Back to Blogging

I am dropping by this blog for a quick minute to say hi and see if anyone is out there? Anyone?

Actually, I’ve been thinking about doing this for quite sometime, but something always got in the way, namely me and my so-called life. So much time has gone by and so much has happened—really good things, and some really-not-so-good things. I have allowed these things to keep me from blogging.

I woke up today and turned over a new month on the calendar. How did it get to be August? And how did so many months go by without me stopping to enjoy, reflect and blog? Everytime I thought about blogging, I would get so overwhelmed about how many things I’ve missed writing about, and how much I still needed to process before I could write, that the thought of blogging paralyzed me. I didn’t know how to catch up. I didn’t know how to begin again.

I took my lunch hour to check in on some blogs which I enjoy reading, and which I haven’t read in many weeks. Just as I was finished and was about to turn back to the pile of legal documents on my desk, my husband walked through the door carrying gifts, fresh flowers from the farmers market, and broccoli. The flowers are for me and the broccoli is for tonight’s dinner. Maybe it’s the flowers, the blogs, the passing summer, but I decided I just need to get to back to blogging. I guess I’ll just start out blogging about today. I’ll catch you up later

So, here I am. Is anyone out there? Anyone?

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Flowers for Today

The Ever-Shortening Days of Summer

It’s been a long time since my last post. In fact, it’s been almost two months! When I last blogged summer had not even officially begun. School had just ended. Nico and Erica had just graduated from 8th grade and said good-bye to the school and classmates they’d known since kindergarten. Olivia finished her finals and was sleeping away the first days of her summer vacation. I was on a weekend getaway with Juan and Diego to a quaint seaside town in Central California. Best of all I looked forward to the promise of Summer. The possibilities of long, lazy days, free from kids’ homework, sporting activities, and obligations. I looked ahead to warm evenings on my front porch sharing margaritas with my neighbors during impromptu happy hours, family dinners al fresco, and roasting marshmallows on our backyard fire pit. Most of all I looked forward to slowing down and being able to spend some of my evenings writing and savoring the ever lengthening daylight.

My last blog post was just before the summer solistice and the longest day of the year. As I enjoy the lengthening days, I tend to overlook the fact that what immediately follows the longest day of the year, is that the sun sets just a bit earlier, every day. Summer, known for it’s long light-filled days creeps its way to Fall with the light-filled days getting shorter and shorter. Summer days pick up speed as I soak in the warmth of July, and I am surprised by the arrival of August and its accompanying swealtering heat. I was as sad as Diego the other morning, as I drove him to summer day camp in the foothills of the Angeles forest, and he asked me how many more days did he left of summer vacation. When I did the calculations and told him just a little over 20, he replied wistfully, and almost tearfully, “Summer is going by just too fast.” I know Diego. Perhaps, that’s why I haven’t blogged a lot lately. I have been spending my evenings trying to capture summer, trying to stop it and realizing another day is closing before I have even powered up my laptop, I go to bed without writing, resenting the fact that the days are getting shorter, and I am unable to memorialize the season with my words. My blog and I are at a stalemate. Until this morning, when I woke up early, read one of my favorite blogs and felt inspired by these images of summer. I knew I just had to break this stalemate. I knew I had to concede that even though this summer hasn’t been exactly what I idealized, I don’t need to be resentful and I can enjoy what’s left of the season. While I can’t slow the ever shortening days of August, I can look back fondly on the memories we created these past couple of months.

Did you slow down during your summer? Did it go by too quickly?

The Pioneer Woman and I

Last night I found myself home while Juan was at a work event.  I didn’t have to run the  boys back and forth to baseball practice, nobody had scout meetings or church youth group, drama rehearsal and no last minute flash card review for art history exams. In essence, I had the night off! That is how I found myself at my local bookstore, standing on line, waiting to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman.

When I began blogging I really didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t even read very many blogs, but the one that I did read was Ree’s. In case you don’t follow her blog, she is pretty much the original blogger. She has managed to create a huge following with her funny, and clever blog. She writes about her life on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma, home-schooling her four kids, and cooking up some wonderful recipes, while photographing her food, her kids and her life on the ranch. She also has a cooking show on Food Network and a new cookbook.  You can see, why I would find her so inspiring. I knew she was coming to my hometown to promote her new cookbook, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to brave the crowd, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to find myself in line lumped in with the Pioneer Woman groupies. The last time I found myself on line to meet a celebrity was two years ago  in Las Vegas when I met my teenage Dodger crush, Steve Garvey. I started blushing like a schoolgirl and could barely talk. Juan has not stopped teasing me about it. Even though I don’t consider Ree Drummond in the same category as Steve Garvey, I hoped I wouldn’t get star-struck when I met her.

