Jay-Jay is One

Last year I had this...
This year I have this...
For his birthday, we did this...

And cut down this, to put lights on it and make all sparkly, which he would promptly try and remove. Note that all expressions indicate, "Are we done standing here yet? It's really frickin' cold out here."

Two days after his birthday, we got this...

Happy Birthday, son. I am overjoyed to be your mother and I look forward to more Christmases together.


Working off their Turkey

We decided to visit my dad and Brenda for Thanksgiving this year, as we had not seen them for a bit. A good time was had by all.
Dad actually reported that he missed us after we left. He said it was too quiet. Which, really, for my dad to think things are quiet...well, it's a bit strange.

The Pumpkin Blog I was going to write

I missed watching the leaves change color in Hawaii, having an actual autumn. We went down to visit my Aunt Mary and pick pumpkins out of an actual patch. The patch was a school fundraiser and we knew the kids would have fun. And it was fun, but it was ridculously overpriced. Worse than the pumpkins we could have bought at Safeway. Ah, well, there you are. Can't always have awesome pumpkins from Hawi. They had a bus that drove around the patch for bumpy, scary rides that were very bumpy, but not quite so scary. And there was a small petting zoo complete with pigs eating the rotten pumpkins. That was a little scary.
All in all, it was a fun time.



I had this whole blog planned about how we took the kids to the pumpkin patch, complete with pictures and I will still write that, but not today. Today, oh man, today is something different.
Carolann, Jeff's sister, my sister, passed away.
My house is quiet. My kids are asleep. My husband is in Utah. Everything is dark, so dark I cannot see the end of it. I know it's there, but my heart is too sore to find it.
It should be against the law. It's not fair. I am angry and sad and I don't understand. I feel like I am putting together a puzzle with only purple pieces. I should be asleep. I've been up since three this morning, but every time I close my eyes all I can see is her face. And the faces of my nieces. Oh, how my heart aches for them. I know they are in good hands; Christie is exceptional, Brian and Jenny are gems; I know the girls will never not know what a wonderful person she was. Yet, I see them graduating and marrying and having babies of their own without being able to hold her hand. So, we will hold them. Hold them close and tight and tell them stories of all the tears that she shed for them, all the small wonders she grasped so they could see, all the times the light and love shown from her face just to look at them.
I miss her. I opened my phone to call Christie and Carolann is listed above it. I open my computer to type and the screensaver is on a picture of her and Owen riding the Ducks in Seattle. In spite of all that we have seen and done together, I loved her more. So much more. There was so much strength in her, so much beauty, so much joy. I want to scream and break things. I want to look at people in the streets and ask them how dare they keep on living when she is not. But I cannot. These things will not bring her back. Nor would I, even if they did. I want to, but I cannot. She is starting over. Not was, but is. She was in love and beautiful. She had her girls. Putting things in their place. I can't see her, but I know she's there. Moving on to bigger things and better things, things that sparkle, things that shine, things that we aspire to.
So I will hold her close and tight and tell her that it's okay, that we're not okay, but will be. I will hold her close and say I love you. And see you later.


I know! I know!

I have been failing my New Year's Resolution to write the blog every week uber spectacularly. I have a good one planned, but it is mid-term time and I just never seem to get around to uploading the pictures that must go with it.
Seriously, it's a visual.
Anywoot, hang on tight gang. I promise this weekend. In the meantime, here's my yellow watermelon picture.


In a galaxy far far away...

In case you didn't hear, Jeff's grandma passed away.
I know. I was sad too.
We left California last Wednesday in order to make to the service in Orem on Saturday. And then drove down to Blanding in southern Utah for the burial. It has been an extremely long and hard trip.
I am writing this in the car from Moab to Price. Which seems to be roughly like traveling over the barren wilderness that is northern Nevada. Only redder.
So I will wish Grandma safe passage and happy reunion with her husband, tell her we love her, and will see her in a bit.


Free Mutiny on the Bounty

While walking around town, I have seen a veritable plethora of nature's goodness. So much of it that no person could pick it all.

But maybe two people could.

I asked the principal at Abra's school if I could pick the chokecherries on school grounds. He said yes please take as many as you want. So we did.

