"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Seasons In California

End of the plane ride....Mama losing it a little.
We had a wonderful visit back to Michigan with our two families, and were part of my youngest sister Song's wedding to Jack, the newest uncle in the tribe. Its a hard gig, suddenly finding yourself in ownership of "uncle-ing" my four wild boys and I have to say, Jack rises to the challenge. We have been quite lucky in both of the last two uncle acquisitions. My sisters know how to pick playful dudes with love of action figures, roughhousing and silly jokes...all the important things. Its an unspoken thing,  evaluating potential spouses of your siblings for the kind of uncles or aunts they will be to your kids. Never heard anybody talk about that before but it sure is important to me. You don't get to pick your own kids aunts and uncles and you sure don't get to select them when you are the kid but its  a pretty important role. I have looked up to my aunts and uncles a lot as I grew up and sometimes they have been sources of advice or assistance and more and more as I get older, they are part of my network of emotional warmth and love. There's no underrating the role that you can have in a child's life as a peripheral adult in their family who cares and is around and willing to "get" them. Determined to "aunt" more actively this year and make sure my nieces and nephews know that I care. 

The leaves on my crown here are from Michigan when we were there last week, the maples were just before peak, turning red and orange everywhere on the edges of the woods. We have many fewer maples by variety and by volume here in Northern California. I miss the trees I know well, mostly in the way one misses old friends, not because they are the only lovely trees on the planet but just because they are my "known" faces. I miss my childhood trees for familiarity and comfort, but I love all the trees I am getting to know out here. A eucalyptus or pepper tree are graceful beauties that I never knew before. I do have to share that for the amount of griping and disparaging I hear from locals about the "lack of seasons" in California (No autumn at all, so goes the rumor.) I thought the fall color was beautiful! We don't have the same ecosystem so there aren't big sweeps of maple forests which give the "hills are alive" kind of color that Michigan and Connecticut have in the fall. Most of our autumn color is out in the vineyards which all turn gold in the fall, or in the cities. There are beautiful street trees that are all turning color here, apparently unseen, because nobody points them out or talks about them much. I'm puzzled about why! The leaves on the sweet gum trees are just beginning to blush red around town now. They turn the most spectacular scarlet and so do the Japanese maples, the red maples, and the crepe myrtles. One of my favorites in fall is the ginkgo which will puts on one of the most uniform and brightly gold glow, pretty much every single leaf on the tree will turn a glowing yellow.    Here there are lots of new friends however, I love the sweet gum trees, the pepper trees, the crepe myrtles and so many more. The persimmons in our backyard will turn a dark lipsticky red too around Thanksgiving. Fall foliage is later here....coming more in November and even December than September and October and much slower and gradually. We get chilly mornings and evenings, albeit without frost and eventually after color is over the leaves will fall all over town too. We have a lot of persistant foliage too so its doesn't look as bare, but if you which streets to go down, the big leaf maple, sweet gum and sycamores leave big, unseen swathes of leaves for kicking through. Secret Autumn in Norcal.

 I harvested the first hydrangea heads to put up on the mantle today, a few of them had blown down in the first rains (the rainy season is here and starting to turn sunny days into a rarer sighting). I put a few on the front porch with our pumpkins and squashes too. Lovely to have my own decorations growing in the backyard. I have considered spray painting some gold just for subtle shimmer. Might be beautiful or might be tacky, hard to say.

The kale is still appreciating the recent trimming that I gave it and is putting out a new flush of delicious leaves. Strange to realize that there is no real point in putting it away in the freezer for winter as winter here means kale in the garden, fresh at hand. Still wrapping my mind around all that each season means. 

One of my next big projects will be making a NorCal Wheel of Seasons....with painted reminders of what things signify the changing seasons here, I'm so annoyed with everyone saying that there are none. All the world has seasons and change, we just don't all live in a Tasha Tudor book.....the world is more diverse and interesting than that. Who made New England seasons the heartbeat of what change in the natural world world means? It reminds me of the ridiculous obsession homeowners have with keeping up an green English lawn, even when it doesn't make any sense in their ecosystem. There is more than one way to enjoy a front yard or to mark the changing of the year. 

That's our cute little Orange Blossom Cottage, with the kitchen light glowing as the sun goes down. Hello to all of you, from Cali!


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I'm A Pioneer, Dragon Woman From A Special School

There's a meme going around that's totally delicious. Everyone is sharing the three fictional characters to blend together to describe themselves. I love me a character portrait and I also love personal examination. This little social experiment has both. Yum. Why stop at my three characters? I'm going deeper.

