Saturday, May 16, 2009

Free Parking :: The Beach

Could you tell I was working up to another visit to the beach? Free parking is a premium at most beaches, so I was determined to make our after school excursion work, by getting to the beach before the commute traffic and Cove swimmers descended. It worked! We pulled in to an empty space, close to our destination, at 3 PM, where we could stay for three hours maximum until 6 PM. After six o'clock we were free to stay as long as we like. Get it? By arriving at three, we could stay as long as we wanted without fear of being ticketed or towed. Isn't this a boring, detail laden description? Yes... yes, until we sink our feet in the cool sand and begin to inhale the salty free ions, our minds and spirits are congested and weighed down by hundreds of boring details, rules, limitations, ifs-ands- and buts.

Max and Maria swam and William did too. I did not swim, but I was Maria's flotation device, keeping her bobbing head above water. Alex collected beach glass. William walked and took photographs. Maria made a friend and made a hole and made joyful noises. We were stalked by two sea gulls. We made sandwiches and drank lemonade. We contemplated living there... on the beach, near it... a modest bungalow with sweet peas growing on pickets, or maybe a balcony and shutters. We watched stories stroll by... the children and newlyweds, the swimmers and divers, the timid, the dark socked foreigners. Question: We know out of towners by their dark socks, so should I wear brown and blue and black socks in Europe to fit in? We stayed until we did all the things we could, short of building a fire and trying roast seagull... just kidding, but you know they do look like big beaked chickens! Enough boring details... here are the pictures. Enjoy.

Okay. So we can't live here, but the free parking makes me happy enough.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Una Joya

The Cove is a jewel. When we were there last Sunday, I was reminded of many, many happy times spent there. I can recall visits from 20 30 many years ago. I swam there when I was pregnant with William, from the cove, up coast around The Clam and back. If the surf isn't too rough it's nice. If the surf is up, the undertow at work, it can get a bit hairy. I have not been snorkeling there since Geoff and I discovered Hawaii. Hawaii spoiled us, but The Cove is full of fish and sights, and in spite of the cold and murkier water I think I would like to snorkel there again.

In the Summer and Fall sharks come in by the hundreds and can easily be seen at La Jolla Shores... leopard sharks, which are harmless, unlike leopard seals which are toothy and aggressive... shudder. Leopard seals live far, far away. I would love to kayak from The Shores and see the leopard sharks and garibaldi.

I am trying to recall... was it in Cannery Row or Sweet Thursday when Doc came to La Jolla to collect specimens for his lab? I think I was too young when I read Steinbeck. I mean, it was good to read his books and I loved them, but it may be time to read them again. I am sure they would have a different voice than they did when I was eleven.

Thanks to John Steinbeck, I read about low tides and tide pools, but it was my mommy and my middle school science teacher, Carol W., that instilled my love and curiosity for the intertidal world, the tiny pools and marvelous residents. My mom brought us to The Cove and Mission Bay, to many ocean side spots where we parked our gear in the sand and went forth for all day explores.

Holding octopi and catching crabs is enjoyable enough, but I have found that just saying the names and identifying the animals in the pools is delightful.
Sea Hare.
Sea Star.
Keyhole Limpet
Sea Cucumber.
Brittle Star.
Sand Shrimp.
Hermit Crabs.

Carol was my science teacher for four years. She brought us to the beach for P.E. too. We bodysurfed. Sometimes I stop writing and just sit reflecting, quietly filling up with all the good memories and recollections of experiences that I treasure. It does no good for my writing, but sometimes gratitude and happiness are almost too sacred for words.

It's hard to not have a good time at the beach. I can bring a ton of gear... towels and food and toys, a change of clothes, a book, hats and sunblock and fins and an umbrella, or I can just arrive and make the most of nothing at all. Say "hi" to the lifeguards, watch the surf, walk, talk, jump in the ocean and shiver on the beach. I wonder if Hans remembers bigger or better... he taught me this game of creative beach begging.

20 minutes later
Sorry. I was lost in thought.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sew I've Been Gardening...

I know, it's early for corn, but I managed to coax these two ears of corn from the scrap bin... my scrap bin is abundant and fertile! Still in their husks these ears of corn are fresh and sweet and one hundred percent my own scheme... I thunk them up all by myself and then got busy whipping them out for Maria's kitchen. Ever since I made the first batch of fabric food I have been meaning to add to her pantry. Where does the time go? I had to go through months and months of archives to find this post about the toast and berries, lettuce and peas I sowed sewed for her. She really does cook every day and except for two strawberries that the cats whisked away, all of the food is still fresh.

