Revision

Peaches and Preparing the Grid to be Ready

Babcock peaches

It started with a peach tree.

My tree is a dwarf second-year tree that I thought wouldn’t give many peaches especially since my mother said I didn’t ‘cull’ the tree months before.

What do I know of culling? I grew up in housing projects of concrete and asphalt for a backyard. We did have one spindly tree in the front shared patch of lawn.

But, Mom knew about culling (thinning the fruit from the tree) because she spent her first sixteen years as a migrant farm worker. Mom taught me more than that though from her hard work.

Culling my pretty peach tree sounded cruel but I found out it was necessary so I wouldn’t have dropped fruit or small peaches like this photo of my tree.

Dwarf peach tree-unculled

This process of culling is a lot like writing and revision.

The tree surprised me with the abundance of white Babcock peaches. So many, I made my first ever peach ‘nice’ cream (vegan ice cream) and two peach cobblers. I still need to work on those recipes though. I got a tasty product but the ‘nice’ cream could have been smoother and the cobbler topping flakier. Hey, again, this is much like writing: revising and rewriting until the piece is right.

Besides my love affair with my peach tree, I also received good news. The anthology which accepted one of my short stories was published. The book is now on tour in Chile, Spain, Argentina, and Mexico. The publisher is the University of Nevada and is not out for general sale, yet.

¡Basta!

I’ve spent most of July revising another manuscript and sending it off to be line edited. After that headache, I haven’t done much writing.

Instead, I’ve spent hours in the garden, visiting museums, working out at the gym, reading, practicing meditation with Deepak Chopra and Oprah (Desire and Destiny, online), and planning my September vacation (London!).

July turned out to be a period of self-care and “preparing the grid.” This means to create a vibrational focus.

My friend, Florencia, quotes Abraham-Hicks on preparing the grid or getting ready. This is similar to manifesting done through meditation. If you don’t know who or what is Abraham-Hicks, click here.

This quote seems to sum up July pretty well.

Your work is to be ready for what’s ready. Abraham Hicks

When I think of the quote I realize that July has been a month of culling, picking, chilling, fun and letting go.

Are you ready?

poetry, Travel, Wordsmith Studio

A Poem of Preparation

Airliner in danger-Gettyimages.com
Airliner in danger-Gettyimages.com

Can you prepare for possible  death? 

In the gap between the “heads up, you may die,” and your actual departure much goes on with the mind, body, and soul.

Heavy stuff, I know, but I began thinking of this when I read that the weekly writing prompt, over on Wordsmith Studio, is “Preparation.” 

I immediately thought of a trip my mother and I took to Paris several months ago.  We boarded a plane from LAX to Washington D.C and changed planes to proceed to France. We had several rocky minutes, bouncing up and down, before the Captain’s voice erupted loud and clear over the microphone.

I began jotting words in my travel journal.

The second time the Captain spoke is when I, and probably everyone else on that plane, experienced our own preparation. My first thought was to pray through the apprehension around me. My mother and I linked hands.

This is Your Captain

“We are having mechanical difficulties.”

Headphones off,

passengers alert,

mechanical difficulties?

The video screen shows a map of the east coast,

Atlantic Ocean and Europe.

The tiny plane marker is a quarter of the way over the Atlantic

on the USA side

Shivers and shakes mark the minutes

Turbulence grows strong,

“Due to these difficulties we are adjusting our plans…”

speaker crackle, then silence

“We are redirecting to Washington Dulles airport..”

several murmurs, what’s, why’s

“Redirecting is necessary, we are over the ocean,

too much space to cross..”

people stand, anxiety floats,  babies wake

zippers open, purses readjust, whispers abound

The plane tilts to the left,

breath catches in throat,

Another dip, a rumble,

tremors beneath our collective feet.

“Please…oh no…”

fingers grip seat arms,

our bodies shift to attention

to appease the quaking thunder
“Crew take your seats,” the pilots voice is strong,

direct, like a father saying “Kid’s stop it.”

Passengers glare, foreheads pull down,

lips squeeze over tight teeth.

The plane dips,

a roller coaster for half a second,

“oh…ahh…shit… no,”

escape from parted lips no longer pink

gasps that feed fear fill the air,

babies cry.

We returned safely to Dulles, went through hours of rescheduling while listening to rude passengers yelling to the customer service agents about the delay and the fact that we had to stay in a hotel overnight.

I didn’t like it either, but compared to what could have happened I was easy-peasy.  My mom sat in her wheelchair and dozed while I took care of business.

I’m certain she was still praying.

" Strenght, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Mexican Cooking, Parenting

Lessons from Long Distant Parenting

holding on, letting go
holding on, letting go

A month has passed since my two youngest moved to Colorado, to a city outside of Denver. I’ve had thirty days of tears, fears for their safety, and anxiety. The youngest son (YS)  began college and my daughter (MD) wanted to start her new career in a new place. She’s in the health field and was certain she could find a job in the first week.

Parenting is hard, long distance parenting harder still. There is that fine line between ‘being there’ for them and gently pulling the apron strings from their hands. Kind of a holding on and letting go motion.  In this case there was no gentle pull, but a sharp yank.