Our neighbor has a pear tree. They don't actually live at the house; they just rent it out. They told us to please pick as the pears would just fall on the ground and make a mess. So we did.

We have spent almost a whole week canning just those two fruits. Wonder what else I could find? I think my neighbors have an apple tree as well.

Also our garden is getting out of hand. The peas are downright everywhere.

From left to right: Chokecherry Berry Dipping Sauce (Ohana Dip), Peach BBQ Sauce, Pear Pickles (Oh, man are these good), Cinnamon Red Hot Pears (very festive), Spirited Pears (Go Pears!), Ginger Pear Marmalade (awesome on french bread), and Chokecherry Jam.

We have been uber busy.


My first day of school...in 13 years

Two weeks ago I went to the Veteran's Office and was told that I could still use the Montgomery GI Bill. And that it would pay roughly $1300 a month for 36 months of my school. And that if I was going to school, I could use the work study program and work at the VA office for minimum wage. Part of the requirement of doing the work study program was that by law they would have to let me study on the job.
Needless to say, this seemed pretty win-win to me.
So, I called the Admissions office of Feather River Community College here in town. And got voicemail. And got voicemail. And got voicemail.
Not being 19 or transferring from somewhere else, I have no idea how this registering for College (capital C) stuff works. I have no idea which classes I am supposed to be taking for whatever it is I want to be when I grow up.
This left me registering for Sociology, History, Anthropology, Theatre, Film Appreciation, and Asian Martial Arts Weapons classes on the very last day before school started. For the life of me, I could not would not Sam I am, get any math or english classes. I do not like green eggs and ham. I could also not find out how the hell to properly apply for the GI Bill. Whatever, it will all work out.
Yesterday, I attend Sociology at the wonderful hour of 8 in the morning. I leave what is supposed to be an hour long class at 8:05. I like Sociology. I like any class where the teacher gets up and says, "This is an easy class. We don't even use textbooks." Score one for the pocketbook.
Following Sociology, is History 108 at 9. This was a little more advanced. I had a brief moment of panic when he said that you should be taking English 10 (also known as Dumbed down English). Wait, I cry, I have no english classes. ARGH! And then I thought, but wait, I work at the stinking newspaper for crying out loud. I know how those grammer thingies like work and junk. I no need dumb engrish. I gots the Internets!
Then at 5 in the evening I go to drama. I am 30. Everyone else is oh, so young. At the last minute, two older gentlemen enter, making me feel much more comfortable about signing up for Theatre. But, it still was rather hard to hear that almost everyone else's favorite movies are: Boyz in da Hood (they are from Alabama), Dumb and Dumber, Wayne's World, and Zoolander. It was very weird saying Harold and Maude is my favorite movie. No one except the teacher knew what it was. And how do you fight with people saying that guy from Twilight is their favorite actor when yours is Paul Newman? Come on, kiddos, no one can eat 50 eggs!
Today, I have film appreciation at 6 p.m. I think I might have to drop this class. I cannot physically watch Full Metal Jacket one more time. Seriously, this is required Marine Corps film appreciation. It and Apocalypse Now. Oh, and that completely horrid Tom Beringer movie, Sniper. Jeff makes me watch that from time to time. Besides, I need a damn math class. Economics, even, something, anything, just give me some numbers.
So my schedule is as follows: Mondays and Wednesdays, I have Sociology, History, and Theatre. Tuesdays for now, I have Film Appreciation. Thursdays, I take my Weapons class in the evening. And I do Anthropology online.
I think my plate is a little full, but darn it, I am excited.


Blackberries and Peaches

This is what my freezer looks like. Those are my forty plus peaches that came in a box for $12.
This is my mom's blackberry jam.

This is a partially full blackberry bucket. It ended up being 3/4 full. It's a five gallon bucket.

This is me and James pimping our blackberries.

I really love summer fruits.


