Saturday, August 14, 2010

Moving Day!

The day had arrived. "The girls" (my daughters have put up with that term most of their lives, being lumped together like the cliche-ish two peas in a pod) have moved out into their own place. After weeks of anticipation and days of preparation, the alarms went off at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday and we all crawled out of bed and began the final car-loading, last minute packing, and pet catching.
Life in a Box -- skillets, yoga mat, music stand, picture frame, heating pad

Ash and Lys were in good spirits, I was simply relieved that we had the foresight to do most of the prep before Saturday morning dawned. By 8:30 Lys and her bunny Penny were on the road to their new place. The plan was that she would go up first in order to open the gates and doors in the event the moving truck beat us up there. Ash and I would stay behind to supervise the movers, who were scheduled to arrive between 8 and 10 a.m. At 8:45 they called and said to expect them between 10 and 10:30. With cat Serena bellowing from the pet carrier, we decided that Ash should also head on up and let Serena out of her misery.

So I waited. Alone. For the first time in almost three decades I'll be living alone. Will I find new pursuits? Will I simply enjoy the solitude after busy work days? Will I find a new purpose or re-dedicate myself to old interests? I picked up a broom and began sweeping. There is a quiet peace in the swishing of the broom on the wood floor. Visions of all the people I've observed sweeping went through my head. My sister Linda sweeping -- telling me how after living overseas she observed many European women keeping such tidy homes. The school girls in Kenya -- sweeping the school steps with shrub branches. My mom -- sweeping the back patio off in the cool mornings, lost in her own thoughts. I remembered a quote about how it was easier to envision Jesus sweeping the streets than delivering a severe edict from the palace steps. Gentle, quiet movement is soothing.

Then the movers arrived and from then on there was no stopping! I showed them where things were -- the old sofa, the bookcases, the boxes, the TV -- until the truck was loaded. Then they left, with me following in my car for our trek to the City.

The move went smoother than we could ever hope for. Beds were delivered and set up by the mattress company, the internet service guy showed up promptly, the movers arrived and unloaded everything in record time. Ash and Lys were in charge -- "Put that here, just set that there". I was proud, amazed, awed by their poise and independence.

I confess I cried a bit when it was time to hug them goodbye and leave. Although Ash had lived away before, to have both of them "launched" on their own, knowing it's time to let go, made me realize that 90% of my parenting work is now done. I'll always be there to guide them, help them, answer questions for them, but I have to trust that they'll do the right thing and handle every day life on their own now. I'll miss them, but this is what parenting is all about. And truly my heart is bursting with joy for them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Life at the Sea - Part 3

When my children were little, my husband and I loved to take them to Dennis the Menace Park in downtown Monterey. It has your typical swings and slides, but also many unusual park activities -- a climbing wall, swinging bridge, a roller slide, and one of my kids' favorites -- a maze to get lost in. We enjoyed the delights of this play place once again when we took the relatives there during their visit.
Climbing on the train engine is a favorite.
On the north side of the park is Lake El Estero, where you can rent paddleboats and enjoy the day puttering around the lake.
Across the lake, you can see the beaches and Monterey Bay, and even parts of Fisherman's Wharf.
There is also a lovely walk around the park perimeter.
To the south of the park is the cemetary where my husband was laid to rest. After our afternoon at Dennis the Menace Park, the relatives joined us in walking over and placing flowers on his site. It's peaceful there -- under a big tree (he loved trees), near the ocean (he loved the ocean), and across from the park where he spent time with his most beloved treasures -- his family.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Life at the Sea - Part 2

Continuing our tour of the Monterey Bay area while our relatives visited last month, we spent a couple of days on the peninsula. We shopped in Carmel one day, finding all sorts of presents and keepsakes. The Tuck Box is one of our favorite examples of Carmel's quaint flavor, and you will find delicious preserves and scone mixes for sale there.

Then it was on to the 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach.