During the first week, YS had his bank account robbed-his entire summer savings-taken by someone who used his account number on the internet to purchase items from Macy’s. He found this out while shopping for groceries at the local market. He was pissed,  MD mortified that they had to abandon their grocery cart and walk out with nothing.

YS made a flurry of phone calls to his bank and to me. Their Wi-Fi wasn’t working and they don’t have a printer so he had to fill out forms on his smart phone at Burger King and print the forms at school and mail them out. It’s a helpless feeling to know that your kid got ripped off, you can’t make it right for them, and you hope he’ll calm down enough to follow the long process to get his money back.

I wanted to FedEx them groceries, wire them money, do something. I imaged them starving.  Instead I had to stop and think the situation through and have the kids do likewise. Yes, they had basic staples, beans, rice, and pasta. And that’s what carried them through. YS received his new ATM card and had his money returned in a week and a half.

Lesson: Listen first, don’t dive in to fix things. Do not keep your ATM card number stored on websites, change your password every 90 days, and check your account online frequently. Keep your pantry stocked with staples. Give kids recipes for making Mexican rice, sopita (alphabet or angel hair pasta in spicy sauce) and beans de olla (beans with onion, spices, in the pot) before they move.

The second week the kids new microwave wasn’t operating properly, burning popcorn, not heating. MD called complaining about the micro. We had a conversation about whether they could do without a microwave. She took it back to Walmart and used the $54 for groceries they hadn’t bought the first week. The internet in their apartment is still glitchy, MD doesn’t have a job yet, she ‘s getting worried, I’m getting worried about November’s rent. YS takes MD to a job center to do a job hunt the old fashioned way. MD and YS argue about the chores. His position “she’s home,” her position, “I’m not a maid.”

Lesson: Listen some more. Ask questions that help them solve problems. Luxuries come after necessities. When all else fails get back to the basics. A chore list is posted on the refrigerator.

The third week, MD called at 9 p.m Colorado time. With a trembling voice, she said she smelled something like gas and firetrucks were rumbling into the parking lot of the apartment complex.

“Get your coat, shoes, important papers, cat and get out of there,” I told her.

“I can’t find the cat,” she wailed.

“Leave the patio door open and get out of there,” I repeated.

She hung up. I called back, no answer. I called YS and told him to hightail it back to the apartment. FIve minutes later MD calls, crying. The firefighters told all the residents to evacuate a minute after our phone call. YS was visiting a friend, she couldn’t find the cat, and she was standing in 38 degree weather with her robe and slippers shivering. I did blow my top then almost shouting, asking her why she didn’t do what I told her to do.

“I had to find the cat.”

In my mind I shout, “F*ck the cat,” (sorry but I did), instead I reiterated that the cat has an exit through the patio door and I’m glad she got out with her cell phone. She had to hang up again. MD calls again, she can see the fire fighters walking on the roof above her apartment, then she yells “They’re chopping through our roof!” And I about faint. We lose our phone connection. I start praying and taking deep breaths.

Three minutes later she calls back and says all the residents had to walk a block away from the complex. She tells me how nice the neighbors are to her, noticing that she is alone, offering her a coat to wear, telling her cats are resourceful and keeping her company until my son arrives. We think of a game plan of where they will stay the night in case they can’t return to the apartment. YS wants to sleep in the car so they are nearby. Three hours later they get the all clear that they can return. MD finds the roof axed open, leaving a large gaping hole, a foot away from her front door.

We FaceTime a lot during the next couple of days. I check my airplane miles, I have enough to use for a round trip. I book a flight for the end of October.

Lesson: If you smell gas, and the fire engines are entering your parking lot, get your clothes on, take your wallet/ purse, and get out of the area. Post a sign on the inside of your front door specifying you have pets and their names. Appreciate the kindness of neighbors. Sometimes FaceTime isn’t enough and you’ll only feel better when you hug your kids in person. (This is the let go/hold on part).

The fourth week MD says YS is hardly home, he’s with friends he’s met at college and the skate park. She doesn’t have a car and stuck at home. I encourage her to walk her neighborhood, go to the rec center a couple of blocks away. “I don’t want to do that alone,” she says. The chore list isn’t working. Finally she has a job offer, but it’s not in the health field.

“But it pays well enough to cover all the bills and have money left over. It’s ten hour days, four days a week,” she says. “I start November 1st.”

“Good enough for now,” I say and exhale.

While Southern California endures scorching Santa Ana winds, my YS calls, “It’s snowing.” He’s never driven in snow.  The kids send me photos of snow covered trees and cars. They complain that it’s “Freaken’ icy cold over here.” They find boots, warmer scarves and hats at the Goodwill.

And then they send me a photo of a squirrel on their balcony. “It’s so awesome over here.”

squirrels like Fritos
squirrels like Fritos

I breathe easier. So many obstacles in one month but we made it through. My worry hasn’t dissipated altogether, but I do have hope, faith, and pride for their accomplishments, and mine, to carry me through the next month.