Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Changing directions

I just put away the last of the felts I'd had hanging around since Latvian school ended some weeks ago.

I wonder when I will use them again.

One of the reasons I didn't get a job right after moving to La Plata was so I could keep doing these other things I feel called to do: visiting my grandmother a lot and helping a bit with her care, teaching the beautiful children at Latvian church about God and all His wonders, spending time with my great aunt from time to time. I am seeing her tomorrow, and we are both looking forward to it.

For a while it was hard not to think of all the things I probably won't be able to do once the baby's born, or not for a few months, at least. When Bible study ended a few weeks ago, I knew I wouldn't be signing up again if a new course started in September. I don't know when I'll go back to teaching Latvian school, but it won't be this fall. I will miss the chance to share stories with the kids and listen to their interesting thoughts and prayers.

And while everything winds down for the summer, I've found myself with a freer schedule and a bit more mental space than usual. There's been a richness to this chance to think and do things on my own, and I am aware that this chance is fleeting. The baby is due in just two months now, and older parents tell me that is when everything will change.

But everyone -- even the other Latvian school teachers, my great aunt, my grandmother -- they are all so happy about this baby that will take me away from them for at least awhile. And I am happy, too.

And though I worried for a time about all the good work I won't be able to do anymore, it's funny -- it seems I'm being needed elsewhere less and less. There are a number of people interested in teaching religion to the Latvian school children, and I think I will be happy to see someone take my place. God has granted me a different kind of work, and it will keep me busy enough.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Snake sighting #2

This time, the snake in the yard was a bright green thread of a thing hiding under the ledge by the front door. It's the exact kind of snake I would like for a pet, actually, and after I got over my initial yelp of surprise I was tempted to pick it up (but didn't).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I wish I'd brought my camera

Joe's in San Diego again, and it's funny how quickly I can fall back into the patterns I had before we were married: going to church alone, wandering a park afterwards, sleeping and waking at strange times. For a little while it's almost like being unmarried again -- and then he calls me or I start planning the next few days, and so many of our thoughts and plans circle around each other. And then there's this baby in my belly... it's kicking like crazy this afternoon.

I'll have to bring Joe back to the park sometime soon. I'm actually not sure I was supposed to go there... a locked gate meant I had to park my car on the road, so I looked for signs saying the park was closed, but there weren't any. I got around the gate by a footpath.

I don't know if anyone goes there... the dirt road toward the lake was lined with wild blackberry bushes, with plenty of ripe ones for me. The road had beautiful butterflies, the grass had humble little wildflowers, and the lake was surrounded by pine trees and birds. I saw a bluebird!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hello, Vecmamma

At the age of ninety-seven, my grandmother is starting to get confused about who I am sometimes. She still knows her granddaughter Daina, though sometimes she forgets that Daina has already left college and even married that boy my grandmother likes so much... it's just that she doesn't always realize that I'm that granddaughter. A few times now, she's mistaken me for my mother, especially if I visit when she's groggy from a nap.

I try to greet her, "Hello, Vecmamma! It's Daina!" but sometimes she forgets or doesn't hear. And we'll talk awhile and it becomes clear that she's saying "your husband" when she should be saying "your father," and I try to gently correct her... but I usually can't bear to say outright, "No, Vecmamma, you're confused. I'm Daina, your granddaughter." And eventually she'll get it right on her own.

I have been expecting something like this for years now, and it is not so hard to take. The part I find strange is how nice a visit we can have still. I used to think that what made us so close were all those hours when I was little, playing dominoes and walking to the pond and watching Wheel of Fortune while I tried to subtly convince her to scratch my back. And those things still tie us together in a way. But even when she thinks I am someone other than the girl she spent so much time with, it still feels so natural to sit close to each other in her bed or on the couch, flipping through old photo albums or telling stories and just enjoying our time together.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's day

This time of year, the orange daylilies bloom in clumps along the side of the road. You can find them in Maryland -- some right here in La Plata, even -- but it was in Michigan, I think, when the long swaths of bloom caught my dad's attention some years ago.

My dad is an enthusiastic gardener, and maybe he appreciated how the lilies can grow even under the shady fringes of woods along the back roads. It was there, anyway, that he pulled over the pickup and got out with his shovel, dug up a clump of lilies and tossed them into the back.

I don't really remember why my dad and I were there -- maybe he was bringing me to summer camp? But in any case, I think I was probably by myself as I cringed in embarrassment, thinking something like, "Most people would just go visit a garden nursery!"

My dad is not like most people, and I am grateful for that. He has taught me many lessons in life, showing me that beauty is something worth cultivating and the way everyone does it is not necessarily the best way and many other things that have made me wiser along the way. And I'm excited because Joe is starting that same kind of lifework this year, though I know he won't do it quite like my dad did.

I think the lilies are still blooming every summer along the edge of my parents' backyard, bright orange under the shade of the fringe of woods.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


There are seals in San Diego. They have taken over a children's beach in La Jolla, a little ways north of downtown.

They are fast as fish in the water, but they look pretty lazy on land!

By popular request

Here are some pictures of pregnant me with Joe in San Diego. He was there for three weeks on business, so we had time to explore together on the weekends. It was great.

I look considerably rounder in real life, for some reason... so if you really want to see what I look like, you'll have to come visit!

I think this is a cypress

The Pacific Ocean in La Jolla

Pools and tidepools

Sandstone + ocean = fun

The lion is stuffed

Under a rare torrey pine tree (they grow on seacliffs!)

More torrey pines

Joe (the white speck) on a ridge in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Near some old desert petroglyphs

At the first Spanish mission in California

Friday, June 12, 2009


Oh wow. What a loving woman.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Back and smiling

So I know only a few people in the neighborhood... more of them keep to themselves or to other circles. And I am starting to be okay with that.

That's because I finally DO have a few neighbors I know. The yard sale was the turning point, actually. It gave us an excuse to chat with people, learn (and re-learn) a few names. I had a really good feeling about the family from almost right across the street, so when Joe and I were gone in San Diego for more than a week, we gave them the key and the older little girls watered our plants. The mom said I didn't have to pay them, but I did. What's the going rate for five sessions of plant-watering, anyway? I got a hug back from one of them, aww.

They were coming over only every few days, though, so even though I asked them to bring in the newspapers, the house started to look a bit unoccupied. Our lawn-mowing neighbor from up the street noticed the papers piling up, stuck them inside our storm door, and mowed our front lawn again!

There are a few other people I know well enough to chat with on the street, but I'm starting to think that what helps the most is having at least a couple good neighbors -- people who will notice you (or your absence) and help out if they can.

Now I just need to finish learning their names. The family almost right across the street has four children, and they ALL have long, unusual names that start with the same letter. One day I'm going to ask their mom for a cheat-sheet.

Nice neighbors make me happy. So does an evening without a huge downpour. I even got the back lawn mowed.