Sunday, August 31, 2008

T. S. Fay

Magdalena in full on helper mode. Our street is not normally furry and green, that's debris from the wind and trees.

Well, it is hurricane season, isn't it? And we do live in Florida, yes? So exactly what do we expect? A hurricane every now and then, or at least a tropical storm. The thing that is misleading about tropical storms is this: it is not a category whatever hurricane, it's only a tropical storm. But there's the rub. For a tropical storm, we don't evacuate (unless flooded), we hunker down. And we lose power, and we lose trees, and we have major floods. Not us, specifically, thank heaven, but our neighborhood and many of our friends.

Magdalena and Augustus heard Ethan sweeping the roof free of debris and up they went like a shot!

One of the most glorious things, ok, the most glorious thing about our neighborhood is the tree canopy. It is a constant source of wonder and beauty for me. To look up and see that tangled web of branches, the light always an emerald green, the air rich with the scent of a forest, that is what makes where we live special. It is also what makes where we live a bit freaky during times like this.
Augustus' first on the roof experience

And he is going to do some work.

When the storm first started on Wednesday, we were good to go, just hanging out having fun, a mini-vaca with papa home due to inclement weather. We had a little family outing to the book store late Wednesday evening for reading materials for Ethan and a new book treat, Zen Shorts, for the babes. It was fun and adventurous, going out in the wild wind out 8:30 at night just for the heck of it. On Thursday we wet felted for the first time, it was so so sooooo fun! I had bought some wool when we were on our southern road trip just for learning how to wet felt and we just never got around to it. Well, let me tell you how serendipitous it was to have a totally fabulous never-before-seen-or-done craft on hand after being inside for two days. We decided to felt a vegetable garden for our play kitchen and Aunt Su-su came over to learn how to do it with us.

Jeanna and Dave, Anthony and Suzanne, and my mom all lost power on Thursday and I remember thinking, ya know, I do not live that charmed a life that of all our family members, we're going to be the only ones who do not loose power. So Friday about 10am we heard this big BOOM! and out went the lights.

It was about then that I realized exactly how unprepared we were for an emergency or any eventuality. I had just plugged my mobile phone in thinking, uhhh, my phone is about to die and if we lose power... And right about then Ethan got a work call, so off he went while I fielded the questions about why we couldn't watch the storm on the computer anymore or why we couldn't turn on the lights or but mama, can't we just watch a movie? Or listen to the music we stream on the internet? We walked around and turned lights on and off, just to prove they did not work. We looked for blinking red or green lights on various electronics, nope, no lights! We did water colors by candle light for hours, played with play clay, and read books by candle light.

Sunday, after we returned home, on an exploratory walk around the neighborhood. (Can you guess what we watched, online, over and over and over last week? Olympic gymnastics, hence the arms-out stance of my little tumblers.)

Friday afternoon, after Ethan returned home from his work call and we had dinner, grilled outside in between rain drops, we were snuggling in for the night when my man could stand it no longer and out we went into the night for a proper propane camping stove and lantern because we were not going to go with out fresh brewed Americanos, no sir! So out we went, in the mess that was Fay, for ice and equipment and ice cream on the way home. Then late-night snuggles and stories by candle light.

One of the six or so gorgeous oaks that fell in a one block radius from our home during Fay.

Saturday was the beginning of the end. We did have a wonderful new "thing", the camping stove that was a novel treat for quite a while. We cooked breakfast on it, made coffee, boiled water for doing dishes, heated water for more wet felting by candle-light. We had the windows and doors open since the beginning of the storm, just to feel the wind rushing through the house and hear it rustling the trees and while everything was a bit damp, it was still fun and vewy Elmer Fudd, "West wind bwoough, East wind bwooough", but then, Saturday, as the wind died down and bits of sun started coming through, the stillness and the heat and the stickiness and the humidity were upon us. We started the clean up, Ethan cleaned off the roof between rain bands, then it started raining again in earnest and off we went to my mom's house for some cool swimming in her pool, some cool inside a.c. action, and some sleeping on cool sheets under fans.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

random perfection. but then again, isn't it always?

