Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Equinox! It seems like Jeanine and I were just standing on the hill watching the Winter Solstice sunrise, and now we're halfway to the Summer one.

Sophie is spending the night with Willow and me tonight, as she did last night as well. They're both passed out after a long day of running around. I love it when Sophie stays over, because I miss her.

Friday, March 19, 2010

With the Spring Equinox a day away, the temperature is verging on the uncomfortably warm. The contrast between today's walk to the post office, and the walk to the post office less than two weeks ago, was stark indeed. Today I was sweating as the sun slowly cooked me. The last time I did the same walk, on the way to the post office I could see ominous clouds to the north while the wind bit down with icy teeth. On the way back home, I was pelted by stinging hail to such an extent that I had to keep my face averted from the wind or risk damage.

Many people would think I'm crazy for preferring the hail.

This week, I've been listening to a couple of soundtracks by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. If it hadn't been for my mom, I would have been listening to something else. This is despite the fact that my mom didn't ever know that Carlos Ruiz Zafon wrote music. She only knew of him as an author, and at one point recommended him to me, and if memory serves, gave me his excellent novel "Shadow of the Wind". As I continue to sort through the books my mom left behind, I've come across this book again and again. I think I've found at least 3 or 4 copies of it so far, and 1 copy of his follow-up novel, "The Angel's Game", which I handed off to Greg. The words within have the power to transport the reader to a fictional Barcelona of a century ago, where anything is possible. Books and writing figure heavily into the plots of both novels, and the unifying element is a mysterious place called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where the right book will find its way into a visitor's hand at the right time. Or at the wrong time, depending on how you look at it. I can't help but think of my mom's house in a similar way. Many of the books are forgotten, resting there now in that transitory stage between owners. We've probably already donated a couple thousand of them back to the library, and given others away to friends. I've been hanging on to the Shadows of the Wind as I come across them, and handpicking who to give them to. Perhaps they'll fall into people's hands at exactly the right time.

Of course, I'm also hanging on to a lot of other books to keep for myself. I think my mom would have approved. She would have liked Mr. Zafon's music as well, especially given the fact that the music, which can be downloaded for free on his website, was composed to be soundtracks for the aforementioned books.

This Spring will be a bittersweet one, and it strikes me again and again that this is the first Spring in 71 years that my mom won't be around to enjoy. Still, other life begins anew all around us, and that is some solace, at least.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The nights are becoming warmer, and once again I find myself walking around camp at night looking for nocturnal life. The bats are back, flitting around outside the camp office, and the deer are keeping the lawn in check out front. Frogs inconspicuously dot the walkways, and the variety of moths around the lights is once again increasing. I relocated a beautiful Ceonothus Silk Moth from the walkway by the lodge last night, and at around 6:30 AM this morning, a camper brought me another one. He had found it in the bathroom, and even knew enough not to touch (and hence damage) the wings. He had coaxed it onto a paper towel so he could bring it to me, saying that he was afraid some of the other kids might freak out and try to kill it if they discovered it in the bathroom. Sadly, he was probably right about that. Thanking him, I got it to walk off the paper towel onto my finger, and relocated it to a less frequented area.

Currently listening to: Steve Von Till "If I Should Fall To The Field"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sometimes I feel like I'm writing letters to my future self. I've been looking back through older entries in this blog, and reflecting on how much my life has changed over the last few years. My present self is reading these letters from my past self, and composing new letters for my future self to one day read. I wonder how much things will change over the next few years.

Jeanine and I went for a walk in the hills this morning, exactly six months after our first walk together. Spring is bursting out of the ground and singing in the air. A riot of flowers and butterflies greeted us around nearly every turn in the trail, and birds and bunnies ducked for cover as we passed. We paused at the highest peak in the open space area, and had a little trail lunch. On the way back to the van, a goose hissed at me, perhaps in an attempt to be more memorable than the flowers and butterflies.

Afterward, we went to a local coffee shop where Jeanine got a Chai and I bought a mystery drink which I think contained cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg. I was quite good. I was happy to notice that the shop's sound system boasted a turntable, and that they were playing actual records. West African music. Very nice.

I'm going to a job fair on Saturday to try and land a teaching job, although I hear that districts are currently letting teachers go. We're also plugging away at the mountain of work to be done at my mom's house. More books have been boxed up, and more rooms have been at least partially cleared. There was one strange incident that happened while Jeanine and I were working in the family room. A crystal glass jumped off the top of a shelf and into a nearby chair. Neither of us were anywhere near it at the time, and when we looked at where it stood, we noticed that the base had cracked, leaving a crescent of crystal behind. Oddly though, the part of base that stayed on the shelf was the part nearest to the edge the rest of the glass had fallen off of. I can't remember if it had been cracked beforehand. We both investigated the remaining piece to see if it was somehow stuck to the shelf, but it wasn't. I joked that it was the work of a poltergeist, but then stopped and wondered... The glass was, after all, resting about ten feet from where my mother died.

Monday, March 01, 2010

It has been slightly over a month now since my mom died, and life goes on for the rest of us. Willow is now 7, her birthday being celebrated on different days at her house and mine, not to mention a party the weekend before. My dad came down this Saturday, and we spent time together in the house that neither of us have lived in for years, he going through old files, and me recycling and cleaning, and we had a nice time together, despite the circumstances. Greg came down the next day, and we loaded up my van with more than a thousand books, delivering them to the Cupertino library where my mom volunteered for a good percentage of her life. After dropping Greg off at the BART station in the afternoon, I returned to the house and was met there slightly later by Jeanine. We did some more sorting and cleaning together, and it's finally starting to look like work has been done. It's an overwhelming process, dealing with all of the things my mom accumulated after living in the same house for four decades, especially when one considers how many of the things have memories attached to them, and how many interesting books my mom had. One of the neighbors has been putting out the recycling and garbage bins every week, saving me from having to make extra trips. I'm grateful for that. For the past month, the recycling bin has been filled and refilled with magazines, mostly copies of New Yorker. I'm keeping the National Geographics.

At the moment, I'm at work. The kids are in bed, and the wind gives the occasional desultory gust. More clouds are moving in, and rain is expected to moisten this corner of the world sometime before dawn. Every other day feels like Spring, but Winter isn't done with us yet. I feel like I'm getting the best of both worlds.