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One Day at a Time.

Oh my little flower
How I love and miss you
You were so soft and beautiful
I would always hold you and touch
You to my lips
Memories of you bring warmth and light
of hundreds of suns
On cold nights and dark days
I could not pick you and keep you
But to know that your fine beauty
Lives elsewhere and graces others
Comforts me
Until I see you again.


Pulling Up the Tarp

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My Grapefruit Tree, All Grown Up

I trimmed the branches that were growing downward last week. It’s amazing what a difference that made. And I only lost two grapefruits. As you can see from the photo, the fruit is nice and yellow. A few of them are beginning to take on that nice pinkish hue. I wonder if there’s enough sugar in the state of Arizona to get me through those first few.
I am very proud to say that the tree survived in my care. I can’t wait to see what it does over the next couple years. As for the lemon tree, it’s more difficult to decide what to trim as there is no definitive trunk. But again I’ll give it time. And keep watering them. Maybe I’ll get more than one lemon next year. Here’s to a plant-safe winter.


Clash.

My house faces north. I have a window on the east wall of the kitchen and a window on the west wall of the kitchen. My view from either window is blocked by the respective neighbor’s houses. Around dinnertime, I walked into the kitchen and felt excited and then confused. The room was illuminated as it is in the morning: the a light and brightness coming in from the east side of the room. I thought, “Hooray, it’s still early! I still have several more hours of the day!” Then logic kicked in and I realized it was dusk. I figured the sunlight was bouncing off some clouds off to the east and popped outside to check it out. I got to the driveway and immediately felt humbled by the giant white puffs overhead. They were the kind that make you feel tiny and intimidated but at the same time so close to them you might be able to touch them. Everything around me was bright white; the sidewalk, the street, the neighbor’s houses; an air of newness about them. I casually turned to look toward the sun and caught my breath. It was low in the sky and an unnatural red. The effect was amplified by the cool blue sky and serene clouds one normally sees over an ocean. The sun seemed so angry, and it felt to me to be without reason. This setting made absolutely no sense at all to me logically but my heart was absolutely amazed. I felt like I was caught in the middle of an epic conversation I was never meant to hear, a delectable treat. I wish I took a photo of it, but I was positively rooted to the concrete. As the sun sunk in the sky, it glowed a hot pink and lined all the clouds that hid it in white.

I love my driveway.


The Nut House

My friend Hannah invited my sons and I to her house for dinner on Sunday night. We tried to get together a few times in the months prior but we finally got our acts together this week. She has a son around my son’s age and we have lots to talk about. I promised to bring ice cream cones.
GPS is very helpful but it doesn’t tell you what to look for, landmarks, etc. Doesn’t tell you what color a house is or that there may be a giant pot hole after the speed bump that you didn’t see coming. Maybe part of it is the user, but every time I drive to a place I’ve never been to, I inevitably make a u-turn. After I navigated my way around the roundabout, we passed five or six houses with fences and front yards. As the GPS narrator was saying, “Your destination is on your right”, we were parking in front of a brown house with a friendly yellow door. A sign hung next to the door which read, “The Nut House”. I figured this was it. It takes me a while to park close enough to the curb. After we parked and made our way up the sidewalk and stairs, I could hear Hannah laughing in the backyard. For some reason I am terrified that I’ll go to the wrong house by accident and the owners will be angry with me for doing so. But upon hearing the mirth from the backyard, I knew we were where we were supposed to be. I knocked, forgetting our hostess’s instructions to just try the door or let ourselves in to the gate. Hannah came round the side of the house, smiling, still wearing her apron from cooking dinner. She pulled the rock that was keeping the gate shut to the side and let us into her backyard. She introduced herself to the boys and we went around the house. Hannah has a few plants that are beginning to grow through and over and around the chain link fence. I love that look. As we made our way to the backyard, I noticed plants growing all over the place. Hannah has a nice patio off the sliding glass door of her home.
There are a few chairs that she inherited from a friend and a round patio table with chairs.
Seated outside were her husband and a friend of hers and lastly her son, who we were told was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my sons so that they could play together. Introductions were made and we guests were led into the house.
Our hostess showed the boys where the bathroom is and they pretty much stayed outside playing for the rest of the night, save for when it was dinnertime. I loved her concrete floors; I have dreamed about such floors for my own home. The walls are white and house plants climbed up the walls and toward the ceiling. Family photos line one wall and the rest are graced with beloved original artwork from very talented friends and relatives. Each one had a story. I loved them all. I have prints up in my home and one or two originals. Maybe it’s time to jump back on the bandwagon.
Hannah’s kitchen and living room have exposed beams at the ceiling and lucky her there’s a skylight in the kitchen where more plants grow and perch. I love a good exposed beam. I’ve thought several times about adding beams to my own ceilings. All of Hannah’s floors are tile, that I noticed, except for the concrete floors mentioned. I also want to tile my own house, as I have a sincere hatred for carpeting. She made me a drink — a white rum and orange juice; delicious — and pulled out marinated chicken to saute while we caught up. As dinner was baking, we took a little tour around the backyard.
Stretching out behind the house is Hannah’s long backyard. Three steps take you up to the yard. There is a playset with a slide and monkey bars for little boy hands and feet off to the right and to the left is a fenced-in garden. She pointed out a relic from her and her husband’s past; a slice of a tree stump that her husband brought home from work and sealed. It served as a backdrop for their wedding and is now an icon of love and commitment on display over the food that they grow. I loved that as Hannah showed us around the yard, she mentioned little plans that she had for the plants that went awry. As we made our way toward the back of the yard, she showed me a table under their mesquite tree where they play dominoes together as a family sometimes. She shared dreams of an outdoor bar. We passed an area off to the side which is her son’s personal play area. There were cinder blocks and sticks and dirt and planks of wood laying around. I shared that I played with the exact same things as a kid: reebar (sp), dirt, wood, and rocks. Yeah I had toys but I remember the tamarack trees and tile samples and searching for horned toads in the weeds more than anything else. It’s a great backyard for a little boy.
Dinner was delicious. She topped the chicken with avocado, cheese, and tomatoes. She also made a great salad with strawberries, feta cheese, and almond pieces. Oh and don’t forget corn on the cob. For dessert she made a cake with orange cream frosting which my sons devoured.
After dinner we sat around the table socializing for a couple hours till we got too cold and one of my sons fell asleep. Hannah’s son lent us a jacket for my oldest and Hannah grabbed a blanket for my youngest. He eventually fell asleep and yes it was hell getting them into the car.
When I left her house that night I left a place that felt a little like home to me. And I would be happy to go back. I left a place that I’d want my home to be like.


