Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Slowing Down

Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.

-E.B. White, Charlottes Web.

I have been blessed with no morning sickness thus far, but am really tired. It is as though everything I do is underwater, in slow motion, with a thickness to it. I definitely don't have my usual energy.

I think deep inside me, perhaps, I am mourning my future sleepless nights in advance. That is the one thing that I found the hardest about being a new mother, the lack of sleep.

The double whammy, of course, is that you are not supposed to drink coffee, right? Well, I have cut back but I would be in dire straights if I had to give it up entirely. I drank a lot of coffee with Babou because my life was very busy back then, moving, working, lots going on. It is my one vice and I am keeping it. We all have to survive, after all.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Great Expectations

A beginning is only the start of a journey to another beginning.

Ahhh to get away! The Old Man and I got to and it was wonderful, amazing, and totally needed. We headed south to Costanoa and spent a day and a night completely relaxed. We got massages, sat in the hot tub, we lay around in our bathrobes (really fun and one of my most favorite things to do)!

I can't say enough about this place. The food was delicious, organic, and amazingly fresh. There was interesting driftwood art and beautiful, native gardens.

Outdoor showers and fireplaces and other relaxing places scattered about.

The Old Man's mother stayed with Babou and LocoO so we were dog and toddler-less and that was lovely as well. It felt so good to let the relaxation sink in and not have to hop up to attend to this or that. Just lovely.

And to what occasion owed this celebration retreat? The Old Man's Father's Day present: that he is going to be a father again! We are happily expecting the birth of our second child late next February. Yes, that means I am pregnant!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Growing Ambition

Gardening is an instrument of grace.
-May Sarton

I wanted to show some pictures of my garden, I am so happy with it this year--it is as though this year all the pieces of the puzzle came together into one and it all started to make sense. I have been working away at it for four years now and am finally starting to see the rewards for my effort--wresting flower borders from sod prisons.

And it was worth every bit of the effort!

And here is a link to pictures my dear friend took not too long ago.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mary Alice

Your house is your larger body.
-Kahlil Gibran

Dear readers, today I am sad for my sister, Mary Alice, who is not only paying more in rent than many of us can imagine, but also getting much less attention than any landlord I have ever experienced. And I have experienced quite a few in my lifetime. And the shameful part of it all is that her landlord is the US military. Our country.

Hers is a story best told in her own words. It saddens me to no end that those who take care of us, are so little taken care of themselves. Please leave your comments for my post on my sister's blog, she needs your support. And, if you feel moved, feel free to link to her blog via yours. More people should be aware of the reality military families have to deal with every day.

Friday, June 12, 2009

MFK Fisher and the Art of Living

I find increasingly as I get older that I do not consider myself a writer.

-MFK Fisher, To Begin Again

Lately, in an attempt to better myself, I have been trying to read more. And lately, that reading has been mostly about MFK Fisher, a food writer with honest prose and a penchant for vegetarianism. She grew up in Whittier California, and was a contemporary of my grandmother, also a writer from Whittier, California.

All this reading has been inspiring me. I love the ubiquitous glamour of these times. The constraints and the freedom.

The entire period of time that MFK Fisher, my grandmother, and their contemporaries, lived is fascinating and inspiring to me in a very sensual and elegantly hedonistic way. The cocktail parties, the education and travel, the artists and the writers, the food and the wine. The formality, the cultural girdle, that held the sensuous nature of the time in its place.

I can see it all so clearly, from my mother's many tellings of the cocktail parties her mother and father attended, and held, and at which my mother and aunt often served. Well heeled professor types mixed with the artists and writers, the clinking of the ice swimming happily in its rapidly sinking waters. The small bites of food confirmed or denied for a more slimming cigarette perhaps.

The spare furnishings of the modern, art deco style. The minimalism that perfectly tempered the overstuffed brains. The cigarette and martini hangovers that must have ensued, only after lengthy discussions over esoteric points of academic interest.

