Friday, November 09, 2007

Six Simple Steps to Get Ready For Guests

I am fortunate. I manage to find humor in many places, some unexpected. Sometimes my boys look at me, and I am laughing for some random, inexplicable reason, and they have to ask, "Why are you laughing? And most times I can't even give them a good reason. To quote my favorite Buddy: "Smiling's my favorite." So, when Martha Stewart emails me a special, personal email message, (What? You got one too?) my mind is already primed to see the humor in her suggestion that there only "Six Simple Steps to Get Ready For Guests." The subject alone had me profoundly amused, the idea of me successfully applying the 6 Simple Steps is freakin' hilarious.

Step One: Create a Welcoming Space
Well, this one's not so bad... I mean, my guests are welcome. I want guests. OKay, but for God's sake please call first, like at least 2 days ahead. I will stop doing anything except clean, and I will burn a lot of incense and stuff things under beds. I will glare at Geoff whenever he sits or starts taking off his socks. I will give the children withering looks, when they ask, "Have we had breakfast?" And I will answer all requests with a shrill, panicky, "I'm cleaning!" Driving myself to the brink of exhaustion, cursing my landlord... the house will get clean passably clean.

Step Two: Clear Out the Clutter
What? I thought we covered this. No. No, I guess the "Welcoming Space" bit wasn't about sanitizing... it was more about giving up our bedroom and the comfy chair. Note to self: Must get a comfortable chair.

So, apparently cleanliness is paramount to receiving guests. Martha is very practical on this subject and she suggests we hold a "tag sale." Get rid of the mess. Sell it off piece by piece. Good idea. OKay... that part where I ask for 2 days advance warning of your arrival? Better make it 2 weeks.

Step Three: Set Out Individual Hand Towels
Sure. No problem. After cleaning for 2 weeks, Step Three is a cake walk. Martha suggests I tie the fancy, individual towels in a festive ribbon, thus giving the appearance of a five star establishment. LOL... Who knew? Festive ribbon is all that stands between our place and The Hilton.

Step Four: Supply a Bedside Water Glass
Hold on... when did we provide a bed? No worries. William and Alex can double bunk and that frees William's room. Now, about the water glass... which do you think, giant plastic Zoo cup or giant plastic Legoland cup? And please, do remember to cover it, unless you don't mind sharesies with Chango. Cats get thirsty too you know.

Step Five: Pick Out The Right Sheets
May I just say, if this were a test I would be getting high marks. I know the answer to this one! The right sheets are the clean sheets. Score!

What was I so intimidated about? This is pretty easy.

Step Six: Provide a Handy Guide to Your Appliances
See? Now I am laughing again, because our appliances are On or Off models... the ones that work. The landlord might have a few pointers to add, like "Do not put anything in the garbage disposal." Nothing. Same for the downstairs guest bathroom: Do not put anything in the toilet. Nothing. Also, most of the windows are either stuck shut, or fall closed faster than a French Guillotine. Don't lean too heavily on the stair and balcony railings... well, best to avoid using the railing period...

Two weeks notice, that's all we ask.

In the meantime, we're at the beach.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

Early this morning, in the faint dawn light, I heard Maria running to the playroom, followed by a Fwump! Of course my camera was handy, and since she was already cheerfully announcing, "I'm Okay. I'm Okay..." it seemed like a good time to take a photograph. So, there she is, swallowed-up by Alex's empty and wide open school bag.

I admire her resilience.

I have a touch of post funeral melancholy.

Suppressed memories, strong emotions, conflicts, grief, sympathy... it's all swirling around in my head and my heart. I am struck by how much of memory can be a blur, like a photograph out of focus, or a movie with sound that comes in and goes out... Yet with the slightest urging, or the prompting of a melody or a picture, the sound of someone's laughter, a fragrance... any little thing can bring back a full, vivid recollection of entire events, conversations, feelings. Our stories matter, I believe. The connections we have with community and family, the church our grandmothers attended, the park where families we knew picnicked and played; our traditions and relations are such a rich and complex fabric. I am not trying to make point. Just thinking out loud.

