Posts Tagged With: life

November Start

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I told you it wouldn’t be a whole month until I came back again.  Nano is going very well.  So well, in fact, that I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  It usually drops in week 2, so we’ll see how much I hate this story and everything it stands for in another 8 days or so.  I’m no longer surprised that this happens, but every year I’m surprised by how genuine the feelings of loathing are.  You would think I would have learned by now that this is a phase.

Brian participated in the annual Baked Potato Decorating Day contest at his work, held every year on November 1st.  He won for his impressive rendition of Bag End, complete with round carrot door and broccoli Party Tree.  I am still upset by his refusal to let me make hobbits from tater tots, but I shall live through my disappointment.  His prize was $45 to Barnes and Noble, and we spent a blissful evening among the stacks of books.

“Do you want anything?” Brian asked me toward the end of our perusal.

I started laughing.  Because I want everything, of course.  They’ve come out with those amazing gilded Barnes and Noble Classic editions of American Gods and Anansi Boys, A Wrinkle In Time, Shell Silverstein poems, Cthulhu mythos, Robin Hood, Moby Dick, The Eye of the World, 10 Wizard of Oz books…  Moleskine has Harry Potter special editions sitting on the shelf.  I have not yet read Rene Ahdieh’s latest.  America’s Test Kitchen has a gigantic cooking bible.  I’m dying to purchase a slew of romance novels, and Uprooted. They have a vast collection of color-your-own postcards and a Pusheen luggage set.  I still need the Puffin In Bloom copy of the Little Princess.  They had fancy hard-backed editions of The Silmarillion.  When I said I wanted everything, I wasn’t kidding.

“Don’t worry about me,” I said.  I’m used to drooling and not buying.  Also, I didn’t help with the potato and I can’t remember the last time Brian bought books.  He picked up three and has been spending his nights reading, like I usually do, which is reward enough.

Writing and reading your heart out are what November is for.  We have a good start on that over here.

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Weekly Woes

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It’s been sort of a terrible week.  I spent 3 hours waiting in a scary train station parking lot last night for Brian to navigate the broken down and delayed system back.  I have received a quick rejection letter and am feeling downtrodden about it – my 16th this year.  There is an army of ants who are attempting to take over my desk at work.  Brian has been ill and I’ve been doing my best to take care of him when I’m actually home (which isn’t much).  The weather is over 100 degrees and melty.

It’s one of those times where I wonder if running away like I tried when I was five is still possible.  But most days I really like my life.  The law of large numbers just insures that sometimes all the crap is stacked up in a single week like this.

I have been reading Storyteller by Kate Wilhelm, one of the founding teachers at the Clarion Writer’s Workshop.  It’s a lovely book, part writing advice and part memoir, and it’s taught me some stuff already.  You know, besides igniting all the regular yearnings to one day attend Clarion into a fervor.  I’m going to rewrite the ending to the story that was rejected and see what happens next.  I’m also itching to get my hands on some inexpensive used paperbacks so I can start dissecting the authors I love and see if I learn anything.  Which I thought I would never voluntarily do.

Friday is my day, though.  The Redlands bowl is having its last performance of the season, which means William Tell and fireworks.  Totally my thing.  Couple that with some kitten cuddles and I’m sure I’ll be feeling much better by the time next week rolls around.

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Elie Wiesel: A Memory

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I feel the need to write something about Elie Wiesel’s death.  It struck me pretty hard, and I’ve been sitting on the feelings because they seemed untamable into words until I had a little distance from them.  But I think I can do it now.

I met Elie Wiesel a few times.  He had a standing relationship with Chapman where he would come and give talks at their Holocaust center, before doing a big campus shindig in front of anyone who could fit in the auditorium.  I saw him at the big event a few times.  But the meeting that I think of most is this one: My professor was asked to interview him for the campus shindig, so he asked if we could get a few moments with Dr. Wiesel privately as a class.  There were fifteen of us in the group.

It changed my life.

It’s hard to say how, except that it unleashed a bravery in me that I didn’t know I possessed.  And he did it so quietly, too.

We went to a fancy room in the library that was small, with wide windows in one wall and desks set like a U.  In the corner was a stand of cookies and coffee, and we all clutched our cups nervously, sitting up straighter than we usually did, adjusting our collars or skirts since we all dressed up for the occasion.

