Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Office Re-Org

Cindy broke her toe in June and her ankle in July. Not surprisingly, she was down in the dumps by August, having worn strange foot devices all summer that prevented driving, swimming, or even walking very well. On a particularly bad day, I asked her if there was something we could do to make her feel a little better.

"I want to re-arrange my office," she said.

Well that seemed pretty easy. I could help her move the furniture around, but then she added that she wanted to do a deep cleaning. Well OK, but I was working out of the house a lot, so she would have to do small things and then I could help with the bigger tasks when I got home.

She dove in with gusto and soon the living room was filling with piles of stuff as she cleared off book cases and started dusting and vacuuming. Then when I came home last Wednesday after working all day at the college followed by 2 hours with my writers group, she greeted me with, "I want to paint my office."

I was tired; I was cranky; I did not meet her excitement with anything like enthusiasm, but after a good night's sleep I rallied. By that time, she had enlisted Becky to help, but she nevertheless accepted my belated offer to assist.
We emptied the office of furniture, all but the desk, and spent the weekend painting. By Monday night, we were moving furniture on location and hooking up the electronics. The room looks great and Cindy is the happiest I've seen her since she was throwing money on me in our state room on the trip to Alaska.

Here are some pictures of her sunny, deeply cleaned, reorganized, freshly painted office:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Water Park Day

Take 4 kids, ages 9, 7, 6 and 4. Add one more 4 year old plus her 20 something dad and go to the Water Park. You will play HARD for 7 hours! Here are the pictures to prove it.

The photographer for most of these pictures was Cindy who was in a cast and couldn't make her way up to the BIG slides where we slid down flumes and vortexes, so there are no pictures of that madcap fun, but I think these pictures show what a blast we had. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger and see whose who. The person in aqua who is underwater is Gianna. And the body underwater behind me and Nell in the inner tube is Huckle. We all spent a lot time underwater!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Approaching Fall

The buckeye have turned rusty and crackling. Poison oak is turning too. The meadow grass is platinum blond with dark green tufts of tarweed starting to poke through. Blood red dragonflies skim over the surface of the waving grass. Today on my walk, I saw a squirrel hefting a huge pine cone up the trunk of a leaning tree.

Summer has more than a month left, but these are signs of the approaching fall. The parents of school age children are getting ready for a new semester. Some public schools start tomorrow though my grandkids won't crack their books until after Labor Day. With the start of school, I'll begin participating in homeschool and teaching a computer access class at the college. Julia and I are hoping for a late fall launch for The Right Sisters. My freelance assignments are piling up. So much to do as fall pushes it's way into summer.

My Boddhisattva work sits as a backdrop to what I see and what I do. We've been doing a six-week study on the inevitability of death. The meditations are fierce, tender, and sublime. Every morning I sit for a half hour with the certainty of death. I get up from my cushion, feeling the closeness of death breathing quietly behind me. I try to stay present to what is worthy of my attention; what I'm willing to live and die for.

I cannot know what tomorrow will bring; I only know that nothing stays the same.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Downhill with My Grandsons

When I arrived at Raleigh's at 6am on Sunday, August's bike was upturned in the center of the living room and my son and grandson were were working on the chain that had broken the night before. They were surrounded by laughing family, 3 dogs, and a cat. Michael was on the couch drinking coffee with his new puppy Stella in his lap. Candice was cooing to the puppy, and Jenny was sitting nearby with her cup of coffee. Libby was whining from her kennel, eager to be part of the happy scene in the living room where deaf ole Blue had free rein. It was early morning in a Harrelson household, and I happily joined the fray, enjoying the familiarity of my family who rise early, excited about the new day.

Once the chain was repaired, all the activity moved outside, so Raleigh and the boys could hook up the bike rack to Cindy's truck and load up. August, Cody, and I were going to the John Fisher Downhill Bicycle race at Miami Creek OVH Park in Oakhurst. The 2-hour drive was "sweet," to use the boy's lingo. The ride was also filled with a vocabulary I didn't know-- bike stuff, like hardtail, forks, and rhythm patterns. I was a happy driver. Their non-stop conversation served as a backdrop to the beauty of the foothills outside of Coulterville. which sported a plant I don't remember seeing before: beautiful yellow flowers on a low-lying bush, obviously something that opens in the early morning hours and closes up later in the heat of the day.

This day was blooming into quite a fine time. We were among the first to arrive at the Kamook staging area. The boys were anxious to practice the course, which they did again and again and again, with me picking them up at the bottom and shutting them back to the top. Eventually the race shuttle arrived, and I took a breather. After about 12 runs each, they stopped to eat and drink before the race actually started.

There were two timed runs. I situated myself to take videos (which I'm going to try to post later). I cheered with other parents at the bottom of the first leg of the first run. For the second run, I hiked down the course and sat in a manzanita grove taking videos at a section that had several jumps. My video camera is new and my skills are limited, but I got short clips of both boys as well as everyone else because I never knew when they were coming. Riders start at one minute intervals.

It was a terrific day. My grandsons know how to play hard and they are refreshingly polite as well as generous and witty . . . not every grandma gets to hear tasteful jokes from her 14 and 15 year old grandsons. I feel blessed to be in the company of these smart, congenial young men.

Pictured below:
The scene in Raleigh's driveway at 6am;
August suiting up for his practice runs;
The boys after the first timed race, coming to get water & food;
Cody with his medal for first place in the hardtail category,

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ahhh--The Water

During our vacation to Alaska, I was acutely conscious of my attachment to the earth and things that grow: trees, grasses, shrubs, moss. Yes, I love the earth, but then there is the water.

Ahh, the water!

Being near water nourishes my spirit. The sound of a stream gurgling or a river thrashing or meandering is a musical offering. A long stretch of lake water is a feast to my eyes: smooth or undulating, rippling or sparkling in a play of light.

Add the pleasure of good company and the opportunity to slip into the molten green liquid of a reservoir, and the only response is a long SIGH!

And dessert. Rushing across the surface of a lake in a high powered boat, wind in my face, clouds pirouetting above foothills.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

My Writing Comrades

This wonderful group of women is having a glorious time in Mendocino at a sweet little writing conference. We are working with seasoned novelists and poets, discovering all kinds of new things about our craft. We are also talking non-stop at meal time and as we walk from our motel to the conference site. Last night, we read at the Open Mic, splashing Fort Bragg with a Sonora presence. We walked out of the reading, patting each other on the back and feeling quite accomplished. One more day of camaraderie, with a gala dinner and keynote speaker tonight at Hill Top Inn in Mendocino looking over the Pacific Ocean. I'm fortunate, indeed, to have these wonderful women as my comrades in writing.