Friday, June 16, 2017

the zoo

The day after he graduated high school, my boy and I went to the zoo, just the two of us.

Since he was an itty-bitty he has studied animals.  He would pour over his Killer Creatures book for hours.  He would read the animal encyclopedia to his brother and memorize the habits of various critters.  He is always my go-to resource when it concerns anything living.

So a trip to the zoo was actually kind of a big deal.

And I asked him to drive...on the Seattle.

Good times with my boy.

You've never seen so much joy until you've seen my Austin light up in the presence of river otters.  By far the highlight of his day was the time we spent with the otters.  He recorded them, he photographed them, he sat with them and just watched.
Have you ever tried to watch an otter and not smile?  I don't think it's possible.

I had a moment with a baby gorilla.  It was a highlight for me.
And the giraffes.  I was astounded my how gentle they can be.
Hippopotamus.  Swimming silently.  So much power.
And hanging out with my Austin.
It was a good day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

we go on, he goes on

From day one as parents you dream and ponder and imagine what your little bundle will become, what their little speaking voice will sound like with those first few words, how their personality will bloom over time, and which side of the family they will most favor. 

You think about the milestones and the accomplishments that lay ahead.  And it feels as if you have all the time in the world, that somehow, those things in the future will always be just an indistinct, hazy dream.

But the years have a way of gaining speed, the moments building on each other like snowflakes in an avalanche.

NJROTC Awards Night ~ 2016-17 Rifle Team





Now that we are on the other side of our first-born's high school graduation I think I can say I have gained some perspective.  There is relief that it is over. 

All those eighteen years of looking toward it in wonder, like something just out of reach, something to be all at once dreaded and pursued, it is finally over and we can move past.  And it wasn't really all that scary.  It wasn't really all that terrible. 

It was a progression, a door to step through, a page to turn.

For myself, I allowed my emotions to seep through my hands as I ironed his graduation gown and the gold sash.  I mixed my emotions into the chocolate cupcakes I baked and decorated that day.  I wrote my emotions on his car windows in the form of bright window paint and words of congratulations. 

My emotions stuck in my throat the moment the high school band began to play Pomp and Circumstance.  When they called his name to walk the stage all his 18 years flashed through my mind and my mothering heart leapt with pride and love and grief and relief.

And we go on. 

He goes on.

(see him there, in the very center?)

Friday, June 9, 2017

putting joy on canvas

The sun shines despite the dark gray clouds.  A chill breeze carries the song of sparrows and finches.  Charlie and I are home alone, he laying in a sliver of sunlight on the floor next to me.  My coffee has gone cold again.

My to-do list sits heavily to my left.  The day is mostly mine although I do have a shift at the restaurant this evening.  I will make double chocolate chip cookies for the wrestling car wash tomorrow.  I will make time in the garden replanting some things that didn't take, hoping for a late harvest before fall's first frost.

My thirty-ninth birthday is next week.  I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.  I certainly don't feel the age, almost forty when I don't feel much more than twenty-five.  I'm thankful for the years, for the lessons life has taught me.

Here I stand at this new fork in the road, this junction between where I've been and where I want to be.  I wrote down the parts of life that bring me the most joy, a list of things I'm passionate about.  I studied the list, carried it with me for months.  And came to the conclusion that I need to build my life around those things.

I stepped away from the job I had as an office assistant.  It did not serve me well.  And now, with no clear direction ahead I step into this new idea that I must turn the things that bring me joy into my life.

Freelance is the term.  Gray, fuzzy details are the current game.

It is somewhat like seeing a beautiful painting in your mind, beautiful brush strokes, vivid colors, seamless blending, a stirring rendition of what is in the heart, but I'm not a painter.  All I have are a few broken, dirty crayons and a crumpled piece of paper.  How can I put to canvas this painting in my mind with the tools I currently have?

As with the rest of this one life, it shall be a grand adventure, I'm sure.  Stay tuned for changes.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Kauai album part 5

On the afternoon of day 4 (covered in my last post) we stopped by Shipwreck Beach, named such for this big ship-shaped rock that juts out into the water.  The waves were large and loud and the sand was very soft.  We watched a tiny little crab dig out a hole, throwing grains of sand out of his way.

Day 5: Saturday

We took off to go to the Kauai Coffee Plantation.  When I learned that there was such a place on the island I knew we had to go.  Aaron and I are big coffee fans and this place just seemed like something we couldn't miss.

Grow tiny babies....

More plumeria....

This cup is just the right size for a Monday...

The label of their fanciest, most expensive coffee.  I had a sample and it was so smooth.

My very first CARDINAL!!  I was so happy to see him.  He sang for us.  He was bigger than I was expecting but just as beautiful as I've ever imagined.  I saw one more cardinal on this same day.

The harvester...

Coffee flowers.  Aren't they just so delicate?!

We toured the farm and did some tasting, bought some souvenirs and gifts, and left with a couple of iced coffees.  P.S. None of the people in this picture are us.

We took the rest of the morning and the afternoon to drive to the north side of Kauai.  Up the west side is very populated as you go through Lihue and Kapaa.  The beaches are lovely on the Pineapple Coast.  We made our way to the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge.

The entire cliffside to the right was full of birds.  I didn't know at the time what they were.  Now that I've done some research I would say they are either Laysan Albatross or Red-Footed Booby.  I wish I would have studied them a little longer but they were rather far away and I didn't have my glasses on.  They were pretty loud and liked to soar and seemed to be resting mainly in the trees.

Just west of Kilauea was Hanalei, one of the prettiest spots on the island.  It was most jungle-like here on the North side.  We stopped for lunch at this grouping of shops.

I think I would like to spend more time exploring the beaches around Hanalei.  We stuck to the main road and didn't take much time to veer off.  We were super surprised to discover the Maniniholo dry cave up the road from Hanalei.  From the opening, it goes back about 300 yards.

Outside there were these huge Tarzan like vines hanging down the cliffside.

Just across the road was the Ha'ena Beach Park.  The surf was up on this particular day and we got to watch the surfers for a bit.

This house was right at the beach and was built elevated.  Many of the houses in this area were up on stilts.  For tsunamis would be my guess.

Back in Hanalei, a picturesque little church.

We got back to the house later in the afternoon.  I spent the rest of the day half napping in front of the tv watching old episodes of Full House.  Some of the family went out snorkeling.  Pizza Hut delivered our dinner that night and we chilled.

The next day I sat out in the sun with my coffee for the last time.  I tried to soak in all the bird songs, all the fresh flowers, all the tiny just memorize all the details of this beautiful place.  I shed a tear for what I was going to have to say good-bye to.  Really, it was that hard to leave.

We went to the beach again.  Aaron and Blake did some boogie boarding.  Austin and I soaked up some sunshine.  I did a little yoga under a palm tree.  The four us just sat there for what seems like an hour, not wanting to leave that beach.  I snapped a couple pictures as my heart broke a little.

The rest of the afternoon we just took a drive along the south and side of Kauai.  We made our way back to Waimea.  I thought of my Charlie and my chickens when I say this bus...

And we saw a heavily laden mango tree in someone's front yard...

Our flight leaving Kauai departed after 10 p.m.  We tried to get some sleep before landing in Los Angeles for a quick plane change the next morning.  We were home in Washington before noon.  And reunited with our Charlie pup within a couple hours. 

Here he is on my lap for the drive home...

It was a beautiful, wonderful, memorable trip.  I love Kauai.  I love the aloha spirit.  I love the warm sunshine and the flowers.  I love the birds and the water.  I love the beaches and the sea turtles.

Mahalo Kauai
A hiki i kekahi manawa (until next time)