For Mother's Day Maria chose these strawberries for her Tutu, and she also asked me to make peas and carrots for her grandma. I hope it doesn't take me another year to make some toast, more corn and berries and maybe cheese slices for Ruth's play pantry. In my ambitious dreams I am sending a basket of produce to Jordan, and Amira, to Emma, to Lucas and baby Ethan, to Dominic and his cute sister Marissa.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Really Truly Lovely Day

Do you know what I learned? Let people know what you want, what you like, and then go with the flow and enjoy the ride. At least it worked this time... worked really well. And better still, I made no special requests about breakfast or fresh flowers, but Max and Alex were up at 5:30 in the morning to prepare me a beautiful meal. They put so much thought into their preparations, setting the table, serving hot tea and fresh strawberries, and they beckoned me from bed to the kitchen with home baked chocolate croissants.

William, Alex, Max and Maria did a little shopping too and got me gift cards, so later this week I will be visiting three favorite shops... a delightful way to extend my fun. Max made me a very clever card with a Jacob's Ladder kind of secret opening and a dear message. He was aching all weekend to share it with me and now I am looking forward to him teaching me how to make one, too.

Do I look mellow? We did a lot and yet the pace was easy, relaxed and fun. They made my bed! Twice!! After Geoff cleaned up breakfast some of us took catnaps and some of us took showers and some of us called other Moms and GrandMoms. And when we were good and ready we all went to a favorite nursery, just because.

This place has been an inspiration to me for 14 years and even if we aren't in any position to buy climbing vines and fountains it is worth the visit just to inhale the sea air and blossoms... a heavenly combination. Geoff and Max played chase-hide and seek. Maria and I daydreamed in the playhouse, then explored all the corners and paths. William and Alex paced pensively and enjoyed recalling the times when we used to visit more frequently.

Max played in this little house when he was Maria's age. I think he will be taller than me by the end of summer.

I don't know what it is. I couldn't find the tag. I don't mind if you can tell me, but at the time I was kind of content to just let it be Mystery Twist, an unknown beauty.

Maria chose this petunia and carried it, with unwavering devotion. She wants to add it to the fairy garden. Max and Alex also chose new plants for the fairy garden, which is good, because it's time for re-sprucing our garden in a barrel. Nikkipolani was right to warn us about how fast a tiny garden can change, how soon they will need a complete makeover... I knew she was right... her garden posts sustain me.

In the secret garden are fountains and bits and parts and this and that and I love it. Walking there makes me happy and wishful, the air is charged and fresh. It is invigorating, like the ocean.

After lunch we took the long way home. The long way is by way of a cliff path above the ocean. We followed the old and familiar trail north, then south and then down to the beach...

Can't see her arms? Maybe you can make out the tips of her fingers, clinging her jacket as she hugs herself? She won't hold hands. Nope. She can do it herself, walk on a steep and narrow path. We have an independent and determined girl. Won't that serve her well? Won't that be interesting in years to come? Oh my.

Geoff and I used to take this path when we went to swim and snorkel at The Cove, and yes, even to jump at The Clam.

I've made promises to each of my four children to bring them back here as soon as possible. I think a midweek visit, this time with swimsuits and towels, will be fantastic. The water is still too cold for me, or maybe I could be dared or tempted. If I don't swim, I can still watch for crabs and collect shells and treasures, bury my feet in the gritty sand.

I will be on the lookout for new masks and snorkels in anticipation of beach days.

Max cannot wait for warmer temperatures or fancy gear, not even swim trunks. Fully dressed and under my watchful eye, he went all the way in and loved it.

The best of the day was being with Geoff and William and Alex and Max and Maria.

Like a bird in the sun, I soaked it all up.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Some Mothering

This post first appeared last year and I think it's well worth repeating, with some additional faces. The first time I published it, it took forever just to gather the images, to double check that I was representing as many mothers as possible and then to format all of them etc. I didn't have time or energy left to name names + I am totally paranoid about misspelling and mislabeling. This seemed like a ripe opportunity to make a classic, if innocent, goof-up. Another thing that I thought a lot about is this... I know many women who are not technically mothers and yet they definitely posses the strength and caring, the nurturing and dedication... doting aunts, dear friends, generous women... is there a name for them, do we recognize those kinds of mothers? I think we should. Happy Mothers' Day to all the women who care and give, and support and inspire. We make a good team.