Corner View: Sunshine

It began with a touch of photosensitivity. A walk in the sunshine, after the rain, caused my eyes to recoil. A visit to the eye doctor on a chilly, damp morning brought on a rare bout with allergic asthma. Having to stop nursing immediately, due to eye drops, brought on all day nausea. Then, finally, a terrible cold conquered me and I slowly began to blur. I only remember my mom being ill twice and how worried I was because it just didn't happen.

























August had sick eyes and a drippy nose but more energy than I did and took over the house. It took all my focus and strength to feed her that day. She had no real appetite. The walk from my room to the kitchen became increasingly littered with tiny plastic dishes, wooden blocks, toys, toys, toys. The living room floor carpeted with stuffed animals and all the discarded clothes from August's many costume changes, or maybe because I was at first too hot then too cold and adjusted the thermostat accordingly. Soon every toy was out of it's house and partying in every room. There was nothing I could do. I sat on my bed, in my Vapor Rub scented room, trying to stream something entertaining but it was always choppy. There is something wrong with something on my old and slow computer.

August came in with her doctor kit quite often to tend to me. She brought me toilet paper for my nose. She gave me lots of kisses, put her hands on my face and asked if I was better. She was also mourning our nursing days and neither one of us knew if they were gone forever or just on hold. I had that to ponder as I blew and blew my nose.

After waking up to a coughing fit at 4am, I made an appointment for August. While on the phone I wondered how I was going to get the energy to drive to the doctor's office. I made an appointment for myself as well since I would already be there anyway. I was worried about her ears and lungs. Her doctor said she was fine, just a cold, chamomile tea with lots of honey. My doctor also diagnosed me with nothing more than a cold. Fortunately and quite unfortunately I have little experience with colds. I had the avian flu in 1994. No colds, just  allergies, sore throats but no colds. As she left the room, August told her, "I am going to take care of my Mommy." That's medicine.

Later that day, after much online research and a phone call to Canada, I was secure with the information I had found regarding nursing and the eye drops. It was fine. We resumed our slow weaning project. Our noses stopped running, the coughs went away and our appetites returned. August asked if I was better. I said yes and her little face lit up. Seeing that lit up my heart. We started piecing the house back together.

Corner View: Somewhere Else






































Last Saturday I woke up to a beautiful morning so August and I took our walk around the neighborhood much earlier than usual. I set out at 9:59am. There were garage sales all over the place and we stopped at each one of them to look and chat. There were so many knick-knacks and relics from my childhood: old Avon perfume bottles, faded Tupperware sets, macrame wall hangings, boxes full of polyester fabric, handmade Christmas ornaments, cassette tapes, mix tapes, plastic baby dolls made in Hong Kong, Time-Life cookbooks... Our walk began weaving in and out between the past and the present. The memories started to transport me somewhere else but the blue sky and August's questions and observations would bring me back.

While chatting with a charming woman about quilting, sewing and her collection of measuring spoons, I asked her if she does a lot of baking. She answered that she once did, that she once did a little bit of everything. From what she had for sale on her driveway, she did. She gave me a Christmas tray, a cute set of measuring spoons, several yards of a pretty, flowery, light weight cotton material she wanted to turn into a sundress and oh so many thoughts. I am right were she had been, trying and doing a little bit of everything, the baking, the sewing, craft projects. Her baby was a few years older than me and came out to say she would return later to help her put things back in the garage.

August reminded me that I promised her time at the playground. It was just across the street from the driveway that had just manage to fill me with all sorts of philosophical ruminations... under a clear blue sky. Feeling like we had already been out for several hours and all morning long, I checked the time. 10:45. We had only been out 45 minutes. I headed for the playground checking the time again, puzzled. Where had we been for what seemed like hours and hours, but not even one hour? I went over the conversations I had with people in the neighborhood, the singing with August, all those questions I answered for her, stopping for birds, squirrels and flowers, photographing an oak bed I wanted to maybe purchase. It didn't add up. At the playscape I showed August the time and told her we'd leave once the time read 11:15. She flipped over while swinging on her tummy, poor thing. We headed home at exactly 11:00.


