A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas with a Millenial

Good Guys.

I read a lot of crap about millenials.  How lazy they are, how entitled.  I know I'm biased but I raised two of them and I think they are pretty awesome.  Frankly, I think a lot of what we read about that generation is propaganda by the previous generation (that would be mine) in an attempt to convince these young people there is something wrong with themselves so they will shut up, not make waves and leave more of the goodies (like jobs and fair wages and health care) in the pockets of the wealthy.  But that's not what I want to write about today.

I want to write about how my 34-year-old son made Christmas magic for his world this year.

I hardly know where to begin.

He's a drummer (he can play anything but excels at jazz, especially the ballads).  He pulled together a trio with a terrific bass player who he works with often and an amazing guitar player that he plays with occasionally.  They did a free, 2-hour concert in front of our gorgeous library.  They were happy to do well in tips (the area was packed the whole time), but what he spoke of most enthusiastically was how they might design a concert around a specific jazz great and include some "lessons" on what made the artist memorable, playing only music made famous by that artist.  To make it more educational for that venue.

One night he was in the In-N-Out line when he saw the woman in the car behind him.  She was Muslim.  So, because he wanted her to feel welcome and happy living in our town, he paid for her order.  And just before leaving for his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, he came to ask me if I had an unopened bar of Wholly Hemp soap.  We've both come to love the products from this safe stuff cosmetics manufacturer.  I'm not as fond of the soap as he, so I had a bar of lavender that I'd tried once and not used.  He had an unopened bar (fragrance was Snickerdoodle) that he had planned to put in his bathroom soap dish.  Instead, he took my lavender for his soap dish and happily trotted off with his new bar of Snickerdoodle to gift his teacher.

It was a joy to get home from work one day to find the Christmas lights up and lit.   And on Christmas Eve morning, he fattened up his slim frame with bath towels and sofa pillows to play Santa for a houseful of little kids, children of his best friend and grandchildren of a family he adopted as one of his own many years ago.  On Christmas night he again donned the Santa personae to thrill his nephew with whom we Skyped Christmas Day.

My son's gifts to me were especially thoughtful and included the latest Sara Barielles album, What's Inside: Songs from Waitress, a tote that says "DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY," a BB8 beanie and he gifted me with this fabulous print by Patrick Fisher.  Fisher and my son are old friends and I had seen some of his work; I just never dreamed he had done a portrait of one of my idols.

But by far the best gift he gave (although I doubt the recipient really understands the significance) was the result of an injury to his car.

One day a couple of weeks ago he walked out to go to work and found the driver's side mirror hanging by a wire, a dent in his driver's door, a red piece of plastic he believed came out of a brake light cover, and a streak of black paint on the side.  Our new neighbors have two teenage sons and a steady stream of visitors hanging out with them, one of whom drives a monster truck.  Black.  After contacting the police and insurance company, my son texted me at work to ask me to keep an eye out (and a camera ready) in case the black truck showed up, as he believed the driver of the truck had backed into him.  Within a few days the truck showed up again.  My son took pictures of the car and license plate and especially the broken brake light on the right hand side.  He found that the piece of plastic he had picked up off the ground under the hanging side mirror fit perfectly into the broken brake light.

With that information in hand, he had a discussion with the driver, who had just turned eighteen.  The driver denied hitting the car, and my son let it go for a night.  The next day he wrote a note to the kid, giving him until the following Monday to decide to "man up," take responsibility for the damage and provide the insurance information to get the car fixed.  He pointed out to the kid that, as of that moment, the kid could have to repair the car AND have a hit-and-run on his record.  My son gave a copy to the kid and to the neighbors he had been visiting.

Within a couple of hours the kid called and confessed, apologized, claiming that he just wanted to talk to his parents before talking to my son.  At that point the father took over and in the end had the car repaired without involving the insurance or police.

It was a kindness that my son's Baby Boomer Mom would not have extended.  I wanted to slap that kid with everything we could.  But this is what I love about the Millenials in my world.  They are driven by kindness and a concern for community with a spirit of forgiveness.  I don't know if this kid realizes now what my son (and his dad) saved him from, and time will tell if it was the right decision.  But I hope that, eventually, the kid grown up will remember that someone cut him some slack.

Maybe he'll pass it on.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Don't Forget...

Monday, December 21, 2015


“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love."

~Hilary Stanton Zunin

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Hate this.

Lonesome.  Bored.  Sugar overload.

I know.  Time for the Cat.

That's better.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Never Gets Old

It's the heart, afraid of breaking that never learns to dance
It's the dream, afraid of waking that never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dying that never learns to live

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Best Version of "Let's Go Fly a Kite" (my favorite MP song) EVER.

Happy Birthday, Dick Van Dyke.  Thank you for showing us the strength in joy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


or Re-Connection


Apparently it's time for me to reconnect with people.

First was a guy from the gym.  It's a hoot talking to him.  He is the most profound example of an adult with Asperger's that I've ever experienced.  Having determined a couple of years ago that I, too, am on the autism spectrum (although quieter) I get it that when your brain is misfiring there isn't a whole lot you can do about it.  He has no filters.  None. 

My favorite conversation with him happened back in 2012.  At a previous gym visit, I had shared how much I was enjoying the Sunday Morning Coffee Talks that Tom Shadyac and Nicole Pritchett had produced in Venice around Tom's documentary, I AM.  On this day, we were pedaling on side-by-side recumbent bikes and chatting when he asked if I was still going to the coffee talks.

"No," I said.  "I don't think the results were what they hoped for, and they stopped doing them."
"Oh, that's a shame," he replied.  "You really enjoyed those."

