Imported goods. And bads.

I was at least twenty pages into The Flame Trees of Thika, Elspeth Huxley’s classic memoir of her childhood in Kenya when it occurred to me to look up, stare out the window, and wonder “what is a flame tree?”

Sometimes, the answer to a question is right in front of you, as it was then, since framed in the window out of which I was staring was one of the coral trees in our back yard. They are one and the same. The genus Erythrina. Horticulturist Dr. Francesco Franceschi introduced them to Santa Barbara late in the 19th century, a decade or so before Elspeth Huxley spied them as her family made the dusty trek from Nairobi to Thika.

I assume the flame tree still thrives in Kenya, as it does here. A particularly fine specimen can be seen at our harbor:

And, of course, the coral tree reminded me of another treasured import currently blooming in all its majesty in our garden. Thank you, Brazil, for sending us the jacaranda:

Sadly, border crossings don’t always end this well. Consider the slightly stickier situation of the Australian gum tree, or as we known them here, eucalyptus. You can thank Captain Cook for bringing them from Australia to Europe back in 1770, from whence they somehow wended their way to California. Fast growing, yes, but also shallow-rooted with a tendency to topple and most worrisome, they burn like candles in a wildfire. Maybe they should be known as the real flame trees, given how easily they can be torched.

Australia would probably be willing to take back all the gum trees if England would take back all the rabbits. In A Sunburned Country, author Bill Bryson relates that in 1859, British import Thomas Austin decided to do a little importing of his own: he released twenty-four wild rabbits into the bush for sport. Given what Bryson reminds us is the rabbit’s “keenness” for breeding, the predictable result was that” by 1880, 2 million acres of Victoria had been picked clean…all so some clown could have something to pot at from his veranda.”

On and on it goes. For all the lovely flame trees and jacarandas that have come through our border, there is also the dreaded kudzu, originally introduced from Japan at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Today it is an invasive pest, inexorably smothering other plants wherever it goes, pictured here in Atlanta, Georgia:

And don’t forget about the environmental havoc wrought by the Burmese python in Florida’s Everglades. We took an airboat ride there a few years back and were stunned by the complete absence of wildlife due to the pythons’ hostile takeover. The snakes began to have a presence in Miami when they were imported from southeast Asia in the 1980’s as exotic pets but researchers claim that it was when a breeding facility was destroyed during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that the invasion began. No one even knows how many there are. “It could be tens of thousands, or it could be hundreds of thousands” according to one federal official.

Crossing a border it turns out, is like crossing the Rubicon. There is no going back. Maybe that’s why Hawaii is giving us such a hard time right now with their myriad of travel restrictions. I’m not too happy about all the hoops we have to jump through ahead of our trip planned for next month. But perhaps Hawaii is remembering past errors, such as when they imported the mongoose to control rats in the sugarcane fields back in the 1880’s. Instead of eating the rats, the wily mongoose prefers a diet of songbirds. Mistakes were made.

I guess the cautionary tales remind us to be cautionary about borders. But how I wish Hawaii would ease up on theirs. I can’t wait to be the next mongoose loose on the shores of Maui!

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Potatoes, A PUPPY and a party.

In the end, it was a very good thing that my potato seedlings failed. For if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have asked my friend Tammy to come over to help me plant those homely-looking mail-order Adirondack Reds . My hope was that if she participated, she might spread a little of her garden magic fairy dust on the project.

Good thing she came. I was about to plant them upside-down when she gently reminded me that potatoes grow into the ground, not out of it. Duh. No wonder she’s the one with the successful garden!

Gardening always goes better with an aperol spritz, by the way:

But she brought so much more to the “garden party” than tuber know-how. When we opened the door to greet her, she sweetly asked if we had an extra collar.

Uh, yeah, sure.

Wait. An extra collar?

WHY?

Here’s why!!!!

NEW PUPPY!!!!!

Isn’t he the SWEETEST?

Mostly Australian Shepherd. Apparently some Mastiff mixed in. 100% adorable!

Lily had to mull over the idea that he (working title is apparently “Beau”) was stealing all the attention away from her, but hopefully they will end up being great friends.

Such a sweet moment getting to meet the brand-new family member, and thus, complete consolation for the wasted weeks of trying to coax those spindly little seedlings into a future life as potatoes. I did a little research and I think I figured out what went wrong.

Even though I set them next to a window, they just weren’t getting enough light. The seedlings elongated as they desperately struggle toward the light and ended up being too frail to survive.

