Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When the Earth Breathes – A Full Moon Ride

“This is the place where it all started.” (Robert Redford)

There are many, way too many, my memories of growing up in the mountains … There is a whole lifetime buried in their rocky peaks and grassy sides. There are land chores, and foods, and cyclical seasons and many a people that could tell the story of a girl growing up by city life the rest of the year, and by mountain sides in the summers. It’s who I was then – just a mountain girl, “part time”. Nowadays, I might become “full time”.

Today, that I live in the mountains, and an ocean, two continents and several thousands of miles away from my original ones, I never cease to be amazed at how much I find, again, right here, in my new home of what I have learned way back when in my childhood about living in paradise.

The air smells familiar, the people walk just as slow as then, and the time seems to have stopped for a bit, to savor in the sights. There are many favorite times of day and of night and of seasons to me, in the mountains, but if one time stands out, that is the very short pause between when the sun goes to bed and the moon rises.

Back in the day of my childhood, that’s when things, and our lives got a chance to slow down. And breathe. Along with the tired earth, everything quieted down and relaxed for the day. You could almost hear the grass sigh. The cows sighed the loudest, as they laid down in the stables. And the chickens were quiet, for once! There was nothing, almost, moving, not even the pine needles in the trees. Nothing speaking but the crickets and the occasional frog.

Once the sun sets, the air gets crisp and fresh. You breathe in and you breathe pure health. None of the day’s heat and exhaustion is left. Only peace, restful and refreshing.

This moment, between day and pure night is one of those few times when I can almost see heaven!

Last night, Aa. and I went to Sundance, the place “where everything started”, and all these amazing sensations and peaceful feelings were there, as we took a lift ride under the full moon.

Everything was perfect after that ride – as everything looks more beautiful and more tender in the soothing light of the moon. The mountains were once again protecting us, and the sky was a cool, clear blanket over our worries, massaging our temples with clean air of wellness …

I left all the drain of a day and the load of a stressful life lately into those peaks. They all seeped through the tall branches of the pine and aspen trees, and returned to the earth, where they belonged. And as the good mother that it is, the earth exhaled once more, and said warmly and familiarly: “you’re welcome”.

Felt so good that after all this searching I could return home once again … *sigh*.

That very moment of "crossover" between day and night: can you hear the silence?!
(Please click on the picture for the whole album)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Babies, and Then, They Talk ...

I have said this before, and I will say it again: I am just never going to be done being amazed at how babies develop into toddlers and then into real humans. It’s a mystery to me how they figure everything out to become more or less integrated adults. Just fascinating how their brains work to understand the mysteries of life around them.

I know it’s just the course of nature, and life, but watching it gives me chills and humbles me.

It's almost hard to find a picture of him not smiling with his entire face. He is a happy kid.

I have not written about my nephew for a long time now, and I have kind of missed it. I think of him every single minute of every day, and I talk about him often, as I await, hungrily, for the news to come from my sister with new details of what else he did today. He’s a bit over two years old now, and as you can imagine, a handful.

He was here for my wedding this April and I could not get over the fact that he was a totally different kid than the kid I last saw just the fall before: you could communicate more with him, you could talk at him and he could actually understand you, although in April he was not able to say too many words.

A rare "serious" moment. He is fearless around animals.

And in just four months, it seems like years have passed! He is talking almost in full sentences now, and he can communicate with all adults around him, family or not, to tell them what his needs are. There are many milestones in the life of a human, and I guess discovering full sentence speech is a major one. And trust me: it should be, because it’s amazing! It’s not just that you hear full sentences where cries and whines were before, but it’s the thought behind those sentences that’s mind boggling!

On a mission: "Someone, please feed these animals NOW!"

As my sister was noticing, his “terrible two’s” crises are virtually gone now. Because instead of thumping his food and having a fit when he wants something, he communicate now, in our own language and he now asks for it by name.

It’s amazing to me that he is indeed the same kid that was just born two years ago, frail and small, and just figuring out how to breathe yet! He has come so far in seemingly no time at all, and has evolved into this “real human”, as I call them … (and, yes, I realize they are all “real humans”).

He is determined and stubborn, he is a fast learner and a helpful little hand around the kitchen. He loves to wash dishes, and help out. More than anything, he loves to talk! He truly is sprung from genes my family provided, for sure. We’re never at a loss for words. And yes, he blabs! About everything around him, and things he makes up. He is even asking his daycare lady to let him tell the story for “story time” and asking my sister the same at night – he remembers stories and wants to retell them “himself”, or invents something when he feels like it, and he has a pretty rich imagination for a two year old.

"Patrick, the Clown" - the kid has absolutely hated pacifiers since he was a day old. Has never used them, but he will pick one up to make adults laugh and get a reaction. And of course, his best friend: the ball!

He is a clown in school, performing for the rest of the class and making them laugh while standing up on a table. As it has always been the case, he also loves music. He dances and watches “ So, you think you can dance “ on TV intently. He loves sports, especially soccer and tennis, now. He watches hockey. And he is so good at them, too! He is so poised when he kicks a soccer ball! I wish I had a video of that, but some pictures are telling of how focused and agile he is when kicking a ball!

"The soccer star" - focusing on the next kick.

He prefers playing tennis with his dad to whom he announces that “mami can’t play tennis”, when my sister just attempted to play it with him. He also has a refreshing curiosity that we adults have so long ago lost! He is a venturesome eater, and whereas kids prefer pizzas and burgers and mac and cheeses, he eats everything from sausages, salmon (which is his favorite), broccoli and yogurt. As agile as he can be with a soccer ball, he is a klutz on the playground, falling and breaking skin every chance he gets! He is not a very graceful faller, either. His knees are full of scrapes and his forehead, nose and lips are usually blue, bruised or busted somehow. And yet, he picks up and tries again, of course, there are things to learn and discover yet!

Yummy broccoli! - eating all by myself!

This week he’s made a statement that as simple as it was and superbly funny, it was a milestone for us around him. He had fallen on the grounds, in the park, and hurt his backside. When my sister asked him to sit in the stroller, so she can wheel him back home for the day, he sat himself down in the “vehicle” and turned to her and said, matter-of-factly: “Push slow. My butt hurts”. So, now, he can tell us! So, now, he won’t scream for 20 minutes while adults are trying to force him into the stroller to take him home, wondering “what the heck is wrong with the kid? He’s changed! He’s fed! WHY won’t he want to go into the darn stroller! WHAT is his problem?!” …And now, he knows that pushing harder and faster makes the bumps in the road hurt his back. And he can tell us. In human words!

A new era has come, for his parents, I am sure: one where he has perfect reasons for doing or not doing things! I am sure it’s refreshing, “cracking the code” and saving the drama, but also challenging, for when he’ll start giving them fairytale reasons for not eating his veggies.

Either way, every day is a miracle, and a mystery. And we are so blessed to see it through him.

One of the pictures I have in my head when I fall asleep at night: the world is a beautiful place with Patrick's smile in it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Taming the Desert ?! Well, ...

Plants are an investment. I have learned that quick and early all the way back in first grade. Mom wanted to teach us how beans sprout. So, we put dried beans in cotton balls, watered them and waited to see what happened. Sure, then, it was just a water and time kind of investment, but extrapolating that experiment through planting various things during later years, I have learned a lot about growing plants. I have learned that you put time, money, effort into your yard, and something will come out, and another thing will not, and a whole different thing will come out only to die a few weeks later.

And for some sick reason, as filthy cheap as I usually am, I do spend cash on plants and soil! Now, sure, some folks out there (husband included) don’t get it to save their lives. I guess it’s just the (very hidden and small) mother in me or something that loves to nurture and care for “something”, and since God didn’t put the bio clock in me, for me, it’s tending to plants. I love to see healthy, beautiful flowers, trees and herbs, and just … any greenery around me that it’s the direct result of my efforts to keep them healthy. I love to work for it, sweat for it, and wait. Yeah, me, who also hates waiting, love to watch plants grow and bloom. Go figure!

You do remember, perhaps, that when I moved to “the desert”, back in May, I had to learn not only a new way to garden (because of the dry climate), but a new way to handle a very different kind of soil: a hard, rocky, sandy, dirty, debris filled soil … I was sure it’ll take me years to have just grass growing in it … Well, several months later, and trying not to pay attention to the husband’s (or the friends’ or the neighbors’) rolling of the eyes and serious doubts that I can in fact grow anything around us, I am happy to say the place looks a bit different. Not much, but to me, some.

Our small flower bed, in front of the house

We do have grass! Alas, we have grass AND weeds growing on this bald spot that used to be a dumping site for the neighborhood … And I did venture out to have one flower bed. A small and contained bed, manageable for now. We also have beautiful, custom made, wooden planters (my awesome husband’s contribution to my “yard project”), full of healthy, gorgeous, green plants, some desert loving, some lush. We have pots and planters around the home, and even a tomato plant, upside down, because I went crazy trying to find home grown tomatoes in this area, so I finally decided to plant my own, late and hot as it may be right now! Our dill and basil sort of fried out there in the sun, and so did the ice plants. But everything else looks pretty healthy, as you can see.

Detail on wooden planter (built by Aa. from scratch) with healthy greenery in it.

I think my favorite: frail and healthy (fast growing) ivy and cedar detail.

The still very frail and timid presence of these “live” things just makes me smile and makes me feel like I am finally at home.

We will get good soil, along with fertilizer, in the fall, but till then, our pots and planters have healthy dirt that will keep the very few things I have planted happy. I hope. And just like investment goes: you gain some and you lose some, but you can always count on learning a good lesson! And so, I am learning, day by day … the challenges and the beauty of having plants in the desert. And I am not done yet. This is merely the beginning …

Color, color and more color!

Can you smell it?! Probably my second favorite: lavender.

No, you don't need to flip it around: topsy-turvy tomato, or "the new kid".

Details from planter and flower bed, respectively: they call these "hen and chicks", but I call them "desert roses". They are sooo pretty!