Tito Chuchi, aka my brother Anthony, has always been a jungle gym for little children. Or big children for that matter. I remember climbing on him when I was little, I remember watching my cousins do it like crazy when they were little, and the tradition continues with our children. All he has to do is get down on the floor and it is an invitation to climb on top of, to jump off of, to roll around on, he's the jungle gym.

my toes, sand and shell particles, salt water rushing back to the ocean waves

After we returned from Key West and the Houstons returned from summering in New York, oh, didn't I mention the Houston family's adventures in Northeastland? Well, I must fill you in. They took two days to get up to the city, NYC, then when they got there had there own apartment to stay in, in midtown, near Columbus Circle, with a doorman, while the regular tenant was summering in the Hampton's. (Oh Muffy, pass the canapes, will you?) Then they headed up to the camp, the summer house in Essex just a stone's throw from Lake Champlain, doncha know. Okay okay yes it's true! I'm a bit on the green-ish side, just a touch of envy, can you tell? Jeanna filled me on every detail, from the free concert in Central Park to walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, to canoeing and hiking and swimming up in Essex, to badminton on the lawn and it just sounded so idyllic, how can one not want to participate? And not to mention, I Miss New York. I haven't been since I left, not that I need to go, but it wouldn't be awful to go, just for a minute. Sigh. But after the mac-daddy of a trip I have planned for this coming winter, Ethan said I was on lock-down for '09, so I'll just have to plan for '10, yes? Yes.

Anyhoo, I digress. After the Houston's returned from their glorious trip, we all spent the afternoon together at my mom's house on the beach and it was one of those totally random perfect days. No agenda, no holiday, no need to celebrate or mark your calenders, just one of those days that evolves into utter perfection.

As goes Magdalena goes Augustus, as goes Augustus goes Frida

We spent the day swimming in the pool mostly, just hanging out, then had dinner out on my mom's back porch/veranda and Magdalena noticed that the waves were breaking over this crazy bluff that had formed from sand deposits. The tide was coming in and fast and the waves were creating these perfect pools and there is nothing that Magdalena, Augustus and Frida love more than pools on the beach, so off we went for a sunset swim that was the perfect icing on the cake of a perfectly lovely day.

the gloaming approaches

Can I tell you something so so funny? I have been saying the "loaming" for years now, and no wonder no-one ever knew what I was talking about because it's the gloaming. I read the word in a poem once, it means dusk or twilight, I always think about the gloaming as just before dark, the second that happens post-dusk, if you know when I mean, when figures in the distance take on a different feeling, perhaps, they seem more three-dimensional to me, and depth perception is off a bit, and there is this momentary feeling that anything could happen, a bit spooky/supernatural, but not scary, more like rich with the unknown. Anyway, it's one of my favorite times of day, and it only feels like the gloaming when it is warm or humid, never cold or sharp, there has to be something fuzzy and permeable about the atmosphere.

Magdalena and Dave

Dave and the children

This is one of my favorite shots. The high water mark under David's feet, the oh-so King and I stance, the babes playing in the distance.
Absolute random perfection.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

sea kayaking, sailing and a first snorkel trip

Another batch of Key West photos, these from Aunt Su-su's camera. I forgot, shockingly, my camera for Magdalena and Augustus' first snorkel trip, and wouldn't ya know, Suzanne's camera's batteries were on their last legs, but we got a few shots, just enough to get it on film, or digital bytes, whichever.

classic Key West sunset sisters rockin' the sea kayak, Anne/Abuela and Aunt Nancy

We were in the Key West Marine Sanctuary, on the Java Cat, check it out here:

While this is a great shot of my mom and aunt, it does not do justice to where we are. The water is only about 4-6 feet deep and crystal clear. It gets significantly shallower as we paddled to the mangrove islands.

Augustus and Aunt Su-su

I originally uploaded these photos after the trip, then came back and wrote a wonderful blog about it all, then it went poof into ether when I hit "publish post". I logged off only to avoid the whole kit and caboodle until now because I had written a long, beautiful, heartfelt post and I was a bit discouraged to say the least when auto save did not work and I lost the words. But they were only words and suffice it to say that my children's first open water snorkeling trip/sea kayaking trip was a mad success, with brilliant quotes and open water meltdowns and a beautiful time had by all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Key West

Let the traditions begin! I think I must have been 5 or 6 the first time we went snorkeling at John Pennecamp State Park It is one of those much beloved, dreamy memories that defines the beginning of my Key West memories. I remember being in the water with my dad and Jeanna, I remember seeing underwater life for the first time, I remember holding onto daddy, and I remember colors, vibrant saturated colors. We used to go down to Key West if not every year, then every few years as a family. I have a lifetime of memories; snorkeling, sailing, walking, shopping, riding bikes, rollerblading, Duval St, Mallory Square, Ft Zach, Smathers Beach... And now a whole new generation is here, at the beginning of their traditions.

Augustus and Magdalena, sitting on Mallory Square, watching the sun set.

We arrived late on Saturday evening, Magdalena asking like every 10 minutes, are we in Key West yet? I would say "soon baby, soon!" Then, as we really started getting closer, I would say "Big Pine Key, 45 minutes!" Or "Boca Chica, only one more to go!" Then "Stock Island, we're almost there!" Finally "Key West, Magdalena, we're here!" and she was so excited! Mom and I were talking and I turned around and she was OUT! Just like that. She worked so so hard, stayed up until 10:50pm, and was asleep at 11. Exactly when Augustus woke up, don't ya know.

an octopus right there, in our little time-share beach!

