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.

The Iron Giant

August watched The Iron Giant and fell in love with robots and once again with the idea of giants.  She first heard of giants when we read Jack and the Beanstalk. Last night she told me she saw a giant man. This was her first creative story. She saw him she said and he was nice. I was tickled to death when I heard this. She also said the word, b-o-m-b.

The movie is mine, I loved it when it came out in 1999 so I bought the DVD. I haven't seen it in awhile, probably ten years or so. August had been wanting me to play it for weeks. I had forgotten all about the story. I forgot the entire storyline about guns and bombs and war. So here we were watching The Iron Giant. "What's a bomb?" I thought of how I grew up knowing about bombs because WWII  was only 30 years or so and then Vietnam on the news and Mash with re-runs during the day and new episodes in the evening, later, Red Dawn. I forgot that I grew up very much aware and being quite afraid that at some point someone would hit a red button that would end humanity. I started to remember sitting in class and thinking where would I go, who would I miss, how long would I live post A-Bomb. Seeing photos of Hiroshima in school books for the first time I realized my "daymares" weren't so far off. I attended a Catholic school so...praying that a bomb would never go off was just about the only thing I prayed for at mass. Once "the wall" came down, I relaxed and that was that but by then my entire childhood had a bomb in it. How could I forget all that?

So I told August that a bomb was a large, destructive thing. It hurts people and everything people love and it's bad. There was no follow up question and so it ended there.

While at the library this past weekend August said she wanted a book on Hogarth. I looked it up and sure enough, our library had The Iron Man by Ted Hughes available. I was happy to find that it contained enough pictures to keep August interested. I couldn't wait to read it to her.  On the way home she looked at the book, turning the pages with so much excitement, searching the illustrations for Hogarth. Once we got home she fell into her book, unfolding the pull-out pages and talking on and on about Hogarth and the giant robot.

Years from now what I will remember most from this whole Iron Giant phase is that it came along just as August was being weaned. That she fell asleep for the first time without nursing while I read to her from The Iron Man and she continued to night after night... The beautiful and poetic words of Ted Hughes soothing my little heartache and transitioning us both.

Corner View-Homemade

I just finished crocheting a shawl for August. It was not a planned project, I just picked up a scrap ball of yarn and came up with the idea as I chained along. It's made using a cotton yarn and created with the idea of cool mornings. Spring time in Texas means cool mornings that warm up all too quickly and you wind up with an afternoon more suited for mid-June. Oddly, I have also crocheted a toilet paper cozy. I just like how things like toilet paper cozies and dresses for dish detergent bottles all scream out a home made to me. I wanted to start on a cotton shawl for myself, using thread instead of yarn. All this crocheting...not using fancy stitches or going for intricate designs. It occurred to me that maybe all the sudden projects were because my Abuelita passed away. I do feel so much closer to her crocheting.

Her house was filled with her crocheted and knitted creations. She loved to use the white and ecru, fine gauged cotton thread. She had a house filled with delicate tablecloths, lacy bedspreads, and so many doilies. I have a white dress she crocheted for me, a lacy shift.  I wore it a few times but reserve it for special occassions only, these days.  I also have booties she knitted for me. The last ones she made for me with pom-pom ties.

What makes a home for me is to fill it with things made by my own two hands or fill it  with things made by those I know. I realize one is quite fortunate to have that happen. For my birthday and Christmas when asked what I'd like, I always reply with the same answer, "Make me something!" Homemade makes a home.

St. Valentine's Day

In high school and college and even into my late twenties, on Valentine's Day, there have always been people around me cursing the day. I have know men and women who become bitter, depressed or just sulk on that day. I've always loved spending it doing something a little special for myself or sharing a treat with a friend. I enjoy making Valentines and passing them out on the day as well. For some reason I have thought the day more for friendship than romantic love. That is how it was introduced to me at five years old in school and for some reason never changed.

When I was single and dating I didn't want to go out for dinner, the long waits and loud, crowded restaurants just ruined it for me. One of the first Valentine dinners I ever had was also the worst dinner ever. It was at a restaurant called Al Capone's and I remember the food was yummy, but my date...a real stinker who ate off my plate. I became distracted and did some people watching the whole time completely uninterested in the boring guy who spoke at me. One of the best memories was when I bought the largest box of candy I could afford. It was in a beautiful, pink satin, heart shaped box with a lacy bow and plastic flowers on top. I shared it with my friends and we had so much fun eating pink and berry filled chocolates that afternoon.

