Tuesday, May 25, 2010

gratitude on a cool, rainy almost-summer day

today the weather is gray ~ the sky is thick and low with different layers of cloud ~ gauzy fog clouds down low seemingly close enough to touch, gray rain clouds up a little higher, and at the top of my vision, a thick ceiling of clouds that hug all the other clouds down to crowd out the sun. in the distance, consistent gray. the clouds here can be deceptive in their apparent desire to linger; some days at one pm, we are thinking it's going to be gray and chilly all day, and then suddenly the "marine layer" will blow off and the sun warms everyone to short sleeves. but i think this day might start and finish gray. and chilly. i'm wearing a warm (gray ~ the only one clean!) winter hoodie-sweater and knee socks under my jeans. snuggly house shoes. i have had three different warm drinks and am contemplating the next being hot chocolate to treat myself. already put on the Jill Scott. :-)

so today, knowing that happiness is unconditional but feeling the gray clouds creep under the roof and enfold me, i extend this little thank you note ~ to those loved ones out there who electronically tap me on the shoulder, tell me you love me and insist that i answer you back. i sure do appreciate it. i love you, too.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jill Scott

J-I-LL-S-CO-TT-~-! Speaking of booty-shakin' music, I can't get enough Jill Scott lately. I listened to her all day one day, then took a break, and listened to her all day again today! I don't want to listen so much that I get tired of it, but.. It just feels so good to me! If you'd told me a few years back I'd be listening to this woman on repeat, first I would've said, Who? But then I wouldn't have believed you, because she's just so.. so.. soulful. And... laying it all out there in a certain way. Kindof like a mature, R-n-B Ani DiFranco (whom I love), only without the big boots, purple hair or bisexual undertones (don't get me wrong: those I love, too ;-). So maybe you could say it was just a matter of time, but I've always felt so...white. and particularly non soul-ful. Bellydancing sparked in me a huge education in appreciation for beats at which to shake the booty, and, by this point, I just love soul music - classic R-n-B like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, Funk, like James Brown and Parliament, Jazz-based hiphop (I'm sure "they" call that something specific), Prince and Michael Jackson, and recently even quite a few contemporary R-n-B artists, such as Erykah Badu, and even Missy Elliot. Enter Jill Scott. And I haven't just left this new love on the dancefloor; I have even brought it into my singing. With a background in classical singing, I started taking voice lessons again over a year ago, saying that I wanted to sing like Aretha Franklin (now, don't laugh). I started out with straight jazz - a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, etc. In the past few months, with the encouragement and challenge of my teacher, Kathy Kennedy [ as well as the inspiration of Eva Cassidy, the soulfullest white woman I've heard], I have finally built up the nerve to try my hand at some Aretha, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston (!), and even some blues. For a white girl who started out singing opera, I'm doing pretty good...
As a beginning bellydancer I practiced and practiced to get the hang of each move. When I danced at home, I closed my eyes and imagined embodying my teachers, Teresa and Julie, so that I could move the way they moved. Nowadays when I'm singing, I imagine that I'm Jill Scott.
"Representing lu-hu-huv!!!"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Unexpectedly Pleasant

Our dishwasher hasn't ever worked that well.  Being in a rental, with a dishwasher not required by the lease, period, we have tried to be thankful for what we have.  But.  For the last ... six months, it has been just-plain jacked.  And even  with two handy-boys in residence, it has only done better mysteriously in fits and starts.  Many a dish comes out looking like it never went in, while others come out dirtier.  Then the other day when Sealion tried to open it after a load finished, the handle broke, locking a load of "clean" dishes in there.  Our landlord usually responds promptly to calls, but must be out of town as we haven't heard from him regarding our calls about this appliance.  So we are handwashing dishes. And as much as we like cooking and eating around here... We are very quickly remembering how to make one-pot meals, and to use the same mug all day regardless of whether it's for tea, coffee, water or wine.  When I am left with the task of washing a sinkful, I find that I can put it off up until the hour before anyone else returns home to find the mess.  I have also found that I actually enjoy washing dishes by hand.  Unlike the angst-ridden chore of opening a warm dishwasher only to find half the dishes need to be rewashed anyway, washing a sinkful of dishes is straightforward and satisfying.  You start out with a pile of dirty dishes, and with some strategy and elbow grease you finish with sparkling-clean dishes and an empty, shining sink.  Add some relaxed, booty-shakin' music, and I consider it not at all a bad way to spend a half-hour or more.
 I could imagine how, if one had a full-time schedule outside the home, and didn't have a dishwasher ever, this task could quickly become a chore.  However that is not my situation.  And knowing these time-efficient boys in my life, there will be a new dishwasher in the kitchen shortly.  So I can plunge my hands into the suds deeply and relish fully, knowing it's short-term.  And when no one else (over age two) is around, I sing really loud.  ;-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Oh, Baja!

As with any experience that moves me deeply, I am speechless. I have looked at a blank blog page for days trying to sum it up perfectly. And it's just not coming to me. So to move on from that last entry, I shall simply post some photos. There are so many good feelings in so many of the photos we took ~ Woo, Sealion, and I ~ that it is hard to choose just a few.
At the beginning of the week, Woo posed the question, "How long could you do this?" Meaning, how long could we relax, bask in the sun, loaf at the pool, float and swim in the sea, enjoy each other's company and the laid-back Baja culture, and just: not do much. When she asked, I thought, I could get bored pretty quickly... But by the end of the week I was certainly not ready to return to uptight American living (doing). It seems in America we are driven to do and do. Too, I feel as if the culture in the Bay Area is very achievement-oriented. To sit and do nothing is relegated to the end of yoga class. Our lives demand so much of us. And when external have-tos are finished, we demand even more of ourselves. Perhaps the main thing I appreciate from my experiences of Baja Sur is how slooooowed down it is. There's just not much to do. For what there is to do, there is no agenda. The culture is therapeutic in its non-expectation. The sun is the only insistent presence there; it insists you seek shade and take a nap midday. That just gives you a little extra time to wonder at the vast starry sky at night.
Ok. I guess I did have something to say. Mainly, that I wasn't ready to leave and want to go back. So it's obvious I have some major gratitude work to do, because nobody should pay the laughably high prices to live here unless they absolutely love it.

photos of a lovely vacation ~ in random order
~ many taken by Woo : )

The crew ~ what an easy group to spend a week with!
Auntie Woo

At Lumbini Gardens

The banana tree that Miles planted at Lumbini Gardens ~
and its huge flower that descends from a big ol' bunch of bananas!
I did a lot of this ~ floating in the sea.
sunrise from our back patio
being a mommy ~
I still get to do a lot of that while on vacation.

Woo, I noticed one thing I didn't get a photo of ~ our daily plate of heavenly chips and guacamole!
Next time!