Hummingbirds and oranges for the holidays

The holiday season just ending presented a curious feel to it this time around.  There were Christmas lights draped on a large balcony in the building behind ours, while below them stood glowing orange globes on a sturdy little tree — fruit, actually.  Oranges, uh huh.

A friend sent a gift of many delicious lemons from one of her trees last week.

Although lots of trees have dropped their leaves and it is pretty cool day and night hummingbirds have been buzzing around our balcony feeder non stop since summer. The species present are mainly Anna’s right now, though the odd Blackchin can’t be ruled out.  There’s been a night or two just below freezing, when the tiny birds showed up extra early, sticking around longer than normal.  Little energy wasted on chasing one another.

The oleander trees have flower buds, while a tall sycamore flaunts dark yellow feathery flowers three stories above us.

Meanwhile, across the region marches a series of storms, drenching the northern part of the state, piling snow many, many feet high in the Sierra Nevadas to the east.  Yosemite is being buried as I write.  While I’m used to the West and the effects mountains have on weather I have to admit that the variety of Northern California climates occasionally makes my head spin.

A sign of my growing bond with the state, a new Sprouts bag!  I like bears, and listen interestedly to plans about reintroducing Grizzlies in remote spots in the California mountains.  Big brown bears such as Grizzles help people keep a perspective that is healthy, I think.

Here we are bundling up as for New Mexico winter to take the dogs for a midday walk, during which we spot …. hummingbirds! …. dashing from one oleander to another.  Since there are no actively flowering bushes in our surroundings at present it is good to know that the small creatures also eat tiny bugs, which I hope crawl out from beneath bark in the sunshine.  Condo neighbors seem to have mostly removed hummer feeders for the winter.

The most up-close-and-personal change has to do with the transformation of our pleasant condo into a wedding warehouse and assembly line.  With Jericha and Paco’s marriage a week away we have 75 pounds of table linens stacked in boxes.  That is seventy five pounds of table stuff!!  Would the Waldorf Astoria need that much for three hours one day?

There are sheer curtains which my daughter and a small army of friends have transformed with crepe paper strips (on the back side) to offer gentle colors when hanging in the many large windows (with indifferent views) at the wedding venue.  More sheer curtains have had LED light strings attached, to hang behind the raised stage at the head of the room, glowing during the ceremony.  We have been gluing lovely quotations, printed on vellum, inside three of the six sides of small jars she found to serve as wedding favors.  Into the jars go small strings of LEDs, with switches craftily held above view in pretty netting just under the lids, tied tight outside with ribbons.

Earlier today Jericha baked an experimental batch of the cupcakes she wants to have stacked up into a wedding cake shape.  We’ve happily been fattening ourselves on the things — which, full of butter and honey, along with fine cornmeal and almond flour — are making their way towards “you can’t have just one” fare.

This evening the kitchen workshop is open for creating huge paper flowers out of gigantic coffee filters.

Also this evening we are having rain.  So good for this region with a six-year drought, so slowing for getting one’s wedding errands done.

Besides living in my daughter’s dreams of a beautiful wedding in which she imagines and then creates most of the decorations with help from a special wedding planner friend, and many good hands, I’ve continued to get grounded with my new state, and enjoyed reconnecting with several good friends I hadn’t seen or spoken with in a long while.

Amidst this cheerful disarray came along my birthday on the 6th. Not seventy yet, but working on it…  That idea brings to my grasshopper mind yet another view of the ways in which my life has changed since last June.  Jericha and Shirley, our roommate in the condo, took me for a birthday lunch at a Himalayan restaurant next to the preschool where they both work.

It was Friday, a day when great numbers of tech industry employees love to grab a longish lunch.  We had a bit of a wait to get in…  In line with Asian men of different ages.  After we finally took our places at a small table there was time to look around.  Cheerful paper lanterns hung from ceiling beams, bearing the message of a Happy New Year.

While munching my way through excellent Indian food that calm feeling came over me  that can settle when I’m in a new, good mind space.  Looking around I realized that there were over a hundred people sitting at long tables, mostly in large groups.  That we three women were a) one of perhaps five women in the entire restaurant, and b) besides one distant man we three were the only pale faces that I could see.  To which it isn’t too much speculation to say that we were also in a wee minority of diners not employed by Google.

These things made me smile, all the more when, as we were leaving, Shirley wished me a happy birthday and right afterwards a friendly hand touched my shoulder, a young man leaned towards me and murmured, “Happy Bird-day!”

That one little gesture lighted me up in the midst of what was already a specially good day.

This was all the more relished since the many changes in life of late may bring happiness to the heart one day, yet sadness will invade the next.  Sadness for what (and who) is now gone forever.  Making this an appropriate moment, perhaps, to suggest that we not hesitate to offer a smile, a small compliment or bit of help to some complete stranger, randomly.  It makes a difference, it really does.

