A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Monday, April 25, 2011

Springtime Gifts...

...and lessons learned.

I got a hint of a lesson over my winter break, and tested the hypothesis during this spring break.  It tested out as truth.  For me, anyway.

The sure way to make sure a break flies by - for me - is to waste the time.

I haven't really watched television in over a year, maybe closer to two.  Yeah, I'm in the dark during lunchroom conversations about talent shows or survival shows or the latest goings on in some office somewhere.  I loved sharing Heroes (first season) with my son.  In fact, when he suggests something I usually do love it.  Have the first season of LOST to catch up on  (but somewhere I ran across the finale secret and it kind of took the fun out of the show).  He also loves True Blood  and I got into that.  I think I'd like to finish that series this summer when I have more discretionary time.  When he learned that I am a huge Ricky Gervais fan he bought me a short-lived series called Extras.  I watched one episode and found it amusing (though not hilarious) and would also like to watch that over the summer.  But although the television is constantly on in the family room, it seems to be permanently stuck on CNN, MSNBC, sports or forensics shows.  No, thank you.  I am building a great big life, and there is no worse way to watch time pass me by than by plugging my brain into that drain.

So, as a reminder to myself of what a satisfying spring break felt like (a truly restorative break that felt like much longer than a week), here's how I spent my time:

Saturday:  Every other Saturday for the last four (or is it five?) years I've spent Saturday with my mom and my sister at my mom's house in a neighboring town.  We might work on scrapbooks or Mom and I might work on embroidery.  Sis usually uses the time to sort through the flotsam of her personal and professional lives (mail, paperwork, photos and so on).  There's always the group perusal of Mom's weekly cache of catalogs.  But mostly it's just a time for the three of us women to get caught up, get advice and get support.  It has been a dramatic year on several levels and so, for me, the time has been especially important.

The first day of my break was Saturday the 16th.  I used the time to finish a wallhanging that had been hanging over my head (figuratively speaking) for a few years.  It's done and hanging in my sanctuary.

Temporarily, since I have no more wall space, but I enjoy it from my bed when I wake up in the morning so it will stay on the cabinet for a while.

I also changed out buttons on a couple of blouses that had been riding around in my car for a year (to remind me to stop at a fabric store).  Of course, the blouses are almost too big (yay, me) to wear now, but I'll get some use out of them here this spring.  Then I'll take the gorgeous buttons off and put them on something that is my new size when I finish the healthier me project.

As we returned from the fabric store, my sister-in-law drove up and parked in front of Mom's house.  She seemed a bit flustered, and once settled around Mom's big dining table (operation central for these Saturday events) she explained that she had been reading this book

and had decided it was my book.  Later, after a few chapters, I wrote to her that she was so right, and I was loving it.  (Actually, what I did was post "Yes." on facebook.  She knew what I meant.)  Later she said (or rather, posted on facebook) that she'd never had such a strong knowledge - from the first sentence to the last - that a book was meant for a particular person and it was all she could do to hurryhurryhurry finish it so she could hand it over.  By the end of the next day I had ordered the other she recommended by Lamott, Bird by Bird, for my kindle.

Sunday:  Into the garden.

I was able to spend both Sunday and Tuesday in garden therapy.  Our letter carrier (he's been our carrier over thirty years now) came by and saw me working for the second day in the flowers and  said, "Debi, don't you get to have any fun on your break?"  I could only smile and say, "This IS fun for me!"  I guess it's impossible to explain to a non-gardener what it means to play in the dirt.  What does it say about me that I love to weed?  That I find it, at the same time, sensuous and empowering.  And the feeling of victory to watch plants flower and set seed all over my yard?  Indescribable.

Brugmansia in bloom again, hydrangeas almost there.  Potted several into larger pots, then fed, so am hopeful for a good show here by summer.