I arrived two hours after the book signing event started, so I thought I would have missed most of the crowd. I was wrong. The line was still wrapped around the building.  I found myself standing behind a woman who became a Pioneer Woman fan after baking cinnamon rolls from her cookbook. The couple standing behind me made the hour and a half drive from Bakersfield and brought their beautiful 5 month-old baby.  I knew that Ree would love them since she loves babies. I thought to myself that I should have brought Diego, because he could have charmed Ree too.

As I approached the front of the line I could see Ree sitting at the table with her sister Betsy. Ree had been signing books for over 4 hours but she was still cheerful and spending a lot of time chatting with each person. One girl approached Ree and gave Ree her favorite scone mix and some original recipes. The girl had her photo taken with Ree and then they chatted like they were longtime friends. I wondered what I could give Ree? I rifled through my purse. Altoid Mints? Chewing gum? I had nothing to give Ree except my blog business card with my address on it. Ree was so gracious she read it, thanked me and handed it to Betsy, telling her to save it. Maybe after Ree finishes her book tour she will go through her gifts, make some scones,  pull out my card, find my blog and read it…Hi Ree! Oh, and thanks for signing my book.

My new friend Ree Drummond.

 

The Writing Prompt, a Tool for the Tired Brain.

It’s late. I have been working at my computer all day. Writing. Editing. But, not the kind of writing and editing that stirs my creative soul or stimulates the right side of my brain. It’s the kind of writing I do all day at my job. You know, the job that pays the bills. The job where I edit legal documents, draft factual crime summaries, and write affidavits for the victims whose lives are traumatized by crime. So, now my work day is over, dinner is done, dishes are washed and kids are asleep; and as part of November’s daily blog post challenge,  I am supposed to blog. I am supposed to write about something. Anything. Or not. I got nothing.

So, instead of writing about something that came to me in the middle of a giant brainstorm, I turn to a tool I have never used before, the writer’s prompt. I need it today, I spent the entire day working on documents for a murder case. A prompt is supposed to stir an idea, and in this case, it’s offerred to bloggers who are participating in November’s post a day challenge. The prompt changes daily and is posted at the web site hosting the National Blog Posting Month challenge. I clicked on the site and scrolled down to today’s prompt:

“Has anything traumatic ever happened to you? Describe the scene surrounding a particular event.”

Huh?

Didn’t I say I was tapped out? Didn’t I write about enough trauma today?

I thought about the traumatic events of my life. Certainly,  nothing could compare to some of the trauma crime victims experience. But, still there must be something? I could talk about the traumatic birth experience I had with Nico. No, I’ve dealt with enough graphic scenes today.  I could write about the trauma of my divorce, but that is just exhausting and I don’t want to delve into that emotional abyss. So, how about a little light-hearted trauma? Is there even such a thing?

The closest thing I can recall to a light-hearted traumatic event is the experience I had when I was a child,  camping with my family in Mammoth Lakes and fishing along the Owens Valley River. My dad loved to stream fish. My brother did too. As for me and my sister, we liked it okay until we became too frustrated by the lost bait and tangled lines, and when we grew too bored waiting for the “big one.” We would often end up abandoning our poles and create games to play along the water’s edge, like catching minnows in the marshy banks.

After I discovered a large school of baby fish, I left my pole with my father,  who was still fishing along the bank and asked my mother for a paper cup so that I could scoop up the fish.  I returned to the riverbank and found an area along the marshy bank where the tall grass provided a natural pool for the fish. Here the water seemed still, even though all around the river moved swiftly. My father was still fishing upstream, about 15 feet away. I bent down to scoop up the fish, and fell in the cold water. I found myself sinking under the cold, cloudy water. I did not feel panic, rather I felt surprise to be underwater.  I looked up and could see the clear blue sky and the deep green marsh grass along the riverbank. That must have been the moment I realized where I was. I was disoriented but I managed to surface enough to grab a hold of the tall grass, and pull my head above the water. I could see my father drop his fishing pole and begin running towards me. I saw a flash of red from his jacket and a blur of brown from his shoes, as he approached me. The panicked expression on my father’s face as he stood above me made me  realize the seriousness of the situation. I became aware of the current moving swiftly around me and under me. I felt the grass begin to give way, its roots loosening from the muddy bank, and I felt the panic set in me. I don’t know if my father jumped in or reached in to grab me, but suddenly I felt myself being lifted out of the water. Being lifted out of the water,  shocked to me as much as the cold water temperature did when I fell in. The fear in my father’s eyes sent me into a greater shock and I gasped for air, coughing up the water I did not realize I swallowed, and choking on my great,  heaving sobs, which appeared from nowhere. I was cold, wet and scared. My mother came from the car with a blanket.  The rest is a blur. But, to hear my dad’s version of the story, the current was swift and if not for his fast action, I would have been swept away

