Saturday, May 29, 2010

Crystal Lakes day 1

The desert is in bloom.  But we are not.  We are ornery, whiny, and bossy.  Every last one of us.  Two of us are disabled by severe allergies.  Two are suffering from sleep deprivation, and one is just normal.  We tromped out determined to HAVE FUN!  Each plant is clothed in it's yearly best. Blossoms of every kind color the red rock dessert. 

A desert tortoise ambled by.  I wanted to feel his little toenails and his leathery skin.  Little Mother spied a brand new baby and we thought he was the cutest little thing.  Unafraid, he let us touch his little legs and stroke his litttle head.  His mouth was stained a bright green from the fresh desert greens he was munching.  Ladybug and I found a large one in a cave a while later who prefered to stay in his shell.  I think we
committed some sort of crime by nearing the slow house bearing reptiles.  I hope we are not jailed.

Briz brought me a present.  It was a horney toad pendant.  It was very attractive till it decided it might be cooler under my shirt. 

Little Mother climbed rocks up a ravine. Using small holes as hand and foot holds, she made her way up.  We heard a scream!  One hand hold held what looked to be a scorpion. 

As the sun rose higher, the smell of baked warm rock, sage, and hundreds of earthy smelling blossoms filled our senses.  It must be this heightened sense that makes the desert so good for meditation. 

Hearts and minds purged of ill feelings by nature, Briz set back for home with the two littlest.  Ladybug and I continued our adventure.  All went well till nature called.  I left the trail and went into a small canyon behind the cliff.  While thus engaged, Ladybug scampered up the cliff "exploring."  When I emerged, I called for Ladybug.  She was pleased to pop out at the top of a cliff.  When I called her down...she discovered she was stuck.  There was no way down.  She shook, she trembled, she scraped and slid.  Finally, Mother came to the rescue.    I supose it was worth it, because in gratitude, the chattered all the way back to the car. 

Later, we joined Melinda and her 5 boys for batting practice.   Briz and Haylie won the the go cart race.

Austin and I sprayed a cute girl he liked in the bumper boats till we were soaked. 

Ladybug and Little Mother won enough tokens at the arcades to buy several little dollar prizes.  Melinda and I tried our feet at the dance game.  We both got an F.  

Later, we took lessons in pool stackers.  What a blessing to get to know my two new nephews.  They are darling.  Our goal was to get 3 stacks in the pool at the same time, but one fell.  Sleepy.  Sleepy.  Sleepy.  But, if we had to go home today, the vacation has been wonderful.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mean Mommie by Briz the Guest Blogger

There is a very mean mommie at the castle! 

She has terrorized our pyewackit, so much that the poor cat won't go out the back door.  

She has whapped Ladybug on the head when she was displeased.  

She screams at everyone that has stepped a foot wrong.

What are we going to do here at the castle?

Here is the mean mommie right before one of her attacks. 

She is all worked up because her baby bird has jumped down from the nest and is hanging out in the back yard.  If anyone enters the back yard she screams and screams.  We have twice seen her beating up our cat, who formerly was a prolific bird hunter.  Who knows now with all the trauma?  Ladybug got a little too close and was pecked on the head for her transgression.  It's a good thing that mean mommie didn't catch Ladybug a few days ago when she climbed the tree to get a picture of the the nest.

Here is the cute little baby that is not afraid of us at all and is very nice.  It must have had its nice genes passed from the daddy magpie.

 Maybe we should make allowances for post pardem and all those "new mom" excuses.  Maybe it is the mean mommie's first baby and she is just over protective.  Maybe she better get over it soon or she might get a pellet to the head as soon as baby can fly!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Trash ties and Bold Fabrics

Jodi and I were minus our husbands tonight so we decided to have a "stay late."  We don't do sleep overs at our house... Stay lates are the best anyone can get.  Well, the moms wanted a stay late so we got one.  I stormed in her house after waiting 15 minutes in a construction zone, and found a tropical table complete with little umbrellas and pina coladas waiting for us.  I was already happy.  After our tropical dinner, where some donned grass skirts, we dropped Ladybug and Little Mother off at Tae Kwon Do and went window shopping at a fabric store.

