Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Lovely Diminutives

...Listen, love,
The fat lark sang in the field;
I touched the ground, the ground warmed by the killdeer,
The salt laughed and the stones; 
The ferns had their ways, and the pulsing lizards,
And the new plants, still awkward in their soil,
The lovely diminutives.
--Theodore Roethke, from Field of Light

Greetings to you on this almost-Spring day. I've been taken over by happy routine this winter, and it's been nice.  Comforting.  I love doing my things: walking Oakley, playing games in the evening with Jack and Caroline, cooking to music and enjoying a glass of red wine, enjoying my friends near and far, organizing corners of my house that have gotten cluttered.  Just living, you know?  When people ask me what I've been up to, what's new, I don't have much to say beyond The Usual.  I've been hanging out in cruise control, a fallow field, and I am learning to appreciate this more and more. 


Spring is almost here and with it, I have been propelled back into the action.  It has just sort of happened, much to my pleasure.  I think I'm giving myself over to the seasons and it suits me to let it happen.  Like the bees, I'm increasing my industry now.  I planted my garden boxes last week--just before a major deluge, so we'll see.  If nothing comes up in the next week, I'll just replant.  I'm following a plan for square foot gardening and I'm excited to see if I can increase my yield.  I'm sort of a by-the-seat-of-the-pants veggie gardener, so this is good for me to read a book and follow directions!  I planted 3 kinds of radishes, 2 kinds of carrots, lettuce, and arugula.  Yesterday, I started a bunch of flower seeds indoors under lights in my garage:  Halo Apricot hollyhocks, purple Zebrina hollyhocks, chocolate Cosmidium Phillipine, and Neon calendula.  Last week I contained the raspberries to a dedicated patch--that was crazy, as those canes had spread out all over the place!  In a few weeks, I'll plant snap peas, my favorite thing to grow!!!  I have also ordered about 10 different types of fragrant sweet peas, and will put them in around the beginning of April.  Big garden plans and dreams, as always!

We also just celebrated our Oakleyversary!  That's right--it's been a year since we got Oakley and he has changed my life.  Thanks to him, I walk all the time, rain or shine.  We love to walk out in the valley fields off-leash and I love seeing all the changes that are happening all the time. 

 I've been really obsessed with the stark, skeletal beauty of the winter trees and have taken lots of pictures and even attempted a few little paintings.  

I love walking in the rain and celebrate the fact that I'm waterproof!  And now, the plum trees are blooming out there, the willows are all budded out,  and the meadow grasses are greening up. 


Thursday, October 3, 2013

These Are The Days

...these are the days
you might feel a shaft of light make its way
across your face
and when you do 
you'll know how it was meant to be
see the signs know their meaning
it's true
you'll know how it was meant to be
hear the signs know they're speaking
to you
to you

--excerpt from a 10,000 Maniacs song

I was listening to an old mix tape in the car on my way to work and this song came on.  You know how you can hear a song many times but sometimes lyrics jump out as if they were new?  That's what happened here.  I really heard the words and thought about how they apply to my life.  Like most people, I am carried along through the day, keeping track of ALL the little things I have to get done.  Sometimes even hurrying through the bedtime routine with the kids because I just have to get back downstairs and load the dishwasher, make lunches, etc. 

No, these ARE the days to remember, to enjoy the metaphorical shaft of light across my face.  It's Fall. It's time to sloooow dowwwn and take the time.  To be present in the moment.  To sing an extra song at bedtime.  Kids are only little for a short time, so remember to look at those little hands and clear eyes and cherish the days.

That's what the signs are whispering to me and sometimes I strain to hear, but I'm trying.  Being a parent is hard and lovely.  My kids are good kids but we have our struggles.  Caroline is having some temper issues and it's tough.  These days I have to focus on showing her what I want to see mirrored back.  It's work and not easy. I'm a yeller sometimes, but I'm seeing that it's not helpful and poor modeling.  When I'm frustrated with her behavior I need to be able to not engage and let her calm down.  I need to remember that she is little and needs my help.  I know how it was meant to be, and it's my job to teach her. 

And to remember to hug these days close, stand in the light, and listen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mischief Managed!

On July 15, Caroline's 9th birthday, we celebrated with a Harry Potter Party!  It was a right jolly good time, indeed! Here's the invitation:

And here's the party:

chocolate frogs!  

party favors

No, it's not THAT kind of spin the bottle!
Here we are at the wand choosing ceremony.  The wand chooses the wizard, not the other way around, so we used Ollivander's Magical Wand Divining Bottle to match wand to wizard.  The wands were roots from my holly tree which were unearthed when we shored up the chicken coop (from rats!) by digging around the perimeter; they were knobby and perfect!  I held up each wand and told the group where it came from and what was in its core, i.e., 'This wand is from the Whomping Willow tree and has a unicorn tail hair in its core.' Then Caroline spun the bottle and the wand went to whomever it pointed.  

