Here and There

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Tonight is New Year's Eve and I am looking forward to a quiet evening at home. I remember New Year's Eves past, fun parties and crazy antics, and I am still looking forward to a quiet evening at home. I think that's a good sign.
This past year has been full of so many good things. Lily, finishing work on the house, enjoying my part time work, changing full time positions from teacher to mother, reading good stuff, planting flowers and food, going to lots of weddings; it's been a beautiful year. But 2008 has a particularly nice round ring to it. I am glad to welcome it and all its own things.
Lately, I've been thirsty for flowers. I saw a Martha Stewart Weddings issue on a magazine rack at Target and I felt a little twinge. I've thought about what's out at the Flower Mart this time of year. I've had a couple ideas for bouquets and arrangements. I'd love to do a wedding. On the homefront I want to try to get some sweet peas in the ground super early and see what happens. I've been watching all the bulbs sprout.

Resolutions:
1. Get skinnier.
2. Eat more organic foods.
3. Vacuum daily.
4. Get Action Jackson rolling (for real this time!)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cry it out. Who's supposed to cry now?


Lily has always had a hard time going to bed...she's a night owl. She'd close the bar if we let her. We fought it and tried all manners of soothing: wear her down, nurse her down, rock her down, sing her down...you get the picture. Then last week she was winning and we were losing. Our cut off hour of midnight found us all back in dreaded family bed and the easy access to the chuck wagon kept her going all night. This kid will force herself to stay awake to eat. I was either fending her off or feeding her. Although my heart said no, my back the next morning said yes. So last night we let her cry herself to sleep. So sad. It made me feel ill, it made me feel desperate. But then she went to sleep and slept until morning. Very good.
But now it's night again and she's howling, no wait, she stopped, no, she's howling again. I hate this more than I hate ants.

Inspired

A perfect little creative moment by my friend Stephers.

Watch it and listen to it, you'll love it. IT.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Craft 2007

Usually around Christmas time I like to make some sort of craft. The year that Peter proposed I was working on this paper and bead mistletoe thing. Water color painted leaves and wired beads making the berries. It was a lovely little thing; I wish I knew where it was! I've made ornaments and little paintings. This year couldn't be too complicated, but I really wanted to do something. This year I filled two small bowls. One with seed beads of all colors and one with sequins of all colors. I got some strong black thread and threaded a needle. I made a long garland, 5 beads, 1 sequin, 5 beads, 1 sequin. It actually didn't take long to do the whole thing, then I put it on the Christmas tree kind of haphazardly, casually. Like someone just left it there while walking past. I like it.

I was watching Martha just now and she said that she is tasting too many things this holiday season and it's making her underwear too tight. I thought, weird?! and then she said a second later "Underwear can never be too tight!" Double weird?!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wow.

This is Sleeping Beauty's castle decked out with sparkling icicles for Christmas. I can't believe I am going to actually see this in 2 1/2 weeks!!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I've got no plan!

Bora wrote a beautiful post about Planning. and invited me to do the same...

I used to have a palm pilot, which I used exclusively for tracking weight watchers points. I had a little leather bound date book and I filled it out when I got it with regularly scheduled things like holidays, small group, birthdays, and sometimes wrote the random song lyric in my head or a few nights worth of what I wanted for dinner.

I like to anticipate things, like the upcoming trip to Disneyland: I'm thinking about it, I'm wondering what to take with us, but I haven't planned. And if Auntie Sissy wasn't on top of things we wouldn't have airline tickets yet or a place to stay.

I plan like I clean. I wander through the house, picking up this and that ending up in different rooms, plopping down to read for a minute, or look at something more closely. If I spend the day doing this, I will accomplish a clean house. If something is coming up, or if I'm left to plan something, like a party or a trip, I think about it and wait until I'm inspired then I ride that as plan fuel. If I don't get inspired, I do it all at the last minute.

This is tricky with my job as an administrator, it is a constant challenge for me to stay on top of future events and duties. It's contrary to my nature, but I manage.

I like to make lists, I like to write on my wall calendars (Tropical one and vintage kitchen appliance ads one) But I make the same list over and over again and then I usually throw it away or lose it. It's more of a way to keep it in my head instead of a way to keep it outside my head.

Because art is not my work, I paint or write or craft when it is possible/necessary. Which I usually notice I haven't done enough and then feel all weird until I do it again. Maybe if I planned more I wouldn't find myself in that situation as much.

A lot of fits and starts in this post because truth be told, I am not a goal oriented person. I'm about the process and if you plan out the process too much it's not a process, I guess it's a plan.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Goodbye Autumn.

This is us, in Yosemite, at the end of autumn. And now I am anticipating getting a Christmas tree, Christmas baking, Christmas eve, Christmas morning and Christmas Disneyland trip. In general, I am welcoming Christmas, and winter with it.

It's been hard lately with the Lilster. She just isn't sleeping as often or as much as I want. Yeah, yeah, I know. Duh.

So, I've been taking advantage of the hours and hours she spends eating to refine and expand what I can do while breastfeeding. I can pay the bills, using her body as a desk. I can read my book club book (I'm going to finish this one!). Now I can not only watch I Love Lucy, I can watch I Love Lucy while perusing a Target circular, even tearing out a coupon! I can check my e-mail. I cannot yet blog; maybe someday.