I knew going down that this would be the year of the pool. We fell into an easy rhythm of waking up, having breakfast, going to the pool and beach, then coming up for lunch. Augustus would go down for a nap early, Magdalena would go back down to the pool with a cousin - Marlene or Cecilia, an auntie - Aunt Su-su or great Aunt Nancy, an uncle - Tito Chuchi, or Abuela. One day there was a huge torrential rain shower and Magdalena and Tito Chuchi were down there swimming in the rain because, well, they were already wet, right? Then after Augustus woke up he and Magdalena would have a snack, then back to the pool and beach until dinner. Then we'd either do sunset somewhere or it was, can you guess? Back down to the pool for an evening swim.

the Storch/Cousineau/Salazar/Robinson/Barnas family, et al

Magdalena, Miranda and Augustus at Fort Zachary Taylor beach

This was also the year of hanging out with Paula, my dearest friend from my Key West adventures when I lived down there, and her daughter Miranda. Can you tell from the photo that Magdalena and Augustus absolutely adore Miranda? Miranda is a big girl of eight, and my two could not get enough of her.

Abuela and Augustus in his sailor hat

My mom bought Augustus this sailor hat, and it is so insanely cute, and even better, he loves wearing it! He wore it as soon as he got it, and would ask for it regularly if it was not already on his head.

Aunt Nancy won the big jackpot at pool bingo and wanted to splurge with the money so she generously subsidized a sunset sail for us all, with Paula and Miranda joining us.

The sunset sail/snorkel trip is a traditional Key West event. Sometimes they are part of the same trip - a late afternoon sail out to the reef, then sailing back as the sun sets, or it's two trips - a morning reef trip and a late afternoon sail that returns as the sun is setting. Either way it is always gorgeous, always wonderful, always magical. We've done private charters, catamarans, single hull sail boats, party boats, you name it, we've tried it, and they're always perfect. We've known Captain Pucci's, Captain Dave's, and of course, Captain Mo - Paula's husband.

Miranda, Augustus and Magdalena, sailing us to sea

This year was no different. We were on the Sebago Sunset party boat, and Magdalena and Augustus acted like old sea dogs, running around the boat as if they were on land. That, of course, is the beauty of catamarans - they are totally stable. When we went on the cruise to the Bahamas we did a glass bottom boat tour (never again, by the way) and we were in open sea going pretty fast in a small boat, getting rocked from side to side and Magdalena was not at all pleased. She basically declared her dislike of all things nautical, and that was that. Enter the Sebago, big, open, and stable and of course, Miranda, acting for all the world to see that being on the water was the place to be, doncha know.

Magdalena, Aunt Nancy, Augustus and Miranda

Paula was friends with Commander Dave and our three got to spend an inordinate amount of time at the helm, maybe just enough to wet their taste for a life at sea.

After his time at the helm, Augustus wanted to snuggle down and have nummies and go to sleep. I brought the pashmina in the event that my almost three year old son wanted to nurse in that very public place, so we sat at the front of the boat and got comfortable. He was soon asleep and I was able to just hold him, sleeping, in my arms. An elegant grandmama, who was with a group of folks I noticed noticing me, came over to talk to me after Augustus fell asleep. She leaned in close and said "Your children are gorgeous, really, they're so beautiful". She had the kindest expression on her face, one of benevolence and a quiet joy, and I can't help but think that she knew I was nursing that big ol boy of mine, and she was encouraging me. Maybe she was, maybe she wasn't, I like to think she was, like she and her group of friends were blessing us both with their kind looks and her sweet words.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


We're in Key West, no photos yet, just an overheard conversation. We've met a lovely family here, Lynn, the gorgeous grandmother, and her grandson Aidan. We've spent many hours with them in the pool and by the beach, diving after dive sticks and building sand castles. Magdalena calls Aidan her Best Friend. Anyhoo, we went to check out a dive trip that includes shallow water snorkeling and sea kayaking from a small catamaran, and later that night we met Aidan and Lyn down at the pool for an evening swim. Aiden was leaving and this short exchange followed:
Aidan: Magdalena, I'll see you down here tomorrow.
Magdalena (hands folded in front of her chest): Actually, I won't be available tomorrow, we're going kayaking.
Crazy muffled laughter.
Me: uuhhh, Magdalena, we're not going kayaking until Friday.
Magdalena: Oh great! I'm available! See you tomorrow.

Maybe you had to be there, but the whole folded hands actually-I-won't-be-available part just killed us.
More soon