Sunday, April 04, 2010

Family First
Naturally I have heard the expression family first before, but recently, a bright and wise young woman reminded me how important the meaning really is. No surprise she's a Robotics alumnus... Amy K. you are smart, and friendly.

In that spirit, family first, I want express my love and gratitude to some dear family. We have been immersed (such an appropriate word) in robotics. As you may have noticed, I went a bit bonkers with the love, leaving my personal comfort zone to pump up a program I believe in. I am not apologizing for my enthusiasm, but I do want to acknowledge that the heavy focus on robotics did take away time and energy from at least two young men, who are not actually on a team. William and Max were in scripted into robo immersion, and though I asked them to step out of their comfort zones, they have never complained. They have missed Alex, and Geoff. They have filled in around the house and taken care of a certain little sister. They have spent long days traveling to FRC events, and longer days in huge and boisterous arenas. They have contributed as much, perhaps more, than some certified team members, and they done this with quiet humility, and endless patience.

William, thank you for being kind and dependable, for caring so deeply about each of us, and for doing your best each and every day. I appreciate your intelligence and humor. I appreciate that you have been sincerely supportive of Alex's dreams, and his well being, and that in your own way, you have been a Gracious and Spirited team player.

Max, thank you for being patient and supportive. In our home, in school, no matter the challenges and distractions, you stay true. You work diligently, steadfastly, and you give us every reason to be proud of you. If it wouldn't make you terribly uncomfortable I would do a “cheer” just for you. You Inspire me to be ethical, reasonable, and to do my best, and better.

Geoff loves robotics too... well, just about anything Geek gets him charged, but I do want to thank him. He was happy to be a programming mentor, to extend his time to the build team, to build a mini-robo world in our home, so he could extend his hours even more... but, when things got extra intense, when Atlanta become an option, I asked him to take it to the next level. We certainly did not need to put off domestic duties, like moving in to our home, or repairing the roof, but I basically implored him to ignore all the *homeless* whining I did for the last six years, and turn all of our reserve energy and focus on Atlanta, the team and robotics. I promised not to make a single complaint about boxes, leaks, and domestic perils, because I felt such drive to see this through, for the team to get to the next level.

Thank you Geoff. You taught me that dreams can come true, that it takes work to make it so. Thank you for being a mentor, for being a father, for being my partner. Your time away is never easy, and volunteering to be away from home is a bit nuts, especially after your “regular” office hours, but I love what I have seen. I love the programmers you mentor, the talks about design, the energy and dedication, the metal shop industry... the teamwork. I love when ideas are made in to creations, and creations are tested and run... succeed or fail, the pleasure and rewards are in the journey and the learning. Thank you for the pleasure of being a witness to your grace and professionalism. (I love your mind)

Maria. Maria, you spirited, smiling, dancing, inventive robo-princess. Thank you for wanting to be in the arena, for stuffing plushy wings, for sitting through long meetings, and longer FRC events... actually, you hardly “sat” at any FRC event. Thank you for cheering, and building alliances with your chocolate eggs, for walking to the pit to “check on the robot,” for learning the songs, dances and cheers. It's such a joy to witness your Team Spirit.

Alex, thank you for bringing us in to this exciting world. Thank you for sharing your passion and excitement for robotics, for design, for build, for engineering, for creation. You have some sweet skills, and more importantly, you have challenged yourself to learn more, try harder, and push yourself. Thank you for letting me nudge you onto the “dance floor.” You are a quiet thinker, a reserved young man, and I greatly admire your willingness to delve in to high school, this new social world... it's a big world, and I know you are going to find a welcoming and appreciative place in it. Thank you for appreciating me, for welcoming me in to math, science, sportsmanship, and engineering... you are an inspiration in so many ways.

We are in Las Vegas on this Easter morning. And we will be heading home soon. Thank you Mom and Dad for flying here to meet us, to cheer! What Time is It?! I know we always have your support, but it made me extra stoked to share the event with you guys. It was fun for me to turn and see your faces, to know you were keeping score, waving pom-poms, tracking our Maria-Mini-Paradox, and sharing in our joy. Thank you-thank you-thank you!