Neither of us are seamstresses.  We only sew if we can't help it.  But the colorful fabrics and bold patterns drew us.  Free from the fetters of incessant voices, we let our imaginations run.  We pretended that we could actually do stuff with this gorgeous fabric.  We dreamed of creating flouncy aprons, twirly skirts, pincushions in the shape of pears, and ric rac.  The ric rac is just to have because it was really cool.

A woman, quietly selecting her fabric, leaned into our conversation and offered a helpful hint to our dreams.  Hadn't we heard of Heather Bailey?  Ashamed of our un seamstressliness, we admitted, we'd never heard of her.  Nattalie then told us how to make several projects.  Then she told us how to make it cheaply.  With each quick picture or demonstration, we grew more excited.  Serendipity!!  Lucky accident!  Like rapt pupils we spent the entire hour we had allotted for several stores, learning how to make new projects... with the beautiful fabric... with wonder under... and with ric rac!!!!  After 30 minutes, we felt like she was an old friend and were so excited when she introduced us to 5 of her 6 children and husband.  (Who by the way, walked in the fabric store with an injured bird on his shoulder- What's not to like about a man like that?)

We left the fabric store with a list of to-do's, bright bold fabric, wonder under, and RIC RAC!!!!!  We're pretty stoked.  Even cooler, we made a new friend.  An intelligent down to earth woman, who fearlessly joined our slightly zany raptures.  Women like that are rare.  So many are trying to keep their skills to themselves so they can hold the greatness alone.  How lonely that must be.

By the way, Heather Bailey's website is great!  It's neat that a woman can be that beautiful, talented, and organized all in one human being.  I'm dying to purchase her trash ties.  Look how cool they look!  Or perhaps it is just in their beautiful hair.  Each set is about $10

I love her free downloads.  I can't wait to make the headbands for the girls.  Here is the link!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Visit to China

The children wouldn't work, wouldn't get along, wouldn't be nice to the mom and dad, sooooooo, it was time for a special outing.  I took Ladybug, Briz took Little Mother.  

First we donned "adventure hats." (You can't have an adventure without special adventure hats.)  Then we chose an area of the globe we wanted to visit.  Haylie chose China.  We hopped in the red Hondaish airplane and flew across the globe.  When we were almost there, we glanced at Mongolia, Korea, and Japan, other Asian countries, and Ladybug commented that they looked just like our country.  She was surprised that they had a classic skating and waterpark.  I told her it was amazing how similar we all were.  

When we entered China, most similarities ended.  We started with the art, and learned how in Asian art, man is just a small dot on the  larger canvas of nature.  We experienced dozens of different representations of Buddah, and talked about Buddist teachings of kindness, mindfulness, and reincarnation.  (Ladybug does not want to come back as a worm).  She picked a lattice work wooden fan for a souvenier.  Happily, it was only a dollar.  

We went to the drugstore and found all sorts of remedies for everything from baldness to indigestion.  We marveled at the interesting ingredients... turtles, shark teeth, tiger scent glands.  Wow.  They must be pretty powerful concoctions.  

Hungry, we ventured over to the food market.  Crispy whole ducks, bills and all, hung with crispy necks.  Roast chickens down to their toenails lay on a warmer.  Pigs head and feet awaited purchase next to pork tounge, intestine, chicken feet, and every other interesting edible animal part. 

"Chinese must be a lot like Indians." Ladybug observed.  "They don't waste anything."   The lady at the counter reccomended some steamed pork buns, fresh from the oven.  

We added a fried bread and a Taro boba tea.  Ladybug won the contest on how many tapioca pearls she could slurp out of the Boba at one time.  

We learned about many new fruits and vegetables, such as dragon fruit, jack fruit, and mangostem.  We thought about trying them... but then, we can only try so many new things at once.  Instead we settled on buying the ingredients to make our own Taro Boba Tea.  

Ladybug observed that though we were disgusted with the dried squid, and the large fish head, all those around us were buying them with great excitement.  She noted that we should not make faces at anything new because it might hurt their feelings.  We left China enlightened, and very cold.   