The Pebble Beach Lodge is elegant and relaxing.
Walking through the lounge and down the back steps of the Lodge you can step onto a grassy area where you can see golfers on the the Pebble Beach Golf Course. Very beautiful. Shelby has not yet learned golf etiquette, though, and ran down the slope to the fence you see below. Then she yelled up to my sister, "GRANDMA". Everyone was amused but the golfer trying to make his putt.
The Lone Cypress still stands tall.
I used to take contemplative walks to Bird Rock when we lived in Pebble Beach. A variety of birds and sea lions live there.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Life at the Sea - Part 1

Up early (my sleeping pattern is way out of whack this week) and with only a few hours before we leave for San Francisco for the day, I thought I would begin sharing scenes from the places we went while my sisters, nieces and Dad visited us in July. It was the first trip to the Monterey Bay area for nieces Andrea and Katie. We were enthusiastic tour guides, savoring the re-discovery of the treasures in our area. All ages were represented, from the youngest grand-nieces Shelby (age 6) and Katie (age 12) to Great-Grandpa (my dad, age 87). We managed to find activities that all could do and enjoy.

First stop was the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Despite the cool temperatures and overcast skies, the aquarium was packed that day.

Don't you just love these swimming turtles?
The jellyfish never cease to fascinate.
The touch tank is a favorite!
The variety of fish are beautiful, in all their color and glory.
Not all fish are pretty, but all are interesting in their own way.
Sea horses are tiny and oh so cute. How many can you count?
The aquarium isn't just about fish, but represents all sea and beach life. The penguins were fun to watch.
Hot pink flamingos is one of the newer displays at the aquarium.
At one point we gathered all nine of us together for a group photo on one of the outdoor decks. Just as we were posed and ready to ask someone to snap our pic, a bee buzzed onto Shelby's arm and gave her a painful sting!
The Aquarium produced an on-site paramedic with a first aid kit, who took Shelby and my sister Linda back to a room where they applied a bandaid and gave her a little toy, which stopped the tears.

After a couple of hours, tired and hungry, we called it quits and walked down Cannery Row...
... and had lunch at Bubba Gumps and dessert at Ghiradelli Chocolate. Yum!
Stay tuned for more adventures from our family reunion.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Empty Nest Horizon

Five days until the girls move into their own apartment in another city. For the past two decades I've been a part of their every day lives, nurturing, loving, guiding them into adulthood. I wouldn't want it any other way but for them to have become the strong, independent women that they are. Ash has lived on her own before, all the way across the Atlantic. They are smart, savvy. I remind myself that they will do fine. The past week I've immersed myself in lists. Lists of what they'll need in their new home. To-do lists involving collecting moving boxes and lists of places we needed to call (turn on PG&E in their name, line up renter's insurance...). The clerks in Target's check-out line have become my new best friends. Shopping has kept me occupied so I don't have to think about how much I'm going to miss them. Hey, I picked up a vaccum cleaner for you! Look, I thought you girls could use a handled sponge for your kitchen sink. It's my last stab at anticipating their daily needs. Habits are hard to break.

My daughters were part of the Disney movie generation -- back when Disney made classic literature come to life in fantastic animation, such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Tarzan. There is a song I love from Tarzan, sung by Phil Collins, describing how I felt when they were small (though I think they will probably have to sing the first two lines to me, rather than the other way around now). Here 'tis -- dedicated to my beautiful daughters.

"You'll Be In My Heart"

Come stop your crying
It will be all right
Just take my hand
Hold it tight

I will protect you
from all around you
I will be here
Don't you cry

For one so small,
you seem so strong
My arms will hold you,
keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can't be broken
I will be here
Don't you cry

'Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

You'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You'll be here in my heart, always

Why can't they understand
the way we feel
They just don't trust
what they can't explain
I know we're different but,
deep inside us
We're not that different at all

And you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

Don't listen to them
'Cause what do they know
We need each other,
to have, to hold
They'll see in time
I know

When destiny calls you
You must be strong
I may not be with you
But you've got to hold on
They'll see in time
I know
We'll show them together

'Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on,
Now and forever more

Oh, you'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You'll be in my heart, always

Just look over your shoulder,
Just look over your shoulder,
Turn around and look over your shoulder.
I'll be there always.

