Saturday, September 13, 2003

Out in the World

Jonagolds, ripe for picking.

I may have set a new record for number of consecutive days I have made my bed. The house is being maintained in ready to show condition, which is quite an endeavor. Three things help to achieve this effect: 1. a lot of constant cleaning 2. not doing anything that involves mess making 3. leaving the house.

Yesterday we left the house for a country drive, diner lunch and a visit to an apple orchard. Normally they don't allow customers to pick apples at this particular farm, but on this slow day Tyler took us to a tree full of Jonagold apples and let us pick a peck.

We also got to feed their baby goat, Ysabel. She enjoyed the green leaves from the cherry trees, and Max was more than happy to oblige her. We came home with a lot of apples, and 1/2 a gallon of fresh cider and good memories.

Last week we dropped in on Holly, Rich and Nicholas. They had great pictures from their Wisconsin vacation and we watched them as a slide show on their computer. We also shuttled down to Old Town for a tasty but strangely served breakfast. We aren't convinced our waiter actually worked there.

The next day we met Deanne, and her friend James ;-) at the park. We got their wedding plan update, which is very exciting. We also just enjoyed a relaxed and comfortable time drawing, playing ball, having lunch, chatting and laughing. I think Deanne must get plenty of useful feedback from these LEGO/BIONICLE enthusiasts.

So, we are enjoying our excursions, and enduring the stress of living in housing limbo, and the boys are happy and healthy. We don't actually know where we are going. Some friends think we are nuts. But what kind of nuts? Are we mac-nuts, beer nuts, or jelly dough-nuts? Most likely mixed nuts; together and happy that way.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

September 11

Good morning patriots. Our television is on. I hear the children reading the names of sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, mothers and fathers. There are too many names. Solemnly they read each name.

My children have been asking about this new day on the calendar: Patriot Day. What are we supposed to do? What does it mean? I am not satisfied with the definitions I have heard or read about. It seems insufficient to say that this is a day of remembrance. We should never forget that lives were lost; that a tragedy beyond comprehension still leaves a painful hole in our hearts. I propose that Patriot Day be a day of action, effort, and caring that extends beyond personal grief. Patriot Day should be a national day of volunteering and of extending our skills, time and concern to others in need. I can see buttons that read: "Patriot Day, I am Here to Help." I can see a day where we donate the blessings of our labors, the blessings of our abilities. Imagine the tremendous good that we could achieve if on just one day we gave of ourselves; willingly, selflessly making a small sacrifice in the name and memory of men, women and children who gave everything, and in honor of men and women who every day tend to the sick, seek peace and resolution, defend security, rescue, protect, guide and nurture. I think this one official day of volunteering, of acting for others, could be more personally rewarding than we know.

The heroes I have read about, the heroes that make us proud, have been the men and women who give of themselves again and again, and again. They do not seek honor or recognition. They aren't looking for a tax break, or simply making speeches about duty and righteousness. On Memorial Day and Veterans' Day we remember sacrifice and duty, we raise flags, place flowers, and take a holiday. On Patriot Day let's do the deeds of heroes. In small ways and great, we can make a difference in someone's life, we can leave a park cleaner, we can hold a hand, feed a family, teach a skill, explain a document...Each of us is the blessing, the hero, and when we say "God Bless America," we should step forward to act as the blessing.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Clearing My Head

Dirk. Dirk, Dirk, Dirk. Hang my head and ponder, what's up with Dirk?

He agreed to be an auction victim; to be bid on. And now it's time to pay up, follow through, climb the mountain. Actually, we are the ones who have paid up. Only days after the final bid was accepted and we were the 'lucky' winners of the Public Radio auction, our credit card was promptly charged. That was in Spring. Remember Spring? It was cool weather time then and kids were still in school. Well, we are face to face with Fall, back to school and the heat and sweat of a dwindling Summer. And where is our host and personality, Mr. Dirk Sutro? Has it been two weeks since he borrowed the Ferrari and broke the ignition key in the door lock? Has it been two weeks since he said we'll have to reschedule for the third time, and then promised "I will make it up to you."

Does he imagine that after going through irritating little hoops, and waiting several months, that I will actually anticipate, with a grin, claiming the prize? I am profoundly sympathetic and easy going, except when I feel like someone is trying to bull*&$! me, then I get bored. YAWN. I never tried to sell myself to PBS or Dirk as some vivacious and fascinating ride-along, that would simply roll over with joy just to be shown a book store and fed bakery Danish. We were contributing to PBS; buying an experience. If Dirk is too busy to follow through, or wounded by the pitiful results of their 'big' fund raiser, then perhaps he should sum up the cojones to politely refund our money and say "pass."

No. No. That sounds bitter; as though my feelings are hurt, because what was meant as a sweet and amusing present from my husband has evolved in to a chore that Mr. Dirk is obviously reluctant to fulfill. Sigh.

The weather may be changing soon. Alex, Geoff and I were out on the lawn, before dawn, and we snuggled together to watch the fog roll off the hillsides, and to see the flocks of egrets flying west. Hummingbirds and doves flew over our heads and the faintest rays of the sun changed the muted colors of everything. The dew glistened. The dragonflies darted, as though recharged by the rising sun. There is the faintest indication that days are getting shorter, and that we may have cooler nights, and less humid days. This is Julian weather. When I begin to anticipate Fall, the mountains and pine trees, the winding roads and oak dotted hillsides beckon.

The change of seasons is subtle in Southern California. We have some streets lined with maples whose leaves will crimson and drop. In the eastern county there may be frost early in the morning. But a ride up to Julian, through Ramona and passed Santa Isabel, will confirm the season. The apples in the orchards and the drizzle of mild rain, the lilting smoke from cabin chimneys, the promise of hot cider, and pumpkins in a field, all of this will assure us that Fall has come. And on the winding ride William and Alex will ask to hear the stories I have told; stories about gold mines and a black lab that knew every gully and manzanita, stories about Handsome Eddie's wine cellar and his hidden jar of dimes, nights spent in the 'bowling alley,' or afternoons hiking through a thunderstorm. We will recall the apples we have picked, the sage we have brushed against, the acorns we have gathered.

Geoff knows the farmhouse I have admired since I was a little girl, and he knows I clean our home with burning sage, smoking out stagnant air and lingering spirits. He knows I first knew icy, packed and patchy 'snow' from girlhood visits to Eddie and Eileen's lovely mountain home. He knows I love pumpkins, apples, acorns and squirrels, horses running, cows grazing, and stands of gnarled and noble oak trees on rolling golden hills. I have to drive by the little house where my father built a fence and my mother heated tamales in the fireplace. I have to slow down by the store front where my mother sold dresses, while Hans sat in his playpen and I played story book records on the portable phonograph. We laugh about the turkeys that chased Billy and me, when we were very small, and following our mother around "The Freaky Feathered Foul Farm." Geoff knows that, for me, Julian is more than a destination with shops and pies. He knows that it is a ride with places and memories all along the way, with voices and phrases, fragrances that linger in my thoughts, and visions that both hold me there and send me forth.

One day this Fall, I will take my family on a ride to the mountains. I will retell my stories, and stop at the bakery, and gift shops. We'll reflect on the petting zoo that has closed shop, and wonder where all those turkeys and ducks have gone, we will buy pumpkins, and have lunch in a cozy place we know of. Anticipating that day is the actual gift and prize, and taking that ride with my husband and children is what I will hold dear, and foremost in my heart. It's true what they say: It is the thought that counts.