Friday, March 26, 2021

Today Is Friday

Before I launch into the paperwork-computer sorts of things I need to manage, I wanted to treat myself to a little blogging. I uploaded pictures from my phone, and started formatting some favorites. A small voice in my head casually, yet pointedly, noted, "Another picture of a nesting hen. Oh, and some eggs. Yes, well, you do that often." I am glad I am not feeling too self-critical. I am glad I am in a mood to note... it is called ChickenBlog, afterall! I don't suppose anyone could be surprised that there are a lot of posts about hens, with pictures of eggs, and chcickens doing chicken things. (Somewhere in my archives I even have a post or two about how I almost always have to fix the way I type the word C-h-i-c-k-e-n, because this is a blog that spans the spectrum of all things chicken, fascintating, pointless, and otherwise.) I am, obviously, infatuated with chickens, with their eggs, their behaviors, their feathers, and lives, and it makes me happy that I ever got to see for myself what having my own hens would be like in the first place, that I have been able to observe them, share them, enjoy them for all these years. And I was reasoning all of this, as I settled on including yet another picture of fresh eggs, when I went to format the next photograph... and would'nt you know it, I have another eggs picture to share!
Look at those freckles! I couldn't not take a picture of this very pretty, speckled egg. I've been sharing a lot of eggs in real life, too. I love to share our eggs, about as much as I love taking pictures of them. It makes me happy to give gifts, to pass along my enthusiasm for the egg colors, and having backyard chickens. What hadn't occured to me is how much more I get back... not just the pleasure of giving, but receiving! My friends keep surprising me with their thanks and kindness, with fresh baked goods, treats, produce from their gardens! It's hard to describe, and I feel silly that it always catches me off-guard, but I feel happy and lucky to share what I can, and I feel like it's a complete and satisfying act to simply deliver those eggs, so when a friend bring over warm cookies, or a head of lettuce, it feel like my good fortune grows ten-fold!

Today is Friday. The reminder helps. Blogging helps. It's not as easy to keep events and moments in order, when so many days sort of blend into each other. It is easy to lose track of the day of the week, the things that happened either last summer, or was it the summer before that? I was already struggling with memory issues, even total amnesia, before the lockdowns, and stay at home season(s), and with the added wibbly-wobbliness of days and days and days staying home, time is even fuzzier.

Maria does a good job of staying on track. She's up for school, always on time. She definitely knows when it's Saturday. Saturday is the day when she, Alex, Bambi, Lucas, and Tori play Dungeons and Dragons. She's been diligently, regularly, building her portfolio ahead of the AP exams in May. She has been adding to her skills, and finished works, by mastering Procreate on her iPad. And I am happy for her that she is starting to add after school clubs into her days, again. I think those were a struggle for her to relate to, as she continues to participate remotely. And, for the record, I have loved all of the days with her at home... I know it's not ideal, that there have been losses, setbacks, but I can't change those, and focusing on whatever is good, I am happy to enjoy seeing her, having more hours in her company.
Geoff is still in crunchmode, which has meant 16 hour days, 7 days a week. The good news: They are progressing, and the hardwork and expectations are transitioning. I am always happy when this shift happens, because even though they are still working hard, they can enjoy some relief, knowing that tasks are accomplished, behind them. I like to imagine that it provides some relief. Max and Geoff share a room, where Max sleeps, and has his things, and Geoff works. Increasingly, Max is working, too, as he gets ready to begin his internship. He wants to be prepared, to learn as much as he can ahead of the start date. He's feeling the pressure. Yesterday, I masked up, went on a mission, and came back with something we haven't enjoyed in well over a year... fresh sushi! Sushi is one of Max's favorites, Bambi's, too. It was a lot of fun to plate everything up, and call everyone to the livingroom picnic. For us all to have a treat, a novelty, and think of good things we look forward to, and hard things we have made it through, to laugh, to enjoy something different. A break! That's what it's called. Right. It's funny how some ideas kind of lose their meaning... we are almost always home, which implies we are always on a sort of break, but without actual vacations, without going new places, or getting away from routines, it can be easy to forget that we need real breaks, changes, a refresh.
It rained yesterday. With Max and Bambi, I folded, aproximately, one ton of laundry. I did a lot of cleaning, actually. And some cooking. It was a gratifying kind of day. And by the time I was ready to head up to bed, I was tired, but in a pleasant way. Then I remembered that the floss I ordered had been delivered. I popped back downstairs, grabbed the baggy, and relished the prospect of getting into bed with the cat, and a cozy shawl, and unwinding the new skeins onto little card organizers. I thought I would only get to a few before I would be too sleepy. I turned my phone to a movie, something I could follow, like an audio book, while winding thread. Listening to the entire movie Juliet Naked, I organized all but three skeins, because I ran out of the little cards. I like Nick Hornby books, and movies. I love floss, the skeins, and seeing them wrapped around organizers. I have my #729, that pretty gold, restocked and now I can add more to my wundersch├╝rze. Plus, I have cat drawings to practice, and there's cardio parties, on Fridays and Wednesdays. Here I am, to remind myself that some structure is good... I appreciate these insights and bits of wisdom that come to light for me. And my, what a kind of random post this has turned about to be... something, I admit, as frequently recurring as egg pictures.
Happy Friday, friends. I hope you find some change, or relief, some happy random pleasures, anything to make you feel fortunate.

