Friday, February 27, 2009

reality is highly overrated

Every morning and afternoon I take the pups on long walks around the neighborhood. We all need the exercise...It keeps Abbie and Cooper from chewing things up and causing mischief, and it's probably the only thing that keeps me from turning into a total slug. 

Yesterday I collected a bunch of stuff on our morning walk. It seems I can't go out anymore without filling my pockets up with leaves, twigs, pebbles, nuts and bark. Want to see what I've been doing with all these bits and pieces?

Follow me over to Camp Cactus Studio, where magic happens on a regular basis.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I was lurking over at San Diego Momma's the other day, and stumbled over a post called "Fodder". The idea was for bloggers to give ideas to each other in the comments, each commenter writing a post from a prompt laid out by the commenter below them, on down the line. So, since I've come down with a severe case of writer's block I decided to give it a go. 

I don't seem to be coming up with many original ideas on my own, but for some reason, I was able to come up with a subject for stoneskin, the commenter above me. It was a very random, loosely strung together who what when where why kind of thing that slipped right off the very top of my head. (Sorry about that, Mo! But I'm dying to read what comes of it.)

tinsenpup gave me my topic: "Alright, Cactus Petunia, tell us about a little thing that made you proud."

A very simple request, really. (Diabolical!) I can't help wondering, though: Did tinsenpup sense my Catholic upbringing? The fact that it's considered low to take pride in oneself? That, even after almost 40 years have elapsed since I considered myself a practicing Catholic, I still worry about stuff like that? (Not the going to hell part, mind you...these days I'm pretty sure that the whole heaven and hell business was actually a metaphor for life on earth.)

Some Little Things That Made Me Proud
  • My son spending a summer as a swim instructor and lifeguard.
  • My daughter completing training as an Emergency First Responder. In Middle School.
  • My husband volunteering at a hospice. 
  • My niece and nephew taking care of my brother, their dad, with unending tenderness and love in his final days.
  • The sight of my sweet 5 year old pup cuddling on the couch with my sweet 5 year old neighbor.
  • My sisters looking after each other during dark times for both.
Okay, maybe that's a few things. And some of them are actually quite big. But I feel blessed to count them. And to have been here to notice. Cheers!

Oh, and by the way, you should definitely pop on over here to see Mo's post. It's wild!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

february funk

February is one of those months in the dead of winter where everyone seems tired of the struggle. Of the unrelenting grey skies and cold, dark days that seem to lay like a heavy, damp blanket over our hopes and dreams and creativity. Everybody I talk to seems to be exhausted, worried, and tired of the daily struggle simply to survive. Just the attempt to verbalize these feelings leaves me exhausted and depressed, and I consider myself an optimist! 

So, I thought I'd look back to last year and see what I was feeling then, and I found this post in my drafts section that I'd never published:

Heads Up! (written February 17, 2008)

Duh. Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel actually is an oncoming train.
I've slowly come to the realization that for most of my life I've been unable to truly enjoy moments of happiness. I struggle every day with this issue, trying always to stay in the moment; or as Ram Dass so famously said: "Be Here Now." Problem is, I'm always waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. I don't quite understand why this is...maybe I have an overdeveloped prescient sense or something, or maybe everyone has it, but I just lack the natural ability to turn it off from time to time and simply enjoy.
Just this last week, I was going along, humming a happy little tune in my head, when the shit hit the fan in a very big way. (And I ask you: why the heck am I always standing in such close proximity?) Anyway, suffice to say, someone close to me experienced a very major and traumatic setback. I truly didn't know how to handle it, and certainly didn't see it coming. A part of me wishes that I could see this stuff building and know with certainty what's going to happen; which would at least dispense with the fear of the unknown, right? The rest of me, however, realizes that if that were to occur, I may have an even harder time enjoying those fleeting moments of pleasure, because I'd not only know that things are gonna get bad again, I'd know how and when.
I guess I'll just have to settle for being grateful I'm still limber enough to jump off the tracks before the train gets here.

Back to the present...

In retrospect, we're doing a lot better this year than in 2008. Everyone in my immediate family seems to be stable at the moment, although we have been embroiled in some deep and dramatic sadness involving an old and very dear friend who seems to be teetering on the edge of a gaping dark hole of heartache. My optimistic side sees a positive outcome in the long run, but at the moment it doesn't seem there's much I can do to help. 

So I suppose this February hasn't really been much improved, just different. It's still a struggle every day to be fully in the moment, and I try to concentrate on what I would like to have happen, and worry less about what might happen. I find myself savoring happiness in small bits, squirreling it away for later in case I need a reminder that life doesn't always suck.
And am I still waiting for the other shoe to drop? 

Yeah, but check out what I got on clearance at Lands End for $14.99. At least when the shoe does drop, it'll be a cute red one. Now pass me some chocolate, wouldya?

Monday, February 16, 2009

owl moon

On Monday (Presidents Day), I had a one-day teaching job at Grace Art Camp. They read the story "Owl Moon" to the campers, and we made owl hats and "stuffies" to go along with the tale of a young girl who goes out birdwatching with her father on a snowy, moonlit winter night.

Here are a couple of my sketches for the project:

We had a great time, and even though some of the kids were barely even four years old (I found that out when I was setting up in the morning!) they made some very cute hats and a few stuffed owls:

At the end of the day, I asked this one if he had fun and he said, "Whooo, me?"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

buenos burritos!

Dave had a few vacation days set to expire, so last Monday we flew down to the San Francisco Bay Area for a quick visit with relatives and friends, and to hang out in old familiar places. We arrived at Oakland Airport around lunchtime, and after grabbing our rental car, made haste across the Bay Bridge to the center of the burrito universe, which happens to be located at 16th and Valencia in San Francisco's Mission district. 

La Cumbre is our gold standard for burritos here at Camp Cactus, the burrito to which all other burritos are compared. In a highly scientific but personal survey conducted under the strictest protocol imaginable, it was deemed Camp Cactus Burrito Joint of the Year for over thirty years running.

We first started coming to La Cumbre about 30 years ago, before our kids were born. Matt's first solid food was refried beans, given to him when he was spirited away to the kitchen in back by the sweet ladies at the steam table. He'd be returned to us clutching a tiny, bean filled corn tortilla in his little fist, grinning like a fool.  I think he still reacts that way to burritos, and was a bit disappointed that the one we brought back on the plane for him on Friday night was from a taqueria in Oakland, instead of the mothership on Valencia Street. 

What can I say? The mothership called us home, and we obeyed....

Mmmm! (Oh, Yeah.)