He wasn’t at all formal, just incredibly kind.  We sat in the sunlit room while he told us of the night he went back to his family home, the one where they lived before the camp.  His father had planted a gold watch by a tree so the family could come back after the war and claim it again.  Dr. Wiesel had not been back for 50 years, but he dug into the earth and the watch was there.  He held it up to the moonlight, thought of his father for a moment, and then buried it back in the ground.  It seemed to belong there, he said.

He talked of walking the corridors of Buchenwald alone, asking for a moment to himself at an anniversary event, and of how he didn’t feel the terror there anymore.  In every breath he spoke a brilliant truth, it was all things I perhaps knew but didn’t have the words for, or knew but hadn’t looked at from that side.  I think the whole room fell in love that day.  We would have done anything for this grinning, gentle man with the wild hair.

At the end of it all, he charged us with a task.  As humans and scholars, as the next generation, we were to bear witness.

I knew that he meant the atrocities that are committed in the name of progress, but I also know that he meant everything.  The joys, the sorrows, the living.  Bear witness to life, because there is sorrow and heartbreak and wonder there that is important too, among the injustice and savagery.  All of it is worthy of proclamation, perhaps even needful of it.  All of it is holy.

He was so full of life himself, and so easy with bearing his own witness by the time I met him.  I knew his charge would be something I would take up and try to fulfill.  And through the writing, I have tried to do it as best I can.  That meeting changed me, changed my writing, made me feel brave about relating my experiences, mundane though they are in comparison.

He wouldn’t have remembered me.  I’m certain of it.  I was one face in a sea of fifteen that class period, and he probably met many more classes that day alone.  I didn’t raise my hand to speak or ask questions because I was so enraptured by the answers that I wanted to savor them.

Perhaps it even matters more that way, that I was one of a crowd to him.  That he had enough trust in us to share, and enough love for us to give us a task without knowing our individual stories.  It makes me wonder how many others are like me, who were changed in an instant without him even knowing.  It was a gift he offered with ease.

I am in mourning.  The world has lost a brilliant man.  If you want to honor his memory with me, consider bearing witness  to some truth in your life.  I know he would be pleased if you did.

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It’s Hot

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It is hot here in Southern California.  I thought my office had greenhoused a little, but then I went outside and it felt like I was in an oven, so I know I shouldn’t complain about my slightly warm digs.  The web said it’s 113 in Riverside today.

I have been watering the poor, fragile Lemon tree in the back yard like mad, but I’m afraid it still isn’t going to make it.  It’s hanging in there, though, so we’ll see.  It seems like there’s going to be a very warm summer ahead of us so it has a long way to go before it’s truly safe.  The tomatoes are at the point where they aren’t loving the heat either, although they’re still ripening.  It’s the blooms that are burning in the sun.

Success with the Brandywines, by the way!  There are currently 7 tomatoes on the vine, and hopefully more to come.  I’m so glad.  I got 2 tomatoes out of that plant last year, and resolved that if I didn’t get more this year, I would give up eating the tastiest tomatoes I’ve ever had and go for something that was more prolific.  I can justify 7 a little more than I can justify 2.

This is usually my favorite season at home.  The Redlands Bowl starts this Friday, there is often much Sousa in the air, and I get to break out all my pretty sundresses.  Looking at the weather report, I’m not 100% sure I’ll feel the same this year…

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A New-ish Desk

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I reorganized the house a bit this weekend.  I moved my writing desk from my big office into the little nook in my bedroom.  It’s just in front of the walk-in closet with a big window in front of it that looks out on the neighbor’s pretty plum tree.  Plus, it’s a prime Anydots “Business” site (she has business in all the windows.  She can’t cuddle right now, she has to go), which means she’s continually hopping on and off the sill and chittering at the birds who fly past.

I’ve long had a hard time writing in the other office.  There’s just so much space, and it never helped that it sort of became the Cat Room, Craft Dump Place, and General Storage Area (read: always a mess).  I always did better at our Quail Creek apartment where I wrote in a large closet – no window.  So I’m hoping that this will bring me that closed-in-walls, cozy feeling I used to have there.  I mean, I used to do 4 hours easy on the weekends.  Now?  I hardly ever write at home, just in the snippets I can snatch in the breaks of my work day.  This spot has plenty of outlets for the computer, too, and all it needs now is a small desk lamp for late nights.