I love making Valentine's to send out and have always mailed out cards to family. This year August and I spent two weeks making Valentine cards, reading stories about the holiday and we watched Be My Valentine Charlie Brown. I would like it if August to had a healthy attitude towards the holiday when she is an adult and not be someone who is unhappy, bothered or annoyed by the holiday.  

What makes the day special, at least for me, is being able to make it silly, frilly and fun for someone else. Before August was born I'd make Mr Gage the silliest and frilliest card. He'd keep them up on his table year round. When I would visit on Valentine's Day I'd bring chocolate and made sure to give him the longest most substantial hug when I arrived and when I left. He lived alone and though had many friends I always wondered how often he was hugged. It's important. We'd watch a movie or a tv show or look at a book and just chat on and on.

Since August was born, I have made a Valentine Pavlova every year and we have passed out Valentine cards. This year we had an early celebration. I made us corsages. August wore a beautiful chiffon vintage dress I found in a bag of doll clothes last year. I wore a long, flowery gown I bought years ago. As I was looking for my spring wardrobe August found the dress and insisted I wear it. She thought I was simply the most beautiful I have ever been in the most beautiful dress she had ever seen. We had her Madrinas over, exchanged Valentine's and ate a raspberry Pavlova while listening to Charles Trenet. We took kitschy, silly photos and had silly, frilly fun.

On Valentine's Day Jacob joined us and made us dinner, a very delicious tamale pie.  August pulled out yet another old dress of mine she wanted me to wear and we exchanged Valentine's.

Valentine's Day: Happiness is found within, the joy is in giving and always be thankful for those around you who you love and love you. Nothing else is really necessary. 

Corner View: Love in my corner

My two and a half year old is painting. She is using my old watercolors from a palette and paining on real watercolor paper while Mozart plays softly on the radio. There is a beautiful morning sunshine coming through the slide door, such perfection. Her tiny hand, grasping a camel hair paint brush, travels from left to right as she says, "Water, paint, paper", it's the steps I taught her to paint. She taps off the excess water on the old yogurt container before creating a wonderfully voluptuous shape on the paper. It's a bright green, followed by streaks of black, royal blue... I sip my tea. Watching her paint brings such joy. I feel like such a wonderful mother. She had two eggs for breakfast, she even said,"Mozart, Mommy!" when the strings from A Little Night Music began. How easy it is to be in love with my corner during moments like this.

What a contrast to the several moments last week when I didn't feel like such a wonderful mother. The day she ate only snack foods because I was one step out of time with her meals and she was always too full to eat the substantial whole foods. Instead she had fig newtons, apple slices, rice cakes, animal crackers, regular crackers... I wasn't so in love with my corner of the world then. Nor was I on that day August just wanted to keep watching movies and videos and the hours passed without our reading time, numbers, alphabet, games, songs, playing house or doing anything I'd call constructive. When I'd turn off a video she would just roam the house, not interested in anything except bringing me more DVDs. I felt like such a failure having ignored the warnings and maybe introduced her to screen time too early in her life. 

This theme of love in my corner conjures an image of a boxing ring where I sit in the corner with Love mostly, then the bell sounds... I leave Love to dance about, throwing punches wearing myself out only to fall and stay down a bit before making my way back to Love. I can always see that corner.  I love being in it, I feel I spend most of my days there. Even when I am in the throws of some battle, discouragement or obstacle, I don't lose sight. The goal is to put Love in all the corners, not just one.

I don't buy bad snacks. We don't own a television and she goes days without a video, clip or movie on the computer. The steps back to the Love in my corner.

Corner View: Poem

Fifteen years ago I threw away a journal  that contained several attempts at poetry. In it were poems that to this day still make me cringe. Horrid. In high school I wrote a sonnet, it was a homework project. I was so pleased with my sonnet. I was proud. I wrote it on a piece of paper with burned edges, we got extra credit for presentation. I read it in front of the class, we got extra credit for that too. All I remember was: baptized in fire [or fear] with a love for calamity... I wish I had it just to throw it away again.

My mother's college yearbooks had several poems in it that I have always loved.  When I have visited I seek out those year books just to read those poems. It was 1968 or 1969 and the poet used wordsthatranintoeachother {much use of these braces} and lots of 


I still remain impressed with those poems. They had a speed, a poem within a poem, they were clever and very much of their time.