Saturday, April 14, 2007

Today was not the day I planned, so I missed going to the museum to see origami and the origami man. Other stuff happened, like some house cleaning, tennis, work. I didn't go to the beach to learn about making the planet a better place. I didn't visit the high school that feels too far away... It was only sort of a productive day, and not in any particular way.

I thought of not posting today or ever again, because sometimes it is hard to rationalize the need, use, value, significance or worth of all this 'sharing.' But here I am. Again. So, what can I say?

Nothing. I agree.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I decided to grant Max his picnic wish. Does eating Costco pizza in the car count? We got to the beach in time for this choice picnic weather:

Cold, grey, and incredibly windy. Undaunted, we decided to leave the sand out of our lunch and eat in the shelter. Good choice, because

outside it was actually colder and windier than we had thought. Southern Californians, true natives like ourselves, are so weather ignorant. Most other places in the country people would expect a cold, grey and windy day in April. Max had hoped to swim. Lucky for him towels come in handy for several purposes.

Maria acclimated, somewhat, and with her tights on her head like a Seuss hat, she was ready to dig in!

She patiently filled this pail, even while holding and sheltering her beloved "Guin."

Brrr. I can't believe we lasted as long as we did. I can't believe there were people wading in the rough surf. Poor tourists, eager to make the most of their spring break, no matter what.

Poor us, eager to get out of our house, no matter what.

We thought we came prepared. It's just as well you didn't join us. But what about today? Could you, would you join us on a picnic today? I thought I would send out a general announcement and see who will meet us at the duck pond for a 'bring your own tasty feast picnic.' Let's see how ambitious I can feel in the next hour...

Or... I could stay home and face the music:

There is not one square foot in this house that isn't negatively affected by our presence; not even the tile floor in front of the pantry, where Maria has tucked in her baby for the night. Some lax behaviors have evolved in to bad habits. Sloppy practices, undisciplined ways... we have slipped down the slippery slope.

My first instinct is to cry in alarm: Run Away! Run Away!
My second instinct is to cry in alarm: Run Away! Run Away! Run faster, faster!
Okay, any moment now I am going to crack my whip and stir my dozing crew of children and we will have a general meeting about personal responsibilities, chores and team effort for a greater good. It may look as though we were struck by a natural disaster, but the disaster is very localized; I will emphasize that our earthquake preparedness kit is off limits, so no more chocolate milk! We will clean house for no less than two hours, and then break for a picnic lunch and healthy outdoor play.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Meet Joe Rabbit

Joe is about 6 years old, so that makes him 99 in kid years.

A bunny's tongue is pink and rarely seen.

Joe's face, up close, is my favorite. His mouth and nose never stop moving. Maria likes to impersonate Joe.

Maybe petting Joe is my favorite.

Right behind his ears, around the nape of his bunny neck, he is particularly soft.

He won't sit still for long, though he's calm enough when he is sitting in someone's lap.

When he's done sitting, he likes to dig. He digs until he clears a patch of bare earth and then suddenly...

...he flips!

And he lies in the bare earth spot.

And he bathes his face, which is a very cute bunny activity.

Max loves Joe.

Maria loves Joe. She loves him like a baby doll and wants to cover him and tuck him in. "Night-night Joe. There you go."

Joe seems to like being tucked in.

Max and Maria like playing in Joe's bunny run.

They can visit with him and he can run and jump, thump and dig, nibble and doze.

Everyone loves Joe.

Bath supplies...

When Maria is going to take a bath, I have learned that it is very helpful to bring supplies. She loves her bath and she can't be bothered to entertain me the whole time. So, after she's scrubbed and had her hair lathered and rinsed, then she wants to be free to explore the depths of her personal water world... not unattended, but alone.

I bring the phone. Geoff may call and remind me to fax tax info a.s.a.p., or Angelina could be trying to reach me, looking for pearls of wisdom on raising four children, while her husband is away on assignment.

I bring a mini project, like my knitting lesson, mail to sort, a nail file and clippers, so I can tame my ragged claws, and today... pen, pencil, eraser and Rosie, my Rhode Island Red. Always dabbling in something. Jack-up all trades and master of none. I want to draw more gooder (more better?) My two weak areas (self analysis, you may find more, I'm sure) are haste and lack of skill/experience.

I tried to force myself to go very slooowly on Rosie's face... there are so many details on a hen's head.

Then Maria started splashing quite vigorously, and she even hurled a bowl of water at poor Benjamin. He may not visit her bath again anytime soon. I shouldn't have let it make me anxious, but I did rush through the feathers. After bath time, dressing Maria, soaking up spills, and faxing taxes, I took a look at the color print I was inspired by and realized that I missed a great deal of feather detail that was not evident in the black and white photocopy I had in the bathroom. Sigh.

Dare I color it?
Or, I could clean house, which is necessary, very necessary and yet utterly unappealing. It's just so pointless and futile. Max suggests a big, big picnic at the beach. If we leave the house, then at least it can't get any dirtier.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Do you ever wake-up feeling homesick?

This may not be a good time to scratch around for deep thoughts, because Maria pulled an all nighter, crying, and frustrated by mystery ailments. Now my eyes are achy and my thoughts are muddled. I don't think she could take a nap long enough that I can recover. Sigh.

I do feel homesick. I miss my family, the rest of it, the faces, the jokes, the voices and common threads we share. Shared. Maybe it's missing family and feeling homesick that prompts me to daydream about taking a road trip. Alex suggested we go to the mountains, and that might alleviate some of my longing for home and familiar touchstones. We went to the mountains so often as children, to that mining town with the apple orchards and general store, that just being there can sometimes make me feel grounded.

