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In the shadows

Tonight was our church’s Christmas concert.  Usually, we don’t have an evening service on Sunday nights.  And tonight, I really didn’t want to go because I’d had to work a four hour shift this afternoon and after the service I was scheduled to work my usual four hour Sunday night shift.

But I gathered 75% of my children and off we went, arriving only five minutes late.  (I cannot manage to get anywhere on time if my kids are involved. Some things never change.)

What I want to remember is that moment I looked down from the balcony and saw children dancing in the shadows of the darkened sanctuary while the choirs sang in the spotlight.  The sight of the children twirling with unbridled joy to the music brought tears to my eyes.  (Why?  Is it my advanced age?)

And then the children’s choir sang and I had to dig my tissues from my purse.

Christmas joy.

Hello, good-bye

My mom had been here since November 11. Today, I dropped her off at the airport so she could return home to Seattle just in time for a giant soggy storm. We will miss her.

While she was here, we went to the beach as often as we could. Today, on the way to the airport we detoured to Cabrillo National Monument where I happened to snap a photo of this hawk. I definitely want to go back another time to explore the park and lighthouses and shoreline. As it was, today we were rushing to get to the airport on time. To complicate matters, at some point I noticed I had enough gas to drive only 16 miles. By the time I rolled into the gas station it’s quite likely I was coasting along on fumes and prayer.

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The other night, the sun set in glorious fashion. A rosy haze seemed to cover the entire world for a time.  My mom and I stayed until the sky was lit only by a thin strip of dark pink on the horizon. The holiness of the moment was ruined by my family calling me on my cell phone asking what was for dinner. (See? They want dinner. Every night. It’s so boring.)

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This afternoon at the Hotel Del Coronado, as we walked back toward our parking spot, I snapped this photo. I could have spent an entire day photographing the beach and surrounding area. The beach is very wide in the is particular place, so we were far from the shore but the waves were amazingly tall and crashed with beautiful force. Again, I wish I could have hurried across the sand for a closer look. But we had a flight waiting!

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In only two weeks Christmas! Let the panic commence.

The little things

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It’s the little things that tell my story.  For instance, see these rocks and shells?  I gathered them during low tide on a cloudy day at the beginning of November.  I love the white stones, but more than that, I love that shell with a hole drilled into it by a vicious snail or some other sea creature.  And the little shell on the left?   I love its faint lavender color and its swirly shape.

But the story is not in the gathering of the shells.

No.  The story here is the fact that these shells–and a few others plucked from the beach on another day–sit in a jumble on my dresser, surrounded by a smattering of sand.  I see them every morning and yet, I just haven’t made time to put them in a glass jar or . . . some place.

It’s silly, isn’t it?  I am collecting shells a few at a time when I live so near the beach.  But I can’t resist a perfect shell or a unique shape or color.  A brilliant white stone catches my eye.  How can I not pick it up and stick it into my pocket?

My whole life and house is a depository for little things that caught my attention or need my attention or slipped my attention.

Meanwhile, the urgent big things demand my immediate action.  Chores demand my time because for some reason, everyone wants to wear clean pants every day.  And they want dinner!  Oh, how they want dinner every single day!  I manage my life on a macro level–we are all clothed and fed–but the rest of life?  The details?

If you cannot clamor, you get ignored around here.  I’m talking to you, craft projects and unfinished novel and broken sewing machine and messy laundry room and coat closet containing coats we never wear because who wears coats in southern California?

Oh, I don’t know.  Am I just rambling?

I guess the point here is that I’m not juggling things as much as I’m shuffling them around, ignoring them and rushing through them, depending on their level of importance.  And the little things are abandoned more often than not.  I don’t like that but I have faith and hope that one day, I’ll move those shells and clean up the sand and find inspiration to write a Christmas letter and put that beach towel away and put the Christmas bows by the Christmas wrapping paper and find a frame for that photo of my grandma and sort through my digital pictures and print out the best ones and paint all those picture frames in the garage black and sort through this stack of papers on my desk and you know.  Get it together.