The best part of figuring out this new space was the curating.  I have 2 slim shelves that are supposed to be for propping up artwork and not for storing things, a slim desk, and scarce wall space.  I will miss having my big metal C and the picture my grandmother drew of me, but there isn’t room for them (and is it weird to have a picture of yourself in your bedroom?  Even if you were 14 at the time? It might be…  I’ll find another place for it). Instead I have my book angel, pens spilling out of a tall espresso cup with a mysterious black figure on it, the Puffin In Bloom version of Little Women, the Jane Austen clothbound hardback set from Penguin, all of my Lord of the Rings journals, a slew of motivational hand-lettered quotes taped to the edge of the shelves (somewhat teeth marked by Miss Dots), my clock, my first NaNoWriMo winner’s certificate, and the Chinese lacquered box that I keep my fountain pen ink refills in.  It has everything I need, with lots of inspiration included.

I may also add a real shelf above the window at some later date, depending on how I feel about it all.  I’ve been keeping a journal of some sort since I was in 3rd grade, though I didn’t get serious and regular about it until high school. The books are many, and that crap has to go somewhere.  I’m not getting rid of any of it on the propensity that someone will donate it to the Redlands Library when I die and some historian in 200 years will be very glad that I took the time to write down my weekend chores, though they will have to look up “mansplain” and “Bernie Bros”  because no one has used those terms in more than a century – the latter especially.

I’m pleased.  I did a little writing yesterday and it felt right.  So here’s to being more productive in the future. I shall now be able to seize the book.

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Office Quirks

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There are always office quirks, I suppose.  I’m getting to learn the ones here.  My last office was in a monument to the 1960’s brutalism movement on the 3rd floor.  None of the doors fit properly, which led to horror movie style wuthering when it got blustery out.  In addition, the building design made it so that it was a black hole for birds who would fly in the open balcony railings and then beat their heads against the glass terrarium-like windows to try and get out again.  We rescued most, with a net on a stick and plenty of squealing and flapping, but dead bodies were a common occurrence.

My new office is in the old Citrus Grower’s house, in what I think must have been the old sleeping porch.  There are windows on 2 sides, I am already referring to it as the tower, and it has an amazing view of freeway, mountain, and sky.  When the wind blows here, it whips the trees into a whispered frenzy.  And strange things drop from the sky with a thud.

It turns out that there is a palm tree in front of me.  It’s too close to the house for me to see the fronds, and the trunk is mostly blocked by the thick frame of one of the windows.  The alarming things raining down are the palm seeds, striking the roof of the kitchen-wing I overlook.  I thought it might be the apocalypse for a minute, there.  Now if I can just avoid the rattlesnakes in the “native area” out front next summer, I should be good to go…

I wish I was kidding, but I’m not.  That view really makes up for a lot, though.

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A New Start

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My sister and me (and friends) at the annual Halloween recital – held in Scripps’ music building.

I am starting a new job today, and in some respects it feels like I am starting another life.  I’ve been commuting so long that it seems weird that I will be only 20 minutes from home.  I can be home by 5:30 pm, but I still won’t miss NPR like I used to when my commute was 2 minutes long (a short few weeks).  I will have much more time for writing, I’m hoping.

I am leaving Scripps College, a place that was entwined with my growing up.  My grandmother belonged to the Fine Arts Foundation, a community organization that is allied with the college.   She was a dedicated member, and even served on their governing board for a while.  Because of this, my childhood is full of Scripps locations: the fashion show in the Margaret Fowler Garden, the Christmas tea they held in one of the 2 Dorsey living rooms, the ceramics festival outside of Lang.  I would find myself constantly turning a corner and being assaulted by a memory.  I will miss that at the new place.

But my new office is at the top of a hill overlooking the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, all snowy from the latest storm.  I haven’t even started, and they’ve already given me quite the welcome.  It’s a promotion, and it was more than time to move into this new life that Brian and I have begun away from Claremont.  I’m looking forward to the future.

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Falling In Love

My sister and I tend to get confessional when painting.  Which we did all of last Sunday.  She is moving things forward with her boyfriend – a totally great guy – but has some worries.  As we all do when we commit, I think.  She asked me if Brian and I had ever considered divorce.