 The next step was for the wizards and witches to glitter the tips of their wands!

birthday girl!

It's impossible to use too much glitter!!!!

Party snacks:  Flobberworms (gummy worms), Gillyweed (seaweed), Bowtruckles (pretzel sticks), and fruit wands (strawberries, grapes and blueberries on skewers).  The Gillyweed was especially popular.  Too bad we didn't go swimming!  (Gillyweed enables you to breathe under water!)

After they ran around casting spells with their glittery wands--the best one was a chicken coop rat banishing spell, Ratbegonigus!, it was time for Divination class.  They drank their tea and paired up to read each other's tea leaves.  In the center of the table is the crystal ball (a snow globe), the Sorcerer's Stone (an agate) and a Remberall to help me remember what comes next during the party (a wine aerator).

 They stared into their partner's cup to look for pictures and symbols.
Kelsey gazes into Lola's cup where she sees a butterfly, signifying that Lola is growing and changing. Lola sees a monkey in Kelsey's cup, signifying Kelsey's athleticism and playful spirit.  The kids really got into this!  Then Bridget dressed as Professor Trelawney and told crystal ball fortunes.

 After the fortune telling, we set off for the forbidden forest!

The Forbidden Forest is down in a ravine with a creek, just next to the park near our house.  Here the witches stand in front of a GIANT mossy rock at the edge of the creek.  Then we played Werewolf Attack.  Gino volunteered to be the werewolf, and everyone else hid.  Then he stalked them and when found and tagged, they became infected and turned into werewolves, too.  Then they hunted together until everyone was a werewolf.  This was a very fun game and we played it twice!

Then they had fun playing in the creek and especially collecting bits of clay from the creek bed.

Does Angelina see a unicorn?  Or maybe Buckbeak the hippogriff?

Peter and Gino with their clay.  We could have stayed in the Forbidden Forest all day.  Luckily, we did not run into Aragog or any of his GIANT SPIDER descendants!

Back home, it was time for Professor Sprout's (Hogwarts Herbology instructor) famous Rose Cake.

The birthday witch opens her presents!

Gino swigging his Butterbeer 

This was so fun for me to plan, as I love Harry Potter so so much and luckily, so does Caroline! Later that evening, Caroline, Bridget, Peter and I went to Ixtapa for dinner:

Happpppy Birthdayyyy, Ponchita!

Happy Birthday to you!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Morning Light Comes Tapping at the Lid

The Unextinguished

Clouds glow like coals just fresh from fire, a flare
Of western light leaps with intenser blaze
To conflagration in the upper air.
All distant shapes turn brighter to the gaze.
The fire of heaven dies; a fire unseen
Wanes to the febrile smoldering of sleep;
Deep-hidden embers, smothered by the screen
Of flesh, burn backward to a blackened heap.
But morning light comes tapping at the lid,
Breaks up the crust of cinders that remain,
And pokes the crumbled coal the ashes hid,
Until thought crackles white across the brain.

--Theodore Roethke

This is one of my favorite scenes to photograph.  It's on my way to work, looking east toward the mountains with the sun rising behind.  There is a stop sign on the country road I drive, due to a structural problem with one lane; instead of fixing it, they just reduced the road to one lane and both sides of the stretch have to stop and take turns.  There are a couple of interesting things about this, I think.  One is that if another car is on the other side, it's always a competition about who goes second.  Every time I see a car approaching from the other side I slow down, ensuring the other car reaches its stop sign first and therefore takes the lane before me.  Despite this,  the other car always waits me out and I end up going first, giving a hearty wave as I pass.  Second, I used to blow through the stop sign if no one's on the other side, but since a friendly, merciful Johnny Law reminded me that it is a STOP sign, I now stop every time, and I relish it!  It gives me time to pause and look at the beauty before me, a physical stopping and a mental stopping.  Stop hurrying, stop worrying, take a photo maybe, and just be in this exact moment.  

In other news, we got a DOG!  Oakley is an 11 month old Australian Shepherd and he is absolutely wonderful in every way.  

Thanks to this dear dog, I get to go on lots of walks.  Beautiful, long walks.  This is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. When Oakley and I walk on the trail, we are in a rhythm, we are in the zone.  We break from the trail when we see a path leading away into the open space.  Off goes the leash and I open up my stride and just breath in the air, trying to make it a part of me:  the heavy scent of plum blossoms, swamp cabbage, moss, and water.
This is Harris Creek, taken from a foot bridge. I always stop here and contemplate the world.
Looking out, beyond the trail, dreaming of roaming the where-ever.
Always remember that love is all around.  Look for it and you will see.
Here, there is no rule that weeds can't be beautiful.
And floods either for that matter!
Take a minute and smell the flowers.
And smile. Just smile.