Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blue Skies, Smilin' at Me

The air hung heavy between those draped on sofa, chair, or sturdy wall. Like Fitzgerald's heatwave in The Great Gatsby or Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the heat oppressed to the point of becoming the lead in a drama unfolding with every beaded brow. "I'm bored," moaned Rachel, while Lydia paced from window to window like a confined cat. "Turn on the air," I gasped, "I am suffocating." Days on end we sat trapped by the "fine particles" labeled villainous by the Air Quality Board. The Day of Rest fast approached Rest-less. To top it off, Elizabeth's fiance, David, arrived Saturday from Orange County for a summertime respite among the trees and fresh-air fun of the Sierras. On his first visit, last December, a blizzard blew in that tore shingles off the roof, downed the electricity, and trapped us in a board-game twilight zone . (We resist the temptation to identify patterns of natural disasters associated with David's visits.)

"Look!" called Gary excitedly, "Blue sky! I see blue sky." Languidly I shifted my form to catch a glimpse of something less gray, but certainly not blue peeking above the trees (which I could actually identify as trees now). "Gray with a hint of something," I responded, "But not blue." *sigh* Back to more measured conversations about books, history, politics, and other topics serving to confirm that we retained operating gray cells despite the looming grey cloak around our world.

A spirited bird shot past the window and as my eyes followed its route to the fountain I caught a glimpse of periwinkle breaking the gray monotony. We then proceeded to watch and label the deepening hues of blue like a game. We laughed to see french blue turn to cornflower and on down the line to "really blue," even dreaming of lapis lazuli and cerulean studded with diamond-like stars. Oh how we have missed the stars! As the blue deepened, smiles spread, fingers tapped, and life returned to once benumbed limbs.
"Can we eat outdoors?" I burst, "I so miss it!"

"I'll check and let you know," and off Gary went on a reconnaissance mission.

We waited. We smiled. He returned.

"Blue sky and visibility improved; no smoke smell. Let's do it!"

We jumped to action: boiling pasta, seasoning sauces, sauteing spinach, brewing iced tea. Not wishing to heat the oven, I opted to break up delicious dark chocolate and mound it temptingly into bowls for that sweet final note to the meal. Everyone pitched in and carried the feast out into the open brightness of the coming eve. Like mole people, we squinted and shaded our eyes. Like newly-freed inmates we lost words in the face of such an expansive view.

We thanked the Lord for the meal (and I secretly added a pleased note that my sanity had been spared ... though it looked dicey there for a while) and launched into the wholehearted joy of eating en plein air once again. I overheard Elizabeth tell David, "This is our summertime dining room."
Ah yes, a return to the familiar becomes such a blessing when we lose its grasp for a time.

After dinner we lingered, savored the chocolate and music, and dreamed about seeing stars again. "Dad, wanna swim?" queried Matthew. "Did you hear that?" I burst out, "That's the first time he's ever said that!" (Life with autism causes one to celebrate the simplest steps as miraculous.) Blue skies truly are smilin' at me!

Later at the pool we frolicked, watched eagerly for the Big Dipper, and squealed with delight as the bats swooped and swallowed the bugs dancing in the light. Even a snake in the pool couldn't dull the playful mood. Thinking it was a worm, David picked it up and gave it a fling. The sudden look of puzzlement caused us to pause. "I think that was a snake," said the city boy apprehensively. Yep, sure enough. The stunned reptile came slithering back our way, but a few splashes of water got him moving along. (Now, how many of you just changed your mind about seeking an invite to come swim? It was quite tiny and totally harmless unless you're a bug -- trust me.)

And so we sat out under the twinkling stars, roasting marshmallows, and praising the Lord for blue skies that smiled on us (along with a quick prayer that they continue smiling on us tomorrow). : )

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Enjoying the Ball

Do you ever spend so much time getting "ready" for a delightful event that you arrive too worn out to enjoy yourself? I nearly worked myself into a frazzle doing just that in the early stages of launching Wisteria and Roses. I fretted and fussed over the this-or-that, do-I-or-don't-I, will-they-or-won't-they, and a whole jumble of other draining worries. I had to stop, sit down, sip my tea slowly, and hit POST without glancing backward. I did it and when the coach pulled up to the castle I gingerly exited one world and entered another ... AND IT WAS FUN!!!! That's right ... FUN!

My blog stepped out into the Blogdom Ball and she had a delightful time meeting new friends, greeting old, and dancing through the many delightful blogs that fill the vast lands of thought and tale in this wonderful kingdom. I only regret that I didn't arrive sooner. Thanks to all of you out there who encouraged me by stopping by and saying "Hi!" To the rest of you: I can't wait to meet. I'll be sure to wave as I waltz past. ~

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's Summertime ...

