Saturday, July 13, 2002

Nap, n.

Somewhere between awhile ago and this moment, I fell asleep. Our bed was made, rare, and I laid down, undisturbed, and slept; a far more rare thing indeed. I do not recall how long it has been since I have been unconscious, not governed by the voices of children and chores, my husband, the phone, or the nameless dread of life in civilization. I cannot recall waking suddenly, or searching for a comfortable way to rest my parts. I didn't dream. I didn't hear trucks, or pounding. No one came to me, for any reason. And I had forgotten that an experience like this, time spent suspended between reality and profound healing rest, can transform the mind, body and spirit.

My first complete sensation was the sweet looseness of muscles and thoughts and breath. Nothing hurt or felt urgent, anxious. I knew from the flavor of the air that Grandmother was cooking. She had prepared something that seasoned the very molecules around my head, and I thought of the warmth and generosity of her. I saw our cat, sleeping. She opened one eye, and saw me too. That was sufficient for her. She went back to her dreams, confidently, easily. And I thought, sleep like this could make anyone beautiful. I thought about looking in a mirror to see if the subtle, soft and quiet way I felt, was tangible, visible.

Nap, n.
1. a brief, light sleep; a doze
2. to be off one's guard

It was definitely the latter. What a wonderful nap.

Friday, July 12, 2002

A Long, Full Day

Another full day witnessing the construction of a swimming pool. Today's work was truly impressive. It had very interesting elements, including laser levelers, shotcrete (gunite's wetter cousin), trench jumping, sculpture and one angry neighbor. Now the pool looks like something worthy of filling with water. It has structure and steps and the bench. We can't see our old friend, the rock, anymore. It is encased; a geologic time capsule. The stuff was hosed all over the rebar, and then shaped and leveled by the men with trowels and scrapers. Now I have to periodically hose the whole thing down to prevent it from drying out or heating too much before it cures.

Evidently the street that runs above the pool and parallel to the back of the house is a private road. We had no idea, until we met Steve. He is our neighbor and the disgruntled owner of the private road. He is angry because we had the cement truck parked on the road, for the best access to the pool. Apparently the first owners of our place abused road privileges and really left him torqued. So I put on my purple peace making dress, because it makes me happy, bought a bouquet of purple flowers to hand deliver, and wrote a note of apology. All is well. They had felt frustrated by the rude and careless acts of the previous residents, and now they seem assured that our intentions are benevolent. Phew!

This morning's crew was chocolate chip cookie and ice water worthy, they also started at 6am, and there was a Home Depot trip, breakfast, lunch, and slicing 3 mangos and a nectarine for Max, so I have been a very busy woman. The landscapers were as busy as ever, and their progress is uplifting. Sometimes it is hard to appreciate all they do, since so much of their effort is buried, but the wall looks really good, and drainage pipes are everywhere. Even the peppermint willow seems content in her new home. As for me, a shower is in order, one last glass of water and then sleep. But first; make dinner, wash the boys, bedtime stories, finish the dishes, close the chicken coop, answer Geoff's questions about day's events, reassure Geoff about day's events, quick-clean major chunks of refuse scattered about the house, 3 games of Scrabble with Grandma and Aunt Becky and then floss.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Linda's Pool is Not Made Out of Dirt

It is wonderful to have generous friends. Another hot and humid day was salvaged with an afternoon swimming in a good friend's pool. She invited us over to swim, and apologized for the 'last minute' offer. Not necessary. As far as we were concerned it was a delightful and timely invitation. Max helped himself to a summer's table of fresh fruit, explaining to his hostess, "I only like to swim in pools made out of dirt." He was up to his elbows in strawberries and oranges slices, and hesitantly dipped only his dangling feet in to the water. William and Alex were not so particular and they jumped and slid and swam right in. I love to be in the company of my friends while our children play together. I enjoyed watching all the kids interact and react and relish the bliss of a summer swim with friends. Thank goodness we have the sense to put the outside world on 'pause,' so we can make the time to be together.

