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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Nova Scotia Part II -- Cat and Mouse

After walking back from the blueberry patch, the husband and wife ran across a cat, a beautiful barn cat with brown and black stripes. It tipped its head up and watched the couple swinging their arms, and then put his nose to the earth, burying it into the grass.

“He’s looking for mice,” said the man, who loved cats and couldn’t resist touching them. “Here kitty,” he said and ran his hand over its back and down the long fluffy tail. The cat stopped for a moment and looked up as if it were dreaming.

“Leave the cat,” the wife said, shooing her husband away. “Let’s see what he’s doing.” And sure enough, the cat pushed his nose back to the earth, separated the grass, and there, wedged between paws and dirt, was one mouse rump sticking in the air. The mouse had pushed its head beneath the grass as if to say, “If I can’t see him…”

With a single plunge the cat whipped the mouse into the air and trotted away. The husband and wife shuffled to one side to watch as the cat dropped the mouse between his paws and began batting it back and forth. Occasionally, he would pause and look lazily at the horizon, blinking. The mouse, with its tiny pumping chest, would dart. But in three strides the cat would have the mouse back.

“Why he’s only playing with it!” cried the wife. “He’s just torturing it.”

The couple watched as the cat held the mouse between his paws and began lightly chewing on its head, like rock candy. In a genius move, the mouse tipped its chin up, and bit the cat’s lip. The cat jolted back, with the mouse dangling. He shook his head, and the furry lip ring dropped, his little feet pelting the earth. Annoyed the cat pounced with force.

This game of cat and mouse continued for several minutes before the cat finally picked his small bundle of fur up and carried it like a kitten beneath a parked van. The husband and wife followed, riveted. They squatted close to the earth and watched as the cat rolled around a bit, pummeled the mouse some more, and then in a blink -- killed.

The wife saw the cat’s mouth working vigorously between two paws, the meal shrouded by the angle of the his body and the shadow of the van.

“Hear the crunching?” the husband asked, squinting and looking closely. This part didn’t take long. The eating lasted for about three bites, as quick as three swallows, as easy as a snack.
“Maybe that’s why he plays with it so long,” the wife said, shaking her head and waiting to see the cat trot away, satisfied and cute, transformed from carnivore to domestic. The husband chuckled.

“He needed to work up an appetite.” They walked back into the farm house.

“We saw a cat eating a mouse,” they told his Nanny, who was standing at the kitchen sink folding a tea towel.

“Oh did you?” she said. “That’s good. Mice eat the grain and chew on stuff around the farm. In the winter they get inside and leave messes in the cupboards.”

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Nova Scotia Part I - Blueberries

A husband and wife set out across a field with nothing pressing against them. With each step their bodies eased, their shoulders loosened, and their heads lifted. Their spirits spread out and out and out across the field and didn’t run into anything. They stretched their legs and swung their arms and breathed deep until they came to a line of trees.

When they reached these trees the man counted seven down from the right until he found two trunks close together, tall like dance partners on an empty floor. The man and woman fell to their knees, brushed the grass with their fingers, and just below the surface, hanging like many happy bubbles, they found blueberries.

The blueberries fell easily into their palms, came willingly at the slightest touch of their fingers. The husband coaxed them off the stems two and three at a time and then popped them into his mouth. The wife took her time. She combed the patch looking for the fattest, roundest clusters and piled them into her hand little by little. They rolled around like jolly little men, blue from too much laughter. And then she sat, at the edge of the field, with her ever expanding spirit, and ate the blueberries, one mouthful at a time.

Friday, August 26, 2005

An Introduction

We're back from Nova Scotia and it was a beautiful vacation. I had plenty of time to write, and walk, and enjoy the easy company of people. Dwayne's sister's wedding was lovely. We both approve of the man she chose and everyone agreed that the ceremony had a sweet spirit.

I want to take a few sentences to introduce you to the next set of posts I'll be publishing. I've written a sequence of six prose poems/short essays about our time in Nova Scotia. They are an experiment for two reasons: 1) I'm in the process of learning what a prose poem is, 2) I've written them in third person, which is a little unusual in creative nonfiction.
Instead of posting one a week, like I've been doing until this point, I've decided to post them every other day, so they wont take six weeks to read. So be sure to check in regularly this week to read about our vacation to Nova Scotia and to experience my experiment with third person and prose poems.;-)

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Texture of People

On Thursday night my grandparents arrived from Florida as part of a surprise Birthday present for my Dad. They stayed with us all day Friday, relaxing, sleeping, and eating. Saturday morning they drove up to Azusa to officially surprise my Dad. My dad was out flying when they arrived. When he got back from the airport and walked in the door, he found grandma and grandpa wandering around the house as if they had been there all week. He stared at them, blinked, and said, "You pulled a fast one on me!"