Lately I've traded this ...

... for this.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Shallow Sigh

[Rachel and Mister Bingley]

Pitter patter, pitter patter, thunk!

"Hey sleepyhead, good morning," I called sweetly to Rachel who now slumped into a Queen Anne wingback chair looking exhausted.

"Did somebody stay up past reading time last night?"

"Nope," she replied briefly.

I went back to my reading.

After a bit of a pause she asked:"Mom, does that air purifier strip the CO2 molecules from the air?"

I looked up, blinked, looked over at this humming black box, which I rarely even give a thought to, and replied, "CO2?"

"(sigh) Carbon Dioxide, " she replied a bit sharply.

"I know what CO2 means!" I retorted defensively, "I just never really thought about the air purifier and CO2. No, I do not believe it strips the CO2 from the recirculated air. Why?"

"Well, I was just feeling kinda tired and I thought since I didn't stay up late last night that maybe the CO2 levels are getting too high because we are staying indoors and not opening our windows for a fresh supply of air."

"CO2 levels?" said Lydia, "Where'd you hear about that?"

"Oh, I was just reading about chemistry in one of my books," Rachel replied matter of factly.

At this point her dad entered the room and they began discussing the subject in detail. He assured her that the square footage of the house held sufficient levels of oxygen and he occasionally opens the door which allows fresh oxygen to enter.

When the discussion ended I asked Rachel, "How did you get to be so smart?"

"Easy," she said smugly, "I do math!"

And off she went!

I heard myself sigh! (I do that a lot lately.) I hope it was a shallow one.

To Dance with Fireflies

“Are fireflies real?” Rachel queried as she stared out the window.
“Yes,” I responded, “Of course they are real.”
“Well. I’ve never seen one.” She trailed off as she munched her grilled cheese sandwich, probably remembering those fake “fireflies” in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride that fooled her for exactly one ride. The second time through she informed us the fireflies were just twinkle lights on cords and the pirates were not real, just robots that say the same thing every time. (So much for being young enough for the magic of Disney AT AGE 5!)

My mind began to spin. She’s 9-1/2 years old and she has never seen a firefly! How could that be? We’re homeschooled! We study nature! We go outside everyday and mingle with nature (except today, of course, because we have choking smoke in the air). But wait … I’m … ummm … over ten and I’ve never seen a firefly!

As I faded further back in time, recalling books I’d read about growing up in the Old South (delightful tales of summer evenings, front porches, and glasses of lemonade; evenings laced with the giggles of children entertained by troupes of fireflies dancing in the sticky air ...), Rachel piped up with:

“Are they only in China? Or does Japan have them too?”
“What?” I stammered.
“China? Is that the only place that has fireflies?”
“Well … noooooo …” I stalled wondering where she could have gotten the idea that fireflies only existed in China or Japan. Maybe our fascination with other lands uncovered China’s Communistic form of government that restricts the comings and goings of its people and that would explain why she’s never seen a firefly – no visas for fireflies to come to California? Frankly, I really have no idea how she drew that conclusion, but I determined to correct it – for both our sakes.

“There are fireflies all over the world.” I shared, “Aunt Cindy in North Carolina has fireflies. Aunt Nanny in Mississippi has them, too. In fact, I believe even Aunt Renee in New Hampshire has fireflies.”
“So where did they go?” she asked pointedly.
“Huh?” I blinked.
“They weren’t in North Carolina or Mississippi when we visited,” she shot back.
“Well, sweetie, it was just too early in the season for fireflies. They come out on summer evenings and we were there in April.”
“Hmmmmm …” she let it drop.

But, I didn’t.

I keep a running list of “Things to Do” and have just added:

See a real firefly dance in the night air

So, watch out all you firefly-land dwellers, we may just land on your doorstep one sparkly summer’s eve. Got lemonade to go with that sticky air? We can call it a “research project,” but I prefer to call it simply wonderful. I dream of dancing by the light of fireflies beneath the fairy moon. Wanna come along? Bring your twirly skirt and meet me out in the moonlight of summer. : )

Rachel just informed me that the Jimmy Neutron playstation game requires you to go all around the world gathering parts (like machines and batteries and venus flytraps and other such stuff) to make a robot. While in China or Japan gathering parts, Jimmy saw fireflies. “Oh,” I concluded, “so the fireflies are used to help make robots?” Rachel snorted and laughed, “No, Mom! They’re just decoration.”