In the meantime, tomorrow I’m seeing a doctor about my foot.  I think I damaged my Achilles tendon (walking on the beach, of all things!).  And I have a cold.  (But I’m going to the doctor because of my foot, not the cold.  I find walking to be sort of a requirement of my daily life.)

And really, all I want to do is lie in bed and read Unbroken (oh my goodness, the Kindle version is only $2.99–you will want to buy that, if you have a Kindle and you haven’t read the book already–the movie will be released on Christmas Day and you’ll want to read the book before then!).

It’s the little things that make life worth living, right?  Which is why I collect shells and read books.

Four things

I saw this survey on Kristin’s blog (Running with the Runnergirl) and thought it was the perfect thing for a quick blog post.

But first, a photo for fun (four palm trees?):

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Four names that people call me other than my own
Mom
Dear
Mel
Mommy

Four jobs that I have had
Planting and picking strawberries (first W-2 when I was 13!)
Nanny
Law office secretary
Retail clerk at an office supply store

Four movies that I have watched more than once
Grease
Dirty Dancing
When Harry Met Sally
Shrek (and countless Disney and Pixar movies I watched with my kids when they were little!)

Four books I’d recommend
The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
Circle of Quiet (Madeleine L’Engle)
The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

NOTE: These are four that came to mind quickly–I love many many many other books.  This is just the beginning.)

Four places I have been
Tahiti
Jamaica
British Columbia, Canada
Almost every state in the United States

Four places I’d rather be right now
The beach
Mt. Rainier
New York City
Tahiti

(Note:  Actually, I’d rather be in bed, asleep, right this moment!)

Four things I don’t eat
Raw tomatoes
Exotic bits of meat
Cucumbers
Anything coffee-flavored

Four of my favorite foods
Pizza
Homemade cookies
Tacos
Roasted cauliflower

Four TV shows I watch
The Middle
Real Housewives of Orange County (Beverly Hills, New York, etc.)
Survivor
The Amazing Race

Four things I am looking forward to
Wild (the movie) opening soon!
Christmas brunch
Sight-seeing with my mom
Sleeping in

Four things I am always saying
I am SO tired
Close the door!
Did anyone feed the dog? I have no idea.  (This is in answer to the perennial question:  “What’s for dinner.”)

Catching up

Well, time flies. That is a persistent truth I keep bumping up against. How has a week gone by without a post?

Here are things on my mind:

  • My heel pain. My self-diagnosed plantar fasciitis has morphed into Achilles tendon pain (again). I am limping and riveted by this pain. Ouch.
  • I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week. I need to plan a menu and buy some food.
  • The weather has cooled down and it’s lovely. I was hot since May, so it’s nice to be chilly.
  • My mom came for a visit but has detoured to Palm Springs to stay with my aunt for a few days.
  • My son’s high school play has two more performances and then it’s over. It’s been a long two months of rehearsals and preparation. Next week he has a whole week off school for Thanksgiving break and is scheduled to work 30 hours at Legoland.
  • Did I mention that my heel hurts up the back of my leg?
  • Last week, I saw the sunset at the beach five times, I think.  It was glorious.  It never gets old for me, seeing the sky at the beach as the sun slides beyond the horizon.
  • I dropped my iPhone 4 about a month ago and cracked the screen. My replacement phone is due to arrive on Friday and I am beyond excited. It’s a bigger, better iPhone and I am looking forward to no longer running out of room when I take three hundred photos of the same sunset and stuff like this:

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The end.

The gray afternoon

This afternoon, I took my son, his girlfriend and my daughter to the beach.

The tide was low and finally, I knew where to find tide pools.  When in doubt, ask another mom who has lived in the area for years.

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Yesterday, when I didn’t have time to stay, the sky was mostly clear.  Tonight, the marine layer moved in, obscuring the sunset.  But it was still beautiful.  So many people were out and about on the sand and sea.

 

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And then these egrets appeared and seemed to dance.  (One was chasing another, I think.)

