Sunday, February 28, 2010

Remembering Two Years Ago...

If we got in the car right now, and only made quick stops, we might be able to get here in time for a late hike and dinner. Part of me is imagining "here" as the same time and place, but I know that is not possible. Time travel. Not possible, except in our memories. Thank goodness for memories, and photographs, and blog archives.

And moving forward, we have a special day to celebrate. Time to harass William a bit and force him to choose some kind of something to do in his honor.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

There is something very mixed up about love... about how I show it. I tend to play it one of two ways. Either I express myself liberally, with emotional abandon, or I stay quiet and still. And sometimes when expression and emotion are most deserved, most true, I am most restrained. Very polar opposite. Very much confounds me.

And sometimes these two poles do what magnets cannot. They come together. My quiet, private love wants to come out in to the open and declare itself, which is how I wind up with obtuse posts, like this :: Personal, yet public. Emotional, yet restrained. Undeclared, and composed.

My heart is heavy for friends, and for family. This has been a difficult week. Those loved ones that I hold dear, may be far away, but the sadness I feel is close, heavy, and tangible.

When Maria was a baby her great-grandmother Marjorie sent her Emily, a doll she knit herself, a doll that has become one of Maria's favored babies. Emily arrived with a soft pink smile and charming details, like bows, and ruffled sleeves. It is the kind of doll that maybe should have been put on a shelf, protected against use. But Maria took such an immediate liking to her that we let her love her baby doll. She has loved Emily liberally, with hugs and proximity.

The love shows. Emily's dress has a small stain, so do her pantalettes. The yarn in her black hair got a small snag, and she is covered in little bits of yarn fuzz... what are those called... the little balled up dust threads that cling to sweaters? Then came the tragic day when Emily's smile came undone. Maria cried. She really cried. She was devastated, even a bit horrified.

You would think I would have done anything in the world to fix it. Fix it right away. But I didn't. I meant to. I meant to find a matching thread and a very wide eyed needle. I meant to take away Maria's disappointment and mend the loose threads, but I kept putting it off with all the usual excuses... packing, cleaning, errands, moving, moving, moving, unpacking, holidays, other plans and other projects. It isn't that I do not love Emily, and Maria, and Marjorie, and handmade gifts. I love them. I thought about Emily all the time, and I felt pangs of regret every time I put off making her all better. I loved quiet and still, when I should have loved liberally, aloud and declared. With words and actions. Delivered. Mended.

I am sad. I am disappointed in myself.
It's not just about the doll, obviously.
She was so easy to fix. And yesterday, when I stumbled upon my small crochet hooks, I did not realize that they would be exactly what I need to get the job done. And today it seems so poignant.

I pulled the embroidery floss through, making a new smile with the same thread that Marjorie used when she knit Emily. She made Emily. It never ceases to amaze me that she could make yarn in to such a sweet gift, a gift which I know is reflection of her love, her thoughtfulness, her way of living. Maria watched me and was very pleased to see Emily's smile returning. She held my arm as I tugged the threads through and finished, and Maria, said, "Won't she be glad that Emily is all better?"

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Playing With Hearts

My creative mojo skipped town, and left no forwarding address. And even though I have the urge, the compulsion, not much has come out of my crafty corner. No quilting. No dresses. No felted thingies, or new scarves. No seashell clocks or macrame mug holders.

Remember Valentine's Day? Some of you never forgot it, I am sure, but I have not dabbled in the Romantic Era in a long time.

Disclaimer: This is not a pity party.

I remember the antsy anticipation, gathering paper, scissors and glue, and a long list of classmates to make Valentine greetings for... hearts, stickers, glitter. I loved seeing the teacher's bulletin board, favoring red and pink, the calendar day marked with a heart. And there were class parties. Punch. Cookies. Candy hearts. And the mail boxes or bags, filling up with treats and greetings and innocent visions of sweet romance.

I don't know how or why, but it seems like there was a lot riding on those tiny cards, the candy hearts with messages. It was fun. Thrilling even.

Makes me smile.

Maybe that is why I answered Bitter Betty's call for an old fashion Valentine exchange. And ever since I asked to play along, I have had hearts on the brain. I look for hearts and scope out the seasonal holiday aisles in the stores. I have been trying to find that feeling, that grade school age giddiness that came with the countdown to Valentine's Day. And I have been trying to zero in on what kind of Valentine I can make and send.

Folding laundry, I found hearts. Then I wondered what other hearts happen to be in and around our home. So, I went looking.

Some hearts are actual "hearts" and some hearts are a feeling, an act that speaks of love, a picture of romance. The times Geoff has filled my car with fuel... I put a big heart around that. When the children are together in the tent, reading aloud, laughing... I put a big heart around that too.

