Week 18

 computer problems 

April 30, 2017 – SUNDAY

Photo of sunburn

Feel the Burn: I’m sun burned. Yesterday I put suntan lotion on my face and only my face. I wore a light blouse, but it was a warm day for gardening. Lacking a full component of pores, I do not do well in the heat, so I took off my gardening shirt and gardened in my cami. I don’t know why, but while I was working I did not think about the sun on my back, although I thought of getting a hat for my head.   My back, shoulders and arms were not covered, and I did not think to put lotion on anything other than my face. Had I been at the beach, suntan lotion would have been slathered across my entire body. Yesterday was an outdoor day spent in glorious sunshine, which resulted in this, my ‘ouch’ day! My sunburn hurts more than my muscles, and I will remember next time to apply the tanning lotion on any part of my body that might see the sun. In spite the gardening aftermath, the day was good for the garden and for JM and me. It was good to work, good to be physical, good to be out of doors.

May 1, 2017 – MONDAY

Photo of outdoor curtain over West-facing doors – to keep house cool

Heat Wave: I feel it. It is in the air, the still quiet air. I felt the day declaring itself when I woke. PREDICTION: “Today will be HOT!!!!” The body know what the body knows.

May 2, 2017 – TUESDAY

Photo of Japanese cream & sugar set

Blossom Art: Today I watered the new plantings, including the tomato, and thought of tomorrow’s flowers and fruit. A kitchen self holds a Japanese cream and sugar bowl decorated with cherry blossoms. For the Japanese, a plant’s utility is not its only value. Some fruiting plants are also valued for their beauty. Cherry trees several hundred years old still flower in that country and are loved today no less than centuries ago. They are loved for the blossom and its scent, for the beauty of the tree in bloom. I have no idea if the Japanese ever harvest the fruit, but I am curious to know if they do. Is the cherry tree grown for its beauty alone? I have read that the wonderful cherry trees in Washington, D.C. were a gift from Japan. I’ve often wanted to experience D.C. when those trees are in bloom — guess that is one of my bucket list items, along with the turning of the leaves in New England in the Fall.

We in California have thousands of acres of cherry trees. It is too late to see them in bloom this Spring (which must have been magnificent because of the rains), but hopefully next year they will be blooming for us to see. An architect I know grew up in what is now Silicon Valley. He talked of walking home from school through miles and miles of blossoming cherry orchards. What a memory to hold. Mother reminisced about her grandparents’ orchard and its blooming and its fruits. I wished it had remained for me to experience, but it, along with the house, was destroyed when the farm was sold. The old beautiful barn still stands and is a registered historical monument, but the trees, those blossoming trees – gone.

May 3, 2017 – WEDNESDAY

Photo of a Jack in the pulpit and lady slipper

A Day of Children:   As we biked today, San Francisco Bay today was colored a deep blue by a bright sun. The city itself (SF) and Oakland and South Bay were draped in low polluted haze. As I rode, one cheek was hot from the sun’s rays, while the other was cool from a slight breeze. The same face, half warm, half cold. After days of record-breaking heat, I’m glad for any part of my body feeling cool. I’m hoping for sea breezes tonight.

The beauty of the bay is always there, but today that was not the beauty I noted. It was those I saw that brought me delight.

  • A father riding with his young daughter perched on the bike’s cross bar;
  • A father riding slowly behind his toddler son, who, without training wheels, was riding the smallest two-wheeled bicycle I’d ever seen;
  • A mother carrying her small child in a wicker basket attached to her handle bars (I’ve seen dogs in baskets like that, but never a child); and
  • A young father walking and watching his two young children darting about in front of him. The children waved and smiled and when I waved back, they jumped and danced more, and they seemed aware how utterly charming they were.

The day was hot. In the late afternoon I watered our newly planted flowers. A woman walking with her granddaughter and dog stopped to tell me how she chooses her route so that she might walk by our house to enjoy our garden. I told her than made me glad to hear. As we were talking, she received a call on her large phone. She sat on our neighbor’s planter so that she and her granddaughter might talk. They could see the son/father on her phone, and he could see them. The child leaned back and forward, moved up and down and twirled as she talked while the grandmother held the phone so that the child might be seen. When the goodbyes came, the child leaned in and kissed the phone saying, “I love you Daddy.” I could not have created a more beautiful scene if I had written and directed it myself. When they hung up, I asked if the girl would like to see a Jack-in-the-Pulpit and a Lady Slipper (which, as a young girl, I read about in Girl of the Limberlost and loved them even before seeing them). She did, and enjoyed them. I forgot to show her the bleeding hearts. She liked hearts, her grandmother said, and was carrying chalk to draw hearts on sidewalks. I made the child a small bouquet of flowers and smiled broadly as they walked away. A lovely walk for the grandmother made even more so by the joy of the child.

May 4, 2017 – THURSDAY

Photo of old letters

Good intentions, not acted on, past due: I’ve spent the day sorting through boxes of cards and have discovered lost letters, letters I meant to answer, but never have. I actually wrote out some cards that were never sent. I wanted to thank teachers.

  • One blank card was addressed to Mrs. Sanford my sixth & seventh grade teacher, the only good instructor I had in all of elementary school – but still, in spite of that , I knew by the third grade, unlike Trump, the reasons for the Civil War and its inevitability.
  • There is the unanswered letter from Arnie Aho, my best-ever architectural professor.
  • There too the imagined letters, written over and over in my head to:
    • Bernard, my World Affairs teacher, one of my best high school teachers, who often had kind, generous words for me and who in my mind-letter, I had thanked him as profusely as he had praised me.
    • The long letter to Dr. James Young, the most brilliant and influential professor of my first collage years, to whom I wanted to say how profoundly he had influenced my life, how, in spite of the fact I had not – as he insisted – pursued a theater career in New York, how his introduction to theater opened my eyes, not just to the life of the arts, but to art and to life.

There too were a few letters from Mother’s childhood friend Jane. I had sent her a few notes, but did not respond, as I had wished, to her last letters. I reread them with sadness for my neglect. I ‘owe’ other people letters, people who still live, whose letters are there in the box, my once, “letters to be answered” file. I found:

  • a 1992 letter from Dr. Claudio Delgadillo, a friend from Duke University, Botany (He was at the Autonomous National University of Mexico. Is he still there?);
  • a 5-year old card from a college roommate telling me she had sold her house, downsizing and moving to be near her daughter;
  • a long letter from friends living in Ireland for a few years, inviting us to visit. (I could not find the letter, so did not respond to let them know that we’d like to visit. They have been back for years and we did see them in Georgia five years ago. I’ve only sent one letter since then. I owe them one.)

There in that misplaced Xerox box containing unanswered letters were my remembered responses, my good, but unfulfilled intentions

AND there were more boxes of letters with other letters I’d meant to write. I’ve promised myself that in the future when I write, I’ll send what I’ve written and will write more than mind-letters. I will definitely send the found package filled with an Elvis Presley CD and Elvis postage stamps bought for a former secretary two years ago.   Those boxes reveal my bad habit of setting aside letters. The boxes collect dust while my good intentions remain.

Things set aside are forgotten, not acted on. I resolve to do better, but at some future date, I suspect, I will find another box containing letters and cards and lists of whom I’d like to write, my good intentions documented but unfulfilled.

May 5, 2017 – FRIDAY

Photos of pillows

Pillow Talk: I like pillows, not because I like pillows, but because I find them creative. We have so many pillows:

  • a felt ribbon pillow , the pillow created by looping the ribbon, loop upon loop;
  • a dyed Mongolian sheep wool pillow. (It’s Halima’s favorite and is now matted because of the attention she has showered on it.);
  • a round flower pillow with layers of petals;
  • a spherical lavender pillow made with rick-rack balls sewn around a ‘ball;’
  • a Mackenzie Childs poppy pillow – part appliqué and part three-dimensional;
  • a yellow pillow bought in Paris whose pattern is formed by small surface folds;
  • and embroidered animal ones from South Africa; and
  • more than I have time to describe

I like pillows designs, their craftsmanship, their range in colors, their diversity of form, their range of texture, their seeming endless variety, and the numerous materials from which they are made. We have a pillow stack in the corner of our living room which are used for seating when we entertain more people than we have chairs. I’m still pondering new fabrics for them. I keep telling myself that I’m close to a decision. I’ve decided and undecided and re-decided, but still not yet completely decided. Those pillows are custom-made, stacked for appearance (color and texture) and on the ready for social occasions. Pillows, I suppose, reflect my aesthetic – bright, fun, diverse and surprising.

May 6, 2017 – SATURDAY

Photo of tomato

Measuring:  George was here today and we worked in the garden. Working in the garden reminded me of the fact that many of my ancestors were farmers. Michael and I, with George – who does a considerable amount of the garden work – grow flowers. George did plant our one vegetable / fruit, a tomato. A few weeks back someone, ‘lifted’ an un-planted tomato plant from our yard, so we bought another. Our yard is not sunny enough for a vegetable garden, but we hope a tomato plant on our sunny patio will produce fruit. But even flowers are demanding. If I were responsible for raising food to sustain my own life, I suspect I would not be alive. Gardening is not just time consuming, it requires knowledge to do it well. And real farming is grueling work.

I am not a farm girl but am a child of farm kids. Both of my parents grew up on a farm, Father in Decatur, Illinois, and Mother in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Their families did more than cultivate fields. They selected crops and where they would be planted, alternating their location year to year. They tended the fields, harvested, stored and sold their crops; raised and butchered livestock, then processed the meats; they grew fruits and vegetables; and had extensive flower gardens. My father’s family did not imbibe alcohol, but my mother’s family did. Her grandparents made wine and beer and cider and vinegars. They made and sold cheeses and butter. My father’s family raised and sold horses. Father did not like the horse. Horses were at one time essential for both farming and transportation, but unlike pigs, they are not born with much wit. Dad was fortunate losing only a tooth to an ill-tempered beast. He knew those who lost more, their lives. Horses had been a source of family income. Still, he was glad for the internal combustion engine and automobiles, believing them safer than the horse. We own a car, whose power is measured in horsepower, and are growing a tomato. Little is left from my family’s farm heritage, but I do appreciate farmers, their crops and the land which sustains. Perhaps that is why I am so proud of helping to bring a highly successful Grand Lake Farmer’s Market (the best in the East Bay) to the neighborhood.