Friday, July 25, 2008

A Downward Spiral

It's terrible that 1 bad event can lead to sad feelings, which makes one susceptible to moodiness and weak character, thereby rendering one utterly despondent, bitter and mean. At least I've heard this sort of thing happens. To other people. Sometimes. I suppose if a succession of sad, bad, mad and disappointing things were to happen for months on end, maybe even years, it could become quite debilitating. Other people might see it this way.

Recently I was kindly and gently informed that I was not wearing a flattering style of jeans. Really, it was kind and gentle and the sort of thing you might wish to know before you walk around town looking larGER than you are. Superficially, this could be a small matter minor issue, but I tend to over think things, and then I have a compulsion to share my thoughts... hence the whole blogging thing. The root of the problem is that I am fat and cheap overweight and thrifty. I do not like to buy clothes for myself. I do not like malls, or parting with money, or 3 sided mirrors, or salesclerks or fashion. I do not like dieting obsessing about my appearance, but I can see that I have taken things too far. I am not a free spirit, celebrating her natural beauty, detached from material things. I am reclusive, shabby and neglecting whatever is left of my presentable self.

The jeans. See, I do not like the low cut jeans and even when I was smaller than I am today, I still balked at the idea of spreading cr@ck. I have seen "well-dressed," mature(?) women sharing way too much of themselves every time they stoop, reach, and stretch. And not just booties are hanging out, it's the muffin tops too and maybe people are cool with letting whatever show and hang-out, but I cannot do it. It makes me cringe and wince and think more kindly of burkas, every time I imagine wearing what passes for fashionable. So I bought men's Wranglers... I said to heck with sizes and styles and statements and paying grocery prices for one pair of pants. My Wranglers are comfortable, affordable, durable and... and apparently they make my butt look big(ger.) Ugh. I can act all who cares what the world thinks? but in reality I care a little too much.

My wardrobe consists of a skirt and 2 pair of black yoga pants and some button shirts that need serious consideration for the donation bag. I managed to stain 2 more of my T-shirts, and it's too hot to wear my red overcoat. Yesterday I sorted all of the clothes in the boys' closets and happily made-off with a T-shirt that reads Bring Back Nap Time, and while I love it, I thankfully have the sense not to wear it outside of the house. My summer shoes, red and super-comfy, are 4 years old and it shows. And I suspect the words super-comfy are not the leading adjectives in the well-dressed woman's lexicon. My brown shoes, with a heel and less comfortable, are older than the red shoes. I can see I need a transformative shift in attitude and action. Is awareness a first step?

Lately I say things that make Geoff pause. He looks up from his laptop and our eyes meet. His are questioning and a bit surprised, and I answer morosely, "What? I am bitter and mean." I think it's an important to distinction to say "bitter" before "mean." It implies, I hope, that the meanness stems from the bitterness. I am not purely mean. I do not possess innately mean qualities, but I have been accumulating strong feelings of resentment, grief, disappointment and frustration, marked by cynicism.

In the great national debate over the woes of the housing market and whether or not we should help struggling families, save homes, and restore order... I come out on the side of Hey! Hey, who are we helping? People who live within their means, people who gave up luxuries and saved in order to survive the ups and downs of a free market... are those the people government bailouts are saving? Or are we saying to Countrywide's chairman, "Dude, take your $200 million gains and income, and retire when your shady deals and leading customers in to financial ruin come to light. It's cool. We the people got your back, while you knife ours." It's a mess. Who can say what will fix this, but I wish we were at least at the point when we could read the whole truth on the front page. Quit twisting the facts and rewriting the formula. This is a recession, there is real inflation, jobs and salaries are hurting... argghh.

Argghh. Feh. Sigh those are my fallback statements when I run out of steam, when I can't think of what to say or what to do. I think it's kind of funny, maybe embarrassing too, because it doesn't say much for my college education to make such heavy use of such weak sentence enhancers. LOL. (That's irony. I recognize that.)