Anyhow. I've been feeling like I barely have time to shave my legs in the shower, let alone practice the amount of life/art/nature examination I'd like to. I am trying to figure out how to do this more. I like myself much more when I am practicing more art, more literature, more writing and creating. How to create the space in these days and nights to do this, I'm not sure. I just know that I must. I'll keep you posted.

Suite Francaise, our book club book, is AMAZING. So fascinating. I will review it in a post when I finish.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Jubilee


This story begins with the DVD machine breaking a couple nights ago. We were about to watch Evan Almighty and I was nursing the baby. Gid went to go get a new DVD player just as I started to introduce the idea of going to bed to Lil. I was wearing her in the Moby wrap and feeling very global.

Just me, with my child all wrapped up against me in this long cloth. I was inspired to wrap around my head one of the new swaddling blankets I got. (It is made of muslin and I'm kind of obsessed with how soft and big and pretty they are.) It made me feel decidedly more global, but in actuality made me far less global when I think now about how much those dumb blankets cost.

It reminded me of how my brother and I always played with dishtowels. Flour sack dishtowels are a fun toy. We would wrap them around our heads. They were even more fun to play with when they were slightly damp after drying dishes.

Anyhow, I put on the Elizabeth Mitchell album You Are My Sunshine and was enjoying my three favorite songs: Goin' Down the Road which is sad and mournful, Black Jack Baby which is kind of rollicking in a lullaby way, and Jubilee, which is actually a traditional tune and has that nice combination of spiritual content and human romance. Chorus: "Swing and turn, jubilee. Live and learn, jubilee."

I'm not much of an interpretative dancer or anything, but I can swing and turn. And closing my eyes and swinging and turning with a sleeping Lily all wrapped up, my own head all wrapped up in this lovely soft cloth, it was one of those moments where you do exactly what you want to do, what feels exactly right to do and it was delicious. Go ahead, put on that weird looking hat. It's easy, sing out! Clap if you want, laugh. Jubilee!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Back to flowers

Thinking about flowers in the rain, in the wet weather.
Violets are such charming, tiny things. We never really get to see bunches of violets like people used to sell (My Fair Lady) but I've had the pleasure of seeing bunches at the Flower Market and they are really something to bury your nose in. A soft little bundle, ruffled and sweet. My grandma had a lot of things with violets on them, mostly because she liked the color purple. She even wrote checks in purple ink! I remember she had sheets with violets all over them; a teacup, a trivet.
When I lived at that house, one wet spring there was a violet growing right out of the wood on the porch. It was the smallest little leaf and flower. A miniature version of an already small thing.
I loved how an old thing, like that rotting board, could sprout such a new thing. And what a new thing--like a baby that violet, so perfect and tiny. It was a lovely thing to watch, but I still had to remind myself not to step right on it when I went out. What's that about?!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Harvest

I know these look like silky pieces of raw tuna, but if you know me, you know I don't care for raw tuna and I can't afford a cutting board full of sushi grade tuna anyway. These are beets, roasted and cut up, ready for lemon zest and goat cheese. The best part about these beets is that they are from our garden! Really. No scam. I pulled up 5 big beets from the dirt that day. It's a great feeling to pull something from the ground you can eat. I loved it. I loved washing them in the sink and eating them for supper. Most of the garden experience this year was haphazard. I would forget we had food out there. Peter remembered and would try to coax me to eat the many collard greens or zucchini we had, but I just never really felt like eating those things. I guess when you grow your own food you can't be too picky. If the collard greens are about to bolt, you don't say "I'd rather have a burrito." Which is what I often say. So a lot of our edible garden ended up composted. But after pulling up those beets, my interest in the place was renewed. Too bad it's almost over, but we still have a lot going on out there. I made zucchini bread yesterday and it is good! Maybe, when the harvest is done and we have blank boxes again and we're ready to plant winter crops I'll make some sort of vow with the land to eat more of what it produces. Very Steinbeckian of me. If anything, the nice thing about a garden is that there's always a new season.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Recipes


This is a picture of my recipe binder. I made it to organize all the magazine recipes, epicurious.com recipes and old recipe cards I had floating around and I love that it is like my own cookbook. One thing I like to do is write on different recipes little notes about when I made them. That way it's kind of a journal too. For example, "Nimota's birthday, added 1/2 cup more sugar to the frosting." or as seen below "Back in the saddle meal." That was from when morning sickness had lightened and I cooked a real dinner for the first time. So yesterday after my dear church had brought me meals for 6 weeks!, I was on my own, ready to start planning some dinners. I pulled out my trusty recipe book. Tonight is Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce and I will jot a little note to remind me of this day and this meal.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Farewell Summer


These are flowers from my garden, a farewell summer bouquet. The blue bachelor button at the top is next to a "black cat" scabiosa, one of my favorite cutting flowers. Now it's time to put bulbs in the ground and start trying to remember to light candles in the evening for that cozy autumn feel.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Smell

A Natural History of the Senses has me thinking about sense experiences in my own life, especially smell. How complex the evocations of smell. For me, the smell of peach lipsmacker lip gloss could instantly transport me back to 8th grade. When I got dressed in the morning, I would lay out the outfit and match it with a lipsmacker flavor for the day. Kind of like jewelry or make up for the girl who didn't wear much of either. Dr. Pepper went well with a jean skirt and sweater vest. Raspberry went great with my Mary Engelbreit "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea nor trees" T shirt. Peach always went with my favorite outfit that year...a long patterned crinkle skirt and a periwinkle T shirt. (You don't really see periwinkle as a clothing color anymore. Too bad.) I had a "pot of gloss" of this peach lipsmacker rather than a tube and for years after it could be found in my dresser drawer or with my unused make up. I would open it up and take a whiff and boom! there I was walking through the back field at my Junior High, in the morning before class started, laughing and being silly with my friends, crinkle skirt hem getting soaked by the dew. Those crinkle skirts are tricky- step on the hem a couple times and they tear, and the only way to fix it is with scotch tape. Re-applying scotch tape to my hem was part of getting ready for the day just like grabbing the pot of gloss.

