Eloise: Visiting the MOXI in Santa Barbara, days before the mudslides devastated Montecito. I remember we were trying to get back into a regular rhythm of visiting our favorite local museums after the fires, then the rains came days later, mudslides and fwy closed and we still haven’t been back up since. This photo, when I took it had a wonder to it that I loved, but seeing it now, reminds me of those horrible days after.
We helped to build a cardboard city in the museum that day and thinking of it now, I remember seeing cardboard firetrucks and cardboard helicopters, cardboard houses on hills and cardboard trees and buildings. Thinking of that cardboard city made by so many little hands all over the state brings hope. And I know we will be back soon, to hopefully build more…
Eloise: Laughing at your “sister Summer” as the two of you put on a show for your Mamas.
Eloise: Your Grandma and Grandpa spoiled you with this owl puppet the other day. You haven’t let it out of your sight. In fact, you have created rules for your owl. You can only hold the owl if you are wearing the “glove” (one of Mama’s arm warmers) and you tied a string onto its foot since ‘”his wing is broken and I can’t have him trying to fly all over and hurt his wing again.” A little falconer/ bird rehab-er in the making.
I wasn’t going to do another year of the Portrait Project. It’s been so hard to keep up with it as well as make sure I post here each week. But then I finished making the book with all the portraits of 2017 and Ellie wanted to go through the older albums and so we’ve been reading them, one book a night. I have 5 of them. One for every year of Ellie’s life so far. Ellie has been loving hearing each photo’s story so much that I knew after reading the first book to her, I had to continue with the project… These books are way too important to me and to her. So, here it is…. 2018’s first photo…
“A photo of Ellie, once a week, every week in 2018.”
Eloise: January 2018, you are 5 and 5 months old, running down a sandy hill at the beach close to our home. After a strange December, we are getting our groove back. Walking the beach, enjoying the sunshine and watching you grow into a beautiful, young lady, ready to take on the world.
It’s a New Year. I drove from our house in Ventura, up the coast to Santa Barbara today to visit the MOXI museum with Ellie and our good friends. It was the first time I had seen the expanse of devastation the Thomas Fire had left behind. For miles, the hills were charred black, burnt palm trees as far as the eye could see, houses leveled, and ash still collected in crevices and cracks in the streets and sidewalks. We were a ways from the flames in Ventura when the fire was at its worst, back in early December, but our favorite park was burned down, the botanic gardens we took family photos in completely charred and so many homes right in our downtown…. completely gone. The month of December was such a strange one. My mom having surgery, having to leave Ventura for most of the month to steer clear of awful smoke and ashy air conditions… learning about all our friends who had to evacuate, never knowing if they would lose their homes. It was just so surreal. With all the anxiety, we surprisingly had a very nice Christmas. We spent so much more time with my parents and family then we had in a long time, we made memories with evacuated friends who were staying close to where my parents lived. We were able to get back into our home before Christmas and spend Christmas morning at home. All the while, feeling somewhat guilty that we had a home while others in our community did not. Most of our friends are back in their homes. We’ve all been cleaning, washing the ash off the windows and trying to get back to normal. New Years Eve was spent in the town over with all our friends. There was so much joy being reunited with these friends, who just weeks before were all over the state on evacuation. We sang, had a parade with the kids, ate good home-cooked food and relished in being together. Every now and then, the smell of stale camp fire would waft in from outside and would remind us of the chaos of the Thomas Fire.
The New Year brought a walk along the beach. Our first one since before the fires. The air felt fresh, even if we could see the blackened hills behind us. But the walk so clearing and hopeful. Watching the birds fly and watching Ellie run around enjoying the sand and crisp air. We found a lovely 2018 written in the sand and that along with our beach walk, made a wonderful, hopeful start to this New Year.