This realization struck a chord with me. I will always remember it as a faith parable. Even though it is said our faith need only be as big as a mustard seed, it occurs to me that it must also be helped toward the light it needs; that is, of course, the Light of the World. I don’t know about you but I’m one of those, frail of faith, who needs to ever strive toward the light. Lesson learned.

Last night we we had front row seats to a more robust faith in action. The CE offered us up to host a dinner honoring a group of women from Calvary Chapel and wow, what an incredible view we had of those who live their lives in and for the light. The collective love in that group for Jesus and for one another was truly something to behold.

Not to mention the food!!! You want to talk about potatoes?

A longtime member of the church who also just happens to be a celebrity chef, donated her time to prepare an incredible feast.

There were homemade savory crackers:

Macadamia nut-filled dates:

Yummy salads and homemade bread that was absolutely divine:

Beef tenderloin:

And the most stunning slabs of salmon we’ve ever seen:

What an amazing evening. And what an amazing group of women who are accomplishing so much in our community. We felt so honored to be among them.

It was an evening for them to just relax and enjoy their “just desserts” – scrumptious pot de créme – served up by Pastor Tommy:

So many people worked so hard to make such a beautiful evening. It felt very “Upper Room” with all sharing their gifts in so much love. And oh yes, Lily got her share of the love, too.

I know I will continue to have failures in gardening and failures of faith. But how lucky I am to be surrounded by those who know which way is right-side up and how to reach toward the light. Here’s hoping there’s always a new puppy on the path to help guide me 🙂

…for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20
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My kingdom for a potato.

There are two great motivators in my life. One is fear and the other, regrettably but truthfully, is envy.

When you’re young, invincible and all lies ahead, the only real kind of fear is the FOMO kind – fear of missing out. When you’ve just had another in what seems like an endless string of birthdays, there’s another kind of fear – fear of running out. Of time. Yikes. Thus, the idea of beginning a garden when you’re just a few years shy of 70 may seem a bit late in the game. So much to learn, so little time. But on the other hand, there’s no time like the present, right?

It occurred to me when life shifted from a constant packing and unpacking suitcases to a year-long hunkering down that all that dirt outside might be good for something. The CE set me up with my little table top garden last fall – a blank canvas just waiting to be filled in!

Since it was September, the planting options were limited, but my enthusiasm wasn’t. I mean, how hard could this be?

Except that the lettuce never got any bigger than this.

And nary another tomato ever appeared. This one ripened, but the plant promptly withered and collapsed – one lesson learned is that tomatoes won’t grow in a too-shallow tabletop garden. Their roots need room!

I spent the winter in a sulk but recovered enough to begin anew in April. Surely my thumb had grown green by now!

It helps to plant things that are basically weeds. Mint is a winner!

And snap peas turned out to be a snap!

My happiest memories of this spring will be of stepping out to visit the garden and making myself a late afternoon “salad” of basil, snap peas and cherry tomatoes:

Never mind that I could have run over to the grocery and purchased all these things for much less than the cost of the precious water I lavished on the plants. There is just something irrationally satisfying about harvesting a snap pea!

But then the envy kicked in. I saw my friends Tammy and Tom’s garden and felt for all the world like I’d been cast out of Eden. They had EVERY kind of fruit and vegetable and suddenly even my flourishing little haricot vert vine seemed insufficient.

THEY most especially had the nerve to be growing a robust crop of potatoes out of a cardboard box! My thumb may not be green but the rest of me was – green with envy over that potato vine. (I remember something along these lines occurring in that first garden as well…everything was perfect until human nature reared it’s ugly head.)

I would show them. I would plant my OWN potatoes. Right?

Wrong. I went to one nursery, two, three and four and was told at every one that the potatoes were SOLD OUT. I wasn’t the only COVID-era gardener out there by a long shot and apparently spuds were the crop of choice. I even looked online – the tubers, which are the favored way to plant potatoes, were sold out across the board.

I settle for some fingerling seeds, which I babied extravagantly by the kitchen window for a few weeks.

I transplanted them, according to the directions, after they got their secondary leaves, at which point the spindly little things gave up the ghost entirely. I gotta say, I took it a bit hard – after all, what Irish person is incapable of growing potatoes?

But my envy had not subsided and my fear of running out of time – it’s almost June, you know – kicked into high gear. I widened my internet search and lo and behold, if you order from the other side of the country, you can get a potato! By the way, if you are thinking “why didn’t she just go get some at the grocery store and plant them”, I thought of that, too. Turns out that the potatoes you buy there are sprayed with something to prevent sprouting and they aren’t good candidates for the garden.