I bought this passion vine at Annie's Annuals (via mail order).  She "said" that it would cover a trellis this size in two years.  Last year it was a baby in a four-inch pot.  By the end of that summer it was one stem about four feet long.  This will be the third different variety of passion vine I've tried on this trellis, and I was not too hopeful after that first season that it would actually survive.  But, I guess it is living up to the old saying about perennials:  First year weep, second year creep, third year leap.  In fact, it's doing a bit better.  This is its second year and it's doing the third year leap thing.  I'm hopeful for fritillaries this summer.

As I am hopeful about this vine.  Barely visible on my left view of this trellis is a Dutchman's Pipe vine, host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail.  This butterfly is pretty rare in these parts, although if you're going to find one in SoCA, it will be around here.  I bought this vine last summer in a 1-gallon pot.  I don't know if it went dormant over the winter (still in its pot) or if it was just pouting.  I planted it (just a stick with one bloom, actually) a few weeks ago and it is taking off.  It may make it to the top of the trellis this year.  Pipevine Swallowtails are gorgeous butterflies and I will be dancing through the fairy garden if I am able to attract one.

Monday:  I had a nearly perfect day at Disneyland.  Got a late start so had heavier traffic than usual, but every time I needed a space, a big one would be there for me.  In the parking structure I got to park next to the escalators.  No wait for trams, no wait for security and only a tiny wait for admission.  Got my picture taken with Mickey (already shared that) and saw my favorite show, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, from the second floor.

Had a great Pizza Port salad and iced tea for lunch.  By then I had walked from Space Mountain to Toon Town to Frontierland and back to Space Mountain.  My hip is giving me problems again and the pain shot from hip to ankle, so I tucked in at the Refreshment Corner with lunch to listen to some great piano.

It was at the end of the day that I learned an important lesson.  A friend is not secretive.  A friend does not obfuscate.  A friend is not hypocritical.  With the definitive click of a tiny key in a tiny lock, I said goodbye to someone that I thought was a friend but who was, in reality, all of these things with me.  But a guide can still give gifts, even while being all of these things.  And this guide put me on a lovely path, for which I will always be grateful.  And because the day had gone so perfectly, I accepted this final act in a weird (for me) life play as the appropriate conclusion.

And walked away at peace.

Tuesday:  More lovely hours in the garden. 

Apricot Chiffon CA poppy.  First bloom this season.

 Geum "Totally Tangerine" and "Blazing Sunset"

 Rose "About Face"
Wednesday:  Spent a couple of hours back in conversation with Mom.  Then, when she had to leave for her social activities, moved onto her embankment for some heavy-duty weeding.  Fortunately, my SIL came over to help and the time flew by as we grabbed and gabbed the rest of the morning and early afternoon away.  We did as much as we could (all the garden waste receptacles were full), then she returned home to work as a tutor.  I cleaned up a little, changed clothes and tucked into the empty house for an hour of silent bliss.  I read for a while, then allowed myself to doze, then read some more.  When Mom got home she treated to pizza for dinner, then I came back in time for the intermediate session of my clogging class.

Thursday:  I only see my ophthalmologist every two years, but last year my father's death by cancer pushed that appointment right out of my mind.  I felt lucky that they were able to squeeze me into a 7:40 AM appointment.  The good news is that my eyes are healthy and stable.  And I guess it's good news that my cataract in my right eye hasn't gotten any worse.  I would not have minded having surgery to get rid of this "dirty" business, but he says I'm not ready.  Since I trust Stuart Winthrop completely, I will tolerate this.

After that appointment, I was dropped at Barnes & Noble for a couple of hours.  I've already posted my adventure there and will only emphasize how lovely it was to have time to browse and wander and be excited about what I was able to find.  More by Anne Lamott.  I'd been reading Bird by Bird on my kindle in between piano sets at Disneyland, but ended up buying my own hard copy to that I could highlight and tab.

Once home I puttered around The Sanctuary (a name my sister gave to my lovely, restful room) and started reading Traveling Mercies, another Anne Lamott that I got at Barnes and Noble.  So far, two-and-a-half books in, her books have restored my faith in "just one more chapter."