This is the very first time I put a heart on a door. Maria saw the wreath at the craft store, and recalling my own thrill for the holiday, I let her add it to our cart. The bow from our Christmas wreath is getting a second life. Wouldn't the wreath look amazing completely covered in red roses?

Here is another heart that could hold roses, or sweet peas. Sweet peas are my idea of a romantic bloom.

What I need is an idea for a Valentine card... homemade, well made. Not "show-off" well made... just thoughtfully, sweetly well made. I've got "thoughtful" covered. I am thinking about this all the time. But the time for action is upon me.

I even bought heart doilies. I remember when I first saw paper doilies, I felt as though a Queen might enter the room, as though the hostess had magical powers... how else could she conjure such an elegant piece of fancy decor? Nowadays I could probably find a "How It's Made" episode to explain how millions of red paper heart doilies are cut and shipped, but I will never do that, because I like the magic, the mystery.

Inspired by love and by talented women, like Grandma Nancy, I want to make a special Valentine. Several special Valentines. Maybe with fabric, maybe with paper, maybe with photographs... I do not know.

I was kind of amused, sort of surprised, to find as many hearts as I did. Even blossoms in the garden suggested hearts, and Maria running around the house playing... she's like a heart in motion, pink and bursting with a love of life that is quite inspiring.

Nine ringing, tingling hearts. Chiming in the garden.

Betty, I suppose this is my first WIP, my progress report for the Valentines Trade. I am on the verge of making something. Nearly, nearly. I am putting my heart in to this.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sweet Memories

Writing my last post, I realized that many of our beach adventures were not labeled "beach." Every now and then I try to organize the archives, which is a huge undertaking. I look at old posts and make sure the code is holding up, the images are still publishing and consider what labels are best to categorize the posts in. It's time consuming.

So, anyway... I was keeping an eye out for stray beach posts and I figured there must be tons from our Hawaii days, and that is when I made a surprising discovery: I could not find a post for our summer 2005 vacation. That was a big deal. The trip was made with our best friends, James and Deanne. It was our last time vacationing in Hawaii. How could there be no post? I was rummaging through the archives and trying to piece this mystery together. I could see from other posts that I had had some computer failures and of course life itself was keeping me very busy. Then I remembered that I did devote a huge chunk of time to making a DVD of the memorable trip... but no post? Hard to believe. Finally I found two image heavy, semi-posts. This old one is slightly wordier, but still a bit brief.

It's ironic that I sometimes think of quitting blogging and then I find a gap in the journal keeping and find it totally unacceptable and disappointing. Yes, Chickenblog is a journal, our family scrapbook. I forget this sometimes, and it was many years before I even recognized that the blog is a record keeper, a memory book. Then instead of quitting, I want to work harder to organize archives and do more for the blog overall.

And gee whiz, aren't you glad that I print my entire thought process before launching in to the actual point of my post?
Ramble, ramble, ramble.

Basically, my memories of this time in Hawaii, indeed all time in Hawaii, are so precious that I knew I would have to post more pictures and talk story about that visit. I also know that this is going to be an emotionally wrenching journey.

I miss Hawaii. I miss the dreams we nurtured, the plans we made. I miss what we had there...

Sweet Memories
I will remember you long after this endless summer is gone. These lyrics from Gary Haleamau, and Darlene and JJ Ahuna's album were some of the very first I ever heard from Hawaii... they still stir my soul. I just never expected them to be so bittersweet, not this soon.

James and Deanne had already vacationed on Oahu and loved it, so we knew we would have to go to Hawaii together some day. We got our chance the summer of 2005. Maria was eight months old. The boys... oh my goodness... I wish I could go back in time and hold them one more time. I am blessed to be able to hug them today. My mom came to Hawaii with us in 2000, and we had a couple of visits there with Holly and Rich. I always imagined there would be more times like these. Anyway, our week long stay, playing tourist and just plain playing with Deanne and James, was a lot of fun.

James and Deanne were all for seeing the sights and exploring the Big Island. We had such thorough tour guide training with Ruth and Corm, that we were thrilled to be sharing our second home with friends. Waikoloa Resort is a must see for Island luxury and amusements. If you don't know this already, you can explore the resorts and all of the amenities without actually staying at the hotels. Often there is art, entertainment and cultural events to enjoy. Some things may require a small fee, but the boat ride through the resort was free and the views were free too.

We had fun finding the Chinese zodiac statues, and rubbing Buddha's belly.

When we weren't mooching off of the freebies at other resorts, we were submerged in our hotel pool... sweet luxuries.

Ten year old Alex. His smile still melts my heart.

