Birthdays and Collywobbles

So today is my birthday. I am staunchly thirty-something. (Let's just say that the seventies produced many amazing things: leisure suits, the Hustle, Shrinky-Dinks, and me.) We made our way through Zoccoli's sandwiches, Bargain Barn's finery (including the salmon/tangerine floor-length Chinese housecoat-I am so stylin'), and then we found the ocean, right where we left it, underneath the pier,
bumping against the sand outside the Dream Inn.....
We've had guests. My little sister Jessica just finished an Art History degree at Cal State Fullerton and was finally able to break out of Orange County (or the Orange Curtain, as some call it.) She's bound for Sydney, Australia, and we'll be seriously missing her. And counting our frequent flyer miles. So, here's to you, Jessica Jessica Dragonette, aka Mildred Pierce. Don't ask me why. It's our grandpa. He gave all of us really goofy nicknames....our brother Ben became Benjamin Bun from Wilmington. But Amy & Matt..? No idea.

(And thanks brrtha, for the pic!)


Happy International Year of the Potato

Vive el solanum tuberosom!


Our Little Songwriter

I awoke this morning to G strumming her ukulele and singing this little song:

"This song is going to God

And so are we, sometime.

We don't know when,

But God does."


The Ghosts of Lexington Reservoir
It was sort of a family reunion, up there in the woods on Soda Springs Road, lots of seldom seen aunts, uncles & cousins. The house was finally finished, although the smell of sawdust and paint was slow to fade from the air. Sharp in my memory are the slippery hardwood floors and a wrought iron spiral staircase that led to a funny little third story room: pool table, wet bar and large sunny windows,as well as a telescope that looked out across the reservoir. It was a very adult sort of room, you could feel the grown-up vibe; and we were told in no uncertain terms that we weren't allowed up there by ourselves. I think they were afraid that we would fall down the spiral stairs.
On the day of this sighting the cousins woke early and we laid our plans, giggling and whispering in the stillness of the summer morning. Setting off for the forbidden top floor, our bare feet made no sound on the steps of the stairs, just little squeaks as we crossed the bare wood floors. As we reached the top, morning sunlight was already streaming in through the eastern windows which were well above the treeline (California scrub oaks, I think.) I remember watching the particles of dust dance through the sunlight shafts, it was very still and quiet. Far away the sound of my stepmother's grandfather clock, tick ticking. I don't know what we meant to do up there, but somehow or another we ended up looking through the telescope, across the reservoir to the hillside on the other side of Highway 17. I began to notice something white and glowing that stood like a sentry over the road. There were several of them, stiff, forboding and unmoving. "Look!" I gave the telescope to my cousin, Jeremy. "What's that?" "Oh,"he said, hushed and knowing, as he squinted through the lens, "Those are ghosts. We'd better duck, or they'll see us looking at them!" We got down on our hands and knees and crawled backwards down the stairs, trying to keep out of sight of the windows. And thus began a long and terrifying day, slinking about, trying not to look out the windows, sure that the ghosts had seen the glint of the telescope through our window.
Later in my sister Jessica's room, I glanced outside-only to discover, floating amongst the trees-the same ghostly visions! Her room was almost all windows, so the only way to get around was to crawl. I crawled. I was gripped with fear. I was sure that the ghosts saw us earlier and then came to spy on us. I didn't know what to do. I told my cousins, and we trembled together, feeling the enmity of the ghosts in the oak trees. I don't remember when the fear subsided, when the terrifying game ended; the back of my neck ceased to tingle and I could saunter casually past the windows, unafraid.
I don't even know how it came to pass that we learned the secret identity of the horrible ghost watchers. Only that it wasn't until much much later.
So rosa-sinensis isn't going anywhere.....that last post sounds slightly like I'm packing up shop. But I'm not! Just tired,and busy. I need a nap.
There's a lot happening right now, affecting lots of different spheres of my world, and it's hard to even sit down to process it all. When I first began this blog it was mostly because I felt out of touch with things that had made me, well, me. I, myself. I was inside a lot, doing odd things like playgroups and diaper services, and despairing of ever getting more than 4 hours of sleep in a row. In a sleep-deprived state strange words would surface, and suddenly I would find myself mumbling, "anthocyanins.....schlerenchyma......Berberis thunbergia atropurpurea 'Nana', which always sounded like an incantation from Bedknobs & Broomsticks. So I decided to start blogging in order to expel some of the flotsam & jetsam that was floating around in my head. Now, a year and a half later, I find myself busy, fingers in many pies, and I no longer require a place like rosa-sinensis to dump all my thoughts. I have discovered that I still like to write, something I used to derive much pleasure from, even if I lacked the discipline to actually sit down and do it.

