I live for these moments in early spring. I have not yet lost my battle with weeds. The gusto's still there. And each year, at spring's first blush, flowers that have volunteered to be in my yard join those I planted, offering the most pleasant of surprises.
Here's a peek at what's growing at my house. Besides weeds, of course.
Long time, no post. I've been crazy busy, tired, stressed. But we did manage to sneak away for a couple of days to San Francisco. Beaux's health is in kind of an odd plateau and we figured we'd fiddle while Rome burns. Saw Alcatraz, rode every mode of pubic transportation, ate well and even slept well. We also lucked into free Wednesday at the Exploratorium. It alone is worth the trip. Oddly enough, though, my favorite part of the trip was 10 minutes on the wharf watching some crazed street artist make pictures of planets with a pie plate and spray paint. Amazing and cheap. Can anybody tell me what kind of bird the fellow above is? Saw him on the water and he's a stranger to this Rocky Mountain girl. Let me know.
The girls got a little money for souvenirs, so Jen's now sporting a Hard Rock San Francisco shirt (she really does take after her dad). And Al opted for the planet art and a couple of glass necklaces. But the coolest thing of all was what we came home to. Check out Tiger getting a little snuggle from Beaux. My boys.
Today, my sister invited the girls and me to Ogden to watch the Polar Bear Plunge. It's an Ogden first and a highlight of its WinterFest, which dragged thousands of people downtown to watch horses pull skiers, human bowling (sit on a disk and head for the pins), snowmobile races and more. Forget that Ogden's been buried in snow. Today, most of it melted and it rained a cold misty rain most of the morning. They had to truck in snow by the huge load. Nevertheless, it was fun. By the time we'd left the house to travel the 30-odd miles, Jen had decided she was going to jump with her cousins into the freezing-cold Lorin Farr Park swim pool. After we stood in the brutal rain for a bit, Al decided to join her. I figured someone would chicken out, but I figured wrong. The only chicken (sane person) among the three of us was me. Beaux had to work. Here's what he missed. Cheers.
Weird family shot. The shot's not weird. The family is.
Lined up, in the rain, waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
I had a little car repair need so freakish that the dealership folks looked at me blankly when I pulled in. Then proceeded to tell me they'd never seen such thing. Followed by billing me for such a princely sum that none of us will ever forget it. Sunday afternoon, I went out to my car and discovered that the driver side door would not open with a remote or with the key. I could lock and unlock the other doors. But to get into the driver side, I had to drag my pudgy middle-aged butt and bum knees and hip myself over the console, bend parts that no longer do to clear the steering wheel and then scrunch in. At that point I discovered another way the driver's door would not open: from the inside. Beaux and I nearly killed ourselves maneuvering in and out trying to change fuses and try other tricks because this couldn't be real, right? Monday, I started my day at the dealership, which is never a happy thing. The very nice manager looked at me blankly , clicked the remote and tried the key a few times and couldn't figure it out, either. I got one smile out of it when he went and got the littlest, youngest worker to climb in and try from inside. A few minutes later, he told me that no one had ever seen such a thing, but they'd called around and found one Ford guy who said he had. Sounded like the latch and motor had gone busto. Swell. And it was going to get better. The conversation went something like this: "The good news is I have the latch in stock, but it's $183. From there it gets tricky. We have no idea how we will get the door panel out, since we can't open the door. And labor is a flat $115 an hour. Plus, if he damages the door, the door panel goes for $243. And we might have to take out the seats to maneuver. This could get ugly. We'll do the best we can." It's not like I had choice. I really can't drag myself in and out two or three times a day when I go on assignment. So I told him to tell the kid doing the repairs to be careful, work fast and if he ruins my door, I won't get it fixed, but will live with it, so there's no money to be made there. So don't ruin the door panel. Then I sat down in the waiting room and tried not to watch the clock, which felt like watching the rolling log on a fundraiser. One half hour! $57.50! Whoohoo! Finally, they came back to tell me the good news -- job done, door panel intact. And, he added quietly, "You took quite a hit on the labor costs. Sorry." Final cost for the repair: $459 I don't have. The assurance the repair is fully, completely guaranteed for a measly peasly two weeks? Priceless.
Alyson's almost beside herself with the joy of today's encounter: She met — no, she talked to! — Helen Thayer, the first woman to cross Antartica on foot. In the past three hours, I've heard about the day Helen encountered three separate polar bears and what a brave dog Charlie she had. I've heard the details of her trek across the Gobi Desert. And I've heard the sweetest words from my youngest child's mouth: "She's right, Mom. You can do anything. I can do anything. She said you just need a plan." In a world that seems sadly lacking in role models, I've tried hard to expose my girls to different people and ideas and the concept that you can accomplish a whole lot if you make it a priority. I've emphasized, I think, strong women, because I want my girls to be warriors when they are convinced that something matters. And I want them to feel, like me, that equality is a given. They are bright, they have the world to offer the world and they should be surprised if someone expects less of them because of their gender. But I want them to have great respect for all people of accomplishment, regardless of gender or other factors. So I took Jen a few months ago to hear Daniel Schorr and Roxana Saberi, the freelance American journalist who was imprisoned for a time in Iran. I remind Jen that I knew, although not well, Rosa Parks. I interviewed her years ago. That my mother started a correspondence with Coretta King after her husband, Martin Luther King, was killed. The two women found they had a great deal in common, starting with love of family and passion for country. There are many things that will discourage my girls as they grow up. But today, Helen Thayer lit a fire in Al and sparked a conviction that everything truly is possible. What a lovely thing to give a child.
Sorry I've been gone so long. It's been a very, very weird month or so. More on that later. For now, enjoy the beautiful faces of some of the Haitian children I loved when I was there a few years ago. This is a little school at an orphanage in Haiti near Port-au-Prince. The little doll on the left is my lovely Bela, who was 4 -- the same age as my Jeni at the time. For years, they thought she was "Haiti" when I talked about the place. Say a prayer, send a gift, be mindful in some way of the suffering.