And back home? Ruth and Holly have been our pit crew, feeding Betty and the Ratty-Rats, chasing cats, and keeping the peace at the Bird House. No team is complete without all of its supporters. Thank you Ruth, for bunking at the Bird House, for waiting to welcome us home. Thank you Holly for your support too. We'll see you all soon.

Overflowing with gratitude, and spirit... what a wonderful way to begin this Easter day.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We Keep Springing Forward

These are the kind of posts I enjoy stumbling across... some day in the future, I will see this and recall all kinds of things, big and small, and I will enjoy remembering them. I may wish I could go back, or I may be grateful just to have survived. In the midst of our busy days, errands, challenges, and successes... there are moments, there are ideas, feelings, and milestones that are worth noting, worth a pause.

We are doing too much, as the saying goes, but sometimes "too much" is too good to pass up, so forward we go. Pushing to get to FRC Las Vegas, and juggling to be in Atlanta too. My friend Karen was right when she said, We can do this, but it won't be pretty. I think on her wisdom and humor when I look around my home, wondering if we will ever finish moving in, if we will ever achieve the comfy-settled look of an organized and tidy home.


But only a small sigh, and not a desperate or grieving sigh. I actually feel energized and motivated by our goals and plans, the goals and plans of 2102, Robotics. The disappointment about delayed domestic settling and chick postponement is fairly fleeting. The inspiration and success of the Team is invigorating, and feels more meaningful to me than finding our Easter wreath, or pruning hedges.

So, what have we been up to? Well, we enjoyed the opportunity to give family a metal-shop and robotics tour and introduction. Alright, so it's not the typical way for families to finally make the time to hang out, but I think they had a pretty good time. Alex got a chance to share his knowledge of the robot controls, the new tower, and mecanum wheels. The team got a chance to meet Spencer, and to figure out that when they are featured on the morning news, it will be like sharing cool stuff with a friend, so no worries. I was kind of imagining Jacob, Jesse, and Maria in ten years... design, build, and marketing... 2102 Team Paradox in the year 2020.

Maria thinks she is part of the team already. And fortunately, they do find ways for her to participate, to be a Paradox. Her parrot-ox dress is ready to go to Vegas.

Her hat and apron are ready too. In San Diego she passed out about eight hundred chocolate Paradox eggs in the arena... something we call Paradox Gracious Chocolatism. She is ready and stocked to show her spirit in Vegas and Atlanta.

While Maria, Max, and Alex break down the Cupid Shuffle, I've been doing some sewing for the marketing team. My blanket stitch is getting good. And plushy parrot-ox parts are definitely part of our domestic landscape. These handmade plushies are for alliance building, and diplomacy, fundraising and team creative expression, and they are hugely popular at FRC.

Speaking of creative expression I finally unpacked a gingerbread house kit. One of the few I bought for Christmas. The ones I left in the garage, when I realized and accepted that we were never going to get around to decorating gingerbread houses for Christmas. Why not Spring, and Easter? Right? Shade the frosting pink, and sky blue, find pink sugar sprinkles and egg shaped confections, and voila! A spring cottage. Maria and William supervised me and the glue gun, and once it was assembled, they set forth with decor.

It turned in to a hectic night... Geoff trying to make Alex and Max's room in to a bedroom, Alex doing homework, Max industriously turning paper and tape in to the Grand Canyon for his Arizona state report, and me trying to be a marketing mentor-blogger-domestic queen of all... Someone should have stopped us, or intervened, or something... but Easter Gingerbread, markers, paint, laundry, bills, computer files, bed frames, vacuums, and other domestic perils happen. It's messy. It's not pretty, and yet somehow it's good. huh... It's a Paradox, really. Lots of chaos-mess-stress = good memories-humor-springing forward.

