Posts Tagged With: Rain

Songs and Rain

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It’s a strange combination of spring and winter in California right now.  The Roger’s Red, which I measure the seasons by, has begun sprouting silvery leaves again.  The lavender is blooming in my front bed, and the giant Maple in the front yard is all dappled with fresh green leaves as well.  But it has been raining a dreary drizzle for days now.

It reminds me of the winters when I was a child.  Our house was mostly windows back then, and the loudness of the rain falling made you feel like you were out in it while simultaneously being able to cuddle up under a fluffy comforter with a book.  Sadly, I can no longer cuddle up under anything and expect to read.  I have a small boy who needs constant holding and attention.  He already grabs my phone when I’ve been reading on my kindle app too much.

He’s surprisingly coordinated now.  Meaning that when he tries to put things in his mouth he gets them within an inch of his target, hitting his cheeks or his nose most times.  That isn’t what I would call coordinated at all a few months ago, but the fact that he could reach for something and grab it was a revelation, let alone put it mostly where he wants it.  He’s like a little birdy with his mouth, too, opening it wide for a pacifier, a plush toy, a fist, or a nipple.  He’s putting the whole world in his mouth.

I have discovered that if you put me alone in a room with a small child long enough, what results is silly songs.  I’ve been singing “He’s got the whole world in his mouth” to the tune of “whole world in his hands.” You can substitute the verse for whatever he’s currently eating.  “He’s got his mother’s knuckle in his mouth,” is a popular one.  So is “the sleeve of his onesie,” and “his green knit blanket.” But really you can substitute almost anything.  We’ve been trying to avoid “the sudsy washcloth” with more success than not.

I also have been singing him this song, to the tune of “I Hate to Get Up In The Morning.”  It’s based on true events.

Oh how I hate to get up in the morning/ oh how I’d love to remain in bed/ But when your son pees on all your fancy clothes/ you’ve got to launder all of those/ Or spend the rest of your life na-ked. 

Add that to the bevvy of things we’ve all pulled out of nowhere to sing him, and he’s going to have the strangest musical vocabulary ever.  Brian sings him “I Feel Pretty,” (he likes the “la, la, las,”) and my mother has been singing him the theme song to Daniel Boone.  I’ve been singing him Alan Sherman tunes amid musicals, hits from the 40’s and 50’s, girl scout camp stuff, and my own silliness.  He babbles back with smiles.

It’s harder being home with a kid than it logically should be.  I mean, feeding, changing, and playing aren’t theoretically difficult things, it’s just that they never end.  But being home with him is also more rewarding than I expected.  All I need is to launch into a version of “Look to the Rainbow” and feel this kid snuggle into my chest to feel like it’s all worth it.  Maybe days of bedding down in the rain with a book just got more social…

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A Weekly Round Up

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This week there is a tropical storm somewhere, so we have been getting spurts of torrential downpour and some epic thunder all weekend.  The wind blew down the grape vine trellis, and the cats went a little crazy.  Brian and I sat in front of the window and watched the water stream from the pergola in the back yard, puddling in the dirt and weeds.

The cherry tomatoes have gone a bit wild.  I was able to actually use some of them to cook with. (!!!)  I had heard that the Juliet variety of grape tomatoes was not considered one of the better tasting types, so I was a bit apprehensive.  But these are excellent, tangy bites of sunshine.  I would plant them again in a heartbeat.  I’m going to claim it’s the compost. The Marriage Perfect Flames are turning orange-ish too now.

I am ¾ packed for Maine.  Terribly early, I know, but I won’t have another weekend to do all the laundry.  I will only have Friday night.  It seems strange to go back again so soon after my last trip.  Strange but wonderful.  I haven’t had the chance to long for gray beaches and blue skies; for lighthouses and that sweet, wild smell of reedy grass that meets me as I walk the dirt roads, the salty wind that whips my cheeks red.  I’m not feeling empty without it all, I’m just feeling VERY glad to see everyone.  And excited for lobster and Queen Anne’s Lace, of course.

We took the cone off the kitten yesterday.  Her first act was to try and eat it in retaliation.  Then she spent the next four hours cleaning herself.