Friday:  Friday I did some cleaning.  I had invited my SIL and a friend to lunch and a garden tour.  I'm trying to let go of the idea that every surface has to shine before I can have friends over.  Because, the reality is, with that as my standard, I never have friends over.  So, I did some cleaning.  Swept Dodger's dust elephants from the baseboards and ran the electric broom on the bare floors.  Vacuumed the sanctuary and hallway.  Did dishes.  Cleaned the stove.  Then went shopping for groceries for lunch and Easter.  managed to keep quite busy without wearing myself out.

Later that afternoon, I found the post for "Paint your toenails pink 4/29/11" on facebook. I am incensed at the furor over this sweet little picture, but mostly because "their" message is that it's somehow not OK for each of us to live our lives happily as ourselves, whoever that self turns out to be.  Painting a boy's toenails pink is not going to "turn" him into anything (except maybe a happy child who remembers that fun day that his mommy painted his toenails to match hers and they had a good laugh together).  On the other hand, a transgender boy is blessed if he has a mom who lovingly accepts "her" as she is and will teach "her" to paint her nails. 

Anyway, I wanted to show my support by painting my toenails pink.  This required another trek to the drugstore for polish (I rarely paint my toenails and when I do, I have a great red that does the job for me).  Once my toes were painted I took their picture and posted it.  At that moment my "baby," almost 30 and 6'6" of straight male, showed up on facebook.  "Hey, may I paint your toenails pink?"  He wanted to know what was up, and after I told him he went to do his own homework.  As incensed as I, he suggested we re-create the photo.

We did our best and had a blast doing it.  Posted it and it seemed to make some folks happy, so it was worth the effort.  Later he posted his own picture of his size 14s with pink toenails with the caption, "Ah, shit - now I'm transgender."  I love this guy!

Saturday:  Replaced the broken toilet seat in the morning, did a tad more cleaning, then settled in for the fun of company for lunch.  Got to enjoy showing off my guests to my flowers, then ate a delicious (albeit mis-cooked) quiche and salad lunch.  GREAT conversation was the best part.

They left a little after 3:00, and I found myself in the delightful (and rare) position of having a whole afternoon and evening ahead of me with the housework and yard work done.  Studiously ignoring the fact that I had not been to the gym all week, I decided to take a nap.  Not a falling-asleep-at-the-computer nap.  Not a reading-until-sleep-overtakes-me nap.  This was a go-get-a-blanket-and-snuggle-in nap.  Zonked for over an hour with birdsong outside the window.
I was still feeling pretty mellow that evening, and after a dinner of leftover green salad and chocolate Easter eggs, settled in with some handwork, facebook and Pirates of the Caribbean (not too romantic, not too violent, not too heavy, great music) on dvd.

Sunday:  Easter is so much fun when your kids are little, but I figured my baby (with the pink toenails) was pretty much over it.  Until he and his girlfriend settled in Sunday morning to color eggs while I put together my contributions for the potluck Easter dinner scheduled at Mom's.  We had a great dinner and visit (and too much dip and chip and chocolate for me to be comfortable with WW coming up on Thursday).

I got home early enough last night to enjoy my international friends on facebook for a while, then tucked in early with Lamott's Traveling Mercies until I fell asleep.

Today I have paperwork for school to do, so in a way I'm easing my way back into work.

My only complaint about having such a terrific spring break?  Now I can't wait for summer! Seven weeks.  Some fun stuff coming between now and then, including a fun day at Disneyland on Saturday (this time with Mom, sis and nephew).

This time last year I had already suffered some wallops by life, and we were well into my father's death.  By the time he went to the doctor for back pain (which he had battled all his adult life) he was in stage four pancreatic cancer that had already metastasized throughout his body, including to his brain.  It was a horrible time that led me, eventually, to what will turn out to be the best time of my life.  I've been feeling odd about that perception.  Then, this morning, I read this in Traveling Mercies It turned out that this man worked for the Dalai Lama.  And he said--gently--that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born--and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible.  I don't think Ms. Lamott has written enough to satisfy me, but I look forward to the journey through what she has produced.

Something is being born.  It may be me.

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