Birthday Month



























Our birthday month has come to an end. I loved how it felt like it lingered and didn't race by. On my birthday I woke up to a beautiful morning, clear blue sky, sunshine and needed my sweater. The day couldn't be more perfect or more of a gift because Texas Spring can easily be summer anywhere else.



















August and I joined my Grandparents for brunch and then we strolled downtown Del Rio. We had ice cream at The Emporium and then spent the afternoon at my Grandmother's house and picked flowers. We had dinner with my Mom and then celebrated with an ice cream cake! A fragrant flower bouquet from my Grandmother's house and having my Mother and August sing Happy Birthday to me made my birthday. I began to miss my day when I woke up the next morning.

A few days later we were back in the city and setting up for August's birthday. I had started working on the paper chains in March. There were {about} 3600 individual chains and a box of 5000 staples used.
























I enjoyed laboring 36 hours before her day, this time in a different way. I strung up the homemade paper chains and our traditional birthday banner used since her first birthday. I pinned up streamers and balloons I had filled with confetti. After we sang The Birthday Song and she blew out the candles, confetti balloons were popped. We love confetti!


I had in mind a circus themed cake when I spotted the perfect, plastic decorations at a downtown shop in Del Rio. Everything came together and I was thrilled to see August so happy with her decorations and cake at her little party.

























One of her gifts was a circus set that we can't stop playing with.

Road Trip



















I wanted to visit my hometown during our birthday month so August and I embarked on a mini, five hour road trip together. It was the best road trip I have ever taken. She was an enthusiastic companion and during the whole drive pointed out things I would have missed. There was a tremendous cloud that hung to the left of us as we drove through the small towns miles and miles apart. It was a massive, pink cloud with straight lines and right angles. A rectangle with a foamy top. It appeared an hour before sunset while we were on Highway 90.

"Take a picture, Mommy, take a picture, take a picture of the big cloud!", she kept squealing. I couldn't stop because I wanted to beat the deer. There was no place to stop, it was a two lane highway with no real shoulder. I wanted to stop and just watch it with her until the sun left the day. Instead I told her to take a picture with her eyes, put it in her head and when she closed her eyes, she'd see it again. She tried it out and said she was able to see it. A week later and she brought it up again, how she could still see it when she closed her eyes. It was one of the few things in life I didn't want to photograph because I didn't think I could capture it properly. I like that we can both see it if we close our eyes.

We sang while we drove, taking turns, mostly show tunes. We listened to August's favorite CD's over and over: Taylor Swift's 1989 and the OST to Frozen. I have all sorts of stamina. By the end of the trip both had been deconstructed and took on profound meaning for me.

We celebrated entering new towns and spotted large birds of prey. Once we entered Del Rio it was dark and August said,"Mommy, I'm scared of the sky." I looked up and saw only millions of bright stars. Only in Del Rio have I seen them that close and bright. Then August said,"The sky is so dark it scares me. It scares the stars too." The sky did appear heavy and to weigh down. I still think it is the mot beautiful sky I have ever seen.

I told her, this is where I was born.  It's been four years since I had seen the sights along Highway 90 in the spring or since I spent my birthday at my mother's house. I was giddy and excited to be back. August and my mother danced to cumbias way past her bedtime and I felt a calmness like no other.

We spent the week doing all those things I love doing in my town, seeing those places that have appeared in my dreams over and over for decades. While I didn't think I needed to get out of the city, I couldn't help but feel recharged driving down that highway. The place always fuels my creativity and inspires all sorts of dreamy thoughts.








































































There is pull towards Del Rio, it's always been there. The town seemed to stop calling me for awhile, but once there I felt it and wanted to stay despite it being extremely impractical. Leaving town I thought of all the drives I took with my Granpo in the same direction. I still felt those old desires to become a goat herder and photograph all the little homes in San Felipe...the fig trees, the quiet main street, old mansions, my Granmo's clothesline.





































As I  passed the entrances to ranches all along the highway and saw those fallen, old structures fall some more, I realized, I've been watching them die for years and years. There is a curious sadness all along that highway but it was overshadowed this time by a little girl singing happily in her carseat. With all the recent rain, Highway 90 has never looked greener.