Recently, I was given some lovely apricot baby oil that smells exactly the same as peach lipsmacker. So now, I think of 8th grade and feeling on top of the world when I pour it in my hands and rub it all over Lily after a bath. 10 years from now I may smell that sweet smell and I will remember being in 8th grade and feeling on top of the world AND rubbing my little squirmy baby. I hope I get a whiff of this smell every once in a while for the rest of my life so can have that bizarre memory blend again and again.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Birthday Girl


Today is my birthday and being the BIGGEST birthday girl ever I will throw out some thoughts about this day:

*I wish I could wear the shirt pictured right now.
*Lily slept from 11:40pm-5:20am. I'm pretty sure it was the mojito, but I'll think of it as her birthday present to me.
*I ate 2 celebratory brownies for breakfast.
*I love my birthday.

I think it is really interesting how people feel about their birthdays. Some people, like Gid, just smile and shrug and the day goes by. Others, like me, get little trills of excitement (that does read trills and not thrills, because the trills come out as excited little giggles) weeks leading up to the big day. My birthday is like a holiday. (No, I don't mean everyone should celebrate it.) But in the same way on a holiday you look back and remember all the past celebrations, on my birthday I look back and remember all the other birthdays of my life. Who was there, what I did, what I felt. I think of my grandma on my birthday and I remember my birthday as a little girl, and I think of Peter and I remember my birthday as an older girl. It's kind of a 24 hour touchstone for me. This is me, this is my birthday, this is who I love and have loved, this is what I like and have liked. It can have melancholy moments and blissed out ones. It's all good.

The birthday memory that hit me this morning was from 2000. Peter and I were first dating and that morning he had left a present for me on the porch- a book of Lisel Mueller's poems. I skipped school (of course I did, it was my birthday) and drove to San Gregorio Beach near Half Moon Bay. I climbed up a hill to a little spot on the edge and I read those poems and watched the ocean and smelled all those good smells. (I really must get a field guide so I can identify all those coastal plants that smell so herby and delicious.)

The girl I am now still loves her birthday and still wants all the candles. I don't know that 3 will ever cut it. I appreciate the sentiment: past, present and future, but it's a little half-ass to me.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Out of my womb, Out of my room

Many have heard my personal opinion on co-sleeping. I didn't want to do it. I was adamant that my baby would occupy her own little bed and I would share my bed only with my husband.

I even had a slogan for it (see post title). So it was interesting to say the least when we started that first night home together as our family of three, 2 available beds, one designed especially for baby, we all ended up in the big one.

Part of the reason was that she screamed all night, but looking back there was more there. The crib felt far away, she felt too new. Could something that fresh off the assembly line fend for itself in there? I ultimately must not have been sure, so there she was- all wrapped up, lying between us, the cat hovering on the corners. (I'm sure thinking, "That's my spot. Even if I only sleep there sometimes, you're getting your baby stink all over my spot.")

I remember looking at Peter feeling defeated. My whole bag was that I was NOT going to do this. I know I had said as her arrival came closer, I'll be flexible. She may not be ready for her crib right away, we'll see what she's like. I'm not so rigid. But I was disappointed.

Every night got a little better after that. But she wouldn't sleep in the crib. No siree. It was like she hated the pattern of the sheet, the placement of it in the room. The whole thing. She wouldn't have it. So we would place her on a blanket, in between us and I would wake up feeling miles away from Gid and squished. Small comfort: at least I could sleep on my stomach. Left arm always cold from pulling down the quilt so it didn't suffocate her. She had a way of schooching closer to me as she slept until my little strip of bed to lay on was so narrow I'd wake up and schooch her back.

When I would make the bed in the morning or change the sheets I felt sad about sharing it, I wanted it to be a place that was peaceful and restorative and for me and Peter only.

Then, a few nights ago, I put her back to sleep after a night feeding in her crib. She looked so peaceful and didn't protest. The next night we put her to bed there. She did great. She sprawled out and I thought maybe she was like me and in the end needed some space to stretch.

That night though was baffling to me. I couldn't sleep well, I wondered about her in there. Was she okay? Did she need me and I couldn't hear her call out? I listened with my head raised from the pillow. Nothing. She woke me up very effectively with a squawk a few hours later. But during that first night, I missed my sweet little bedfellow. She was so little and soft.

I know everybody has a different preference, and I still hold mine. Having quite a bit of knowledge about child development I know that co-sleeping is generally great for small babies. But I also know that a lot of things are great for small babies and sometimes it's okay not to do all of those things. Who can? So I'll cuddle her all day and let everybody say I hold her too much. And at night, we'll dream in our own beds. That's not to say we won't all four of us be found having family bed in the morning. Welcome aboard Lil. Anything to stay in bed longer...

