Thursday, June 17, 2021

Send Us a Postcard

Good morning, friends. How are you? What are you doing this summer? I am so excited about an upcoming visit from a New England friend. I love being a tour guide for our region, offering my best tips, suggesting fun drives, scenic spots, the most excellent chips and salsas. Ask me! I think I could run a boutique visitors center, or drive a tour van. I love it when tourists ask, Would you mind? Could you please take our picture? I proceed to pose them, check the lighting, switch up angles, and manage it all like it's a photo-shoot for Agressively Friendly Magazine, my imaginary publication and city guide. Oh, I miss doing that. And I love when people share their vacation pictures, and baby pictures, on social media. People apologize for those kinds of posts, thinking it's too much. But I never think it's "too much." I am looking forward to hearing about your first time on a jet ski, and seeing a picture of the best burger of your life! Are you going to the Grand Canyon? Sitting on a beach? Will you send me a postcard?

Since we gave up on ever resurrecting our swimming pool, Alex and Bambi have taken the initiative of tearing out the fenced corner where the pool equipment sits. It's all a mess, anyway, with rotting wood, and heavy shrubs where rats like to commune and rave. The idea is to clear everything out, reconfigure some fencing, and a new gate, and then there will be open space, and better accessibility. Ooofta! When the garden treaures were neatly stacked, contained, it looked a bit jumbly, sort of rustic-chic. This picture, however, is decidely more along the lines of Whoa, that's alotta junk! Pardon, our mess: We live here. I think Geoff said something about ordering a dumpster? Hold on a sec, I have a call to make.

My dear friend is in Arizona with her Mom. She shared that it will be 116 degrees there today. And no signs of relief, like a heavy rain to break the tension of furnace-like temperatures. I've spent a few summers as a Sonoran, and only the monsoon rains could make it bearable. I can't help but sigh and proclaim my thanks! It is nothing like hot-summer here, yet, and it was almost drizzling this morning because of the marine layer and early fog. I count my blessings for each and every day when we can forestall heat, Santa Anas, scorching days, and sweltering nights. Hang in there, Janece and Carol! We are thinking of you, and sending best thoughts.

Well, as it is still cool and comfortable, I think I will sign off, so I can get to some more chores, and putting things in order. It's been good to clear figurative, and literal, cobwebs, to update and dust-off our rustic-chic.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Now & Later

Inside and outside, we've been tackling tasks, and chores, like repairing the farm fence, and thinning the bamboo. Bambi and Alex did a lot of sorting and reconfiguring the room we call The Lab. It looks great in there. Some day I hope William will approve me sharing pictures of his bedroom. He has transformed it, with paint, architectural details, and rearranging everything. It feels like a destination, in our own home, and going in is like visiting a museum exhibition, or the set of a very compelling drama. He has curated a fine assortment of extraordinary things.

I keep staring at our calendar. Probably too much. At least I alternate, and go from staring at the calendar to staring at the map. I love reading maps, the paper ones. Lately I am appreciating that the online kind of maps are kind of spectacular, too. I keep finding obsucre spaces, sources, links, brilliant details that lead to fascinating articles, and books I mentally jot down... Oh, I should read that. I am making plans, and also living in a limbo. More like standing in the doorway, where I want to leave the room I have been haunting for 18 months, but the next room feels a little too wide open, inviting, and compelling, to be sure, but the crowds and bright lights, the chance that I won't find room to stand, makes me hesitant.
This week I was invited to a backyard tea. I almost walked into the wrong house, even as I was questioning odd details of what should have been a totally recognizable and familiar house, and before I knocked on the neighbor's door, it finally struck me This doesn't look like Diana's house, because it isn't Diana's house. Evidentally coming out of isolation can be as awkward and unsettling as it was going in. Of course, I needn't have been so nervous, fumbling with my stuff, second guessing everything. After half a minute I was settled in and back to laughing and talking with a very good friend, enjoying the yummy things she'd prepared. They're getting ready to re-landscape their backyard. Lucas and Eric were home. Charles came back from the beach, reporting about the fine day, and he shared produce from their garden. We talked about Wisconsin, and free-cycling finds, and e-bikes. It was all so normal. So wonderfully normal.
This is a dragon tree. We have two. I call them Geoff's dragon trees. As in, "Geoff, I think it's time to plant your dragon trees." And yesterday, "Geoff, you gotta take a look at your dragon tree. It's blooming! That has to be rare. We've had those for at least ten years and I've never seen them bloom." They are the only plants I have ever known Geoff to observe, admire, and then purchase. He loves plants, trees, gardens, but it's something he leaves to me when it comes to aquiring, and that's fine... lucky me! I love that the dragon trees are his. I loved the time in his work when he was doing all of the tree graphics for Autodesk 3D Studio Max, and our home, and his thoughts, filled up with talks, books, and reference material for all things trees!

