Saturday, July 28, 2007


Last summer, my family and I drove through San Francisco on our way to visit relatives. One of the places we went to was Lombard St. It's an insanely crooked street that goes down a seemingly near-vertical hill. Back and forth one motors the vehicle, driving past beautiful garden plots and neat homes but you are so busy peering over the dashboard that the flowers are just a blur. At least, that was my experience. Once we got to the bottom of the hill, we parked and I took photos of my family in front of the street/hill. As I snapped the camera, something caught my eye. A big flock of green parrots! I couldn't believe it! They flew from one tree over to another, briefly lighted and then they were off. I didn't get a photo because I used up the last of the film on the family photo. Darn! I was so excited and wondered about the parrots for quite some time.

A few weeks ago, I came across a book called, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill". I had to get it and find out more about the birds we saw. The author, Mark Bittner, has spent many years studying and feeding these wild birds, caring for them when they were sick, watching them mature and raise babies. What impressed me about the book was his concern to keep the birds wild, though he wanted them to feel comfortable being near him. His fascination with their individual personalities made this book a fun read. He gave names to most the birds, ones he got to know individually. Interspersed in this book are his views on his own journey toward finding fulfillment in his life. I do not share his views on spiritual matters but I respect his earnest (and honest) search. But the birds are the focus of this book and that's what I enjoyed the most. There are some B&W photos of individual birds in the book and they are adorable. I don't know if I would have been so interested in this book, had I not seen those parrots that day. Talk about being in the right place at the right moment. I mean, they were only there a couple of seconds and then they were gone. I'm thankful God allowed me to be there right then. And now that I know so much about them, I'm looking forward to the next time we are able to visit San Francisco. I hope to go to some of the places mentioned in the book, where the birds congregate. As of a few years ago, there were 85 birds in the flock. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get to see them again!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Squids In France

File this under: A Homeschool Family Lives Here

My younger son, Alec, was making up a story about a squid (don't ask) who was found on a beach in France. I said, (in a really bad French accent) "Oh, Avignon or Saint Remy?" Chad smirked and said, "As if either of those places is on the coast!"

I laughed so hard because of the absurdity of the conversation. I wasn't even embarrassed that I didn't know where they were exactly (at least I knew they were in France and probably in the south!) But I didn't know a THING about France when I was 11. And this is just a sampling of what is discussed around here. Last night we were discussing the newly discovered ancient lake bed in Darfur. I mean, a MAJOR debate! (Check out NPR's website for that story - it's cool!)

Homeschooling has allowed us the time and freedom to learn, anything and everything. And the older my kids get, the more I see what a blessing it is and what a benefit it is to our family.

I did redeem myself and said to Chad, "O.k., then, how about St. Tropez? I KNOW it's on the coast!"

You know, I just looked up Saint Remy in our France Road Atlas (yes, we have one, I got it cheap from a remaindered book seller) and there are 16 places listed as Saint Remy or Saint Remy something. I know of only the one in Provence so maybe one of the others is on the coast. Maybe I WAS correct after all!

Friday, July 20, 2007


My daughter, Carmen, is 6 years old. Her world is one full of wonder. Lots of "firsts". Lots of questions. She's a deep thinker, sometimes quiet but usually talkative. She loves to play with Daddy, with their special jokes. She sometimes loves her brothers, sometimes hates them. Adores her brother, Alec, who is just 3 years older. Has recently learned how to play by herself comfortably which is good for her and good for me, especially when the boys and Dad are watching "Victory At Sea" on video. ("It's too loud, Mom" which I totally agree!) She kisses everyone and everything. If she sees a photo of a baby, for example, she has to kiss it. We are working on teaching her appropriate kissing but I don't wish to dampen her sweet spirit. When I look at her, I'm amazed. In my biased eyes, her face is a work of art. Perfect nose. Bright, blue eyes with long lashes. Her blonde hair hangs perfectly in place, no matter how Daddy cuts it. The blessing of straight hair, not unruly-wavy, like mine. I hope she always sees it as a blessing. She does not look like me, it's her Daddy she resembles. Serious-faced, usually, though quick to express her emotions (crying, shrieking, laughing, the usual kid-stuff). Currently missing her two front teeth (and two on the bottom row, somewhere.) How does she bite? Carmen and I share lots of special moments. In the summer, we paint our toenails. This time she wanted the iridescent wine color. It's hard to paint those tiny toes! I love spending time with her, doing girl stuff, laughing, reading, or just snuggling. I'll never tire of the sweet feeling of her soft hands on my arm or holding my hand. Touching my face. I love it when I hear her door open in the morning, and she quietly walks in our room. We exchange good mornings and she usually has something to tell me, either a dream or a stuffed animal story. Sometimes, when my dh and I are still asleep, she'll get up and go play quietly in the living room until someone gets up. What a blessing! Isn't wasn't that long ago that she wouldn't get up until someone came in and got her up. She is becoming so much more self-aware. She's a person, now, understanding more about her world. I want her to always stay this age, though I look forward to seeing the woman she'll become. With God's grace, our relationship will grow. Please, let it grow together, not apart.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I've been annoyed lately. And it's hard to find joy when I'm annoyed. I get annoyed when I go down the hill from where we live. My ears plug. So, when I get into town, I'm doing that fake-yawning motion you do when you're trying to unplug your ears. And I try to do this without looking like I am because I look really stupid. By the time I get to the main street of town (Marine Dr.) my ears are fine. But it's SO annoying! I get annoyed when the money runs out before the bills are paid. Arrgh! That's not supposed to happen! I've been annoyed recently because my allergy medicine isn't working anymore, right in the middle of high grass season here and apparently, that's something I'm allergic to. Annoying, I tell you! And, I'm supremely annoyed at the fact that I can't get my house cleaned. I keep getting distracted, or we end up going out for the day and there's no time, or I'm just too tired for whatever reason (like, from my allergies that aren't being helped by my stupid allergy meds).