Now, don't get the wrong idea about my resilience and good humor. In the middle of the hectic-chaos-mess-stress, I was probably the messiest-stress mess of all. I don't recall dropping any f-bombs, but I am glad I was not standing near an open mic, or in the presence of rolling cameras. I do look forward to a long break, to robotic-homework liberty, to really and truly being moved in, to family time spent in the same room and time zone.

And in the meantime, thank goodness for family that willingly agrees to a get together in a greasy metal shop. And thank goodness for generous friends who make the time to bake amazing snicker-doodles and puckery sweet lemon bars, then wrap them in a dear kitty box, and send them to our home. Funny, Geoff thought the kitties were named SnickerDoodle and Lemon Square. This was one delicious moment, I will never forget... thoughtful and refreshing, giving me the steam to keep springing forward. Special thanks to Minou, Sam, and Em... those sweet, furry snicker-doodles.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring, It Sprung!

Happy Spring!

Did it surprise you?
It surprised me.
I saw it coming, but then I kind of missed the spring-eve anticipation, and then this morning WhAm! It's Spring.

You'd think, with no less than three calendars hanging in just one corner of the Bird House, I would be up on these things. Our calendars mostly say : Robotics. Go to... robotics. Meet for... robotics. Take dinner to... robotics. Make reservations for... robotics.

So, signs of spring must be elsewhere... let's see...

Hmmm... we cannot get enough.
I took almost every post I ever wrote about robotics and put them all in one post, so that it is like a massive Robotics index for Chickenblog. It was pretty much a nightmare trying to make the code work, because I am pretty much an amateur when it comes to code. But I keep trying.

And Maria... she's learning code. Look at all the words she is writing. Her writing skills are springing! I love our message board.

But, spring is outdoors. Right? Nature. So, outside I went, in search of the new season.

Ah, the morning light, the glistening dew. Here is spring. In the flowers. In the air.

And I saw the calla lilies, and Chango reposing in the garden bed. I thought how idyllic and good nature is, how lovely the forms and lines, the rhythm of the new day. And I was totally getting poetic and reveling in the nature high, and this seemed like a good time to photograph Chango. He was there, still and content... what a perfect opportunity to capture the essence of spring.

Nature is brutal.
I mean, come on... poetry, and dew drops on lilies... it's real nice, but nature has all kinds of plans and devices.
I'm just saying...

Chango, what are you... ?
Don't eat nature Chango, not spring. Not the very emblem of cute, fluffy-tailed baby spring.

Go back inside everyone.
Come on.
Spring is inside.
Let's go.

Blinded by grief, I point my camera in all directions, looking for something lovely to erase the graphic nature of events I have witnessed. Pictures of my ranchero boys. Happy memories of springs past, elotes, beseros, y sombreros. My thrift shop find, a sleek red handbag... perfect for no occasion I am likely to enjoy, but I like the possibility.

Then, salvation. Bill is sending me real life nature pictures. Action shots from Soquel-Cal, where the dear and the antelope play. The dear are my nephew and niece, Dominic and Marissa.

Ah, Nature. Here is Nature. At the lumberyard and garden center.

Thank goodness.

Bill says these reindeer are pretty wild, like buckin' reindeer. Seriously. You have to hang on for eight seconds. Don't get bucked off.

I'm telling you, Nature is brutal.
And spring, spring will spring on you.
You gotta be ready.
Just sayin'.

You're probably thinking I am trying to "look busy," just because Geoff says "Before we go to robotics, we should clean."

Spring Cleaning.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Las Chicas Norteñas

My prima-once removed was posting the cutest pictures on FB, and I had to ask her if I could please, please have Guerra and Negra over for a visit?

Then I realized Beckie might be thinking that I meant for her to actually drive down from Pasadena with Guerra and Negra, so I went back to FB and clarified that I was thinking of them visiting on Chickenblog... you know, like a guest spot.

But wouldn't it be kind of hilarious if they did ride down, stopped at In-N-Out for a veggie burger, then got here in time for a light dust bath, and a bit of chisme with cracked-corn?

