Thursday, April 29, 2010

The birds... and the bees.... and the flowers...

In the forward of her book, Simple Abundance, a Daybook of Comfort and Joy, Sarah Ban Breathnach writes about the journey to turn her rather chaotic life into one of a manageable lifestyle, one in which she lives in a state of grace. She writes about finding “the Sacred in the ordinary, the Mystical in the mundane, fully entering into the sacrament of the present moment....”

Sometimes the truth of what she write makes me want to cry out for joy, and sometimes it just reminds me of New Age mumble jumble psychobabble and I am tempted to hurl it against the wall. I don't, but sometimes I set it down and don't read it again for months.

What I have learned from her is not really anything new, just reaffirming how much joy and beauty and amazement there is in the simple things of life, appreciating the simple beauty that surrounds us.

Most of my time is occupied working – my husband does most of the housework.

I take visual breaks often – lifting my eyes from the computer monitor to watch the birds congregating at the feeding stations outside the window. Small groups of goldfinch, all of them dressed in their drab winter garb, used to mob the bird feeders; now they have mostly dispersed to commence setting up housekeeping, except for an occasional bird...

who is now dressed up and looking for a date.

I take a few breaks during the day to get and move. I step outside, sometimes to walk up to the highway with Richard to get the mail, or to walk part of the way with him – I do better walking a brisk mile twice a day then walking in one 2-mile session.

I spot a patch of red clover growing along the right of way. Its seed was mixed into the material that was sprayed to prevent erosion after the highway was finished 10 years ago, and it has continued to reseed itself.

The bees find it very attractive.

And the Dames Rocket has begun to bloom alongside the driveway and along the path leading to the bottom pasture. This lovely wildflower, which shoots up stalks as tall as my shoulder, smells faintly like carnation if you stick your nose right into it. 

I wonder if the bees smell it too.

Honeybees are not doing too well these days, whether from mites or disease or whatever, but this one – whether from a wild hive or a kept hive, has been busy...

 it’s leg pouches are filled with yellow pollen.

Watching a bee working a flower... a simple thing... a thing of beauty... a thing of joy... 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thunderbolts and lightening

The first of what will be many thunderstorms as the season progresses through Spring and into Summer moved through the area last night with a lot of rain and is displaying itself in grand fashion this morning with thunder and lightening.

Thunderstorms with lightening were so rare in the coastal area of southern California where I grew up, that I can remember my Dad taking me outside under the carport during one when I was a small child to listen to the thunder and watch the lightening flash across the sky. In retrospect, it was probably a very smart thing for him to have done. It was one less thing to be terrified of.

As I grew older, I can remember laying in bed at night before falling asleep, hearing the jets taking off from LA International Airport, and because of the Cold War indoctrination I received in elementary school, I could imagine these were Soviet jets coming to drop a bomb on us. You see, in addition to the routine earthquake drills and fire drills, we also did the "duck and cover" in case of an atom bomb attack.

Lightening does worry me a bit - there was a flash and crack of thunder not too far away -  and I may end up having to shut down my computer before too long  (Richard yells from the kitchen: I guess I won't be taking my walk this morning!). Lightening is dangerous and inconvenient when we have to sit without power for hours because of a lightening strike somewhere in the power grid

We have never had a direct hit to our house or lost any of our appliances - possibly because there are many trees around our house that are much taller than the house to draw it away. But, the lightening routinely strikes the ground, and the travels doing damage along the way. Our well pump was hit twice. Once the entire thing had to be replaced, and another time just the controller was damaged.

And the trees on our property have taken a few hits...

 but they have survived.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Got pollen?

We do. Lots of it. 

My heart goes out to the unfortunates in this area who suffer from allergic reactions to pollen. I can only imagine how grateful they must be to the newer allergy-relief medications that can be purchased over the counter to help them through the day. 

 Richard and I are not allergic to pollen, but we still must deal with the yellow film on the cars. Turning on the automatic window washer in the mornings makes a smeary yellow mess. And yes, I do feel a bit guilty complaining about something so minor when other people are truly suffering.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I am done, finally done, with the massive editing project.

