"People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us."
~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Grateful Heart


I woke up early this morning. Got my cup of coffee and went out to water the front garden. Then I came in and fixed myself one of my favorite breakfasts..., toast with blue cheese and apple juice. ( My Dad use to call it "stinky cheese" but he loved it too. ).

Sitting in the rocking chair, I think about the last few weeks and how I could be getting ready to leave for the Bay Area this morning instead of sitting here with my dogs and blue cheese on toast. It's funny how things change. Life takes on a different pace. Nothing seems eminent, pending..., on the edge.

We are planning a Memorial for Mom on the 14th of September and there are things to do for this final goodbye..., but the fear is gone. The pain and waiting is over for her..,she is safe and life is still here. We are still here. The animals need feeding, the garden needs water; family still requires love and attention, but there is a peace; a stillness in my heart.

The season is changing. I can smell it. There's a different fragrance is in the air; a different slant to the light. It is change that is palpable and I know that my favorite season is coming.
I go inside..., into my bedroom to change into some clothes and walking shoes. Carl is running in circles because he knows that I'm preparing to take him for a walk and he is crazy with excitement. The sun is coming in through the window over our bed.
I remember a time, long ago, when I thought I would never see this moment; when I thought I wouldn't live another day or week or year. It was a time of sickness and fear. And yet, here I am.
I wrote this poem, then, and it seems like I wrote it this morning. Standing here in the sunlight of my bedroom, in my little home on this foothill mountain top, I realize that life just is..., and acceptance of it, with all of it's uncertainty, is what success is all about.

Success

Look how it shines
through
the window;
shimmering through
leaves on trees.
making patterns
on my window,
making shine
on my face.

Look, as it slowly comes
through
lace curtains.
Making patterned light
on my painted walls.

Look, beyond the forest
where the world opens
and light shines through;
making happiness
in my heart;
knowing
it will come again....,
tomorrow.

C.C. 1985
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Friday, August 21, 2009

House parts

These are my goat feeding shirts..., gardening, chicken coop cleaning, craft making, bush clearing shirts. They are indispensable. Even when it's over 100 degrees( which it often is ) here, I wear these shirts to protect my clothing and keep my arms from getting all scratched up. All are over sized and bought at the local thrift shop. I recommend having a few if you live on a farm. They come in really handy and when they get torn up and beyond help I can cut them up and use them for rags.

See the little room to the right? It's my little "half toilet". I have never understood why they call these little places a half BATH. There is no bath in it. Anyway, when I made the plans for this house I wanted a toilet near the back door. I didn't want folks ,in need, to have to walk clear through the house and into the bedroom hall to use the bathroom ; especially in the Winter. I call this my attached outhouse.

When we finally found a small enough sink and it was time do the finish work, I decided I was tired of all the "Navajo" white rooms throughout the interior and made a bold decision to paint the little room RED, from head to foot. I love it and I think I may have shown it on my blog before, but for those of you who didn't see it then, I want to introduce you to my little red "bordello bath". That's what the Prospector dubbed it after I painted it.

Red is , actually, a very neutral color. It goes with everything. I love changing the pictures and things on the wall as the season dictates. Christmas is really fun. Valentine's Day and Forth of July are wonderful holidays to add to a red room. Try painting a small room and see what you think. Paint the ceiling too. It's just fun to go into and use. Really! Kind of joyful and exciting. Makes the "toilet" a whole new experience.

I use to collect milk glass so I have a few pieces on top of the medicine cabinet. There was an oil lamp up there too, but we used it in the living room this Winter and it found a new home in there.
That's my great grandmother in the frame to the right. She looks kind of stern and watches you as you "sit". She makes you want to do your business and get out fast. I love straw hats and old prints so they adorn the wall too. The Rockwell plates seems to fit the decor; especially the one below the cabinet that has a little girl on it trying to apply makeup.
Even if you live in the country or on a farm, you don't have to have a plain and dreary mudroom or back porch. Paint is cheap and thrift stores are a great source of wall art. Go for it. Everyone needs a "Bordello" room.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vintage Thursday