The last thing that happened was Brian and I celebrating our 12 year anniversary.  We got rained out of the plans I made (outdoor amphitheater?  Not so much), but Plan B was to go see Guys and Dolls at the Fox theater in Riverside.  They played slap-stick Buster Keaton movies before the show instead of ads, had a fancy picture booth with Sinatra, and made the experience altogether perfect.  Bonus points for the contingent of the audience dressed in ‘50s garb.  I think Plan B might have turned out better than Plan A would have, even if it hadn’t rained.

I am also attempting to pick vacation reads and maybe a new crochet project.  Any recommendations?

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An Old Year

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This week I can finally feel the year getting old. I don’t know why that feeling has eluded me for so long. After all, it’s December. I put the Christmas stuff up already, and by next weekend the season is upon us with a vengeance.

Perhaps it is because it’s finally getting to be sweater weather in California. This is the first week in as long as I can remember that we got four straight days of rain. I got a little Fall in Maine, but I mostly felt like I went from summer to fake-Fall-land and then back to summer again. It is so easy to believe that Maine is a place outside of the world, because I fly in and I fly out and neither life touches the other, except when it does.

This morning, I drove to work in the rain, wipers swishing. Last night, it got cold in the house, and somewhere in the depths of night, and the kitten burrowed under the covers and snuggled up to me. I slept badly, afraid that I would forget she was there, turn over, and crush my favorite fluffy pincushion. But it was cold out. And the other cats won’t let her snuggle yet (maybe never). I didn’t have the heart to move her.

It could also be the time change and those dark evenings, or the fact that Trader Joe’s has started stocking eggnog, spiced cookies, candied sweet potatoes, and real evergreen wreaths.

But whatever it is, I’m glad to see 2014 go. It was a weird year, full of high highs and low lows. The year started with me finding out I was losing my job, but somewhere in the middle we bought the house. Now the year is mostly full of hard work; between sprucing up the yard, work itself, and the huge writing push I’m forcing on myself. I’ve taken on Ukulele Christmas Carols and some crocheting of Christmas presents as well. I’ll never get it all done, but it’s fun to see what lands completed in the bits of time that I can steal. Often it’s not what I think it will be.

And then we are on to a year with no mistakes in it yet.

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Summer Rains

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Things are settling at home. There is still a heap of boxes in the garage filled with unimportant things, like the tarot cards that I don’t quite dare throw away from the drawer in my bedside table. I have thrust so many of my high school hopes and dreams into them that if they were not full of mysticism before they must certainly be filled with some enigmatic thing now. Most of the walls have pictures leaned against them, upside down, waiting for nail and hammer. Due to the many incompetencies of the only provider in town, we don’t have internet. But we are mostly moved in to our new house. I can make tea on my stove with the vibrant blue insides. I have mowed the lawn, feeling the machine vibrate all the way up my arms and breathing in the green as I push the mower over the tufts. There are teal curtains in my bedroom, and my lavender office is my favorite room of the house.

I have been homesick for Claremont, though. I am in town every day for work, and yet it seems so distant. Perhaps it is the waffling Brian and I do at dinner time.

“Do you want to go out to eat?” I ask.

“Where?”

“I don’t know. I guess we could wander around downtown until something looks good…”

In Claremont, I could say “Sacca’s,” or “How about Dr. Grubbs?” or “Pizza n’ Such?”

In Redlands it is all foreign, and it has gone from feeling like vacation to not quite feeling like home.

Until this weekend, I thought the reason that it doesn’t quite feel like home because it is so hot in Redlands. Brian and I used to wander through the neighborhood to the Claremont Village for ice cream some nights. I was looking forward to moonlit strolls through the orange groves near our house in Redlands, but a wall of hair-frizzing heat attacks anyone brave enough to open the door, even in the evenings.

There were summer rainstorms this weekend and it made the world a lot cooler. The first was a hot sprinkling of alligator drops that brought a sweet maple-syrup smell to the air. Like when Brian used to visit his grandparents in Arizona and it would rain on the desert, he told me. I threw on my grandmother’s raincoat, Brian wore a black coat and carried a black umbrella, and we walked across campus, the hot drops still falling from the sky. There are so many nooks and crannies that I know we didn’t get into even half of them. Still, we rounded the corner of the art building to see a rusted abstract man standing amid the branches of a gray, leafy bush. There was a ceramic elephant holding a red canvas umbrella near the faculty offices. There is a building where the red shingles look like scales and Athena’s owl looks down from the middle of the porch.