And here I am lifting my hands to heaven in thanks for finally finishing. I can't write anything very specific about what I worked on, but I did learn something very valuable that I would like to pass on. Be very careful about taking mega-doses of vitamins and minerals under the illusion that if "a little good... more is better." The fat-soluble vitamins and many of the minerals can do be seriously dangerous at high doses.

There are a bunch of things that I have been thinking about writing about but all I have managed is to come up in the last couple of weeks is one-liners that that pop into my head while I am in the shower or walking down the road. I will have to elaborate on some of these in the coming days after I catch up with the work that I shunted aside to finish this project.

  • Many of the landowners in the area where Richard and I grew up planted acres of eucalyptus trees in the early 1900s, and some of them were still standing in the respective neighborhoods where Richard and I lived (we did not know each other then)  when we were kids. We still remember the pungent smell of the seedpods and the leaves on the ground. Richard saw a "eucalyptus" scented reed diffuser in the store and bought it because he thought it would bring back pleasant memories. Unfortunately, it smelled nothing whatsoever like eucalyptus.
  • I saw a meadowlark take off from the newly mowed grass of the churchyard next door, with its flashing yellow breast and the black "V". It landed on the barbed-wire fence and began to sing. It reminded me of hearing meadowlarks singing from the undeveloped land on the other side of the freeway from the house we moved to when I was 13. An oasis of wildness in the sprawl of urban south Los Angeles.
  • Our boy brought his friend's Jack Russell terrier over to the house for a visit.I have read about Jack Russell's terrier (a character in one of my favorite novels) and I have seen programs about them on Animal Planet, but I had never seen one in real life. I had no idea. I was exhausted just watching him. Of course, I assume the dog would calm down some after becoming familiar with the surroundings. I think. How do you cope, Wild Woman? Don't you have two of them??? Whew.
  • Before we could think to stop them, the wrens have yet again built another nest inside the canvas tote bag that hangs on a hook by the back door, hatched babies, and now spend the day on the back porch making a racket.
  • That will be 5-cents my husband says to me after I started outlining a problem I was having with one of the manuscripts I was working on and how should I handle it. He had no real advice at all, except to say "Well, how would you handle this if it was any other manuscript," and of course when I answered that question I had the answer. I am beginning to understand why therapy is so good for the soul.
  • A day or two after watching a special on why Pluto is no longer a planet (horse puckies I think to myself) I was making corn tortillas from masa harina and it occurred to me that I felt like Pluto when I was a kid at elementary school. Me and a couple of other "small planets" - a Mexican girl who lived with her grandmother who made their tortillas by hand, and another boy who came from a large family who was very poor and who did not fit in -- found each other and circled on the periphery of the orbits of the gas giants -Marcia and Georgia and Yvonne and Twila -- the attractive and popular kids.
And my friend Judy is off on an adventure and she invited me to pick asparagus. I picked once...

and now I need to go again. I've got to get out of here..... tee deedle deedle dee tee tee...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hanging Around at the Homeless Shelter

Our boy came in from a walk at dusk late last week, as the days and nights grew warmer and warmer, and reported that there were a lot of bats flying around Tony's house. Understandable, because there are bright lights on the telephone poles there that attract the flying insects and the bats that eat them.

During the summer after I stumble out of bed every morning and submit myself to the Inquisition...

I usually open the door leading down the stairs and turn on the light to see if there will be a guest spending the day. Periodically throughout the summer, a single bat will swoop in through the open garage and up to the top of the stairwell and cling to the drywall throughout the day. It will leave at dusk and not show up again for several weeks.

Even though is still rather early in the season, I did take a look a few days ago, but the bad news of the several days excess calorie consumption flew right out of my head when I looked up and was very surprised to see this tiny little guy only a few feet above my head:


We go down to the garage a lot during the day -- Richard especially -- and the floodlight to illuminate the stairs so we don't kill ourselves coming and going is only about a foot away from the smoke alarm. I am surprised that it chose this spot.

I was pleased to see it had a nice pink nose.

