Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One day at a time

Thanks to my honey, I was able to make that paragraph a normal font. ;>@

I'm living one day at a time, sometimes a few hours, trying to stay in the moment and keep working normally. It's taking effort that I haven't expended like this in a long time, trying to do what I need to do without getting wrapped up in the what-ifs and going out in the ozone, as we like to call it, picturing worst-case scenarios. Some of those are pretty awful and scary.

Details will come, but not for a while. Just keep positive energy flowing, please, for both me and my daughter.

Meanwhile, the garden is yielding good zucchini but poor tomatoes. Better green and other peppers than I've had before, but green beans aren't great. The grasses from the manue topping we gave it last spring are growing like what they are -- weeds -- and I pluck handfuls every time I'm there and toss it over the fence for the deer, but it comes right back. Because of the soaker hose winding through the garden, that won't stop until I disconnect the hose this fall. Otherwise I'll lose my marigolds and beans. Maybe I can reconfigure it better though.

I have sunflowers that finally caught on and are reaching high -- I do love seeing them when they're in bloom. We've gotten some good chard, but not nearly as prolific as previous years. I think that side of the garden needs more compost and manure this fall.

The days are milder -- only in the 90s this week, mostly -- and it's swamp cooler time since there is no smoke, thank god. We open windows at night, and by morning we've pulled up the covers and are chilly. It's great, and I'm very grateful, especially for blue skies and no smoke.

Abrupt change and worrisome stress are unwelcome intruders these days -- I am a little surprised at how much I love the relatively routine days, the same-old, same-old patterns we have fallen into over this year. I appreciate going outside just before bed and saying thank you to the starry skies, listening to the rustle of the kitties as they investigate night sounds, and the quiet footfalls of the deer as they go across the property. I can't see them, but I know they are there.

Sort of like faith, I guess. I can't see clearly in this darkness, but I know that I am loved and supported, and I trust that I will place my foot squarely on the right path for me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Frustration and fear

Frustration on many levels. Partly because I can't figure out why the post below insists on publishing in that large size. Partly because I'm concerned for my daughter and feel very powerless.

Which brings on the fear. And boy, it is there.

I am hesitant to say too much right now in this venue.

But I can ask for your prayers, your most fervent, loving prayers for her. And for me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Trying to let it go

The anger, fear, and conflicting emotions of that last post have come and gone in waves this week, but are still very much occupying my mind. I learn things every few days that make my stomach churn uneasily, and I have no real idea how this mess can be resolved without a full-scale rescue.

Pray for clarity of thought, I guess, and remember that I am powerless over people, places and things. Pray that she will be safe and somehow will find the strength and resources to get out of the situation before she is further harmed by it. Keep talking.

I've had some nice moments this week though in spite of the ice weasels, on their quieter days. We've enjoyed some time with friends, and I got to wander through the Farmer's Market ogling all the peaches, tomatoes, beans, squash, and flowers. Bought some lovely fresh raspberries which we ate on our steel-cut oats this morning, and just the taste made me think of my Duluth, Minn. grandparents and the raspberry bushes that we'd pick, braving bees and briars.

The smoke is back, though. We opened windows the other night to let cool, fresh air in and got to use the swamp cooler instead of AC for a day -- but the second night we woke to smoke in the air, even though it was cool. So AC went back on and has remained so. Yesterday the sun was dimly orange in a whitish-yellow-gray sky and the smoke never really went away. Today was some better. This is still fires from the west and north of us, although many of the others have been contained. Even the locals don't remember such a smoky summer.

I'm reading Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes and I can't say it's a fun read. The subject is school shootings and bullying, and it is so sad for all the characters. Her books aren't light reading anyway, but this one really is both riveting and repugnant.

I think I need a little laughter tonight. Maybe I'll see what's on TV...

This morning was my happiest moment of the day -- eating fresh, luscious raspberries on hot oatmeal with good honey drizzled over it -- or maybe it was just waking up with my honey snugged next to me and a large-and-in-charge gray cat draping himself over both of us to be petted.

Ask the universe for what you want. Be grateful every day, for at least one thing in your life. Be kind to someone you don't know--just because he or she is someone's child and may need a smile or a kind word.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Practicing what I preach

It's one thing to philosophize about creating our own reiterate that we, only we ourselves, are responsible for how we live our life, that the choices we make will dictate what happens to us and that if we don't like what we're getting, we'd best get off our collective duffs and change things.

It's another to accept it as fact. Especially when you love someone, like your kid, and nasty things are happening to her -- some of which is NOT her fault nor because of any choice she made or didn't make.

And it's even harder to accept that I cannot fix it. Mom the magnificent is powerless over people, places, and things. The ice weasels have been out buying party supplies.

