Thursday, June 22, 2017

22~ Misty Blue

Misty blue, spray roses, baby's breath, and statice.

This morning, after Maria brushed her hair, I approached her with hair bands, "I'll braid your hair, if you'd like." She smiled eagerly. Her hair has been short, too short for more than head bands, but I managed two braids that just touch her shoulders.

It's pajama day, and she didn't have her twenty pound backpack to bring in, just a few books, one for Ms G, one for the library, and To Kill a Mockingbird, because she is so close to finishing it, she cannot put it down. Tom Robinson has been shot, seventeen times, in the back, and Maria is beside herself. He's the mockingbird, she tells me, tearfully. And I think of the talk we will have about how some things have not changed, that we still need to be observant, talk, stand up for justice. It's not as easy to come to school in your pajamas when you are in sixth grade, as it was when you were in second or fourth. I walked ahead, to peek, to let her know if anyone else came in their pjs. Few did, I was sorry to report. She squared her shoulders, sighed. I resisted the urge to fiddle with the collar of her soft flannel top, the one with the owls. It's her last day in elementary school, and it's all gone by too quickly. Even when we have the best intentions, when we will ourselves to be observant, focused, time moves, and we cannot turn events back, rarely do we have second chances. Nothing I could do, or say, was making this last morning drop-off last longer, go more slowly. There will not be another, not here, not in pigtails, and pajamas, in sixth grade.

Today is Maria's last day, and tomorrow is promotion. I finally made her the year book I have been meaning to make for her every year since first grade. I've wanted her to have pictures from field trips, clubs, presentations, and play, her friends, her accomplishments, good times in school. I filled it with pictures from first through sixth grade, and call it her years book. This one gesture feels so satisfying to have made... it took a long time to assemble, and well, I just feel relief and gratitude having done it. On the other hand, I feel weighed down with thoughts of all the things I have not accomplished, the good intentions, bright ideas, and grand schemes that have accumulated, but have gone too long neglected to be finished before tomorrow. Regrets are heavy, but I want to feel light... I want Maria to feel light. Her years book is big, and brimming with hundreds, if not thousands of moments, only a fraction of all the good days and meaningful events that she's experienced, created, enjoyed through grade school, at home, with loved ones. And I... I have been there, a lucky mom, a thankful parent, to see so much of it, to take those pictures, and share in those memories. There is nothing much to regret, when all is said and done.

The time Maria has passed at her school has been good, integral to what she loves, feels, relishes, admires and respects, and cannot go unobserved. In other words, I will cry tomorrow, and probably today, as well. It's hard not to feel emotional, to expect that we will miss the walkways and gardens, the familiar faces, the anticipation of the next project or activity, the friends, the connections. Plus... I accidentally overheard a rehearsal, and it was beautiful, too compelling to walk away from. I moved in closer, instead, and listened to all of the sixth grade class practicing their song for promotion. It was angelic, stirring. Even in these cynical times, even when I'd rather appear as composed and collected, I felt my skin tingle, and tears pool. Where is that place, in ourselves, where emotions rise in a physical expression that cannot be suppressed?

I am not inclined to build all of this up, as though finishing grade school is a pinnacle, an ultimate culmination of where she's come from, where she is, where she's going. We have plans. She has plans. We welcome the next day, month, year. Looking back, it's lovely to have had so much that we can appreciate and commend from these grade school years, but I take care to remind her that ahead there are more books, more projects, more challenges, theories, adventures, prizes, losses, gains, and connections to be made. And as eagerly as we anticipate what lies ahead, neither do we need to hurry, to hasten our arrival at benchmark moments, or mark our progress by societal conventions and norms. I don't know, but maybe these words, these deep thoughts and other musings, are just a means of breathing, of slowing myself down to consider what matters most, to figure all of this out. I've got all of these emotions rising in a physical expression, and my brain is trying to put it all in order.

And life goes on. There's no time to revise my deep thoughts, and other musings. The refrigerator got cleaned out, so naturally, there are mountains of containers and dishes that need cleaning and sorting. I played both Pride and Prejudice, and Chocolat in a marathon of laundry folding, but there's still more to do. Clear the car, dash off for chicken feed, and make something of these flowers! Right. Because with a mess of a home, a cold to get over, and out of town guests arriving, I thought, felt... absolutely could not help visiting the flower growers, so I could make bouquets, maybe a little floral crown. There. You see? I am perfectly in my right mind, and not the least bit inclined to build things up, or weigh myself down with bright ideas and grand schemes. Flower crown, clean house, de-cluttered car, and fed chickens, by bedtime.