We lined up 6 houses to see with an agent, and I drove far, far away to meet the agent, but his car overheated and he cancelled. Now 2 of the homes have offers on them, 2 of them the seller doesn't want to show, because they have nothing to gain, since the bank is taking over. Geoff showed me 2 more houses... one has no kitchen, the owners took it with them, and the other has no back wall along the entire house... I sense a little bitterness there too.

Another time I Sigh? When something good happens, when I reflect on life's little miracles and the unexpected joys, the treasured moments, I sigh. Garybob called. Our not mean, but certainly bumbling and always convenient scapegoat for my frustration, landlord called and asked for the lease agreement. I was already so sad about Amelia, housing, fatness, etc., that he caught me in a moment of weakness. I wish I could say it was a moment of strength and resolve, but I was essentially defeated and raw, so when he said: "Is there anything you need to say or ask?"
I blurted, halfheartedly surrendering, like a mother in the trenches raising white granny p@nties, "Chickens."
He said, "Oh. What?"
It was too late to pretend I sneezed, so I said meekly, "We have chickens."
"Hmmm. In the backyard? You have chickens in the yard?"
"Well. Okay."
And that was it. No admonishment. No threats. No drama or demands or eviction threats.

Let's suppose that 1 good event can lift our spirit, give us pause, make us grateful. Maybe a small sigh of relief can lead to deeper breathing and clearer thinking. It's possible that happiness may spread and disperse like seeds in a breeze, and new happiness can grow. Certainly we have had too many setbacks and genuine causes for grief, but I am open to good news, I am receptive and eager to enjoy triumphs, success, hope and clarity. If I have to climb and struggle or sometimes just surrender, then so be it, but I will not ride all the way down the spiral.

Is She Is or Is She Ain't?

I can almost make light of this. Almost. If there were other indicators that our life is headed for calmer waters, if things were just a bit brighter and shinier, I might not burst in to tears every time I hear Amelia yodel in a cockophonous manner. 6 a.m., 0'dark hundred in military time, is her warm-up performance, and today she has extended the concert to a late morning matinee. She? She?! Would it even matter if she started laying eggs this very day? No, as long as she crows, none of our neighbors will give a flying fowl what she lays.

We can agree or disagree about whether or not I am funny, but there is no disputing that I try to use humor as a defensive shield. Even with that in mind, I find I cannot see the humor in this. My shields are down and so is my spirit.

Okay, maybe it's a little bit funny, but only as a dark comedy, or tragic comedy, but it's not going to be the least bit funny when I have to send Amelio away. Maria still asks us to bring back Pip. The way she sees it, Pip was a good guy and his time-out has gone on long enough. I don't even know where to go, or how to do it. I am a lousy farm girl. Feh.

They love Amelia. We all do. I wish we were home.

It could be worse. I know that, but somehow I find no comfort in the thought that other people are hurting, sad or are worse off. Even news of the oh-so predictable housing bubble debacle offers me little joy. I need some escapist, trivial, lighthearted diversion... maybe even something super Geeky...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Zealand Aroha

I love it when events and ideas align. I love it when something new, something interesting, emerges and keeps showing up, until it's like a theme, a pageant. Recently we have been enjoying a New Zealand immersion. And all of our little brushes with that far away place made a gift from Campbellgirl, of "The Sound of One Hand Knitting," even more meaningful and dear. She celebrated her 1 year blogiversary with a very generous and handmade giveaway(s), and I was one of the lucky winners! It really is particularly fun to be a winner when there are other winners too, so I can say Yippee! and not feel bad about the nonwinners. Just saying.

Aroha is Maori for Aloha and we are very thankful for the aroha Campbellgirl sent our family. She made this wooly, knit brooch, which reminds me of being warm and snug and even of a lovely snowflake... after all it is winter in New Zealand! Check out the cozy pen! I've never seen a wooly pen, have you? It's so cute. Pens disappear here, among the artists and story writers and now there will be no question of which pen is mine. Maria likes to acquire pretty things (an inherited trait?) and I crack-up when she starts making a move for something of mine that she wants. She even casts her eyes demurely and says reasonably, "We can share."