She is not a child..definitely a grown woman, quite capable of making her own decisions (actually, that applies to all of them). They're all where they are because of choices they made on their own -- two of 'em with men who we've tried to accept that they love and see something in that isn't quite apparent to our parental eyes (rather more the opposite, if you wanna know).

And one of them demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has a mean, cruel streak and anger management issues. Fortunately, I guess, the daughter who's with him (it wasn't physical abuse) is seeing things a little more clearly and is talking about finding another roommate. Her illness, however, which is NOT her fault and for which she in treatment, leaves her in a very vulnerable place financially and emotionally.

So I'm trying to suggest possible resources and encouraging her to talk with her doctor. But what I want to do is rush in, get her out, and unleash a mother's fury on the guy.

And I can't. And I won't.

I'm telling her -- just as I have for years, and just as I've told her sister over and over again -- you live one day at a time. You do what you can with what you've got. If you don't like where you are, you find ways to change it. You ask questions of your doctors, your friends, of social agencies, of nonprofits that are there to help. You fill out applications and follow directions. You keep on doing that until you get the answers you need, the help you need. You CAN do it. You ARE strong and resourceful and smart. You can do whatever you decide you need to do.

And I pray that they are all safe, that they are strong enough to handle the grief, the anger, the embarrassment, the endless probing questions, the illness, the fear, the loneliness.

You are NOT alone, I tell them. I am here to make suggestions, to listen, to love you, to give you pep talks, to say 'there there', to cry with you sometimes. I will always be here to do that. I will always want to fix it for you. And I will never be able to do that. But YOU CAN.

That's what I say.

And then the ice weasels turn up the boom box so I can't hear myself say it to myself.

But I know it's true. At my core, I know that only they can make things different. And I just pray for them and hope they are strong enough to get through it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Gratitude and grace

Our little group of friends gathered this weekend to mark another birthday among us -- not one of the "big" ones, but I'm beginning to think that celebrating birthdays at this stage in our lives is as important as it was back in grade school.

Then it was celebrating getting another year older, another year closer to more privileges, more fun, to adulthood. Now it's celebrating that we're another year older and not already dead, and that we're indeed blessed with friends we can party with!

Various conversations throughout the evening -- and someone commenting on how positive I always am -- made me stop and think about that. Sometimes I think I sound very "Pollyanna"-ish -- finding the gratitude in adverse situations, looking for the blessing. And I assured them that I have to work at it, that I'm not always just a bouncy bundle of joy and optimism.

It isn't that I don't recognize problems and bad things. I've had my share of depression over the years -- I have black, dark poetry from my college years to prove it! (Doesn't just about everyone!) I've gotten through some very bleak times with a little "better living through chemistry" help and some counseling a time or two.

Before 9/11, I was a classic news junkie -- read two newspapers daily, newsmagazine, online stuff, CNN. But I could not take the horror and collective grief and pain that the event generated, and cried my way through the next month, finally asking for some help from my doctor. When I finally came out of that, I was no longer a newshound. I still read two papers daily and newsmagazines, but I skim over the tragedies now and try to narrow my focus and keep my emotions in check.

I've learned to live with gratitude over the last 25 or so years, more so in the last decade. There have been some big changes and hard times in those years, painful and scary issues -- my parents' deaths, my uncle's death, my daughters struggling with their lives and own issues, our own huge change from working and living in the Bay Area to moving here and going into (and out of) real estate. These all have tremendous ice weasel potential, and there have been some big party nights for the creepy rat ba*s*a**ds.

But I've also read a lot of -- for want of a better term, spiritual -- books and stories of people who have faced far more adverse conditions than I, and have come through it with a positive spirit ... and grace.

And that's it -- the goal. Grace.

Today's Daily Om is about living with grace.

It doesn't mean ignoring what is going on around you, the pain, the chaos, the state of the world and the country and your own problems. It means learning to be aware of what ELSE is going on around you, of shifting focus much as you do as a photographer to capture something that maybe isn't quite so obvious. It means looking for the little blessings even in pain and confusion. Grace leads us out of the morass to a place where we can stand without sinking, and helps us see through the haze and the fog to find solutions for our situation and to understand how to change the things we can.

The only way I know to find grace is to practice gratitude. And it's hard some days: sometimes even just a warm shower can be your best moment of the day, or climbing into a bed made with clean sheets. But if you practice it when you're not in crisis, it will be there for you when you are.

The party was great fun -- and everyone agrees that we are all indeed blessed to have this circle of friendships....peter out or peter in....

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

You know it's July when the temp gets over 105

How about 115 on our front porch yesterday?

With 7 percent humidity.