Friday, August 31, 2007

New Favorite

Unlike the Alison Krauss song, this new favorite does not replace any old favorites, it's simply an additional favorite. I love this book! I don't know why it took me 17 years to discover it. When I finish it, I shall definitely post some favorite lines and some of my own inspirations. But for now, for a little "taste":

"Violets smell like burnt sugar cubes that have been dipped in lemon and velvet, I might offer, doing what we always do: defining one smell by another smell or another sense."

I've finished the smell portion of the book and now I'm on to touch.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good.


There is a very upsetting commercial on TV right now. Two little boys are walking home from school. One says to the other: "No one asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up."
The other boy says, "Maybe it's because of your name."
The first boy replies, "Richard?"
"No! Smucker."
The voice over explains that if your name is Smucker in the town of Orville, everyone knows you'll make the best jam ever. To make it okay that little Richard will be forced to make jam, the boys find a barrel of jam near the barn and Richard declares, "I love jam."

I hate this commercial.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."


There was an episode of the Simpsons in which Marge starred in a musical production of "A Streetcar Named Desire." As Blanche DuBois, she said the famous line "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." Blanche was a crazy drunk lady being led away by mental hospital attendants, and it is certainly true the helpless do need to depend on the kindness of strangers. I myself have never really "depended" on this. In fact I am always surprised by the kindness of strangers.

But for some reason this line came to mind this morning after I received a pleasant visit, some garden roses and banana bread from a very kind neighbor I had never met.

It is nice to be surprised by the kindness of strangers.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Home Alone

So this morning is my first day "home alone" with Lily. I had a moment of timelessness, identifying with women through the ages, where I felt doors echo shut all across America, all throughout history. My beloved is gone, the light is definitely morning time, the day is before me, and what do I do with it? Am I supposed to unload the dishwasher? Am I supposed to hold the baby even though she's sleeping? What about the laundry? And if I turn on the TV and watch The View, is that entering into a black hole of daytime TV I will never return from?

I just slept more.

I wish I had an Ethel who would come over right after Peter walked out the door and say "Let's play Canasta."

That would be fun.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

She's here

Lillian is here. She's sweet as pie and we're enjoying her so much. It's strange to have so many firsts in a week, but one I will relate here is our first walk together as a family. Stepping into the sunshine after being inside for the first few days of Lily's life was surreal. Peter wore her in the baby wrap thing (and Kate wasn't jealous) and we walked out into this very mild, golden afternoon. I thought I could detect something in the light akin to that fall coming way I blogged about last August. We walked up the street slowly, quietly. When we took a turn on 7th street to come back, there were a couple birch trees dangling their branches over the sidewalk. We walked through them. I noticed them and I was glad about that. We came home and that was that. First walk as family. There are moments when the whole thing about having a baby is just too special, it's exhausting. Then there are moments when it is so mild and sweet that it is easy.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Big Sister

When she realizes these aren't for her, in her anger, I wonder what she'll pee on?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pick up your bones!

Often at lunchtime, people working in our neighborhood come sit in their cars and eat. I always used to think this was kind of sad. It always seemed kind of lonely for those folks.

Yesterday, at lunchtime, we were sitting on the beige couch, and I saw a man pull up and park across the street. He had a little white truck with a ladder tied to the camper shell. I figured he was working in the neighborhood and found a quiet place to eat his lunch. I was right. He got out and pulled huge blue cooler from the back- not a lunchtime cooler that looks like a mini-version of a big cooler, this was a cooler that most families pack entire picnics in. I kind of laughed and watched him get settled: he turned on the radio, he rolled down his window, he got out a newspaper and he locked his door. (I thought that part was kind of weird)

I was watching TV and out of the corner of my eye I saw something that always catches my eye, that little flick of the wrist and arc through the air of a litterbug. Oh no. He threw something out the window. Maybe it was an applecore. That's okay, an applecore is okay...sort of, not really. But it looked like a bone. "Was that a chicken bone?" I asked Peter. We both watched this guy eating something off a bone and throw another bone out the window. The way he was nibbling it and holding it looked more like a rib to me. Sure enough the guy ate 6 ribs and threw all his bones out his truck window. Then he proceeded to drink out of whatever tupperware his ribs came in (was it rib juice?) and wipe his face, put his cooler away and leave.

Meat bones aren't good lying around on the street, cats and rats and other creatures will find them, they don't just "go away". The whole time the guy was there we talked about what to do. Peter said he would go pick up the bones while the guy was still there in the truck and I said I would just shout from the doorway "Can you pick up your bones?" but Peter's idea was better. When he saw the guy start to leave, he walked out with a plastic bag to pick up the ribs as the guy started his 3-point turn to leave. I'm pretty sure the guy saw him. I hope he saw him picking up the ribs in his rearview mirror.

There have been many times when I have witnessed littering and said something to the litterbug, and many times when I've said nothing, but picked up the litter, and many times when I've not had the chance to do either, most often while driving. It's a weird thing because if you say something, it really shames the person. Rightfully so, but it's awkward. Even if you want to just gently remind, it comes off as shaming. I think the reason this is so is because if you don't litter, you simply don't litter. You never forget and accidentally litter, you just don't drop your crap on the ground. So if you see someone litter, you're challenging them on something they have chosen to do, their personal code of garbage disposal.