Now, I have to say that I don't have a whole lot of experience with men who actually listen to me, much less with any who remember, weeks after a conversation,  an event that I attended and even more rare is one who will remember that I enjoyed myself.

"I did," I confessed, "but as much as the event I enjoyed that a friend of mine from a writing class I took back in 2010 lives down there and would join me for the talk, then we'd go have lunch."

A drive down the coast, a great talk and lunch with a good friend was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday morning.

So then he said something about me dating my writer friend.  A brilliant essayist, my writer friend was twenty-seven to my sixty-one at the time.  Guys in their fifties are spectacular, but twenty-seven?  Meeting this young man for lunch was more like sharing a meal with one of my kids.  So I deferred, saying that we were just friends, thinking that would be the end of it.  Then,

"You should have sex with him!" 

I just blinked.

"You should!  Young guy like that!"  My poor little misfiring brain was suffering.  I could actually see the neuron flashes ricocheting inside my skull, so I blinked again.

"Really," Mr. No Filters insisted, "You should!"

So I pulled out the only truth I thought might stop this conversational path quickly.

"I'm sure he wouldn't be interested.  He's gay."

So underestimated him.

"No, that's great!  You should have sex with him!  I've heard gay guys are really good in the sack!"

Honestly, I was flattered.  Although Mr. No Filters had (in his kindest no filters way) made it clear in a previous conversation that I was not HIS type, he clearly thought that I could interest a hot, gay, twenty-something.

So here he was, three years later in the produce section of the local Vons market.  We talked for about an hour.  The cool thing about talking with this guy?  I don't have to engage my filters either.  So if he cuts me off or diverts the conversation back to himself, I can just say, "Shut up.  I want to finish what I was saying."  And he's good with that.

That happened Tuesday, November 11.  On Friday the 13th I went with my mom to dinner at our favorite restaurant as we have done just about every Friday night since my dad died five years ago.  We've been regular customers at this place since the owner started his first restaurant twenty-three years ago, and he and Mom have a special relationship.  He and I have had some interesting conversations over the more recent years, but he got himself some good managers and has taken Friday nights off for the last couple.  It was a delightful surprise to see him on duty Friday night, a nice re-connection for Mom and me both.

Then, when I got home, I learned of the Paris attacks.  I have friends in France.  The obstetrician that helped deliver my older son (at home) lives in Paris now with his husband.  A decade ago I was part of a cross-stitch blog group and one of those friends lives outside of Paris, and she and I have been facebook friends for years.  We have been walking similar spiritual paths (which means we're both weirdos) so are strongly connected.

And a third friend lives there.  He and I found ourselves pinning each others' pins on pinterest so often that we became facebook friends.  He is an executive life coach and I assume quite busy.  He does not post much on facebook, but when I posted that my husband had died, he messaged me with very kind support and asked me to keep in touch.  And then disappeared.  After a few months I sent a short message noting that I had not seen him there and I hoped he was well, but there was no response.  A few months later I starting seeing him in the chat bar, but I did not contact him.  But on the night of the 13th I noticed that he had "liked" some of the supportive things I had posted.  I messaged him my gratitude for "liking" what I posted and my relief that he was safe.  We ended up having a short message conversation that ended with his wish to "keep the channels open." 

Last Saturday I was working with photographs to put together a Christmas slide show to music to send to my now-scattered family and ran across a couple of pictures of a couple who had been my parents' best friends for most of my life.  I have no idea, really, if they are still alive, but their daughter is a popular local newscaster with a facebook page.  I wrote her a short message, mentioning the photos and expressing my gratitude that we had had such good friends for so long.  I didn't really expect to hear back from her, but this morning there was a response from her and a request to see the photos.

A bit after I sent the message I came back to facebook and there was what I thought was a second message from her since the first names were the same.  But no, the second was from a dear friend who has recently retired and moved to the San Diego area.  She is so dear that she was present for the birth of both of my children, but at some point in her career she went to work for a company that required many more than full-time hours.  My life was rather chaotic, as well, and as often happens,  when the path forked, we went different directions.  It was a long, lovely, delightful catch-up message with news that she would be in town briefly next month.  I will use one of my personal days to re-connect with her.

And I've been facebook friends for a few years with the boy from high school who took me to homecoming when we were juniors.  He was such a nice young man that I looked him up on facebook and we friended each other.  His life is very full of music and travel and he does not spend much time on facebook.  But yesterday I took one of those silly facebook meme quizzes and scored 100% on knowing the lyrics from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  (Only time I ever got turned on by a guy in full make-up wearing a corset.)  Turns out my old friend worked for the manager for Tim Curry and my friend spent quite a lot of time with Curry when he was doing Rocky Horror live in Los Angeles.  It was great fun to hear about that experience.  My friend posted "Don't dream it, do it" a half-dozen times.  Which is something I've been working on since 2010.  I can't help think that will turn out to be an important re-connection.  I don't think I would want the life he's led necessarily, but I would love for some of that live-life-to-the-fullest vibe to rub off on me.

There are several people - including some of those who walked past my life and helped me make profound changes before they moved on - who I would love to re-connect with. 

Maybe I'm on a lucky streak. 

Post Script:  Another one just popped.  Years ago my kids played jazz in a Big Band called Lane 29.  The featured singer was a great guy named Dylan White.  Dylan is your typical multi-talented kind of guy.  For years he's been one of the actors portraying Genie in the Disney California Adventure production of Aladdin.  He does stand-up in his "spare" time, and is also a published writer of books for young adults.  He's gone through a rough time with a sick child (diabetes) and the medical expenses have him in a rough place as well.  Was happy to be able to buy the books and make a small donation as well on behalf of my mom (she LOVES him in that show) and my kids.  Another re-connection, although I would have preferred it on happier terms.  Maybe you could check it out and see if the books interest you.  You'd be helping out a great guy.