Meanwhile, back at El Rancho, electricians came to do their part toward the completion of our pool. I think they were successful, which puts us in line for another inspection, before they backfill our wrap around trenches. And, drum roll please: Tomorrow gunite! Remember, gunite is concrete, the stiff stuff that makes a pool take its form. For 5 days I will have to keep the gunite moist, by hosing down the pool. This cures the concrete and insures better swimmer's satisfaction. At this rate we could be finished in a couple of weeks, but wait!...that kind of euphoria is reserved for other things like finding a $20 in an old coat pocket, or a zit that heals in less than 48 hours. Swimming pool construction comes under a special mandate that demands delays, setbacks and frustrating pauses. I'm just gonna keep my cool, and hope for the best.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

The Garage

Mercy. Our garage is scary. Or, more generously; our garage is very interesting. It represents the lives of seven people; our past, our hobbies and odd jobs, our hopes and our fears. Four generations of collecting. It isn't only the individual contents that I am uneasy about. It is the volume; the cubic magnitude. It is the spider webs and mystery boxes. It is the ancient and rusted cans of cleaners, solvents, paints and bug sprays. It is the bucket of salvaged, hoarded hinges, screws and light switch plates. There are still unpacked boxes of books, clothes and toys.

I am nostalgic for the boxes that hold our past. I could never throw out photographs, awards, report cards or baby booties. These things are the tangible links to where we have been and I value the flood of memories that come rushing in when I read an old love letter or touch my son's first blanket. I will gladly shift these boxes, and carry them with me all of my life.

And where would we be without our pastimes? We'll keep the boxes of acrylic paints, the bird house kit and the cross country skis. No home is complete without tools, repair supplies and extra roof tiles, so those stay too. We store bottled water, just in case. And the ping pong table will be a blast, after we clear room for playing again. Decorations are a favorite holiday indulgence of ours. At least those are organized and stored neatly in cupboards, except for that one box of Christmas odds and ends. It is too full of post holiday sale items and pillaged ornaments and bows. I think with some reorganization, some generous donations to the shelter and more unpacking, we will be okay in this area.

But what do we do about those things that defy a rational place in our lives? This is touchy ground. My treasures and necessities, my 'investments,' are never going to hold the same value for anyone that they hold for me. Likewise, what others cling to and stow away, and move from place to place over a lifetime may seem to me rather trivial or even pointless. Because I am sympathetic I make allowances, exceptions and even accept excuses for those articles which by all reason should be in a thrift shop.

There are some things some people hold on to out of hope or fear, or both. I keep extra bedding, hoping for overnight guests. I have a small bag full of embroidery thread, all extras, because I can recall a time when I could not afford all of my favorite colors. Hopes and fears. We hope to go sledding, so we keep William's sled from our year in Minnesota. We fear natural disasters so we keep extra food and water, batteries and candles. But these emotions can get the better of us, and if we react to our fears and hopes by buying and collecting and storing and saving for later, then we run the risk of allowing our possessions to possess us.

I used to keep everything. Everything. It meant security to me. Those 'things' were hard to enough to come by in the first place and I felt it would be foolish to give them up. Even stranger, I would not allow myself the pleasure of using the 'good stuff.' It never seemed like the right time to wear my best dress or use the pretty dishes, and I wanted the occasion to be special before I would enjoy any of the things I treasured enough to accumulate in the first place. Sometimes I simply felt unworthy, other times I worried about being wasteful.

Time passes and everything ages and wears or breaks. And people do too. So, whether we use our things, or not, and whether we appreciate the people around us, eventually they will fade and leave. And fortunately, I have not lived too long before recognizing the futility of trying to preserve my stickers, buttons, wedding dishes and nice stationery. My husband deserves a lot of credit for this awakening. He has shown me that real faith means letting go. I had to learn that I could use things and enjoy them and let go of them. I still have piles of fabric I hope to quilt with, more than I need. But last year I cut squares of my fabric and gave them to the women at church for their quilts. I still save some things for special occasions, but I make more occasions special. Keeping things in a dusty, taped up box is what is truly wasteful.