Happy Easter



























All this week August is still wishing everyone a Happy Easter. Easter morning was a cloudy, chilly, misty mess. For a few weeks now she has been hiding plastic Easter eggs for us to find or wants us to hide them for her. She's been into bunnies and asking me to sing her Easter songs. I make them up on the spot.

{A tisket, a tasket, a yellow Easter basket...}


























Her favorite toy has been a basket of plastic Easter eggs left over from the previous two Easters. She was pretty satisfied with her "Easters" as she calls it. The Easter Bunny fulfilled all her wishes for books and toys. She received the rather large and heavy Treasury of Beatrix Potter. He also brought her twin bunny dolls, a rubber ducky, Frozen themed Band-Aids and these magical eggs that she exclaimed were "...the most beautiful eggs I have ever seen my whole life!" As it turns out they are chalk eggs.


























We made cascarones and didn't get to crack them all on Easter so every day, when she least expects it, I crack a cascarone over her head and delight in hearing her squeal, "Happy Easter!"

























Once again, the perfection of plans and ideas met with imperfect realities. Since the weather was unpredictable, there were no solid plans made for picnics or cookouts, there was a laziness and grumpiness about, nothing really fell into place, then the day moved too quickly when it did come together. Despite all the half empties, created was a memorable day with the sweetness that is August. There was a reunion of all toy bunnies in the house, that included some of my old "Easters Bunnies". They all had tea with Papi. August was excited to test out her new ducky in the tub. She also tried her first Peep, a very sugary, purple bunny. After a few dainty, nibbles on the ears, she was done. I was relieved. The day ended with us reading about Peter Rabbit and Nutkin Squirrel. It hasn't been a week yet and I miss Easters 2015 already. That's what August does to me. Wait, we're still celebrating, that's what August does to us.

























{Among her Easters}

Corner View: Hunger

I made the {slight, sort of} mistake of showing August the movie Cabaret. As a result I have this toddler running around singing "Mmmmoneymoneymoney...mmmmmoneymoneymoney" or "Deedletedee two ladies..." She would tries to dance around her little chair and knows too many words to all the songs. I introduced her to Godspell and Annie to undo Cabaret but it will take time before she forgets all that Fosse, Liza and those lyrics.

In the song Money there is a part where there is a knock on the door and it's Hunger. The way Joel Grey says "Hunnnnngehhhr" has always disturbed me. I have been hungry with little to choose from but have never met Hunger. Not the way it is stressed by the actor in that musical with so much desperation. Oh sure, I have been in situations where the pantry is getting weak, down to some rice, beans, canned tuna, and the fridge weak with a few eggs, condiments and three day old left over chicken soup without a paycheck for another five days... But that isn't Hunger.

Those who have known Hunger will tell you about it at some point because it is never forgotten. It scars. A friend of mine told me that after what she went through in WWII, food is everything. A friend of hers who had been in a concentration camp kept a large bag of rice in a safe place because of her experience. My own grandparents always tell me never to spend money on anything except food, food is worth it, nothing else is.

So many are at this moment with Hunger, meeting Hunger, being killed by Hunger...and it's disturbing. No one in this world should be hungry, there really is food for all. When I see all the food served at restaurants and left behind untouched... Just this last weekend the table of two left enough food to feed a table of three. Wars keep people in the arms of Hunger, governments, dictators, politicians, voters, a road or bridge not built, people keep other people hungry. It's a despicable crime.

And that is really what has crossed my mind for years while watching that scene in Cabaret.


Corner View: In Bloom





















I have never been a fan of pulling over on the side of a highway to get photographed among the Texas bluebonnets. Rattlesnakes are also in bloom this time of year and it seems to me a ditch or a field is a great place to find one. Fire ants are also in bloom and not something I want to find sitting in a field of bluebonnets. This past weekend I felt the pull to walk the path around Laguna Gloria. While there I found a little patch of blue and asked August to sit among the flowers. She decided to stand and sniff them instead. I asked her to sit with me for a photo but she ran off seeking out a playground. I decided to ask Jacob to photograph me. I felt a little silly but I found a spot that fit. A photo among the Texas bluebonnets...makes me chuckle. 

