Saturday, May 17, 2008

Breakfast With Maria

While I sort through my thoughts and give some attention to things on my desk, I thought some of you might like to join Maria for breakfast.
She put aside her rock painting to make room for oatmeal, toast and turkey sausage.

Maria takes her oatmeal with a healthy shake of cinnamon and lots of plump raisins. She asked for the blue bowl, and the blue cup. She notices these things.
She also noticed the point at which her toast resembled a little boat.

Other mornings Maria likes to have bananas and strawberries, or granola and yogurt. She likes it when I make hencakes too.

We declared this one of the best hencakes ever. Janece, you asked for a hencake lesson and I have to say, all I do is pour and drip batter. Some hens come out purtier than others!

Today we are going to have smoothies with Cyrus and Candace. First we will run a few errands, load the dishwasher, and stuff. There's that word again. It's useful when one does not want to fully disclose all of their plans... tee hee.

Goodness! The day is calling, the sun is shining, we have places to go and stuff!

Update: Here's the Stuff...!

Friday, May 16, 2008

We're Bird Watchers and Stuff

To begin with, I love "And stuff." It is the laziest, most effective way to express a broad spectrum of specific nonspecific articles that don't merit individual delineation and yet are of significant enough worth to be credited in conversation. "And stuff," is wonderful and stuff.

A scrub jay is making a nest in the bougainvillea that grows along the house entry. Bougainvillea is a plant with pretty flowers, and wicked thorns, which is why I find it a lousy choice for the narrow passage leading to our front door. If it isn't reaching out to grab us, then it is shedding heaps and drifts of leaves that blow into the house every time we open the door. Ah, but as a home for birds and their nests, it is ideal. There are 3 abandoned nests nestled in there and now this new one is getting spiffed and ready. I worry that we are going to wake the babies every time we come and go, but the jays must have realized it's a busy spot, so maybe they do not mind our family traffic. I hope I can get some pictures of the jays at work, then babies too.

In the meantime, this baby sings all day long. He sounds like a squeaky bed spring, and then he switches over to a pipipipipipip. We watched him again yesterday afternoon. We didn't have a dinner picnic, but opted for a water spree instead.

My children know how much I love to play with water, so the fun began when they gave me mischievous looks while I was watering in the front yard. You know the look... 'betcha can't get me with that hose!' That kind of look is more temptation than I can handle and pretty soon I was giving them a good soaking, right there under the watchful eye of Momma Woody. She didn't mind. I think she liked the laughter and squeals of delight.

Maria was already drenched, William and Max too, but they were not through with water sports, and out came the soakers. William and Max were getting ready to do combat in a dual, and Maria thought it looked like fun. A 3-way dual? And her unarmed... well, at least she was well-dressed. I hope Missy recognizes the pretty dress she sent Maria last Christmas, and it's been almost a year since Calamity Kim sent us our chicken aprons.

She's well dressed and fearless! Laughing it up, caught in the crossfire, while her big brothers meet in a watery battle.

If it were 2 degrees warmer I probably would have had to join them. I am reminded how much we enjoy our fun and play with water. My head is swimming with happy pool memories, beach days and soaker battles of the past. Rain showers, river swims... I love water. I think William shares my impish delight in soaking people.

In a minute I am going to invite him to the backyard for another late afternoon romp in the spray. It's an even warmer day than yesterday. Maybe I'll splash too.

You might be wondering how I managed to get so many pictures of the elusive William... me too. He's shy, like his father, and a good person, like his father too.

Show me your towel," I prod him, so I can show-off. How many years have I battled with too many unidentified towels piling up around the tub, hanging on doors? Too many! And I have this huge ick-factor about shared towels and wet, wadded-up, damp towels... echkghh... gag reflex kind of sound. My Mother's Day gift to my family, was to individualize towels. I finished the children's and eventually I will make 2 more for me and Geoff. It was easy and fun and it's working. Everyone has an old towel made new and uniquely their own. William's is piratey... oooh arghhh!

And that is it for bird watching and stuff. It is Friday, and even though Geoff works weekends, the children and I still have that end of the week kind of giddyness, because we know that at least tonight he is coming home! I hope something is making you giddy too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What We Saw In a Hole In a Tree

It's was about the time when I was supposed to be making dinner, evening time, when Alex called me over to see what he saw.

Can you see what's popping in and out of that hole? He pointed to the Eucalyptus in the neighbor's yard. And, without glasses, I scanned the entire length of the tree, squinting to see a something popping or a hole. Then I detected movement, and I ran in the house to get my glasses. Couldn't find my glasses, but had a better thought and grabbed my camera! So, can you see something popping in and out of a hole in the eucalyptus tree? It's way up high.