There are a few things on the calendar, which I find comforting and not. I really want to make plans. I want to have a party for apple picking, movie nights, a maker gathering. I want to go to the Zoo, and kayak, and stargaze. But the transition, the uncertainty of what or how to resume that Normal is not so easy. I always regret not making plans, like when it's mid-August, and we've spent endless days not doing much, and resenting the crowds, because we didn't make our own reservations, take our own adventures. But I am having such a hard time launching, initiating even basic things. This week, for instance, is half over and we haven't done any of the things I kept anticipating. I am pretty sure the good van needs to see the mechanic, which is a real stinko, because that will probably be something that will eat up the last half of the free week. Am I whining? Sorry.

One big thing on the calendar: I am driving to Oregon. It's a fact, that I am stating to reinforce my committment to both a compelling and an overwhelming plan. I will have the company of William and Maria. We will be in a rental vehicle. I've made every single reservation for accomodations, and located every reliable public restroom between here and there, with exits and open hours. I have researched the make and model of three categories of rental vehicles and changed my choices twice three times since Friday. I have five, full, pages of detailed notes, ideas, lists, and confirmation numbers, handwritten, and transcribed to our shared calendars. I will probably rewrite them in small print in one of my favored, little Scout books (not a paid endoresment, but they should contact me. I am a devotee.) I am planning, over-planning, drafting, arranging, and applying so much forethought that my muscles ache, my brain is steeped in numbers, in holding the details of travel, safety, possiblities, and hope. It's always been something I do, and enjoy... making travel plans, getting down the particulars that might help in any contingency. But I am almost certainly over doing it now, like with my driving vigilence, I feel stretched thin, anxious, for being so mindful about every real and imagined scenario. This will be my first roadtrip since the thing, and post-mid-pandemic. What? Am I nutz? I thought writing this down would help get things in perspective, relieve some of my angst, but I may just be cataloging what makes this whole plan out of reach.



Right now, I am going to clean off our picnic table. Later, I am going to roast some tomatoes. And much later, I will be driving, one day at a time, North, and it will all be fine, lovely in fact, and when I drive home I will be full of new stories, inspiration, and confidence.

Can you hear my soothing tone, my inner-wisdom voice? I am channeling all that, and aiming for philosophical and chill. Lotus position. Chamomile tea. A compilation of every therapy affirmation and mind-wellness saying is raining down on my head, like word pot-pourri... it's well intentioned, and practically useless. Should I count sheep? No? Logging off, now.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021


The cats know how to Summer. They know how to enjoy the sun, how to relax, when to nap, and where. They know where to get the best snacks, and they know not to fret about looking good, in a swimsuit or nekkid. Clever cats, living their best lives, happily in their moments. I am taking notes.
Hear me say, "Ta Da!" I've been doing an informal summer camp, and we just finished the last scheduled date. Instead of stashing everything in a heap putting all of the supplies away, I filled our exhibiting cart from Maker events, and now it's waiting for me to schedule more Bird House Camp days! If I add some more books, and some fresh craft ideas, I will be all set for more fun.

Confession: I have a goblet habit. A goblet collection? We are amassing a multitude of large, lavish, colorful, ornate stemware from a particular, large, lavish, colorful, ornate establishment, that I have been visiting since about 1976. Do you know the Madonna Inn? It's camp. It's over the top. It's a must-see. The first time we went, when my Mom took me and my two brothers, I was 9 years old, and utterly gobsmacked. It was (and frankly, still is) about the most garish, kitschy, ridiculous thing I'd ever laid eyes on, and that is the very thing that brings me back, as often as possible. It's on the way, is the excuse, but also... why not? Why skip the garlands of silk flowers streaming from the ceilings, the tufted and trimmed cushions, the hot pink, circular booths? I was thrilled when I had children I could introduce to this wonder and I thought they would see it like I did, skeptically, cynically, somewhat agast, but instead they embraced it with pure hearts and open minds. They saw the free expression, the mind at play, the fun of it! And I like what they taught me... I don't have to love gilded lights, cherubs, and pink flocked wall papered walls to appreciate that someone is enjoying themselves, having fun with their expression. It's all a style and grandeur that I have an aversion to, yet something keeps me coming back for more! I love the play, the exuberance that went into acting on a vision. I love seeing what happens when someone imagines what they love, and builds it, creates it, makes it as good as they envisioned.

