-conditioned coffee shop and then went to see Stardust, which only arrived at our local theatre that night. I was surprised that the seats were mostly unfilled for the show. I'd heard nothing but good things about it. We loved it. It was different from the book but I found nothing to complain about and in some spots I even thought the movie cleaned up a few weak plot moves in the original telling of the story.

Part of the fun was getting to see the village of Wall. As I've mentioned once or twice (or three or four) times before, William and I visited the village of Castle Combe WHILE the movie was being filmed. We even got to go inside Monday & Sons shop. The village plays an important role in the movie and there are quite a few scenes where you get to see quite a bit of it both at the beginning and end of the story. I kept grinning and thinking "I walked there!" and "I took a photo of that!" and "We went in that building!" I went to the movie last night thinking "I've been to Castle Combe." and I left the movie last night thinking "I've been to Wall!"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Flotsam and Jetsam

Hubby and I were chatting this morning and we remarked on some upcoming birthdays, none of which I'm prepared for. That reminded me that many family birthdays have come and gone this summer without so much as a phone call of acknowledgement from yours truly. Sigh. I have many wonderful attributes. Really, I do. However, always planning ahead, remembering birthdays, sending gifts and cards on time (or at all) - none of those are on the list of What's Great About Laume.

Of course I feel guilty about it. Although as the years go by the guilt doesn't seem to have helped me mend my distracted, haphazard ways. If anything, I've gotten worse and I've gotten less concerned about ever redeeming myself. In fact, just today it I've decided that it's a good thing that I have these failings and inconsistencies about me. Just think if I was truly a perfect person, what a burden it would be for my children try to live up to my example! I'm really saving them from years of self esteem issues and expensive therapy.

Moving on...

It was frustrating to sit around yesterday resting my wrist and doing Not Much when I felt perfectly healthy in every other way. I tried to make the best of it and read a couple of books, catch up on blog reading, visit the library, nap in my hammock, relax with my family. All my boxes sat around and stared at me forlornly. I had mixed success in making an impromptu holiday out of it. But it was the right decision, as my wrist seems mostly better today. Of course now my shoulder is stiff but I think it's residual from holding my arm tenderly and from the pain. I'll be cautious today using it, but I have to get something done.

Even though I've mentioned it several times here, football season has surprised me by really having arrived. I know I already said it was here. We went to the Grizz Feed, a potluck and scrimmage that starts the season, but then I went home and forgot about it again. But tomorrow we go to our first out of town game, which, since we're so far away from all the other schools we play, means a full day of travel. I'll have fun once I'm on the way, but right now I'm just feeling it as "ARgh - one more day I can't get anything else done". Despite my Argh-ing, I do enjoy football season. I love the lights, the crowds, the snack bar (we have a good one!), the bleachers full of friends, the game itself. There's even positives to the travel required for away games.

Here's a photo I took of William (center of the pic, #66) hanging out with friends after the Grizz Feed scrimmage last Friday. I took it with a telephoto lens because as a teenager he's not too keen on having his mom standing around taking photos of him and his playmates, y'know. But it's nice to see him surrounded by friends. It brings back memories, mostly pleasant, of my own teen years.

Yeah, I was one of those, a popular kid. I was fortunate, my high school was large, more like a community college in many ways, and cliques and peer groups weren't made out of stone like in some schools. There were different "crowds" but people intermingled and, I know now in hindsight, were much kinder to each other than they are in many high school populaces. My kids have been fortunate - the local high school is small instead of large, but has the same generally accepting and fluid social tiers. At least, that's been their experience. And like me, they enjoy and get along with a lot of people, but seem happiest spending their time with a few close friends.

While we were waiting in the room for the doctor the other day, William commented on this poster. He said the kid looked like a zombie child. I think they were trying to make him/her look ill but I have to admit, he/she is a little creepy looking. Actually, it looks a lot like William when he was little. Hehe.

Hubby and I have a weekly date at the local tea room. This week was the first time we had to miss our regular day, as I had to take William out of town to the doctor. But we made up for it by going yesterday afternoon. We splurged and ordered the "Royal Tea". I love the fancy tiered tray and fussy cut sandwiches.

