Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The lifespan of an ornamental cherry tree

Some things are more finite than others.  Turns out the lifespan of an ornamental cherry tree is about 25 years.  

About 26 years ago James gave me a tree of that sort for either my birthday or an anniversary.  This is best picture I have of it.  Every season the birds in the area come by for a visit.  Unlike the backyard it has been a plant I've pretty much taken for granted.  It's roots caused us some plumbing problems, but the tree was lovely and had great meaning for me, so I voted that it should stay.  

And stay it did.  It greeted me most mornings when I looked out the window and made a mess on the ground when it dropped its fruit.   I often thought of the  financial sacrifice James made when he bought the tree.  It was very dear to us.

Last spring it became clear that the tree was in it's 26th year.  There were virtually no buds and by summer there were no leaves on the majority of the branches.  

So it was with a bit of heavy heart that I contacted my neighbor, who has a tree and landscaping business, to come and take away the tree.  

They took a chainsaw to the tree on a Friday.  A little like putting your toe in the water before you dive in.  They took a talacho to the roots the following Monday.  This was followed by tying of a rope; one end carefully placed around the tree, the other tied to a truck.  "Dale" meant it was time for the slow, sustained tug.  

Before you know it, time to undo the rope and to take the stumpy trunk on its way.

We've planted a Ray Hartman ceanothus.   Pretty sure it won't last for 25 years.
Doesn't look like much now, but it'll grow and will give several springs and summers of color.

Who knows it might look like this at some point.
We'll just have to hang around and see, I guess.

Image from Las Pilitas Nursery.  It's a fun field trip

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Growing up my family reinforced the idea that I was a citizen of the United States of America and that the home of my family roots was in Mexico.

Not the quaint Mexico we saw on TV; most folks don't think of their families as quaint. We were living in the Land of Mid-century moderne, so the actions and attitudes depicted in the movies had nothing to do with our Rock and Roll infused teen years, nor with the cousins who would from time to time come to visit from Mexico.

Mexico was the family home where my grandparents were born; where they lived and worked before they decided to come to the United States to live a better life.  The stories my grandpa told were about Chihuahua, Los Angeles, El Paso, and Pueblo.  He told his life as a story that had connections of one experience to the next; it wasn't one life lived in Mexico and a different one lived in the U.S.A.  It was his long life that spanned 19th and 20th century; a life lived in two countries.  Both those countries having been his home.

When I was growing up we rarely heard Spanish on the radio or read about Mexico in school.  My world was a Spoken English World.  Both my parents were born in the U.S.A.  Both had lived through the 20s, the Depression, WWII, and the post-war WWII Boom.  I heard Sousa and Berlin growing up.  The GIs had seen the world and had brought back an expanded view of their place in that great big world.  I learned that you could like, or at least be intrigued, by parts of the world far from where you lived.

I suspect all those experiences and sentiments allowed our family to embrace where we lived and where we can from in about equal portions.  We live here, and wouldn't live elsewhere, but our ancestral home was still very much a part of our heart.

Ni de aqui ni de alla (Neither from nor from there) is a commonly used phrase when describing Americans with Mexican roots.  In some ways this is true, but in many ways for me it is a contradiction to my sense of place.  I am from here and I am from the land of my ancestors.

For this reason I will wear black today joining others who are disgusted with and are dismayed by the chaos that is in México. I will wear black in commemoration of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa who were slaughtered.

I joined in the voices of those who were outraged at the killing of young men and that taking of young women by Boko Haram.  I hope that there will be those who look to learn more about what has happened in Iguala, México and feel a similar outrage.  If we can not be outraged at the murdering of those who would make lives better through education, what will charge our sadness and anger?

I hope that folks will call our news agencies on the lack of coverage of this story to date.  It is a huge story.  It is complicated.  Perhaps that is why some news organizations have not covered it.

I don't know.  But I do know that there is news out there you've only to Google Ayotzinapa and you will find lots and lots of links.  I do wish more people were aware of what is taking place.

The sign above translated - "Why in Kansas City?  Because, I , too am Mexican".  
I do not read this as anti-American, but to acknowledge that our family home is in deep trouble.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

By morning's light

In our household the days growing longer and cooler triggers the mental transition from fall to winter.  

The holidays and days of remembrance change color codes from the browns, oranges, and purples of fall and Día de los muertos to the blue and white of Hannukah accompanied by the green, red, white and black of Christmas and Kwanzaa.  