Two Months

Today I braved the bureaucratic red tape and carted an enormous mound of paper to the Welfare Services office to apply for CalWorks, Medi-cal, and that dogrel food stamps.
I really hate being poor.
Because surprise, surprise, we do not qualify for cash aid or food stamps, but if the heavens align on the seventh Monday of the quarter slice moon, we might get Medi-cal. Provided we are standing in the proper toadstool arrangement.
No, we are not homeless. No, we are not quite destitute. But we are getting a bit desperate.
And funnily enough, I have been in this situation already.
I really hated it then too.
When it was just Abra and I and the gloriousness of the Marine Corps and their non-direct deposit, I found myself with my hat in my hand. And was denied then too, despite being paid below the federal poverty level to kill myself in some foreign country. Despite losing thirty pounds to non-eating so that she could. Despite praying that the five dollars I could afford for gas every two weeks would carry me to work so that I didn't get court-martialed. Rejection is a bitch.
So here I am in the exact position that I was before I got married or had three more children or moved to Wyoming or Hawaii or back again. That position that is middle class poor. I am officially too rich to have help and too poor to do it on my own. Especially when the job service here in town busts out the phone book to help Jeff find a job. Because, you know, we are retarded and never thought of that. Because we have never worked a computer, either.
Albert Einstein said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." But I didn't do this. All I wanted was more time with my dying father. Not sure why that seems to be such a curse.
True, Jeff has never, in all the eight years that we have been married, spent this much time with our kids. I cannot exchange that nor would I. Most times I was worried that he would kill himself working. Like standing out in the 20 below snow in Wyoming with pnuemonia for a week. Or working seven days a week for two months. Or staying to work in Hawaii for a month while the kids and I were here. Why should anyone HAVE to do those things?
But apparently, we have to. Apparently, our work is not hard enough. Apparently, I learned nothing from my first go round with poverty so let's do it all over again. Can't wait to find out whether government cheese still makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches despite not being anything remotely resembling cheese. All I need is an iron and a paper bag. Then I really will be back again.
Alright, Tyler Durden, I am not my khakis. All I have is a refridgerator full of condiments because I could not afford the food or the ying-yang coffee table. Tell me, Tyler, what is the first rule of Fight Club? Maybe I should start my home business selling rich white women their own fat asses back.
If you've just tuned in, friends and neighbors, you met me at a vary interesting time in my life.


Yard work? Or Gardening?

There is a green thumb somewhere under that dirt.
Jeff's planter box made from free pallets. We like free.

Compost pile that I am awesomely proud of. So awesome, in fact, that my shadow is in it.

Peas and Carrots.

Herbage, but not the cilantro that bolted as it is extremely hot here.
There are also bush beans and beets and a vertiable plethora of flowers, a small bunch of lettuce that is lacking in photogenic qualities, but will probably taste delicious, one small rose bush, and the lawn that was particularly sparse until we added some grass seed. Say, this gardening thing is pretty kewl. I think I'll keep it.

On days like these...

Everything's Eventual.

Day Two

Abra is way in the back, but you can't see Jeff next to her.

And Owen is in my lap.


Discovery Kingdom aka Marine World

We decided that despite having no jobs and less money, we would try for quality of life instead and took the kids to Marine World. At least that was what it was called when I was a kid, but then the Six Flags conglomerate bought it out and renamed it Discovery Kingdom. Yet in the way that Kamuela was always called Waimea despite the US Postal Service nomenclature, nobody knows what you are talking about if you say Discovery Kingdom.
The kids had a blast. We had a blast. Just plain ridiculous amounts of fun.
And we will go home poorer, but much richer.


Welcome to the world of no job land...

It lets you do things like this on Tuesdays! And really you have to do them because you are A) bored out of your mind and B) totally frickin' poor. Good Luck!