Now, I realize that those friends and family members who live in the midwest and south have absolutely NO CLUE what humidity that low feels like. It's desert dry. It's watch-your-skin-shrivel-right-up-and-wrinkle dry. It's nearly nosebleed dry.

If you hung wet clothes on a clothesline, you'd be taking down the first ones by the time you'd finished hanging a basket.

Today brought smoky haze from the southeast: Paradise is burning up again, and evacuations are again in place for this little community near Chico. Tony said ash was falling on his truck in the parking lot. Air quality there is unhealthy for anyone. And it was supposed to hit 117 here, although it only got to about 110 because of the haze.

Only. 110.

I'm back in mole mode -- blinds drawn against the sun and I try not to go out after noon. The kitties are flopped on the front porch near the front door where presumably there is a trickle of cooler air. I've got a fan on them and bring them ice cubes and water periodically, and I even rubbed the twins down with ice this afternoon -- they liked it. The water evaporates so quickly that it is cooling, albeit briefly.

The garden is doing well, although fruit won't set this hot, I think. I've had lots of squash and zucchini, and some nice cucumbers, a few green beans, and tomatoes are coming. I've been trading squash for tomatoes, though, and tonight we had fresh tomato, turkey bacon and lettuce-leaf basil sandwiches on whole wheat. The lettuce-leaf basil is just wonderful -- not as strong as the regular stuff, and big leaves, and very tender. It's going on my list to plant next year.

I put up prayer flags atop the garden fence this morning -- on a trip Sunday to the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farm, my girlfriends and I stopped at a street festival in Mt. Shasta City where it was tie-dye hippie heaven, and found the prayer flags in one of the booths. So my little flags, in the traditional Tibetan colors of yellow, green, red, white, and blue, are flapping prayers all day long. I like that very much. The garden is a spiritual place for me anyway -- I love working in the earth, watching things grow and thrive, and then harvesting the food to nourish our bodies.

One delightful movie we watched this weekend: August Rush. It's improbable and totally stretches credibility, but the music is wonderful, the story is heart-warming (and sad too), and Freddie Highmore, who plays little Evan/August, just makes you want to scoop him up and love on him. It was a nice escape from heat and gas prices and sick children and stress.

Stay cool. Check everything twice. Be patient. Drink lots of water in non-plastic bottles (I just bought them for us). Say thank you to the universe.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

What lies beneath

Our daughters are not in good places tonight: princess 3's baby Gabriel, at barely 3 weeks, is in the hospital with some sort of infection that manifested last night with a fever. She is still on meds for her own pneumonia, and just recovering from a C-section. We are holding them both in our hearts and minds, and will go hug her tomorrow.

Princess 1 is just struggling with her illness and self-esteem, and today has not been a particularly good one. This is the baby I raised, loved, nourished, and cherished, as I do today. Our babies may grow up, but they're still the children we so want to have a good life, a calm, happy life. I know I am powerless to do anything more than encourage and talk and love, but I hope that will help.

And I've just been socked upside the head the past few days with blogs about the ice weasels that I mentioned yesterday, and two lovely ones today from Lunaea and Joanna about gratitude. Others have their own battles and demons -- and it is interesting that many are feeling especially vulnerable right now.

And tonight I watched an episode of Oprah about the law of attraction, one I hadn't watched previously that was broadcast sometime last week, I think, which was another message about gratitude and asking the universe for what you need and want. I've been talking about this to the girls and my friends for some time now, and I wholeheartedly believe it works.

But one of the interesting things in this program was the statement "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

That is true. I've seen it over and over. I've experienced it. In fact, the things I learned from one of my "teachers" are what brought me to California nearly 11 years ago, and that teacher - among a few others - came from an extremely unlikely place: an Internet chat room on an "adult" site.

From those amazing, interesting, extremely literate and literary, caring people, I learned so much about myself and what I wanted from my life, and began to make changes to make it happen. But I was ready for change, although I didn't really know it at the time, and I was ready to hear what they had to teach me, although I didn't recognize them as teachers until later. I believe the gathering of those particular people in that particular chat room that particular summer was one of those convergence miracles -- and I don't think I was the only one whose life was changed because of it.

The Oprah program talked about vision boards as a tool for helping a person focus on what s/he wants in life: success, travel, money, friends, whatever....And I think it's time I made one. I've visioned before, but in words and in my mind. It's time to really put my dreams out there to see and to ponder.

You can find information about vision boards here and here.

And on my board I'm going to have pictures of my girls, happy, healthy, with loving partners and healthy children, and enough of everything to sustain them. There will be a cover of the book I want to write. A couple of cities I'd like to see. AndI don't know what else yet....

