Friday, August 01, 2003

What We've Carried

I know the subject of our garage frequently rears its ugly head, but honest, we really are clearing it now. And as Geoff delicately noted, "We've grossly underestimated the volume of crap we have." He had hoped that the mountain, the accumulation of boxes and tubs, had caverns and gaps, but alas we realize that it is a solid and densely packed mass. We are way passed shame and humiliation and have assumed a new attitude: we are benevolent, philanthropic doers of generous deeds, donating all we can. Anyone aspiring to operate a thrift shop could open their doors tomorrow from our contributions alone.

Twenty one years and eight moves, and about a dozen different tenants, not including our own nuclear family, definitely contributes to the build up. My sentimental leanings are another factor, plus I seem to have some sort of past life Depression Era tendencies, consequently I tend to hoard things like sale bin Christmas bows, old door knobs, motel soap bars, pie tins, shoe laces and party napkins.

Well the dark side of our situation is obvious. We are working overtime to clear out of our mess, but there are treasures in the refuse. There are 21 years worth of love letters exchanged between Geoff and me. There are the tiny velour pants that William, Alex and Max wore as babies, and the angel wings Alex and William wanted to wear for Christmas. I cut the white wings out of an old gift box, and the boys tied them on and told me the story of Christmas in soft angel voices. And also from Christmas, we found Grandma's ceramic tree. It is assembled in tiers, with a light in the center, then you add little bulbs to the branch tips. At the base there is key to turn and it plays Silent Night. Grandmother's brother, Efraim, made it.

There are lots of photographs and documents, newspaper clippings, old clothes, certificates; in 6th grade I took first place for "Best Cookies" in the school baking contest. I found a picture of Betty Lou; she brought whole cans of garbanzo beans, a can opener and two forks to class and we ate them, unseen, at our desks. Another time she smuggled an entire cheesecake in to her desk. We ate that too. After we started junior high I lost touch with her. I should look her up. Maybe she caters.

I am falling in love all over again. It happens. I stop sorting and dusting and hauling and read a letter or two. To me from Geoff, to Geoff from me, and many from William to all of us. In one worn and tattered letter, William drew Alex, and professed his love of his family and "good things." One letter from twenty years ago was from my boyfriend, Geoff, and he wrote that he hoped to marry me, to raise children with me and that if a long time from now I found and read his letter and cried, he would cry with me. If I laughed he would laugh with me. And we did. I like who we have become. I appreciate all we have learned and accomplished. It also feels good and affirming to go back to where we began, to hear our wishes and longings, to recall our motivations and desires. It is an amazing gift that we have been able to fulfill dreams and live together in love. It makes me happy for who we were, who we are, and for our future, our new dreams.

William's love letter. ~1996

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Sharing Harvests

KK's grapes and our tomatoes. Plenty.

We are beginning to enjoy the fruits of our labor, and our neighbor's labor too. KK brought us a huge bag of first crop grapes, yellow plums and candy sweet peaches. In Winter he kept us well stocked with avocados. His kindness extends beyond produce. KK and his wife Linda are warm and friendly neighbors that we know we can count on for favors and encouragement.

Our trees are producing figs now, and we have yellow and cherry tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes have been sweet. The yellow tomatoes are very mild tasting. There are still plenty of giant carrots, and beets too. I should have taken a picture of the basket of beets I shared with my friends at Mom's Night Out. They are huge and with deep green leaves and saturated magenta spines. I'm inspired to make some beet juice today. The color is amazing when combined with carrots. Yum. Linda A. was looking forward to preparing a pickled beet recipe. I have never had pickled beets.

MNO Poker Party at Belinda's :: Yanina, Natalie, Belinda and Karen, Jola, Josie, Anne and Linda

And of course we are still getting eggs. Yanina was pretty surprised to find Gracie's green eggs in the basket of eggs I brought to B's house. Yep. Green eggs. They are pretty special. Even Max knows that Gracie's eggs are green, Rosie's eggs are long and rose brown, and Luna's are rounder, cafe au lait, with chocolate speckles.

I think "plenty" is our theme this week (maybe something to think of daily.) We have had plenty of work to do, cleaning out our overstuffed garage. Now we have plenty of things to share with our local St Vincent de Paul center. We have plenty of food from chickens and gardens, and better yet we have plenty of friends to share and exchange the harvests we enjoy. The pleasure of all we have feels plenty good, like a long, satisfying prayer of gratitude and joy.