Lately I've been trying to extricate myself from all the stuff I've been doing at church. I counted and it turns out I was doing NINE different things at Vintage. Nine! B & I had Extrication Week, and by the end of the week, we were down to 3. The library, our community group, and something new that we're wanting to do. Anyway. It's been busy. I think the ability to say 'No' is sadly undervalued, and I wish it was taught in schools. (Or church!)

And my public apology to Dave's Garden, I used a picture of theirs without asking, and they sent me a very polite yet official email asking me to take it down. And I did.


There And Back Again
Well, we've been down in L.A......sweltering, traffic-ridden L.A......but somehow, I really liked it. My youngest sis graduated from USC with a lovely little BA in Classics, and my older brother is keeping 3 feral kittens in his 1920's bungalow kitchen in Silverlake. B and I ended up in San Diego, trawling through the Old Town's kitsch and then took G to Legoland. Much fun. And so good to see family.
Anyway, that's why the silence here at rosa-sinensis. We've been away. And now we are back. Driving home last night, we saw the marine layer coming in over the Gabilan Mountains as we made our way down Hwy 152; we both gave little hoots of joy. The fog threaded itself through the oaks and golden hills in that particularly Northern California way that makes my heart beat a little faster. During our whole drive down I had California Stars by Wilco in my head. "I'd like to rest my heavy head tonight on a bed of California stars......"


Ezekiel's Board Meeting

So I've almost finished a bible study. And happily, unlike the last one, this study has not given me a rash. We're watching DVD's. The leader is a bona-fide yeller, but as she is also Southern and wears turquoise pant suits, I'm going to assume it's cultural, and let it go.

The study is on the book of Daniel, to which I've never paid great attention. A while back I decided that I wanted be sure that I'd read through all the books of the Bible. But in what order? At the time it made sense to approach it not chronologically, not even thematically. I chose to read it....alphabetically. I don't know why. Let me see, that's Acts, then Amos, then the Chronicles, Corinthians...it made no sense at all. I don't recommend it. Unless you are OCD, in which case you can't help yourself, so it doesn't matter if I recommend it or not. I can't honestly say what I gleaned from the experience-maybe the certainty that I'd really and truly, actually, read everything in the Bible at least once. Eventually I did get through Daniel, but I completely forgot that the second half of the book is just crazy. It's all prophecy-about the coming Western empires that would rule history-Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and a future kingdom that God will set up. This litany of world powers is revealed to Daniel through a series of dreams and visions. I love the way God has laid out these pictures. The chapters are littered with visceral images: Nebuchadnezzar as a tree, the statue made of different metals, a ram, the original 'handwriting on the wall' scenario, bizarre creatures, antichrists, angels, demons.....This past week in our reading I stumbled across this text from Ezekiel, which I haven't been able to get out of my head (but in a good way):

'And then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell face down and I heard the voice of one speaking.'

Ezekiel 1:25-28

This imagery is amazing and terrifying: from the waist up, he is like glowing metal, and the radiance surrounding him is likened to a rainbow in the clouds. Beautiful. It reminds me just a little of the Golden Key, by MacDonald. I wonder just how much of God Ezekiel saw. He tells Moses, "you cannot see my face, no one can see my face and live." (Exodus 33:20.)
You get the feeling with Moses and the whole cleft in the rock thing, that when God showed him His back only, it was an pretty intimate moment. Even with all the fire and smoke and blood that had swirled around their relationship. Even though Moses could only bear to see God's coattails.