This shift in my perception is often challenged by my greedy inclinations, but I much prefer to live unburdened by boxes of stuff. I enjoy the freedom that comes from not feeling possessed by the very things meant to make my life better. I do have many nice things, and a beautiful home, but my most valuable asset is the time I can spend enjoying people, a few pastimes and appreciating some of my material treasures. I do not want a garage packed from floor to ceiling with projects I will never make time to complete, and things I have never used. I do not want to carry extra shoes that don't fit well, books I didn't love reading, coats that smell of mildew or exercise equipment that even Jack Lalane would have thrown out by now. By releasing responsibility of useless articles I create more time and less stress, so that I can truly enjoy my family, friends and personal interests.

Our home projects right now are so monumental that I bargained with myself: "Don't worry about the garage until fall, after the pool and landscaping are complete." I need a break from stressful projects. But that darn garage is so freakin' scary. It looms and bursts forth in frightful piles of stuff. It is impenetrable and odious. And it is really, really embarrassing.

So, we are scratching my wussy plan to 'duck and cover' and instead, we are launching a full scale attack. We will finish the walls of the garage, so the room is less uninviting, and we will donate a lot. A whole lot. I will go through each box and do what every January issue of women's magazines tell us to do: Purge! Use it or lose it. Wear it or share it. Frankly, I am worn out just thinking about it. It's emotionally yucky (my choicest word for abhorrent feelings.) But the results will be liberating and worthwhile, right?

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Fiesta Update #3

(Update # 1 and Update #2)
Delia wants me to emphasize certain points about the hotels listed in the newsletter. Comfort Inn is more expensive, but not the 'better choice.' She went to check them all out and feels that Holiday Inn Express and the Howard Johnson are the two best options. Lupita expressed the desire to stay where other family might be staying, so she might want to contact Debbie, Julie, Delia and (maybe?) Tara and Ruthie. That's all for now. We hope everyone is having a safe and fun summer.

Geoff is about to be sad. I grilled a tasty dinner, even Alex is eating! But a Hawaii realtor called, so Geoff is 'off to the Island,' talking about lots in Hawaii. I think there may be one last piece of pollo asado, and it's getting cold. In Wiamea it is business time, but here we should be finishing a family dinner. They're talking about gulches, wild pigs, makai and mauka, water meters and sugar cane. The rest of us are playing 'chupa dedos.' So, when Karen does hang up, Geoff is gonna see for himself how hungry three boys can get. He should definitely check out lots big enough for crops and orchards, and milk goats, so we can keep up with these growing children!

Monday, July 08, 2002

Fiesta Update #2

( first update)

This website was set up by Geoff for me to keep in touch with lots of family and friends at once. I write pool updates, and other 'deep' thoughts. Right now it is also helpful for keeping guests updated on the upcoming birthday party. Becky will be sharing photo albums, yay! Grandma is enjoying the group shot that Eva and Henry sent her. Beto, and his daughter, Aurora, will be coming. We are still hoping to hear from Becky Sue. We have heard that Steve and Olga may not be online, so perhaps Ruthie and Tara can share any pertinent information with them.

Max and I have been making artistic preparations for our outdoor side table. I painted a chess board on one table, and we decided to dedicate the second table to his other favorite game, Loteria! We have the cards cut out and the playing boards are ready. Max was dedicated-ly cutting and coloring with me. Tomorrow we'll get decoupage glue and fix them to the table. All of our old outdoor furniture has a fresh coat of paint. One of Grandma's old kitchen chairs got painted green, like the doors. Soon we'll sit outside, in the shade, with tables for cold drinks, and we'll play Loteria and chess.

Pool Update

The plumbers are here! They are laying out the pipes, and if they finish today, they can begin pressure testing the system before they bring in the equipment. Also there will be an inspection when they finish, which leads to the gunite phase. Apparently the electricians' schedules are so backed up that their work will come later, and I don't know, maybe they'll have to arrange a separate inspection.