Max had just turned six years old. That steady, studied gaze. He is taller, but the gaze, the intentness is still there. Check out the sandy bottomed pool. Love.

Now Maria is sitting on my lap and asking about these pictures. "When did that happen? Where were we?"
I wonder where the DVD is.

This was a fancy dinner. Deanne may remember which hotel we splurged at for this meal. I remember the cool drinks, with the buzzy hit, the setting sun and the pleasure of being in a beautiful place with family and friends. Of course in Hawaii we have always found cool drinks, a dreamy sunset and the beauty of being with family and friends... the fancy dinner is optional, not necessary.

So, I know some of these pictures have been published before, but I feel remiss in our story telling not recalling the trip (some more), and the special moments we enjoyed. It's not as though we cannot go back to Hawaii, but we know it cannot be the same. I don't believe there is a more dear way to be welcomed off a plane, home, than with a lei greeting. This was the last one, and I am glad I can recall the fragrance, and the kindness, the aloha.

From the airport we went directly to Tutu's office in Waimea. Had Maria started chewing on her dendrobiums by this time? I don't think so.

Shaved ice. Not a snow cone. Not a smoothie. Shave ice is the best, and if it is not memorable and a delight to eat, then you might not be eating a good one. Best on a hot day, but even on this cold day I could go for some li hing mui.

It makes me so sad to realize I am already forgetting places and names. Tutu, where is this place? On the way to Hilo... is it Honomu? Yes, the small town before Akaka Falls.

We went to Hilo and Volcanoes National Park. We hiked through the Thurston Lava Tube.

I still feel bad that we didn't make a second pass through the ancient lava tube, like Max wanted. What was our hurry? Seems silly now.

No hurries on this day. Sitting next to Max is the B&B kitty. There was a sign in the parking lot asking guests to please check their car for the curious cat... curious hitchhiking cat, I guess.

On the Kona side I took the children to their favorite park, Higashihara Park. I think the boys would still call it their favorite and Maria would absolutely love it there. It was community designed and built, and all of its fun and unique details make it favorite for many.

Another Kona favorite is Turtle Beach :: Kahaluu. This is the same beach where William learned how to swim, where Geoff and I first swam in Hawaii, where we celebrated Alex's fourth birthday. Where James lost his wedding band... okay, so not all memories are "sweet." But hey, technically they do know where it is. It's at Turtle Beach. I wish we were at Turtle Beach.

William, remember snorkeling here? Staying out until sunset? You probably remember best of all.

Hoppin' all over the Island. Back to Hilo side, to Honoka'a, to Tutu's house.

Maria, Geoff, Corm and James. It smells like sweet grass and coffee flowers here. All over the five acre ag lot are the trees that Ruth and Corm planted and tended. The boys know where the guavas grow. I know how to cross the gulch. I cannot say more... some day the children may want to know more, but for now the emotions these memories evoke leave me in a puddle of tears.


My favorite drive. And I have been on some good ones.
Unbelieveable... I went to Google this and two Chickenblog posts came up under "highway between havi and waimea." Seems, I have written about this drive before. Well, the best drive in my whole world is the 250 from Havi to Waimea. And now I cannot think of anything else. I want to drive it right now and stop to take hundreds of pictures, then do it again.

Maybe starting at the top of Waipio Valley.

Definitely including a stop at Spencer Beach County Park...

with a hike to Ala Kahakai.

Yes. This is the beach I was thinking of when I began this memory journey.

I will remember you,
after this
endless summer
is gone.
I will remember
every bright star
we made wishes

There. We have one more beach post.
Now, was there anything else I needed to do today?

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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Trouble With Travel

It's not that I have any regrets about traveling. Truly. La Paz, BC, 1987, may be the only regrettable trip we've ever made and yet it recalls priceless memories. Heat, hunger, illness, flood, boredom, and *"Rosa Salvaje."

No, mostly travel has never been regrettable, and yet it is not without its risks. The trouble with travel is that sooner or later I have to go home, and eventually when I think on my experiences, the new things I discovered and tried, it will stir feelings and desires. And there is nothing to quell the stirrings, the antojo, except more travel, to return... It may be true :: Un poquito de lo que te antoje te hace sentir bien, but having a little bit of Europe is not as easy as I wish it could be. Oh, those cruel cravings.

Maybe because it is breakfast time and I am hungry, I am missing dinner in Bruxelles.

Salad at T Kelderke, Grand Place.
Fruit and nuts and a toasted cheese over a bed of fresh greens.
I miss salad at T Kelderke.

I almost skipped this one, because thinking of it really makes me want to insist to Geoff that we go back. Now. How else to satisfy the rumbling ache of desire? Okay. If you get to go to Bruxelles consider sitting for a slow dinner. Never mind the slow part... bring a book or just sip your beer and gaze at the crowds in the Grand Place. Just be sure that you order this soup. It is so good. So good. It's all about warmth and cheese and stuff... whatever. I don't need to take it all apart. Whatever they put in there works. Geoff and I shared a bowl the first time and we managed to be dignified, but the second and third time we definitely ordered two bowls.
I miss this soup.

I miss this beer.
Stunning. I am not a big drinker. For one thing it does not take a big drink to effect affect me, and otherwise few alcoholic drinks really hold my interest. My brother Hans said good things about Belgium beer, and I have found him to be a dependable guy, so I made a point of ordering beer our first night in Bruxelles. Maybe it's being on vacation, sitting amidst beauty and history, and next to my sweetheart, maybe I was super thirsty... or maybe Belgians really make awesome beer. Whatever. I drank two Grimbergens that night. I miss this beer. Solely for scientific purposes, of course, I would like to research this point, to better understand the deliciousness and thirst quenching satisfaction of this particular beverage.

Moving on.

I miss slow dinners. The T Kelderke easily takes the prize for slowest service in Europe. Oh. So. Slow. And yet... oh, so good. So, who cares? The waitstaff looks indifferent? C'est la vie. No one comes to take our order? That's fine. We can outlast them. It's worth it. And initially it does feel like some kind of contest: Our will and patience vs. their neglectfulness. But eventually we learn to go with it, relax, sit back. Bring out a book, start a conversation or several conversations. Make new friends. Organize the backpack. Scroll through pictures in the camera. Sip another Grimbergen. It gets so mellow and... and ... what's that word? Relaxed. Yes, I missed relaxed, slow, delicious dinners, with cranky waiters.

I miss Belgium. Even the waiters.

I miss red geraniums. And flower boxes. And Paris. There were red geraniums all over Europe and flower boxes too. I noticed flowers everywhere. We come from an area that prides itself on its flower heritage, but our town needs to step-up, because the flower gardens and borders and beds and windows and corners of Europe were more abundant and lovingly tended than any place I have ever seen. I miss the alpine flowers in Switzerland and the miles of sunflowers in France. And I miss the hundreds and hundreds of window boxes I saw, everywhere we went, overflowing with brilliant, red geraniums.

I miss this dancer. Well, not really. She's here, in the next room, and she still dances. All the time. Everywhere. It was so sweet and amusing to be in the Louvre, at the Eiffel Tower, in the Alps, on a train... anywhere and see Maria overcome by a song, a melody, a distant tune, and begin to dance. She cannot help herself. She dances all the time. Unless she is talking. Or drawing. Or making wishes about God sending ponies to her, over rainbows. So even when the Venus De Milo was in the room, I could not keep my eyes off of Maria.

I miss sailboats and Jardin des Tuileries, and Max's away smile. It started in Paris, and maybe that is because we had finally shaken our jet lag... Max started smiling. He works so hard during the school year, trying to exceed his own rigorous expectations of himself, that I think the vacation part of our vacation really did him a lot of good. I love that I have dozens of smiling Max pictures, more in those three weeks abroad than in a whole year of at-home-time photographs. It's an away smile, at ease and confident. He loves Paris, and Rabbit Hill, and he mastered all the metro systems and switching languages. He had a good handle on Euros, gladly calculating exchange rates for me. He was no chicken abroad. He excelled and exceeded all of my hopes for him.

Speaking of Rabbit Hill, I really miss the Netherlands and Landal GreenParks. I miss bunnies frolicking with bunny abandon. I miss the total rest and ease of feeling at home, while traveling aboard, that one can enjoy at Rabbit Hill.

I miss our cute little home and the fun modes of transport at our disposal. I miss the respect and space given to cyclists and pedestrians. Sure, I would love to see new places and have other adventures, but ooh... ooh, I could totally spend another week or two here again. Maybe like an annual thing, or every other year.

I would have no trouble at all convincing the children.

I miss the places we went, the things we did, the fun we had... I miss Europe. All of it.

Okay. Maybe not all of it.
But enough of it, that I would even face three weeks of doing this by hand, if we could go back. That's the trouble with traveling... it makes you miss a lot of stuff and then you gotta figure out how to go back. I did have my doubts, but that's okay. I like to keep it true.

*The World Wide Interwebs are amazing. After twenty three years with the theme song and basic narrative haunting the recesses of my cerebellum, there she is: Veronica Castro and the whole telenovela outline. Bill... hey brother, can you still sing the song? Want me to make you a Pinesol-lemon-lime margarita, hold the ice, so you can have total recall? Good times.

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