My brother and sister-in law were in New Zealand and ever since then I have been enchanted with all of the happy stories they shared. They were totally taken with the country. Then came The Trilogy, and William filled our heads with all sorts of interesting and engaging movie trivia, much of which centered around the film locations and enterprising work of the Kiwis. William has an insatiable appetite for the process and production efforts of movie making. He is a great resource for back stories and how it was made knowledge, so we were getting all kinds of insights, and visions of The Lord of the Rings and New Zealand. Then our friends, Tamsyn, Carol and Gene went to New Zealand, where they have family. They returned with more stories and enticements, beautiful photographs, and kiwi shoes for baby Maria. Tamsyn posed for a picture in the forest that had been Rivendell. Cool. My friend Anne has family in New Zealand, so they've been too. We've been watching nature and travel shows about New Zealand, and there is some consensus that we should go there. (A detail that Geoff may not be aware of, because he works until midnight and most weekends, but we'll be sure to let him know if there are any pertinent developments.)

Campbellgirl sent us kiwi fabric and kiwi fabric. Did I just repeat myself? Yes and no. It's the fuzzy, cute fruit that they call kiwi and the fuzzy, cute bird that goes by the same name. And now we have a kiwi pin cushion and needle book too. And a recipe for anzac biscuits, which I am learning have an interesting history and New Zealand association.

And to sustain us while our biscuits are baking, she sent one last bit of local color, which is pretty hilarious. As Kiwi as... Slippers? Hilarious. We call them flip-flops, in Hawaii they are slippahs. And whatever they call them in New Zealand, now we know they are as local and prized as chocolate covered marshmallow fish!

Yup, we like New Zealand. Well, not that we've been there, but technically we do. That was a little nod to our favorite New Zealand band, "Flight of the Conchords."

Campbellgirl, thank you. We love being winners in your anniversary celebration and we love New Zealand. Thank you for bringing New Zealand closer to home for us.
Insomnia. Cruel, Cruel Insomnia
Uhm. Well.
That's it.
My deep thoughts are pretty superficial at the moment.
Psst... Hey, are you sleeping?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My One Viola

Amy, of "Clearing the Air," has inspired me to think of the simple things that make me happy. Simple things do make me happy, but I am laughing out loud as I face the challenging part... I really need to zip-it! My busy brain keeps rationalizing and categorizing and battling and sort of whining in a very tedious and sad way. Zip-it brain. We are talking happy right now!

simple things make me happy

clean feet
summer rain
water, drinking, spraying, splashing, swimming, floating,
everyone together and reading aloud
falling asleep with everyone home
packages from near and far
cut limes
hot corn tortillas
old movies and pop-corn
taking pictures
watching children and hens
hearing from family and friends... baby news
quilting by hand
dresses that swirl and girls that twirl
my children happily sharing a new toy for hours and hours and hours

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back to School?!

At least 5 different people have asked, "Where are the boys going to school this year?" And, "When does school start?" The homeschool program we were enrolled in is not an option any more, so I knew this issue was waiting for me. Waiting and waiting and waiting. Since we are house hunting, I hoped (prayed, pleaded, begged, wished and bargained) that the new address would resolve the which school issue. Rather than risk having to switch districts, campuses, or programs in the middle of the year, I thought: Wouldn't it be wonderful to be settled in to our own home, with the chickens safe and free-ranging, the dishes unpacked and the children running around the yard, and then we would know exactly where to enroll them in school? Indeed. Fairy tale stuff. It ain't goin' down that way.

If I gamble that we are going to wind up in Area A., then we have to get our applications in tomorrow and Alex has to be at his desk the first week of August. Max starts soon after. If we choose to keep them closer, or in Area B., then we need to make those arrangements, but it severely limits our options and makes renting for another year the most likely path. Area A. is a long drive. Area B. is too frickin' expensive.

