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

Monday, February 28, 2022

Winter Chill

    It is winter in Northern California and this week that has meant frost on the roofs visible through the back kitchen window....our garage roof, the roof of the apartment building next door, the roof behind our house where the stray kitties sunbathe on occasion and if I lean forward I can see the roof of our next door neighbors who on the left who share our driveway. They all glitter white and shimmery, blueish in certain shadowed angles and impressively opaque. There is a true layer of white, and from certain angles it looks for all the world like true snow. The boys make believe that we have indeed had a wee blizzard and we haul the banana tree and the papaya tree into the kitchen in their gigantic pots and work around their absurd bulk as we wash the dishes by hand because the dishwasher has passed away and is awaiting buriel in the driveway. You have to duck around the papaya to get to the plate cupboard and the banana tree has to be slid to the side to open the low oven door. But there is room for us all and make do is kind of my favorite acoutrement in life

    And then, later in the day the sun comes out and I go out and plant pansies under our lemon tree. Its a funny life and a funny kind of winter. Thing are colder, I drink more coffee, we protect our plants now and then. The tomatoes and peppers  have wilted away into brown sticks, the cauliflower keeps slowly curving new leaves around its inner core which I hope means it is secretely developing a head. We bake more and there a constantly sprinkling of slippers and socks through the whole house as people shuffle in and out on the chilly tile floor of the kitchen. I am holding on for spring which you still need, it turns out, even if your winter is frost on the roof, cold floors and setting mouse traps instead of snow drifts and salting the sidewalk. We all need that blooming warmth and the heart of God draws us back to Himself in the midst of our aching coldness. It sure sounds good to drink in the sunshine and pull it into my bones. I need it, and the revitalization that comes with it. I am always comforted by the turning of the seasons, no matter what dark frosty time settles in and nips the buds off the eggplants, there is some warm beauty coming when the sun comes out.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Tuning Back In

I am sitting here at the keyboard in our silent little Orange Blossom Cottage, listening to the occasional far-off whooshing of a car off on the freeway and otherwise, nothing to be heard but the distant burble of the fish tank. 

I have been distant myself, more than I meant to be. Somehow, two years blipped past and I wrote not, shared not and burbled along in the my own little corner, trying to keep the wheels turning, doing dishes and laundry and dishes and laundry as life kept on. Situations kept on oozing into different shapes and the kids kept on growing into new versions of themselves and I kept stacking up post ideas and drafts and snippets of things that drifted across my mind. Things I meant to write about and needed to think about and ought to post about and would love to share and the the pile was so tall that I think it might have slid sideways and toppled down on top of my writer self. Writer-Me may have been here in this dark corner of the house waiting to post, buried sheepishly beneath all those intentions for quite some time now. It's nice to be back.

I am homeschooling 9th grade this year, head-on into high school with enthusiastically interested and yet unabashedly inexpert energy! Ru is reading wonderful classic literature: C.S. Lewis, Ivanhoe, Shakespeare, Defoe and Churchill and the things he is understanding and connecting together impress, delight and underwhelm me by turns. He is still after all, a normal 14 year old boy. Sometimes, he is brilliantly fresh and insightful and sometimes he just misses stuff. I am leaning in toward the promise of life being long, there being seasons for everything, subconscious knowledge still counting and my own role being just a beginning in the long line of teachers and guides he will have in life. My job is not to equip him with the whole body of knowledge, its just to keep his fire going, teach him some habits of discipline, and whet his appetite for the reams of things there are to know and learn. 

Everyone asks me if I am scared to be teaching high school and the truth is I'm not. Its closer to compatriot learning, he can understand and write about and read the things that I am interested in. I can imagine growing into adult friendship and an grown, peer to peer, life-share path. I am sure he will grow up and leave and differ and have areas of his life that he doesn't let me into but, I feel like he is increasingly a whole and separate person looking back at me bringing his own new things into the room and the conversation. Its encouraging and emboldening to me to know that I don't have to know all the things because he is going to be such a different person from me, living in such a different world than the one I grew up in. I also feel encouraged by the fact that his own freedom is allowing him to enrich his own high school experience and by turn our family and the rest of the students below him. 