Monday, March 22, 2021

It Takes Practice


I will always be thankful that Geoff and I took a chance to live in Minnesota. When we moved there, practically newlyweds, and six months into our first pregnancy, I thought, I believed, it would be for always and forever. I committed to our children growing up in the Midwest, to learning how to plow snow, and can fruit, to living with a walk-out basement, and the real, and unsettling, possibility of hockey practice. I hoped some of my family might follow us out there, that the romance of big, old houses, open yards, and deer in the backyard would become my normal. When it didn't turn out as expected, when we moved back to California, after a little more than one year, I admit I felt like I failed, a bit. Now, with perspective, I know it was the right, or necessary choice to come back West, and rather than dwell on what didn't work, I love to reflect on what we gained.

At the moment I am thinking of Seasons. Obviously, seasons are something that are very very distinct in the Midwest, in Minnesota. We were in Minneapolis for the Storm of the Century, the 1991 Halloween Blizzard! Seriously, this gives us remarkable street cred. That snow crushed snowfall records. And Fall! Fall is a breathtaking sight, when entire forests turn from Emerald to Scarlett, and not only red, but orange, yellow, magenta, even purple. Spring was miraculous. By the time it was March, even April, I had lost the concept of fresh green, of shoots, sprouts, leafed out trees, and picnics on lawns. Winter freezes so deeply, so starkly, everything, I could not fathom anything coming back to life, and when it happens, it is a breathtaking sight to behold. And while I was taking this all in, and relishing in the belief that I would have these transitions and moments to enjoy for the rest of my life, I would sigh and regret that all my years, living in Southern California, I had never noticed the seasons. Seasons were marked only by holidays and the new decorations the teacher put on a bulletin board. Cut out apples, meant it was September, and hearts meant it was February. But, walking into an apple Orchard in September is a much better notice of the change from summer to fall than turning a calendar. I loved living a year of changing seasons, the signs, the indications, the newness of the views, and what we could do, what we would enjoy, and I kind of felt sorry for what I'd been missing in my former life, what I had failed to notice, because I thought they weren't there... the signs, the changes.
I was wrong, though... we don't get snow drifts, or frozen lakes, but even in sunny California, on the coast, I have learned to notice the seasons, and it's thanks to the lessons, and time appreciating change, and cycles, that I learned to enjoy in the Midwest, that I can see it is spring here. Our seasons are subtle, and frankly, can be frustrating due to hot, dry days that show up in January, or summer heat that blasts well into early winter. Right now, though, some of the hens are acting a tiny bit broody, like they'd consider raising some spring chicks. Our peas are crisp and plentiful, and spinach is growing. I spotted a Western Bluebird, and his feathers were stunningly brightened for courtship. Our fruit trees are full of blossoms, and even the start of peaches, apples, figs. The light streams in from a new angle, still soft, yet warmer, promising. In spring, I lose track of the hours, and look up from my project, thinking what should I do for dinner, only to realize it's already after 8, and closer to bedtime than dinnertime. Geoff and I drove east a few miles, the other day, and the hills were blue with ceanothus. You don't have to tell me, with a calendar, what time of year it is when the mountain lilac is blooming. I vibrate to those colors, to the sight of the foothills, and roadsides, flourishing in lavendar hues against deep shades of green. Soon it will be jacarandas in bloom, then the matilija poppies will come on. The last weeks of spring bring coastal fog, a deep marine layer that slips into the canyons, and evaporates in the afternoon sun. It is spring in Southern California! We are imagining picnics on lawns, and more... maybe the hope of making plans for summer.