I wish I had a foolproof phrase or technique for when I witness someone litter, but I don't. I saw a bumper sticker once that said "Litter bugs me". That was fun, but that doesn't really cover it when you see someone drop their picked clean ribs in front of your home. You want to say "Pick up your bones!" Is that okay?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Walking and waiting

Yesterday, we went for a walk around campus to try to get Lillian to understand that her eviction notice was served days ago and she is technically a squatter. Nobody likes a squatter.
It was warm, the late afternoon sun on all the grass was kind of mesmerizing. The woodsy smell whenever you cross a footbridge over the creek was in full power, so as you walked along you'd smell distinct smells in an exhilerating order: grass, eucalyptus, dust and pinecones, water, grass, eucalyptus, dust and pinecones, water...
It was a great walk. We walked by a little glen that I loved when I was in school. When the leaves were turning, I sometimes was not able to resist skipping class and sitting there, collecting dark red leaves and reading.
It is hard to wait, along with walking I started re-reading Mrs. Dalloway. Beautiful.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

She just couldn't wait to get her paws on it.

I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows today. I probably should have taken it a bit slower, I'm already a little fuzzy on a couple parts, but since when have I been able to resist something as addictive as a new Harry Potter book, or Krispy Kreme donuts for that matter? They both must be consumed immediately and entirely, not just left to lie around the house.

I sure liked it; it was satisfying for the fan in me and surprisingly satisfying for the critic in me. Usually I can complain about Rowling's writing, sometimes so obvious and dialogue sometimes so lame. But if you laid the first HP book and this HP book side by side, or even read a page from each at random, you can see how much sharper this last book is. Some of the passages on death are so poignant, it's really very touching. I'm looking forward to reading it again, when I will retain more. Give me a couple years or so and I will probably pull them all out for a complete re-read.

That said, between gulping down Harry Potter and feasting on The Wire, I feel like whole days and nights have passed without anything really happening to ME, but to all my fictional friends. How was Harry going to figure out the Hallows AND the Horcruxes??? Why did Kima have to be shot in that ridiculous buy/bust??? It is vacation and all, and our lives are definitely about to change sooner rather than later with Lily's arrival, so it's nice to tune out and enjoy the various entertainment medias, but for now I am pulling myself out of the books and the boob tube to report my personal opinions and it has been pleasantly self-actualizing.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"Nature is a language, can't you read?"

You'd think with all this extra time on my hands I would be posting more frequently, not less. But here I am, 4 weeks in to this in between time of much much less work and much much more free time before the baby comes and my days are disappearing without much to show for it.
I have watched a lot of I Love Lucy, and drank a lot of "50 cent" Vitamin Water. (This is the best beverage, Peter compares it to watered down grape koolaid and that is exactly what it tastes like.) I have done some organizing and cleaning and a lot of sitting on the couch, daydreaming.

But, this post wasn't going to be about that, it was going to be about The Smiths. I like the Smiths and sometimes, when listening I really appreciate a certain lyric, and then I forget it until the next time I go on a Smiths jag.

In times past the appreciation came for the lyric from the song "I Know It's Over": "It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind. It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate, it takes guts to be gentle and kind." I thought that was so true.

This time, we were listening to "Ask" on a car trip and I had completely forgotten and was delighted to hear again the lyric: "Nature is a language, can't you read?" I loved that! I want to say to Morrissey affirmingly "Nature IS a language, I CAN read!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Last day of school

Today was the last day of school. It feels like a last day of school. I packed up the classroom, took home Cranberry, the beta fish, and now I am home, wondering what to do with myself. I remember summer as a kid. It meant eating a lot of otter pops and playing super nintendo. Also, staying up late and finishing a Nancy Drew book and then waking up late and starting a new one. Frequent trips to the library and my grandma's swimming pool, playing in the sprinkler, etc. One summer, I remember staying up late to watch David Letterman and my dad would go and get us slurpies from 7-11. Good times.

As an adult I had a summer that was blissfully without work or school. This was when I lived at my grandma's house and Peter and my roommate and I all were off work, out of school, totally relaxed. I spent the majority of that summer in the backyard, napping, swimming, watering and reading Real Simple while drinking large quantities of Crystal Light. Enjoying barbequing, cloves and twinkle lights to the max.

This summer will include CWOW work, a lot of time spent in our backyard, which as you can see is quite blank and needs love, eating all the fruit I possibly can, (cherries, peaches, berries of all kinds, watermelon and pineapple) getting ready for our new pal Lillian, going barefoot as much as possible, watching I Love Lucy and making pie. I'll read Water for Elephants for book club, and the Iliad and the new Harry Potter. Then, our summer will conclude with baby days and nights; which, from what I've heard aren't particularly relaxing.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Garbage

Yesterday, I called a day spa to make pedicure appointments for my sister and my mom and I. It is a fun and relaxing annual tradition. When I called, the receptionist asked me if I had been there before. I said yes. She asked me for the first three letters of my last name. I said G-I-D. She was quiet for a minute, presumably looking my name up in the computer. Then she asked, "Did you say G as in garbage?"

"I guess it's G as in garbage, I never really think of it that way." It struck me funny and I started laughing, then Gid started laughing and then I had a really hard time getting through the process of making the reservation. She was flustered and didn't even ask me for a credit card to hold the slot, and then called back a few minutes later to clarify the date. People probably don't usually get the giggles on the phone with "Re:fresh, A Day Spa". But i'm still laughing about it. Why would someone say "G as in garbage"!?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Care for a pint?

Pint of ice cream. I know everybody must do this, but nobody really talks about it. I remember my grandma used to get pints of Haagen Dazs and keep them in the deep freeze in the garage. I would get one out and enjoy the whole thing while watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or The Disney Channel. It is surprisingly easy to eat a pint of ice cream.