Dylan White as Genie, Disney California Adventure Aladdin

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Can't stop watching.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Love After Love

Derek Walcott

A new friend posted this on his facebook page.  I thought it lovely and wanted to capture it here.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here.  Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit.  Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

One of the wonders of poetry is that it is always read through the filters of the reader.  I cried the first twenty times I listened to Sara Bareilles' new song, "She Used to be Mine."  Which is nothing new, but this time I was feeling the lyrics at a deeper level than even most of the time.

And then she'll get stuck and be scared
Of the life that's inside her
Growing stronger each day
'Til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little
To bring back the fire in her eyes

It took me another dozen times to realize that "the life that's inside her" is actually a life.  This character is pregnant.  But the lyric spoke to me more symbolically, as I am scared of the new me that emerges, growing stronger each day and learning to fight just a little. And for me, the fire will be new to my eyes.

In the same way, it took a dozen times to realize that Wolcott is talking about someone recovering from the loss of a person.  Another person.  A person they had loved.  And who was gone.

Didn't catch it at all.

A few months ago someone walked past my life and made me wonder, what would my home look like to someone who didn't know me?  I took a walk around and realized that a stranger would think a little girl lived here.  It made me smile.  Gently.  I am well aware that I was never a little girl.

I remember the most powerful writing exercise for me in Julia Cameron's program, The Artist's Way, was to write a letter to yourself from yourself at age eight.  She told me -sweetly and calmly with the insight of someone who is experiencing and knows they will experience - told me that I didn't have to be afraid of "them."  She wasn't specific but it didn't matter, as I've pretty much been afraid of "them" my whole life.  And I broke.  I've never experienced the "broken-hearted sobbing" that I did that afternoon, standing in my sunset room crooning to that sweet little thing, "You poor baby, you were such a good little girl.  You didn't deserve any of that."

And so I indulge her now.  With a studio painted in the colors of the sunset (or the sunrise, depending on the time) and filled with butterflies, faeries and mermaids. 

"You will love again the stranger who was your self."

I may have loved her once.  In my case, the "another" has had all of the faces.  Except mine.  "...the stranger who has loved you all your life" is the life that is fighting for that fire.

As I started to recover the self I'd "ignored all my life," I started to feel something inside start to sputter.  Eventually I had an evening where, writing in my darkened room with something gorgeous on the headset, I realized that if anyone opened my door right then they would see sparks shooting out of my pores, and from then on I started referring to the Fourth of July sparkler that lives inside me.  Sometimes it almost goes out (although less often now), and sometimes it is rockets exploding forth in all directions, and often it is just a sweet sputter of a little flame, kept safe in the heart of an inner eight-year-old with solemn hazel eyes and long dark curls.

Come.  Sit.  Let's feast on this life of ours.

I think it will taste of HoneyCrisp apples.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Pamper Thyself, Self.

Had a perfect weekend with Mom this weekend and want to capture it here, but first to the ending.  When I got home from work this afternoon, this was waiting in the mailbox.  Bummed that my camera felt inclined to 'correct' the color from its true gorgeous teal green to this color.  Pretty as it is, it isn't as yummy as the teal.

I ordered this last week.  It's a checkbook cover by Oberon Designs.  I saw it in another company's catalog for $52 and talked myself out of it.  I mean, I don't even carry checks.

The biggest nightmare in dealing with my late husband's financial mess was that he did everything online - mostly autodraw - and I didn't have the passwords to get in and stop it.  Fortunately, with the exception of the LA Times lady, everyone I was able to track down for corrections was sympathetic and helpful.  I'd heard horror stories about Verizon, and they were the most wonderful.  The collections agency lady was lovely (although after our first conversation I followed my probate lawyer's advice and ignored their calls) and even the IRS rep ended up being gracious.  Eventually I had all the internet stuff switched to paper statements and paper checks.  I have a simple though slightly time-consuming book keeping system, my files are organized.

I make my bill-paying like a monthly spa ritual for myself.  I take my shower, moisturize, flannelize and take up residence at the rolltop desk my parents had given me as a gift years ago.  I fire up the ipod and gather the goods.  I buy commemorative stamps (there are three versions of LOVE stamps out right now, although this month I used the Japan/America cherry blossom friendship stamps with a few Paul Newman's in the mix) and use a pretty pen.  It is a happy time, for all the issues have been resolved and while not wealthy by any means,  there is an abundance by my past standards.

I had filed for divorce before his death, and for the several years leading up to that step the butterfly was a symbol of the me I was learning to know.  I also have been gradually transforming my yard into a haven for Monarchs as well as other varieties of butterflies.  So, this piece really spoke to me.  After a few weeks of waffling between lust and sensibility, lust finally won.  A leather checkbook cover for someone who doesn't carry a checkbook is a luxury, but with so little wear and tear it will last a lifetime and be the perfect holder for my butterfly checks during my monthly parties of financial congratulations.  I managed to track down the manufacturer and was delighted to find the price directly from them considerably less than the other catalog price.  As I noted, it was in the mailbox when I got home today, handsomer than the picture and accompanied by a delightful "thank you" silver butterfly charm.  I'm looking forward to my next purchase.  I wonder what I need.