I imagine quite a few people would not let a bat roost in their stairwell, and if we suddenly had a colony of bats wanting to roost in our stairwell, then we indeed would do something about it -- probably close the garage doors at night. But for an occasional bat needing a nice place to rest its weary wings - it is fine with us if it wants to hang out.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


To borrow a quote from a favorite author (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, among others):

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. 

--Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)

Pressing on...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A lovely, lovely day

Easter was a very nearly perfect day. In the afternoon the cat and I went for a walk in the woods...

and saw interesting things...

A turtle deciding to unbury itself after a winter underground.

Bugs walking on the water in the wet-weather spring..

And we came back to the house and she helped me take a few pictures of flowers in the yard..

Both planted on purpose......

and the wild variety...

And plain ordinary weeds. I loved the ant busy amongst the pollen...
And a big Easter bunny...

munching on the short sweet grass in the middle of the driveway, probably with a nest of new babies likely near by  

And then I went inside and I began working on enchiladas for dinner ( I know, not exactly traditional fare for the Easter meal!).

and she took a nap.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life...

Grant us that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord's resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit...

Through Jesus Christ our Lord...
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Sprit, one God...
now and for ever. Amen

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed.

The Book of Common Prayer

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Fighting to get out

I can liken my attempts at trying to organize thoughts since my last post here with a horde of people all trying to leave a building at once through one door and everybody blocks everybody else and nobody can get through and indeed, some are trampled.

As I walk with Richard or lurch my way through aerobics class, or stand in the shower, I think of snippets of ideas of things to write about but have been a bit short of time to think carefully about how I want write them.

I have wanted to explain to my California friends who read this why we who live in parts to the East --- where there is a real winter and a real spring -- go nuts when the bare twigs of the redbud tree overnight appear to have been air brushed with pink, what we think when we see the mass of golden forsythia, or a bed of gorgeous, fancy daffodils with ruffled dresses in the back a house that has been abandoned for years  - somebody lovingly planted those beautiful varieties of daffodil and they bloom on year after year -- why the sound of peepers out in the pond brings such joy after the dead silence of the winter months, why the warm sun makes one want to run around and act crazy. Why we bloggers with cameras go a little off the deep end taking pictures of flowers that they can buy and plant in their yards in January.

I have had sort of a liberating experience since the last of March. My mom, some time before she died, told me in a conversation that she was still learning lessons in her 80s about life and people and what not, and I hope that I too, will continue to have a mind pliable enough to be molded and shaped and made better by learning lessons as well. Any way, I have learned a very valuable lesson. No amount of stressing or worrying or fretting about getting my work done is going to help get it done. Duhh. Seems like an obvious thing, but you would have to had walked in my shoes for a while to understand this, and also understand my somewhat obsessive personality about some things.

Back in the day, I often worked long into the night trying to meet deadlines and suffered nights of insomnia when I did quit at a reasonable time, tossing and turning as I tried to figure out how to finish by the deadline. The first step in laying down that burden was taking Sunday off. For years I worked 7 days a week, and then I finally was able to make a decision to have a day of rest. What a concept.

I have never missed a deadline. Never. But I will be missing a deadline that is coming up in a few days. Through no fault of my own, I will simply not be able to finish the work by the time specified. And guess what? I am OK with it. I am working as diligently as I know how to finish as much as I can as quickly as I can. I have had to sort of put writing the blog on hold, unless I can make myself write "quick and dirty" posts that I have not gone over and gone over and gone over and tweaked and fiddled with and rearranged. And I have not been able to pay attention to some of the blogs I enjoy reading very much. I have no idea what any of them are up to, but I'll get around to it eventually.

I decided that I will stop work every once in a while throughout the day to step outside and enjoy the changes as "Spring comes laughing down the valley..." I will stop at a reasonable hour...  I will relax a bit with my newest Alexander McCall Smith book...

 I will not kill myself over this job.

And best of all: I am sleeping well at night with the window up even higher to catch the sounds of the spring frogs Well, except for last night. For whatever reason, I had a ridiculous dream about my old boss...

Have mercy!