The funny thing is, I haven't remembered the flavor she would always buy until now. I knew it was tan, and had chocolate covered bits of something in it but I never really knew what flavor it was. I'm sure I looked at the label at some point, but it just didn't stick. This is a flavor I ate years ago.

Then, while enjoying the devil-may-care attitude I've adopted toward food during this pregnancy, (My philosophy: If not now, when?) I decided I'd treat myself to a pint. From a girl familiar with the POINTS system, eating pints of ice cream has not been a habit in the past few years. I thought Caramel Cone looked like a good start. First bite it hit me, THE FLAVOR. The long lost ice cream flavor of my carefree pint-o-ice cream eating days. So, although I do buy the "Extra Rich Light" variety (which sounds absolutely impossible, I know) it still tastes as indulgent and luxurious as those afternoons after school curled up on Grandma's olive green couch.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Just a picture

Venus and the Moon as taken sitting outside at Jupiter.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Treasure: Old China and Ripe Fruit

These are some little bits of china and glass and stone we found at Glass Beach awhile back. Because they are now in a little glass bottle, it is nice to do them the virtual honor of being spread out. Today I went to Monterey Market for apricots and strawberries and zucchini. As I write this I notice that in my mind I say "zucchine" like T. Monica. Monterey Market is often very crowded and people sometimes push, like at Berkeley Bowl. BUT, at Monterey Market, there is a large outdoor produce section and it gives the illusion that it's not so bad, but actually quite pleasant. I think partly because of the phenomenon that vegetables and fruit that are outside seem like they are fresher, more fragrant and more where they belong. So I like smelling them and feeling them and I don't mind my arm being bumped or someone not noticing my tush isn't moving as fast as her cart. I haven't trekked to Berkeley Bowl in awhile, I've been getting my fruit fix at Monterey.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks: Now these are Santa Fe. Hollyhocks leaning against baking walls, making wood fences seem taller with their strong sturdy backs. They grow tall and straight and then bloom their flowers close to their stems, decorating their strength and making all the adobes friendly with each other. The hollyhocks meet the desert- of sagebrush ready to smudge and dusty little hills and tracks. Tall, bright flowers down in the town, don't really belong with the brush and scattered stones all laying so flat in those high desert mountains. New Mexico has a purple sky that is so much heavier than regular sky, she dips her belly and her breasts to the desert, and the mountains make valleys to rest under her weight. At night she wears the stars gracefully, they stir on her dusky skin and shine on.


I love Santa Fe. I wrote this bit about hollyhocks a long time ago in my flower musings book. On Sunday when we were walking into Finn Hall, I saw these little cotton looking fluffs floating all around us. We stopped and Peter pointed out the trees that they came from and I was reminded of Santa Fe. I remember driving from Colorado to Santa Fe once with Doug and mom and Dari. It was a really pretty kind of drive, through lots of canyons. We had all the windows open and these little fluffs of cotton were flying all around. Swooping through the car windows, dilly dallying all along the winding road. It was kind of magical.
It wasn't rough like leaves blowing in the wind, crackly and awkward. It was gentle and harmless, just soft bits tossed around in the warm breeze.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Linaria. Linaria!


This is 'Linaria', commonly known as 'Toadflax'. The variety shown is 'Flamenco'. Teacher Myrna introduced this little number to me, and I loved it! The funny thing is, right before our wedding, I "discovered" linaria myself. We had our reception in my parents' backyard and my mom had a small planter mounted on a fence that needed something in it. I had seen linaria at the store, and thought it was kind of like Nemesia, (which it really isn't). So I said, try this new plant! It looked great, but there is a marked difference between a six pack of easter egg color linaria found at Rite Aid and the well established 4" pot of 'Flamenco' linaria that T. Myrna had the other day. I didn't even recognize it right away. I didn't even associate it with that six pack of baby colors. This must be a cool new plant! But it wasn't. It was just more interesting looking.

As with many things, if you learn more and look more, you'll find cooler looking versions of what you already need/have. I think I know people who do that all the time and they do manage to have the same old stuff as everyone else, but it's just a little more lovely, or a little more useful.

So I will get the 'Flamenco' linaria and enjoy every little red and orange popcorn kernel bopping on the frilly leaves. It doesn't cost more, it doesn't need anything different to grow, it just needed me to keep my eyes open to new varieties, the possibility of a common thing being noticable.

Caution: Slippery slope to taking the concept and slipping into a binge of consumerism...I don't have the means to do this, and must take this theory and use it for things like $3 plants, not fancy baby stuff...although these darn hooter hiders are so cool!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hot, Hot, Hot!


Last Monday, after a doctor's appointment, we headed out of town. We thought it might be crazy because of the freeway collapse and all, but we had been looking so forward to it, we went anyway. There was some traffic, but not too bad. It was warm, the beach was beautiful, we slept in the sand and got strawberries at a roadside stand. Perfect Half Moon Bay day. It felt like playing hooky because we weren't sick and because everything was so beautiful and empty. Playing hooky at its best means that the day feels charmed. I love that.
Today is another Monday, no hooky. Work, work in the heat. Not as fun. But I did get a watermelon on the way home, so we'll see how good it is. If it is sweet, it will make the day seem a little cooler and a little more comfortable.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hey there yellow!