Alex and Grandmother Eunice, enjoying the garden, our pets, the view, and good company.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

It's raining. No mere piddle-piddle, but an actual early morning shower that is soaking the ground and streaming down the gutters. For several days we have lived in heated, muggy anticipation, watching thunderheads amass and dispel, smelling the rain, but never feeling it. Yesterday I considered driving with the boys to the mountains, pursuing the clouds until we met with a good down pour, thunder too.

The summer after I graduated from high school I joined my mom and Hans on a drive to Cuyamaca. Hans was going to lead us on an afternoon hike. He has always had a great interest in nature, and stamina for physical exertion; he can also be extremely persuasive, which explains why mom and I agreed to hike to the peak of Cuyamaca. In all honesty it is not a tough climb. I think most of it was on a fire road, but I did rely rather heavily on Hans' motivational speeches along the way. And he was right, the climb is worth while. We reached the peak, where there is a tower and a fantastic view, and we watched the sky as the great billowing mountain clouds gathered and darkened.

The start of a rainstorm can be such a delicate, subtle thing. The first drops were like a whisper on my bare shoulders. The dry, hot ground evaporated the first thousand water droplets, and we could smell the dusted steam rising off the earth. We casually acknowledged it was time to head down. Time to stroll down the mountain. We weren't twenty yards into our descent when the clouds cut loose with a torrent of cold, wet, shirt clinging, denim soaking rainwater. We could not get any wetter, but that didn't stop the rain. It was running down the fire road too, in little rivers, carrying sticks and leaves, making mud. It made our shoes slosh and slog. It made my glasses useless.

The rain and the wind were cold, and when it began to hail it was even colder. The hail was a surprise, novel. Then it became painful, a lot. We were totally pelted, and though we could laugh at the way our mild hike had become a cold, wet, race to the car, we were starting to feel somewhat overwhelmed. "Somewhat overwhelming" is how I describe a situation that is exciting, but that you wish were packaged with an agreement from God that you will get home alive.

We had had enough of the hail and chose to take shelter from the elements in the manzanita and beneath the tall pines. About this time the lightening began shattering the darkness. There was so much energy in the air, screams were forced from our throats like direct current. We charged out from under the trees, that stood in the forest like kindling and lightening rods. We charged out and back into hail and rain and wind.

On the way up I remember wishing it weren't so hot, that I had worn shorts instead of jeans, that we had food with us, that I were a more fit hiker, that we could stop for more rests. Basically I was a silent but dedicated whiner. On the way back I was fleet of soggy feet. I was screaming and laughing and running. I was super saturated with water, but not in the mood to stop for relief. We were fast. We were exhilarated, which means "freaked out, yet sorta liking it." We were motivated, which means "you've got no choice, so get moving. Now."

Looking east, when thunderheads are rolling up from the mountain tops, I can hear our voices, and feel the shift, the heat turning cold, the parched air saturating with water, our pace quickening. I know our tracks are still there, in the muddy earth beneath the pine trees, and our laughter is still running down the old fire road. I think of these things when it rains in Summer.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Well. It's Monday morning. We accomplished quite a bit this weekend. Geoff and I are trying to ride the wave of progress that got Grandma to Oregon, and a major part of the garage cleared. So, our kitchen is 94.27% clutter free, I sorted 3 or 4 horribly overstuffed "Christmas" boxes, and organized 4 boxes of photographs and negatives in to one box of photographs. Geoff did much clearing out and tossing, organizing and sorting.

It hasn't been all work. Yesterday the boys and I went west to join in Adam's 8th birthday celebration. The Yu-Gi-Oh! party was mellow, considering how many boys were gathered together to battle it out with their cards...let's not pretend I ever figured out what they were doing. What was obvious was that they were diplomatic, polite, pensive and happy. Max poured over a fresh stash of Pokemon cards Anne found for him. William and Alex found their fun in drawing. I was telling Anne she should encourage her son Jacob to hire himself to mothers hosting birthday parties; he kept Adam's party organized, and the game in order. I had not expected Anne to find time to visit and relax during a birthday party. I think everyone had a good time.

Mom's Night Out is this week, and I am looking forward to seeing everyone.
Friday we are having Adam and Jacob over, so they can escape the home painting crew.
We have to get busy planning our own birthday party; Max will be 5 years old on Sunday.

Geoff wonders whether we should move to India, or travel through Europe for 6 months. While bra shopping I stopped to look at puppies in the pet shop window. William wants Ramen noodles for breakfast. Alex is having cereal, which is something he used to hate. Max asked me, "Do you know why I don't like Winnie the Pooh? Because. I'm intelligent." I guess there is a lot going on in the world, but things are pretty much the same here. It's good.