I kick open the front door and drop my bags. Immediately I turn on music, filling the air with “A Thousand Years” by The Piano Guys. Opening wide my arms I twirl circles across the bare boards of a room filled with sunlight.
It’s been months since I visited the Front Door. Wouldn’t it be fun to say that I’d packed real bags and went visiting castles in Spain, and surf fishing on the beaches of Ibiza. Imagine posting Instagram photos of me outside Castle Coca, Castle Manzanares El Real, and Castle Alcazar of Segovia.
I have Spain on the brain because one of the things I actually did while vacationing from this blog is rereading that wonderful trio of novels by Lois McMaster Bujold, loosely known as the “Chalion novels.” They are fantasies set in a world based upon medieval Spain. All three books spin a yarn that speculates on the nature of the relationship between the human and the divine.
Not everyone’s cup of tea, of course, but I always close each book wondering how Bujold come up with the stuff she writes. I shelve her novels next to those eccentric little theological novels of Charles Williams, who as one of the Inklings, was a friend of C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien. Like olives and caviar, Williams is an acquired taste, but I reread his books annually.
In addition to re-reading theological fiction, I attended the April NaNoWriMo boot camp. This is an online workshop for writers. I am happy to announce that I have lost my fear of the first sentence. I remember how many times I started letters “Dear Friend, How are you? I am fine” and never wrote another sentence. Now I can knock out a paragraph or two with ease. AND, and, and, I am getting better at writing with an active voice.
A paper bag was left on the floor, and Romeo immediately climbed in then looked up at me. This was irresistibly cute, so I grabbed my camera and snapped this picture. Then I thought, “was is it that makes us call something cute?”
Merriam-Webster defines cute as attractive or pretty in a childish, youthful, or delicate way. What is that makes something seem childish, youthful, or delicate? I thought about this long and hard for about five minutes which the outer limits of my attention. Then I looked at some “cute” photos. My conclusion that the first important element required by cute is roundness of shape. The next important element is softness of line.
But here’s the next question “how is it that critters that are definitely not cute manage to do things that are cute? For this I have no answer.
For a year, I’ve passed by a place called “Cornerstone” idly wondering what it was. Last Saturday, I finally went on a fact finding expedition. Basically, it is a tourist destination: a restaurant, four wine tasting rooms, and two high end gift stores.
It’s the gardens that make Cornerstone a worthwhile place to spend an afternoon. There are twenty plots; each the size of a triple office cubicle. Every plot contains a garden designed by famous landscape architects from the United States, Europe, and Asia. Naturally, I didn’t have my pocket Nikon Coolpix with me. I had to make do with the camera on my cell phone.
Our neighbor across the way who lost the house he recently owned in the Fountain Grove area of Santa Ana, took several of us on a little tour of the fire damage. After three months, recovery is slow because of all the hazardous toxins that must be removed from the soil. Nature is doing her part to soften the damage by regrowth, nevertheless the damage remains stark.
This week two strangers received joyous news. A match was found for a new kidney. Their struggle to live under the shadow of renal failure is over. The donor was my cousin Penny, who passed from this life January 4th when her life support was disconnected. One door closing opened two others. Life passes to life. Like water, life takes many forms and shapes that are beyond our ability to see. Penny lives in our memory, and in the lives of others as well.
Quentin, Who is Two
Quentin blew through the door (accompanied by his parents). They traveled from Canada to visit his great-grandmother Genivieve Duffin. He turned two in December, and is a full-fledged member of the tribe known the world over as “the Terrible Twos.” Watching this little guy chasing the cat, running back and forth around the living room, and grabbing for everything interesting that he saw, I found myself thinking “it is the terrible twos” because it is terrible to be two. Here are these little tykes, waking up to a bright and shiny world full of wonderful things to explore, and all they encounter are people yelling “NO” and “DON”T TOUCH, and “YOU KNOW THE RULES!” When you are two it’s only natural to explore and grab and touch and climb. How else does one learn to negotiate the world? Of course one doesn’t know the rules. Big people tell them something that makes no sense in their world, then expect them to both understand and obey immediately. At two, you are so small that people can pick you up out of the blue and carry you away right in the middle of something interesting. It takes a lot of grit to survive being two.