So, where's the joy when I'm annoyed. I know it's out there. I just need to find it. Heavy sigh. I think the incident that really topped everything happened the other day. I was hurrying to get a glass casserole dish out of the microwave and out to the table when, suddenly, the dish flew out of my hands and hit the floor. But not without making a really big mess. Sliced green beans were EVERYWHERE. I didn't get mad. It was really so very annoying, I just shook my head, picked up the dish and served what beans were left in the dish! My wonderful dh came in the kitchen and started cleaning green beans off the floor - bless him! And then, after dinner, I went back into the kitchen and saw green beans on the upper cabinet, the kitchen window, and green bean juice dripping all over the clean dishes that were drying next to the sink! Really heavy sigh. Dh said he didn't seem them there! I wasn't annoyed at him, just at myself. I mean, really. Like I NEED green beans everywhere.

O.k., so where's the joy here. We are supposed to be thankful in all circumstances. And when one is thankful, one can find joy, right? I guess I can be thankful that the glass dish didn't break and it didn't hit my foot (though I got a bit burned by the hot liquid). I can be thankful that I have ears to hear, even though they plug when I drop a few feet toward sea level, at 25 mph. I can be joyful that there is money to cover most of the bills and there are some that can wait until next paycheck. The allergy thing - well, o.k., there's no joy there. Not that I can see yet, anyway. And, I can be thankful my dh doesn't complain much about the house. And I can find joy in the fact that my kids clutter the house when they are having fun being creative, artistic, playing games or reading (lots of books, everywhere!) So, I suppose, I need to pray and ask God to help me look for the joy when I get annoyed. It's there - I just need Him to help me find it!

Monday, July 9, 2007


I'm currently reading a book about a man who moved to New Zealand, taking his young family with him. What I've gathered so far, he pretty much fell in love with the place shortly after arriving in Auckland. He's talked a lot about what "home" means to him and times he didn't feel he was home even when he was physically at home. Got that? That got me thinking ... I felt at home where I grew up until I got married. My dh and I started feeling like we were no longer at home but we didn't know where "home" was. So we went looking - north. We knew we preferred trees and water. Interestingly enough, the author in this book I'm reading says that people often prefer trees and water, some sort of ancient survival instinct. Anyway, when we settled on the place we are now living, it felt like home, in a lot of ways. It took awhile. And now, when I return to visit the place I was born, it definitely no longer feels like home. No question. I no longer belong there. And yet ... there are times I don't feel like I'm home even when I'm sitting in my home. The wandering spirit - I definitely have that. In theory, anyway. I love to travel via books. Real travel is a bit more perilous. Scary. I love to read travel books. I guess I admire those that take their wandering spirits and go. Maybe someday I'll do that. Actually, I did do that - when we moved here 16 years ago. Maybe it's time to move again.

Friday, July 6, 2007


My sweet mother, widowed for the second time a year ago, lives in So. Cal. in an enormous senior community. She enjoys living there and feels safe. She knows most of her surrounding neighbors. Since I live two days away (by car) I try to call her every day. Yesterday, we were chatting and she was telling me about her day. She had gone to the store and when she returned, she parked her car in the carport next to a neighbors' car. Those neighbors were getting out of their car and they helped her with her groceries, carrying them to the house. She said they were good friends and my stepfather had enjoyed their company when he was alive. I asked her if she ever asked them in for coffee. She said she hadn't in a long time but she does email them. Hmmm. I said, "Mom, where do they live?" She said, "I can see their house from my livingroom window." Now, this doesn't sound as humorous on the screen as it did over the phone. But I had to hold back a chuckle. Emailing the neighbor across the courtyard. On the one hand, at least they are communicating. I personally prefer the telephone or letters. But on the other hand, we lose so much when the "body" isn't present to share a laugh or a good story. I think we humans need this kind of communication more than any other. Yes, other forms of communication are necessary and soul-saving (even life-saving) to the lonely. But nothing can fully replace the warmth felt by the presence of another human being.

Sunday, July 1, 2007