I was surprised.  I thought the fact that we had was fairly common knowledge among my nearest and dearest, and my sister is definitely in that camp.  But maybe I shouldn’t be that shocked.  After all, there are a lot of things in relationships that people don’t talk about because they aren’t romantic, they aren’t fun, and they require incredible amounts of sweat, compromise, and tears.   It’s just easier not to say anything.

I wrote the piece below as a final for my Creative Nonfiction class in college.  I’ve tried to edit it many times, and nothing seems to take.  This is the latest.  I know it isn’t perfect, but I think it’s true.  And I think it’s important that we talk about these things, because everyone should know that partnership is hard, despite the fact that it often looks easy from the outside.

It briefly mentions sex.  Fair warning, family members.

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Falling In Love: 

I sat in the passenger seat of our first new car, a white Chevy Cavalier, and tears streamed down my face.  “What are you thinking over there?” I asked my husband of four years.

“I don’t know,” Brian said.  “Sometimes I think it would just be so much easier if I left and moved in with my dad for a while.  I mean, you could do what you want to do and we could not worry about money anymore.  I just, I don’t know.  I’d have a hard time not calling you, maybe we’d get back together some day.  It’s just that right now it’s so hard.”

“Are you divorcing me?” I said.  My voice was small, and I had a hard time thrusting the words out.

I looked across at him, steering wheel wedged between his knees, mop of brown hair tousled, wet lines streaming from his eyes.  I attempted to imagine a life where I didn’t wake up next to him every morning and failed.  I wanted so much to put out a hand, to touch his cheek or knee, to convince him that he needed me, but I couldn’t force my body to move.

“No,” he said.

I breathed.

He pulled me close over the armrest, and I buried my face in his neck.  We cried for hours together in that parking lot in downtown Claremont.  When we arrived back at my mother’s house, our temporary home while we worked out our apartmentless situation, no problems had been resolved, but we both had the conviction that we would fight it out together.

In July, we will celebrate our thirteen year anniversary.  I think of that moment in the car often and realize that we are not the same people we used to be back then, that we are at best approximations of those two who cried together under the streetlamp, the shift console the only concrete thing separating us.  There is a movie I watched in a history class, The Best Years of our Lives, where a daughter in distress accuses her parents of having the perfect relationship and not understanding.  “How many times have I told you I hated you and believed it in my heart?” the mother says to her husband.  “How many times have you said you were sick and tired of me; that we were all washed up? How many times have we had to fall in love all over again?”  I heard that, sitting in a dark room in a plastic chair with my notes before me, and thought yes.

I was fourteen when I met my husband.  We were in high school theater together, both ensemble members with too much time to wait backstage before our cues.  I used to be late to class because we would sit in the halls and talk until the bell rang.  When my best friend told me he liked me, I said “ew!”

I asked him out the summer I turned seventeen.  Brian drove down from college at Cal State San Bernardino to take me to a school dance, because my date cancelled on me at the last minute.  We sat in a single chair together in the hotel lobby.  He pretended my shoe was a telephone.  Brian slow danced divinely, and I had to wrap my arms under his, reaching far to place them on his shoulders.  By the end of the night I knew the fluttery feeling in my chest was love.

Three months later, I lay next to him at midnight on the pull out sofa in his mother’s mountain cabin.  He had clandestinely climbed the stairs once we knew everyone was asleep.  I placed my head in the crook of his shoulder and we talked until dawn.  We knew that we wanted to get married, but we tried to pretend we didn’t, even to ourselves.  Tales of high school sweethearts trapped in loveless marriages with too many children haunted my thoughts; and his as well.

I attended college as a music major, like my mother had, and like my twelve years of piano lessons had trained me for.  Then I waffled to theater, and then officially declared that I was as undecided as I had been all along.  Brian finished his English degree.  I read his stories in my bed alone at night and told him how wonderful he was.  I was the mascot of the University Dance Company, the only person to show up to every performance, cheer them on, and watch Brian turn pirouettes in a strait jacket.

We got married when I was 21, the year I fell thoroughly and completely out of love with my husband.  We rented a two bedroom apartment in a neighborhood that could kindly be described as sketchy.  A row of apartments lined the street, and in back of them was a long alley way full of potholes.  After the alley was a neighborhood of decrepit houses.  On the cinderblock walls, a constant fight was in play between those who sprayed graffiti and those who owned the white paint can.   Things were constantly stolen from the neighborhood, including my car. Brian worked nights and I slept with a previously ornamental sword by my bedside, just in case.  When he was home, we fought.

