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A New Nest

11 Mar

We have a potted ficus on our porch where a hummingbird has built a nest and filled it with eggs for the past two springtimes. This is a brave, brave mama bird.  The ficus is right by our front door and our house is a busy, noisy house.  Loud kids, loud friends, loud dogs, loud slamming of the door, yet this mama is remarkably tolerant.  I have no idea why she chose this location because I am certain our neighbors (one without kids, one with only one baby and a few who are retired) are much calmer and quieter than my raucous household.  But for some magical reason, she feels safe enough with our crazy family to raise her babies here.

This year she threw us for a loop and we found her dismantling her nest.  We were concerned as the nest we have lived with for two years was torn to shreds.  Was this a statement about our home?  Were we inhospitable?  Was our porch for some reason uninhabitable or an inappropriate place to raise babies?

Then, Sirskatealot and I started noticing a hummingbird buzz by at the end of the walkway.  After  a week or so, I spied the little gem of a nest in a schefflera plant in our jungle.  This perfect little baby home was reconstructed from the original on the porch but with fun new elements, like a shred of toilet paper hidden amongst our plants from years of being tp’d by girls because of Princelightningbolt’s charms.  There are two perfect, jelly belly sized eggs inside.   This mama hummingbird is the hardest working mama in the world. We are thrilled for our spring surprise.  Watching the mama keeping her eggs warm, watching the slow hatching process and the growth of sweet little birdies is a thrill.  Last year we even snapped some pictures as one left the nest.

Spring means new and great things. I am running (ahem, “lightly jogging”) a few days each week.  This peg leg is feeling ready to move on.  I walked on the beach with an old friend today for over an hour without much pain.   I have a new work out partner at the gym.  Track season for Princelightningbolt has begun.  We have had some rain…and a couple beach days.  Princessenpointe is counting the days until summer.  The time change happened last night.  We are ready for newness, growth, a renewed sense of who we are and what we want to do while we are here.

I’ll keep you posted on our baby birds.  We have one tom cat left in our hood (last man standing against the coyotes).  He’s a formidable opponent, but with the freshness in the air and a mama’s determination, I think I will have pics of new baby birds for you soon.  In the meantime, I hope you have a spring in your step.

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Moving…on

10 Feb

A dear friend of mine is moving.  This doesn’t sound terrible, but where we live, not many people move away.  Our community is tight knit and we all know each other.  A lot of us now have teens and some in college.  We’ve been here a while and the roots are starting to grow deep. In fact, I cannot remember the last time a friend of mine moved away.

Sirskatesalot and I landed here by sheer luck.  We had only 48 hours to buy a house, not a ton of dough and we wanted our kids in good neighborhood schools.  This was the only house that met our requirements and boy, it was not pretty.  In fact, I sat on the porch and cried when the movers were moving our stuff in.  I could not believe we had bought such a heap and I was overwhelmed with the freeways, the noise, police helicopters…I hated it.

We have now been here a decade.  Wow, that is a long time.  Most of our kids’ lives. This is all they know.  We have dear friends.  We are entrenched, in a good way.  Our house is not so much a heap anymore, the freeways are not intimidating, and the beach is a stone’s throw away.  Did I mention we have dear friends?  We are a community.  We take care of each other.  We eek out time to have fun.  It’s actually surprising how much fun you can have when you are middle aged and boring.

We laugh at memories and current realities.  We know each other’s quirks, we suffer through most of them and we embrace a lot of them.  We even embrace our friends’ children’s quirks most of the time (ahem, this puts us up there with Mother Teresa if you know what I mean).  Our friend who is moving away will be sorely missed.  She is a riot.  There will be a hole here without her.  She is so awesome, though, that her new home will embrace her and she will become entrenched, but she’ll also gain an accent, big hair and a lot more make-up.  Any guesses where she is going to land? I can only utter a weak, “Yeehaw” because I want her to stay.

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Pegging Those Teens

7 Feb

Peg Leg here has two teens.  And, even amongst friends, sometimes I feel a little uncomfortable admitting that I really like my teens.  If you listen to the news, most teens are pregnant, drug addicts, drop-outs or gangsters.  If you listen to most of my friends, they are snotty, spoiled, selfish, oblivious, absentminded and irresponsible.  I confess that I can easily jump in and participate with my mom-friends in an hour long conversation about the negative character traits of teens.  You should see how we feed off of each other’s stories…we are like 5th grade girls with girlfriend drama.

