I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas?

One of these days I’m sure I’ll stop writing about how life in California is different than life in Ohio. Surely, the day will come, right? Until then, you must accommodate me while I marvel at each change in the season. Last year I was in such shock that I barely noticed the change from summer to fall. I spent a lot of time lurking on the Cuyahoga Valley Facebook feed, watching photos of red leaves and then of snow piling up before those red leaves were removed from the trails. I hardly engaged with Christmas here in my own life because I was still reeling from the move. Still focusing on how to stay afloat in our new routine.

This year I noticed the changes. The heat broke in late September making way for cooler nights. As fall crept upon us we’d wake in the morning with a chill in the house and snuggle under blankets or hurry to put on sweaters. The leaves began to change around Halloween when Ohio leaves would be in their peak. The delay was somewhat strange, but as Thanksgiving approached, fall took shape. The leaves around our park changed red and gold. The evening hour came earlier and earlier, casting a golden glow on the afternoons. We began eating dinner in the dark.

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Now the rain has come. Last year the drought was in full force and there wasn’t much rain to speak of. But the locals tell me that this year is more typical of winter in Northern California. Since the last week of November it has rained a little bit almost daily. Sometimes it’s still above 65 degrees in the afternoon, but most days we need a jacket. I’m adjusting to the change, and this wet weather is almost bringing that cosy winter feeling that I used to get as the snow fell outside. I snuggle into a sweater each morning and wrap a scarf around my neck before I head out the door. The girls still don’t ever wear socks, but they are wearing their fleece pajamas to bed each night.

 

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Photo by my friend, Rose.

On our drive to enrichment classes this morning, the hills that usually glow in the sun with golden grasses, instead were a dusty green. It’s not the chartreuse spring green of Ohio in April. But the winter rains have awoken the grasses, drawing the cattle off the tops of the hills into the valleys to graze with a new enthusiasm. Christmas joy for cattle in Northern California comes as fresh green grass. For the humans it comes as turning off the sprinklers for the year, and donning rubber boots. Soon we should be switching our jackets for coats. And it may even get frosty over night.

2014-12-04 19.15.45But if we want to see snow we’ll have to drive to the mountains. Rob has never been a native Ohioan in spite of all the years he lived there. Snow doesn’t equal Christmas for Rob the way it does for the girls and I. He is feeling the winter spirit already. But even though I feel more in season this year, I still miss snow. As I write this a man just walked into the coffee shop wearing gym shorts and t-shirt. That would never happen in an Ohio December.

But we have our own signposts pointing to Christmas here. And as I look I notice them more and more. I follow the Yosemite facebook photos of the waterfalls. Snow is falling in the Sierra, promising an easier year for the drought. The hills are greening up, but the live oak that dot the hills are bare-branched. The trees in our park have lost most of their leaves, and as the rain continues more they should be bare soon as well. At night, the moon shines through a haze of clouds wrapping the orb in a circular rainbow. And the Christmas tree in the house brings so much joy to our girls that it’s infectious. We will have a green Christmas this year. But it will be Christmas indeed.

 

Sadness in Conn

I don’t have much to say. I will say that I am one of the few people who feels as much sadness for the shooter as I do for the children and their families. There is a big crack in our social support system and we need to fix it, not patch it or ignore it.

I have told my own girls that I love them about 3,000 times this weekend. I will give love to them and fill them up, no matter what.

Love is the answer 99% of the time, but when it doesn’t work, what do we do then?

Octopus’s Garden

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love it even more than Christmas. I think the reason I like Halloween so much is that no matter how much consumer junk there is available to just buy and be done with it, there is really no reason to accidentally spend $1000 on Halloween like there is for Christmas. Also, no matter how easy it is to buy a Halloween costume, it doesn’t discourage a ton of people from getting down with their creative self (even if they think they aren’t creative) to make a costume out of clothes from the thrift store or cardboard or fabric.

This year I spent the two weeks leading up to our school’s “Trunk or Treat” making a family’s worth of under the sea themed costumes. The girls all decided to be mermaids, so that was easy. We went online and looked at Google Images of mermaid costumes until they picked the one they liked the best. They settled on the ones that were the easiest to make, thank goodness, and I got them all done in one weekend.

Everyone say Hi to our neighbor, the fairy.

My original plan was to make a Cat Bus hoodie for my costume, but the girls told me I needed to be in the theme, so I changed my mind to octopus. I used 2 yards of fleece fabric (because it’s OHIO and it’s cold on Halloween every year) and draped it over my mannequin to make the pattern. There was no measuring, just guessing, because that is what knit fabric is for.

Notice I am not the only crazy person in this family.

I used jewelry wire to hold the non-sleeve tentacles in shape, and hot glued minkie fleece to the underside of the tentacles for suction cups.

Then we made a giant sand castle out of cardboard boxes and sprayed it with glitter glue. And put the whole thing in front of a fabric ocean scene hanging from the gate of our trunk. And for the whole event I played Octopus’s Garden by the Beatles on the van’s speakers. Can’t you tell everyone loved it?

Oh yeah. I never got a picture of it, but Rob wore a golden crown and carried a trident I made out of a hiking stick. And we passed out Swedish Fish.

I may have gone a bit overboard.