ordinary

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Today I had to have the conversation, “How would you feel if when you asked me to do something I didn’t want to do, I started scratching your face?” and then walked home from the school playground with three kids crying about various things (someone stepped on someone’s jacket, someone didn’t want someone else holding my hand, so on and so forth).

But I also got to run, laughing, on that playground playing tag with the kids that stayed after school to play. And we went off for coffee, and the kids were lovely, and the sun was lovely, and we bought a jar of pickles on the walk home and as many apples as we could hold in our hands.

You win some you lose some.

(But it’s spring! The air is warm and blows around smelling like roses and jasmine (everywhere! always!).  And mostly it feels like we’re all just winning. All of us. All the time.)

Just Enough

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Not every day. But some days, it is good to be just sick enough to have low ambition. To be unable to process all “shoulds.” And to be well enough to enjoy it, and to do the dishes gladly while the house goes to pieces around your slow self.

And the girls shovel dry dirt. They play with the sheets you put on the line. Then they invite you to share a pot of pretend “cream tea” at the table, and you agree. You aren’t thinking of other things you could do. You aren’t thinking of anything- the sheets to fold, the floor to clean- only what good company those girls are, how Helen makes you feel cared for and Margot makes you laugh.

The Thing about Eating Outside

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The thing about eating outside is you forget about the dishes. The kids wander off to the other part of the backyard to play a game with tennis rackets and a jump rope, and you put your feet up on their chairs. They are loud, and it doesn’t sound at all like noise. It sounds nice.

And you linger. And you don’t miss the sunset (again). And you hear the church bells (somewhere), and you pick at the chicken skin and rest.

sitting at the kindergarten table

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Last week, Reed forgot his lunch box, and I delivered it and sat down at the kindergarten table. We might make a habit of it.

Why is it different seeing people someplace you aren’t used to? When I drop Reed off at school, he shakes off my arm if I put it around him. Too old for that stuff. But at lunch, sitting down with them, talking to classmates about the stuff kindergartens talk about (what sort of lunch they like, whether they keep ice cream in their freezer), he kisses me a dozen times, gazes lovingly at his sisters. Everything is so great and so fine, seeing someone you love someplace you aren’t used to seeing them.

if it’s not a hell yes

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Ashley Rodriguez wrote about this: “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” Whether it’s the best advice for me or not, I’m not sure. I say no to the stupidest things. Most often the park.

But what is good advice for me (and is really the same thing) is to put more hell in my yes. Why do I need to be so begrudging? If I’m going to say yes to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, I might as well make it a hell yes. A hell yes to walking to school without shoes on. A hell yes to the Nutcracker record (again).

Say hell yes to everything. That’s my resolution. For a couple of days, anyway.

Unless it’s a no.

seperate and together

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Home

Helen napped and woke rough. I put her in the carrier on my back and, standing, ate my own dinner to suit my own appetite: turnips, radishes, butter, cheese, sausage, wine. I set a plate of the “proper” dinner (a roast, mashed potatoes) out for Reed and put on a podcast I have been meaning to listen to about animals in winter instead of some music. Reed at the table, Helen on my back, me at the counter, Margot still sleeping, Adam at work. So often I am set on dinner together but this was fine, too. Quiet. Better than fine.

This afternoon, a sliver of sun came out, and it was just warm. We went to pick up Reed, and the kids and parents lingered outside school, the parents talking about kids, the kids chasing each other. Separate and together. One boy had found an old dried-out lizard’s tail, and I told Reed we could not take it home, and then I changed my mind. “To observe,” he said. How could I say no to that?

NYE

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Christmas Dogs

NYE tamale making
I used to be all about the reflection, looking forward, looking back. Write something on a piece of paper and burn it. But I’m over it.

I don’t want to hear any year-in-reviews. I don’t want anything like that. I just want to put another record on, another log on the fire. There are books to be read, books to be written, roads to bike. There is a bowl of doughnut dough is waiting in the fridge for morning. That’s all I want. Another tamale. Another hike. Another good slant of sun through the window.

holi days

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This morning, I brewed the coffee to weak. There is no redeeming that.

But just about everything else is redeemable- Helen moped the floors for me, unasked, while I cleaned up lunch, shared with her sister. Margot got over her cold and found a hobby. And I remembered to relax more, to say yes more. Today.

These days we find ourselves oriented around evenings. The darkness sets in, the candles are lit, there is some music and something to eat and something to read. I am not “good” at Christmas- not in the sense of a flurry of baking or making or wrapping or shopping or activity or Christmas magic. But when darkness sets in, I can string an extra set of twinkle lights, hand you some gingerbread, ask if you want to stand up in front of the fireplace and sing a song. And that’s enough, I think. Enough for me anyway.

Christmas in California is strange, but I don’t mind. A neighbor pulled persimmons from the tree and replaced them with red and gold baubles. Biking by, she asked if we wanted any of the fruits, and now we eat persimmons like kings.

Biking, candles, slicing persimmons. Next time I will brew the coffee stronger.

when school is done

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on the gate
Some people wish they could be students forever, but not me.

During school, every room is booked. Nothing gets in except to the lobby or through the cracks in the windows and doors. I like my mind airier. Leave the doors and windows open and the floor swept and see what mosies in.

I don’t know what makes a person want to be a student forever. And I don’t know what makes a person not or how different people keep house in the rooms of their minds. I’m sure I’ll be poking around and constructing funny little theories, because I just can’t seem to resist funny little theories, no matter how old I get.

But two days ago, I submitted my final assignment, and for two days, I have felt like myself. Studenthood is fine here and there- for a while, with long breaks- but every day now (all two of them), I get to remind myself that this, right here, is it. The rest of my life. And it makes me happy.

And sure, it the rest of my life during school, too. But somehow it wasn’t.

And now it is. And it feels like stretching out on the whole bed when you’re used to sharing. And the bed has fresh sheets that were dried outside. That’s what graduation feels like. And it feels like waking up to a clean house when you have had plenty of sleep.

persimmons

afternoon

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The first oranges are ripening and the persimmon trees are looking heavy, leaning over fences, standing over yards. One fell from the tall tree at the end of the cul-du-sac and rolled into street where I picked it up and carried it home and put in on the windowsill. Our neighborhood isn’t beautiful, but there is always something happening if you know where to look. Eating ice cream after a day by the ocean, I picked up a magazine and read about foraging olives from the trees of banks and libraries and universities. I was filled with an urgency- don’t miss it! watch for the olives! autumn will be here and gone soon! But the seasons here don’t have sharp edges. They bleed into each other, relax. Olives will linger on the trees well into winter. Today we biked around our neighborhood in the heat of midday, and I watched for the orange of persimmon trees and friendly doors I might knock on and ask to pick a few. I felt the urgency to bike! bike! bike while you can!, but I set it aside for now, and set aside the other urgencies and thrills of an autumn with winter on its way. The reds and oranges of fall this year will be found in more quiet ways, like pomegranates and persimmons leaning over fences.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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