Old pictures can take me home a bit. There are moments in my life that resurface, complete with sounds, scents, warmth and flavors, when I see a picture, touch a careworn object. A ceramic figure standing on a garden shelf... it belongs to my Grandmother and it holds dinners at her kitchen table, and watering potted geraniums on her porch. Whittier, La Mirada, Westminster, San Antonio, Neptune, El Rancho. Homes and places.

A picture can be a lantern, holding light to a time and place, perhaps forgotten and yet still dear. Perhaps feeling homesick is a longing to meet the eyes of someone else that remembers too; someone that can confirm your stories and beliefs, and bring up more memories, like snapshots and mementos.

Maybe, because I am sleepy and a bit too worn, I wonder if time stands still in some places. Could we ever go back and find our old beliefs and stories and feel the same way, the same hunger, confidence or wonder? Do you have a place you can be and feel at home, grounded, connected?

I wonder if I collect things, hauling them from place to place, to serve as evidence, proof of my past, my pleasures and dreams. When people and places are gone, can a figurine, bracelet, or polished river stone keep the connection alive?

I went through this door and knew the faces of my family that graced its home. I miss them. I miss the cool adobe walls, the dark corner where maiz and caña stood, the wooden chairs, the soft and gentle hand that touched my own.

Houses, places, cabins and tents, apartments, backyards, kitchen tables, a corner in any place, a path to the ocean and dunes and driftwood, I feel a longing to go, to meet friends and family and share the past, enjoy the present and anticipate tomorrow.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A Lot of Easter

Get comfortable. Have you had your coffee? Rest your eyes for a moment. We are about to take a journey and you may have to pace yourself to get through this post...

Saturday was mostly spent reveling in the bliss of not having to take anyone to school... for a week! In other words: We didn't get much done, which was nice. Then sometime before dinner and after sunset, William asked, "We are coloring eggs, right?" And I thought 'eggs?' Then I scrambled... er... I mean boiled.

It takes time to boil and cool eggs, clear the dinner table, find clean mugs, locate the remains of the PAAS box that Maria has been carting around the house for 3 weeks and then make the secret dye formula..., by the time we reached the point when we could commence egg coloring it was already 9 p.m. Bedtime lands between 7:30 and 9:00 in Cramalot, so the idea to start any project at 9 p.m. is sheer madness. Madness, I tell you!

Nonetheless, we proceeded. And everyone was happy and eager.

William brought the globe to the dining table and began his earth egg, complete with continents and oceans.

I love the intent look of focus on these boys' faces. They know how to immerse themselves in their work and play.

Did I mention that some children are asleep by 9 p.m.? If some children are not in bed, happily asnooze, then all kinds of suffering, frustration, misery, woe and despair may ensue. Warning: Due to the graphic content of the images proceeding this message, it may be unsuitable for grandmothers and sympathetic, emotional beings. Please scroll down to Alex and his bunny eggs, if you cannot endure a sad, angry, worn out and crying child.

I tried to console her.

I tried to comfort and reason with her.

She was in the depths of egg coloring despair.

Alex colored a bunny egg. The face in front and a tail and big fuzzy bunny feet around the back.

This might have cheered Maria.

And she did eventually recover when her daddy was finally able to leave work and join us. Can't you just hear her post cry sigh?

Max colored 10 9 eggs... I remembered it as 10, but he just explained that he "lost one." Should I be worried?

Last Halloween Geoff brought out his dremmel tool and 'carved' an elaborate tiki head pumpkin. We were sound asleep, as he sat in the dark, late night yard, chiseling away. And what do you think he started around 11 p.m. Easter eve?

Answer: The Egg Lathe (patent pending.)
He melted wax to the end of the egg and attached it to his cordless power tool, then gave it a spin. As the egg turned he applied crayon, pens and markers and the egg finished with beautiful and expertly applied stripes. I love Geoff.

Easter morning. Maria made a complete recovery, and found in her Easter basket a baby all her own to love and console. Holly and Rich are the best ever Easter hosts and we made it to their home just in time for the egg hunt and omelet buffet.

When was the last time we saw this little girl... it's been too long. Izzy looks almost ready to walk. Now that she is one year old she is adopting lots more sweet skills, like saying "hi" and clapping her hands. Love it.

The boys got new shirts to wear for Easter and my stylish son added his navy coat to complete his ensemble. Handsome boy. I think this may be the same coat he wore to James and Deanne's wedding. It was completely oversized at the time and the only one we could procure. Or is the one William wore...? I think so. It fits now.

Did I mention Holly and Rich are the best? They always have everything organized, they are generous and creative and they provide right down to the last detail.

Into the bucket; Maria figured it out.

William is funny. He looks serious most of the time, but he's got an intelligent humor and we bust each other up. Here is his "I'm too old for this, but I will oblige you with a determined egg hunter's grin," look.

There were lots of hidden eggs.

There were lots of children. When Holly told me the head count, including some neighbors and friends, I gasped, "Wow, that's a lot of people."
She laughed knowingly, then clued me in, "Your family alone is 6 people!"
Oh, ya. We tend to fill a party out.

Ahh... Easter cousins in their pretty dresses, sharing treats.

Max wore this shirt, because it's an Easter rule. He will follow rules... he might protest that button down, blue shirts are ugly, but he will follow rules. And do you see the boy behind him? That is the elusive cousin, Nick. He moves fast.

Here are our beautiful hostesses, Holly and Izzy

Holly's friend brought a coconut bunny cake. We ate, and ate, and ate, and played all day.