Archive for September, 2009

Blog Break While Procrastination Continues…

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Over the weekend we attended a birthday party—T’s first. Since he was scared of the only birthday cake he’s ever been presented with in his life, I wondered how he’d react a year later to somebody else’s birthday cake.

Let Him Eat Cake!

And the eat-fest went on from here. (It was delicious cake!)

Zuma Procrastinator…

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Zuma again. No man with the seagull on his head—too early in the day for him. But the dolphins are here, poking their heads out of the Fresca ocean (remember Fresca?), taking a quick peek at the loungers on the beach, then moving on. T and S kicked the beachball, filled the toy truck with sand, pulled the wagon around and tested the surf’s temperature all in the first five minutes of making camp.


Since it’s post Labor Day, my husband was convinced tourist and schoolkid traffic would be minimal at Zuma. Wrong. It’s Sunday! Everyone is here. Tourists, schoolkids and Valley Escapees like us as the weather again reaches for the 90’s, stubborn as some old-ish family member who refuses to turn the oven down to a reasonable temperature when cooking the Sunday London Broil, burning it every time.


Yes. A definite desperate attempt at metaphor as I sit in a creaky beach chair in Malibu overcast, trying to jump-start my creativity.


And what is the nagging wariness I feel here on the beach? Why do my eyes shy from those friendly rollers, that mildly churned surf?


I like Zuma—at least, I like Zuma down by lifeguard stand #13. I don’t like Zuma enough to name my next child Zuma—just like I don’t like fruit enough to name a child Apple. Or Kiwi. Or Papaya Banana Jr. But it’s beautiful here. I like it here. Very much. Still…

Calm before the storm!

Truthfully, I’d like a house with a Widow’s Walk for daily private meandering—a quaintly gated widow’s walk—an open-aired, partial-turret of peace. The fins and spouts I’d monitor! The storms I’d predict and await. I’d haul a desk up there, visit it when the moment struck, then back to pacing before an ocean moodier than sky, than anything.

Which is all to say that even though Part I of my children’s novel has yet to be published, I need to start writing Part II. Even though Part I has come maddeningly, gray-hair-inducing close to acceptance, I can’t use its not being accepted (yet) as an excuse for avoiding Part II, which is packed with even more ocean than Part I, with all manner of beasts on land and sea, includes the return of Architeuthis Dux and the emergence of the Tasmanian Blobster (in pre-blob form, of course). I have begun the research, but not the writing. When I look at the ocean, I am reminded of this. And I feel nervous.


More dolphins. The Fresca has transferred from ocean to sky. The ocean, blueing deeply, flips a surfer as a pelican executes a perfect dive. When my son laughs, so do I. And the Mama-in-me kisses the procrastinator goodbye.

Togetherness is best.

I Had A Feeling And I…

Monday, September 14th, 2009

If I had followed the pediatrician’s advice and that from various books and NOT gone into his bedroom at 9pm, when he’s usually snoozing, but ignored his vocal exercise and let him “work it out” and “self-soothe” himself back to sleep, I would not have known (not having a video monitor anymore because we gave it away when he was 18 months or so thinking that at any moment and certainly by now, at 22 months, we wouldn’t need it because our precious petunia would be sleeping through the night—!!!), I WOULD NOT HAVE KNOWN that he had ripped off his diaper and tossed it out of his crib and was actually a total nudey butt. Had I not gone in to check on his indignant cries, I would have experienced horrible drama at 3 in the morning, no doubt, one involving the stripping of crib sheets and pads and changing a screaming toddler as I struggled to remember how to pull the tabs open on a diaper and administer Desitin. Had I not gone in, I would not have thwarted disaster. More importantly, I would have ignored a little person desperately trying to tell Mama and Dadda: People who take care of me! I have ripped off my diaper! There is cool air flowing around my privates! I may pee!

I entered his room with a sippy cup. He took it from me, swigged with gusto, pressed the “play” button on his crib’s lullaby-maker and lay down. Awwww, I thought, bending over and rubbing his back. He just needed a drink, I thought, then noticed my left bare foot was standing on something that felt soft and odd and just then my hand glided down to the nudey butt. As I bundled him into a freshie diaper (and, this time, pajama bottoms OVER the diaper), I noticed in the half-light that he was staring at me. “Mama,” he said with conviction and I assured him he was absolutely right. He lay down and was out in seconds.

