Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beautiful Memories

 I come from a long line of pack-rats.  In my family there seems to be less concern about not having something when you finally get around to needing it, and more concern that letting go of an item will also mean letting go of your memories, especially of the people and the places that gave you the most happiness, but oddly, even a clinging on to memories that only bring pain.

I finally made progress with that issue when I lucked into and started doing her magnificent 27 fling boogie, and believing that babysteps and only holding on to what you love or need or use, and that you can do anything for 15 minutes at a time are small steps to a hugely improved life.
Still my memories and the things I love have to have some record, so I began snapping pictures and writing in a journal / scrapbook about why those memories are important to me.  So I have one shelf of scrapbooks instead of 8 rooms of clutter
 but I do still have my dolls and my camera and the quilts my grandmother stitched by hand, and now that the clutter is mostly gone, /i have started turning my camera on the yard and the items that really do make me feel at home and make me smile when I see them.

 This Chimpanzee doll sat on my Mom's college bed, but when I was a toddler and fell in love with Clarence the cross-eyed lion, and Judy the Chimpanzee from the TV show, Daktarri, She became my constant, tear soaked, laughter filled, secret keeping best friend.
 This little girl is not "Jessie the Cowgirl doll" from Toy Story 2, but she was a great playmate who allowed my brothers Breyer horse toys to be something my Doll Loving self could share with my brother for hours, on the living room floor, with the wooden barn and Corral my Dad Made for them.

Fall finds me outdoors, trying to create photo opportunities for my photo a day at 365project and for the fun of it, the beloved Dolls are getting outside again.  Uh, Yeah, if you read my last post about getting near the empty nest, it's probably not too big a stretch to assume I'm trying to fill the space of having my boys around as easy models for my camera.

 This China Doll came from the old Stone Barn in Northern Illinois where my Grandma Grace Grew up.  I named her "Rose" and felt like a soul mate to Laura Ingalls when I played with her.
 The quilt was hand stitched by Grandma.  I often crawl under it with my notebook when I am writing my novels.
There is so much beauty in the world, and that is the one thing that I hope my memory pictures help you to remember too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life Moves Fast, Don't Blink

Today is a day our family celebrates.  Sept. 22 was the day I found out I was pregnant for the first time, and that meant that my second son would be arriving when our first boy turned One.  September 22 is, in our Family, "Discovery Day" because that is the day, the Dr., who was evaluating the health of the baby we were adopting for his six month check-up, told me, "Think POSITIVE!"  It wasn't my appointment but moments before, I mentioned that I wasn't feeling right, and even though, I couldn't have kids - she suggested a pregnancy test.  I laughed skeptically but pee'd in the cup anyway.

After 10 years of waiting to be a Mom, I finally got to hold my 14 hour old adopted son, and fall in love with him and take him home.  Life was Perfect.  A year and 18 days later, it was even more so.

I love being a Mom.  It was everything I dreamed of and more.  My boys were lovable, frustrating, exhausting, rewarding, beautiful monsters.  But every time I blinked they got older.

Now the oldest of my two first-born sons graduated from High School last June and my youngest is a senior.  The house I waited so long to fill, is quieter and lonelier already now that the older one has moved out.  Yes, he visits, and texts and gives me hugs and brings his puppy over to play.  But it will never be the same again.  I never realized how the empty nest syndrome could truly feel like mourning.  I dread the next graduation even as I celebrate the success and growth of my youngest from 7 week premie to six foot two, young man.

I know that I had a life before kids and some of that was put on hold and is coming back.  Only recently did I finally realize my goal of being a published writer, with two novels in a year - but the life with the kids, I have always know was the peak of my mountain, the cream in my donut, the star in the sky of my life.
I thought he'd be a pirate forever.

Best Friends
Well of course they are not anything, Forever.

I miss the children they were.  I'm glad we celebrate them each at least twice a year, Birthday's, Discovery Day and Adoption Day.  In reality I celebrate them with every breath I take.
I am so proud of the men they have become but wish that it did not happen so fast!
So if you have kids, don't think it lasts forever.  Don't think the other stuff won't wait.  It is the baby who won't be there forever; the chance to say "yes" to telling a story, or going to a soccer game, or swimming instead of working.  I have a few regrets of paychecks i didn't earn, but no regrets of things I couldn't but, My house isn't new, or fancy, but it is filled with the most loving memories, and when we all move on, I don't care if none of the stuff comes with us - but I know the love will.


Today the baby I tried to have for 10 years is a High School Senior.

Somehow, a life flies by and the one thing you can do to make it worth while, is spend it on the people you love.  My children and my students, my siblings and parents and cousins and neighbors and always and all ways my spouse, have all added frustration and problems to my life, and pain when I have had to say good-by

But they have all added to my life, joy, and more good moments than any one person could ever deserve.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Accepting Gifts

Sunflowers are late due to cool summer
 Is it an wonder that so many places have Fall Festivals and celebrate the Harvest Moon?  Summer is beautiful, and yet requires a certain amount of endurance to survive the battles with children and weeds and, (unless you live here) HEAT.  Fall is the time when surviving brings easily gathered rewards.  You straighten your aching back and feel the cool breeze dry your sweaty brow.
My baskets are usually full, but barely bloomed in the fog
 You walk through the skin temperature air and breathe in the delightfully cedar and blackberry scented breeze.  The Thorny bramble draws blood but the berries are so sweet and abundant.  Apples fall into your lap as you read in the grass below the tree.  No, sorry, you don't get to discover gravity but you do get to discover peace, the time to pause, while the kids are in school and remember your successes and treasure the gifts you are usually too busy to see.
The dredge barge fills the boat basin and crowds the boats to side tie

Our harbor was devastated in spring storms but fall sees an ongoing rebuilding project as barges full of stinking silt are dredges up and carted away.  The fall renews the harbor and the school year and the pantry shelves.  Soon crab boats will have docks again, jam will fill the cupboards and schools will be filled.  Life in the come-back town will be renewed once again.  September is my New Years birth.
dredging away the 3-11-11 tsunami's deposit

three sisters in the harbor

Battery Point lighthouse

sea lion napping away from the crowd

summer weather??
 This summer was cool and foggy and the plants grew slowly but the end product is sweet and only a month late.
walnut tree producing blackberries

future pie or jam

apples on atee that fell 5 years ago, and redwood stump
Me loving rare sunshiny day
red bean mooncakes
When I was a student at Beijing Teachers College, I adored the sweet red bean filled MoonCakes of the Harvest Moon Festival and barely could have imagined that I would not taste them again for a couple decades.  Finally I have found them on-line!  Amazingly familiar calebratory taste.

Loved these and went 22 years without!
 I loved the moon cakes when I was a student at Beijing Teacher's College in 1987, but I have never had any more since returning to the states. Until i found them on-line this year. I adore them but the taste is really different from most american pastries. Sweet Red Bean fills most of them, or lotus seed paste and the most desirable ones have a whole yolk inside to look like the moon.

Celebrated on the 15th of the 8th lunar month, you might see Chang Er dancing on the moon where she has lived ever since she flew there. The moon Festival is a romantic time to remember that you can be together emotionally with those you love if you can both see the moon from where ever you are.


9-11 in the CC Harbor

Fallen apple tree by redwoods in my yard
So today, I settled in with a hot bath ad a good book, then a walk around the yard with bucket in hand and a fresh slice of blackberry pie for lunch.

I will teach, I will be exhausted and overwhelmed by bills and debt and work and the demands of life, but I will look at the jars of jam, and remember that some gifts come to balance the work, some things are free and all you have to do is open your hands to receive them.