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I left with a pocket full of white rocks and a few shells and sand.  Always, always, sand everywhere, in our pockets and pant cuffs and between our toes when we leave the beach.

Reading, watching, listening, driving

What I’m reading:

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

I checked this book out from the library after reading Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett.  Lucy and Ann were friends as they began their writing careers.

I also started reading Tell the Wolves I’m Home, but I got distracted and put it aside.

Next up:  I’m thinking of reading Unbroken in preparation for the movie coming out in December.

What I’m watching:

I saw Interstellar today in a full theater at 11 AM.  The movie lasts almost three hours which is a long time to sit right next to a stranger (the theater was almost full, so I had no choice) .  But it was a big movie with mind-bending ideas and big actors doing big stuff.  I liked it.  (My 16-year old son declared it the Best Movie Ever.)

On television I’m watching my usual mix of reality television:  The Amazing Race, Survivor, The Real Housewives of ________________ (whatever’s showing), and Jimmy Fallon at night.  Beverly Hills 90210 has been showing on Tuesdays and I have to admit that I’ve been really enjoying watching old episodes.  I’m a little worried about how much I like the hairstyles from the 90s and wonder sometimes if I just got stuck in the 90s in terms of my expectations for hairstyles.

What I’m listening to:

Taylor Swift’s new music, 1989.  I bought the CD for my daughter and got hooked on it.  I like the “bonus” tracks at the end where the talks about her songwriting process, giving us a peek at the beginning stages of three of the songs.

Where I’m driving:

Around in circles.  Half an hour north to pick up my son.  Half an hour south to pick up my girl.  Ten minutes here, ten minutes back to deliver a son to work.  Twenty minutes to church, twenty minutes back.  I have never driven around so much in my life.  At least gas prices have gone down and I’m “only” paying $3.25 as gallon.  Since my husband’s been out of town again (since Wednesday), I have spent more time than usual in the car, including a 7:15 AM departure each morning.  This is the single hardest thing for me because I work very late and getting less than six hours of sleep is among my Least Favorite Things.  (Ah, now there’s a post idea!)

The End.

 

 

The reason you should not go barefoot in my house

It almost looks like the police should investigate . . .

This is just the latest thing that has broken on our kitchen floor.

Twenty-three ounces of Frank’s Hot Sauce.

This happened at a most inconvenient time.  Is there a convenient time to break a glass bottle of hot sauce?

If you visit my house, I recommend you wear your shoes inside.

That is all.

Accomplished

I drove my husband to the church where he planned to meet his ride to the airport.

I went to two thrift stores to find snow pants for the high school play.

I worked for four hours (or so).

I picked up my son from high school.

I took an eight minute nap.

I stopped by the pet store and bought dog food, forty-four pounds of it.

I delivered my daughter to youth group at the church.

I went to Costco for provisions.

I beat two levels on Candy Crush while waiting for youth group to end.

I picked up my daughter.

We watched Survivor together.

I worked three and a half more hours.

And now, having absolutely nothing to talk about and being unable to stop yawning, I’m heading to bed.

Life goes on

My husband flew to Texas in October and spent several weeks taking care of his very sick mom.  Hospice nurses said she probably had two weeks to live, but she outlived that prediction, only to die three days after he returned home.  She died just two hours short of her eighty-third birthday.

She died from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.  Cigarettes lose their glamour when you can’t breathe, despite the oxygen tube snaking into your nose.

I never lived near her, so we weren’t as close as we might have been had we lived in the same town.  She was an elegant and generous woman, tiny and always adorned with gold necklaces and rings.  She liked to take care of people and loved her kids and grandkids so much.

We will miss her.

My husband will fly back to Houston tomorrow and be there until Saturday.  In his absence, I resume the trick of delivering and picking up kids without forgetting anyone anywhere, all while working my job and figuring out what to cook for dinner.

And my dog would appreciate it if I would remember to buy her more dog food tomorrow.  And my son needs snow-pants by Friday for the school play.  And my daughter needs a birthday gift for her friend for the slumber party on Friday.

I better start a list.

 

 

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