Having grown up with a fear of authority due to living in England in the 1970’s and being subjected to teachers that spanked with plimsoles—spanked hard—when children misbehaved, questioning authority has come slowly to me. But over the years, sometimes dragged kicking and screaming into it by my husband’s support and insight, I have learned to listen to my gut more than my head. As I lie in bed type type typing away, our toddler snoozing for, hopefully, the next 6 hours minimum, knowing I will not be doing laundry at 3, 4 or 5am reminds me of this:

Intuition is a beautiful thing.

(And quite helpful to toddlers learning to master language and communication.)

Little Thinker, Little Communicator

Island Of Discarded Toys…(blog break)

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Discard: whale shark

Discard: kiddie pool rejects

Discard: lonely giraffe

Discard: puppy dog

Discard: sock monkey

Discard: Jack

Discard: elephant

Discard: bear

Discard: 1 unfortunate frog

Discard: mystery toy

Broken track!

Al on the tracks!

Al is so large!

Captured ringtail!

Crushed tiger!

On Wildlife On Human Heads…

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Saturday, late afternoon, feeling my stream of NO-NO’s weaken from the continuous “Thomas” DVD requests, I suggested the 25 mile drive North—away from the smoke and ash of the fires currently raging—to Zuma Beach. My fatigued husband, who had battled his own personal firestorms all week as a worker back in the corporate world, surprised me with a quick, decisive, “Let’s f*%#*%# do it!”

He didn’t really say that, but that’s how my startled mind interpreted sudden enthusiasm from someone who actually needed a nap worse than me.

So we cooked up the Trader Joe’s cheese pizza, filled sippy cups, stuffed Infant Tylenol, Desitin, matches, scissors, sewing kit, packets of astronaut food, flannels (in case the next Ice Age hit while we were out) and everything else we could think of into the diaper bag, grabbed the “Thomas” obsessed little guy and took off, me thinking the entire drive up and over the baking mountain, Crap, what about vegetables, he’s not getting any vegetables tonight, he’s not—oh shut up!

Because sometimes you just have to go to the beach for dinner, even if you have no vegetables to take along. Because when it’s 105 degrees outside and the blow-up kiddie pool is shriveling and it’s late afternoon and grandma’s gone home and you and your husband slept for 5 minutes on your Saturday because that’s how long your son’s nap lasted and the little guy is moving on to the next thing and that’s going to include you getting up off the living room couch and following him from one end of the house to the other, you start thinking about where the coolest place with room to run a 21 month old is within driving distance that is NOT a crowded mall—and that would be: the beach, the one that everyone is leaving for the day just as you arrive.

Of course the toddler napped blissfully on the way there.

But that meant my husband and I could visit uninhibitedly and if we happened to utter an expletive, our little parrot would not repeat it. (Freedom!)

And when we arrived at Zuma, not only did we choose a lovely, sparsely populated bit of beach with a view of several pods of dolphins frolicking, but we happened to be sitting right where the man with the seagull on his head walks by every single dusk.

You really feel like you’ve seen it all when you watch your amazed toddler watch the man with the seagull on his head watch zany dolphins surfing Zuma waves. And then you talk to the man with the seagull on his head and you find out right away that he is not, in fact, crazy. His eyes are lucid and he tells endearing stories about the gulls—birds most people treat like pesky flies, or worse. I encourage every parent of a toddler to go to Zuma Beach near dusk, to Lifeguard station #12 and wait for the man with the seagull on his head to come along. He’s good at talking to children—all calm and happy-docent-ish, fielding goofy questions with a patient smile. When he said goodbye to us (and the rest of the amazed little crowd that had gathered), we waved as he strolled off up the beach into the sunset, kept waving even though he couldn’t see us waving—a man and a wild gull (occasionally unfurling her wings to keep her balance on his cranium) connecting. They made quite the catchy silhouette.

I glanced at the ocean as my husband and our son moved on to kicking the beachball around. The dolphins were still there, throwing up tails and flippers and making the water froth. I love dolphins. I wondered if I swam out to them, would they include me in their games? Would we connect?

I walked to the surfline, stuck my toe in the water, yelped. F’ing freezing!!! I hastily withdrew my feet from the tide’s reach, pretty sure the dolphins would try to sit on my head, anyway, and I’d drown, or they’d swim away from me and a shark would take their place and bite off my foot like that one bull shark did to that unlucky dude fishing in shallow water and then how effective a mother would I be, hobbling after my son because I was stupid enough to go dolphin seeking at dusk, when, as everyone knows, sharks feed…I breathed in delicious sea air and joined in the beachball kicking still going on, glad to have both of my feet. High above us, seagulls shrieked delightedly, circling our picnic dinner.