Here we go...

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

21~ A New Season

Without even realizing it, I was celebrating Summer Solstice... I was in the garden last night.

Basil, in the foreground, and our red barn, waiting for our summer play.

It was long passed time for the chard to get pulled up. Our winter and spring staple, which appeared in nearly every dinner, soup, and smoothie, had gone to seed and was resembling an old growth forest. The goats were the happy recipients of massive stocks, with still lush leaves. The chickens, too, will make good use of the leftovers.

With the chard forest felled, the sunflowers really standout. I gave them a deep soaking. So far, we have been spared the worst of Southern California's record-breaking heat wave, but it is hot for June.

The hollyhocks hang on, still blooming. The tallest stock snapped at the base, possibly under it's own weight... it was about six feet tall. Now, I am going about the business of collecting the seeds, to share.

To be honest... I am in a domestic slump. Worn out from our working weekend, which is satisfying and happy work, but requires days of preparations, and as much time to unpack and recover from. Plus I got sick, or I simply wore out my throat and voice. And, too, we've just had strange and difficult events, and setbacks, that while manageable, somehow have managed to derail the regular maintenance and upkeep required to keep a home and family on track. At the end of the day, or six months, I like to think we made the best choices, kept everyone safe and well. Dust and clutter happens, and sooner or later, we will tackle it all, but... well, last night my best choice seemed to be to putter in the garden. Pluck weeds, water seedlings, check the tomatoes, toss caterpillars to the chickens. Compared with what is left undone, I feel remiss, but ah, never mind. A garden heals, and restores, and reminds us that life is cycles.

I've never had such a promising start to my cucumbers. Maybe it's the luck of the Junior Master Gardeners. We brought these home from the seeds they planted, tended, and sold. The tomatillo looks good, too. And Maria already enjoyed tomatoes on her sandwich. Only two, but tasty!

The sign of the Prancing Pony hangs facing my large garden bed, and I love to see it there, to be reminded of the things dreamed up, created, inspired, here at our Bird House. I would have liked to have made a party, to celebrate Summer Solstice. There are so many ideas, plans, aspirations, and even far-fetched ideals about the kind of person I should be, or could be... better this, better that, organized, fit, prepared, tidy, more hobbit, less troll. A hobbit would think it a fine way to celebrate Solstice, puttering in their garden, don't you agree? And a hobbit would most likely see a new season as a fresh start.

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Have you seen the making of our sign? William designed it from screenshots in the movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, then created the computer graphics for our CNC router to mill. He did such beautiful work finishing it, too. This is the router we call Frankenrouter, that Geoff planned and built.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

20~ Scene From a Corner of Our Dining Table

Maria was working on her breakfast and a portrait, before we ran out the door. I think we're leaving to school later and later every day. We seem to have taken an early leave of our duties and taken on an air of summer liberty. Chores and deadlines slip between our toes like hot beach sand. We want to play, to abandon constraints, calendars, schedules. We would love to 🎶trade our apron strings for wands and wings🎶 Even ChickenBlog had been neglected, until today... all new posts are up, now. I'll try to be good, tidy, responsible, but no promises...

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

18~ Extended Family

Charles, Diana, Eric, and a new high school graduate!

Congratulations, Lucas! Max and I were happy to be at another wildly original SDA graduation... to be reminded of the friendship you two have enjoyed since fifth grade. There have been some great times, going way back, and you've been a good friend, always fun to hang out with. It's exciting to think of all the wonderful things in store for you!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

17~ UCI Out For Summer

The minutes were long, but the year... well, incredibly, it's over, and from here, it feels like it went by very fast! Three quarters, 47 units, a whole lot of cafeteria dinners, and suddenly, his freshmen year is through.

Alex and I went up with him before his last final, then helped him remove the last of his things. For the record, he and his roommate, Grant, defied the dorm room cliches... things were tidy in there!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

16~ Sleeping Beauty Success!