I don’t even remember what the fights were about, save the first.  That was a terrible row about laundry detergent in which the question of powdered or liquid stood for the family ideology we had each grown up with.  He threw a small paperback in my general direction and it fluttered to the ground in a hail of pages.  I gave him the finger, grabbed my purse, and went to my mother’s house.  I had a vision of fifties matrimony, with dinner on the table every night and kisses in the kitchen.  The fights murdered that ideal.  I considered leaving almost every day, but I knew we would never have three hundred dollars to file for divorce.  There were slim moments of redemption, like the night I made him an angel food cake from scratch for his birthday.  The bright tissue paper from his present caught fire on the burning white tapers I had scattered over the table.  Working out our problems was the only real option left, and sometimes it seemed possible.

We moved into a safer neighborhood a year later.  It took every penny we had managed to save to do it.  On my birthday, we had a total of twenty five dollars in the bank.  Brian bought me a bouquet and we ate dinner on our new patio amidst a fort of brown boxes.  I worked a soulless job as a telephone operator and took jobs designing costumes for the Methodist Church’s children’s theater program.  I dabbled in college again, declaring fashion design and then costuming, then back again.  Brian worked the front desk in the Registrar’s Office at the local college.  Our jobs were five minutes from the new apartment, and we would make dates to tryst at lunch.  Brian would bring home sandwiches and we would tumble into the sheets, eat turkey, and then rush back to work. Kitchen kisses materialized and so did dinners.  Not every night, but often enough that the butterflies in my stomach came out of their coma.  A friend introduced us to the Lindy Hop.  We would spend Saturday mornings in class, and then we would rush home so I could roll up my hair, smear on red lipstick, strap on my vintage wedges, and go back for the dance.  The sharp, full sound of the big band filled the church hall as Brian whipped me around in circles in the crowd and we watched my skirts spin wide.

Brian read Anna Karenina in those years.  He insisted on reading me this quote about marriage: “At every step he experienced what a man would experience who, after admiring the smooth, happy motion of a boat on a lake, he finds himself sitting in it himself.  He found that it was not enough to sit quietly without rocking the boat, that he had constantly to consider what to do next, that not for a moment must he forget what course to steer or that there was water under his feet… it was pleasant enough to look at it from the shore, but very hard, though very delightful, to sail it.”

We visited my sister-in-law for Christmas.  “It makes me sad that you guys had such problems,” she said, “I don’t want to hear about it. You’re the perfect couple.”

My grandfather died when I was twenty five.  I sat by the hospital bed my grandmother set up for him in the living room of their Maine farmhouse and realized that I hated everything in my life except Brian, who was far away in California and had not made the trip.  I could not continue to work at the telephone office and still like myself.  I took a job with Disneyland costuming, and with it a severe pay cut.  I barely consulted Brian, who took a better job with a college in Orange County at almost exactly the same time.

Six months later, we were living in a dank apartment in Anaheim and hemorrhaging money every month.  Our bedroom window opened onto Ball road, one of the busiest in Southern California. The mushroom colored carpet was old and smelled musty, the light was dim.  Our furniture did not fit. I tried to work full time hours, but often an extra shift wasn’t available.  There was little fighting this time, only an icy rage that settled over us.  He worked days, I worked nights.  I spent most mornings crying in bed.

By the time we could get out of our lease, I realized something important.  Brian was the thing that mattered most.  Chasing dreams was fine, but Brian was the center, the needed element.  If I could not fall asleep in the crook of his shoulder, fame and fortune would not satisfy me.  We moved in with my mother.  We contemplated divorce. We rented another apartment, this time in Claremont where we had been happy before.

This apartment had been built in a late 1940’s housing boom, with kitchen cabinets to match.  It was light blue, with scrolling metalwork in white across the screen door in front and the column that held up the porch roof.  It had a vast back yard, in which we held several barbecues and I learned that my black thumb of death was really greenish after all.  I started a job search, sending resumes into the vast hole of the internet, but Disney promoted me and I didn’t have to leave.  I started college again, this time in earnest.