Ezekiel's different. This vision of his goes on for several pages, all instructions for this and that, as well as things God gives him to prophecy to the nation of Israel. It sort of has the feel of a board meeting. Albeit led by someone who is glowing metal and fire. I wonder why God chose to appear to him in that fashion. The gospels have hints of this, like when Jesus went up the mountain with a few friends and suddenly was shining like the sun.....it's so great to find little God pictures here and there that are brand-new, and give me new sharp and clear images to put into my head, to counteract all the junk that is stored on my hard drive, mainly from decades of


Redwood Loop

I was granted a boon today-G got to stay at the preschool without me. The road took me down into Henry Cowell State Park, a very leafy and overcast sort of run. Nice. I had to run through Roaring Camp, a narrow-gauge railroad that still navigates the tracks that loggers used while clear-cutting our neighborhood back in the turn of the century. I was startled by a blast of steam as I sprinted past, reminiscent of Miyazaki's 'Steamboy', and the bizarre steam-powered Victorian house that B saw this weekend at Makerfaire. Steam, the next sustainable fuel source?

One Mind

I was listening to a podcast from Mars Hill Bible Church. Rob Bell was talking about Philippians 2:1-

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."

Up With Everyone
I set out to blog about Shane Claiborne's book Irresistible Revolution and how parts of it do not seem to be very 'up with people' as the Elevens would say-at times it comes across a little piously crunchy, a sentiment with which I am all too familiar, having learnt it at my hometown's knee. (Santa Cruz is nothing if not pious!) There are undercurrents that do not feel like what Paul is exhorting the church to foster, like having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. I think Claiborne is trying to get people to wake up and pay attention to the chasm that can exist between the Jesus of the Gospels: homeless, loving the dregs of society, going about with prostitutes and swindlers; and the Jesus of some parts of Christianity: urbane, middle-aged, and highly moral. However, some of the points in it seem preachy and unloving. (Especially some of the quotes in the introduction. Jim Wallis, for shame! You can do better than that!)
I wanted to write all this, about we have to up with everyone, even the evangelical/conservative/right-winged/middle-class Christians; (from his book, it looked like this was the group that his finger wagged at the most.) Our love must extend to everyone, or it can't extend to us. Even if we don't agree with how people live.
So this is how the post was shaping up in my mind.
I was beginning to feel rather pious myself, getting my finger out, ready to wag.

And then it happened. On the path overlooking the blooming Douglas iris and redwood sorrel, Rob Bell mentioned how we live in a highly individualized society, one that doesn't understand how much we need to be of the 'same love, being one in spirit and purpose'. I realized then, just as clearly as if it had been written in the redwood needles on the ground before me, that I value this too, more than I had thought. I inwardly struggle against the bonds of motherhood because I want it to be 'Me first', all about my life and my dreams and desires. I didn't know what I was getting myself into, and who really does know what it will cost them? I wouldn't go back, not for anything, (I can't anyway), and so I prayed as I ran, muttering and gasping for breath. I have little hope for fostering peace and the love of God with my enemies if I can't have it at home. And so it always happens, I point a finger, and 3 point back at me, or whatever that expression is, (but that only adds up to 4...) Anyway. Do you know what I mean?



Sound the flute!
Now it's mute.
Birds delight
Day and night;
In the dale,
Lark in the sky,
Merrily, Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

Little boy,
Full of joy;
Little girl,
Sweet and small;
Cock does crow,
So do you;
Merry voice,
Infant noise,
Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year.

Little lamb,
Here I am;
Come and lick
My white neck;
Let me pull
Your soft wool;
Let me kiss
Your soft face;
Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year.

-William Blake

(I actually came across this poem today in a Cricket magazine from April 1985; more library detritus.....along with copious notes written in L.O.L. (little old lady) hand, painstaking record keeping of receipts for church library stamp pads and other presbyterian wares from the 70s, and 80s. It's strange to be the one to put stomp down on all the unnecessary ferreting away and mindless cataloging of stuff, since I'm such a clueless young upstart. I can tell all these things have meant a lot to the librarians in the past, and I want to honor that, without holding on to the ballast (or the bitterness that I've found here and there.) Today books actually got up on the shelves, and that was exciting. Only 40 jillion more boxes to unpack!)


Miss May

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.