I give up! I’m going to go find a twirly skirt and dance by the light of the single Japanese lantern hanging in the old oak tree wintered over from last summer. (I'll just hold my breath and hope the toxic smoke doesn't find me.) ~Bye~ ; )

Cabin Fever

We awoke to more smoke-filled skies. We’ve been advised to remain indoors; at least that directive came across the web-section of the local paper yesterday. Since we depend upon the internet for our news and weather, we feel a bit cut off. Oh, did I forget to mention that our DSL has gone down due to fire-related damage somewhere along the line in Northern California? Hopefully we will have service returned sometime tonight or tomorrow. Hmmmmmm … when I posted my intention to take a rest from blogging I thought it was MY idea. Ah well, I’ll just continue to load up my computer with thoughts and potential posts for a later time when we reconnect to the world wide web. I may be just spinning threads that no one ever reads …

In theory a day dedicated to indoor pursuits can refresh the soul. One can take time for reading, writing, junk-drawer cleaning, whatever. One can relax, slow down the pace, and savor the freedom of a bit of margin to the day. Yesterday we thoroughly enjoyed the mandate to remain in and confined – sort of a mini vacation. Today, however, the news of continued indoor activity, no internet, and no fresh air has thoroughly undone the placidity of the place. Tones have sharpened, eyes flash, and the stale air creates an atmosphere of captivity that we do not tolerate well. “I want to go outside,” moans one. “I can’t breath!” exclaims another. “Let’s watch a movie,” pleads a third, to which I reply, “At 10 am? I think not, go get your math book.”

Dusk falls, but truthfully it has appeared to be dusk all day long. The smoky skies obliterate the sun and cast an amber pall over the landscape giving it a surreal quality that enchanted yesterday and spooks a bit today. Even the kitties keep peering in the sliding glass door with an inquisitive look imploring us to remember they exist and come to play.

Funny, when I began my blog just a day or two ago, I scoffed at the idea of reporting on the fire. Somehow today it seems essential to mention it as a way of making some sense of our suspended life. We remain thankful to have water and power and no imminent threat of fire danger to our home, but are astonished at how quickly we chafe at any disruption in our comfortable routine.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This Blogging Is Very Wearing ...

So I'm taking the day off to recuperate.(This is Mr. Darcy reclining on the deck rail. I have yet to post pics of Mr. Bingley, but know that he is around ... somewhere.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Take a Peek Down My Garden Path

Elizabeth Lydia and Edward

Hello Big World! : )

Come in the evening, or come in the morning;
Come when you're looked for, or come without warning.
Kisses and welcome you'll find before you,
And the oftener you come here the more I'll adore you!

--Thomas Osborne Davis

Oooooh, how I would love to just sit right down and visit away, but alas the duties of the cottage call me away and the sweet husband signals distress that I may have fallen into a delicious pit without hope of rescue. He popped in to ask if I wanted a pic taken of me here in my sitting room on my laptop. I scowled, "What? Now? NOOooooooo! Shoo!" He came back by with the camera in hand and the suggestion that I post pics of our smoke-filled skies and gardens along with an update on the fire. "Huh?" I paused at the keyboard, "What in the world is lovely about fires charring my home state and who would want to think on that first thing in the morning?" He stared blankly, shrugged, and went on his merry way. I called out sweetly as he exited the room, "Want me to help you set up a blog for talking about smokey, icky things?" He laughed. I still amuse him. (Is that a synonym for "Bewilder"?)

I shall try to return for a chat when the teakettle boils at 4pm. Ta ta for now! : )

Monday, June 23, 2008

About Me

I got tired of staring at this on my blog. I consider this one of my very first posts, so I shall attempt to place it in the blogroll appropriately. Here goes . . .

About Me:

Whew! I'm still getting to know me ... and it's a great adventure! : ) As for general stats: I'm married to my high-school sweetie, Gary (for nearly 24 years), and we have five fabulous children. Andrew graduated to Heaven four years ago (I'll be seein' you in Glory, sweetheart! Miss you ...*sniff*), yet his twin Matthew still lives with us and is soon to be 20!!! Elizabeth graduated homeschool and went off to Point Loma Nazarene University to study English Lit and Harp. Lydia is nearing the teenage years, and will arrive as an accomplished harpist who loves History and Literature. That leaves Rachel Kaye, our 9-year-old horse-of-a-different-color and resident court jester. She loves playing the piano, building robots, and making plans to be a farmer when she grows up. (Knowing her, she'll do it all and then some.) We live at Wisteria Cottage surrounded by gardens and woods and magical places for fairies to hide and kitties to lurk. Life is sweet!

Scurrying to Set the Table

Oh my, the guests may arrive at any moment and the teapot has not yet boiled ...