So, my Mom's an awesome mom.  Maybe the most awesome mom of all momdom.  And she's going through a rough time right now.  She'll be 84 in March.  Heart failure.  My sister (and her son) moved in with her as my sister divorced and the adjustment has been difficult on Mom (who, like me, is pretty much an introvert and a loner).  I try to take her to her favorite getaway - Disneyland - once a month, and I let her take me to dinner at our favorite restaurant once a week.  But it's just not getting her AWAY from her environment.  It dawned on me last month that I should bring her to my house and maybe a little ride up the coast to a favorite quilt shop.

So, we did.  Dinner in her town Friday night, then home to mine for the night, then to Carpenteria for shopping, then home for the afternoon and night.  The next day we holed up in my sewing room, then returned to her town for another dinner before I dropped her at her house.  It went so well I wanted to expand it this month.

It was perfect.  Even the not perfect parts turned out to be perfect.

As before, I picked her up at her house, then we went to dinner before coming to my house.  We spent the night here, then prepared to leave early the next morning.  I headed for the car to load my suitcase and was greeted by a beautiful sight.

November 7, 2015  Sunrise with the Moon and Venus still visiting.
I have a condition called BET (Benign Essential Tremor).  It usually doesn't affect my life in any way, but I cannot get a picture of the moon at all, especially using the telephoto lens.  But the picture serves to remind of that beautiful morning.  Just the hint of an incoming Santa Ana wind condition that meant the trip up would be crystal clear.

And it was.  After breakfast at Denny's, we headed up the coast.  We could see every island off the coast all the way from Ventura to Gaviota Pass.

Traffic was light and we made good time.  We stopped in the tiny Old Town Orcutt at the most delightful quilt shop of our trip.  Bright and happy and full of fabrics to please the little kid in all of us.  After a couple of hours on the 101 we stopped at the second shop of the day in Atascadero, then across the freeway for a lunch of ice cream sundaes before hitting the more boring leg to Salinas.  After a quick tour fly through Spreckles we found the 68 to our ultimate destination, Pacific Grove.

After a scenic tour around Asilomar we found out way to our motel and checked in at the Monarch Resort.  They had done a great job of accommodating Mom's needs.  A handicapped slot right in front of the elevator entrance and the room only a handful of doors down the hallway.  I loved the planters of live plants in the hallway and the fireplace loaded with a duraflame log in the room.  Our ice cream sundaes had worn off by then, but neither of us was really up to the ordeal of a meal, so I tucked mom in for a while and went for a short walk up a steep hill to the Monarch butterfly sanctuary.  I was so excited that I remembered my camera and phone, but forgot my glasses and after the trek (damn, I'm out of shape again) it turned out I couldn't see a thing.  I just kind of pointed my camera where everyone else was and hoped.)  I got back to the room just as the sun was setting.  Mom and I looked at magazines and catalogs and generally just wound off the road hum, crawling into bed very early.

Well rested, we were up and loading the car by 7:00 and back to the sanctuary.  Mom stayed in the car while I took a few minutes to explore the sanctuary WITH my glasses on this time.  I heard from another guest that the butterflies were high up in the trees, but I couldn't see them in the lower areas of the sanctuary.  My eye still hasn't completely recovered full vision after my retinal detachment (more surgery after the first of the year will help).  I have seen Monarchs roost before.  With their wings closed, they blend right into the eucalyptus leaves they hang on.  But that's not to say I didn't see anything worth the visit.



When I returned to the gate where I had started, I went over to the tree that I had blindly photographed the evening before.  This beautiful morning - WITH my glasses on - I could see the butterflies almost close enough to touch.


Another crappy telephoto picture, but you can get an idea.  When they are closed like this, you aren't knocked over by their beauty.  Just more in awe of how far they've come and how they tuck in for the winter just like this.

At this point the trip took a funny turn.  I had mapped my route out of Pacific Grove, trying to avoid the weekend Cannery Row madness of Monterey.  But as I drove, just about where my street should have been, I ran into road closure markers.  There was a parade that morning (on the street I wanted to drive out on, as it turned out) and we ended up taking a scenic tour of the wonderful homes of Pacific Grove and Monterey after all.  In fact, we were just one block from the Bay and I could see the familiar Cannery Row landmarks and Fisherman's Wharf as we passed by them.  Eventually we made our way out of the city onto the Pacific Coast Highway (1) and in my best tour guide voice said to Mom, "And that concludes our tour of historic Monterey, first capitol of the state of California, home to Del Monte Foods Corporate Headquarters and research headquarters of Dr. Ed Ricketts, model for the main character of Doc in John Steinbeck's legendary Cannery Row series."  Mom said, "Really?  I didn't know that."  

And we giggled.

In Carmel I had done my homework and headed to the (wonderful) Barnyard for breakfast at a breakfast restaurant called From Scratch.  Their website had made a big deal about their handicapped accessibility, but when we got there it turned out that it was only accessible to the handicapped who could climb two flights of stairs.  Instead we headed over to the Crossroads where we had a delicious breakfast at a stunning, fun cafe called Cafe Stravaganza.  I can highly recommend it.  I had wanted to drive a little ways down Carmel Valley Road to a nursery I had visited last year, but I was disappointed and we returned to the coast highway in short order.

And so began the best part of the weekend for me.  My dad had driven my mom north on this road for a band event in Pacific Grove (and he had even taken her to a fabric store he had found), but as you know if you have ever driven the 1 northbound, the passenger can't see anything of the view except the mountainside rather close to the side of the car for over seventy miles.  This was the first time Mom had ever seen the Big Sur Coast.

A school of Flying Fish.  They make these squiggly lines with their tails as they "fly".   I don't know if it was a large school by Flying Fish standards, but it practically filled the smallish bay so seemed huge to me.