Ladybug is now very happy and working well on the laundry. 


Saturday, May 22, 2010

I need my nuki!

It's cleaning day.  Everyone is struggling today to get their work done.  I'm trying to lighten the mood.  When each gets a little chore done, they watch one of these videos with me.  They love the music but hate the views of the bottom cheeks.  

Just giving you a bit of childlike fun to get through this day!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Our new babies

The past several years, our dining room window has been a looking glass into a private robin world.  A pair of robins made their nest our butterfly bush and we had full access to their entire parenthood drama.  Our favorite day was always the day the little ones learned to fly.

Last year, when they were still mostly bald, with just puffs on their little heads, a pair of magpies looking to build a nest in our yard made a quick dinner of our babies.  We retaliated in kind.  Briz knocked down their partially constructed nest and we have held a magpie grudge ever since.

The robin couple did not return this year but the magpies did.  We debated tearing our enemies nest down, but they worked so hard, and gathered so many of the junky sticks in our yard, we didn't have the heart.  We've hidden sparkleys, cotton, and long dry grass to assist their progress.

Ladybug is the only one who can climb the tree, so she keeps us appraised of the eggs progress.  Last night, Ladybug climbed, hand over hand, to the top of the 40 foot pine, camera in hand to check their progress.  The two baby Magpies look just about ready to begin their own flying lessons.  We've forgiven our cheeky tenants and feel like giddy parents waiting for our children to take their first step.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Magical Mid May


It is not snowing.  Or hailing.  Or blowing.  Just raining.  At the first possible moment I walk up and down the outdoor aisles of the garden store, picking tomatoes, rosemary, basil, annuals, and color for my baskets. (All the things I must wait for mid May).   The drizzle frizzes my hair and drips in my eyes.  But I am high on color, scent, and the vision of possibilities so small inconveniences don't phase me. I let Sunshine pick a flower that doesn't match my color scheme, just because she loves it.  The row of seats is down.  The back of the car is full.  

Tonight, my nails are full of dirt, the knees in my pants are stained a light green.  But with a child, I turned the soil, filled the hole with water, and made a comfortable bed for the friends I chose to spend my summer with.  
Satisfaction, Happiness can be carried in the back of a sports utility vehicle. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home Again

Life continues at home.  My children awoke to find us in our bed and we were swarmed.  Holding their little hands, smelling their clean fresh hair, and listening to their chatter of the excitement we missed was a bit of heaven.

We returned to find a bit of chaos.  Sunshine's violence escalated for the week we were gone.  "She is hitting boys and girls.  And smiling while she does it!"  said her teacher.  Eleanor (my wonderful mother-in-law) was completely imobile, feet on ice, recently returned from the hospital with a concussion.  She was getting ready to take the kids on a walk and fell off her bike and hit her head.  "These children have an awful lot of energy for a woman in her 70's."  She said.  Oh the guilt!

The kids were happy though.  "Grandma spoiled us."  They reported.  And she did.  She bought them each their own special box of ice cream bars or popcicles.  They went to the park daily.  They were loved and coddled and read to and I guess that is what grandma's are for.

I was so proud to hear that they were amazing house guests.  Each morning without being asked, they cleaned their rooms, made their beds and did the dishes.  They ate everything they were cooked, watched over their grandma, and vacumed, dusted, and cleaned bathrooms when she was gone.  Little Mother did Sunshine's hair and ensured that she did her part, and Ladybug rearranged Grandma's furniture each night while she could not sleep.

Sunshine wanted a celebration to celebrate that we were all home together again.  I pulled out my special treat for them, small but beautiful dishes!

And they are their mother's daughters . . . They were enamoured with the idea of serving, pouring, and looking at their beautiful dishes. 

   So, on to the laundry.  Five people make quite a bit in seven days time.  On to the weeds.  It rained and rained while we were gone.  The weeds are 6 inches tall.  On to unpacking, teaching my last classes, presidency meetings, phone calls, catch up.  On to life.  Now I get to see if I can put into action all the things that seemed so obvious on the beach.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Marriage on Vacation

Take a marriage on vacation and like a toddler it stands up and yells, "Hey look at me!  I'm here!  I have needs!"  Separated from the other organisms that leach it's energy, the marriage can be examined isolated, unhindered. 

