Daffodils and an unexpected visit

Check this out, a History News Network blog is looking for one or more new bloggers. I’d do it but I’ve got quite enough history and blogging on my plate as it is. I’m sort of amused by this call, though; I’d never really thought about how sites like this find their contributors.

I’ve had a pleasant, thoughtful weekend. It was also, unexpectedly, productive, not by normal standards, but compared to what I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks, yes.

On Friday I woke up late as usual, having stayed up late the night before NOT trying to up my Pelpet score but learning how to make tables in HTML so I could redo my Berkeley-vs-LA page. Having completed that page, I slept the sleep of the righteous and felt good enough to do Pilates on Friday. Finished Pilates, tried some dance, realized after a few pliés that my legs are really out of shape. But I felt energized and healthy and good, so I went out on a productive shopping spree and got lots of grocery shopping done. Three stores in an hour and a half and just beat the Friday rush hour, AND I found parking in front of my apartment.

Saturday I spent some more time working on my site, then got a call from a Berkeley friend who was interviewing at UCLA. We went for a walk (YAY FINALLY walking!) and had cheap Chinese food and ice cream. Afterward I drove him back to his home in Santa Ana. This was the first time I’d seen this friend since graduation, and I’d really missed talking to him, so it was great to see him again, but this was a more thought-provoking meeting and conversation than usual. I have so much respect for this person, for his goodness of heart and genuine un-self-centeredness. Since we last talked he has taken on two jobs and is considering a third, all in teaching and tutoring, and he’s applying to masters’ programs in education to continue that work. I know this is the perfect thing for him because he has a real desire and commitment to help out in the world. The commitment part is important: teaching and education are an insane uphill battle and I really admire him for taking on the struggle. But most of all I admire what he has done for his own family: in recent months he has become the de facto guardian of a young relative and is now supervising her schoolwork, meals, and basically being a parent to her while her own parents work out their divorce. I could see in our conversation how much he cares about her and her future and how much effort he is putting into making sure she feels loved and secure, while also trying to make sure he keeps his own future as he’d planned it on track. It is astonishing and awe-inspiring to talk to someone who is my same age and who is at the same set of crossroads in life (graduation from college, grad school, etc), and see that over the course of a few months he has taken on the willing self-sacrifice of a parent, who has, as far as I’m concerned, actually become a parent, and an exemplary one at that. Our conversation has stayed in my mind since Saturday afternoon and I am still amazed. Truly, truly humbling to be in the presence of such a kind heart.

Speaking of which, I was fortunate enough (blissfully happy, really) to get to spend part of this weekend with another one of the kindest people I know, my own Erik. On Thursday I was missing him dreadfully for no discernible reason other than the usual of course, and then he surprised me to tears by announcing that he would be in LA this weekend. His brother Brian and his wife Emily just had their first child, a boy, Alexander, and Erik and his dad were going to drive down to visit the new arrival. So on Saturday, after I’d dropped off my friend in Santa Ana, I made my way west to Rancho Palos Verdes to see Erik and meet Alexander. I had thought it would be strange to see Brian and Emily as parents, but they seemed much the same, only Brian less tired than usual and Emily more so. But Alexander surprised me. I’d forgotten how absolutely tiny newborn babies are. He was so, so small, and so fragile-looking… I whispered to Erik: “I do NOT want to have one of these for a long time!” Maybe it was because I’d just been talking to my friend about taking care of his niece, but… there’s just so much responsibility involved in raising a child, and I feel like it’ll be years before I’m ready enough for that.

Oh, and I’d wanted to bring B&E a congratulatory gift, but I didn’t have time to go out and hunt up a baby store (I found one online that had $200 baby blankets, just a leetle out of my price range). But I have to say, immodest as it is, I think I have good taste even in a pinch. I’d made them a card, and when I was at Mashti Malone’s earlier I’d picked up a quart of pomegranate sorbet, but I didn’t think that was enough, especially as I had no envelope for the card.

2005 Brian and Emily congrats


So I stopped at an Albertson’s close to their place and was looking over the unappealing floral selections and despairing, when I spotted bunches of daffodils sitting in buckets. I instantly thought of the annual daffodil sales some Berkeley campus organizations used to have to raise money for charity. The vibrant yellow blooms, inexpensive but so cheering, used to always make me smile and I would buy bunches of them almost every day to brighten up my apartment. (Just writing this has reminded me of some photos Erik and I took of my apartment last year during the daffodil sales, which I have yet to post. I will edit them right now and post them. Okay, they’re here [see bottom of post]) I ran into the card/gift aisle and picked out a Valentine card and a new baby-themed gift bag. Then I went back to the floral section and picked out five bunches of daffodils (I wanted to buy tons, but Albertson’s prices them considerably higher than the campus organizations used to do 😦 ) and one of those cone-shaped cellophane bags they give you to put flowers into. In the car I rolled rubber bands off the bunches of daffodils, put them in the cellophane cone, put that into the gift bag, inserted my card into the red envelope that came with the Valentine card, and carefully placed the envelope inside the gift bag so it didn’t get wet from the flowers. So despite this all being last-minute I was able to arrive at Brian and Emily’s bearing dessert (which everyone enjoyed) and a bag full of daffodils. With card.

Oh, and Mashti Malone’s gave me a piece of dry ice to keep my sorbet cool on the drive to Brian and Emily’s. Then, when I arrived and we took out the ice cream, Brian filled a kettle with water and put it on the dining table, and we dropped in the dry ice. Voilà: dessert and toy.

Sunday Erik and I had the day to ourselves, so we cooked and ate, talked, and did a little bit of work. I finished some reading for school and completed transfers from webdisk to my new site. Whoever said there is no satisfaction like that of accomplishment really got it right. I’ve been so completely pleased with lisabug.net [now just redirects to this site], not least because I figured out so much of it all by myself. 🙂

I think my not having expected this visit from Erik slightly changed the dynamic of our weekend somehow. I was a little bit surprised to note yesterday that it felt just like any other day, except I wasn’t lonely and I spent less time at the computer. I guess normally I look forward to his arrival for a long time, and then this time he was here shorter and I didn’t have to pick him up at the airport, so I guess it was less Erik Weekend than Weekend That Happens to Have Erik in It. It’s reassuring to know both are possible; this bodes well for the future.

I’m feeling a lot better these days. It’s amazing what a few days of exercise, more than enough sleep, and the company of dear friends will do for one’s sense of well-being.

… or maybe it’s just the flaxseed oil, crystallized ginger, and Scharffen Berger dark chocolate I’ve been eating since Friday.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com. Below, I’ve re-uploaded a couple of the daffodil photos I mentioned.]

Daffodils like a painting

Daffodils like a painting2