Max is still coughing... even the cat has been sick... cleaning his fur, he ingested junk that has made him barf a lot. The vet says it's fire related. He seems to be improving. (The cat has been to the doctor, the boy has not. I wish our vet were a pediatrician; I have more confidence in him.) We really have not finished cleaning all of the fire fall out. I miss my family, and I worry about my brother. Geoff's dying vehicle is effectively dead. I took him to work today. We all miss Tamsyn. The demands and expectations of school life wore me out last month and anticipating upcoming events makes me less than eager to meet the holidays.

Holidays and home life are just too sacred to relinquish, so I contemplate home-schooling again, which I would love, which makes me ponder: What else would I love? And then I know I want to go a on a big, family road trip and rediscover our voices, and read whole passages of great books aloud, and sit beside creeks and watch leaves fall. I want to watch Alex build robots and draw gnomes, and listen to William describe "Spore" and finish teaching him how to drive, somewhere where people are kind, even in their cars. I want to go on long, pointless walks with my husband, and watch some movies with him, then design a house that we will actually build, then live in. I want to dance with Maria and play with dough and paint and glue, and take her to a warm ocean and let her learn how to swim. I want to read with Max, all of his "-Ology" books, and then I want to show him that he could make a wonderful book too... on any subject, and it could be full of his ideas and thoughts. And it cheers me to realize that my children and my husband are such a source of joy for me... consoling, and encouraging.
Now What?!
FTP and Blogger seem to have kissed and made-up, but now my server is making us insane, by sending back emails... So, if you can't email us and you're wonderin' *What up?*... know that we are working on it.

I hope to actually make a post with deep thoughts and other musings today.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What is Up:

Blogger is trying to fix the FTP trouble. I can still read comments and hopefully all of this will be figured out soon!

Grumble, Grumble

Are you seeing what I am seeing?
My server has changed yesterday's post 12 times and won't publish it the way I wrote it. Sometimes text drops out, sometimes pictures don't show up. So far there are 7 comments, and on my computer it says 0 comments. Technical aggravation! Argghh. The worst part is confronting how very deeply I am obsessed with blogging and having everything work 100% perfectly now. Right Now! You understand, right?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Creativity. Yes, It Is a Good Thing

For me creativity always seems to clash with what society seems to expect of me, like shopping, having my carpets cleaned, driving children to soccer camps, and looking just as skinny, cute and young as any twenty something... but when I steal time, ignore the dust bunnies, and play with paint or fabric I find my bliss. When I throw out the decorating bibles and let the formal dining room be a playroom/sewing room I feel empowered and pleased. When I watch my children invent, create, dance, sing, climb, twirl, build, and express, my heart fills with wonder and joy. And if you need encouragement to release your inner Hot Glue Diva or to sing out-loud, outside of the shower, then please take a moment to watch this very engaging Ted Talk, by Sir Ken Robinson. (If you are using a Mac, please download the piece to your iTunes.) I agree with Amanda Soule that it is worth watching again, and again.

My creativity has been churning out stitched joy... I am sewing whenever and wherever possible, and I hope to eliminate only one step of my process: I have to get rid of the ridiculous voice in my head that says, "What a waste of time. You should be doing something important. Feh, little voice. I banish you!

So, when I embroider a chicken, then attach it to patchwork squares and then suddenly find that it ought to be an apron, or a doll quilt, or a decoration, I am going to proceed, with wild abandon, and embrace my blessings. Time and imagination... such powerful forces for fun.

I have my own ideas about fun ways to pass time and feel creative... some I get to play with, and others, like gardening and making my house a home, I am waiting to do. I really enjoy witnessing other people's creativity, whether they are painting and writing like Janece or dreaming up a new way to present dinner.
Sometimes our gifts can take us to wonderful places, like Anna Maria's upcoming appearance on Martha Stewart.
Other times being creative means you can't help sharing good ideas, then a whole month of great sewing ideas can be shared by many.

I love Meg's creative inspiration to share our Holiday Traditions.
Leslie talks about her creative venture in her November 2nd post... write Leslie, write!
You may find garden inspiration, like Nikkipolani, from "Green Thumb Sunday."
Our creativity can serve and honor, like what Monica of "Happy Zombie" is doing.
Maybe all you can do is sit back and gaze at beauty: Feast your eyes on this baby!