Hey. We made another family excursion. Another stay-cation, if you will. This time we left the bicycles at home, and we went on a hike.

Can you find Max?

Why does summer have to end?

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's Not All About Chickens

Real quick, before I figure out where to send the children to school, before I pay bills, before I make breakfast or floss, or clear the clogged bathroom drain, I wanted to share some pictures. If you think that my chickens are just an excuse to avoid tough jobs and responsibilities, if you think I am looking for excuses and diversions, well you are totally wrong! I would never shirk duties, delay, tarry, procrastinate, or run screaming from domestic delights. After I edit chicken pictures, and write poems in their honor, I am going straight to the kitchen to whip-up a healthy, balanced breakfast, and then I am going to find my tools and attack that drain. I may even clean the trunk of the Odyssey, where a gallon of milk was left hidden beneath the stroller, forgotten for 3 or 4 days. (Everyone: Stand back! Anne, I think we made cheese!)

You don't have to say it. I will say it for you: Those are some freaky-feathered fowl! Buttercup and Fantam the Bantam are 2 of the most funky, awkward, goofy looking adolescent birds ever. They crack me up, with their feather spurts and silly gaits. They are a pair, happiest when they are side by side. The boys chose well when they named the Bantam "Fantam, the Dark Bantam." She has remained true to her name. She is a dark and comic character, a whimsical Fantam. The Golden Wyandotte, that I named Buttercup, is getting darker by the day and we have added Peanut to the Buttercup, which suits her better. Peanutbuttercup is as comical as her sister, though a slightly better flyer.

There was a brief time when we were concerned that Maria would remain fearful of the outdoors, dirt and nature. She has overcome all reluctance to be one with nature, to walk barefooted across leaves and sand and weeds. She catches chicks and hens and puts them in their place. She plucks tomatoes from the barrel garden and eats them hot from the vine. She deadheads marigolds, gathers weeds for Joe and she welcomes chicks to perch, wherever they may, because she is a farm girl, cowgirl, a chickengirl, through and through.

Amelia and Betty are doing fine. Maria holds Betty and says, "I just love you Betty," and she tells us, "Betty's my best friend." Like the 2 chicks, Betty and Amelia are happiest when they are together. If you can catch one it's as good as getting both. Amelia will come along sooner or later if you are holding Betty in the swing.

Our summer has quieted down a bit. We are enjoying our evenings, and appreciating the pleasure of our time together.

("Quited down?" I'm not sure what I meant by that. The summer has not been noisy. Maybe it was the worry and rush of unexpected news, travel, the daily anxiety of not knowing where we are going to move. Thinking out loud: I am glad to recognize those moments when it feels as though things have quieted down, so I think I will stop trying to overanalyze this now.)

This may be censored, so look now. I cannot help but snicker at her (Me, not the hen) and think: She's one of those crazy ladies that starts to look like her pets. Snort. To be kind, I will add: Why not? It's a pretty good looking hen.

Sitting atop our picnic table-turned chicken coop, Maria subdues her hen and tells me how it's done. "Be careful, like this," she instructs, and she gently strokes Amelia's pretty feathers.

Maria likes Lady Betty Orpington best, and it makes me glad that Betty is so sweet and docile.

Maria, looking every bit the farm girl in her beautiful apron from Kim. Can you see where Kim added the image of Pip, Lola and Betty, among the daisies? Maria loves daisies and the chicks. She remembers Pip and Lola and reverently tells anyone their stories. Pip is a rooster and went to live with other roosters, and Lola is part of the flowers, in her own little garden. I guess there are many lessons to learn when you are going to be a farm girl. Maria is taking it all in stride.

Mr. Potato Head, a family staple since 2001. We've gotten more mileage out of this toy than I ever expected a family could get mileage from a plastic potato and assorted parts. I threw this one in, because 1. Alex is handsome and sweet and good. 2. Maria adores Alex and Mr. Potato Head. 3. I wanted to prove that I can think of something other than chickens.

The End