In Other News....

Death Cab
We just got back from seeing Death Cab for Cutie in San Luis Obispo. It was a great show. We were hosted royally by Matt & Sada and spent the day indolently wandering around San Luis, a town which holds many memories of life in the 1980's for me, like seeing Ghostbusters in the theatre and buying white lace high tops with my step mom (which I promptly wore with my brother's Frankie Goes to Hollywood T-shirt; but I remember the awkward preteen self-consciousness most of all.) San Luis rolled out the red carpet for us, really showing off: there was Boo Boo Records & its next door neighbor Phoenix Books in all its rambling glory, where I picked up Barry Moser's beautiful version of the Bible designed with his stunning illustrations for just twenty little dollars. Can you guess which Old Testament-prophet-that-is-going-to-be-inside-a-cetacean-really-soon this picture depicts? Also the Mission, with its august & gnarled pomegranates & grape arbors-oh, and the ubiquitous coastal fog rolling in over the golden hills. In the afternoon, over said hills and up the coast a bit we watched a pod of dolphins feeding in the bay as pelicans circled and dive-bombed overhead, inviting themselves to lunch in a most loud and splashy manner. Driving home via Hwy 1 over the Bixby Bridge reading the last chapter of Perelandra aloud to B, dipping in and out of valleys and fog-shrouded cliffs with the sun alternately glinting and disappearing made me remember just why it is I have chosen to live on the central coast of California. I haven't seen Big Sur or the Los Padres National Forest since the forest fires this summer; it was good to see the re-growth already-lots of little red-flowered sticky monkey and small green coyote brush. I think the fog must have something to do with that, for we still haven't had the rains for which we have been longing.
In Which I Come Clean
Sorry for the silence. It's been quite an interesting last few months, and every
time I've managed to crawl to the keyboard to put something down on rosa, I've considered it a victory. I mean to say, I'm pregnant. Three months-full. And so far it's been different the second time around, fraught with nausea and long rides on what B calls the 'queasy train.' I've spent a lot of time working, chasing G or carefully not moving, trying with all my might to sort of gastronomically alight on one item of food that won't summon the dry-heaves. It's been...distracting, to say the least.
When I was pregnant with G I do remember vague stirrings of nausea and tiredness, all very novel; along with food cravings that were for the most part easy to satiate, except for the first few months when we were still living in Scotland and I craved fresh vegetables. Hah! If only I had craved deep-fried pizza, sausage rolls, Ribena and bacon-flavored crisps, with which our village was lousy. Och aye! The grease! But this, this is all about the sleep and the small pale nibbles on crackers, weak tea and retchings. It's gradually subsiding, and today I happily put away my lunch with nary a lurch. So hopefully it's past.

An unfortunate side effect of all this is how little I seem to want to write. It's been hard to even want to articulate life through the written word, not to mention how hermit-like I feel all the time. But I have been reading quite a bit: Willa Cather, Madeline L'Engle, Lewis; mainly books of the cozy-lit genre. I picked up a cheap copy of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, (a book Franny positively moons over, it's like me trying to talk calmly about George MacDonald) but the first few chapters have made me (you guessed it) queasy. See what I mean? I'll try again later, Fran, when I can look at the weird forked-tongue cat on the cover without wanting to heave.

You probably can't tell from all this that we are actually overjoyed with the prospect of an addition to our family. Of course we are. And it's interesting how it is in actual life. You hope and hope for an event, and are glad when it happens, but then have trouble seeing the 'roof for the trees', as my friend Gavin says. I'm trying to keep my head up, eyes looking to the hills, from whence comes my help......but if you could pray for me, I'd be grateful.


Rosa's Poetry Archives: Anne Sexton

Big Heart

"Too many things are occuring for even a big heart to hold."
From an essay by W.B. Yeats

Big heart,
wide as a watermelon,
but wise as birth,
there is so much abundance
in the people I have:
Max, Lois, Joe, Louise,
Joan, Marie, Dawn,
Arlene, Father Dunne,
and all in their short lives
give to me repeatedly,
in the way the sea
places its many fingers on the shore,
again and again
and they know me,
they help me unravel,
they listen with ears made of conch shells,
they speak back with the wine of the best region.
They are my staff.
They comfort me.

They hear how
the artery of my soul has been severed
and soul is spurting out upon them,
bleeding on them,
messing up their clothes,
dirtying their shoes.

And God is filling me,
though there are times of doubt
as hollow as the Grand Canyon,
still God is filling me.
He is giving me the thoughts of dogs,
the spider in its intricate web,
the sun
in all its amazement,
and a slain ram
that is the glory,
the mystery of great cost,
and my heart,
which is very big,
I promise it is very large,
a monster of sorts,
takes it all in-
all in comes the fury of love.

(from The Awful Rowing Toward God.
Thanks to Joann & Molly for introducing me to this little book.)