And isn't it nifty that FB can keep family and friends chatting and exchanging deep thoughts and other musings? I think so. Especially when we are far apart. Geoff's FB status is blank, but I see he did pop in to thank everyone for their birthday wishes. Near or far, FB keeps us in the loop.

I am guessing that Negra is the hen with the black scarf. Isn't she elegant? Her fair feathered sister must be Guerra.

Hola Guerra.
Hola Negra.
Pretty chicas.

I think Guerra sees something good to eat.

They remind me of our dear Gracie. She was an Ameraucana, and laid green-blue Easter eggs just like Guerra and Negra. Those colored eggs are so pretty.

Baby pictures.
Even this small, I can see which one is the blondie, and little Negra has her sharp eye on the camera. When Maria sees these she is going to renew her pleading for baby chicks. She really, really wants Betty to "get married and have some babies." Oh my. But when I see these itty-bitty chicas, I kind of think the same thing. Wouldn't some tiny, peeping fluff balls be lots of fun running around the garden...

Besides giving fresh eggs and beautifying their garden, I know that Guerra and Negra hold a place in my cousins' hearts for other reasons. Beckie shared a bit with me:

My Mother got them for her 89th birthday. So, she enjoyed them for more than a year before she passed and went to heaven. They were so tiny and delicate, both could fit in the palm of your hand. They brought her so much joy because they followed her around while she did her yardwork. When she would sit down and take a break, they would happily jump up on her lap...just like a cat! Well Negra and Guerra are wonderful egg layers...gorgeous grade AAA blue green eggs. They are inseperable yet competative should you treat them to a hand full of crickets.

Reading this made me happy, and a bit sad. But mostly I smile and think how wonderful life can be.

Also, if the chicas from up north ever do come to visit I am going to be sure I have a supply of crickets on hand. I never thought to provide such delectables for Lady Betty, but now I know... thank goodness for FB.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

A Photo Booth
Dear Geoff,
Thank you for finding a battery replacement for my camera. It's such a pleasure to be able to use my camera again. You know I love my camera. Our separation was painful and now more than ever I want to learn how to use my camera, so that when I pick it up I know what all the numbers and buttons mean and do. All in good time, right?

Geoff, this is kind of fun. Now you are in crunch mode at work and in robotics, I have to find creative ways to spend time with you.

With my new battery holding power in the camera, I was finally able to get some pictures taken. So, when cousin Becky came to pick up grandmother, I grabbed the camera and persuaded William to be our photographer. He did a good job. It reminds me of photo booth shots. I think it would be fun to make a photo-booth... or just create the feel of taking funny close-up portraits.

*click* *click* *click*

I want Becky's lipstick. My cousin is bellissima. I thought it was enough to remember to brush my hair. But I think I need to step up my game.

Maria is the Self-Rescuing Princess, and Becky and I are the Self-Amusing Diva Cousins. Grandmother is simply her wonderful self.

Definitely. I think it would be loads of fun to make a funky-cowgirl-quilt draped, straw bale photo-booth... I can totally picture it. Can you detect a party in the plans? Pony rides. Chicas running around. Mint lemonade and hot tortillas, fresh salsa... friends and music.

Maybe it's time with family, or time in our beautiful home, but new ideas and fun, inspired fantasies keep skipping through my head. I like this feeling of happiness seeping in to my pores and soul... more happiness.

More family time and photographs. More besos and laughter. More princesses and cowgirls, aprons, scarfs, tea and chipotle-apple pie. More flowers and hand holding, hugs and long visits. Mas, por favor.

It makes us bloom, I believe.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things... Christmas Style

Like Nikkipolani, I have some favorite things and these last days before the big day I am feeling the magic and rush of joy as we go all the way to Christmas day. Some of my favorite things came all together yesterday...

Favorite number 1: The majesty and pageantry, the utter charm and mild chaos of a Christmas service with the children. There was nothing exclusive about this telling of the Nativity. All of God's creatures were welcome to the manger. Maria joined the children from learning circle, as a kitty, and sang (or as Max points out, she mostly lip-synched) "Do You Hear What I hear?"