This little card is my birth announcement and believe me, this is "vintage". I trust that when all of you see the date of birth on the inside of this card, that you will NOT pass the information around. (Nothing like the Internet for privacy and safe keeping of information. Right?) Click on the picture for a close-up. My sister found both of our announcements in a plastic bag of Moms filled with old letters and obituaries.
Mom wrote a letter to my grandma on the inside of it. It said that she was glad her Mother had come down to be with her for my birth. She was 25 yrs old and she had a frightening miscarriage the year before, so having her Mom with her must have been a huge comfort. She wrote..," I was so glad that you were down here with me at the one time in my life when I needed you most; you and your prayers; you and Lyle, the two people closest to my heart. Thanks Mama." and, " How we love her and how we thank God for her." I always felt that love.
I remember this little picture all my life. It was in the downstairs bedroom on the Ranch in Napa. The room was green and had lovely full length pale green lace curtains. This was were my Mom lived after her daddy died and where my Grandma was born. My aunt lived there all her live and I spent many summers there. When I was old enough to sleep by myself I slept in the green room and before my aunt tucked me in she would tell me that this little girl in the picture was me and that I could sing to the robin before I went to sleep and the robin would protect me all night long. It worked. I was never afraid sleeping in the big bed in that room. I would just look at the picture and fall asleep. Now the little picture hangs in my guest room and when my grand babies come to visit, and stay over night, I will tell them the robin story too. It's a magic old picture and will be passed on to another generation someday.
This is me. I'm probably about a year old. This photo was cropped from a larger one with my aunt in it. It was taken in Harbor Gate, in Richmond, Ca. It was a housing facility for Navel personnel after World War II. Mom said I was a brunette on my baby announcement but I got blond really fast. I knew that blonds would have more fun, even then. The war was almost over and I was ready to rumble.

Vintage Thingies Thursdays is hosted by Colorado Lady and you can check out other "vintage" loving blogs on her site.
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Wordless Wednesday: Still Life with carrot



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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Last week when my son and I went into downtown Oakland after dinner, we parked behind the Grand Lake theater next to a Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant. As we got out of the car, I noticed a bird on top of the truck behind us. At first I thought that it was a fake bird because it didn't move; not a feather.
It was a large bird with beautiful markings and seemed to be unconcerned with us, or the traffic, or anything else going on around it. I knew it was real when it turned it's head as I walked closer. Now it was watching me and I kept taking pictures, taking a step closer each time I snapped a shot. My son kept saying, "Mom, lets go." but I kept telling him "Just a minute." and continued to take pictures.
This is, what I would call, a nicer area of Oakland. It's close to Lake Merritt and has some beautiful homes and apartments around the lake, but I would not be down on this street at night. There were some characters walking around that made me less than comfortable. Part of it is that I have been away from the city for way too long and I'm never in my comfort zone when I'm in any town that's larger than a bread basket. I think these birds knew this.

This photo is why I love photography, especially digital. You can take 50 photos..., 100 photos and count on getting a real beautiful one out of all of them. I think I took 25 shots of this bird to get this one wonderful picture. I was standing on the curb next to the truck, not 4 or 5 feet from this bird when I took the picture and he never even got fidgety.
What is interesting is that there were probably 50 of these birds on this corner. Some lined up on the telephone wires above KFC. These are not dumb birds. They know where the good, greasy food is and they don't have to watch their weight.
This is a young Heron. I'll bet his mommy was somewhere close by. We walked to the Gelato shop feeling like we were in the Hitchcock movie called The Birds. Hoping that they all would stay up there on the buildings and telephone lines and not swoop down on us to take our ice cream cones away. They didn't. Guess they were waiting for someone with a bag of chicken.

Isn't this just a beautiful bird?

The Black-crowned Night Heron (or just Night Heron in Eurasia), (Nycticorax nycticorax) is a medium-sized Heron. The herons are wading birds in the Ardeidae family. Some are called egrets or bitterns instead of herons. They have a black crown and back with the remainder of the body white or grey, red eyes, and short yellow legs. Young birds are brown, flecked with white and grey. These are short-necked and stout herons.breeding habitat is fresh and salt-water.