We bought our first house six months ago.  It is a yellow 1970s tract home next to an orange grove, and it has three bedrooms that we’d like to fill with more than just our cats.  The house was just too expensive, once the realities of taxes and flood insurance settled on our heads; and so I cook for hours on the weekends, turning budget carrots and discount chicken into dinner, pickling sketchy leftovers, making my own jam, and sewing or stenciling the furnishings I want.  I light the tapers on the dining room table and pretend the bank account is full enough.  Brian and I have banded together this time in our fight against the world, instead of fighting both life and each other.  The truce has brought great joy amid the stress, and for that I sometimes feel like crying huge tears of relief.

I have hopes that the truce will hold.  If there is one thing thirteen years has taught me, it is that marriage is not about being in love all the time, it is only a stubborn determination on the part of both people to fall in love in perpetuity.

And stubborn determination is something the two of us have in spades.

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Maine vs California, and Some Pictures

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I am back from Maine.  It has been almost five years since Brian and I have been together, and it was lovely to have a partner in crime.  It’s always so funny coming home again, though.  I fly into Boston and am deposited into a whole different world, and then I fly out again and am deposited in my own life in California.  There is no transition, and no in-between.  Just one dichotomy and then the other

Maine was gorgeously green this time.  The humidity clung to us, but there was a light breeze most times that if you could catch it would blow the mugginess away.  The mosquitos bit, but I did not get munched by a green-headed fly even once.  That is a victory.  We hiked on forest trails that suddenly rounded a bend and became a secluded bay; trees and calm waters stretching as far as you could see.  Maine is a place to eat your weight in halibut and lobster, watch the fisherman chug through the Gut on their boats, and watch the brilliant stars in the sky.  Life trickles by like a stream.

Back in California, I went to work on Monday morning in a dry heat.  The drought has made things so brown out here.  I raced freight trains to work in a sea of concrete and other cars, and then I went into my air conditioned building and froze. I came home to a cuddly black cat in the window, dinner made from my home-grown tomatoes, and a very handsome husband burning sweet incense in the back room (for his weekly meditation).  The streetlights are so bright they drown out all but the most persistent constellations.  My four-poster bed is the perfect combination of soft and firm.

I will be back to some semblance of a regular blogging schedule ASAP, but I have had to play massive amounts of catch-up at work (to the point where all I want to do at the end of the day is collapse).  In lieu of a full post, please accept this collection of photos from the trip.  Bookishness will recommence next week.  And incidentally, if you are ever in Damariscotta, their bookshop is full of wonderful.  They don’t have the biggest inventory, but they have everything I’ve been drooling over online for months (Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography, anyone?), and local stuff that is hard to find (Maine historical atlases).  I wanted to stay for months and spend a fortune.  You should go.

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Miscellaneous Things

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I feel like nothing happened this week, which is why there has been much radio silence over here. But when I really start to think about it there’s been a number of things:

  • I have finished draft 3 of my novel.
  • I took a diversity class at work on Transgender people and being an ally. To say it was really great seems like damning with faint praise. I learned a lot. I spent most of the day pondering the dichotomy of my love of American Girl dolls and sports, my lace tops and my refusal to wear makeup. Also, this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFjsSSDLl8w
  • I tried out the old (but new to me) Olive Street Market in Redlands. Their sandwiches are tasty, and I have been dreaming about their sweet broccoli salad. They also have every variety of root beer known to man. I have a presentment that this will be my doom. My pocket book and my waistline will empty and expand respectively.
  • My mother gifted me two Charles Wysocki puzzles. One of them is my favorite ever. I’ve put it together at least three times and possibly more. It’s a town scene with canaries in it, and the canaries are everywhere unlikely. The other is a group of people playing croquet on a southern plantation. I finished the border this morning, and the house last night.
  • The dollhouse I’ve been building for thirteen years is now in my (real) house! I haven’t had a place to work on it since I got married, hence the 13 years… I’m thrilled to have it. I ripped the inferior staircase out of it and gave it a good clean. It will be non shell-like soon, I hope. I have wallpaper all picked out.
  • I fed the horribly neglected roses in my yard last week. There are four bushes, and they’re the only plants in the yard I don’t abhor (why Brian has a fondness for the umbrella plant, I will never know). The one we thought was mostly dead started blooming yesterday, small magenta roses about the size of a half-dollar.  

So that’s what’s going on in the sweltering suburb of Redlands. Students come back next week, and the job changes again.

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