I loved seeing friends, hearing music, reflecting on peace and love and hope and joy, and having my family around me.

Favorite number 2: Having family around me. It's official :: We have a Christmas tradition. We got to enjoy a second annual Downtown Cultural Holiday Extravaganza. We took Ruth to Holiday Pops. We walked to the Gaslamp and saw favorite sights, like The Bondi, and the home of our favorite annual convention.

Walking downtown we saw lots of fun holiday sights. I count fun and good humor as a favorite.

No school. That's a favorite for sure. Not just for these dear boys, but for me too. I am so thrilled to have them home. I need the free labor. We are going to have some good times.

Last year our downtown walk was a scramble to find Symphony Hall and it was really cold. This year our walk was leisurely and the weather... So Calwonderful.

The Pops were in great form and they were joined by Mariachi Champaña Nevín. Feliz Navidad. Before the concert begins children are invited to the "petting zoo," where they can acquaint themselves with the instruments. Maria returned to the violin she remembered from last year. So many favorites... live music, sing-alongs, new experiences, dressing up, a camera battery that holds up just long enough for a few snaps.

After the concert we had a downtown dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, then we enjoyed the Christmas lights all the way to Holly and Rich's front door. More favorites... lights and decorations lovingly displayed for the holidays, and dropping in on family for a casual visit.

The calendar for today includes haircuts for the boys, which means a nice visit with a dear friend. Maybe some shopping... hmmm... maybe just window shopping. I definitely need to do some housework. After visiting Ruth's beautiful home and Holly and Rich's beautiful home I am super motivated to put actual ornaments on our tree... beyond that, I am a realist. One more favorite, because I think of it on a daily basis :: A Christmas Story from Clover and Alicia. I think Clover may be my favorite dog in the world.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

A Turkey A Day :: Day Three

More turkey hands, but this time they fan together to make a turkey tail. We love our very own garden variety Torrey pine cones.

Today I am thankful for humor: Jokes, the good and bad ones, absurdity, puns, nonsense, wit, observations, randomness. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making me laugh. I find humor in a lot of situations, from many different sources, but I must make special mention of my brother, Bill.

Dear Bill, you are so very, very funny. And I see that you are sharing your sweet, twisted, and daring style with your son. The legacy lives on. Long live ¡Memo Libre!

(I did get permission to post this image and if you don't want it on the World Wide Interwebs then you will have to come here and make me take it down. Or pay me. Your choice.)

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Life is Good
1. The move is not done.
2. I know. We are doing the best we can.
3. Maria, Max and Natalie have been really, really sick.
4. No fair. Right?
5. Life goes on, and it really is good.
6. If I resist the urge to ramble on, if I do not elaborate about how we have passed the last week, I may actually have time to publish a peek at the good life we have been enjoying...

Nothing makes our new home better than having visitors to share it with. So when Dominic and Marissa brought their mommy and daddy to hang out, we could not have been happier. Life is good.

Betty could not have been happier, and not just because Alison hugged her and Marissa fed her pumpkin bread... Life is good.

Brilliant cousin Julie actually got a lot of us to meet at the park. Quite a feat, and quite fun.

Marissa Rose... I am sighing. She is adorable and she is my brother's baby, which is just so sweet and strange and wonderful, because... because my brother is sweet and wonderful and strange... ? Okay. Yeah. He's hilarious and strange. I don't know what I am saying. I just love that they came to see us. I wish we lived closer, so I could harass him more regularly.

She did let me hold her once. Briefly. Sigh.

Do you know how hard it is to not write long, rambling notes on my deep thoughts and profound musings? To not go on and on about how much I miss my brothers and their beautiful families, and big gatherings and hanging out... if I were not pressed for time this would be a wordy, wordy post.