“Our children should feel that they can peacefully say anything: questions, doubts, criticism, points of view. They should feel that we are genuine interested in what they do and think. We should not deprive them of privacy, but all our words and conduct should encourage an open relationship. One cannot overestimate the value of such relationships.”
― Sister Magdalen

So, that's a little peek into the velvety corners of my inner world in the dark of the night here in California. I hope that you are all well. I have missed you. I hope to pick up the loose threads here and weave onwards, mending the holes and filling in the gaps.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Smoke, Thanksgiving, and Broccoli

Dear World,

It is almost Thanksgiving. My siblings are all in Michigan, every last one of them....except me. I am there in the my soul: staying up too late with my sisters talking, cooking with mama, playing guitar with my brother, snuggling kittens and eating wild apples out of hand. I love them all and I am so glad that they are getting together and though I can't be there in person every time, I am so glad to know that we all have each other, despite our differences and busy lives. Familial connection is an elastic wonder.

We will be here for the holiday, pet-sitting for our home-going friends who all headed off in their cars to see grandparents. We are here with borrowed parakeets and guinea pigs, making pies from scratch together and test running board games for the big day. A's kind aunt and uncle who have been like bonus grandparents have invited us to come celebrate with them and so we will pack up our noisy van full of hooligans and drive the 30 minutes to their stately, elegant home on Thursday. It feels strange to say that I will be making broccoli for Thanksgiving. I said I would cook whatever would be useful and a green vegetable was the open slot. No extensive brining or searching for fancy recipes or agonizing over the decoration of pastry but also, no stress about the pie cooling properly or the meat being done all the way or the timing of the swapping of various items in the oven. It's kind of lovely to think about a day of gratitude in which I can just cook some broccoli and then read story books, dig out A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and press fallen leaves. It sounds good. Also, truth....I bought the ingredients for a small brie-en-croute and stuffed figs and I was thinking to make a little bit of my family's traditional wild rice dish. Not that I will take all those things over to dinner....but it wouldn't exactly be the holiday without them.

I am trying to come up with a classic to read next. I want something I have never read before that isn't too drippy and romantic but does feel uplifting. I can't do Austen right now, too much romantic fuffle. I can't handle Ethan Frome....too hard. I need something in between. In the meantime, I am working my way through My First Summer In The Sierras by John Muir. I am pleased and gratified by his botanical and scientific warmth in describing the world of the mountains, no one can do it better, but I am astonished at his own lack of facility and capability outdoors. He feels a little weaker than I ever expected. He's rather dependent on stuff: food, equipment, proper clothing, warm fires, etc. I think  I might be tougher than he is! Not sure how I feel about that. This is John Muir that we are talking about.

Speaking of fires, the air was clearing just a little today. I love the fact that stepping outdoors didn't mean itchy eyes and instant cough. The smoggulous smoke (as Suess would say) was so terrible earlier this week that we truly didn't leave the house for many days, not even to step into the garage for clean laundry. The Camp Fire seems to be finally dying down a bit which is a blessed relief. Wednesday the weather men are saying we will have rain. We had one little spit of a shower in October but otherwise, we've had nothing for half of a year. It is amazing to me that the plants can just hold their breath and wait that long but they truly can. As soon as the rain begins to fall there will be an astonishing surge of rebirth. I look forward to gray skies that are heavy with big bulging clean rain clouds and not ash, and air that feels like clean hope and not a kick to the gut. I cannot wait to hear the sound of it on the roof and have a home day with a steady drizzle on the yard and a stack of library books!

Happy Fall, everyone...I hope the rain patters on your roof, your lungs breath free, your family gathers and your books uplift you!