This is the first bloom on the Gidlund ranch. We got these roses, one bush for each side of the arch in front, at Berkeley Horticulture Society. (I wrote Berkeley Hort first and then I felt a little silly, so I went ahead and wrote the full name) They had a bout with aphids, but then the aphids just kind of disappeared. I did give every ladybug I found in the yard a chance to feast by placing them strategically on aphid infested leaves, but regardless of how they came to disappear, they've gone.

This rose isn't super duper fragrant, but it's nice. And I like how it has just enough petals to look whirly opening, but few enough to where you notice how each one is important. Have you noticed all the roses blooming around town? It's kind of amazing; so many yards with blooming roses. So many colors!

One rose I am particularly jealous of is in Emeryville. Specifically it is on Pixar's fence. It is a pink climbing rose and it is fantastic! Kind of a dark pink, not too precious or anything, and all the flowers are in varying stages of bloom. The sheer number of roses on the fence, with all the healthy thick green leaves is quite a sight. And I'll tell you, this fence is long and it is covered with these roses. I wonder whose idea it was. Someone very clever I bet.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Strawberry Scones


I have a basic scone recipe that I use pretty frequently. Well, a lot. I like to add different fruits and such to it, like:
*dried apricots, dried cranberries AND chocolate chips (everything but the kitchen sink scones)
*dried cranberries and orange zest (a sissy flavor fave combo)
*currants (for the scone prosaic, like Peter)
and most recently *chopped strawberries

The best thing about the strawberry variety of this scone, which Gid and I gobbled for breakfast today, is that in the recipe, you stir in cream and whatever mix-in at the same time. I will tell you when the cream and the berries hit the bowl, the smell is...so good it made me laugh out loud today. That smell is almost better than how they taste, or maybe remembering the smell makes them taste better than they are...

To try: (this quantity makes 8 scones, I halve the recipe for the two of us so I don't eat scones all day...which I would if I had a bunch hanging around.)

2 c. flour
3 TB sugar
1 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 TB unsalted butter, cut up
1 cup cream
1/2 to 1 cup mix in of your choice. (I use more or less depending on the mood)

Whir in food processor first 4 ingredients. Pulse butter in 8-10 pulses. Dump it in a bowl and pour in cream and mix-in. Stir with a stiff spatula or wooden spoon until it is more or less together. Dump it on a lightly floured counter and form a disc. Cut it into wedges and put them on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle sugar all over the tops, bake at 450 until golden. It is always better to let them cool a little first, but I usually eat one immediately and then enjoy a cooled one.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Danielson

So, I meant to write about this right away, and already everything I was thinking about this whole movie is kind of fading. Peter did a good job of saying why it was good, and important.

I remember when we saw Danielson at a music festival in 1999, everybody told me what to expect. "It's crazy, just wait, it's going to be crazy!" I had already heard of Danielson because dear Wendy, my old housemate, put a Danielson song on a mix tape for me in high school. (The same mix tape that introduced me to The Smiths.) I think it was called "Flesh Thang" and even though Daniel Smith has a crazy voice, I liked it. It was silly sounding and fun, and as a senior at a Christian high school, I wasn't very impressed that Danielson Famile sang about Jesus. Didn't everyone?

Then, at this festival, we saw them in all their glory: nurses uniforms, motions and all. It was crazy and fun, and again, I wasn't very impressed that they sang about Jesus. Big deal. People asked me all weekend if I was in Danielson. (Redhead stereotyping of a kind: She has red hair. That weird band had chicks with red hair in it. Ask that girl if she is in that band.) I talked to one of the brothers Danielson for a little bit after that show.

A couple years ago we saw Low and Danielson was opening for them. It was a wholly different experience to see them play a bar, with a crowd who did not know what to do with the yips and hoots and the clapping and the spiritual lingo. I enjoyed it, but I didn't know enough to be impressed that night.

Then, we watched a movie about the "Christian" music industry and Daniel Smith gave some interviews for it. I realized how much more there was to that guy. He was very serious, and very honest. That was impressive. He gave a smart, cool answer to the ridiculousness that was Christian Music. He was embarrassed of the same things I was embarrassed of. He thought the same things were problematic about having such a genre at all.

Which finally brings us to "Danielson, A Family Movie or Make a Joyful Noise HERE."
I was totally impressed. They are unapologetic, they are artistically daring, they all really love God and are completely unashamed to proclaim it. I was most struck when I watched them all sing with such GLADNESS, such real joy and feeling "I love you Lord, I love you Lord, I love you Lord, I love you Lord" on stage at a bar in front of people who were mostly just staring at them bewildered. I thought "Wow, that is so gutsy." I wish I were so gutsy. I think I'd be afraid to do that.

I liked seeing Daniel and Sufjan's relationship develop and see how Sufjan's success was inconsequential to Daniel. He was soley interested in developing creatively, as led by God, and wasn't interested in success. I liked that Sufjan took some of Daniel's ideas and made them his own because Daniel's ideas were so clever. I wish all the Sufjan people knew that.

Anyway, a long post. Mostly to say I'm impressed by Daniel Smith and Danielson in general. Go to Gid's blog and watch the little videos.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

She should win a medal...


What a sweet cat. I know Kate's been making numerous appearances on the blog lately. But she's so cute in pictures! To make this more substantial I will give 5 reasons why I love Kate.
1. She is softer than a rabbit.
2. She likes to snuggle.
3. She looks like a Beatrix Potter cat you could have tea with.
4. She gallops around sometimes.
5. She is generous with her purrs and strictly conversational with her meows. (No excessive meowing here.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

of peony, that tricky flower...


