Corner View: Path

I remembered and told August, in the middle of dinner, to grab her shoes because we had an appointment with planets. The sun had just gone down. She couldn't find her shoes so I put her in the stroller and out the door we went. Under a Monet sky we set out to look for the Venus and Jupiter conjunction. The full moon filled August with excitement. I traced a path in the sky from the full moon in the east and there to the west appeared our bright planets, nestled among some lacy clouds.
"Look, August, look up look at the only stars in the sky!" She confirmed it with, "I see them, Mommy, I see them." I explained they were the planets Venus and Jupiter. She repeated,"Venus and Jupiter". 

We watched them as they stood still in their dance for us. I told her how special it was to see this with her and with the full moon. We lingered until the light around us dimmed and the mosquitos started to hover. We then turned our backs to Venus and Jupiter and headed back home. Along the way August told people passing that she saw planets and that there was a full moon.

Celestial, astral, stellar, ethereal...some of my favorite words, magic words that bring a peace to my earthly self just saying them. I have been thinking all evening...about the ongoing magic in the sky, the rewards found in twilight. Back in our home the half eaten dinner was just too sobering a sight for eyes that had been searching out the Divine. It's time we get a telescope.

Corner View: Monochrome

Ages and ages ago when I was in the sixth grade  I was introduced to a computer with a monochrome monitor that did nothing. We were taught how to make it do "loops" and add and subtract. In high school we learned to set a little white box on a path around the screen, a trick that took pages and pages of code. I hated computers. It was a waste of my time, I thought. It does nothing for me. We have calculators and electric typewriters...Why do I need this thing that needs me to tell it what to do and it can't do much anyway?

I no longer have a laptop. It contained all my photos and movies of August. It was a sort of memory bank. Some photos and movies were uploaded to Instagram, Flickr, Youtube and this blog. There were some text files I may not recover and I can care less what was in my iTunes. Music is easy for me to recover. Sometime ago the iPhoto library had to be rebuilt and all my photos and movies multiplied, quite the opposite of erased. To sort through that was being caught in a web of my own memories. My memories began to weigh heavy and killed my laptop's memory.

This past year it stopped playing music and DVDs then it stopped streaming. It became frustrating to even use it for blogging because it was slow and the scrolling and loading and this and that...just slow or muddled. I cleaned it up but it had reached its end in terms of updates. I could no longer update software. Too old.

I am blogging on my iPhone, typing with my thumb and feeling the limitations of being without a laptop. More specifically, my own working laptop, not so much the non-working laptop I had in the end. At this moment, monochrome reminds me of perceived limitations. 

Corner View: Paper

August and I came upon the book Float by Daniel Miyares. It has no words, only beautiful illustrations of a rainy day and a boy with his newly folded paper boat. After the story August wanted a boat. I told her it was a paper boat, one I could make for her. I folded up pink construction paper and we put her pink boat to sail in the bath tub. 

A few days later, hurricane Bill begins churning and we get rain. So much in fact, that it flooded the grassy area of our complex. All that water would soon start rapidly flowing into rain gutters so it was the perfect opportunity for a newspaper boat. We rushed outside with a sturdy paper boat made from several layers of the Austin Chronicle, with the hopes that it would last a few adventures. August enjoyed  watching her boat float down tiny rivers and linger upon teeny lakes. She also delighted in how her boat fell apart just like the one in the story.

Corner View: Meeting and Parting

The rain is gone and the playgrounds are drying out under the sun. August and I have resumed our park visits. To August, a friend is any boy or girl with a smile. She always enters the park exclaiming that she must go say hello and play with her friend. Now that she is a few inches longer and can manage the playscape completely alone, I can take a seat under the large shade tree.

I have discovered that a lot goes on under that tree, lots of great conversations with other parents. These past two weeks I have enjoyed who I have met. Everyone has been so friendly. It always feels good to find a connection, common interests, hear stories. Finding a friend at the park, I've rediscovered that feeling, the one August is discovering.

The neighborhood library's story hour has also returned from a month long vacation. August and I were happy to return to the stories, activities and more friends. It is almost a year that we began frequenting the library. We find familiar faces among the stacks now.