I ran out of gold floss number 729 for the apron, so I've set that aside while I wait for a delivery. I thought I would be a little bit miserable having to wait, but something else came up, and I find myself learning how to draw cats. I am super immersed in this exercise, and even enjoying it. Rats, for whatever reason, I was eager and willing to figure out, and I spent the better part of a year drawing, sketching, and painting rats. And all that time, I wondered that I wasn't trying chickens, and cats, but I think those are hard. I am not the most ambitious person, and so I basically, mostly, avoided learning how to depict cats, and chickens. Well, I wasn't wrong: Cats are hard to draw. All that fur! And their eyes, getting those right is critical. And I struggle with the tip of the nose and the curve of those furry lips. And. Yet... I have been trying to draw them, and I have been studying, and some times I think, Oh, yeah, I am getting somewhere! And then, like last night, after hours and hours practicing, I put everything away, and thought, Nah. I cannot draw cats. And nevermind chickens. Then I wondered, How long does it take for an order of floss to come in?
My mind had this whole post half composed, and I was feeling in a happy writing groove, when my phone rang. The attorney, my attorney, but maybe you can tell I don't identify with anyone being particularly mine, or on my side? It was a call to let me know that, as ever, this civil case is not going fairly, justly, that any improvement, or worsening, depends on my ambition or tolerance for pain, possibly arbitration, maybe just more haggling. I don't know. I told her I'll call you back. Last week, grappling with this same issue, I wrote, "I need to believe that sometimes surrendering is the only way to win." The only experience I have, after all this time, is that I am fighting a losing battle, with only the hope that fate or justice, or luck, will intervene and set things right, but the evidence that this could be true grows dimmer and dimmer. It will always strike me as cruel, that my worst pain is from trying to defend myself, from doing what was asked of me, from answering to lawyers, and insurance, and the system. I feel alone, I feel small, and ripe for them to proceed, as I imagine they always intended, looking out only for themselves. I wish I could go back into my JettPuff, and hold my own hand. I would whisper, "You are right. This is a horrible thing that's happened, and it will get worse, as you already know, because insurance companies are corrupt, and laws are muddled, so courage! Courage for healing, for nightmares and trauma. Courage for being followed home, stalked, subpoenad, accused. Courage to go through therapies, courage for memory loss, and cognitive damage, for loss of movement, for loss of confidence. You are right to dread everything that is ahead of you, after you get out of your crushed van, because it will be horrible. Above all... courage to live in spite of all of this, because there will be laughter, and cake, and plans, there will be mountain lilac in spring, and meteor showers, there will be resolve, and your own resilience, and countless moments and blessings that you will never surrender. You can be whole, again, if differently, or less certain, without their ideas of justice, without complicated arrangements, protracted settlements. You can walk away from their agendas and game, and take your blessings with you, and that will be enough."

It might be time to throw the ring into the fire. That is an absolute nerd metaphor... I have been holding on to the civil and criminal case outcomes, like a ring of power, believing that I will come out fortunate, vindicated, released of trauma and heartache, healed. But being caught up in bureaucracy, in this Kafkian cycle, in legal tests of will and endurance, is like holding a corrupt ring and the dominion of bumbledom over my life, over my mental health is diminishing my health, my own power. It's so hard to know what is the really right thing to do. I am scared of being wrong, of failing. I am scared of letting go, and I think of poor Frodo, but I always dismayed that he struggled to do the right thing. Where is my Sam?

I wish she'd called after I wrote my happy post, but that's how it is... bad things can happen, when you least expect it. And. And something about dealing with it, and saving room to get back to all of the many good things. Yes, something like that. It all takes practice, I see.