The tea room is in an old Victorian and the neighboring house is still a private home. We like to sit out on one of the two front porch tables because it's private and a good way to enjoy our short summer season. I figure there will be plenty of time to enjoy a hot cuppa in the pretty rooms inside once the cold and snow arrive.

Yesterday the neighbor's birdfeeders put on quite a show. These are all small finches. (Double click on the photo to see the birds better.) For years yellow breasted finches used to visit my gardens every autumn. They'd come in huge flocks and gorge themselves silly on the sunflowers, heavy with seeds. The last couple years I've had finches all year round, and different kinds. I wonder if the bird populations have changed regionally or if it's simply a matter of the birds having found a good thing in my yard and sticking around? I put up a year round birdfeeder in my backyard for them this year, but no one seems to visit it. They visit my yard, my flowers and my trees, but not the feeder. Maybe it's the wrong kind of birdfeeder for finches. After seeing how happy the birds were with this mesh sack style, I think I'll chuck our feeder and pick up some of these.

I put up a couple more photos from the tea room over at Laume's Studio. "Face" photos. Go see.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wrist Twist

I've been busy, but also injured. I have no idea why or how. Yesterday. I was literally walking along. Well, driving along. Parked. Walked up to door of the store, opened it. Walked in. And suddenly went "Ow, my wrist hurts." Nothing had hurt before that. And now it feels all painful and sort of weak, like if I try to pick up something heavy in that hand, like a cup of coffee, I might drop it. I went around all day yesterday trying to carry on as if nothing was wrong, wincing and "Ow-ing" for maximum visible and auditory affect in case my family wanted to sympathize. They really didn't care too much. I slept with my arm laid out carefully last night. It seems a bit improved today but still hurts and probably will hurt more if I try to use it, so I'm gonna rest it and see if that's enough. Hubby guessed some sort of pinched nerve, which I think might be in or near correct. My shoulder, same arm, did the same thing on me last week - suddenly started hurting and then got over itself in a few days.

Also, William has some sort of lump, bump, swollen lymph node - we don't know. Our regular doc tried antibiotics and that didn't help. Next step, because of some insane lunacy of the way the billing works on our insurance, I had to drive William to see a specialist in Reno yesterday even though the same said specialist has two office days in town. This required him missing an entire day of school. Next week he has to have some medical tests and then another appointment to read them - two more days of missing school. And trying not to miss football practice because... one must have their priorities straight, y'know.

And then maybe we'll be done with all this silliness or maybe he'll have to have some sort of surgery. I'm trying not to gnash my teeth and soak my brain with worry because the odds are, of course, that the worst part of it all is the stupid insurance making us drive to Reno and piss off all his teachers this school year before the year has even had a chance to get underway. So, yeah. Knock on wood.

Anyway, that's all. The wrist thing means I'm gonna try to stay off this machine for awhile. Try not to have too much fun in Blogland without me. Or go ahead. Have fun. I'll just sit here in the corner watching, practice looking pathetic, and hope for some distraction and perhaps a wee bit of peripheral sympathy.

If you want to read an update on the living room remodeling, bop on over to Laume's Studio.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

I like to think that my life, in a collective sort of way, has meaning. That I've been moving forward. By moving forward I don't necessarily mean in a straight line, or in the same direction all my life just for the sake of some physical goal, but moving forward on a path that is right for me in a more spiritual sense. I like to think I'm doing okay, more than okay in some subcategories of life, but to an outside observer it probably looks more like I'm just a pinball, randomly bouncing around, hitting a few high score spots, but not particularly in charge of the game. Some days, like today, it feels like that might be closer to the truth than is comfortable to admit.

I'm pretty sure that most of my mood is just an extreme arc on that great big hormonal swing on the playground, but that doesn't mean it's not real. It's still my thoughts, just taken to an extreme. Some of it might be the season too. The end of summer always makes me feel reflective and a bit melancholy. The garden has reached it's zenith and now it's just a matter of time before summer finds a boundary of frost thrown at her feet, autumn standing tall and strong proclaiming "You shall not pass. This time is mine." Or perhaps it's the wind that's been blowing hard all day. Wind doesn't just toss the leaves in the tree tops outside or rattle the garden gate, it also gets inside my head and tosses my thoughts and rattles the dreams that cling to my bones. Like Vianne in Chocolat, the wind makes me restless.