Mom loved this road.  I wasn't sure, as she has been carsick on less challenging roads in the past.  But she couldn't believe how beautiful it was.  "I've never seen anything like this before," she exclaimed.  "The beaches here are much more interesting than the ones down by us."  And I almost cried when she said, "I'm sorry you have to drive.  You're missing how beautiful this all is."

I think that will go down in my personal history as one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  To take my spectacular mother to see my favorite spot on the planet, a place she has never seen before, and to see it impress her so spectacularly.  I felt like I had given one of the people I love most in my life a very special gift, one she might never have seen in her lifetime if not for this weekend.

Mom said this cloud looks like Fiberfill.  Only a quilter...

The Pampas Grass covered the hillsides with blooms. 

Once we were off the mountain coast portion of the ride and back on the flats we stopped at the Elephant Seal view point.  She'd had no idea.  Again, her handicapped hanger got us a parking space a very easy walk to the railing where she could see the seals.  "Oh, my gosh!"  She had the same reaction I had had last year.  It takes a few moments to realize they aren't rocks or driftwood washed up on the beach.  We didn't stay long, just long enough for her to be delighted.

In Morro Bay (another favorite place of mine) we stopped at another quilt shop.  It wasn't our favorite of the trip, but I was delighted to find several pieces of fabric (including a special batik showing Morro Rock) to round out my sea theme collection.  I also got the Morro Bay Row-By-Row kit and think that finishes what I need to do one of these fun row quilts.  Just wish I could put my hands on the pattern for seagulls and happy fishes by Paper Panache.  I'll have to buy it again, I guess.

By the time we left Morro Bay it was well past lunch time (closer to dinner) and we were starving.  Neither of us had ever eaten at the famous Madonna Inn,  so that's where I headed.  Again (as for the whole trip) we got the best handicapped parking spaces and the most pleasant service.  My burger was mediocre but Mom was pleased with her turkey sandwich and her pumpkin pie for dessert. 

A quick trip to one of their famous restrooms and we were ready to complete our trip home.  At her request we listened to Christmas music during this trip, and my Christmas CarTunes mix was oddly appropriate.

"Christmas day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp...  Christmas day will always be, just so long as we have we."

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Breathless. Tearful.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Elfman Genius

I don't know if I can post this or, if I can, how long the link will survive.

But if you haven't watched this, you must.  Simply the best concert ever.  Beautifully crafted showing of the work of a genius.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sara Bareilles - She Used To Be Mine

And rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew

Thursday, October 22, 2015


This is what it looks like, and it feels great.

Good week.

The tortoises are hatching.  When I left for work Tuesday we had four babies.  When I got home, We had nine, and I found another in the pen.  Baby tortoises and milkweed still covered with caterpillars.  Nothing feels more like abundance to me.

My baby's 34th birthday was Tuesday, and he let me take him for Indian food (Curry Leaf, best anywhere) last night.  We talked tortoises and Star Wars.  My whole geek community, which includes my son and his friends, is quivering with excitement for the new movie.

 Found a feather on the way to my classroom.

Students very cooperative.  Got most of one class' assessments graded and they did great.  Mostly A's, and this was hard.  Proud of all of us.


Last night I started eating Halloween chocolate bars, an old favorite.  They tasted awful, but I still ate them until I asked myself, "Does this feel like self-love?"  Because the answer was "No" I trashed the rest of the bag.   I've been reading - and getting ready to start the workbook for - Gay Hendricks' Learning to Love Yourself.  From a quick read I pulled this: Negative emotions break down to fear.  Fear happens when there's something I want or need that I'm not getting.  And it's important to feel the feelings, right down to their core.  So today as I found myself reaching for a cookie, I realized I wasn't looking forward to it.  Before I took the first bite, I asked myself, "What are you feeling?"

The answer surprised me.  What I was feeling was defiance.

My list of wants and needs I'm not getting is pretty long.  I'm not ready to try to pinpoint which number was triggering the feeling, just accepted that "Damn it, if I can't have that (whatever that is) at least I can have this cookie."  And realized it's pretty much the story of my adult life.  And not how I want the next decades to go.

The cookies went into the garbage disposal.

After work I headed out on errands.  Costco first.

Another feather on the way in.

I needed mixed nuts (my son's new staple food, since he's given up most animal products) and a set of plastic shelves.

I bought a set of these shelves last summer, and wanted another set (if they still had them) for my garden shed.  I've needed to pull everything out of that shed for probably four years.  Make a repair.  Purge and re-arrange.   Haven't been able to make myself do it, then recently realized that I didn't want to simply clean and re-create what it already is.  A set of shelves to help me go vertical with the various fertilizers, sprinkler fixtures and small tools is the inspiration I've been waiting for.  Fingers crossed, I headed into the store.

Nuts were easy; they're always on the way in.

I got the LAST set of summer shelves on the pallet.  At the end of the aisle on the way out I spied a favorite color in the clothing section.  The siren call.

A few years ago, I bought a sweater in a jewel blue that was almost-but-not-quite a purple.  I got lots of compliments when I wore that sweater, but made the mistake of washing it incorrectly and in the end it was too small for comfort.  THAT's the color I saw, and I almost danced in the store when I got to it.  Sweaters.  Lady's sweaters.  COWL NECK sweaters.

My favorite ever sweater was a cowl neck tunic - lumpy knit and way too big- that I've worn holes in.  The catalog I bought it from never carried it again or I would have stocked up.  I have the same catalog, with some lumpy knit tuttlenecks that I was going to settle for, but I don't have to settle, now.  $19.99.  I got the blue AND a black/gray.  Then headed to the registers, passing another display of cowl neck sweatshirts for $14.99.

Traffic was heavy on the 101 south, but, as usual, a football field-sized hole opened in the lane I needed to merge into as I needed to merge.