Hmmm.  Too much time with toxic substances has created abnormal patterns in the specimens.  He, being used to time, time and more time on his own, takes decisions and schedule into his own hands, taking his own needs into account, rarely asking, seldom counseling.  She, used to mothering and teaching, monitors his vegetable intake, warns of the danger of too much sun, and tries to get him to keep the room clean.  Years of knowing and sharing have passed him from an outer passion into a presence that pervades my life, my soul, unnoticed, unappreciated.  At some point he's become such an extension of my own thoughts and being, I treat him as I do myself, which isn't very good. 

I notice these abberations.  They are more visible in this sterile environment.  But, when the illness is identified, the cure can be as well.  One month of my happiness project will be devoted to my marriage.  I asked him what one thing I could do to help our marriage.  He answered that he just wants to be treated like the cat.  "Huh?"  I ask.  "I like the way you look at the cat, talk to the cat, and touch the cat.  I want to feel . . . cherished." 

Resolved:  Not to treat my spouse like a child.  Adults can choose what to wear and when, what to eat and how to eat it. 

Resolved:  There is no love, only tokens of love.  It must be seen and felt to be love. 


This marriage not only has abnormalities that have gone unnoticed, but also beautiful depths that have gone unappreciated due to the glut of business and others.  I've let him sleep as I wake each morning early and creep out to the patio to have my devotional.  His dishes have been taken care of while he lounges.  I've let him use my key each time he's lost his. 

He's taken care of many odds and ends I've completely taken for granted.  Who says it's his job to secure the cabana?  And why if we left something at the room does he automaticly get to run back to get it?  He loves reading my writing.  He even gets a bit choked up.  What's not to love about all these things that are just life as usual to me. 

  We walked out to tell the ocean good night.  We spotted house geckos and the hunt was on.  My overgrown boy leapt, crept, whispered and grabbed as we attacked each lighted doorway.  I smiled inside as our gecko assault surprised many passing guests, curious at our strange behavior. 

We walked out to the ocean.  The remote location and lack of other lights and buildings stretched the sky like a large blanket overhead, shrinking the land and us to insignificance.  Constallations and the Milky Way loomed above reminding us of our insignificance.  If that wasn't enough, the tide was in and the waves crashed along the shore with over 15 foot spray looking ever so much like the horses and chariots of Neptune in ancient legend.  The moon smiled just like a mischeivious cheshire cat.  My white skirt blew up around my waist as we walked and I realized as we held each other on the beach, that like mothering, these moments are impermanent.  One day, one of us will look at a scene like this and wish the other were there to share it... to understand without words the feelings inspired.  I looked at Briz and thought, "You are here.  I am here.  It won't always be this way.  This is a good night." 

Like the Hawaiian he is, he plucked a Plumeria blossom and stuck it behind my left ear.  After all, I am taken.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cabo Day in Town

We spent the day in Cabo San Lucas.  We wandered the streets, back and forth and forth and back till the shopkeepers knew us by sight.  We took great pleasure in thinking of our girls, their personalities and what would please them. 

Each booth had the "BIG GAME" on T.V. as Mexico was playing Chile for some title or other.  At these times I both appreciate and depreciate Briz's Spanish language.  I am never stuck without  understanding with his company.  All questions can be answered, I don't end up with turtle soup instead of lobster.  But, I chose to fade into the background.  I could get by if forced, I can understand the gist of many sentances, yet I use my crutch and fail to improve my skills or use my personality.  Here, I become a docile shaddow of a wife.  I allow the Mexican "Machismo" to dominate.  I didn't even order at Dairy Queen.  I chide myself, yet over and over I persist.  Until, this evening that is. 

