May 31, 2008

No Mo Po fo Me

Last night was my last meeting with my poetry group, Thicket Press. I've been meeting with them every two weeks for about seven years. If it wasn't for them I would probably have far fewer poems to show for myself. Ah, crikey. These goodbyes are wearing on me, so I'll just toss my California poem down here and call it a night. The Thicketeers (see a few of them below) helped me with this one, too:

[poem deleted]

May 28, 2008

My Sweet Mama

That whole squeaky wheel theory is about as true as it gets. I've written endlessly about my difficult dad, but I haven't said much about my mom, and she really deserves a couple of words.
First of all, notice how youthful and lovely she is in this picture. It was taken last November just after her braces were removed. I never thought we looked alike, but it turns out we have the same teeth, and I have half of her smile (the left half).
Mom is less than thrilled with our plan to move 3,000 miles away and take her grandchildren too, but she's not holding it against us. She's come down to the bay (a two-hour drive) plenty of weekends the last few months, most recently to help us with our insane See Ya Soon sale.
My friend Kate stopped by our sale and, in her words, "wandered around like a little dark cloud saying, 'but it's all of your stuff, everything you own, right here on the sidewalk," and then she had to leave because it was all too much for her.
Mom, though. She was wheeling and dealing, and I knew it had to be almost as hard for her to see the treasures trotted off with as it was for me. She was a trooper. She didn't even squeak when we sold Sweet Potato's jogging stroller-- which she bought for me as a Christmas gift ten years ago.
My mom has been reading my blog, too, and today I found out that she's been researching zone 5 plants to help me plant green things in The Woods that will attract hummingbirds. She wanted it to be a surprise, but then I had to go ahead and blog about the pineapple weed, so she decided to tell me. Yay for the hummingbirds!
This weekend she's visiting again, and she's going to teach me how to knit so I can make scarves when the snow starts to fall in The Woods, and Buckaroo and I are stuck indoors. I'm also going to (finally!) learn to play the dagnabbed guitar my bonus-dad bought me many years ago, so I can sing songs by the lake in the summer time just like he does.
That way, when the big kids are at school, and I'm winter house bound-- or after I return from snowshoeing (another activity I intend to take on)-- I'll knit and strum, and it will be like my parents are right there with me.
Oh, and did I mention that my mom installed a webcam by herself? I'm not sure I could have done it. She's become a technical genius-- all in pursuit of our familial happiness.
I sure am gonna miss her.

May 23, 2008

Moving Sale Mania

This weekend is the big blow out, and I keep having visions of myself chasing shoppers down the street, trying to buy back my stuff. Alternately, I see myself sobbing quietly in the bathroom. I know neither of those things will really happen.
I've been told that when I have these repeating negative images I'm supposed to freeze-frame the image in my brain, burn it up like in Cinema Paradiso, and replace it with something calm and relaxing. Unfortunately, people really will be walking away with some of my treasured items tomorrow, and I can't burn that.
I could just burn my stuff, and then no one could have it! Oh, but that would be psycho-- also, it would create too much air pollution. I'm just hoping that the feeling of cold, hard cash in my hot little hand will help me brave the storms.
Actually, giving away most of my belongings has been fairly cathartic, and I'm hoping that we'll be able to live more simply in Massachusetts, without all the clutter. Dare to Dream!
So much to do while Buckaroo is sleeping and the big kids are at school. TTFN, as they would say.

May 20, 2008

I am a Gardening Genius!

Ok, I might have to save the title of genius for when I actually plant something in the ground and then watch it not die.

Today, inbetween packing and readying for the moving sale, and changing Buckaroo's diapers, I figured out that our little plot of The Woods is in gardening zone 5 or 6. Now all gardeners can chuckle at me because I did not before know these zones existed.

Then I discovered that Lowe's has an online list of plants that will grow in each zone, and zone 6 has a heck of a lot of plants in it. It makes sense, really, because it is rather green and leafy where we are moving, but I'm a bit slow putting 2 and 2 together. Math never was my top subject.

Here' s the best part: We can grow pineapple weed! Yes, a weed. I grew up with the chamomile- like stuff in my back yard, and when I was little I would pick it and pretend to make tea-- not even knowing that I really could make tea with the little yellow flowers. Apparently it's good for pms and colicky babies, too. Buckaroo really could have used the concoction last summer.

Here's more info.

All righty, I'm off to see what other goodies I can attempt to grow. Yee Haw.
PS. I found a Mexican restaurant only 22 minutes away from us! I just wonder if it's Massachusetts Mexican. Luckily, they sell margaritas as well, so I'll just start with one of those, and everything else will be delicioso.