Vindication in a VW

Years back, when B was a student in his last gasp of community college, he was driving through one of the crowded campus parking lots waiting for a spot to open up. In the end he decided to just double-park our old red 1970 VW, 'Gunter', and wait for a student to leave. He waited in Gunter for a while, reading in the warm October sun until someone started to pull out. As soon as the car had backed out, another car zipped in and parked. A young woman in her early twenties got out and started to hurry away.
"Hey!" B called out the window, "I've been waiting for that spot for 20 minutes!" The girl looked at him and said, semi-indignantly, "Are you going to make a big deal out of this?"
To which B replied, "It just reflects poorly on you as a person!"
She paused a moment, and then huffed her shoulders, flounced back to her car, and pulled out.
No Esprit De L'escalier Here
I've always loved this story, for many reasons. It's funny that B pulled this out of his bag of retorts at that moment-it sounds like something that would go on a report card, like "You just don't apply yourself!" or "You lack follow-through!" What's even funnier is that it worked.
And there's more here too, about the dignity of being a person, an image-bearer of a holy (wholly-other) God. We do much to mar that divine image, small mean actions as well as global atrocities, and it's hard to respond with love to people whose resemblance to their Maker is fuzzy at best. And I think conscience does a lot to remind us to scrub our faces, as it were, in order to see in the mirror a reflection of the Creator (which is why that woman responded as she did.)
Up With Everyone, Not Just the Beautiful People; (Or: We're All Beautiful People)
When Jesus said, "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another"he was giving us a holy charge-that we must continue to believe that the image is still there, under all that tarnish, loving each other, being 'Up With People' as the Elevens would say, believing that God is working out the details in all of us......
And I believe one of the reasons he calls us into a closer walk with His Son is so some of His goodness can 'reflect back on us as people'. Let it be so!
(Thanks to krazymalay for his beautiful pic. It makes me miss Gunter; he was a such good little car. RIP!)


File Under: Wish Fulfillment Part 2

Sub-file: Quest fulfilled And a sequel!
Also, many thanks to Philip Mason, who very nicely wrote in and let me know about the sequels to The Islanders. These books are hard to beat (and find!) I'm still looking for Operation Wild Goose and An Actor's Life for Me. The quest continues....!


Our Church Cafe: The Abbey

This was in a recent edition of The Metro, one of Santa Cruz's weekly papers, (employers of one of my fave local poet friends, The Molly, one of the Monday Night Poets).This cartoonist, Steve Decinzo, is known for his biting social commentary, which B says sometimes seems like in-jokes with himself. This one, however, is pretty funny, and fairly accurate. We were highly gratified to see The Abbey included, I think because it's located so close to the UCSC campus. I was even more relieved to see us come out unscathed, as Decinzo is not known for his tact, especially towards Christians.


Rain, or The Potential of, or The Dream Of

O Frabjous Day! Calloo! Callay!
I don't want to excite your anticipation too much, but I think it might rain tonight.
To really appreciate this moment, you have to understand that here on the central coast of California, we really have only two distinct seasons. Wet and dry. And we are in the last gasp of the dry season, when everything in the garden and forest around us is wilted, cob-webbed, and covered in dust & other bits of the summer's detritus. I think our last rain was at the end of May, and since then, what with a summer full of wildfires and hot winds, resevoirs are at a serious low and we are facing drought conditions. I think this might be my least favorite time of year, actually. I find myself daydreaming over memories of green moss, puddles of water and the sound of rain in the trees around me. The majority of our sylvan experience here is about the evergreens, (which means, for the non-tree literate, that they will not be losing their leaves this autumn); everything looks like it needs a good drubbing. I can't bear to hike in our redwood forest right now, too much dust and wilted foliage. Actually, quite a few California natives go dormant in the summer for this reason, to conserve water; the California buckeye, (Aesculus californica) for example.
Tourists: An Autumnal Caveat
This is the thing no one tells you about visiting our part of California this time of year: the summer temperatures extend into October, and the usually frigid Pacific Ocean is actually swimable sans wetsuit, but everything is just so dry & dusty, and besides, the locals are getting a little grumpy. I think it's the coastal fog that saves us, keeps us hydrated until the rains start up again around this time of year.
And so imagine my delight when a massive cumulonimbus began to edge its way across the afternoon sky yesterday. "Long time, no see!"

We ended up downtown at the Hula Grill tonight, feeling too tired to cook. I love the Hawaiiana thing, so fresh-faced and full of 1950's optimism, though a little heavy on the bare-chested hula girls for my tastes. Stylistically, it really manages to walk the line between sleek & clunky (all those bamboo picture frames and tikis.) It is, however, in marked contrast to real life in Hawaii, which in my experience was more about the white wicker furniture (I'm thinking of a really hideous combination radio/end table which was no doubt procured from a hotel auction); trying to find something besides white food to eat (pork laulau, sticky rice balls, rice pudding, poi,); avoiding the local 24-hour Jawaiian music station (mix between Jamaican & reggae-blech); gagging my way through endless glasses of syrupy guava juice; and being made fun of by fat local men in pick-up trucks. I didn't exactly fit in. Oh, speaking of clouds, let's not leave out mention of the little storm we encountered just months after moving in. Check out this wiki link, and read the section on Kaua'i, particularly regarding the aftermath, it is very accurate. Just a mite harrowing. It's fitting that I'm thinking about Hawaii tonight, we just got done with a visit from my dad & stepmom, who still live over there (G calls him 'Hawaii Grandpa'), and also because I'm thinking about rain. Kaua'i hosts the wettest spot on earth, the fabled Mt. Wai'ale'ale, (why-uhlay-uhlay). This means waterfall, which you will agree is an apt moniker when I tell you that it averages over 460 inches of rain a year. It rises up from the center of the island, and is usually accessed by helicopter, mountain goat, or menehune. The joke is that if you don't like the weather, either drive for 5 minutes, or wait for 5 minutes, and it'll change. No one carries an umbrella, not worth the bother of opening & closing it every 5 miuntes. I moved there right after high school and stayed a few years. I actually loved it, bad food & music aside. There's a lot to love. It is the home of the ukulele after all...and the opening scenes of Fantasy Island.

Oh, & one of my favorite little known things about Hawai'i is its state motto. It's much better written down, so you don't have to listen to my ridiculous pronunciation:
Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono. Which translates: The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. Isn't that fabulous?
Hey-I gotta go, the rain's just starting........!


Happy Birthday, Mum!

Here's to you!

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.