No, not that high. A little lower.

Where the fore branch crooks to the right.

That's the spot. We could hear something too. A hungry chirping, a pleading little song that carried all over both yards, down the street and even into the house. I realized I had been hearing it for days.

Aha! Here he is. The little cheep.

And he is calling for someone. Looking for someone.

He looked up, and he looked down. He slipped back into his nest, then came popping back out chirping and calling, Where's my dinner? Where's my dinner? I am no ornithologist, but that is what my mother ears heard... feed me, feed me! I know that call well.

And suddenly dinner appeared, and did baby get a mouthful! Poppa and Momma flew in with beaks full of some kind of Woody feast.

It was Alex that figured out that it was a baby boy they were trying to keep fed. He does look just like his redtop pop. And almost as big, but we could tell he was still a downy little ball. Small, maybe, but with an appetite. Max, Alex, Maria and I watched for a long time. The mother and father woodpeckers came at regular intervals to feed their son, and as the sun began to slip, my children asked about our dinner.

Maybe today we will set up chairs and a tripod. We could take our dinner outdoors, dine with the neighbors. After school and cleaning, errands and more chores, maybe I can find my camera manual and learn how to focus and take faraway pictures. I know these aren't too spectacular, but they capture the essence, they remind us of the thrill we felt.

It was hard to tear ourselves away!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I let Max make a sugary syrup for the bee keeper. He hung it from the olive tree. We made many happy ants and then one happy spider! I wonder if they tasted sweet.
The backyard has a ficus and an olive tree, star jasmine, bower vine and a red honeysuckle kind of vine. There are also a lot of bromeliads and lantana, bougainvillea, and a prickly evergreen ground cover. There are some giant bird of paradise, huge sago palms, asparagus fern and a patch of lawn that struggles to look respectable... something we don't help when we pitch a ginormous tent for 4 day backyard adventures. I cannot fault the plants themselves, but I cannot say they are any I would have chosen. So many of them are sharp, prickly, ragged, imposing. The bower vine is pulling down the shared fence with the neighbors... not our problem, right? Something else is compromising the high stuccoed wall that divides the garden along the length of the property... I moved the sand box away from this. No need to tempt quake-fate.

It's been exactly 1 month since we brought home tadpoles from the east county creek. Remember, I assured the boys we were not breaking any laws or jeopardizing the fragile balance of Earth's ecosystems. We will return healthy, vigorous frogs. It will be like a conservation effort. A rescue, if you will. I am so in love with those little tadpoles, with the celery growing in the thrift shop aquarium and the tiny snails that have begun to appear. Today we found a dragonfly larvae.

The tadpoles dart and dash, and seem to enjoy exploring in the early evening. And they are growing. It was imperceptible at first, but very recently I have noticed feet. Tiny, tiny feet and the black dots of toes. They are forming just at the base of the tails. Did you know that their metamorphosis can take as long as 2 and 1/2 months? Imagine how much more smitten I will be by then, how eager I will be to hear the first pips of their Pacific Treefrog calls. Being the most prevalent frog in California i.e. Hollywood, the call of the Pacific Treefrog is the call of all television and movie frogs.

I have begun to hope, to ponder... do you suppose there is any chance we will find our home in the next 2 or 3 months? A place with room for a pond, or maybe one with a seasonal stream? Wouldn't the frogs, the happy, well loved frogs, frogs native to the entire region, wouldn't they be happy in a backyard pond? I think they could be. Yes, that would be very nice.

If not, if they become frogs while we are here in Garage Mahal, well, I know we will have to return them to their oak lined creek. Sigh. The children will be a bit disappointed... the mother will be totally bummed... I tell ya, I am really lovin' those frogs!

And yesterday's post? Well, what can I say? It's not always easy or honest to keep smiling, and so it helps relieve some of the pressure when I can let it all hang out. The comments and support are a great help. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nameless Dread, Aimless Wandering, and Looking for A New View

I doubt it can be a secret to anyone that reads this blog that I want a home of my own. What might be less obvious is how miserable I have made myself waiting for the day to come. My thoughts are stuck in an endless cycle of planning, waiting, hoping, delaying, postponing, planning, waiting, hoping, delaying, postponing, and more of the same. I cannot resolve 1 problem until we resolve another. I cannot adopt a rabbit without permission from my landlord. I cannot park our RV without permission from the city. I cannot plant a garden, paint walls, pull-up carpet, tear off wall paper... And then I pause and reflect and give thanks for the good things, and I resolve to make do with what I have, until my husband shows me houses and lots, dreamscapes and open spaces, then I feel small and unworthy again, because those dreamscapes are not for me, not yet.