What time is it anyway?
Must be somewhere else, doing other things. Right now!
Life is cRazY. But I tell ya, it's good too.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Little Trip... Big Fun

On Friday the children and I made a spontaneous trip north to be with Grandma Eunice for her birthday. It's hard to believe it's been seven years since we had the big celebration with family friends. Now I am inspired to start planning her 88th birthday extravaganza!

Whether it's a big blow-out fiesta or a family dinner, Grandma is a fun person to honor and celebrate with. She gets almost as giddy as a four year old. She's so appreciative and happy. She told me about all the fun she had in Oregon and how she came home with lots of "stuff," so I chose a pretty fabric box for her to tuck in her treasures. Of course Maria thought this was wonderful, since she too has a small box where she stashes her treasures.

My aunt Becky's home has the loveliest porch. It was another hot day in Pasadena, but the morning on the porch was comfortable. I always enjoy the view, the tree lined streets, the gardens and comfortable homes. Grandma got a a chance to catch up with the boys and discover new books. She shared some of her favorites with them and they are going to be sending some of theirs to her.

My grandparents lived with us for eight years. Eight wonderful years. Max was born during that time. I remember how great it was that the boys could pop over to Grandma's and chat with her. I remember doing the same... just enjoying time in each other's company. We were so lucky to have those days.

Maria ran around and around and around the ginko tree. And when she spotted dandelions and other fallen treasures, she began collecting flora for little nosegays... pretty leaves and blossoms, that she delivered to me and Becky and Grandma.

She's waiting for me to count: 1-2-3 on your mark... get set... go! She loves to run.

Grandma was enjoying a laugh over her "wild ways." It seems she has a certain attraction to purses. It seems it has become a bit... much? Never mind Grandma. it looks harmless enough. You're the best looking *bag lady* I've ever seen!

And what good is a nice purse without a hat to go with it?

Maria, Alex, Max and William enjoying the company of their great-grandmother.
This one needs to get printed and framed.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Driving Fast

As fast as we are driving, we don't seem to get any place too soon. Our mistake? We may have aimed for too many stops in our European Sampler. Geoff will never admit that he regrets stretching ourselves so thin, even though we are sitting at a German rest stop while he naps. Yesterday we drove from Gelderland, Netherlands, through Limburg and all the way to Triberg, Germany. And by “we” I mean Geoff, because we are in a manual transmission Espace. I drive automatic. Anyway, driving all that way and stopping to see the Kasteelruins of Valkenburg, got us in to our hotel at 23:50. Such a beautiful drive, while it was still light, but hard too. The GPS is either doing an amazing job or she, we call her Sheila, is completely random and prone to stoopidty. It's hard to tell. We drove through the Netherlands, then Belgium, then France, then Texas, then back in to Germany... Sheila delights in making us take horrible and absurd detours when a u-turn would suffice.

Update: That was written on our way to Switzerland on the fourth of July and now it is Sunday morning. 5 July. Brienz Switzerland.

Geoff never should admit we are spread too thin. It is all worthwhile. We are a bit travel weary and we definitely wish we had more time to spend in the places we are driving through and the places we have stayed over.

Triberg, Germany was adorable and the people were incredibly friendly and considerate. We made an embarrassingly fast visit of the town. Saw the giant cuckoo clock and took dozens of pictures of window boxes full of the brightest and prettiest red geraniums I have ever seen. Everything was unbelievably quaint and charming... to the point where I have abused the words “quaint” and “charming,” and was forced to rely on “cute” and “precious” as well. The drive out of town was almost excruciatingly quaint, charming, cute and precious and I was gasping, sighing and exclaiming over every barn, window shutter and foxglove filled meadow in sight. We even came to a narrow stretch where we had to wait for cows to be herded across the road. Chickens on haystacks and a woman in an apron and a kerchief on her head was raking in a forest clearing... I got the picture in my mind, but unfortunately not in my camera.

Switzerland. Whoa. Hey, when they say “going through the Alps,” they are not kidding. We have never been in so many tunnels in our lives. Long ones. Forget the time of day long. Uphill long. Really, really long. Longer than this description.

