Monday, September 28, 2015

Ocean in the Sky

With the smoke from wildfires lingering in the sky, the dust from the almond orchards clogging sinuses and filters, we don't spend a lot of time outside lately. But in the evening, as the season changes and southern winds bring clouds, we call to each other and run outside to watch the sunset glow and slowly fade.

The other evening the sky was especially lovely, but if you turned your head upside-down, the air was transformed into an ocean. "Oh my gosh, it does look like water!" Lillian exclaimed, laughing. Joma also looked upside-down, but not at the sky. For her, it was enough to see us laugh at her. After all, isn't she more important than the sky?

Cars passed us by on the street; but in both directions, not another soul was outside gazing at that celestial glory. I feel a pang of sorrow noting that, and hope that Lil and Joma will remember to look up and out as they grow to adulthood.

The photo was turned upside down in Photoshop.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Visit with Jack-Jack, and Smoke

The light is lower in the mornings as we approach equinox; seems odd to already see such a difference in when it gets bright. The year has gone by so quickly.

Last night after dark I heard a tapping on our bedroom sliding door, looked up and there was Alex -- and a familiar, very, very welcome face. Standing beside her was our across-the-street neighbor's dog, Jack-Jack.

I flung myself from my rocking chair to the floor, and when Alex opened the door, Jack-Jack ran to me and hunkered down in front of me, sweetly breathing into my face and presenting himself for a petting. And then closer for a cuddle.

It was so good to see his handsome collie-ish face (he's got a blue merle coat with white muzzle, chest, and legs) and to have him so happy to see me, too. Selfishly, I spent a good twenty minutes snuggling with him, stroking his face, playing with his feet, rubbing the belly he presented to me with his head in my lap. I told him how fat he was, and how dirty his fur had gotten. He was happy to hear me focus on him, his grin telling me that he was very appreciative of my attention.

He's getting old, and his gums are in poor condition. God knows what they're feeding him.

When it was time for me to reluctantly send him home, he threw himself back into my lap a couple times, making my heart melt. And then finally, I had to let Alex put a leash on him and give him up again. When I went to the sink and washed my hands, more dirt came off them than when I've been out cleaning the horse's paddock. Can they have been making that beautiful dog sleep outside?

Alex returned Jack-Jack to his house; his owners didn't even know he had been gone. When she walked away, he tried to follow her back.

Ah, well.

This morning when we got in the car to go to church, we found that leaving the windows partly open hadn't been such a good idea as it had seemed yesterday: the car had ash sprinkled all over the interior. When I'd looked at the weather report at 8am, I was a bit annoyed to see that the high was to be in the mid-90's again ... but I think God is good and that a continued heat wave was just the thing to keep us indoors and out of the smoke and ash from the wildfires that are polluting the Central Valley.

And to keep me from standing in the front yard hoping Jack-Jack would escape again.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Corn Week

The corn in the front yard Box #6 is ready.

Today I braved the heat wave and battled the damn ants for my lovely, tender, delicious corn. Now the ants aren't in with the kernels; they appear to be trying to colonize the stalks where the stalks meet the ears. Maybe they see the corn as a grand arcology of high rise apartments. No matter -- not in my corn, they don't. I harvested about a dozen ears and vowed I would fix their shit tomorrow morning. My ally Hose and I will teach them to get off my crops.

We dined on barbecued spare ribs and corn. The ribs were cooked yesterday, and were just as good reheated, but the fresh corn from the stalk was exquisite.

With the temps in the 100's this week, I have to harvest the ripe corn and get it into refrigeration tomorrow, or it will turn to yuck dull starch in the heat. Too bad, I guess I'll have to eat some more of it for lunch.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Learning Experience

Recently we've been pestering Lillian to start learning Spanish. 

She's 13 now, and it's certainly not too soon to be thinking about work experience in her future. And in California, (as in many other places as well) knowing how to speak Spanish can increase her value as an employment candidate tremendously.

And we went to a bi-lingual Mass in August, Lil and Joma and their mama with us; Alex and I kept up with the sermon fairly well; Bernie, Alex and I did fine with liturgical responses in Spanish -- for about five years we attended only Mass in Spanish when Bernie and I worked for a local parish. But for Lil, it was all noise. Only the movements were the same as English Mass.

So Bernie and I were going to spring for a Rosetta course in Spanish for Lil ... and then he found a site that does apparently the same thing -- for free. Duolingo doesn't have the wide scope of languages that Rosetta does, but it has Spanish. Bernie signed up for it, and so did I.

What, wait, am I not half-Mexican? Do I not speak Spanish?

I am, but I don't. At the peak of my linguistic ability, I could read and write Spanish, but had a major mental block about speaking it or hearing it. My mother always -- ALWAYS -- maintained that I should learn Spanish in high school, just as she did. She would not teach me, period.

My brave and intrepid mother was a liar, however; she was a native speaker of Spanish, and while she may have had a class of Spanish in school, even when Alzheimer's was starting to muddle her brain at the tail end of her life, if someone spoke to her in Spanish she understood and responded naturally. That's not book-learning, that's native speaker.

But I'm not a native speaker, and of what Spanish I had, much is lost.

But not all. And Duolingo is really starting to make me forget that I had a hard time hearing and speaking the language. It's a tricky procedure, switching from making me read the words to translating the words to typing what I hear of the words to saying the words. It works almost like a game, and the lessons I've done so far have made me want to do more.

I find myself doing the lessons faster and faster, too, as I learn the format. The first time the little microphone symbol popped up, I had a pang of fear. "Say this: Nosotros leemos los diarios." Now, after only a few days, I'm okay with pronouncing loudly enough to be heard by the machine, and the last lesson I did, the microphone symbol was popping up a lot more of the time.

Even when I had to say, "Mi conejo come pollo." My rabbit eats chicken?

Sure, why not.