One of the triggers for my mood is that my hubby and son are stirring around the idea of buying some more property. Hubby convinced me of the value of buying retirement property (for either building on or reselling, we're keeping our options open) a couple of years ago and I spent the better part of a year running around making that happen. It was a productive year and I'm glad for it now, although it was exhausting both physically and emotionally and I experienced it in the moment as a detour from where I was originally headed at the time. So now here we are, a bit farther down that path, winding and curving, and for all the decisions that were settled upon and made, I find myself walking into a whole forest of new ones.

We're in the deciding if we're deciding stage at the moment, but it's still a lot to think about. Do we buy property for investment purposes only? Do we buy property with the idea of having a Plan B for the future? Do we, and this is the one hubby seems to be particularly fond of, buy here in our area with the idea of selling our current house and moving in the near future, the rewards being that we can live in a nicer house now and have a home with more investment value for some undefined future time?

Can I point out that we (I) haven't even finished fixing up the house we live in now!? And can I point out that I seem to be the only one that has any interest in or takes any pleasure from the actual work of fixing, decorating, and remodeling. Further more, I need to point out that you'all know how Speedy Gonzales I'm NOT when it comes to projects.

Hubby's vision of the plan starts at "We can buy this great property in the woods" and then jumps pretty much immediately to "And the new house will be so pretty!". You do see how there's a CAVERNOUS HOLE there in the middle of things where a long stretch of reality - making this house saleable and working with banks and escrows and the building of a new house - isn't mentioned!? I suspect the reason he doesn't mention this middle part is because he has already assumed it will all be taken care of by someone other than him. In other words, me. In fact, the only extra bit of information hubby throws in to the argument, as if this tidbit will sway me immediately is - "And we'll have enough property to buy some goats!" (Because a chihuahua isn't ENOUGH to tie us down!)

However, as ludicrous as I'm making it sound, there is some logic hidden in the idea. Particularly since we have a son who BUILDS HOUSES and we could take advantage of this to the benefit of all concerned. So, I'm considering things. I'm pondering. I'm musing. One of the options here is to put my hand palm up in front of me and say NO, but I'm not ready to do that yet. I don't want to dismiss the idea without checking it for nuggets of gold. And, despite my bossy persona, I do take this whole "marriage is a partnership" seriously. Hubby's dreams and goals are as legitimate as mine. Besides, if I don't really think it through, if I put my foot down, it won't stop hubby or son or the world at large from conspiring to do it anyway. "And we can get chickens too!" Sigh.

What I've done about it so far is to spend time revisiting, in my head and on the internet, all the places that I've lived and/or wanted to live, which has led me to two conclusions. The first conclusion is that this is where last time I realized that the only way to really see property is to DRIVE there. Great if we're talking fifteen minutes out of town. Not so workable if we're talking Wisconsin. Workable but time eating if we're talking northern California.

The second is that this only serves to shine a spotlight on my old time companion - the question of what I want to be when I grow up. Or perhaps it's time for a makeover for my old friend - The question of what I want to be after I'm done being a grown up. There. I like that better.

Mostly what this whole argument has done is dredge up old memories and rekindle old dreams and make me feel all circle-y and overwhelmed again. Here I was happily setting all that confusion aside so I could live in the moment, bloom where I'm planted and so forth, make short term goals, and suddenly folks are throwing long term decisions at me and saying "It's up to you."

It's up to me. The bigger picture. Hubby thinks of property as Pretty or Not Pretty. Factors like distance from a large city, jobs, weather, accessibility and so on aren't really things he sees. He makes decisions first and then decides what to do with life on the other side when he arrives there. Me, I have to think of all the possibilities and roadblocks ahead of time. I don't just see Pretty or Not Pretty. (Oddly, when we're traveling, it's just the opposite - hubby wants to plan every last detail whereas I'm happy to limit the planning to simply picking a direction and taking off!) I think of where I live as defining, limiting or allowing, who I am and what sort of lifestyle I will live. I think of the world around me as an extension of who I am. So, for me, choosing a piece of property also means choosing the things I will do on that property. Or not do. I can't get dressed to go somewhere if I don't know what I'll be doing when I get there - am I going to be getting dirty, should I put my gardening clothes on? Is it a party? Do I wear a dress? - I can't pick out a place to live without knowing what I'll be doing when I'm living there because picking out a piece of property for me is too interwoven with picking out who I want to be.