Anyway, my Adirondack Red Potatoes arrived yesterday, hopefully in the mood to be California transplants.

Yes, it’s true they do look – A LOT – like long-forgotten things I have thrown out of the vegetable bin in the past. But let’s not dwell on that, shall we? According to directions, I’m giving them a week by the window to acclimate to their new coast, and then we shall try again. I can see it now – they will grow abundantly and instead of green with envy I’ll be a much better person and invite my friends over for potato salad. And all will be well in the Garden.

We are stardust, we are golden

And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden

Joni Mitchell
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Family, Friends, Blessings.

I’ve entered a state of perpetual amazement.

Amazed, first, in retrospect at how strangely easy it was to adjust to a year of life lived in shadows, adopting as my mantra the Marcus Aurelius quote “Very little is needed to make a happy life”.

And then, the amazement of suddenly emerging from those shadows into the bright sunshine – I feel like Dorothy landing in Oz, where everything changes from sepia-tones to technicolor.

It has most certainly been a technicolor week. “Very little needed” morphed right into “Party on!”

First and best, we were blessed to attend Caleigh’s First Communion. Such a precious day!

Caleigh and her proud dad:

So special to be there!

Caleigh and Tina at the celebration lunch:

The Newport Beach weatherman didn’t get the memo that we wanted a perfect weekend but that didn’t stop us from heading down to the dock to enjoy the CE’s favorite Newport activity – an epic ride in the Duffy:

Next day the weather was even worse but the sun came out when the gang all showed up to surprise me with an early birthday party. So fun! Thank you, Tina and Angie!

We headed home to greet our latest visitor – Gail picked the perfect time to visit Phyllis – it’s actually SNOWING this week in Montana!

Meanwhile, the birthday revelry continues: there was the most fabulous lunch with dear friends Pamela and Tammy:

We didn’t eat dessert first but we all agreed that we need to do this more often – I don’t remember going to lunch ever being this magical in the old days.

And then, more magic last night. So many dear, lovely ladies gathered to celebrate. It really is a wonderment to be with friends in much happier times. Such a joy to be together and be so carefree.

I am amazed. I am grateful. And I’m promising myself to never take anything for granted again. Out of the shadows and into the sun. Happy Everything, indeed. Party on!

Posted in All Things Family, Big Fun, Life | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Family Album: Life, the Re-boot

Turns out, I needed all those lockdowns to rest up for what came next: real life 2.0

It’s gotten busy! Wonderfully busy! Appointments, events, even a party or two – all up to speed and going faster faster faster every day it seems. After a year of life at a standstill, life in motion is an almost dizzying experience. Suddenly, I have to look at my calendar every single day – even though wow, that seems so 2019!

Best of all there has been a stream of special visitors.

Taylor came to town! Yay!

And then Daniel!

We had the sweetest Mother’s Day brunch – first event in a long time for Phyllis, who waited out the COVID lockdowns like a boss:

And this week, our peripatetic friends Teri and Billy came for a visit after a stint in Japan and now re-settled in Austin with Wilbur and ADORABLE new baby Lola.

Now, we’re the ones doing the visiting. Dateline, Newport Beach, where we get to enjoy a whole weekend with this crew!

Somehow, I don’t remember pre-pandemic life being this much fun. Or, to be honest, this tiring! I might need a personal lockdown in order to catch up. At the very least, a nap. But in the meantime, gotta run – Life 2.0 is happening and I don’t want to miss it!

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Here’s to all the mother hens!

Willa is broody. Deeply broody. She is absolutely convinced that Mother’s Day is going to arrive for her.

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She refuses to leave the nest and has to be lofted out of the coop, pecking and shrieking, to coax her into going for food and water a few times a day. And while the other hens enjoy a luxuriant sun bath, all she can think about is getting back on that nest.

She’s got the other hens in a muddle, creating an ongoing gridlock in the nesting box. “Get her out of here!”, pleads Edith, who simply wants to lay an egg and be on her way.

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I try to reason with her.

“Willa. Listen. Those golf balls you’re sitting on are never going to be the baby chicks you’re hoping for.”

“And even if you had a baby chick or two, let me tell you, motherhood is tough! It’s relentless. All you do is think about those chicks and feed them and follow them around and watch over them night and day! Just ask Bella – she’s been through it.”

Bella, watching from the other side of the coop, doesn’t comment, but I think she remembers. She’s probably still tired out from raising Willa and Edith.