Fifty Years is a Pretty Long Road

Dear House Blog Diary,
Sorry for my absence. Last week I was very busy getting ready for a surprise party that my sister and I opted to throw for our mother’s fiftieth birthday at the home of a friend of hers. SO last week a) I was busy and b) my wonderful mother is subscribed to this blog and if I told you all what I was up to, then we wouldn’t very well have a surprise. Of course she was onto us, but nonetheless appreciated our efforts.
If I could’ve, I would’ve told you all about sneaking to the party site and scheming about where people were going to hide and where food would be served. I would’ve told you all about hitting the party store and checking out rude silly favors and buying margarita salt. I also would have mentioned elusively getting our mitts on family photos and making a slideshow with them. I also would have been able to tell you about swiping mom’s cd collection and making a lengthy playlist with it.
What I really wanted to tell you about that I found though was some roots that are photographed. I told all of you that I grew up in my great grandparents’ house. I don’t know if I mentioned that that’s also where my mom and her two brothers essentially grew up. There is a massive collection of photographs that my mother keeps stashed away and a few of them date back to before she was born. Some are yellow, some are black and white, and some are stuck together. I saw horn-rimmed glasses, low t-strap heels, and lots of family poses; not necessarily the candid shots that I am so fond of for my own children.
Sifting through the albums and the boxes and envelopes of visuals, I began to see a journey that I forgot about. The fact is that my mom was just Debbie before she was my mom. She was a darling baby and a cute toddler and then she, just like other kids, sprouted up and then I noticed this glow in her teenage photos. Maybe it was really good lighting or maybe it was the thrill of being big enough to take on the unknown, but in those pictures she is so sure of herself. And then of course come the photos of her becoming “mom” — her dream — I don’t know who took each one, but someone captured that silence in which a mother realizes that she is fully capable of taking care of the newborn that so desperately depends on her. When fewer and fewer aspects of that transition cease to be foreign and grow to be basic.

Some pictures I know my father took, such as the one of my sister as a toddler asleep next to my mother in bed. Then there are several that my mother took of my father and us. My dad was really dorky when he had teeth. The underlying concept that I picked up was that at the end of the day, they were a family and that’s what was most important.
All the while the backdrop is my great grandparents and their house.
Family Christmas pictures fizzle out as my mother became the cameraman but at least in the pictures that us kids are posing for, we are huddled together, smiling, and in some cases helping eachother hold whatever prop mom needed a picture of with us. I realized that my mother bound us all together as children into a lasting connection called family. As an adult, I thought us children were just close and lucky enough to have personalities between us that get along naturally. I now understand that that closeness was fostered and nurtured throughout most of our lives and that her hands guided us together, for as much as we fought.
It is a concept that I am trying now to develop in my own children in hopes that they will continue to secretly be each other’s best friend for years to come. Thank you for that, mom. Happy Birthday.


Tooth in a Ziploc

. . . is what I found in the garage this morning. I picked up a ziploc which was folded in quarters from a cabinet in the garage. As I unfolded it, I thought, “Hmmmm I wonder what this screw is for?” And after I realized it was a silver coated tooth, I exclaimed, “What the hell??!!” And dropped it onto the floor. I never thought I would discover another human being’s tooth, but I did know I would eventually find something real weird somewhere in this house. Gross.