The other day Sam mentioned that an area just north of him near Shasta Lake is still affordable. "Let's move there!" hubby suggests instantaneously.

"We can't!" I reply.

"Why not?" he returns, seriously.

I yell "Because you work here! And you can't retire yet. You can't commute three hours one way can you?" He looks unimpressed with my argument. "William goes to school here! All his friends are here! He's first string on the football team here!" He just looks at me as if I'm arguing minor little issues. He's not big on letting reality get in the way of his enthusiasm.

I'm really glad I recently went up to check on our retirement property in Oregon. Driving through the area and once more feeling like I was in a place that felt like home, makes me feel like I've got a plan in place. It grounds me. And despite plans for future relocation, we are, for the time being, most definitely rooted here in our community.

But I will probably never feel 100% rooted, no matter where we ultimate choose to settle. I've spent a lifetime wandering and living and growing in many different and unique places. A few of those were so inhospitable that I moved on without a backward glance. But most of those places were fertile enough for me to put down roots and when it was time to leave, a little bit of me was ripped off and left behind. There is magic everywhere, but the magic is unique to where it comes from. The north woods, the desert, the ocean, the city, the country, the mountains, high desert, small town, the lake, the ridgetop. I carry my own magic with me of course, my own center that is separate from location. But I've felt and mingled my life with the life of each place I've been and can't forget. So many places will forever sing to me, trying to call me back, when the winds blow in from the right direction.

The future has just as many different locations in it that also call to me. Just because they're all just potentialities at the moment doesn't mean I can't hear them. Even unformed, I already love each and every possibility and already mourn the fact that some will not come to pass. My daughter-in-law and I daydream about having some sort of herb farm or business together. Although I am serious in wanting to create what we are now only fantasizing about, I also know that I can't know what the future will hold, what opportinities or obstacles we'll have to work around. I want to be near my family but I also want to be in a place that feels like home no matter who moves near or far, because that's what happens in the real world, people scatter and reform and then scatter again. I want quiet and starry skies and room to stretch out but I also want community and energy and possibilities. We aren't in an income level where those things are affordable for us as a package deal. I know I can't have it all.

So it all comes down to choices. Upstream or downstream? Over the bridge or under it? Follow the scents blowing in on a southern wind or chase the northern lights? Stay put and let life flow past? Or jump from rock to rock and see where it leads? The only choice I'm willing to make at the moment is to get off the computer and go take a shower. Later - make some sort of choice about dinner. After that, it's all sort of up in the air. The wind is still blowing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Photo borrowed from astronomy site - sorry, can't remember quite where I found it

I've finished up the last several nights by laying cuddled up on my couch with a blanket and Rosie, watching for shooting stars from the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. What? Laying on the couch? Well, yeah. It helps that I still have my new couch (now officially dubbed "the hippie couch" by Sam and William) sitting out in the middle of the front lawn. Better than calling it my "white trash couch" I suppose.) It's coming in soon. In fact if I don't, the sun is going to start to fade that luxurious 70's golden faux fur upholstery. So, soon.

The meteor shower peaked this last Saturday and Sunday night and, if I'd remembered, the night sky was particularly clear and dark this last weekend. But I didn't remember until Monday. Monday was a bit hazy, but still, I saw about a half dozen falling stars in a half hour or so. We're fortunate to live so far from any big city lights. Even though the sky isn't as dramatic as the photo above, we can still see the Milky Way on any clear night by just stepping outside our front door.

I tried different reclining positions, different pillow directions, trying to see the most sky possible between the trees and the lights from the neighbor and the clouds that were wrapped over the south eastern corner of the sky. I thought of the falling star in Gaiman's Stardust. I thought of the fate of the characters in the story. I thought of how many stars there are in the sky and how many choices there are a person's life. Does fate guide our choices or do we guide our fate? I didn't come to any conclusions and eventually, reclining under the stars, I thought mostly of whether I wanted to lay there with my eyes open so I could see more falling stars or if I wanted to let my eyes close so I could sleep amd dream.