“Willa”, I plead, “once you have babies it’s never about you again. You sacrifice everything for them. Every little morsel. Every bit of privacy. You’re worn down, bedraggled, plagued with anxiety…all you ever think about is them!

Willa, obdurate, plants herself even more firmly on her clutch of golf balls.

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“It never gets easier, Willa. They grow up but you worry about them just as much. It’s endless – first thought in the morning and last prayer at night is always for them.”

Bella shoots me a look. I know what she’s thinking. Mother hens are absolutely devoted for the six weeks or so it takes a chick to mature to adolescence, but then – boom, they kick them right out of the nest. Done. Finished. It’s a concept that seems to elude humans.

“Yes, Bella, I know…if only I’d had you around when I was raising children I would have learned a thing or two from you. But it doesn’t really work that way in my world.”

Willa and Bella are silent but they continue to study me, waiting for my admission. They know.

Their unspoken question is this:

“All the work. All the worry.

All the ways that motherhood tries you and costs you and changes you…all of that…

and isn’t it the truth that you would do it all over again in a heartbeat?

Isn’t the truth that it’s the best job in the world?

Isn’t it the greatest joy of your life?”

Those hens are a lot smarter than they look.

All right. Okay. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I am so lucky, so blessed to be a mom. It is, truly, the best job in the world and it is, truly, the greatest joy of my life.

Wishing a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the other chicks out there who feel the same way. Here’s to us!

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Posted in All Things Poultry | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

We went to the prom!

Well, more accurately, the prom came to us. All we had to do was step out the door!

Youth pastor Scott Dupar had a vision and a mission: this past year has been really hard on kids, and he wanted to give the Calvary Chapel senior high youth group one magical night to remember.

His vision required a large open space and it just so happens that we could provide it. The Calvary team worked all day to put it all together.

It was quite a project!

Oh, Lily, PLEASE don’t walk on the incredibly complicated and expensive rented dance floor!

The young adult team asked if they could pre-party with a pool party. Of course!

Lily heard they were having pizza.

As evening drew near, the CE rolled out the red carpet for our guests – literally!

It’s starting to look festive!

They thought of everything, including prom queen and king candidates!

They arrived just as it grew dark.

The CE and I were there to greet them. “You remind me of my great-grandparents” said one young man, who clearly meant that in the nicest possible way.

In all, there were seventy-five prom-goers! The young adult team and some younger students helped serve.

Our long-time friends Pamela and Kirk stopped by to join in the festivities. Here they are with Pastor Scott:

The kids had a blast!

Scott’s vision was brilliant. Our wonderful neighbors were so tolerant. The kids had a great evening. Such a joyful noise!

And then, just like that, it was over. The kids all went home, hopefully with the magical memories Scott and his team worked to give them.

And the next day dawned like every other day. It was almost as if it had been a dream except that the red carpet was still there as proof that we’d welcomed that wonderful group to our home.

“Where’d all my new friends go?” asked Lily. Ahh, I suspect some of them might come back sometime to see her…

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Chickens in paradise.

An invitation to brunch!

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And chickens were on the menu!

Well, not in the way you might be thinking…

More like, hens on the hoof.

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Our friends Tammy and Tom, who do everything with charm and style, invited us over to see the fancy new coop Tom designed and built for Tammy. As I can tell you from personal experience, it’s truly true love when a man builds his wife a chicken coop.

So special!

Even with Lily crashing the party.

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We offered to bring champagne, but no, they already had some on hand. What to do when you don’t want to show up empty-handed? Meal worms for the ladies of the coop!

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There was serious appreciation of the new coop. You can tell the CE is impressed when he leans in like that.

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This Buff Silkie beauty was in the nest box delivering an egg:

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And this sweet Australorp was having a siesta in the shade.

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I think the hens whispered to Tammy that salmon would be a better choice for brunch than chicken croquettes. And indeed it was. On top of everything else that Tammy does well, she is a chef extraordinaire:

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And oh, how their garden grows!

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It seemed that every inch of outdoor space was planted – snow peas on a trellis, potatoes happily growing in a box, tomatoes and thyme and a little bit of everything else. What a joyful place to be!

(There was just one thing missing…)

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Lily tried her best to fill in as family dog but she’s really, really hoping there’s a puppy to play with sometime soon.

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It was a magical afternoon in a storybook setting. Once again, I am convinced that chickens (and champagne!) make everything better.

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Posted in All Things Poultry, Life | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

We rolled the dice: Las Vegas!