The retaining wall got sealed on the slope side, and today they are covering the facing side in a coat of cement (concrete, plaster, gray stuff). They'll color coat the wall after they brick the top. This prevents the brick work from staining the plaster. It's wonderful having experienced people figure this out for us.

I decided to plant the peppermint willow at the top of the slope. I bought this poor tree too soon, and it has been wasting away, sad and neglected, wind blown and shuffled around. I kept thinking 'I should wait for irrigation and other stuff before planting it,' but today it is going in. Ready or not, we're planting what's left of it. Once it recovers and takes root, it will make a beautiful canopy of swaying branches. The rest of the plants purchased under the 'too soon program' are doing okay. They need regular water, and a respite from the sun. Should I give them a splash of fertilizer, or would that encourage too much growth for plants destined to remain in pots for a few more weeks? This is a solicitation for gardening advice.

Our figs trees look great, and have fruit. The citrus is doing well. Alex's strawberry guavas are full of fruit. Someone said I can make juice from the strawberry guavas, but Alex and Max eat every fruit the moment it reaches maturity. The little 'juicers!' A grape vine growing on the fence with our neighbor has fruit. They will likely ripen in late summer. The vegetable barrels are doing well too. I should start making and freezing pesto.

The garden makes my spirit buzzzz. I love dirt and seeds, and anticipation. I love sprouts, blossoms, fragrance and harvesting. Even just thinking about gardening delights my mind. I envision flowers, and fruit, and color and friends coming to share and tables with vases of blooms, and bowls of salsa, and pesto on toast, and children pulling carrots out of the earth and mouths stained red from strawberries. If I could sing or paint what I see in my thoughts, it would make a breathtaking composition. It would be warm with fellowship, and nurturing, fresh and healing. And somehow it would convey my sense of humble awe that I have the honor of enjoying this pleasure. What sweet bliss.

Sunday, July 07, 2002


Hi. As promised I will post news about the 80th birthday celebration, so guests can stay updated. To begin with we are having an impromptu 'Proofreading Contest.' See if you can find spelling and gramatical errors in the Rancho Verde Press. There is at least one real good one! In fact, even our illustrious editing staff, including the guest of honor, failed to catch the best misspelling. Enough said. Hopefully the rest of the newsletter was accurate, and helpful.

We would like to add that this will be a wonderful opportunity to share photographs. So, bring albums for looking at, and copies of pictures for sharing, especially older family shots. We'd love to see some of the group shots taken at Ruthie and Tara's. And by secial request: Grandma wants family stories, and jokes. We have been exchanging quite a few jokes around here lately. We are looking for fresh material, please!

Please call or email if you have questions or suggestions. And Aunt Becky, perdoname. I will go to the bank tomorrow.

Swimming, Love, and Concrete

We are just back from the ever desirable 'swim in the neighbor's pool.' I have always relied on the kindness of neighbors ( just a little literary license.) The boys and I scrambled around the house digging out swimsuits, goggles, towels and sunblock, and then hoofed it down to the house next door. Their pool is a lot like ours will be. It was very nice to glide in to the cool. Alex and William were immediately fishlike, and Max stood on deck with his arms crossed. Finally, he let us in on his point of view: "Do you know why I won't go swimming in the swimming pool? Water. I don't want to get wet." You have to admire someone with such certain convictions.

And now a little romance. For me, and mine. We are off to recognize our wedding anniversary, again. We got to play Friday night too, thanks to generous friends. Geoff asked which is the traditional gift for 13 years of marriage ('paper, lace, plutonium?')
From the look of things around our yard, I think the 13th anniversary gift must be concrete. We have plenty, and there's more to come. He asked if I was glad to be married to him. He is too interesting to live without. He has taught me about living fully, and making dreams come true. He makes me laugh, and he laughs with me. He is unflinchingly generous, in deeds and thoughts. And I love him, too deeply to measure. I am more than glad that we are married. I am gaga.