The Gang's all Here

My apologies for keeping away from everyone for awhile. Holding down the fort with four kiddos meant that anytime they weren't awake, I was sleeping. It was much harder than I had originally anticipated which is like saying that when bacon gets close to a frying pan, it might cook.
Now that my husband is back I have ample time to discover that I am extremely homesick. After five years in the Islands, I am no longer sure I know how to be a mainlander which I am sure makes my Island friends laugh out loud. "But you were such a California girl when you was here," I hear them say in my heads. And they are right; I was. Before I moved to Hawaii, I had never heard of a leper colony on Molokai, never heard of Queen Lili'uokalani or King Kalakaua, never heard of revolts or soveriegn rights for the only state that used to be a kingdom. Hell, I never learned the names of all the Islands. I walked like a Bay Area girl sprinkled with some Marine, or maybe it was the other way around. I was not malihini, certainly not kama'aina, just a really dedicated tourist. Perhaps I deserved to be called a haole, maybe not have it hurled at me, but I least told I was one.
Now that I am back here in California, I do not fit. In the same way that I once longed for the ocean like a fish out of water in Wyoming, now I find that keeping your shoes outside is not standard practice. I sent my kids to school with musubi in their lunches and listened to them send tales of shocked faces home. I have bamboo kitchen utensils and little koa honu statues. Instead of country music or rap or rock, Jack Johnson and Hapa and Paula Fuga waft from my radio. I actually told the cashier at Rite-Aid mahalo. And didn't realize it until I was at the car. Taking the kids to the playground, I find myself thinking of Laupahoehoe Point or malasadas from Tex's. I say "Howzit" and "slippah."
What makes a person from where they are from? Every time, every single time, I have come back to California I have thought to myself, "I am going home." Now all I can think is, "I want to go home."
Don't misunderstand, I am glad that we are here. The kids needed to be here near their other sets of grandparents; I needed to be here. This is where we were supposed to go next. And it really is a cute little place. Lots of older Victorian-style homes, everyone still says hi on the street, I can walk just about anywhere, and summer is coming with its promise of camping and fishing, of swimming in the river and roasted marshmallows at night. We did the right thing.
But the smell of beach whispers to me on the wind. The smell of Waimea fog, completely different somehow from San Francisco fog or mountain fog, lingers on the night air. My heart is strangely both here and lost, as if I were a comet with a split tail.
I will keep that fragile creature called aloha in my heart, hoping against hope. I wish to walk on it with my two Hawaii-born children. And they are so frightfully Island. You can even tell which ones. Ruth, born on Oahu, is the one I will catch surfing at Bowls off of Waikiki, no fear and plenny joy. And my Big Island boy, James Kekoa, mellow as the day is long and always kicking off his socks to feel the sand beneath his toes.
One day, you'll see.


Ladies and Gentlemen we have normalacy

Or something approximating it anyway. Normalacy is fleeting.
We are, to be frank, a damn mess. Our stuff is not here, we are still at my mom's which goes okay, but the kids miss their stuff. Our Dad is not here; he is getting our stuff which goes okay, but the kids miss their dad.
Owen and Abra are at school which goes okay, but it's always hard to move and have to make new friends. Last night was Abra's open house and because this is a small town everyone was waving at each other except us. Owen is starting the IEP process because of his Asperger's. They are trying to get him an aide in class.
And I, well, I don't know. I have a job doing typesetting for my mom at the newspaper. I do it after the kids go to bed which works. Mom is trying to get them to hire me for real and I would like to, but there are some obstacles. Like my son will not, cannot drink out of a bottle. Not really sure what the hangup is; just that he won't.
Anyhoo, Easter is almost here and my husband is coming tomorrow, but I still try not to think to hard. Mostly, I don't have time, but sometimes I just don't want to. Then I have to think about all the things that I have to do or don't or will or won't and I feel swamped. Almost, but not quite completely overwhelmed.
Ah well, at least it's not the end, right? Because you know, everything will turn out right in the end.


On Hiatus

We are currently experiencing mass amounts of chaos.
The world is blowing up.
The world is caving in.
The world has lost its way again.
But you are here with me.

And that makes it okay.

I'll be right back. Promise.


Lord, I was born a ramblin' man...well, sort of.

So now that we are mobile, I will just say that I love the country that is America. I love road trips and driving to strange lands in my land. I love the angry man in Cle Elum, Washington who thought we were hippie flower freaks for letting Abra pee behind a tree when she was doing the potty disco and there was no bathroom. He was a total psycho and we almost got into a fight, but the experience was very road trip. I love the conglomerate of eating establishments, hotels, motels, single servings, and dusty exits. I love watching thunderstorms in Oregon in the morning and driving by the Boise Temple at midnight. I love visitin'. I hope to one day transverse this anomaly of a nation not by air, possibly by train, and mostly by car. Provided there is a home to return to.
There is not yet, but there is a glimmer of light. That all these people who have loved us and missed get to see us while we trip the light fandango.
Or some other such hippie flower freak nonsense.