In general, though, my kids are pretty awesome.  I am frequently surprised by how much I like them.  When they were sweet babies, toddlers and dirty-faced, school age critters, I never imagined it could be just as good, and, sometimes, better with teenagers.  Yes, they are big, demanding, loud, messy and stinky, but they are also clever, witty, smart and down right hysterical.   Sirskatesalot and I stare at each other wide-eyed when one of our offspring uses an epithet while telling a story at the dinner table, searching the other’s face for how to respond.  But then the punch line is so funny we break into laughter and forget to reprimand the storyteller.  It reminds me of when they were first graders telling jokes they had made up that were so NOT funny, but made us bust out in fits of laughter.  Only now, they are older, wiser, funnier and the jokes and stories are spot on.

While sometimes their decisions or attitudes are maddening, watching my teens grow into themselves is fascinating.  The path from teen to adult is a curvy, windy one filled with hills and valleys, but I think it it is important to let the teens do the driving.  I am enjoying these last, fleeting years with my kiddos.  I’m trying to give them credit, to back off, to let them do the driving, to let them set the pace and to let them choose the destination.

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Das Boot

2 Feb

Yes, I know that is the title of a war movie from the 1980s, but it sure sounds like a funny way to refer to my boot.  In addition, das boot is actually a weapon of mass destruction so the war analogy seems appropriate. I know my boot is not a boat, don’t worry.  I just want to share a little about my complex and tortured relationship with das boot.  Das boot is clearly a necessary evil and I am grateful it is removable (only when I am seated) and that I don’t have to be on crutches.

There are some major issues though.  Das boot does not fit under any pants except for yoga pants…stylish, yes, but I only have one pair.  Skinny jeans tuck in nicely but look ridiculous.  The only shoe I have that makes my right leg level with das boot on my left leg is my dirty, trail running shoe.  Do you see another skinny jean dilemma? Das boot has to be removed every time I change.  This process involves lots of velcro, gentle removal of my sad foot and some scootching and manuevering in the seated position to get dressed…sometimes even with legs in the air like a rolly polly bug on its back.

Worst of all is sleeping with das boot.  As you can see from my first post, das boot is enormous.  It is heavy.  It is sharp.  It is plastic.  Cozy up with that and a good book!    This sucker requires me to wake up completely to roll over, it gets caught in the covers, it bangs into my other leg, and it is just downright uncomfortable.  I am sleeping with a weapon of mass destruction and it is not SirSkatesAlot.

 

Books

1 Feb

Books have offered me an escape, enjoyment, relaxation and laughter my entire life.  Never much for TV, I have always had a book or two going.  It is fun to think of the periods of my life and the books that appealed to me at different stages.  SirSkatesAlot is on his fifth or sixth Steinbeck novel recently and suggested I read his latest pick, The Wayward Bus.  I giggled and offhandedly replied, “I did Steinbeck in high school, I don’t need to revist him now.”  SirSkatesAlot was surprisingly offended.  He thought I was being patronizing, as in, “I read that when I was young and stupid.”

However, I did not mean it like that at all.  This is where hindsight is fascinating.  As I think back on the authors I have been attracted to during different periods of my life, it seems to make sense.  The authors I chose to read in my teens are so very different than those that have appealed to me in my…ahem, I’d rather not say.

Since I have had lots of time to perfect my flabby ass and to sit and read lately, I have composed a timeline of authors that have affected me deeply (and more recently, not so deeply) during my life.  Take a look, revisit a few, try out a new one, send me a note to say I am illiterate and have missed the most important ones.  Whatever, just check it out and be stimulated to think of your own attraction to authors through the years and why that has changed.

Teens (after reading all one hundred and something Sweet Valley High books):

Harper Lee

Steinbeck

Irving (specifically A Prayer for Owen Meaney and Cider House Rules)

College:

William Styron (Sophie’s Choice is one of my all-time favorites)

Stephen King (he really is a brilliant author…if you don’t like scary try his memoir On Writing…amazing!)

Isabel Allende

Carlos Fuentes

Christina Garcia

Julia Alves

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Manuel Puig

Can you tell Latin American Studies was one of my undergrad majors? I could not get enough of Magic Realism.

Amy Tan

Victor Villasenor

Twenties/early motherhood/grad school:

Kurt Vonnegut

Marilyn French

Erica Jong

Toni Morrison (Life changing)

Gish Jen

Johnathan Kellerman (no, not literature, but an easy, satisfying read while nursing day and night)

Barbara Kingsolver

Anna Quindlen

Thirties:

Ann Patchett (all but Run, BelCanto is my fave of hers)

Anne Lamott

Anita Shreve (esp The Weight of Water)

Jodi Picoult (first few books)

Andrew Sean Greer (The Story of a Marriage)

Stieg Larsson

Lisa See

Chris Cleave

Recently:

50 Shades (seriously only made it through the first book)

Gone Girl (talk to me about the ending!!!)

Steve Lopez (The Soloist)

Patti Smith (Just Kids)

Carlos Eire (Waiting for Snow in Havana)

Kim Edwards

Ira Wagler

Jamie Ford

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