The way the men and women arranged themselves. The lipstick, the cufflinks, the twinsets. The subtle disclosure. The importance of style, Jackie O, cars, the relative abundance of the post war mentality. The Bon Vivant and suspension of time.

Many people tend to characterize themselves by a certain span of time, a certain frame of reference. Often the time they consider their happiest, or the one in which most things were going right. They see this as the pivotal moment and use it as a compass for the rest of their lives.

I noticed that many more progressive individuals fight this instinct, however, and continue to move on creating better and more interesting moments in a continual sort of fashion.

In reading MFK Fisher's biography, I was struck by her ability, after great tragedy, to continue to move on and produce and focus on what was important to her as she continued on her journey. She did not get stuck day dreaming about her favorite past moment. She did herself the justice of this discipline. A true inspiration and the hallmark of successful, flexible living. Life as a work in progress. Life as art itself.

Image credits in order of appearance: npr.org, flickr. com, Life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Naturally challenging

To be wholesome, we must remain truthful to our vulnerable complexity.

- John O'Donohue, Anam Ċara

This is my third year of vegetable gardening. I was so excited to move to a house that had a yard, a space for a garden, a patch of sunlight to support it. I have come to know the joys of knowing that half my dinner will come from my backyard. 

For about three months. 

I am not yet (although I am working on it) the kind of gardener that can maintain a continual harvest. I know there are ways of planting that will do this for you, in my fortunately mild climate, but this will be my first year trying it.

It is for this reason that I am continually in awe of organic gardeners, and of people who lived off the land for all the years that echo back into time before grocery stores and farmer's markets  and the relative abundance of today. 

Making do is what they did, beautifully. Cuisine based on the land and what it would yield. Being a locavore was a given.

Today it is even more natural to not be a locavore. I live in one of the most abundant areas in the west and could not maintain a locavore diet without considerable pain.

What I am saying, in a roundabout, circumambulatory, and run-on sentence-y kind of way, is that my hat goes off to one of my favorite ladies and reads, Life as I know it, and her undertaking the locavore challenge.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In my Dreams

Dreams pass into the reality of actions. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.

-Anais Nin

Last night I dreamt I was aboard a war ship. It was early morning and misty. I was silently witnessing two military men manning a missile launcher. One man ordered the other to load the missiles. The other man loaded them with trepidation. "Don't you think of the children?" he asked the other man. "No," he replied, " you can't think of the children." 

I woke up this morning sick to my stomach. There is nothing I would fight for except maybe to end fighting. This dream had started last night, influenced by an Anthony Bourdain tv show the Old Man and I were watching. It was about Namibia and I was struck by the starkness of the landscape, the eking out of an existence, the brutal history. 

One tribe lived a very poor existence with only one plant as it's sustenance. It made incredibly use of this one plant, making inventively varied dishes from its parts. It made me embarrassed at the riches I possessed in my refrigerator. How we are so lucky to have the food we have here, the richness, the luxury of being "foodies." The luxury of having to go on a diet. 

Bourdain mentioned, as he blithely sand boarded down a dune, that this was the land from which apartheid leaders collected, kidnapped, their mercenaries. It made me think of the terror of being terrorized by mercenaries, and of how terrorized the mercenaries might have been to be terrorizing. The two sides to a dismal story. 

I am truly amazed that after millennia of evolution, human beings still solve their disputes the same way they did when they first learned to stand. Can't we think of a better way? Why is war always the common denominator?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Thousand moments

Home sweet home. We got back into town Sunday night after being out of town visiting my Old Man for the last week of his job down south. I have been trying to unpack and get back into our routine all week. We are all present, finally, work being here for at least the next couple of weeks. We have a semblance of a complete home life for the moment and I am so grateful- reveling in family dinners, nights spent together, early morning lunch box makings. 