If you would like to hear the song, just click the pause button (looks like ll) on the Playlist on the right side of my blog. Then click the play arrow button below.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

I love the color blue. And some shades of green, but not yellow-green. And I love the colors blue and green together. They remind me of the folding privacy screen I was given in high school to decorate my room. I painted the frame a glossy dark green and then glued blue and green paisley fabric to the inside panels (circa 1969). It looked groovy, and I marvel at my mom allowing me such artistic expression since the screen had come from her brother's guest house. (Imagine this screen in blue and green paisley .)The swirls of paisley print are pretty.
I also love the colors blue and brown together. Like a Brownie uniform.

Blue and gold look pretty together. My bathroom is blue and gold. My bedroom has wallpaper of silvery blue and green ribbons intertwining in a diamond pattern, white flowers with gold centers weaving their way through. Not everyone likes wallpaper, but I fell in love with this pattern when we moved into the house. It's been there for years as it was there before we moved in, and from time to time I dab wallpaper glue on the little spots I see curling back from the wall. You may hear me whispering to the flowers, don't go yet.

Then, too, I love lavendar. And pink. And deeper shades of plum and purple. Throw in some bold colors, like red or orange with soft colors and it makes for an interesting palette. My friend has a red and purple scarf and who would have guessed how striking it can be? (No, she's not a member of the Red Hat Society.)

So when I sat down at my computer to update my blog and discovered the background I had painstakingly chosen from The Cutest Blog on the Block had disappeared, I was so disappointed. It would be like walking into my bedroom and finding the wallpaper missing.

I clicked on the wonderful sites of free blog backgrounds from The Cutest Blog and Shabby Blogs and got lost in a sea of colors and themes. There are some beautiful choices, but nothing quite fits the way my old one did.

I'm a romantic. I don't like cutsie and I don't like flashy. Soft and pretty is best for me. The blog background should not call attention to itself, but frame the words and photos we upload. As my mom always said, you should wear the dress, the dress shouldn't wear you.

So my blog may go through a metamorphosis for a few days until I settle on something comfortable, a decor I can live with. Pardon me while I color my world.

Update: I think I found it! I love this background of blue, purple and gold swirls. Thanks to Aqua Poppy Designs for sharing their beautiful blog backgrounds.

Friday, August 6, 2010

July Jubilee

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, hence my absence from blogging. I wrapped up team-teaching summer school and embarked on a road trip to my dad's house. We had one of the best visits ever together. I'm not sure what made it so special to me. Just the two of us -- the quiet conversations, the mulling over keepsakes he wanted to give to my sisters and me, the mutual enjoyment of the Tour de France on TV, the drives through old familiar streets. Perhaps it is knowing that he will soon turn 88 years old and I know I need to cherish each day I get to spend with him, savor each word of wisdom he shares. I watched his eyes a lot. They are full of love, hope, sadness all at once. It makes me cry just to think about time marching on.

One of the drives we especially enjoyed was along beautiful Victoria Avenue -- orange groves and magnolia trees brought memories flooding back. I practiced driving on this road when I had my learner's permit.
Magnolia trees grace the avenue, as well as the variety of palm trees and orange groves.Palm trees tower over orange groves in some sections.When I was growing up there was an orange grove across the street from our house. It looked much like this photo below.
The smell of orange blossoms is heavenly.
While development has meant sacrificing orange groves for houses, Riverside created a Citrus Park dedicated to the importance of the orange industry in Southern California.
Long rows of palm trees beckon one in.
One day we went to a Bird Farm that my dad said he always wanted to visit. Talking parrots, finches, toucans, and several other species of birds greeted us.

These baby parrots...
...will grow up to look like this:
The owners claim that parakeets still make the best bird pet!
Mid-week we packed up my car and Dad rode back with me to my house. My sisters and nieces flew in a couple of days later, creating a houseful! Lively discussions, joking around, sight-seeing here, there, and everywhere ensued.

No sooner did company leave then it was time to start shopping and packing for my daughters move to San Francisco this month! So I promise to update photos here shortly. It's been a memorable summer and more special moments are yet to come.