The latest COVID quandary: when is it safe to travel?

After a year-plus of living like cave-dwellers, when is the right time to emerge, blinking and trepidatious, into what we used to call normal life?

The answer is different depending upon whether you’ve made a Faucian bargain or you’re a Berenson Bear (as in former NYT reporter Alex, whose COVID skepticism has been Big-Tech and Corporate Media suppressed to the point where you may not even have heard of him).

The CE has been solidly in the Berenson camp while I’ve wavered back and forth in a gray area somewhere between terror and rebellion. Yes, I am the reason we’ve had seventy-five pounds of rice stored in the garage since March of 2020. On the other hand, I also have moments of clarity when it occurs to me that we were wandering all over NYC for almost a month before the shutdown and didn’t get so much as a sniffle.

The truth is out there somewhere. Good luck finding it. For us, the combination of our double vaccination and cabin fever finally convinced us to get those dusty suitcases out of the closet and get on a plane for the first time in over a year, especially when we discovered that Southwest Airlines was initiating a direct flight from Santa Barbara to Las Vegas. Sweet!

What we didn’t realize was that we were actually booked on the inaugural flight! Celebration party scene at the airport and zero social distancing. Leave your cave and you take your chances:

Las Vegas airport was quiet when we arrived on a Monday afternoon. No wait for a taxi. No wait at the Wynn Tower check-in lobby. Easy room upgrade. Sat right down for a late lunch at our favorite Wynn restaurant, Tableau.

The menu was a miniature of the usual, but who could complain when one of the choices was a sumptuous lobster salad?

We discovered that some of our favorite restaurants are currently only open on the weekends, but things were starting to open up even as we arrived: we were able to book at Bouchon that night, their first Monday opening since who knows when. Steak frites is only half as sinful when you share it:

And thus, after a year of mostly eating take-out, began the restaurant parade. Lunch next day was at the Encore’s outpost of NYC darling Cipriani. You can’t go wrong with a beverage line-up of Pinot Grigio, espresso and club soda:

Or with Cipriani’s famed meringue cake, which we are used to savoring while seated on the rail overlooking Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall at Cipriani Dolci. Made us homesick for NYC!

In the past we’ve avoided the Wynn’s Lakeside restaurant due to exorbitant prices and poor service. But they were open while Sinatra, our Italian standby, was not, and we were pleasantly surprised by a truly fine dinner with excellent service. Yes, the prices are still steep, but how can you pass up a cocktail that is called the Lake of Dreams…

Alaskan halibut with nicoise vegetables and artichoke sauce. Yum.

We had another wonderful dinner at the Wynn’s lakeside Mizumi:

And a lunch at the newly opened Milos at the Venetian – just like our beloved Milos in Hudson Yards. You just have to imagine the view of the river…

Love their lunch prix fixe – best Greek salad!

There were a few service hiccups, mostly having to do with staff shortages at the restaurants. We were told that many employees are opting to stay home because collecting  COVID grants and unemployment is easier than going to work. Same story with cab drivers. Your federal tax dollars at work…

But those who are working are cheerful and trying hard. The atmosphere was buoyant and hopeful – dare I say – almost normal!

We settled into our usual Vegas trip pattern, albeit with masks. We’ve largely avoided dealing with them by rarely leaving the house, so it was an adjustment. For the CE, masking up to play Texas Hold Em gave a whole new meaning to the term poker face.

The Wynn’s spacious hallways and mostly sedate clientele made the masks seem a bit superfluous, but them’s the rules and there were extremely polite employees stationed throughout the hotel to remind the forgetful to mask up. There were hand sanitizer stations peppered throughout the hotel so no worries should you experience the horror of touching a door handle or stair rail. Other than not being able to breathe, we experienced zero concern on the Wynn and Venetian properties, or on a brief jaunt across the street to the Fashion Plate mall. Well, there was one moment of concern when I pointed to this and looked pleadingly at the CE:

Lucky for him that Louis Vuitton was limiting visitors in its boutique and I wasn’t inclined to stand in line. Who says COVID rules are all bad?

It wasn’t until our final evening that we ventured out onto the Strip and found an entirely different scene. Basically a mob scene. Vegas is apparently re-opening in a very big way and there were A LOT of people, many of them who seemed to be visiting for the first time and were determined to let everyone know it. Many who may or may not have concerned themselves with bathing before they arrived. And, sadly, some sprawled along the sidewalk lost in a trance of meth or alcohol or despair. I generally hold to the belief that you can’t contract COVID outdoors. But in that crush of heat and humanity, I put my mask on. Hey, I wasn’t the only one…

The walk may have been questionable but it’s never the wrong decision to sit down to a steak frites followed by a dessert of chocolate mousse at Mon Ami Gabi and watch the Bellagio fountain show. A perfect last evening in Vegas…

We even caught the volcano eruption as we walked back past the Mirage.