I stayed out longer on Tuesday and saw about a dozen falling stars. I determined to lay under the stars until I had found some pearl of wisdom in my ponderings of life, an analogy between stargazing and life in general. Something to do with making choices, as I've been feeling rather overwhelmed by choices lately, both small daily ones and my neverending and self absorbed search for the best long term ones. It's felt lately as if I have as many choices to make in my life as there are stars in the sky - there must be a connection there. Instead I got side tracked wondering why we seem to find beauty instead of sadness in a falling star. I mean, nowadays we know that falling stars are just a bit of cosmic dust burning up in the atmosphere but long ago did people think that with each streak of light across the inky blackness a star was lost from the heavens forever? Do falling stars, perhaps, represent those choices in our life that are lost to us? Or are they streaking beacons guiding us towards a decision?

Alas, the only pearl I managed to create out of my stargazing was that stargazing in and of itself is therapeutic. I didn't come to any decisions or find any new wisdom under the heavens, but laying outside I found my mind stopped twirling in circles, my body relaxed, my hearing sharpened (crickets, wind, a semi far up on the grade, a cow mooing, a deer walking down the street - Okay, that last one was always followed by Rosie's frantic barking), my breathing slowed, and it didn't seem to matter if I was wise or decisive. It was enough just to enjoy the moment.

Tonight my son Sam was home for an unexpected visit and he and hubby joined me under the stars. Stargazing shared was less meditative but no less relaxing. It seemed to bring out a reflective mood in all of us. Although, to be honest, it could have been the beer and mojito (my first - YUM!) that set the mood tonight as well.

So, that's it. What? You thought I'd wrap this up all wise word and lesson-y? Sorry. I tried. I really did. In fact, I wanted it as much so I could share it with you as I did for myself. But the best I got was - stargazing is a good thing. Even if it doesn't make me a better philosopher or poet. It makes me happy. And in the moment, it seems to be enough. Decisionmaking, it seems, can always wait until morning.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chocolate - For Laura

You know how you get two things stuck together in your mind and forever more they are associated with each other? I have a lot of these pairs. Like the smell of coconut and sunny days on the beach when my mother slathered me up with Coppertone. Tom Petty and long family drives with a station wagon loaded with kids and camping gear. Polka-dots and my quilting friend Jay. Margaritas and the movie Practical Magic. Roses and Lisa. Peaches and Joshua. Cherries and Joe. Interesting how most of these pairs involve food on one side, isn't it.

One of my newest associations is chocolate and Laura. And for those of you who read Laura's blog, I mean, come on - DUH. This is a no-brainer connection. So that's why this post is titled "Chocolate - For Laura". Because I simply can't think of one without the other any more.

While we were wandering around Pikes Market area in Seattle, we walked past a place called the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. We quickly backed up for some serious window viewing.

Apparently it's a chain of chocolate stores but from what I could see inside, it was mostly made on site.

It wasn't a matter of if we would buy anything, it was only a matter of what we would buy. Clearly decisions are already being made here.

And that wasn't even much of a decision either, the obvious answer was one of the incredible caramel apples.

Although I don't know if they were, technically speaking, caramel apples. They were apples with caramel and chocolate and nuts and candy shells and icing and frosting and who knows what else. Apple ambrosias!

The only real decision was, which one, which one!?! I went up to the counter with a list of everything everyone wanted on ONE apple, which we were going to order sliced to share. These things were HUGE. I said "I'd like an apple with chocolate, caramel, and nuts, please." To which the guy behind the counter asked "What kind of chocolate?" - Dark. And "What kind of nuts?" - which seemed overwhelming and so I blurted out "Pecans." And believe it or not, there was an apple already made up with just those ingredients.

To say that we enjoyed our apple slices would be like saying that the Louvre is "a nice little museum." I'm now dreaming of these apples.

They had other chocolate attired fruits as well. Here are some strawberries all ready for a night out at the opera.

Or these, dressed in zebra costumes.

I bought some orange peel dipped chocolates that were wonderful, as well as one of these triple dipped cherries which, alas, was lost in a hot car incident. Sniff.

Later, in Ashland, while Jeff took a nap at the motel, I zipped down to a little place I'd noticed on the main drive into town. I probably wouldn't have noticed it except that they had set up umbrella'd tables in the front of the shop and they had a bubble machine running. I ask you, how can you not want to stop at a place that had a bubble machine running!? If the wind was blowing just the right direction, it even blew right across one's windshield as you drove by - that certainly got your attention.