And another thing, I can be way way too concerned about what other people will think of my taste, my likes, my style, and when I didn't have money or sense to even have a style, I wrapped myself in a defensive cloak of acting indifferent, of resisting being labled, or standing out, or even admitting that I wished I could wear the popular jeans, have the latest fad thing. It's made me a snob, I hate to admit. My defenses, and small sense of self, became an excuse, then a bad habit, to mock rich people, look down on fans of anything, resist freeing my heart to imagine, wish, and express desires, dreams, wild-out-loud expression. I think it's a sour-grapes mentality, a habitual riposte to real and imagined criticism, and judgement. By hiding behind my cloak, I have missed out on distinguihing what I actually do enjoy or admire, want to fan-girl over, and I think I really started to realize this loss of opportunity when getting to know my children, especially Maria. It was Maria, by her own natural expressions and interests, that helped me realize I had been supressing my femininity (the pink, soft, pretty things we are taught to call "feminine"), that I had been fostering oppresive ideas about loving things that might reveal vulnerability, or simply an assertion of who I am.

It's interesting to me that all my life I have been in love with some element, some idea of the Madonna Inn, and visiting again and again, over the years, initially to be shocked, to laugh at it, because it is funny to me, but in the end... they got me! That place makes me happy, it tickles me. I get excited seeing it as a landmark when we are driving north, then home, again. I thrill at the chance of introducing people to it and seeing their eyes widen at the cherubs, and the colorful goblets, the themed rooms in the hotel. I thought I was above it all, and immune to the trappings, but no. And the last time we stopped, for a delicious breakfast, the young folks convinced me that bringing some of the fun home would be a good idea. Goblets. And no, not just plain clear ones, but every color, a few at a time. Even, God help me, an iridescent blue one. The iridescent ones are, I admit, a little cringey for me. But when I look at them all together, I get giddy, and I think about the next color. The deep golden yellow? I hope so. And celebrations, company, sharing, being our own selves, colorful, true... there is and should always be room for all of this.
I feel lucky, all the time. Like just now... I feel lucky to still be learning, to feeling curious, to be wanting to do things better, and be a better person, to others, to myself. I joked on Instagram about taking selfies with goats, chickens. I use them, I can see, as a filter, the way some people use filters to smooth their skin, or add sparkle. Goats give me the confidence and sparkle to show myself, to see myself. And I've started doing some Live posts on IG... gah! no editing or sparkle when you just let the camera roll! It's helping me practice speaking, to not feeling like it's unsafe to talk aloud. My stutter/memory/confidence issues are difficult for me, and a year at home has not been so good for overcoming those things. So, I guess I am trying to prescribe my own therapy... recording myself, posting things that might feel are embarrassing to me, and letting go of the self-judgement, the compulsion to hide, stay small. You know what, even blogging is an exercise for me, because I am constantly stepping forward, then retreating, and always hearing a voice, "Don't be a narcissist. Don't overshare. Don't say "I" and "Me" so much." But, increasingly, I am believeing that playing small isn't great. And I don't want the blog to be all about me, anyway... I love hearing from you, knowing your thoughts, and ideas.
Last night, very spontaneously, we jumped into a very good bit of Summering. I messaged friends, I'm building a fire. Come by. Bring marshmallows. It was low key, and wonderful. The group changed, people came by, left, came back. The fire popped and crackled, and the moon shone. And we talked and laughed, some even dozed-off, then suddenly it was midnight! We'd comfortably and happily passed the night away, like we were on summer vacation, unaware of the time. Let's have more of that, please! More easy gatherings, laughter, more losing track of time and cares, keeping each other company. I'll make a wish, for all of us... A summer that is easy, with happy company, time to notice the moon above, and the moments at hand, and space to express our true voices, dreams, and wishes.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Time On My Hands

Last year, when jigsaw puzzles were all the rage, I felt too abosorbed in washing groceries, making face shields, and gently rocking myself in the fetal position to jump on the bandwagon. Some friends even kindly offered to share their puzzles. I knew we had at least three in our game closet... puzzles that I saved in case of a zombie apocalypse or some such crisis, when we would all be securely ensconced in our home, and passing the time with wholesome, absorbing activities like piecing puzzles together and churning butter. Now I know, firmly, there are some things that will not (likely) happen, ever, no matter how much "free time" I have on my hands... puzzles, push-ups, deep organizing, writing a novel, alphabetizing, arranging my books by color, Tik Tok dancing, macrame. The list goes on.