So much to catch up on! Your blogs, my thoughts and experiences, pictures, all that good stuff. But I am rushed at the moment, trying to get the spring cleaning to the Good Will and the sideyard cleaned up (housing inspector mandates) before I have to run errands and take the dog and Babou hiking. I try to give them at least one toddler/dog led outing a week, where they set the pace and decide where to go and what to stop and look at...for what seems like forever. Wanderings, I should call them. We are going to a local lake and having a little picnic and wander before nap time. 

Anyways...I have had recent interesting thoughts on diets, conservation, and time management. These will be the subjects of upcoming posts. I look forward to catching up on my reading and writing and offer you an excerpt from my journal as my entry today... 

A Thousand Moments

Thursday May 28, 2009

I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

-Saint Paul

I love the mornings here. Every day I wake up to deliciously cool air floating through the open window. The fog has rolled in faithfully, stealthfully, under the cover of the night, gently cooling our mornings and easing us into our days. The mountains here are so dramatic, the fog clinging to them, to the orange and avocado trees already, more permanently, clinging to their steep curves.

A cup of coffee, the crack of an egg, the chopping of the vegetables. I steady myself for the day. I love how it opens up to me like a gift, like a blank canvas I can paint as I chose. The structure may be there, there may be limits to the frame, but the colors are all mine. 

I found myself fighting my life yesterday, being dragged down by the paradox of being constantly busy and yet accomplishing absolutely nothing to the naked eye. Such is childcare. It's moments quiet, built upon thousands of moments, words, smells, influences coloring your child's world, slowly creating their childhood. The thousand moments that make a moment, a memory, a safety, a contentedness.

Today, I am intending to relax into my own contentedness. This is my life, the one that I have chosen and love. The life we are building, the family we are building. Motherhood is my first job, writing my second. Writing, my sanity. My mental framework when things don't make sense. A place to put my many thoughts. My paintings made of  words. 

❀✿ ❀✿ ❀✿                                             

The foggy morning turned into stacked clouds as the day wore on. Billowing from behind the rocky mountains, they looked more like softer cousins of the boulders that scatter the hillsides. 

We took our morning walk, rock hounding as we went. I am collecting rocks for a little rock garden I want to place in a worn spot of ground next to our front stairs, utilitarian yet ornamental. I am searching flat rocks, to make a flat surface. Easy to pull garbage cans over, easy to pull the hose around. 

But I am always searching for rocks, always collecting them. It seems ingrained in me somehow, probably through my grandmother Bertha, a woman after my own heart. When mom came to visit me a couple of weeks ago, she laughed when she spotted the rocks I had carefully placed, altar-istically, on top of my dresser. 

"You are so Bertha," she had laughed. Indeed, each rock was from somewhere special to me, my secret marker. One from a river bed in my Northern California hometown, one from the creek behind my parent's house, another from a Central California beach, coral from a special visit to Hawaii, a tiny abalone shell from my Old Man. All memories in stone and shell.

My daydreaming stopped abruptly as I looked up to see a diamond backed rattlesnake not three feet in front of us. Luckily I had LocoO on the leash and Babou holding my hand (we were on a road with few cars, but the cars that did travel it went fast--way too fast). I backed away slowly. The snake was not coiled, just warming itself smack dab in the center of the road. I swear to God my heart stopped for a second. I was almost shaking as I hurried us all back home as quickly as I could. To the safety of the cabin and PBS cartoons. The snakes down here are so lethal you have only approximately twenty minutes to get the antivenom before you die. It takes twenty minutes to get to the freeway.

Needless to say, I spent the afternoon running errands in town, picking up some fish for dinner, stopping by a little Mexican store that carried everything under the sun including a perfect little black dress for $12. That and a bar of avocado soap were my purchases although many of its trinkets called to me, the many Virgin of Guadalupe candles, hoop earrings, sheets, you name it. Babou also found many toys she liked, and a friend, the owners son, about three years old. Who put his head on her shoulder, leaned in for a hug, and stole a kiss!