After Costco was Trader Joe's.  Last week I bought a couple of HoneyCrisp apples.  All during the candy/cookie drama I kept thinking how delicious, how downright luxurious that apple had been and today I hoped they had some more.  Which got me to thinking that, weather aside, it is fall and maybe my favorite d'Angou pears might be in.  Nah.  And then, there they were.  Organic. And around the corner, the apples.  Organic.

And it felt like self-love.

Final stop was my favorite Mexican place.  I've stopped there most Thursdays for about five years for a chili verde burrito, wet, all meat.  That thing helped me lose over 80 pounds.  I've eaten my way through two rough years (or maybe three) and have gained over 30 of them back.  But I know how to do this, and do it again I will.  With the help of my Thursday treat.  Parking can be tricky on Ventura Blvd in Old Town, but not on this day.  Just as I was about to the restaurant, someone pulled out of one of the three spaces in front of the place.

Home to a happy dog and a check-in on facebook.  My son and his family are back in their own place and ready to Skype me an introduction to my new grandson.  A new facebook friend in Santa Rosa is willing to trade brugmansia cuttings with me.  That a-hole who jacked the price of an important AIDS drug combo from $13.50 to $700 a pill met his karma when a San Diego pharm company developed another combo pill using the same ingredient drugs that they plan to sell for $99 per hundred.  And while I'm a Bernie fan, I was pleased to see how well Senator Clinton did in her trumped-up hearing today.

Going to be a good week, a good weekend, another good week and then a weekend taking my mom up the coast.  Quilt shops, butterflies and elephant seals.

It may be a little life and I'm needing and wanting some stuff, but overall my little internal sparkler is purring right along.

All is well with me.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Monday, October 05, 2015

Another fit.

Thank you always, Sara.

It's not simple to say
That most days I don't recognize me
That these shoes and this apron
That place and it's patrons
Have taken more than I gave them
It's not easy to know
I'm not anything like I used to be
Although it's true
I was never attention's sweet center
I still remember that girl

She's imperfect but she tries
She is good but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won't ask for help
She is messy but she's kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up
And baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine

It's not what I asked for
Sometimes life just slips in through a back door
And carves out a person
And makes you believe it's all true
And now I've got you
And you're not what I asked for
If I'm honest I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over
And rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew

Who'll be reckless just enough
Who'll get hurt but
Who learns how to toughen up when she's bruised
And gets used by a man who can't love
And then she'll get stuck and be scared
Of the life that's inside her
Growing stronger each day
'Til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little
To bring back the fire in her eyes
That's been gone but it used to be mine

Used to be mine
She is messy but she's kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine

Why does every song she writes paint tears over my cheekbones?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Disneyland Diamond Celebration Video

Making memories with my mom.

My Disneyland Diamond Celebration Video

Saturday, September 12, 2015


When life just gets better and better.

I woke up at an appropriate Saturday morning time and took the dog out front to toilet.  And was greeted by this incredible sky.  I'm nuts for clouds of all kinds (and take lots of pictures) but this one really touched something.

Once Dodger was done (he was a good boy out there), I went back to the kitchen to find a happy surprise.

I've been collecting Monarch eggs this fall and am up to over thirty chrysalids. 

The first butterfly didn't make it, but my son released a "healthy, BEAUTIFUL" one on Thursday and I counted EIGHT that had emerged overnight.  I also noted one (one the cup visible on the table) looking very close.  I picked up one of the two clinging to the side of the table and took it out to release it.  This is always fun and rewarding.
When I got back to the kitchen to collect the second butterfly, I found that someone had been busy in the thirty seconds it took to release the first.

Yeah, this is how they look when they first emerge.  Amazing, isn't it?  There is fluid in that chubby body.  The butterfly will dance (twist itself from side to side) as it pumps that fluid into its wings.  It was ready to take the party outside in about an hour.

As I stood there, enjoying these lovely moments, a hummingbird flew close, then landed in a nearby shrub.  It stayed long enough to be to snap a quick picture.

Once I'd finished cleaning up from the Monarch Celebration (EIGHT released today), I decided to get the watering done.  My watering days are Tuesday and Sunday, but my Fairy Garden had not been watered on Tuesday so I pushed it a day.  Having worked my way to the end of the garden and to the deck, I decided to clean the spa, something I had planned to do over the summer.
It will take probably a couple of thousand dollars, minimum, to get the spa up and running safely again.  It partially filled with water, got an infestation of duckweed and a few pieces of trash and falling leaves over the winter.  By today, however, the water had evaporated, the duckweed was desiccated and I figured it was as good a time as any to clean it.  I've been fighting all that is left of the cover - two wedge-shaped pieces of Styrofoam - for a couple of years and am tired of the battle.  My plan was to clean the spa, lay one heavy-duty tarp, add the two Styrofoam pieces and then lay a second tarp over the whole thing.
The sun stayed behind the clouds so the heat was bearable as I worked.  It took less than half the time I thought it would.  JUST, as I cleaned up my tools, it started to sprinkle.  NO!!!  The whole point of this was to get it covered in hopes of keeping it dry (and pest-free).  I raced to the house for the tarp.   My son, who had taken the dog to the dog park for a while, arrived home just in time to help me with the awkward thing.  We got the job done together before any real rain could kick in.
And together wee got it layered just as I'd hoped and it looks fantastic.  I picked a camo pattern rather than the common bright blue, and the camo really does fade away behind the deck plants.
Delighted with myself, I tucked myself in for a facebook visit while I cooled down and re-hydrated.  I figured once I stopped sweating I would get a shower and then putter in the house for the rest of this day off.
I have the greatest facebook community and appreciate the time I have to visit with my friends all over the world.  Just moments after smiling to myself and saying, "Can life get any better than this?"  I scrolled down to find a short post from my son in Japan.
They had checked in at the hospital to give birth to their second son.
My second grandson.
I had to cry a little bit.
Clearly, the answer is YES!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Weirdo stuff.

