Friday, August 13, 2004

I think there must be times when we are meant to leave the house before the sun rises. We should slip on some shoes, pull a sweater over our heads, just step out the door and see what happens...

Summer in California means uninvited guests; I am speaking of ants. They are everywhere. This morning they set up new trails and posts all over the kitchen, making it very difficult to fix breakfast. If we had left the house I could have left the ants to finish whatever it is that the ants think they need to do. If we had left the house we could have had breakfast at Pipes, and I wouldn't have burned a pan full of turkey sausage.

Perhaps it isn't too late. We could head out now, maybe to the beach or the botanical gardens, and then perhaps the ants will have time to clean the charred remains of breakfast. More likely, I will clean everything and spray the ants with Simple Green, and they will return. They will set up new posts and make new trails. Maybe we do make things ridiculous for ourselves, by trying to control and manipulate our lives and ant lives and green, manicured lawns...

This from my Canadian friends:

GOD: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-
maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.
ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.
GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it - sometimes twice a week.
GOD: They cut it? Do they then bail it like hay?
ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
ST. FRANCIS: No, Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
GOD: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.
GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.
ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?
ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
GOD: And where do they get this mulch?
ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
GOD: Enough. I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
ST. CATHERINE: Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It's a real stupid movie about ....
GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I was surfing my archives this morning. Two summers ago I wrote extensively about gardens and hens, about landscaping and anticipating a swimming pool. The chickens and garden, I miss. The huge responsibility of managing 2 acres, I do not miss. I wonder, is it my nature or is it my altered state: Why do I crave being settled? We still have not figured out where we will be in six months. We still want to be here and there, California and Hawaii. We want security and adventure, familiar and exotic. Sometimes I find myself nostalgic about our Rancho Days, and fortunately I have a very good grasp on all aspects of those days; we were ready to let go. Still, I feel really ready for a place of our own again. I also feel nauseous, hot, large, and somewhat cranky.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Max's birthday party was a great success. It's all in the planning... at least that is how I have decided to tell it, because Max did all the planning. He reminded us daily about the order of things, sometimes rearranging activities. In the end he chose to serve pizza first, and to finish with the pinata. In between he opened presents from Nicholas, and Adam and Jacob, and we ate the cake he planned and decorated. The cake had to be home baked chocolate in a rectangle shape, with whipped cream on top and sliced strawberries around the edges. It was a very good cake, and he did a very good job of spreading the cream and arranging the strawberries.

We blew bubbles, and tried our hand at making balloon animals. I also created a game we called the Crabby Grabby... remember our theme was Sponge Bob. In honor of Mister Crabs' greedy ways, we filled a box with sand and plastic sea creatures, then added lots of coins from our change box. The object of the game was to grab as much of "Mister Crabs' money" as possible, using a plastic grabbing claw. You may not follow any of this, but trust me, had you been there you would have wanted a turn as much as Grandma and Grandma Boo Boo, and Rich and Geoff did. Yes, the kids liked it too.

Max has new toys and new memories, and a proud and contented feeling from a happy day. He put a lot of thought in to his theme, and the activities. He was very concerned about his guests' pizza preferences, and offering yellow forks to go with the yellow streamers he hung himself. He even wanted to be sure that the Sponge Bob pinata was filled with the treats that other children enjoy, even if he could not have some of them himself. I had not realized that 6 could be such a generous and mature age. He's pleased to be six, and reflects on his new age with great satisfaction. He says he feels like "a nicer person, stronger and faster too."