Jericha planning table designs, taking photos for her wedding planner friend

Changeable times

Holidays in the Bay Area are not what I have been accustomed to in New Mexico.  Early December shows off  tall palms waving in the sea breezes, while the streets of Mountain View are a riot of color with trees glowing warm in their fall hues.  There may be snow in some mountains, but down here one is sheltered.

Lots going on this season, starting well before Thanksgiving when my daughter became engaged to Someone Very Special — our friend Paco Rendon.  AKA Francisco James Rendon, who lives in Fresno at present.

Her loyal mother agreed not to mention the matter via social media till the couple had finished privately telling family and friends, then made their own announcement.  So here we are!

Now I am longing for the mid-January wedding so this weekend commuting (nearly three hours each way) between Fresno and Silicon Valley by Jericha and Paco can be done with.  Just a teensy little wedding in the works with, oh, not more than a hundred dear friends on hand to witness it.

I was hoping for not more than six people, including the couple and parents — but that was shot down as a miserable excuse of an idea.  He grew up in the Bay Area, she’s lived here for years, and both are outgoing with lots of friends.  Silly old mom.

Elf and Opus are fortunate that Jericha, who has lived in Silicon Valley for quite a few years, has friends willing to pick up dog walks when she is out of town.  And they love their outings with Paco when he’s here.  He’s 6’5” and gives those short little legs a great workout.

Jericha and Paco at Apple

Here are Jericha and Paco in a not-too-long-ago photo, mugging it up at One Infinity Loop, Cupertino, California.  We were visiting Apple’s old campus because of my desire to see it before the big move over to their new donut building on the other side of town. Which won’t be for many months — we also checked construction there.  I, too, am off to Fresno shortly and may not get back to this area any time soon.

Our seasonal holidays have been a bit unusual so far this year.  There was an early Thanksgiving dinner since Paco needed to be in upstate New York for the actual holiday.

And so, being my daughter of the familiar old habits (not obsessive, but definitely driven) Jericha spent the actual holiday (bracketed by days around it) dyeing her wedding dress in our teensy galley kitchen, till she achieved just the shade she was going for.

I’ll show only the beginning and finished colors (before the dress dried rather lighter than in the photo).  This was a long, drawn out and messy process, and Jericha loved every moment, boiling water and all.  The dogs…  maybe not so enthusiastic since no food was being dropped.

Jericha starts the dye process while the dogs look on
All done!  Once dried the color lightened to a warm tan, as Jericha intended.

She also set up a living room production line for creating big, colorful paper flowers.  Yup, lots of dyeing and drying involved with these, as well.

But those holidays won’t be ignored.  Our roomie, Shirley, is involved in theatre and other thespian events, and she gifted us with tickets to a long standing, popular San Francisco tradition, the Dickens Fair.  That’s a recreation (of sorts) of the kind of Christmas that inspired Charles Dickens to write his best loved book, A Christmas Carol.  Scores of actors in period costume put on shows, sing, run a Punch and Judy booth along with various other shows.  Some promenade about the enormous Cow Palace while speaking in tongues …  Er, in Dickens style English.  With English, Irish and Scottish accents.

Mr. Dickens even makes an appearance from time to time, and met up with my iPhone camera.

Jericha was so enchanted by a jewelry concession that we spent about three fourths of our time there in choosing a wedding ring.  They are ordering Paco’s ring separately from a design that he picked out.

There is news — for a different blog — about my new wheelchair van, but since it had not arrived in time for the Dickens Fair Jericha was pushing me around in my manual wheelchair.  As we journeyed through the immense, darkened, old London-like Cow Palace I propped my iPhone on my lap, popping off photos of people in costumes going about their business as they would have when Mr. Dickens wrote his Christmas Carol.

The last photo of the day was of Mr. Dickens himself, who graciously posed in front of me even though he did not realize I was taking photos — at least, I don’t believe that he did.

So here are a few favorites from the ones that turned out well enough to survive the mass deletion process. Click on them to enlarge.

Fall colors in December, sailboats bobbing on San Francisco Bay off Shoreline Park, moving boxes everywhere in our condo, a daughter venturing into a new married life, Elf, Opus and me into our separate headquarters nearby — and a whole new-to-me part of California to explore, now I have a wheelchair van.  Man, am I dizzy!

Paco is a journalist in the music industry.  He probably wouldn’t pick this song for right here any more than Jericha would.  But whose blog is this, anyway?  I like Ho Hey by the Lumineers and it is about being in love.  😉  This video features seasonal type lights and was filmed in a darkened building reminiscent of the Cow Palace at Dickens Fair time, so there you go.

Ho Hey, Lumineers