"Of asphodel, that greeny flower,

like a buttercup

upon its branching stem-"

William Carlos Williams wrote those words, and sometimes they get
stuck
in my head and I use that little phrase to describe other flowers.

So peonies are a tricky kind. They are not easy to grow around here, so I've
been told. So that makes them tricky...and they smell outrageously sweet at first,
when they first open. The kind of smell you can barely believe. But give them a
few days and they smell like walking by an open dumpster. That's one of
their tricks too.
Also, they start out as perfectly round, hard balls of green. A little pink or red
hardly showing, so you can't tell what they're really going to be when they open up.
But, I'm telling you, when they do, they are these crazy ballgowns turned upside down.

(It's true that flowers can be so darn slutty, showing it all off. Sometimes they
give the impression that they're not wearing a slip, or sometimes having actual
Marilyn moments over the subway air vents)

These full blown beauties are like Degas ballerinas turned upside down.
Shameless! Glorious!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Easter's on its way!


I've been waiting for Easter for a long time it seems like. With all my dragging of the feet about Lent, it seems like it snuck up on me and here it is. I tried to memorize some scripture during Lent, which was helpful and gave some purpose to the season for me. But now here I am, and Easter is Sunday and aside from all the busy little things I have to do to get ready church-wise and dinner-wise, I am glad, glad, glad.



I am glad that Lilian kicks hard now.
I am glad that Book Club is alive and kicking too.
I am glad that I've planted things in the garden:
like lilacs from Jan, roses, sweet peas, scented geranium.
I am glad that strawberries have been on sale lately.

Simple glads, not complicated. But, I am so glad for Jesus and I am glad it is Easter soon.

Question: Can I, who cried when Gid asked if we had a calculator and I told him he had to use the one on the computer, get through the Good Friday service to get to Easter?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bouquets to Art 2007
















We went to Bouquets to Art on Friday night. I hope it's an annual tradition. I sure like the DeYoung, and I like finding flowers in all the corners of it on this visit. I also really liked the cheeseburger at the cafe that I enjoyed last year and again this year. A happy accident was discovering the "macro" button on my camera right after taking a picture of the fruit and flowers arrangement; I used it for the first time below!

Friday, March 23, 2007

"I ain't a communist necessarily, but I been in the red all my life." --Woody Guthrie

It all started when I got my hands on an Elizabeth Mitchell CD and she did 3 or 4 Woodie Guthrie songs. I realized there was this whole other chunk of music I liked. He writes songs for kids perfectly- crazy, fun, simple and great rhythms, AND he uses nouns turned into adjectives to describe themselves. (Grassy grass grass, Milky milk, Sunny sun sun sun, Washy wash etc.)

Anyway, then I got a Dan Zanes kids CD and he covers Woody Guthrie's "So Long (It's Been Good to Know Yuh)" and I found it perfectly heartbreaking. Not one of his kids' songs, still great. Waltz-like in tempo but so sad. Here are a few verses that show the gist of it.

I've sung this song, but I'll sing it again,
Of the place that I lived on the wild windy plains,
In the month called April, in a county called Gray,
And here's what all of the people there say:

So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is takin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

A dust storm hit, an' it hit like thunder;
It dusted us over, an' it covered us under;
Blocked out the traffic an' blocked out the sun,
Straight for home all the people did run,

Singin' so long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is takin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.

The lovers sat in the dark and sparked,
They hugged and kissed in that dusty old dark.
They sighed and cried, hugged and kissed,
Instead of marriage, they talked just like this:

Honey, so long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is takin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along.
..


I did a little research on the fellow and found myself re-immersed in the world of Grapes of Wrath. Why don't I remember that book more clearly? Why didn't it hurt me more to read it? I don't remember; it was one of the first Steinbeck novels I read after The Pearl. I definitely read it before East of Eden, which is the book that made me love Steinbeck.

I decided I need to learn more about Guthrie, and re-read Grapes of Wrath. You know when something you happen upon grips you, and you have to learn more about it? I feel that way.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring!

Today was the first full day of Spring. I taught the kids "Daffa-down-dilly" and made up a new verse which they liked. A nice thing that happened today is that I spotted a butterfly flopping around in the air in the corner of the yard at work. Connor was the only kid playing near there, so I pointed it out and we watched it flutter around and land nearby. It kept flying away and coming back. Connor was so patient, he would wait at the fence, looking for it and just when we thought it had flown away it would surprise us from behind and flutter right by us. We sang a song to it and tried to get it to land on us for luck, but it didn't. But it was a great Spring time. Watching a butterfly for a long time is relaxing.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Reepicheep and Psalm 139

This the little painting that started as a reflection on Psalm 139, which has been so comforting to me in the past few months, and then turned into a reflection on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

As for Psalm 139, I like feeling known. Everybody likes feeling known. But I also think it takes a lot of trust to desire someone to know you deeply. v.23 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts." It could feel like someone rifling through your pockets or purse, or it could feel like the relief of telling someone a deep secret, depending on the trust level I guess. I like to think about how Aslan knew Reepicheep so well. He knew he wanted so badly to come into his country, and he brought him there. It is hard to see from this angle the children walking and Reepicheep leading the way, wading in the shallow water, but I liked to imagine them holding hands, going slowly, feeling full of awe at the wall of water, the mountains of green beyond.