But at the center will be gratitude...thank yous for the cool water I'm sipping, the soft sheets that await me in my snug bedroom, for the loving mate who is my heart's delight and was one of my first visions manifested these 11 years ago. I am always and forever grateful for the teachers who encouraged and inspired and introduced me to the power of listening to my heart, of believing in my true self and letting that person loose to live and love and now, perhaps, to teach others.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Feeling out of sorts? You're not alone

As I mentioned a few posts ago, things seem very unsettled and uncomfortable in the world now, both in my little personal sphere and the earth as a whole.

I start nearly every time the phone rings, hoping it's not one of the princesses with yet another crisis and health issue. The youngest has not only delivered a baby -- young Gabriel -- in the past three weeks, but also ended up in the hospital with pneumonia last week, exacerbated I'm sure by all the smoke and nasty air that we've had in these parts from the fires. (it's smoky again today)

And the eldest is battling big depression and mental health issues far away from me so that I can't even put my arms around her and just cry with her. So I try to do it via phone. She's talking to me -- a good thing -- and is getting help, but it seems like one big crisis after another, impacting finances as well as job and emotional health.

All of which invite the ice weasels, which so far I've managed to stave off from a full-fledged attack. I can feel them nibbling, though.

And I'm not the only one who is having these feelings. Lunaea posed the question a few days ago and got some good responses. And Joanna offers her own suggestions for dealing with emotional issues today.

There are good ideas here to cope, and I've done most of them at one point or another. For now, I'm trying to stay in the moment and focus on what I need to do here. I'm trying to remember that I am powerless over people, places and things, and that there is really not one thing I can do to fix this for either princess. They must do the work. I am the listener, the comforter, the suggester. I try to make solid suggestions and hope the seeds grow. They each must find their own way through their dark and stormy times, but I hope that while I talk to them that I can be the lighthouse in the darkness.

I am grateful for my lighthouse, my wonderful husband, and for his sane and loving touch. I am grateful for my own sense of self and strength. The ocean renewed some of that for me this weekend. I watch the hummingbirds and water my plants and harvest the good veggies, and am thankful for life and for its constancy. As the old fades, the new takes its place. My daughters have to find their own paths through the darkness, just as I have found mine.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Salt air is a cure for smoke and haze

We escaped to the ocean over a long weekend -- escaped smoke and fire news and heat, and just soaked up the moist, cool salt air in Bandon, Oregon.

We'd planned to go to the Lost Coast some time ago and had made reservations, but the fires in Tehama and Shasta counties closed both main roads to the coast, and the alternate way, far south of us, led to more fire issues with some of those roads. So rather than cancel altogether, we remembered Bandon, a spot we visited more than eight years ago when we were on our honeymoon.

It was some miles and hours longer to get there, but probably not by a whole lot, since Bandon is accessible from here mostly via I-5, and then cutting over to the coast on reasonably good road.

We drove through smoke and haze until we got well north of Redding, where the smoke from the Shasta Dam fire billowed over the roadway and we could see smoke plumes much more closely than we really wanted to see them. By the time we came back yesterday, the air had cleared a lot. The fires are more under control, although by no means out. And the air quality is better, but far from good.

It was a lovely getaway. I read a whole book -- okay, an appropriate beach read -- the second in Nora Roberts' Blood Brothers trilogy and hardly requiring much brain, but perfect for the weekend. We ate fish, we watched a lovely sunset, we walked miles on the beach, we slept and watched some mindless television. Mostly we watched and listened to waves and sea birds. The constancy of the waves is reassuring, endless in its repetition. I love it. Tony said I was like a puppy sniffing the air. I took great gulps of the air, even filling my lungs full several times just before we left to come home in hopes that it would sustain me until I get back. When I close my eyes I see the waves, hear the waves. It is a good place.

The kitties missed us. McMurphy was all over us last night, wanting to be petted, and Ches just watched nearby, although he let me pet him and love on him later in the evening, but didn't climb into Tony's lap until just a few minutes ago. As long as the outside kitties are fed, watered, and petted daily, they're fine. And they were.

The garden is bountiful with squash -- zucchini and yellow. Tomatoes are ripening slowly, green peppers are appearing, and there are a couple of Japanese eggplant. No green beans. Lots of foliage, but no fruit. I've gotten some cucumbers and there are more out there. I still would like to plant more chard. I have a little plant -- the seeds didn't all come up -- and need to just plunk more into the ground. It's good -- all is tasty and fresh. Herbs are good too -- basil, chives, oregano, thyme, mint. Cilantro never does well, though -- I don't know why.

Time to fold clothes and try to relax a bit. It's been one of those days where I tied up loose ends and putzed, but didn't do some of the things I now HAVE to get done. Ah well. Such is the nature of a deadline-driven writer, I guess.