If bubbles weren't enough to love, the name of the place is Silly Rabbit Chocolate Company. Apparently the shop has only been open for four months. When I took an interest in the specialty chocolates in the display case, the chocolatier himself came out to describe each piece in individual detail for me.

The decorative details were so whimsical and fun. And there were so many unusual flavors. The ones on the right were a lavender flavored white chocolate with an orange salt sprinkled on top. It was one of my favorites, the unexpected contrast of sweet and salty.

I ended up buying a box with assorted flavors. I wish I could remember all the different kinds for you. One flavor was a campout s'mores sort of truffle with a smoky flavor. I got the one on the right here. One of the flavors in it was basil. Sounds odd but it was delicious.

Hubby loves fortune cookies so I bought him one of these multi-chocolate dipped ones. And not the ones on the right here, but another gold leaf topped dark chocolate one for me simply because I'd never eaten gold and chocolate together. How can one resist.

And if that wasn't enough, all wrapped up in a chocolate brown gift box with a pretty grosgrain brown and blue ribbon, the owner gifted me with a fresh loaf of freshly baked focaccia which we enjoyed eating on the drive home and for several dinners thereafter. If you'd like to try some unusual chocolate flavor combinations for yourself, check out the webpage. It looks like, come cooler weather, he will be taking shipping orders. As for me, I'll be looking forward to stopping back in on our next trip up to Ashland.

In the meantime, I now have a bit of a closet chocolate addiction. And not just any chocolate. Nooooo. The GOOD stuff. And it's not a closet, really. It's hidden in my night stand drawer. To keep out chocolate eating fairies and bugs and cats and teenagers. I'm not hiding the fact that I eat chocolate. I'm just hiding the fact that I have chocolate. So that I will continue to have chocolate. You see? Although, now that I've just exposed my hiding spot.... damn. If you're reading this, and you live in my house - DON'T EAT MY CHOCOLATE! There. That should do it. Hmmmm. Unless you're a fairy. I should probably share my chocolate with the fairies. They don't eat much and, they tend to play tricks on me if I hold out on them.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Right to Individual Expression

I bought a new piece of furniture yesterday. You can read all about it over on Laume's Studio.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Books - Halfway Through the Year

Inspired by Deb's 2006 Reading List post at the beginning of this year, I tried to cobble together a list of books I'd read last year only to discover I hadn't kept track very well. So I made some reading resolutions for this year. My resolutions included keeping a good record and reading at least one book a week. I'd planned on doing an update post on my reading list so far for the year on a quarterly basis, but time slipped away from me a bit. So, it's been a bit over three months since my last report. Not halfway through the year but "half-ish".

If you want to see what I read in the first quarter of the year, you can go here.

Books I've read since then are:

Murder in the Marais by Cara Black
Killed by Clutter by Leslie Caine
Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine

Murder in Belleville by Cara Black
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J K Rowling

Death Masks by Jim Butcher
Le Mariage by Diane Johnson

Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye
Murder with Peacocks by donna Andrew
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling

Into the Green by Charles DeLint
Stardust by Neil Gaiman (still reading it)

I did the math and this weekend will be the end of the 32nd week of the year and I'm in the middle of my 33rd book of the year. Right on target. I'm mostly pleased with that, because I thought I had fallen behind my book-a-week goal, but I'm a bit disappointed as well because in the first three months of the year I'd managed to get ahead of schedule and over the summer my reading schedule suffered so much that I've "fallen back" to being on schedule. It's all that travel and enjoying my family and gardening and reorganizing my life stuff that's been getting in the way. Hmmm. Guess no one is gonna listen to me whine about those excuses.

Despite years of evidence to the contrary, I still cling insanely to the idea of summer time as an opportunity to swing in a hammock with a neverending supply of iced tea and good books. The fact that this hasn't been true for years - since I was about fourteen years old actually - doesn't sway me from my belief. Despite my best efforts and cheerful denial of reality however, I always seem to have far less reading time in the summer. I even knew, with my mind's boggling ability to hold two separate and opposite truths to be true simultaneously, that I wouldn't have as much time to read this particular summer. Hopefully when the days shorten and the nights grow cold once more, my extra reading time will return (again - not sure where I get the idea this will come about, but I like to pretend that it will be true).