Polish Clothespin Dolls

I  have four Polish clothespin dolls that I acquired last year. These are mine, not August's. I find them so cute and appealing. They were bought with transformation in mind. After a year I have grown very fond of their well worn looks, crazy hair and that lovable look of surprise. Last year August and I played with them, making up stories for them and I took pictures. This comes close to the story we had going.















Hans, Peggy, Nancy and Peter left their little nook in the cupboard where they lived above the spices and behind the tea tins. It was a pretty day, the sunlight beamed in through the cracks in their cupboard door. Peggy and Hans set out cautiously after Nancy and Peter who were already enjoying a  view outside. Peggy was the most frightened on of all.

Once the friends came together under the big shade tree on such a beautiful day, Peggy started to lose her fears. She became completely unafraid and found that she enjoyed climbing trees to get a better view of the birds and squirrels. She wanted to climb higher and higher but Peter told her there was not enough time to explore the entire tree and they had to return to the cupboard before supper.




























They hopped on and off rocks, smelled flowers and watched the clouds change shapes. Peggy was so happy to feel so brave, and she was enjoying the outing so much she started to sing for joy. She sang louder and louder and louder. Nancy, Hans and Peter laughed and tried to get Peggy to quiet down. She was disturbing their new friends.


It was hard to get Peggy to return home. She started to play tag, she became difficult and whined about how stuffy and dark the cupboard was. She said they had to catch her to take her home.















































Nancy told her it was now spring and they didn't have to stay in the cupboard all the time. They could have outings every day now.
























So the friends returned to their homes with plenty to fill their dreams.

Corner View: Imagination










{taken... years ago}








Imagination... right away I think of the song as sung by Harry Connick Jr. because I had that cassette playing throughout the spring of 1991. It was not my favorite rendition but is now the one most associated with being in Austin for the first time and going to school, being on my own. So much was going on at the time, so much felt and so much to see. I had no idea what was coming. How very long ago. I'd walk parts of this city imagining that I was back in Mexico, inspired by a scent coming to me in the breeze. I was reading a lot of Nin at the time and would imagine I was in Paris, inspired by the architecture of an old building. Rimbaud, Kerouac and Sarte filled my book bag.

I wouldn't recognize myself. I straightened my hair every morning, something I'd never do now. I think it's so abusive. I wore it down, another rarity these days, never just down. It was so long, down to the small of my back. It was never that long again. I walked around in short denim cut-offs and brown leather Mary Janes every where without a care in the world. Getting dressed was easy. Paired with the shorts were scooped necked tees, in every color to choose from. There were less than ten vintage dresses, a pair of clogs and a new pair of Doc Martin combat boots in my closet. I didn't own much of anything. The most expensive things I owned were my art supplies, camel hair brushes, a large leather portfolio and pricey paper. So it was quite an expense to belong to the Harry Connick Jr. Fan Club. I was an official and registered member who would mail in my dues to somewhere in Massachusetts... for  a year.

So concerned with my own life, dreams, goals, interests and friends, I never could of imagined then, that within ten years I'd have a computer and a cell phone and that I'd be living a daily life so completely different because of them. And in 2001, I never imagined the guy at my favorite coffee shop, the one who stared and stared at me but never really said a word, would become the love of my life in the spring of 2011. Re-connecting through blogs of all things and if not for that invention... The things we imagine and the things we can't.


Imagination: The Quotations {August's fave rendition}

Our Spring Break







































August and I had a wonderful day spent visiting friends and going to the museum. She had not been to an art museum and the day was so beautiful, the campus area cleared because of spring break and it happened to be the day the museum was open to the public for free. The idea came to me early enough in the day so we went with it. When we got there she appreciated the wide open space that was the lobby, then the many stairs leading to the permanent collection.

She pulled me from room to room, she was so excited. We ended up back in the room with the Modern and Contemporary Art in front of Alfred Gottlieb's Cadmium Red Above Black several times. August kept saying it was so beautiful. She said so many of the pieces there were "...so beautiful, Mommy". She sat in front of Peter Dean's Dallas Chaos II for quite awhile. Of all paintings for a toddler to pick to sit in front of. It had a "piggy" in it and "clowns". I think the bright and bold colors are what drew her in. I have often thought the painting felt like a hostile circus or parade and liked it for that reason.