Words of wisdom.

I saw this poster on pinterest today and wanted to share it here.  Too bad.  Can't save and paste from pinterest like I can from Facebook.  But I loved what it said:

You better learn to appreciate a Cancer or surely, someone else will.  Not many people will put up with your bullshit like they can.

So true.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


I leave tomorrow for California.  As always, it's hard to leave.  I think it's harder to leave this time because it will be nearly a year before I can enjoy another extended visit.

A friend asked for an update.  She knows the last year has been difficult, and asked for some reassurance that I was getting some restorative relaxation.  I could have posted on facebook, but decided to put it here.   I know she visits, as do other friends and family, so I can update you all at the same time.

First, I made a mistake when I planned the trip.  I was so  anxious to get here that I decided to do it in one day.  Over 800 miles.  Because my eye is still not 100% I was determined to get to Eden before sundown.  I trucked it.  I stopped only for gas and potty breaks.  No quilt shops, honest!  And for most of the length of Utah on the 15 the speed limit is either 75 or 80 mph, and I took full advantage.  Still, the sun was setting as  I hit Provo Canyon and by the time I got to Coalville not only was it twilight, but I had driven into a nasty storm. 

Thunder, lightning and truly torrential rain all of a sudden.  Traffic got slower and slower.  I could see nothing except a wall of water and hail and two red tail lights ahead.  They found the Coalville exit and I followed them off, taking refuge in a Subway.  My knees were shaking as I thought, "The locals must get used to this."  But as I ordered a sandwich, I realized that a river was flowing from behind the counter to the front door and the counter help couldn't get an order right because they were bug-eyed, watching water pour out of the sky.

As quickly as it hit, it was over.  By the time my [inedible] sandwich was done, the rain was a gentle drizzle.  It still was not full dark so I decided to hightail it out.  I knew I still  had about 45 minutes to travel until I got "home," and just hoped the storm didn't cycle around as they do in SoCA.  The drizzle got heavy a couple of times, but nothing to strike terror like the downpour in Coalville.

One cool thing?  This entire part of the trip is on the other side of the Wasatch range that runs behind the Utah towns from Provo to Ogden.  So, the clouds were reflecting the city lights the whole way, shining silver up above.  It was dark, but not the pitch black I had dreaded.  The only slightly scary part of the rest of the trip was when I got to the top of the mountain near Snowbasin and drove into another cloud. Visibility stayed good, and fifteen minutes later I was letting myself into my home away from home.  I didn't even stop for groceries and didn't unload the car.  Just fell into bed.  The next day was lovely, sunny and DRY and I took care of business, including a trip to the market, then tucked in for a long day of listening to the quiet between naps.

By Sunday I was feeling human again and called my friend who I've known for 44 years.  Her son is the favorite developer in the Ogden Valley and we bought my condo from him in 2002.  As it turned out, she had a lunch date with a new friend and invited me to join them.  The new friend, I learned over a delicious lunch at Roosters on old 25th Street, is as into woowoo as I am.  We exchanged contact information and parted buddies.

Still weary from the trip up, I settled in at my condo for the afternoon and evening.  Getting toward evening another storm hit.  This one wasn't nearly as scary.  I was, after all, tucked in safely, not trying to negotiate a mountain road at 65 mph next to semi trucks in no visibility.

If I made any other mistake this trip, it was to do too much gallivanting around.  I had a couple of stores I love that I wanted to check in with.  I took as long as I wanted to wander a crafts/gift store called the Quilted Bear, where I found some darling silver charms for some sewing projects and some fantastic Halloween decorations.  This year (and I always get something there) I got some black branches covered with orange jack-o-lantern bells. They reminded me of the tree in Frontierland in Disneyland that is covered with Jacks at HalloweenTime.  I only got one branch but once I got them home and started to build the fantasy of how I would use them, I realized I wanted a couple more.  Later in the week I headed to the Costco across the street and took advantage of being on that side of town to stop by and pick up a couple more branches. 

I also made some pointless stops to try to stock the condo.  I hate my sheets, and wanted some flannel.  I mean, it's Utah, right?   Winter is coming.  Not only did BB&B not have cheap flannel (like Simi does), they didn't have ANY flannel.  I made out better at Target, which at least had the power strip and extension cord I wanted. 

As far as relaxing, I spent some time (not enough) adding some embroidery (not enough) to my long-term quilt project.   I worked a couple of crossword puzzles and did no reading.  I kept facebook up, played Maleficent free fall and ate so much chocolate that not only do I feel poisoned, I smell like cocoa.  Not exaggerating.

I also spent too much time looking for good memories of the times here with my husband.  I wish I could say that I made some connections, but I did not.  In fact, I spent six hours yesterday scrubbing the stove, which kept me in a rage most of the day.  In 13 years I have used the oven once - to bake cookies, not usually a messy food to make.  And yet I gave up a day of vacation to scrub burned-on schmutz off oven racks, oven sides and bottom and burners, as well as cleaning the microwave vents while cleaning that device.  Apparently every time he brought his friends for their two-week free snowboard vacations, they didn't bother to do more than load the dishwasher.  What a waste of emotion.  It's not like nursing a mad was going to get any help from them.

Enough.  There were some very special high points.