We had a wonderful week. Vegas is back and everything’s coming up…daisies. 

We’re safely home now, giving the trip an A++ and pretty sure that we’re never going back into cave-dwelling mode.

Anyone need seventy-five pounds of rice?

Posted in Big Fun, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fact check: No, you can’t actually dig all the way to China

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It’s just when you’re gliding along, minding your own business that everything goes wrong. All those insomniac nights, wide awake, worrying about every little thing – that stuff never happens. It’s the moment when all seems placid, contentment within easy reach – and then -boom!

Oh, we’ve got tolerance for a little upheaval. Like the week before last when we got the news that our orchard had developed a death wish, some kind of pestilence that was moving inexorably from tree to tree. It started, apparently and predictably, with the apple tree. It’s always the apple tree. So now, here we are:

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But we had no idea how completely we were to be cast out of the garden of Eden for our transgression of sinking into “merrily, merrily merrily life is but a dream” mode. There we were, standing on the back patio, having just made peace with the orchard debacle, professing our charitable acceptance of the little disruptions in the greater scheme and being rather proud of ourselves for our equanimity. Just another little bump in the road, right?

Going back thirty plus years ago, our son Taylor’s first complete sentence so captivated us that it became part of the canon of our family lexicon, pulled out from time to time for our amusement. “The water it-a goes-a down the drain,” Taylor had sagely observed. We applauded extravagantly (and basically sat back at that point to await the eventual presentation of the Nobel prize for something, anything, everything to this brilliant scion of our clan.)

That was the sentence that came to me as we were standing on our patio and suddenly became aware that we were standing in water, the daintiest little ladyfinger of water, that was definitively not a-going-a down-a the drain. In fact, not only was it sitting there like so much spilled milk, it was actually coming up. Up from below. From between the seams of the carefully designed and expensively constructed sections of concrete.

The CE grew very pale.

And hence began a rather long and not very happy week, starring a valiant team of landscape workers digging here,

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and digging there,

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and digging pretty much everywhere in hopes of finding the leak. Any and all effort would be expended in order that the unspeakable word not be uttered – the word that, in fact, must not be breathed, the word that could not even be forming in the back of one’s mind. That word, a pox upon humanity: jackhammer!

While the CE was out there, up to his elbows in mud, I was envisioning an opportunity. I’ve long harbored a vision of a tidy little expansion of our back courtyard, one featuring wisteria-festooned pergolas and a lavish outdoor fireplace. One that would mean instead of shivering, wrapped in blankets as the marine air turns dining al fresco into dining al freeze-o, we could have a more civilized experience, one that, you know, included heaters.

I made the colossal mistake of thinking this was the right moment to share this vision with that muddy-elbowed man. And, while his bark is infinitely worse than his bite, this week he was growling and barking like mastiff.

It didn’t go over well. It turns out that when a man is experiencing intense anxiety tinged with a dollop of despair, he does not want to turn his thoughts to home improvement projects.

Did I mention that it was a very long week?

On and on it went. Like the drunk searching for his keys under the streetlight, our diggers dug up every inch of exposed soil as the inevitable reality slowly descended: this leak was hiding dark and deep beneath that cavernous expanse of concrete. Since the J word could not be uttered, they turned to the only slightly less traumatic T word, and the tunneling commenced.

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I think our resident legion of gophers would be very proud of what was accomplished here. Basically, the CE and a small (but alarmingly ever-growing) army of workers, performed a root canal on our patio. And, like every other root canal, once finished there is very little to show for it but the dim memory of sharp pain and a distinct contraction in one’s bank account.

But they found the leak!

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And not a jackhammer in sight!

I was slightly disappointed that China did not come into view given the depth and breadth of that tunnel, but grateful to have my husband back, minus the barking, albeit with a much thinner wallet. Dollar bills went flying into that tunnel project faster than Jerome Powell can print them.

Having been jolted out of our year-long idyll, our “we could just stay home forever” mode has turned rather abruptly to “we gotta get out of here”. We’re packing our bags for Vegas, baby, in hopes that all that dirt magically puts itself neatly back into place by the time we return.

Posted in Absurdity, Annoyances of Life, Life | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments