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, 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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Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's A Brand New Day...

The entire soundtrack is buzzing through my head...

"Even in the darkness

Every color can be found

And every day of rain

Brings water flowing

To things growing in the ground"

Sweet Penny...

"I cannot believe my eyes

Is the world finally growing wise

‘Cause it seems to me

Some kind of harmony

Is on the rise"

From Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, of course. And of course if you know the whole story, you recognize I pulled out the happy lyrics.

Janece, when did you post about the initial release of this hilarious, yet heart wrenching, tale of good vs. evil? That was a good day.

Well, this brand new day comes after a fun filled night. Visitors from Chicago and Wisconsin have been filling our last days of summer with laughter and a whirl of activities, and really good Spam Musubi! Paul came out on business and to his surprise his aunt Margie was in town too. Fortunately there has been time for Paul to mix business with pleasure.

No flash... which really captures the whirl of activity. Paul, who Maria calls "Paulm," has elevated his status to favored uncle. He demonstrated enthusiasm and boundless energy when playing with Maria and Izzy. I think they all got quite a workout. On the way home, still giddy from all the excitement, Maria explained in elaborate detail all the great "... imagination Paulm did when we played." She thought it was great that he ordered food from their restaurant and gave piggy-back rides. When she realizes he's going back to Wisconsin today, I know we are going to hear an Autumn in Wisconsin Campaign from her... I would take her side.

The party was spread all over Holly and Rich's place... courtyard and backyard, watching local Little Leaguers win their first game of the Series in Pennsylvania. I even got to have a new crochet lesson from Margie... there was something for everyone. And even though we were all over the place, something did finally bring everyone together! Deanne and James brought dessert which, no surprise, was a big hit.

Brownies and ice cream... grandchild magnets!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Not Bad For A Monday

Maybe it's because two children have begun break, or because it rained on Saturday. Maybe it's because the house is very nearly clean and has a post party glow. Maybe it's because I finally found us a place to stay for the two nights in Belgium, so that we won't have to ponder the possibility of shutting our eyes in a train station... Whatever it is, I have to say I feel pretty good for a Monday morning. There is still lots to be done and the days are zipping past, but I feel kind of mellow and kind of *ready.*

He he hee hee...

That's my nervous laughter, as I consider the reckless daring of thinking I might be *ready!* Please note: I am not tempting fate. I know there is plenty left to accomplish. I have not forgotten the state of the garage or my our closet. It has not slipped my mind that Geoff is working right up until take-off, that my to-do list still has 42 items that have not been crossed off. Honestly, "I feel kind of ready" is more of a spiritual state of mind, a coming to peace with the relative state of our situation, than a "mission accomplished" kind of declaration.

Okay then. That's better.

In our usual fashion we have extended our celebration of Alex's birthday. One day of honoring and playing is just too brief. We had a cook-out. Low key and so very nice. Holly and Rich came with the cousins and Tutu, and the boys' school friend, Tamara, joined us too. We didn't go to In-N-Out, but we did bring the indoors out. Our dining table looks good on the patio... I wish it could stay there actually.

Even Chango approved, and he looked adorable enjoying the evening from the cushioned comfort of the Radio Flyer. Betty followed Izzy and Maria and did a pretty fair job of keeping the floor clean of melon seeds and chip crumbs. Good Betty. (Betty is a Chicken, if you don't know. Just saying, so no one thinks we abuse guests.)

Alex and Geoff went out and found a piñata. They make 'em tough these days. We all took some serious swings, with direct contact and the piñata withstood the beating admirably.

Of course a plastic bat is probably a pretty flimsy tool for the job. You can see Maria meant business. ¡Dale, dale, dale!

Here come the big boys. Even Holly and I gave it a whoopin'. Hey, Geoff put dark chocolate in there. You'd beat a dinosaur for dark chocolate, wouldn't you?

I think everyone had a good time.

Even before he blew out his candle, one wish came true: Tutu Ruth brought Alex's favorite dessert, her rhubarb-strawberry crisp.

So, what was his other wish? I hope it comes true.

Another wish come true!
Nice hat Alex!

Goodness. I was tempting fate. It seems we may get our foot in a door... a selling agent is meeting me later this morning to write up an offer on a place we kind of, sort of want to buy. I am trying to be focused and optimistic, yet detached. If we even make it to the next level of negotiating it could mean our lives will get about 99% more complicated, and naturally this would all come as we are about to board a plane heading to Europe. We need a very good house inspector. We need goodness and light to align, God to bless us (more) and all conveniences of this modern age to serve us well and true. Suddenly my Mellow Monday Morning feels jittery, anxious, sort of nauseating, deeply hopeful, yet full of trepidation and fear.

It's a blue house. There's a fig tree. It has nooks and sunrise views.


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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Such a lovely Christmas.
Boundless blessings and welcome surprises.
We hope your day has been full of joy and wonder too.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunset, Salad, Soap and Cuckoos **An amazing Sunday Update Too... cluck-cluck

Oh. I missed getting a picture of the sunset. It was pretty. I almost said, "looking west..." lol. The sky had clouds on the horizon which turned pink and denim blue, then deepened to apricot and night blue. Even prettier, my Mommy. It's so nice to see her and hold her and hear her. To see her out of that neck contraption. I never posted pictures... too personal and sad, but I am sure you can imagine that seeing her out of the brace and healing so beautifully is an answer to our prayers. She's been staying with Hans, my brother, and his wife Gretchen, and later she'll honor us with a stay at Garage Mahal. And sometime in the middle of her stay, we are all going to be in the mountains! I need to make some more scarves! There may be snow! Gee, did this paragraph have a point? Pretty sunset. Pretty Mommy.

Tasty. Yes, I am devoting a paragraph to the salad. Gretchen made this salad and it confirms that I really should consider taking a salad making course. This is not me trying to be hard on myself. I can cook and I have good dishes in my repertoire, but salad is my weakest link. Gretchen's salad was a taste symphony and pretty. There's that word again. This is officially a *pretty* post. Gretchen is pretty and Gretchen's home is pretty and her salad is pretty. It had nuts and peppers and cheese and raisins and leaves and dressing... and it was just so darn tasty. And pretty.

The sun set and the light was a bit soft for pictures, but I still have to post this one. Pretty Tutu, coloring with Maria. Ruth and Hans and Gretchen are nearly neighbors now, just minutes away from each other. And Holly and her family are in the same area... and maybe we should seriously consider returning to the old neighborhood. Our Squaremont roots are strong. It was a good evening for Maria. She had 2 grandmas and a doting aunt, all ready to play with her.

It was great getting caught up with Gretchen and Hans. They always have adventures and amazing tales to share, and we enjoyed stories from the back trails of Colorado, to Europe and the Middle East, to in home opera concerts and chillin' with Lance Armstrong... nice guy btw. We even spent time rapt in sincere anticipation waiting for their cuckoo clock to cuckoo. Seriously, I love it when simple things are a pleasure, and friends and family gather to appreciate them.

Grill Master Hans... actually, I am not sure that is his real ranking... he may be like a rear admiral or a 5 star captain. Point is, and I may have one: He grilled us a mighty fine dinner. I am just sitting her and thinking of all the things I love and admire about my brother. What a nice reverie.

Didn't I say this is a *pretty* post? After dinner and before cuckoo time, Gretchen opened up her home salon for her exclusive and best customer. You may recall the last time Maria and Gretchen got together. Manicures are their thing. Gretchen is so patient and enthused. Maria is so patient and enthused! This time she got the 10 20 digit rainbow... ten colors on the fingers and ten colors on the toes! Tiny, tiny digits. It takes a steady hand and a stroke of artistic genius to paint those bitty nail beds. Maria stays perfectly still, and she kept her hands like that, poised and extended, for the rest of the evening.

Lets' see... 1. sunset 2. salad 3. Cuckoos...

Soap! Gretchen and her soap sister make lovely, fragrant, natural bars of pretty soap. I love the mild, light scents and Geoff does too. He made sure we didn't leave without replenishing our supplies. Gretchen and Joanne are selling at a craft fair next week and Delia is going to join them and sell jewelry. Hopefully we didn't deplete her stock too much when we took full advantage of the family price. Love the orange patchouli! Juniper berry! Rose garden! Enriched lavender!

Well, now it is sunrise. A new day. New adventures await. New pretties to enjoy. I hope you have a lovely day.

**Amazing Sunday Update**

Announcing the arrival of Lady Betty Orpington's very first egg!
Everyone sigh and cheer in unison!

Did I ever doubt her? Did I ever malign her? Did I ever question her gender, her femininity? Cast away all suspicion and acrimony. She is a hen and worthy of organic greens and broad sun filled meadows, babbling brooks. She has been a dear pullet all along. Was there something in her chickness that should have tipped us off? Perhaps.

Her tiny brown egg is like cream in coffee. It has a pointy end and is really well formed for a first egg. We are all so amused and delighted. And we are wondering... what do we make with the first egg?

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Friends and Chicas

Have you met our friend, Mitchell? He and Alex met at school 3 years ago. Both being sweet guys, well mannered and bright, they get along well. It helps that they also both like basketball and video games. We all enjoy having Mitchell over for a visit, and we have had many great times at Mitchell's house too. I think Maria sees Mitchell as a brother we don't see often enough.

Mitchell has been hearing about these chickens of ours for a while and we finally got to introduce him to our little chicas. BTW if you want to meet them, you have to give me plenty of advance warning: 3 chicas in a small backyard create fresh havoc every 4 hours. I like to spruce things up before company arrives.

So, here is Mitchell meeting Fantam the Dark Bantam. She's actually less dark than Buttercup. She's also plumper, fluffier and slightly calmer, but only slightly. Mitchell learned quickly that catching bantams is not so easy. Trying to catch bantams is good exercise.

Seriously, I do not know how these little things can so easily get out of our grips. They are so super strong, and of course we are stronger, but we have to be gentle and strong. I love people who are gentle and strong.

Do we have a backyard chicken convert? Could be. They are so amusing and funny. I think Mitchell enjoyed their antics.

Please be a hen. Fantam has plenty of chica feminine characteristics, but we've been burned before! She is very dark, and fast, which makes it hard to get good photographs of her, but I think this one shows her pretty plumage. Pretty little Fantam.

Love the feet! Panic! Alarm! LOL
At dusk all of the chicas mellow out considerably and we enjoy holding them and letting them roost on our shoulders. They seek high spots to roost in the dark, when they cannot see very well. The darkness and their weak eyesight make them sit still, and then they kind of hunker down and snuggle a bit. The bantams like to lean in to my neck and whisper in my ear.

Even in the daylight, Betty is the calmest chica. Maria can catch Betty and keep her on her lap. Alex can get her to rest on her back, like a baby. She is the one we expect eggs from soonest, but she still isn't looking quite as Orpington as I expected. Orpingtons are roundish, very plump and downy, with tiny heads. Either she's got more growth in her or she's just got her own look. No matter. She's a dear chica.

Betty, Buttercup and Fantam are working out their dynamics, their hen-pecking order. I cannot say they are ready to throw each other tea parties, but at least now they are orbiting around one another, in the same parts of the garden. Hopefully they will come to be loving friends, sisters, devout and dear, happy to nest together through the chill of winter.

Our friends make life better.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dynamic Light and Shade

We should get out more.
Saturday's cookout at Rich and Holly's place confirms my suspicion that we have become troglodytes, hermits, cave dwellers. We come out to work or to replenish our cave stores. We have Netflix. We have the internet and a garden in a wine barrel. Our parties are small affairs, where we invite the usual suspects, and I cannot remember the last time we even did that. It's to the point where I am not only a reluctant hostess, I am a pretty lame guest. I feel shy and out of the loop and tragically unhip. I didn't even remember to bring a dish or extra drinks... I offered to bring something and then nothing. We are out of sorts, out of practice.

Rich and Holly had us, neighbors, and James, Deanne and Parker over for some grilling, some great mixed drinks and laid-back relaxing in their beautiful courtyard. I think those few hours were the clearest and warmest of the entire winter the sequel weekend. The sun did shine and the rain/drizzle/wind held-off. So, with interesting conversations, delicious food, the light of the sun, children playing, bubbles drifting and those mixed drinks! I was feeling pretty good. Mighty, pretty good. Holly, what was in those drinks? I was recalling the divine epidural of '04, when I was so mellow I thought we should leave and find a better place to hang out, and Geoff gently reminded me we were there to have a baby.

Speaking of babies... Oh, Parker! If I showed you his full head of honeyed dark brown hair, you would be overcome with baby love... he is that adorable. Just a day shy of 4 months, and already tuned to everyone and everything around him. He studies the faces he sees and looks ready to make a statement, or recite an epic poem. He is that clever. You may say I am biased, but trust me: This boy is exceptionally yummy.

At the beginning of the party both Izzy and Maria were asleep. I think the happy anticipation of playing together wore them out, and luckily they both woke-up with plenty of time to eat and play and enjoy the gathering.

Grapes. Maria loves grapes. And strawberries, nectarines, watermelon, apples, blackberries, bananas and mangoes. No, not mangoes. I love mangoes.

For the sake of full disclosure, so that I can keep track of this, that, and the other... I am making a list. And my list goes something like this:

1. Garybob, our landlord, asked to come over with prospective tenants. Before fainting, I had the good sense to say, "No, you cannot come over in 24 hours. Please come next Saturday." Then I fainted. Then I woke up and cursed and cried, and then I fainted again. And I have been cleaning ever since I regained consciousness.

2. We had a quiet troglodyte funeral for Lola, laying her to rest in a bed of bougainvillea in the wine barrel. Everyone shared kind words and dear memories of our little chica.

3. Then we had to be brave ranchers and go back to the feed store for a 3rd chick. Not much of a mourning process, I know, but we want 3 hens and waiting is risky.

4. We brought home a barred rock. Also known as a Plymouth. She'll look like Luna, Chickenblog's banner hen. And it's good we did not wait. The chick dynamic was full of upheaval and conflict the first day. The new chick is feisty and aggressive and cocky... uh-oh... let's hope she is not cocky-doodle-do cocky!

5. Everyone in Chickville has settled down, and if I weren't teaching long division and cleaning Garage Mahal, I would be sitting in the yard, holding chicks and designing a darling hen house.

6. I should be cleaning. I should be cleaning. I should be cleaning. I should be cleaning. I should be cleaning. I should be cleaning.

7. We made an offer on a trailer. It comes with land and something that could be a house. I am trying to be indifferent and detached.

Must be like a cat. Cool and collected. Confident. At home, wherever I hang my apron.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

We Are Inside, The Landlord is Outside
Twice a year GaryBob, a name composed of 2 different landlord names, likes to pull up weeds, trim trees, spray insecticides and knock stuff around. I come to dread this day, as he has pulled out my flowers, shattered my potting table, broken my vases and garden pots. He is not a mean person. He is not cruel. He is reckless in a dorky kind of get the job done kind of way. Already today, the blackberries have succumbed to his method.

I cannot go on hating him and cursing the whole tenant/landlord relationship. All of the anguish and suffering is locked up in my head, because I don't have the confidence and daring to confront him and to say out loud all of the ways he infuriates me. I feel angry and hurt by what he does, sad about how it makes me feel and really frustrated that I have not addressed him on each occasion of his offenses.

This morning I had a learning moment, an epiphany of self realization and enlightenment: I rarely, if ever, speak up on my own behalf. Haha... it does not escape my notice that I am still not addressing the individuals that I am actually mad at. I never want to hurt someone's feelings, appear petty or insensitive. I never want to create conflict or make waves. But I am realizing that the net result of sparing other people pain or conflict is that I endure it all for myself. I subject myself to sadness, aggravations, anger and a black hole of a knot in the pit of my stomach. This is no favor to me, and it is no favor to the one I presume to spare. What I don't release is bottled inside and festering. GaryBob and a few other unsuspecting folks have me so furious and disgusted, so darn mad and hurt, and as they go along their merry way, I am left with the belly ache, and a powerful dislike, disrespect and stink-eye for them.

There is a point at which I am not a victim, but a bitter martyr, disingenuous, and depleted of self-worth and dignity. I think of the people I am mad at and I realize that there was a beginning when what they did upset me, but as long as I cannot address the issue there will not be an end. They are free to repeat the offense and I am free to replay it in my head over and over again, so that I victimize myself. Aggh... enlightenment can be so hard on the eyes! I don't like seeing this in myself, let alone saying it out loud.

Hmmmm... now what?

Geoff re-injured his knee, the right one, the one with the torn meniscus. This is so sad. He really should get a break from exercise related injuries. He wants to be out there playing, getting healthy, staying healthy. I feel so bad for him. He can hardly walk.

If you should happen to come to our place and we invite you to dinner, sit carefully. I don't know what we've done to deserve it, but our sturdy, rustic, heavy duty solid wood chairs are crap. We started with 8 and I think we are down to 5. They just get loose, come undone, fall apart. One chair cut my leg and Max's with an exposed screw. This morning another chair popped a railing and left an exposed screw that punctured William's back. I want to burn them.

So, gee. I seem to have a list of aggravations and frustrations. Eh. It's good to purge now, then in a year when we are living in our own home and savoring the beauty of the day and our fine lives, we can look back and rejoice over how far we've come. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Maria is driving her car. Her baby and her driving hat are in place and she is turning corners, seatbelt fastened. Did you notice her haircut? Oh, these dear rites of passage. She cried after I committed the first snip and she sobbed, "I not want a haircut!" It's not up for debate. The deed is done, and we all think she looks pretty with her healthy, fresh do.

Her steering wheel is very big. She purses her lips and makes a motoring hum. When I sit behind her she fastens my seatbelt too.

The house needs cleaning, and we are expecting Hans and Gretchen for dinner. Obviously, Geoff cannot help and I am too cranky and moody to feel motivated, yet. I suppose when the work outside is done, I will breath easier. GaryBob just finished washing the whole yard with a "mild oil to kill black stuff." And I said nothing, because having an epiphany and doing something about it are not the same thing.

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