I had to visit my favorites: Jerry Bywaters' Oilfield Girls, William Glackens' Lena and Imp and Yasou Kuniyoshi's Waitresses from the Sparhawk. Mr Gage studied under Kuniyoshi in Woodstock. I have always recognized his influence on Mr Gage's work. There was a framed black and white photo of Kuniyoshi that hung over Mr Gage's bedroom door. I thought of how talented Mr Gage was and how his artwork reflected the era that surrounded me in that museum room. I so miss Mr Gage, the older man in my life. He'd laugh at that when we'd joke about such things. I can say that I am genuinely left with a void in my life now that he is gone. Never again a conversation about old British actors, no talk about Mistinguett, no one will ever sing me Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France or How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm.

After, we headed for the cafe and lunched on cheesecake. August loves cheesecake but not when it is served at home. She didn't even really notice it was cheesecake the one time I gave her a slice at home. But when we are out, cheesecake a special treat. On the way to the truck we stopped in what looked like a little spring haven with blooming trees and yellow flowers. We picked flowers and for awhile I did forget we were actually near a parking lot.

Next on the list was grocery shopping, something we both love to do but August said she wanted to go shopping with her Papi. Once at the grocery store I could see she was indeed exhausted so we left and returned home. She changed out of her clothes and put herself in bed for nap...all on her own. It was a special day. The grocery shopping didn't get done. Dinner was okay at best. I put together a meal with what I had on hand from a near empty fridge and pantry. Sausage and green beans with almonds. As we ate we spoke of the day and I asked her what she liked. Seeing her Madrina and paintings and cheesecake were the list. I looked at the two paintings I had of Mr Gage's and sent him a few thoughts.

Not everyone is in agreement with priorities but when it comes between filling the fridge and pantry or taking advantage of a beautiful day... It isn't often that I am spontaneous. What I had planned was a trip to the grocery store then back for household chores and dinner. But when we woke up that morning, it was such a beautiful day, the kind that would take me to visit my old friend. Instead I introduced August to The Blanton. The decision to forgo all responsibilities was irresistible. August is on the brink of her third year on earth and so in love with paintings. Just the other night, before bed, she dragged out the watercolors and wanted to paint. She loves the paintings that hang in our home. It was an amazing afternoon for me. No regrets. A messy house and bare cupboards just aren't as urgent as sharing art with my little girl on a pretty day. This is how it should be.

Mr Gage


Corner View: Something Difficult

The switch to Daylight's Saving Time is always a difficult one for me. I feel behind and sluggish until May or so. There have been a few years where I just don't feel the change and the transition is seamless. But when the days have been wet and gray, and the chill lingers on, more than usual for this time of year in Texas, the change in time is too early.  

This week has been profound so far. There has been much good and bad that has filled the short time between Monday and Wednesday. It's a growth spurt for me. Those can be difficult as well.

Corner View: Cuddly

I miss Artie, he was my bunny. He would give kisses when he was happy and thump his foot when he was unhappy. I really got to know a lot about bunnies with Artie. I prefer them to dogs or cats now. Every morning, before work, I would put his breakfast together: banana, some papaya, his pellets, his vitamin and changed his water. For dinner I made him a little salad, gave him the other half of his pellets and changed his water. When I got home from work, we'd sit outside together and watch "the girls",  my  chickens. He was the best company, so calm and made me calm and present. Buying him a treat or giving him some cardboard to play with was always fun. I loved how he'd rearrange his cage and then keep it that way for a few weeks, become bored with it and rearrange it again.  Artie was so dignified and especially cuddly.

My memorable minutiae

I have just a few memories that go as far back as 18 months old. I have many more starting at two years old. I wonder what will stay with August.  There have been times when I have told her," I hope this becomes a memory for you".

I remember waking from a nap or  walking out of my room in the morning and hearing my mother exclaim with a gasp,"You grew!" At the time I had no idea that would ever come to an end.

My baby brother lying in the back seat of the car on a blanket, no car seat, no carrier. Those Ford Galaxy's were a smooth ride but.. It was either a drive to my grandmother's house or out of the town and on the highway. I was in the front seat on my mother's lap and looked back. The sun was shining on his crocheted layette.

All those car rides on my mother's lap or my grandmother's lap and their arms tightly around me.