We stopped outside the tourist quarter in a small grass topped cement building, The Pescaro Restraunt, for dinner.  We sat at folding tables covered in brightly colored cheap tablecloths, and sat at folding chairs.  We shared the entire resteraunt with one elderly Mexican couple, who seemed to be enjoying their food so we took a gamble.  While we waited for the one waiter's wife to cook our meal, a jolly guitarist started to play for the elderly couple.  We enjoyed the ambiance this provided and clapped at each song's conclusion.  Suddenly, the voice changed from a loud marriachi sound to a softer wavery voice.  I looked up to see that the husband had requested a song to sing to his aging bride.  He crooned to her, she looked for all the world like he was giving her a diamond ring... but we all know, this is much better.  His eyes spoke of his love for her.  Hers answered. 

When the guitarist made his way to us, we sang a trio of "Under the Boardwalk."  Kinda missed the climax of the earlier moment, but I guess each dinner needs comic relief.  At least the old people clapped for us.

Dinner arrived and I dined on the best sea bass I've had to date (5 times this week).  Cooked in a tin foil packet, stuffed with shrimp, clams, octopus, peppers, onions, bay leaves, tomatoes, and capers, I finished off the juice with my spoon like a soup.  "Help me tell the cook how much I liked the food."  I asked Russ.  "I'll tell her when we leave."  he replied.  "No.  I need to do it myself.  Let's see, after Pardon, Senora, what comes next?" 

I tried my communication before I was fluent in the two simple sentences.  I think I made a mess of it.  But the young woman (much younger than me) smiled so big, it was worth it to appear witless.  Her esposo, our waiter, gave a small cheer under his breath, and I looked over to see a shy smile as he pretended to watch T.V. 

I kept a sharp eye out for human feces as we jogged the entire way back to make the 6:30 shuttle with backpacks bouncing up and down on our backs.  "Is it a race?"  the shop keepers called.  We smiled and waved but kept running... It's good to give our hosts something new and different to look at as well.  I figure we can take one for national good relations.

Birthday at Sea (Cabo #5)

Did you know that there are over 200 varieties of cacti in the Baja Penninsula?  That every meter of brown trunk on the tree-like cactus signifies 100 years?  That many cactus out here in the dessert are over 500 years old?  Did you know that the skinny long horned cattle out here live off cactus, twigs, and discarded newspaper?  After I was told, I witnessed the poor bony things munching on these items as they wandered the roads.  "How do their owners ever coral them?"  I asked.  "They know where the water is.  They always go home when they are thirsty."  I looked around at the barren unforgiving landscape.  "Fair Enough."  I replied. 

Our van was filled with a couple from Alaska, a hispanic couple from San Diego, and 4 co-worker women from a ground breaking Minneapolis animated printing firm.  By the time we arrived at Cabo Pulmo, we had discussed what Amy's boyfriend makes her for breakfast and Jesse's growing up in a small Minnesota town of 3,000.  Pulmo is a National Marine Park which houses the only coral beds in the Baja area.  We donned our wetsuits and set out to enjoy the ocean in two small motor boats.  The method of launching was unique to the area.  We jumped in the boats and a pickup truck revved its motor, floored the gas, and pushed us out to sea. 

I plunged head first into the first dive, whole heartedly embracing the wonderland that lay minutes before had carried on unseen.  Nemo, Dorra, parrot fish, black puffers with white spots, spiny puffers, Baracouda, and hundreds more swam around me, sucking in coral, deficating sand.  The waves swished over my back, time passed.  Mezmerised by the swaying motions,the delicate color patterns, and the busyness of life, I lost myself.  My ever racing brain, slowed then ceased its endless observations, judgments, and plans.  I simply flowed with the tide, with the fish, in and out, up and down, through dappled sunlight and shade.  Suddenly, a hand grasped mine.  I looked over to see the snorkler in the ridiculous camoflauge hat... the man I love who was turning 41.  Middle hands grasped, outer hands stroking, we combed the grounds now as a team.  Far from feeling upset at my disturbance, I felt as though I had become a new, more complex creature, one with four legs and three arms, a creature that saw more, discovered more, felt more.  Forty five minutes passed like ten. 