Lake Merritt is a focal point in Oakland, Ca. A unique fresh and salt-water lake, the largest such lake located within an urban area consisting of 3.4 miles around the circumference of the lake, covering 155 acres of land. The depth of Lake Merritt varies upon how much water is allowed to filter in from the Estuary and upon rain water intake.


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Monday, August 17, 2009

Wishing on a Poem

This Morning I Watched the Deer

This morning I watched the deer
with beautiful lips touching the tips
of the cranberries, setting their hooves down
in the dampness carelessly, isn't it after all
the carpet of their house, their home, whose roof
is the sky?

Why, then, was I suddenly miserable?


Well, this is nothing much.
This is the heaviness of the body watching the swallows
gliding just under that roof.


This is the wish that the deer would not lift their heads
and leap away, leaving me there alone.
This is the wish to touch their faces, their brown wrists---
to sing some sparkling poem into
the folds of their ears,


then walk with them,
over the hills
and over the hills

and into the impossible trees.

~Mary Oliver~

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Evening With my, um...., my Son.


DISCLAIMER: I have two sons whom I love very much but..., they are getting too old to be mine. They are 41 and 36 yrs and, in order to maintain my dignity, I'm going to have to disown them. I can't see how I can keep up the facade of being, Oh, lets say 55...,or maybe 57 for the next few years and let them get any older. What's a woman to do when those cute little babies grow up and start making me look like I'm a ..., a grandmother.., an old lady. I know, of course, that I am. I guess I will just have to bite the bullet and accept what has happen.

So, my point is..., I don't know who this young man in the pictures is. He looks like he could be related to me but he's way to old to be my son. Anyway, I went to see this guy last Saturday....,who owns this little house..., in the Oakland hills....
All right, I can't tell this story without pride of ownership. So..., this "guy" is my son.He's my oldest and he lives in Oakland, California in a little old house that has survived all the earthquakes the Bay Area had to offer except the big 1906 disaster. It was built in 1911. We can't find any information on it but we think it was a caretakers cottage on a large estate or a summer cabin for someone who wanted to get away from the crowds and fog of the lower bay. This home is the oldest on the street and the only bathroom in the house is out on the back porch, so we assume that ,originally, there was no bathroom. I just love this little house. It is a work in progress and the work has begun.

My son "M" has lived here for about 3 or 4 years and saved his money until he could start renovating. He had to do some foundation work and now he is adding a new bedroom and redoing the bathroom. He will have a lot more room and a sliding door out to the backyard, and eventually a deck, under the trees. I added the two bottom photos for good reason. The close up of the foundation is to show the earthquake retrofit bolts which make his parents feel much better about the fact that he is only a few blocks from the Hayward Fault and a few miles from the San Andreas Fault. The last photo is of an Amaryllis or naked lady, that is growing in his backyard. It's so beautiful! There are roses and other flowers that someone planted a long time ago. They must have loved gardening. When everything is cleaned up and the work on the house is done, I will prune and redo the garden for "M" so he can enjoy his new view.

After he showed me the new addition and I took all my pictures we went out to dinner. We ate at an Italian restorante called Marzano's . I think it was on Park Ave. We had pizza , salad and wine. Very good food! Then we drove over to St. Margaret Mary's Catholic church. This is my son's church and I wanted to take some pictures. The doors were locked..., a sign of the times in cities, I guess. So, we drove over to St Jarlath's and it was open. We met the priest and he gave us a tour. He told us all about it's history and explained who each saint was in every glass window. In a little side chapel that felt just right we lit a candle for Mom. We sat down for a few minutes and "M" said the Lords Prayer in Latin and English. I felt like Mom had been waiting for us. Her daughter and grandson said goodbye to her as the Mother Mary and her child looked on. Sometimes things happen that are too special for words.., so I will stop. Words just get in the way.

Later we went down to a gelato(Italian ice cream) store near the restored Grand Lake Theater (I went to the movies here as a child.) where my son and I had the best gelato I've ever tasted. We drove back to his house, said our goodbye's and I drove back through the tunnel to my sister's house in Lafayette. What a nice evening it was. I recommend spending some time with your grown children, even if they make you feel older than you are. You spend so many years being "Mommy", it's a pleasure, and a reward, to be their friend too.
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