Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ready or Not

It’s done. I’ve launched my baby, my decade of long, laborious hours, of multiple versions and wrenching rewrites. My memoir, Marrying Santiago. I still can’t avoid the sensation that the words “my memoir” sound pretentious. And now I’m not totally comfortable in this new role of promoting my book and putting myself out to the world. Heartening comments from those who have read the book – that they couldn’t put it down or that it caused them to laugh or cry – lift my self-confidence. When a day goes by with no input, the doubts march in. It’s not that well-written. Or that chapter is lack luster. I reread parts at random to reassure myself.

Early this morning I lived a vivid dream. I say “lived” because it was very real. I was there. In the small bookshop in my hometown, I’m talking to the owner (to whom I did send a copy) about the prospects of carrying my book. He was not encouraging, pointing out the reasons why. I realize that this is a real possibility that I must be prepared for. I will be back in my hometown in a couple days and will approach the bookshop owner. I am getting nervous, but, when I walk through his door, I’ll keep in mind the wonderful comments I’ve received. I must believe in my book.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Calm of Cutting Dead Lavender Flowers

The lavender bush in our front yard maintains a magnificent state of endless blooming. Not only is it pleasing to my eyes; it provides a bounty of pollen for the honey bees. It is fall here now, and the choice of flowers for the bees and butterflies has diminished. I stand before the bush, scissors in hand, the soft warmth of the fall sun on my back. I do not want to prune the lavender, so must cut the dead flowers one by one. I work with care so as not to disturb the industrious bees as they labor with their velvet touch. The flowers nod in acknowledgement to the visiting bees.

Like the bees, I must work with patient precision, paying delicate attention to detail. I inhale deeply the lavender scent and watch how the furry creatures go about their business of gathering.
I feel immensely rich, having the time to pay attention to these small things. This is how I survive life in the big city. The paying attention is all – to the varied hues of the fall leaves, cloud formations, the backyard birds pecking at the crumbs I've sprinkled about, the one California wild iris in bloom, tricked by the warm days.

Next week our occasional gardener is coming to tear down the old lemon tree. Until recently, it provided us with a constant supply of large lemons ever since we bought the house twenty-eight years ago. Gradually we've had to amputate dry branches until now only one green branch survives. I will miss it. A replacement thrives in a pot nearby.
Our old apricot tree is also showing severe signs of aging. I fertilize it often, hoping next spring its branches will again be laden with juicy orange globes. It could also be replaced, but I doubt other apricots would be as flavorful. Replacements often do not measure up to their predecessors.

Tortoise update: Speedy Gonzalez has gained one hundred grams! Our patient hand-feeding is bearing fruit. And I’m becoming quite acquainted with the unique design of tortoise anatomy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Resisting the Tortoise Hibernation Instinct in 15 Simple Steps

Our tortoise, Speedy Gonzalez, has not gained enough weight after his summer long bout with pneumonia, dehydration and kidney disease. According to the veterinarian, he won’t survive months of hibernation. I've followed instructions to construct a terrarium for him, a winter hangout.

1.      Buy a very large plastic box (33 x 20 in. minimum).
2.      Take this unwieldy box to the vet’s shop where she demonstrates how to attach two clamp lights, (one for light and one for heat), a thermometer and a timer.  Purchase this equipment and a multiple extension cord.
3.      Assemble terrarium at home, lining the bottom of the box with shredded newspaper.
4.      Add a shoebox cut in half for Speedy’s sleeping quarters and plates for water and food.
5.      Insert Speedy.

6.      Check the next morning. The thermometer is way below the 27 degrees C necessary to activate Speedy’s metabolism. He isn't eating.
7.      Remove wet newspaper where he spilled his water.
8.      Plan B. Place him in a box in the sun.
9.      Soak him in lukewarm water for half an hour to stimulate appetite and digestion.
10.  Feed him turtle food with a syringe as in previous months. Allow half an hour. This requires four hands.

11.  Gently massage his neck to relax and encourage swallowing.
12.  Tempt him with chunks of ripe banana and kiwi.
13.   Go to vet’s to change heat lamp bulb for a stronger one.
14.   Check thermometer the next day. Only 22 degrees.
15.   Repeat steps 8 through 12. Every day.

To the reader:  updates forthcoming.