We also have purple.  The forty days of Advent need their due.

It shouldn't have surprised me to look at my counter and see the transition there, too.  Fall enough to save the seeds and cool enough to make my daily plans around times needed for baking.

Hope you're enjoying the change in the weather at this time of year.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The road to be traveled

I have been on a bit a of a mission over the last two years; long before our son left the premises and long before the cancer chapter.  I'm getting older and developing a taste for having less.  This has been informed by philosophy, developing practice, and the deep desire to spend less time cleaning.

The answer has been to give things away to family, friends, and those who would appreciate our stuff.

James and I have have donated books we no longer read.  There's some person who wishes they could buy a book we've owned, but can't buy new books. Time for us to drive to a thrift store.

My friend and I went through my closet and out went clothes.  I do not NEED more than one black and white polka dot blouse; there is a woman who will love the one I gave away.

I have given up the idea that I will be a social maven and so no longer will hold on to some of the more prissy sorts of flatware available for purchase.  We have no need for master butter knives or butter spreaders; regular dinner knives do the job just as well.

The same goes for the many, many shot glasses, wine glasses, cordial glasses, and their assorted cousins.  Can't tell you how long it's been since we've enjoyed a snifter of brandy.  So many of these wonders of glass have been donated or sold.

As evidence, here is the shelf after glass donations.

We went to ACTS Thrift Store last week looking for a sweater for James.  That was our mission.

We entered.  Three feet from the entrance there was a table set for a holiday dinner.

Here was this five piece set for six, WITH creamer and sugar bowl, serving plate and serving bowl for about $30 dollars.  With a wintery rather than a Christmasy design.  Were that not enough we were there before noon which meant that we would enjoy a 30% discount!

I will acknowledge my relapse.  But like others who deal with their gentle addictions, I will swear that tomorrow is another day and that I will return to the road from which I have strayed.

Friday, November 14, 2014

TBT - DdlM style

Oh, I wish I could recall where  or who did the calavera.  
So simple and so elegant.  Loved it.
It's been about fifteen years since the artist did this work.
I'm reminded by the difference what we wear and how much we share of ourselves can lead to two really different "reads".

Sunday, November 2, 2014

TBT delayed or Definitely not Día de los Muertos

Couple of conclusions -   
I was fascinated by the idea and the technique of wax resist.
I guess I had seen too many Halloweeny movies by fifth grade.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Y luego...

Much as I'd like to fool myself into believing that I am forever-after cancer free, I know that I will need to keep meeting with my oncologist every six months.  For the next five years.

Heavy stuff.  Mortality is a heavy topic.  Dealing with one's own mortality is sort of tonalicious.
But, I think about the fact that all I need to do is circle a date on the calendar and then I can go about my business for a half a year.  Gives a cancer survivor a certain emotional freedom - for at least five months.

I had my visit with the oncologist yesterday.  I was more anxious and excited about the visit than I was about surgery a month ago.  Tried to figure out why.  Near as I can figure out, the surgery was steeped in a bit of faith and ran in a fatalistic mode.  I had no control over the outcome and I didn't know what next steps might be.

Chemo or radiation might await.  They might find something  that would change the surgery from having five small incisions to one large one.  Or there was the possibility that lymph nodes would be removed.  This would increase the likelihood of other longer term complications.  So many options; too many for me to worry about without going a little wonky.  It was very clearly out of my control.  So my response was somewhere between Alfred E. Neuman and Joan of Arc.

At the moment  I remain in the Land of the 70-80% healed.  I can walk but I can't lift anything over 10 pounds.  I can shower but submerging into a tub filled with warm water is not an option.  I can drive and walk Lali, but Pánfilo is still James' charge.  And Larry can walk across me from shoulder to shoulder but the tummy is still tender turf.

I read what I've written and see a lot of I can sentences.  That helps.  It begins to close the primarily focused on cancer chapter.

So I'm moving on and finish the focus on said chapter with a giant thank you.  To all who spent time with me, to those who cooked and shared food, to those who sent me good things to read, for those who prayed or sent good thoughts, to those who made sure I had something to do with my time and made me laugh.  A special thanks to those who offered to help but who will understand that I didn't contact them because I was short of energy or focus. To those who I was meaning to help but found my focus elsewhere.

Flowers from the Pasadena Senior Center - board and staff

And thanks to those who shared a bit of floral beauty with me.  Sometimes it helped to have my vision filled color and detail.  It meant more than I can ever express.

Gracias.  And on we go....