Our Saturday walk was so wonderful that we decided to go again on Sunday. A black cloud loomed in the distance, but I didn’t care. A drenching and a lamppost are the only barriers between my Gene Kelly impersonation, and sometimes not even both are necessary. I love being drenched as long as I don’t have to sit in the damp clothes for hours afterward.

“We aren’t going that far,” I said.

“Let’s go to that park two blocks over,” said Brian. “The one with the big slides.”

It began to rain as we stepped onto the grass in the park. The rain was colder, coming in gusts, and the languid quality of the drops was gone.

“It’s raining!” I yelled, and I did bell kicks up the path. My shoulders became speckled darker with wet.

“Yeah, I know,” he said. And then the sky rumbled.

We took refuge in a tower above a violent yellow twisty slide. The roof leaked. The sky opened up as soon as we sat down, and showered buckets. The sky flashed.

“Did you see it? Count!” I said.

So we sat by the slide and counted how far the storm was.

“It’s getting closer,” said Brian.

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know, it doesn’t seem to be letting up. We’re only a couple of blocks from home.”

We climbed back down the playground equipment. I was wet through before my feet had even left the metal ladder to touch the sand below. The paths were all now rivulets of water flowing down to the wash at the base of the park. My breath steamed up my glasses, so I took them off and saw the rushing water and the puddles like an impressionist painting. It was tough work, picking a path through the rushing streams of mud and froth that ran across our path every few feet. There was no avoiding them, and so I waded through. The stairs near the Greek Theater became a waterfall, and they poured water up to my knees. We were just deciding if it was a good idea to attempt to cross the bridge over the wash when public safety pulled up in a white SUV.

“Want a ride?” the gentleman with cop mustache and graying temples asked.

“Yes please!” we said.

So we piled into the back of his car, trying unsuccessfully not to pool water on everything, and he drove us the last two blocks home.

We changed into dry clothes and cuddled up on the couch, listening to the rain still falling behind the windows. I realized that, although Redlands doesn’t yet feel like home, at no other time in my life has the California landscape been so present. Vibrant, graffiti covered freight trains race me down the freeway on my way to work every morning.   I round the bend to exit my neighborhood and there is a row of palms sheltering the orange grove that we traipsed through the other day. In the distance on three sides, brown hills recede to purple lumps beneath the sky. The sharp smell of eucalyptus is in the air. Roses bloom outside my front door.

“You know,” I said to Brian. “As stressful as this moving stuff has been, the living in Redlands part has been pretty magical.”

“Yes it has,” he agreed.

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Rainy Day Bicycle

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I didn’t ride my bike to work at all last week. I looked at the 100-ish temperatures that were predicted and decided that my car looked luxurious with its AC.   I had been feeling so guilty about being a lump that I decided to ride first thing last Tuesday. It was supposed to be in the ‘70s and gorgeous out. In the morning, it was. I thought about wearing a jacket, but realized that I would get warm pumping the petals, and I zipped down the streets with the crisp air rushing across my shoulders and the sun peaking just above the treetops in the blue light of morning.

By afternoon, the patches of fluffy clouds had turned into a gray blanket across the sky. By 5:00, it was raining and gusts of wind whipped the treetops back and forth. I had at least a fifteen minute ride home, unprotected, without a jacket. Sometimes I’m too smart for my own good.

Cheryl and I left work together. “We can see if your bike fits in the back of my car,” she said. So I walked in the rain to unchain it from the bike rack. It was a warm rain, and it soaked me through as I clipped the chain back to my bike.   The smell of wet concrete rose sweet from the ground as the rain pattered on the leaves, and I realized that I didn’t really want a ride home. But I wheeled the bike over to her car anyway. Sane adults do not desire the discomfort that is riding in the rain. The bike is long and lean, and the crate I’ve zip tied to the back is enormous. I was glad when we took one look at her backseat and another at my bike and realized that it was useless even to try.

“I’m pretty wet already,” I told her. “It will be fine, it’s just water.” I mopped off the leather seat with the towel I keep in the basket, and I was ready to ride.

I was not the only one caught out on my bicycle. There was a soggy fraternity of us streaming water as we rolled down the streets. I nodded at them as we passed, and felt the warm contentment that comes with belonging to something larger than only me. I felt the cold drops sink through the fabric of my pants and drench my cardigan until the shirt underneath it was wet too. I breathed in the smell that only comes with spring rain. The drops rolled down my face beneath my glasses.