Meanwhile, I was at a fabulous babyshower for Sam and Rosie Bills at a park in Pasadena. Becca, Steve, and their two cute boys were back from the mission field, Regina was back from her trips around the world, and Sam and Rosie's friends from college came from different parts of Southern California. There were so many pregnant women, at times I felt like I was moving through a sea of bellies.

We had delicious scones and muffins to eat provided by Natalie and Regina. Steve went face first into a diaper of fake baby poop (aka melted Snickers), and Dwayne won two gift certificates for shooting a marshmellow out of his nose further than anyone else. All very entertaining.

After the Babyshower, Dwayne and I drove back to Azusa for my Dad's 50th birthday party. He suspected something was up after grandma and grandpa showed up, but he had no idea that over 30 Filipino friends were arriving to celebrate.

My dad grew up in the Philippines until he was fourteen years old. Since then many people who attended the Bible School in Rosales where my granparents taught have immigrated to Los Angeles. These people remember my father as a little kid.

We ate delicious filipino food such as chicken adobo - brown sauce and chicken so tender it falls off the bone, lumpia - a crispy cousin to the egg roll but more delicious, ponsit - a fun noodely dish, and puto- a white squishy ball of joy in your mouth.

After all the wonderful food everyone gathered in the backyard. The the older people shared stories about my father. It was amazing to hear. I've never known much about my father's childhood. They told stories about how he used to ride around the campus on a blue bicycle singing at the top of his lungs "How Great Thou Art." How he and his buddies used to shimmy up the forbidden guava trees and eat all the guavas. And my favorite story was about how my Dad and a couple buddies got in trouble and were sent down to the altar to pray. The adults prayed over them fervently. Afterwards, my dad leaned over to one of his friends and whispered "Did you really get sanctified?"

Stories like these filled the evening. Another woman, who had taught my father as a boy, shared how she and my grandmother worked to help my Dad overcome his dislexia. She was so proud when a few months back, she picked up a bulletin from APU and saw that my dad had been hired as the Dean of the School of Theology.

A final special touch to the evening was a gold book written in caligraphy with notes from friends and family who could not celebrate with my Dad.

Tomorrow Dwayne and I leave at 4:30 am for Nova Scotia Canada for his sister's wedding. This will be the first time he's seen his parents in over two years. During that time they have been living in Rwanda. I know there will be lots of tears, laughter, and fellowship this next week.

There's a theme in all of these stories, just beneath the surface. Something about family, friends, and reunions. I'm too tired to make it sing, but perhaps you see it too - the texture of people, the tenderness of knowing one another, the rhythm of absence and the joy of presence.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Two or three times a month, during my commute to work, I see an older man walking his dog with a red leash in one hand and a newspaper in the other. I started recognizing this guy on Orange Grove around a year ago. Sometimes, the man is gone and a woman about his age, walks the same dog with the same red leash. I assume this is his wife.

I feel so aquianted with this couple. Their routine makes me feel as though I know them intimately. Whenever I see them, I smile and think, "It's going to be an orderly day." Their consistancy puts me at ease.

I suppose one day I should stop the car and say "hello." But that's just too weird! How eerie that a stranger, whose presence they've never noticed driving by in a ratty blue Honda, has been noticing them for months? Doesn't it make you wonder if anyone is noticing you?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

3 Years and Thank You

I'm pleased to announce that Dwayne and I have officially reached three years of marriage today! And since I promised him I wouldn't get all mushy and "romantic," I'll keep this short and sweet.
I admire three things about Dwayne:
1) The way he loves economics and is a good thinker.
2) The way he can tell the name of almost any tree and is trying to grow 10 different plants in our kitchen window.
3) The way he can make people laugh and feel at ease.

I'm grateful for three things:
1) That he cares about poverty and those less fortunate then himself.
3) That he is attentive to keeping our relationship alive and healthy.
4) That he is a man of good report.

Something has grown between us this year, Dwayne. Something deeper and cleaner than what we began with. Something rooted in commitment, and having something to do with gratitude.

Thank you.