One was the evening I spent with Perseid, which I wrote about in a  previous post.  So peaceful out on the patio that night.  No AC running anywhere so completely silent.  And this valley has a night sky ordinance.  Compared to SoCA, the visible stars here are breathtaking. 

Another was the visit I made with my friend to see her gentleman friend.  I had met him over spring break, and I know they have a very special relationship.  My friend is 76 and I think her GF is in his late 80s. She has never had any intention of re-marrying (her husband died almost 20 years ago), but she and her GF have a relationship of mutual adoration as friends.  When, in his words, he was mobile, the two of them spent a lot of time doing things together.  He told the story of the day they took off for a drive on a whim and  chattered the time away.  Eventually, he told me, he looked down at his odometer and they had driven 287 miles.  "I didn't even let her have a bathroom break!"

He really isn't mobile now.  In fact, we were visiting him while he was having one of his three-times-a-week kidney dialysis sessions.  He doesn't like it - who would? - but what an attitude.  And what a storyteller.  He was telling me about how he and my friend started dating.  They got together for coffee one time, and he was too shy to ask her out again.  Convinced that she lived in the townhouse next to the pool, he took to hanging out at the pool in hopes of running into her.  He said that he would notice people moving around in front of the balcony doors and see wet bathing suits hanging over the railing, but never my friend.  He did this for FIVE YEARS before figuring out that she lived in the next townhouse up the street.

I decided to ask his advice about something very nice - but confusing - that happened for me just a week or so before I left to come here.  One morning Dodger the Doorbell Dog pitched a barking fit.  Figuring someone was at the door, I headed there.  Since there was nobody there, I thought maybe something had been delivered and found a box from an internet florist on the porch.  Since there were no special events at our house, I was sure they'd been delivered by mistake but, no, my name was on the box.  I got it into the kitchen and opened the box.  It was full of orchids!  And I about fell over when I read the card - they were from my next door neighbor, who I haven't had a conversation with in years and years.  Still convinced there was a mistake, I texted him at the number on the box.  He assured me they were for me, and I thanked him for such a lovely gesture.

And haven't heard a thing since.  I mean, do guys really send double orders of orchids (about $100 worth) and then not follow up?  I have no clue.  So I asked my friend's GF what he thought I should do.  He thought a minute, then said, "Oh, just play it cool."  And then belly laughed until he got tears in his eyes and said, "For five years!!!"  He had us all in stitches.  Here he was, hooked to a dialysis machine with his blood flowing through yards of tubing, and laughing at himself until we all had tears.

No wonder she's crazy about him.  Just the kind of special friendship I would love to have.

And now it's time to return to real life.

I came up here for the balloon festival, but it was a disappointment.  I missed the first flight.  In the past I've been able to sit on my balcony and watch the balloons fly by, but didn't see a one on the first morning.  My friend told me they had been there (she lives up the hill from me).  I felt stupid when I figured it out.  In the five years since I was last here, my friend's son had build a new wing of condos that now block my view of the balloon flight.

Not wanting to miss it again, yesterday morning I drove out to my lot.  I was able to sit at the end of the cul-de-sac to see the launch,

then move to sit by the lot and see them float by

After the balloons had left the sky, I set about a task I had promised myself this trip.  This lot of mine is on the market for the third time in five years.  I decided I wanted to gather a box of rocks (there are LOTS of rocks) to use in my garden in California.  I thought maybe I would feel better about the eventual sale if I had a little piece of it to keep.

The asking price is a loss for me, and there has - again - been no interest.  I think I figured out why.  Every vibration I had was screaming MINEMINEMINE!  I simply don't want to sell this beautiful half acre.  I love my teasels and my sunflowers.  I love my rocks.

Lots of rocks.

By the time I had filled my box, I was in tears.  I really don't want to sell this.  I love my lot in the valley I love.  I walked to the south boundary, checking for any more small rocks for my SIL.

And about fell over when I saw it.  In the lower left corner of the photo.   A heart-shaped rock.  It was "too big" for me to lift, but lift it I did, right into my car.

Seated just right in my garden, this will be a treasure.

And so today is my last day.  And the last day of the balloon festival.  I decided to return to the lot and watch the balloons, but there was only one.  I collected a second box of rocks (still not ready to sell) then headed for one of my favorite places in the Valley.

North Arm.

I'm not sure how far I walked.  Comparing it to my walk to work, I'd guess a half mile.  Maybe more.  It's hard to judge when you are not trying to measure in distance but in joy.

Parking lot view across the highway to the mountains.

My teasels are blooming here.

It's an Osprey habitat.  Pineview Reservoir in the background, then the Wasatch.

Yay.  There's drought here, too, so I wasn't sure my favorite little rivulet would be running.
From the bridge over the river.  Running slow but enough to make music.

Impossible to capture how beautiful the trail is.

Amazing what you miss on the way in and catch on the way out.  Gorgeous hops.  Going to have to give my son more garden space for his.  They are doing well, but clearly need room to spread.

So, I'm packed.  The car is almost packed.  Just have to do one load of laundry tomorrow morning (to remake the bed) and pack the leftover food.  Scrub the toilets and put the last of my stuff in the car.  Am doing the return trip a little smarter.  Only going as far as St. George tomorrow (and stopping at my favorite quilt shop) and finishing the trip Tuesday.  Have an early appointment Wednesday in Santa Barbara with my ophthalmologist to (fingers crossed) arrange my lens replacement.  Making two pair of pants for my son and his friend for Burning Man (his first), then working in my classroom Friday, seeing students the following Wednesday.

And another year begins.

Going to try again to leave a little movie.  I want to figure out how to leave it looping and use it as wallpaper.