The very first production of the brand new Musical Theater Club, Sleeping Beauty, was a magical success! Fairies, and goons, singing and dancing, lights, music, curtain, props... everything lead by the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, under the guidance of two dedicated teachers, Ms G and Mrs A. And... darn it! I took video of the dragon, which was fantastic, honest! But I don't have a photograph of the climactic scene. I am kicking myself... lol!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

15~ A Birthday Gift

Bambi, Alex, and Max... at UCI

We celebrated Alex's birthday over the weekend, so we could all be together. And when it was Alex's actual birthday, Bambi had special plans for him in Los Angeles... outings, explores, the Santa Monica Pier, an overnight adventure. But there was a gift in it for me, too. They sent this picture to me, from when they stopped in Irvine to hang out with Max, who was in the middle of finals. They had a cafeteria dinner with him, and then stopped by, again, the next day, to bring him home. The picture was a delightful treat in and of itself, but the thoughtful kindness surrounding the visit, the ride home, captured in this moment... my heart is full. These people are joys.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

14~ For Her Yearbook

Over the years I've shared events and occasions that Maria has eagerly anticipated. Things she observed in first grade about what fourth graders do, like sleepover on a ship, and the fifth grade egg drop. She was even thrilled anticipating sixth grade camp. All of these she planned for, talked about, and reveled in... but for six years she was dreading the Teachers vs. Students Softball Game. She doesn't care for the game, or the pressure she feels, because she doesn't want to let down her team. She's never enjoyed sitting in the afternoon sun, as a first, second, third, fourth, or fifth grader, to watch the game. So, with the day looming, and plenty more on her plate as the school year, clubs, projects, and events mounted on her calendar, she was feeling the dread, more than ever. She was even more frustrated when she forgot the actual day of the game and wore a dress... but! Never mind! It's good and done! She smacked that first pitch, and ran to first! Then made it to second, and so on, all the way home, one base at a time.

This was one more day when I was there, and thankful... thankful that she faced her dread, and found success. Thankful to have time and opportunity to be there, to see her games, plays, clubs, moments, to volunteer, to observe, to participate, to drop off a lunch, and pick up some slack. To be part of a wonderful school and community. She's lucky, so am I. And this shot went right into her yearbook!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

13~ Dragon Progress

Not a shadow of doubt... this dragon prop is turning out fabulously!

With the four sections attached, we begin working out the handles and how best to coordinate the handling of our Maleficent beast!

Then transport it to the school and add more parts to help it fit and maneuver backstage.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Monday, June 12, 2017

12~ Is The Pool Heated?

People ask, and the answer is...

Nope! Not heated!

But the brave souls still have fun!

Maria, Amira, and James choreographing their synchronized swimming routine.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

10~ Set Progress

Max came to help Maria cover the panels on stage for the Sleeping Beauty school play. The Musical Theater Club made these trees for the forest and cottage scenes. We also used this time to take more measurements... there's very little backstage space, and the dragon has to be able to fit behind the scenes, and come onto the stage, easily. It's a big dragon!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Friday, June 09, 2017

9~ Farmer Washburn Foo

Yes, six photographs of Mister Washburn Foo being a fabulous farmer, surveying his homestead, basking in the glow of love and sunlight.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

8~ We Make Dragons

It's official, now... we make dragons! We have our carved dragons, for tents, and now we have the front end of a puppet dragon for the school play, Sleeping Beauty. Maria conceptualized and designed it, and with assistance from Natalie, Max, Alex and Geoff, William built it! I guess that makes us a team, or a club... yeah, a Benevolent Order of Makers!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

6~ Winding Down and Picking Up

Maria and Shayla, like busy garden gnomes, painting signs for their school garden.

This happens near the end of every school year... oddly, it gets simultaneously calmer yet more chaotic, some things close and finish, and some things become more hectic, more demanding, busier. We are there. Big projects, performances, exhibitions, field trips and sixth grade traditions fill our calendar.. And even as we are reeling a bit from all that, there are classes that have already met for the last time, and Maria has noted, sadly, "This really is the very last time, Mom. No more school kitchen, or garden. No more yoga. The last concert is Thursday." These very last times are hitting home for us, as we prepare to close the door on grade school, on days at a place we loved from the start, and have come to love and appreciate more and more with each year. Each of us, in our own way, is experiencing the realization that as the days go by, we are entering a new era, with new plans, in new spaces... which is exciting, but what we leave behind will be sorely missed.

Speaking of new... there is one interesting aspect to this transition that I need to figure out and familiarize myself with. We've never lived in one place for as long as we have lived here, in the Bird House, in this town. We aren't going anywhere, and neither are our friends, or the school garden, or the community we have become a part of, and there may very well be connections we can retain and opportunities to experience, and enjoy, even if Maria moves on from her grade school. What a comforting, intriguing notion, and what hopeful possibilities.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.