Category Archives: friends

San Diego flowers and freeways.

It’s been a week since I departed on my trip, which took me first to my childhood home and family that I wrote about in my last post. After a very full day there, I drove to the San Diego Airport, where I fetched Annie. She and I spent the night slightly inland, where the most temperate marine breezes blew through the windows that our hosts like to leave open as much as possible. We were wined and dined along with other guests including their daughter whose birthday it was. We slept like logs.

San Diego freeways had a good reputation in my mind, even before I drove them a bit six years ago with my husband. When I’m whipping along where frequently there are four to six lanes — sometimes seven! — in each direction, and merging and exiting and noticing other freeways crossing above and below, it seems that much of the land must be covered with them by now. But no, it’s a large county, and there is lots of the sunniest part of California territory still left to walk on, closer to the earth and at a more human and humane pace.

Our first full day we drove to my cousins’ place in Vista, even more inland and at least ten degrees hotter. I first saw their property six years ago with my late husband, and was looking forward to the tour that Joe might give us again of all the self-started trees that he calls “bird drops,” and the succulents and cacti that thrive in that climate, like the tree-climbing cactus above that found a post supportive enough.

By late Friday afternoon Annie and I had made a big loop-de-loop, stopping by her great-great grandparents’ graves that I had last visited in 2015, and we ended up at the condo where most of the groom’s (my daughter Pearl’s) family from Washington and Wisconsin were staying. We joined a group weighted strongly to the young: five or six of my grandchildren and their significant others between the ages of 17 and 24. Toddler Lora, my great-granddaughter, was the youngest in the group. I slept in another Airbnb close by — with plumeria near the front door — and hung out with them a lot as we got ready in various ways for the wedding that was Sunday.

That first evening in Encinitas the boys had groomsmen events, and the females gravitated to the beach, which we got to by jaywalking across a busy street, picking our way over the railroad tracks, down through a gate…  then a run across four lanes of the coast highway and on to the path descending to the rocky shore. Dozens of surfers were silhouetted against the setting sun. I was the only one of our group who kept farther back from the edge while I took my views and pictures; the others all had fun getting drenched to some degree by the surf breaking right there. The next morning boys and girls alike were out early to surf and swim.

That was the day that I went south again to meet in person for the first time two long-loved blogging friends. Emily’s large family will soon be moved from Coronado where she has been cultivating a beautiful garden for several years. It was one son’s birthday at her house, too, but no one seemed to think it strange to have a strange grandmother drop in. Emily sent me off with bags full of starts of many of the succulents that grow enthusiastically all around the house and pool. It was delightful and really heartwarming to meet in person six of the family who were just as happy and gracious in the flesh as they appear in the tales and pictures I’ve been enjoying for so long.

Sara lives about a half hour mostly east of Emily, on a hill with a wide view, and the perfect patio and small waterwise garden in which to sit and take it all in; huge jacaranda blooms show in the tops of the trees from their steep hillside below. But first, we went to lunch, and she took me to the water conservation garden nearby. I had inconveniently come in the hottest part of the afternoon, but we wore our sun hats and strolled in a very leisurely way among the paths.

The garden has been there long enough for the Australian trees to grow to great heights. There was a butterfly garden/cage where evidently those creatures weren’t bothered by the heat. I took so many pictures! My heart was overflowing with flowers and plants way too many to process or learn much about, but because I was discovering them in the company of my friend I was content to let them remain a somewhat anonymous backdrop to our time together.

I had wanted to sit for a spell on her own patio, too, which we did, and I got to chat a little with her very kind husband. Sara gave me gifts of printed prayers like this beautifully illustrated one:

After I said good-bye at their door, on my way to my car, it was then that I spied this gardenia, a rare encounter for me, and it immediately seemed the perfect emblem of Sara and her blogger’s voice that is such a refreshingly sweet and reserved one in this noisy world, saying, “Here is beauty: look!”

My grandson Pat got married the next afternoon! His whole family was handsome, and we sang all the verses of “Be Thou My Vision” during the ceremony. The choice of that hymn tells you a lot about the bride and groom. May God bless them!

The day after the wedding was our last day of San Diego freeways, at least for a while. I was driving on them for about three hours before we got out of the county and on our way to my mountain cabin. Daughter Pearl rode with me, which made the day pass very pleasantly, in spite of it consisting mostly of driving, at least half of it on freeways, for twelve hours. But as I write, I am in recovery, and composing the report on this next portion of my outing, the vacation part! First installment coming soon: Summer in the High Sierra…

The vitality of insects and my heart.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
-Thornton Wilder

I’m home from my travels, and have been wandering about the garden to see what has changed in the last three weeks. My housemate Susan watered all the pots through a heat wave, Alejandro staked sunflowers and trimmed perennials, and my neighbor Gary trained the pumpkin vines to the trellis.

Mylitta Crescent

When I departed in late May, the bumblebees were the dominant buzzers among the flowers, but once the lavender and the germander opened, the honeybees returned. They are very alive, diligently about their business, and not ignoring the salvia, either. This gray bee likes the echinacea blooms that are just now available for nectar refreshment.

Hyssop, chamomile, basil and parsley are making a jungle of buds and blooms in the vegetable box out back. I’ve been waiting for the hyssop to do something for two years, while it took up a large space in that planter. It is famous as a bee plant. When I see bees acting like this one below, it makes me want to grow hyssop again… but not in the planter next time:

This Hyssopus officinalis is not the anise hyssop that I grew in my previous landscape, which “is neither anise (Pimpinella anisum) nor hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis),” but Agastache foeniculum. But they are both members of the mint family, and bees appear equally devoted to them.