It's turned out that this has been a year of series reading. I reread the Harry Potter series and have discovered and been enjoying some new (to me) series by Shirley Damsgaard, Cara Black, Jim Butcher, and Donna Andrews. (Thanks again to Diana for turning me on to Andrews hilarious mysteries.)

It's also been a year of trying to get in under a deadline to read a book, usually a book I'd already planned to read but hadn't gotten around to, before the story came out in movie form. I always want to read the book before I see the movie. Even though I'd read them before, the Harry Potter books kind of falls under this category, as I reread them to refresh my memory before the fifth book came out in movie form and the seventh book was published. Also Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series - it came out as a television show (which I love, by the way), and Gaiman's Stardust (which comes out in two days and is the movie that was being filmed in the Cotswold village of Castle Combe the day we visited there). I also want to reread at least the first of Philip Pullman's His Dark Material stories, The Golden Compass, before it comes out in theatres this November.

Between trying to beat the calendar to movie premieres and working my way through my favorite new series, I haven't diversified much in the last few months, which was one of my other reading goals for the year. But I'm enjoying what I'm reading, so I'm satisfied with my choices. It's my resolutions, I can be flexible.

If I could, I'd find more time to read more titles but since I have yet to be given a Time-Turner Pendant like Hermione received so she could do double studies one year at Hogwarts, more reading time would have to come with the sacrifice of something else I also want to do - like painting or traveling or kissing grandchildren or sleeping. So, for now, my reading speed will have to do.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Just Wandering Around

Today I woke up in a whimsical and devil-may-care mood. I dressed in a big gypsy skirt, totally impractical for getting anything serious accomplished. I spent midday with hubby and son on the front porch of our local tea room enjoying the cool breeze, the pleasant company, and the finger sandwiches and small desserts stacked on the tiered platter on the table in front of me.

Afterwards I meandered around without any sense of urgency. Surprisingly enough, I managed to meander into and through quite a few real tasks and errands and, without attempting to do so, ended up having quite a productive day. Hmmm..... Perhaps I'm on to something here. Sneak up on the work that needs to be done instead of confronting it head on.

One of the things I had to do was pick up my Subie from our trusty mechanic. (She was in to have a sensor replaced that was making her stumble and the Check Engine light go on.) Instead of having hubby drive me over, I decided to walk the couple miles. On the way I saw this paint drop on the sidewalk.

A waning crescent moon. Yesterday I saw another paint smudge (or maybe it was a bird dropping smudge or an ice cream drip smudge - I don't know) that looked just like a skull. I thought to take a photo of it but then got distracted and forgot and now today I can't remember where I was when I saw it. If I find it again, I'll show it to you.

On my way home from vacation last weekend I bought a few books on the "psychology of place and culture" - an idea that always interests me. Flipping through one of the books (can't remember the title and I'm already tucked in bed so, I'll check another time and let you know) I stumbled upon an excerpt where the author was describing the difference between how an adult and a child experience the Grand Canyon. An adult, she says, looks out on the grandeur of the canyon, trying to take in as wide a view as possible. A child on the other hand, she goes on, instead climbs around on the edges of that impossibly huge chasm mainly noticing little things - rocks and bugs and chipmunks - less concerned with seeing where he/she is at and more intrigued by the parts of it that can be interacted with.

I've been to the Grand Canyon, twice. And just for the record, gazing out on the farthest and deepest vistas of that place, it's hard to grasp the reality of it. It seems to me as if I'm looking at a postcard picture of the place and not the real Grand Canyon at all. But I digress - while meandering today I thought of that excerpt and wondered about how I personally interact with the world.

I have a tendency to notice detail first. Small things. Here. And there. And underfoot. What's in there? What's making that shadow above me? I look down a lot. And yes, I do also take in the bigger view from time to time, but mostly just as a way to find new details and then I'm off to get my nose in closer and investigate the cobblestones, the trim, the people sitting in the window....