May 15, 2008

Life without Loquats

I went out to dinner with some friends at Lalime's in Berkeley last night -- very tasty-- and we were chatting about how it's loquat season again. My friend Katherine was saying how much she loves them, but her neighbor steals all of the reachable ones off the tree just as they're about to reach the perfect ripeness.

I love a loquat. I have a whole history with the fruit, about which I once wrote a poem. This is what I was telling my friends at dinner-- even though they already know this, but who else is going to listen to a gal repeat herself if not her friends-- when Katherine chirped in that she's going to take some back to her family in Wisconsin because they don't have them there. Then it hit me: No loquats in Massachusetts. Too wet, too cold, too dagnabbed shady.

But then I thought maybe this was just like the hummingbird fiasco, and it will all turn out alright in the end. Nope. I found this tidbit by Rachel at The Jew and the Carrot blog:

"Oh, I miss loquats! They grow wild all over San Antonio, Texas, where I was born and reared. I ate them by the basketfull when I was a kid. I miss them terribly, living here in New England. Much as I love my adopted home of western Massachusetts, loquats make me nostalgic for what used to be home."

So, that's that. Luckily, R and I had an appointment with our lovely therapist today, and she said I really just need to start planning my vacations back to California so that I'm not thinking of myself as exiled forever from the things and people I love. Wise woman. So I'm planning to return in loquat season and feeling a bit perkier.

In the meantime, here is my poem in honor of the loquat:

Eriobotrya Japonica


Melanie’s older brother called us Fish and
Smelly and lifted us to reach the fruit
on low branches with leaves like dark green canoes —
loquats the size of peaches in our cupped hands.
The first bite revealed a bright seed,
brown and wet as a pony’s eye.


George was an alley cat,
loquat colored with milk splashed
across his chest. I sat under that fruit tree,
spit seeds in large arcs across the lawn,
and called every boy’s name I knew
until he recognized his own.
I don’t know if he was a boy.
Dad pulled a loquat from the tree,
made a rock of it.


We rode bicycles to Chico airport,
watched a toy-size plane fly close to us
while we drank Honey Run wine in the almond orchard.
I made scissors out of weeds,
pretended to shred my pants.

The sky was orange all over.
We took back roads home and found the fruit
scattered and squashed across asphalt,
their stink was sweet, and we
stopped to fill our pockets, our mouths.


Don’t mistake them.
They’re not the orange-rined kumquats,
but soft and tough and wooly,
and it’s their season again,
this ignored fruit with no shelf life.

The squirrels are wasteful—
they filch a loquat from the tree,
take one bite of the flesh,
drop it to the ground, thieve another.

May 7, 2008

Goodbye with Hummingbirds

Suddenly I am overwhelmed with goodbyes, and they are taking me by sneak attack. Today, for example, I was minding my own business eyeing the cherries and quail eggs at the farmer's market when I ran into a woman I know from our babysitting co-op and her two blondy children whom I have babysat several times. There we were saying hello in the sunshine, the wiggling buckaroo on my hip, and she said, "We can't come to the next co-op meeting, so I don't think I'll see you again."

And there it was: Goodbye.

I had to go home and take a super long nap.

Last weekend I had to say goodbye to my friend Kari, whom I have known since fourth grade. We've been good friends since junior high, we dated the same boys, we double dated regularly, I was her maid of honor, I got married (the last time) in her back yard. We go way back.

Kari came down for the day, and we went to a divey Vietnamese restaurant in Oakland that I love and am going to miss very much. Kari's such a good sport; she has no fear of food poisoning, and even wanted to share the three-colored drink with me, kidney beans, green gelatinous strings and all. Yum!

We had a good, quiet visit, and then she was hugging me goodbye, saying she wanted to visit The Woods in the winter and summer, and I said she has to come in the fall, too, because that's supposed to be the best. Then she was driving away, and I was waving from the porch, and I did not cry. Easy peasy, I thought, but I had a bit of lump in my throat.

Later, though, R and I went for a walk, and we stopped to admire a hummingbird dashing in and out of the flowers, and he said, "I'm going to miss the hummingbirds," and I lost it. All the crying I was holding back rushed forth.

"No hummingbirds?" I asked, nearly hysterical. R couldn't remember having ever seen one.

Fortunately, we have Google. I can't remember life before it. Turns out I will not have to live my life without hummingbirds after all.

Mexican food, though-- that's another story