My father has told this story before. I don’t know now if my own memory of this incident has blurred with his re-telling of it, but, I have a strong sense that my initial reaction was not panic. Rather my initial reaction was disorientation, and then realization, followed by my natural instinct to save myself.  It was not until I experienced  the reaction of those around me that I began to panic. Looking back at this incident, and other traumatic events in my life, I think that I probably have experienced these events the same way, with my survival instinct helping me to surface from disorientation, and my family pulling me to safety.

Fishing without the drowning part.

Happy Birthday to My Blog

Today my blog celebrates its one-year birthday. This has to be some kind of record for me, because while I have started countless journals in my life, I have never written enough to keep them going for more than a couple of months before I abandon them to other pursuits.

But blogging has been different. I have posted something just about every month. Some months more than others, but baby steps, right? I  didn’t know it then, but when I started  this blog shortly before my birthday last year I thought I was checking something off my bucket list, and fulfilling this little writing fantasy of mine. It turns out this blog has been more than that to me. Besides finally being able to say that I “write,” blogging has taught me a few more things about myself:

1) I am creative.

When I was younger I would make doll clothes, do needlework, knit, and craft. I would write short stories, and poetry. Over the years I stopped being creative. Except for the occasional scrap booking party, or kid’s school project I stopped making things, I stopped creating. I also stopped writing. Maybe it was when I realized there was a lot of technical craft to it. As much perspiration as inspiration, perhaps? Maybe it was later when my writing was critiqued for poor grammar, and misplaced commas. Whatever. I stopped enjoying it, so I stopped doing it. Blogging has helped me remember of how much I enjoy being creative. And how a little perspiration isn’t such a bad thing after all.

2) I have something to say.

It may not be profound, or funny or amusing, or even interesting, but in my blog I get to say it. Enough said.

3) If you write it they will come.

Even though I had something to say, would anyone listen? I mean, besides my husband who has to listen to me. Based on some of your comments and my growing number of subscribers, someone out there is listening. Thank you.

3) I am (more) present.

My day flies by with work, kids, family, and chores. I am in a state of constant motion and I rarely stop to appreciate a moment, to capture a thought or preserve a memory.  Blogging has allowed me pause and take it all in. Sometimes my thoughts and ideas are fleeting and they leave my mind before I capture it in a post, but more often now I find myself jotting it down and taking time to preserve these thoughts and construct words and phrases about an experience or event in my life and the life of my family.

4) There is community in the blogosphere.

Sure, virtual contact is not the same as human contact but I have built some relationships with other bloggers just by reading and commenting on their blogs. Blogging also has given me a reason to attend blogger events and meet some of the bloggers whose blogs I’ve read, which leads me to my next point…

6) Its a small world after all.

The world is a lot smaller than we think. A few of the bloggers I’ve met ended up living only a few miles from me!

6) You can teach an old dog, new tricks.

Before I started blogging I was pretty good at navigating my way around MS Word and surfing the net, but launching my own blog? I did not know the first thing about it.  Well, it turns out am not as technologically challenged as I thought I was. I have actually had to learn two blogging platforms. I started out on Posterous and then moved to WordPress. Even though WordPress blogging platform is user friendly, it took me over a month from the time I decided to launch my blog and actually posting something. My husband teased that you would have thought I was launching a major website. In reality, I was working up my confidence and familiarizing myself with WordPress. Now that I have been doing this for a year I have learned just enough to be dangerous and throw out words like, URL, domain name, posts, tags, RSS feed.

So, that’s my year in review. I hope you’ve enjoyed something here at my blog. I know I have enjoyed doing it. I look forward to writing more posts and hearing from you with your comments and subscriptions. Thanks for stopping by and sharing this anniversary with me.

Here are a few of my top posts from the past year:

What’s Good About Good Friday?

Mischief Remembered

Tres Generaciones

Date Night Without my Husband