Periodically I help Alex organize his school bag and binders. We sort, toss, recycle and preserve. Thank goodness he manages to keep good grades, even when his notebooks are full of notes like these... or is it because he doodles that he is a good student? In the kitchen or at a workbench, with beads or with seeds, glue it, paint it, sing it, dance it, write it... express that good feeling, bright idea, nurturing instinct. Maybe you will be like Julie and commit to a Handmade Pledge or you may jump in and join Janece for "National Blog Posting Month". Do not fear calamity! Be fearless! Create and be glad, like my good friend Calamity Kim!

Pablo Picasso: Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fall Back, and Move Forward or The Rozerem Chrononicles*

Do you like setting your clocks back an hour? I think it will give us a much needed advantage tomorrow morning when we are trying to get to school on time. I enjoy the shorter days, longer nights and the very subtle effect it creates for creating a sense of change in seasons. And when I think of Fall Back, it is like a working title for the screenplay of our lives. We are behind, falling backwards, playing catch-up. Coupled with our sense of being overwhelmed, is a profound sense of gratitude for some recent blessings.

Someone got pardoned. Twice. He went in for a pre-surgery check of his knee... the one with the torn meniscus and they were stunned to see that the tear is healing. These things don't typically heal. Go home, they said, and keep doing whatever you are doing. Spared the knife! The second pardon came while he was on the table, for another medical treatment. He was going to get a Zap to manage an arrhythmia problem ( a big deal that he doesn't want me to discuss publicly, so don't ask... geez, he's really grousing about this...) It happened again... "This is your lucky day!" He's not cured, but for the time being there is an improvement that made the Zapprocedure unnecessary. Can you hear our sigh of relief?

*Our anonymous patient was sent home and advised to sleep, especially at night. Enter the drug most preferred by survivors of the Psychedelic '60's: Rozerem. The beaver meets Lincoln drug. The non-habit forming, sleep 8 hours, do not sign documents or drive heavy machinery pill. He woke this morning to regale me with his tale of running through East L.A., then entering a 3 story Victorian house, where he was met by Cheech and Chong, who were painting. He stayed and helped them rewire the outside of the house, while hanging from the third floor window. He says he dreamed all night. He hasn't dreamt in like 10 years. Far out, man.

What do you think of my pecking hens? My Aunt Becky found them in Guadalajara. It's a simple toy that is simply ingenious. The wooden paddle has hens that bob and peck when their entwined strings are pulled by the attached wooden bead. We love it!

See what I mean? All sorts of things, small and big, have been taking me down, overwhelming me, and yet there are moments that affirm goodness and light. Another example: I was so sad to learn that a friend's kitty, Nikki, was in a real bad way and then came wonderful news and a little pardon of their own... goodness and light!

School, and Max and Alex being sick, has been like a triple gut punch. ( Am I the only one burned-out already by School and it's invasive 3 headed homework serving, home-life encroaching beast of... ?) Anyway, let me just say we had a fantastic time coming home to what amounted to an early Christmas from Red Hen Studios. Julie was generously celebrating her 100th post by having a prize drawing for all sorts of wonderful goodies, including a vintage Christmas table cloth drool... I won! I won! I won! Bloggers, the ones I hang with, are generous, fun, supportive, encouraging, kind, creative and talented... and I mean this sincerely, even when I am not the big winner

In the package were individually wrapped treasures, and we sat together to open each one, happily sharing the pleasure. Fall leaves. A Christmas stocking. Cinnamon sticks. Greeting cards, handmade in the Red Hen Studio. A Little Golden Book... "The Little Red Hen." I sat the rubber chicken with my other chickens and remarked that it's my first dead chicken and Alex corrected me: "It's not dead. It's flying! It's going so fast, its feathers have blown clean off!" Freakin' hilarious!

Some of the gifts we have been enjoying.

Goodness. Look at the time!
Thank you Julie, and Becky, and congratulations Nikki and Anne N. I know someone's been praying for us... thank you too.
I gotta face the rest of the day and get lots done, but I am bolstered, encouraged and hopeful. + I have an extra hour in my day, right?