August has forced me into situations where I have to interact, taking me out of my shy comfort zone. I am no longer the one on the other side of the park watching birds, dogs and people. I'm having to be in the middle of it all. Meeting new people and parting with my old ways is a constant theme since I became a mother.

Corner View: Roots

Roots. When I think of roots I think of putting down roots. The setting up of a place to live, putting in a garden, getting pets and giving them forever homes, planting trees and watching them grow through the  years. It is notches on a door frame marking the growth of a child. A clothesline.

My grandparents were able to put down roots. They met, married, saved and bought land, built their own home, paying for supplies as they went along. In 1948 they started their house with help from family building the actual house. By 1949 they were finished, everything paid for. Over the years they added two rooms, remodeled two or three times including moving the kitchen into a new room and turning the old kitchen into a dining area. It sits on an acre and a half of land, covered with pecan trees my grandfather started from pecans he found. There are pear, loquat and peach trees. There is a a very old  grape vine that winds around a pecan tree and now then will still give grapes. My Grandmother put in the rose bushes and flowered vines that are scattered about. She said to me that every time she had a fight with my Grandfather and felt bad, she would cheer herself up and go buy a plant to put in. I laughed when she told me that as I looked around and saw so many flowers.

I have always wanted what my Grandparents have. The sprawling yard, the simple and modest house, the job of maintaining trees and watching them grow through the years. They had chickens and at one time goats. I have eaten calabasita and had pumpkin that they grew in their  backyard. They have worked hard but have also been lucky.

Several blocks away, where the San  Felipe Springs runs, is a small bridge to drive over into the neighborhood called San Felipe. For years and years I loved crossing that bridge and seeing an old pinkish stucco house with plants in colorful pots on the patio that ran the width of the house.  There was also a yellow wood framed house that sat next to it, always with sheets on the clothesline. There were cars parked off to the sides of the homes and the others that surrounded them in the neighborhood. No garages or carports, really, just cars that sat under the shade of large trees that, like the homes, looked as if they had been there for 80 years or more.

When I was a teenager and imagined myself grown up and living on my own, I pictured a cute little stucco house with a yard, shade trades, potted plants on my patio and clothesline off to the side. For some reason, given all the freedom of my imagination, I never pictured an aging mansion, or a two story home like the ones I liked so much on one of my favorite streets in town. I never created a new house or modern home. It still bothers me to this day why I wanted such a modest, tiny abode. Did I not dream big?  I really can't remember if it was maybe a sign of no goals, or goals set very low or maybe what or how I thought of myself at the time. But I do remember how those little houses greeted me with such serene happiness. Something about them cheered me up when I'd see them. Something about them sent me dreaming of tomato gardens and lovely tin can planters, the beauty in things that age and fade under the sun. I was charmed by these homes and by the lives I imagined were being lived in them.

In 1998 a flood swept half that neighborhood away, the homes, the people in those homes and the lives they led were tragically lost overnight. The high water came from the San Felipe Springs in the middle of the night, no warning, some people never woke up. Those homes stood there for decades, rooted it seemed for decades to come. The entire time they were really existing precariously on a flood plain. The trees that surrounded the two homes remain.

Three summers ago I parked the truck and with August ventured into what was once the backyard of the pink stucco home because I spotted a fig tree. Other people were gathered around the huge tree picking the fruit. I clearly remember that I felt like I was trespassing. I remember feeling a sadness picking the fruit off a tree that once belonged to someone who must have suffered terribly or perished that night when nature turned on them. I would pause and look around. I saw was a sign that said something about FEMA and not being allowed to build on the land. At the base of the tree was a partially buried pile of old brick. I could hear the springs running.  I recently visited the tree again. Still, sadness. I wondered, did they sit outside on the porch just to hear the spring flowing over rocks and through tall grasses and reeds?  Did they enjoy the figs from their own backyard? Did they feel protected under the branches of the massive tree that had been there longer than my Grandmother could remember? They had put down roots that I could still feel under my own feet.

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}