It makes me wonder - how do the rest of you see the world? Are you the type that is content to sit on the beach and watch the waves and sky? Or are you, like me, more likely to wander the rocks and sand and waves looking for something smooth or shiny or alive or out of place? Do the people walking the shore become part of the scenery for you or do you get caught up noticing little details and then have stories pop into your head that explain why he's wearing a Yankee's baseball cap or why she looks sad or how come the little boy is being so tender to his baby sister.

If I had to put numbers to my interactions, I'd say I'm probably about 70% "child" and only about 30% adult. I suppose it depends a bit on my mood and whether I'm footloose or have some adult role thrust upon me, like being in charge of small children or having to watch the time. Just curious, how would you describe your interaction style?

I spied this kitten on my walk and found something sweet about the image. She had been asleep but woke to watch me take several photos of her. You can see her better if you click on the photo to open it. I also liked the pale celery color of the trim around the window, it was an unexpected choice against the tan adobe walls of the house.

Last but not least, Artsymama is having another blogger's party tomorrow - and since you're probably reading this tomorrow, then I mean today. Wednesday. Whatever. Her first was a blogger's tea party and I participated here on Beach Treasure. It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of nice new bloggers. This time she's hosting an art party, and to participate one is supposed to contribute an art tutorial post on your blog for the attending blogger guests. Being an artsy theme, I decided to participate from over at my Laume's Studio blog. If you hop on over there you'll see my small contribution where I show how to make a tiny book for any of your wee friends.

And now I've finished my Italian soda (blueberry and blood orange flavor, over ice) and this post and I'm going to meander a bit deeper under my covers - it's been chilly the last few nights - and call it a day. Er, call it a night.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Someone Has a New....

Toy. Isn't it Purty!?

He's also got a new....

.....'Do! Oh my! I was a little sad. Sniff. The end of an era and all that. But I got over it quickly. He was going to shave his head! I talked him into a less dramatic change - after all, if he didn't like it he could still go ahead and shave it. He's sported shorter hair before. When he was four he even had it buzzed and it was really cute. (Well, all four year olds are probably pretty cute no matter what hairstyle they wear.) This new cut looks rather cool, if I do say so myself (seeing as I cut it).

I'd show you a front view but I can't get him to a) pose or b) put on a shirt. Eventually I'll steal a good picture of him. For now, you'll just have to take my word for it. He's still William.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Mostly Pigs and Grandkids

I spent several days last week visiting my daughter and grandkids. One evening we spent walking around downtown Seattle in or near Pikes Market. All the times I've been to Seattle, I've never been to the market. We had a lot of fun. They were having an Art Pig contest and the kids really got into looking for more pigs. Well, after I got the ball rolling. This was the first pig we came across. As you can see, Joshua looks a little confused.

Uhm, one more time, why is Grammy making me stand by this pig?

As you can see, my own children are far better trained. (by moi!) Hey Noel, go kiss that pig! Our family is not afraid of doing odd things in public. I mean, how boring to simply walk down a street in the ordinary fashion.

Here it is! The mermaid with nipples! It's the original logo that is still displayed at the very first Starbucks Coffee House! I admit it, I've wanted to visit it for years. I'm such a tourist. The store itself is really nothing much, no place to sit really. More of a coffee bar. Probably because they get such a lot of in and out traffic. I bought Jeff a travel mug with the logo and some Pike Market blend coffee.

A fairy pig?

Nonny thought this jogging pig was super. Notice the "iPig" strapped to it's leg. Joshua was more interested in his Frappuccino at this point.

Just a cute pic of Nonny escaping up a flight of stairs that went up into some sort of ethnic restaurant - can't remember what exactly now except that it looked good. Mostly she was strapped in the stroller because the minute her feet hit the ground, she was off and running.

I liked this pig. Er, salmon. Her Salpig? Pigmom? Swinemon? Samhog? Okay, nevermind.

How cool is this! Made me wish I had Rosie with me. It was closed at the time though.

They were still making this guy. I took this pic with a telephoto. The workshop was closed to the public, at least when we passed by as it was getting late. I would have liked a closer look.

This guy was called Knob Pig. Am I missing some play on words here? Or inside joke? Joshua wanted to know what the knobs were, I told him they were piercings, like his mama's. Hehe.

Last pig of the day. While Nonny was getting a diaper changed before heading back to the car, the boys settled down for a bit of reading from the free periodical bins on the street corner.

More Seattle pics to come....