It's a pity party, I know, but knowing right from wrong is no defense against sadness. Sadness comes and stays, even when we love, and believe in positive thinking, even when we hear the kind concern of caring people.

I don't want sympathy. I don't want to be exceptional or different. I want to settle into a space where I feel at home, where I know where the stapler and the staples are. I want to put my things away, without apology, without permission. I want to unpack and move-in, and even to begin to believe that I won't have to start over again in 2, or 3 or 4 years.

Isn't there some study to confirm that my symptoms, my issues, are a result of the stress of moving? Ask me where the fuse box is, and my mind pictures the fuse box in the garage of the Circle Park House, then the living room of Neptune, the pantry of El Rancho, the back of the Tree House, and I don't know where the fuse box is in this place. I am confused and muddled. I feel uncertain.

So many problems I have seem to lead back to, or stem from, moving.... or anticipating the next move. Every move means upheaval and chaos, and starting over. I want to believe that with 4 children, hobbies, pets, projects, tools, paperwork and life's accessories it helps very much to adapt a system of organization that keeps things in order... it must help, I imagine, to have a familiar path, with familiar surroundings. It must help, when facing the usual disasters and setbacks, to not have to compound life's challenges by putting every single possession into boxes for the 24th 25th time and take all of it to a new residence. In the grand scheme of things, it seems like everything would be easier if I weren't still in recovery form the last move, worrying about where we are going next, and dreading the process.

So, I give myself some sympathy, compassion, and I reason that of course things are hard right now, because after all, these are hard times. But. But, I have begun to fear that I set too much store in home. What if home sweet home is a myth? What if I have only been making excuses, making messes I don't want to clean, because I can't do it in some idealized fashion, in some idealized space? What if I am no better in a place of our own, and find that I am simply a poor homemaker, a lazy mother? Maybe chickens and gardens are just a lot of work, mortgages distressful? What if our own clogged toilets are no better than rental toilets?

It's like climbing and struggling to a summit, maybe people are watching, and all along I think how nice it will be to sled down the other side, how there will be fresh water and rest on the other side, flowers and birds singing... so much anticipation, such a build-up. What if I fail? What if it's no easier when I reach that place I have been hoping for, and what if I have been my own hinderance and obstacle the whole time?

It has become a regular habit of ours to say that we will know what to do, or where to go, in 6 months. Jobs, projects, deadlines, market forecasts, opportunities... all of these have taken turns in delaying our decision, and if friends and family think we are crazy and dull, imagine how we feel. We have been waiting for 6 months for 5 years. I am sorry to say, projecting my happiness and success as a mother, wife, artist, writer, person on the future and on a place just out of reach, has kept me from living in the present. I have not failed utterly, but I have not done my best. I have not been as much of a success as I ought to be. I am bitter about lost and wasted time and things I cannot change, and I am fearful of the future, and I am missing too much of the here and now.

Someday, maybe in 6 months! we will be in our own home, making our own repairs and managing our own gardens, and I know it will be good and bad, fun and frustrating. It will not be the end of disappointment or strife, it will not be an idyllic rose petal cottage, where rainbows end and spills never happen. But I hope it can be the end of questing and waiting, the end of wondering, and feeling small and adrift. I hope I find that I can make order, most days, welcome guests often, and feel a sigh of relief... a sense of belonging, with the opportunity to find I am proficient and capable.

I think looking at the same issue over and over and over again, and never finding a resolution can be very taxing. It can undo the mind and spirit. I am ready for a new point of view.

I don't think I need to explain this, to say that it was time to head home and she did not want to go...
We stayed a little longer. William and Alex walked and talked, and Max climbed and then he encouraged Maria to try the slide. She found it was a very fast slide with a great big bump in the middle, and then she learned what it is to land without the benefit of diaper padding. She patted her bottom, with tears brimming her eyes, and said, "I wear panties now. That was a big bump!"

I have love and faith, and one viola that bloomed from the seeds I planted last year. I have 4 children and my one true love, and favorite colors, and my bed is extremely comfortable. The children are healthy and make good jokes, and they sing together. My one true love sends me on adventures then calls me home to him, he reaches for my hand in the dark. I must remember that the view from this home is in my heart.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jazzing Up Your Mother's Day
Blood, sweat, tears, late nights, brain strain... it took all of this and more, because nothing is too good for our Mommies and the Grandmothers too. For the first time, Chickenblog says: Roll Film!,

Windows WMV Version of the Video

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco.
Maria gets her groove on listening to street music.
Happy Mother's Day!
Maria, Max, Alex, William, Natalie and Geoff