Corner View: Overgrown

My hair is not straight, it has a tough wave and almost a full curl to it. It is thick and high maintenance. I have always hated it. I have never been good to my hair. I love how ringlets and bountiful tendrils look on someone else. I have never been able to work well with my own coiled coiffure, further complicated with two unfortunate cowlicks. I am tired of braids and buns and tangled tresses.

Maybe, I was happiest with shorter hair? I grew out my hair for a man who claimed to love long hair on women. Long, luscious, straight hair, that is...not what I ever had going on. Even when a compliment was requested, all I received was a general, "I like long hair". I never felt the love. After years of over growing my hair, now just a bad habit, I have decided to really try hard to find a style that fits the texture. It takes talent to make a mane like mine look magnificent. So I am fearlessly seeking out someone skilled with scissors to do the sublime. Lately, I feel everything has just gone on too long.

Corner View: Morning Light

When I think back of all the rentals I have occupied in this city, the first memories that come to mind are the mornings. I remember one garage apartment where the mornings were especially fun. My bedroom had four lace covered windows and the morning light would awaken me in the gentlest way. I would then go to the bathroom and open the shade. In the early summers there would be a bird nest and for awhile baby birds with their high pitched peeps were part of my wake-up call. I could see them right in their nests from my window. I remember feeling incredibly touched by the view. The rest of the house had windows all around and in the spring and summer, the trees colored the sunlight a beautiful shade of green that would create the most enchanting effect indoors, in the mornings.

When we were living in an old duplex in Oklahoma, I loved greeting the morning by opening the French doors in the bedroom that led to the deck outside. It had no porch covering it so you could feel the warmth of the sunrise. August and I had a potted rose plant we loved to pamper and talk too while the sun grew and grew over us.

I must have sunny, morning light. Cloudy days and rainy days do bring a nice break but if they go on too long I slow down, become clumsy. The fall and winter sunlight has a sharpness to it. Sometimes, you get a preview of the season in waiting if you are up early enough on just the right morning. I caught a distinct crispness in the pocket of a cool breeze on a walk last week. I could smell fall.

Oleander and a shade 

Morning trying to enter Mr Gage's living room.

Corner View: Routine

Here is a  checklist I use on routine walks:

Look for birds of prey in the sky 
Search for butterflies or dragonflies
Listen when the breeze is trying to speak using the trees and windchimes
Listen for bird songs or woodpeckers knocking
Smell the air, try to find roses, lavender and sage
See squirrels acting squirrely or having a snack
Visit the biggest tree look for a fig tree
Look at the clouds

August loves looking at the clouds and pointing out what she sees in them. I guess it was on walks in Woodville that I developed this mental checklist. Letting the natural world draw me in is something I look forward to on our walks.

Visits to the community gardens are something else we just have to do. I feel fortunate to have access to the one in our neighborhood. It's important for August to see vegetables growing. So many questions begin there. We observe bees and butterflies, she visits hens and roosters, collects rocks and scents from the many flowers and herbs there. She made me laugh the other day going from plant to plant sniffing them.

The desire for a more natural environment is returning to me. A year ago I was fine living in a city, having lived in small or rural towns for three years. Now, I crave more trees, gardens, space, roosters crowing and lots of good dirt. I have faith that one day we will find the perfect spot, a balance.

July 4th 2015

Fiery, colorful chrysanthemums, exploding in the sky above us. A sizzle and a whistle then a boom gives birth to a bright, red dandelion, then a fizzle and fade. August screaming with delight, pointing out the fireworks to those around her..this was July 4th 2015.

We took a blanket and set out, telling August she would hear the symphony, see violins and then watch a real "fireworks show". Once we approached the bridge downtown, on the other side were people, tons of people, a massive collection of bodies, a daunting crowd. We decided to stay just where we were and it turned out to be the perfect spot once the fireworks began. As we waited for the show I heard the different languages that were being spoken around me. I felt embraced by the crowd that was now quickly forming around us, all of them strangers feeling like friends. I don't usually enjoy such crowded events but found myself moved by it all.

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.