It started to rain harder when I was half way home, and I could hardly see the road for the rain dripping down my face and pelting me. I told myself that my helmet would probably protect me from the worst of it, but it didn’t. Still, I was happy. There is something glorious about getting soaked to the skin from water in the sky. I forgot that I used to do it when I was younger; put on a coat and galoshes and splash in the puddles until I was wet through. When it rained back then, my sister, my cousins, and I all became our own little musical. I enjoyed all fifteen minutes of it.

Tuesday night is date night, these days. I was on the hook to make dinner and there was nothing in the house. It was only fifteen minutes later, after I had changed into dry clothes and my grandmother’s rain coat, that I left the house again with car keys clutched in my hands. The storm had cleared to blue sky and golden sun again, and there was the crescent of a rainbow peaking from between the green leaves of the trees.  I smiled to myself as another warm feeling filled me. Like maybe I was living in a book, where rainbows Mean Something and a ride in the rain is some sort of plot device.

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Rainy Day

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It’s such a dreary and drizzly day here.  And Californians freak out in the rain.  They turn from reasoned (if aggressive) commuters into slippery slidey old folks, creeping along at tiny speeds and following too close.  I spent the morning driving in this travesty, only to learn from the radio that a big-rig had overturned ahead and was blocking all but one lane of traffic.  The heavy traffic turned into stopped gridlock as the sky poured buckets on my little white car.  It took us almost fifteen minutes to move a mile down the road.  I clocked in with just seconds to spare before I was penalized for being late.  Brian had to drop me off first, which meant he had to also spend his lunch hour picking me up so I could get to job 2 on time.   He’s such a good guy sometimes.  Okay, oftentimes.

I had been looking forward to this rain.  I wasn’t factoring in the commute thing.  I pulled my grandmother’s old raincoat out of my closet and wore it to work today.  I never realized that it was reversible when she wore it, but it is.  Violent green on one side and navy on the other, with pocket flaps on each side of the coat.  It was the first real chance I’ve had since my grandfather handed it to me the day he cleaned out the coat closet.  I felt like all I really needed was a wide hat and a pair of tap shoes with bows on the ankles, and then I could be Debbie Reynolds.  Unfortunately, I’m no Debbie Reynolds.  After this morning, I won’t be singing nor will I be dancing in the rain.  We still have to drive home after work, still raining, in the deepening dark.

I’m still looking forward to tomorrow, though.  I worked Sunday, so I get to have Friday off as a consolation prize.  I’ll be able to sit in my warm, four poster bed and listen to the rain fall outside the window.  I’ll have time to make myself a pot of Imperial Earl Gray.  I won’t have to deal with a bevy of commuters in the rain.  That should be much better, right?

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Ten Years

It was hot and muggy the day I got married.  The earth was buried in wisps of hot cloud, and alligator drops landed on our shoulders as we stood at the altar.  My hair was terribly frizzy, with no hope that it would ever be otherwise.  But it was a beautiful event, a beautiful day, and we looked young and happy in the pictures as was proper.  I looked at my father, face buried in his handkerchief, felt the warm drops on my shoulders, and thought that both my fathers were crying – the mortal and the immortal.  Tears pooled in my eyes, too.  I let them spill over and thought to myself, damn it, I can’t believe I lost the bet on who would cry first.

It is a scant six days from my ten year anniversary, and the same sort of rain is pouring from the sky right now.  My hair is as frizzy as it was on that day, but everything else has changed immeasurably.  We are not living in an apartment where the alley is sprayed with graffiti every night where our things were continually stolen.  We both have jobs.  There are two cars in our garage.     

We’re going away, the 19th-21st.  It’s not the honeymoon I never got like I hoped it would be.  Student loans and part-time employment saw to that.  But it will be nice, and romantic.  Brian is not allowed to know where we’re going until we get there, so I won’t tell the internet either.  The clues he has are that it’s a bit of a drive, it’s still in California, and it is sort of like camping, but really not like camping at all.  Tantalizing, isn’t it?  I have a wide grin on my face, and my eyes are sparkling at your frustration.  This is half the fun.

Ten feels a lot like three, and a lot like seven, and a lot like all the other years in between.  We always wake up underneath our white down comforter, look at each other, and say “can you believe it?”  This year, I really can’t.

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