We had a blast. We laughed and marveled and delighted at every twist and rise. Toward the end of our drive we stopped going through the Alps and actually started driving up the mountain. The green and lush, waterfall dotted, chalet covered mountain. I begged to hear yodeling and craved fondue. I wanted to find grandfather and the goats and drink milk and make cheese and braid daisy chains to wear in my hair. I need a drindle.

We passed many lakes that are a color I have no name for. Slate blue? Sky gray? Iced jade? It rained. It is a perfect temperature. We arrived at our hotel and could not believe our fortune. Brienz is the kind of place you would feel lucky to see, to drive by and hope to visit, and we are actually waking up here... on a lake! We are in a comfortable hotel apartment with views of the lake from all three rooms. We have been watching clouds and water, chalets and boats, ducks and mountain faces... all changing, appearing and disappearing in the sunlight. It was not fireworks for our Fourth, but it has been a breathtaking display. Also in view is a church and we have been serenaded by its bells ringing the hour. The view from every corner, from any angle, is an idyllic postcard. Honest. How will we ever leave? When can we return?

I do not want to temper my mood, but I am keenly aware of how much I want and need to appreciate being here, being in the moment and thanking God for our blessings. I am quite certain that the Blue House will not be ours. It breaks my heart. Pity Party forthcoming.

My aunt Liz has been keeping us updated on her parents' health. My tia and uncle Bill have been fixtures in my mind and heart for as long as I can remember. If I were not here, I would be there, visiting them and trying to find the words that comfort, trying to be helpful somehow. Liz, and Beckie... their entire family, my Abuela too, are all easing my tia's days as she prepares for heaven.

At this very moment the church is ringing out the hour and a calling for service. Tearfully, I recall our own church in El Valle, all the services there and the inspiring and sustaining faith my Abuela has. The resonance of the bells is vibrating in my heart. It is not stopping. To the very last ring, it stirs the air and my spirit.

Maria has been sad, homesick, only twice on the entire trip. The first time did last several tear filled hours in which she mournfully called out for Izzy. “I miss Izzy! I need Izzy! Izzy. Izzy! Oh, Izzy...” sniffle-sniffle. I've been homesick too. I think every pretty house, fat hen, and lovely town makes me wish for home, for a home of our own... otherwise I think I could just keep traveling and seeing new sights and waiting. Someday I will have flower boxes and chickens on haystacks and a fenced yard with a veggie garden. Someday I will be unpacked and have family pictures on walls... walls painted the colors that I like.

But now... now we are Here and here is a beautiful place to be. We are healthy and feeling strong from many great walks. We have enjoyed amazing sights and good laughs, even the stimulating challenge of being a bit turned around or wondering if we are in the right place, doing the right thing... just yesterday Geoff and I had an unexpected lesson in “how to use a public bathroom in a Swiss truck stop.” Our trip won't last much longer, but I hope to be in the moment, appreciating all of it while I am here and then savoring the memories later.

Oh for goodness sake... it's too good here. Too good, I'm telling you. Geoff just called me to the porch so I could see the white swan on the lake. It glided by on mist, as regal and elegant as any fairy tale swan could ever be.

I am too cynical to believe that any place is perfect.
I am too hopeful to stop wishing for something that comes close.

I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Yo Tambien Quiero Volver
Un regalo para mi Tia Elvira. Con cariño, departe de su sobrina. Yo tambien tengo buenos recuerdos de El Valle de Tacupeto. Besos a mi Tio y Tia. Les amo muchismo.

Desde El Ojo de Agua, noviembre, 2003. El Cerro Cabezón.

Antonia y Ismael en su casa, en el pueblo.

Huele a humo y tortillas. Se oye los coros en la iglesia. En la cocina... bondad y amor, risa y comunión.

Leche. De la vaca de Kia, en El Ojo de Agua.

Un paseo en el campo. Caminando a Los Cajoncitos.

El año pasado escribí mas sobre El Valle... "Maíz, Leña, Agua y Memorias"

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