The three I chose were:

Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter

Danaerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones 
Milly from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

A and I got to talking together and one of the most interesting parts of this whole thing is trying to guess what a person is thinking of when they say that a character represents them. There are a constellation of pieces that make-up a character and real people are at least as complicated. I started chewing through the reasons for picking this character or that (I thought of several who could have been on the list) and whittled it down using the virtues that each one embodied, trying to map across each of them, different key aspects of my values. Kind of fun....

I picked Luna for: Loyalty, Unconventionality and Perceptiveness
Danaerys represented: Strength, Belief In Mystic Destiny. and Tender Vulnerability
Milly signified: Capability, Energy and Femininity  

These are some of my deepest held values. Kind of fun to unpack, weigh and consider...all because of a meme on social media. Nothing like a weekend away with a little fun time on your hands and the rippling tide of information and communication and ideas that is the internet. 


Friday, September 23, 2016

Mama Me

          One of the great challenges of motherhood is the push to consider everyone else and to keep drawing out of our well for the great, clamoring throng who beg to be satiated. The trick is that the well must not run dry....mothers need love and nurturing too and as legal adults we are now responsible for our own healthful self-care. Here are some good thoughts for what to try when you're running on E. (I am preaching to the choir.....)
10 Ways To Mother Yourself

  1. Give Yourself A Soothing Bath.....Do all the motherly touches, add a scented oil, sail something fun in the water (a blossom or two), have a soft, warm towel ready afterwards and add lotion to your dry skin like a good mama would.
  2. Put Yourself Down For A Nap or To Bed Early....This one requires either a good show for your kids to watch and an alarm to wake you before the show is quite finished or more ideally, another adult to sponsor handling the littles (if there are any in your life) while you catch zZzZzz's. Remember, good mamas know that the best thing to do when you're too tired to cope is to lie down for a little while. 
  3. Give Yourself A Nourishing Meal....A diligent mama will have none of this junk food business when her small one needs extra caring for. Nourishing, cozy food is the ticket....a warm soup with all the veggies, soft cooked eggs with a side of gently steamed asparagus, a freshly made green juice with a little floral garish to make it more alluring...beautiful but healthful treats.
  4. Give Yourself Kind Advice....Be the thoughtful, supportive voice you need to hear. Tell yourself that everyone makes mistakes, gently ask what wonderful lesson there might be in this experience for your edification, tell yourself that you are the most charming self you ever had and there couldn't be another in the world you'd rather have. Let the words you leave rattling around in your own mind be the kind a good mother would give. All warmth and unconditional love without a bit of empty flattery or chintzy trite shallowness. 
  5. Try A Gentle Foot Massage....Use a warm oil, add a drop of some essential oil that makes you feel snug and then just go over every inch of your tired little feet. Coax your muscles into softening and your bones into pliable release and let all the exhaustion, pain and work you carry out into your own mother hands.
  6. Read Yourself A Story That You Can Dissappear Into....Find a short story or a long one, a printed story or an e-version any kind of adventure that you want to never leave. Settle into pillows for your little getaway. Read aloud to yourself, do all the voices and insist that you close your eyes sometimes to imagine the scene for a second now and then. Sometimes we all need to be whisked off into the magical world of a far away land.
  7. Offer Yourself A Little Treat For Behaving....I'm not endorsing rewards and punishments....this is not meant to be a teaching episode or a bribe for accomplishment, just think of something you have done well recently and reward yourself. Perhaps you got caught up on laundry and now can have the nice smelling laundry soap, maybe you remembered fill up the car and so now you can take five minutes to joy-ride someplace that makes your heart sing. Its the little things. Celebrate your good choices and treat yourself in some small way like a mother would. 
  8.  Lay Your Things Out The Night Before....Pick out your whole outfit the night before a stressful day. Select everything from your earrings to your socks and lay out all the little things you know you'll forget. Your favorite coffee mug, the car keys, and your best water bottle with a lemon wedge already in it. A good mama knows what her child will need and provides it all thoughtfully.
  9. Brag On Yourself To Those Who Will Appreciate....This is not pomposity, this is lovingkindness for your little charge that leaves you bursting at the seams....talk about yourself the way a wonderful mother would speak of the one she is raising. Tell what you are proud of, the little victories, the hard won successes, the silly, charming errors that make you giggle. Those who care will be so pleased to share your personal pride. A good mother knows how to tactfully brag on her child. Follow suite.
  10. Be Endlessly Patient....You are just learning, you have never been this age before, you have never done this life stage before, you know very little, you are trying your best and you are a good soul who wants to do well and tires, and lacks knowledge, and flubs it up but is quite allowably imperfect. Mothers know and offer patience and grace to their children when they see their efforts and their exhaustion. See the same in yourself and offer loving support and patience as you learn.