Pretending to be baby at a birthday party. It was a serious regression at two years old that annoyed my mother.

Playing at my toy kitchen and serving my mother tea and telling her my husband was at work. When she asked what he did I pictured a policeman directing traffic and holding a stop sign. I told her he was police man. It was dark outside.

I remember being sick and crying unable to get comfortable and the lighting in the living room changing. My mother tells me I was around 18 months old and had watched The Yellow Submarine. It disturbed me she said and she thinks that is what caused a sleepless night for everyone.

The look on my father's face when he realized my finger was about to be hurt when he closed the door and how it felt when it did. I remember seeing my finger disappear and the hinges of that door. The ride to the doctor's office and getting it bandaged up but I don't remember the pain.

Dreaming that a grackle flew into the house and I chased it through the rooms. I asked my mother what happened to the bird and she didn't know what I was speaking of and said I must have dreamed it. Not my first dream I am sure, only the one that made me aware of them. I was two or so.

I had a genuine fear of being eaten by a dinosaur a bear or bigfoot and thought if I stepped out of bed at night a skunk or raccoon would bite me...

I had no concept of when my birthday was or what it was until around age 4. It was making more sense by then. At that point I still couldn't remember the date...I kept thinking it was April 1st for the longest time. I remember standing behind  school mate and saying it was birthday and she said,"Today on April Fool's Day?" I said yes and wondered why no one at home had said anything.

I also remember it was before I started kindergarten and more than likely when I was four that I placed my hand on the wall near my bed and looked at it well and said out loud"One day my hand will be big." Then thought of how everything would be different. That realization of change and growing up. I remember the wall, my bed, that it was dark outside and the room was lit with the light from the hallway.

For some reason I thought when my mom was a little girl dinosaurs roamed the world more frequently and I'd always ask her if she saw one or saw big giant birds. I think Land of the Lost was behind all this. I didn't quite grasp the time line at age 3 and 4 and grouped cowboys and Indians, dinosaurs, old black and white films and my mom as a little girl in one age and thought they were all on earth at the same time.

I hated cow meat, unless it was tongue, liver, tripe in menudo or sausage and would be the last one at the table. The food would get colder and harder to look at. My mother would become frustrated with me and finally leave the table. When she wasn't looking I'd plop the pieces of cow meat into my milk, or place it on a napkin and go to the restroom to flush it down the toilet. Nothing was ever said so I figured I was getting away with it. I loved pork chops. I haven't had a pork chop in years and years.

I didn't think anyone could see me when I decided I was invisible.

I had an imaginary friend that I swore I could see and I can still remember what she looked like.

Everything had a personality and feelings, all inanimate objects. Everything and anything would talk in their own way, all inanimate objects. That idea still has a grip on me.

Everything was so exciting. Going to the little local bakery in my hometown, Seeger's Bakery, was especially joyous. It was always a treat and right across the street from the toy store. To be able to visit both, one after the other was a happy day. The cream puffs and donuts were so delicious. The toy store closed down when I was still a kid but the bakery lasted awhile. I thought all cream puffs and donuts tasted just like they did at that bakery. I have yet to find a cream puff or donut that catapults me back to those days.

My memories are so random. I have always treasured these tidbits. Now that I have August they serve to remind me of what childhood was like when in the middle of it. How it felt to be a toddler and the ideas that come into the head of an almost three year old. I understand completely when August says she wants to go back home when we are still out and about after sunset and it starts getting darker. I remember how that felt.

Corner View: Warmth

We thought spring had arrived because our rose bush started to get new leaves and produced a bud that's growing everyday. The community garden plant sale is this Sunday and I already had lavender and basil in mind. The fragrant mountain laurels are showing off their purple blossoms. Everything all around seemed to indicate that our Texas winter was over. Two weeks ago, when Jacob said that was it for the cold weather, I said no, there's going to be snap, maybe even ice. I could feel it despite all my own readiness for spring.

It happened, one of the coldest days this winter, ice, some sleet, a wind that slaps your face. The sun is out today and has me wishing for the days we had just two weeks ago, the one with blue, optimistic skies and a warmth that puts lovely ideas about lovely things in my head. Days of being in love with the days.