The insects focus intently on what gifts they are given from the Creator, and I have been bowled-over conscious of my own treasures, during my travels. The grandchildren in Colorado, and their parents trying to keep up, impressed me with their youthful vitality, compared with Grandma, who liked to sit on the deck, play Bananagrams, take leisurely walks… and never once jumped on the trampoline with them.

While in Idaho I was acutely aware of what treasures my friends Rosemary and Jacob are. Being with them is like swimming in a refreshing, nectar-rich pool of friendship.

We worked to identify various plants on their property, and found dewberries, thimbleberries, and wineberries; wild roses are everywhere, and white spirea. Along the country road where we walked, these Baker Mariposa Lilies dotted the foliage on the forest floor. Every one was dotted itself with one or more insects as conscious as an insect can be of its sweet treasure.

I think Jacob and Rosemary would agree with me that it is the Lord who has given us this prized possession that we hold as a threesome, love that is an overflow of the Holy Trinity, from whom all life emanates.

My friends are my estate. Forgive me then the avarice to hoard them. They tell me those who were poor early have different views of gold. I don’t know how that is. God is not so wary as we, else He would give us no friends lest we forget Him.  –Emily Dickinson

I realize now that my aliveness is of a different sort from bees and children. My heart was continuing to sing and dance with thankfulness while my body sat quietly on airplanes for hours yesterday. So many treasures and the consciousness of them, and riches waiting for me when I arrive home… All this activity is making me sleepy like a toddler. Must be naptime!

Northwoods Prayer

This morning I woke in the northwoods of Idaho, at the home of my goddaughter Rosemary and her husband. I sat on their deck and watched the green aspen leaves as they quietly fluttered and twirled against patches of blue sky background above.

Unfamiliar birds squawked and twittered in the neighborhood, glorifying God. And I found this prayer in my prayer book, that asks God to teach us to use our voices to pray as well. The prayer itself is good instruction.

“My Lord, I know not what to ask of thee. Thou alone knowest my need. Thou lovest me more than I know to love Thee. Father, I am thy servant: grant me all I dare not ask. I ask neither for a cross nor for comfort; I simply stand in thy presence. My heart is open to thee. Thou seest my needs, of which I myself am unaware. Look upon me and act toward me in accordance with thy mercy: smite and heal, cast down and raise up. In thy presence I stand, reverent and silent before thy holy will and thy judgments, to which I cannot attain. To thee I offer myself in sacrifice. I commend myself to thee. I have no desire except to fulfill thy will. Teach me to pray. Do thou thyself pray within me. Amen.”

-St. Philaret of Moscow

In the fourth week of Lent…

Lithodora

…in the fourth week of Lent I was busy:

1) I cooked seedy crackers, vegan tapioca pudding, and pans and pans of roasted vegetables, including my own asparagus. I boiled a few quarts of ginger tea and tried out another vegan lemon cake recipe that I probably won’t make again. I’m done with cakes for a while. It makes sense to make cakes when one can use eggs and butter.

2) I baked communion bread at church. For a year we haven’t been using the little prosphora loaves that get sent into the altar along with our prayer requests, but we are starting that tradition again; four of us made 200 prosphora. What we call lambs, the larger loaves that we didn’t bake this week, are cut up and consecrated along with wine for Holy Communion. This photo is from the past.

3) I worked in the garden and the greenhouse. Most days now, when the sun shines, I open the door and vent of the greenhouse so that the seedlings don’t swelter. Then I close them up at night to shut out the cold marine breeze. Soon I’ll need to put a shade cloth on one side of the roof as well. The first butternut squash seed took an entire month to sprout; the next several were even later. Nothing like the pumpkins which were the first of all to emerge. I’ve moved most of the plants to larger pots so they can spread their roots in the next few weeks.

4) I shopped at a farmers market with Bella. We ate breakfast there and bought a few vegetables. How long had it been since I’d been to one of those? The sun shone and everyone was cheery. Then we went across town to her community garden plot, because she had a few potatoes that really needed to get into the dirt. I wandered around dreamily while she dug. Besides us, only a very quiet father and little daughter were working their plot, in which they had strawberries in process.

Bella sent me home with some horsetail which she told me to make tea out of, but it is still waiting in the refrigerator.

5) I went to church several times, and did a little housework, and got my taxes paid. I prepared for my church school class by reading more of The Screwtape Letters, and for the women’s book group by reading some of First Fruits of Prayer, which we discussed on ZOOM this afternoon. I ended up not enjoying that book very much. The Canon was not “itself,” plucked out of its normal context of Compline, extracted as a text to read, with explanatory notes but without the usual accompanying music, prostrations, and other tactile and sensory aspects, not to mention the fellow worshipers in the services in which we pray it, divided into four parts for the first week of Lent. This week we will do the whole Canon again, all in one morning.

6) I attended a doubly belated birthday party with my friends with whom I have celebrated for 36 years now, ever since we learned that we were born in the same week of the same year. At that time we lived on the same block of our “village.” Last spring we couldn’t manage it, so this was our 35th luncheon. We ate on the patio at S.’s house and the sun was just warm enough to make it easy to sit and chat for several hours.

7) I found these eggs that my daughter-in-law Joy knitted for me a few years ago, but which were stashed away in a box during the remodel. I posed them among the flowers but then brought them in to brighten up the living room.

This will be another full week. It’s such a blessing to have many different things to do, but — can you tell how worn out I am? It’s a great gift that God gives us rest, too. It’s the 5th Week of Lent – Pascha is coming!