And now? Now that people are meeting up, again, and making plans, when we can gather, and hang out? What do I do? Yeah, I brought out the three puzzles that were in our game closet. One is a world map framed in the flags of all nations. Another is a chart of the birds of North America, and the one Max and I chose to dive into is this tea cup puzzle. All three are 1,000 piece puzzles. I learned something that is fascinating me... I stare at the picture on the box, then go for the edges, and I want to make little piles of pieces that have like colors and patterns, but everything hangs on studiously staring at the box. Not Max. He wants nothing to do with the image of the finished puzzle, and managed easily with only observing the shapes, to make terrific progress. I can't get over that! We make an excellent puzzle team, and with our unique approaches we got pretty far, before taking a break. The one, critical, error, was starting this on the floor. It puts the puzzlers in an uncomfortable position, and makes the puzzle itself vulnerable to cats.

By the next day, Max was on to bigger and better things, and I had caught full-blown puzzle fever. I once stayed up until midnight, which is a long long way after my bedtime, lost in gold trimmed edges, rose petals, shadows, and tones of green. When I took breaks, I made an elaborate blockade to protect the finished sections from getting scattered, and keep loose pieces from being absconded by cats. The trouble is, eventually, disaster did strike, when one of the cats took a running slide across the blanket I laid over my project.

The damages amount to about one sitting session's worth of work, and when I determined it wasn't too bad and got down on the floor to restore it all, I became overwhelmed, unfortunately. I was loving puzzling, and felt a strong committment to seeing all the tea cups put together. I loved solving the mystery of one teeny brushstroke leaf, and where it could possibly fit. I loved the triumph and success of each snap, as I made match after match. But sitting on the floor and leaning over 1,000 pieces... well, it started to feel daunting, and it's not as though there aren't other hobbies, demands, interests, chores, and things to do! I felt the pull between seeing this through, and walking away. I wish we had started the puzzle on a table, at least. Can you tell I am still grappling? I do appreciate the moments when I am face to face with a drama of privilege, of no consequence, and I have nothing but the luxury of fretting, while laughing, about this terrible predicament!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

It's Summer Now

When does summer begin? Officially, in your heart, in your hemisphere, when do you say to yourself, Now it is summer? Also, how do you punctuate a question that ends with a statement? On the first of June someone posted Happy first day of summer, and while I respect their enthusiasm, I was shook by the prematurity of the launch. Maybe summer, for them, is when school lets out... it certainly feels like summer when we are free from homework, and required reading. Typically, I am a It's Solstice, the longest day of the year, and the beginning of Summer kind of person. This year, Summer Solstice is a week away. Maria finished her last homework assignment yesterday, and it was hot(ter) yesterday. I was up, not early, but before anyone but the cats, and in the still kitchen, I felt all of the signs of Summer. I'm calling it: Summer has begun. The birds have calmed down from intense Spring cavorting, the sun is burning off the coastal haze earlier and earlier. Flowers are fading, but there are, at last, tomatoes plumping on the vine. And apples! The apples are ready for a first round of harvesting. I enjoyed this reverie in the morning stillness, sipping my tea, and committed to not rushing the morning. I listened to the refrigerator humming, and the cats watched me cuiously. It's summer, kitties. We aren't in a hurry, not just yet.
We did a thing! I posted some hints of a project in progress, and even though no one is clamoring for answers and details about what we are up to, I am here to give you the answers you are too eager to ask for! The fence between the lawn and the goat & chicken run has been slowly detriorating. William wants to reclaim some of the space in the run for forts and art, so he and Geoff have reconfigured the open and enclosed spaces, and re-using the old fence, built a new fence and gate. Goats & chickens still have ample roaming space, and we have opened up new possibilites in the other half of that yard. William and I have been literally salvaging lumber, like old fence boards, to enlcose the geodesic dome... one of the geodesic domes. William found Tara Flannery's open source "recipe" for 3D printing hubs for assembling geodesic domes, and we can't seem to get enough of making tents, forts, houses, studios, barns, shelters, and lean-tos.
As I was sitting, with raisin toast and tea, enjoying the hum of the refrigerator, I resisted the urge to pin anything down, or make any sudden moves. I wanted to be in the moment, and not press myself with decisions or haste. That was a lovely time. Now, I am ready to press forward, again, and think of what next? I'll make a list, in no particular order, just a jumping-off point, something to remind me of what's possible, necessary, interesting, and/or intriguing.

Ocean kayaking

The Zoo

The Fair

Oregon... roadtrip adventure

Wisconsin... Van Trail Innauguration!

Apple Harvest & Party

Outdoor Movie Nights

Camp Bird House

Install New Door

Septic Pits

Asphalt Sealing

32 Wedding Anniversary

Wedding Planning

Visit from Lauren & Danny

Cookout and visit with Tutu

Max's Internship

Skating Party

Balboa Park

Walk the Block, Barrio Logan

Bicycle, Bicycle, Bicycle