The next dive was at the sea lion colony.  The boat pulled up to a rock where they lay, sunning themselves.  While the others dispursed, I patiently swam around and around their main rock, trying to get their attention.  When it appeared they were unwilling to give up their nap to join me for a swim, I cried small forlorn sounding barks through my mouthpiece (to amplify and de humanize my voice).  I lifted my flippers and clapped them together, twisted and turned around and around, then barked my hopefully sad sounding bark again.  One by one, they gathered at the edge of their rock to stare at the sad, flopping thing in the water begging them to come and play.  The big ones just looked at me and barked in reproval.  The small ones looked as if they were downright concerned about my plight.  Couldn't it swim?  Finally, the lead female and one of the small ones, nodded their heads up and down, with an splash, dove to join me. 

Under water, they were enormous compared to me.  Their big brown eyes dwarfed mine.  We dove together, twisted, turned, and flipped.  I blew bubbles.  They blew them back.  Suddenly, my diving companions sighted my friends and en mass descended.  My friends took a quick exit.  I swam as quickly as I could, but withing seconds, they had passed from my sight. 

Our boat continued further out into the ocean till our guide stopped.  We dove into the middle of a giant silver sturgeon ball.  Occasional white imposters flashed occasionally in the thousands of swishing bodies that swirled around us as a single entity.  My mind melded with the borg, till reality called me back to the boat. 

Briz used his Spanish to talk our guide into a deeper look at the ocean.  Soon, it appeared that  a raptor flew out of the ocean then dove back down.  Then another and another.

The sea was alive with fish taking flight.  Mobula Rays, full of the joy of mating, leapt, soared, then dove.  Finally we stopped directly over a school of rays.  Without wasting a moment, Briz and I fell back in the water and took advantage of the few minutes the rays were unaware of our presence to enjoy this rare opportunity.

Our final dive took us to the coral reef.  Once again, the strange creature that was Briz and I set off together to discover new life.  We followed a Morray Eel amidst the unique coral formations, we pointed out the sea anemones, we embraced the world that lives on most of our planet but escapes our view.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIZ.  May 41 treat you kindly.  May I treat you kindly.  May our four legged creature work as well above land as it does under sea.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seek first to understand

I have a new commandment to add to my six posted the other day.

7.  Seek first to understand.

After a tennis set, which I lost 4-1, we retired to the ocean front in our own secluded cabana.

We read, I wrote and pondered, then we went wave watching.  We tried to predict which swells would produce the most spectacular sprays as they crashed on the beach.  I squealed as the biggest reached their potential.

We then sat very still and gambled on sand crab holes.  Briz usually won and he spotted their googly eyes as they first emerged from their holes. 

When we returned to our pool, the sedate, kind, mature crowd had switched to a loud, smoking, tattooed, partying crowd.  We drew the curtains of our cabana, yet, soon the cigarette smoke reached me and I started to sneeze.  Angrily, I moved across the pool with a huff.  The noise level racheted even higher as new friends poured in.  My indignation grew as I couldn't focus on my happiness project.  I overheard how one girl awoke to her mother scrubbing at her new back tattoo with a washcloth, as she hoped it was fake.  I overheard about one's drinking game, and still another's fishing debacle as they broke the rules and found themselves stranded in the ocean.  It was really hard to focus on goals and ideas.  I self talked and told myself that if I understood them, if I knew them, I'd be less annoyed.  It didn't work.  I stomped back over to Briz.  "I'm leaving.  This pool is no longer meeting my needs."  "I understand perfectly." he replied and we called a golf cart to take us to the furthest pool on the property, the sky pool, located so high on the mountain, you stare down at miles of oceanfront. 

As our cart arrived, the girl with the giraffe on her back or maybe it was the one with the flower bouquet and the young man with the sunbursts popped out.  "Can we join your ride?" 

"Aaahh!"  I can't escape the partiers!"  Briz gave me a knowing look.  I decided to try rule #7.  (Seek first to understand.) "How long are you here?"  I asked giraffe back.

In our short ride, I received an invitation to their wedding Saturday, learned all about Bend, Oregon, their home town, eastern Oregon, and the friends that had gathered here to witness this wonderful event.  I'm not mad any more.  I'm not even annoyed.

Briz and I continued on to enjoy the sky pool, but I HOPE we meet again.  I think rule #7 is a good one.