Sunday, August 27, 2017


Just overnight, it seems, several white blossoms have opened on our old apricot tree, harbingers of sweet summer fruit and announcing the advent of spring. 

Other signs of this season of hope are surfacing in our garden: the first fragrant freesia blooms, fragile California poppy seedlings (I’ve marked off their area with small sticks to protect them from the gardener’s shovel), pink snapdragons and blue forget-me-nots. Birds know it’s almost nesting time. Our resident turtle doves have taken to chasing each other, warming up for mating. Regular as clockwork, the juices of renewal and birth appear. Small miracles. The air is still cold, yet trees, flowers and birds know it’s that time.

All these signs of spring inject me with energy and hope, a time of looking forward: to the warmth of the spring sun on my back, more time in the out-of-doors and the upcoming visit of our youngest son and his girlfriend. Like the birds, my nesting instinct is activated. I’ve contacted a painter to do some small jobs around the house. We just bought a new barbeque and can’t wait for warmer days to invite family and friends to enjoy our backyard and share a meal. I’ve contracted spring cleaning fever, anxious to clear out accumulations of junk and papers. I’m giving the paper shredder a workout.

The gardener and his son (Daniel and Daniel) pruned our avocado tree a month ago. The tree, now over thirty years old, grew from a pit planted by our son, Nico, as a child. The pruning allowed us to harvest over 400 avocados. What pleasure to give the fruits of our harvest to family and friends. Suddenly, they’re all ripening at once, which has me racing to find takers. Another small miracle in our garden is an heirloom tomato plant that wintered over and now has its first tomato.

Rain is predicted for tomorrow. A spring christening that azaleas, the camellia, the hydrangeas, the sequoia and all their garden neighbors will welcome .

Sunday, August 6, 2017

My Love Affair

I’ve been meaning to buy a new one, but the old one, split in half with loose pages, does me just fine. I’m not sure how long I’ve had it, so I open to the first page to check the date. “Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus” reads the title page. But, what’s this? My son’s name is written in the top right hand corner and, under his name, “Berkeley Fall 98.” He must have bought it when he arrived to Berkeley as an exchange student.
            My Thesaurus and I are inseparable. It has been my faithful wordsmith throughout my years of crafting Word Prompts for my writing group, blog posts, magazine articles and essays, multiple edits and re-edits of a memoir and a collection of narrative essays. This yellowing, battered treasure has been my salvation in my struggle to extract words from the tangled jungle of my shrinking memory word bank. I say “shrinking” because in a non-English speaking country, a plethora of words fall by the linguistic wayside from lack of exposure and use.
            Logophile: a lover of words. I embrace them, their multiple meanings and uses and sounds. Gleeful gladiolas, riotous revelry. Magnificent metaphors and sly similes, allusions and delusions, hysterical hyperbole and holy hosannas. A scene of beauty, a moment of ecstasy, a spark of understanding – on the wings of words all can be revealed. The incredible silkiness of an owl feather, the trill of a canary, the tingle of a spicy, hot pepper, a watermelon sunset, the heady scent of spring’s first acacia blooms.
            Some ask why I don’t use the Thesaurus online. Habit. And there’s the pleasure of turning its pages, immersing myself its world of words. When I hit a word block, I gently pull it from the bookshelf and fit together its two halves. I turn the pages eagerly, hunting for just the word. I then try out the alternatives until I reach that satisfying aha! moment. Got it. The perfect word for the occasion. Sesquipedalian.

My dear old Thesaurus Rex.